Cancer-Risk, Hotdogs of Doom...

This is fitting. Amidst the Maple Leaf deli meat killing spree The Cancer Project has released a TV commercial attacking hotdogs as a cancer-risk. See for yourself:

 

Finally, a gutsy ad! Hotdogs are not your friend. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman considers processed meats one of the WORST meat options—along with red meat. Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the PCRM and head of The Cancer Project, defends the commercial. Via CBS News:

Check the label of a name-brand hot dog, and chances are fat provides around 80 percent of total calories, more than double what's often advised. What's more, saturated fat and trans fat - the fats most strongly linked with artery-clogging - are common ingredients, in some cases providing at least half the fat content.

The hot dog council called the new ad an alarmist scare tactic, but the promoters, a group called The Cancer Project, defend their campaign.

Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, called the ad "a way to raise appropriate concern about a deadly concern." Barnard also heads The Cancer Project, an offshoot of his anti-meat advocacy group.

Hot dogs may be considered as American as apple pie, but Barnard said it's time to change that tradition.

"Children are born with no traditions whatsoever," he said. "You or I might think a hot dog, that just goes with baseball ... We can always change our traditions to be healthful."

The new ad is based on an analysis of five studies in adults by scientists working with cancer research groups not affiliated with Barnard's.

Their report last November said eating 50 grams a day of processed meats for several years increases colorectal cancer risk by 21 percent. That equals about one hot dog a day or two deli slices of bologna or five slices of bacon.

There’s a hotdog council! I’d love to see their cholesterol numbers. Now, despite the wiener consortiums self-preservation exclamations, processed meats DON’T support health and DO increase cancer-risk, but don’t take my word for it. Remember this post: News from The Cancer Project.
 

Rickets, Not Enough Vitamin D for Baby

Vitamin D is powerful. It helps a lot of things like diabetes, artery disease, cancer and good old fashioned death-risk. And now, Roni Caryn Rabin of The New York Times explores how lack-of-it impacts babies and rickets. Here’s a bit:

Once Aleanie started putting weight on her feet, her mother noticed that her legs were curving in a bow shape below the knees. Doctors diagnosed vitamin D-deficiency rickets, a softening of the bones that develops when children do not get enough vitamin D — a crucial ingredient for absorbing calcium and building bone, and the one critical hormone that breast milk often cannot provide enough of.

“I thought I was doing the best thing for her,” said Stephanie Remy-Marquez, of Hyde Park, Mass., after blood tests showed her daughter had no detectable vitamin D. X-ray images of the baby’s wrists and knees showed the edges of the bones and growth plates as blurry and fraying instead of crisp and sharp.

“Breast milk is supposed to be an entire meal, dessert and drinks included,” Ms. Remy-Marquez said. “I thought it was the ultimate cocktail.”

Aleanie’s case was unusual enough to be written up in the journal Clinical Pediatrics in May, but several similar reports have been published in recent years. Some experts fear that vitamin D deficiency, which can be asymptomatic, may be more common than pediatricians realize and that rickets — perceived to be a 19th-century scourge that was wiped out with the fortification of milk — may be going undetected.

Physicians have known for more than a century that exclusive breast-feeding may be associated with vitamin D deficiency and rickets, and that the condition is easily prevented and treated with inexpensive vitamin drops or cod liver oil. But doctors are reluctant to say anything that might discourage breast-feeding.

Now some researchers are also linking vitamin D deficiency with other chronic diseases like diabetes, autoimmune disorders and even cancer, and there have been calls to include blood tests of vitamin D levels in routine checkups.

“I completely support breast-feeding, and I think breast milk is the perfect food, and the healthiest way to nourish an infant,” said Dr. Catherine M. Gordon, director of the bone health program at Children’s Hospital Boston and an author of several studies on vitamin D deficiency, including Aleanie’s case.

Excluding societal hangups, it’s hard to make a case against breastfeeding. Dr. Fuhrman is all about breastfeeding. Take kid’s allergies, breastfeeding helps! Not to mention breastfeeding also helps prevent ear infections and breast milk provides brain-building DHA.

Health Points: Monday 8.24.08

In a population-based, case-control study, the researchers matched 1,001 men with prostate cancer diagnosed between 2002 and 2005 with 942 age-matched cancer-free controls from King County, Washington.

No overall association was observed between the risk of prostate cancer and the current or past use of statin treatment. Duration of statin use was also not associated with prostate cancer risk.

"We also found no evidence that use of a statin was associated with risk of developing more aggressive subtypes of prostate caner," Stanford said in an interview with Reuters Health. "Overall we found no support for the current hypothesis that statin use may reduce risk of prostate cancer."

