Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Guinness 'may be good for you' after all

Ignore the "antioxidant" explanation given below. Antioxidants are the medical equivalent of global warming -- used to explain just about anything. The only interesting thing is whether the study was double blind or not. I suspect not but I have been unable to find the journal article behind the report below. It seems to recycle a 2003 report -- perhaps because the 2003 report has finally reached journal publication. The author would appear to be Prof. J.D. Folts but Medline does not yet list the Guinness article. Prof. Folts is normally a grape-juice enthusiast

The old slogan "Guinness is Good For You" may actually be true, according to new medical research that suggests the stout may help prevent heart attacks. University researchers in the US claim that drinking a pint of the black stuff each day may be as effective in preventing heart attacks as an aspirin because it can reduce heart clots.

Trials at the University of Wisconsin used dogs with narrowed arteries similar to those in people with heart disease to compare effects of drinking stout with those of drinking lager. They found Guinness reduced clotting activity but lager did not. The research concluded that the "antioxidant compounds" found in Guinness are similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, making the stout work as well as aspirin in the prevention of heart clots. The researchers said that the most benefit they saw was from taking 24 fluid ounces of Guinness - just over a pint - at meal times.

Blood clots can trigger heart attacks if they lodge in arteries that supply blood to the heart. Many patients at risk of heart attacks are prescribed low-dose aspirin, which reduces the blood's ability blood to form clots.

Guinness was ordered to stop using its famous "Guinness is Good For You" advertising slogan decades ago. The original 1920s campaign stemmed from market research which found that Guinness drinkers felt good after a pint. At one point in England post-operative patients used to be given Guinness, as were blood donors, because of its high iron content. Pregnant women and nursing mothers were also advised to drink the stout - but present advice is against this. Diageo, which now manufactures Guinness said "We never make any medical claims for our drinks" and reiterated their calls for "responsible drinking."

The UK is the largest market in the world for Guinness.


Psychosis discovery looks like a big leap forward

ANTIDEPRESSANTS could prevent the onset of schizophrenia if prescribed before the first psychotic episode, a ground-breaking study by a Sydney researcher has found. The research found that the brains of people who showed early signs of the disorder, such as impaired thinking or reduced social skills, had less of a protein which helps produce and maintain neurons and their pathways. That protein - brain-derived neurotrophic factor - can be regulated by second-generation antidepressants, such as Prozac or Zoloft, preventing the development of full-blown psychosis which can cripple a sufferer's relationships and job prospects.

Dr Cyndi Shannon-Weickert, the professorial chair of schizophrenia research at the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, has spent five years studying the neurobiology of schizophrenia and is excited by what could be the disorder's "first pharmacological change in treatment in 60 years". "This is exciting work because if we have prevented schizophrenia, we have cured it," she said.

Studies on prevention have focused on the prodrome, which is the phase of illness before psychosis. During that time, which lasts between two and 10 years, people may show changes in the way they process information or deal with others, but not suffer from hallucinations or delusions. "They may be paying less attention at school, have less motivation or be withdrawing socially from their friends," Dr Shannon-Weickert said. It is that window of opportunity she wants doctors to seize, because if the prodromal phase is not recognised and treated, the person will eventually suffer psychosis and be diagnosed with schizophrenia. Sufferers are usually treated with antipsychotic medications after they experience their first psychotic episode, but the medications are not well-tolerated due to side effects such as weight gain, lethargy, constipation and blurred vision. In one study of 13 prodromal adolescents who became psychotic, 12 had gone off their medication for one month or longer. Antidepressants were better tolerated because their side effects were milder so the compliance rate was much higher, she said.

In post-mortem studies, Dr Shannon-Weickert found the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in those on antidepressants was double that of those who were not. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is found in the hippocampus, cortex and basal forebrain and is vital to learning, memory and higher thinking. Low levels have been linked with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease and dementia. Mice born without brain-derived neurotrophic factor suffer developmental defects in the brain and the nervous system, and usually die soon after birth.

"We now know we have this window where we can reverse this disorder so we really need to start focusing on early intervention," she said. "People at risk need to start taking antidepressants as early as possible." Schizophrenia affects about 200,000 Australians. One in six will take their life. "Within a decade I think we will see quite a paradigm shift with this disorder," Dr Shannon-Weickert said. "It won't help the people who currently have schizophrenia, but it stop future generations from developing it."



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.



jensen said...

I tend to eat way too much trash but reading your blog has inspired me to eat healthier. Listening to your point of view automatically makes me want to go on a diet just to separate myself from your point of view.

jonjayray said...

If you do lose any weight you will just end up finding it again -- so I will have the last laugh