Thursday, 25 October 2007

Genetic Garlic?

Do you like the taste of coffee or garlic?

If you like one or both, it could be because of your genes.

Researchers at the Kings College, London have suggested that 41 - 48% of our food preferences are inherited. The researchers found that the strongest links between food habits and genetic make-up involved a taste for garlic or coffee. More about the research here.

Hmm. I used to like coffee years ago but not anymore. Garlic, like onions, I could do without. And some of my eating habits have changed, dramatically in some cases. Were these food preferences genetically programmed? Search me.

What I do know is that the next time someone asks why I don't like garlic or onions, I'll say the fault is in my genes.

Monday, 1 October 2007

What's breast feeding got to do with cancer?

Breast cancer rates have risen in the last ten years. According to Cancer Research UK, one in ten cases of breast cancer a year can be prevented by 2024 if more women made simple lifestyle changes.

These changes are:

reducing long-term use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
staying in shape,
drinking less alcohol,
exercising more,
and breast feeding for longer.

Professor Max Parkin of Cancer Research UK said he would like to see three-quarters of UK mothers breast feed - currently, only 21% do so. I knew that breast feeding wasn't popular here but I didn't know it was this unpopular.

One way to help increase the breast feeding rates might be to share this information with pregnant women during antenatal checks and classes.

I guess it's obvious what my views are on this issue. But I digress...

There's more information about the research on breast cancer here.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Cancer is a message to change

I met a really inspiring man just last week. His name is Greg Anderson.

I think his story is truly amazing. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in December 1984 and was given 30 days to live. So what did he do?

He didn't fold his arms and wait to die, like many others might have done. Mr Anderson refused to accept the hopelessness of his prognosis. He knew that many people had survived cancer even when it was supposedly "terminal" and he went in search of survivors. He interviewed over 16,000 of them and studied what they had done and he came up with a strategy for surviving cancer.

For Mr Anderson a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, but simply a message to change. He changed his lifestyle and he survived. And, like a man on a mission, he decided to help other people survive and even prevent cancer. So in 1985 he and his wife set up a non-profit organization called Cancer Recovery Foundation whose mission is "to educate, empower and encourage cancer patients and family members in the integration of body, mind and spirit into a whole-person health recovery strategy".

The holistic health concept formulated by Mr Anderson resonate with me and I have a lot to learn from this inspirational man. The most important lesson for me is the power of the human mind and spirit over the body. How encouraging that is!

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Why British women have cosmetic surgery?

A recent research carried out at the University of Aberdeen by a sociology lecturer, Dr Debra Gimlin, found that:
  • British women were more likely than American women to have cosmetic operations to please their partners ("to suit the desires of a particular man"). In contrast, American women had the surgery "for themselves".
  • British women were more likely than American women to conceal their surgery from friends and family.
Interesting, huh? You can read more about the research here. I remember reading elsewhere that the suicide rate for women who have had cosmetic surgery is higher than that for other women. I think that's quite sad.

All of the 60 women interviewed by Dr Gimlin for the Aberdeen University research were concerned about their physical appearance. No earth-shattering revelation there. One of the women was a British barkeeper who said she had cosmetic surgery because her husband complained that having children had ruined her figure. Don't ask me why she didn't try to lose weight without having cosmetic surgery like I did after I had my son.

And do you wonder like I do why more men don't have surgery to please their partners?

Any thoughts on that? I'd like to hear them.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

What's dark and has cancer-fighting properties?

Many people know that fruits and vegetables are good for the health. Of course, knowledge isn't the same as taking action.

A new US research shows that anthocyanins, the compounds which colour red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables their dark colour, may slow the growth of colon cancer cells.

Some of the fruits that contain these compounds are purplecorn, bilberry, chokeberries, black carrots and radishes. More details in this article.

A spokesperson for Cancer Research UK said knowledge about these cancer-fighting compounds in fruits and vegetables could help scientists develop drugs to prevent or treat bowel cancer. Drugs? Why not encourage people to include these foods in their diet?

Monday, 13 August 2007

Getting paid to lose weight

Imagine getting paid to lose weight.

As a weight loss coach, I've come across people who know they're overweight but are not interested in losing weight even when they know that doing so would improve their health. I wonder whether some of these people would lose weight if they were paid to do so.

Residents of the Italian town of Varallo have been offered money by the mayor in return for losing weight. More on this here. I'd be interested to see how many overweight people are motivated to shape up.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Botox, anyone?

No, I'm not offering Botox treatments. Sorry, if that's not what you were expecting, but stick with me a little longer and you'll be glad you did.

I just read about a UK clothing catalogue (Grattan, if you must know) that is offering Botox treatments. Botox is a diluted form of the botulism bacterium that is used to paralyze muscles, and it is becoming used more and more in the UK as a wrinkle remover.

The Grattan catalogue offer has been criticized by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ). The BAAPS has warned the public against buying cosmetic treatments "off the shelf", because, unlike clothes, such treatments cannot later be returned or exchanged for a different size. In fact Botox injections may have harmful side effects on some people, according to a recent statement by the manufacturers of Botox. The BAAPS also stressed the need for proper consultation and informed consent before Botox treatment is carried out. More in this article.

Do you know anyone who is thinking of getting a Botox makeover? If so, I suggest you ask them to read this. Even if they decide to go ahead with the treatment, at least they will know there are potential dangers. And if they are interested in trying a natural alternative to Botox, ask them to contact me through my blog (blatant self-promotion, I know).