Current Health Research News Fall 2005

The Miracle Cure: Found at Last?

Centuries ago Ponce de Leon searched for and could not find the Fountain of Youth. The fact that there is no Fountain of Youth has not stopped the continued quest for that magical substance that will restore our health and cure everything that ails us. Frequently patients, occasionally practitioners, manufacturers of drugs (premarin, vioxx, statins), supplements (especially in multilevel marketing) herbs and devices, continue to pitch miraculous claims for their products. Alas, the miracle cure still eludes us, and probably always will.

Or does it? There is one therapy for which claims to enhance almost all areas of your life and health, have stood the test of time and scientific scrutiny, and for which more evidence is constantly reported. This is vigorous and even not so vigorous exercise. Ills from gallstones, to heart disease and Alzheimer’s can in part be prevented by exercise. Will exercise decrease our risk of cancer and diabetes? Here are the remarkable results of some recent studies of the effects of exercise:

  • Researchers of the Woman’s Health Initiative Cohort Study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that “increased physical activity is associated with reduced risk for breast cancer in postmenopausal women, longer duration provides most benefit, and that such activity need not be strenuous.” Women who engaged in the equivalent of 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of brisk walking had an 18% decreased risk of breast cancer compared with inactive women
  • Not only does exercise help to prevent breast cancer, but exercise was shown to significantly improve long term survival for patients already treated for breast cancer. Boston researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that women who spent 3 to 5 hours per week walking at a moderate pace decreased their risk of death from recurrent breast cancer by 50%, compared to women who did not exercise.
  • Does exercise reduce your risk for other types of cancer? Canadian researchers, in a review article in 2001 stated:
    • ‘The evidence for a causal association between physical activity and colon and breast cancers is found to be “convincing,”
    • for prostate cancer to be “probable,”
    • for lung and endometrial cancers to be “possible.”
  • Will exercise reduce your risk for diabetes? A group of researcher reported that indeed it would, much more effectively than metformin, a powerful drug used to treat diabetes. The lifestyle intervention (modest weight loss and 150 minutes of exercise per week) reduced new cases of diabetes in patients with prediabetes (abnormal glucose tolerance) by almost 60 percent and was twice as effective as metformin.

Organic Foods: Are They More Nutritious?

Organic foods have fewer toxic chemicals and benefit the environment and farmworkers. But are organic foods more nutritious? Increasing evidence indicates that they are indeed more nutritious. The Organic Center’s second State of Science Review concludes that organic farming methods have the potential to elevate average antioxidant levels, especially in fresh produce. On average, antioxidant levels were about 30 percent higher in organic food compared to conventional food grown under the same conditions.

USDA scientists found that organic brands of catsup contained 57 percent higher levels of the health-promoting antioxidant lycopene and overall two-thirds higher total antioxidant capacity compared to average levels in six national brands.

Italian scientists found that organically grown oranges contained 12 percent higher levels of Vitamin C than conventional oranges.

Read the full reports at http://www.organic-center.org/ – a six-page State of Science Review Executive Summary, as well as the full 81-page report.

Killer Sodas

Its website says the Coca-Cola Company “exists to benefit and refresh everyone it touches.” How far from the truth that is! A group of researchers at Harvard School of Public Health reported last year that women consuming one or more sugar-sweetened soft drinks per day had a relative risk of type II diabetes almost two times higher, and gained more weight compared with those who consumed less than one of these beverages per month. Similarly, consumption of fruit punch was associated with an equally increased risk of diabetes.

What about diet beverages? Research has shown that the use of diet drinks also leads to weight gain, probably because they stimulate your appetite, and maintain your taste for very sweet foods. Diet drinks are not a wise choice. Water, tea (both green and black tea are high in anti-oxidants), herb tea, and carbonated water are your better choices.


 

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