Supermarket Cold Meat

Bacon, ham, red meat link to bowel cancer

Even moderate amounts of ham, bacon and and red meat are linked to bowel cancer, experts have warned.

People who stick to guidelines from Britain’s National Health Service on red and processed meat consumption still increase their risk of bowel cancer by a fifth compared with those who eat very small amounts, a study part-funded by Cancer Research UK found.

The Department of Health said that while meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, people should cut their intake of red and processed meat to about 70g per day, which is the average daily consumption in the UK.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) said there is strong evidence that eating processed meat (such as salami, bacon and ham) is a cause of bowel cancer, while eating a lot of red meat (such as beef, lamb or pork) also increases the risk.

For the new study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, experts examined data from 475,581 people aged 40 to 69 at the start of the study and followed them for an average of 5.7 years.

During this time, 2609 people developed bowel cancer.

The study found that people consuming an average of 76g per day of red and processed meat had a 20 per cent higher risk of bowel cancer compared with those who ate 21g per day.

For red meat only, the risk was 15 per cent higher for people who ate 54g per day (about one thick slice of roast beef or one lamb chop) on average compared with those who had 8g per day.

For processed meat only, the risk was 19 per cent higher for those who had an average of 29g per day (about one rasher of bacon or a slice of ham) compared with those who had an average of 5g per day.

There was some good news however, with those people having a high intake of fibre from bread and breakfast cereals lowering their risk of bowel cancer by 14 per cent.

Around one in every 15 men and one in every 18 women will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime.

Cancer Research UK’s expert in diet and cancer, Professor Tim Key, who co-authored the study and is deputy director at the University of Oxford’s cancer epidemiology unit, said: “Our results strongly suggest that people who eat red and processed meat four or more times a week have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer than those who eat red and processed meat less than twice a week.

Existing evidence points to an increased bowel cancer risk for every 50g of processed meat a person eats per day, but the new study found that risk increases at just 25g per day.

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, said to lower the chances of developing bowel cancer people could try doing meat-free Mondays, looking for recipes using fresh chicken and fish, or swapping meat for pulses like beans and lentils in meals.

© AAP 2019

Easter Egg Chocolate

Guilt-free chocolate… does it exist?

It’s Easter this weekend… which tends to mean CHOCOLATE, and lots of it!

While takes just three seconds to consume a 200g Easter egg, it can take up to a three-hour run to counteract the sugar ingested.

But Josh Gaudry, food scientist at Flannerys Organic and Wholefood Market, reveals there are ways to enjoy guilt-free chocolate this weekend.

He said sticking to chocolate made from unroasted cacao beans that have been cold pressed is best.

“By using this process of extraction, the cacao powder is produced in its ‘raw’ state, meaning the complete nutrients, minerals and health benefits remain intact and un-altered by heat cooking methods,” he said.

“Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume and it’s is high in antioxidants, which can protect us from aging and disease.

“It’s rich in magnesium, which is an energy mineral/electrolyte, and sulphur, which is associated with healthy hair, nails, pancreas and liver.”

Chocolate can also be anti-inflammatory, thin the blood, lower blood pressure, can help stop a cough, reduce stroke risk and improve your mood.

Mr Gaudry said another delicious chocolate substitute is carob, which is caffeine-free, contains less calories and is packed with vitamins and minerals.

“It’s also free of theobromine found in chocolate, which is toxic to dogs, so is commonly used to make chocolate tasting treats for our paw pals,” he said.

For more information on raw cacao and carob, and easy to follow recipes, visit: flannerys.com.au/2015/03/raw-cacao-what-is-all-the-hype/

Kidney

Diabetes drug slows kidney disease

A drug used to help control blood sugar in people with diabetes has now been shown to help prevent or slow kidney disease, which causes millions of deaths each year and requires hundreds of thousands of people to use dialysis to stay alive.

Doctors say it’s hard to overstate the importance of this study, and what it means for curbing this problem, which is growing because of the obesity epidemic.

The study tested the drug Invokana. Results were discussed at a medical meeting in Australia and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

More than 420 million people worldwide have diabetes, and most cases are Type 2, the kind tied to obesity. It occurs when the body can’t make enough or properly use insulin, which turns food into energy.

This can damage the kidneys over time, causing disease and ultimately, failure. In the US, it’s responsible for nearly half-a-million people needing dialysis, and for thousands of kidney transplants each year.

Some blood pressure drugs lower this risk but they’re only partially effective.

The new study tested Invokana, a daily pill sold now to help control blood sugar, to see if it also could help prevent kidney disease when added to standard treatments.

For the study, about 13,000 people with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease from around the world were to be given Invokana or dummy pills. Independent monitors stopped the study early, after 4,400 people had been treated for about 2.5 years on average, when it was clear the drug was helping.

Those on the drug had a 30 per cent lower risk of one of these problems – kidney failure, need for dialysis, need for a kidney transplant, death from kidney- or heart-related causes, or other signs that kidneys were failing.

For every 1,000 people taking the drug for 2.5 years, there would be 47 fewer cases of one of these problems, researchers estimate.

© AP 2019

Sick woman at work computer

When’s the best time to have the flu shot?

Ian Barr, WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

When most of us get the flu, we spend three or four days on the couch feeling miserable, then we bounce back pretty quickly. But others have more severe symptoms and need to be hospitalised because they’re at risk of life-threatening complications. Some people even die from the flu.

