Does fat fuel cancer cells?

A study in mice using human oral cancer cells published in Nature is suggesting it does. CD36 is a protein found on cell walls that helps cells absorb fatty acids into the cell. Previous research has found cancer cells that detach from the main tumour and travel through the body (metastasise) can use CD36 to promote their growth by using fats as a fuel source rather than sugar. The headlines are shouting that a high fat diet can cause cancer cells to proliferate, but it's important to note that the researchers focused on the role of palmitic acid (from palm oil) as the driver for this activity. Palm oil is widely used in processed foods and is not generally an ingredient eaten by those consuming a diet based on natural, unprocessed, wholefoods as shown in the ANH-Intl Food4Health Guidelines. Palmitic acid is a saturated fat that is widely regarded as one of the most damaging fats. It is found in palm oil, dairy products and meat and is a pro-inflammatory agent that can contribute to heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer and cognitive impairment through time. In natural foods, it’s found alongside beneficial fats and fatty acids such as palmitoleic acid, which help to ameliorate its negative effects. This new mouse study backs up earlier findings that palmitic acid is a carcinogen, but It’s important not to apply the results to all fats. Especially when ketogenic (high fat) diets for cancer are proving to be so beneficial for many.

Junk food online advertising aimed at children banned in UK

Last week saw the UK banning online advertising aimed at children for foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS). The Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) said that these restrictions will "significantly reduce" the number of online ads seen by children for HFSS products. The new rules, which are due to be introduced at the beginning of July 2017, will bring non-broadcast (print, cinema, online, social media) advertising in line with rules on broadcast advertising (introduced in 2007) during children's shows. The new rules are designed to help protect the health and wellbeing of children by reducing the effect of advertising on children's food preferences.

Victory for low carbohydrate dietary guidelines

Following independent assessment, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has found that there are no grounds for the retraction of a 2015 article written by Nina Teicholz on dietary guidelines. The review was undertaken following a call for retraction of the article, which criticises the expert report underpinning current US Dietary Guidelines. The article questions the lack of evidence to support dietary guidelines that use lower levels of carbohydrates and higher levels of fat, particularly in view of the current obesity epidemic.

New pill to beat breast cancer for only 4p a day

The UK’s National Institute for health and Care Excellence has recommended a drug that costs less than 4p a day to prevent breast cancer in women at high risk of developing breast cancer. Evidence has demonstrated that 35 cases of breast cancer in 1,000 women at high risk following menopause, would be prevented if they took anastrozole compared to 21 cases if they took tamoxifen. As with any drug therapy, particularly new ones, it is worth weighing up the side-effect risks of the drug against any stated benefit.

New UK project launched to increase the amount of vegetables we eat

A new campaign (Peas Please) from The Food Foundation is working to identify the biggest barriers to the consumption of vegetables in the food system. When asked, parents in England reported that one in four children ate no vegetables at all in the day before the survey. According to the report, consumers in England are buying approximately the same amount of vegetables now as in the mid 1970s, although the purchase of fruit has increased by approximately 50% in the same period. Despite the Government's 5 a day campaign (launched in 2003) and an increase in the awareness of the importance of vegetables in a healthy diet, it hasn't made any difference. Disappointingly there has been an increase in the consumption of vegetables in processed foods. The report concludes that eating more vegetables is a win for the economy, our health and the NHS.

Cereal makers slammed for discrepancies in global sugar and salt levels

The World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) has revealed huge differences in the sugar and salt content in the same branded breakfast cereals depending on where they are being sold around the world. The survey, which looked at 19 products made by Kellogs and Nestle/General Mills from 29 countries, found more than half the cereals analysed have a high sugar content. WASH is now calling on all food manufacturers to reduce the amount of salt and sugar in their products across the board in order to help achieve the WHO global target of 5g salt a day and 25g free sugars per adult per day.

A handful of nuts a day reduces disease risk

A meta-analysis published in BMC Medicine has concluded that regular nut consumption of 20g a day may reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer. The analysis was unable to associate specific types of nuts with disease type.

Plant extracts for diabetes

Extracts from the herbs, purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and tindora (Coccinia grandis), appear to be able to improve the uptake of glucose in cell models and reduce blood glucose levels according to a study in Plos One. The herbal extracts could potentially be used as an alternative to other anti-diabetic drugs, which can have unwanted and dangerous side effects. The findings were supported by a separate study on purslane published shortly after.

Psychotic disorders could be auto-immune related

A new study published in The Lancet highlights the link between psychosis and auto-immunity. The study looked at 228 patients aged between 14-35 years with first episode psychosis, along with 105 healthy controls. Out of the 228 patient group, 20 were found to have antibodies in their blood that could attack parts of their brain that help brain cells communicate with each other. The researchers are keen to stress that it’s early days and further studies are needed.