While Coal Ash Kills Americans, the EPA Stands By

Elaine Steeles house sits on a hill just above where 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash spilled after a dike containing the pond ruptured at Tennessee Valley Authoritys Kingston power plant in Roane County, Tennessee, in December 2008. For months later, she watched as men and women workers cleaned up hundreds of acres of thick, toxic gray sludge.

She told The Daily Beast they dug out iceberg-sized mounds of coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal, to clear roads and trees and find buried homes. The workers she saw were always covered in the sludge from head to toe. Wed see them out working day and night, and I never once saw anyone wearing protective gear, Steele said.

The Kingston spill is one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Coal ash, which contains toxic metals like mercury, arsenic, and cadmium, smothered the water and soil in rural Roane County, and a decade later, residents like Steele are still unaware of whether the toxins have been removedor if they ever will be.

The long-term effects of the spill on those exposed to the ash cleanup are clear, however. In 2013, more than 30 current and former workers and some spouses filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court against Jacobs Engineering, a company hired to oversee cleanup efforts, claiming the company knowingly exposed the workers to the toxic coal ash. Other workers and their families keep coming forward. In March, 180 new cases of dead and dying workers who had cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and other conditions from working for months or years cleaning up the spill were recently filed in Roane County Circuit Court. The death toll is now more than 30, and those who fell ill have reached at least 200, according to an ongoing investigation by the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Its shocking how many different bodily organ systems these can affect.
Barb Gottlieb, director of environment and health for the Physicians for Social Responsibility

In the years since the spill, theres been a widespread effort by communities around the U.S. to get utilities to clean up coal ash. To date, utility companies have excavated or committed to excavate about 90 million tons, Holleman said, but thats just a drop in the bucket: in 2014 alone, the U.S. produced 140 million tons of it, according to the EPA. Many utilities mix the ash with water and run it into lagoons or ponds nearby, held in by a dike usually made from earthen material, and others dump the fly ash in landfills. A recent analysis by utility companies showed evidence of groundwater contamination at more than 70 of these sites around the U.S.

The EPA estimates that these sites are responsible for at least 30 percent of all toxic pollution coming from industrial pollution, Frank Holleman, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said. [The Southeast] is much higher because we have more than our sharealmost every major river system in Southeast has one or two facilities near it.

Despite overwhelming evidence that coal ash is a major health risk, President Trumps administration is prepared to roll back federal regulations on the disposal and maintenance of coal ash, giving more power to states to decide how and where to store coal ash and how to clean up spills and leaks. Last month, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt announced the agency will move forward with more than a dozen changes to the the 2015 Coal Combustion Residuals rulethe first time the federal government finalized regulations for coal ash disposal. The EPA claims the changes will save the utility sector up to $100 million per year in compliance costs.

Pruitt claims the revisions will allow for public comment and flexibility for state regulators, but his agency just dismissed a lawsuit about the health impacts of coal ash, citing insufficient evidence Alabama regulators violated the Civil Rights Act by allowing a landfill company to operate in a black community. During the Kingston cleanup, 4 million tons of coal ash was shipped to a landfill in Uniontown, Alabama, a predominantly black town. Since then, Uniontown residents had been fighting the legal battle with state and federal environmental regulators.

What weve seen over and over again is that when we have fuzzy flexibilities, utilities take advantage to delay any decision on what they have to do, Holleman said. It puts maximum political pressure on the state agencies.

The communities who live and breathe adjacent to coal ash ponds or landfills know the risks all too well, but these facilities have ripple effects throughout the regions theyre located in. Since coal ash is not counted as a hazardous waste and is minimally regulated, there are many possibilities for exposure, Barb Gottlieb, director of environment and health for the Physicians for Social Responsibility, told The Daily Beast.

What weve seen over and over again is that when we have fuzzy flexibilities, utilities take advantage to delay any decision on what they have to do.
Frank Holleman, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center

The toxinssuch as lead, mercury, and radiumcan leak into drinking water and contaminate the air miles from where facilities are located. Arsenic, also found in coal ash, is particularly dangerous when it penetrates skin or is ingested, as it can lead to heart disease and diabetes, as well as bladder, lung, kidney, and skin cancer. Chronic exposure to cadmium in drinking water can result in kidney disease and obstructive lung diseases like emphysema, bone mineral loss and osteoporosis. Drinking water laced with chromium can cause stomach ulcers, and breathing in the toxin can lead to lung cancer.

Its shocking how many different bodily organ systems these can affect, Gottlieb said.

The chemicals can also be spread in other ways. Through beneficial use policies, the coal industry is allowed to reuse coal ash in some concrete and other construction projects instead of storing it, which has caused its own host of problems. In Town of Pines, Indiana, for example, the product was used so extensively in building roads and building material, the town was declared a Superfund site. A golf course in Chesapeake, Virginia partially built with coal ash led to a years-long legal battle with Dominion Energy over environmental contamination.

Its hard for people to put the pieces together, Gottlieb said. How often are people informed about toxic substances? And some of the harm that will result happens years later, making it harder to determine what was the cause.

Steele said the thought of the damage coal ash caused her community and neighbors weighs on her. She moved to Roane County before the spill to retire and enjoy life on the water; she loves to kayak on the nearby Emory Riverwhere the coal ash eventually spilled intoand often takes her 4-year-old grandson to the beach. We dont know whats in that water to this day, she said. Theres still leaking, its still in groundwater, we still have ponds right up against the river.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/while-coal-ash-kills-americans-the-epa-stands-by

Alzheimers Drug Trials Keep Failingand Thats Amazing

The morning before Thanksgiving 2017, neurologist Reisa Sperling was waiting for news. Sperling, an Alzheimers researcher and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, had been waiting to hear about the results of an Alzheimers trial called Expedition 3, which was gave more than 2,000 people either a placebo or an infusion of the drug solanezumab, meant to slow cognitive decline.

Sperling cared not only because shes a leading researcher in the field but because her own study, A4, would be testing the same drugbut in a different population. While Expedition 3 required subjects to have amyloid build up in their brains, A4s trial was on asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic people 65 and older who have biomarker evidence of brain amyloid deposition.

The Expedition 3 results, which showed some efficacy but not enough, being ruled a negative by the studys authors were devastating, Sperling told The Daily Beast.

It was a near miss because every single cognitive measure and clinical measure showed a small benefit but not enough, Sperling said. I was so sad for the patients and very worried about A4.

It can seem disheartening when the words negative appear on trial results, especially in the Alzheimers field, which has been plagued with very little movement on the clinical end of treatment for years. The disease was first discovered in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer and since then, has been difficult to treat.

