Study: Lots of Sugary Drinks Doubles Younger Women’s Colon Cancer Risk

Denise Mann wrote . . . . . . . . .

Rates of colon cancer among young Americans are on the rise, and a new study suggests that drinking too many sugary beverages may be to blame — at least for women.

Women who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, fruity drinks or sports and energy drinks per day had double the risk of developing colon cancer before the age of 50, compared to women who consumed one or fewer sugary drinks per week.

“On top of the well-known adverse metabolic and health consequences of sugar-sweetened beverages, our findings have added another reason to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages,” said study author Yin Cao, an associate professor of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The study included more than 95,000 women from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study II. The nurses were aged 25 through 42 when the study began in 1989 and provided information on their diet every four years for nearly 25 years.

Of these, 41,272 reported on what, and how much, they drank in their teen years. During 24 years of follow-up, 109 women developed colon cancer before turning 50.

Having a higher intake of sugar-sweetened drinks in adulthood was associated with a higher risk of the disease, even after researchers controlled for other factors that may affect colon cancer risk such as a family history. This risk was even greater when women consumed sodas and other sugary drinks during their teen years.

Each daily serving in adulthood was associated with a 16% higher risk of colon cancer, but when women were aged 13 to 18, each drink was linked to a 32% increased risk of developing colon cancer before 50, the study found.

But substituting sugar-sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened beverages, coffee or milk was associated with a 17% to 36% lower risk of developing colon cancer before age of 50, the study found.

“Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage intake and/or replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with other healthier beverages would be a better and wiser choice for long-term health,” Cao said.

The new study was not designed to say how, or even if, drinking sugary beverages causes colon cancer risk to rise, but some theories exist. People who consume sugary beverages are more likely to be overweight or obese and have type 2 diabetes, all of which can up risk for early-onset colon cancer. The high-fructose corn syrup in these drinks may also promote the development of colon cancer in its own right, Cao said.

The research does have its share of limitations. Participants were predominantly white women, and as a result, the findings may not apply to men or women of other ethnicities.

The study was published online in the journal Gut.

Researchers not involved with the new study are quick to point out that only an association was seen, and that more data is needed to draw any definitive conclusions about the role that sugary drinks play in promoting early-onset colon cancer.

“Clearly more research is needed before we can give this a stamp of approval and say with confidence that this association is actually causation,” said Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based gastroenterologist. “No one thinks sugar-sweetened beverages are health-promoting [and] you should reduce your sugar-sweetened beverage intake as much as possible.”

Dr. Patricio Polanco, an assistant professor in the division of surgical oncology in the department of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, agreed.

“Sugar-sweetened beverages cause a bunch of other conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and now we have more data that they could be related to colon cancer, too,” Polanco said.

Exactly why colon cancer is on the rise in younger people is not fully understood. Lifestyle factors such as higher rates of obesity and possibly greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may play a role. “We still believe there may be some genetic contribution that has not yet been characterized,” he said.

The best way to protect yourself from colon cancer is to undergo regular screening, Polanco stressed.

Due to the rise in colon cancer in young people, the American Cancer Society now recommends regular screening at age 45 for people at average risk for the disease.

Source: HealthDay

A Bar in Los Angeles Wants to Turn Into a Members-Only Club for Vaccinated People

Jennifer Stavros wrote . . . . . . . . .

As the CDC greenlights more indoor socialization for vaccinated people, a North Hollywood bar has started promoting a new members-only club called Risky Business that requires full vaccination to join. Located at the Other Door, a 10-year-old cocktail lounge and live music venue, the club will allow members to eat and drink indoors, or even play a game of pool, without the need for masks or social distancing measures. The Other Door also saw the opportunity to gain some attention in light of difficult times across the hospitality industry.

When the pandemic first closed cocktail-focused establishments like the Other Door in 2020, co-owners Ari Schindler and Jonathan Katz used several different approaches to keep the place afloat. In the spring, they offered subscriptions of curated cocktails and food pairings, and developed a loyal following. “In the first few months of lockdown, pickup and delivery were steady. They were a fraction of our revenue from before lockdown, but significant,” says Schindler. They also dabbled in selling grocery items and over-the-counter medications to generate sales. As things start to return to full capacity in Los Angeles, Schindler and Katz are hopeful that anyone feeling cooped up from lockdown over the past year will be enthusiastic about going out again.

