Friday, August 14, 2009

Beer keeps bones strong, scientists find

This probably just means that working class people tend to have heavier bones to start with. It would be mostly working class women who drink beer. One speculation is as good as another

Beer could stop bones from going brittle, research has shown. A study found that the bones of women who drink beer regularly are stronger, meaning they are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis. But wine does little to protect against the disease, the journal Nature reports.

It is thought that the high level of silicon in beer slows down the thinning that leads to fractures and boosts the formation of new bone. Beer is also rich in phytoestrogens, plant versions of oestrogen, which keep bones healthy. Bones are made up of a mesh of fibres, minerals, blood vessels and marrow, and healthy ones are denser with smaller spaces between the different parts.

The researchers asked almost 1,700 healthy women with an average age of 48 about their drinking habits. They then underwent ultrasound scans, which showed the bones in the hands of beer drinkers to be denser. The women's hands were chosen because the bones in the fingers are among the first to show signs of osteoporosis.

Those classed as light beer drinkers - having less than a pint a day - fared just as well as those in the moderate bracket, suggesting that even small amounts can boost bone health.

The Spanish researchers said: 'Silicon plays a major role in bone formation. Beer has been claimed to be one of the most important sources of silicon in the Western diet.' Three million Britons are affected by osteoporosis.


Two-for-one supermarket deals face the axe in Britain

Stupid flailing at the wind which will achieve nothing. If people are careless with their money in one way, they will be careless in other ways. And if people tend to waste their money on food, why is it anybody else's business but theirs? The amount of manufactured food (which most food is these days) produced simply reflects the amount demanded. A more extensive comment from Britain here

Buy-one, get-one-free offers could be banished from supermarket shelves under a government plan to reduce Britain’s food waste mountain. Supermarket chiefs will be told instead to offer half-price deals and package food in a greater range of sizes to suit the single person’s fridge as well as the family’s.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is demanding that stores agree to a tough target on reducing food waste or face legislation that forces them to make savings. Buy-one, get-one-free deals, known as “bogofs”, are one of the main reasons why a third of all food is wasted, a report on food security and sustainability found.

Households throw away 4.1 million tonnes of food each year that could have been eaten if it had been managed better, according to Wrap, the Government’s waste watchdog. Food waste costs the average household £420 a year and the average person throws away more than their own weight in food annually. Single-person households, now almost a third of all homes, waste the most, partly because bogofs encourage them to buy quantities they cannot eat by the use-by date.

The report said that the new industry target on food waste, which would be set next year and cover the period to 2015, would have to save households at least £370 million a year. Supermarkets will be encouraged to phase out bogofs on perishable food. In the interim, they will be required to give shoppers advice on how to reduce wastage, for example with labels on whether items can be frozen and recipes for overripe fruit and vegetables.

Defra and the Food Standards Agency are also preparing new guidance to reduce confusion about date labels on food. Wrap research found that millions of people did not know the difference between “sell-by” and “use-by” dates and also failed to realise that they could eat food after the “best-before” date.

A new label, the Healthier Food Mark, will be launched this year for food that meets minimum standards for nutrition and sustainability. Hospitals and prisons will buy food with the mark and it will be rolled out nationwide from 2012.

Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, is also seeking to relax restrictions on GM food, by permitting more trials of GM crops in Britain and allowing more imports of GM grains for feeding livestock.

The British Retail Consortium said it would resist attempts to restrict bogofs. “Retailers know their customers better and should be allowed to decide what’s the best policy,” a spokesman said. People who took home more than they could eat should give it to family and friends, he added.


The osteoporosis jab: Twice-yearly treatment cuts the risk of spinal fracture in women by two thirds

A cheap twice-yearly jab to treat osteoporosis could soon be available in Britain. Successful trials of the drug denosumab have shown it dramatically cuts the number of spine and hip fractures in women, and helps bones regrow. It has also been found the drug can help men with prostate cancer who are undergoing hormonal therapy, which raises the risk of bone loss.

The latest data on almost 8,000 post-menopausal women having an injection every six months found it cuts the risk of suffering a spinal fracture by two-thirds. The risk of a hip fracture was cut by 40 per cent, while there was a 20 per cent reduction in the chances of other broken bones. Women also regained up to 9 per cent of bone density during treatment in the three-year trial.

The data from these trials, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is being evaluated by the European drug safety authority. Licensing approval could be granted within a few months and denosumab may be available on the NHS in 2010. Although a final price for the drug has to be agreed, it will probably cost between £50 and £80 a year per patient - cheaper than some other osteoporosis drugs currently available.

Professor Graham Russell, of Oxford University, said: 'These results suggest that denosumab offers an important new approach to prevention of fractures in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis.' He added that because the drug was administered by an injection it would be more convenient for patients who had problems taking oral therapy.

In a separate trial of 1,400 men undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer, injections over three years resulted in a two-thirds lower risk of spinal fracture compared with a 'dummy' treatment. There was a 'significant reduction' in the risk after just one year of treatment, and an increase in bone density.

Study author Dr Matthew Smith, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Centre in the U.S., said there were currently no approved treatments for bone loss in men having prostate cancer treatment. He said: 'Bone loss and fractures are an important but often unrecognised problem for prostate cancer survivors. 'In this large international study, denosumab markedly increased bone mineral density and decreased the risk of fractures in many men receiving androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer. 'The efficacy of denosumab was apparent as early as one month and was sustained for three years,' he added.

Denosumab works in a different way to existing medicines as it stimulates patients' immune systems to block a protein called rank ligand, which triggers the breakdown of bone strength in sufferers.

But there are side effects, the most common being joint pain, back pain and high blood pressure and cellulitis skin infection. [A lot depends on how severe and frequent these effects are]

At least 120,000 patients a year suffer fractures in the vertebrae of the spine and 60,000 others break their hips. At least 5,000 men each year are treated with hormonal therapy for prostate cancer.

Professor Roger Francis of the National Osteoporosis Society said: 'We welcome this forthcoming and exciting new treatment. 'This drug is not yet licensed for use, but when available, it will add to the choice of drug treatments available for people at risk of breaking a bone because of osteoporosis. 'However, patient safety is paramount and, as with any new drug to market, risks and side effects will need to be fully assessed.'

The drug is being developed by Californian biotechnology company Amgen, which has applied for a marketing licence in Europe. A spokesman said: 'We hope it will be licensed shortly and available to patients next year.' The drug will be assessed by the Government's rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence before being allowed widespread use on the NHS.


1 comment:

John A said...

In re "bogof" how much is actually perishables, such as fresh veg, meat, fish, etc.?

A market here has specials every week, advertised as "10 for 10" - buy ten of an item for ten dollars, usually a savings of 20-40 percent. But: they are for "shelf-stable" goods, mostly canned, which can be kept safely for years. Too, you do not have to buy ten: you can buy one and get the sale price.

Yes, the same store has "bogof" on perishables, and you must buy two. Usually, this is dairy goods: cheeses, ice cream... Occasionally fruit. Rarely vegetables, never [unfrozen] meat (sometimes packaged meat such as bologna, but buying a single package once again gets the halved price).