Frank Longo, chair of neurology and co-leader of the new Stanford Neuroscience Health Center, told The Daily Beast that the only FDA-approved drugs for Alzheimers patients are Aricept and Acetylcholine, each meant to help boost neurochemicals in the brain.

But neither Aricept nor Acetylcholine are actually treating the disease.

I think those were developed about 20 years ago and unfortunately, its the best we have right now, Longo said.

But still, in the face of decades of negative trial results, Longo hopes medicine can find a treatment for the disease.

Its hard, but trials now are being designed in a much more effective way than they were five or 10 years ago that even if its unfortunate news, each trial is tending to teach us a lot and the progress is being made faster because of that and its giving many in the field confidence that we will have a drug that does work at some point, he said.

It was a near miss because [it] showed a small benefit but not enough. I was so sad for the patients.
Reisa Sperling, Harvard Medical School

James Hendrix, the Director of Global Science Initiatives for the Alzheimers Association, said that he saw many graduate school classmates drop out after facing failure in the lab over and over again. It takes a certain mentality to be able to say youll enjoy the exploration and the journey and be equally curious and able to solve important problems like Alzheimers, he said.

Negative results of one trial can also help direct how other trials are conducted. Sperling, who clearly has the kind of mentality Hendrix mentions, is a prime example. Instead of brooding over the Expedition 3s negative results, she got to work.

We discussed with our team and with experts in the field and with the FDA that we had to be bold and try to get an answer at the end of this study, so we made two decisions: We quadrupled the dose [of solanezumab] and extended the trial to be 4 and a half years, Sperling said.

Sperlings A4 results wont be ready until 2022, but shes hopeful it will yield helpful information. An aspect of so many negative results has been that researchers are trying to attack Alzheimers too late in the game, when so much cognitive damage has been done. Sperling likens it to cholesterol: the drugs that have been tried for Alzheimers are treating amyloid-beta plaque, which essentially kills brain cells and can build up 20 years before Alzheimers symptoms even begin.

Its like cholesterol builds up 20 years before a heart attack, Sperling said.

Hendrix said an important factor is the lack of funding Alzheimers receives. According to the Alzheimers Association, the National Institutes of Health spends $480 million on Alzheimers research compared to $3 billion on HIV/AIDS, $4 billion on heart disease and $6 billion on cancer.

Testing itself for Alzheimers is also a financial factor, as a PET scan to see the brain can be costly for patients. Sperling is using A4 as a potential way in to a blood test to screen for Alzheimers, by taking blood samples from every patient who screens for A4. This, Sperling hopes, could hopefully lead to a way for anyone at risk for Alzheimers to get tested with a blood test before needing a PET scan to diagnose the disease.

There are promising blood tests for amyloid, and just like cholesterol I think well have a blood test thatll at least tell us about risk, she said.

Meanwhile, Hendrix doesnt categorize negative results as failures.

I hate to use the [phrase] failed trials because as a scientist, youre supposed to come up with a hypothesis and then you test it with an experiment and then you figure out if the hypothesis correct or incorrect, he told The Daily Beast. And a failure is not whether your hypothesis is incorrect, a failure is if your experiment didnt give you the data to know if your hypothesis is incorrect.

Hendrix said that negative results are all part of the scientific process.

As long as we continue to learn and advance our knowledge, we are getting closer. The problem is that we dont know where the top of the mountain is, we dont know if we have 3 more steps or three more miles or three hundred more miles to go, but we know were making progress, were learning more and more about the disease, he said.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/alzheimers-drug-trials-keep-failingand-thats-amazing

Genes found for deadly heart condition

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Image caption Scientists looked at the genes of people with pulmonary arterial hypertension to find out what was causing the condition

Scientists say they have identified genes that cause a deadly heart condition that can only be cured by transplants of the heart or lungs.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension kills 50% of those affected within five years, but little was known about what caused the condition in some people.

Now experts say they have discovered five genes that cause the illness.

The findings could lead to earlier detection of the disease and ultimately new treatments, researchers say.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) currently affects around 6,500 people in the UK and causes the arteries carrying blood from the heart to their lungs to stiffen and thicken, ultimately leading to heart failure.

It is often diagnosed in people who have other heart or lung conditions, but it can affect people of any age and in about a fifth of people there is no obvious cause.

The only “cure” is a transplant of the heart and particularly the lungs, but there is a waiting list for organ transplants and the body will often ultimately reject them, particularly in the case of lungs.

For this latest research, published in Nature Communications, scientists carried out the largest ever genetic study of the disease by analysing the genomes – the unique sequence of a person’s DNA – of more than 1,000 PAH patients for whom the cause of the illness was unknown.

They found that mutations in five genes were responsible for causing the illness in these people, including in four genes that were not previously known to be involved in the disease.

In people with the condition these genes fail to effectively produce the proteins that are required for the structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues, researchers found.

Nick Morell, the lead author of the paper and professor at the British Heart Foundation, told BBC News: “Identifying the nature of these new genes and mutations in the new genes tells you what causes the disease.

“It allows you to design and come up with potential new ways of treating the disease because you have really well-grounded knowledge about what’s actually causing it in cases where you find these mutations,” he explained.

‘People should be more aware’

Image caption Wendy Callaghan was diagnosed with the condition five years ago

Wendy Callaghan, from west London, was diagnosed with PAH in 2013 after doctors became concerned about her persistent chest infection.

Her sister died from the condition 27 years ago at the age of 36, and her grandmother also died from a similar heart condition.

Wendy, who participated in the trial, has been told she has the genetic version of the illness and is now waiting to learn if her daughters and grandchildren have inherited the same deadly condition.

The 58-year-old said: “Even children can get it. People should be more aware of it and look out for the signs and persist with it if they think their child is not well.

“Especially as it does run in families, some people if they don’t know they’ve got it could be passing those genes on to the next generation,” Wendy added.

The research was part of a pilot study for the 100,000 Genomes Project – a huge initiative focused on understanding the genetics of cancer and rare diseases.

Prof Morell said such genetic studies were helping to transform our understanding of rare diseases.

He said: “Often people with rare diseases go to lots of different specialists, everybody is scratching their head a bit, we don’t know what the cause is, therefore it’s hard to find a treatment for it.

“Now being able to [genetically] sequence people with rare diseases at scale allows you to push the genetics into the clinic and into the families, and it also gives you a cause for the disease which you can potentially do something about,” he said.

Darren Griffin, professor of genetics at the University of Kent, who was not involved in the study, said the research was “one of the big successes” of the 100,000 Genome Project.

He said: “By studying the role of rare genetic variation in diseases, we come to a better understanding of the disease pathology itself, which can aid in early diagnosis and in tailoring treatment regimes.”

