Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 26th, 2019

Is cheese really bad for you?

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Interesting 4-minute video:

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2019 at 4:43 pm

Stargazer has landed

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It’s here. Ordered in January, but a new model and thus a learning curve. I got “bare” rather than “seasoned.”

Well boxed, nicely wrapped, with some oil on the skillet to prevent rust.

Very nice size cooking surface. Note full handle (not just a nub) for assist grip and the forked mount for the main handle, the idea being that the handle will stay cooler (and from what I’ve read it works). Handle is comfortable. Concave top, as you see.

The identity.

I’ll season it tomorrow and am thinking about what to cook. Normally I would do a rib-eye steak, but I’ll think of something good.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2019 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Daily life, Techie toys

The Trump Admin Would Rather You Not Know Climate Change Affects the Food Supply

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The effect of climate change on food crops has long been my worry, and I starting posting my worries on that over a decade ago. Food wars, I wrote, are terrible things, and I see food wars in our future. Bess Levin writes in Vanity Fair:

Donald Trump is not a big fan of science, math, or data analysis, particularly the kind that hurt his arguments for, say, cutting the number of refugees the U.S. admits to a historic low or claiming that climate change doesn’t exist and the atmosphere would be lucky to be on the receiving end of more carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, some people still believe in scientific studies and tend to get upset when they show the dire consequences of doing nothing about increasing levels of planet-warming pollution, or telling coal plants to let ‘er rip. So, in an attempt to keep the bellyachers at bay, the administration continues to simply bury all the bad news.

Politico reports that the Trump administration has “refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies” warning about the effects of climate change, breaking with a “long-standing practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists.” Peer-reviewed and approved by the nonpartisan Agricultural Research Service—i.e. not the “Deep State” that Trump thinks has manufactured climate change as a personal attack against him—the papers conclude that climate change could, among other things: reduce the quality of grasses crucial for raising cattle; worsen allergy seasons; and, most alarmingly, result in rice becoming less nutrient-rich, which would cause health problems for the some 600 million people in the world whose diets consist mostly of rice.

While a spokesperson for the USDA said “Research continues on these subjects and we promote the research once researchers are ready to announce the findings,” noting that “not every single finding or piece of work solicits a government press release,” an investigation by Politico found that these unpublicized findings are almost exclusively the type that warn about climate change:

The lack of promotion means research from scores of government scientists receives less public attention. Climate-related studies are still being published without fanfare in scientific journals, but they can be very difficult to find. The USDA doesn’t post all its studies in one place…. The administration’s moves flout decades of department practice of promoting its research in the spirit of educating farmers and consumers around the world, according to an analysis of USDA communications under previous administrations.

According to reporter Helena Bottemiller Evich, since Trump took office in January 2017, the Agricultural Research Service has issued only two press releases for climate-related studies, both of which were beneficial for the powerful meat industry. (One concluded that beef production contributes a relatively small amount of greenhouse gas emissions and the other showed that cutting animal products from one’s diet for environmental reasons “would likely cause widespread nutritional problems.”)

“The intent is to try to suppress a message—in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University. “Who loses out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves.” The USDA—whose secretary, Sonny Perdue, allegedly punished in-house economists for contradicting the administration—insisted that there have been no directions to limit the distribution of climate science studies.

Of course, what’s reportedly happening at the USDA has happened across the Trump administration. In some cases,   . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2019 at 12:51 pm

Milk and Prostate Cancer

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This was interesting, but probably only to my male readers. From the chapter “How Not to Die from Prostate Cancer” in How Not to Die, starting on page 244:

Since the U.S. National Dairy Board was first created by the Dairy and Tobacco Adjustment Act of 1983, it has spent more than $1 billion on advertising. By now, we’re all familiar with its various slogans, such as “Milk is a natural.” But is it? Think about it. Humans are the only species who drink milk after weaning. It also does seem a bit unnatural to drink the milk of another species.

What about “Milk: It Does a Body Good”? All foods of animal origin contain sex steroid hormones, such as estrogen, but today’s genetically “improved” dairy cows are milked throughout their pregnancies when their reproductive hormones are particularly high.4 These hormones naturally found even in organic cow’s milk may play a role in the various associations identified between milk and other dairy products and hormone-related conditions, including acne,5 diminished male reproductive potential,6 and premature puberty.7 The hormone content in milk may explain why women who drink it appear to have five times the rate of twin births compared with women who do not drink milk.8 When it comes to cancer, though, the greater concern may have to do with growth hormones.9

Mother Nature designed cow’s milk to put a few hundred pounds on a baby calf within a few months. A lifetime of human exposure to these growth factors in milk may help explain the connections found between dairy consumption and certain cancers.10 Leading Harvard University nutrition experts have expressed concern that the hormones in dairy products and other growth factors could stimulate the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors.11 Experimental evidence suggests that dairy could also promote the conversion of precancerous lesions or mutated cells into invasive cancers.12

Concerns about milk and other dairy products first arose from population-scale data, such as the twenty-five-fold increase in prostate cancer in Japanese men since World War II, which coincided with a sevenfold increase in egg consumption, a ninefold increase in meat consumption, and a twentyfold increase in dairy consumption.13 Though the rest of their diets remained comparatively stable and similar trends have been noted in other countries,14 there were myriad changes in Japanese society beyond eating more animal products that could have contributed to these rising cancer rates. So scientists took a closer look.

