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Substituting red meat for plant protein reduces heart disease risk

23/04/2019

We recently wrote about how just one rasher of bacon a day can increase bowel cancer risk. Now, new research has revealed that replacing red meat with plant protein can reduce heart disease risk. For the study, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, and Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, conducted a meta-analysis of trials comparing the effects of meat vs. other diets on our health. The results are published in the journal Circulation. It was an approach that allowed the researchers to not only examine the health effects of red meat, but also see whether substituting red meat for other protein sources brought benefits. Analyzing data from 36 randomized controlled trials, the researchers looked at the blood pressure and blood concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipoproteins of the participants. They then compared these levels with those of people who ate less red meat and more chicken, fish, legumes, soy, nuts, or carbohydrates. They found that while there wasn’t much difference in lipoproteins, blood pressure, or total cholesterol, diets high in red meat did cause an increase in triglyceride concentrations. In addition, diets rich in high-quality plant protein led to lower levels of bad cholesterol. Speaking about the findings of the research, Marta Guasch-Ferré, lead author of the study and research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “Previous findings from randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of red meat on cardiovascular disease risk factors have been inconsistent. “But, our new study, which makes specific comparisons between diets high in red meat versus diets high in other types of foods, shows that substituting red meat with high-quality protein sources lead to more favorable changes in cardiovascular risk factors.”

Just one rasher of bacon a day can increase bowel cancer risk

18/04/2019

Consuming even small amounts of red and processed meat each day can increase a person’s risk of bowel cancer, a new study has found. According to the research led by Oxford University and funded by Cancer Research UK (CRUK), just one rasher of bacon per day can increase the risk of bowel cancer. Eat three rashers per day (around 50g) and the risk of bowel cancer rises by 20%. While meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, the Department of Health in England advises that anyone who eats more than 90g of red and processed meat a day should reduce their consumption to 70g, the average daily amount consumed in the UK. Processed meat, in particular, has previously been linked to a high likelihood of causing cancer. So foods like bacon, salami, hotdogs and some sausages should not be eaten too much on a daily basis. Also,  high temperature cooking, such as on a barbecue, is also thought to increase a person’s risk of cancer due to the carcinogenic chemicals that are created during the cooking process. For the research, the study team analysed health data from almost half a million people in the UK. Speaking about the findings of the research, Emma Shields, information manager at CRUK, said “This study shows the more meat you eat, the higher your risk of getting cancer and obviously the reverse is true - the less you eat the less likely you are to get bowel cancer.”

Some meat substitute products saltier than Atlantic seawater, study finds

25/10/2018

A significant proportion of meat-free burgers, sausages and mince contain unacceptable levels of salt, a campaign group has found. According to Action on Salt, 28% of the 157 meat substitute products studied by them did not meet Public Health England (PHE) voluntary salt targets. In some cases, products were found to be saltier than Atlantic seawater, the report says. Action on Salt is calling on PHE to take “urgent action” to make food manufacturers adhere to maximum recommended salt levels. Out of all the meat-free products investigated by Action on Salt, only three were found to be low in salt. Tofurky's Deli Slices Hickory Smoked and Tesco's Meat Free Bacon Style Rashers were the saltiest meat substitutes studied, containing, 3.5g and 3.2g of salt per 100g respectively. PHE's salt target for meat-free bacon is 1.88g of salt per 100g. For comparison, seawater has around 2.5g of salt per 100g. While their meat-free bacon was found to be extremely high in salt, Tesco’s Meat-Free Mince had one of the lowest salt levels of all the products analysed – just 0.2g of salt per 100g. Speaking about the findings of the study, Mhairi Brown, nutritionist at Action on Salt, said: “The food industry has ensured greater availability of meat-free alternatives, but now they must do more to ensure that meat-free alternatives contain far less salt - at the very least lower than their meat equivalents. “This survey drives home the urgent need for Public Health England to reinvigorate the UK's salt reduction strategy.”