The first Risky Business announcement came out in late March on the bar’s Facebook and Twitter, with a debut projected for sometime in the next few weeks. Paid memberships are on sale for $10 now but will eventually cost $20. Memberships will have a priority system that unlocks more privileges the earlier one joins. “Every member gets a special drink on their first visit, and the earlier you join, the more incredible your drink will be,” says Schindler. People can buy memberships for themselves or their friends, with the original purchasers receiving more unnamed perks.

The idea of opening a vaccinated-only club has already received mixed reviews on social media
The club will check vaccine cards much like they would IDs before entry into the bar. Those paying for memberships will have to fill out a questionnaire verifying information such as their identity, vaccination date, and vaccine type. Prospective members won’t be allowed access into the club until they submit completed vaccine cards.

Source: Eater

The Secret to a Successful Wine Pairing? Fats Have an Affinity for Tannins

Jennifer Ouellette wrote . . . . . . . . .

Wine aficionados know that a well-paired wine enhances the flavors of whatever foods one consumes, while a poorly paired wine does the opposite. And some foods can, in turn, influence the flavors in a wine. Is there any better accompaniment to one’s favorite cheeses and/or cured meats than a good bottle of Bordeaux or a California Cabernet? A team of French scientists specifically explored the role of interactions between the tannins in wine and fatty molecules known as lipids in foods to better understand what is happening at the molecular level with such complementary pairings, according to a recent paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Of course, taste in wine is highly subjective to the individual; we all have different combinations of taste receptors that influence how we perceive flavors. But some characteristics are quantifiable: bitterness, sweetness, sourness, and the body (or weight) of a wine. That’s the basis for the art and science of wine pairings in most fine-dining restaurants. The tannins in wine are polyphenolic compounds responsible for much of the bitterness and astringency in a given wine; they’re derived from the skins and stems of the grapes, or as a result of aging in oak barrels. Tannins pair well with proteins and fats, which offset their astringency and bitterness. That’s why wines with a heavier tannic component (such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Barolo) go so well with cheeses and charcuterie.

The degree of residual sugar—how much sugar remains after fermentation—determines the sweetness of a wine. Very dry wines have almost no residual sugar, while very sweet dessert-type wines, such as Sauternes or tokays, have high residual sugars. Sweeter wines pair well with spicy cuisines, for instance, because the sugar contrasts with the heat of the food. Acidity is a measure of how sour a given wine is, and there are three primary acids in wines. Malic acid confers a kind of green apple flavor; lactic acid confers a milky component; and tartaric acid will give wine additional bitter flavors. Wines that are more acidic pair with fatty, oily, rich, or salty foods because the acids will offset those qualities on the palate.

Finally, the amount of alcohol influences how much body (or weight) a wine has, and it gives a perception of heat on the palate. The higher the alcohol content (and the more tannins are present), the higher the perception of heat. Conventional wisdom has long held that white wines pair well with fish or poultry, while reds pair with heavier meats. But the reality is more complex. There are heavier, richer white wines (like chardonnay), and lighter red wines (like Beaujolais). It’s the weight, or body, of the wine that should be considered when making such a pairing.

The French scientists focused their inquiry on the tannins, particularly how these compounds impact the size and stability of fat globules (lipids) in an emulsion—a common model used in experimental food studies. So they created their own emulsions in the lab out of olive oil, water, and a phospholipid emulsifier, and they added a grape tannin called catechin. Then the researchers analyzed the emulsions with a variety of techniques, including optical microscopy, electron microscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, as well as measuring droplet size with static light scattering. Their analysis showed that the presence of the grape tannin caused larger oil droplets to form.

