Monthly Archives: July 2017

Rejecting Junk Food Can Be Easier When Shopping Online

For people who just can’t seem to pass up the candy in a supermarket checkout line, perhaps grocery shopping online could help reduce these impulse purchases, a new study suggests.

In the study, college students who were asked to shop for groceriesonline made similar food choices to one another, regardless of how impulsive the individuals were.

The findings are preliminary, and more research is needed to confirm the results, but the study suggests that online grocery shopping could help people stick to a healthy diet, said lead study author Jaime Coffino, a public health researcher at the University at Albany, State University of New York. [The Science of Hunger: How to Control It and Fight Cravings]

Previous research shows that people who are more impulsive may be less healthy than less impulsive people, Coffino told Live Science. In a grocery store, that impulsiveness could lead to a shopping cart filled with junk food.

The new study looked at 60 college students who filled out questionnaires that assessed their levels of impulsiveness as well as how they respond to the presence of food. The students were then told they had $48.50 for grocery shopping, and were asked to fill an online shopping cart with “nutritious, affordable and tasty” foods.

When Coffino calculated the nutritional value of all the food in each person’s online shopping cart, she found that there was no link between the foods a person chose and how impulsive the person was.

“It didn’t matter how impulsive a person was,” Coffino said. “The nutritional outcomes didn’t vary.”

Online grocery shopping could one day serve as a type of dietary intervention, Coffino said. Often, when people buy groceries online, they need to search for each item they want, as opposed to strolling through a store and saying, for example, “Oh, those chips look good.” Online, more planning and thought is needed. In addition, online grocery shopping makes people more aware of how much money they’re spending, which could deter them from adding impulsive picks to their carts, Coffino said.

She noted that the study has limitations — for example, no control group was used — and much more research is needed. Future studies could compare online grocery shopping to in-store grocery shopping, she said.

The findings were presented here Aug. 4 at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting. The research is part of a larger study that looks at how public health researchers can use online grocery shopping as a tool to encourage healthy eating. The findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Why Your Maus Moscow Drink May Be Dangerous

Your Moscow mule cocktail may look pretty in a copper mug, but officials in Iowa say that using copper containers for this beverage, and similar drinks, could be hazardous for your health.

Recently, Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division issued an advisory stating that pure copper mugs should not be used to serve Moscow mules or other acidic beverages with a pH below 6.0, including fruit juices, vinegar and wine. Traditionally, Moscow mules contain vodka, ginger beer and lime and have a pH well below 6.0, the advisory said.

When copper comes into contact with acidic foods and beverages,copper may leach into the food or drink. Ingesting too much copper can lead to copper poisoning, the advisory said. Symptoms of copper poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin, according to the National Institutes of Health. [Top 7 Germs in Food that Make You Sick]

The Alcoholic Beverages Division said it issued the advisory because of the recent rise in popularity of Moscow mules, which has led to questions about the safety of copper containers for this beverage.

But Moscow mule enthusiasts need not despair — you can still use a mug with a copper exterior, as long as the interior is lined with a different metal, such as nickel or stainless steel. Mugs with these interiors are safe containers for the cocktail, and are widely available, the advisory said.

Consuming CAN can increase Death due to High Blood Pressure.

Smoking pot is often considered safer than smoking cigarettes, but a new study suggests that marijuana use may increase a person’s risk of death from high blood pressure.

Over the two-decade-long study period, marijuana users, whose level and frequency of smoking was not assessed in the study, had a more than threefold greater risk of dying from hypertension than nonusers. This increase in risk was greater than that associated with cigarette smoking, the researchers said.

“Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial, and possibly not harmful, to health,” lead study author Barbara Yankey, a doctoral student of epidemiology and biostatistics at Georgia State University, said in a statement. “However, there is little research on the impact of marijuana use on cardiovascular and [stroke] mortality.” [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

The risks associated with smoking cigarettes, on the other hand, are well established, according to the study, published today (Aug. 9) in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Studies linking heart disease deaths and cigarettes, for example, are “extensive,” leading the researchers to hypothesize that smoking pot would be associated with a similar level of risk.

