Onions — A Powerful Anti-Cancer Food Staple

Story at-a-glance

  • People with the highest consumption of onions have a lower risk of several types of cancer, including ovarian, endometrial, liver, colon, kidney, esophageal, laryngeal, prostate, colorectal and breast cancer
  • Onions contain several anti-cancer compounds, including quercetin, anthocyanins, organosulfur compounds such as diallyl disulfide (DDS), S-allylcysteine (SAC) and S-methylcysteine (SMC) and onionin A (ONA)
  • ONA may offer protection against epithelial ovarian cancer, the most common type of ovarian cancer; quercetin helps protect against ovarian, breast, colon, brain and lung cancer.

If you’re interested in using food to lower your risk of cancer, remember to eat lots of onions. Research shows that people with the highest consumption of onions (as well as other allium vegetables) have a lower risk of several types of cancer, including:1,2,3,4

  • Liver, colon5 and renal cell (kidney)
  • Esophageal and laryngeal
  • Prostate6 and colorectal
  • Breast7
  • Ovarian and endometrial

Onions contain several anti-cancer compounds, including quercetin, anthocyanins, organosulfur compounds such as diallyl disulfide (DDS), S-allylcysteine (SAC) and S-methylcysteine (SMC) and onionin A (ONA).

Onion Compound Suppresses Ovarian Cancer

Starting with the latter, ONA was recently found to offer protection against epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC),8 the most common type of ovarian cancer. As noted by Medical News Today:9

“With a [five]-year survival rate of approximately 40 percent, effective treatments for the illness are needed.

Although new cases of EOC ranks 10th among female malignancies, the team says the number of deaths due to this type of ovarian cancer ranks fifth in the United States.

About 80 percent of patients with EOC have a relapse after initial chemotherapy treatment.”

ONA, it turns out, slowed growth of EOC. The compound also inhibited other cancerous activities, and enhanced the effects of anti-cancer drugs. Mice fed ONA also lived longer. According to the authors:

“We found that ONA reduced the extent of ovarian cancer cell proliferation induced by co-culture with human macrophages. In addition, we found that ONA directly suppressed cancer cell proliferation.

Thus, ONA is considered useful for the additional treatment of patients with ovarian cancer owing to its suppression of the pro-tumor activation of [tumor-associated macrophages] and direct cytotoxicity against cancer cells.”

The Stronger an Onion’s Flavor, the More Effective Its Anti-Cancer Effects

Previous research has revealed that the stronger the flavor of the onion, the better its cancer-fighting potential. A 2004 study, in which food scientists analyzed 10 different varieties of onion, the following were found to be particularly effective against liver and colon cancer:10,11

  • Liver cancer: shallots, Western yellow onion and pungent yellow onion
  • Colon cancer: pungent yellow onion, Western yellow onion

Northern red onions were also found to be high in anti-cancer chemicals, just not quite as potent as the others listed.

Mild-flavored onions, such as Empire Sweet, Western white, Peruvian sweet and Vidalia had the lowest antioxidant activity, making them less potent in terms of anti-cancer benefits. According to lead author, Dr. Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science:

“Onions are one of the richest sources of flavonoids in the human diet, and flavonoid consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Flavonoids are not only anti-cancer but also are known to be anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory …

Our study of 10 onion varieties and shallots clearly shows that onions and shallots have potent antioxidant and antiproliferation activities and that the more total phenolic and flavonoid content an onion has, the stronger its antioxidant activity and protective effect.”

Quercetin — Another Potent Anti-Cancer Compound

Quercetin, another anti-cancer compound found in onions, has been shown to decrease cancer tumor initiation and inhibit the proliferation of cultured ovarian, breast and colon cancer cells. It’s also associated with a decreased risk for brain cancer,12 and a lower risk of lung cancer if you’re a smoker.13

Quercetin has also been shown to help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients,14 and helps prevent histamine release, making quercetin-rich foods such as onions “natural antihistamines.”

Quercetin is available in supplement form, but getting this flavonoid naturally from onions makes more sense for a couple of reasons:15

  • One animal study found that animals received greater protection against oxidative stress when they consumed yellow onion in their diet, as opposed to consuming quercetin extracts.16
  • Quercetin is not degraded by low-heat cooking, such as simmering, making onion soup an easy-to-make superfood.

Other Beneficial Compounds Found in Onions

The organosulfur compounds DDS, SAC and SMC have also been found to inhibit colon and kidney cancer, in part by inducing cancer cell apoptosis (cell death), but also by inhibiting gene transcription and protecting against ultraviolet-induced immunosuppression.17Onions are also a good source of:

Fiber, which can help lower your cancer risk, especially colon cancer

Vitamin C18

Anthocyanins (red, purple and blue plant pigments found in red onions). Research has linked anthocyanins to a reduced risk for a number of diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological dysfunction and decline.

