More Red Meat, More Mortality

meat

Risks: More Red Meat, More Mortality
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Published: March 12, 2012

Eating red meat is associated with a sharply increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease, according to a new study, and the more of it you eat, the greater the risk.

The analysis, published online Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine, used data from two studies that involved 121,342 men and women who filled out questionnaires about health and diet from 1980 through 2006. There were 23,926 deaths in the group, including 5,910 from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 from cancer.

People who ate more red meat were less physically active and more likely to smoke and had a higher body mass index, researchers found. Still, after controlling for those and other variables, they found that each daily increase of three ounces of red meat was associated with a 12 percent greater risk of dying over all, including a 16 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death and a 10 percent greater risk of cancer death.

The increased risks linked to processed meat, like bacon, were even greater: 20 percent over all, 21 percent for cardiovascular disease and 16 percent for cancer.

If people in the study had eaten half as much meat, the researchers estimated, deaths in the group would have declined 9.3 percent in men and 7.6 percent in women.

Previous studies have linked red meat consumption and mortality, but the new results suggest a surprisingly strong link.

“When you have these numbers in front of you, it’s pretty staggering,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Frank B. Hu, a professor of medicine at Harvard.

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Scientist who saved the world

Sherwood Rowland, the scientist who saved the world

F. Sherwood Rowland
It’s not often you can say that someone saved the world — and mean it literally.

But that’s the case with F. Sherwood Rowland. The UC Irvine chemist, who died Saturday at 85, was one of three scientists who won the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry, The Times reported, for their work “explaining how chlorofluorocarbons, ubiquitous substances once used in an array of products from spray deodorant to industrial solvents, could destroy the ozone layer, the protective atmospheric blanket that screens out many of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.”

In hindsight, it seems straightforward: Bad stuff was eating away a vital part of Earth’s environment. So get rid of it.

But it wasn’t so simple in 1974, when Rowland and fellow scientist Mario Molina published their concerns in the journal Nature.

As The Times says, the findings “were met with scorn by the chemical industry and even by many scholars. For a decade, Rowland and Molina persevered to prove their hypothesis, publishing numerous scientific papers and speaking to sometimes hostile audiences at scientific conferences. It took almost 15 years for the international scientific community and chemical industry to accept the pair’s findings.”

Hmmm, starting to remind you of a little something called “climate change,” is it?

But here’s something of a vital difference between the ozone debate and the current climate change one:

Manufacturers began to phase out chlorofluorocarbons in the late 1980s, prompted by the discovery of an ozone “hole” over Antarctica that formed each winter in response to weather conditions and the falling worldwide levels of ozone. The Montreal Protocol, a landmark international agreement to phase out CFC products, was signed by the United States and other nations in 1987.

The protocol was proof that nations could unite to address common environmental threats, Rowland contended. “People have worked together to solve the problem,” he said.

Rowland was right then.  Nations did unite to address a common environmental threat.

But have we taken that lesson to heart?  Will we accept the scientific consensus on climate change and work together to save the planet?

Or will it continue to be a political football, at least in the United States, where too many politicians are opting for short-term partisan gains at the risk of the planet’s future?

Donald Blake, a colleague of Rowland’s at UC Irvine, told The Times that Rowland considered the phase-out of CFCs his greatest achievement.

It would be a shame if Rowland won the ozone battle — but the rest of us lost the war for Earth’s survival.

Calcium

MILK, A CATCH-22

Calcium Without the Cow
by
Charles R. Attwood, M.D., F.A.A.P.

 note from the school dietitian was handed to me by a young mother of a 7 year old boy. “Billy’s diet has come to our attention,” it read, “because he no longer selects milk in the cafeteria.” He had recently given up milk at my suggestion because it worsened his asthma and eczema. The note went on to conclude, “Milk is absolutely necessary for for protein and calcium!” This last sentence was heavily underlined. I quickly realized how concerned Billy’s mother was, because there was also a history of osteoporosis among several elderly members of her family.

Calcium

This dilemma is encountered most frequently by families who are trying to reduce saturated fat and animal proteins in their diets. They’ve read that both may increase the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, but worry about calcium balance and bone density if milk, the chief source of saturated fat for children, is discontinued. I often reassure concerned parents that some bowing of their child’s legs is normal up to the age of 3, and is not due to a calcium deficiency or rickets. Dental decay in early childhood, causes the same concern, but ironically it is partially due to the frequent bathing of the teeth with milk, rather than a calcium deficiency.

Why is this paranoia so common among Americans? The milk-calcium-bone density myth has been created and perpetuated by the intense lobbying of the dairy industry throughout the lifetimes of most adults living today.

Throughout kindergarten and grade school, most of the nutrition teaching aids were supplied by the American Dairy Council. As a result, most parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, and significantly, members of congress grew up with the not unbiased view that milk is a necessary and wholesome food for both children and adults. The council’s most effective campaign tool has been to link milk, calcium, and bone density.

