Acrylamides Not So Bad?

We all know acrylamides are bad news, but just in case you need a refresher course. Check this out from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child:
Acrylamide turns up in all kinds of tasty foods, including french fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals, cookies and crackers. But it's difficult for consumers to figure out how much acrylamide is in a particular meal or snack…

…Not only do processed foods and fast foods often contain dangerous trans fats and other additives, but they also can have high levels of acrylamides. When processed foods are baked and fried at high temperatures, these cancer-causing chemical compounds are produced. Many processed foods, such as chips, french fries, and sugar-coated breakfast cereals, are rich in acrylamides. Acrylamides also form in foods you bake until brown or fry at home; they do not form in foods that are steamed or boiled…

… Never eat browned or overly cooked food. Burnt food forms harmful compounds. If by accident something is overcooked and browned, discard it. Avoid fried food and food sautéed in oil. Experiment with low heat cooking to prevent nutritional damage to the food and the formation of dangerous heat-generated compounds.
So when you consider this, it makes a headline like this one seem pretty outrageous; Studies Dispute Acrylamide-Cancer Link. WebMD reports:
New research involving 100,000 women found no evidence of a link between consumption of acrylamide, a chemical found in french fries and other foods, and breast cancer…

…Acrylamide is produced naturally when foods including starchy foods are exposed to high heat during cooking. The chemical is commonly found in processed potato products such as french fries, breads, and cereals. It is also present in coffee and cigarette smoke. In the U.S., 30% of calories consumed contain acrylamide, according to the researchers…

…But while acrylamide is known to promote cancer at very high doses in rats and mice, none of the human studies reported to date have shown dietary levels of the chemical to be cancer causing, epidemiologist Lorelei Mucci, ScD tells WebMD.
Whenever I’m confronted with research that makes me say, “What the—.” I run it by Dr. Fuhrman. And here’s what he had to say:
My thoughts are that junk food does cause cancer, but these studies will always show nothing because once you smoke 10 cigs a day, your risk does not increase significantly more if you smoke 40. But the main reason is that breast cancer is a disease caused by what we ate in our childhood.
On that note, here’s some info on breast cancer from Disease-Proof Your Child:
Worldwide, there is a linear relationship between higher-fat animal products, saturated fat intake, and breast cancer.1 However, there are areas of the world even today where populations eat predominantly unrefined plant foods in childhood and breast cancer is simply unheard of. Rates of breast cancer deaths (in the 50-to-70 age range) range widely from 3.4 per 100,000 in Gambia to 10 per 100,000 in rural China, 20 per 100,000 in India, 90 per 100,000 in the United States, and 120 per 100,000 in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.2
For more on acrylamides, see Acrylamides are Bad News.
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Friday: Health Points

The recalled spinach was distributed throughout the 48 states and Canada and sold in both retail and food service packages.

It covers 8,118 cases of spinach, although the company said more than 90 percent of that was on hold and would not be released.

While only a single sample from one of three packing lines tested positive for salmonella, the company said it moved to recall all the spinach packed that same day as a precaution.
In comparing soy-eating Japanese women with American women who eat very little soy, researchers find lower rates of breast cancer in the Japanese women. But in a test tube, soy's plant estrogens can speed cancer cell growth. Maybe soy behaves differently in the body than it does in a tube. Or maybe soy has both negative and positive effects on breast cancer. Perhaps it's not soy at all. It could be that the populations eating soy are benefiting from not eating something else, like meat -- the saturated fat found in red meat has been linked to higher cancer rates. Replacing steak with something else may be the protective key.
Taking samples from the respiratory tracts of 24 smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers, Canadian researchers from the British Columbia Cancer Agency anaylsed gene activity using a powerful technique called "serial analysis of gene expression" (SAGE).

What they found is not encouraging for ex-puffers who thought they had escaped the dangers of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the world.

While certain undesirable genes changes triggered by tobacco were reversed, some DNA repair genes were permanently damaged by smoking, and others that have the potential to help combat lung cancer development remained switched off.
  • Community education classes tend to follow the school year. Try something new with a friend.
  • Brisk air and crunchy leaves invigorate the senses on a fall hike.
  • Work fitness into your kid's routine by walking while you wait for them at practice.
  • Enjoy your favorite fall TV shows -- on a treadmill or exercise bike!
Perhaps it was naive of me to assume that soy yogurt would be, you know, non-dairy. But I guess you can’t trust a company who makes the bulk of their money from selling milk. Needless to say, there’s no way I’ll be buying any of their products going forward and they’ll definitely be receiving a call at 1-800-PRO-COWS (happy milk!) tomorrow. Might I encourage you to do the same to register your displeasure? And spread the word?

This is either a new thing or something they just decided to start divulging, as I definitely don’t recall seeing this on the label before.
"The risk of skin cancer is marginally increased among people with rheumatoid arthritis," said lead researcher Dr. Frederick Wolfe, a clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. "But it's nothing that anybody should be worried about," he added.

For the study, Wolfe and his colleagues collected data on 13,001 patients with rheumatoid arthritis included in the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases and the U.S. National Cancer Institute SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End-Results). The researchers found a total of 623 cases of skin cancer and 537 cases of other cancers.

