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Health News

  • WHO Evaluates: Are Hot Drinks Carcinogenic?

    Wednesday, February 24, 2021
    Breaking News
    WHO Evaluates: Are Hot Drinks Carcinogenic?

    Your favorite brews, coffee and maté, recently got the third degree: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO)—has reviewed research on the carcinogenicity of coffee, maté, and very hot drinks. They’ve concluded that drinking beverages above 149°F is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Drinking coffee, however, may have gotten a pass: While coffee was designated as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in 1991 by the IARC, the agency now says that, overall, they have found inadequate evidence that coffee is carcinogenic. Their findings, detailed below, were recently published in the Lancet Oncology.

    • Very hot drinks. Limited evidence from epidemiological studies on hot drinks showed an association between drinking very hot beverages and an increased risk of esophagus cancer. In particular, studies from Iran, China, Turkey, and South America, where tea or maté is consumed at very hot temperatures (around 158°F), found that the risk of esophagus cancer increased relative to the drink’s temperature. Animal study results also suggested that drinking water above 149°F may have promoted esophagus tumor growth.
    • Maté. There is little research on drinking maté at lower temperatures; however, one study did find that drinking cold maté was not associated with an increased risk of esophagus cancer. The IARC has concluded that there is inadequate evidence to support the carcinogenicity of drinking maté that is not very hot.
    • Coffee. After reviewing over 1,000 observational and experimental studies on coffee, some of which controlled for potential confounders, like tobacco and alcohol consumption, the IARC found inadequate evidence for the carcinogenicity of drinking coffee overall. Specifically, they found no associations between drinking coffee and increased risks of pancreas, female breast, or prostate cancers. Drinking coffee was associated with reduced risks of liver and uterine endometrium cancers. The evidence was inconclusive for other types of cancers.

    Source: Lancet Oncology

  • Vitamin D3 May Help Heart Function

    Monday, February 22, 2021
    New Science
    Vitamin D3 May Help Heart Function

    The sunshine vitamin may improve heart function in people with chronic heart failure, according to results from a double-blind study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. For the study, researchers recruited 229 patients who had chronic heart failure due to left ventricular systolic dysfunction (failure of the heart to pump blood to the body) and a vitamin D deficiency. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either a 4,000 IU vitamin D3 supplement or a non-calcium-based placebo every day for one year. At the beginning and end of the study, researchers measured how far the patients could walk in six minutes and how much blood the patients’ hearts pumped with each heartbeat. At the end of the study, researchers found that:

    • For patients taking the vitamin D3 supplement, heart function improved: the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat increased by about 6%. There was no change in heart function seen in those taking the placebo.
    • Left ventricle size diminished in the vitamin D3 group but not in the placebo group. In chronic heart failure, the left ventricle size increases as pumping capacity decreases, so a decrease in ventricle size indicates long-term improvement in heart function.
    • Despite these positive changes, taking the vitamin D3 supplement was not associated with improvement in the patients’ walking distances.

    This is the first evidence suggesting that vitamin D3 improves heart function in people with chronic heart failure. Older people, who have a higher risk of heart failure, have extra reason to watch their vitamin D levels, as our ability to make vitamin D declines with age. It’s also a good idea for people of all ages to keep an eye on their vitamin D status, since research has associated low levels with shorter lifespans, poor bone health, and more injuries in active people. Besides sunlight, sources of vitamin D include fish oil, eggs, and fortified cereals and milk. A vitamin D supplement may also be a good choice, but be sure to check with your healthcare practitioner before adding any new supplement to your routine.

    Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology

  • Red and Processed Meat Found to Increase Cancer Risk

    Wednesday, February 17, 2021
    New Science
    Red and Processed Meat Found to Increase Cancer Risk

    A new research review may make you think twice before ordering the steak special. Researchers have found an association between eating processed meat or red meat and an increased risk of colorectal and other cancers. The review was performed by 22 researchers from ten countries who worked on behalf of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It was published in the journal Lancet Oncology and included an assessment of over 800 studies that investigated the relationship between cancer and the consumption of red meat (such as beef, veal, pork, and lamb) or processed meat (meat that has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked, or otherwise processed for preservation and flavor-enhancement). The 800 studies involved people from several continents, with diverse ethnicities and diets. Researchers defined the most informative studies as those that analyzed red and processed meat separately, had dietary data from validated questionnaires, included a large number of participants, and controlled for other major factors that may contribute to cancer risk. Here is what they found in their review:

    • In a meta-analysis of ten cohort studies (a type of observational study), the risk of colorectal cancer increased by 17% for every additional 3.5 ounces of red meat consumed per day (compared with eating no red meat), and by 18% for every additional 1.8 ounces of processed meat consumed per day (also compared with eating no processed meat). Roughly speaking, 4 ounces of meat might be the size of a deck of cards.
    • In a 2013 meta-analysis, there was a statistically significant association between eating red or processed meat and benign tumors of the colon and rectum.
    • In two intervention studies, consuming between 10.6 and 14.8 ounces of red meat per day increased the levels of potentially cancerous cells in participants’ colon and rectal biopsies.
    • In cohort studies and population-based case-control studies, there was an association between the consumption of red meat and an increased risk of cancers of the pancreas and prostate, and an association between the intake of processed meat and an increased risk of stomach cancer.
    • Meat consumption varied largely by country; however, in countries where people did eat red meat, they ate an average of 1.8 to 3.5 ounces per day. Information regarding processed meat consumption was not available.

