Category Archives: cancers

Can chili peppers kill cancer cells?

1441705070647After read about this new finding, we reflected on how it might alter how people describe the heat associated with chili peppers. “It was so hot it made my eyes water.” “It was so hot my ears turned red.” “It was so hot my mouth was on fire.” Someday we just might hear, “It’s hot enough to kill cancer cells.” What an amazing thing.

Capsaicin, the compound responsible for chilis’ heat, is used in creams sold to relieve pain, and recent research shows that in high doses, it kills prostate cancer cells. Now researchers are finding clues that help explain how the substance works. Their conclusions suggest that one day it could come in a new, therapeutic form. Their study appears in ACS’The Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

About 10 years ago, researchers reported that capsaicin can kill prostate cancer cells in mice while leaving healthy cells unharmed. But translating that dose to humans would require them to eat a huge number of chili peppers per day. Figuring out how capsaicin works could help researchers transform it into an effective drug in the form of an injection or pill.

Researchers have figured out that the molecule binds to a cell’s surface and affects the membrane, which surrounds and protects the cell. That finding prompted Ashok Kumar Mishra and Jitendriya Swain to try to gain a deeper understanding of capsaicin’s effects so it might be harnessed in the future for new medicines.

The scientists were able to detect how the compound interacts with cell membranes by monitoring its natural fluorescence. The study showed that capsaicin lodges in the membranes near the surface. Add enough of it, and the capsaicin essentially causes the membranes to come apart. With additional research, this insight could help lead to novel tools against cancer or other conditions.

It’s always exciting when research establishes links between natural foods and improving outcomes of disease. A natural approach that can be proven as effective will ultimately always be a better option than unnatural methods. Cancer treatment is exceptionally hard on the human body. More natural options would be welcome to the millions of people undergoing treatment. We look forward to hearing more about this fascinating development.

Coffee may offer protection from repeat colon cancer

coffee-beans-691761_640-e1440249722933It seems that is continually reporting on yet another health benefit from coffee. These welcome pieces of news are embraced by those of us who are avid coffee lovers. Today’s news shows how coffee can protect colon cancer survivors from the return of the disease. Share

Daily consumption of caffeinated coffee may prevent the return of colon cancer after treatment, research from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has shown. Additionally, it may also improve chances of successful treatment.

Patients in the study, all of whom were treated with surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer, had the greatest benefit from consuming four or more cups of coffee a day (about 460 milligrams of caffeine). These patients were 42 percent less likely to have their cancer return than non-coffee drinkers, and were 33 percent less likely to die from cancer or any other cause.

A more modest benefit was seen from two to three cups of coffee daily, while little protection was associated with one cup or less, reported the researchers, led by Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber.

“We found that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of the cancer coming back and a significantly greater survival and chance of a cure,” Fuchs said.

Most recurrences happen within five years of treatment and are uncommon after that, he noted.

In patients with stage III disease, the cancer has been found in the lymph nodes near the original tumor but there are no signs of further metastasis. Fuchs said these patients have about a 35 percent chance of recurrence.

The results sound encouraging, but Fuchs is hesitant to make recommendations to patients until the results are confirmed in other studies.

“If you are a coffee drinker and are being treated for colon cancer, don’t stop,” he said. “But if you’re not a coffee drinker and wondering whether to start, you should first discuss it with your physician.”

An analysis of the study results by Fuchs and his colleagues showed that the lowered risk of cancer recurrence and deaths was entirely due to caffeine and not other components of coffee. He said it’s not clear why caffeine has this effect and the question needs further study.
One hypothesis is that caffeine consumption increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin so less of it is needed, which in turn may help reduce inflammation – a risk factor for diabetes and cancer, Fuchs said.

While there are many valid concerns about consuming excessive caffeine, the health benefits of coffee are numerous and significant. Moderation is, of course, key to a healthy, balanced diet and should always apply to all our food and beverage choices. It does appear, though, that our cup of morning joe is something we can feel good about consuming.

New report might have you rethinking your orange and grapefruit juice consumption

fresh-fruits-orange-lemon-grapefruit-cut-22077954-400x360For some people, breakfast isn’t breakfast without a cold glass of orange juice or grapefruit juice. It’s good for you and the flavor works particularly well with breakfast foods, so why not? It’s the same as having a serving of fruit with your breakfast, isn’t it. Recommendations have changed when it comes to juice. We first saw that happen with small children. remembers just a few short decades ago, juice was recommended for toddlers. Then, parents were told juice should be diluted with water. Today, it’s not really a recommendation at all. Sugar levels became big concerns and we learned that juice isn’t really a great substitute for whole fruit. Today we learned more about citrus juice consumption from a new study with potentially significant findings.

