Tuesday, December 24, 2013
An apple a day could be as good as a statin for over-50s
This is just mathematical modelling: Proves nothing
An apple a day could stop you having a heart attack – and may even be as effective as taking a statin. Healthy over-50s who add a daily apple to their diet can benefit as much as those who start taking a tablet, Oxford University researchers claim.
Their study goes some way to proving the proverb coined by the Victorians: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’
The scientists’ calculations suggest that prescribing an apple a day to everyone aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 heart attacks and strokes a year in the UK.
The health benefits are similar to giving statins to everyone over 50 who is not already taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Dr Adam Briggs, of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University, said: ‘The Victorians had it about right when they came up with: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be, and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke.’
He added: ‘While no one currently prescribed statins should replace them with apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit.’
In the study, published in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal, researchers used mathematical models to assess the impact of prescribing a daily apple for all older adults.
They assumed almost three-quarters would eat their apple a day and that overall calorie intake stayed constant.
They estimate 5.2million people are now eligible for statins in the UK, and if it became policy to prescribe statins to all over-50s as some doctors want, a further 17.6million would be offered them.
But this would also lead to a spate of side effects, including 1,000 extra cases of muscle disease, and more than 10,000 extra diagnoses of diabetes.
The researchers calculate that offering a daily statin to 17.6million more adults would reduce annual vascular deaths by 9,400. However, offering a daily apple to 70 per cent of Britons aged over 50 – 22million people – would avert 8,500 vascular deaths.
The scientists calculated that anyone eating one portion of fruit and vegetables, such as an apple, a day benefits from a 12 per cent reduction in their risk of heart attack and stroke.
And this protection from one portion is roughly equivalent – in a person at low or moderate risk of heart problems – to the reduction in vascular death from taking a statin.
The calculations suggest anyone already eating an apple a day would gain an additional 12 per cent protection from a second apple.
The more portions of fruit and vegetables you eat, the greater protection against deaths from these causes. Latest official figures show only one in three achieve the target of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Dr Peter Coleman of The Stroke Association said: ‘While it is vital those who have been prescribed the cholesterol-lowering drugs statins continue to take this highly effective medication, everyone can lower their risk of stroke with simple lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet.
How do Americans waste $28 billion a year? On vitamins, doctors say
Looking for ways to save money in 2014? Here's some advice from doctors: Stop buying vitamins.
Time after time, studies have shown that vitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent disease or death. And yet consumers keep buying them, lament the authors of an editorial published in Tuesday’s edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
A 2011 report from the National Center for Health Statistics estimated that 53% of American adults used some type of supplement in the years 2003 to 2006, with multivitamin/multimineral formulations being the most popular. Those pills weren’t cheap – U.S. consumers spent $28 billion on them in 2010 alone, the editorial says.
Three new studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine add yet more data to the mountain of evidence that most people get all the vitamins and minerals they need from food:
A meta-analysis conducted for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found “no consistent evidence that the included supplements affected CVD (cardiovascular disease), cancer, or all-cause mortality in healthy individuals without known nutritional deficiencies. Other systematic reviews have arrived at this same conclusion.” The analysis was based on the results of 27 studies involving more than 450,000 people.
A study involving nearly 6,000 male doctors age 65 and older found that cognitive function and verbal memory were no better in the men who took a daily multivitamin than in men who took a placebo. The doctors were tracked for 12 years.
Finally, a clinical trial testing whether a multivitamin could help prevent serious heart problems – including death – in patients who already had one heart attack concluded that the supplements didn’t help.
These results were right in line with other studies that have found “no clear benefit” from taking multivitamins, antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, the editorial says.
And those are the good outcomes. Trials of beta-carotene, vitamin E and high doses of vitamin A linked those supplements with an increased risk of premature death.
As far as the five editorial writers are concerned, the jury is still out on only one supplement – vitamin D. Studies to assess whether extra vitamin D could prevent falls in older people have had mixed results. As researchers continue to sort this out, consumers should be aware that there’s no “solid evidence” that this vitamin will be helpful to most people.
“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” the five physicians write.
And just in case that message is not simple enough, the headline spells things out even more clearly – “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”
Posted by jonjayray at 12:05 AM