Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Prostate Cancer and Obesity

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I apologize to the female readers today because I want to share with you a male issue. However, you may want to read on anyway because your male significant others, family and friends might benefit from the results of this new study. It seems that obesity might interfere with prostate cancer screening. The test (PSA) normally used to screen men for prostate cancer might be more likely to miss tumors in obese men. In a study of 535 men in a free prostate cancer screening program, researchers found that obese men were more likely to have relatively low levels of PSA even when their prostate findings were abnormal. Two important things to consider: First, obesity again rears its ugly head – another potential chronic disease that might become worse masked by obesity. Second, as men we must get regular prostate exams. We can joke about it all we want, but it is serious business. Go see the doc and do it regularly. I have mine scheduled. Please schedule yours. And if you are one of the female readers, get after the men in your lives to get an exam.

Are we on the cusp of a fitness revolution? I see signs that the U.S. is about to take back its fitness place in the world. Each of us has to do our part. Corporate America is stressing health and healthy lifestyles. We have been brutally awakened to a obesity crisis. We have become a sedentary and somewhat lazy society.

On June 17, thousands of people will gather in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness of obesity. This might be the largest gathering in history of those affected by obesity. It’s labeled the Walk from Obesity, Caitlin Van Zandt, television star from the Sopranos, will be the featured guest speaker and will discuss her own battle with obesity.

Let the fitness revolution begin.

Men, have your prostate checked regularly. Don’t let obesity kill you! On June 17 if you can’t get to D.C., schedule your own walk. Invite friends to join you. Like Caitlin, many of us have stories to tell. We can win this thing. 

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

When I was researching this topic a bit further, I actually found some conflicting information in the scientific literature about being obese and the risk for prostate cancer. Interestingly, a study out of the University of Washington School of Medicine found that among middleaged men there was an inverse relationship between prostate cancer and obesity. On the other hand, a study at the University of Illinois found that those men with a higher BMI had a greater chance of dying from the disease.

Regardless of the findings, one thing in crucial – get your prostate cancer screens early. According to the 2006 Louisiana Health Report Card, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the state and is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among the same population. Further, Louisiana ranked sixth in the nation for prostate cancer-related deaths. Saying that, prostate cancer has a 99 percent survival rate if it is caught in the early stages. All men should be screened at the age of 50; however, African American men and those with a family history of the disease should be screened beginning at age 45.

Mark your calendars! Prostate Cancer Awareness month is coming up in September. Read more. At this time many states offer free or low-cost screenings. To find out more about screenings in your area, visit the Prostate Cancer Education Council's Web site.

More information about prostate cancer can be found at the National Cancer Institute’s Web site.

Denise Holston


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Diet Drinks in Moderation

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I read an interesting blog recently about diet soft drinks. My conclusion is that nothing is sacred! Just when I thought I could get by with my daily diet soft drink, someone now advises against it. First, donuts, then ice cream, and now a diet drink. Next they will find something wrong with butter beans.

Here’s the skinny. In a rat study, research has shown that artificial sweeteners in soda might interfere with the body’s ability to estimate how many calories to ingest. So you might end up eating more than you need. These rats, it seems, when fed fake sugar, consumed more calories and gained more weight than those that didn’t eat artificially sweetened treats. Either this research has a point or are they using stupid rats. Anyway, the suggestion coming out of the blog is to cut back on your diet drinks. Seems like we always get back to the natural things like fruit, vegetables, milk, water and juice.

I managed to kick the donut habit and drastically reduced my co-dependence on ice cream. Scaling back on my minimal addiction to diet soft drinks should be easy. Maybe I should stop reading the research because butter beans might be next. I do like my butter beans.

Getting a little more serious, now that we are officially in summer, drink plenty of water even when you don’t think you need it. We need to keep ourselves hydrated in hot humid weather. Water seems to pass all the nutritional guidelines and is recommended without restrictions.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Many studies have been conducted on artificial sweeteners in relation to food intake. A few of these studies found a stimulating effect of artificial sweeteners on appetite. In some studies, those that consumed the artificial sweetener in contrast to table sugar consumed higher amounts of fat and protein as a percentage of total energy. Some also found that the energy density of the diet changes depending on the sweetener used. A review of published data shows that intense sweeteners have been shown to increase hunger ratings in some human studies. In others, food intake the next day is increased because of consumption of artificial sweeteners. One study on aspartame showed that the food intake the next day was significantly higher after an aspartame-sweetened lemonade compared with sugar-sweetened lemonade or water. The subjects consumed many more carbohydrates the following day, which resulted in higher energy intake.

