Cheese does not increase risk of heart attack or strokes, find researchers


Review of 29 studies involving nearly a million participants finds saturated fats ‘do not increase risk of cardiovascular disease’

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The belief that cheese is bad for you is wrong, researchers have said, after finding no link between eating dairy products and a heightened risk of heart attack and strokes.

Even full-fat cheese, milk and yoghurt, often avoided by the health-conscious due to their high saturated fat content, does not increase the risk of death or conditions such as coronary heart disease, according to a review of 29 different studies involving nearly a million participants.

“There’s quite a widespread but mistaken belief among the public that dairy products in general can be bad for you, but that’s a misconception,” said researcher Ian Givens, a nutrition professor at Reading University.

“While it is a widely held belief, our research shows that that’s wrong,” he told The Guardian.

“There’s been a lot of publicity over the last five to 10 years about how saturated fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and a belief has grown up that they must increase the risk, but they don’t.”

NHS guidelines suggest people cut the amount of saturated fat they eat, because a diet high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Men are recommend to eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day, and women no more than 20g. This sounds like bad news for cheese lovers – if two people share a whole baked 250g camembert, for instance, they will both consume around 19g of saturated fat.

But overall levels of dairy consumption did not appear to be associated with an increased risk of circulatory conditions such as stroke and heart attacks, according to the study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

The research analysed results from previous studies carried out over the last 35 years, using information on the health and diet of 938,465 participants.

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Assorted cheeses

Scientists are divided on whether limiting saturated fats can improve overall health and lower the risk of heart disease.

A study published earlier this year in the British Medical Journal(BMJ) swapping even one per cent of your daily calorie intake from saturated fats like butter and meat to vegetables, wholegrain carbohydrates or polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil and fish can improve heart health.

However, previous research from the University of Bergen in Norway found fatty foods such as cheese, butter and cream could in fact help protect people from heart disease when eaten as part of a diet where overall calorie intake is restricted.

Simon Dankel, who led the study, told The Independent in December the research showed the human body “can do perfectly well with fats as its main energy source.”

“People will say: ‘you can’t lose weight, you can’t go on any diets with saturated fats, no matter what’,” said Dr Dankel.

“But in this context, we see a very positive metabolic response. You can base your energy in your diet on either on carbohydrates or fat. It doesn’t make a big difference.”

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF)’s website, eating too much cheese “could lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease”, and the organisation recommends people “enjoy it sensibly”.

“Saturated fat can increase the ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol in your blood which can cause fatty material to build up in your artery walls. The risk is particularly high if you have a high level of bad cholesterol and a low level of good cholesterol,” says the organisation.

 

Fabric softener is the #1 cause of indoor air pollution.


Fabric softener ads often portray an image of comfort, freshness and sweetness. Yet most fabric softeners contain a grim list of known toxins which can enter your body through the skin and by inhalation, causing a wide range of health problems, particularly for young children.

Here are some of the harmful ingredients commonly found in liquid or sheet fabric softeners include:

• Chloroform: This substance was used as an anesthesia in the 1800s up through the early 1900s when its potential for causing fatal cardiac arrhythmia was discovered. A carcinogenic neurotoxin, it is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Inhaling its vapors may cause loss of consciousness, nausea, headache, vomiting, and/or dizziness, drowsiness. It may aggravate disorders of the heart, kidneys or liver. Its effects worsen when subjected to heat.

• A-Terpineol: Causes Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders, meaning problems relating to the brain and spine such as Alzheimer’s disease, ADD, dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizures, strokes, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Early symptoms of CNS problems include aphasia, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness, headaches, hunger, memory loss, numbness in face, pain in neck and spine. A-Terpineol also irritates the mucous membranes and, if aspirated into the lungs, can cause respiratory depression, pneumonia or fatal edema.

• Benzyl Alcohol: This upper respiratory tract irritant can cause central nervous system (CNS) disorders, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and dramatic drops in blood pressure.

• Benzyl Acetate: This substances has been linked to pancreatic cancer. Its vapors can be irritating to eyes and respiratory passages and it can also be absorbed through the skin.

• Ethanol: Another fabric softener ingredient which is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list and linked to CNS disorders.

• Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled.

• Ethyl Acetate: This substance, which is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list, can be irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. It may also cause severe headaches and loss of consciousness, as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.

