Public Health

A new paper declares that whole grains can help prevent type 2 diabetes  but a quick glance at the methodology will show you why you need to be skeptical. It doesn't matter if it’s rye, oats, wheat, wheatberries, bulgur, or couscous, any whole grain will do. Which is like declaring that any pasta can reduce type 2 diabetes, which will also be true - if in either case the calories are reduced.

Type 2 diabetes, which unlike Type 1 does not involve an inability to produce insulin but rather involves insulin production being overworked, is overwhelmingly related to obesity. That is why unlike Type 1 it is more of an adult disease. To prevent it requires more than using a type of food, it involves consuming less of all foods.
People who go on low carbohydrate diets often report that they lose weight. And they do, because it is a crash diet. But as a long-term solution that and other fad diets are unsafe, as shown in a large study presented today at the European Society of Cardiology today.

The study prospectively examined the relationship between low carbohydrate diets, all-cause death, and deaths from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), and cancer in a nationally representative sample of 24,825 participants of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 1999 to 2010.
Some researchers, clinicians, professional organizations, and health charities have been waging a war on sugar, calling for dietary recommendations to be changed and even for a sin tax on sugar, all claiming it will reduce obesity and cardiovascular diseases. In 2014, the World Health Organisation even recommended that adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than ten percent of their total energy intake. 
Secondhand smoke remains controversial because it takes statistical manipulation to link it to any deaths. Yes, it can be harmful to asthmatics, just like perfume or a wine cellar, but a whole advocacy industry has not been built up talking about how wine cellars must be killing people. And the most comprehensive study ever done on secondhand smoke and mortality has never been shown to be flawed. 

Last week I had a shocking cold. Blocked nose, sore throat, and feeling poorly. This made me think about the countless vitamins and supplements on the market that promise to ease symptoms of a cold, help you recover faster, and reduce your chance of getting another cold.

When it comes to the common cold (also called upper respiratory tract infections) there is no magic cure (I wish) but some supplements may deliver very minor improvements. Here is what the latest research evidence says.

Vitamin C

For the average person, taking vitamin C does not reduce the number of colds you get, or the severity of your cold.

For years it would not have been possible to use the word “silence” in the same sentence with BPA (bisphenol A).  The safety of BPA has been a long-running, robust controversy, in particular regarding concerns that BPA might cause health effects at exposure levels in the very low range that we as consumers might experience every day. 

A recent study in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that picky eaters are healthier.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't encourage kids to try new things, but they are not going to end up unhealthy if they sat at the dinner table for an hour and still didn't eat that cabbage. And it debunks claims that picky eaters are at higher risk of being underweight, with poor growth, or being overweight.

Democracies have better teeth than dictatorships, according to recent statistical correlation presented at the 96th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in London, held in conjunction with the IADR Pan European Regional (PER) Congress.

A new study shows that smokers who switch to nicotine vapor alternatives (e.g. e-cigarettes or iQOS) may be better able to stay smoke-free in the long term - even if they didn't set out to quit smoking. 

And that even people who didn't want to stop smoking have eventually quit because they found vaping more enjoyable.  E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is the addictive component of cigarettes also, but it's toxic chemicals in smoke that cause the harms of smoking. That is why e-cigarettes have caught on as an aid to help people quit smoking for good, whereas patches and gums are only effective for about 10 percent. 

Between 1999-2016, young adults had substantially higher deaths from cirrhosis in 49 of 50 U.S. states. The deaths linked to the end stages of liver damage jumped by 65 percent with alcohol a major cause in adults age 25-34.

The data published in BMJ shows young adults experienced the highest average annual increase in cirrhosis deaths -- about 10.5 percent each year and driven entirely by alcohol-related liver disease, the authors say. Researchers studied the trends in liver deaths due to cirrhosis by examining death certificates compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research project.