“Pancreatic Cancer Update”Mar 17, 2019
Jeopardy host, Alex Trebek, announced his grim news saying, “Just like 50,000 other people in the US each year, I was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Normally the prognosis is not very encouraging,” he continued, “But I am going to fight this. I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.” The cancer almost always strikes after age 45, with 71 the average age at diagnosis. Trebek is 78. Stage IV means the cancer has spread to other organs, and surgery is almost always not possible. Pancreatic cancer often spreads to the liver. While pancreatic cancer survival rates have been improving from decade to decade, the disease is still basically incurable. According to the American Cancer Society, for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20%, and the five-year rate is 7%. These low survival rates are attributable to the fact that fewer than 20% of patients’ tumors are confined to the pancreas at the time of diagnosis; in most cases, the malignancy has already progressed to the point where surgical removal is impossible. The overall five-year survival rate is about 10%, although this can rise as high as 20% to 35% if the tumor is removed completely and when cancer has not spread to lymph nodes. The median survival rate of people with stage IV pancreatic cancer is about 18 months, with half surviving longer and half dying sooner.
“Three Stinky Healthy Foods”Mar 10, 2019
Famously odiferous or “stinky” foods can add flavor to your meal. And, they do a lot more for you than leaving you with bad breath. Vegetables in the allium family—onions, garlic, leeks—have a big stinkin’ number of healthful benefits, not the least of which is fighting cancer. In a study, adults who ate high amounts of garlic, leeks, and onions (known as allium vegetables) had a 79% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than adults who consumed low amounts. Here’s a big stinking plateful of other benefits that these foods offer. Besides adding zesty flavor to soups and salads, and as a tasty topping to burgers, onions are a great source of quercetin, which inhibits low-density lipoprotein oxidation, a process involved in atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Maybe an onion a day will keep the doctor away. Other foods, such as apples and tea, also contain quercetin; however, quercetin from onions is absorbed at twice the rate as that from tea and more than three times that from apples. Onions also help to break up platelet aggregation, which is associated with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. The more pungent the onion, the greater the antiplatelet activity it has. According to the National Onion Association, investigators have shown that increased onion consumption is also associated with lower risk for stomach, bladder, and colorectal cancers. Most of the beneficial compounds in onions don’t form until you cut the onion.
“Dietary Supplement Sales Soar With No Scientific Proof”Mar 03, 2019
There is a mountain of failed studies on the benefits of dietary supplements, but people continue to buy them by the bucket loads and gobble them down. Americans spend about $40 billion annually, as global sales reach $133 billion. But why? In 1996, the Physicians’ Health Study randomly gave men beta-carotene or placebo for 12 years and showed no difference in cardiovascular disease (CVD), or for that matter in malignant neoplasms or overall mortality. In fact, other evidence showed that beta-carotene might actually increase the risk for lung cancer in smokers. The Women’s Health Study of almost 40,000 women older than 45 years compared beta-carotene with placebo and also found no benefit in terms of stroke, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular death. The evidence for vitamin C and vitamin E has been equally disappointing, despite great hope that as antioxidants, they would have some benefit. The second Physicians’ Health Study compared vitamin E, vitamin C, or both against placebo in over 14,500 men and found no reduction in stroke, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular mortality. The Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study tested beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E in 8,171 women over 9 years of follow-up and also found no benefit. The ability of folic acid to lower homocysteine levels initially held promise, but subsequent reviews showed it was not associated with a reduction in CVD.
“Ten Dreaded Diseases Reappear”Feb 24, 2019
We have witnessed a reappearance of many dreaded diseases. Once effective treatment or prevention exists for a disease, the hope is that the disease will fade from public health. But illnesses don’t always go away and can lurk in the shadows only to later re-emerge. Some of these diseases reappear because people fail to get vaccinated while others evolve to become more virulent and resistant to current treatments. Let’s look at 10 diseases that have been making a comeback in recent years. 1) Syphilis. Syphilis used to be a lot less prevalent, but this sexually-transmitted infection (caused by Treponema pallidum) has been on the rise in the 21st century. Fortunately, syphilis is susceptible to treatment with penicillin. 2) Measles. With more parents foregoing vaccination for their children, measles has again reared its ugly head. Just in 2019 so far, 79 cases have already been reported—compared with 63 cases in the entire year of 2010, according to the CDC. 3) Plague. Plague—or the “Black Death” as it was referred to in the Middle Ages—is making a comeback in the developing world and in parts of the United States, including Idaho, California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
“Breakfast Myths”Feb 17, 2019
For more than 100 years, health advocates have called breakfast “the most important meal of the day.” Many have also recommended that breakfast be the largest meal of the day, citing the old adage: Eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince, and eat dinner like a pauper. Mom may have been right in telling you that breakfast may be the most important meal of the day but there appear to be myths about calorie consumption and weight loss surrounding the subject. Over the past 50 years we have been bombarded with messages extolling the health benefits of various processed cereals and porridge oats. Around a third of people in developed countries regularly skip breakfast. We were told that breakfast helps our metabolism and that skipping it will make us much hungrier, so we’ll overeat and put on weight. These are not just old wives’ tales because they have been studied scientifically. The disadvantages of skipping breakfast have now been debunked by several randomized trials. No evidence supports the claim that skipping breakfast makes you gain weight or adversely reduces your resting metabolic rate. Furthermore, reasonable evidence now suggests that skipping breakfast can actually be a useful strategy to reduce weight.
