Thursday, December 08, 2011

Young women 'could reduce their heart disease risk by 90 per cent by eating fish once a week' (?)

Ya gotta laugh. The large effect reported in the article below immediately seemed fishy to me (pardon the pun) so I looked up the original journal article (Abstract also below). So I am now in a position to rephrase the first sentence below more accurately: "Young women who SAY THEY regularly eat oily fish are less prone to heart disease".

Unvalidated self-report data is of notoriously low quality so what the finding below most probably shows is that smart middle class people who are aware of the unremitting propaganda about the glories of fish oil SAY they eat oily fish whether they do or not. So it is simply the generally better health of middle class people that this study is again recording

Young women who regularly eat oily fish are less prone to heart disease say scientists. A groundbreaking study has found that a fish-rich diet could cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by 90 per cent.

Traditionally findings have highlighted the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, mackerel and sardines for men. However it is now believed because of gender differences fish oil might be even more beneficial for women of a child-bearing age, boosting blood pressure, cardiac and blood vessel function.

Lead researcher Dr Marin Strom, from the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen said: 'Our study shows that for younger women, eating fish is very important for overall health.'

The study involved 49,000 Danish women aged 15 to 49 whose health was monitored for eight years. Over the period their diet, lifestyle and family history were assessed, while 577 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes were recorded, five of which resulted in death.

Researchers found women who rarely or never ate fish had 90 per cent more cardiovascular problems than those who ate oily fish every week. Dr Strom added: 'To our knowledge this is the first study of this size to focus exclusively on women of child-bearing age. 'Even though we found cardio-protective effects at relatively modest dietary levels, higher levels may yield additional benefits.'

The team now hope that the findings, published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, will encourage younger populations to eat more oily fish.

The NHS recommends that a healthy diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish. However, pregnant women should have no more than two portions a week.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the UK's biggest killer, causing around 94,000 deaths every year and around one in seven women die from the disease.

Symptoms can include chest pain (angina), palpitations and heart attacks but in some cases, people may not present any symptoms before diagnosis.


Fish, n-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Diseases in Women of Reproductive Age: A Prospective Study in a Large National Cohort

By Marin Strom, et al


Previous studies have indicated a protective effect of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn3FAs) against cardiovascular disease; however, women are underrepresented in cardiovascular research. The aim of this study was to explore the association between intake of LCn3FAs and the risk of cardiovascular disease in a large prospective cohort of young women (mean age at baseline: 29.9 years [range: 15.7-46.9]). Exposure information on 48 627 women from the Danish National Birth Cohort was linked to the Danish National Patients Registry for information on events of hypertensive, cerebrovascular, and ischemic heart disease used to define a combined measure of cardiovascular diseases.

Intake of fish and LCn3FAs was assessed by a food-frequency questionnaire and telephone interviews. During follow-up (1996-2008; median: 8 years), 577 events of cardiovascular disease were identified. Low LCn3FA intake was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (adjusted hazard ratio for women in lowest versus highest LCn3FA intake group: 1.91 [95% CI: 1.26-2.90]). Restricting the sample to women who had consistently reported similar frequencies of fish intake across 3 different dietary assessment occasions tended to strengthen the relationship (hazard ratio for lowest versus highest intake: 2.91 [95% CI: 1.45-5.85]).

Furthermore, the observed associations were consistent in supplementary analyses where LCn3FA intake was averaged across the 3 dietary assessment occasions, and the associations were persistent for all 3 of the individual outcomes. Our findings based on a large prospective cohort of relatively young and initially healthy women indicated that little or no intake of fish and LCn3FAs was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.


Your regulators will protect you -- NOT

Feds Allow Arsenic in Apple Juice!

This past year, I started writing a health and fitness column through, titled "C-Force." It is no surprise that in researching for that column, I've discovered repeat offenses of food and beverage tampering by the federal government. But arsenic in apple juice?

Dr. Oz received significant flak when he reported in September that "some of the best-known brands of apple juice contain arsenic." Since then, however, Oz has been redeemed and his claims substantiated!

After Oz's initial comments, Dr. Richard Besser, a 13-year veteran of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ABC News' chief health and medical editor, publicly lambasted Oz and his warnings as "extremely irresponsible" and "fear-mongering" and equated them to yelling "'Fire!' in a movie theater." Amid the public debate, the Food and Drug Administration tried to steady the apple cart by saying that consumption of apple juice "poses little or no risk."

But just a few days ago, I watched a humbled Besser on "Good Morning America" recant his fury against Oz's conclusions, saying instead that new studies have just confirmed arsenic is indeed in many popular apple juices.

ABC News reported that Consumer Reports tested 88 samples of popular brands of grape and apple juice sold in the U.S., including Welch's, Minute Maid and Mott's. The results revealed that 10 percent of the juices "had total arsenic levels greater than the FDA's standard for drinking water of 10 parts per billion (ppb), while 25 percent of juices also had lead levels higher than the FDA's bottled water limit of 5 ppb."

Furthermore, data on arsenic in adult urine from the CDC demonstrated that men and women who drank apple or grape juice in a 24-hour period "had, on average, about 20 percent higher levels of total urinary arsenic than those subjects who did not."

Consumer Reports went on to report that the arsenic tested and detected is inorganic and a human carcinogen. CR further explained that there is "mounting scientific evidence suggesting that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below federal standards for water can result in serious health problems, especially for those who are exposed in the womb or during early childhood. FDA data and other research reveal that arsenic has been detected at disturbing levels in other foods as well." So who wants organic or inorganic arsenic in his water, juice and food? (Oz further notes that though many say organic arsenic is safe, there is clear evidence that both forms are ultimately hazardous to our health.)

Tragically teetering on a huge U.S. health cover-up, the FDA posted eight "previously undisclosed test results" for apple juice samples from across the country that had arsenic levels that superseded even its own "level of concern" for inorganic arsenic. Two of those eight samples had an arsenic level of 27 ppb. One had a level of 42 ppb, and two others were at 45 ppb.

What's even worse is that the samples were discovered in 2008. And we're just finding out about them now? Such undisclosed elevated levels of arsenic give a whole new meaning to the saying, "Quit drinking the feds' Kool-Aid!"

Strangely, the FDA has limits for arsenic in water (including bottled) but no such regulations on fruit juices. At the very least, the FDA should not allow more arsenic in apple juice than it allows in Americans' drinking water. Until then, tides of arsenic will continue to flow from foreign produce fields into American bloodstreams. (If you want to weigh in on this issue, contact the FDA at or call 888-463-6332.)

Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports, rightly delivered this staunch warning: "We're concerned about the potential risks of exposure to these toxins, especially for children who are particularly vulnerable because of their small body size and the amount of juice they regularly consume."

With apple juice lacing children's cereals, snack bars and holiday party tables, we need to heed this countrywide health warning and blow the trumpet to our neighbors. The fact is that the U.S. is getting more and more of its fruits and vegetables from other countries, and many of them do not preclude or limit arsenic in their pesticides or even their water supplies as the U.S. does. Oz reported that apple concentrate comes from up to seven countries; 60 percent of it is imported from China alone.

I agree with Oz, Rangan and Consumer Reports; it's best for consumers to reduce their exposure to these juices. CR is recommending, until this juice fiasco is remedied, that you not give any type of juice to infants younger than 6 months. Also, no more than 6 ounces daily should be given to children up to 6 years old, and older children should have no more than 12 ounces daily.


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