However, the results do suggest a significant increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer associated with current statin use and with longer durations of use among obese men (defined as a body mass index of 30 greater).

A team led by Linda Bartoshuk at the University of Florida in Gainesville surveyed 1300 people, 245 of whom had a history of ear infections, and found that among the over-30s, those who had suffered from ear infections were twice as likely to be obese as those with no such history. A subsequent analysis of four US medical databases confirmed the link. Those who had suffered from ear infections also rated fattier foods as 18 per cent more pleasurable than the others.

Infections may damage the chorda tympani taste nerve, which is stimulated at the front of the tongue and passes through the middle ear to the brain, says Bartoshuk. She says that the nerve normally inhibits some of the creamy sensations of fatty foods, as part of a response that inhibits tactile sensations that would otherwise make us gag. But nerve damage would lower this inhibiting effect, making foods seem creamier and so more pleasurable.

The postures, breathing and meditation included in the yoga intervention were "aimed at one common effect, i.e. 'to develop mastery over modifications of the mind' ... through 'slowing down the rate of flow of thoughts in the mind,'" the researchers explain.

Women in the yoga group also listened to lectures on using yoga to manage stress and other yoga-related topics, while those in the control group heard lectures on diet, exercise, the physiology of menopause, and stress.

After eight weeks, women in the yoga group showed a significant reduction in hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep disturbances, while the women in the control group did not, Dr. R. Chattha, of the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore, India, and colleagues found.

The state has given its 37,527 employees a year to start getting fit -- or they'll pay $25 a month for insurance that otherwise is free.

Alabama will be the first state to charge overweight state workers who don't work on slimming down, while a handful of other states reward employees who adopt healthy behaviors.

Alabama already charges workers who smoke -- and has seen some success in getting them to quit -- but now has turned its attention to a problem that plagues many in the Deep South: obesity.

The State Employees' Insurance Board this week approved a plan to charge state workers starting in January 2010 if they don't have free health screenings.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children devote no more than two hours per day to watching TV and playing video games.

Experts also encourage children to exercise regularly; some groups, including the AAP, recommend that boys move enough to take 13,000 steps each day, while girls should strive for 11,000. Another common recommendation is for children and teenagers to get at least one hour of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week.

For the new study, researchers at Iowa State University in Ames looked at whether there were weight differences between children who met or did not meet recommendations for "screen time" and exercise.

They found that among 709 7- to 12-year-olds, those who did not meet either recommendation were three to four times more likely to be overweight than their peers who met both guidelines.

Both vaccines target the human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted virus that usually causes no symptoms and is cleared by the immune system, but which can in very rare cases become chronic and cause cervical cancer.

The two vaccines, Gardasil by Merck Sharp & Dohme and Cervarix by GlaxoSmithKline, target two strains of the virus that together cause an estimated 70 percent of cervical cancers. Gardasil also prevents infection with two other strains that cause some proportion of genital warts. Both vaccines have become quick best sellers since they were licensed two years ago in the United States and Europe, given to tens of millions of girls and women.

“Despite great expectations and promising results of clinical trials, we still lack sufficient evidence of an effective vaccine against cervical cancer,” Dr. Charlotte J. Haug, editor of The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association, wrote in an editorial in Thursday’s issue of The New England Journal. “With so many essential questions still unanswered, there is good reason to be cautious.

According to the data, women's life expectancy saw a significant decline in 180 counties between 1983 and 1999. The cause for this precipitous drop? The folks at Women's Health attribute it to chronic diseases associated with obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure.

Here is a quick look at the U.S. counties that have experienced the greatest drop (numbers measured in years of average decline in female life expectancy):

Pulaski County, VA - 5.8
Radford, VA - 5.8
Dolores County, CO - 3.3
Montezuma County, CO - 3.3
San Juan County, CO - 3.3.
East Feliciana Parish, LA - 3.2
St. Helena Parish, LA - 3.2
West Feliciana Parish, LA - 3.2
Callaway County, MO - 3.0
Danville, VA - 3.0

Ted Nugent has never been one to beat around the bush so why should he stop now. Honestly I respect the man for the way he is willing and quick to speak his mind, but sometimes he’s a bit too blunt about things. Old Uncle Ted was on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show on The Travel Channel where he was exploring the elements of Southwestern cuisine and stopped by Ted Nugents ranch in Texas. Anthony and Ted were speaking on many things to include Obesity. The Nuge’ said “Obesity is a manifestation of a cultural depravation in its most vulgar and displeasing-to-look-at form. And it’s suicide as a lifestyle.” Nugent also added “It all comes back to the horror, the soullessness of a trend in America that is the abandonment of parenting. Somebody’s got to go, ‘You can’t eat that. You’re way too fat.‘”

While I can understand what Ted is saying, Obesity is more than just an image issue. The last part of his statement is true that it may lead to certain and early death, but I think someone needs to give this guy a lesson in tact.

