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specific nutrition by age and gender

 

 
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references

 

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Women's Health Initiative Headlines on fat and calcium

Wonderful ideas for better nutrition are pouring out of the data from the Women's Health Initiative. The WHI was launched in 1991 and consisted of a set of clinical trials and an observational study, which together involved 161,808 generally healthy postmenopausal women.  The clinical trials were designed to test the effects of postmenopausal hormone therapy, diet modification, and calcium and vitamin D supplements on heart disease, fractures, and breast and colorectal cancer.

HORMONE THERAPY - The hormone therapy results began giving statistically significant results years ago, when it was realized that the hormone formulation being used by women to prevent osteoporosis also increased the risk of breast cancer.  Many studies have shown that to reduce osteoporosis, it is important to get exercise.  Exercise also prevent fractures by helping maintain balance and strength as one ages.

CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D - Results in the headlines now are from the study on calcium and vitamin D.  The media wants to get attention, so news stories are usually written to cause anxiety, rather than give accurate information.  The article I have states "Calcium, vitamin D study shows limited bone benefit."  Limited is a horrible adjective to place there, because it sounds like vitamin D and calcium are not important for bones.  Yet the article is happy to cause panic, by pointing out that 50% of women will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in the lifetime, 1.5 million fractures per year.

But if one reads the results carefully, vitamin D and calcium helped a lot.  The article states "Women over age 60 reduced their chances of hip fracture by 21% with supplements, and many of those women actually missed their daily dose." Those who took their dose faithfully reduced their risk 29%.  They are analyzing data from nearly 37 thousand women.  Of the 1.5 million fractures per year, getting the one thousand mg of calcium and 400 iu of vitamin D could prevent 500,000 fractures per year.  Preventing 500,000 fractures per year does not sound like a "limited bone benefit" to me. 

And in the two decades since the study began, we have learned how to reduce that risk substantially more.  First, the vitamin D requirement was once only 200 iu, and has been raised to 1,000 iu per day, not only for bones but also other signaling benefits that reduce cancer and heart disease (see reference on vitamin D at this site).  Second, getting exercise reduces fractures substantially.  So good nutrition and exercise can lower your risk substantially,  Please do so.  Good health is precious, and costs so little compared to a broken hip.

 FAT IN THE DIET - : Reducing Total Fat Intake May Have Small Effect on Risk of Breast Cancer, No Effect on Risk of Colorectal Cancer, Heart Disease, or Stroke, February 7, 2006.  Once again, the press release from NIH is very misleading, based on nutrition information when the WHI study was designed nearly a decade ago.  When the study began, one group of women had a fat intake of about 20%, the other group about 35%.  But by the end of the study, that was not the case and the study was not statistically significant.  So in fact, lowering how much fat you eat may be really important, or it may not.  But in the press release, NIH notes the study paid no attention to different kinds of fat.  We now know that margarine and processed foods contain trans-fats, which are very hazardous to your health.  And nuts, fish, and vegetable oils contain good fats, poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats, which are very good for your health.  So all that the fat study of WHI has shown is that the study was poorly designed initially.  Yet the media circus tries to convince us that it really does not matter how much fat we eat.  I am sure that MacDonald's is happy to advertise in whatever newspaper ran that story.  But I hope you will pay attention to the information in Nutrition Investigator and get accurate information about fat in the diet.

Please be conscious of what you put in your body.

 

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