The size and impact of influenza seasons varies from year to year. In 2017, Australia had its worst flu season for 20 years, with at least 1,255 lives lost. The 2018 season was relatively mild, but it doesn’t seem to have ever ended – cases have been reported throughout summer and into autumn 2019.

The best way to protect against influenza is to get a flu vaccine each year. It’s not as effective as some other vaccines, but it reduces your risk of getting the flu by around 60%.

Protection often will have begun to wane four or five months later, so getting vaccinated in mid to late May, or even early June, will give you better protection at the height of the flu season. But there is a number of factors to consider before deciding when to get your flu shot.

Remind me, why get a flu shot each year?
Influenza viruses change each year and the vaccine is updated to keep up with these changes. This year, for example, the vaccine protects against two different strains than the 2018 vaccine.

Our body’s immune response to the vaccine also wanes over time. So even if you were vaccinated last winter, you may no longer be fully protected 18 months later, depending on your age and your response to the last vaccination.

When does the flu vax become available?
Influenza vaccines are usually available in early April, or even in March; though you’ll generally have to pay full price for early access, even if you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine later.

In mid-April, stock starts arriving at GP clinics and pharmacies for the government’s immunisation program, which offers free flu vaccines for those most at risk of complications from influenza. This includes:

  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over
  • pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
  • all people aged 65 years and over
  • people aged six months and over with medical conditions which increase the risk of complications following influenza infections.

In addition, most states in Australia offer free vaccination to all other children from six months of age to five years of age.

For those not eligible for the free vaccine, influenza vaccines are available through pharmacies and GPs for between A$10 and A$25 (plus the cost of a consultation if your GP doesn’t bulk bill), or via workplace programs.

The 2018 flu season was mild but there have been more cases of influenza over summer than usual.
kurhan/Shuttestock

Is it good to get in early?
Getting a vaccine immediately after it becomes available will ensure you don’t miss out if there’s a vaccine shortage. And it will protect against the “summer flus” we’ve been seeing over the last few months, which are circulating earlier than normal.

But there is a potential downside. Protection against influenza peaks one to two months after you have your vaccine, and then declines. This rate of decline varies from person to person, by age, and by influenza strain.

The flu season usually reaches its peak in August or sometimes even September. So if you’re vaccinated in early April, four to five months will have passed by the time you reach the peak virus months, and you will have lower levels of protection.

There are few good quality studies across all ages to measure this rate of decline accurately, although a study from 2015 showed that the measurable antibody responses to the influenza vaccine components reduced slowly.

Another study from 2014 showed the vaccine was less effective in people vaccinated three or more months earlier, adding to the evidence that protection wanes over time.

When is too late for the flu shot?
If you delay your decision to be vaccinated until July or August, when the flu season is well underway, your chance of becoming infected will significantly increase.

Mid to late May or early in June is the sweet spot between trying to maximise your protective levels of antibodies generated by vaccination and getting vaccinated before there are significant levels of influenza virus circulating.

It’s better to be vaccinated early than not at all.
DonyaHHI/Shutterstock

Remember, it takes seven to ten days from the time of your flu shot for the vaccine to begin to be fully effective.

Getting vaccinated in late May or early June should provide good levels of protection during the peak of the influenza season and may even last through to November, by which time the influenza season has usually finished.

Vaccinate kids a month earlier
Vaccination timing is a little different for children. Those aged six months to nine years who haven’t been vaccinated against influenza before need two doses of vaccine, four weeks apart. So they will need to start their vaccination program a month earlier than adults and the elderly.

So if you want to get vaccinated in 2019, there’s no need to rush, and in fact May or even early June might be a better time to be vaccinated. But it’s better to be vaccinated early than not at all.

Your GP or pharmacist will advise you on the most appropriate vaccine and the best timing for you.The Conversation

Ian Barr, Deputy Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Science

Scientists identify cancer drug targets

SCIENTISTS have identified hundreds of opportunities for new drugs to precisely kill cancer cells but leave healthy tissue unharmed.

Researchers disrupted every gene in over 30 types of cancer to discover thousands of key genes essential for the survival of the disease.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, the team, from Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute, found 600 genes that show promise of leading into effective treatments.

Researchers have now moved closer to developing precision treatments without the toxic side-effects of current options such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, according to the study.

The work was carried out using the Crispr/Cas9 gene editing tool that has revolutionised genetics research.

The findings were published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

One potential target gene is Werner syndrome RecQ helicase (WRN).

Researchers found it was essential for keeping alive some of the most unstable cancers but there are no drugs currently to target it.

Dr Kosuke Yusa, co-lead author, who is now based at Kyoto University in Japan, said: “Crispr is an incredibly powerful tool that enables us to do science at a scale and with a precision that we couldn’t do five years ago.

“With Crispr we have discovered a very exciting opportunity to develop new drugs targeting cancers.”

Dr Mathew Garnet, also co-lead author, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “The Cancer Dependency Map is a huge effort to identify all the weaknesses that exist in different cancers so we can use this information to empower the next generation of precision cancer treatments.

“Ultimately we hope this impacts on the way we treat patients, so many more patients get effective therapies.”

It typically costs more than $US1 billion ($A1.4 billion) to develop a single cancer drug, with around 90 per cent of drugs failing during development, the Wellcome Sanger institute said.

© PAA 2019