They also help prevent obesity and diabetes, in part by inhibiting certain enzymes in your digestive tract, and by supporting healthy blood sugar control. They have potent anti-inflammatory effects, which helps explain their protective effects against chronic disease

The Many Health Benefits of Onions

While onions are gaining a reputation for their anti-cancer properties, the more we learn about onions, the more it becomes clear they offer whole body benefits.

That is the beauty of eating whole foods, after all, because they typically contain many beneficial phytochemicals that enhance your health in numerous synergistic ways. As for onions, research has shown that including onions in your diet may offer the following benefits:19

Prevent inflammatory processes associated with asthma

Reduce symptoms associated with diabetes

Lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides

Reduce symptoms associated with osteoporosis and improve bone health

Maintain gastrointestinal health by sustaining beneficial bacteria

Diminish replication of HIV

Reduce risk of neurodegenerative disorders

Lower your risk of cataract formation

Antimicrobial properties that may help reduce the rate of food-borne illness

Improvement of intestinal flora, improved absorption of calcium and magnesium due to the fructans they contain

Antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

Improved heart health. The sulfur compounds have anti-clotting properties and help improve blood lipid profiles.

The allium and allyl disulphide in onions also help decrease blood vessel stiffness by enhancing nitric oxide release.

This may reduce blood pressure, inhibit platelet clot formation, and help decrease the risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases, and stroke

Tips for Storing and Preparing Onions

If learning about their health benefits has inspired you to eat more onions, you’re in luck as they are incredibly versatile and come in a variety of colors and flavors. Keep in mind that the antioxidants tend to be most concentrated in the OUTER layers of the onion, so avoid overpeeling.

Ideally, peel off only the outermost paper-like layer. Peeling too many layers can reduce the onion’s quercetin and anthocyanin content by as much as 20 percent and 75 percent respectively.20 One piece of good news is that quercetin does not degrade when cooked over low heat, so when you’re making soup, for example, it simply transfers into the broth.

As for storing your onions, do NOT keep them in plastic. Whole, dry bulbs should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place with plenty of air movement to maximize shelf life.

To extend shelf life of sweet or mild onion varieties, which have a higher water content, you can store the whole bulbs in the fridge. Once an onion has been cut or peeled, it can be refrigerated in a sealed container for about a week before it starts going bad. Leaving a cut onion in room temperature can significantly reduce its antibacterial properties.21

Cooking With Onions

The video above demonstrates the best way to peel and dice an onion, while the chart below, both from the National Onion Association (NOA),22 provides a helpful summary of which types of onions are best used for various dishes.

Color Variety or Type Availability Raw Flavor/Texture Best Usage

Yellow Onion:

All-purpose and most popular. The most well-known sweet onions are yellow.

The best type of onion for caramelizing is a yellow storage variety.

Cooking brings out this variety’s nutty, mellow, often sweet, quality when caramelized.


March to September

Crisp, juicy, mild flavor with a slightly sweet ending with little to no after-taste

Raw, lightly cooked, sautéed or grilled

Fresh, Mild

March to August

Crisp, juicy, mild to slightly pungent with a faint after-taste

Raw, lightly cooked, sautéed or grilled


August to May

Strong onion flavor, mild after-taste

Grilled, sautéed, caramelized, baked or roasted

Red Onion:

Red onions have gained popularity in the past decade, especially in foodservice on salads and sandwiches because of their color.


March to September

Crisp, very mild onion flavor

Raw, grilled or roasted

Fresh, Mild

March to September

Bright tones, slightly less water content than yellow with a slightly pungent ending

Raw, grilled or roasted


August to May

Sharp, spicy and moderate to very pungent

Raw, grilled or roasted

White Onion:

White onions are commonly used in white sauces, potato and pasta salads and in Mexican or Southwest cuisine.

Due to the compact nature of their cell structure, white onions do not store quite as long as other varieties.

Fresh, Mild

March to August

Moderately pungent and clean finish, very little after-taste

Raw, grilled, sautéed or lightly cooked


August to May

Moderately pungent to very pungent and full flavored, but finishes with a cleaner and crisper flavor in comparison to yellow and red storage varieties

Raw, grilled, sautéed or lightly cooked

Source: National Onion Association, All About Onions


‘Humane milk is a myth’: veganism advert cleared by standards body. 

ASA rejected claims from dairy industry that advert was ‘misleading’ readers into thinking farms were not complying with animal welfare standards.

Go Vegan World advert

An advertisement stating that “humane milk is a myth” has been cleared by the regulator following complaints from members of the dairy industry that it was inaccurate and misleading.

The national newspaper advert in February for campaign group Go Vegan World featured a photo of a cow behind a piece of barbed wire and the headline “Humane milk is a myth. Don’t buy it”.

