Monday, December 03, 2012

Aspirin can cut liver cancers and deaths study finds

The "once a month" is a bit of a red flag.  Such a low incidence seems unlikely to have a therapeutic benefit.  The study probably shows only that taking preventive medicine is a middle class thing

Aspirin can reduce the risk of developing liver cancer or dying from chronic liver disease by around 50 per cent even if only taken monthly, a study has suggested.

People who said they had taken aspirin at least once a month in the past year were 49 per cent less likely to develop the most common for of liver cancer and 50 per cent less likely to die from chronic liver disease in the next ten years when compared with people who did not take the painkiller.

Aspirin has been hailed as a wonder drug after several studies have now found that it can significantly reduce the risk of cancer developing as well as cutting the chances of a heart attack and stroke.

The latest research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute used questionnaires from 300,000 people aged 50 to 71 who reported their own use of a range of painkillers in the previous 12 months and linked them to registers of cancer cases and deaths over the following ten to 12 years.

In that time 250 people developed hepatocellular carcinoma and 428 died from chronic liver disease.

Almost half of cases of HCC occur in people who already have chronic liver disease and both are connected to hepatitis infections, alcohol, certain metabolic disorders and diet.

Lead author Dr Vikrant Sahasrabuddhe, from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute, wrote in the journal: "This is the first large-scale, population-based evidence for reduced risks of liver cancer incidence and liver disease mortality associated with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

"Aspirin, in particular, when used exclusively or with other non-aspirin NSAIDs showed a consistent protective effect related to both HCC incidence and CLD mortality, regardless of the frequency or exclusivity of use."

In an accompanying comment article Drs Isra Levy and Carolyn Pim, both from the Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine at the University of Ottawa in Canada, said: "The investigators make the promising observation that, in a large, prospective, cohort study, use of aspirin and other NSAIDs was associated with lower risk of death due to chronic inflammatory liver disease, and aspirin use was linked to reduced risk of developing HCC.

"Although the emerging research findings on cancer impacts have not yet translated into clinical recommendations such as those for prevention of vascular disease by the use of daily aspirin, the hype is building.

"Yet enthusiasm among health professionals remains tempered. NSAIDs, including aspirin, are well known to increase the risk of bleeding, especially gastrointestinal bleeding and it behoves those making individual clinical or population-level policy recommendations to carefully consider any potential benefit in light of the concomitant potential for inadvertent harm.

"For these reasons, even for cardiovascular disease prevention, use of aspirin continues to be questioned."

They said many of the causes of liver disease and cancer can be prevented through vaccination and lifestyle and should be considered before medical prevention.

The researchers acknowledged that the most serious side effect of aspirin is stomach bleeding and people with liver problems are especially vulnerable to bleeds. It is not known how many people in the study died from bleeds, they said.

Also they did not know why people were taking aspirin, as it may have been to prevent a heart attack indicating they already had health problems, or the dose they were taking or for how long.


The old fructose scare rumbles on

Since ordinary cane-sugar is a compound of fructose and glucose, we are all dead anyway, according to their logic.  And a lot of trials have in fact shown that fructose PREVENTS diabetes

We want everything to be sweeter these days – our bread, our pies, our strawberries – and it's killing us. That, crudely summarised, is the gist of a worrying new study in the British Medical Journal. Sugar – sucrose, the plain white stuff you buy by the pound – isn’t the main problem, though. It’s high fructose corn syrup we should be concerned about. This is the dead cheap sweetener made from maize, which in many countries, such as the United States, is preferred to sugar by the food industry. Maize is cheap in the US and has been for several decades, since it’s heavily subsidised by the government. Proper sugar is much more expensive, so not surprisingly Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been using HFCS to sweeten their delicious beverages in the US since the Eighties. In Britain, where HFCS is often called glucose-fructose syrup on ingredients labels, Coke and other soft drinks still use sucrose, by and large.

There all sorts of worries about HFCS and its effect on our health. Never before in human history have we been guzzling so much fructose, and it might be even worse for us than ordinary sugar. Wise heads like the great Dr Atkins and John Yudkin cautioned years ago about our sugar addiction and the terrible hazards of the misguided craze for low-fat diets. (Yudkin wrote the landmark work on the subject, Pure, White and Deadly: How Sugar Is Killing Us, back in 1972.) But their warnings were ignored, partly because they didn’t suit the powerful food industry.

Now we are paying the price for our sweet tooth. Not only are a quarter of Britons overweight today, but on the horizon looms the spectre of one of the world’s most serious chronic diseases: type 2 diabetes. Countries that use a lot of HFCS in their food supply have a significantly higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes, the BMJ reports, than countries that do not use the sweetener. The US had the highest per capita consumption – the average American gets through 25kg (55 lbs) HFCS a year. Second was Hungary (16 kg per person).

The good news for Britain is that we are, at the moment, quite low down the scale: we only eat or drink half a kilo of HFCS a year. As a society, we should be very wary of taking on board more of this stuff. Tim Lobstein of the International Association for the Study of Obesity says that if HFCS is a risk factor for diabetes, “we need to rewrite national dietary guidelines and review agriculture trade policies. HFCS will join trans fats and salt as ingredients to avoid.”

Drinks made with HFCS have 30 per cent more fructose than if they were made with sucrose, Lobstein says, and there is growing evidence that the body metabolises fructose differently from glucose: independently of insulin and primarily in the liver, where it is converted to fat. “This may be contributing to the rise in the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that is increasing among Hispanic people in the US and Mexico,” says Lobstein.

But what to do, if you live in America, like drinking Coke and want to avoid HFCS? There is an answer: kosher Coke. Passover Coke is produced in Atlanta on a special production line, supervised by a rabbi. Because Jews are forbidden from eating leaven over Passover, grain-derived syrup is not permitted. So cane sugar is used instead. According to Consumer Reports, there are three sources of sugared Coke in the US: Passover Coke, (often expensive) Mexican imports, and a Coca-Cola bottler in Cleveland, which still uses sucrose. This Coke not only avoids the worrying high fructose corn syrup, but taste tests suggest that it has a purer, cleaner sweetness. Even so, bearing in mind John Yudkin's disturbing findings in Pure White and Deadly, it's probably best to drink it in moderation.



Anonymous said...

The US highly protects American sugar producers and has a quota on imports. This makes HFCS the go to sweetener.

Anonymous said... I wanted to add this to my account about the sugar racket in the us that makes all sweets higher in price.