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Cancer Project: The News You Need

Dairy Products Linked to Prostate Cancer

A long-term study suggests an association between consumption of dairy products and the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers tracked more than 20,000 male physicians for 11 years and found a moderate elevation in prostate cancer risk associated with higher intake of five dairy products, including milk, cheese, and ice cream.

Men who drank more than six glasses of milk per week had lower levels of vitamin D, which has been shown to protect the prostate. Milk-drinking also raises the amount of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) in the blood, which is linked to cancer risk.

Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, et al. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physician's Health Study. Presented at the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, April 2000.

Animal Tests Flunk in Government's Cancer Report

The U.S. government has removed saccharin from its list of cancer-causing agents. The change came despite animal tests that delivered results to the contrary, showing the irrelevancy of animal experiments for human safety measures.

Although saccharin caused tumors in rats in laboratories, the government agreed with many scientists who held that the results do not apply to humans. At the same time, the government added 14 substances to its carcinogen list, including tobacco smoke. Even though tobacco has failed to prove deadly in animals in laboratories, it is now listed as a "known human carcinogen" by the government.

Bi-Annual Report by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.

Hormone Therapy Doubles Risk of Breast Cancer

A recent study by scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found a 2.6-fold higher incidence of lobular breast cancer in women who took the estrogen and progestin hormone therapy combination. The study focused on 537 women aged 50 or older who had breast cancer and 492 who did not.

Currently, approximately 8.6 million U.S. women take the combination treatment, and 12 million take estrogen alone. Lobular cancer occurs in the milk-producing lobules. It accounts for 10 percent of breast cancer cases and is on the rise, having increased 35 percent between 1988 and 1995.

Li CI, Weiss NS, Stanford JL, Daling JR. Hormone replacement therapy in relation to risk of lobular and ductal breast carcinoma in middle-aged women. Cancer 2000;88:2570-7.

Cancer Risk from Dioxin in Meat, Fish, and Dairy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that the highly toxic chemical compound dioxin causes cancer in humans. Dioxin comes from both natural and industrial sources, such as medical and municipal waste incinerators and paper plants.

Dioxin enters the food chain when animals eat contaminated plants. When humans consume meat, dairy products, or fish, they ingest a highly concentrated load of dioxin, which has been linked to several cancers including lymphomas and lung cancer. The EPA report estimates associated cancer rates for those who eat large amounts of animal products to be as high as 1 in 100.

Children's dioxin intake is proportionally much higher than an adult's if they consume dairy products or are breast fed by mothers who do.

Report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, June 2000.

Lose Weight with Old-Fashion Oatmeal

Researchers say that oatmeal makes a good breakfast for people trying to lose weight. Calorie for calorie, oatmeal wins out over sugary corn flakes by helping people feel more satisfied and full, therefore eating less as the day progresses.

A study of teenage boys, observing their snacking habits after consuming various kinds of breakfast foods, confirms this notion. Researchers at Boston's Children's Hospital found that the boys who ate slow-cooking oatmeal had the slowest rise and fall in blood sugar, became hungry much later in the day, and ultimately took in 53 percent less snack calories than those who ate instant oatmeal.

Report by Allan Geliebter and colleagues at New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital.
Ludwig DS, Majzoub JA, Al-Zahrani A, Dallal GE, Blanco I, Robert SB. High glycemic index, overeating, and obesity. Pediatrics 1999;103:656.

Whole Diet Counts

Numerous studies attempt to establish the value of specific nutrients in foods. In a new study, the health effects of overall eating patterns have been brought to light, showing that women who eat a wide variety of healthy foods may significantly lower their risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

More than 42,000 women were asked about the foods they eat, while researchers focused on 23 preferred foods. Those who ate the highest amount of preferred foods—vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and other low-fat foods—were 30 percent less likely to die than those who ate the fewest.

Ashima K, Kant A, Schatzkin B, et al. A prospective study of diet quality and mortality in women. JAMA 2000;283:2109-15.

Holiday Weight Gain Stays Year-Round

Many people neglect good nutrition and exercise during the holiday season. At these times—just as when we move, get married, have children, or experience any other major life changes—we become more vulnerable to gaining weight. With half of the U.S. population overweight, it appears that periodic weight gain is often never completely lost.

Exploring this notion, researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., followed 200 adults over the holiday season. The average person gained only about one pound. However, the added weight was not lost from one year to the next and was by far the greatest contributor to weight gain during the year.

Yanovski J, Yanovaki S, Sovik K, et al. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. N Engl J Med 2000;342:861-7.


Autumn 2000 (Volume IX, Number 3)
 Autumn 2000
Volume IX
Number 3

Good Medicine

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