August 2004 Archives
A compound used by blueberries and grapes to fight off fungal infections could help lower cholesterol, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday. The compound, called pterostilbene, also helps regulate blood sugar and might help fight type-2 diabetes, the researchers told a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia. The finding adds to a growing list of reasons to eat colorful fruit, especially blueberries, which are rich in compounds known as antioxidants. These molecules battle cell and DNA damage involved in cancer, heart disease, diabetes and perhaps also brain degeneration.
Nearly a third of American adults have high blood pressure, putting them at greater risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and other problems, according to a new government analysis. The obesity epidemic and an aging population are to blame, experts say. Just over a decade ago, closer to one in four Americans had high blood pressure, and two decades ago the rate actually was declining.
Governments may have to persuade people to eat less meat because of increasing demands on water supplies, according to agricultural scientists investigating how the world can best feed itself. Currently up to 90% of all managed water is used to grow food. "Western diets, which depend largely on meat, are already putting great pressures on the environment. Meat-eaters consume the equivalent of about 5,000 litres of water a day compared to the 1,000-2,000 litres used by people on vegetarian diets in developing countries. All that water has to come from somewhere."
Heart disease and diabetes get all the attention, but expanding waistlines increase the risk for at least nine types of cancer, too. And with the obesity epidemic showing no signs of waning, specialists say they need to better understand how fat cells fuels cancer growth so they might fight back.
Although the Legislature repealed the state snack tax three years ago, a health panel wants lawmakers to consider imposing what could be construed as a "fat tax" on certain products perceived as contributing to obesity in Maine.During their Tuesday morning meeting, the 28-member Commission to Study Public Health affirmed more than two dozen recommendations to combat obesity through public policy and legislation. In addition to four legislators, the commission's members represent a range of interests, including health care, the soft-drink industry, physical education, dentistry, school administration, health insurance, the dairy industry and food-service workers.