They also found that anti-TNF-alpha medications were associated with a slight increased risk of skin cancer. But, they did not find any increased risk for other cancers, according to the report in the September issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
I've often joked that maybe KFC have some very large extractor fans rigged in such a way as to maximize that distinctive KFC smell.

KFC have realized this, and have been trialling a new form of advertising that uses the "smell factor".

KFC has targeted corporate offices, and has managed to place a $2.99 plate meal on "the actual mail carts that pass the offices of hungry workers."
“This is a slice of heaven,” said Ryan Howell, 31, as he cradled his Combo Plate, which, for the record, consists of one battered Snickers bar, two battered Oreos and a battered Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup — all deep-fried in oil that is trans-fat free, thank goodness.

“This was an issue we wanted to tackle,” said Cindy Hoye, executive director of the fair, which spent the winter months testing various oils and, despite the fears of some concessionaires about possible changes to taste or costs or tradition, concluded that trans-fat-free oils created what Ms. Hoye called a better product.

National fair officials say Indiana and at least one other fair, the Western Washington, have led the way on a health issue that is only now creating a buzz in the fair industry. During a national convention of fair officials in Las Vegas this November, Indiana representatives are to offer a workshop, “Going Trans-Fat Free,” which, the convention program promises, will answer the question “What is all the craze about?”

Not-So Confident about PSA Tests

Some research calls into question the effectiveness of frequent prostate cancer screenings. Apparently there’s not much difference between two- and four-year tests. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News explains:
The researchers looked at more than 17,000 men who had prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing every two years or every four years. Among 4,202 Swedish men screened every two years, the overall incidence of prostate cancer diagnosis over 10 years was 13.14 percent, compared to 8.41 percent among the 13,301 Dutch men who were screened every four years, said the researchers from Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

The total number of interval cancers -- those diagnosed based on symptoms during the years between screening tests -- was 31 (0.74 percent) among the Swedish men and 57 (0.43 percent) among the Dutch men.

The differences in the interval cancer rates and aggressive interval cancer rates between the two groups were not statistically significant, the study authors said. This indicates that two-year screenings don't reduce the number of interval cancers, as might be expected.
Wait! A money-making medical test might not actually be as good as they say it is—no! You’re joshing me. Dr. Fuhrman is hardly awed by PSA screenings. He shares his thoughts in a previous post:
Incredible as it may seem, the PSA test does not accurately detect cancer. If you are over 60 years old, the chance of having a prostate biopsy positive for cancer is high, and the likelihood you have prostate cancer is the same whether or not you have an elevated PSA. More and more studies in recent years have demonstrated that prostate cancer is found at the same high rate in those with lower, so-called “normal” PSAs as those with elevated PSAs.1 An interesting study from Stanford University in California showed that the ability of PSA to detect cancer from 1998 to 2003 was only 2 percent. The elevations in PSA (between 2 and 10) were related to benign enlargement of the prostate, not cancer.

Remember, the pharmaceutical/medical industry is big business. Too often, treatments are promoted from a financially-biased perspective, leading to overly invasive and aggressive care without documented benefits.
Here’s the entire post: Positively False Confidence in PSA Tests.

America, as Fat as Ever

Yesterday we learned that Mississippi is the fattest of the fifty states, but don’t worry Mississippians, America in general just keeps getting fatter and fatter. Kevin Freking of the Associated Press reports:
Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last year noting a national obesity rate of about 32 percent — a higher rate than was cited for any of the states in the Trust for America's Health report. The CDC's estimate came from weighing people rather than relying on telephone interviews, officials explained.

Generally, anyone with a body mass index greater than 30 is considered obese. The index is a ratio that takes into account height and weight. The overweight range is 25 to 29.9. Normal is 18.5 to 24.9. People with a large amount of lean muscle mass, such as athletes, can show a large body mass index without having an unhealthy level of fat.

A lack of exercise is a huge factor in obesity rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last year that more than 22 percent of Americans did not engage in any physical activity in the past month. The percentage is greater than 30 percent in four states: Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
I don’t know about you, but I take pride in not being part of the bloated bell curve.

Produce Power

The Los Angeles Times takes a good long look at the power of produce and how eating lots of it kicks cancer in the pants. More from Anna Gosline:
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and scores of phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to understand, and studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes -- and some kinds of cancer.

Since its inception in 1991, the 5 A Day campaign, led by the National Cancer Institute and Produce for Better Health Foundation, has upped its daily recommendation to as many as 13 servings under a new campaign name.

And in bestselling health books and the popular press, the talk of fruits and vegetables is sometimes breathless. Pomegranate juice is a "miracle medicine"! Blueberries are "the super berry"! Kale can keep you alive! Tomatoes for life everlasting!

Eat or drink this produce, we are told, and the powerful clout of super-antioxidants and tumor-fighting chemicals they contain will bash that cancer before it gets going.

In fact, the anti-cancer clout of fruits and vegetables is nuanced and complex, and a story still evolving in labs across the country. At times the science has proven to be murky. Small studies that rely on what people remember of their diets from years past often find a strong preventive effect of eating lots of fresh produce.
All you got to do is sift through Followhealthlife’s health food archive to see just how powerful fruits and veggies really are.