Diabetes-Risk: Heart Disease, Obesity, PCBs...

Last month the Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute linked pesticides with diabetes-risk and now a study in Diabetes Care has determined high exposure to PCBs may be tied to diabetes too. Reuters explains:

Dr. Yueliang Leon Guo, from the National Taiwan University in Taipei, and colleagues examined the incidence of type 2 diabetes among 378 Taiwanese "oil disease" victims and 370 of their neighbors who had not been poisoned.

They found that women who had been exposed to the PCB-laced oil were twice as likely as other women to develop type 2 diabetes over 24 years. And women who had been most severely affected by the PCB exposure had a more than five-times higher diabetes risk.

There were no similar risks seen in men, however.

Other studies have found that people with diabetes tend to have relatively higher levels of organic pollutants, such as PCBs, in their blood. In comments to Reuters Health, Guo said that since "everyone" has detectable PCB levels in his or her body, it's possible that exposure to such pollutants has helped feed the widespread rise in diabetes in recent decades.

"The public health implication of these findings can be huge," Guo added, "considering the burden of diabetes and its multiple long-term complications."

And another study in Diabetes Care demonstrates that the incidence of heart disease increases right along with diabetes and obesity—via Reuters. Try avoiding it all together! Dr. Fuhrman’s prescription, try healthy dosages of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
 

Runners Live Longer

Sweet! Running alone, I do about 16 miles a week. Not to mention another 8 miles on the elliptical machine. New research by Stanford University has determined that running helps people live longer and healthier. Reuters reports:

A study published on Monday shows middle-aged members of a runner's club were half as likely to die over a 20-year period as people who did not run.

Running reduced the risk not only of heart disease, but of cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, researchers at Stanford University in California found.

"At 19 years, 15 percent of runners had died compared with 34 percent of controls," Dr. Eliza Chakravarty and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Any type of vigorous exercise will likely do the trick, said Stanford's Dr. James Fries, who worked on the study.

"Both common sense and background science support the idea that there is nothing magical about running per se," Fries said in a telephone interview. "It is the regular physical vigorous activity that is important."

The team surveyed 284 members of a nationwide running club and 156 similar, healthy people as controls. They all came from the university's faculty and staff and had similar social and economic backgrounds, and all were 50 or older.

Running is really awesome! It gives me a fantastic rush. Now, if you live near NYC, try running in Central Park. They say it’s great. Actually, just get out there an exercise, the benefits are infinite. In fact, many cancer patients are becoming avid gym rats—via The New York Times.

Getting on the Internet for Health Advice

Susannah Fox of The Health Care Blog posts these interesting stats about people going online to seek out health information. Makes you wonder if this availability of information will change the healthcare paradigm. Take a look:

Ten percent of internet users say they searched for health information "yesterday," which in a tracking survey like this one yields a picture of the "typical day" online. Health has moved up in the "typical day" list (from 7 percent in 2006 to the current 10 percent of internet users), but for most people the average day includes lots of emails (60 percent of internet users), general searches (49 percent), and news reading (39 percent) if they are online at all (30 percent of internet users are offline on a typical day).
  • 68% of online men look online for health info
  • 81% of online women
  • 76% of white internet users
  • 65% of African-American internet users
  • 71% of English-speaking Hispanic internet users (new health data on the whole Latino population is coming out August 13 from the Pew Hispanic Center)
  • 68% of 18-29 year-old internet users
  • 78% of 30-49s
  • 76% of 50-64s
  • 71% of internet users age 65+ (but remember, only one-third of seniors go online at all)

The internet is a great tool, but you’ve got to be careful. There is a lot of garbage floating around, like Weston Price and Atkins. But there is good stuff too! Like this great video on heart disease from The Adventist Chip Association—thanks Annette!

An Eye on Heart Disease...

New research claims that the health of your eyes may tell a lot about your risk of cardiovascular disease. Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:

People with a type of eye damage known as retinopathy were more likely to die of heart disease over the next 12 years than those without it, according to the team at the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne in Australia and the National University of Singapore.

They studied the retinal photographs of 3,000 people, most of whom had diabetes. Such snapshots are often taken to see if the diabetes has begun to damage the eyes. Then they checked records for deaths.

Over 12 years, 353 participants (11.9 percent) had incident coronary heart disease-related deaths," the researchers reported in the journal Heart.

People with retinopathy were nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease as people without it, said the team, led by the University of Sydney's Gerald Liew.