• Camphor: Another substance on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. It is easily absorbed through body tissue, causing irritation of eyes, nose and throat. Camphor can also cause dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions.

• Linalool: A narcotic known to cause respiratory problems and CNS disorders. In animal testing, exposure to linalool has resulted in death.

• Phthalates: Used in scented products to help the scent last longer, phthlates have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive system problems.

• Limonene: This known carcinogen can cause irritation to eyes and skin.

• Also, if you follow a vegan lifestyle, you should be aware that many fabric softener sheets are made using tallow, a form of animal fat.

Manufacturers are aware that the products contain toxic chemicals. The packaging on many brands include a warning that the product should not be used on children’s sleepwear. Since some of the same brands also have large images of children and toys, however, consumers may miss the small print message.

Making your own fabric softener is very easy and cost effective . Additionally, using   homemade cleaning products helps keep harmful chemicals away. Vinegar is cheap and nontoxic. It naturally removes soap residue, and helps with static reduction during drying. Vinegar contains small amounts of sodium and  potassium, which help soften hard water. Homemade fabric softener ingredients are combined with water to make a solution you can store in a container and use each time you do the wash.

Natural  Homemade Fabric Softener

Ingredients

Mix ingredients together and pour into a storage container.

Statins prevent 80,000 heart attacks and strokes a year in UK, study finds


Study in Lancet says risk of side-effects has been exaggerated and controversy will cause 2,000 extra heart attacks and strokes over next decade

Several different types of statin pills
Authors say the benefits of taking statins have been under-estimated while the harms have been exaggerated. 

The review is published by the Lancet medical journal, whose editor, Richard Horton, likened the harm done to public confidence by the critics of statins to that caused by the paper his journal published on the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine in 1998.

“Controversy over the safety and efficacy of statins has harmed the health of potentially thousands of people in the UK,” he wrote in a comment published with the review. In six months after the publication of “disputed research and tendentious opinion” on the side-effects of statins in 2013, a study estimated that over 200,000 patients stopped taking a statin. It predicted there would be 2,000 extra heart attacks and strokes over the next decade as a result.

The Lancet was taking a stand, he said, “because of our experience of MMR. We saw in a very painful way the consequences of publishing a paper which had a huge impact on confidence in a safe and effective vaccine.

“We learned lessons from that episode and those lessons need to be widely promulgated. They are lessons for all journals and all scientists.”

The furore over statins broke out after Nice, the UK’s National Institute for Healthand Clinical Excellence, advised doctors in 2013 to prescribe statins for patients with a low, 10% risk of heart disease in the next 10 years, which was half the previous level of a 20% risk. It made 4.5 million more people, who were fundamentally healthy, eligible for statins, which Nice said could prevent up to 28,000 heart attacks and 16,000 strokes each year.

The guidance, which was based on evidence from the group led by Prof Rory Collins at the clinical trials service unit at Oxford University, was questioned by the British Medical Journal, which is campaigning against the over-use of medicines and medical treatment. The BMJ ran two papers claiming statins did not reduce deaths and that the risk of side-effects outweighed the benefits.

Collins severely criticised the papers and the BMJ, arguing in the Guardian that they could harm more people than Wakefield did with his MMR paper. Wakefield suggested a link between the jab and autism, deterring some parents from having their children vaccinated.

In the light of the loss of confidence in the pills, the new review of the evidence on the benefits and side-effects, led by Collins, was intended to help doctors, patients and the public make an informed decision about statin therapy, it said.

About a third of those who have already had a heart attack or stroke and would be eligible for statins are not taking them, and that rises to a half among those in the low-risk group. Many do not want to take pills because they do not consider themselves ill, while others worry about side-effects.

The authors say the benefits of taking statins have been under-estimated while the harms have been exaggerated. Treating 10,000 high-risk patients prevents 1,000 heart attacks or strokes and treating 10,000 low-risk patients prevents 500, they say. In the UK, about 2 million people at high risk – because they have suffered a heart attack or stroke – and about 4 million at low risk take statins.

About 40,000 people in each group – a total of 80,000 – avoid potentially fatal heart attacks and strokes as a result, said Collins.

He and his fellow authors stressed that their findings were from randomised controlled trials, which have compared large groups of similar people, some on statins while others were not.

The statins critics generally cite findings from observational studies, Collins said – that is data from people who have been taking statins in the real world, but without a carefully selected comparison group who have not been on the pills. That makes it hard to tell whether any problems are actually caused by the drugs.