Duh, Smoking Bad

I know, this might be hard to believe, but, smoking heightens risk for head and neck cancers. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News explains:
The analysis revealed that smoking increased head and neck cancer in both women and men, but appeared to have a greater impact in women. Smoking was attributed to 75 percent of such cancers in women, compared to 45 percent of such cancers in men, the study said.

"Incidence rates of head and neck cancer were higher in men than in women in all categories examined, but smoking was associated with a larger relative increase in head and neck cancer risk in women than in men," the researchers concluded.

Monday: Health Points

A recent study indicates pediatric type 2 diabetes is still relatively infrequent, experts are concerned about the trend and the impact the condition, particularly its complications, might have on affected children and families.

"It does exist and it's increasing," noted endocrinologist Dr. Silva Arslanian, director of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children's Hospital. "It's increasing because more and more children are becoming obese."
I just yesterday came across research (from a 2007 Ohio State study) involving a certain variety of orange tomato called a Tangerine Tomato. Evidently, people are able to better absorb the antioxidant lycopene from this particular type of tomato than from the more typical red tomatoes.

If you have trouble finding Tangerine Tomatoes at your grocery store, try other kinds of orange tomatoes or gold heirloom varieties. But, whatever kind, color, brand, or type of tomato you choose, always be sure to cook your tomatoes in order to receive the greatest absorption of lycopene.
While obesity has long been suspected of hampering a woman's ability to conceive, the University of Adelaide research is said to be the first to find a direct scientific link.

Researcher Cadence Minge said experiments on female mice showed that fat has an impact on the egg before it is even fertilised.
The teacher announced daily snacks must be healthy. Juice boxes were not allowed. A water bottle was fine, but the drinking fountain even better. Geez, I was starting to really like this school. Fruit and vegetables were strongly suggested, but no cookies, mile-high frosted cupcakes or sugary fruit snacks. I nearly stood up and clapped, but I didn't want to freak out a roomful of mommy strangers. After reading Allie's recent post on water, I will definitely pack a water bottle…

…Think fruits and vegetables. Don't throw those sugary graham crackers in your shopping cart. Stay away from the processed carbohydrates. This is your chance to develop healthier habits for a lifetime. Hey, you might not even need to be the fall guy -- hopefully it's "school policy."
''Children could actually blame their mothers for this,'' said Jane Wardle, director of the Health Behavior Unit at University College London, one of the authors of the study in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Wardle and colleagues asked the parents of 5,390 pairs of identical and non-identical twins to complete a questionnaire on their children's' willingness to try new foods.

Identical twins, who share all genes, were much more likely to respond the same way to new foods than non-identical twins, who like other siblings only share about half their genes. Researchers concluded that genetics played a greater role in determining eating preferences than environment, since the twins lived in the same household.
  • Now, I’m not sure if this is a joke or not, but Diet-Blog is all over something called “The Diet Fork.” Judge for yourself:
The following features will (apparently) lead to weight loss...
  • Shorter and dulled teeth inhibiting user from grasping larger pieces of food at any one time.
  • Smaller triangular shaped surface area allowing dieter to hold less food than many other forks.
  • Uncomfortable grip compelling user to put fork down between bites, slowing the user's eating speed.

High Blood Pressure in Kids?

What a frightening world we live in. Imagine this, kids on the playground talking about high blood pressure and cholesterol. It might not be that far off. Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press reports that over 1 million young kids in the United States have undiagnosed high blood pressure:
Roughly 2 million U.S. youngsters have been estimated to have high blood pressure; the study suggests that three-quarters of them have it but don't know it. The numbers are driven at least partly by rising rates of obesity, which is strongly linked with high blood pressure.

Untreated high blood pressure can cause health problems in adults, including heart disease, strokes, artery damage and kidney disease, problems that usually take years to develop. Its effects in children are less certain, although there is some evidence that it might contribute to early artery and heart damage in young patients, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
I guess we shouldn't be surprised when heart disease starts young.

NY Times: Fat to Diabetes to Heart Disease

Maybe I’m wrong on this—chances are I am—but I think most people compartmentalize disease. I don’t think they realize having one disease can lead to another and so on and so on. Take this guy for example. Mr. Smith didn’t realize his diabetes was setting him up for a heart attack. Gina Kolata of The New York Times reports:
Mr. Smith, a 43-year-old pastor in Fairmont, Minn., tried hard. When dieting did not work, he began counting carbohydrates, taking pills to lower his blood sugar and pricking his finger several times a day to measure his sugar levels. They remained high, so he agreed to add insulin to his already complicated regimen. Blood sugar was always on his mind.

But in focusing entirely on blood sugar, Mr. Smith ended up neglecting the most important treatment for saving lives — lowering the cholesterol level. That protects against heart disease, which eventually kills nearly everyone with diabetes.

He also was missing a second treatment that protects diabetes patients from heart attacks — controlling blood pressure. Mr. Smith assumed everything would be taken care of if he could just lower his blood sugar level…

…Mr. Smith, like 90 percent of diabetes patients, has Type 2 diabetes, the form that usually arises in adulthood when the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas cannot keep up with the body’s demand for the hormone. The other form of diabetes, Type 1, is far less common and usually arises in childhood or adolescence when insulin-secreting pancreas cells die.

