Sunday, January 13, 2008

Most destined to lose battle of the bulge

MILLIONS of Australians are locked in the battle of the bulge - and most are destined for defeat. New research shows about half the adult population made New Year's resolutions to fight the flab. And most of the estimated 2 million Victorians who plan to lose weight in 2008 want to shed at least 10kg. But experts say many are heading down the wrong track, turning to fad diets, self-help books and other doomed quick fixes. "We know that most people who lose weight on a diet will regain it and most of those will regain it with interest," Deakin University nutrition expert Dr Tim Crowe said. "Not seeking out the latest quick-fix Hollywood fad diet should be No.1 priority."

But the national Newspoll survey found such quick fixes were exactly what most people pinned their hopes on. It found 55 per cent of people surveyed were looking for an easy answer, while just 42 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women intended to consult a doctor.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokesman Dr Trent Watson said individually tailored advice from a professional was essential. Dr Watson said diets, pills and wonder foods proclaiming fast weight loss should be avoided. "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is," he said. Dr Watson, from Clued on Food, said sensible weight loss of 1kg a week for men and 500g a week for women could be achieved with healthy eating plans. Healthy diets were based around foods from the four core food groups: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, meat and dairy. But it was important to allow for the odd treat....

The Newspoll survey of more than 2000 adults, commissioned by drug manufacturer Abbott Australasia, found half of Australians made New Year resolutions to lose weight. But just a quarter of them believed they would achieve their goal. Of those who went on a diet at the start of 2007, 68 per cent had gone back to their old ways within six months. The weight loss rollercoaster is fuelling a boom in sales of self-help literature, with eight diet books in the top 10 bestsellers list this year.


Cancer breakthrough may stop spreading through the body

Cancer could be stopped from spreading throughout the body following breakthroughs from researchers in the US and Britain. Scientists from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York have discovered that a handful of tiny scraps of genetic material, known as ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules, may control whether or not breast cancer travels to the lung and bone. When "microRNAs" are missing, cancer can spread freely, the scientists found. When they are restored, however, the cancer cells lose some of their ability to metastasise, putting the brakes on the proliferation of cancer.

The findings, which appear in the journal Nature, could help with the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer patients, according to Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Associate Prof Jane Visvader. "If we can understand how these microRNAs work, in the long term we can design therapeutic mimics," she said.

In Britain, by studying the growth of human embryonic stem cells, Dr Chris Ward and his team of scientists at the University of Manchester have discovered a key process in the spread of cancer. The study, published in the journal Cancer Research, used the stem cells to investigate how some tumours are able to migrate to other parts of the body, making cancer treatment much harder. The research, funded by the Association for International Cancer Research, found the protein E-cadherin stopped cells from migrating during normal growth. As well as helping cells stick together, researchers found that E-cadherin blocked the action of another protein known to increase the mobility of cells, opening up the potential for new targets to prevent tumour cells from spreading.

Australian Stem Cell Centre CEO, Prof Stephen Livesey, said the breakthrough could help pave the way for new drugs. "An understanding of this mechanism will allow researchers to develop and target more effective treatments to prevent the cancer spreading to other tissues," Prof Livesey said.

Dr Ward said the finding could be applied to 90 per cent of all cancers. "Finding out more about the mechanism that controls the spread of cancer cells will help us find new treatments that can prevent tumours spreading and make them essentially harmless," he said.

However Prof Livesey cautioned the cancer treatment was still far off. "While each new breakthrough such as this one from the University of Manchester is a step closer to more effective cancer treatments, it is also practical to remember that the development of new drugs is a complex process that can take many years," Prof Livesey said.



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 correlation 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 conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions 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.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


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