Let’s lipid

Next, the researchers conducted a sensory evaluation, recruiting a group of male and female students from the engineering department at the University Institute of Technology of Bordeaux in Périgueux, France. The participants were trained over a period of two weeks, learning to rank aqueous solutions of different concentrations (citric acids, caffeine, potassium aluminum sulfate), and to recognize common wine aromas, especially those relating to oils and tannins (most notably global intensity of taste, acidity, fruity, herbaceous, dried fruit, bitterness, astringency, and persistence of taste). The group sniffed five isolated aromas randomly chosen out of a possible 24 and learned to identify them.

Participants were next asked to taste various tannin solutions alone or after downing a spoonful of rapeseed, grapeseed, or olive oil. The results showed that the oils reduced the astringency of the compound, particularly the olive oil, which participants reported made the tannins taste more fruity. The French researchers concluded from all of this that tannins interact with droplets of oil in the mouth, thus making those oils less likely to bind to proteins in saliva, which causes the astringent taste.

“Dietary oils are able to decrease the astringency induced by vegetable tannins,” the authors wrote. “These findings confirm the mutual affinity between tannins and lipids as well as components of… fatty foods. Therefore, tannin-lipid interaction are now to be considered by oenologists to find the best association between too much astringent red wines and fatty foods such as cheese, meat, deli meats, or desserts, for example.”

Source: Ars Technica

Can Drinking Cocoa Protect Your Heart When You’re Stressed?

Increased consumption of flavanols – a group of molecules occurring naturally in fruit and vegetables – could protect people from mental stress-induced cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart disease and thrombosis, according to new research.

Researchers have discovered that blood vessels were able to function better during mental stress when people were given a cocoa drink containing high levels of flavanols than when drinking a non-flavanol enriched drink.

A thin membrane of cells lining the heart and blood vessels, when functioning efficiently the endothelium helps to reduce the risk of peripheral vascular disease, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, tumour growth, thrombosis, and severe viral infectious diseases. We know that mental stress can have a negative effect on blood vessel function.

A UK research team from the University of Birmingham examined the effects of cocoa flavanols on stress-induced changes on vascular function – publishing their findings in Nutrients.

Lead author, Dr. Catarina Rendeiro, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, explains: “We found that drinking flavanol-rich cocoa can be an effective dietary strategy to reduce temporary impairments in endothelial function following mental stress and also improve blood flow during stressful episodes”.

“Flavanols are extremely common in a wide range of fruit and vegetables. By utilizing the known cardiovascular benefits of these compounds during periods of acute vascular vulnerability (such as stress) we can offer improved guidance to people about how to make the most of their dietary choices during stressful periods.”

In a randomized study, conducted by postgraduate student Rosalind Baynham, a group of healthy men drank a high-flavanol cocoa beverage 90 minutes before completing an eight-minute mental stress task.

The researchers measured forearm blood flow and cardiovascular activity at rest and during stress and assessed functioning of the blood vessels up to 90 min post stress – discovering that blood vessel function was less impaired when the participants drank high-flavanol cocoa. The researchers also discovered that flavanols improve blood flow during stress.

Stress is highly prevalent in today’s society and has been linked with both psychological and physical health. Mental stress induces immediate increases in heart rate and blood pressure (BP) in healthy adults and also results in temporary impairments in the function of arteries even after the episode of stress has ceased.

Single episodes of stress have been shown to increase the risk of acute cardiovascular events and the impact of stress on the blood vessels has been suggested to contribute to these stress-induced cardiovascular events. Indeed, previous research by Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten, co-investigator on this study, has shown that people at risk for cardiovascular disease show poorer vascular responses to acute stress.

“Our findings are significant for everyday diet, given that the daily dosage administered could be achieved by consuming a variety of foods rich in flavanols – particularly apples, black grapes, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, pears, pulses, green tea and unprocessed cocoa. This has important implications for measures to protect the blood vessels of those individuals who are more vulnerable to the effects of mental stress,” commented Dr. Rendeiro.

Source: University of Birmingham

Study: Even a Little Coffee in Pregnancy Could Impact Newborn’s Weight

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

As little as half a cup of coffee each day might be enough to stunt the growth and birth weight of a baby in the womb, a new study claims.

