Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Journal abstract below:

Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study

By Katherine L Tucker et al.

Background: Soft drink consumption may have adverse effects on bone mineral density (BMD), but studies have shown mixed results. In addition to displacing healthier beverages, colas contain caffeine and phosphoric acid (H3PO4), which may adversely affect bone.

Objective: We hypothesized that consumption of cola is associated with lower BMD.

Design: BMD was measured at the spine and 3 hip sites in 1413 women and 1125 men in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study by using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Dietary intake was assessed by food-frequency questionnaire. We regressed each BMD measure on the frequency of soft drink consumption for men and women after adjustment for body mass index, height, age, energy intake, physical activity score, smoking, alcohol use, total calcium intake, total vitamin D intake, caffeine from noncola sources, season of measurement, and, for women, menopausal status and estrogen use.

Results: Cola intake was associated with significantly lower (P < 0.001-0.05) BMD at each hip site, but not the spine, in women but not in men. The mean BMD of those with daily cola intake was 3.7% lower at the femoral neck and 5.4% lower at Ward's area than of those who consumed <1 serving cola/mo. Similar results were seen for diet cola and, although weaker, for decaffeinated cola. No significant relations between noncola carbonated beverage consumption and BMD were observed. Total phosphorus intake was not significantly higher in daily cola consumers than in nonconsumers; however, the calcium-to-phosphorus ratios were lower.

Conclusions: Intake of cola, but not of other carbonated soft drinks, is associated with low BMD in women. Additional research is needed to confirm these findings.


Comment: The effect was very small and the blame the researchers attach to phosphorous appears to be contradicted by their finding: "Total phosphorus intake was not significantly higher in daily cola consumers than in nonconsumers". Losing bone mass in the hip but not the spine is also strange. The researchers' failure to control for any measure of social class is also deplorable. Maybe it is evil of me to mention it, but poorer people tend to drink more Coke and to have poorer health. Where a middle-class person gets his/her caffeine fix from his/her barista, a working class person gets his/her caffeine fix out of a can. I suspect that the present findings simply confirm that poor people have poorer health. Definitely a case of "more research is needed"


Pregnant women have been warned against consuming too much oily fish, as scientists believe it may increase the risk of delivering the baby too early. Researchers told New Scientist magazine the harm is probably caused by high mercury levels in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines. However, experts warn that it is still important to eat at least two portions of fish a week. Indeed, studies indicate that eating enough fish can boost the birth weight and brainpower of babies and help prevent premature labour in pregnant women.

Species, such as shark, marlin and swordfish should be avoided though, because they are particularly high in mercury and other pollutants, according to a BBC report. Girls, women who are breastfeeding and those trying for a baby should eat two portions of oily fish per week, and other women, men and boys, can eat up to four portions.

The latest work in New Scientist, also published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, looked at 1,024 pregnant women living in Michigan, the US. Dr Fei Xue and colleagues measured the amount of mercury these women had in their hair and compared this with the date that the women delivered their babies. The women who gave birth more than two weeks early were three times as likely to have double the average mercury level in their hair samples. On the whole, these women also tended to eat more oily fish, and particularly canned fish. Only 44 of the women gave birth prematurely, however, and the researchers said more work was needed to corroborate their findings.

They also pointed out that the women were asked to recall how much fish they had eaten, which might be inaccurate. It is also possible that the women could have been exposed to mercury from other sources too, they said.


("If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there'd be no room for tinkers". I hope there are still some people who understand that old saying. No product of a "modern" education would, of course)


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? [/sarcasm].


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