Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Scented Laundry Products Release Carcinogens, Study Finds

Scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets make laundry smell great – but do they cause cancer?

A small study suggests scented laundry items contain carcinogens that waft through vents, potentially raising cancer risk.

“This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated,” said lead author Dr. Anne Steinemann, professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs at the University of Washington, said in a written statement. “If they’re coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they’re regulated, but if they’re coming out of a dryer vent, they’re not.”

Previous studies have looked at what chemicals are released by laundry products, since manufacturers don’t have to disclose ingredients used in fragrances or laundry products.

Needless to say, these researchers weren’t thrilled with what they found.

For the study – published in the August issue of Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health – researchers enlisted two homeowners to volunteer their washers and dryers, which the team scrubbed clean beforehand. The researchers ran a regular laundry cycle for three scenarios in each home: once without any detergent, once with a scented liquid laundry detergent, and the last with both scented detergent and a leading brand of scented dryer sheets.

Their analysis found more than 25 “volatile” air pollutants – including the carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene.

Benzene causes leukemia and other blood cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Acetaldehyde has been shown to cause nasal and throat cancer in animal studies.

Steinemann thinks agencies focus too much on limiting other pollution sources when they should look closer to home.

“We focus a lot of attention on how to reduce emissions of pollutants from automobiles,” she said. “And here’s one source of pollutants that could be reduced.”

The American Cleaning Institute, however, Steinemann’s study, calling the findings “shoddy science” that didn’t take into account many factors like washing machine brands, different load cycles, and non-scented products.

“Consumers should not be swayed by the sensationalist headlines that may come across the Internet related to this so-called research,” the Institute emailed CBS News.

Ryan Jaslow   CBSNews.com’s health editor.     CBS NEWS      August 26, 2011      CBS Interactive Inc.
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Factors Contributing to Cancer

Eighty percent of cancers are due to factors that have been identified and can potentially be controlled, according to the National Cancer Institute. And not only can we potentially prevent most cancers, we can also improve the survival rates of people who have cancer. Cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon have received more research attention than other forms of the disease, but, as we will see, certain principles apply to many forms of cancer.

Cancer starts when one cell begins to multiply out of control. It begins to expand into a lump that can invade healthy tissues and spread to other parts of the body. But there is a lot we can do about it. Thirty percent of cancers are caused by tobacco. Lung cancer is the most obvious example, but by no means the only one. Cancers of the mouth, throat, kidney, and bladder are also caused by tobacco.

Dietary factors also play a significant role in cancer risk. At least one-third of annual cancer deaths in the United States are due to dietary factors.1 A review on diet and cancer estimates that up to 80 percent of cancers of the large bowel, breast, and prostate are due to dietary factors. 1

In 2008, excess body weight was responsible for over 124,000 new cancer diagnoses in Europe. These results were presented at a major European cancer conference in 2009 and showed endometrial (uterine) cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and colorectal cancer were the most common weight-related cancers. These three cancer types accounted for 65 percent of all cancers due to excess body weight. The effects of obesity also appear to increase mortality from several other types of cancer including gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, and ovary, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in women with the highest BMIs compared to those with a healthy BMI.2  Previous studies including the Adventist Health Study-2 show that following a vegan diet results in the lowest BMI of any group (lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semivegetarian, nonvegetarian), making them less susceptible to obesity-related cancers. 3

The link between diet and cancer is not new. In January 1892, Scientific American printed the observation that “cancer is most frequent among those branches of the human race where carnivorous habits prevail.” Numerous research studies have shown that cancer is much more common in populations consuming diets rich in fatty foods, particularly meat, and much less common in countries eating diets rich in grains, vegetables, and fruits. One reason is that foods affect the action of hormones in the body. They also affect the strength of the immune system and other factors. While fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals to protect the body, by contrast, recent research shows that animal products contain potentially carcinogenic compounds which may contribute to increased cancer risk. 5

