Healthy Choices

Health Bites: Latinas’ cancer risk rises with meat eating, study suggests

The study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Cancer Causes Control, suggests that race, ethnicity, genetics, culture and lifestyle choices could all affect cancer risk, according to a statement by Mariana Stern, senior author and director of graduate programs in molecular epidemiology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.
The study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Cancer Causes Control, suggests that race, ethnicity, genetics, culture and lifestyle choices could all affect cancer risk, according to a statement by Mariana Stern, senior author and director of graduate programs in molecular epidemiology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. The State Columbia, S.C.

In one of the few studies to analyze meat consumption among Latinas, researchers from the University of Southern California discovered that Latinas may be more likely than white women to develop cancer from eating processed meats such as sausage and bacon.

In the study, Latinas who consumed about 20 grams of processed meat per day (the equivalent of a strip of bacon) were 42 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer compared with Latinas who ate no or little processed meats, according to a USC news release.

When researchers compared white women within the same categories, they found no significant difference in breast cancer risk between members of the meat eating group compared to those who refrained from eating processed meats.

The study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Cancer Causes Control, suggests that race, ethnicity, genetics, culture and lifestyle choices could all affect cancer risk, according to a statement by Mariana Stern, senior author and director of graduate programs in molecular epidemiology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.

The study did not address causes for the higher cancer risk among Latinas. Authors of the study are exploring whether eating processed meats earlier in life affects cancer risk, suggesting that Latinas eat more of those foods during adolescence.

The World Health Organization pronounced bacon a carcinogen in October, but the report did not address breast cancer specifically.

“In light of the WHO report, this discovery could be a wake-up call about the negative health effects associated with consuming processed meat such as bacon, beef jerky and lunch meats,” Stern said.

Vigorous exercise shown to boost brain function

A new study out of UC Davis found that intense exercise increases levels of two common neurotransmitters that are responsible for chemical messaging within the brain.

Depression and other psychiatric disorders are linked to deficiencies in the glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid neurotransmitters, which drive communication among the brain cells that regulate physical and emotional health, according to a UC Davis news release.

The study, published in a late February issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, conducted MRIs on people after they exercised on a stationary bicycle and compared those images to MRIs from a control group. Significant increases in neurotransmitters were found in the visual cortex, which processes visual information, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which helps regulate heart rate, some cognitive functions and emotion.

Researchers believe that the brain uses carbohydrates and glucose that it consumes during intense exercise to produce more neurotransmitters, resulting in better overall mental and physical health.

“We are offering another view on why regular physical activity may be important to prevent or treat depression,” said study lead author Dr. Richard Maddock in the release. “Not every depressed person who exercises will improve, but many will.”

Home-schooled students get more sleep than peers

More-flexible school start times can help kids get more sleep, according to a recent report in Behavioral Sleep Medicine.

Authors of the study, from the organization National Jewish Health in Denver, asked 245 students attending public or private school and 162 students being home schooled to take a survey on sleep habits. Results showed that adolescent home-schooled students slept an average of 90 minutes more per night than public and private school students, who were in class an average of 18 minutes before home-schooled children awoke.

The National Sleep Foundation states that optimal sleep time for adolescents is greater than nine hours, and insufficient sleep time is less than eight hours. The study showed that only 28 percent of public/private school students obtained optimal sleep on weeknights, compared with 58 percent of home-schooled students.

The findings provide additional evidence of teens’ altered biological clocks and support starting traditional high school later in the morning, said lead author Lisa Meltzer in a National Jewish Health release.

“If they’re only getting seven hours, on average, by the end of the week they are a full 10 hours of sleep behind schedule, and that impacts every aspect of functioning,” she said.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola

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