Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sweet soft drinks may raise risk of depression

It's only a conference paper so far so is difficult to evaluate but apparently BOTH sugar and aspartame intake were associated with depression.  Sugar and aspartame are very different chemicals so is it the bubbles in pop that are bad for you?  Perhaps the real question is why do depressed people like pop?

If you are feeling low, it may be best to lay off the fizzy drinks and have a cup of coffee instead.  A study has linked soft drinks to depression – with diet versions particularly problematic.  Coffee, however, appeared to have the opposite effect.

The finding comes from US researchers who studied the drink consumption of 265,000 men and women aged 50 to 71.  Ten years into the study, the volunteers were asked if they had been diagnosed with depression in the previous five years.

Those who drank more than four cans of soft drinks a day were 30 per cent more likely to have had depression than those who drank none, the American Academy of Neurology conference heard. The risk seemed greater among those who preferred diet drinks.

The researchers said this may be due to the presence of the artificial sweetener aspartame, which yesterday was provisionally given a clean bill of health by the European Food Safety Authority, following a review.

Making the link does not prove soft drinks cause depression.  But researcher Honglei Chen said: ‘While our findings are preliminary and the underlying biological mechanisms are not known, they are consistent with a small but growing body of evidence suggesting that artificially sweetened beverages may be associated with poor health.’

The study found that those who had four cups of coffee a day were 10 per cent less likely to become depressed than non-coffee drinkers.  Dr Chen said this may be due to the caffeine in coffee stimulating the brain.

The British Soft Drinks Association urged caution over the findings and pointed out that the scientists themselves said that more research is needed.


"Superfoods" can make cancer MORE likely, says pioneer of DNA study


Fashionable anti-cancer superfoods and supplements do not prevent the disease and may even cause it, according to a scientist who helped discover the structure of DNA.

James Watson said the cure for many cancers will remain elusive unless scientists rethink the role of antioxidants, which include vitamin pills and food such as blueberries and broccoli.

It is widely believed they boost health and fight cancer by mopping up oxygen molecules called free radicals. But Dr Watson argues these may be key to preventing and treating cancer – and depleting the body of them may be counter-productive.

Free radicals not only help keep diseased cells under control, they are also pivotal in making many cancer drugs, as well as radiotherapy, effective, he believes.

Writing in a journal published by the Royal Society, the 84-year-old Nobel laureate stated that antioxidants ‘may have caused more cancers than they have prevented’.

‘For as long as I have been focused on the curing of cancer, well-intentioned individuals have been consuming antioxidative nutritional supplements as cancer preventatives, if not actual therapies,’ he said.

‘In light of recent data strongly hinting that much of late-stage cancer’s untreatability may arise from its possession of too many antioxidants, the time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use much more likely causes than prevents cancer.’

He said a vast number of studies had found antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium, to have ‘no obvious effectiveness’ in preventing stomach cancer or in lengthening life.  Instead, they seem to slightly shorten the lives of those who take them, and vitamin E may be particularly dangerous.

The American, who describes his theory as among his most important work since the DNA breakthrough with British colleague Francis Crick in 1953, said blueberries may taste good but give no protection against cancer. The study by Dr Watson,  based at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, is published in the journal Open Biology.

He has caused uproar in the past with his opinions on race, intelligence, beauty and homosexuality.

Professor Nic Jones, of Cancer Research UK, agreed that studies showed antioxidants were ineffective for cancer prevention in healthy people and can even slightly increase the risk of the disease.

He said vitamins and minerals should be obtained through a healthy and balanced diet.


No comments: