Poor adolescent diet associated with premenopausal breast cancer

“During adolescence and early adulthood, when the mammary gland is rapidly developing and is therefore particularly susceptible to lifestyle factors, it is important to consume a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes and to avoid soda consumption and a high intake of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and red and processed meats.”

– lead author Karin B. Michels, ScD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles

Key points: Women who consumed a diet associated with chronic inflammation  as adolescents or young adults appear to have a higher risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer, as compared with those who had a diet not linked to inflammation.

Background: Researchers used data from 45,204 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II who had completed a food frequency questionnaire in 1998, when they were ages 33 to 52, about their diet during high School. The investigators then assed adult diet by first using a food frequency questionnaire in 1991, when participants were ages 27 to 44, and then every 4 years thereafter. They gave each woman’s diet an inflammatory score using a previously method that links diet with inflammatory markers in the blood.

During 22 years of follow-up, 870 of the women who completed the high school food frequency questionnaire were diagnosed with premenopausal breast cancer and 490 were diagnosed with postmenopausal breast cancer. When women were divided into five groups based on the inflammatory score of their adolescent diet, those in the highest score group had a 35 percent higher risk for premenopausal breast cancer relative to those in the lowest score group. When the same analysis was done based on early adulthood diet, those in the highest inflammatory score group had a 41 percent higher risk for premenopausal breast cancer relative to those in the lowest score group.

I’m Michael Hunter, the Breast Cancer Doctor.

Mediterranean Diet has Marked Impact on Aging

Background: The Mediterranean diet consistently has been linked with an array of health benefits, including decreased risk of chronic disease and cancer. Until now, however, no studies had associated the diet with longer telomeres, one of the biomarkers of aging.

Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes that get shorter every time a cell divides. Shorter telomeres have been associated with decreased life expectancy and increased risk of aging-related disease (including cancer), while longer telomeres have been linked to longevity. Telomere shortening is accelerated by stress and inflammation, and scientists have speculated that adherence to the Mediterranean diet may help protect against that effect.

The Evidence: In a study published Tuesday online in The British Medical Journal, researchers at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet correlated with longer telomeres.

“To our knowledge this is the largest population-based study specifically addressing the association between Mediterranean diet adherence and telomere length in healthy, middle-aged women,” explained Immaculata De Vivo, an associate professor in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the senior author of this study. “Our results further support the benefits of adherence to this diet to promote health and longevity.”

The researchers analyzed 4,676 disease-free women from the Nurses’ Health Study who had completed the food-frequency questionnaire and whose telomere lengths had been measured. They found that a greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomeres, and that even small changes in diet made a difference.

“Our findings showed that healthy eating, overall, was associated with longer telomeres. However, the strongest association was observed among women who adhered to the Mediterranean diet,” explained Marta Crous Bou, a postdoctoral fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine and the first author of the study.

De Vivo notes that future research should be aimed at determining which components of the Mediterranean diet drive this association. This would allow researchers to gain insight into the biological mechanism, as well as provide a basis for increased public education for informed lifestyle choices.

My Take: How wonderful that we may be able to slow the aging clock with a healthy diet. But don’t forget physical activity (such as a brisk walk for 30 minutes, 5 times per week), as it too may slow telomere shortening and add to your life expectancy and overall health. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter. Ciao!

Reference: Harvard Gazette 02 December 2014

Weight-Reduction: Does Diet Type Matter?

What You Need to Know: Although there are statistically significant differences between various diets, the differences are not clinically significant. If you are going to diet for weight loss, choose a good one with which you will stick.

Background: In the USA, approximately two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese. It would be best if we could recommend an optimal diet. Here we have many choices: The Atkins diet, the Ornish diet, Zone, South Beach, Jenny Craig, etc.

The Study: Johnston and colleagues performed a meta-analysis (study of a collection of studies) of 48 weight-loss trials (with 7.286 subjects). The authors categorized the diets as low-fat or low-carbohydrate.

