Thursday, June 30, 2011

Diet drinks make you FATTER

The effect reported seems to be an unusually large one and may therefore be of interest but the evidence is epidemiological so is not decisive. It could well be people who are prone to overeating anyhow who use such drinks heavily

They are the calorie-free way of having a sweet treat, but diet drinks could still make you fat, scientists have warned. A ten-year study of almost 500 men and women linked low-calorie soft drinks with bulging waistlines – even when taken in small quantities.

Those who downed two or more diet fizzy drinks a day saw their waistbands expand at five times the rate of those who never touched the stuff, a diabetes conference heard.

The results were so dramatic that the American researchers advise that people ditch their diet drinks and use water to quench their thirst instead. Those who cannot bear to give up the sugar rush may be better off drinking normal full-sugar fizzy drinks.

Professor Helen Hazuda, of the University of Texas’s health science centre, said diet sodas and artificial sweeteners may foster a sweet tooth, distort appetite and even damage key brain cells. As a result, treating them as healthy alternatives may be ‘ill advised’. The professor, who no longer drinks diet colas and lemonades, said: ‘They may be free of calories but not of consequences.’

Professor Hazuda tracked the health and habits of 474 adults for an average of nine and a half years. She then compared the growth in waistline of those who consumed diet drinks with the others, including some who only buy regular fizzy drinks.

Overall, those who favoured diet drinks saw their waists expand 70 per cent faster. But ‘frequent users’ – defined as those who drink two or more cans a day – saw a 500 per cent greater increase in girth, the American Diabetes Association conference heard.

Significantly, the results still stood even when other factors such as exercise, social class, education and smoking were taken into account.

With pot bellies being blamed for ills from heart disease to diabetes and cancer, the researchers said: ‘These results suggest that amidst the national drive to reduce chronic consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, policies that would promote the consumption of diet soft drinks may have unintended deleterious side-effects.’

A second study, involving some of the same researchers and carried out on mice, linked sweetener aspartame with the sort of damage in the pancreas that can occur early in diabetes.

The researchers said they think that artificial sweeteners may distort appetite, leaving us craving extra-sweet and unhealthy treats. They may also damage brain cells involved in feelings of fullness, while the lack of real sugar could also stop us from feeling full.

Sharon Fowler, who was involved in both pieces of research, said: ‘Artificial sweeteners could have the effect of triggering appetite but unlike regular sugars they don’t deliver something that will squelch the appetite.’

Professor Hazuda said that her study was the fourth large-scale piece of research to link diet drinks with ill health. She added: ‘I think prudence would dictate drinking water.’


Cancer patients prescribed chewing gum to aid recovery from surgery

An unpublished study!

Doctors at a leading London hospital are advising bowel cancer patients to chew sugar-free gum after their operations, in order to get their digestive systems back to normal so they can get better faster.

Studies have found that patients undergoing surgery likely to affect their bowel function were fit enough to go home as much as two days earlier than other patients if they chewed gum.

Chewing gum has helped new mothers recovering from caesarean sections, as well as patients undergoing stomach surgery, who can suffer from painful cramps until digestion returns to normal, research has found.

Now surgeons at University College London Hospital are asking patients booked for bowel cancer surgery to bring supplies of sugar-free gum with them, to be chewed three times a day, for an hour, after their operation.

Consultant colorectal surgeon Alastair Windsor said the trial is part of a programme to find new ways to help patients recover from treatment. He said many patients undergoing many types of surgery likely to affect their digestive system could benefit from bringing gum to hospital - but advised them to ask their own doctor first.

Mr Windsor said: "One of the things that delays people recovering from surgery is that they get what is called an ileas - where the bowel goes to sleep. "It seems that chewing gum can stimulate the saliva, which starts enzyme production in the pancreas, and that then stimulates gastro-intestinal activity."

The trial, which began six months ago, has yet to publish results, but the surgeon said so far patients were responding well to it. He said: "Patients seem to like it and in particular to like the fact they are doing something to aid the recovery. We don't yet know how far it is speeding up their recovery, but there doesn't seem to be a downside to it."

The surgeon added: "If I was a patient going into hospital for surgery, I would say talk to your medical team first, but from all the research done, it seems that chewing gum is something that can help patients and for most people, it is certainly unlikely to do any harm."

Different studies from across the world have shown faster recovery when patients are asked to chew gum, but it is not known whether the act works as a placebo, improving patients' sense of well-being, and reducing stress - which could in itself improve bowel function - or whether the impact is physical.


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