“Their daughters, fresh from their mothers’ wombs but separated from them, trembled and cried piteously, drinking milk from rubber teats on the wall instead of their mothers’ nurturing bodies. All because humans take their milk.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said seven complainants, some of whom had experience of working in the dairy industry and who believed that the advert did not accurately describe the way that dairy cattle were generally treated in the UK, challenged whether the claims were misleading and could be substantiated.

Go Vegan World said the advert did not state or imply that calves were separated from their mothers before the 12 to 24 hours recommended by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

But in any case they believed the exact timing of the separation was irrelevant to the ad, which commented on the injustice of separating cow and calf, claiming later separation actually caused more distress.

They believed most people would consider separation at 25 hours as unjust as separation at 24 hours.

Clearing the advert, the ASA said it understood the complainants were concerned the advert implied a significant number of dairy farms did not comply with animal welfare standards in place in the UK and milk production was therefore “inhumane” in that sense.

But it concluded: “We understood that Defra recommended that calves should be kept with their mothers for at least 12 and preferably 24 hours after birth.

“Although the language used to express the claims was emotional and hard-hitting, we understood it was the case that calves were generally separated from their mothers very soon after birth, and we therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to materially mislead readers.”

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The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol. 

The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption.

Time to put eggs back on the menu? 

The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of excess cholesterol in the American diet a public health concern.

The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.

The greater danger in this regard, these experts believe, lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.

The new view on cholesterol in food does not reverse warnings about high levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.

While Americans may be accustomed to conflicting dietary advice, the change on cholesterol comes from the influential Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the group that provides the scientific basis for the “Dietary Guidelines.” That federal publication has broad effects on the American diet, helping to determine the content of school lunches, affecting how food manufacturers advertise their wares, and serving as the foundation for reams of diet advice.

The panel laid out the cholesterol decision in December, at its last meeting before it writes a report that will serve as the basis for the next version of the guidelines. A video of the meeting was later posted online and a person with direct knowledge of the proceedings said the cholesterol finding would make it to the group’s final report, which is due within weeks.

After Marian Neuhouser, chair of the relevant subcommittee, announced the decision to the panel at the December meeting, one panelist appeared to bridle.

“So we’re not making a [cholesterol] recommendation?” panel member Miriam Nelson, a Tufts University professor, said at the meeting as if trying to absorb the thought. “Okay … Bummer.”

Members of the panel, called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, said they would not comment until the publication of their report, which will be filed with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

While those agencies could ignore the committee’s recommendations, major deviations are not common, experts said.

Five years ago, “I don’t think the Dietary Guidelines diverged from the committee’s report,” said Naomi K. Fukagawa, a University of Vermont professor who served as the committee’s vice chair in 2010. Fukagawa said she supports the change on cholesterol.

Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, also called the turnaround on cholesterol a “reasonable move.”

“There’s been a shift of thinking,” he said.

But the change on dietary cholesterol also shows how the complexity of nutrition science and the lack of definitive research can contribute to confusion for Americans who, while seeking guidance on what to eat, often find themselves afloat in conflicting advice.

Cholesterol has been a fixture in dietary warnings in the United States at least since 1961, when it appeared in guidelines developed by the American Heart Association. Later adopted by the federal government, such warnings helped shift eating habits — per capita egg consumption dropped about 30 percent — and harmed egg farmers.

Yet even today, after more than a century of scientific inquiry, scientists are divided.

Some nutritionists said lifting the cholesterol warning is long overdue, noting that the United States is out-of-step with other countries, where diet guidelines do not single out cholesterol. Others support maintaining a warning.


The forthcoming version of the Dietary Guidelines — the document is revised every five years — is expected to navigate myriad similar controversies. Among them: salt, red meat, sugar, saturated fats and the latest darling of food-makers, Omega-3s.

As with cholesterol, the dietary panel’s advice on these issues will be used by the federal bureaucrats to draft the new guidelines, which offer Americans clear instructions — and sometimes very specific, down-to-the-milligram prescriptions. But such precision can mask sometimes tumultuous debates about nutrition.

“Almost every single nutrient imaginable has peer reviewed publications associating it with almost any outcome,” John P.A. Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and statistics at Stanford and one of the harshest critics of nutritional science, has written. “In this literature of epidemic proportions, how many results are correct?”

Now comes the shift on cholesterol.

Even as contrary evidence has emerged over the years, the campaign against dietary cholesterol has continued. In 1994, food-makers were required to report cholesterol values on the nutrition label. In 2010, with the publication of the most recent “Dietary Guidelines,” the experts again focused on the problem of “excess dietary cholesterol.”

Yet many have viewed the evidence against cholesterol as weak, at best. As late as 2013, a task force arranged by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association looked at the dietary cholesterol studies. The group found that there was “insufficient evidence” to make a recommendation. Many of the studies that had been done, the task force said, were too broad to single out cholesterol.

