Sunday, August 19, 2007, 11:55 PMDiet high in meat, fat and refined grains linked to risk for colon cancer recurrence, death
Patients treated for colon cancer who had a diet high in meat, refined grains, fat and desserts had an increased risk of cancer recurrence and death compared with patients who had a diet high in fruits and vegetables, poultry and fish, according to a study in the August 15 issue of JAMA.
Previous research has indicated that diet and other lifestyle factors have a significant influence on the risk of developing colon cancer. However, few studies have assessed the influence of diet on colon cancer recurrence and survival, according to background information in the article.
Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, M.D., M.P.H., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, and colleagues examined the influence of two distinct dietary patterns on cancer recurrence and survival in a group of 1,009 stage III colon cancer patients (cancer present in the colon and lymph nodes) enrolled in a clinical trial of postoperative chemotherapy in addition to other treatment. Patients reported dietary intake using a food frequency questionnaire during and six months after supplemental chemotherapy. Two major dietary patterns were identified, prudent and Western. The prudent pattern was characterized by high intakes of fruits and vegetables, poultry, and fish; the Western pattern was characterized by high intakes of meat, fat, refined grains, and dessert.
Patients were followed up for cancer recurrence or death. During a median (midpoint) follow-up of 5.3 years, 324 patients had cancer recurrence, 223 patients died with cancer recurrence, and 28 died without documented cancer recurrence.
The researchers found that a higher intake of a Western dietary pattern after cancer diagnosis was associated with a significant increase in the risk of cancer recurrence or death. Compared with patients in the lowest Western dietary pattern quintile (bottom 20 percent), those in the highest quintile (top 20 percent) experienced a 3.3 times higher risk for cancer recurrence or death. Patients in the highest quintile of Western dietary pattern were 2.9 times more likely to have cancer recur than those in the lowest quintile. Similarly, a significantly higher overall risk of death with increasing Western dietary pattern was observed. In contrast, the prudent dietary pattern was not significantly associated with cancer recurrence or death.
“Studies have shown an improved disease-free survival among patients who receive adjuvant chemotherapy following the surgical resection of stage III colon cancer. This is the first study, to our knowledge, in a potentially cured population of colon cancer survivors to address the effect of diet. Because this was an observational study, causality cannot and should not be drawn from these data. Nonetheless, the data suggest that a diet characterized by higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets and desserts, french fries, and refined grains increases the risk of cancer recurrence and decreases survival. Further analyses are under way to better delineate specific nutrients or food groupings that may have the strongest association,” the authors write.
(JAMA. 2007;298(7):754-764. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 09:24 PMPopular diabetes drug could be dangerous, study finds
A widely prescribed drug to treat type 2 diabetes increases users' risk for heart attack, according to study findings released this week.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reacted to the report with a safety alert for the drug Avandia. It said, however, that more analysis was needed before it would make a decision about the drug from a regulatory standpoint. The generic name for the drug is rosiglitazone.
Researchers found those taking the drug increased their risk of heart attack by 43%. Also, there was a 64% increased risk of dying from cardiovascular causes, compared with patients not taking the drug. Findings will appear in the June 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. More than two million people worldwide take Avandia for type 2 diabetes.
Thursday, April 26, 2007, 10:58 AMInflammatory bowel disease linked to nerve damage
BOSTON -- People with inflammatory bowel disease may also be at risk for developing nerve damage and other neurological problems, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 – May 5, 2007.
Inflammatory bowel disease includes digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease that cause swelling and/or bleeding in the intestines. For the study, researchers compared 103 people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to 51 people with other digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis and chronic heartburn.
The researchers found that those with inflammatory bowel disease were about four times more likely to develop neuromuscular conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome and small fiber neuropathy, which causes pain and lack of feeling in the feet. Those with bowel disease were also more than six times more likely to also have a disorder called sensorimotor polyneuropathy, a nerve disease that can cause weakness, pain, and numbness. These diseases were more common in women with bowel disease than men.
"Inflammatory bowel disease patients commonly suffer from several other medical conditions, like B12 deficiency and glucose intolerance. These nerve conditions we have reported are often not diagnosed by their primary care physicians," said lead study author Francisco De Assis Gondim, MD, MSc, PhD, Professor of the Federal University of Ceará in Ceará, Brazil, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "People with inflammatory bowel disease who develop new symptoms, such as pain or numbness in the feet, should see a doctor."
Sunday, April 15, 2007, 03:24 PMSeverely Obese Are Fastest Growing Segment of Overweight Americans
The proportion of severely obese Americans -- those with a body mass index of 40 or more -- increased by 50 percent from 2000 to 2005, according to a new study by the RAND Corporation. During that same time period, the proportion of people with a BMI of 30 or more increased by 24 percent, and the proportion of those with a BMI of 50 or more increased by 75 percent.
"The proportion of people at the high end of the weight scale continues to increase at a brisk rate despite increased public attention on the risks of obesity and the increased use of drastic weight loss strategies," report author Roland Sturm, a RAND economist, said.
The study analyzed information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), an annual telephone survey that includes self-reported height and weight conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study is expected to be published later this year in Public Health.
Sunday, March 11, 2007, 10:21 PM3/2/2007 - A sea salt that claims to resuce more than half of the sodium content of food products is due to enter the US market, after enjoying significant success with food makers in the UK, according to its manufacturer.
The Solo brand low sodium sea salt claims to allow firms to reduce the salt content of their products, without sacrificing taste or functionality.
Developed by UK-based firm The Low Sodium Sea Salt Company, the product is a sodium-reduced, magnesium enriched sea salt containing sodium, potassium and magnesium. It contains 60 percent less sodium than ordinary salt and can be used to replace it on a 1:1 basis, said the firm, which claims it has become the "preferred option" of UK food manufacturers looking to reduce sodium.
The ingredient will now also become available in the US, distributed by Nexcel Natural Ingredients, based in Springfield, Illinois.
"Because of strong interest within the US food manufacturing trade to reduce sodium content within processed foods, we felt the timing was perfect to bring our Solo sodium reduction solution to the food processors within the US Partnering with Nexcel Natural Ingredients at this time will enable us to hit the ground running," said Leslie Wilson, managing director and founder of The Low Sodium Sea Salt Company.
The product claims to dissolve faster than ordinary salt and to deliver "special benefits" to the bakery, meat processing and snack food industries.
Salt is one of the hardest ingredients to replace due to its functionality and its flavor enhancing qualities. It performs numerous essential functions in processing, including binding and extending shelf-life.
But excess sodium has been shown to increase the chance of developing hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. These health concerns are resulting in mounting pressure on food makers to replace the ingredient.
Indeed, in June last year, the American Medical Association (AMA) said it would urge the government to revoke the substance's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status.
And according to the AMA, most Americans consume two to three times the amount of sodium that is healthy, with an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the daily intake of sodium coming from processed and restaurant foods.
The association currently recommends limiting salt intake to 2,300mg per day. And according to the US regulatory agency Food And Drug Administration (FDA), foods that can be considered 'healthy' must contain less than 480mg sodium per serving.
The nation's doctors are now calling for the development of regulatory measures to limit sodium in foods. They have placed a target of a minimum 50 percent reduction in the amount of sodium in processed foods, fast food products and restaurant meals to be achieved over the next decade.
So far the battle against salt has remained voluntary. Nevertheless, many food makers, such as Campbell and General Mills-owned Progresso, have moved in response to growing consumer and health body concerns.