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Lighter Babies ‘Will Go Through Puberty Earlier’

Children born weighing less than 3kg (6lb 10oz) reach puberty at an earlier age than their heavier peers, potentially increasing their risk of developing some cancers, scientists have found.

Those who gain weight rapidly in their first two years of life are also more likely to reach puberty early, the research found.

The latest study, from scientists at the Research Institute of Child Nutrition in Dortmund, Germany, followed 215 boys and girls from infancy to the age of 13.

They found that those weighing between 2.5kg (5lb 8oz) and 3kg at birth started their puberty growth spurt around seven months earlier than babies who were heavier.

Meanwhile, those who gained weight quickly in the first two years of life started their growth spurt four months earlier than those who had put on weight at a normal rate.

Youngsters who had a combination of low birth weight and rapid weight gain were also at risk.

The experts also confirmed that girls who gained weight quickly as a baby tend to start their periods early.

The study was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and was published in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Experts from the WCRF said going into puberty at an early age is linked to an increased risk of some cancers, including breast cancer and testicular cancer.

It has also been linked to other hormonal changes that could play a role in cancer’s development.

Lead researcher, Professor Anja Kroke, said: ”More studies are now needed to identify the physiological mechanisms by which a low birth weight and rapid early weight gain affect the timing of the pubertal growth spurt.

”In addition, by gaining a better understanding of why early puberty increases cancer risk, we can improve our understanding of the causes of cancer, and therefore raises the possibility of preventing future cancer cases.”

Dr Panagiota Mitrou, science programme manager for the WCRF, said: ”This study has identified early life factors that increase a child’s chances of starting puberty early, which shows that what happens to us even in the womb can influence risk factors for diseases much later in life.

”More research is needed before we can better understand the relevance of these findings for public health.

”Only then can start looking at whether we need to take steps to prevent low birth weight or monitor weight gain in infancy.

”Until more research is done, the best advice for parents is to give their children a healthy start in life by encouraging them to get into the habit of eating a healthy plant-based diet, be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.

”We estimate that doing these three things could prevent about a third of the most common cancers in the UK.”

Source: Telegraph.Co.UK 5th.Dec.’09

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Wine Raises Cancer Risk

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A large glass of wine a day increases the risk of liver and bowel cancer by a fifth, experts have warned. What’s more, the same goes for a pint of beer or a couple of spirits such as vodka or gin.

CLICK & SEE

Rachel Thompson, science programme manager for World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), warned that just two units of alcohol a day increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18% and the risk of liver cancer by 20%.

The warning appears to conflict with other studies which suggest moderate alcohol intake can help combat heart disease. “If you are drinking a pint of lager or a large glass of wine every day then this might not seem like a lot, but the science shows you are increasing your risk of bowel cancer by 18% and your risk of liver cancer by 20%,” she said.

She added: “When you consider how many cases of these types of cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year, it is clear that drinking even relatively small amounts of alcohol can make a significant difference.”

More than 3,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with liver cancer each year and a similar number die. The WCRF said there was convincing evidence that drinking alcohol also increased the risk of breast cancer and cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus.

Click to see:->Link between colon cancer & drinking alcohol

Sources:The Times Of India

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Is Red Meat’s Bad Name Justified?

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The news for red meat seems to be getting worse and worse.

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In December, a survey of more than 494,000 people by the National Institutes of Health found that men who ate more than 5 ounces of red meat each day and women who ate more than 3 ounces had a 51% greater risk of esophageal cancer, 61% of liver cancer and 24% of colorectal cancer than those who ate less than an ounce of red meat daily

In October 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, two charities that fund research on the effects of diet and activity on cancer risk, declared that the evidence linking red meat consumption and colorectal cancer was “convincing.”

And though previous reports for breast cancer have been contradictory overall, findings published in July from a Harvard study of more than 39,000 young nurses suggested that the risk of getting breast cancer before menopause goes up for every extra daily serving of red meat a woman ate as a teenager, a time period that had not been studied before.

Add the numerous studies linking red meat to other cancers, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease, and it sounds like the hamburger you had for lunch might as well have been laced with rat poison.

In fact, there is a place for red meat in a healthful diet, scientists say, but they recommend choosing smaller portions of lean cuts and cooking them well but not at high temperatures.

The question is which meat components are responsible for the observed health risks. Scientists have several theories, though none seems to tell the whole story.

Red meat can contain a lot of saturated fats and cholesterol, known contributors to cardiovascular disease. “We know that dementia is strongly related to vascular disease, so it’s likely we’ll find a relationship there as well,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Contributing factors
Meat from commercially raised livestock also contains a high amount of omega-6 fats, which have been associated with poor cardiovascular health, but a low amount of omega-3 fats, which may be protective.

Another potential culprit is the iron in meat. Iron is essential for health, but iron from meat comes in a different form than that from vegetables and legumes, one that is absorbed whether the body needs it or not. “This type of iron can cause oxidative damage to all the components of the cell — the protein, lipid, DNA, RNA,” says Al Tappel, professor emeritus of food science at UC Davis.