And, like many diabetes patients, Mr. Smith ended up paying the price for his misconceptions about diabetes. Last year, he had a life-threatening heart attack.
Apparently it never dawned on him that his fatness might be setting him up for diabetes either. To get the full effect of this article, check out the video report. There are a couple dopey quotes from the doctors they interviewed. Take a look:

You’ve got to love it when medical professionals downplay just how much diet factors into the development of diseases. It makes you wonder where they're getting their doctorates from—Hamburger U! Now, back to reality, we all know that diet is a major determinant of disease, especially when you’re fat like Mr. Smith. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in Eat to Live:
Overweight individuals are more likely to die from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. Two-thirds of those with weight problems also have hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or another obesity-related condition.1 It is a major cause of early mortality in the United States.2 Since dieting almost never works and the health risks of obesity are so life-threatening, more and more people are desperately turning to drugs and surgical procedures to lose weight…

…As a good rule of thumb: for optimal health and longevity, a man should not have more than one-half inch of skin that he can pinch near his umbilicus (belly button) and a woman should not have more than one inch. Almost any fat on the body over this minimum is a health risk. If you have gained even as little as ten pounds since the age of eighteen or twenty, then you could be at significant increased risk for health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The truth is that most people who think they are at the right weight still have too much fat on their body.
So, with that being said, maybe Mr. Smith should spend less time in church and more time in the gym. Not to mention snagging a copy of Eat to Live so that he can get rid of all those pills and syringes.
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Dumb Science: Isolated Vitamins NOT Magic Pills

If you spend most of your time reading health news, you’ll soon realize that for every good piece of science, there’s a broad confederacy of junk science. Take this one for example. A new study has determined that taking vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene supplements won’t prevent heart disease in high-risk women. Carolyn Colwell of HealthDay News reports:
"Antioxidants are clearly not the magic bullet for heart disease prevention," said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, the study's principal investigator and chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston. "We didn't see an overall benefit or risk for these vitamins and cardiovascular disease."

The study shows that vitamins C, E and beta-carotene supplements are no substitute for conventional cardiovascular medications with proven results, added Dr. Nanette K. Wenger, an associate professor in the division of cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Women patients, in particular, seem to "love their antioxidants, and sometimes, for some reason, stop life-saving medications and start taking them," added Wenger, chairwoman of the data safety and monitoring board for the study.

The findings also mean "we have to redouble the efforts on conventional prevention" such as healthy diet, exercise, weight control and avoiding tobacco, Manson said. "One problem is that occasionally, if there is an expectation of benefit from popping a pill, people are less vigilant about controlling established risk factors and much more difficult lifestyle modifications," she added.
Okay, I’m not a doctor, I have no medical background, and honestly, I’m not that bright, but even I know that adding vitamins to a rotten diet isn’t actually going to help improve your health. To quote some farmer, “Y’all can put a pig in a dress, but, it’s still a pig.” When I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this study, he pretty much had the same reaction:
People that still think that individual vitamins like C and E and beta carotene are an answer to improvements in health, should put away their typewriters and white out, and take a ride in their Edsels. But, there is lots of worthless research being done out there.
On a side note, and maybe it’s because I’m too young, but I had to Google Edsels. Okay, back to the junk science at hand. In his work Dr. Fuhrman makes it crystal clear that vitamins and pills alone aren’t the way to superior nutrition. The basis of our health and longevity can be found in the fruits, vegetables, seeds, and legumes around us—eat them! More from Eat to Live:
When you eat mostly natural plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and beans, you get large amounts of various types of fiber. These foods are rich in complex carbohydrates and both insoluble and water-soluble fibers. The fibers slow down glucose absorption and control the rate of digestion. Plant fibers have complex physiological effects in the digestive tract that offer a variety of benefits, such as lowering cholesterol.1
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg!
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Monday: Health Points

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, a government advisory body, has drawn up healthy eating guidelines for both government and privately run schools to follow, said Sandhya Bajaj, a commission member.

"The number of overweight children in schools is growing," Bajaj said in a telephone interview. She said that the commission was getting complaints from parents who said that their children were buying unhealthy food from school cafeterias.
Chronic kidney disease patients who are also obese are much more likely than normal-weight patients to have a condition called hyperparathyroidism, which raises their risk of heart problems and death, U.S. researchers say.

Hyperparathyroidism involves elevated levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Normally, parathyroid hormone plays an important role in maintaining normal bone structure. Elevated levels of the hormone can lead to bone abnormalities and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Decreased kidney function is the main cause of hyperparathyroidism in chronic kidney disease patients.
Research shows that watermelons stored at room temperatures have much higher levels of antioxidants (beta-carotene and lycopene) than those kept chilled in the fridge. Warm watermelons are even better than fresh-picked melons.

One caution: once cut, watermelons must refrigerated. So try to enjoy your watermelons as soon as you slice and dice them. Then keep your leftovers cool.
This phenomenon is known as "assortative mating" - when men and women tend to select partners according to nonrandom attributes such as height, religion, age and smoking habits.

