Thursday, November 15, 2007


As a frequent drinker of Australia's excellent wines, I am strongly disposed to believe good things about wine. But the story sure is not straightforward. The study below looks at blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) and shows that chemicals similar to those found in wine have very complex effects when administered to rats. Low doses promote healing generally but leave you more open to cancer. But high doses slow down both cancer and healing. So which way do you jump? I guess if you have cancer you booze like mad and hope you don't get any other problem that requires healing. It seems, however, that the average guy should AVOID wine -- as it may make it easier for cancer to attack you. Nasty! It does seem to be something of a boot in the rump for the antioxidant believers.

As it is only a rat study and did not use actual wine, however, we should not jump to conclusions yet. It should also be noted that the doses used were fairly extreme. One wonders why. Is is because doses in the normal range have no effect? Popular summary below followed by journal abstract

Chemicals found in red wine, fruits, vegetables and green tea may prevent both cancer and heart disease, depending on the dose, claims a new study in the FASEB Journal this week. Red wine in particular contains high levels of these chemicals, called antioxidant polyphenols. By studying the effects of polyphenols on rats, scientists discovered that very high doses could prevent the formation of new blood vessels, while very low doses increased blood vessel growth. So high doses of polyphenols -- which could be given in tablet form -- have the potential to shut down the growth of cancerous tumours by reducing their blood supply. And low doses of polyphenols, equivalent to one of a glass of red wine per day, could be beneficial for those with diseased hearts and circulatory systems.


Effects of red wine polyphenols on postischemic neovascularization model in rats: low doses are proangiogenic, high doses anti-angiogenic

By Celine Baron-Menguy et al.

Polyphenols, present in green tea, grapes, or red wine, have paradoxical properties: they protect against cardiac and cerebral ischemia but inhibit angiogenesis in vitro. So we investigated the effects of polyphenols in vivo on postischemic neovascularization. Rats treated with low (0.2 mg kg-1 day-1) or high (20 mg kg-1 day-1) doses of red wine polyphenolic compounds (RWPC) were submitted to femoral artery ligature on the left leg. Two wks after ligature, high doses of RWPC (i.e., 7 glasses of red wine) reduced arterial, arteriolar, and capillary densities and blood flow in association with an inhibition of a PI3 kinase-Akt-endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) pathway, decreased VEGF expression, and lower metalloproteinase (MMP) activation. Low doses of RWPC (i.e., 1/10th glass of red wine) increased the left/right (L/R) leg ratio to control level in association with an increased blood flow and microvascular density. This angiogenic effect was associated with an overexpression of PI3 kinase-Akt-eNOS pathway and an increased VEGF production without effect on MMP activation. Thus, low and high doses RWPC have respectively pro- and anti-angiogenic properties on postischemic neovascularization in vivo. This unique dual effect of RWPC offers important perspectives for the treatment and prevention of ischemic diseases (low dose) or cancer growth (high dose).

FASEB Journal. 2007;21:3511-3521


Journal abstract here. The study summarized below looks pretty bad. It says that asthmatic mothers permanently damage the breathing of their children if they breastfeed. As some degree of asthma is pretty common, that throws a lot of mothers onto the bottle. I am a bit skeptical about the study, however. It relies on self-report of breastfeeding and who knows how accurate that is and which social classes are more likely to distort it? Breastfeeding was not as fashionable 16 years ago (the period studied) so maybe the long breastfeeders were working class and the health effect seen is simply a class effect. Who knows? But it does sound a note of caution to those who tyrannize women who use the bottle from an early age. It looks like the tit can pass on bad things as well as good things

Breastfed babies breathe better in later childhood, except when mum has asthma, concludes a study in the latest issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The study involved 679 children who performed lung function tests at ages 11 and 16. Compared to children who stopped exclusively breastfeeding before two months of age, those breastfed for four months or more had increased lung capacity. But this was only true in the children of non-asthmatic mothers. Babies with asthmatic mothers showed no improvement in lung capacity with longer breastfeeding. In fact, the children of asthmatic mothers showed a significant reduction in lung airflow if they were breastfed for four months or more. The authors stress, however, that more research is needed before changing breastfeeding recommendations, especially considering the many health benefits of breast milk.



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].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correla-tion coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic condi-tions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his anal-ysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic condi-tions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.


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