“Looking back at the literature, we just couldn’t see the kind of science that would support dietary restrictions,” said Robert Eckel, the co-chair of the task force and a medical professor at the University of Colorado.

The current U.S. guidelines call for restricting cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams daily. American adult men on average ingest about 340 milligrams of cholesterol a day, according to federal figures. That recommended figure of 300 milligrams, Eckel said, is ” just one of those things that gets carried forward and carried forward even though the evidence is minimal.”

“We just don’t know,” he said.

Other major studies have indicated that eating an egg a day does not raise a healthy person’s risk of heart disease, though diabetic patients may be at more risk.

“The U.S. is the last country in the world to set a specific limit on dietary cholesterol,” said David Klurfeld, a nutrition scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Some of it is scientific inertia.”


The persistence of the cholesterol fear may arise, in part, from the plausibility of its danger.

As far back as the 19th century, scientists recognized that the plaque that clogged arteries consisted, in part, of cholesterol, according to historians.

It would have seemed logical, then, that a diet that is high in cholesterol would wind up clogging arteries.

In 1913, Niokolai Anitschkov and his colleagues at the Czar’s Military Medicine Institute in St. Petersburg, decided to try it out in rabbits. The group fed cholesterol to rabbits for about four to eight weeks and saw that the cholesterol diet harmed them. They figured they were on to something big.

“It often happens in the history of science that researchers … obtain results which require us to view scientific questions in a new light,” he and a colleague wrote in their 1913 paper.

But it wasn’t until the 1940s, when heart disease was rising in the United States, that the dangers of a cholesterol diet for humans would come more sharply into focus.

Experiments in biology, as well as other studies that followed the diets of large populations, seemed to link high cholesterol diets to heart disease.

Public warnings soon followed. In 1961, the American Heart Association recommended that people reduce cholesterol consumption and eventually set a limit of 300 milligrams a day. (For comparison, the yolk of a single egg has about 200 milligrams.)

Eventually, the idea that cholesterol is harmful so permeated the country’s consciousness that marketers advertised their foods on the basis of “no cholesterol.”


What Anitschkov and the other early scientists may not have foreseen is how complicated the science of cholesterol and heart disease could turn out: that the body creates cholesterol in amounts much larger than their diet provides, that the body regulates how much is in the blood and that there is both “good” and “bad” cholesterol.

Adding to the complexity, the way people process cholesterol differs. Scientists say some people — about 25 percent — appear to be more vulnerable to cholesterol-rich diets.

“It’s turned out to be more complicated than anyone could have known,” said Lawrence Rudel, a professor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

As a graduate student at the University of Arkansas in the late 1960s, Rudel came across Anitschkov’s paper and decided to focus on understanding one of its curiosities. In passing, the paper noted that while the cholesterol diet harmed rabbits, it had no effect on white rats. In fact, if Anitschkov had focused on any other animal besides the rabbit, the effects wouldn’t have been so clear — rabbits are unusually vulnerable to the high-cholesterol diet.

“The reason for the difference — why does one animal fall apart on the cholesterol diet — seemed like something that could be figured out,” Rudel said. “That was 40 or so years ago. We still don’t know what explains the difference.”

In truth, scientists have made some progress. Rudel and his colleagues have been able to breed squirrel monkeys that are more vulnerable to the cholesterol diet. That and other evidence leads to their belief that for some people — as for the squirrel monkeys — genetics are to blame.

Rudel said that Americans should still be warned about cholesterol.

“Eggs are a nearly perfect food, but cholesterol is a potential bad guy,” he said. “Eating too much a day won’t harm everyone, but it will harm some people.”


Scientists have estimated that, even without counting the toll from obesity, disease related to poor eating habits kills more than half a million people every year. That toll is often used as an argument for more research in nutrition.

Currently, the National Institutes of Health spends about $1.5 billion annually on nutrition research, an amount that represents about 5 percent of its total budget.

The turnaround on cholesterol, some critics say, is just more evidence that nutrition science needs more investment.

Others, however, say the reversal might be seen as a sign of progress.

“These reversals in the field do make us wonder and scratch our heads,” said David Allison, a public health professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “But in science, change is normal and expected.”

When our view of the cosmos shifted from Ptolemy to Copernicus to Newton and Einstein, Allison said, “the reaction was not to say, ‘Oh my gosh, something is wrong with physics!’ We say, ‘Oh my gosh, isn’t this cool?’ ”

Allison said the problem in nutrition stems from the arrogance that sometimes accompanies dietary advice. A little humility could go a long way.

“Where nutrition has some trouble,” he said, “is all the confidence and vitriol and moralism that goes along with our recommendations.”


