Tuesday, 22 March 2016

24. The Hidden Danger in your Diet Soda


     A look at your local supermarket shelves stocked with row upon row of diet sodas and special offers will show you that you are invited to believe that a diet soda with artificial sweeteners is a ‘healthier’ option for you and your children than one packed with sugar.
     Far too many recent research studies have shown that artificial sweeteners are very, very dangerous for your health. This doesn’t make sugary sodas better, it only means you are choosing from two evils, neither of which are good.
     Non-caloric artificial sweeteners are one of the most commonly used food additives.  Although numerous studies have given rise to concern about these, many people still steadfastly believe that artificial sweeteners are safe to consume.  Recent studies in 2015 have found however that their consumption can lead to multiple health ailments, including, surprisingly, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, gout, diabetes, and cancer, (particularly lymphomas and leukaemia).
     Almost all diet sodas today use aspartame, which is sold under brand names such as Equal or Nutrasweet. Aspartame is made up of not one, but three chemicals: methanol, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine. Cancer cells love an acidic environment where the cells are not getting sufficient oxygen or nutrients. Aspartame does all this and more.  As well as being a possible cancer conduit, it has been shown to cause birth defects, brain damage and mood disorders. It can lead to serious changes in your serotonin levels, which leads to depression, behavioural and other emotional problems.
    Speaking of brain damage, methanol, one of the main ingredients in aspartame, turns into formaldehyde, which is used to embalm deceased persons and preserve organs and species for clinical studies. This collects in certain parts of the brain, causing degenerative diseases such as ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimers.
     Adult Studies have shown that drinking three or more diet sodas a day is potentially more dangerous than smoking one pack of cigarettes per day. There appear to be no similar child studies. But it is surely reasonable to conclude that a smaller daily intake of diet ‘fizzies’ by a child will be equally as dangerous.
     Diet sodas have far fewer chemicals than cigarettes, but over indulgence in aspartame-filled diet sodas will literally choke your cells, mutate your DNA, and possibly cause cancerous tumours in you and your child.
     So when you buy a diet soda check the small print and find one that doesn’t contain aspartame. And while you are about it, check the ingredients listing of packaged deserts, ice cream and frozen fruit pops, hard candy and chewing gum, ketchup and jellies for aspartame used by the manufacturer as a sugar substitute. With governmental pressure on soda manufacturers to reduce sugar content by taxing it, the list of products containing aspartame as an alternative sweetener will grow - until it is outlawed as a food additive.

Further Reading
Natural Health News    The danger of aspartame
Livestrong  A list of foods containing aspartame
Health   10 reasons why you should give up Diet Soda

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

23. What is the Cancer risk from processed and red meat?

     As I reported last year on two occasions in this blog, the World Health Organization has made some serious charges that some of our favourite foods lead to cancer risk. Processed meat was classified as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. And red meat was classified as a probable carcinogen that could lead to cancer. 
     Processed meat includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats. It refers to meat that has been treated in some way to preserve or flavour it. Processes include salting, curing, fermenting, and smoking. Red meat includes beef, pork, lamb, and goat.
     Twenty-two experts from 10 countries reviewed more than 800 studies to reach their conclusions. They found that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. That’s the equivalent of about 4 strips of bacon or 1 hot dog. For red meat, there was evidence of increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.
     Overall, the lifetime risk of someone developing colon cancer is 5%. To put the numbers into perspective, the increased risk from eating the amount of processed meat in the study would raise average lifetime risk to almost 6%.
     Colleen Doyle, American Cancer Society managing director of nutrition and physical activity, says, “We should be limiting red and processed meat to help reduce colon cancer risk, and possibly, the risk of other cancers. The occasional hot dog or hamburger is OK.”
     Nutritionists have long recommended a diet that limits processed meat and red meat, and that is high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, (see my blog No.12 Mediterranean Diet cuts uterine cancer risk). They recommend choosing fish, poultry, or beans instead of red meat and processed meat. And to refine this further, I suggest wild as opposed to farmed fish, and free range poultry.

Further Reading
National Academy of Sciences, USA. Red meat and Cancer progression.

Monday, 14 March 2016

22. Cancer treatment through Immunotherapy

Photo: MedicineNet.com

    Laboratory research into the genetic makeup of cancer tumours is showing the possibility of a new approach to a treatment that delivers potent therapies specifically tailored to individual patients.
    Science Magazine has published an article on the work of an international team of research scientists from Harvard, MIT and University College London. They found that even as cancer tumours grow and spread around the body, they carry with them a number of biological protein “flags” that the immune system could be primed to attack.
    Because these flags are found only on cancer cells, they could provide unique targets for possible new therapies. Such therapies would draw on the power of the immune system to recognise the protein flags and destroy the cancer cells with a precision attack.
    A major obstacle to this type treatment is that tumours manage to switch off the cells of the immune system. Many laboratories across the globe are now learning how to combat this by reactivating the immune system to destroy the cancer.
    I asked Dr. Ian Hampson, Professor  in Viral Oncology at the University of Manchester Institute of Cancer Studies, to comment on such an approach which, if successful, could revolutionise cancer treatment.

Ian MacWatt

Dr. Ian Hampson writes: 
    The problem is that this type of precision attack therapy relies on the isolation of immune cells from every individual patient’s tumour. These are then grown in the laboratory to provide large numbers of cells and they can also even be genetically altered so that they target the tumour more effectively. Finally they are transfused back into the patient where they attack and destroy the cancer.
    To illustrate, it is well known that cells from one person cannot be transfused into another who is not tissue type compatible. This is why immune cells from one patient’s tumour cannot be used to treat another.  In order to get round this problem scientists are working to engineer immune cells which can be used to target tumours in any person regardless of tissue type; a sort of group ‘O’ universal donor immune cell which could then be modified to target many types of tumour in different people.
    This would mean that large stocks of such cells could be produced and stored for use whenever needed to treat different patients, which would vastly reduce the cost of this type of therapy.  
    It is very clear that this approach will provide precision weapons to fight cancer which are far less damaging to the patient than blanket chemotherapy, which not only destroys the cancer cells but can also damage the patient’s immune system.  However, if this new approach sounds expensive, that’s because it is, although there may be some light at the end of this long tunnel.