Monthly Archives: September 2019

Coffee- For Your Health

Sunday September 29th is celebrated as National Coffee Day in the U.S. In recognition of this important day, our post today will cover some interesting research on coffee consumption and various health outcomes.

The largest coffee producer in the world is Brazil, and has been so for over 100 years. Second on the list of producing countries is Vietnam, followed by Columbia. While over 50% of Americans drink coffee daily, the leading coffee consuming country is actually Finland, followed by Norway. There are many bioactive compounds found in coffee, including polyphenols, which are thought to be one of the sources of coffee’s health benefits.

A group of researchers affiliated with the University of Edinburgh as well as the University of Southampton in the UK performed what they termed an “umbrella review”, examining the effects of coffee consumption on several different health conditions. Their review included 201 meta-analyses of observational studies, as well as 17 meta-analyses of interventional research.

After completion of their analysis, the researchers concluded that coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, total cancer, and all-cause mortality.

For cancer, coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of endometrial cancer, melanoma, oral cancer, and prostate cancer.

For the liver, in those with any coffee consumption versus those with none, there was a 39% lower risk for liver cirrhosis, 27% lower risk for liver fibrosis, and 29% lower risk on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

In comparing high versus low coffee consumption, high consumption was associated with a lower risk of diabetes type 2, and was also associated with a 9% lower risk of metabolic syndrome.

Other notable findings- coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of both gallstone disease and Parkinson’s disease. In fact, the only evidence of potential harm seemed to be in those that are pregnant and perhaps women and bone loss.

This was a massive study, spread over multiple countries and with many participants. While studies such as these do not prove cause and effect, they do provide areas where further research may be helpful.

So, on National Coffee Day, consider a cup or two with friends and family. It may be good for your health!

“The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

(Source-BMJ 2017;359)

This blog is a review of published research and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

 

Fried Foods Bad for Prostate

September is designated National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and September 24th is Prostate Cancer Awareness Day. In recognition of this, today’s post will discuss research which examines the intake of deep fried foods and risk of prostate cancer.

Data from the National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be nearly 175,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2019, and nearly 32,000 deaths. It is the 2nd most common cancer among men, second only to lung and bronchus cancers. The most common risk factor for prostate cancer is advancing age. Prostate cancer is more common among African-American men, who are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as white men are.

It has been documented that when immigrants from Asian countries, which generally have low prostate cancer incidence, move to the U.S., their prostate cancer rates increase significantly within one generation, indicating perhaps some dietary or environmental exposure at work.

A group of researchers affiliated with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the School of Public Health at the University of Washington performed an interesting study, examining the relationship between intake of deep fried foods and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. Researchers used data from two population-based case-control studies, comprised of residents of Kings County, Washington. There were slightly over 1500 cases, and nearly as many in the control group. The two groups were similar in age, body mass index, education level, and race.

Participants in the study were given a food frequency questionnaire, which assessed the use of butter, margarine, oil or other fat in cooking. The food frequency questionnaire also queried about intake of doughnuts, french fries, fried chicken, fried fish, and snack chips.

The researchers discovered that compared with the reference intake (less than once per month), intake of doughnuts once per week or more was associated with a 35% increased risk of prostate cancer, while intake of french fries once per week or more was associated with a 37% increased risk of prostate cancer. Similarly, intake of fried chicken once per week or more was associated with a 30% increased risk of prostate cancer, and fried fish had a 32% increased risk.

In addition, the researchers discovered that increased fried food intake was associated with more aggressive prostate cancer. Compared to the reference intake of less than once per month, intake of doughnuts once per week or more was associated with a 38% increased risk of more aggressive prostate cancer, while the intake of french fries weekly or more was associated with a 41% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Similarly, the intake of fried chicken once per week or more was associated with a 30% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer, while fried fish had a 41% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Interestingly, there did not appear to be a relationship between intake of snack chips and development of prostate cancer. However, intake of snack chips once a week or more was associated with a 14% increased risk of more aggressive prostate cancer.

It is not entirely clear what is the mechanism between fried foods and prostate cancer. Certainly fried foods are pro-inflammatory, which could be a possible mechanism. Deep fried foods have high levels of advanced glycation endproducts, which are also pro-inflammatory. Another possibility is the substance acrylamide, a known carcinogen, which is found after deep frying common foods. 

It should be no surprise that the foods we eat regularly have an effect on our health, as the old adage “You are what you eat” suggested. This is not a new concept. For instance in traditional Chinese Medicine food is thought to be a form of medicine. So, next time you are reaching for that doughnut, go for something healthy instead.

