The Perils of Sugar

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for global taxation of sugary drinks by at least 20% in an attempt to halt the obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemics throughout the world. In the United Kingdom (UK), this recommendation will be initiated in 2017 by introducing the 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Researchers at Oxford University believe that the tax will result in a 15% reduction in sugar consumption, thus preventing 180,000 people in the UK from becoming overweight or obese.

Added sugar is being referred to as the “new tobacco” because of its dangerous consequences to human health, namely, its direct relationship to the increase of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Legislation targeting the perils of tobacco was largely responsible for decreasing mortality from cardiovascular-related causes in the past 30 years. Therefore, it is a logical deduction that legislation will be the driving force to curb sugar consumption across the globe.

How much added sugar is needed in the human diet? Technically, none, because it does not meet any definition of “nutrient.” So sugar contributes “empty” calories to the body, as no nutrients are provided. Instead, added sugar does meet four criteria that justify it as a substance to be regulated: toxicity, potential for abuse, unavoidability, and negative impact on society.

How much sugar is safe? Researchers are strongly suggesting that WHO recommend that the daily intake of sugar be a maximum of 3% of daily calories, about three teaspoons. In the U.S., the average citizen consumes 12 to 21% of daily calories in the form of sugar. It is interesting to note that one can of regular cola alone contains nine teaspoons of added sugar.

When filling up on sugar, we may neglect to consume the nutrients—vitamins and minerals—that are essential for healthy living. For a complete analysis to determine if you have any nutritional deficiencies, contact our partner practice, RevitaLife Vitality Center of Sarasota, at 941-377-4555

Is Alcohol Consumption a Risk for Prostate Cancer?

A meta-analysis, conducted by a Canadian/Australian team, shows a strong relationship between the level of alcohol consumption and the risk for prostate cancer. The meta-analysis compared the risk of those who never consumed alcohol to those who drink varying volumes of alcohol, as shown below.

NOTE: Meta-analysis is defined by Wikipedia as “a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies.”

Level of alcohol intake Average daily alcohol consumption (in grams) Calculated risk for prostate cancer when compared to lifetime abstainers
Low (up to 2 drinks/day) 1.3 to 24 g 8% greater risk
Medium (up to 4 drinks/day 25 to 44 g 7% greater risk
High (up to 6 drinks/day) 25 to 64 g 14% greater risk
Higher (6 or more drinks/day) 65 g or more 18% greater risk

The authors of the meta-analysis, published in November 2016, conclude that prostate cancer should possibly be added to the list of seven cancers for which biological evidence exists that alcohol consumption is a risk factor. Those cancers are:

  • Pharynx
  • Larynx
  • Esophageal
  • Liver
  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Female breast

Additional evidence suggests a link between alcohol and other cancers, especially when combined with other risk factors, such as smoking. The role of alcohol as a risk factor for cancer is not as clear as smoking, so people often do not make the connection. The mechanism is the easy entry of alcohol into cells where it is converted into acetaldehyde, a substance that can damage DNA and is known to be a carcinogen.

While some dispute the conclusion that cancer can be attributed to moderate drinking, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer stated in 2014 that regarding cancer, no amount of alcohol consumption is safe.

Hepatitis C

Screening and Testing for Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver that is spread through contaminated blood, most commonly through shared needles and other devices that are used to inject illegal drugs. At risk are those born between 1945 and 1965, with statistics showing that 75% of infected adults are baby boomers who likely became infected in the 1970s and 1980s, a time when hepatitis C transmission rates were the highest. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends one-time screening for all baby boomers, and public service messages are being delivered to encourage such testing.

The task force also recommends screening for those considered to be at risk for viral hepatitis. This would include individuals who had blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992. (It is important to note here that since 1992, all donated blood and organs have been screened for hepatitis C, thus virtually eliminating them as sources of the virus.) New cases of hepatitis C generally occur in those who use illegal injectable drugs and share injecting equipment. Hepatitis C also may be acquired by using items with blood on them, such as razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers from infected persons. There is a very small risk of getting hepatitis C through sexual contact, but the risk increases if a person has many sex partners.

Current testing for Hepatitis C includes:

  • Hepatitis C virus test—looks for exposure to the virus and for antibodies against the virus
  • RNA blood test—looks for genetic material (RNA) of the hepatitis C virus to see if the virus is currently active
  • Genotype blood test—determines the kind of hepatitis C virus an individual has and helps determine the course of treatment for that individual
  • Urine specimen test—is specific and sensitive for diagnosis of active infection; is currently being assessed and may be effective for one-step diagnosis of active hepatitis C

Continue reading Hepatitis C