Study: Even Light Alcohol Consumption Linked to Higher Cancer Risk

In a study conducted in Japan, even light to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with elevated cancer risks. In the study published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the overall cancer risk appeared to be the lowest at zero alcohol consumption.

Although some studies have linked limited alcohol consumption to lower risks of certain types of cancer, even light to moderate consumption has been associated with a higher risk of cancer overall. To study the issue in Japan, Masayoshi Zaitsu, MD, PhD, of The University of Tokyo and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and his colleagues examined 2005–2016 information from 33 general hospitals throughout Japan. The team examined clinical data on 63,232 patients with cancer and 63,232 controls matched for sex, age, hospital admission date, and admitting hospital. All participants reported their average daily amount of standardized alcohol units and the duration of drinking. (One standardized drink containing 23 grams of ethanol was equivalent to one 180-milliliter cup (6 ounces) of Japanese sake, one 500-milliliter bottle (17 ounces) of beer, one 180-milliliter glass (6 ounces) of wine, or one 60-milliliter cup (2 ounces) of whiskey.

Overall cancer risk appeared to be the lowest at zero alcohol consumption, and there was an almost linear association between cancer risk and alcohol consumption. The association suggested that a light level of drinking at a 10-drink-year point (for example, one drink per day for 10 years or two drinks per day for five years) would increase overall cancer risk by five percent. Those who drank two or fewer drinks per day had an elevated cancer risk regardless of how long they had consumed alcohol. Also, analyses classified by sex, drinking/smoking behaviors, and occupational class mostly showed the same patterns.

The elevated risk appeared to be explained by alcohol-related cancer risk across relatively common sites, including the colorectum, stomach, breast, prostate, and esophagus.

“In Japan, the primary cause of death is cancer,” said Dr. Zaitsu. “Given the current burden of overall cancer incidence, we should further encourage promoting public education about alcohol-related cancer risk.”

Source: Wiley


Today’s Comic

Could Chickpea Milk Be the Next Oat Milk?

Catherine Lamb wrote . . . . . . . . .

Soon enough, your local barista could be asking if you’d like chickpea milk in your latté.

A new food tech startup called ChickP is set to launch a new chickpea-based protein for use in dairy alternatives, specifically milk and yogurt. The isolate was developed by a team of scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who discovered a way to extract up to 90 percent pure protein from a chickpea seed (that is, the bean) — which is much higher protein than can be gleaned from, say, almonds or soy.

Founded in 2016 in Israel, Chickp has raised an estimated $1.2 million according to Crunchbase. The startup is planning to partner with alternative dairy companies to provide them with their high protein isolates for new product R&D. The startup hasn’t revealed where they will launch, but they did indicate they were looking to work with companies with a global reach.

Based on America’s hunger for alternative dairy, I wouldn’t be surprised if ChickP targets the U.S. market. In the U.S., sales of plant-based milk grew by 6 percent over 2018, while plant-based yogurt sales spiked 39 percent, according to data from the Plant Based Food Association and the Good Food Institute. Consumers’ rising demand for plant-based dairy has caused a flurry of companies to try and milk-ify a wide variety of plants, from macadamia to hemp to current cult favorite, oat.

However, chickpea milk has a few advantages that could help it thrive in the alternative dairy space. Firstly, chickpeas have a neutral flavor without the same bitter aftertaste that comes with, say, pea protein or soy. According to a press release sent to The Spoon, ChickP’s protein also has a smoother texture than other plant-based proteins, which can be chalky or curdle in acidic drinks (looking at you, almond milk). Finally, chickpea protein is free from soy and tree nuts, which are some of the most common food allergens.

ChickP isn’t the only one leveraging garbanzo beans’ high protein potential. Fellow Israeli startup InnovoPro makes plant-based protein powder from chickpeas which can also be used in alternative dairy products. Here in the U.S., companies Nutriati and ProEarth also making chickpea powder for use in a variety of food and beverage products. However, ChickP’s distinguishing factor is the super-high protein content of its chickpea isolates, which means that dairy alternative companies can more easily develop products with just as much protein as the real thing.

We haven’t tried out products made with ChickP’s protein, so it’s too early to say if it’ll have the power to break into the already crowded alt-dairy space. However, with the hunger for plant-based dairy on the rise, I expect that ChickP will have no problem finding global food companies willing to develop products using their super protein.

The question is whether they’ll taste good enough to keep consumers coming back in the same way that others, like oat milk, have.

Source: The Spoon

Scientists Identify New Markers in Bood and Urine to Know What We Eat and Drink

Researchers at McMaster have identified several chemical signatures, detectable in blood and urine, that can accurately measure dietary intake, potentially offering a new tool for physicians, dietitians and researchers to assess eating habits, measure the value of fad diets and develop health policies.

