Vegetable Fat Slashes Prostate Cancer Deaths

prostate cancerThe link between cancer and diet has been extensively studied, It is known for example that being overweight is related to as many as one in five cancer-related deaths. Weight is most closely connected with cancers of the breast and uterus in postmenopausal women. Other cancers associated with obesity include:

              • Esophagus
              • Pancreas
              • Colon and rectum
              • Kidney
              • Thyroid
              • Gallbladder

But less is known about the association between diet and prostate cancer.  The three well-established risk factors for prostate cancer: are race (specifically, African American race), family history, and age. Unfortunately, these are three things we cannot change. So given this reality, there is much interest in identifying modifiable risk factors for prostate cancer, not least among the roughly 2.5 million men in the United States currently live with prostate cancer.

Now, a new study might provide some hope. It showed that replacing carbohydrates and animal fat with vegetable fat may be associated with a lower risk of death in men with non-metastatic prostate cancer.

olive-oil-walnuts-healthy-fatsErin Richman, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues at UCSF examined fat intake after a diagnosis of prostate cancer in relation to lethal prostate cancer and all-cause mortality in 4,577 men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer. Their findings have just been published in Online First by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Between 1986 and 2010, the researchers noted 315 lethal prostate cancer events and 1,064 deaths during a median follow-up of 8.4 years. They also discovered that replacing 10% of calories from carbohydrates with vegetable fat, such as oil or nuts, was associated with a 29% lower risk of lethal prostate cancer and a 26% lower risk of death from all-cause mortality.

Overall, the findings suggest that men with prostate cancer should be advised to follow a heart-healthy diet in which carbohydrate calories are replaced with unsaturated oils and nuts to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality.

And although the exact reason for the reduction in mortality is unknown, the authors conclude; “the potential benefit of vegetable fat consumption for prostate cancer-specific outcomes merits further research.”

SRxA’s Word on Health agrees.

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Stress and Distress at Work

stress at workHere’s a classic Catch-22 conundrum for co-workers to consider. Psychological distress, such as feelings of  worthlessness, hopelessness, nervousness, and/or restlessness)  can be predictors  of early stage anxiety and depression. It can also lead to decreased job productivity and absenteeism. But, it may actually be the job that’s creating the mental distress in the first place. Norwegian researchers have identified that perceived role conflicts and emotional demands are the most important and most consistent risk factors for psychological distress. While other psychosocial working conditions have been linked to distress, this study is the first to highlight the importance of these two issues. Håkon A. Johannessen, PhD, and colleagues from the Norwegian National Institute of Occupational Health, looked at how the work environment affected employees’ levels of psychological distress. Sixteen percent of workers said they were at least slightly bothered by psychological distress over the past month. The study focused on two main risk factors: role conflict, such as being given work tasks without enough resources to complete them and receiving contradictory requests from different people; and emotional demands, defined as “dealing with strong feelings such as sorrow, anger, desperation and frustration” at work. contradiction_smallProblematic levels of distress were 53% more likely for workers reporting role conflict and 38% more likely for those facing high emotional demands. Other risk factors were low job control, bullying/harassment, and job insecurity. The researchers conclude that employers should focus on the identified risk factors to improve the psychosocial work environment and thus promote good mental health and productivity among employees. Is your job getting you down? Have you any tips for beating work-related stress?  We’d love to hear from you. SRxA-logo for web

NSAID’s in the News (again)

Medication - Over the Counter - otcLet me start by saying, that despite spending the last 20-something years in or around the pharmaceutical industry, I don’t like taking pills. That said, I’m not particularly partial to pain either. So when my knees or back hurts or I’m doubled over with dysmenorrhea, like many other people, I’ll reach for the ibuprofen.

But that may be about to change. Results from a new, large international study of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), showed that high doses of them increase the risk of a major vascular event such as heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease by around a third.

In other words, for every 1,000 people with an average risk of heart disease who take high-dose ibuprofen for a year, about three extra would have an avoidable heart attack, of which one would be fatal, the researchers said.

vioxxThis puts the heart risks of generic NSAIDs on a par with Vioxx – the painkiller that U.S. drugmaker Merck famously pulled from sale in 2004 because of links to heart risks.

