Sunday, August 22, 2010

Live Free Or Die

Here’s a letter to the Baltimore Sun from Don Boudreaux, a professor of economics

Vincent DeMarco thinks that among the justifications for Maryland’s ‘sin taxes’ on cigarettes and alcohol is the fact that they “save lives” (Letters, August 19).

Let’s grant that these taxes do, in fact, extend Marylanders’ life-expectancies. So what? The lives of individuals are the property neither of any government nor of officious “public interest” groups such as the one that Mr. DeMarco leads.

The life of each individual Marylander belongs to that individual. If he or she chooses to endure a higher statistical chance of dying sooner rather than later in order to enjoy smoking, drinking, hang-gliding, or gulping down gasoline it is no business of the state or of the likes of Mr. DeMarco and other busybodies.

Don’t forget that Maryland’s ringing motto is “The Free State” – not “The Long Life-Expectancy State.”


Spinach and cabbage 'may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes'

A minuscule correlation that proves nothing

Eating extra cabbage, broccoli and spinach may reduce the risk of developing type two diabetes, researchers have found. A diet rich in leafy green vegetables was associated with a 14 per cent reduced risk of developing the condition, a study by a team at University of Leicester has found.

There are around two million people in Britain with type two diabetes and some do not know they have it.

A diet high in fruit and vegetables generally has been found to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease but it had not been known whether there was a beneficial effect in diabetes.

Patrice Carter, a research nutritionist at the University and lead author, wrote in the British Medical Journal online that a lack of fruit and vegetables is thought to account for 2.6m deaths worldwide in 2000.

The team analysed six research studies involving more than 220,000 people. It was concluded that eating 1.15 servings of leafy green vegetables a day resulted in a 14 per cent reduced risk of type two diabetes when compared with people who ate less than half a serving per day. This was the equivalent of eating 122 grams of leafy green vegetables per day.

However there was no significant link between overall consumption of fruit and vegetables and the condition although the trend suggested eating more portions was beneficial.

Mr Carter wrote: "there are several possible mechanisms that could explain the benefit of consuming green leafy vegetables in the diet.

"Our results support the evidence that “foods” rather than isolated components such as antioxidants are beneficial for health.

"Results from several supplement trials have produced disappointing results for prevention of disease, in contrast with epidemiological evidence.

"Results from our meta-analysis support recommendations to promote the consumption of green leafy vegetables in the diet for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. The results support the growing body of evidence that lifestyle modification is an important factor in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

"The potential for tailored advice on increasing intake of green leafy vegetables to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes should be investigated further."

However in an accompanying editorial, Professor Jim Mann from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and Research Assistant Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College London, were cautious about the results.

They said that the overall message of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption must not be lost“in a plethora of magic bullets', even though leafy green vegetables are included in that.

It was too early to reach a conclusion about leafy green vegetables on their own, they said.

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at the charity Diabetes UK said: “We already know that the health benefits of eating vegetables are far-reaching but this is the first time that there has been a suggested link specifically between green, leafy vegetables and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"However, because of the relatively limited number of studies collated in this analysis it is too early to isolate green leafy vegetables and present them alone as a method to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"Diabetes UK would be concerned if focusing on certain foods detracted from the advice to eat five portions of fruits and vegetables a day, which has benefits in terms of reducing heart disease, stroke, some cancers and obesity as well as type 2 diabetes.”


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