To further confuse the consumer, milk and infant formulas have been fortified with vitamin D, which is necessary for proper calcium absorption. It may also be obtained by eating sardines, herring, salmon, tuna, egg yolk, and fish oils. However, none of these are necessary, because it’s manufactured in adequate amounts by exposure to as little as 10-15 minutes of sunlight about three times a week. Rickets may be prevented in children getting no sunlight–such as the totally disabled, by a vitamin D supplement, if the parents do not wish to feed them fortified milk.

The true connection between milk and strong bones isn’t exactly what the dairy industry has been telling us all these years. Calcium balance, the relationship between the intake and loss of the mineral determines bone density, mostly during childhood and adolescence. Good bone density attained by the age of 18 usually lasts a lifetime for people consuming a balanced plant-based diet and remaining physically active. Milk and other dairy products, although rich in calcium, are high in animal protein, which has been shown to create calcium loss through the urinary tract. A 1994 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference concluded that calcium balance and bone density depended at least 3O percent on the ratio of intake to loss, not on calcium intake alone. According to a report in Science magazine in 1986, evidence is accumulating that calcium intake (considered alone) is not related to bone density

This may explain why countries consuming the most milk also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. Exceptions exist, but a common determining factor seems to be the high protein consumption in populations who require very high levels of calcium intake. For instance, the RDA of calcium in the United States is up to 1,200 mg daily. This is much higher than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 500 mg. for children and 800 mg for adults. Areas of the world where dietary protein is very low have low national recommendations. In Thailand, for example, the recommended daily intake of calcium is only 400 mg. for all ages. Elderly South African Bantu women, who consume a very low protein diet (5O grams daily, compared with 91 grams for Americans) and only 450 mg. calcium daily, have no osteoporosis despite the calcium drain of nursing an average of 10 children. On the other hand, Eskimos, consuming a very high protein diet (250-400 grams) of fish, and a calcium intake of over 2,000 mg daily, have the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world!

Now, let’s take a new look at milk and dairy products as a calcium source, regardless of their protein content. Calcium expressed as mg. per 100 calories instead of per gram show milk and cheese at the bottom of the list and green vegetables at the top (see chart).

 

At first glance, one may conclude, “but I would have to eat so much more spinach or kale to get adequate calcium.” Not so, individuals on a plant-based diet generally eat as many total calories as meat and dairy-eaters. In other words, adequate amounts of vegetables are BETTER SOURCES OF CALCIUM THAN MILK AND CHEESE. Also, consider that a cup of broccoli contains about the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk. But wait! Haven’t we been told that many green vegetables contain oxalic acid, which reduces the absorption of their calcium. This too, has been exaggerated by the dairy lobby. A 1990 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that greens such as broccoli and kale have high levels of calcium which is absorbed at least as well as that in milk. Excellent calcium balance on a non-dairy diet is easily attained because ALL vegetables and legumes contain calcium, and collectively it’s more than adequate. This calcium stays in the bones, unlike much of that from the high protein-containing dairy products.

Now it begins to make sense. In cultures where the most protein is consumed, the calcium requirement for good bone density and protection against osteoporosis may be UNATTAINABLY high, without supplements — it’s a Catch-22. But for the majority of the world population, and among those consuming a plant-based diet in Western countries, calcium requirements for normal bone density are easily obtained without milk or other dairy products. Milk, it now seems clear, is not the solution to the malady of poor bone density. It may be a part of the problem, and you can have your calcium without the cow.

Want to avoid dementia?

Eat Less Meat, Dairy To Protect Brain

Eat Less Meat, Dairy to Protect Brain

 

We’ve said it all along, and the research supports it. Want to avoid dementia? Then avoid meat and dairy. It’s so mainstream, it’s on the front of CNN.com.

Here’s an excerpt:

Eating a diet rich in healthy fats and
limiting dairy and meat could do more than keep
your heart healthier. It could also help keep you
thinking clearly.

New research shows that sticking to the
Mediterranean diet, previously shown to reduce
heart and other health issues, also may help
lower the risk of having small areas of dead
tissue linked to thinking problems. Known as
brain infarcts, they’re involved in vascular
dementia, the second most common form of
dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease.

“We’ve got these diseases of aging that cause
disability, cost a ton of money to treat and
manage, and wreck people’s lives,” said Dr.
Gregory Cole, a professor of medicine and
neurology at the University of California, Los
Angeles, who was not involved in this new study.
“You’ve got to get in there and figure out what
actually works for prevention, and not have
people guessing.”

A Mediterranean diet includes a lot of fruit,
vegetables and fish, olive oil, legumes and
cereals, and fewer dishes containing dairy, meat,
poultry, and saturated fatty acids than other
diets. It also involves small to moderate amounts
of alcohol.

