Health & Fitness Digest - June 15

Does red or processed meat cause colon cancer?

This new study involved almost 16,000 people in Germany and investigated the association between meat consumption and incidence of colorectal polyps (an early indication of potential cancer development in the colon and rectum).

Of the ~16,000 people, 20% had non-advanced adenomas (lowest risk), 10% had advanced adenomas (highest risk), and 1.2% had cancer.

The study did not find any statistically significant correlation between meat and processed meat consumption and occurrence of any adenomas or advanced adenomas.

However, the study did reveal a correlation between consumption of processed meats and incidence of advanced adenomas in the rectum.

TH comment: Processed meats are unhealthy for a variety of reasons and should be avoided. Processed meats include canned meats, processed cold-cuts, and meat that has been “treated” or “modified” through an industrial process.

New study looks at the impact of dairy consumption on mortality

This new study involved over 100,000 people in Sweden and investigated the association between the consumption of various dairy products and “all cause mortality”.

“all cause mortality” means death from any disease/disorder (e.g. heart disease, cancer, metabolic disease, etc).

  • The study found that the consumption of “non-fermented milk” (regular milk) increases risk of “all cause mortality” by 32%.
  • The study found that the consumption of “butter” increases risk of “all-cause mortality” by 11%.
  • The study found that the consumption of either “fermented milk” or “cheese” REDUCED “all cause mortality” when compared with people who do not consume any dairy products.

TH comment: It should be noted that the study did not look at the quality of the milk and dairy products used. This is important to note since other studies have shown a “protective” effect of “organic full fat milk”.

Two new studies look at effect of diet on child growth

The first study out of Canada involved over 5,000 children and investigated the relationship between the consumption of dairy alternatives (soy milk, almond milk, etc) and the growth of children aged 2-6 years.

The study found an “inverse” and “dose-dependent” relationship between consumption of non-dairy beverages and child height: in other words, the more the children drank non-dairy milk, the “shorter/less developed” they were when compared to average height for their age.

What was even more interesting was that the effect remained when compared to children who don’t drink any type of milk (cow dairy or non-dairy). This means that it was the actual consumption of non-dairy milk that had this “lower development” effect, not just the absence of cow dairy milk.

The second study conducted in Ecuador by American universities looked at the effect of “daily egg consumption” on the development of 6-9 month old babies.

Babies were split into 2 groups: 1 group consuming 1 egg per day, and another group not consuming any eggs. The protocol was followed for a duration of 6 months, after which the development of the babies was measured.

The results were as follows:

  • No reports of allergic reactions to egg consumption.
  • Egg consumption had a significant positive impact on baby length and weight (stronger development).
  • Risk of “stunting” (restricted growth) was reduced by 47% in the “egg-consuming” babies.
  • Risk of “underweight” was reduced by 74% in the “egg-consuming” babies.

Even moderate alcohol consumption has adverse effects on brain function

In major study published recently in the British Medical Journal, scientists followed 550 men and women over a period of 30 years. They conducted brain MRI imaging at the end of the 30-year period and investigated the relationship between alcohol consumption and brain atrophy (damage to parts of the brain).

It’s certainly not surprising that people consuming alcohol in large quantities (equivalent to 15+ glasses of wine/week) saw the worst damage in terms of brain atrophy.

What is more interesting is that even “moderate” consumption of alcohol (7-10 glasses of wine/week) leads to a 200% increase in atrophy of the Hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for long term memory consolidation. In addition, moderate consumption was also shown to damage parts of the brain responsible for languages and communication.

TH comment: one thing that research has always shown is that alcohol is a toxin. This means that it will always cause damage to different parts of the body. Some alcoholic beverages do contain some beneficial compounds (e.g. resveratrol in red wine), but when compared to the concentration of toxins in that same drink, the downsides are much bigger than upsides.