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43727026

Alcohol Companies Are Funding Research To Make You Want To Drink More

Health claims about alcohol are back in the news, but this time, the headlines are about the scientists who make those claims — not the actual data.

Recently published investigations by The New York Times, Wired and Stat paint a disturbing picture about the way alcohol companies are trying to influence scientific understanding, and thus public perception, of alcohol as a health tonic.

These stories reveal that officials at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) aggressively courted alcohol executives to fund a $100 million clinical trial on “moderate drinking” with the expectation that this study would probably conclude that it is safe and lowers the risk of disease.

Alcohol executives were allowed to help pick the scientists and preview the trial’s design, reports the Times, while Wired reported on how dependent the NIAAA is on industry funding to complete the expensive, long-term study. Finally, Stat has a story about how scientists who published unflattering research about the alcohol industry were verbally abused by NIAAA officials and cut off from funding.

Even though prestigious alcohol scientists may insist on their independence, studies show that research funded by the food industry is four to eight times more likely to conclude something that financially benefits the sponsor. Industry-funded research also tends to suppress negative data. When pharmaceutical companies fund studies, the findings are less likely to be published than research funded by other sources.

It adds up to a concerted effort by alcohol companies to make sure customers keep buying and drinking their products ― or even to increase people’s alcohol intake ― by tying alcohol to better health outcomes. And if industry-funded trials can’t convince Americans that their products are good for them, these sponsorships can churn out junk science that muddies the scholarship on alcohol, food or drugs, leaving consumers confused and awash in contradictory news headlines.

“The obvious conflict of interest is that the funder of this research stands to benefit when the research comes out with findings that encourage more people to use its products,” said David Jernigan, a professor at the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health. “It’s kind of the whole reason we have an independent science sector ― to wall it off from conflicts of interest like this.”

It’s kind of the whole reason we have an independent science sector ― to wall it off from conflicts of interest like this. David Jernigan, Boston University School of Public Health.

If you’ve ever seen headlines about how red wine is good for your heart, or how moderate alcohol use is linked to longer life, you’ve seen the alcohol industry’s influence on health science at work. And Americans seem to be swallowing that message. A 2015 Gallup poll found that 1 in 5 Americans believe “moderate” drinking is good for health, and that this was especially true among those who drink alcohol.  

This belief is a boon for the alcohol industry for at least two reasons: It links alcohol consumption to a healthy lifestyle that can improve heart health, and it relies on the concept of “moderation,” a squishy term that in practice ends up meaning whatever drinkers want it to mean.  

Research on the concept of “moderation” reveals that the more a person likes a food or drink, the bigger their definition of what a “moderate” serving is. And food and beverage companies may be using that to their advantage, said Michelle vanDellen, an expert in self-control and eating behaviors at the University of Georgia.  

“I suspect that companies understand that moderation messages, or moderation endorsement, will provide the appearance of looking like they care about health, but they also know that it’s unlikely to affect their bottom line,” she said. “I don’t know if food and beverage companies have done research on moderation, but I have, and I know that moderation messages are poorly defined, they increase the scope of what is considered healthy and they lead to increased intended consumption.”

When it comes to alcohol, at least, there is a seemingly objective unit of measurement for moderation: up to one drink a day for women, and up to two drinks a day for men, as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These amounts form the basis of claims that alcohol may have a positive effect on health.

But careful analyses have debunked the association between moderate alcohol consumption and health by taking the “abstainer bias” into account. People who currently abstain from alcohol include those who have never consumed it and former drinkers. But many former drinkers have quit alcohol for health reasons, so the “abstainer” group is already biased toward worse health overall than a group of people who are still moderate drinkers and haven’t had to quit because of their health.

2016 analysis of 87 former studies that linked moderate alcohol consumption to longer life found that once former drinkers were cut out of the picture, the apparent link between moderate alcohol consumption and long life disappeared.

JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
Tim Stockwell’s research shows that when you exclude people who used to drink but now abstain, the purported benefits of alcohol vanish. This illustrates what’s known as “abstainer bias.”

Similar analyses have been performed for breast cancer, revealing that even low levels of alcohol are linked to a higher risk of the disease. An analysis that removes former drinkers from the results in heart disease research, however, had more positive findings about alcohol: Even after accounting for the abstainer bias, never-drinkers had a higher risk for a handful of heart conditions than moderate drinkers.

This association could explain why the U.S. Dietary Guidelines (the federal government’s advice on eating and drinking) used to explicitly link moderate alcohol consumption to lower risk for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. But in the latest guidelines, which are official recommendations meant to span 2015 to 2020, this language was removed.

This may be because health hazards associated with alcohol consumption ― like violence, car collisions, substance abuse, liver disease and cancer ― more than cancel out whatever marginally positive effects alcohol could have on heart disease risk.

“To put it another way, there are much safer ways to protect your health than starting to drink,” Jernigan said.

Almost 90,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year in the U.S., making it the third most preventable cause of death after tobacco and the combination of lack of exercise and poor diet. More than 15 million adults and 600,000 teens have alcohol use disorder in the U.S., and more than 10 percent of children in the U.S. live with a parent who struggles with alcohol problems. Alcohol use also increases one’s risk of breast, colon, liver, esophageal, head and neck cancer.

These ties to other diseases and health risks are why some scientists are calling for moderate alcohol guidelines to be even lower than what they are now. A recent analysis of about 600,000 current drinkers from 19 wealthy countries found that the risk of death from any cause begins to increase after a person drinks more than 100 grams of alcohol per week ― the amount in about seven servings of alcohol. But that’s half the “moderate” alcohol serving for men in the U.S.

“The health effects of drinking are so clear,” said Jernigan. “There just aren’t a lot of products that are legally available that kill over 100,000 Americans every year and are still on the market.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/alcohol-companies-want-you-to-drink-more-and-theyre-funding-research-to-make-it-happen_us_5ad123bce4b077c89ce8a835

Inside the Auction of Zsa Zsa Gabors Life, Pill Bottles and All

The famed Hollywood actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is entertaining guests once more, despite her death at 99 two years ago.

Her ninth and final husband, Frdric Prinz von Anhalt, who was left everything upon her death, is having an auction. Von Anhalt, who famously purchased his title and once claimed he was robbed by a roving gang of lesbians, has amassed a group of items that will tantalize old Hollywood enthusiasts and also those looking for a lurid peek into Gabors final days.

As I pull up to Gabors Bel Air mansion to preview the auction of her estate, which takes place tomorrow (April 14), Im met with a red carpet and a gallery of magazine covers featuring her. Its a sign that whats to come is going to be nothing but glamour and old Hollywood nostalgia.

Upon entering the house, the first thing to greet you is a large carousel-sized horse. This a theme of Gabors home. She and von Anhaltwho married in 1986were equestrians who kept 40 horses on their estate in Simi Valley.