Portable scanner to reveal nutritional value of foods

A portable food scanner could tell you how much fat is in the food you eat. Image: Shutterstock/ gkrphoto
A portable food scanner could tell you how much fat is in the food you eat. Image: \

A personal scanner that reveals the nutritional value of your food could soon be helping you to eat healthily, thanks to a EUR 1 million prize that is being offered to the inventors who come up with the best working prototype. 

The scanner will be able to identify whether your sausages, burgers or croissants contain too much fat and salt, and even pick out traces of nuts or gluten.

It’s one of five Horizon Prizes where money is offered to inventors and developers who create a specific technology.

‘Healthy eating is a key way of limiting certain diseases like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases,’ said EU project officer Gerald Cultot, who was involved in designing the terms of the prize.

‘There are these fitness apps which tell you how much energy you have spent, but you don’t have that many apps that tell you how much you have consumed, so it’s really about going to the other side of the spectrum and helping people to better measure their food intake,’ he said.

‘It’s really about going to the other side of the spectrum and helping people to better measure their food intake.’

Gerald Cultot, European Commission

The EUR 1 million prize will be split into a maximum of three awards – EUR 800 000 for the winner, and EUR 100 000 each to the first and second runner-ups.

In order to win the prize, the prototype needs to be able to analyse food composition, nutrition facts and potentially harmful ingredients such as allergens.

That’s a major issue because about 17 million Europeans suffer from food allergies, with 3.5 million of them less than 25 years of age, according to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Horizon Prizes

The idea behind the Horizon Prizes is that they could attract people who might not apply for a standard research project, which are usually awarded to international research consortiums.

The foodscanner prize follows a prize for a bacteria test announced in February, prizes for better sharing of wireless bandwidth and for higher speed optical data transmissionannounced in March, and materials that can improve the air quality of cities in April.

‘With the prize contest we want to bring people to join our programmes that usually wouldn’t apply,’ said Barbara Kowatsch, an EU officer who has helped develop the new funding instrument.

The prizes are seen as an ongoing method for the EU to stimulate innovation. Next year’s prizes will be announced in the autumn. ‘Every year we target to have ambitious prizes in areas related to societal challenges,’ said Kowatsch.

Mediterranean diet could slash risk of deadly breast cancer by 40pc


A table with Mediterranean food laid out
A diet high in fruit, vegetables and olive oil could stave off heart attacks and strokes 
Eating a Mediterranean diet can help reduce risk of one of worst types of breast cancer by 40 per cent, a major study suggests.

The research which tracked more than 60,000 women over two decades found that those who ate a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains and olive oil had a far lower chance of developing an aggressive form of the disease.

Every year, 53,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer.

The major new study funded by the World Cancer Research Fund, which tracked women aged between 55 and 69 for 20 years, found that those who adhered most closely to a Mediterranean diet had a far lower chance of disease.

Overall, they had a 40 per cent reduced risk of oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer.

Around one in three cases of breast cancer falls into this category, which is more deadly than other types of disease.

The Mediterranean Diet pattern is one that includes a high intake of plant-based proteins, such as nuts, lentils and beans, whole-grains, fish and monounsaturated fats – also known as “good fats”, such as olive oil.

This diet also has a low intake of refined grains such as white bread or white rice, red meat and sweets.

Med diet
The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a longer lifespan 

Although the traditional Mediterranean Diet involves moderate consumption of alcohol, in this study alcohol was excluded from the criteria, as this is a known risk factor for breast cancer, and linked to 12,000 cases annually.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK with over 53,000 new cases each year.

Around 40 per cent of all cancers are linked to lifestyle, with breast cancer risks heightened by excess weight, poor diet, alcohol and smoking.

Dr Panagiota Mitrou, Director of Research Funding at World Cancer Research Fund, said:

“This important study showed that following a dietary pattern like the Mediterranean Diet, could help reduce breast cancer risk – particularly the subtype with a poorer prognosis. With breast cancer being so common in the UK, prevention is key if we want to see a decrease in the number of women developing the disease.

“We would welcome further research that helps us better understand the risk factors for the different breast cancer subtypes.”

Professor Piet van den Brandt, lead researcher on this study at Maastricht University said:

“Our research can help to shine a light on how dietary patterns can affect our cancer risk.

“We found a strong link between the Mediterranean Diet and reduced estrogen-receptor negative breastcancer risk among postmenopausal women, even in a non-Mediterranean population. This type of breast cancer usually has a worse prognosis than other types of breast cancer”.

Emma Pennery, Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care, said the findings were “intriguing”.

“This study adds to evidence that a healthy diet, full of ‘good’ low-saturated fats, plays a part in lowering risk of the disease,” she said.

“However, it’s important to remember while lifestyle choices like eating a well-balanced diet and taking regular exercise can help reduce the risk of cancer, they don’t guarantee prevention. So it’s crucial women know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and contact their GP with any concerns.”