To control for as many variables as possible, researchers devised an experiment in which they dripped milk on human prostate cancer cells in a petri dish. The researchers chose organic cow’s milk to exclude any effect of added hormones, such as the bovine growth hormone, which is commonly injected into conventionally raised cows so they produce more milk.15 The researchers found that cow’s milk stimulated the growth of human prostate cancer cells in each of fourteen separate experiments, producing an average increase in cancer growth rate of more than 30 percent. In contrast, almond milk suppressed the growth of the cancer cells by more than 30 percent.16

What happens in a petri dish, though, doesn’t necessarily happen in people. Nevertheless, a compilation of case-control studies did conclude that cow’s milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer,17 and the same outcome was found for cohort studies.18 A 2015 meta-analysis found that high intakes of dairy products—milk, low-fat milk, and cheese, but not nondairy sources of calcium—appear to increase total prostate cancer risk.19

But, you may be wondering, if you don’t drink milk, what will happen to your bones? Doesn’t milk help prevent osteoporosis? It turns out that the promised benefit may be just another empty marketing ploy. A meta-analysis of cow’s milk intake and hip fracture studies shows no significant protection.20 Even if you were to start drinking milk during adolescence in an attempt to bolster peak bone mass, it probably wouldn’t reduce your chances of fracture later in life.21 One recent set of studies involving one hundred thousand men and women followed for up to two decades even suggested milk may increase bone and hip fracture rates.22

Some babies are born with a rare birth defect called galactosemia, in which they lack the enzymes needed to detoxify galactose, a type of sugar found in milk. This means they end up with elevated levels of galactose in their blood, which can cause bone loss.23 A group of Swedish researchers figured that even among normal people who can detoxify the stuff, it might not be good for their bones to be drinking all that galactose in milk every day.24 And galactose may not just hurt bones. Scientists actually use galactose to induce premature aging in lab animals. When researchers slip lab animals some galactose, the “life-shortened animals showed neurodegeneration, mental retardation and cognitive dysfunction … diminished immune responses and reduction of reproductive ability.”25 And it doesn’t take much, just the human equivalent of one to two glasses worth of milk a day.26

However, since humans aren’t rodents, researchers investigated the connection between milk intake and mortality, as well as fracture risk in large populations of milk drinkers.27 In addition to significantly more bone and hip fractures, researchers found higher rates of premature death, more heart disease, and significantly more cancer for each daily glass of milk women drank. Three glasses a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of dying early.28 Men with higher milk consumption also had a higher rate of death, although they didn’t have higher fracture rates.29

Overall, the study showed a dose-dependent higher rate of mortality (in both men and women) and fracture (in women), but the opposite was found for other dairy products, such as soured milk and yogurt, which would go along with the galactose theory, because the bacteria in these foods can ferment away some of the lactose.30

The medical journal editorial accompanying the published study emphasized that, given the rise in milk consumption around the world, the “role of milk in mortality needs to be established definitively now.”31

Again, I left the footnote numbers in place. Each footnote identifies the specific study/studies whose findings substantiate the statement in the text.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2019 at 11:30 am

Preventing Excess Phosphorous Intake

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From the chapter “How Not to Die from Kidney Disease,” in How Not to Die, starting on page 291:

Preventing Excess Phosphorus Intake

Having too much phosphorus in the blood may increase the risk of kidney failure, heart failure, heart attacks, and premature death. Excess phosphorus also appears to damage our blood vessels and accelerate aging and bone loss.69 As such, elevated levels appear to be an independent risk factor for early death among the general population.70

Phosphorus is found in a variety of plant and animal foods. Most Americans consume about twice as much phosphorus as they need,71 but it’s not just about how much you eat but how much you absorb. By switching to a plant-based diet, you can achieve a significant drop in your blood phosphorus levels even as your intake levels of the mineral remains constant.72 This occurs because the phosphorus in animal foods appears in the form of a compound called phosphate, which is absorbed into the bloodstream more readily than phytate, the predominant form of phosphorus in plant foods.73 As you may remember from chapter 4, this situation is similar to the case of iron, another essential mineral of which you can get too much. Your body can better protect itself from absorbing too much plant-based iron, but it can’t as effectively stop surplus muscle or blood-based (heme) iron from slipping through the intestinal wall.

