Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

18 Dec

All the News You Want to Click

WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES

Howdy! Here’s the latest & greatest from the world of health news (of course, with our views):

Where Studies Get Tricky

More breast cancer news. A study of about 2,400 women found that non-hormone-receptor breast cancer survivors who ate 20% fat in their diets had a lesser chance of cancer relapse than those who ate just under 30% fat in their diets. The lower-fat group had 238 relapses, while the higher-fat group had 302 relapses. What’s unclear about this is if the weight loss is what spurred better survival rates, or the actual percentage intake of fat. Or, if there were other factors unforseen (smoking rates, family history, pregnancies). Or, if a difference of about 60 is enough to make a claim. This is where studies get difficult…clickativity. Let’s discuss, Apples.

Food Poisoning? I’ll Take That to Go, Thanks.

Again? Seriously, again? We’re starting to think restaurants just really hate their customers.

It’s a Good Day for Alcohol…Is That a Good Thing?

We’re not exactly impressed. Liquor is medicine now? (Well, it is a drug…)

We still say be careful with the alcohol hype. Better to get your antioxidants from something that can’t also poison you (like a good multivitamin). However, because we’re big proponents of moderation here at the MDA, we do agree that a glass of wine with dinner is probably nothing to worry about, and may even be good for you. We’re also glad to hear this news.

We’re a Little Scared to Let the Big Apple See This One

And in another genius decision, the FDA approves Celebrex for tots. Terrific. What’s especially terrific is that, while these folks voted 15-1 to approve the drug for kids, they only voted 8-7 to approve it as safe. Basically, what this boils down to is that they don’t know for sure that it’s safe, but they’re going to allow it anyway, and Celebrex has to keep tabs on the situation. While we would like to believe that Celebrex has kids’ best interests at heart, that’s kind of like telling a criminal who is out on parole that he should monitor himself in case he gets into trouble. Mind-boggling, is it not? Truth really is stranger than fiction.

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18 Dec

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

HRT is all over the news again. This, from Newsday:

“Statistics from a major study revealing that rates of the most common form of breast cancer dropped dramatically between 2002 and 2003 are being greeted with applause and skepticism as the medical and advocacy communities digest the news.”

Yes, it’s a tough one to chew. In brief, cases of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (which accounts for nearly 3/4 of breast cancer cases) dropped dramatically from 2002 to 2003. This was the same time that several key studies, including a famous government-funded study (the Women’s Health Initiative), found that hormone replacement therapy (or HRT), particularly that derived from mares – in drugs like Prempro and Premarin – was linked to a significant increase in breast cancer risk.

It makes sense. Estrogen is a powerful hormone and using it in drug therapy has been and continues to be a risky proposition. A dramatic drop in estrogen-receptor breast cancer cases, occurring in tandem with the much-publicized discontinued use of HRT by millions of women, isn’t something I think the drug industry or medical community ought to be stumped by. These are highly-trained, intelligent individuals, and frankly, I think the situation is quite clear. What’s to digest? In one year – the same year in which Prempro saw its sales cut by half – breast cancer rates dropped by over 7%; for women over age 50, the rate was 12%.

This is why it is so important to be critical of any drug therapy that is recommended to us, especially for treating health matters that are either part of aging or can be prevented or better addressed through lifestyle choices. Blood pressure pills and cholesterol-lowering pills and arthritis prescriptions can help, but as we see with the HRT scandal (and last year’s Vioxx and Celebrex disasters), there are always side effects. There are always unintended consequences.

This doesn’t mean you ought to toss your medications if there is a legitimate need for them; but arm yourself with knowledge, be ruthlessly critical of everything that anyone recommends to you, and consider whether there are safer, more natural alternatives. The alternatives are often not as easy in the short term, but they’re certainly easier than painful and even fatal side effects down the road.

pinkribbon

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18 Dec

Rotten Apple Award

rotten apple 03

This month’s Rotten Apple Award goes to Mesunique, a quack product being marketed as a cellulite and weight-loss cream. “Testimonials” claim fat loss of up to 20 pounds in just a month. The product is all over the infomercial network right now, and despite a truly amateur website (see below), the makers of Mesunique have managed to convince more than a few poor souls that a simple cream is the answer to all one’s body woes.

