Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sugary drinks linked to increased endometrial cancer risk

The usual bunk  -- correlational data with social class confounding

Sugar-sweetened beverages have long been associated with a number of health risks – including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  And now, a new study reveals that sugary drinks may also be associated with a significantly increased risk of a common type of endometrial cancer.

In a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, researchers analyzed data collected from 23,039 postmenopausal women as part of the Iowa Women’s Health Study. The data included information on the women’s dietary intake and medical history.

As part of the study, participants were asked to report their typical consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages – including Coke, Pepsi and other carbonated beverages with sugar – in addition to their consumption of noncarbonated fruit drinks, like Hawaiian Punch or lemonade.

Overall, the researchers discovered that the women who reported the highest intake of sugary drinks had a 78 percent increased risk of developing estrogen-dependent type 1 endometrial cancer – the most common type of endometrial cancer. The more sugary drinks the women consumed, the worse their risk for developing the cancer.

It is estimated that 49,560 women in the United States will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the researchers, type 1 endometrial cancer is an estrogen-dependent cancer, which may explain why sugary beverages are linked to an increased risk for the disease.

“We know…that higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may increase body fat, and higher body fat may increase estrogen levels,” study author Maki Inoue-Choi, a research associate at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, told

While the risk posed by sugar-sweetened beverages may seem substantial, Inoue-Choi said that it’s relatively small compared to the overall risk for endometrial cancer associated with obesity.

“Obese and overweight (women) may have up to 3.5 times higher risk for endometrial cancer,” Inoue-Choi said.

Interestingly, the study didn’t find any correlation between increased intake of other criticized foods, such as sugar-free sodas, sweets or baked goods and starches.

“One theory is that sugar from whole foods come with other nutrients ,fat, (and) fiber, so they may slow sugar absorption,” Inoue-Choi  said. “But beverages don’t come with these nutrients, so the sugar may be absorbed more quickly.”

While this study is the first to link sugar-sweetened beverages to endometrial cancer, Inoue-Choi emphasizes that more research is still needed to confirm the connection.

“This needs to be replicated in other studies, but everyone should follow the current guidelines to avoid sugar-sweetened beverage intake, because it may increase the risk of other health conditions like obesity, diabetes heart disease and cancer,” Inoue-Choi said.


Disregard toxic advice on Turkey Day

Toxic chemicals lurk in the “typical” Thanksgiving meal, warns a green activist website. Eat organic, avoid canned food, and you might be okay, according to their advice. Fortunately, there’s no need to buy this line. In fact, the trace levels of man-made chemicals found in these foods warrant no concern and are no different from trace chemicals that appear in food naturally.

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) illustrates this reality best with their Holiday Dinner Menu, which outlines all the “toxic” chemicals found naturally in food.  The point is, at such low levels, both the man-made and naturally occurring chemicals pose little risk. This year the ACSH puts the issue in perspective explaining:

    "Toxicologists have confirmed that food naturally contains a myriad of chemicals traditionally thought of as “poisons.” Potatoes contain solanine, arsenic, and chaconine. Lima beans contain hydrogen cyanide, a classic suicide substance. Carrots contain carototoxin, a nerve poison. And nutmeg, black pepper, and carrots all contain the hallucinogenic compound myristicin. Moreover, all chemicals, whether natural or synthetic, are potential toxicants at high doses but are perfectly safe when consumed in low doses.”

Watch ACSH’s video on this topic here.

Nevertheless, green groups continue to demonize man-made chemicals, suggesting that they are somehow different than naturally occurring ones. At the top of the green hit list is the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make hard-clear plastics and resins that line food cans. A couple years back, the Breast Cancer Fund issued a report that measured the trace levels of BPA in food. It warned:  “An unwelcome visitor may be joining your Thanksgiving feast: bisphenol A. BPA is an estrogenic chemical that lab studies have linked to breast cancer.”

Seriously, if you are worried about chemicals with estrogenic properties, you’d need to avoid many healthy foods, such as beans, nuts, and any soy-based products, which contain naturally occurring hormonally active chemicals. These naturally occurring chemicals are tens of thousands of times more potent than traces of synthetic chemicals in food. And guess what? Even though they are more potent and plentiful than BPA, these chemicals pose little risk as well.

When they hype the risks of BPA, anti-chemical activists never communicate truly useful information about actual BPA risk, which is negligible, according to extensive scientific reviews that numerous government agencies and research bodies around the world have conducted. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration affirmed BPA safety again this past March, stating: “FDA’s current assessment is that BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods. This assessment is based on review by FDA scientists of hundreds of studies including the latest findings from new studies initiated by the agency.”

The negligible risks of BPA are certainly worth taking given the huge benefit that BPA provides in making long-term safe food storage and distribution possible. Get more information on BPA here.

BPA levels, like so many trace chemicals — man-made and natural — are simply too low to pose much risks. So enjoy your turkey along with canned green beans and cranberry dressing, and don’t worry!


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