Many of the studies that found an association between meat consumption and health risks did not differentiate between unprocessed meat, such as a steak, and processed or cured meats such as salami, bacon, pepperoni, bologna and hot dogs. Chemicals in processed meats may account for some of the cancer risk.

Finally, high-temperature cooking methods, such as grilling over charcoal, can cause the formation of known carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

Mary Young, a registered dietitian from the Centennial, Colo.-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., says that a study it commissioned on the science of red meat reached a very different conclusion (the study has not yet been published). “Red meat does not cause cancer,” she says. “Beef is really one of the most underappreciated nutrient-rich foods out there” — rich in protein and eight other nutrients, including B vitamins and zinc.

Some scientists, too, think that the risk of red meat has been overplayed. “The proof is not as strong as some people would like to think,” says Iowa State University animal science professor Don Beitz. “Cancer is such a multifactorial [problem]. I don’t see how one can just pin it on certain pollutants or nutrients.”

Rock-hard conclusions require carefully controlled, long-term, well-defined studies of many people. Each one of these requirements can be difficult to meet, so scientists rely heavily on epidemiological studies in which the normal habits of large numbers of people are tracked, often pooling the results of multiple studies.

But unlike lab rats, humans don’t live in a perfectly controlled environment, which makes it difficult to determine if it’s meat or something else in the diet or environment that leads to an observed cancer risk. Also, some studies ask people to recall what they ate years ago, and many studies don’t even define red meat the same way.

Even when a correlation between meat consumption and illness is found, the effect can be significant but small. In the December 2007 study, for example, high meat consumption resulted in only a 50% increased risk of developing esophageal cancer — by way of comparison, smoking can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer by 1,000% or more.

But to dismiss all risks because of inconsistencies in the research is unreasonable, Willett says. “That’s exactly the same argument used by cigarette manufacturers to say that smoking is not harmful. . . . The perfect study will never be done. The next best thing will be epidemiology.”

Scientists generally agree that lean red meat has a place in a healthful diet — in moderation. Studies showing increased cancer risks have mostly focused on high meat intake; the greatest risk increases are for those eating far more than the USDA-recommended limit of 18 ounces per week.

“One approach is to treat red and processed meat as a treat and not a regular staple,” said Dr. Michael J. Thun, vice president of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society

Moderation, it appears, is not the American way. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2006 the average American consumed 95 pounds of beef and 64 pounds of pork — about 7 ounces of red meat a day.

To sidestep some health concerns without giving up steak, some consumers have turned to grass-fed beef, which studies have shown to contain a heart-healthier ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

Meanwhile, scientists are looking to make beef more healthful via selective breeding.

The amount of specific nutrients in steaks from two animals of the same breed can vary by a factor of two or three, Beitz says. He and others in a group of researchers known as the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium hope to find genetic markers for a host of nutrients, including omega-3 and other beneficial fats, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12. The research, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Science, would help animal breeders look at animals’ genetic profiles to select ones with the best nutritional composition.

“In a way, we’re trying to allow people to indulge themselves to a greater extent than to moderate,” said James Reecy, an Iowa State geneticist also involved in the project.

The same technique could be used to limit the unhealthy components of meat as well, such as specific saturated fats. Cattle breeders have already begun doing this, Reecy says.

Willett isn’t convinced that these efforts will eradicate the health risks that come from consuming red meat. “You may make it healthier in one way, but you’re unlikely to fix all the problems at the same time,” he says.

Click to see:->Red Meat Does and Doesnot

Sources:Los Angles Times

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Breastfeeding Cuts Breast Cancer Risk

Breastfeeding an infant
Image via Wikipedia

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Moms-to-be, please note — if you want to cut the risk of developing breast cancer later in life, just make it a point to breastfeed your baby for a year, at least.

 

A new study has corroborated the popular theory that breastfeeding significantly reduces a mother‘s risk of breast cancer — in fact, researchers have found women who breastfeed for a year are five per cent less likely to have the disease.

“Reducing your breast cancer risk by about five per cent might not sound like a big difference but the longer you breastfeed for, the more you will reduce your risk.

“So if a woman breastfeeds two or more children for at least six months each over her lifetime, it is clear she can make a significant impact on the cancer risk, not to mention all the other benefits of breastfeeding,” Dr Rachel Thompson of the World Cancer Research Fund said.

A recent survey for the WCRF found that three out of four women were unaware that breastfeeding could cut their risk of developing breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in the fair sex, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Dr Thompson has urged mothers to breastfeed for as long as they could.

She said: “We want to get across the message that breastfeeding is something positive that women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer.

“Because the evidence that breast-feeding reduces breast cancer risk is convincing, we recommend women should breastfeed exclusively for six months and then continue with complementary feeding after that.”

Sources: The Times Of India

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