Monday, June 02, 2008

Vitamin D helps with breast cancer?

Talk about simple-minded inferences! The old fraudulent "correlation is causation" mantra again! The researchers below were wise enough to ask WHY some women had less vitamin D but examined only a few possibilities. That it was the underlying causes of the vitamin deficiency rather than the vitamin deficiency itself which interacted with cancer, cannot therefore at all be eliminated. Lifestyle factors such as drug use were not examined as influences on D levels nor were basic demographic factors such as race and class. Such factors are known to have an effect on health generally and any one of such variables could have produced the relationship observed.

That the relationships involved were complex is suggested by the finding that fatties had low D levels. Yet fatties get LESS breast cancer in general. I think that goes close to showing that D levels were NOT the critical factor. Pesky to know your research literature, isn't it?

As is usual with epidemiological studies, this one proves exactly nothing. The research abstract is here

WOMEN who have low levels of vitamin D when they are diagnosed with breast cancer are almost twice as likely to see the cancer spread and 73 per cent more likely to die within 10 years, research has found. The findings, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting in Chicago yesterday, represent the first time researchers have been able to link not having enough of the vitamin to the progression of breast cancer. The research is considered significant because it raises the possibility of treating breast cancer using a cheap, easily available nutrient.

Women with insufficient levels of vitamin D were 94 per cent more likely to have the disease spread within a decade than those with sufficient levels. More than a quarter of these women eventually died from the disease. But after 10 years, cancer did not spread in 83 per cent of women with adequate vitamin D levels and 85 per cent were still alive.

The study was conducted at three Canadian hospitals and followed 512 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1989 and 1995. Only a small number of women (24 per cent) had adequate levels of vitamin D when diagnosed, with 37.5 per cent having low levels and 38.5 per cent having moderately low levels. Women who were pre-menopausal, weighed more, had high insulin levels or more aggressive tumours generally had a deficiency.

Vitamin D is found in food and supplements and is made by the body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. It is necessary for bone health.

Professor Pamela Goodwin of the University of Toronto said although the new research showed that poor vitamin D levels raised the risk of death from breast cancer, scientists had not yet determined the optimum amount to be taken as a supplement.


Mediterranean diet prevents diabetes?

Here we go again: More Mediterranean diet crap. Note: Australians live longer than Italians or Greeks and the traditional Australian diet is about the opposite of the traditional Mediterranean one. And if lifespan is not the bottom line I don't know what would be. So everybody should be eating lots of steak, chops, sausages, hamburgers, meat pies, mincemeat (ground beef), sausage rolls, buttered bread, cheese, vegetables boiled to death and sticky desserts! That's what I and most Anglo-Australians grew up on -- a version of the traditional British diet

The whole Mediterranean shtick is just another way of telling ordinary people how stupid and wrong they are and how superior people know better -- and facts be damned in the process.

The study below was methodologically pathetic anyway -- as even the BBC concedes -- being based on self-reports, small numbers of diabetics etc.

The Mediterranean diet, which is famously beneficial for the cardiovascular system, also helps protect against diabetes, researchers have found. The mainstays of the Mediterranean diet are olive oil, fish, grains, fruit, nuts and vegetables, usually supplemented by a modest amount of red wine. Meat and dairy products have only a minor role.

Researchers at the University of Navarra in northern Spain recruited 13,753 people between December 1999 and last November who had no history of diabetes. Their health and dietary habits were then tracked in detail. During the follow-up period - an average of 4.4 years over the range of participants - 103 people were diagnosed with Type2 diabetes and there was a large preponderance of cases among those who did not follow the basics of the Med diet.

Those who adhered to the diet most strictly enjoyed a relative reduction of 83per cent in the risk of diabetes, according to the research, published yesterday by the British Medical Journal. Many people in this group also had the biggest accumulation of risk factors for the disease - they were older, fatter, had a family history of diabetes and a more sedentary lifestyle or were former smokers. But they appear to have been shielded by the diet, the authors say.

Type 2 diabetes has become an epidemic in developed and developing countries. The blame has been pinned on a switch to sugary and fatty diets and a sedentary lifestyle. The less common Type1 diabetes is caused by permanent destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and usually occurs early in life.


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