 A plate of fish
Swapping red meat for fish and upping fruit and vegetable intake lowers the chance of heart problems 

Separate US research found that women already being treated for breast cancer could boost survival chances by eating a diet rich in soy.

Women with estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer who added the Japanese ingredient to their diet were able to reduce their risk of dying by up to a fifth, the study found.

Scientists founds that foods rich in isoflavones – the active ingredient in soy – appeared to boost survival.

The ingredient is found in meat replacement foods such as tofu, as well as in soy sauce, Miso soup, soy milk and edamame beans.

Study leader Dr Esther John, of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, said: “Whether lifestyle factors can improve survival after diagnosis is an important question for women diagnosed with this more aggressive type of breast cancer.

“Our findings suggest that survival may be better in patients with a higher consumption of isoflavones.”

Doctors Want Sugar and ‘Cancer-Causing’ Foods Out of Hospitals

Doctors Want Sugar and 'Cancer-Causing' Foods Out of Hospitals

A major doctors’ group hopes to put an end to a great irony served up daily at most U.S. hospitals: The food offered there tends to contribute to obesity, diabetesheart disease, stroke and cancer — the very same conditions for which many of the hospital patients are seeking treatment.

Refried, frozen chicken patties on doughy white bread; greasy pizza slicesthat turn the paper plate translucent; waxy, flavorless beans poured straight from a can constituting the only vegetable option; orange drink purporting to have 10 percent real orange … So much for a hospital being a beacon of health.

At its annual meeting on June 14, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates, which represents more than 200,000 physician members, issued a policy statement that called for the reduction of sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats, and an increase in the availability of healthful, plant-based foods in hospitals. [7 Foods You Can Overdose On]

Under the resolution, physicians and hospital staff are encouraged not only to counsel their patients about the health consequences of a poor diet but also to lead by example by offering healthier foods at the hospital.

Specifically, the resolution states that the “American Medical Association hereby call on U.S. hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by (1) providing a variety of healthful food, including plant-based meals and meals that are low in fat, sodium, and added sugars, (2) eliminating processed meats from menus, and (3) providing and promoting healthful beverages.”

Removing sugary drinks from vending machines and replacing them with water, unflavored milk, and unsweetened teas and coffees may be the easiest place to start making hospital food choices healthier, according to the AMA.

“Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to some of the nation’s most debilitating diseases, and limiting the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages will go a long way toward helping people prevent the onset of these diseases, improve health outcomes and rein in health costs associated with chronic diseases,” Dr. William E. Kobler, an AMA board member who was part of the policy decision, said in a statement from the organization.

Yet health experts have lamented for years that hospitals’ food options, not just the drinks, are unhealthy — a concept that contradicts hospitals’ health-oriented mission. A study published in 2002 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than a third of the top 16 U.S. hospitals had contracts with fast-food restaurants to offer their food in the hospital.

Similarly, a 2014 study conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit health group of 12,000 doctors who advocate plant-based diets, found that more than 20 percent of the 208 hospitals they surveyed housed fast-food restaurants. The same study found that the cafeteria food in these hospitals, where the staff eats every day, was dominated by foods that were high in sugar, salt and cholesterol, such as processed meats. [9 Snack Foods: Healthy or Not?]

Speaking at the AMA meeting, PCRM President Dr. Neal Barnard compared unhealthy food served in hospitals to tobacco. “A generation ago, the AMA supported doctors who were working to get tobacco out of their hospitals. And that helped everyone, especially those patients who needed to break a bad habit,” Barnard said in testimony.

Barnard noted that, as with cigarettes, hot dogs and similar processed meats are now known to contain cancer-causing agents. “[M]any doctors and administrators would like to replace them with healthier foods,” he said.

The Washington, D.C.-based PCRM started a national campaign in 2016 to encourage hospitals to ban processed meats such as hot dogs, which are a choking hazard for children. Several hospitals have since pledged to remove these foods as a result of the campaign.

The tide may be turning elsewhere, as well. A 2015 study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports found that creating hospital gardens for staff, patients and the community can lower rates of obesity in communities they serve and reduce public health disparities by providing more people with easy access to fresh, healthy, plant-based foods. More than 100 hospitals have such gardens, the study found.

So the day might come when you can go to the hospital to fix a broken leg and not have to return for a hospital-food-induced angioplasty.

Other policy resolutions announced at the AMA meeting included reducing the consumption of sugary drinks nationwide, destigmatizing obesity, strengthening vaccine policy and using the phrase “gun violence mitigation” in lieu of “gun control,” among 11 other resolutions.

Fruit juices and smoothies contain ‘unacceptably high’ levels of sugar, says study

A paper, released in the journal BMJ Open, has found that many fruit juices, fruit drinks and smoothies aimed at children are overloaded with sugar, to the tune of  more than 40% of them containing at least the maximum daily intake of 19 g of the stuff.  Furthermore, 64% of them have been found to contain half the daily maximum intake amount.