Grapefruit and orange juices are breakfast staples for many of us. But consuming these in large amounts may be putting us at higher risk of melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – according to a new study.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study found people who consumed high amounts of whole grapefruit or orange juice were over a third more likely to develop melanoma, compared with those who consumed low amounts.

However, lead study author Dr. Shaowei Wu, of the Department of Dermatology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, RI, and colleagues stress that further research is needed before any changes are made to recommendations for orange and grapefruit consumption.

According to the American Cancer Society, 73,870 people in the US will be diagnosed with melanoma this year and 9,940 people will die from the cancer.

The primary risk factor for melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning devices, such as tanning beds and sun lamps.

Past research has suggested that tanning lotions containing psoralens – a group of naturally occurring substances called furocoumarins that are found in citrus fruits – may increase the risk of melanoma by sensitizing the skin to the effects of UV radiation.

For their study, Dr. Wu and colleagues set out to see whether consumption of citrus fruits may be associated with greater risk of melanoma.

The team analyzed data from 63,810 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study between 1984 and 2010, as well as 41,622 men who were part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2010.

All participants completed dietary questionnaires at least every 4 years, from which the researchers were able to gather information on their citrus fruit intake. In the study, a serving of citrus fruit was defined as the equivalent to one orange, half a grapefruit or one 6 oz glass of whole orange or grapefruit juice.

The participants also completed health questionnaires every 2 years, which detailed lifestyle factors – such as smoking status and physical activity levels – and medical history. Subjects with a history of cancer were excluded from analysis.

During the 24-26-year follow-up, 1,840 participants were diagnosed with melanoma.

The researchers found that the more servings of oranges, grapefruits or juices from these fruits that the participants consumed overall, the higher their risk of melanoma. Subjects who consumed a serving of these fruits or their juices at least 1.6 times a day, for example, were found to be at 36% higher melanoma risk.

On analyzing melanoma risk by consumption of individual citrus products, the researchers found that grapefruit juice and whole oranges were not independently associated with greater risk of the cancer.

Eating whole grapefruit, however, was strongly associated with high melanoma risk, and this risk was found to be independent of confounding factors, such as age, smoking status, alcohol and coffee intake, use ofvitamin C supplements and physical activity levels.

Individuals more susceptible to sunburn as a child or teenager and those who had higher exposure to direct sunlight were at highest risk of melanoma from whole grapefruit consumption, the researchers found.

Orange juice was also associated with greater melanoma risk, which the researchers say is most likely because consumption of this product was much higher than consumption of other citrus products.

Though Dr. Wu and colleagues did not investigate the mechanisms underlying the association between citrus fruit consumption and melanoma risk, they speculate that it may be because the fruits are rich in psoralens and furocoumarins, which are believed to make the skin more sensitive to the sun.

“These substances are potential carcinogens, as found in both mice and humans. Psoralens and furocoumarins interact with UV light to stimulate melanoma cells to proliferate,” explains Dr. Marianne Berwick, of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, in an editorial linked to the study.

However, the team notes no association was found between consumption of other foods rich in furocoumarins – such as celery and carrots – and increased risk of melanoma. But Dr. Wu says this is likely because people often cook these vegetables, and the heat reduces furocoumarin levels.

According to Dr. Gary Scwartz, expert at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the findings from Dr. Wu and colleagues are “intriguing,” though he says it is far too soon to make any changes to recommendations regarding citrus fruit consumption.

Dr. Wu adds:

“While our findings suggest that people who consume large amounts of whole grapefruit or orange juice may be at increased risk for melanoma, we need much more research before any concrete recommendations can be made.

At this time, we don’t advise that people cut back on citrus – but those who consume a lot of grapefruit and/or orange juice should be particularly careful to avoid prolonged sun exposure.”

Dr. Berwick says this is a “potentially important” study, noting that citrus consumption is widely promoted for its health benefits. For example, past research has suggested grapefruit can aid weight loss and improve heart health.

However, she notes that at present, a “public overreaction” that may cause people to shun citrus fruits should be avoided.

