Chronic disease biggest global killer

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death, morbidity and disability globally according to a new white paper from Upjohn, a division of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. Exploring the major causes of NCDs, related trends and methods to combat them, the paper makes for stark reading. It reveals that 71% of all global deaths are now attributed to NCDs with around 30% responsible for premature death (before age 70). The estimated financial impact on economies is estimated to reach US$47 trillion by 2030. The report underlines that NCDs don’t discriminate. They can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status or location. However, not surprisingly given the originators work for Pfizer, the report still focuses on disease management instead of disease prevention through health creation - salutogenesis. At ANH, we’re passionate about demonstrating how simple it is to incorporate health creation strategies into daily life using natural and sustainable methods. See our article on the recent Get Well show for links to download Rob Verkerk and Meleni Aldridge’s most recent presentations, packed full of education and practical tips.

Drinking milk increases breast cancer risk

Researchers from Loma Linda University Health publishing in the International Journal of Epidemiology have found even relatively moderate consumption of cow’s milk (regardless of fat content) increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. The more cow’s milk consumed, the higher the risk of developing breast cancer. Up to one cup a day was associated with a 50% increase in risk, while two to three cups increased risk by 70-80%. The presence of sex hormones and growth factor found in cow’s milk has been posited as a possible cause. Humans are the only species to drink the milk of another animal after weaning, yet a large proportion of the global population cease to make lactase (the enzyme that digests lactose) after this time. This is one of the main reasons why it can present such a health challenge for so many people and why we find this new research unsurprising. For these, and a number of other reasons, we don’t include dairy products in the ANH-Intl Food4Health guidelines.

Fat in your blood vessel walls is functional

Fat, when it forms part of the structure of blood vessels, may actually play a protective role. In a study published in Scientific Reports researchers from Michigan State University investigating the role of perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) found the fat layer supports stress-induced relaxation when vessels are stretched. Traditionally this layer has been removed from blood vessels and discarded before studies are carried out. The findings could have the potential to radically change how we view the development of heart disease in future.

Health benefits of mindfulness and meditation

The multiple benefits of mindfulness and meditation for our health are very well known. However, a new study published in Brain and Cognition has found that practising transcendental meditation twice a day for 3 months reduced levels of anxiety and stress in participants. Researchers (using MRI scans) also found distinct changes in brain connections in the group who were meditating compared to the placebo group who did not. According to another new study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, researchers found that just one session of mindfulness training can significantly reduce pain and negative self-talk. Getting outside into nature is also a simple way to bring some mindful space into your life, that delivers a host of other health benefits too.

Irish authorities recall CBD products

Regulatory uncertainty over CBD products continues with the recall of THC-containing products deemed to contain ‘unsafe’ levels by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) this month. This follows its recent survey of CBD products, which found that the majority of products tested were in “…breach of various articles of food law and some posed potential safety risks for consumers.” We are keeping a close watch on how the authorities continue to handle CBD products in order to protect this vital and burgeoning sector of the natural health industry.

BPA substitutes as hazardous to health

Much attention has been given to the harms from plastics containing bisphenol A (BPA). New research adds to concerns that using ‘BPA-free’ alternatives can be just as damaging. Focusing on the effects of bisphenol S (BPS) on mouse placentas, researchers found it caused almost identical changes in gene expression to those caused by BPA. Concluding they stated, “We must also conclude that BPS should be regarded as hazardous as BPA”. With xenoestrogens now endemic in the environment, there are some practical steps you can take to reduce your exposure and the associated risks.

Smartphone addiction causes physical changes to brain

Researchers have questioned the supposed 'harmlessness' of smartphone use after they found functional and structural changes in users’ brains similar to those found in drug addicts. Publishing in Addictive Behaviours, the study is the first to provide evidence of actual physical changes in the brains of habitual smartphone users, which can be linked to addictive behaviours in those at increased risk of developing such behaviours. It’s now virtually impossible to remain ‘unconnected’, particularly for young people. Take digital-detox action and spend more time with friends and family, doing all the things you love away from digital devices.

Gene-editing errors commonly missed

New gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR routinely touted as being highly precise and safe create more errors than has been previously thought. A new mouse study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), has found that complex and unexpected changes to DNA are common but are rarely detected using current analytical methods. The authors of the new study called the findings “disturbing”. The results demonstrate that the FDA’s recent call for regulation of gene-edited animals is more than justified and that a cautionary approach to such techniques should be taken regardless of the claims of those seeking to profit from these technologies.