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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Introducing Solid Foods to Babies


In the past, doctors have cautioned parents against introducing certain solid foods to infants too early for fear that babies would be more likely to develop food allergies.

But recent research suggests that introducing foods early can actually reduce the incidence of allergic illnesses.

One Finnish study found that the lowest rates of atopic diseases like allergies, asthma, eczema, and hay fever were associated with:

  • Introducing gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, rye, and oats before babies were 5.5 months old
  • Introducing fish before the age of 9 months
  • Introducing eggs before 11 months
  • Breastfeeding for at least 9.5 months

When introducing solid foods to babies, avoid giving them foods they could choke on. Start new foods one food at a time and wait at least 3 days before introducing another new food to make sure there is no reaction. Symptoms don't always show up right away and may take a couple of days to manifest.

Symptoms of food sensitivities may include sneezing, runny nose, skin rash or diaper rash, changes in stool, or irritability. If any of these occur, discontinue the new food and wait until the symptoms have cleared before you to introduce another new food.

Never introduce new foods when babies are ill, especially they have symptoms of colic, cramps, diarrhea, or rash.

Reference:

Nwaru BI et al. 2013. Timing of infant feeding in relation to childhood asthma and allergic diseases. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 131(1):78-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.10.028.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Does Fish Oil Cause Prostate Cancer?


A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that high blood levels of omega-3 fats were associated with a higher risk of developing prostate cancer (Brasky 2013).

It was a retrospective observational study, not a randomized controlled trial, so it didn't prove that taking fish oil causes prostate cancer.

There were several problems with this study:

  • The data was taken from a past study designed for a completely different purpose. 
  • The researchers did not take into account the recognized risk factors for prostate cancer like age, race, body mass index, PSA blood level, or rectal exam findings.
  • Researchers did not track how much fish and seafood the study participants ate or whether or not they took fish oil supplements. 
  • The conclusions are based on a single blood test that showed negligible differences in blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids between the men who had prostate cancer and those who didn't, only 0.2%. The actual levels of specific omega-3 fatty acids in the blood (like EPA and DHA found only in fish) were not reported at all.
  • The study participants were not all healthy. Some of the men, approximately 1 in 5, already had advanced prostate cancer. Some men had first degree relatives with prostate cancer. Some smoked cigarettes and/or consumed alcohol regularly. Most of the men (80%) were overweight or obese.
  • Blood levels of omega-3 fats are a good measure of recent intake but a bad measure of long term intake. Blood levels fluctuate from day to day, depending on what we eat, so long term intake should be based on the omega-3 index which measures levels of omega-3 fats inside cells.

This study also comes into conflict with several other studies which have found fish oil to be protective against prostate cancer. For example:

  • An Icelandic study that followed 2,268 men for 9 years concluded that "salted or smoked fish may increase risk of advanced prostate cancer, whereas fish oil consumption may be protective against progression of prostate cancer in elderly men. In a setting with very high fish consumption, no association was found between overall fish consumption in early or midlife and prostate cancer risk" (Torfadottir 2013).
  • A 14-year study of 47,866 cancer-free men in the United States found that "EPA and DHA intakes may reduce the risk of total and advanced prostate cancer" (Leitzmann 2004).
  • A 30-year study of 6,272 Swedish men concluded that "men who ate no fish had a two-fold to three-fold higher frequency of prostate cancer than those who ate moderate or high amounts" (Terry 2001).
  • In a meta-analysis of 24 studies, researchers found that eating fish was associated with a 63 percent lower risk of dying from prostate cancer (Szymanski 2010).

So don't change your consumption of fish or fish oil based on this study. Continue eating fish and seafood and taking fish oil if your naturopathic doctor has recommended it.

When you're selecting fish and seafood, choose smaller species that live low on the food chain. Use the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector to get the most up-to-date information on toxicity alerts and sustainability ratings.

References:

Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song X, Tangen CM, Goodman PJ, et al. Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2013 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Michaud DS, Augustsson K, Colditz GC, et al. 2004. Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of prostate cancer. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80:204-216.

Szymanski KM, Wheeler DC, and Mucci LA. 2010. Fish consumption and prostate cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 92(5):1223–1233.

Terry P, Lichtenstein P, Feychting M, Ahlbom A, and Wolk A. 2001. Fatty fish consumption and risk or prostate cancer. Lancet 357(9270):1764-6.

Torfadottir JE, Valdimarsdottir UA, Mucci LA, Kasperzyk JL, et al. 2013. Consumption of Fish Products across the Lifespan and Prostate Cancer Risk. PLoS One 8(4): e59799.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Problems With Pesticides


According to the recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, exposure to pesticides approved by the Environmental Protection Agency has been linked to the following forms of cancer:

  • Brain and central nervous system cancers
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Soft tissue sarcoma

Research studies have also linked pesticides to:
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Asthma
  • Birth Defects
  • Cancer 
  • Diabetes
  • Hormone-related problems
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Learning and developmental disorders

Still-developing babies and children are most susceptible to the adverse effects of toxic pesticides. A study published in the current issue of Pediatrics measured levels of pesticides in more than 1,100 children between the ages of 8 and 15. Researchers found pesticides in 94 percent of children and those with above average amounts had twice the risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Avoiding pesticides is best, but it's not always possible. When organic foods are unavailable or unaffordable, take some help from the Environmental Working Group and make informed choices about what to eat and what to avoid with their Shopper's Guide to Pesticides.

References:

Leffall LD, Kripke ML et al. Reducing environmental cancer risk: what we can do now. 2008–2009 Annual Report, President’s Cancer Panel. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. April 2010, p. 45.

Bouchard M.F., Bellinger D.C., Wright R.O., and Weisskopf M.G. 2010. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. Pediatrics 125(6):e1270-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-3058.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The 100 Year Lie

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0452288398/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=adifkinofdoc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0452288398%22%3EThe%20Hundred-Year%20Lie:%20How%20to%20Protect%20Yourself%20from%20the%20Chemicals%20That%20Are%20Destroying%20Your%20Health%3C/a%3E%3Cimg%20src=%22http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=adifkinofdoc-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0452288398%22%20width=%221%22%20height=%221%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20style=%22border:none%20!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;

In The Hundred-Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health, investigative journalist Randall Fitzgerald debunks the promise of "better living through chemistry" and explains "how food and medicine are destroying your health."

Previously plagued by illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses, modern medicine is now struggling to manage chronic illnesses caused by chemicals in the environment.

Inside this book you'll learn which common food additives interact synergistically to cause nerve damage (aspartame, MSG, and food coloring), why up to 99 percent of ingredients in personal products can be excluded from labels (trade secrecy laws), why we'll never know the health effects of most chemicals in combination (testing only the most common 1,000 chemicals in combinations of 3 would require 166 million experiments), and why phasing out dangerous toxins doesn't end the problem (damage done by chemical exposure decades ago can be passed on to future generations).

Fitzgerald writes, "merely by choosing a diet of pure foods and a lifestyle free of synthetics, we can detoxify ourselves and initiate the healing of many degenerative illnesses and diseases." Reading this book is a good place to start.