Archive | Consumption

Study: Americans Unclear on Energy Saving

NEW YORK, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Americans are generally in the dark when it comes to the most efficient ways to save energy, U.S. researchers say.

A survey by Columbia University researchers found the majority believe they can save energy with small changes in lifestyles, while completely underestimating the major effects of changing over to efficient, currently available technology, a university release said Monday.

The largest group, nearly 20 percent, said turning off lights was the best approach — an action that affects energy budgets relatively little, researchers say. Very few thought about purchase decisions like more efficient cars that experts say could significantly cut U.S. energy consumption, the survey found.

In general, the survey author says, people tend to believe in what she calls curtailment.

“That is, keeping the same behavior, but doing less of it,” Shahzeen Attari of Columbia University’s Earth Institute said. “But switching to efficient technologies generally allows you to maintain your behavior, and save a great deal more energy.”

As an example, she cited high-efficiency light bulbs that can be kept on all the time and still save more than minimizing the use of low-efficiency ones.

People typically are willing to take one or two actions to address a perceived problem, Attari says, but after that they start to believe they have done all they can.

“Of course we should be doing everything we can. But if we’re going to do just one or two things, we should focus on the big energy-saving behaviors,” Attari said. “People are still not aware of what the big savers are.”

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Australia Looks to Ocean Waves for Energy

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Researchers say ocean waves off the southern coast of Australia have the potential to generate as much as half of the country’s current electricity needs.

Interest is growing in wave energy as a viable source of renewable electricity generation as the world faces dwindling fossil fuels supplies, an American Institute of Physics release said Monday.

Wave-energy developers, however, face the problem that all previous estimates of wave-energy potential were based on data from deep ocean waters, while “wave-energy generation systems are typically positioned near to shore,” Australian physical oceanographer Mark Hemer says.

In a journal article, Hemer and his colleagues have made new estimates of the wave-energy potential of Australia’s southern near-shore regions, and have calculated what percentage of the country’s energy needs could be supplied by wave energy alone.

Hemer says if 10 percent of the near-shore wave energy available along Australia’s Southern coastline could be converted into electricity, it could meet half of the country’s present-day annual electricity consumption of 130,000 gigawatt-hours.

Wave energy offers a “massive resource” to contribute to the Australian Government’s aim of producing 45,000 gigawatt-hours a year of additional renewable energy before 2020, Hemer said.

“Convert 10 percent of available wave energy from a 1000-km stretch in this area to electricity, ” Hemer says, and “the quota could be achieved by wave energy alone.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Diet, Alcohol Affect Breast Cancer Growth

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Aug. 2 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say diet and alcohol may affect the development of breast cancer tumors.

Researchers at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and the University of California, San Francisco, have linked environmental risk factors — such as alcohol consumption and diet — to genetic changes within breast cancers that may provide insight into how the disease will progress in an individual.

The study, published in PLoS Genetics, suggests the new biomarkers may give a more detailed view of tumor development and provide future diagnostic and treatment improvements as well as more personalized recommendations to help prevent the recurrence of cancer.

“This study provides a new window for finding environmental links to breast disease,” senior author John Wiencke of San Francisco says in a statement. “Our work indicates that we will soon have new ways to monitor and assess lifestyle and environmental factors for breast cancer.”

Wiencke and colleagues looked at tumor characteristics as well as demographic and diet information for 162 women enrolled in the Pathways Study, a Kaiser Permanente of Northern California study of cancer survivors.

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NYC: 32-ounce Soda = 26 Packets of Sugar

NEW YORK, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A 20-ounce serving of soda contains the equivalent of 16 packets of sugar, a public awareness campaign in New York, backed by city officials says.

The New York City health department’s new ad is part of a continuing effort to encourage reducing consumptions of empty calories by showing a poster — which debuted Monday in the subway system — that shows a 32-ounce soda contains the equivalent of 26 packets of sugar, and says: “All those calories can bring on obesity, calories and heart disease.”

“Sugary drinks shouldn’t be a part of our everyday diets,” Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City health commissioner says in a statement.

“Soda has fueled the obesity epidemic as portion sizes have grown and marketing of these products has intensified. We still have a long way to go to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, but it’s encouraging to see that New Yorkers are starting to move away from these products.”

The city’s annual study of health and behavior among adults in the five boroughs says daily consumption of sugary beverages fell from 36 percent in 2007 to 32 percent in 2009, a decline of 12 percent, Farley says.

“Few of us would knowingly eat that much sugar in one sitting, let alone feed it to our kids,” Farley says. “This campaign raises a compelling question: If you wouldn’t eat it, why drink it?”

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Tentative Link of Red Meat, Bladder Cancer

BETHESDA, Md., Aug. 2 (UPI) — Those who ate the most red meat in a U.S. study had an increased risk of bladder cancer but it was of borderline statistical significance, researchers say.

Amanda J. Cross of the National Institutes of Health and colleagues say the relationship was driven by consumption of processed red meats and there was no association between bladder cancer and white meat or processed meat itself, MedPage Today and ABC News report.