“For people who would be considered at high risk, the best course might be to advise individuals to use multiple sources of fruit and juice in the diet and to use sun protection, particularly if one is sun sensitive,” she adds. “There is clearly a need for replication of the study findings in a different population before modifying current dietary advice to the public.”

Dr. Wu and colleagues plan to conduct a study that involves measuring furocoumarin levels in blood samples of subjects who consume high levels of citrus fruits, in order to determine whether it is these substances that may drive greater melanoma risk.

This fascinating study linking citrus consumption to skin cancer risk can easily cause people to rethink their breakfast menu. We’re anxious to see the results of future research. In the meantime, apple juice is also a nice, crisp, cold accompaniment to any breakfast selection. We might want to try that!

Coffee reduces the risk of liver cancer for heavy drinkers

coffee-ending1Coffee is an important part of the day for millions of people. It’s a necessary wake-up call in the morning. Unfortunately it’s gotten a bad reputation over the years because if its caffeine content. Recently though, we’ve been getting pretty consistent news on the health benefits of coffee. We’ve got more of that good news today, but its targeted to a specific segment of the population.

It turns out that regular coffee consumption can mitigate the damage caused by frequent drinking of alcohol.

The research survey, published by a group of scientist at the World Cancer Research Fund International, found out that drinking three or more alcoholic beverages a day is the threshold for a significant increase in the risk of acquiring liver cancer. However, the risk can be heavily negated if the heavy drinker treats himself/herself with a cup of coffee every day.

This came from an analysis of 34 scientific research studies involving liver cancer. The studies have a total of 8.2 million subjects and 24,500 of them were diagnosed with liver cancer.

“The finding provides the clearest indication to date of how many drinks actually cause liver cancer,” said Dr. Anne McTiernan of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle in a recently released report, referring to the 45 grams of alcohol or equivalent of three alcoholic drinks is a very probable cause of liver cancer.

The researchers are unsure how coffee decreases the risk of being diagnosed with liver cancer.

“Mechanisms that support a protective effect of coffee on liver cancer relate largely to studies in animals, although some human studies contribute to the evidence. Both coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver,” said the researchers.

Although unsure of the reasons, this study suggests that daily drinkers should lessen their alcohol intake to about 2 bottles of beer a day to ensure the non-development of liver cancer.

The study also had additional findings such as the link between Aflatoxins and liver cancer. Aflatoxins are a kind of mold and they can contaminate food such as cereals, peanuts, chilies, spices, and dried fruit. Contamination risks go higher if the food is not properly stored in warmer climates.

Even if this study links daily coffee consumption and daily alcohol consumption, it’s still important for people to limit the latter and go for a better lifestyle. Liver cancer ranks second in most cancer deaths with an estimated 24,550 deaths last year. is a huge proponent of moderation. But we also understand that findings like this about coffee can help provide a much needed, highly valuable insight into the control and treatment of liver cancer. As science learns more and more about the value of nutrition in the fight against and treatment of serious disease, we’re hopeful that we’ll see more and more natural solutions that can change all our lives for the better.

Are there mold toxins in your oatmeal?

main-jpgIt’s been a cold few months throughout the United States. When our days start with freezing temperatures and we’re experiencing almost weekly snowfalls, knows that many of us are turning to a nice bowl of hot oatmeal to warm us up before we go out into the elements. And why not? It’s a very healthy choice. But there may be something impeding the health benefits of our favorite winter breakfast.

Oats are an excellent source of manganese, copper, biotin, vitamin B1, magnesium, dietary fiber, chromium, zinc, and protein. Oats are known for their antioxidant compounds help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ochratoxin A (OTA) has been found in all major cereal grains including oat, wheat, and barley worldwide and considered as a potential concern in food safety.

Dojin Ryu and Hyun Jung Lee, School of Food Science, University of Idaho, note that OTA is one of the most common toxic products released by molds in the world.

OTA has been found in a very wide range of raw and processed food commodities. It was first reported in cereals, but has since been found in other products, including coffee, dried fruits, wine, beer, cocoa, nuts, beans, peas, bread and rice. It has also been detected in meat, especially pork and poultry, following transfer from contaminated feed.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified OTA as a possible human carcinogen (group 2B). OTA is a potent toxic agent and causes both acute and chronic effects in the kidneys of all mammalian species tested. The sensitivity of different species varies, but a level of 200 μg/kg in feed over three months is sufficient to cause acute damage to the kidneys of pigs and rats.