There are side-effects, says the review. There is a real risk of myopathy, a neuromuscular disorder which causes muscle damage. One in 10,000 people per year will develop myopathy as a result of this. Another five to 10 people will have a haemorrhagic stroke, which involves bleeding into the brain and 10 to 20 people on statins are diagnosed with diabetes.

There have been claims that as many as 20% of patients have “statin intolerance”, with claims of muscle weakness and pain. At most 10 to 20 in every 10,000 have an increase in such symptoms on the drugs, says the review.

Some GPs have been among the sceptics over statins, but Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the study cut through the controversy. “It recognises the benefits that these drugs have for many patients, but also the potential side-effects that any prescribing healthcare professional should be aware of.”

GPs would never take a decision to prescribe statins lightly and should only do it after a discussion with the patient and the medication should be regularly reviewed, she said.

“We hope this research reassures patients who are on statins that in the majority of cases statins are safe and effective drugs – but in most cases where adverse side-effects are seen, these are reversible by stopping taking statins.”

Consultants spoke of struggling to persuade patients that the drugs would help them. “I often meet people who don’t want to take statins yet are happy to take other drugs with greater risks of side-effects, or take supplements with no benefit at all,” said Dr Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist in Sheffield. “Statins have been unfairly demonised, and this prevents a sensible discussion of the risks and benefits of their use. Statins can cause side-effects, but the chance of developing these is low, while the effects of suffering the heart attack that a statin might have prevented can be fatal or life-long.”

Prof David Webb, president of the British Pharmacological Society, said: “In recent years, those of us who manage the large number of patients at excess risk of heart disease and strokes have been fighting an uphill battle to persuade them to take statins, a class of medicines that have been repeatedly shown to save lives.

“The problem has largely related to concerns about muscle aches and potentially more serious side-effects (muscle damage, diabetes and haemorrhagic stroke) that have been very well publicised on the internet.

“Many patients who have much to benefit from statins, and many of those at more modest risk, have been persuaded not to take them because of exaggerated claims of harm, and some research suggesting that the benefits have been overestimated. It is likely that many lives have been lost, based on a received view that statins are dangerous and ineffective.”

Aspirin a day may push death away, says study .


New recommendations on daily aspirin use will likely stir the pot in the ongoing aspirin debate. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force published a final recommendation statement on Monday saying that taking an aspirin a day might help prevent cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.

The task force found that people ages 50 to 59 who have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease can lower their risk for heart attacks, stroke and colon cancer by taking an aspirin a day. They also found that those ages 60 to 69 can benefit as well, but should discuss the treatment with their health care provider first. They concluded there is not enough evidence to determine the benefits and harms of aspirin use in people younger than 50 or older than 69.
“These new findings from the task force provide a good evidence-based approach for managing a disease with therapy that has risks,” said Dr. Biswajit Kar, medical division chief at the Center for Advanced Heart Failure at Memorial Hermann Heart and Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center. “Low-dose aspirin therapy has many proven benefits, including preventing heart attacks, strokes, and colorectal cancer.”
This is the first time the task force has issued a recommendation on aspirin to prevent both cardiovascular disease and colon cancer for those age ranges.
Health effects of aspirin: Where do we stand?

“Since our last recommendation in 2009, there has been a significant amount of science that allowed us to make a better recommendation,” said former task force chairman Dr. Michael LeFevre. “What’s new is our recommendation that incorporates reduction of colon cancer. We combined the potential benefits for cancer with the potential benefits for cardiovascular disease. That’s new and I don’t think it is either widely known or certainly not widely incorporated into a decision that balances benefits and harms.”
LeFevre also said that in 2009 there were concerns that men and women were different in terms of their aspirin benefit profile. “With the advance of science, we have decided that is not the case,” he said. “The new recommendation applies to both men and women equally.”
The recommendation applies to people who are not at an increased risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, who have at least a 10-year life expectancy, and who are willing to take low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years. It is also based on recent reviews that reaffirmed previous evidence about the benefits of aspirin for prevention of heart attack, stroke and colon cancer.