“Deceptive and Fraudulent Health Claims”Feb 10, 2019
We are living in a pill-popping and dangerously over-medicated society. The current opioid crisis has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths, prompting a major class action lawsuit. False and fraudulent advertising fills television commercial and newspaper ads. In 2008, researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, that nearly a third of antidepressant drug studies, which showed that the drugs do not work, are never published in the medical literature. Published studies which present unfavorable results have been recast (re-written) “to make medicines appear more effective than they really are.” Researchers conclude that, “Selective publication can lead doctors to make inappropriate prescribing decisions that may not be in the best interest of their patients and, thus, the public health.” Dietary supplements present an even worse case of false advertising, which amounts to blatant, sleazy dishonesty.
“Fried Food Controversy”Feb 03, 2019
The best Southern dishes seem to be fried. But, some scientific studies are cautioning against too much fried food. A 2010 study found too much fried fish may contribute to the high rate of stroke in America’s “stroke belt.” Experts found, “People living in the stroke belt – including residents of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana – were about 30 percent more likely to eat two or more servings of fried fish every week than those living in the rest of the country.” There is evidence that frying fish reduces their amount of omega-3 fatty acids and frying is also associated with an increase in the food’s fat and calorie content. A 2012 study, published in Annals of Neurology, has shown that older women who eat high amounts of the kind of fat found in fried foods and baked goods face a greater risk of stroke than women who eat lower fat diets. A 2019 study has shown that frequent consumption of fried foods, particularly fried chicken and fried fish/shellfish, was correlated with a higher risk of all cause and cardiovascular mortality in this study population. Total or individual consumption of fried food was not generally linked to cancer mortality. Total fried food consumption of at least one serving per day was associated with a modestly higher but not significant risk of cardiovascular mortality.
“Dementia Can Begin Early”Jan 27, 2019
A frightening thought is the loss of one’s memory. An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or some other form of dementia and those numbers will jump to 13.8 million by 2050. Until now, the general consensus was that the onset of cognitive decline, associated with dementia, did not begin until 60. A study published in the British Medical Journal, conducted by an Inserm research team, shows that our memory and capacity for reasoning and understanding start to decline at the age of 45. The study estimated 43.8 million cases of dementia worldwide in 2016, which represented an increase of 117% from the number of cases in 1990 (20.2 million). The highest age-standardized prevalence rates of dementia were reported in Turkey and Brazil, and the lowest were found in Nigeria and Ghana. Dementia was the fifth-leading cause of mortality worldwide in 2016. The age-standardized prevalence of dementia was 17% higher among women vs men in 2016, and the number of women who died of dementia was nearly double that of men. Tragically, nearly a half-million new Alzheimer’s cases will be diagnosed annually. The prevalence of dementia approximately doubled for every 5-year increase in age between 50 and 80 years. Increased life expectancy implies a significant rise in the number of elderly people. clinical studies demonstrate a correlation between the presence of amyloid plaques in the brain and the severity of cognitive decline. It would seem that these amyloid plaques are found in the brains of young adults.
“Daily Fiber Intake is Important”Jan 20, 2019
Fiber is an essential part of a healthful diet, and most Americans do not meet the recommended daily guidelines. Meeting the daily recommended intake of fiber can provide many health benefits. High-fiber foods are an essential part of a healthful weight loss diet. It is important to consume the right amount of fiber each day, spread throughout the day. A less common problem is when a person eats too much fiber too quickly, which can cause digestive problems. Fiber is the carbohydrate component of plant-based foods that is not digested or absorbed as it moves through the intestine. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the following approximate daily intake: men require about 34 grams (g) depending on their age and women require about 28 g depending on their age. Eating more than 70g per day is not advised and can have adverse effects. When increasing the amount of fiber in the diet, it is best to start slowly, increasing it gradually to allow the digestive system time to get used to it. According to a new review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), eating more dietary fiber and whole grains protects against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. For every 15 g increase in daily consumption of whole grains, total deaths and the incidence of CHD, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer decreased by 2% to 19%.
“Cancer Incidence Still Increasing”Jan 13, 2019
Cancer is expected to become the leading cause of mortality and the greatest barrier to increasing life expectancy in every country in the 21st century. The rapid worldwide growth in cancer incidence and mortality reflect aging and growth of the population; changes in the prevalence and distribution of the main risk factors for cancer, some of which are linked to socioeconomic development; and marked declines in mortality rates of stroke and coronary heart disease compared with cancer in many countries. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) now cause most deaths worldwide. In 2018, an estimated 18.1 million new cases cancer were diagnosed globally, and 9.6 million died from the disease. One in 5 men and 1 in 6 women worldwide will develop cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 8 men and 1 in 11 women will die from cancer. Cancer incidence and mortality are rapidly growing worldwide. Worldwide, the total number of people who are alive within 5 years of a cancer diagnosis (the 5-year prevalence) is estimated to be 43.8 million.