Researchers have suggested that assortative mating by obesity could increase the already high prevalence of obesity by helping to pass on genes promoting excess weight to the next generation.
A new study highlighted the summer weight-gain phenomenon among young children. Researchers in the Midwest looked at the body mass index, which relates height to weight, of 5,380 students. They followed them for two years, from kindergarten through first grade, and found the average index grew more than twice as quickly over the summer than during the school year.

Children of the working poor may be especially at risk because they are left indoors while their parents are at jobs. While at home, kids eat and drink what they want, says Dr. Jennifer Bass, a pediatrician who chairs a national pediatricians special-interest group on obesity. Bass estimates as many as 30 percent of her patients are overweight.
The report, issued on Thursday, also urged changes in public and private insurance policies to encourage doctors to spend more time counseling patients on how to stay healthy by eating right, exercising and avoiding tobacco.

Federal, state, and local policies have actually made healthful foods more expensive and less available, have limited physical education in schools and created an environment that discourages physical activity, the report said.

High-Fat Foods No Good for Colon Cancer

Dr. Fuhrman makes it pretty clear. If you’re looking to prevent cancer, eating lots of animal products is a bad idea. Take intestinal cancer for example. Here’s a graph from Dr. Fuhrman:

And here’s some more news to support the link between animal foods and colon cancer. Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News reports that red meat, poultry, and dairy may raise colon cancer risk:
New research suggests that a nutrient in red meat, poultry and dairy products may contribute to the development of intestinal polyps, which can lead to colon cancer.

The study, which involved women only, was preliminary, and no one is yet suggesting a change in diet as a result.

However, the research into the nutrient, called choline, could ultimately lead to new dietary recommendations, said Eunyoung Cho, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Good thing the research mentions poultry because a lot of people think grilled chicken is some sort of savior. It's not. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Eat to Live:
Red met is not the only problem. The consumption of chicken and fish is also linked to colon cancer. A large recent study examined the eating habits of 32,000 adults for six years and then watched the incidence of cancer for these subjects over the next six years. Those who avoided red meat but at white meat regularly had a more than 300 percent increase in colon cancer incidence.1 The same study showed that eating beans, peas, or lentils, at least twice a week was associated with a 50 percent lower risk than never eating these foods.
But this next report muddies up the water a little bit. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, poultry, and fish lowers the risk of recurring colon cancer:
Colon cancer patients who eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, poultry and fish can significantly lower the risk of their cancer returning, new research suggests.

"We know a lot about how certain dietary things affect the risk of developing colon cancer in the first place but we didn't know, before this study, how diet affected persons who already have cancer," explained study author Dr. Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, an assistant professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Although the findings, which appear in the Aug. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, need confirmation, colon cancer patients might want to consider improving their eating habits.
Okay, the fruits and veggies are golden and we just talked about chicken, but remember, consuming too much fish is not without its problems either. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman brings up a scary risk:
Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. For example, subjects who ate meat, including poultry and fish, were found to be twice as likely to develop dementia (loss of intellectual function with aging) than their vegetarian counterparts in a carefully designed study.2 The discrepancy was further widened when past meat consumption was taken into account. The same diet, loaded with animal products, that causes heart disease and cancer also causes most every other disease prevalent in America including kidney stones, renal insufficiency and renal failure, osteoporosis, uterine fibroids, hypertension, appendicitis, diverticulosis, and thrombosis.3
So, what are the best foods for cancer-prevention? The answer should be obvious by now. Dr. Fuhrman’s favorites: fruits, vegetables, seeds, and beans. These posts will help fill you in:

No Diet Plans for the Obese

Clunky doctor-patient relationships don’t surprise me anymore. Given the amount of medical misinformation out there, you’ve got to question the exchange. Here’s what I mean. A new study found that obese patients don’t receive formal weight-management plans from their doctors. Amy Norton of Reuters reports:
The researchers reviewed the medical records of 9827 patients seen at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, between November 2004 and October 2005. A total of 2543 of these patients were obese.

Principal investigator Dr. Warren G. Thompson, and his colleagues, found that only 505, or about one in five obese patients had their condition formally documented. However, patients who did have a formal diagnosis of obesity were 2.5 times more likely to be given a plan of treatment, such as diet changes and exercise goals.

Obese patients who were older or male were less likely to have their condition documented, whereas patients who were morbidly obese, had diabetes mellitus, or obstructive sleep apnea, were more likely to be formally diagnosed, according to the study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal.
I’m a layman, so maybe I’m missing something, but as a doctor, if you have an obese patient, how do you overlook their girth? What do you do, skip it and move on to something easier to fix? Maybe so, check out this quote from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:
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.
I guess this is part of the same paradox as doctors who smoke.