    Based on the large amount of evidence supporting the association between processed meat and colorectal cancer, the researchers classified processed meat as “carcinogenic [cancer causing] to humans.” They classified red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In other words, the risk is stronger for processed meat. This might be due to the fact that curing and smoking meat, among other processing techniques, can cause the formation of carcinogenic substances. However, cooking red meat, especially over high temperatures (like pan-frying or grilling), can also produce known or suspected carcinogens. Therefore, limiting processed meats and avoiding cooking red meat until it's “well-done” can help decrease exposure to these carcinogens. Nevertheless, not everyone agrees that the risk from eating meat is substantial. While the evidence appears to consistently show that red meat raises one's risk of certain cancers, the absolute increase in risk is likely small, especially if you are otherwise fit, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, aren’t overweight, and don’t drink excessively.

    Source: Lancet Oncology

  • Seniors with Chocolate Addictions May Be Smarter Than the Rest

    Monday, February 15, 2021
    New Science
    Seniors with Chocolate Addictions May Be Smarter Than the Rest

    Are there any problems chocolate can’t solve? Previous research has associated chocolate with a lower risk of stroke, improved heart health and exercise performance, and a better mood. Adding to those benefits, a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that eating chocolate regularly could also decrease the risk of cognitive decline in seniors. The study included 531 participants, aged 65 and over, with normal scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)—a test that measures a person’s cognitive ability. At the beginning of the study, researchers evaluated the participants’ dietary habits, including chocolate consumption, through food-frequency questionnaires and used the MMSE to evaluate their cognitive function. Around four years later, researchers used the MMSE again to evaluate the participants’ risk of having a decline in cognitive function, defined as a decrease of two or more points on the MMSE. After adjusting for gender, age, education, smoking and alcohol habits, body mass index, hypertension, and diabetes, researchers found that:

    • Eating an average of three pieces of a chocolate bar, one chocolate snack, or a tablespoon of cocoa powder every week was associated with a 40% lower risk of cognitive decline.
    • Notably, chocolate’s protective effects were only observed in participants who consumed 75 mg or less of caffeine daily.

    These findings suggest your small chocolate habit may equal brain benefits. Just remember that not all chocolate is created equal: milk chocolate can contain high amounts of calories and sugars, and our bodies can’t absorb beneficial compounds from milk chocolate as well. Therefore, it’s best to stick to small portions of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 60% or more.

    Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Coffee Associated with Colon Cancer Survival

    Wednesday, February 10, 2021
    New Science
    Coffee Associated with Colon Cancer Survival

    If you’re a coffee lover, new research may give you a reason to savor your cup of joe even more. The research, reported on in the New York Times, found an association between high coffee intake and a decreased risk of cancer recurrence and death in patients with colon cancer. Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study included 953 patients with stage III colon cancer (cancer that has spread to lymph nodes, tissues, or organs near the tumor). Patients reported their caffeinated coffee and tea intake, among other things, during chemotherapy treatments and again after six months. Researchers also tracked cancer recurrence and death rates in the participants. After adjusting for differences such as gender, age, diet, smoking, weight, and physical activity, they found that:

    • Patients who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a 42% lower risk of colon cancer recurrence or death compared with those who didn’t drink any caffeinated coffee.
    • Patients who drank the most caffeine from any source also had a statistically significant reduced risk of colon cancer recurrence or death compared with those who didn’t drink any caffeine.
    • Drinking non-caffeinated tea or coffee was not associated with lower risks of colon cancer recurrence or death.

    It’s important to note that this study was observational, so more research is needed to show that drinking coffee itself, and not coffee drinkers’ other shared characteristics, was responsible for the health benefits the participants experienced. It’s also possible that the patients who were the sickest (and therefore more likely to have cancer recurrence) may have been unable to tolerate caffeine—this would mean that not drinking coffee was an effect of being sick, rather than the cause of a higher risk of cancer recurrence and death. That being said, these findings coincide with previous research that has associated coffee with a reduced risk of other cancers, like prostate cancer. In the end, the new study’s lead researcher, Dr. Charles S. Fuchs, may have summed it up best when he said, “If you’re a coffee drinker and enjoy your coffee, stick with it.”

    Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology

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Copyright © 2021 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2021.