A Mediterranean Diet has less of what’s bad for you in it. It’s definitely better than the Standard American Diet, but not nearly as good as a healthy plant-based diet.

The closer you eat to a 100% plant-based diet, the healthier you can be.

High-risk medication-chemotherapy

‘It’s such a high-risk medication’: Researchers uncover potential errors in chemotherapy use at Canadian hospitals

The study just published in the Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice stemmed from unique research that involved HumanEra scientists actually “embedding” themselves in the pharmacies at six hospitals across Canada and observing how work was done.

Getty Images The study just published in the Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice stemmed from unique research that involved Human Era scientists actually “embedding” themselves in the pharmacies at six hospitals across Canada and observing how work was done.

Canadian researchers say they have uncovered several potential errors that could dangerously undermine the production of chemotherapy solutions — and threaten “catastrophic” consequences for some of the thousands of cancer patients treated with the drugs daily.

The just-published findings by scientists who “embedded” themselves in hospital pharmacies are already triggering changes in the facilities, and are part of a broader investigation into chemo safety prompted by the overdose death of an Edmonton cancer patient.

The wider probe uncovered mistakes such as hooking up patients to the wrong infusion pump, delivering the drugs perilously quickly and failing to infuse the crucial chemical cocktail at all.

A report on those findings was produced two years ago, but has never been reported on publicly before.

The toxic nature of chemotherapy makes it particularly critical to avoid errors in its use, said Rachel White, the latest study’s lead author and a “human-factors” expert at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN).

Dosing of chemotherapy and the timing is a really complicated balance

“It’s such a high-risk medication,” said Ms. White, a researcher with HumanEra, a UHN project that aims to find systemic problems behind medical blunders, estimated to cause thousands of deaths a year in Canada.

“You bombard the system with these drugs, trying to get as many bad cells as you can, but accepting that you’re also going to take out some of the good cells as well. So dosing of chemotherapy and the timing is a really complicated balance.”

Given how dangerous chemotherapy can be, the work of preparing treatments is often stressful, especially when numerous patients are awaiting their infusions, said Kathy Gesy, Saskatchewan’s provincial leader of oncology pharmacy services. The system has taken to heart, however, the findings and advice highlighted in the new study and other research, she said.

“In the last four or five years, there have been major changes in how we work, all focused on safety,” said Ms. Gesy.

The overhaul quietly taking place in Canadian oncology wards stems largely from that Edmonton death in 2006 and the “courageous” decision by Dr. Tony Fields, head of the city’s Cross Cancer Institute, to make the tragic mishap public, said Ms. White. Dr. Fields was one of the authors on the latest study, along with the UHN’s Dr. Anthony Easty.

The Cross centre’s 43-year-old patient died when her infusion pump was wrongly programmed and a potent dose of the drug fluorouracil surged into her body over four hours, instead of the intended four days. A subsequent report by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices uncovered evidence of at least seven other accidental, fluorouracil-related deaths in recent years, though it was unclear if any occurred in Canada.

Ms. White and other members of HumanEra were asked to review the whole process of administering chemotherapy.

Their report in 2011 included results of a survey of 331 doctors, nurses and pharmacists involved in cancer care, who reported over 230 adverse events involving chemotherapy, though it is possible different people cited some of the same incidents.

The problems included attaching the wrong infusion pump to a patient, incorrectly calculating the volume of drugs, and “numerous cases” of the pump being clamped shut so the patient absorbed none of the medication. There were also 67 reports of events reminiscent of the Edmonton accident, the pump malfunctioning so it delivered too much or too little medicine. One professional reported “at least two incidents where … infusers emptied much faster/sooner than they were supposed to and patients were very ill as a result.”

That report and others have already brought about significant change, said Ms. White, like extensive new training on operating the pumps, and use of pre-printed forms that make ordering the drugs clearer.

The study just published in the Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice stemmed from unique research that involved HumanEra scientists actually “embedding” themselves in the pharmacies at six hospitals across Canada and observing how work was done.

The team highlighted three serious flaws: The lack of a second worker in some pharmacies to check whether a chemotherapy solution had been properly combined; work surfaces where several bags of chemicals were being prepared at one time, raising the risk of mix-ups; and failing to keep a label bearing the patient’s name attached to the infusion bag at all times, increasing the chances of giving patients the wrong drugs. The study includes a photograph of a pharmacy technician with a jumble of prescriptions pinned to a board above his bench, with the corresponding bags below, not unlike a busy restaurant cook surveying dinner orders.

Once the bag leaves the pharmacy, though, no one would know a mistake had been made, the researchers note. They are launching a new study to analyze the contents of completed chemotherapy bags to determine how often they contain the wrong ingredients.

National Post