Further inspection of the home finds a portrait of Gabor with a horse, horse figurines, and larger sized statues. Its as if shes seen Sydney Pollacks 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Dont They? and decided she could never do that.

Perhaps the most interesting horse-related item is a leather saddle gifted to her by Ronald Reagan.

Resting in the parlor besides several horse trinkets is a stunning portrait of Gabor in a red gown. She has many portraits of her, but this one particularly striking in a Hitchcockian type of way. Gabor has a signature necklace and a light pink shawl draped across her shoulders. The oil canvas is signed To Zsa Zsa with Love, Peter Sheil.

The artist himself is as mysterious as the portrait hes rendered, but he has also done portraits of society columnist Aileen Mehle and actresses Tallulah Bankhead and Kay Kendall.

Dramatic portraits are the theme of Gabors estate sale, which also includes a 1954 pencil on paper portrait of her 1950s lover Porfirio Rubirosa. Rubirosa was a legendary playboy who has been romantically linked to not just Gabor, but Eartha Kitt, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Veronica Lake, and Eva Pern.

Gabor never married Rubirosa, but she did keep this portrait of him for decades. Another portrait of Gabor, seductively holding a rose while wearing a white mink draped over a blue gown, is by the artist Margaret Keane dated 1927. Keane is the artist whose husband Walter took credit for her big eyes paintings that was later the subject of the 2014 Tim Burton film, Big Eyes.

Perhaps you would like Gabors driver license issued in 1989. It lists her 1001 Bel Air Rd address and its issue date, Aug. 14, was the third anniversary of her marriage to von Anhalt. She is wearing a red gown, blonde hair, a necklace, and diamond earrings.

You can buy her Louis Vuitton luggage, gowns by Valentino and James Galanos, jewelry, a gold and diamond cigarette case. Its exactly the kind of Gabor extravagance you might expect, then add a few more hundred carats.

Then there are the pill bottles. Yes, Gabors prescription pill bottles are up for sale. What husband wouldnt want to auction off his late wifes prescription bottles? (Gabors health travails were many: As The Daily Beast reported after her death in December 2016, she had suffered a stroke in 2005, and had been hospitalized repeatedly since 2010 after breaking her hip in a fall.)

Available for purchase are bottles of Clopidogrel, used to prevent heart attacks and strokes in persons with heart disease; Tekturna, a common blood pressure drug; and Metfromin, which is used to control high blood sugar. There are a few other bottles that have prescriptions to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Amidst the gorgeous gowns for sale and the Moet and Chandon glass set that frankly would be on display at any dinner party I threw if I could afford them, are tchotchkes like these. A drivers license sure, but pill bottles seem rather gauche. It feeds into the invasive nature that led celebrities of Gabors stature to retreat from the public eye and to become veritable circus acts.

The humor of Gabors auction faded slightly after realizing there were such lurid items that are being sold off. I felt somewhat sorry for her memory until I stumbled across the Venetian Moor statues that populate the home. You know, statues that are moors in blackface.

Othello was a moor, a member of a northwestern African Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent. In earlier productions of Shakespeares work, men would wear blackface to portray the moor. Youre reminded of these as you find comical figures adorning Gabors home with blackface, bright red lips, and expressive eyes.

If she was still holding onto her racist statues well until her death, then sell her pill bottles all you want. Also, Ill take that 104 piece vintage Moet and Chandon drink set!

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-auction-of-zsa-zsa-gabors-life-pill-bottles-and-all

Excess drinkers ‘can lose years of life’

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Regularly drinking above the UK alcohol guidelines can take years off your life, according to a major report.

The study of 600,000 drinkers estimated that having 10 to 15 alcoholic drinks every week could shorten a person’s life by between one and two years.

And they warned that people who drink more than 18 drinks a week could lose four to five years of their lives.

The 2016 UK guidelines recommend no more than 14 units a week, which is six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine.

Authors of the Lancet study said their findings backed up the new guidelines and also said they did not find an increased risk of death for light drinkers.

Scientists, who compared the health and drinking habits of alcohol drinkers in 19 countries, modelled how much life a person could expect to lose if they drank the same way for the rest of their lives from the age of 40.

They found people who drank the equivalent of about five to 10 drinks a week could shorten their lives by up to six months.

The study’s authors also found drinking increased the risk of cardiovascular illness, with every 12.5 units of alcohol people drank above the guidelines raising the risk of:

  • Stroke by 14%
  • Fatal hypertensive disease by 24%
  • Heart failure by 9%
  • Fatal aortic aneurysm by 15%

Drinking alcohol was linked with a reduced risk of non-fatal heart disease, but scientists said this benefit was wiped out by a higher risk of other forms of the illness.

Previous studies have suggested that drinking red wine can be good for our hearts, although some scientists have suggested these benefits may be overhyped.

Another Danish study found drinking three to four times a week was linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

“This study makes clear that on balance there are no health benefits from drinking alcohol, which is usually the case when things sound too good to be true,” said Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the research.

“Although non-fatal heart attacks are less likely in people who drink, this benefit is swamped by the increased risk of other forms of heart disease including fatal heart attacks and stroke.”

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Media captionThe UK’s drinking limits are at the right level, Richard Piper from Alcohol Research UK says
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Image caption Scientists say the study challenges the idea that drinking in moderation is good for our health

Recommended limits in Italy, Portugal, and Spain are almost 50% higher than the UK guidelines, and in the USA the upper limit for men is nearly double this.

But Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, which partly funded the study, said this did not mean the UK “should rest on its laurels”.

“Many people in the UK regularly drink over what’s recommended” she said.

“We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target, and try to drink well below this threshold.”

Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study, said: “The key message of this research is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions.”

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43738644

What too much alcohol can do to your health

(CNN)This feature is part of CNN Parallels, an interactive series exploring ways you can improve your health by making small changes to your daily habits.

A lot of us drink. Too many of us drink a lot.
Worldwide, each person 15 years and older consumes 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day, according to the World Health Organization. Considering that nearly half of the world doesn’t drink at all, that leaves the other half drinking up their share.
    While the majority of the world drinks liquor, Americans prefer beer. The Beverage Marketing Corp. tracks these things: In 2017,Americans guzzled about 27 gallons of beer (or 216 pints), 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per drinking-age adult.
    But Americans are lightweights in any worldwide drinking game, based on numbers from the World Health Organization. The Eastern European countries of Lithuania, Belarus, Czechia (the Czech Republic), Croatia and Bulgaria drink us under the table.
    In fact, measuring liters drunk by anyone over 15, the US ranks 36th in the category of most sloshed nation; Austria comes in sixth; France is ninth (more wine) and Ireland 15th (yes, they drink more beer), while the UK ranks 18th.
    Who drinks the least in the world? The Arab nations of the Middle East.

