Tuesday, February 16, 2010


People who live in Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, show lower rates of colorectal cancer, an effect often ascribed to the type of diet predominant in that region. The diet, known as the “Mediterranean Diet,” features a diet low in animal fat, but high in olive oil, which is favored as a seasoning agent. The high intake of olive oil, a rich source of monounsaturated fats, is considered the “secret” of how Mediterranean people can consume a higher fat intake with relative impunity.

But a new examination of this style of eating, published in the February 1 issue of the journal, Cancer, disputes the olive oil protection theory. A study of 1,953 cancer patients by a duel American and Italian research team led by Dr. Claudia Braga of the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri” in Milan, compared these patients with 4,154 cancer-free people of the same age. The comparison revealed that vegetable intake was a far more potent protective factor against cancer compared to olive oil.

Those people with the highest vegetable intake showed a 40 percent lower risk of cancer compared to people consuming the least amount of vegetables. A higher intake of saturated fat was linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Based on this research, the study authors concluded that,”seasoning fats do not appear to increase the risk of colorectal carcinoma.”

Presidential gym

With all the stress that President Clinton is under these days, going for a run and getting a good workout in the White House gym may not only be healthful, but essential to relieve some of that apparently unyielding stress. But when Clinton took office 5 years ago, the White House gym wasn’t too high tech. It then consisted of a worn-out treadmill that Clinton’s predecessor, George Bush, had used extensively, and a multistation weight machine said to be a favorite of former president Ronald Reagan.

President Clinton and his wife decided to revamp the 14 by 16 foot White House gym. They hired an exercise consultant who wasted no time in eliminating the rundown, antiquated presidential gym equipment. New equipment, suited to the Clinton’s needs, included a treadmill, stairclimbing machine, recumbent bicycle, and 5 weight-training stations.

Clinton favors the treadmill during allergy season, when his allergies prevent him from jogging outdoors. Hillary Clinton particularly enjoys the recumbent bike because of the decreased stress on her lower back compared to upright stationary cycles. All of the equipment was donated to the National Park Service, which maintains the White House. The gym itself is located in the private wing of the White House.

Shortly after his reelection, Clinton requested the addition of a weight machine to train his lower body. Whether this was to help rehabilitate his injured knee, or just to look better in his jogging shorts is open to speculation.

Chicken contamination

According to a study commissioned by Consumer Reports magazine, two-thirds of chickens sold to consumers is contaminated with dangerous campylobacter bacteria. This type of bacteria is found in chicken four-times more often than salmonella (a common cause of food poisoning), yet the government does not require that chickens be tested for its presence.
Campylobacter is the most widespread cause of food poisoning in the United States. Symptoms can range from indigestion to diarrhea to death. What many people call a “24-hour virus” is actually food poisoning.

Representatives from the chicken industry responded to the report by noting that not all cases of campylobacter result from contaminated chickens, and it would be impossible or too expensive to eliminate all contaminated chickens. One way to protect yourself, however, is to make sure that all chicken is thoroughly cooked, since this serves to kill the bacteria that may be present. Proper poultry handling also serves as a protective factor.

Other sources of campylobacter include unpasteurized milk and unchlorinated water, but according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, poultry causes more than half of reported cases. The CDC estimates that 2 million cases occur each year, with 500 deaths. Most cases aren’t reported.

Symptoms of campylobacter include fever and diarrhea that last about a week. Some people, however, may acquire arthritis or a nerve disease of the extremities called Guillain-Barre syndrome that may lead to paralysis.
To come up with these findings, Consumer Reports bought 1,000 chickens in 36 cities last year, which were then promptly sent to coolers in labs. Campylobacter was found in 63 percent of the birds; salmonella in 16 percent. Another 8 percent of the chickens had both types of bacteria, and 29 percent had neither. No one brand was consistently cleaner than others, although more expensive premium chickens, including “free range” birds, proved to be the most contaminated.

No word yet whether Oprah will have an “antichicken” show scheduled.

Home vs. Gym training

A study by researchers from the University of Florida in Gainesville found that obese women who exercised at home lost more weight in a year compared to other women who participated in group exercise sessions at a gym. The home exercisers lost an average 25 pounds, while those going to a gym lost an average 15 pounds. In addition, a greater percentage of home exercisers (78.2%) completed the 12-month study compared to the gym groups (48.2%).
One study author explained that getting to a gym was enough to stop many people from exercising regularly. The 49 women in the study had average weights of 190 pounds. They stayed on 1,200 calorie a day diets, and walked on treadmills for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The study dropouts in the gym group complained that the excessive time demands caused them to withdraw.

On the other hand, many people find the isolation of a home gym too dreary an exercise environment, and prefer to train in a more public atmosphere. Whatever suits individual temperament is probably best.

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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