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- High sodium diet may predict high blood pressure to come Thursday July 30th, 2015
(Reuters Health) – As dietary sodium levels go up over time, so does the risk for high blood pressure, suggests a new study that followed more than 4,000 adults in Japan for four years.
The study did not measure dietary sodium directly, instead using urine samples to estimate levels of sodium consumed, but the results align with other large studies of sodium intake and blood pressure risk, researchers say.
“A small amount of salt (less than 3,000 milligrams a day) is necessary for us, but excessive salt is dangerous,” said coauthor Dr. Tomonori Sugiura of Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Japan.
To excrete excess amounts of sodium, the body has to increase blood pressure, Sugiura told Reuters Health by email.
Dietary sodium levels are much higher in Japan than in the U.S., but most people eat too much in both countries, Sugiura said.
U.S. government dietary guidelines recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, equivalent to about two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt, and that people with existing high blood pressure or risk factors for it limit total sodium to 1500 mg daily. Past research indicates the average American consumes about 3,600 mg of sodium a day.
Scientists are still debating whether high levels of sodium intake among people with normal blood pressure could cause chronic high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems to develop (see Reuters articles of November 9, 2011 and February 14, 2013 here: http://reut.rs/1IKSJgH and http://reut.rs/1g7ZMxi).
But if it does contribute, sodium intake would be a risk factor that would be easy to modify to benefit public health, the authors write in the Journal of the American Heart Association (AHA).
The researchers used urine tests from checkup appointments to estimate the dietary salt intake of 4,523 Japanese adults without high blood pressure. The participants, who ranged in age from 22 to 85 years old, had annual physicals including sodium tests and blood pressure measurements.
The study team used these records to follow people for three or more years to see if they developed high blood pressure. During the study, 1,027 individuals developed high blood pressure, including 26 percent of the men and almost 17 percent of the women.
Having higher sodium levels at the beginning of the study and showing greater increases in sodium levels each year were both tied to higher risk of developing high blood pressure, the researchers found.
At the start of the study, the participants were consuming an average of 4,200 milligrams of dietary sodium per day. Those who would go on to have high blood pressure were eating an average of 4,500 milligrams per day.
Men tended to have higher urinary sodium levels than women. And people who developed high blood pressure also tended to be heavier and older.
“Salt is one of the most important factors in the prediction of hypertension,” Sugiura said. “Other important lifestyle factors include obesity and too much alcohol intake.”
People with diabetes, obesity, a history of cardiovascular disease, and those with systolic blood pressure greater than130 millimeters of Mercury (mmHg) or diastolic blood pressure greater than 85mmHg should pay the most attention to their sodium intake, Sugiura said.
Trials that actually test changes in diet, as opposed to observing a population as this study did, have shown that modest reductions in sodium intake will decrease the instance of high blood pressure, according to Dr. Paul K. Whelton of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.
“For people with established (high blood pressure), reducing sodium intake reduces the need for hypertension therapy,” Whelton, who was not part of the new study, told Reuters Health.
Exact sodium guidelines vary by country and advisory source, but in a way they are irrelevant because “no one is even close to it,” he said. More than 90 percent of U.S. adults exceed recommendations, he said.
While individuals can try to limit their sodium intake on a daily basis, the vast majority of sodium in our diets comes from processed food, so gradually reducing the amounts in those foods would have important health benefits without asking people to actually change their behavior, Whelton said.
“Adding sodium at the table not very important, about 80 percent of what we get is added during processing,” he said.
So far, manufacturers have not been pressured to reduce sodium levels, due to powerful commercial lobbies, he said. Salty processed foods make consumers thirsty, and many of the same manufacturers also make sodas, he noted.
Whelton has found in his own studies that “the more you can reduce your sodium intake the better off you were, even those with a small reduction.”
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1I897lR Journal of the American Heart Association, online July 29, 2015.
- Fruit and veg are getting SWEETER – but are now ‘less nutritious and have fewer health benefits’, scientists claim Thursday July 30th, 2015
A range of vegetables and fruits have become sweeter in recent years
But many scientists believe that taking out the bitter compounds – known as phytochemicals – will harm us, and make food less nutritious
Our fruit and vegetables are getting sweeter – but at a cost to our health, scientists say.
