Artificial Sweeteners=Real Trouble

Most of my patients know that I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners, but people often have      a hard time cutting them out of their diet. Hopefully this evidence (excerpted from   mercola.com) will be enough of a motivator!

Why Artificial Sweeteners Can be Detrimental to Your Waistline

The belief that eating artificially sweetened foods and drinking artificially sweetened beverages will help you to lose weight is a carefully orchestrated deception. So if you are still opting for sugar-free choices for this reason, you are being sorely misled.

For years now studies have shown that consuming artificial sweeteners breaks the connection between a sweet sensation and a high-calorie food, thereby changing your body’s ability to regulate intake naturally.

In one study by psychologists at Purdue University’s Ingestive Behavior Research Center, rats that ate yogurt sweetened with an artificial sweetener consumed more calories (and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later), gained more weight, and put on more body fat than rats that ate yogurt sweetened with sugar.

Other studies, too, have shown that eating artificial sweeteners might hinder your body’s ability to estimate calorie intake, thus boosting your inclination to overindulge. Your body and your brain simply do not have the same biological response to artificial sweeteners that they do to regular sugar, and this can pose some serious problems.

Your Brain Can Tell the Difference

You may have convinced yourself that your favorite artificial sweetener tastes the same as sugar, but rest assured your brain is not being fooled.

In one brain-scan study by neuroscientist Paul Smeets, volunteers were given two version of a beverage, one sweetened with sugar, the other with a blend of artificial sweeteners. The brain scans showed that the artificially sweetened beverage failed to activate an area of the brain called the caudate nucleus, which is an area associated with rewards.

A separate study by psychiatrist Guido Frank at the University of Colorado in Denver also looked into your brain’s response to sugar versus artificial sweeteners. Women given a taste of the two said they could not consciously determine a difference. However, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of their brain responses showed differences indeed.

As in the previously mentioned study, the sugar activated the reward areas of your brain more strongly than the artificial sweetener, suggesting that the latter may not make you feel satisfied the way sugar would.

This is not an endorsement to indulge in sugar; rather it’s a major clue that your body is not being fooled by artificial sweeteners.

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Diabetes Increases Cancer Risk

Evidence is proving that diabetes may double the risk of pancreatic, liver, and endometrial cancer, while also significantly increasing the risk of colorectal, breast and bladder cancer. It’s still uncertain whether this is due to the disease itself, or the treatments that are being used for diabetes. However, it does strongly suggest that inflammation plays an underlying role, and how important it is to detect and treat diabetic changes as early as possible. Here is an article taken from Medscape that goes into more detail about this discovery:

June 16, 2010 — People with diabetes are at increased risk of certain cancers — but why?

Could it be that some diabetes treatments trigger or promote cancer? Or do the underlying causes of diabetes also underlie cancer?

These are the questions put before an expert panel from the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Their conclusion: We aren’t sure.

Even so, lifestyle changes that prevent or reverse diabetes will certainly cut cancer risk, says panel member Susan M. Gapstur, PhD, ACS vice president of epidemiology.

“The full biologic link between diabetes and cancer has not been completely defined,” Gapstur tells WebMD. “But first of all we should prevent diabetes. Then we can prevent some cancers. And for those who do have diabetes, it should be controlled as much as possible through a healthy lifestyle.”

Diabetes doubles the risk of liver, pancreas, and endometrial cancer. It increases the risk of colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer by 20% to 50%. But it cuts men’s risk of prostate cancer.

People with diabetes tend to have some known risk factors for cancer: older age,obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity. And problems common in diabetes — too-high insulin levels, too-high blood sugar levels, and inflammation — increase cancer risk.

“No matter what science ultimately reveals … we already know what we need to do to lower risk for both cancer and diabetes,” Alice Bender, RD, of the American Institute for Cancer Research, says in a news release. “Eat a healthy, varied, predominantly plant-based diet, be physically active every day, and maintain ahealthy body weight.”

Do Diabetes Treatments Raise Cancer Risk?

There is evidence, but not definitive proof, that diabetes treatments affect cancer risk.

Metformin, the most commonly used diabetes drug, seems to lower cancer risk. But there’s also evidence from some studies — contradicted by others — that insulin, particularly long-acting insulin glargine (Lantus), may increase cancer risk.

Mo
reover, there are at least theoretical concerns that other relatively new diabetesdrugs may affect cancer risk. Unfortunately, the panel found too little data to form an opinion on this question.

Because there is no definitive link between diabetes treatment and cancer, the panel strongly advises people with diabetes — except those at extremely high risk of cancer — not to make treatment decisions based on fear of cancer.

“Clearly those being treated for diabetes need to be talking with their doctors about the importance of regular cancer screenings as recommended by the American Cancer Society,” Gapstur says.

The consensus panel’s report appears in the July/August issue of the ACS journalCA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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Type II Diabetes-Do Genetics Matter?

A recent study demonstrates that diet and lifestyle factors play a bigger role than genes in determining whether a person will develop Type II Diabetes or not.

Genes are not destiny

To study diabetes risk, researchers enrolled 5,535 healthy British men and women, with an average age of 49 years into a study. After following these people for 10 years, 302 of them developed type 2 diabetes.

The researchers studied how well the Cambridge and Framingham risk scores predicted who developed diabetes in the group. They also looked at how 20 genetic changes that increase diabetes risk affected the ability to predict type 2 diabetes risk in the group.

Adding the genes to the risk scores did not significantly improve the ability to determine who would develop diabetes. In other words age, gender, family history of diabetes, body weight, smoking, and blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar are more effective for determining diabetes risk than genes.

You have the power to defeat diabetes

The most exciting thing about this study is that it tells us that we each have the power to positively affect our own health. Two important factors that affect diabetes risk–body weight and smoking–are within our control. By maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking, we can lessen the chances that we develop diabetes, even if we have “diabetes genes.”

You can’t change your family medical history, age, or gender, but you can make your health a priority starting today. A healthy diet and regular exercise will keep obesity at bay and reduce diabetes risk.

(BMJ 2010;340:b4838. doi:10.1136/bmj.b4838; National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. National Diabetes Statistics, 2007. Accessed February 13, 2010. Available: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/PUBS/statistics/#allages)

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