In addition to tobacco use and diet, other factors, including physical activity, reproductive and sexual behavior, 4 bacterial and viral infections, and exposure to radiation and chemicals, may also contribute to the risk of certain forms of cancer. 4,6

Estimated Percentages of Cancer Due to Selected Factors 5,6

Diet                     35% to 60%
Tobacco                           30%
Air and Water Pollution 5%
Alcohol                              3%
Radiation                          3%
Medications                     2%

sources:
1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures—1997. Atlanta, GA: 1999.
2. Renehan A. Obesity and overall cancer risk. Presented at the Joint ECCO 15-34th ESMO Multidisciplinary Congress. Berlin, Germany, September 20-24, 2009. Abstract I-327.
3. Tonstad S, Butler T, Yan R, Fraser GE. Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:791-796.
4. Minamoto T, Mai M, Ronai Z. Environmental factors as regulators and effectors of multistep carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis. 1999;20(4):519-527.
5. Skog KI, Johansson MAE, Jagerstad MI. Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in model systems and cooked foods: a review on formation, occurrence, and intake. Food and Chem Toxicol. 1998;36:879-896.
6. Cummings JH, Bingham SA. Diet and the prevention of cancer. BMJ. 1998;317:1636-1640.

source: www.pcrm.org


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Energy Dense Foods May Increase Cancer Risk Regardless Of Obesity Status

Link between high dietary energy density in food and obesity-related cancer in normal weight individuals

Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types of cancer, less is known about how the ratio of energy to food weight, otherwise known as dietary energy density (DED), contributes to cancer risk. To find out, researchers looked at DED in the diets of post-menopausal women and discovered that consuming high DED foods was tied to a 10% increase in obesity-related cancer among normal weight women. Their findings are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

DED is a measure of food quality and the relationship of calories to nutrients. The more calories per gram of weight a food has, the higher its DED. Whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and beans are considered low-DED foods because they provide a lot of nutrients using very few calories. Processed foods, like hamburgers and pizza, are considered high-DED foods because you need a larger amount to get necessary nutrients. Previous studies have shown that regular consumption of foods high in DED contributes to weight gain in adults.

In order to gain a better understanding of how DED alone relates to cancer risk, researchers used data on 90,000 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative including their diet and any diagnosis of cancer. The team found that women who consumed a diet higher in DED were 10% more likely to develop an obesity-related cancer, independent of body mass index. In fact, the study revealed that the increased risk appeared limited to women who were of a normal weight at enrollment in the program.

 

“The demonstrated effect in normal-weight women in relation to risk for obesity-related cancers is novel and contrary to our hypothesis,” explained lead investigator Cynthia A. Thomson, PhD, RD, Professor of Health Promotion Sciences at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in Tucson, AZ. “This finding suggests that weight management alone may not protect against obesity-related cancers should women favor a diet pattern indicative of high energy density.”

Although restricting energy dense foods may play a role in weight management, investigators found that weight gain was not solely responsible for the rise in cancer risk among normal weight women in the study. They hypothesize that the higher DED in normal-weight women may cause metabolic dysregulation that is independent of body weight, which is a variable known to increase cancer risk.

While further study is needed to understand how DED may play a role in cancer risk for other populations such as young people and men, this information may help persuade postmenopausal women to choose low DED foods, even if they are already at a healthy body mass index.

“Among normal-weight women, higher DED may be a contributing factor for obesity-related cancers,” concluded Dr. Thomson. “Importantly, DED is a modifiable risk factor. Nutrition interventions targeting energy density as well as other diet-related cancer preventive approaches are warranted to reduce cancer burden among postmenopausal women.”