Women who consumed an average 50 milligrams of caffeine per day — equivalent to half a cup of coffee — had infants that were 2.3 ounces lighter than babies born to women who didn’t drink any caffeine, researchers report.

That amount is a fraction of the daily caffeine consumption limit currently recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the World Health Organization (WHO), said lead researcher Jessica Gleason. She is a postdoctoral researcher with the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

ACOG recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine consumption to less than 200 milligrams a day, and the WHO suggests less than 300 milligrams daily, Gleason said.

“Our results do stand out in light of those recommendations, because we’re finding that even at lower levels we are seeing these small reductions in size,” Gleason said.

“We always recommend that women discuss their caffeine consumption with their provider,” Gleason added. “Until we know more, our research does suggest that it may be prudent to limit caffeine consumption” during pregnancy.

Previous studies looking at caffeine’s effects on pregnancy relied on women to report how much they consumed daily, Gleason said.

This study took things a step further, using blood samples taken between 10 and 13 weeks of pregnancy from more than 2,000 women at 12 clinical sites in the United States, to determine their exact levels of both caffeine and its metabolite, paraxanthine.

Overall, pregnant women with the highest blood levels of caffeine gave birth to babies that were about 3 ounces lighter, 0.17 inches shorter, 0.11 inches smaller in head circumference, and about 0.13 inches smaller in thigh circumference than the infants of women with no or minimal caffeine in their bloodstream, the researchers found.

These effects on birth size and weight from caffeine are on par with those observed in pregnant smokers, Gleason noted.

“This reduction in birth weight is within the range we see in reductions of birth weight among women who smoke during pregnancy,” Gleason said, noting that smokers tend to deliver babies an average 1.8 to 7 ounces lighter than those of nonsmokers.

The findings were published online in JAMA Network Open.

But while these results are concerning, pregnant women shouldn’t rush to throw out all their coffee beans, tea bags and diet colas, said Dr. Jill Berkin, an assistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine with the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

The results of this study conflict with prior research, which found no significant link between caffeine and fetal growth, Berkin said.

Further, the effects of caffeine on birth size and weight observed here were not enormous, Berkin said, and so it’s hard to say whether these babies would suffer any of the long-term health effects typically associated with stunted fetal development.

These effects can include increased risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes later in life, the researchers said in background notes.

“It was so very small, really only coming out to about 3 ounces of difference in body weight. Whether the 3 ounces has clinical impact on a baby long-term remains to be determined,” Berkin said. “We know there are poorer outcomes associated with babies that are in the less than tenth percentile for expected weight for gestational age, but not smaller reductions in potential fetal weight, so whether that’s clinically significant is really unknown.”

Berkin added that caffeine did not significantly affect one crucial measure of fetal development — abdominal circumference.

“Traditionally when looking at fetal growth, abdominal circumference is probably the most important feature of predicting which fetuses are larger and which fetuses are smaller,” Berkin said. “In the calculations that we use to determine fetal growth, abdominal circumference is weighed heavier than all the other parameters.”

There are several theoretical reasons to suspect that caffeine could inhibit fetal growth, Gleason said.

“We know that caffeine and its primary metabolite paraxanthine both cross the placenta, but the fetus lacks the enzymes to break down or clear caffeine from its system,” Gleason said. As caffeine builds up in fetal tissues, it could disrupt growth in the womb.

Prolonged exposure to caffeine could also cause blood vessels in the uterus and placenta to constrict, which could reduce blood supply to the fetus and inhibit growth, Gleason said.

Caffeine also might disrupt normal hormonal processes in fetal development, she added.

“The results of a single study are never going to allow us to make any sort of recommendations, but just this evidence alone should certainly spark additional research into low-level caffeine consumption and size at birth and growth restrictions,” Gleason said.

Birth size is not the only thing that can be affected by coffee consumption during pregnancy: Research published earlier this year in the journal Neuropharmacology found that too much coffee during pregnancy was linked to a higher risk for behavioral problems among children.

Source: HealthDay