The USA does not regulate the contaminant; the European Union has set maximum limits for OTA in food. Ryu and Lee wanted to see how US breakfast cereals; a staple in many Americans’ diets, measured up to that standard.

The researchers collected a total of 489 samples of corn, rice, wheat, and oat-based breakfast cereal from US retail marketplaces over a two year period. Researchers used a high-performance liquid chromatography ( a technique used to separate the components in a mixture, to identify each component, and to quantify each component) to determine the levels of OTA.

Overall, 205 samples 42 percent were contaminated with OTA in the range from 0.10 to 9.30 ng/g. The levels OTA were mostly below of the European Commission Regulation (3 ng/g) except in 16 samples of oat-based cereals.

The highest level of OTA was highest in oat-based breakfast cereals (70 percent, 142/203), followed by wheat-based (32 percent, 38/117), corn-based (15 percent, 15/103), and rice-based breakfast cereals (15 percent, 10/66).

“On the basis of the incidence and concentration of OTA, oats and oat-based products may need greater attention in further surveillance programs and development of intervention strategies to reduce health risks in consumers,” the researchers wrote.

The authors acknowledge funding from the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Lakshmi Gompa was a graduate student working in the laboratory of Dr. Andreia Bianchin, University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2013. In a study that year, she examined OTA in commodities such as, roasted coffee, cocoa and meat in the US Market.

Among different samples analyzed 35 percent of cocoa samples and three percent of meat samples were contaminated with OTA. Decaffeinated coffee samples showed the highest level at 16.7 percent. OTA levels in dried raisins and dates had high levels at 100 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

We’ll stay on top of this one. This new problem with our food supply does seem to be affecting many different products that we normally include in our diets, with oats and oat-based products being the newest to be affected. Oatmeal is a healthy, hot breakfast, but there are other grain choices we can turn to. While we’re waiting on more information, we can look for spelt, kamut and wheat based hot cereals. There are organic brands featuring other grains that will keep us just as warm and ready for the cold.

Attention cola fans: caramel color may put you at risk for cancer has had a lot to say about caramel color over the years. The artificial color is quite high on our avoid list for several important reasons. Caramel color can decrease the body’s immune response. People with gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease can experience an allergic reaction to caramel color. It can raise blood pressure. And it has been linked to cancer. There are four types of caramel color and two of the most common types have been proven especially harmful. The problem is that consumers can’t identify the type of caramel color used in any product because manufacturers aren’t required to identify it on ingredient lists. While caramel color is used in thousands of products, sodas are the most common place you’ll find the ingredient.

Thousands of Americans drink soda every day and these individuals do not just increase their sugar intake and their odds of packing unnecessary weight. They also put themselves at risk of developing cancer.

The ingredients of colas and other soft drinks typically include a caramel coloring, which gives these beverages their distinct caramel color.

Unfortunately, some types of this food coloring contain a chemical known as 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), a potential carcinogen.

Now, an analysis published in the journal PLOS ONE on Feb. 18 has revealed that more than half of Americans between 6 and 64 years old sip amounts of soft drinks per day that could expose them to amounts of 4-MeI that could raise their risks of developing cancer.

Keeve Nachman, from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and colleagues looked at a previous study conducted by researchers from the Consumer Reports that analyzed the concentration of 4-Mel in 12 brands of sodas and soft drink. They also analyzed the soft drinks consumption in the U.S. using data from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate the potential cancer risks of soft drinks consumption.

The researchers found that the average soda consumption in the U.S. ranges from a little over 12-ounces(1 can) to almost two and a half cans of soda per day with the biggest consumers being those between 16 and 44 years old. Children between 3 to 5 years old were likewise found to drink soft drinks on a typical day averaging about two thirds of a can.

The researchers said that at the rate at which Americans consume soda, they expect the emergence of between 76 to 5,000 cancer cases in the U.S. over the next seven decades that can be attributed to exposure to 4-MeI alone.
“It appears that 4-MeI exposures associated with average rates of soft drink consumption pose excess cancer risks exceeding one case per 1,000,000 exposed individuals, which is a common acceptable risk goal used by some U.S. federal regulatory agencies,” the researchers wrote.