We’re here to call them on the quackery. For one thing, the website is rife with errors and nonsensical terminology and phrases. According to the site, mesotherapy is used in France by the “rich and famous” with fabulous results. Of course, Mesunique is not even mesotherapy (which itself is not a legitimately recognized treatment in any peer-reviewed journal anywhere).

Additionally, nowhere on the site can one find any information about ingredients, safety and testing, or research. There is also no disclaimer. In fact, there’s really no information at all; the product simply touts 8 glowing testimonials of “real people” who swear that life would have never been the same without this incredible cellulite cream. The product is popular despite the quack claims and lack of scientific support, simply because of the emotional promise it gives. Don’t fall for such quackery, dear Apples! (We know you wouldn’t.)

Unfortunately, there just isn’t a magic cure for weight loss. It takes sensible eating, exercise, and time. Cellulite is caused by a lack of fitness and genetics, as well – the good news being that, with exercise, you can maximize what you’ve got.

We’re watching you, Mesunique.

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18 Dec

Corn Is Not a Vegetable

Check out a recent post in the Diet & Nutrition section by junior apple Annie B. She writes to tell us about a recent adventure to Boston Market, where she overheard two well-meaning ladies order the “healthy vegetable plate” of mashed potatoes, corn, and mac ‘n cheese. Hmm.

We’re a little concerned about that meal being thought of by anyone as a “vegetable” plate. Potatoes, maybe. But macaroni and cheese is definitely not a vegetable. It’s fat (processed cheese) and refined starch (white pasta). But we’re most upset about corn.

Friends, corn is not a vegetable. It’s not. We are perplexed as to when corn entered the American dietary lexicon as a veggie, because it’s a grain – and a really unhealthy grain at that. Corn is the most sugary, starchy, empty grain there is. You’re better off with white rice – seriously. (Not that we recommend eating a lot of white rice, because brown rice is higher in fiber and protein.)

In fact, we hate corn. Now, we’re not talking about the occasional corn on the cob at the family BBQ. That’s probably not going to hurt anyone. But corn should not make up the veggie section of your meal plate, because it’s a high-glycemic sugarfest. In sum: corn is not a vegetable, and it’s a worthless grain.

And yet, miraculously, it forms the basis of the American diet.

The most maddening thing about all of this is that corn is the #1 ingredient in just about every processed food and fried food. How, you ask? Well, we have a lot of excess corn sitting around every year (mostly because the government still subsidizes corn farmers). What to do? A few decades ago, people figured out that turning corn into oil was really cheap and profitable. Never mind that corn oil is terrible for you when used in cooking: trans fat city, and no Omega-3′s! Yet corn oil, and its trans-fat twin, hydrogenated corn oil, are in everything. Take a look at just about any food in the middle aisles of your grocery store. Yep, corn oil. If it doesn’t have corn oil, it will have corn syrup. Sometimes both.

Even worse is the corn sweetener situation. High fructose corn syrup is really, really cheap, which is great for food manufacturers. And it’s sweeter than sugar. What food manufacturer is going to say no to that? They won’t – not unless you tell them enough is enough.

HFCS goes into soda, sports drinks, kids’ snacks, candy, and breakfast cereals, to name just a few items. The HFCS lobby has a really, um…colorful brown website (we can’t think of anything nice to say about it) that makes a big deal about how nutritious corn syrup is and how it’s the backbone of the American Diet. Seriously, is that something you want to be bragging about? With diabetes now a runaway epidemic, and corn syrup registering off the charts on the old insulin-response meter?

Maybe the HFCS lobby lives in an alternate America where a diet high in pizza, Lucky Charms, pop tarts and Pepsi has produced legions of energetic, happy, lean, muscular individuals. You can check out their “fact” site right now. Clickativity.

Waves of grain…

corn

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18 Dec

A Monday Moment

The Roman philosopher and emperor, Marcus Aurelius, taught a helpful little idea that Markus Sisson (sorry) wants to pass along to all of you.

While Latin is fun and all, here is the paraphrase:

People exist for each other. Then either improve them, or put up with them.

Either change, or let go. Doing the same thing won’t get you anywhere but where you are!

Enjoy your Monday!

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