The research, published in the journal Nutrients, addresses a major challenge in assessing diets: studies in nutrition largely rely on participants to record their own food intake, which is subject to human error, forgetfulness or omission.

“This has been a major issue in nutritional research and may be one of the main reasons for the lack of real progress in nutritional sciences and chronic disease prevention,” says Philip Britz-McKibbin, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University and lead author of the study, which was a collaboration with Dr. Sonia Anand and colleagues from the Departments of Medicine, and Health Research, Evidence, and Impact.

Scientists set out to determine if they could identify chemical signatures, or metabolites, that reflect changes in dietary intake, measure those markers and then compare the data with the foods study participants were provided and then reported they had eaten. The specimens analyzed were from healthy individuals who participated in the Diet and Gene Intervention Study (DIGEST).

Over a two-week period, researchers studied two contrasting diets: the Prudent diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, and a contemporary Western diet, rich in trans fats, processed foods, red meat and sweetened beverages.

Researchers were able to validate a panel of metabolites in urine and plasma that correlated with the participants’ consumption of fruits, vegetables, protein and/or fiber.

“We were able to detect short-term changes in dietary patterns which could be measured objectively,” says Britz-McKibbin. “And it didn’t take long for these significant changes to become apparent.”

Britz-McKibbin cautions that food chemistry is highly complex. Our diets are composed of thousands of different kinds of chemicals, he says, and researchers don’t know what role they all may play in overall health.

In future, he hopes to broaden this work by examining a larger cohort of participants over a longer period of time. His team is also exploring several ways to assess maternal nutrition during crucial stages of fetal development and its impact on obesity and metabolic syndrome risk in children.

Source: McMaster University

World-first Coke Bottle Made with Plastic from the Sea

Coca-Cola is unveiling the first ever sample bottle made using recovered and recycled marine plastics, demonstrating that, one day, even ocean debris could be used in recycled packaging for food or drinks. This sample is the first ever plastic bottle made using marine litter that has been successfully recycled and reused in food and drink packaging.

About 300 sample bottles have been produced using 25% recycled marine plastic[1], retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches. A small step for now, but the technology behind it has big potential.

Recycling the unrecyclable

The marine plastic bottle has been developed to show the transformational potential of revolutionary ‘enhanced recycling’ technologies, which can recycle previously used plastics of any quality back to the high-quality needed for food or drinks packaging.

Enhanced recycling technologies use innovative processes that break down the components of plastic and strip out impurities in lower-grade recyclables so they can be rebuilt as good as new. This means that lower-grade plastics that were often destined for incineration or landfill can now be given a new life. It also means more materials are available to make recycled content, reducing the amount of virgin PET needed from fossil fuels, and resulting in a lower carbon footprint.

The sample bottle is the result of a partnership between Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures, Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) and The Coca-Cola Company. Although enhanced recycling is still in its infancy, the partners produced the sample marine plastic bottle as a proof of concept for what the technology may achieve in time.

In the immediate term, enhanced recycling will be introduced at commercial scale using waste streams from existing recyclers, including previously unrecyclable plastics and lower-quality recyclables. From 2020, Coca-Cola plans to roll out this enhanced recycled content in some of its bottles.

Working toward zero waste

Bruno van Gompel, Technical and Supply Chain Director, Coca-Cola Western Europe, says the potential for the technology is huge: “Enhanced recycling technologies are enormously exciting, not just for us but for industry and society at large. They accelerate the prospect of a closed-loop economy for plastic, which is why we are investing behind them. As these begin to scale, we will see all kinds of used plastics returned, as good as new, not just once but again and again, diverting waste streams from incineration and landfill.”

Tonnis Hooghoudt, CEO of Ioniqa Technologies, the Dutch company that developed the proprietary enhanced recycling technology, says: “The impact of enhanced recycling will be felt on a global scale: by working with Coca-Cola and Indorama to produce this bottle, we aim to show what this technology can deliver. Our new plant is now operational and we are bringing this technology to scale. In doing so, we aim to eliminate the concept of single use plastic and plastic waste altogether.”

Source: Coca Cola

Study: Most Sweetened Drinks Aimed for the Kids in the U.S. Do Not Meet Nutrition Recommendations

Kay Campbell wrote . . . . . . . . .

Fruit drinks and flavored waters that contain added sugars or low-calorie sweeteners dominated sales of drinks intended for children in 2018, making up 62% of the $2.2 billion in total children’s drink sales, according to a new report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

That year, companies spent $20.7 million to advertise children’s drinks with added sugars, primarily targeting kids under age 12, according to the report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In fact, children ages 2 to 11 saw more than twice as many TV ads for children’s sweetened drinks than for children’s drinks without added sweeteners.