    With all this boozing going on, just what damage does alcohol do to your health? Let’s explore what science says are the downsides of having a tipple or two.

    Counting calories

    Even if you aren’t watching your waistline, you might be shocked at the number of empty calories you can easily consume during happy hour.
    Calories are typically defined by a “standard” drink. In the US, that’s about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol, which differs depending on the type of adult beverage you consume.

    For example, a standard drink of beer is one 12-ounce can (355 milliliters). For malt liquor, it’s 8 to 9 fluid ounces (251 milliliters). A standard drink of red or white wine is about 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters).
    What’s considereda standard drink continues to go down as the alcohol content goes up. But what if that changes? Let’s use beer as an example.
    It used to be that light beer came in around 100 calories while regular beer averaged 153 calories per 12-fluid ounce can or bottle — that’s the same as two or three Oreo cookies.

    But beer calories depend on both alcohol content and carbohydrate level. So if you’re a fan of today’s popular craft beers, which often have extra carbs and higher alcohol content, you could easily face a calorie land mine in every can. Let’s say you chose a highly ranked IPA, such as Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (9.6% alcohol) or Narwhal (10.2% alcohol), and you’ve downed a whopping 318 to 344 calories, about as much as a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Did you drink just one?
    If you pour correctly, white wine is about 120 calories per 5 fluid ounces, and red is 125. If you fill your glass to the brim, that might easily double.
    Liquor? Gin, rum, vodka, tequila and whiskey cost you 97 calories per 1.5 fluid ounces, but that’s without mixers. An average margarita will cost you 168 calories while a pina colada weighs in at a whopping 490 calories, about the same as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
    A 2013 study in the US found that calorie intake went up on drinking days compared with non-drinking days, mostly due to alcohol: Men took in 433 extra calories, while women added 299 calories.
    But alcohol can also affect our self-control, which can lead to overeating. A 1999 study found that people ate more when they had an aperitif before dinner than if they abstained.
    Take heart. If you’re a light to moderate drinker, meaning you stick to US guidelines of one “standard” drink a day for women and two for men, studies have shown that you aren’t guaranteed to gain weight over time — especially if you live an overall healthy lifestyle.
    For example, a 2002 study of almost 25,000 Finnish men and women over five-year intervals found that moderate alcohol consumption, combined with a physically active lifestyle, no smoking and healthy food choices, “maximizes the chances of having a normal weight.”
    However, it appears that heavy drinking and binge drinking could be linked to obesity. And that’s a problem. The numbers of binge drinkers — defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women within a couple of hours at least once a month — has been rising in the United States.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in six adults binge about four times a month, downing about eight drinks in each binge.
    In the UK, where binge drinking is defined as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk,” a 2016 national survey found 2.5 million people admitted to binge drinking in the last week.
    Alcohol, of course, has no nutritional value and contains 7 calories per gram — more than protein and even carbs, which both have 4 calories. Fat has 9 calories per gram.
    All those empty alcohol calories have to end up somewhere.

    Heart disease and cancer

    The prevailing wisdom for years has been that drinking in moderation — again, that’s one “standard” drink a day for women and two for men — is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. But recent studies are casting doubt on that long-held lore. Science now says it depends on your age and drinking habits.
    A 2017 study of nearly 2 million Brits with no cardiovascular risk found that there was still a modest benefit in moderate drinking, especially for women over 55 who drank five drinks a week. Why that age? Alcohol can alter cholesterol and clotting in the blood in positive ways, experts say, and that’s about the age when heart problems begin to occur.
    For everyone else, the small protective effect on the heart was evident only if the drinks were spaced out during the week. Consuming heavily in one session, or binge drinking, has been linked to heart attacks — or what the English call “holiday heart.”
    Also, a 2018 study found that drinking more than 100 grams of alcohol per week — equal to roughly seven standard drinks in the United States or five to six glasses of wine in the UK — increases your risk of death from all causes and in turn lowers your life expectancy. Links were found with different forms of cardiovascular disease, with people who drank more than 100 grams per week having a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysm, where an artery or vein swells up and could burst.
    In contrast, the 2018 study found that higher levels of alcohol were also linked to a lower risk of heart attack, or myocardial infarction.
    Overall, however, the latest thinking is that any heart benefit may be outweighed by other health risks, such as high blood pressure, pancreatitis, certain cancers and liver damage.
    Women who drink are at a higher risk for breast cancer; alcohol contributes about 6% of the overall risk, possibly because it raises certain dangerous hormones in the blood. Drinking can also increase the chance you might develop bowel, liver, mouth and oral cancers.
    One potential reason: Alcohol weakens our immune systems, making us more susceptible to inflammation, a driving force behind cancer, as well as infections and the integrity of the microbiome in our digestive tract. That’s true not only for chronic drinkers but for those who binge, as well.

    Diabetes

    The connection between alcohol and diabetes is complicated. Studies show that drinking moderately over three or four days a week may actually lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, drinking heavily increases the risk. Too much alcohol inflames the pancreas, which is responsible for secreting insulin to regulate your body’s blood sugars.
    If you have diabetes, alcohol may interact with various medications. If you take insulin or any pills that stimulate the release of insulin, alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia, a dangerously low blood sugar level, because alcohol stimulates the release of insulin as well. That’s why experts recommend never drinking on an empty stomach. Instead, drink with a meal or at least some carbs.
    And, of course, because alcohol is made by fermenting sugar and starch, it’s full of empty calories, which contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

    Mood and memory

    Because alcohol is a depressant, drinking can drown your mood. It may not seem that way while you “party” your inhibitions away, but that’s just the drink depressing the part of the brain we use to control our actions. The more you drink, say experts, the more your negative emotions, such as anxiety, anger and depression, can take over.
    That’s why binge drinking or drinking a lot in one sitting is associated with higher levels of depression, self-harm, suicide and violent offending.
    Binge drinking is also associated with severe “blackouts”: the inability to remember what happened while drunk. Blackouts can range from small memory blips, such as forgetting a name, to more serious incidents, such as forgetting an entire evening.
    Alcohol does this by decreasing the electrical activity of the neurons in your hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for the formation of short-term memories. Keep up that binge drinking, and you can permanently damage the hippocampus and develop sustained memory or cognitive problems.
    Adolescents are most susceptible to alcohol’s memory disruption but less sensitive to the intoxicating effects. That means they can easily drink more to feel as “drunk” as an adult would, causing even more damage to their brains.

