Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chocolate cuts death rate after heart attack (?)

It would be nice to believe this but I am afraid that it is just another overinterpreted epidemiological finding. Chocolate eaters got fewer heart attacks. Why? The article below offers a speculation that is popular but goes against the evidence. The experimental evidence is that antioxidants SHORTEN your life, if anything. Studies here and here and here and here and here and here and here, for instance. That they are of benefit is a great theory but it is one that has been coshed by reality plenty of times. So it is more likely that wealthier people ate more chocolate and that they were healthier anyhow

Heart attack survivors who eat chocolate two or more times per week cut their risk of dying from heart disease about threefold compared to those who never touch the stuff, scientists have reported. Smaller quantities confer less protection but are still better than none, according to the study, which appears in the September issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine. Earlier research had established a strong link between cocoa-based confections and lowered blood pressure or improvement in blood flow. It had also shown that chocolate cuts the rate of heart-related mortality in healthy older men, along with post-menopausal women.

But the new study, led by Dr. Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is the first to demonstrate that consuming chocolate can help ward off the grim reaper if one has suffered a heart attack. "It was specific to chocolate - we found no benefit to sweets in general," said Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a co-author of the study. "It seems that antioxidants in cocoa are a likely candidate" for explaining the lifesaving properties, he said in an e-mail.

Antioxidants are compounds that protect against so-called free radicals, molecules that accumulate in the body over time and can damage cells and are thought to play a role in heart disease, cancer and the aging process.

In the study, Dr. Janszky and colleagues tracked 1,169 non-diabetic men and women, 45-to-70 years old, in Stockholm County during the early 1990s from the time they were hospitalized with their first heart attack. The participants were queried before leaving the hospital on their food consumption habits over the previous year, including how much chocolate they ate on a regular basis.

They underwent a health examination three months after discharge, and were monitored for eight years after that. The incidence of fatal heart attacks correlated inversely with the amount of chocolate consumed. The results held true for men and women, and across all the age groups included in the study.

So should we all be loading up on cocoa-rich sweets? "To be frank, I'm pretty cautious about chocolate because we're working on weight problems with so many individuals," said Dr. Mukamal, who is also a physician. "However, I do encourage those who are looking for healthier desserts to consider chocolate in small quantities," he said.


Poisonous weed found in grocery salad

This sounds like a timely warning. For American readers, the reference to "rocket" is a reference to arugula. I'll stick to lettuce, myself. Picture of groundsel below

A CUSTOMER shopping at a discount supermarket store in Germany found stems of a poisonous weed in mixed salad bags, triggering concerns about potential health risks, the store said.

Traces of senecio vulgaris or common groundsel, that can cause extensive liver damage if ingested in large amounts, were discovered by a customer with a specialised knowledge of plants in a Plus store in Hanover, northern Germany. "It's hard for laymen to tell the difference from rocket," said a Plus spokeswoman. "We immediately took all affected bags off the shelves."

Samples were sent to the University of Bonn for testing, which detected more than 2500 micrograms of poison - 2500 times more than the recommended daily allowance - in 150 grams of salad, German media reported.

Consumer affairs minister in Rhineland-Palatinate, Margit Conrad, warned shoppers to be vigilant. "Not everything that looks like fruit and vegetable is edible," she said. "No one should eat plants or parts of plants that have an unusual taste."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The experimental evidence is that antioxidants SHORTEN your life, if anything. Studies here and here and here and here and here and here and here, for instance."

Bravo, good referencing! I must take time to study them. Vitamin D can't be called an "antioxidant".

The distinction at stake is to determine is a broad spectrum of low dose antioxidants is tonic whereas high doses of single ones is not.