Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Say cheese! Full fat dairy products may reduce heart attack deaths (?)

This is an excellent example of  how misleading statistics based on extreme groups (usually quintiles) can be.  The extreme  groups result and the result using all the data give opposite conclusions.  I will stick with ALL the data.  In which case there is no relationship between intake of dairy products and cause of death.

But it is self-report data anyway so is very weak as evidence of anything

A new Australian study has found that eating full-fat dairy may reduce the risk of cardiovascular-related death.

Dr Jolieke van der Pols from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) Cancer and Population Studies Group said this is a surprising but not unfounded result.  'There are other studies that suggest that certain fats in dairy may be protective for cardiovascular disease,' Dr van der Pols said.

'We found that people with the highest intake of full-fat dairy had 70 per cent less chance of death by heart disease or stroke than those who had the lowest intake of full-fat dairy.'

'It is possible that milk fat may contain nutrients that counteract the expected negative effects of the saturated fat in dairy products.'

Scientists surveyed more than 1500 Australians about their dairy intake over 16 years and found total intake of dairy products was not associated with cardiovascular death.

The study also found that total dairy intake had no correlation to death due to cancer or overall risk of death.

The paper will be published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 64, 569-577

Dairy consumption and patterns of mortality of Australian adults

M Bonthuis et al.


Dairy foods contain various nutrients that may affect health. We investigated whether intake of dairy products or related nutrients is associated with mortality due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and all causes.


We carried out a 16-year prospective study among a community-based sample of 1529 adult Australians aged 25–78 years at baseline. Habitual intakes of dairy products (total, high/low-fat dairy, milk, yoghurt and full-fat cheese), calcium and vitamin D were estimated as mean reported intake using validated food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) self-administered in 1992, 1994 and 1996. National Death Index data were used to ascertain mortality and cause of death between 1992 and 2007. Hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated using Cox regression analysis.


During an average follow-up time of 14.4 years, 177 participants died, including 61 deaths due to CVD and 58 deaths due to cancer. There was no consistent and significant association between total dairy intake and total or cause-specific mortality. However, compared with those with the lowest intake of full-fat dairy, participants with the highest intake (median intake 339 g/day) had reduced death due to CVD (HR: 0.31; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.12–0.79; P for trend=0.04) after adjustment for calcium intake and other confounders. Intakes of low-fat dairy, specific dairy foods, calcium and vitamin D showed no consistent associations.


Overall intake of dairy products was not associated with mortality. A possible beneficial association between intake of full-fat dairy and cardiovascular mortality needs further assessment and confirmation.


New 'smart' breast cancer drug gives an extra six months of life and stops loss of hair

A huge amount of work has obviously gone into this and it  sounds like an advance but initial trials often give that impression.  Whether it gives better results than the control in later trials will be the real test.  Patients are getting some pretty toxic stuff with it

Brits will probably not get it anyway if past NHS policies are any guide

A new ‘smart’ drug for breast cancer extends women’s lives by six months while reducing toxic side effects including hair loss.

Campaigners claim the drug offers a ‘precious lifeline’ for women with the most aggressive form of the disease, who have tried other treatments.

Known as T-DM1, it combines the ‘wonder’ drug Herceptin with a potent chemotherapy agent.  T-DM1 is designed to seek out and destroy cancerous cells while sparing healthy tissue from unnecessary damage.

Results from a major trial show the drug prolonged the lives of patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer by 30.9 months compared with 25.1 months on standard therapy.  Patients on T-DM1 had fewer, less severe side effects and reported a better quality of life.

The results were released yesterday at the European Society for Medical Oncology in Vienna, Austria.

Around 10,000 British women have HER-2 positive breast cancer diagnosed each year – about one in five of those affected.
new blood is on the way

Paul Ellis, professor of cancer medicine at King’s College London, said the trial results were remarkable in patients with advanced  disease who had relapsed on existing treatment.

‘HER-2 positive breast cancer is very aggressive and once it progresses to the “advanced” stage it becomes very difficult to treat,’ he said.  ‘These results are truly outstanding and will positively alter the outlook and outcomes for patients.’

Professor Ellis said the drug was possibly the biggest advance since Herceptin was licensed for use in 2000.

‘T-DM1 contains an extremely potent form of chemotherapy that’s been around 20 years which we haven’t been able to use before because it’s so toxic,’ he said.  ‘Clever new technology has allowed these two older drugs to be linked so that the chemotherapy  is not released until it reaches  the target.

‘Drugs used at this stage of the disease often make women feel worse, but the beauty of this treatment is that it costs women fewer side effects such as hair loss and improves their quality of life.’

T-DM1 seeks out and destroys cancerous cells in a two-stage attack. It attaches to the tumour cell and blocks signals that encourage the cancer to spread.  Then it breaches the outer defences and releases chemotherapy to destroy it from within. This spares healthy tissue from unnecessary damage.

The cancer’s return is also delayed and side effects from chemotherapy such as diarrhoea and hair loss are significantly reduced.

Professor Ellis, who also works at Guy’s Hospital, London, said around 1,000 women a year would benefit from the drug in the UK after relapsing.

But eventually it might be used before the disease spread possibly replacing current treatment using Herceptin and chemotherapy as separate agents.

It was possible the technology could be effective in treating other types of tumour.

The drug’s manufacturer, Roche, is applying for a licence in Europe, which could mean it is available for patients before the end of 2013. The price is not yet known.

Baroness Morgan, chief executive of the research charity Breast  Cancer Campaign, said: ‘This “smart” drug could be a precious lifeline for women with HER2- positive advanced breast cancer who currently have limited treatment options. We hope it will be made available to women as early as possible.’

Carolyn Rogers, senior clinical nurse specialist at another charity, Breast Cancer Care, said: ‘The trial evaluates a new way of combining chemotherapy and targeted therapy in one agent which could help delay the progression of secondary breast cancer as well as reduce the likelihood of some of the very unpleasant side effects that are associated with chemotherapy.’


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