    How you look

    Last but certainly not least, alcohol can have a significant effect on your good looks. First, it dehydrates you. That can leave your skin looking parched and wrinkled. It’s also linked to rosacea, a skin condition causing redness, pimples and swelling on your face.
    Do you know you can stink while you’re drinking? During the time your liver is processing a single drink, which is on average an hour but varies for everyone, some of it leaves your body via your breath, urine and sweat.

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Another reason drinking can affect your looks has to do with sleep. Although even a little bit of alcohol can help you fall asleep quickly, as the alcohol is metabolized and leaves the body you may suffer the “rebound effect.” Instead of staying asleep, the body enters lighter sleep and wakefulness, which appears to get worse the more one drinks.
    A lack of sleep leads to dark circles, puffy eyes and stress. Keep it up, studies say, and you’re likely to see more signs of aging and a much lower satisfaction with your appearance.
    So the next time you head to the pub for tipple or two, remember: You could be paying a price for all that fun.

    Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/01/health/alcohol-health-weight-diabetes-memory-intl/index.html

    The states where disease and death are highest: A visual guide

    (CNN)There’s no question that the impact of diseases varies drastically across the United States, depending on which state you live in.

    Now, a study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA details just how wide those state-by-state differences are when it comes to how diseases, injuries and risk factors impact America’s youth, adults and older populations.
    “There’s so many different levels of health in the US, so many different disparities across states and age groups,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, a professor of global health at the University of Washington and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who was lead author of the study.
      “The top five risk factors — diet, obesity, elevated blood pressure, tobacco and physical inactivity — explain an awful lot of the differences across states,” he said. “Why those causes are getting worse in some states and not getting worse in the other states, I think, deserves more investigation.”

      ‘Very divergent trends’

      For the study, researchers analyzed data from the Global Burden of Disease study, a research tool that quantifies health impacts across countries and within the US using various data sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and state inpatient databases.
      Since 1990, the Global Burden of Disease study has collected and analyzed health data, with the most recent data coming from 2016. The data capture premature death and disability from more than 300 diseases and injuries in 195 countries, by age and sex.
      The researchers examined the data from 1990 to 2016, taking a close look at state-by-state trends and calculating the probability of death among three age groups: 0 to 20, 20 to 55 and 55 to 90.
      “It turned out that the trends in health — and in this case being measured by the chances of dying at different age groups — basically in all 50 states were improving in kids and adolescents and in people over age 55, but then in the ages between 20 and 55, you had the US going in two different directions,” Murray said.
      “You had complete divergent trends in those middle age groups, and that’s sort of surprising because usually, people think whatever is driving health would affect everybody pretty much the same,” he said. “The fact that we get these very divergent trends by state and age, I think, is really quite unusual.”
      In 1990, Hawaii had an estimated average of 78.5 years, followed by Utah at 77.9 years and Minnesota with 77.8 years.
      Mississippi was the state with the lowest at 73.1 years, followed by Louisiana at 73.3 and South Carolina at 73.7.
      Even though it’s not a state, the District of Columbia was included in the data and had the lowest of all at 68.4.
      In 2016, Hawaii still had the highest life expectancy at birth, at 81.3 years. California climbed from 24th in 1990 to having the second-highest in 2016, at 80.9 years. Connecticut rose from seventh in 1990 to having the third-highest in 2016 at 80.8 years, the study showed.
      Mississippi still had the lowest of all the states at 74.7 years, followed by West Virginia, which dropped from 45th in 1990 to 50th in 2016 at 75.3 years. Alabama ranked third at 75.4 years, the study showed. Meanwhile, life expectancy at birth appeared to improve in DC, as it moved from ranking lowest of all in 1990 to 36th in 2016.

      Dr. Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Dr. Anand Parekh, chief medical adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center, co-authored an editorial published alongside the new study.
      They wrote that “if each state were a country, Hawaii would rank 20th worldwide (after Ireland) whereas Mississippi would rank 76th (tied with Kuwait).”
      The researchers also found that Mississippi ranked as having the highest probability of death for people between the ages of 0 and 20 between 1990 and 2016.

      The probability of dying young, by state

      Probability of death for this age group was interpreted as the probability in a particular state that a child would die before his or her 20th birthday. Data for the District of Columbia were not included in this analysis.
      Overall, the change in probability of death from birth to 20, between 1990 and 2016, declined in all states, the study showed. The states with the most pronounced declines were South Carolina, Georgia, Alaska and New York. On the other hand, Maine had the lowest decline of probability.

      The researchers pointed out that the nationwide declines were associated with improvements in neonatal disorders; other noncommunicable diseases, including congenital; and injuries, with slight increases from mental and substance use disorders.
      In 2016, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana ranked in descending order as having the highest probability of death in that age group.
      In descending order, California, New Jersey and then Massachusetts ranked at the bottom of the list with the lowest probability of death for that year.
      The researchers also measured probability of death for adults between the ages of 20 and 55, interpreted as dying before age 55.

      The health of young adults, by state

      In descending order, West Virginia, Mississippi and then Alabama ranked as having the highest probability of death for adults 20 to 55 in 2016. In descending order, New York, California and Minnesota ranked as having the lowest in 2016.
      Between 1990 and 2016, the largest reductions in probability of death were seen in New York and California, and the highest increases were in West Virginia and Oklahoma, the researchers found.
      Decreases in the probability of death in the US might have been influenced by declines in the prevalence of HIV and AIDS across all states, as well as declines in road injuries and neoplasms or tumors, the researchers noted in the study.
      Meanwhile, increases in the probability of death might have been influenced by a rise in the burden of drug use disorders, alcohol use disorders and chronic kidney disease, among other factors, the researchers noted.
      “Mortality reversals in 21 states for adults ages 20 to 55 years are strongly linked to the burden of substance use disorders, cirrhosis, and self-harm,” the researchers wrote. “This study shows that the trends for some of these conditions differ considerably across different states.”

      Cardiovascular disease is a concern in older adults

      For adults 55 to 90, all states saw a considerable reduction in probabilities of death between 1990 and 2016.
      The highest point decline between 1990 and 2016 was observed in California, which ranked as having the second-lowest probability of death for this age group in 2016. Hawaii had the lowest in 2016, and Florida had the third-lowest.
      Hawaii was the only state in which the probability of death was less than 65% for adults 55 to 90, the study showed.
      In descending order, Mississippi had the highest probability of death for that age group in 2016, and West Virginia had the second-highest, followed by Alabama in third. For this age group, the overall declines in probability of death were largely tied to reductions in the probability of dying from cardiovascular diseases, the researchers wrote.
      A separate study, published in the journal JAMA Cardiology on Wednesday, found that the overall burden of cardiovascular disease improved for all states between 1990 and 2016 but disparities remained. In 2016, the greatest burden was concentrated in a band of states extending from the Gulf Coast to West Virginia, according to that study.
      The JAMA study on life expectancy also explored causes of death for all ages nationwide.

