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Why Broccoli Fights Cancer

by: Jill Richardson

Sun May 19, 2013 at 20:26:35 PM PDT

I have never liked mustard greens. Ever. The resulting bit of information comes courtesy of that fact. The thing I hate about them is that horseradish flavor they have.

A few weeks ago, in my Native American foods class, we cooked up mustard greens. They aren't traditional, strictly speaking, because they were introduced by the Spanish. But they grow everywhere, and at some point in the past few centuries, the Indians started eating them.

I wasn't even going to taste them, since I know I hate them. But the teacher of our class put them in a pot of water and brought it to a boil and then poured off the water three times. The resulting product had no horseradish taste.

Yes! I thought. Now I can eat this abundant wild food! But... does cooking it to death reduce its health value significantly?

As it turns out, it does. In fact, for people who hate the horseradish flavor, it's all very bad news.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 440 words in story)

Soy OK

by: la motocycliste

Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 22:14:59 PM PDT

The humble soybean has become a source of controversy, with some accusing the legume of all sorts of adverse health effects.

The Harvard Women's Health Watch has published an article in its June 2011 issue, stating, "a large study suggests that breast cancer survivors can safely eat soy foods." These findings were presented in April at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer research.  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 202 words in story)

The Bombshell Dropped in May About Cancer

by: Jill Richardson

Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 15:01:20 PM PDT

The day after I arrived in Havana, where I was 98% oblivious of all world news, a bombshell dropped in U.S. news headlines. The President's Cancer Panel released a new report. It wasn't until June that I began hearing about the report from others in conversation and in a speech by Eric Schlosser, and it was clear immediately how important the report was. Well, better late than never. It's now time to discuss what the report said and how it impacts the food issues we tackle here on this blog.

According to the report, 41% of all Americans are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes and 21% die of it. That's a big deal. Two in five get cancer, one in five die. From Washington Post coverage of the new report:

The current system places the burden on the government to prove that a chemical is unsafe before it can removed from the market. The standards are so high, the government has been unable to ban chemicals such as asbestos, a widely recognized carcinogen that is prohibited in many other countries.

About 80,000 chemicals are in commercial use in the United States, but federal regulators have assessed only about 200 for safety.

Think about that. Out of 80,000 chemicals, 200 are tested. The rest are presumed innocent until proven guilty. (Compare that to my previous post about the EPA testing 200 chemicals in sewage sludge for safety before determining that sludge could be used as fertilizer to grow food. Their safety assessment seems a little inadequate now, doesn't it?)

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 378 words in story)

Another study finds link between atrazine and birth defects

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 05:18:29 AM PST

Yet another study has found that exposure to the weed-killer atrazine is associated with a higher rate of a birth defect:

Living near farms that use the weed killer atrazine may up the risk of a rare birth defect, according to a study presented this past Friday [February 5] at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Chicago.

About 1 in 5000 babies born in the U.S. each year suffers from gastroschisis, in which part of the intestines bulges through a separation in the belly, according to the March of Dimes. The rate of gastroschisis has risen 2- to 4-fold over the last three decades, according to Dr. Sarah Waller, of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues. [...]

The researchers looked at more than 4,400 birth certificates from 1987-2006 - including more than 800 cases of gastroschisis -- and U.S. Geological Survey databases of agricultural spraying between 2001 and 2006.

Using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards to define high chemical exposure levels in surface water, they found that the closer a mother lived to a site of high surface water contamination by atrazine, the more likely she was to deliver an infant with gastroschisis.

The birth defect occurred more often among infants who lived less than 25 km (about 15 miles) from one of these sites, and it occurred more often among babies conceived between March and May, when agricultural spraying is common.

Follow me after the jump for more.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 280 words in story)

Red Meat Kills

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 22:20:53 PM PDT

A new study has some good news for cows and pigs, but bad news for chicken. They found that people who eat the most red meat (beef and pork) have a 20% to 30% increased risk of premature mortality. I guess pork is NOT the "other white meat." So much for that marketing slogan.

From the Washington Post:

The study of more than 500,000 middle-aged and elderly Americans found that those who consumed about four ounces of red meat a day (the equivalent of about a small hamburger) were more than 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years they were followed, mostly from heart disease and cancer. Sausage, cold cuts and other processed meats also increased the risk.

Previous research had found a link between red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, but the new study is the first large examination of the relationship between eating meat and overall risk of death, and is by far the most detailed.

This doesn't come as a surprise to me, but it's always nice to back up hunches with facts. What I think WILL be surprising to a lot of people is how little red meat (4 oz/day) made a difference. Four ounces is within the Food Pyramid's guidelines for how much meat you should eat daily, although they do encourage you to "choose [fish, nuts, and seeds] frequently instead of meat or poultry." (The Food Pyramid does NOT tell you to avoid beef - just "choose lean cuts" of beef.)

From the nutrition advice I've seen during my work in hospitals, these study results don't result in new dietary advice. Any doctor would tell you that red meat is a good idea, and red meat every day (particularly processed meats) is a bad idea. No surprise there. Best headline I've seen on this? "Steak and Hot Dogs Linked to Early Death"

Discuss :: (10 Comments)
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