Saturday, November 14, 2009

Now Brazil nuts are bad for you

Utter rubbish. The findings simply show that people taking supplements tend to be less healthy.

Brazil nuts have been hailed as a tasty way of building up the immune system and even protecting against cancer. But the health-boosting mineral they contain may also push up cholesterol levels and raise the risk of heart disease, researchers claim. The findings came in a study suggesting that a high level in the blood of selenium - a trace mineral found naturally in Brazil nuts, grain, fish and meat - increases cholesterol levels.

Those found in tests to have the highest level of the mineral in their blood were regularly taking dietary supplements containing selenium. However, eating large quantities of Brazil nuts and selenium-rich foods might have the same effect.

Researchers at Warwick University say they have discovered that high selenium levels are 'associated' with a 10 per cent rise in cholesterol. The warning emerges from data on 1,042 people aged 19 to 64 who took part in the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey between 2000 and 2001. In those with blood selenium concentrations higher than 1.20micromoles per litre, the levels of total cholesterol were raised by an average of 8 per cent. Levels of a 'bad' type of cholesterol associated with heart disease were increased by 10 per cent.

The study did not take account of the health of individuals or whether they were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

High cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Brazil nuts are exceptionally rich in selenium, although average intake of the mineral in the UK is only around half the recommended level.

Dr Saverio Stranges, who led the study reported in the Journal of Nutrition, said: 'We believe that the widespread use of selenium supplements, or of any other strategy that artificially increases selenium status above the level required, is unwarranted at the present time.'

Dr Carrie Ruxton, independent nutrition adviser to the industry-backed Health Supplements Information Service, said the study authors admitted they couldn't be sure whether the association they found 'was due to increased dietary selenium or other factors'. She added: 'It is premature to suggest at this stage that taking selenium supplements is harmful for heart health.'


More government meddling in personal matters

Australian governments back plan to boost breastfeeding rates. Is anything private any more? Mothers are already pressured over this -- leading to distress among mothers who have difficulties breast feeding

MOTHERS will be urged to ditch the baby bottle under a controversial and potentially divisive five-year plan to boost breast milk feeding rates. The government-backed pro-breast milk message will argue that babies fed on breast milk for longer may reduce risks of obesity and chronic disease.

State and federal health ministers today will endorse the plan and consider establishing a national breast milk bank, The Courier-Mail reports. The move will be among a raft of measures designed to monitor and persuade Australians to consider how their lifestyles affect public spending. It will be the latest in a series of government attempts to influence mothers' choices on feeding.

In June, a $100,000-a-year Queensland Health breastfeeding campaign was attacked for using "guilt-inducing" language. The campaign was called "12+months on the breast: Normal, natural, healthy".

The new federal strategy would include increasing community acceptance of breastfeeding as a cultural and social norm, establishing breastfeeding support networks for pregnant women and improved breastfeeding training for health professionals. A national breast milk bank would collect, screen and dispense human milk donated by nursing mothers to be fed to premature and sick babies whose mothers were unable to feed them or who needed supplementary feeds.

At the centre of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-15 is the goal of increasing the percentage of babies who are fully breastfed from birth to six months, and beyond 12 months. "Breast milk is an environmentally-friendly product and there are health risks and financial costs associated with not breastfeeding," the draft strategy says. "Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from a range of serious illnesses and conditions (and) ... protective effects ... in infancy may extend to later life, with reduced risks of obesity and chronic disease."

A study of Australian children in 2004 found 92 per cent of newborns were initially breastfed but within a week that dropped to 80 per cent. At three months, about 56 per cent were still being fed breast milk. A federal report in 2007 championed the benefits of breast milk and recommended the Health Department fund a feasibility study for a network of milk banks.

A Mothers Milk Bank established on the Gold Coast in 2006 closed two years later because of a lack of funding. It is scheduled to reopen in the next few months. Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon also is likely to announce today an initiative to screen for perinatal depression.


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