In addition, the study, published in the journal Cancer, finds no association between bladder cancer and beef, bacon, hamburger, sausage, or steak — but the researchers did find a positive association for cold cuts made from red meat.

The study involved 300,000 men and women over a seven-year period, who were part of the National Institute of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study It included a food frequency questionnaire.

The researchers say they suspect meat could be involved in bladder cancer via compounds related to cooking and processing, including nitrates, nitrites — used to cure meat — and heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can form during cooking.

In a statement, James H. Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation, says the study erroneously perpetuates the myth that cured meats are the main source of ingested nitrite, when 5 percent of ingested nitrite comes from cured meats and 93 percent from vegetables and saliva.

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Alcohol Reduces Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk

SHEFFIELD, England, July 31 (UPI) — Alcohol consumption reduces the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, as well as its severity, researchers in Britain say.

First author Dr. James Maxwell, a rheumatologist at the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust and honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield, looked at 873 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and compared them with a control group of 1,004 people who did not have rheumatoid arthritis.

Study leader Gerry Wilson of the University of Sheffield asked both groups how frequently they had drunk alcohol in the month preceding the study. The study participants also completed a questionnaire, had X-rays and blood tests and an experienced research nurse examined their joints.

The study, published online in the journal Rheumatology, finds patients who had drunk alcohol most frequently had symptoms that were less severe than those who had never, or infrequently, consumed alcohol.

The X-rays showed less joint damage, the blood tests showed lower levels of inflammation and there was less joint pain, swelling and disability, the study says.

Non-drinkers were four times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people who drank alcohol more than 10 days a month, Maxwell says.

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All Americans Drinking More, More Drunk

DALLAS, July 22 (UPI) — Whites in the United States increased their alcohol consumption from 1992 to 2002 while blacks and Hispanics did not, researchers say.

Raul Caetano, professor of epidemiology and regional dean at The University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas, and colleagues used data from the 1991-1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey and the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

“Whites increased their mean number of drinks while blacks and Hispanics did not,” Caetano says in a statement. “There was also a rise in drinking five or more drinks in a day across all three ethnic groups and drinking to intoxication among whites and blacks, but this was limited to those reporting such drinking at least once a month. This suggests a polarization in drinking between the two surveys, with those who drank more in 1992 reporting an increase in their drinking in 2002.”

The findings, published online ahead of print in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, suggest that while the proportion of black and Hispanic drinkers increased, the amount of alcohol consumed did not increase among blacks and Hispanics during the 10-year period.

Drinking appears to have become more liberal during the study period and this may explain why groups that traditionally did not drink — women and African-Americans — may have begun, the researchers say.

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Obese Men May Not Taste Fat

ADELAIDE, Australia, July 16 (UPI) — Australian researchers say obese men are less likely than others to taste fat and less likely to react physiologically.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia not only found lean men were more likely to detect the taste of fat but the fat was more likely to stimulate gut hormones that are released into the bloodstream and help suppress appetite.

“At this point it is not possible to tell whether reduced responsiveness to the taste of fat or reduced gut hormone release causes over-consumption of fat, or whether eating a high-fat diet impairs taste and hormonal responses to fat,” lead investigator Christine Feinle-Bisset says in a statement. “We found that being obese was associated with a reduced ability to detect fat taste, and with reduced release of an appetite-suppressing gut hormone.”

Feinle-Bisset and colleagues asked lean men and obese men to sip drinks with small amounts of fat and indicate when they could taste the fat. The researchers also measured blood levels of a hormone that is normally released from the gut when fat is consumed.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior in Pittsburgh.

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Consumer Corner: Raw Vs. Pasteurized

ST. PAUL, Minn., July 11 (UPI) — Raw milk gets a raw deal from health and agricultural officials, say proponents who contend its benefits outweigh the risk of drinking unpasteurized milk.

Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation in Washington and founder of “A Campaign for Real Milk,” contends most investigations blaming raw milk for making people sick “are highly biased and never proved raw milk actually caused the illnesses.” Other foods such as chicken and seafood pose a much greater danger, she says.

“Raw milk has never killed anyone and pasteurized milk definitely has killed people,” she said in a recent telephone interview with United Press International, citing three deaths attributed to tainted pasteurized milk in Massachusetts in 2007 and six deaths from pasteurized cheese in Europe in 2009.

Fallon Morell, who estimates 1 million to 10 million people in the United States drink raw milk, ardently touts its health benefits, “especially for young children.” Pasteurization, which uses heat to wipe out nearly all bacteria, also destroys enzymes such as lipase and other components raw milk proponents say are beneficial in a wide range of ways, including building a stronger stomach lining. Those who swear by raw milk say allergies, asthma, lactose intolerance, ear infections, gastro-intestinal problems and diabetes are just some of the afflictions it can help ease.

“It’s just a terrible thing to raise a child on pasteurized milk,” she said. “It’s associated with so many health problems, including asthma. It’s not a real food. It shouldn’t be used by anybody.

