Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday eating and New Year's resolutions

The time around Thanksgiving and Christmas is difficult for people in so many ways, including dealing with food. With all the food preparation, parties, food gifts, holiday meals, travel, and visitors, it’s hard to maintain regular habits and you won’t be alone if you end up feeling guilty and unhappy with your behavior.

It might help to understand that this season really does require super-human behavior. We evolved to want to overeat whenever possible. Our brain is screaming at us to eat so that we’ll gain weight and survive any future famine.

If all the foods around you were healthy whole foods, eating wouldn’t be such a struggle. Of course this includes fruits, nuts, seeds, veggies, beans, soy, whole grains, and seafood. But did you know that eggs, pecans, macadamia nuts, peanut butter, mayonnaise, shrimp and even beef, especially if it’s grass-fed, are included in the healthy whole food category?

Instead of worrying about your lack of will power, give yourself a break and start the new year by making your environment healthy- surround yourself with healthy foods.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is tap water still safe to drink?

In April 2009 I recommended in this blog that instead of using plastic water bottles people should fill glass bottles with tap water. According to an investigation by Charles Duhigg published in the New York Times yesterday, the quality of tap water in this country made a steep dive during the Bush administration as water pollution increased and regulation was lax.

Journalists like to make things sound as dire as possible, so I wish I had the time to read all of the scientific studies he refers to, as I would if this were a matter of nutrition instead of toxicology. But I’m glad that when our water started tasting of chloramine a few years ago, we started using a filter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tamoxifen in the news

In the Science Times today, Tara Parker-Pope tries to make the case that women are being illogical in not taking tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer.

I'm a scientist and the conclusion I draw from Ms. Parker-Pope's data differs from hers. Is it really logical to take a drug that when given to 100 high risk women, will lower the number of breast cancer cases from 1.9 to 1.0, but cause 8.5 additional cases of endometrial cancer, blood clots, cataracts, and sexual problems and 12 additional cases of hot flashes and irregular periods?

Are women really being illogical when they are willing to take birth control pills, but not tamoxifen? If the same 100 women were sexually active and not using birth control, 85 of them would become pregnant. Birth control pills would reduce this number to 1 to 8. If the pill were as ineffective as tamoxifen, women would be in big trouble.