      What’s killing Americans

      The study showed that, between 1990 and 2016, overall death rates in the US declined from 745.2 per 100,000 people to 578 per 100,000 people, but that doesn’t mean Americans are no longer facing many health risks.

        Why your BMI matters

      “This study shows that high [body-mass index], smoking, and high fasting plasma glucose are the three most important risk factors in the United States, and that although smoking is decreasing, BMI and fasting plasma glucose levels are steadily increasing,” the researchers wrote.
      “These two risk factors pose unique challenges in the United States given that unabated, they have the potential to change the health trajectory for individuals in many states. Levels of overweight and obesity increased during the study period,” they wrote.
      Between 1990 and 2016, ischemic heart disease was the top cause of years of life lost in the US, and lung cancer ranked second, without budging, the study showed.
      Additionally, “one of the things we do in the study is look at things that don’t so much kill you but lead to loss of good health, things like back pain, neck pain and things like depression,” Murray said.
      Low-back pain and major depressive disorders remained the first and second causes of years lived with a disability in terms of rates between 1990 and 2016, the study showed. During that time, diabetes moved from eighth to third, and musculoskeletal disorders were in fourth.
      A loss of health tied to a condition was measured in terms of disability in the study. “What’s interesting to me was the rise in low-back pain,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who was not involved in the study.
      “I don’t know whether that correlates in any way with the opioid epidemic, but low-back pain increased to be the third leading cause in 2016 in their study,” he said. “You wonder whether or not there is some correlation there, particularly with the rise in opioid use.”
      Opioid use disorders rose from the 52nd to the 15th cause of “years of life lost” between 1990 and 2016 in the study, in terms of rates. Opioid use disorders ranked seventh in 1990 and then eighth in 2016 when it came to leading causes of nonfatal health loss.
      “It doesn’t take a whole lot to notice that opioids and drugs more generally have shot up in the rankings and increased hugely over the period of this study,” Murray said.
      “We did these analyses in other countries as well, and it’s very unusual to have opioids, or drugs more generally, as such a dominant cause of ill health,” he said.

      How to fix America’s health problems

      The findings in the study mirror what other research has shown when it comes to state-by-state disparities in health, Benjamin said.
      “What’s interesting to me is that we still see that the states that tend to straddle the bottom of the rankings in all those kind of other studies are pretty much at the bottom of this study as well,” Benjamin said.
      “Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia tend to still be at the bottom of the rankings — Alaska as well. Yet some of the states that tend to rank pretty high, like Hawaii, rank fairly well on just straight mortality and disability rankings,” he said.
      “This demonstrates again that we have enormous disparities between states and how long you live.”
      Strategies to deal with these state-by-state inequalities across the country should be threefold, the researchers wrote.

        Why is health care in the US so expensive?

      They stressed addressing modifiable risk factors such as diet and exercise; tobacco, alcohol and drug use; improving access to quality health care; and addressing the social determinants of health, such as the conditions in which people work and live.
      “What do we need to focus on as we go through the future? It’s still going to need to be tobacco. It’s going to need to be getting people to ideal body weight, and nutrition plays an enormous role,” Benjamin said.
      Policy makers can use the new study and Global Burden of Disease results to reconsider the current national stance toward disease prevention, Koh and Parekh wrote in their editorial.

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      “Long overlooked and underinvested, public health programs currently receive only an estimated 2.5% of US health care dollars, and prevention programs (broadly defined) receive only 8.6%. Earlier promise for major improvements in disease prevention initially offered by the [Affordable Care Act] has lately stalled,” Koh and Parekh wrote.
      “Clinicians and policy makers can use these analyses and rankings to reexamine why so many individuals still experience preventable injury, disease, and death. Doing so could move the entire nation closer toward a United States of health,” they wrote.
      Correction: An earlier version of this story included a life expectancy graphic in which the colors on the map did not accurately reflect the colors on the key.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/10/health/states-life-expectancy-study/index.html

      Lorde apologises for ‘extremely poorly chosen’ Instagram caption

      Lorde has apologised to fans after Instagramming a photo of a bathtub captioned with a Whitney Houston lyric.

      Lorde posted a photo of a bathtub on her Instagram alongside the words “and iiiii will always love you”—a lyric from “I Will Always Love You.” Whitney Houston’s version of the song—penned by Dolly Parton in 1973—became a huge hit after it featured on the soundtrack of The Bodyguard in 1992. 

      But, the coupling of the image and its caption prompted fans to criticise Lorde for being “insensitive.” Whitney Houston was found dead in a bathtub in 2012. The autopsy report revealed her death was caused by drowning and “effects ofatherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.”

      Lorde’s post has since been deleted, but not before Whitney fans tweeted screenshots of the post, calling the choice of caption “disgusting.” 

      Others rushed to Lorde’s defence, stating that the caption was a “very bad coincidence.” 

      Lorde posted a prompt apology on her Instagram Story. “Extremely extremely poorly chosen quote,” wrote Lorde. “I’m so sorry for offending anyone—I hadn’t even put this together, I was just excited to take a bath.”

      Image: instagram /@lordemusic

      “I’m an idiot. Love Whitney forever and ever. Sorry again,” she added. 

      Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/04/06/lorde-whitney-houston-apology/

      Why Does Nanny-State California Hate Coffee So Much?

      Last week, a judge in California sided with the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, which had filed a lawsuit in 2010 against establishments that sell coffeeStarbucks, gas station vendors, convenience stories like 7-Eleven, and so forthto tack on a warning to their coffee (not unlike a cigarettes Surgeon General warning) that each cup of java contains acrylamide, a chemical produced when coffee beans are roasted.

      This, of course, incited backlash from everyday coffee fans to the National Coffee Association, which made a statement calling the ruling misleading, that it did nothing to improve public health.

      The Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) is a part of the Metzger Law Group, which describes itself as a "boutique firm" focusing on environmental and toxic chemical exposure in California. In the lawsuit it brought against Starbucks, Metzger is described as "a California corporation, acting as a private attorney general, in the public interest.

      The problem with its description as the plaintiff? Its overexaggeration of the carcinogenic potential of coffee consumption is in fact a potential public disservice.

      To be clear, CERT isnt technically wrong that coffee contains acrylamides (a chemical regulated by the Food and Drug Administration) and of its cancer-causing potential.

      In the National Toxicology Report, a cumulative breakdown of toxins and agents that scientists have found to cause cancer and produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, acrylamides are reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogeneity from studies in experimental animals (emphasis their own).