There is, now, an outcry to stop referring to these drinks as servings of fruit due to the incredible ratio of sugar to vitamins.

“Research shows the body metabolizes fruit juice in a different way compared to whole fruit. After whole fruit consumption, the body seems to adjust its subsequent energy intake appropriately, whereas after fruit juice consumption, the body does not compensate for the energy intake,” say the researchers.

They believe that tough action is needed to reduce the amount of sugar kids are consuming.

“These are marketed intensively to children as well as to parents,” said Prof Simon Capewell of the department of public health and policy at the University of Liverpool, one of the authors. “They are routinely packaged in garish colours. They routinely have cartoons and other sort of folksy animal creatures being used to market them.

“There is often a health halo – some claim about vitamin C or ‘packed full of fruit’. There are no restrictions around the words industry can use in their marketing. They can claim or imply quite a lot. Then we end up with more than a third of these drinks having more sugar in them than a cola or fizzy drink.

“I think it came as quite a surprise to us really that there is so much sugar hidden and that any of the most familiar brands had such a high level.”

With upwards of 1 in 3 children, age 11, being overweight or obese, the need has never been greater to tackle the danger of sugary drinks that has infiltrated our dietary system.


Fruits And Veggies May Be The Key To Happiness; Eating 8 Portions A Day Increases Life Satisfaction

We are all aware that eating fruits and vegetables can make us healthier, but what about happier? A new study has found evidence to suggest that increasing one’s daily fruit and vegetable consumption can have a direct, positive effect on their overall mood. The team hopes the new findings may be enough to help motivate picky eaters to add more green to their diets.


For the study, now published online in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers from Warwick University in England teamed up with scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia to better understand the psychological effects of eating more fruits and vegetables. The international team followed the food and mood diaries of more than 12,000 randomly selected individuals who had taken part in the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey in 2007, 2009, and 2013.

The team adjusted the data for issues that could affect life satisfaction, such as changes in income and personal circumstances. As part of the survey, volunteers were asked to document their weekly fruit and vegetable consumption and their overall life satisfaction. Their responses were then compared over the years to see if there was any correlation between diet and life satisfaction. Even with these factors accounted for, results revealed that increased fruit and vegetable consumption was predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well being. According to the study, people that changed from eating almost no fruit and veg to having eight portions of fruit and veg a day had a life satisfaction increase equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment.

The researchers aren’t quite sure why eating more fruits and vegetables makes people happier, but they suggest it could be related to the antioxidants found in more healthful foods. For example, one study from 2012 found that individuals with higher levels of antioxidants, known as carotenoids, tended to be more optimistic about the future. Carotenoids are the pigments that give certain fruits and vegetables their coloring, and can be found in carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potato, and kale.

Unfortunately, a major flaw in this study lay in the fact that the researchers measured the volunteers’ carotenoid and optimism levels only once. Because of this, the scientists could not conclude whether eating fruit and vegetables makes you more optimistic, or that optimistic people simply eat more fruits and veggies.

In this new study, the volunteers’ diet and mood were tracked over a period of time. Not only was the increase in happiness noticeable, it was also swift. For example, while it could take decades of healthy eating for dieters to reap certain physical effects, such as preventing cancer, the psychological effects were noted only two years after individuals had increased their fruit and vegetable consumption. The researchers believe that these quick results could be enough to help further urge the public to adopt a healthier diet.

“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” study co-author Dr. Andrew Oswald said in a recent statement. “People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later. However, well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate.”

However, getting the public to eat more fruits and vegetables is easier said than done. For example, from an evolutionary standpoint, we are more likely to crave “high-calorie” foods such as junk food because this helped to ensure our survival, The Huffington Post reported.

Pair this natural instinct for high-calorie food with the money and effort it takes to cook with fresh produceand it’s clear why so many of us fail to meet the daily quota, around five to nine servings of fruits and veggies. Still, the team hopes that these findings may help motivate us to eat healthier, if not for our physical health, than at least for our mental well being.

Source: Muicic R, Oswald AJ. Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. AJPH. 2016.

Eating 3 Servings Of Whole Grains Reduces Risk Of Early Death By 20%

Oatmeal is considered a necessary evil. People know it’s good for them (albeit many don’t know why), but due to it’s blandness it tends to rank low on their personal list of favorite breakfast meals. Eating oatmeal with fruit, however, not only makes the breakfast staple more palatable, it may also be the secret to a longer life. New research published in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Circulation suggests eating at least three servings of whole grains daily could lower the risk of early death, which may prompt some people to get over their aversion to oatmeal.