Story Source:
Materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Cynthia A. Thomson, Tracy E. Crane, David O. Garcia, Betsy C. Wertheim, Melanie Hingle, Linda Snetselaar, Mridul Datta, Thomas Rohan, Erin LeBlanc, Rowan T. Chlebowski, Lihong Qi. Association between Dietary Energy Density and Obesity-Associated Cancer: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.06.010

source: www.sciencedaily.com    August 17, 2017


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The Case For Drinking Coffee Is Stronger Than Ever

There are few things more more ritualistic—and to many, more sacred—than a morning cup of joe. 64% of Americans drink at least one cup a day—a statistic that’s barely budged since the ’90s. Despite warnings from doctors over the years that coffee may be hard on the body, people have remained devoted to the drink.

Luckily for them, the latest science is evolving in their favor. Research is showing that coffee may have net positive effects on the body after all.

Is coffee bad for you?

For years, doctors warned people to avoid coffee because it might increase the risk of heart disease and stunt growth. They worried that people could become addicted to the energy that high amounts of caffeine provided, leading them to crave more and more coffee as they became tolerant to higher amounts of caffeine. Experts also worried that coffee had damaging effects on the digestive tract, which could lead to stomach ulcers, heartburn and other ills.

All of this concern emerged from studies done decades ago that compared coffee drinkers to non-drinkers on a number of health measures, including heart problems and mortality. Coffee drinkers, it seemed, were always worse off.

But it turns out that coffee wasn’t really to blame. Those studies didn’t always control for the many other factors that could account for poor health, such as smoking, drinking and a lack of physical activity. If people who drank a lot of coffee also happened to have some other unhealthy habits, then it’s not clear that coffee is responsible for their heart problems or higher mortality.

That understanding has led to a rehabilitated reputation for the drink. Recent research reveals that once the proper adjustments are made for confounding factors, coffee drinkers don’t seem have a higher risk for heart problems or cancer than people who don’t drink coffee. Recent studies also found no significant link between the caffeine in coffee and heart-related issues such as high cholesterol, irregular heartbeats, stroke or heart attack.

Is coffee good for you?

Studies show that people who drink coffee regularly may have an 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers, thanks to ingredients in coffee that can affect levels of hormones involved in metabolism.

In a large study involving tens of thousands of people, researchers found that people who drank several cups a day—anywhere from two to four cups—actually had a lower risk of stroke. Heart experts say the benefits may come from coffee’s effect on the blood vessels; by keeping vessels flexible and healthy, it may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, which can cause heart attacks.

It’s also high in antioxidants, which are known to fight the oxidative damage that can cause cancer. That may explain why some studies have found a lower risk of liver cancer among coffee drinkers.

Coffee may even help you live longer. A recent study involving more than 208,000 men and women found that people who drank coffee regularly were less likely to die prematurely than those who didn’t drink coffee. Researchers believe that some of the chemicals in coffee may help reduce inflammation, which has been found to play a role in a number of aging-related health problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. Some evidence also suggests that coffee may slow down some of the metabolic processes that drive aging.

One downside is that people may become dependent on caffeine (no surprise to any regular caffeine-drinker who takes a coffee break). The symptoms—headaches, irritability and fatigue—can mimic those of people coming off of addictive drugs. Yet doctors don’t consider the dependence anywhere close to as worrisome as addictions to habit-forming drugs like opiates. While unpleasant, caffeine “withdrawal” symptoms are tolerable and tend to go away after a day or so.

How much coffee is safe?

Like so many foods and nutrients, too much coffee can cause problems, especially in the digestive tract. But studies have shown that drinking up to four 8-ounce cups of coffee per day is safe. Sticking to those boundaries shouldn’t be hard for coffee drinkers in the U.S., since most drink just a cup of java per day.Moderation is key. But sipping coffee in reasonable amounts just might be one of the healthiest things you can do.

Alice Park   May 05, 2017    TIME 
source: time.com


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Dogs Detect Breast Cancer From Bandage: Researchers

Dogs can sniff out cancer from a piece of cloth which had touched the breast of a woman with a tumour, researchers said Friday, announcing the results of an unusual, but promising, diagnostic trial.