Nachman said that soft drink consumers get exposed to unwanted and avoidable cancer risks from an ingredient that is added to beverages and other foods for aesthetic purposes and this raises concerns on the continued use of caramel coloring in sodas. The Food and Drug Administration said that it will take a closer look at the use of this artificial coloring in a variety of foods.

Soda is unnecessary in any diet. Skipping the sugar and calories in sugared sodas and the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas, the ingredient lists are laden with chemicals. Caramel color is one of the most popular chemicals in those ingredient lists. Watch for it — not only in sodas, but in a variety of other foods and beverages as well.

Coffee may help you avoid skin cancer

Coffee cup - cup of coffee 2 with clipping pathIf you’re one of the millions of people who just can’t get their morning started without a great cup of coffee, this blog post may be especially meaningful for you!

New research is beginning to show us that there might be many benefits to drinking this favorite bean-based hot beverage. Aside from a morning pick-me-up, according to new research from Yale University and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), drinking coffee everyday could reduce your for malignant melanoma skin cancer.

More than 5 million people in the United States are affected by skin cancer each and every year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, claims approximately one life every hour. However, despite being the most rare form of skin cancer, melanoma accounts for the majority of skin cancer related deaths. Eighty-six percent of melanoma skin cancer can be attributed directly to exposure from ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

But, if you are a coffee drinker, your chances of developing a malignant melanoma are reduced, according to lead researcher Erikka Loftfield. Loftfield and her team evaluated over 400,000 study participants over an average of 10.5 years, comparing the rates of melanoma to the frequency of foods. At the end of the study, the team of researchers determined that the more caffeinated coffee an individual drank each day, the lower their risk for developing malignant melanoma. For example, drinking four cups of coffee each day was enough to lower the risk by an incredible 20 percent.

“Higher coffee intake was associated with a modest decrease in risk of melanoma in this large US cohort study,” Loftfield says. “Additional investigations of coffee intake and its constituents, particularly caffeine, with melanoma are warranted…Because of its melanoma’s) high disease burden, lifestyle modifications with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity.”

Loftfield emphasized that while there is a benefit to drinking coffee in regards to malignant melanoma, it should not be used as an excuse to go out in the sun without the proper protection.

“The most important thing that individuals can do to reduce their risk of melanoma is to reduce sun and UV radiation exposure,” Loftfield says.

Scientists continue to find more and more evidence that coffee may not be an unhealthy as originally believed. There is also substantial data available showing that coffee can reduce the risk of dying from scarring of the liver, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer, and reduce the risk of tinnitus.

However, because of the adverse reactions some people have to the stimulant, it is important that you discuss with your doctor the benefits and the drawbacks of adding coffee to your daily routine before you make your next stop at the local coffee shop. loves getting good news like this! Your morning coffee may be doing more for you than kickstarting your day. The list of possible health benefits from coffee continues to grow … which may just give some of us a good reason to grab just one more cup!

Rates of obesity-related cancers rising … and it’s mostly in developed countries

picCanmexIn case anyone was wondering if the obesity crisis has been contained or is showing any signs of reversing course, the unfortunate fact is that from all available information, the world is still suffering. This reversible and tragic situation is still continuing at an alarming rate. In addition to actual obesity statistics, news surrounding the crisis points squarely to the concept that millions of people across the globe continue to gain far too much weight to be able to maintain health.

Being overweight or obese have become major risk factors for developing cancer, particularly among women and in more developed countries, the specialized cancer agency of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

Overweight and obesity are responsible for an estimated 481,000 or 3.6 per cent of all new cancer cases in 2012, and reducing such health issues at the population level could have significant health benefits, according to a new study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The study, which was published in The Lancet Oncology today, also shows that one quarter of all cancers attributable to overweight and obesity worldwide 118,00 cases could have been prevented if populations had simply maintained their average body-mass index of 30 years ago.

The number of cancers linked to obesity and overweight is expected to rise globally along with economic development, Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of IARC, said in a press release.

This study stresses the importance of putting in place efficient weight control measures, to curb the high number of cancers associated with excess body weight and to avoid the problems faced by rich countries being repeated in those now undergoing rapid development, he added.

Cancer due to overweight and obesity is currently far more common in more developed countries which reported 393,000 cases, or 5.2 per cent of all new cancer cases than in less developed countries which reported 88,000 cases, or 1.5 per cent of all new cancer cases.
North America remains the most affected, with an estimated 111,000 obesity-related cancers in 2012, accounting for 23 per cent of the total global cancer burden linked to high body-mass index, the agency said.

