Thursday, July 28, 2011

Are hot dogs as bad for you as cigarettes? They are judging by new warning signs

They're as American as apple pie - you'll find them at virtually every cook-out in the land and every sporting event. But now a medical group in Washington D.C. is taking aim at the gold old hot dog.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has just unveiled a billboard in Indianapolis with a picture of hot dogs in a cigarette pack. The message reads: 'Warning: Hot dogs can wreck your health.'

The group is trying to create awareness of a link between hot dogs and colorectal cancer.

The [epidemiological] 2007 study they cite by the [sensation-mongering] World Cancer Research Fund found that one 50 gram serving of processed meat a day, about the same amount in one hot dog, increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 21 per cent.

Hot dogs should come with a 'warning label that helps consumers understand the health risk,' Susan Levin, the committee’s nutrition education director told USA Today, similar to warning labels on cigarettes.

Not all health experts agree, naturally. 'It is not necessary to eliminate consumption of red or processed meat; rather the message is that these foods should not be the mainstay of your diet,' states the guidelines of the American Cancer Society.

But with some of America’s biggest racing events right down the street, the Physicians Committee decided to target Indianapolis Speedway, where NASCAR will hold its Brickyard 400 this weekend, NBC reports.

July is national hot dog month and considering more than 1.1 million hot dogs were sold during last year’s Indianapolis 500, they may have targeted the right audience.


IVF children have bigger vocabulary than unplanned babies

For once we see some reasonable conclusions below. See para. 3 below

Children who were conceived through infertility treatment start school with speech skills up to eight months more advanced than those born after unplanned pregnancies, research suggests.

A study has found that pupils whose parents did not intend to have a baby lagged five months behind planned babies at age five, when their vocabulary was tested, and a further three to four months behind those born after IVF.

However experts say the findings are just down to the developmental gap between rich and poor in Britain. The differences in scores “almost entirely disappear” when family background is taken into account, since children born following assisted reproduction tend to have older, better educated and richer parents.

The paper, published online at on Wednesday, concludes: “Unadjusted analyses show that children born after unplanned pregnancy score poorly in cognitive tests compared with their planned counterparts, while children conceived after assisted reproduction do significantly better in tests of verbal ability.

“These differences are almost entirely explained by confounding by socioeconomic factors, providing further evidence of the influence of socioeconomic inequalities on the lives of children in the UK. To help children achieve their full potential, policy makers should continue to target social inequalities.”

Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at the University of Oxford, said: “This study shows how important it is to take social factors into account when looking at child outcomes. Children from unplanned pregnancies have lower scores on cognitive tests than those from planned pregnancies, but they are also much more likely to come from single parent, low income households. Once this is taken into account, there is no impact of an unplanned pregnancy on children's development.”

In the report, Dr Claire Carson, a researcher at the University of Oxford’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, analysed data on 12,136 children included in the Millennium Cohort Study.

Of those studied, 41 per cent were born following an unplanned pregnancy, with 15 per cent of their mothers admitting they felt unhappy or ambivalent about being pregnant.

A further 53 per cent of the pregnancies had been planned and led to conception within a year; 4 per cent of couples conceived after more than a year of trying; and 2.6 per cent had babies after ovulation-inducing drugs or assisted reproduction.

Using the standard British Ability Scales to test verbal ability at age five, the research found that the unplanned children had scores equivalent to a “developmental delay of more than five months” compared with planned ones.

In turn, the planned children lagged behind those born after IVF treatment by “three or four months”.

However these differences were explained by the “generally advantageous socioeconomic position” enjoyed by those born after fertility treatment, with their language skills also benefiting from having better educated parents.

Those born after unplanned pregnancies were more likely to have poor, young or less educated mothers, and to have less access to “books, puzzles, trips to library”.


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