According to these studies, it appears that brain chemistry is altered in that the sensors that tell us whether we are hungry or full are not operating normally and give us faulty signals after we consume artificial sweeteners. We may feel hungrier when we consume artificial sweeteners compared to how we feel after consuming regular sweeteners.

It seems that the jury is still out on the exact response we have to artificial sweeteners. To be on the safe side, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends that we not consume drinks with artificial sweeteners. Instead, it’s better to consume water, 100 percent fruit juice or milk. Water is a noncaloric drink and readily available. Both 100 percent fruit juice and milk provide us with necessary nutrients for optimum health.

Heli Roy


Monday, June 30, 2008

Go, Slow and Whoa

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Nine months down and three to go! A strong finish to a better and healthier lifestyle. Of course, there is no finish line – just a convenient point in time to see what can happen in a year when you begin a better approach to nutrition and exercise.

Yes, as you might have guessed, the chicken salad sandwich, which sounds healthy, was actually higher in calories than hamburger and fries. I would not rush out and buy the burger just yet, however. If you add a lot of mayonnaise to chicken salad, you can pack on the calories to a healthy sounding menu item. Of course, you can do the same to that hamburger, French fries and soda. The reoccurring theme that I’ve been trying to practice for the past nine months is to make smart choices. To make those choices, heed Beth’s advice below about go, slow and whoa. Condiments and salad dressings can make an otherwise healthy item a nutritional nightmare. I have to add that most agricultural products in their natural form are healthy as grown, and we humans just think we have to add something because someone on TV suggests such.

I took Whissie to the BREC dog park yesterday to get some exercise. A few hundred other people and their dogs made the same decision. He mingled with the bigger dogs. But because he’s height and leg challenged, he could not run as fast and jump as high as his new-found buddies. Of course, he was the cutest dog there, which was confirmed by many of the other dog owners. Whissie and I are doing our regular walks now, and both of us are getting in a little better shape. I think that Whissie prefers the hamburger to the chicken salad, but so far I haven’t seen him turn down anything in the human food arena.

Because I’m taking some vacation this week, I’ll have the June baseline data early next week. We will also get the Whissie photo posted so that you can also see the cutest dog I know of.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

As you've found, being aware of the calories and other nutrients in foods will help guide you in selecting healthier, lower calorie food choices. When preparing food at home, it's up to you to make wiser choices about the types and amounts of ingredients to use. Eating out poses challenges, but most restaurants will try to accommodate your requests, and some have nutrition information for their food items posted or available to read.

According to the University of California Wellness Letter, the average American gains about two pounds a year. Since every pound of body weight equals 3,500 calories, two pounds translates into only an extra 19 calories a day.

It’s difficult to keep track of only 19 calories, but if you think in terms of 100 extra calories a day, this can lead to a weight gain of 1 pound a month or 10 pounds a year. Changes to make that equal 100 calories include:

  • Water-packed tuna instead of oil-packed.
  • One cup of whole-grain cereal instead of two.
  • Tomato slices, lettuces leaves and pepper strips on a sandwich instead of mayo.
  • Two cups of skim milk per day instead of two cups of whole milk.
  • A cup of low-fat, sugar-free yogurt, instead of a doughnut.
  • A cup of water flavored with a lemon instead of a soft drink.

Eating in moderation is healthy eating. The Go, Slow and Whoa approach is a quick and easy way to eat in moderation.

  • Go – eat more of the foods in each food group that contain little or no solid fats or added sugars.
  • Slow – eat fewer foods that have some solid fat, sugar or salt.
  • Whoa – eat foods high in solid fat, added sugar and fat occasionally or rarely.

Beth Reames

2/10/2009 1:16:36 AM
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