In Europe, the proportion of cancers due to overweight and obesity is also large, particularly in eastern Europe which reported 65,000 cases, or 6.5 per cent of all new cancer cases in the region, according to the study.

Overall, the countries with the highest cancer burden attributable to overweight and obesity in men are the Czech Republic (5.5 per cent of the countrys new cancer cases); Jordan (4.5 per cent); the United Kingdom (4.4 per cent); and Malta (4.4 per cent).

Among women, Barbados (12.7 per cent), the Czech Republic (12.0 per cent) and Puerto Rico (11.6 per cent) are most affected. In the United States one of the largest contributors of global cancers associated with high body-mass index 3.5 per cent and 9.5 per cent of the country’s new cancer cases are linked to excess body weight in men and women, respectively.

Although in most Asian countries the proportion of cancers associated with overweight and obesity is not large, it still translates into a considerable absolute number of cases due to the large population size, the study noted.

For example, in China, about 50,000 cancer cases in women and men are associated with overweight and obesity, accounting for 1.6 per cent of the countrys new cancer cases, according to the study.

In contrast, the contribution of overweight and obesity to cancer burden remains low in Africa which had 7,300 cases, or 1.5 per cent of all new cancer cases in the continent.

Overall, we see that while the number of cancer cases associated with overweight and obesity remains highest in richer countries, similar effects are already visible in parts of the developing world, said Dr. Isabelle Soerjomataram, one of the study’s lead authors and the projects principal investigator.

A high body-mass index is a known risk factor for cancers of the oesophagus, colon, rectum, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, postmenopausal breast, ovary and endometrium, as well as for other non-communicable diseases, notably cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A body-mass index is a measure of body fat that is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height in metres.

The study also highlights that the proportion of cancers related to obesity is higher in women than in men, with population-attributable fractions of 5.3 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively.

Women are disproportionately affected by obesity-related cancers, said IARCs Dr. Melina Arnold, one of the study’s lead authors.

For example, for postmenopausal breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide, the study suggests that 10 per cent of these cancers could have been prevented by having a healthy body weight. can clearly understand how the rates of obesity-related cancers are higher in more developed, wealthier countries. Our grocery store shelves are lined with the seeds of obesity far more than those in underdeveloped nations. We’re surrounded by the processed foods and sugary beverages that are the sources of obesity problems. We need changes that begin with our food supply and carry down through to our dietary habits. It’s only then that we’ll see a reversal in worldwide obesity statistics and a reduction in the rate of obesity-related cancers.

New research shows smoking habits can be curbed with Omega-3s

omega 3Whether you’re trying to kick the habit or trying to help a loved one or a friend, there’s great new research out that links a simple supplement to curbing smoking habits.

Taking omega-3 supplements reduces craving for nicotine and even reduces the number of cigarettes that people smoke a day, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa. “The substances and medications used currently to help people reduce and quit smoking are not very effective and cause adverse effects that are not easy to cope with. The findings of this study indicated that omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly,” said Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar, head of the addictions program at the University of Haifa’s school of criminology department and of the psychopharmacology laboratory at Bar-Ilan, who conducted this study.

Chronic exposure to smoke-derived toxicants is the primary cause of progressive pulmonary and immune dysfunctions, as well as carcinogenesis Cigarette smoking is connected not only to cardiovascular dysfunction, immune system dysfunction and cancer, it also reduces the levels of essential fatty acids in the brain, especially that of omega-3. A deficiency in omega-3 damages the cellular structure of nerve cells and interrupts neurotransmission in areas of the brain involved with feeling pleasure and satisfaction. These areas are essential in reward and decision-making, and are very important in the process of the development, maintenance and relapseof the addiction and to the inability to stop smoking. In simpler terms, omega-3 deficiency makes it harder for the smoker’s body to deal with its craving for another cigarette. “Earlier studies have proven that an imbalance in omega-3 is also related to mental health, depression and the ability to cope with pressure and stress. Pressure and stress, in turn, are associated with the urge to smoke. It is also known that stress and tension levels rise among people who quit smoking. Despite all this, the connection between all these factors had not been studied until now,” Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar said.