The study team from Oxford University in the UK, gathered data, including on admissions to hospital, for cardiovascular or gastrointestinal disease, from all randomized trials that have previously tested NSAIDs.

This allowed them to pool results from 639 trials involving more than 300,000 people and re-analyze the data to establish the risks of NSAIDs in certain types of patients.

In contrast to the findings on ibuprofen and diclofenac, the study found that high doses of naproxen, another NSAID, did not appear to increase the risk of heart attacks. The researchers said this may be because naproxen also has protective effects that balance out any extra heart risks.

Researcher, Colin Baigent stressed that the risks are mainly relevant to people who suffer chronic pain, such as patients with arthritis who need to take high doses of for long periods. “A short course of lower dose tablets purchased without a prescription, for example, for a muscle sprain, is not likely to be hazardous,” he said.

He also warns patients not to make hasty decisions or change their treatment without consulting a doctor.

For many arthritis patients, NSAIDs reduce joint pain and swelling effectively and help them to enjoy a reasonable quality of life,” he said. “We really must be careful about the way we present the risks of these drugs. They do have risks, but they also have benefits, and patients should be presented with all those bits of information and allowed to make choices for themselves.”

Donald Singer, a professor of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics at Warwick University, who was not involved in the study, said its findings “underscore a key point for patients and prescribers: powerful drugs may have serious harmful effects.

In the meantime, I for one, will be revising my pain versus pill-popping habit, or switching to naproxen.

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Sex, Lies and…Polygraphs

Lies-and-TruthWhat is the one thing people are most likely to lie about?  No prizes for guessing –  the answer, more often than not, is sex.

And, why do people lie?

Well according to new research – people lie about their sexual behavior to match cultural expectations, even though they don’t distort other gender-related behaviors.

The study, published in the journal Sex Roles, included 293 heterosexual college students between the ages of 18 and 25. Students completed a questionnaire that asked how often (from never to a few times a day), they engaged in 124 different behaviors.

Polygraph_TestOne group of students was hooked up to a lie detector while they filled out the questionnaire, but were not informed that the lie detector did not actually work. The use of the bogus polygraph was intended to make participants feel pressured to tell the truth. The other group was connected to the apparatus before the study began, supposedly to measure anxiety, but the machine was removed before they completed the questionnaire.

In general, the results showed that both men and women tended to act as would be expected for their gender. Men reported more typical-male behaviors and women reported more typical-female behaviors, regardless of whether they were attached to the lie detector or not.

But for non-sexual behaviors, the participants didn’t seem to feel any added pressure to respond in stereotypical ways for their gender.

In other words, women who were hooked up to the lie detector and those who weren’t were equally likely to admit to bench pressing weights – a stereotypical male activity, while the men happily admitted to reading and writing poetry – a stereotypic female activity.

Men and women didn’t feel compelled to report what they did in ways that matched the stereotypes for their gender for the non-sexual behaviors,” said lead author Terri Fisher, professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

gender rolesHowever when it came to sex, everything changed!

Men wanted to be seen as “real men:” the kind who had many partners and a lot of sexual experience. Women, on the other hand, wanted to be seen as having less sexual experience than they actually had, to match what is expected of women.

There is something unique about sexuality that led people to care more about matching the stereotypes for their gender,” said Terri Fisher “Sexuality seemed to be the one area where people felt some concern if they didn’t meet the stereotypes of a typical man or a typical woman.”

The one exception was sexual behavior, where, for example, men reported more sexual partners when they weren’t hooked up to the lie detector than whey they were. Women, on the other hand, reported fewer partners when they were not hooked up to the lie detector than when they were. A similar pattern was found for reports of ever having experienced sexual intercourse.

art_sex2-Men and women had different answers about their sexual behavior when they thought they had to be truthful,” Fisher said.

This suggests that unless there is extreme pressure to be honest, both men and women will continue to lie about their sex lives. Shocker!

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