Major study finds eating processed meat raises risk of breast cancer

04/10/2018

A major study has found that eating processed meat, like bacon and sausages, may raise the risk of breast cancer in women. According to the review of studies involving more than one million women, eating higher levels of processed meat could result in a 9% greater risk of developing breast cancer. The research by a team from Harvard University’s T H Chan School of Public Health reviewed 15 related studies. It supports previous findings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which suggest processed meats cause cancer. However, while the study has identified a potential link between processed meat and breast cancer, there is no clear evidence to show these types of foods are actually the cause. Furthermore, as outlined by the study authors in the International Journal of Cancer, their findings only relate to processed meat, not red meat. Bacon, sausages, salami, ham, hot dogs and corned beef are all examples of processed meat. And while it is not fully known why these foods are associated with a greater risk of cancer, it is thought that preservatives, like salt, may react with protein in the meat turning it carcinogenic. But rather than eliminating processed meat from your diet completely, the advice is simply to cut down. At present, current NHS guidelines recommend eating no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day. If you’re eating more than that on a regular basis, maybe it’s time to make some dietary changes.

Low-carb diets better for weight loss than low-fat diets, at least in the short-term

20/12/2016

It is something many people will be considering in the New Year, but the plethora of diet advice available out there can be confusing and contradictory. That's why the Mayo Clinic in Arizona set out to see which of the so-called 'low-carb' diets in the weight loss market is the most effective and, more importantly, how safe they all are. They published the results of their study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Their analysis of some 41 trials that evaluated the weight loss effects of low-carb diets found that individuals lost between 2.5-9 more pounds than individuals who followed a low-fat diet. Dr. Heather Fields, an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic and lead researcher on the study, said that adhering to low-carb diets in the short-term appears to be safe and promotes weight reduction. "However, that weight loss is small and of questionable clinical significance in comparison to low-fat diets. We encourage patients to eat real food and avoid highly processed foods, especially processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, deli meats, hot dogs, and ham when following any particular diet," she added. This is the biggest warning to come out of the research and it's because when people are following low-carb diets they tend to eat more meat, and this could increase their risk of death from all causes, including cancer - especially if they consume a lot of processed meat. Nevertheless, the studies showed that compared with many other diets, low-carb ones were effective for weight loss without adverse effects on blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol.

WHO: Processed Meats Do Cause Cancer

27/10/2015

People have talked about the possible negative effects of processed meat for a long time and numerous studies linking high consumption of red and processed meats with higher risk of colorectal cancer have even influenced public health recommendations in some countries. But now a report compiled on behalf of the World Health Organisation by a working group of 22 experts from 10 countries around the world has concluded that there is an association with eating processed meats and colorectal cancer risks. The findings, published recently in The Lancet Oncology, said that 50g of processed meat a day, which is equivalent to less than two slices of bacon, increased a person’s chances of developing colorectal cancer by 18%. Furthermore, the study said that red meats were “probably carcinogenic, but there was limited evidence to comment further. However, despite these findings, the WHO also emphasised that there are still health benefits associated with eating meat. Cancer Research UK’s advice is that people should cut down on their consumption of red and processed meats, rather than give them up completely. In fact, the organisation said that the occasional bacon sandwich would do little harm. Processed meat is meat that has had its shelf life extended or its taste changed by means of smoking, curing, or adding preservatives or salt. Bacon, sausages, hotdogs, corned beef, salami, ham, beef jerky and other canned meats are all considered “processed”. Chemicals used during the processing of the meats are thought to be carcinogenic catalysts, as is high-temperature cooking such as on a barbecue. Dr Kurt Straif from the WHO said: “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed.”    

Regular Exercise Reduces Symptoms of Asthma

09/10/2015

The benefits of exercising regularly are well-known and abundant, but now new research suggests that it may also help relieve symptoms of asthma in adults. The study, which was published in MJ Open Respiratory Research, focused on the physical activity levels of 643 adults diagnosed as having asthma. It found that those who exercised the recommended amount each day (30 minutes) were almost 2.5 times more likely to have their asthma symptoms under good control, compared to those who did zero exercise. Furthermore, the exercise does not necessarily need to be strenuous, according to lead author Simon Bacon, a professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. "Just 30 minutes a day of walking, riding a bike, doing yoga - anything active, really - can result in significant reduction of asthma symptoms,” he said. Asthma cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled and the individual can enjoy a good quality of life if it is effectively managed and it seems exercise is now a key factor for that management. World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show that there are around 235 million people in the world who have asthma. Conventional advice was that asthma sufferers should try and avoid exercise as it can trigger attacks. But Professor Bacon says this can be avoided if the right measures are taken: "The issue of exercise-induced bronchospasm is real - but if you use your reliever medication, blue puffer, before you exercise, and then take the time to cool down afterwards, you should be okay. Even if you have asthma, there's no good reason not to get out there and exercise,” he said.

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