“Raw milk helps build a healthy immune system. It kills pathogens. Pasteurized milk doesn’t do that.”

Fallon Morell only recommends drinking raw milk from cows that are pasture-fed, not from large-scale dairies where cows are confined and she says often live in “a filthy mess.”

Pasteurization has been around for more than 100 years and a public health staple in the United States for decades. Federal health authorities say its track record of reducing outbreaks of serious illnesses such as tuberculosis, salmonella and E. coli speaks for itself.

Despite Fallon Morell’s stance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 45 outbreaks from 1998 through 2005 related to raw milk, accounting for 1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations and two deaths.

As recently as last month, raw milk was suspected in an E.coli outbreak that sickened several people in Minnesota, the Minnesota Health Department said.

In April, Michigan health officials concluded 13 people fell ill with a bacterial infection called campylobactern after consuming privately purchased raw milk from an Indiana farm. However, testing of milk found in the patients’ homes didn’t turn up any of the bacteria.

In both Minnesota and Michigan, many of those sickened were children.

“Natural doesn’t necessary mean more healthy when it comes to milk,” Dr. Sandra Wiederhold of Richland, Mich., told the Kalamazoo Gazette. “As a pediatrician, I promote health and safety and I don’t see that raw milk does that.”

In Wisconsin, lawmakers approved a bill that would have allowed the sale of raw milk products to consumers but Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it in May.

“I think (Doyle’s decision) was a combination of the agribusiness industry who, whatever they say, were afraid of losing a little market share, and the public health establishment that is instinctively afraid of freedom of any sort,” state Sen. Glenn Grothman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for all the people with stomach ailments, autism and other ailments who are going to have to try to obtain a product illegally because their government doesn’t believe in freedom.”

Milk, particularly from cows, and other dairy products are thought by some to be linked to autism and raw milk proponents attribute it to pasteurization.

In the Michigan outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration reiterated its stance against raw milk, saying it may contain a wide variety of harmful pathogens — including salmonella, E.coli, listeria, campylobacter and brucella bacteria — that may cause illness and possibly death.

Michael Schommer, communications director for the Minnesota Agriculture Department, said the state allows what it calls occasional sales. Farmers can only sell raw milk on-site directly to consumers, who must bring their own containers, he said.

When it comes to the dangers of raw milk, Schommer says the short answer is milk comes from cows, cows also produce manure and regardless how clean a farm is, there’s still a chance of contamination so pasteurization is the way to go.

“The health benefit (of raw milk) is up for debate,” Schommer told UPI. “The health risk is not.”

Slightly more than half of U.S. states allow raw milk sales in one fashion or another, from retail stores to direct farmer-to-consumer arrangements. Fallon Morell’s group helps farmers avoid legal hassles by setting buying clubs, and reaching herd- and cow-sharing agreements under which people “don’t buy the milk, they own the cow.”

While more inconvenient than just grabbing a container of milk off a supermarket shelf, she says, “We think this is fine. We’d like to see this in every state.”

But, she says, the FDA and the U.S. Agriculture Department remain “implacably opposed” to raw milk consumption and think their goal is to have it banned nationwide.

She says the FDA’s response to a Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund lawsuit seeking to have the agency’s ban on interstate commerce of raw milk found unconstitutional is telling. The Gaia Health Web site reports the FDA states in its response to the suit that “plaintiffs’ assertion of a new ‘fundamental right’ under substantive due process to produce, obtain and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law,” and that “there is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to food of all kinds.”

“So that’s their attitude: We do not have the right to food of our choice and they have the right to control everything,” she said.

She says proponents of raw milk have “put a lot of science together” to prove its benefits and safety, though she’d like to see even more studies done, confident they would only bolster their cause. Overcoming the Resistance by federal officials is difficult, she admits, saying progress will come “one retirement at a time.” She likens it to the medical community’s longtime resistance to the benefits of acupuncture.

“We’re going to have to wait for the old guard to get out of there,” she said. “I think it’s just a matter of time.” p>

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Hypertension May Be Linked to Fructose

DENVER, July 5 (UPI) — People who eat a diet high in fructose may be at increased risk of high blood pressure, U.S. researchers said.

Dr. Diana Jalal of the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center and colleagues linked consumption of the simple sugar, used to sweeten a wide variety of processed foods such as soft drinks and candy, to higher risk of high blood pressure.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Society Nephrology, found those consuming 74 grams or more per day of fructose — the equivalent of 2.5 sugary soft drinks per day — raised their risk of having blood pressure of 135/86 by 26 percent, of 140/90 by 30 percent and 77 percent higher risk for blood pressure of 160/100 or more.

“Our study identifies a potentially modifiable risk factor for high blood pressure,” Jalal said in a statement. “However, well-planned prospective randomized clinical studies need to be completed to see if low-fructose diets will prevent the development of hypertension and its complications.”

The researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 2003 and 2006 for 4,528 U.S. adults age 18 years or older with no prior history of hypertension. Study participants were asked to answer diet questions.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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