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Recent research: six studies on eating habits, obesity, vitamin D, lifestyle & dementia

Here are half a dozen studies on weight, bite size, vitamin D, dietary supplements, and ways of avoiding dementia.  Andrew et al report on the "Incident cancer burden attributable to excess body mass index in 30 European countries" estimating that about 6% of cancers could be avoided if we could maintain healthier weights (abstracts & links for all six articles mentioned appear further down this page).  Zijlstra and colleagues suggest a possible response!  They randomized subjects to eating with different bite (mouthful) sizes and different chewing times.  They found that " ... greater oral sensory exposure to a product, by eating with small bite sizes rather than with large bite sizes and increasing OPT (oral processing time), significantly decreases food intake."  As Mum might put it "Don't wolf your food!"

Preventing cancer through life style choices

In 2001 the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) WCRF/AICR set themselves the task of systematically assessing all good research on diet, physical activity and cancer and publishing a report that would be the largest study of its kind with conclusions that would be best the evidence could demonstrate.  Over 100 scientists from 30 countries were involved.  An expert panel of 21 of these scientists worked for 5 years to produce the report "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective."  The follow-up companion Policy Report "Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention"  was published a little over a month ago and has recommendations for a series of different groups and organizations including government, industry, the media, schools, and work places

Are you at risk of developing cancer from radon gas at home or at work?

Last month's article in the British Medical Journal on the dangers posed by radon gas in buildings jogged my awareness of this important hazard (Gray, Read et al. 2009).  Quoting Wikipedia on radon "Radon is the invisible, radioactive mono-atomic gas that results from radioactive decay of some forms of uranium that may be found in rock formations beneath buildings or in certain building materials themselves. There are relatively simple tests for radon gas, but these tests are not commonly done, even in areas of known systematic hazards." and "According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon is reportedly the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking; and radon-induced lung cancer the 6th leading cause of cancer death overall." and "Some ... areas, including Cornwall and Aberdeenshire in the United Kingdom have high enough natural radiation levels that nuclear licensed sites cannot be built there - the sites would already exceed legal radiation limits before they opened, and the natural topsoil and rock would all have to be disposed of as low-level nuclear waste."

Recent research: mind-body & body-mind effects for cancer, allergy, dementia, & mental health

Here are five studies on the loose theme of how the mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind ... and that the distinction between mind and body is pretty arbitrary anyway.  Using meta-analysis, Chida & colleagues highlight considerable evidence suggesting that stress-related psychosocial factors have an adverse effect on cancer incidence and survival.  Andersen & colleagues report a randomized controlled trial to respond to this in women diagnosed with breast cancer.  Women in the stress management arm of the study received an initial one-year, 26 session intervention in groups of 8 to 12 people.  The aim was to reduce distress and improve quality of life, improve health behaviors (diet, exercise, smoking cessation), and facilitate cancer treatment compliance and medical follow-up.

Recent research: seven studies on diet, supplements & smoking

Here are a couple of studies on smoking, a couple on B vitamins, a couple on vitamin D, and an intriguing study on iron.  The smoking papers underline the varieties of damage this habit produces.  So the Pasco et al study shows that, for women, being a smoker is associated with double the risk of developing subsequent major depression.  The Strandberg research challenges any notion of "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die".  This study of 1658 men reports that "During the 26-year follow-up of this socioeconomically homogeneous male cohort, HRQoL (quality of life) deteriorated with an increase in daily cigarettes smoked in a dose-dependent manner.

Vegged out & fruitless: lifestyle & health

Last month's BMJ published another in the long line of research articles that highlight the huge importance of lifestyle choices for our health:

Dam, R. M. v., T. Li, et al. (2008). "Combined impact of lifestyle factors on mortality: prospective cohort study in US women." BMJ 337(sep16_2): a1440-  [Free Full Text]

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