Retinopathy raised the risk of heart disease as much as diabetes did, they found. Diabetes is a well known risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in most industrialized nations and many developing ones.

More reason to eat a heart-healthy diet. For more on retinopathy, check out its Wikipedia link: Retinopathy.

Obesity DOESN'T Harm the Heart?

Here’s an odd article. New research in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests being obese may not elevate heart risks. The Associated Press investigates:

The results also show that stereotypes about body size can be misleading and that even "less voluptuous" people can have risk factors commonly associated with obesity, said study author MaryFran Sowers, a University of Michigan obesity researcher.

"We're really talking about taking a look with a very different lens" at weight and health risks, Sowers said.

In the study, about 51 percent of overweight adults, or roughly 36 million people nationwide, had mostly normal levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood fats called triglycerides and blood sugar.

Almost one-third of obese adults, or nearly 20 million people, also were in this healthy range, meaning that none or only one of those measures was abnormal.

Yet about a fourth of adults in the recommended-weight range had unhealthy levels of at least two of these measures. That means 16 million of them are at risk for heart problems.

It's no secret that thin people can develop heart-related problems and that fat people often do not. But that millions defy the stereotypes will come as a surprise to many people, Sowers said.

Not sure we want to float this kind of information out there. Americans are already fat enough. And according to this report, obesity and clumsiness could go hand in hand—via Reuters.

Heart Disease, Doctors Failing Patients...


Perhaps the understatement of the century! Research from Outcomes, Inc., a Birmingham Alabama-based research firm, have determined that doctors often come up short when it comes to heart disease-prevention. Via Reuters Health:
Lead researcher Dr. Hamidreza Doroodchi and colleagues sent a survey on cardiovascular disease management to a random sample of 12,000 U.S. family physicians and general internists. A total of 888 completed the survey, which contained "case vignettes" for managing adults deemed to be at low or high risk of heart disease.

The study found that in the hypothetical case of a low-risk 45-year-old woman, only 28 percent of family doctors and 37 percent of internists made the "guideline-based preventive choice" of prescribing no aspirin or other antiplatelet therapy -- drugs that help prevent blood clots by keeping platelet blood cells from clumping together. The majority indicated that they would prescribe a daily aspirin for such a patient to reduce the risk of heart attack.

When asked whether they would start drug therapy to combat abnormal cholesterol levels, 51 percent of doctors said they would not do so in this low-risk patient -- which is in accordance with guidelines. On the other hand, 41 percent said they would prescribe a statin.

When it came to basic lifestyle advice, which is appropriate for low- and high-risk patients alike, doctors often fell short.

For example, while experts recommend that all adults limit their intake of artery-clogging trans fats, over one-third of doctors in the survey failed to recommend this measure for the low-risk 45-year-old woman.
A lot of it probably has to do with ignorance or the unwillingness to defy conventional medical thinking. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
For most people, illness means putting their fate in the hands of doctors and complying with their recommendations — recommendations that typically involve taking drugs for the rest of their lives while they watch their health gradually deteriorate. People are completely unaware that most illnesses are self-induced and can be reversed with aggressive nutritional methods.

Both patients and physicians act as though everyone’s medical problems are genetic, or assumed to be the normal consequence of aging. They believe that chronic illness is just what we all must expect. Unfortunately, the medical-pharmaceutical business has encouraged people to believe that health problems are hereditary and that we need to swallow poisons to defeat our genes. This is almost always untrue. We all have genetic weaknesses, but those weaknesses never get a chance to express themselves until we abuse our body with many, many years of mistreatment. Never forget, 99 percent of your genes are programmed to keep you healthy. The problem is that we never let them do their job.
I find that the problem gets even more out of whack when the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are they themselves overweight or unhealthy. Makes you think that the whole system is mucked up—I wanted to use another word here.

Broccoli May Undo Cell Damage...


Researchers at the University of Warwick have determined that sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli, helps produce enzymes that protect blood vessels. This is especially good news for diabetics. BBC News reports:
People with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes; both are linked to damaged blood vessels.

The Warwick team, whose work is reported in the journal Diabetes, tested the effects of sulforaphane on blood vessel cells damaged by high glucose levels (hyperglycaemia), which are associated with diabetes.

They recorded a 73% reduction of molecules in the body called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).

Hyperglycaemia can cause levels of ROS to increase three-fold and such high levels can damage human cells.

The researchers also found that sulforaphane activated a protein in the body called nrf2, which protects cells and tissues from damage by activating protective antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes.
Like we need another reason to eat broccoli! In fact, I’ve had some steamed broccoli three days in a row. Now, if you’re interested. The study appears in Diabetes: Activation of NF-E2-related factor-2 reverses biochemical dysfunction