Sunday, August 05, 2007

Another hymn to the wonders of fruit

Sadly, these miracles normally fade to nothing when subjected to those pesky double-blind trials

A QUEENSLAND-made punch packed with anti-oxidants killed the cells of five different cancers in clinical tests, it has been claimed. Prostate, breast, bladder, colon and stomach cancer cells were all dramatically reduced after just two weeks of treatment with Dr Red's Blueberry Punch. "It was a very significant drop in cell numbers, and we found that the more concentrated the dose (of punch), the greater the reduction in cancer cells," University of Sydney research fellow Dr Jas Singh said. Dr Singh's team also injected immuno-deficient mice with prostate cancer cells, and after two weeks, found the tumours were 30 per cent smaller.

Brisbane urologists Doctor John Yaxley and Professor Robert Gardiner now plan to take the tests a step further, by undertaking human trials in partnership with the University of Queensland. Up to 150 prostate patients are expected to participate at the invitation of their doctor. "It will be up to their urologist whether they think the patient is appropriate," Professor Gardiner, who hoped to begin the trials in the next few months, said.

Dr Red's owner, biochemist Greg Jardine, said he never set out to make a medicinal product - only a wine with three times the anti-oxidants of standard drinks. "It wasn't our idea. It was the market. People would say 'I'm going to take this wine for my cancer' and I'd say 'No, it's just wine'," said Mr Jardine, from his Mount Nebo vineyard. The punch contains a range of anti-oxidant rich ingredients including ginger and turmeric juices, the pulp of oranges, lemons, mandarins and limes, grapes, grapeseed and grape skin, as well as tarragon and blueberries - lots of blueberries.

"We use a quarter of a kilo of blueberries in every (750ml) bottle. We go through about a tonne a week," Mr Jardine said. He said he was trying to keep the cost of the punch down, but the price of ingredients made that difficult. "It's not cheap. It works out at about $1.15 a glass, and there are 30 glasses in every $40 bottle. "We recommend 25ml a day, but in the trial they were using three glasses a day," he said.

Brisbane dietician Nicola Fox said it was pleasing to see a product prepared to undergo scientific tests. "There's lots of natural products that make all sorts of claims, but they're yet to be tested," Ms Fox said.


An unusual Leftist politician in Australia -- a food realist

LABOR'S push to banish cartoon characters from promotions of food to children have given one of the party's candidates a mild bout of indigestion. George Colbran, who is standing for the ALP in the Queensland electorate of Herbert, operates nine McDonald's restaurants, making him one of the fast food chain's biggest Australian franchisees. He argues that childhood obesity has been over-simplified by those who blame "junk" food. "Junk food: I get upset about that," Mr Colbran told the Herald. "How can a piece of meat put into bread with lettuce and cheese, eggs and muffins and so forth, be considered junk?"

Mr Colbran says voters in the Townsville electorate are far more concerned about the parlous state of local roads and poor access to broadband. He reckons plans by the Opposition health spokeswoman, Nicola Roxon, for restrictions on advertising food to children will never become Labor policy. This week Ms Roxon expressed concern that the character of Shrek was being used to sell everything from yoghurt to chocolate eggs as a marketing tool to get children to pester their parents into buying the products.

Mr Colbran said obesity was a complex issue. "There is a propensity for kids to be bigger now than they were when I was growing up, and there are a lot more reasons for that than McDonald's. "It's to do with lifestyles, kids in front of television and computer screens, kids being driven to school and picked up rather than riding their bicycles."

Herbert is important for Kevin Rudd's chances of winning the federal election, which hinge on whether the ALP can make electoral gains in Queensland. Labor has sought to improve its chances by selecting more candidates with business backgrounds like Mr Colbran. Labor believes a crackdown on food advertising will be popular among parents. But Mr Colbran's remarks suggest the plans may alienate another demographic, owners and employees of the estimated 11,000 food retailing franchises around the country.



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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