Making our greens less bitter may help in the battle to get children to eat them.
But becoming sweeter comes at the expense of health benefits it is claimed.
A range of vegetables and fruits have become sweeter in recent years.
Bittersweet: Our fruit and vegetables are getting sweeter – but at a cost to our health, scientists claim
For example, in research cited in Florida 30 years ago, white grapefruit were much more popular than sweeter red and pink grapefruits – with growers shipping 27 million boxes of white grapefruit compared to 23 million pink.
Now coloured grapefruit are twice as popular as white varieties, according to research in New Scientist.
But white grapefruit contain 50 per cent more bitter-tasting compounds, linked to improving the cardiovascular system, than the red and pink grapefruit.
Brussel sprouts have become sweeter as well, with many varieties labelled as ‘kid friendly’ – as they are sweeter than older types.
Children have sweeter tooths than adults. Peter van der Toorn, who leads the vegetable breeding division of Syngenta in the Netherlands told New Scientist.
‘We still have bitter sprouts on the market, but the majority of what’s introduced these days is milder.’
Sweetener: Making fruit and veg less bitter may help more children to eat them. But becoming sweeter ‘comes at the expense of health benefits’
Humans have evolved to be wary of bitter foods – associating the taste with poisons.
Often in fruit and veg the bitter compounds are natural toxins that are designed to deter pests.
Adam Drewnowski, an epidemilogist at the University of Washington in Seattle explained why phytonutrients are good for health.
‘The reason bitter phytonutrients are cancer preventing is that they can destroy cells. They are healthy because they are toxic.’
But many scientists believe that taking out the bitter compounds – known as phytochemicals – will harm us.
Jed Fahey, a molecular scientist at Johns Hopkins University told the magazine: ‘Eating fruits and vegetables without phytochemicals would in many ways be analagous to drinking the empty calories of a can of soda.
‘Yes you could survive on de-bittered fruits and vegetables, and they would help maintain life, but not good health.’
Thousands of phytonutrients have been discovered. In grapefruit an ultra-bitter compound, naringin has been found to have anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory properties.
Quercetin, a bitter chemical found in green tea , broccoli and red wine can help protect against lung cancer.
Other surveys have found phytonutrients such as sinigrin – found in Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and kale has anti-cancer properties.
Other bitter compounds include solanine in potatoes and tomatine in tomatoes.Wild tomatoes have 166 times more tomatine than modern tomatoes.
Vegetables can vary enormously in how much of the beneficial bitter tasting chemicals they contain.
The Savannah Sweet variety contains over 500 times more quercetin than the white Contessa variety.
Source: Daily Mail
- Melanoma skin cancer guidelines for NHS updated Wednesday July 29th, 2015
Melanoma caused 2,000 deaths in the UK in 2012
New guidelines for diagnosing and treating melanoma skin cancers have been issued to the NHS in England.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) hopes they will end a wide variation in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
They include advice on diagnosing how far the cancer has progressed, identifying the best treatment, and improvements to follow-up care.
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that claims more lives than any other.
In 2012, the UK saw more than 2,000 deaths from melanoma and the number of melanoma cases is growing faster than any of the 10 most common cancers.
Experts believe this is largely down to the boom in foreign holidays over the past 40 years and, more recently, a big increase in the use of sunbeds.
Prof Mark Baker, from NICE, said everyone wants to enjoy the sun, but there are safe ways to do so.
“Using a sunscreen with a high SPF, spending time in the shade between 11:00 and 15:00, ensuring you don’t burn, and covering up with a hat, T-shirt and sunglasses.
“But overexposure to ultraviolet light from the sun can have very serious repercussions.
“Melanoma causes more deaths than all other skin cancers combined. Its incidence is rising at a worrying rate, faster than any other cancer.
“This new guideline addresses areas where there is uncertainty or variation in practice, and will help clinicians to provide the very best care for people with suspected or diagnosed melanoma, wherever they live.”
Experts warn that even though more people are now aware of the dangers of too much sun, it will be a generation or so before the number of melanoma deaths starts to fall.
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