The current study adhered to a strict methodology (double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled) and included forty-eight smokers aged eighteen to forty-five who smoked at least ten cigarettes a day during the previous year, and an average of fourteen cigarettes a day. They were diagnosed as having a moderate dependency on nicotine. In total, the average age of the participants was twenty-nine and the average age they began smoking was under eighteen (in other words, they had been smoking for an average of eleven years). The participants were divided into two groups: One group received omega-3 capsules — “Omega-3 950″ produced by Solgar who donated the capsules for the study; the second group received a placebo. The participants were asked to take five capsules a day for thirty days and in total reported taking more than ninety-four percent of the capsules. At no stage in the study were the participants asked to stop smoking.

The levels of nicotine craving and consumption were checked using a series of scales regarding various aspects related to smoking urges, such as lack of control over tobacco use, anticipation of relief and satisfaction from smoking, and to the number of cigarettes smoked each day. These levels were measured at the beginning of the study, after thirty days (of treatment) and after sixty days (i.e., thirty days after stopping to take the capsules). Each time the study participants were tested they abstained from smoking for two hours and were then exposed to smoking-related cues images in order to stimulate their craving for nicotine.

The findings show that while no difference was found between the groups at the beginning of the study, after thirty days the smokers who had taken omega-3 reduced their cigarettes by an average of two a day (an eleven-percent decrease), even though they were not asked to change their smoking habits in any way. No less important, they showed a significant decrease in nicotine craving. After another thirty days of not taking anything, cigarette cravings increased slightly but still remained significantly lower than their initial level. In other words, the craving to smoke cigarettes did not return to the baseline level even a month after stopping to take the supplement. In the meantime, the group receiving the placebo did not show any significant changes in their craving levels or in the number of cigarettes they smoked a day during the sixty days.

According to Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar, the finding that people who were not interested in stopping to smoke showed such a significant change reinforces the assumption that taking omega-3 can help smokers to regulate their addiction and reduce their smoking. Further research will indicate whether the supplement is also effective in stopping to smoke. knows that most in our community are exceptionally health conscious and aware. But we all know people who have had a problem quitting smoking. It’s not an easy challenge and many of those we love can’t seem to overcome their addiction. This is great information to pass on. Omega-3 supplements are relatively inexpensive and easy to incorporate into one’s lifestyle. You don’t need a prescription. You aren’t putting more nicotene into your system and you won’t be inhaling controversial ingredients. Omega-3 supplements to reduce smoking frequency — let’s make sure this one gets around!

Pinkwashing and 5 hour energy

2014-10-16_08.14.40Breast Cancer Awareness Month has come to an end and with it the myriad of brand partnerships in support of this important cause. As the years go on we become more an more aware of a concept that’s been labeled as “pinkwashing.” The term was coined to describe those products and brand affiliating themselves with breast cancer that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find.

Among the regular cast of product partnerships, 5-hour Energy’s affiliation with Living Beyond Breast Cancer certainly stands out. From now until the end of 2014, 5-hour Energy is donating 5 cents from every sale of White Pink Lemonade to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. finds this to be the oddest food/beverage partnership we’ve seen.

We have a product with questionable ingredients that have been linked to emergency room visits and even fatalities partnering for a cause that’s meant to increase awareness of a devastating disease and call attention to efforts to promote its early detection and prevention.  It’s not just that the ingredients in energy drinks are controversial — it’s that they’re actually harmful in much more immediate ways than other controversial items.

So while we’re happy that 5-hour Energy committed to a minimum donation of $200,000 to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, we still find it a strange marriage. There are plenty of food manufacturers committing to breast cancer through a number of different organizations. Yoplait has been a Susan G. Komen Foundation supporter for years, along with Dietz & Watson, Bimbo Bakeries and Eggland’s Best.

There was a lot of news during this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month regarding pinkwashing. Some of that news called into question the appropriateness of certain partnerships and asked whether or not organizations accepting donations should be more selective regarding the brands which which they choose to affiliate.

Don’t get us wrong — is happy to see corporations donate money to good causes. But, let’s not forget that when their efforts are put in front of the public with a pink ribbon on product packaging and press releases talking about donating a percentage of sales to the cause, it is marketing. So when Living Beyond Breast Cancer forges a partnership with 5-hour Energy, they’re encouraging consumers to purchase a product that can actually hurt them.

We personally gravitate towards partnerships that make more sense for everyone involved — including the consumers who are the targets of any kind of cause marketing.