Two sides to the equation

There has been much back-and-forth on the benefits of daily aspirin use.
A 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who used a daily low dose of aspirin were less likely to have colon cancer. But another study that same year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who were taking aspirin for preventive measures were at an increased risk for serious health problems, such as gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.
In this study, there was about a 60% increase in serious gastrointestinal bleeds in people who took aspirin regularly, said LeFevre. But LeFevre said the benefit outweighs the risk.
“The deal with aspirin is we know we can help some people, and we also know we can hurt some people,” he said. “We are moderately certain that the benefits outweigh the harms for men and women ages 50 to 59 who have a 10-year cardiovascular risk of 10% or greater. That is the group we are most confident about.”
He also said men and women ages 60 to 69 with a 10% greater risk of cardiovascular disease will have benefits that outweigh the harms, but only by a small amount. Kar of the Center for Advanced Heart Failure said this study supports a longtime understanding of the importance of balancing the benefits of daily aspirin use with the potential complications.
“We now have good data to back up the importance of identifying patients best suited to receive this treatment and target the patient population that is at highest risk,” said Kar. “These recommendations underscore the need to use aspirin judiciously in our patient population. This guidance gives us the clinical tools we need to recognize which men and women are most susceptible to heart attack and stroke, and most likely to benefit from low-dose aspirin treatment.”
LeFevre agreed; he said patients need to speak with their physicians to find the right balance.
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“It’s not as easy as just saying, ‘I need to take an aspirin.’ You have to look at both sides of the equation. If personal risk for bleeding goes up, that erases the net benefit. The good news is that taking low-dose aspirin can help prevent heart attacks and strokes, and if you take it for five to 10 years it can help prevent colorectal cancer. That’s the good news. The bad news is we are also certain taking aspirin on a daily basis increases the risk of bleeds. So it’s important to have a conversation with your physician about what’s right for you,” said LeFevre.

Stroke Rounds: Novel Clot Buster Flops Again


Desmoteplase didn’t help late-presenting strokes, the DIAS-3 trial shows.

The investigational thrombolytic desmoteplase didn’t improve reperfusion or outcomes compared with placebo in ischemic strokes treated 3 to 9 hours after onset, the DIAS-3 trial showed.

A good functionally independent outcome, marked by a modified Rankin Scale score of 0 to 2, at 90 days occurred in 51% of desmoteplase-treated patients compared with 50% given placebo (P=0.40), Gregory W. Albers, MD, of the Stanford School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and colleagues found.

Recanalization at 24 hours, monitored with noninvasive imaging, likewise came out similar between treatment groups (49% and 42%, respectively), they reported in the June issue ofLancet Neurology.

“This factor is key in the neutral results and raises questions about the thrombolytic efficiency of desmoteplase in late time windows,” Michael D. Hill, MD, and Bijoy K. Menon, MD, both of the University of Calgary Stroke Program in Alberta, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

The prior phase III DIAS-2 trial with the drug, which is based on the saliva of the vampire bat, had also turned out negative using a different imaging-based selection scheme for enrollment.

DIAS-3 used a “simpler imaging selection paradigm: small core (less than a third of the middle cerebral artery [MCA] or less than a half of the anterior cerebral artery [ACA] or posterior cerebral artery [PCA] territories), plus evidence of a target intracranial arterial occlusion,” Hill and Menon noted.

However, imaging protocol violations were common in the trial, with imaging discrepancies in 21% of the 292 acute ischemic stroke patients with occlusion or high-grade stenosis in major cerebral arteries treated at a median 7 hours after onset.

Although serious adverse events, including intracerebral hemorrhage and symptomatic cerebral edema, were similar between groups, another phase III trial, DIAS-4, was stopped based on early indications of futility in DIAS-3.

The researchers pointed to a possible benefit of desmoteplase in small ischemic lesions selected by MRI that might be worth further study.

While that group might have been less prone to imaging measurement error, “this finding would have been more meaningful if increased recanalization early after administration of the thrombolytic agent was also shown in the small core group,” the editorialists cautioned.

It may be that late-presenting, small core strokes are just not a good population to target, they suggested.

“We speculate that patients who arrive late without having a large, established core of infarction shown in imaging are more likely to have preserved penumbral tissue because of good intracranial collateral circulation,” Hill and Menon wrote. “Such patients could stand to benefit less from thrombolysis, even with reperfusion.

“Further, with time, thrombi mature and fibrin cross-links, resulting in resistance to thrombolysis. Patients who present in later time windows might simply be less amenable to chemical thrombolysis.”