Those Carbs are Gonna’ Kill You

More from the world of medical research:

Reuters reports:

The amount of carbohydrates a woman eats, as well as the overall “glycemic load” of her diet, impact her chances of developing breast cancer, Swedish researchers report.

snip … snip … snip …

Dr. Susanna C. Larsson of Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and colleagues analyzed data on 61,433 women who completed “food frequency” questionnaires in the late 1980s.

In addition, carbohydrate intake, glycemic index and glycemic load were all positively associated with risk of a certain type of breast tumor – namely, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive/progesterone receptor (PR)-negative breast cancer.

Women with the highest “glycemic index diet” had a 44% increased risk of developing ER+/PR- breast cancer compared to women with the lowest glycemic index diet.

Women in the highest category of “glycemic load” had an 81% increased risk of ER+/PR- tumors, and those with the highest carbohydrate intake had a 34% increased risk, compared to those in the lowest groups.

The latest euphemism for “low carb” is “low gycemic index”, a way for the carb-o-lites to keep trying to get people to eat carbs but “the right kind” (i.e., the ones you can’t actually digest that taste like cardboard). The results of epidemiological studies … the most common kind in dietary studies … are showing an increased cancer risk in women who eat a lot of carbs according to the Reuters story. The risk seems particularly high for the estrogen receptor (ER)-positive/progesterone receptor (PR)-negative breast cancer. And colon cancer in men. There’s something about the “sugar rush” in the bloodstream that either feeds or induces the cancer cells.

Meanwhile, it appears the USDA has changed the “food pyramid” yet again. Instead of horizontal slices of the pyramid, with cancer-feeding carbs at the base as the foundation, the new pyramid uses vertical slices. Its a more complex model, and represents … to me … the quandary they find themselves in: carbs are killing people, and they have been pushing them. The new pyramid is so confusing that I hope people will ignore it. Maybe they will find a food guide provided when the nation was thinner, had less heart disease and less cancer:

USDA Food Guide from 1943 - 1955
USDA Food Guide from 1943 - 1955

Diabetics and those with insulin resistance would have to cut down on the carbs, still, but that diet is far and away a better one than the one we have today. With all the knowledge we have gained, we find ourselves looking back at “more ignorant times” to see that, yet, Grandma was right. Get plenty of protein, a couple of tablespoons of butter per day, and limit the bread, Johnny.

Now, that’s good eating.

Vitamin D and Cancer

One of the recommendations in the book Protein Power Life Plan is to get daily sun exposure, an idea that has some reviewers at clucking in horror. But the evidence is mounting that vitamin D and calcium play an important role in preventing many cancers: has a lot of information available on the new research, including citations to journal articles.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, so you can build up toxic levels when taking supplements, but you have to work pretty hard to get there. The “RDA” is 400 IU, and toxicity is normally seen at levels above 17,000 IU. GrassrootsHealth recommends taking 2,000 IU per day to achieve a blood serum level of 40 – 60 ng/ml. But they stress you should do this under the care of a doctor, as certain conditions, such as primary hyperparathyroidism, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, and lymphoma may preclude using any supplementation.

Or, you could get outside and play in the sunshine and fresh air, like mom always said.

Wine: Its what’s for dinner

I just discovered a new diet food: wine. Previously, I was limited to 3 ounce glasses at something like 5 carbs, half a meal’s allotment. But Providence has intervened.

The carbs listed for food in the USDA database are calculated using the “subtraction” method, where water, protein, fat, ash, and, when present, alcohol, are directly measured, and the remainder is deemed to be carbohydrate. This results in higher carb counts for some foods. We even list carbs we can’t digest, but try to minimize the confusion by listing the undigestible portion as “dietary fiber”. It is common to deduct the fiber grams from the carb grams to find the net grams of carbs for your food, an exercise Jan and I have become adept at. This method was invented either by the devil or Carry Nation.

The rest of the civilized world measures “available carbohydrates” directly. The formula that the Aussies use is fructose (g) + glucose (g) + sucrose (g) + lactose (g) + maltose (g) + galactose (g) + maltotriose (g) + starch (g) + glycogen (g) + oligosaccharides (g) + maltodextrin (g) + dextrins (g). Aussies, Brits, Kiwis and others have long maintained that there is slightly less than 1g of carbs in a liter of wine.

UC Davis, engaged in the Lord’s own work, has calculated the available carbohydrates in wine at slightly less than 1g of carbs per liter. While non-Americans may view this as simply agreeing with them for once, this breakthrough gladdens the heart of those of us who are American Cultural Imperialists.

Now, I can drink 5 liters of wine for half a meal’s allotment, but I don’t think I’ll do that. I will, however, stop avoiding an occasional glass of dry red wine, knowing that the carb count is negligible.

Do LC Diets Work Better for Weight Loss?

The eternal question, and subject to much debate, is if low carb (LC) diets do better at promoting weight loss. Today I’ve added a Research Page to collect links to studies showing the effect of low carb diets on Obesity.

The first study was tweeted by Dr. Michael Eades, Effects of two energy-restricted diets differing in the carbohydrate/protein ratio on weight loss and oxidative changes of obese men. Remember that in Europe, where this study originates, the term “energy” in this context means the same thing as “calorie” does in the US.

Very interesting.

Low Carb Diets – Evidence Mounts

We added a few more links to our Research Pages, including two new studies showing that a low carb diet works better than the traditional low fat diet for metabolic syndrome (scroll to bottom for the section on metabolic syndrome).

I found these studies through a column that is good, but not great. The LA Examiner online has an article about low carb diets and CHD (coronary heart disease). The studies they link to regarding inflammation at the Cleveland Clinic do not mention high carbohydrate diets at all. It is a bit misleading; the author states categorically that inflammation is caused by several factors including “over consumption of processed carbohydrates”, and then links to the Cleveland Clinic article. But I cannot find that sentiment on any of the Cleveland Clinic’s linked pages; they advocate the low fat, high complex carbohydrate diet instead.

The article is valuable for the links to other studies and resources that do connect a low carb diet to reduced inflammation. If the reader checked the Cleveland Clinic source and went no further, he would have to conclude the author is incorrect and may dismiss the article. So check out the other links and information provided.