Wednesday: Health Points

"It's clear in all the literature that the more days of school you miss, it really sets you up for such negative outcomes: drugs and AIDS and (teen) pregnancy," said Andrew B. Geier, lead author of the study. "At this early age to show that already they're missing school, and missing school is such a major setup for big-time problems, that's something school policy people have to know," he said.
I hate it when I fit the mold for some not-so-great research finding. Like the recent news about how women with early-stage cancer of the left breast (that's me) who are treated with radiation following lumpectomy (me again) face an increased risk of developing radiation-related coronary damage.
The new recall involves 18.2 million magnetic toys globally, including 9.5 million in the United States. All have magnets or magnetic parts that can be dislodged.
Vegetarians and fish eaters are getting a 6% discount on life insurance premiums by Animal Friends Insurance. The company's managing director told The Guardian that "The risk of vegetarians suffering from some cancers is reduced by up to 40% and from heart disease by up to 30%, but despite this they have to pay the same life insurance premiums as meat eaters.
People who smoke are about four times more likely to develop a leading cause of severe vision loss known as age-related macular degeneration, Australian researchers reported on Monday.
Hey, don't work so hard! Researchers recently found that moderate exercise, like 30 minutes of daily walking, may actually be better than rigorous exercise in preventing heart disease and diabetes. Lead author lead author and exercise physiologist Cris Slentz said the studies "show that a modest amount of moderately intense exercise is the best way to significantly lower the level of a key blood marker linked to higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. More intense exercise doesn't seem to do that."

Pot Bellies are Bad?

Brace yourself. Here comes some earth-shattering news. Ready? Pot bellies are bad for the heart! Shocking—that was sarcasm. Alan Mozes of HealthDay News is on it:
Banish the belly, not just the pounds: That's the heart-healthy advice from a new study that finds that "pot" bellies may be a big indicator of future heart disease.

"What we're seeing is a quite strong association between the pot-belly, apple shape among a relatively young group of people and the build-up of plaque in the arteries," said study co-author Dr. James A. de Lemos, an associate professor of medicine and director of the Coronary Care Unit at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

"Ten to 15 years down the road, this can lead to major cardiac problems, such as a heart attack," he said.

The findings are published in the Aug. 21 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 870,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, making it the leading killer of both men and women.
I guess a lot of people don’t realize how harmful even a little extra weight can be. That’s why Dr. Fuhrman encourages patients to keeping losing weight. Even if friends tell them they’re thin enough. From Eat to Live:
I often have patients tell me they think they look too thin, or their friends or family members tell them they look too thin, even though they are still clearly overweight. Bear in mind that by their standards you may be too thin, or at least thinner than they are.

Kids, Obesity, and Heart Disease

A chubby-cheeked kid might look cute, but, it’s hardly a sign of good health—now and in the future. New research has determined that childhood obesity boosts a person’s lifetime risk of heart disease. Alan Mozes of HealthDay News reports:
Compared to healthier youngsters, school-age children with the condition face a 14.5 times greater risk of cardiovascular disease when they reached their 30s and 40s, the study found.

Components of the syndrome include high blood pressure, high body mass, high blood pressure and high triglycerides (blood fats).

"I wasn't exactly shocked, but this is the first time we have shown that children who have this constellation of factors known as metabolic syndrome are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease in their adult years," said study lead author John A. Morrison, a research professor of pediatrics who also works in the division of cardiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

The findings are published in the August issue of Pediatrics.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 50 million Americans have the metabolic syndrome. The condition is typically diagnosed on the basis of having at least three of the following characteristics: abdominal obesity; high blood pressure; insulin resistance (in which the body can't process insulin or blood sugar properly); a high risk for arterial plaque build-up due to high levels of triglycerides, low HDL ("good") cholesterol and high LDL ("bad") cholesterol; and a high risk for clotting and inflammation as indicated by the elevated presence of certain blood proteins.
Sound familiar? Other than this being a painfully obvious conclusion. In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman maintains that heart disease starts young:
There is considerable evidence that the lipoprotein abnormalities (high LDL and low HDL) that are linked to heart attack deaths in adulthood begin to develop in early childhood and that higher cholesterol levels eventually get “set” by early food habits.1 What we eat during our childhood affects our lifetime cholesterol levels. For many, changing the diet to a plant-based, low-saturated-fat diet in later life does not result in the favorable cholesterol levels that would have been seen if the dietary improvements were started much earlier in life.

As a result of the heart-unfriendly diet, blood vessel damage begins early. Not only does the development of coronary atherosclerosis develop in childhood, but earlier development of atherosclerosis and higher serum cholesterol levels in childhood result in a significantly higher risk of premature sudden death relatively early in life. Sometimes the effects of childhood dietary abuses can be seen relatively early, with premature death or a heart attack at a young age.

When we study people who died young of coronary artery disease, we find that the highest risk of an earlier death occurs in those who were above average weight in childhood.2 Findings from the famous Bogalusa Heart Study show that a high saturated fat intake early in life is strongly predictive of later heart disease burden and the higher blood pressure in childhood and adolescence is powerfully predictive of cardiovascular death in adulthood.3

A low-fiber, high-saturated-fat diet with lots of animal products, dairy fat, white flour, and sugar creates a heart attack-prone person with high cholesterol levels. The anti-cancer lifestyle, a healthy diet style for the entire family, started early in life, will have the added benefit of making it easier for children to become heart attack-proof. A diet high in plant fiber shows a protective effect against developing high cholesterol, obesity, and elevated insulin levels. Eating more of the natural high-fiber plant food in childhood has a powerful protective effect on preventing later-life heart problems, even for those a strong family history of heart disease.4 For those whose family genetically predisposes them to heart disease, early-life dietary excellence can make the difference between a long life free of heart disease and a heart attack in one’s forties or fifties.
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Wait, Diet Foods are Junk?

