Thursday, April 30, 2009

Heart-protective properties in red wine

If you have scanned this blog you have likely noticed that I primarily deal with issues of the heart and cancer since they are topics of concern to me for very personal reasons. I subscribe to a newsletter Heart, Health & Nutrition A Cardiologist's Guide to Total Wellness . The latest newsletter by Dr. Stephen Sinatra is titled "The Scary Truth About Alcohol and Breast Cancer". He does mention in the article the supposed heart protective properties of red wine which I alluded to in this blog entry's title, but with this statement... "Dr. Sinatra never endorsed daily wine consumption for heart disease prevention…and thank goodness he didn’t! After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the French have the highest rate of cirrhosis of the liver in the world! That’s not a safe trade off. "

The article mainly deals with the results from an ongoing “Million Women Study” in the UK released this past winter and concluded this:

"The bottom line…Women who drank as little as one alcoholic beverage a day significantly increased their cancer risk"

If you are interested in more details I suggest you read the complete article written by Jan Sinatra, Cardiac Care Nurse, and Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s wife here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A good look at good health

Recently came across the Dr Briffa's web site which he calls "A good look at good health". I am finding it very interesting and am still perusing his many articles.

Whats different about his web site? In his own words - "The work of Dr John Briffa cuts through the hype and fear, bringing you useful, intelligent and practical health information..."

One I that I found I'll post here because it is of particular interest to me (the reason I post anything to my blog), and does cut through the hype and fear we usually hear or read is titled "Does eating meat really increase our risk of colon cancer? follows. Thanks in advance Dr. Briffa. Full credit given.

- Dr Briffa’s Blog - http://www.drbriffa.com -
Does eating meat really increase our risk of colon cancer?
Posted By Dr John Briffa On March 18, 2009 @ 3:51 pm In Healthy Eating, Unhealthy Eating!

I generally rate meat (including red meat) as a food for those who choose to eat it. However, I appreciate that not all health professionals share my enthusiasm for this food: often, individuals will remind us to eat ‘lean’ meat to avoid consuming so-called saturated fat that ‘causes’ heart disease. Except, the evidence doesn’t really support this stance: most epidemiological studies do not support a link between saturated fat and heart disease, and there really is a distinct dearth of evidence suggesting that cutting back on saturated fat is beneficial to the heart (or has broad benefits for health for that matter).

The other common criticism levelled against meat is that it causes bowel cancer. Indeed there have been some studies that appear to show a link between meat-eating and an increased risk of this condition. However, such studies are epidemiological in nature, and therefore cannot be used to prove that it’s the meat that is a genuine problem in this regard.

Imagine for a moment that meat does NOT cause colon cancer. The any apparent association between meat and colon cancer might be down to, say, the fact that individuals who eat a lot of meat might also be more likely to exhibit more in the way of unhealthy behaviours such as cigarette smoking or a sedentary lifestyle. Also, focusing just on the diet for a moment, those eating more meat may end up eating less of other foods that might have a preventive role, such as fruits and vegetables. In other words, it may not be the presence of meat, but the absence of other foods, that causes the apparent link between meat and colon cancer.

Because of these factors, we need to be somewhat wary, I think, about concluding that meat causes colon cancer. And it should also be borne in mind that there is plenty of evidence that does not support an association. For example, a review of the available literature published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that of 44 relevant studies, most (31) found no apparent association between red meat intake and colon cancer risk [1].

All this might be worth bearing in mind when one considers the results of a study published on-line in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [2]. This study looked at the risk of cancer in individuals categorised as meat eaters, fish eaters (those who don’t eat meat but do eat fish), vegetarians (no animal foods other than eggs and/or dairy products) and vegans (no animal products).

Compared to those eating meat, vegetarians and vegans turned out to have an increased risk of colorectal (cancer in the colon or rectum). Risk in these people was 39 per cent higher than in meat eaters. They also compared risk of colorectal cancer in individuals classed as vegetarian (vegetarian and vegans) with non-vegetarians (eaters of meat and/or fish). Here, vegetarians had a 49 per cent increased risk of colorectal cancer.

The authors describe these findings as ‘surprising’, and suggest that the explanation for them might be partly due to chance or other dietary differences between the groups. However, you want to explain it, the findings of this study most certainly do not support the notion that meat-eating puts people in mortal terror of cancers in the large bowel.

And neither do the results of a study, also published on-line recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [3]. This review of several studies found no statistically significant association between either animal fat or animal protein intake and risk of colorectal cancer. It should be pointed out that this study received funding from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Pork Board.

It seems from the science as it stands that there is good reason to challenge the commonly-held belief that eating meat increases the risk of bowel cancer.

1. Truswell AS. Meat consumption and cancer of the large bowel. Eur J Clin Nut 2002;(suppl 1):S19-S24
2. Key TJ, et al. Cancer incidence in vegetarians: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford). 2009;89(suppl):1S-7S
3. Alexander DD, et al. Meta-analysis of animal fat or animal protein and colorectal cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1-8
Article from Dr Briffa’s Blog: http://www.drbriffa.com
URL to article:
Copyright 2008 Dr John Briffa

Statins Sinister Side-effects

Quotes from Daily mail article.

"Statins are the new NHS wonder drug for cutting cholesterol. But do they have sinister side-effects?

By John NaishLast updated at 8:27 AM on 10th March 2009
Lower intelligence, memory problems, nightmares, depression, suicide...
Statins are the new NHS wonder drug for cutting cholesterol. But do they have sinister side-effects?
Could statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs taken by more than three million Britons, be doing more harm than good to many thousands of patients? This is the rather alarming suggestion to emerge from two new studies.
The research challenges the medical convention that lowering your cholesterol is always a good thing - indeed, they suggest statins may affect intelligence, cause depression and even raise the risk of suicide.
The studies add to a growing body of evidence that having low cholesterol levels may prove as dangerous as having high readings."
"These reputable studies show how people with markedly low levels of cholesterol are more likely to die from a variety of causes, including strokes, certain cancers, liver disease, lung disease and suicide.
The deaths from these other causes mount so quickly that the mortality rate for those with low cholesterol equals the rate for people with very high cholesterol, who are likely to die from heart disease."
Read the full article in the Daily Mail's health section.