Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Evidence  That Red Meat Makes You Happy

There's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a big, juicy hunk of steak makes you happier. But now there's scientific proof, too; according to a new study, consumption of red meat halves the risk of depression.

The study, carried out at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, confirms that people who avoid red meat are at increased risk of clinical depression. Admittedly the study was only conducted in a population of women, but I'm willing to extrapolate in this case. Professor Felice Jacka, one of the researchers, explains:

    "When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount.

    "Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women's diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained.

    "Interestingly, there was no relationship between other forms of protein, such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins, and mental health. Vegetarianism was not the explanation either. "

Official proof, if it were needed, that vegetarians are a bunch of sadsacks. While there's plenty of evidence that suggests that the quality of your diet is important for mental health, this is the first study to suggest that red meat has a positive effect. Sadly, the researchers have no idea why.

It's worth pointing out that red meat does bring physical health risks. In fact, recent research suggests that red meat is behind one in ten early deaths. So there's a decision to make: live long, miserable and steak-free; or die young, happy and elbow-deep in burgers. Tough call.


Statin fatigue

Awareness of their severe side-effects is slowly growing

For years, physicians and scientists have been aware that statins, the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, can cause muscle aches and fatigue in some patients. What many people don’t know is that these side effects are especially pronounced in people who exercise.

To learn more about the effect statins have on exercising muscles, scientists in Strasbourg, France, recently gave the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor to a group of rats for two weeks, while a separate control group was not medicated. Some of the rats from both groups ran on little treadmills until they were exhausted.

It was immediately obvious that the medicated animals couldn’t run as far. They became exhausted much earlier than the rats that had not been given statins.

The differences were even more striking at a cellular level. When the scientists studied muscle tissues, they found that oxidative stress, a measure of possible cell damage, was increased by 60 percent in sedentary animals receiving statins, compared with the unmedicated control group.

The effect was magnified in the runners, whose cells showed 226 percent more oxidative stress than exercising animals that had not been given statins.

The medicated running rats also had less glycogen or stored carbohydrates in their muscles than the unmedicated runners. And their mitochondria, tiny mechanisms within cells that generate power, showed signs of dysfunction; mitochondrial respiratory rates were about 25 percent lower than in the unmedicated runners.

Over all, the study data showed that working out while taking statins “exacerbated metabolic perturbations” in muscles, the study’s authors conclude. The drug made running harder and more damaging for the rats.

Statins’ safety has come under considerable scrutiny in recent weeks. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration added safety alerts to prescribing information for statins, warning of risks for memory loss and diabetes, as well as muscle pain.

More than 20 million Americans are taking statins, and by most estimates, at least 10 percent of them will experience some degree of muscle achiness or fatigue. That proportion rises to at least 25 percent among people taking statins who regularly exercise, and may be 75 percent or higher among competitive athletes.

Why and how exercise interacts with statins to cause muscle problems remains unknown, in part because it’s more difficult to study molecular responses in people than in animals. (People generally dislike muscle biopsies.) But an eye-opening 2005 study of healthy young people taking statins showed that the gene expression profiles in their leg muscles after exercising were very different from those of volunteers not using statins. In particular, genes associated with muscle building and repair were “down-regulated,” or expressed less robustly, in the group using statins.

“It seems possible that statins increase muscle damage” during and after exercise “and also interfere somewhat with the body’s ability to repair that damage,” says Dr. Paul Thompson, the chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and senior author of the study.


1 comment:

Margaret said...

Based on the study they conduct, looks like statin drugs are really not safe for us.