Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Soft drinks boost pancreatic cancer risk (?)

Here we go again. More epidemiological speculation. At least there is one comment below showing an awareness that correlation is not causation

People who drink at least two soft drinks a week nearly double their risk of developing pancreatic cancer, a study has revealed. Researchers collected data on the consumption of soft drinks, juice and other dietary items, as well as lifestyle and environmental factors of 60,524 people who were part of the huge Singapore Chinese Health Study, following up with study participants for up to 14 years.

The research found there was a 87 per cent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer for those who drank two or more soft drinks per week. No link was found between drinking fruit juice and developing pancreatic cancer, said the study which was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention said. "The high levels of sugar in soft drinks may be increasing the level of insulin in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth," lead researcher Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota said. Insulin helps the body metabolise sugar, and is produced in the pancreas.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer, and only 5 per cent of people who are diagnosed are known to survive five years later, according to the American Cancer Society.

Doctor Pereira says the findings would apply to western countries as well. "Singapore is a wealthy country with excellent healthcare. Favourite pastimes are eating and shopping, so the findings should apply to other western countries," he said. He said that while sugar may be to blame, those who drink sugar-sweetened soft drinks often have other poor health habits.

The Singapore Chinese Health Study enrolled Singapore Chinese people who lived in government housing estates - as nearly nine in 10 people in Singapore do - and looked at their diets, physical activity, reproductive history, occupational exposure and medical history.


Here's a finding I won't criticize!

Drinking beer especially pale ale strengthens your bones and could stop them becoming brittle, a study suggests. Researchers found that the drink contained a substance that boosts bones and could mean they are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis. They discovered that beer, especially pale ales, contains high levels of silicon known to slow down the bone thinning that leads to fractures and boosting the formation of new bone. The finding, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, backs up previous research which also showed that the drink was good at fending off brittle bones - especially in women.

"The factors in brewing that influence silicon levels in beer have not been extensively studied", said Dr Charles Bamforth, lead author at the University of California. They found that lighter beers with a greater use of hops had the most silicon. Silicon is present in beer in the soluble form of orthosilicic acid (OSA), up to half of which can be absorbed by the body making beer a major contributor to silicon intake in the Western diet. Based on these findings, some studies suggest moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis, a disease of the skeletal system characterised by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue.

The researchers found that the extra heat used in malting darker beers tended to destroy some of the silicon. Beers with more hops naturally had more silicon they found.

Osteoporosis or low bone density is often described as a silent epidemic of the 21st century. In the UK alone it results in more than 200,000 fractures annually and costs the NHS more than œ1 billion a year. Three million Britons are affected by osteoporosis.

The actual biological role of silicon in bone health and formation is not known though it is thought to help manufacture collagen, one of its major components.

"Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon," concludes Dr. Bamforth. "Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort and much of this survives into beer."

Dr Claire Bowring, National Osteoporosis Society, said the research did not mean that people head for the pub. "These findings mirror results from previous studies which concluded that moderate alcohol consumption could be beneficial to bones," she said.

However, while the National Osteoporosis Society welcomes measures to improve bone health we do not recommend anyone increases their alcohol consumption on the basis of these studies. While low quantities of alcohol may appear to have bone density benefits, higher intakes have been show to decrease bone strength, with an alcohol intake of more than two units per day actually increasing the risk of breaking a bone. "There are also many other health concerns linked with alcohol which cannot be ignored."


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