Yeah. I know, hard to believe. New research has determined that low-calorie diet foods and drinks can actually contribute to obesity in children. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
The study found that animals learn to associate the taste of food with the amount of caloric energy it provides. The researchers speculate that children who eat low-calorie versions of foods that normally have a high calorie content may develop distorted connections between taste and calorie content, resulting in overeating as the children grow up.

"The use of diet food and drinks from an early age into adulthood may induce overeating and gradual weight gain through the taste conditioning process that we have described," lead author and sociologist Dr. David Pierce, of the University of Alberta, said in a prepared statement.

In a series of experiments published Aug. 8 in the journal Obesity, the researchers found that young rats started to overeat when they received low-calorie food and drink. Adolescent rats did not overeat when given low-calorie items.
You mean the standard American definition of low-calorie and all the misinformation it entails doesn’t work? No way! That was heavy sarcasm folks. Skip the low-cal junk food and try making your kids healthy snacks like these. From Followhealthlife’s recipe category:
Pita Apple Bake
2 apples, chopped
¼ cup raisins (optional)
2 tbsp. water or apple juice
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 whole-wheat pita, split and separated
Heat the apples, raisins (if desired), and water or juice over a low flame for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and mix in flaxseed and cinnamon. Cut pita in half and fill with apple mixture. Toast in the toaster oven on high for 3 minutes. Try it with other fruits, like pears or peaches, too.

Blueberry and Flax Yogurt
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup regular soy milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
3 medjool or 6 Deglet Noor dates
Blend until smooth. Chill and serve. Great for school lunches too.

Fuhrman Fudgsicles
2 ripe bananas
1 cup cashew nuts
2 tablespoons carob powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend ingredients together in blender or food processor. Spoon out into ice pop tray and freeze. Rinse outside of popsicle outside of popsicle tray with hot water to pull the pops out of the tray easily.

Legal Drug-Pushers

Melissa Healy of The Los Angeles Times investigates the forced entry of drug manufactures into the doctor-patient relationship. Take a look:
Drug manufacturers do everything in their considerable power to ensure that their brand-name prescription medications are on the lips of patients and in the minds of physicians every time the two meet across an exam table. A growing chorus of critics says their efforts have begun to rewrite the dialogue between patient and doctor, influence physicians' judgments and open the act of prescribing to forces more profit-minded than sacred.

In 2006, drug-makers spent almost $5 billion to reach out to consumers with direct advertising. But the glossy magazine ads and buzz-generating TV spots are just the most visible parts of a campaign to build and nourish markets for brand-name prescription products. The world's pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $19 billion annually to woo doctors. They sponsor teaching programs and research at universities across the country, gaining goodwill along the way. They give money to patient groups. They hire public relations firms to share patient stories of illness and triumph.

In a nation that consumed $279-billion worth of prescription medications in 2006 -- spending 80% of that on brand-name products -- their efforts appear to be paying off. Americans filling a prescription choose brand-name products 37% of the time, even though three-quarters of all prescription drugs in the U.S. are available in cheaper generics.

Fat Aussies, Big Problems

Like a lot of so-called “Westernized” countries, Australia is getting fatter and fatter. So fat, that Australian mortuaries are having a difficult time accommodating all the dead weight. Reuters reports:
Pathologists are calling for new "heavy-duty" autopsy facilities to cope with obese corpses that are difficult to move and dangerously heavy for standard-size trolleys and lifting hoists.

The bodies presented "major logistical problems" and "significant occupational health and safety issues," according to a separate study, which found the number of obese and morbidly obese bodies had doubled in the past 20 years.

Specially designed mortuaries would soon be required if the nation failed to curb its fat epidemic, providing "larger storage and dissection rooms, and more robust equipment," said Professor Roger Byard, a pathologist at the University of Adelaide.

"Failure to provide these might compromise the post-mortem evaluation of markedly obese individuals, in addition to potentially jeopardizing the health of mortuary staff."
For more on the endless roll of obesity news, check out Followhealthlife’s obesity category.

Puff-Puff, Do it--Do it!

This should make you angry. According to HealthDay News cigarette additives make smoking more addictive. I know, hard to believe—rolling my eyes. Randy Dotinga reports:
More than 100 of 599 additives that might be in cigarettes are potentially harmful, with some making cigarettes even more addictive and others making it difficult for people to detect tobacco smoke in their midst, a new study contends.

Trade secrecy about the ingredients in cigarettes makes it impossible to know how many of the additives that appear on a 1994 list are actually in tobacco products today. Still, there's plenty of reason to be alarmed, said study lead author Dr. Michael Rabinoff, an assistant research psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"They're making people less aware of tobacco [smoke] and making the cigarette more addictive," he said. "There is so much going on with these additives that it's an uncontrolled experiment on billions of people around the planet."