With just six months of training, a pair of German Shepherds became 100-percent accurate in their new role as breast cancer spotters, the team said.

The technique is simple, non-invasive and cheap, and may revolutionise cancer detection in countries where mammograms are hard to come by.

“In these countries, there are oncologists, there are surgeons, but in rural areas often there is limited access to diagnostics,” Isabelle Fromantin, who leads project Kdog, told journalists in Paris.
This means that “people arrive too late,” to receive life-saving treatment, she added. “If this works, we can roll it out rapidly.”

Working on the assumption that breast cancer cells have a distinguishing smell which sensitive dog noses will pick up, the team collected samples from 31 cancer patients.

These were pieces of bandage that patients had held against their affected breast.
With the help of canine specialist Jacky Experton, the team trained German Shepherds Thor and Nykios to recognise cancerous rags from non-cancerous ones.

“It is all based on game-playing” and reward, he explained.

After six months, the dogs were put to the test over several days in January and February this year.
This time, the researchers used 31 bandages from different cancer patients than those the dogs had been trained on.

One bandage was used per experiment, along with three samples from women with no cancer.

– Saving lives –

Each bandage was placed in a box with a large cone which the dogs could stick their noses into, sniffing at each in turn – four boxes per test.

The exercise was repeated once with each sample, meaning there were 62 individual responses from the dogs in all.

In the first round, the dogs detected 28 out of the 31 cancerous bandages – a 90-per cent pass rate, the researchers announced.

On the second try, they scored 100 per cent – sitting down in front of the box containing the cancerous sample with their muzzle pressed deep into the cone.

“There is technology that works very well, but sometimes simpler things, more obvious things, can also help,” said Amaury Martin of the Curie Institute, citing the many untested stories of dogs having detected cancer in their owners.
“Our aim was see if we can move from conventional wisdom to… real science, with all the clinical and research validation that this entails.”

This was the proof-of-concept phase of Kdog.

The next step will be a clinical trial with more patients and another two dogs, but the team is still in need of project funding.

The team believes that one day dogs may be replaced by “sniffing” machines, possibly armies of electronic diagnosticians dedicated to analysing samples that people far from clinics would send them by the post.

In the meantime, Experton said there is little danger of the trained dogs using their new-found skills to accost cancer sufferers outside the lab.

“These tests happen within a very specific work environment,” he explained. “In a different context, these dogs are unlikely to simply pounce on random people in the street.

The team says it is the only one to work with breast cancer detection from skin-touch samples.
Other research projects are testing canines’ ability to smell different types of cancer in samples of the skin itself, blood or urine, even the air people exhale.

In France, the chances of surviving ten years after a breast cancer diagnosis is about 85 percent, compared to around 50 per cent in poorer countries.

 

AFP                  March 25, 2017


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The Fruit that Protects Against Colon Cancer

While there has been a lot of controversy surrounding resveratrol supplements in recent times, new research from Pennsylvania State University closes the book on fruit containing the compound and its ability to protect against colon cancer. That’s promising news for the 95,500 Americans the American Cancer Society predicts will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year alone.

The new study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found that resveratrol—a plant nutrient known as a phytonutrient—may actually suppress colon cancer stem cells, giving researchers and sufferers of the disease alike hope for a new prevention and treatment strategy. Cancer stem cells are cells that are believed to drive the creation of new cancer cells and cancer tumors. The researchers found that in addition to suppressing colon cancer stem cells, resveratrol found in grapes also significantly reduced the number of cancer tumors—a whopping 50 percent reduction in the number of cancer tumors.

The same researchers also found that resveratrol in food combined with grape seed extract was an even more potent anti-cancer mixture than just resveratrol alone. They found that grape seed extract seemed to increase the potency of resveratrol.

