Breast cancer increase in young women

More and more women are developing breast cancer in their 20’s according to new research from the University of Iowa. Using data from 18 population-based cancer registries across the US, the study analysed data for nearly 165,000 women aged 20-29 and 40-49 diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer between 2000-2015. The incidence of breast cancer increased in all age groups driven by an increase in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, but particularly in those aged 20-29 years. The researchers also found women aged 20-29 had the lowest survival rate of all groups. The study’s lead author, Paul Romitti, is quoted as saying, “One in four women, diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s, will not survive ten years following their diagnosis”. Speaking at a recent conference on breast cancer, Professor Maria Joao Cardoso, endorsed the use of complementary therapies such as mindfulness, acupuncture, Reiki and yoga to improve breast cancer patients’ quality of life. However, she also cautioned against the use of some herbal products in breast cancer with open wounds due to their potential to interact with commonly used drug treatments. Cancer rates are increasing, yet public health initiatives are not giving sufficient attention to the influences of environment, behaviour, diet and lifestyle on cancer development in order to promote effective cancer prevention.

Millennials’ grazing habits harming health

Millennials prefer to snack through the day than eat full meals. This sweeping, definitive, statement is expressed in Mondeléz’s first ‘State of Snacking’ report. The evidence is based on their research, in which 7 out of ten millennials apparently prioritise snacking over-eating larger meals. The majority of those surveyed said snacking is important to their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. The report coincides with a new analysis entitled, ‘The Economic Consequences of Millennial Health’ from US based, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, revealing the serious impact failing millennial health could have on the US economy. Following on from its earlier report, revealing the worrying decline in millennial health, this report predicts increases in healthcare costs and mortality rates along with reductions in income due to poor health. With increased snacking comes higher consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs). Preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 reports on the negative impact a high consumption of UPFs has on heart health confirming what we already know regarding their potential to wreak havoc on our health. If you or anyone you know is in doubt as to what constitutes a healthy diet, here’s a video of our Food4Health guidelines unwrapped down to the basic framework to allow for maximum individualisation.

Healthy foods for a healthy planet

The authors of a new study, (two of whom were involved in the EAT Lancet study) publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found consistent links between foods that were bad for health also having negative impacts on the environment - and vice versa. The analysis was based on data from 19 meta-analyses that included 15 different food groups: chicken, dairy, eggs, fish, fruits, legumes, nuts, olive oil, potatoes, refined grain cereals, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, vegetables, and whole grain cereals. Based on the studies used, red meat and processed red meat were deemed to have the highest negative impact on both health and the environment, but other processed meats, ultra-processed foods, snacks and high-sugar containing foods and snacks didn’t make it into the analysis owing to insufficient dose-response data. Both refined grain cereals and SSBs known to have an adverse effect on health were found to have a similar impact to that of vegetables. Don’t be fooled though. This report demonstrates some serious flaws. As with so many other similar papers, it falls into the trap of failing to recognise the difference between those food production methods that are harmful to health and the environment, from those that work in synergy with our health and our environment.

Exercise referral schemes not reaching their potential

Exercise referral schemes (ERSs) in the UK aren’t producing good results. In a new analysis of their benefits published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health researchers found that despite ‘significant improvements’ in most markers, the results were too small to be considered ‘clinically meaningful’. Researchers analysed data from the UK-wide National Referral Database on 23,731 participants, before and after they started exercising, from 13 different schemes lasting between 6 and 12 weeks. Rather than recommending the scrapping of such schemes, they said they should be overhauled to ‘maximise their potential’, which leaves scope for positive and meaningful change in public health information and initiatives. We hope this will be the result as humans are made to move. The benefits of being active to our health are myriad as are the different ways to move more.

Psychiatry needs an overhaul

A recent commentary calls for the field of psychiatry to be rebuilt as it hits the limits of “matching the “right” diagnosis with the “right” medication”. Prominent researchers from Harvard Medical School and University, publishing in the New England Journal of Medicine, recognising the failings of the biologic model, call for a move away from the rigid focus on biological determinants and one size fits all models of treatment to include the broad range of mitigating factors involved in the development of mental illness leaving behind the influence of Big Pharma.

Mapping the human microbiome

A new project will see scientists from around the world working together to build the world’s largest microbiome database. The 'Million Microbiome of Humans Project' (MMHP) was launched at the 14th International Conference on Genomics in Shenzhen, China at the end of October. The database aims to collect one million microbial samples from oral, nasal, vaginal, gut and skin sites along with other organs in the human body in order to construct a microbiome map of the human body. In May 2019 the NIH Human Microbiome Project reported on its second phase of study into the human microbiome. As -Omic studies take centre stage the exposome is becoming a hot topic in research circles as scientists seek new ways to combat the ongoing global health crisis. Our hope is that such research will support a paradigm shift in health care systems to promote health rather than the more likely scenario of seeking targets for pharmaceutical intervention to target and manage disease.