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Eating 'ultra-processed' foods linked to cancer by worrying new study
Those at risk for breast cancer should pay particular attention.
The old saying is you are what you eat. We now know that’s true, in a sense. What you put into your body can indicate what types of diseases you might develop. Those who survive on ultra-processed foods such as ramen noodles, TV dinners, chicken nuggets, French fries, sugary cereals or any of the packaged foods you find at your local convenience store have a higher risk of cancer. French and Brazilian researchers drew this conclusion in a new study published in the journal BMJ.
Researchers found that just a 10% increase in ultra-processed foods led to a 12% higher risk of cancer—in particular, breast cancer. To select individuals for the study, scientists tapped 104,980 participants from a previous French study called the NutriNet-Santé cohort study. 78% of that group were women, and the median age of all participants was 42.8 years. To evaluate their diet, participants visited a lab three times every six months for two years.
Each participant was asked what they had consumed in the last 24 hours. “Dietary intakes were collected using repeated 24-hour dietary records, designed to register participants’ usual consumption for 3,300 different food items,” researchers’ wrote. They evaluated each item and how processed it was using the NOVA food classification.
Although ramen noodles isn’t a surprise, instant soups also made the list. Credit: Getty Images.
This study is particularly poignant since the global consumption of processed foods is increasing. According to several recent surveys, 25-50% of the daily calorie intake in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Brazil come from ultra-processed foods. In this study, processed foods made up an average of 19% of the total diets of participants. These findings are particularly worrisome since cancer rates worldwide are climbing. Globally, 14.1 million cancer cases were recorded in 2012. By 2035, that number is expected to rise to 24 million.
In America, around 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses are given each year, and over 609,000 deaths occur as a result of cancer. In fact, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the U.S., right behind heart disease. The good news is that 42% of cancer cases are preventable: 19% are attributed to smoking, for example, while another 18% are related to a person's diet. Processed foods, in addition to increasing one’s cancer risk, also contribute to weight gain, which can further elevate risk.
Scientists in this study adjusted for related factors such as age, sex, height, BMI, smoking, a family history of cancer, education, and physical activity. They also adjusted for the number of times a woman gave birth, hormonal or oral contraceptive use, and menopausal status. Although the study included mostly women, researchers say male participants showed the same increase in cancer from a high processed food intake.
Note that this was an observational study. As such, it cannot determine a clear cause-and-effect relationship, merely a strong correlation. Another shortcoming is that all the data was self-reported. Even so, the findings are compelling and in line with previous research. Next, these scientists will further evaluate the association between the percentage of ultra-processed foods eaten and incidence of overall cancers including breast, prostate, and bowel cancer.
Your best bet? Stick with foods as close to their natural state as possible. Credit: Getty Images.
So what constitutes a processed food? These are items that have been altered significantly from their natural state. Fresh fruits and vegetables, natural meat or fish—that has not been reconstituted—and beans, seeds, and legumes are perhaps the furthest things from it. Processed foods include those that have been changed in significant ways either chemically, biologically or physically.
Usually, ultra-processed foods bear little resemblance to the ingredients they originate from. Many health experts believe it’s the additives and preservatives, usually a long list of chemicals, that are the most dangerous aspects of these vittles. Such chemicals include artificial colors, humectants, emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, and flavoring agents.
Besides chemical additives, these foods are usually also high in refined sugar, fat—particularly saturated fat, and salt, and low in fiber and vitamins and minerals. Those foods to particularly watch out for include sodas and sugary drinks, instant noodles and soups, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, and other reconstituted meat products, candy bars and sweets, frozen or ready-to-eat meals, sweet or savory packaged snacks, potato chips, and mass-produced, packaged breads and buns.
Researchers conclude that, “Further studies are needed to better understand the relative effect of the various dimensions of processing (nutritional composition, food additives, contact materials, and neoformed contaminants) in these associations.” The findings are also to be verified with subsequent, large-scale studies.
To hear a podcast about these findings with one of the study’s researchers, click here.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.