This report follows a consensus statement released in September by health and nutrition experts that recommended that children under age 5 should not consume any drinks with added sugars or low-calorie sweeteners, and that they should consume limited amounts of 100% juice.

But common nutrition-related claims and images of fruit on packages of sugary fruit drinks and flavored waters make it difficult for parents to easily identify the healthier drinks for their children, say the authors.

“Beverage companies have said they want to be part of the solution to childhood obesity, but they continue to market sugar-sweetened children’s drinks directly to young children on TV and through packages designed to get their attention in the store,” says Jennifer L. Harris, lead author and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center. “Parents may be surprised to know that pediatricians, dentists, and other nutrition experts recommend against serving any of these drinks to children.”

Researchers assessed the top-selling brands of children’s drinks—including 34 sweetened drinks (fruit drinks, flavored waters, and drink mixes) and 33 drinks without added sweeteners (100% juice, juice-water blends, and one sparkling water)—analyzing sales, advertising spending, children’s exposure to TV advertising, nutritional content, and product packaging. Brands with at least $10 million in sales in 2018 were included.

Confusing Package Claims and Hidden Low-Calorie Sweeteners

Some companies have developed drinks that may be healthier for children, such as juice and water blends that do not contain added sweeteners, and these companies have begun to advertise them to parents and children, researchers say. But those healthier drinks, such as 100% juice, represented just 38 percent of children’s drink sales in 2018.

Study authors also say that package claims on sweetened children’s drinks, and similarities between claims on sweetened and unsweetened drinks, can confuse parents about their nutritional content.

Sugar-sweetened children’s fruit drinks typically contained just 5% juice or less, but according to the report, 80% of those packages included images of fruit and 60% claimed to have “less” or “low” sugar or “no high fructose corn syrup.”

Children’s drinks with and without added sweeteners also had similar package sizes and types, flavor names, use of fruit imagery, and front-of-package claims for products.

“You shouldn’t have to be a nutritionist to figure out whether or not a product is healthy for your child,” says Maria Romo-Palafox, study author and assistant professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Saint Louis University.

In addition, low-calorie sweeteners, such as sucralose and stevia, were found in 74% of children’s sweetened drinks, including drinks that also contained added sugars, but there was no mention of low-calorie sweeteners on the front of packages.

“The fronts of the packages make children’s drinks look healthy, but there’s no way to know which ones have added sugars or low-calorie sweeteners reading the front. You have to read the nutrition facts panel on the back and you have to know the names of low-calorie sweeteners, such as acesulfame potassium and sucralose, to realize they are in the product,” Romo-Palafox adds.

Industry, Regulators, and Legislators Can Do More

Authors say the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI)—the voluntary, industry self-regulatory program—should establish nutrition standards that conform with health expert recommendations. Specifically, drinks with added sugars or low-calorie sweeteners should not be advertised directly to children.

Beverage manufacturers should also clearly indicate that products contain added sugars and low-calorie sweeteners and the percent juice content on the front of children’s drink packages, they say.

Further, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could require that products with nutrition-related claims on packages meet minimum nutrition standards and prohibit the use of fruit and vegetable images on drink product packages that contain little or no juice.

Also within the options available to legislators, state and local taxes on sugary drinks should include children’s fruit drinks and flavored waters to raise the price and discourage purchases.

Additional key findings:

Beverage manufacturers made some progress in developing and advertising healthier drinks for children.

  • More companies sold unsweetened juice-water blends, which are healthier than sweetened children’s drinks and contain only juice and water. The majority contain less than 50 calories in one box or pouch.
  • With the exception of one sugar-sweetened children’s fruit drink, licensed characters only appeared on children’s drinks without added sweeteners (primarily 100% juice)—a significant improvement compared to 2014.
  • Kraft Heinz was the only company to advertise sugar-sweetened drinks directly to children on children’s TV, including Kool Aid Jammers and Capri Sun Roarin’ Waters.

However, companies continued to extensively promote sweetened children’s drinks, and many children’s drinks were high in sugar despite healthy-sounding claims.

  • One-third of all children’s fruit drinks contained 16 grams or more of sugar per serving—equivalent to 4 teaspoons, which is more than half of the maximum amount of added sugars experts recommend for children per day.
  • Of the 100% juice children’s drinks studied, only 4 of 13 came in appropriate sized boxes or pouches for a toddler (age 1 to 3 years). Some contained more than 6 ounces of juice, which is the maximum recommended daily amount for preschoolers (age 4 to 6 years).

Source: University of Connecticut