The study included more than 1,200 adults in the U.S. who had participated in the 2005 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a federal survey done annually to evaluate Americans’ diets and health. As a part of the survey, the participants were asked if they had ever used marijuana and, if so, when they first tried the drug. The survey also collected data on cigarette use.

Using data from 2011 from the National Center for Health Statistics, the researchers were able to determine if any of the participants in the NHANES study had died during the study period.

Using the two data sets, the researchers estimated the associations between marijuana use and length of use with deaths from high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

At the end of the study period, 73 percent of the participants were still alive, the researchers found. Nearly 35 percent of them reported that they did not use marijuana or tobacco; 21 percent used only marijuana (no tobacco); 4 percent smoked cigarettes (no marijuana); 20 percent used both marijuana and tobacco; 16 percent used marijuana currently and smoked cigarettes in the past; and about 5 percent did not use marijuana or tobacco currently but smoked cigarettes in the past.

The average duration of marijuana use was 12 years, and the average duration of cigarette use was 10 years.

The study found that, compared with people who didn’t use marijuana, those who did had a 3.4-fold greater risk of death from high blood pressure during the study period. There were no statistically significant links between marijuana use and the risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

Yankey noted that the findings suggest that marijuana use “may carry even heavier consequences on the cardiovascular system than that already established for cigarette smoking,” but she added that larger studies are needed to confirm the results. [Where Americans Smoke and Grow Marijuana (Maps)]

The researchers acknowledged several limitations of the study. For example, the study assumed that marijuana use was continuous from the time the study participants said they first tried the drug, but this may not be accurate.

Even so, the new findings are “not particularly surprising” and make sense in the context of previous studies on marijuana smoking, said Dr. Charles Pollack, an emergency-medicine physician at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and the director of the university’s Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp. Pollack was not involved with the new study.

But the study had some weaknesses, Pollack told Live Science. For example, relying on study participants to report their marijuana use can be “unreliable and inconsistent,” he said. In addition, “there are so many strains of [marijuana] out there, with no quality standards … making it tough to generalize” the effects, he added.

Pollack also noted that the study focused on recreational marijuana use, “which is different from most medicinal cannabis use.” Typically, marijuana from medical dispensaries is of higher quality, Pollack said, but in both cases (recreational and medicinal), “nothing in this space is tightly controlled.”

Indeed, the study authors wrote that they “are not disputing the possible medicinal benefits of standardized cannabis formulations,” but added that the “recreational use of marijuana should be approached with caution.”

Do You Eat Worm Parasite Eggs? Why A Company Wants To Sell It As Food

The German government is considering approval of a food ingredient that most people try their best to avoid: parasite eggs.

The country’s Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety is evaluating the safety of a product that consists of pig whipworm (Trichuris suis) eggs, New Scientist reported Aug. 7. If approved, the eggs would be sold as a food ingredient.

The product, made by a Thai company called Tanawisa, would be sold in small vials containing up to 2,500 eggs, which could be added to foods or drinks. It was approved for sale in 2012 in Thailand.

The company argues that parasite infections may have some health benefits, such as reducing the risk of certain autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. Tanawisa selected the pig whipworm for its product because the parasite cannot survive and reproduce in humans. (Thehuman whipworm, called Trichuris trichiura, on the other hand, is responsible for more than 600 million infections worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and can cause symptoms including severe iron deficiency and slowed growth in children.)

Some experts have dismissed the idea that self-infecting with a parasiteis a good idea.

For example, in 2013, the pharmaceutical company Coronado Biosciences (now called Fortress Biotech) announced that its clinical trial using pig whipworm eggs to treat Crohn’s disease had failed, according to The Boston Globe.

“In my opinion, worm therapies belong in the same category of pseudoscience cult therapies as chelation therapy for autism,” and approving this product in Germany would be a “dumb idea,” Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, told New Scientist. (Chelation therapy is a controversial technique in which harmful heavy metals are removed from a person’s blood.)