Whole grain foods, such as whole wheat, oats, and brown rice, are considered healthy because they contain fiber, a substance that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. In addition to promoting the movement of waste through the digestive system, it also keeps food in the stomach longer, so people feel full and satisfied without consuming a lot of extra calories, according to the AHA. Dietary fiber also helps improve blood cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of stroke and obesity.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis review of 12 studies. These included those published through to February 2016, as well as unpublished results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III, conducted rom 1988 to 1994. Combined, the studies involved more than 786,000 people.

The data showed that for every 16-gram serving of whole grains there was a 7 percent decreased risk in early death, a 9 percent decline in cardiovascular disease-related deaths, and a 5 percent decline in cancer-related deaths. What’s more, every additional serving of whole grains further lowered this risk. Researchers found that three servings of whole grains was associated with a 20 percent reduced risk of all-cause death, 25 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular deaths, and 14 percent decline in cancer-related deaths.

“Previous studies have suggested an association with consumption of whole grains and reduced risk of developing a multitude of chronic diseases that are among the top causes of deaths, although data linking whole grain intake and mortality were less consistent,” said Dr. Qi Sun, senior author of the study and assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a statement. “These findings lend further support to the U.S. government’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which suggest higher consumption of whole grains to facilitate disease prevention.”

Dietary guidelines around the world have recommended whole grains as an essential part of a healthy diet, yet, according to the analysis, people aren’t consuming enough of them. A 2014 study found that only 3 percent of kids and 8 percent of adults ate the recommended three servings or more of whole grains each day.

This isn’t the first time whole grains have been linked to a reduced death risk, a study released last year found that a diet high in whole grains and fiber can lower the risk of early death. According to the AHA, whole grains provide many nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, and minerals, which are removed during the refining process. However, there is such a thing as having too much. Whole grain foods are high in fiber and consuming too much of this substance can lead to diarrhea, intestinal gas, and blockage.

Source: Zong G, Gao A, Hu F. Whole Grain Intake and Mortality From All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer. Circulation. 2016.

Americans Are Drinking Less Soda, Eating More Whole Grains And Nuts

Americans are adding more whole grains, nuts and seeds to their diets and cutting back on sodas and sugary drinks, a U.S. study suggests.

american diet improves

While these changes point to some improvements in U.S. eating habits over the past decade, many people still consume too much sugar and processed food and not enough whole fruits and vegetables, the study published in JAMA found.

“The overall diet is still far from optimal – less than one-third of American adults meet guidelines for most foods,” said senior study author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston.

“The single biggest focus should be on reducing highly processed foods rich in refined grains, starch, added sugars and salt; and increasing minimally processed healthful foods such as fruits, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, fish and yogurt,” Mozaffarian added by email.

Researchers looked at trends in eating habits for almost 34,000 adults aged 20 or older who participated in seven nationally representative surveys from 1999 to 2012.

The study team scored diets based, among other things, on how well people followed recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) that are designed to help prevent chronic health problems like cardiovascular disease.

Under these guidelines, a healthy diet includes at least 4.5 cups a day of fruits and vegetables, at least three ounces a day of fiber-rich whole grains and at least seven ounces a week of fish. It also caps sodium intake at 1,500 milligrams a day, the amount in three quarters of a teaspoon (3.75 g) of salt, and limits sodas and sugary juices at 36 ounces (1 liter) a week.

Overall, the percentage of Americans with poor diets based on these AHA standards dropped from 56 percent to 46 percent during the study period. The proportion of people with ideal diets was low but inched up to 1.5 percent from less than 1 percent.

Racial disparities in eating habits persisted throughout the study period. The proportion of white people with poor diets declined, while remaining little changed among black and Hispanic adults.

More affluent adults saw greater improvements in diet than lower-income people, the study also found.

For some eating patterns – including consumption of total vegetables, whole grains, unprocessed red meat and milk – trends over time were similar regardless of race, ethnicity, income or education levels. Intake of these things was consistently higher for more affluent people and white people and lower for poor people and black and Hispanic adults.

At the same time, salt intake was unchanged for white people but increased for black and Hispanic people during the study period.

Refined grain consumption dropped for white and black adults while increasing for Hispanics.

Limitations of the study include its reliance on survey participants to accurately recall and report what they ate and drank, as well as the potential for diet fads or food trends in popular culture to influence how people described their diets, the authors note.

Even so, the findings suggest that doctors need to do a better job educating patients about how to eat and how food choices influence their health, Dr. Margo Denke, a former researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas noted in an accompanying editorial.

Physicians also have to recognize that improving diets may be not be just a question of education, but of access and affordability, Denke added by email. While it’s possible some people are confused about what to eat, the bigger problem is that they aren’t sure what to do when fresh produce isn’t at their local store.

“The import of less expensive fruits and vegetables I believe drove improved intake among those who have higher incomes,” Denke said. “How can we pass this on to those who are financially struggling?”

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/28LE2ye JAMA, online June 21, 2016.