Although the researchers found statistically significant differences when comparing the studies, they appear to be of little clinical significance. At the 1 year follow-up mark, those on low-carbohydrate diets had a mean weight loss of 7.99 kilograms, versus 7.27 kg on low-fat diets.

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter. And don’t forget the exercise, preferably no less than the equivalent of a brisk walk for 150 minutes per week (for example, 30 minutes for 5 days per week minimum).

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad: Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Does Drinking Diet Soda Make You Eat More?

soda beverages drinks

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at lifestyle issues this week. I promise that I will return to cancer, but the two are so intertwined (that I couldn’t resist today’s post).

Don’t depend on diet soda to help you lose weight. A new study shows that overweight and obese people who drink diet beverages consume more calories from food than those who have sugary drinks, according to a new Johns Hopkins study, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

“When you make that switch from a sugary beverage for a diet beverage, you’re often not changing other things in your diet,” says lead researcher Sara Bleich, associate professor in the department of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Bleich and other Johns Hopkins researchers used data from the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. For this study, they analyzed participants’ recollection of what they’d had to eat and drink over the past 24 hours.

They found that about one in five overweight or obese American adults regularly drinks diet beverages, which is about twice the amount that healthy-weight adults are drinking.

“On the one hand, that’s encouraging. People are being told if you need to cut calories from your diet, discretionary beverages are a great place to start,” Bleich says. But even though they’re no longer drinking their calories, they’re finding them elsewhere—often in sweet snacks, the researchers say.

Diet soda consumption has increased steadily since 1965, when just 3 percent of Americans were regularly drinking the stuff, the study authors write. Sales of diet soda actually declined 7 percent last year, but Bleich thinks that just means habitual diet soda drinkers are switching to the many flavored teas, juices and vitamin-enhanced waters currently on store shelves.

Our bodies fight to try to keep our weight stable, which is one of the reasons weight loss is so hard —and it could help explain why overweight diet soda drinkers may be consuming more calories from solid food.

Another potential reason: Some (highly debated) research has also demonstrated that when you feed your body sugar—even artificial sweeteners—your brain responds by wanting even more sugar, says Nicole Avena, Ph.d., a faculty member at the New York Obesity Research Center at Columbia University, who has done research on the idea of sugar addiction.

She says people often ask her if diet soda triggers those same changes in the brain. “The answer is, it seems to be that it’s the sweet taste that’s producing these changes in the brain, and affecting the brain’s reward system,” says Avena, who recently wrote the book “Why Diets Fail (Because You’re Addicted to Sugar): Science Explains How to End Cravings, Lose Weight, and Get Healthy.”

“You might be saving yourself a few calories right now … but it’s really just sort of a hold over until later on. It’s still going to affect the brain’s reward system, and make you want to eat sweet foods,” she says.

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter. Now go drink something more natural!

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: http://www.today.com/health/diet-soda-probably-not-going-help-you-lose-weight-2D11940230

Consistent Bed, Wake Time Linked to Healthier Weight

sleep woman sleeping rest bed

Prior research has shown not getting enough sleep can impact your weight, but new  research finds the consistency of your bed time and wake time can also influence body fat.

The Study: Exercise science professor Bruce Bailey (Brigham Young University, USA) studied more than 300 women from two major Western U.S. universities over the course of several weeks and found that those with the best sleeping habits had healthier weights.

Results: The main findings from the study, published online in the American Journal of Health Promotion:

  • A consistent bed time and, especially, a consistent wake time are related to lower body fat.
  • Getting less than 6.5 or more than 8.5 hours of sleep per night is associated with higher body fat.
  • Quality of sleep is important for body composition.

Women in the study were first assessed for body composition, and then were given an activity tracker to record their movements during the day and their sleep patterns at night. Researchers tracked sleep patterns of the participants (ages 17-26) for one week.