Contrary to what smokers might assume, cigarettes aren't simply tobacco rolled up in pieces of paper. "They're highly engineered by the industry to smoke in certain ways and taste in certain ways," said James Pankow, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University who studies cigarette smoke and tobacco additives.

Drug Sleepy Kids?

The world of prescription drugs just got darker. Apparently kids that have trouble sleeping are being prescribed medication, even though no sleeping pill has been approved for use in children—unreal! Alan Mozes of HealthDay News reports:
"The concern with sleep medications is that we don't know how much to use and how long to use these drugs for children," explained study co-author Milap C. Nahata. "This is because many drugs used for pediatric care in general -- including sleep medications -- have been well-studied and approved by the FDA but have not been studied for effectiveness and safety among children."

Nahata is a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine and a division chair at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy in Columbus. His team's study is being published in the Aug. 1 issue of Sleep.

The new findings complement a 2004 National Sleep Foundation poll that revealed that sleep difficulties are extremely widespread among the young.

That survey found that 60 percent of American boys and girls under the age of 11 experience some kind of trouble getting shut-eye at least a few nights a week, while nearly three-quarters of parents indicated that they would like to alter something about their child's sleep behavior.

Nahata and his colleagues noted that, in the United States, about 75 percent of all prescription drugs are not labeled for pediatric use, and not a single insomnia drug is indicated for use among young patients.

Heart Disease: Prevent, Prevent, Prevent!

I eat a vegetable-based diet, I spend hours at the gym, and, I avoid harmful foods like red meat and dairy. Why do I do all this? I’ll tell you why. I don’t want to be a statistic! I don’t want to be another American who dies prematurely. I don’t want heart disease! And as Jane E. Brody of The New York Times reports taking preventative measures is still the best way to avoid a heart attack:
While patients and their loved ones are no doubt extremely grateful for the ability of modern medicine to keep people alive and often well when their hearts are on the verge of giving out, the therapeutic approach to curbing the coronary death rate is like shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped. A more economical, not to mention less terrifying, approach is to prevent the development of this life-threatening and costly disease.

According to the new analysis, about 44 percent of the decline in coronary mortality during the 20 years studied was due to improvements in risk factors for heart disease: reduced cholesterol levels, better control of high blood pressure, a decline in smoking and a small rise in physical activity.

These changes have occurred largely through the seriously underfinanced efforts of public health advocates who for decades have championed the cause of primary prevention of heart disease. They started in the early 1960s with campaigns against smoking, continued with efforts to curb saturated fats, cholesterol and salt in the American diet and moved on to still-lagging efforts to get more Americans to be physically active.
Speaking of prevention—is it true? Is heart disease really preventable? Isn’t getting old, sick, and having heart attack a natural part of aging? After all, everyone’s doing it. No, Dr. Fuhrman makes it perfectly clear, declining health and premature death is not normal. Dr. Fuhrman elaborates in Is Heart Disease Totally Preventable:
If we do a careful look at the scientific evidence at our disposal, we can make some claims with a strong degree of certainty. It is my belief that every heart attack death is an appalling tragedy because that person did not have to die. I believe every bypass surgery, every angioplasty, and every emergency treatment for heart attack could have been prevented. If all cardiac patients, heart-disease sufferers, and even those who will soon die of cardiac arrest were given the option a few years ago to choose to eat and live healthfully in order to be free of heart disease, what do you think they would have chosen to do?

I am convinced that if all of these individuals had been convincingly informed that heart disease and premature death could be avoided and that health could be improved dramatically with changes in diet and lifestyle, they would not have chosen suffering and premature death. Faced with this sober choice, diet and lifestyle changes would seem a delightfully enjoyable choice.
Here’s more from Defeat Heart Disease Now:
Fortunately, we can win the war against heart disease by making a few simple, but profound, dietary and lifestyle changes. By following the recommendations in my book Eat to Live, virtually everyone can improve their heart health. In fact, if you start in time, you actually can make yourself heart-attack proof. I believe all people should be informed they have a choice to protect themselves.

There is no magic to heart health. Educating yourself with the latest scientific findings and eating a diet of delicious, natural, unprocessed food allows you to protect yourself and your family from the heart disease tragedies you see all around you.

Following this approach, you can achieve positive results simply by making the right diet and exercise choices—consistently, without the use of drugs or surgery. Almost everyone can achieve protection against heart disease by reaching the following goals:
  • Achieve an LDL cholesterol of 100 or lower.
  • Achieve a homocysteine level below 10.
  • Achieve healthful weight and blood pressure.
Now, if you’re still hungry for more. Check out these posts:

Booze and Bowel Cancer

Well, I doubt the local frat-boys are worried about this, but, new research links alcohol to the development of bowel cancer. The Cancer Blog is on it:
The research concluded that people who drink one or two glasses of beer or win per day increase their chances of developing rectal (bowel) cancer by 10 percent. Is that number such a big deal? Absolutely.

Sound like a low amount? It's not -- and the researchers apparently looked at more than 500,000 people in the study, so the results are quite statistically significant. Out of that population, 18,000 people were found to have bowel cancer and the researchers dug in deep until they found out the correlation(s) with certain lifestyle choices.
For Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on alcohol, read this post: Alcohol and Your Health.