      What does this mean? Scientists tested how acrylamides have affected mice and rats and have found symptoms ranging from benign thyroid and adrenal gland tumors to benign lung and mammary gland tumors. Those tumors occurred in a higher number of instances than the baseline level, which suggested to researchers of these studies that there was something about acrylamides that was problematic.

      Sure, those are serious and damning results to take away from these experiments. But theres three blaring problems with declaring coffee as a carcinogen on equal footing with, say, cigarettes.

      First, these are tumors that were found in rodents. While mice and rats are often used in animal experiments for drugs as a preliminary testing ground and model for humans, the fact is that they are mice and rodents, not humans. The way humans process enzymes and chemicals and additives and so forth can be very different and have effects that can vary wildly from what happens in humans.

      Second, rodent experiments often focus on dumping one chemical in large amounts into a rodents system. For mice and rats in these experiments, which not only have smaller bodies than humans but also are intaking inhumanly larger quantities of the chemical being tested, that means that they develop irregularities that might not occur during normal human consumption. Theres no doubt that acrylamide can cause cancer in high doses and has been proven to instigate tumors in rodents. The closest link to cancer between coffee and humans was a study that suggested there might be a link between consuming hot beverages and esophageal cancer.

      But the fact is that you would have to intentionally be consuming acrylamide at ridiculous, nearly impossible-to-consume doses to even be at risk of cancer. As Popular Science pointed out with the help of a statistician, it would take an adult at highest risk to consume 160 times as much as the rodents in these experiments. Even then, that would still only be at a level that toxicologists think unlikely to cause increased tumors in mice. In other words, solely focusing your entire diet on acrylamide and practically imbibing the stuff cant even guarantee that youeven micecould get a tumor.

      Which brings us to the third problem with the acrylamide lawsuit and hoopla around its apparent cancer-causing properties. Its not just coffee that contains trace amounts of itits any food thats gone through high temperatures. That can be everything from fried chicken to roasted chicken, French fries to baked potatoes, those healthier versions of potato chips made out of root vegetables to roasted produce. To avoid acrylamides would require you to avoid virtually any food that is cooked.

      The Report on Carcinogens says as much. They point to a correlation between male factory workers at places that process water soluble polymers (where acrylamides are often used) like oil recovery, water treatment facilities, and paper thickening processes. They also think there might be a correlation between Swedish, French, and American women, their diets, and instances of breast tissue showing signs of cancer, but the link was at best weak, and researchers admitted that other factors like smoking could have played a role. A 2017 meta-analysis in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention backs this up, stating the overall evidence suggests no association of coffee intake with cancers of the stomach, pancreas, lung, breast, ovary, and prostate overall.

      So when CERT points to the fact that acrylamides are in coffee and back at Proposition 65which states that California businesses with more than ten employees are required by law to warn consumers if their products contain one of 65 chemicals that the state deems carcinogenic, causing birth defects, or harmful for reproductive systemstheres a need to pause and evaluate the real risk of acrylamides.

      If were slapping on warnings on a cup of coffee that declares it to be just as harmful as a pack of cigarettes, thats a dangerous, illogical equivalency that results in confusion and fear mongering. Making coffee consumption the equivalent of slurping poison is ludicrous. Drinking a cup or two or even three of coffee will not be dangerous; at best, youre a little less groggy, at worst a bit jittery. But at risk of developing tumors and cancer? Probably not.

      The blatant truth is that coffee can never be as violently carcinogenic as cigarettes, and calling it a cancer causing agent doesnt make sense, especially because no one drinks cups of coffee on end and therefore probably cant be poisoned by coffee in any way. In fact, the National Cancer Institute says as much on its website, noting that acrylamide levels vary and that people are exposed to substantially more acrylamide from tobacco smoke than from food.

      And there are certainly worse chemicals to worry about than a minute trace of acrylamides in coffee. Remember the trans fat bans that swept the nation about a decade ago? Hydrogenated fats are legitimately dangerous to consume, and the heightened attention given to their near-ubiquity in processed foods and ties to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke were well documented in humans to cause negative outcomes.

      But acrylamides in coffee? Nah.

      If anything, Proposition 65 and the case of labeling coffee as carcinogenic is indicative of the messiness of food studies, particularly with respect to those that teeter between sin and healthy indulgence. Theres probably no such thing as eating too many vegetables and facing negative consequences. But foods like coffee, eggs, wine, and chocolate fall in a grey area. Theyre lusciously sinful and offer something almost tantalizingly indulgent with their richness, so it makes sense that were always trying to gauge whether or not these foods that bring us so much joy are good or bad.

      The messaging, of course, is frustrating. One minute wine is heralded for its antioxidant properties, the next its vilified for its connection to various liver issues. Chocolate is similarly celebrated for its antioxidant properties, but really, who only has one square of it? Eggs too have sparked debate among industry experts who point to the whites as excellent sources of protein and nutrients, but the yolk is one big nutritional question mark.

      Coffee is like these foods, hopping back and forth between linked to a 64 percent decrease in early death and its current status as potential carcinogenic. Its apparent benefits address American health epidemics: reductions in developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease and stroke. Its benefits seem universal, linked to longer lives among Americans across demographic and socioeconomic lines, in both its caffeinated and decaffeinated forms. It might decrease rates of breast cancer and liver cancer. Of course, these are results that should be taken with a grain of salt, but theyre benefits worth noting in light of Californias painting of coffee as a demonic chemical.

      The point is this: Everything in moderation is a great nutritional phrase because it rings so true. Every human body is different thanks to the complicated gymnastics of genes and environment and chance that make everyones nutritional needs different. Seeking to figure out if a food is good or bad does nothing but muddle the debate; simply put, foods that dont fall into fruits, vegetables, legumes, water, or their ilk have good and bad qualities to them, and understanding your unique physiology and dietary needs will make their consumption either safe or not so much so for you. And its crucial to remember that niche food industries have well-oiled marketing groups that also fund studies and constantly attempt to veer public attention towards the nutritional benefits of food to eek up their profits. Food is, after all, big business.

      Which brings us back to the case of the evil cup of java, Proposition 65, and how coffee might become a villain in the state of California. Putting a warning on a cup of coffee is going to not only confuse customers, it takes away from a daily pleasure for the majority of Americans. A cup of coffee makes people less grumpy, more alert, and simply more awake. Its a bonding activity, a much-needed break in our harried world, and an art form whose most ardent fans will compare its roasting and farming and brewing to those of wine. To make coffee a nutritional devil is a step gone too far (at this rate, any foodstuff that goes through some heating for cooking could contain acrylamides).

      The bottom line: Coffee is safe. Labeling it a carcinogenic is not.

      Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-does-nanny-state-california-hate-coffee-so-much