Thursday, March 17, 2011

Heavy Drinking Might Raise Risk of Death From Pancreatic Cancer

And pigs might fly. The fact that the effect is observed with hard liquor only should alert us to the probablity that alcohol is not the causative factor. As usual, it is probably a class effect. NASCAR fans (say) are more likely to like their Jim Beam than are New York sohisticates and are also much more likely to be working class. And class is one of the most reliable health predictors there is, second only to age and followed by IQ

Heavy drinkers have an increased risk of dying from pancreatic cancer, new research shows. In fact, people who never smoke, a known risk factor for the disease, but who have three or more drinks of hard liquor a day face a 36 percent higher risk of dying from pancreatic cancer, compared with nondrinkers, the study found.

"Overall, these findings add to the evidence that heavy alcohol intake is an independent risk factor for pancreatic cancer," said lead researcher Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society....

Smoking has long been cited as a risk factor for pancreatic cancer and now it appears that drinking liquor is also a significant player in development of the disease, the research indicated.
The report is published in the March 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

To come to these conclusions, the researchers collected data on more than a million men and women who took part in the Cancer Prevention Study II. Over 24 years of follow-up, 6,847 of these people died from pancreatic cancer, the researchers noted.

Although a number of epidemiological studies have examined the association between alcohol and risk of pancreatic cancer, most were too small to tease out the effects of smoking from that of alcohol since people who drink alcohol are also more like to smoke, Gapstur said.

"In this large, prospective study, we were able to examine the association between alcohol intake and pancreatic cancer mortality in never-smokers, and across range of daily intake," she said.

Among people who had never smoked there was a 36 percent increased risk of death from pancreatic cancer for those who drank three or more servings of liquor a day compared with nondrinkers, Gapstur said.

"This association appeared to be only with liquor intake, and not with beer or wine intake," she noted. "Reasons for the differences by beverage type are unclear, but might be due to a higher amount of alcohol actually consumed in a single drink of liquor compared to wine or beer."


Do trans fats cause depression?

So: Poor people are more likely to buy convenience foods which are high in trans fats and poor people get more depressed. Trans fats likely had no effect on depression

New research has found a link between trans fatty acid consumption and depression. Spanish researchers followed 12,059 people for six years and found those who had 1.5 grams of trans fats a day were 48 per cent more likely to develop depression than those who had none.

The researchers believe trans fats may cause depression by inhibiting the nervous system from sending feel-good chemicals throughout the body. "Trans fatty acids cause a decrease in the correct transmission of the nervous response and a decrease in neuroprotection and neuronal regeneration," explains Professor Almudena Sanchez Villegas, the study's lead author.

The total trans fat intake of participants was only 0.4 per cent of their total diet. Food Standards Australia New Zealand says the average Australian's intake is 0.5 per cent of their diet.

And depression isn't the only concern. "Trans fats cause inflammation," nutritionist Lola Berry says. "They're linked to cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol levels and contribute to weight gain, which is a precursor to illnesses including type 2 diabetes."

The researchers also looked at diets containing "healthy fats" such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils. They found those who consumed more than 20 grams of olive oil a day were 30 per cent less likely to develop depression.

Numerous studies show eating oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines) three times a week can help prevent depression and fish oil supplementation can help treat the condition.

Experts estimate reducing trans fat intake by just one per cent could prevent 11,000 heart attacks and 7000 deaths a year in the UK alone.

So why do food manufacturers still use trans fats? "Trans fats give foods the texture people expect and help them stay fresh for longer," says food manufacturer Kraft. "Developing ingredients with the same taste, texture and freshness characteristics as trans fats, but with better nutrition, has been a challenge for the food industry."

Between 2007 and 2009, due to public pressure, many food companies reduced trans fat usage by 20 to 45 per cent. But until they are eradicated, how do we avoid them?

Unfortunately, labelling laws aren't on the consumer's side.
"Manufacturers are only required to disclose the amount of trans fat in the nutrition panel if they make a claim about fat content, but the majority of products aren't required to list it," says Clare Hughes, Choice's senior food policy adviser.

You can spot trans fats on an ingredients list by the words "hydrogenated" or "hydrogenised". Choice, the Heart Foundation and other groups are lobbying the government for mandatory labelling of trans fats.

"For a number of years the government has been working with the food industry to remove artificial trans fat from the food supply," Hughes says. "But an independent panel recently recommended the government require trans fat be declared on the nutrition information panel if the initiative fails to achieve a meaningful reduction in trans fat by 2013."


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