Monday, March 15, 2010

Cooking to Produce The Least Carcinogenic Compounds

In a previous blog, I mentioned a compound acrylamide and it's link to breast cancer risk. To recap;
  1. Acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) during certain types of high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking.

  2. High temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, or baking, is most likely to cause acrylamide formation. Boiling and steaming do not typically form acrylamide. Acrylamide is found mainly in foods made from plants, such as potato products, grain products, or coffee. Acrylamide does not form, or forms at lower levels, in dairy, meat, and fish products. Generally, acrylamide is more likely to accumulate when cooking is done for longer periods or at higher temperatures.

    What is interesting to note and somewhat counter intuitive, is that microwaving carbohydrates produces much less of these compounds than traditional cooking methods at high heat.

    Microwaving fats is not a good thing because the fatty acid structure can change from cis to trans fatty acids.

    Microwaving meats can reduce the B vitamins levels, specifically the B12.

    But, it does appear that carbohydrates might do ok. They do lose a huge amount of vitamins and enzymes rendering them less nutritious, but they do not appear to have high levels of acrylamides.

    Still, the best way to cook vegetables or grains is to steam them.

    Steaming does not seem to produce acrylamide and it retains the vitamins contained in the produce or grain.

    Sprouting is always an option for grains, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds and makes them more nutritious.

    Many people avoid sprouting because they think it is either complicated, or requires paraphanalia.This is not true, a shallow glass dish and water are all that is necessary for sprouting.

    What should you take away from this?

    The least exposure to high heat the better. So cooking for a short time, or at low temperatures are better than the opposite. The caveat is for oils, every type of oil has it's own smoke point that should not be reached as it denatures the oil.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Personal Body Care

We are constantly bombarded by unwanted chemicals in our daily lives.

In many of the individual instances, the amount of chemical in that individual exposure is minimal and fall under the "toxic" exposure level set by the EPA.

However, the additive effect and repeated exposure to toxins that are under the approved "toxic" level, drastically change the picture.

Parabens, which have been detected in breast tissue, are always stated to be in ultra low concentrations, the problem is that they are in everything from shampoo to skin lotions.
So, if every application of skin lotion, liquid soap, shampoo and makeup all contain parabens, the daily dose is much larger than the one exposure. In addition, parabens are fatty soluble and accumulate in tissue. Methyl paraben seem to be the most detected in breast tissue as compared with ethyl or propyl paraben.

1-4 Dioxane which is listed by the EPA as a class B2 carcinogen, has actually been found in many brands labeling themselves as organic such as Jason, Kiss My face, Giovanni and Natures Gate.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate has been found to have an effect that mimics estrogen, meaning it can stimulate estrogen receptors. while the effect is low, it is the fact that these effects can accumulate or work synergistically that is the problem. Anything that can stimulate the estrogen receptor can theoretically contribute to estrogen related breast cancer.

While the information above is covers only a small list of potential toxic or carcinogenic compounds found in personal body care, it is a list of by far the most common potentially damaging ingredients.

Make an attempt to eliminate paraben preserved body care, If you color your hair, foiling with highlights or lowlights is safer as the chemical does not touch your scalp. Use shampoos and body washes that are laureth free and stop using perfumes or perfumed anything.

While we can't completely avoid exposure to toxic chemicals, we can make smart choices and limit what we do have control over.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Where's the Beef?

In 2003, a large study looking at red meat consumption and breast cancer risks resulted in an inconclusive association.

However, a new study from Harvard's Brigham and Woman's Hospital (BWH) which was published in the November 13th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, states something different.

In the 2003 study, the focus was on meat consumption and general breast cancer rates in woman in mid-life or later.

The more recent study looked at over 90,000 woman ages 26 to 46 and found a significant increase in hormone receptor positive breast cancer.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, cancer in general is associated with an increase in IGF-1 levels. This is why it was so surprising to NOT see elevated breast cancer rates go up with dairy as dairy intake is associated with and increase in IFG-1 levels. But the rational in that case was that the Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) from full fat dairy was most likely protective.

Red meat and excessive protein as well as excessive carbohydrates can raise IGF-1 levels. this is presumed to be the reason that these dietary choices raise cancer risk rates.