Monday, May 21, 2007


The study below is just another weak epidemiological one so cannot in any case be taken too seriously but note that the most common skin cancers -- BCCs -- were NOT shown to be affected by a meat diet and that the more serious cancers -- SCCs -- were shown as meat-related only on the very borderline of statistical significance. That the subgroup of the sample with a cancer history who then got more cancers were big meat-eaters could mean anything -- including a determination among them to enjoy life while they could. What it CERTAINLY shows is that the sample matters and since this sample had no known representativeness, no generalizations can be extracted from it

Dietary pattern in association with squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: a prospective study

By Torukiri I Ibiebele et al.

Background: The role of diet in the development of skin cancer is inconclusive, and the effect of the combined consumption of foods has never been reported.

Objective: We prospectively investigated the association between dietary patterns and cutaneous basal cell (BCC) and squamous cell (SCC) carcinoma.

Design: Principal components analysis of 38 food groups was used to identify dietary patterns in 1360 adults aged 25-75 y who participated in a community-based skin cancer study in Nambour, Australia, between 1992 and 2002. We obtained baseline information about diet, skin color, and sun exposure factors. Multivariate-adjusted relative risks (RRs) for BCC and SCC tumors were estimated by using negative binomial regression modeling.

Results: Two major dietary patterns were identified: a meat and fat pattern and a vegetable and fruit pattern. The meat and fat pattern was positively associated with development of SCC tumors (RR = 1.83; 95% CI: 1.00, 3.37; P for trend = 0.05) after adjustment for confounders and even more strongly associated in participants with a skin cancer history (RR = 3.77; 95% CI: 1.65, 8.63; P for trend = 0.002) when the third and first tertiles were compared. A higher consumption of the vegetable and fruit dietary pattern appeared to decrease SCC tumor risk by 54% (P for trend = 0.02), but this protective effect was mostly explained by the association with green leafy vegetables. There was no association between the dietary patterns and BCC tumors.

Conclusion: A dietary pattern characterized by high meat and fat intakes increases SCC tumor risk, particularly in persons with a skin cancer history.

Diabetes breakthrough

QUEENSLAND scientists are developing a drug that could prevent people from becoming diabetics. Professor Ian Frazer said initial tests had been carried out and researchers were planning overseas clinical trials of the drug. If successful, it could be used to treat patients at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, the former Australian of the Year said.

In Type 1 diabetes the body's immune system destroys the cells that make insulin, a hormone that controls sugar levels. The drug would work by changing the body's immune response and preventing it from attacking itself. Australia has one of the highest rates of Type 1 diabetes in the world with about 140,000 people affected. If not properly managed it can lead to blindness, kidney disease and heart disease.

Prof Frazer, who is famous for developing a cervical cancer vaccine, said Type 1 diabetes had reached epidemic proportions. "We can identify who is at risk from developing diabetes by doing blood tests or by knowing they have a family history of the disease, but we can't use that information to prevent them from getting it," he said. "But using a drug to change the body's immune response would stop the body attacking itself and prevent diabetes occurring. "This is part of a worldwide effort in this area and we like to think we are at the forefront of it."

The research, led by Professor Ranjeny Thomas, was carried out at the Diamantina Institute for Cancer, Immunology and Metabolic Medicine at Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital. It has been welcomed by diabetics who endure daily insulin injections and a strict diet to control the illness. Dr Gary Deed, president of Diabetes Australia and a GP in Brisbane, was encouraged by Prof Thomas's research. "Something like this would be great because we could identify that diabetes was present in a family, say if a brother or sister had it, and then give the sibling a medication so they don't ever have to go through it," he said. "Diabetes is a chronic illness and you really wouldn't wish it on anyone. It's really sad when you diagnose young children with it. "I have a three-year-old patient and she can't inject herself so her parents have to. The burden it puts on families as well as the stress on individuals is really terrible to see."

Schoolgirl Amy Leverington, 13, was diagnosed with the disease in December 2004 and injects herself four times a day with insulin. She has a five-year-old brother and three-year-old sister who she hopes will never have the disease. "It would be excellent to be able to give them a drug and guarantee they will never have to go through what I do," she said. "Any step forward into finding a cure is a positive step."


More on "The Secret"

Mentioned here yesterday

PUBLISHING phenomenon The Secret has been slammed by a health expert as ridiculous and unhelpful. The book, which has sold more than five million copies worldwide, could encourage readers to be self-obsessed, greedy and deluded, some experts say.

The Secret, by former Melbourne reality show producer Rhonda Byrne, says people can get whatever they want simply by thinking positively. It also suggests that people are poor, ill, overweight and disadvantaged by not thinking positively enough. The book and accompanying DVD became a publishing sensation after US TV tastemaker Oprah Winfrey devoted two shows to it.

More than 500,000 copies of the book will be printed for Australian readers by the end of next month, according to publisher Simon and Schuster. The Secret seems certain to eclipse other top-selling New Age phenomenons including Conversations With God, The Da Vinci Code and The Law of Attraction.

"But there's nothing new in Rhonda Byrne's book," said Melbourne psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. "It's cognitive behaviour therapy taken to ludicrous extremes. "It's really not helpful."



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? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.


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