“Don’t eat fried food, it angries up the blood”– Satchel Paige

(Source- The Prostate, 2013)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

High Glucose a Risk Factor for Dementia

September 21st is designated World Alzheimer’s Day. In recognition of this today’s post will review research on the effects of glucose on dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Statistics from the CDC indicate as many as 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to reach 14 million people by 2060.

It is important to consider that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, so recognition of risk factors as a potential strategy for prevention is important.

A research group affiliated with the University of Washington, the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine performed a study examining the relationship between glucose levels and risk of dementia.

Enrollees for the study were selected from the Adult Changes in Thought study, which consisted of randomly selected members from Group Health Cooperative in Washington State. These members were all considered to be dementia-free. There were 2067 participants, 839 men and 1228 women, whose mean age was 76 years.

Study subjects were assessed every two years to look for incident cases of dementia. The Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument was used. Average glucose levels were calculated for each subject at initiation into the study, and then in 5 year rolling periods thereafter. Mean follow-up period was nearly 7 years.

The researchers discovered that among those subjects with diabetes, those with higher levels of glucose had increased risk for dementia. For example, the risk for dementia was 40% higher in those with average glucose of 190 mg/dl compared to 160 mg/dl. 

Even more important, among the subjects without diabetes, those with an average glucose level of 115 mg/dl had an 18% higher risk of dementia compared to those with an average 100 mg/dl glucose level.

The last result bears repeating, in participants WITHOUT diabetes, a 15 mg/dl difference in glucose (115 vs 100) led to an 18% increased risk of dementia. This particular result may indicate that early interventions to lower blood glucose, while one is still in the insulin resistance stage and not advanced into full blown diabetes, may lower the risk of dementia.

At this time there is no cure for dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in general have a profound impact not only at the individual level, but also on the individual’s caregivers. Perhaps incorporating a low-carb lifestyle may be a strategy to prevent future dementia.

“The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days.”–     Lao Tzu

(Source- New England Journal of Medicine, 369.6)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Green Algae Lowers Cholesterol

September is designated National Cholesterol Education Month, and in recognition of this today’s post will review a study of the effects of cholrella on lipid parameters.

Chlorella is a single cell green algae, which is spherically shaped. Research began on chlorella as a potential food source in the late 1940s. Most of the original studies on this particular algae were conducted in labs, and when studies began to be performed in the field chlorella was not found to be quite as easy to propagate as previously thought.

A research group from the Republic of Korea performed a double-blind, random-controlled trial to examine the effects of daily chlorella supplements on serum lipid parameters. After an initial screening and two week lead in phase 68 subjects were randomized into either the chlorella group or the placebo group. The subjects were advised to maintain their usual diet and activity levels. The chlorella group took 4 tablets after each meal, a total of 12 each day, equivalent to about 5 grams of chlorella each day. This continued for four weeks. Food diaries were completed at the beginning and end of the study.

The results of the study showed significant reductions from baseline in non-HDL-C (2.6% reduction), total cholesterol (1.6% reduction), and triglycerides (10.3% reduction).

Some folks develop gastrointestinal problems such as nausea with chlorella, but in this particular study no one withdrew due to adverse side effects. Supplementation might be a way to lower cholesterol in those with mildly elevated cholesterol.

“Algae is the perfect plant food. It doubles cell mass every twelve hours, depending on the strain.”– Homaro Cantu

(Source- Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:57)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Triglyceride/HDL Ratio Predicts Diabetes in Men

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, and in recognition of this today’s post will discuss research examining the relationship between certain lipid parameters and the development of diabetes.

Statistics from the CDC indicate more than 100 million American adults have total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dl , with more than 35 million having total cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dl.

A research group from China examined the triglyceride to high density lipoprotein cholesterol (TG/HDL-C) ratio as a possible independent predictor for development of diabetes.

There were nearly 12,000 participants enrolled in the retrospective study, 53% men, 47% women, with a mean age of 44 years. The participants were followed on average for three years.

The research revealed that a high TG/HDL-C ratio has a positive correlation with risk of diabetes in men. Interestingly this ratio did not show correlation with the female subjects

This is a large study, with a huge number of subjects. It shows that the TG/HDL-C ratio may well be an independent predictor of diabetes, at least among men. Triglyceride and HDL levels are commonly measured during routine lab work, and are therefore easy to obtain. As this study was undertaken in a relatively homogeneous population in China, it would be helpful to undertake a similar study among a more diverse population, such as in the U.S. 

A high TG/HDL-C ratio provides us with another parameter to consider as we analyze routinely ordered lipid panels, and perhaps gives an early indication of those who may be at risk for diabetes.

“The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat.”– Albert Einstein

(Source- Journal of Diabetes Investigation, 2019)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discus any health concerns with your personal physician.