The Health-Alcohol Conundrum

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There’s been a lot of stories this week about a new study linking moderate alcohol intake with lower risk of weight gain. The study makes for some grabby headlines, but alcohol intake and health is a complex issue that scientists agree needs more research. For heart health — and now, possibly to avoid weight gain — moderate drinking (2 drinks for men and 1 for women a day) may have benefits. But when it comes to certain cancers: there’s no amount of alcohol that’s healthy.

The basics of the latest study: Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study included about 19,000 women age 39 or older who began the study at a healthy weight. At the start of the study, the women reported how many alcoholic beverages they typically drank per day. Over an average of 13 years follow-up, the women on average gained weight. But normal-weight women who drank a light to moderate amount of alcohol appeared to gain less weight than  the women who did not drink at all.

For people who don’t drink alcohol, this is not a reason to start, the study authors note. More research is needed to identify the many factors than can play a role in how alcohol effects certain individuals. Read more… “The Health-Alcohol Conundrum”

Continuous Snack Attacks

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Apparently kids love snacks, now more than ever. According to a large study that looked at snack habits over three decades, children are now eating almost three snacks per day as compared with 30 years ago, when they ate an average of about one a day. And unfortunately, the snacks aren’t broccoli and apples.

The study found that snacks made up over a quarter of children’s daily calories — over 27%. The largest increases came from salty snacks and candy. Desserts and sweetened beverages were the major sources of calories from snacks.

The study was published in the March issue of Health Affairs; you can read the abstract here. Study researchers looked at national surveys of food intake in about 31,000 U.S. children, from 1977 to 2006.

One of the big findings came from preschoolers, who showed the largest increase in snacking. Children aged 2 to 6 consumed an extra 181 calories per day during snack time compared to two decades earlier.

Given the increase in US obesity rates and the health hazards excess weight brings — including increasing the risk of cancer — this study suggests unhealthy snacks may be one culprit in weight gain.

Need snack help for you or your kids? You can get ideas from Homemade for Health: Snacks.

Have healthy snack ideas of your own? Share.

Shocking: Meat Industry “Report” Finds No Link Between Meat, Cancer

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It bears repeating: Our message at AICR is evidence-based, not agenda-driven.

One of our 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention is to limit meat consumption. Our Expert Panel judged that the evidence linking diets high in red meat and processed meat to colorectal cancer is convincing.  So they said:

To reduce your cancer risk, eat no more than 18 oz. (cooked weight) per week of red meats like beef, pork and lamb, and avoid processed meat such as ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages.”

In our materials, we show you how easy it is to follow that recommendation.  Our recipes de-emphasize meat in favor of vegetables, grains, beans and fruit.  We suggest ways to divide up those 18 ounces per week.  And we recommend saving hot dogs and sausage for special occasions.

Even so, our recommendation on meat isn’t popular with special interests.  Vegetarian groups don’t like it because it leaves room on the plate for moderate amounts of meat.

And the meat industry? They see our recommendation as an attack on their bottom line, and do everything they can to attack the recommendation, and the exhaustive report it came from.

Case in point: The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has just released their own “technical summary” of the science on the meat-cancer link.  Three guesses what it concludes.

Now that they’ve published it themselves, the rest of the scientific community can finally get a look at this document members of the meat lobby have been talking about — but not showing to anyone — for two years.

So: How does it hold up to our Expert Report?  See for yourself.