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What to make of the connection between soft drinks and cancer February 10, 2010

Posted by Jolie McCullough in diseases, study.
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Well, I took a long break over the winter, but I am back to provide you with thoughts on the most recent health research news! Today’s topic: How worried should you be about pancreatic cancer if you drink soft drinks regularly?

A recent study from medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention says that having more than two sodas a week may double your risk to develop pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly cancers in our society.

Mark Pereira, senior author of the study and associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, said this could be because  high sugar levels in soft drinks may increase the body’s insulin level; however, fruit juices had no effect in this study, which often contain a plethora of sugar.

It is fairly common knowledge that many juices contain just as much sugar as a Coca-Cola if not more. For example, one chart shows that 12 ounces of a Coca-Cola contains as much sugar as apple juice (10 tsp), and less sugar than grape juice (15 tsp).

So, if sugar is the reason, why don’t fruit juices increase the risk of cancer as well? It seems as if there are some variables that may have affected this study besides soft drinks.

Susan Mayne,  associate director of the Yale Cancer Center and professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, agrees that research on this issue may not be over yet.

“Although this study found a risk, it remains unclear whether it is a causal association or not. Soft drink consumption in Singapore was associated with several other adverse health behaviors such as smoking and red meat intake, which we can’t accurately control for,” she said.

Still, we all know sodas aren’t good for us, and it wouldn’t kill any of us to try to cut back a bit. Whether smoking or anything else affected the results, the truth remains that those who drank two or more soft drinks per week (averaging 5 per week) during the study had an 87 percent increased risk compared with those who did not.

And with pancreatic cancer, the risks are even greater. Although cancer of the pancreas is barely within the top 10 most common cancers in the U.S., it is the fourth deadliest since it has the ability to spread quietly. Most are not diagnosed until the cancer has already spread, making it nearly impossible to fully treat, according to WebMD.

So whether you’re convinced or not, it may be a good idea to keep this study in mind next time you pop open a Coke.


Should we be able to choose our child’s gender? December 11, 2009

Posted by Jolie McCullough in technology.
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Just because we can do something, does that mean we should?

Obviously, there is no clear answer to this, and the argument has been around forever: Is science getting too close to “playing God?”

The technology for parents to choose the sex of their child is not necessarily new, but the process is becoming much more mainstream, causing a lot of red flags to go off over the ethical issues involved in the science.

PGD | Courtesy of Obgyn.net

PGD | Courtesy of Obgyn.net

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a broad term that refers to procedures that are often performed on embryos before implantation, and has been around since the 1980s.  Usually used to help couples who have a high risk for passing on genetic diseases, the embryos with disorders are identified before implantation.  Then, other samples that are free of the disorder can be implanted via in vitro fertilization, assuring the new family a healthier baby. (more…)

Cell phones and tumors: Is there an answer yet? December 4, 2009

Posted by Jolie McCullough in study.
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Cell Phone Tumor

Cell phone radiation graphic

It seems like this question has been around forever: Will my cell phone give me a brain tumor? Unfortunately, the jury still seems to be out.

A 30-year study released on Thursday by the Danish Cancer Society states that there does not seem to be a link between cell phone usage and brain tumors, but another study by the World Health Organization (WHO) will apparently come out soon stating that there is a link, according to a CNN article.

The Danish Cancer Society study conducted in Scandinavia included almost the entire region.  It found that even though there was an extreme increase in cell phone usage during the 1990s, the rate of brain tumor cases during this time remained constant.


Should you still be worried about swine flu? November 30, 2009

Posted by Jolie McCullough in diseases.
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Good news!

It seems like the number of swine flu infections has finally hit its peak. According to the Associated Press, the number of states with widespread infection of H1N1 has dropped from 43 to 32 (Yes, Arizona is still one of the 32). But hold on, there’s a catch.

There were also 27 newly-reported deaths among children with H1N1 under 18 last week, the highest number in a week since the pandemic started, according to the CDC’s H1N1 update.


Mammograms: To screen or not to screen? November 19, 2009

Posted by Jolie McCullough in study.
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Mammogram | Courtesy of Courier Times

The media have blown up over the mammogram issue within the last few days. On Nov. 16, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued new guidelines for breast cancer screening, including when women should receive mammograms and breast exams performed by their doctors or even themselves.

According to the USPSTF, women should not receive routine mammogram screening until age 50, not 40 as is the status quo. Also, the force goes on to recommend not practicing self-breast examinations routinely until this age as well. (more…)