The most surprising finding from the study, according to the researchers, was the link between bed time and wake time consistency and body weight. Study participants who went to bed and woke up at, or around the same time each day had lower body fat. Those with more than 90 minutes of variation in sleep and wake time during the week had higher body fat than those with less than 60 minutes of variation. Wake time was particularly linked to body fat: Those who woke up at the same time each morning had lower body fat. Staying up late and even sleeping in may be doing more harm than good, Bailey said.

“We have these internal clocks and throwing them off and not allowing them to get into a pattern does have an impact on our physiology,” Bailey said.

Bailey related consistent sleep patterns to having good sleep hygiene. When sleep hygiene is altered, it can influence physical activity patterns, and affect some of the hormones related to food consumption contributing to excess body fat. Bailey and his team also found there was a sweet spot for amount of sleep: Those who slept between 8 and 8.5 hours per night had the lowest body fat.

Sleep quality also proved to have a strong relationship to body fat. Sleep quality is a measure of how effective sleep is, or how much time spent in bed is spent sleeping. Those who had better sleep quality had lower body fat. To improve sleep quality Bailey recommended exercising, keeping the temperature in the room cool, having a quiet room, having a dark room, and using beds only for sleeping.

“Sleep is often a casualty of trying to do more and be better and it is often sacrificed, especially by college students, who kind of wear it as a badge of honor,” Bailey said.

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: Brigham Young University (2013, November 18). Consistent bed, wake time linked to healthier weight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­

Bread, Pasta, and the Risk of Breast and Colon Cancer

pasta

Background: Carbohydrate foods with high glycemic and insulin-raising potential may influence cancer risk. This may occur though the insulin/growth-factor axis. Two sample carbohydrate foods of the Mediterranean diet, bread and pasta, have different glycemic and insulin-raising responses. Might they affect cancer risk differently?

The Study: Investigators from Toronto studied the association of bread and pasta with breast and colorectal cancer risk, using data from two Italian case-control studies. These studies included 2569 women with breast cancer, and 1953 men and women with colorectal cancer. Controls numbered 2588 and 4154, respectively (admitted to the same hospitals as cases for acute, non-cancer conditions).

Results: The odds ratios (ORs) of breast cancer for the highest versus the lowest quintile were 1.28 for breads, and 1.07 for  pasta. The association with breast was unchanged when comparing post menopause and overweight. The odds ratios of colorectal cancer in women for the highest versus the lowest quintile were 2.02 for bread and 1.37 for pasta. The associations remained significant only for breast in strata of menopausal women and overweight. No links were seen in men for wither bread or pasta.

What You Need to Know: These two cancer case-control studies showed stronger associations with bread (than pasta) among women, especially if the overweight. This suggests possible hormonal-related mechanisms. Suggestive, but not particularly actionable, except to say: Your mother was right: Everything in moderation. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: Annals of Oncology 2013 Oct 22 [Epub ahead of print]

Vegetable Fat Tied to Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer Death

Got prostate cancer? Well here’s the good news: You can lower your risk of dying of the disease my increasing the amount of vegetable fat you consume. A study published in June, 2013 found prostate cancer mortality to be about half for men who consumed the most vegetable fat, as compared to those who consumed the least.

“Among men with non-metastatic prostate cancer, replacing carbohydrates and animal fat with vegetable fat may reduce the risk of death due to any cause [not just cancer].”

– Erin Richman, MD (University of California, San Francisco)

Methods: Richman and colleagues searched the database of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Over 51,000 male health professionals have enrolled since 1986. The investigators grouped the men into quintiles of fat intake, further separated into animal fat, vegetable fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and trans fat.

Results: Men who consumed more vegetable fat after diagnosis had a lower risk of death due to any cause (all-causemortality). Replacing 10% of calories from carbohydrates with vegetable fat was assocaited with a 26% lower risk of death. The association was stronger with animal fat was replaced with vegetable fat.

My take: Avoiding obestiy may be a key. How you should do this is not yet settled, but this study suggetsts that substituting healthy foods (vegetable fats) for unhealthy foods may have a benefit. Now the chicken or the egg question: Was the benefti due to reduced consumption of carbohydrates or greater intake of vegetables?