February 11th, 2011
By: Steven Reinberg
Children who eat three or more hamburgers a week may raise their odds for asthma and wheeze, a new study suggests.
However, eating the so-called “Mediterranean diet” — rich in fruits, vegetables and fish — could cut kids’ respiratory risk, the researchers say.
“Our results support previous reports that the adherence to a Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables and fish and a low intake of meat, burger and fizzy drinks, may provide partial protection against asthma in childhood,” said lead researcher Dr. Gabriele Nagel, from the Institute of Epidemiology at Ulm University in Germany.
The report is published in the June 3 issue of Thorax.
For the study, Nagel’s team collected data on about 50,000 children from 20 rich and poor countries. Parents were asked about their children’s typical diet and whether they had asthma or not. In addition, almost 30,000 of the children were tested for allergies.
While diet did not appear to influence allergies, it was associated with the risk of asthma and wheeze, the researchers found.
Children in both rich and poorer countries who ate a lot of fruit had lower rates of wheeze.
Eating lots of fish seemed to protect children in rich countries, and a diet high in cooked green vegetables protected children in less developed countries from wheeze, Nagel’s group found.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidant vitamins and biologically active agents, and the omega 3 fatty acids prevalent in fish have anti-inflammatory properties, which might explain these findings, the researchers said.
“Overall, a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower lifetime prevalence of asthma and wheeze,” Nagel said.
On the other hand, children who ate a lot of burgers had a higher lifetime prevalence of asthma and wheeze, the researchers found. The finding was especially true for allergy-free children from more affluent countries.
But the burger finding could be a marker for other lifestyle factors that could boost a child’s for asthma, the researchers note. Meat in general was not seen to increase the risk of wheeze, the study found.
Pulmonologist Dr. Michael Light, a professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, agreed that diet can influence asthma.
“The data is fairly consistent that antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids play a role in the big picture,” Light said. “This doesn’t mean if you change your diet today you are going to cure your asthma. All the study is saying is that one of the explanations for asthma is probably related to diet,” he said.
Echoing these findings, results of a study presented May 16 at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in New Orleans showed that fatty meals were linked to impaired lung function.
In that study, Australian researchers tested people with asthma before and after a high-fat meal or after a low-fat meal. They found that the high-fat meal increased inflammation and reduced lung function.
“If these results can be confirmed by further research, this suggests that strategies aimed at reducing dietary fat intake may be useful in managing asthma,” the study’s lead author, Lisa Wood, a lecturer in biomedical sciences and pharmacy at the Hunter Medical Research Institute in New Lambton, said at the time.
December 21st, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
Manufacturers of sports drinks appear to have successfully deceived children and their parents into believing that their products are healthy, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center and published in the journal Pediatrics.
“Sports drinks have been successfully marketed as beverages consistent with a healthy lifestyle, which has set them apart from sodas,” said lead researcher Nalini Ranjit. “Children and parents associate these drinks with a healthy lifestyle despite their increased amount of sugar and lack of nutritional value.”
The researchers surveyed more than 15,000 eighth and eleventh graders about their activity levels and dietary intake. They found that children who participated in more sports and vigorous physical activities drank significantly less soda than less active children, but higher levels of sports drinks. Children with higher sports drink consumption also ate more fruits and vegetables, while children with high soda consumption ate less.
“Adolescents who engage in an otherwise reasonably healthy lifestyle with lots of physical activity and a healthy diet still consume large amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages in the form of flavored and sports beverages,” Ranjit said. “We believe that this is due to successful marketing that has led consumers to see these beverages as healthy.”
Ranjit noted that sports drinks contain sugar levels just as high as that found in soda, and that drinking just one such beverage per day could cause a person to gain 10 pounds over the course of a year.
Adolescents and their parents should be educated that sports drinks are not a healthy alternative to soda, she said, and should reserve such beverages for “extreme exercise.” The healthiest way to rehydrate in nearly all cases is still water.
“So-called sports drinks should be eliminated, since they are high in calories,” writes J. Douglas Bremner in the book Before You Take that Pill.
“Soda, juice, and energy and sports drinks contain empty calories that will make you fat; they also contain caffeine, which is addictive and makes you consume even more of those useless calories. If you are thirsty, drink water.”
October 19th, 2010
By: David Liu
In the Pink Month- the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we publish a report below to share with readers a study that suggests eating too much chips and fries, which are high in acrylamide, may increase risk of breast cancer.
It should be noted that not all studies are consistent and this study is observational, meaning the results do not prove that eating acrylamide rich foods will definitely raise the cancer risk even though the possiblity may not be excluded either.
High dietary intake of acrylamide may increase risk of certain types of breast cancer, a study published in the July 2010 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests.
Acrylamide, found in certain starchy foods particularly like thermally processed asparagine-rich potatoes like chips and fries, is a potential human carcinogen, which has been proved in animals to cause cancer while studies on the effect of this chemical on human carcinogenesis are few.
For the study, Pedersen G.S. and colleagues from Maastricht University in The Netherlands followed 62,573 women aged 55 to 69 who enrolled in the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer intiated in 1986 for incidence of breast cancer and dietary intake of acrylamide in the subjects.
During the 13-year follow-up, 2225 incident breast cancer cases were identified with hormone receptor status information for 43 percent of the cases.
Cox proportional hazards analysis showed that when the highest quintile of dietary acrylamide intake was compared to the lowest quintile of intake, no correlation was found for overall brast cancer or receptor negative breast cancer risk, rehardless of smoking status.
However, a statistically nonsignficantly elevated risk of ER positive, PR positive and joint rectpor-positive breast cancer was observed among never-smoking women.
Multivariable-adjusted analyses showed that those with highest intake of acrylamide were 31 percent more likely to develop ER+ breast cancer, 47 percent more likely to develop PR+ breast cancer, 43 perent more likely to acquire ER+PR+ breast cancer compared to those who had lowest intake of acrylamide.
Early laboratory studies revealed that acrylamide can interact with DNA in human breast tissue to form adducts which may potentially increase risk of breast cancer.
Acrylamide is widely present in many types of heat-treated foods. The toxic chemical is formed when an amino acid called asparagine reacts with reducing sugar like glucose.
The researchers of the current study concluded their study showed “some indications of a positive association between dietary acrylamide intake and receptor-positive breast cancer risk in postmenopausal never-smoking women.”
They acknowledged “Further studies are needed to confirm or refute our observations.”
Breast cancer is more commonly found in Western countries where potatoe chips and fries are more commonly consumed. An estimated 175,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 50,000 will die from the disease in 2010.
More reports will be published here in the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to help readers better understand breast cancer and how to prevent the disease.