Resveratrol has also shown great promise in the prevention and treatment of brain diseases, due to its ability to protect the brain from damage. In this capacity, resveratrol mops up harmful free radicals and protects against plaque that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

While it remains to be seen whether resveratrol supplements offer the many health benefits of the compound that is naturally found in foods, it is clear that the food sources of this plant nutrient may offer protection against diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Some research even links the nutrient to the protection against damage from the heavy metal cadmium. Cadmium is found in cigarettes, black rubber, burned motor oil, some ceramics, fungicides (like those sprayed on apples, potatoes and tobacco), some refined wheat flour, tires, silver polish, some water and some soft drinks (from vending machines with cadmium in the pipes). It may also protect the kidneys against damage from the antibiotic gentamicin.

The food mixture used in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine study involved a blend of grape skins and grape seeds. This combination offers both resveratrol and grape seed extract. I use a high-powered blender to blend whole purple grapes that contain seeds into a drink so it is easier to obtain the health benefits of grape seeds, without the unpleasant texture so many people dislike. Stir periodically as you’re drinking the grape juice blend to ensure the seed and grape skin pulp are mixed.

Experts have been recommending high amounts of colorful produce in our diet for years. Research like this new study offer greater insight into the rationale for doing so: colorful fruits and vegetables tend to have the highest amounts of phytonutrients. Purple and blue foods tend to have the highest amounts of resveratrol, but the plant nutrient is high in many foods, including: purple grapes, purple grape juice, red wine, raspberries, mulberries, blueberries, peanuts, grape seed extract, eucalyptus and spruce.

While many people tout red wine as the best source of the nutrient, the alcohol (and frequently sulfite) content offset some of its health benefits. Fresh purple grapes and grape juice tend to be the best sources of resveratrol.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook    July 1, 2017
About Michelle    Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook


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Certain Nuts Linked to Reduced Risk of Colon Cancer Return: Study

Nut-eaters saw a 42 percent lower chance of cancer recurrence – and a 57 percent lower chance of death than patients who did not eat nuts after completion of their cancer treatment, said the report.

Eating certain kinds of tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews, has been linked to a dramatically lower risk of colon cancer recurrence, researchers said Wednesday.

The observational study involved 826 patients who had undergone treatment for Stage III colon cancer, typically including surgery and chemotherapy. Such patients – whose cancer has not spread elsewhere in the body – have a 70 per cent chance of surviving three years after treatment.

Some 19 per cent of patients consumed two or more ounces of all types of nuts per week.

These nut-eaters saw a 42 per cent lower chance of cancer recurrence – and a 57 per cent lower chance of death than patients who did not eat nuts after completion of their cancer treatment, said the report, released ahead of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, held in Chicago next month.

When researchers looked only at tree nut consumption, the chance of recurrence was 46 per cent lower and the chance of death was 53 per cent lower for those who ate at least two ounces per week, compared to people who did not eat nuts.

Peanuts and peanut butter – the most commonly consumed nuts in the United States – did not appear to have any significant effect.

“Numerous studies in the fields of heart disease and diabetes have shown the benefits of nut consumption, and we felt that it was important to determine if these benefits could also apply to colorectal cancer patients,” said lead study author Temidayo Fadelu, a clinical fellow in medicine at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

“Patients with advanced disease who benefit from chemotherapy frequently ask what else they can do to reduce their chances of recurrence or death, and our study is an important contribution to the idea that modifying diet and physical activity can be beneficial.”

Eating nuts should not be considered a substitute for standard chemotherapy and other treatments for colon cancer, experts said.

“Rather, patients with colon cancer should be optimistic, and they should eat a healthy diet, including tree nuts, which may not only keep them healthier, but may also further decrease the chances of the cancer coming back,” said ASCO president Daniel Hayes.

Researchers cautioned that the study was observational nature and did not prove cause and effect.

A separate study discussed Wednesday ahead of the Chicago cancer conference involved 992 people whose colon cancer had not spread. It showed that following a Mediterranean diet and exercising reduced their risk of dying prematurely by 42 per cent and also cut their chances of seeing their colon cancer return.

Thursday, May 18, 2017