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Health Updates 2 May 2012

  • Really? To lower your risk of diabetes, eat breakfast: “The benefits of eating a solid breakfast are hard to dispute.  People who skip that all-important first meal of the day, studies show, suffer setbacks in mood, memory and energy levels.  They are also more likely to gain weight, in part because of excessive eating later in the day….But emerging research suggests another advantage to consistently eating breakfast; a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.  In a study published in the current issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutritionresearchers followed 29,000 men for 16 years, tracking their diets, exercise, disease rates and other markers of health.  About 2,000 of the men developed Type 2 diabetes over the course of the study.  Those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 21 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those who did not.  The heightened risk remained even after the researchers accounted for body mass index and the quality of the subjects’ breakfasts….While it is not clear why the relationship exists, some scientists suspect that a morning meal helps stabilize blood sugar through the day….The bottom line: Regularly skipping breakfast may raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes.” (Anahad O’Connor, NY Times)
  • Health care disparities might affect black kids’ cancer survival: “Equal access to health care would reduce the disparity in survival rates between white and black children with cancer, a new study suggests.  Researchers from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., found that access to clinical trials and more expensive treatments, such as bone marrow transplants, helped improve outcomes for children with cancer regardless of their ability to pay.  This was particularly true, they noted, for those with advanced or complex forms of cancer….[however] many black children across the United States are not benefiting from the progress that has been made in pediatric cancer treatment.  The study revealed that these children had significantly worse outcomes than white patients with the same type of cancer….’These findings flow directly from [St. Jude founder] Danny Thomas’s strong view that to conquer childhood cancer, treatment must be equally available across all racial and ethnic groups, which has been the case at St. Jude since [Thomas] opened the doors in 1962,’ Dr. William Evans, the study’s co-author and St. Jude’s CEO, said in a hospital news release.  The study authors said that equal access to care is vital to improve survival rates for children with cancer.” (HealthDay)
  • Does soy help cool hot flashes after all?  “Despite a good amount of evidence to the contrary, a new research review suggests that soy supplements can indeed help women find relief from menopausal hot flashes.  So far, studies have  come to conflicting findings on whether soy extracts are effective against the sudden bouts of feverish feeling experienced by many women transitioning to menopause.  Soy contains isoflavones, compounds that are thought to have weak estrogen-like effects in some body tissue.  That hints that soy or soy extracts could help cool hot flashes.  But whether that’s actually the case has been unclear….For the new study, researchers combined the results of 17 previously published clinical trials on the question.  Overall, they found, women who used soy isoflavone extracts had a 21 percent greater reduction in hot flashes compared with women given a placebo.  And when they did have hot flashes, they tended to be less severe.  The extent  of the effects did vary among the different studies.  But nearly all showed a ‘pattern’ of soy isoflavones working better than a placebo, according to senior researcher Mark Messina, of Loma Linda University in California.” (MedlinePlus)
  • Evidence grows for effects of fat on heart: “There is a causal link between increased body mass index (BMI) and the risk for ischemic heart disease, according to a new study….  ‘These data add evidence to support a causal link between BMI and ischemic heart disease risk, though the mechanism may ultimately be through intermediate factors like hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes,’ the group wrote in the May issue of PLoS Medicine.…Factors that might have been cofounders, such as sex, age, tobacco and alcohol use, and income, did correlate with BMI and ischemic heart disease, suggesting they would play a role in observational association.  But those factors didn’t have an association with genotype and allele score, meaning they wouldn’t confound the causal analysis, the researchers explained.  The odds of…heart disease rose a statistically significant 3% with each obesity risk allele, such that the odds were 20% higher at the maximum allele score…”.  Simply put, …”higher BMI operates through well-known intermediate cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, that go on to cause elevated risk of heart disease…”. (Crystal Phend, MedPage Today)
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