Wednesday, July 21, 2010

LOL! Now milk gives you cancer

Sounds like "The Ghost who Walks" is in big trouble! Seriously, though, the article below does point out that the evidence is conflicting.

There seems to be some group of "anti-milk" fanatics involved. Attention-seekers will always pounce on anything that is popular and denounce it

Milk is often described as nature's most wholesome food. It contains no additives, artificial colourings or preservatives - and is packed with vitamins and minerals. It provides a unique blend of protein, magnesium, potassium and B-vitamins, not to mention the calcium required for bones.

But is it really the elixir we believe it to be? Some experts believe that, in some cases, high consumption might not protect against disease - but cause it.

Two new studies - an Italian one published this month, and earlier Canadian research - have linked milk consumption to a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer. The Canadian research, published in The Prostate journal, found that men who drank four 200ml glasses of milk had double the risk of the disease.

Over recent decades, there have been other studies linking milk consumption to rheumatoid arthritis, acne, asthma, heart disease and multiple sclerosis.

One early Nineties study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggested proteins in milk upset the production of insulin, the hormone that stabilises blood sugar, raising the risk of diabetes.

Such findings - along with the fact many people avoid milk because they think it's full of calories (in fact, there are just 132 calories in a 200ml glass of whole milk, 92 in semi-skimmed and 66 in skimmed) - mean we are drinking less milk than ever.

Milk consumption fell 1.3 per cent between 2007 and 2008 to 1.5 litres per person per week, a figure that is 14 per cent lower than ten years ago.

But does milk deserve the bad press? Those against milk claim it contains cow hormones, including insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). The argument is that these encourage growth and may help to feed prostate cancer and perhaps, to a lesser extent, ovarian cancer.

The anti-milk lobby argue that milk is made by cows for calves and that it is perfectly healthy to drink - if you are a calf. They say their arguments are supported by studies showing the early human digestive system was not capable of metabolising milk.

For instance, researchers from University College London have suggested that a few thousand years ago people avoided milk because it led to gastric pain and upset stomachs. This is because Europeans lacked the gene to produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the milk sugar lactose. Evolution means 90 per cent of northern Europeans have the gene, but the remaining 10 per cent are lactose intolerant.

Some experts think that for many people, milk remains a problem. In a review of national dietary guidelines, U.S. adults of all ages were recently urged to drink three glasses of milk a day.

However, Professor Walter Willett, chairman of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, says there's little evidence to justify such recommendations, claiming such measures are 'likely to cause harm to some people'.

Willett says that 'many studies have shown a relation between high milk intake and risk of fatal or metastatic prostate cancer, explained by the fact that a high intake increases blood levels of the IGF-1 growth-promoting hormone'.

It may not even boost bone health in the way we think. 'Prospective studies and randomised trials have consistently shown no relation between milk intake and risk of fractures,' says Professor Willett.

Yet speaking at a British conference last year, one of the world's leading nutrition scientists, Professor Robert Heaney of Creighton University medical school in Nebraska, went as far as suggesting that humans can't be well-nourished without milk and dairy. 'An adequate calcium intake is essential for bone growth in childhood and bone maintenance in the elderly, but we need a diet rich in protein, phosphorous, potassium and vitamin D,' he said.

'Among modern foods, dairy - particularly milk and yoghurt - stand out as having the richest nutrient profile for their energy content. 'It would be almost impossible to construct an adequate diet without three servings a day.'

And there are far more positive than negative studies about milk, says Bridget Benelam, a scientist with the British Nutrition Foundation. She points to a review of evidence published last year in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, which found at least 11 studies have shown a diet rich in dairy increases bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, particularly in women.

Despite dairy being a major source of saturated fat - the type of fat known to increase the risk of heart disease - there's no link between milk and heart disease. On the contrary, recent findings suggest that the potassium in milk can help to lower blood pressure.

A report in the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also suggests that the fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid, found in milk, can help reduce the risk of a heart attack.

And though the strongest negative links are with prostate cancer, this is far from confirmed. Two years ago, a paper from the University of South Carolina found no suggestion that milk increased the risk in 27,000 cases of the disease.

'The negative evidence surrounding milk intake is inconclusive,' says Benelam. 'Milk remains the most easily absorbed and rich source of calcium and other nutrients in the human diet.'


Men with long ring finger 'more likely to get prostate cancer'

This is not particularly surprising. Ring finger length has been known for years to be a marker of masculinity and masculinity-related variables but the good point made below is that such a feature is not useful in predicting cancer or else almost ALL males would be implicated to some degree.

For what it is worth, I have a particularly long ring finger but two separate urological examinations have shown that, despite my age, I have an unusually SMALL prostate -- so am in a very low risk group for prostate cancer

Men with a long ring finger could be three times more likely to develop prostate cancer, according to a report.

A study of hospital patients found those whose ring finger on the right hand was significantly longer than the index finger were more likely to get the disease than those fingers were roughly same length.

A long ring finger is thought to result from higher exposure to the hormone testosterone while in the womb. Previous research has suggested a long ring finger could be beneficial, having been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and increased fertility.

More than 30,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, equivalent to more than one an hour. Bob Monkhouse, the comedian who died from the disease in 2003, has posthumously featured in a fund-raising campaign by the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation that includes a Twitter account for his jokes.

The latest study, carried out at Gachon University Gil Hospital, in Incheon, South Korea, and reported in the Daily Mail, looked at 366 men over the age of 40 who went to a hospital clinic complaining of problems urinating, a symptom which could be a warning sign of cancer.

Blood tests showed that men whose ring fingers were much longer than their index finger, next to the thumb, had almost double the normal levels of prostate specific antigen, a chemical sometimes found in high levels in blood when cancer is present.

Three times as many of these men went on to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

However, Ed Yong, head of health information for Cancer Research UK, told the newspaper that results of the study should be treated with caution. He said: “Finger length ratios have been linked to all sorts of things before with little evidence that measuring these ratios will ever actually be useful.

“For example, this very small study finds an association between finger length ratio and prostate cancer risk, but tells us nothing about whether the ratio can be used to reliably predict that risk.”


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