The worst type of phosphorus, though, is that found in phosphate food additives. These phosphorus compounds are added to cola drinks and meat to enhance their color.74 (Without added phosphate, Coca-Cola would be pitch black.75) Less than half of most plant phosphorus76 and about three-quarters of natural animal product phosphorus gets into your bloodstream,77 but added phosphate can be absorbed at a rate of nearly 100 percent.78

Phosphate additives play an especially important role in the meat industry. Chicken meat is often injected with phosphates to improve its color, to add water weight (and thus to increase profitability since chicken can be sold by the pound), and to reduce “purge,” the term used to describe the liquid that seeps from meat as it ages.79 The problem with this additive is that it can nearly double the phosphorous levels in meat.80 Phosphate additives have been described as “a real and insidious danger” for kidney patients, since they have diminished capacity to excrete it,81 but given what we now know about excess phosphorus, it’s a concern for us all.

In the United States, eleven different types of phosphate salts are allowed to be injected into raw meat and poultry,82 a practice that’s long been banned in Europe.83 This is because phosphates found in meat and processed foods are considered “vascular toxins,”84 capable of impairing our arterial function within hours of consuming a high-phosphate meal.85 In meat, there’s an additional food safety concern, as adding phosphate may increase the growth of leading food poisoning bacteria Campylobacter in poultry purge up to a millionfold.86

It’s easy to avoid added phosphorus in processed foods—just don’t buy anything containing ingredients with the word “phosphate” in their names, including pyrophosphate and sodium triphosphate.87 With meat, it’s more difficult to determine the phosphate content, as producers aren’t required to disclose injected additives. Added phosphate may be labeled as “flavorings” or “broth” or not labeled at all.88 Meat already contains highly absorbable phosphates; adding more may just add insult to kidney injury. Chicken appears to be the worst offender: A supermarket survey found more than 90 percent of chicken products contained phosphate additives.89

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2019 at 11:21 am

Eggs, Choline, and Cancer

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From the chapter “How not to die of prostate cancer” in How Not to Die, beginning on page 247:

More than two million men are currently living with prostate cancer, but living with prostate cancer is better than dying from it. If the cancer is caught while still localized within the prostate, the chances of it killing you within the next five years are practically nil. However, if the cancer spreads far enough, your chances of surviving five years may be as low as one in three.32 For this reason, scientists have been desperate to identify factors involved in the spread of prostate cancer once it has emerged.

Hoping to identify possible culprits, Harvard University researchers recruited more than one thousand men with early-stage prostate cancer and followed them for several years. Compared with men who rarely ate eggs, men who ate even less than a single egg a day appeared to have twice the risk of prostate cancer progression, such as metastasizing into the bones. The only thing potentially worse for prostate cancer than eggs was poultry: Men with more aggressive cancer who regularly ate chicken and turkey had up to four times the risk of prostate cancer progression.33

The researchers suggested that the link between consuming poultry and advancing cancer may be due to cooked-meat carcinogens (such as heterocyclic amines as discussed in chapter 11). For unknown reasons, these carcinogens build up more in the muscles of chickens and turkeys than in those of other animals.34

But what cancer-promoting substance is there in eggs? How could eating less than an egg a day double the risk of cancer invasion? The answer may be choline, a compound found concentrated in eggs.35

Higher levels of choline in the blood have been associated with increased risk of developing prostate cancer in the first place.36 This may explain the link between eggs and cancer progression.37 But what about cancer mortality? In a paper entitled “Choline Intake and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer,” the same Harvard team found that men who consumed the most choline from food also had an increased risk of cancer death.38 Men who consume two and a half or more eggs per week—basically an egg every three days—may have an 81 percent increased risk of dying from prostate cancer.39 The choline in eggs, like the carnitine in red meat, is converted into a toxin called trimethylamine40 by bacteria that exist in the guts of those who eat meat.41 And trimethylamine, once oxidized in the liver, appears to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and premature death.42

Ironically, the presence of choline in eggs is something the egg industry boasts about even though most Americans get more than enough choline.43 Mind you, the industry executives are aware of the cancer connection. Through the Freedom of Information Act, I was able to get my hands on an e-mail from the executive director of the Egg Nutrition Board directed to another egg industry executive that discussed the Harvard study suggesting that choline is a culprit in promoting cancer progression. “Certainly worth keeping in mind,” he wrote, “as we continue to promote choline as another good reason to consume eggs.”44

I’ve left the footnote numbers in place. In the Kindle version, these are links that take you to the footnote, which identifies the specific study that substantiates the statement.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2019 at 11:01 am

One thing seems obvious: I need a shaving brush with a blue handle

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The little Omega silvertip badger is a good brush, though its tips are not so soft as my (pre-Vulfix) Simpson Wee Scot. But once the lather emerged from the blue coating of soap on my beard, it felt fine, and the lather was quite good. I’m glade the Wilkinson shave stick has returned.

Three passes with this Baby Smooth damaged nothing but the stubble, which was annihilated with not a whisker left standing. I applied a splash of Parfums de Nocolaï’s New York aftershave, and the day’s off to a good start—especially since I’m now below my initial target of 185 lbs (184.7 this morning), and my morning blood glucose dropped from yesterday’s 5.8 to today’s 5.7. A normal reading is 5.4 or lower, so I think I’m getting there. It will be nice to drop a few meds.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2019 at 7:56 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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