November Nutrition Nuggets


Time again for those Nutrition articles that I saved from the news during the last month. I will start with Medical Marijuana & work my way through new gut buddy studies, cancer risks with alcohol, coffee :), sugar & energy drinks. 

I can see so many health benefits with Medical Marijuana. The problem that I see is that the industry is growing at a faster rate than the regulations of the cannabis sold. It is much like the nutritional supplement problem. Which outlet do you trust? How is the cannabis grown? And many other questions. Medical Marijuana comes in many forms; edibles, smokeables, vapes, tinctures, pastes, & salves for example. These also come in different concentrates or ratios of CBD/THC. The growing concern that I have is not only how the cannabis is grown but how the products are produced. Is the cannabis used standardized. This means that if I buy a product like a tincture to use, then need more, will the same tincture contain the same amount of THC/CBD as the first one I bought.

CBD is the fastest growing Cannabis derivatives sold. It is effective for many health problems & it is safe. It can also be sold online & cross state borders unlike Medical Cannabis with any THC in it. 

These two articles address my concerns. Reuters: With online medical marijuana, it’s buyer beware, By Lisa Rapaport, NOVEMBER 7, 2017  This study of online CBD products, showed that the same product showed inconsistencies in the amount of CBD it contained. I bought CBD paste online to try for joint pain. It did help somewhat but I wasn’t comfortable with the way I had to decide how much to use, and it didn’t appear to be standardized. I chose a reliable company & I shouldn’t have worried… Probably the nurse in me 🙂

Only one-third of marijuana extracts accurately labeled, researchers say, By Ben Tinker, CNN, November 7, 2017 Good article about the same study.

Because Cannabis is still illegal federally, the FDA isn’t regulating it like a pharmaceutical product. It is being watched like a nutritional supplement would. Because of that, the labeling must comply to the same standards as nutritional supplements. Health claims must be vague 🙂 The labels cannot say that the CBD or CBD/THC cures a specific disease. In order to make that claim, it has to have research to back it up along with clinical trials. At that point it becomes a pharmaceutical. This step is a problem because the FDA has rules for who can obtain the cannabis for research because it is on Schedule 1 along with Heroin. Stupidity in my eyes. The New York Times: FDA Warns Companies Against Claims That Marijuana Cures Diseases By Sheila Kaplan, Nov. 1, 2017

For information about Medical Marijuana, read the article we published on the SDCRI website. Cannabis as Medicine: Using medical marijuana in the oncology setting. by Teri Polley-Michea, “As a cannabis nurse navigator it is my honor and privilege to help guide patients in making educated choices when selecting and using medical marijuana as part of their healing journey.”

Two important studies looking at the relationship between gut buddies & immunotherapy for cancer patients have been in the news. Remember that your gut buddies are involved in digestion, protection from infection and they regulate our immune system. Couple that with immunotherapy which stimulates our own bodies defense mechanism and we see a valuable cancer treatment.

Gut bacteria ‘boost’ cancer therapy, 

Reuters: Good gut microbes may help immunotherapy drugs shrink tumors, By Ben Hirschler, NOVEMBER 2, 2017 

The bottom line on these studies is that they hold promise in the treatment of a difficult disease. They also show that more research needs to be done to understand our gut buddies. What is really exciting about this is that once they are understood, the analysis of an individuals gut buddies will tell the oncologist if immunotherapy will work for them. That would be a big step in treatment protocols.

The New York Times: Cancer Doctors Cite Risk of Drinking Alcohol, By Roni Caryn Rabin, November 7, 2017  The article is about the official stance that the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, ASCO, has taken in regards to alcohol. It states that even light drinking of alcohol can slightly raise a woman’s risk for breast cancer & esophageal cancer. If you are a heavy drinker then the risk of many cancers is higher. The message from these oncologists is that if you do drink alcohol, drink less & if you don’t drink alcohol then don’t start. 

I will be interested to see if the American Cancer Society changes their views on how much alcohol a person should drink. I have never agreed with them. Alcohol Use & Cancer: As part of its guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention, the American Cancer Society recommends that people who drink alcohol limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women.”  The Susan G. Komen website agrees with this limit. In light of the ASCO stance, I hope they both reconsider what they are recommending.

Here’s Another Reason to Feel Good About Drinking Coffee  Time, By Amanda MacMillan, November 13, 2017  We have been told that drinking coffee is good for our hearts. This study shows that drinking up to 6 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, heart failure & stroke incrementally

Science Daily: Higher coffee consumption associated with lower risk of early death, August 27, 2017, European Society of Cardiology. Summary: Higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of early death, according to new research. The observational study in nearly 20 000 participants suggests that coffee can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.

Loving my morning cups of java 🙂

I keep thinking that the story about how bad added sugar is on our health is over. Not so: NPR, What The Industry Knew About Sugar’s Health Effects, But Didn’t Tell Us, By , November 21, 2017  This is worth the read. Don’t be surprised if it sounds familiar, think big tobacco companies. The sugar industry in the 1960’s funded research on the effects of sugar on our health. Because the results were damaging, the industry halted the studies & suppressed what results they had from the study. The industry then made certain that fats were blamed for heart disease & other health problems. 

Same as with alcohol, if you use/eat added sugar, use/eat less & if you don’t use/eat added sugar don’t start. How? Look at labels, stay away from processed foods whenever possible. 

Energy drinks come in different disguises. They come as sports drinks, as pick-me-ups in the afternoon, as a caffeine drink to help you stay awake for your night shift or study time for your exams. People of all ages & backgrounds turn to these drinks. Besides being high in sugar & caffeine, they have other herbal stimulants added. If you use them, read the labels carefully. These drinks increase your blood pressure, put you at a higher risk for diabetes & kidney disease. They are also linked to psychological problems. 

The new trend is to mix them with alcohol. Bad idea as we see in this article: Mixing Energy Drink And Alcohol Poses Serious Risks, 17 November 2017, By Allan Adamson Tech Times

Here is an earlier PubMed Health review that is interesting. Mixing alcohol and energy drinks ‘may be a risky cocktail‘, Thu, 23 Mar 2017 It seems to play down the health risks compared to this newer study.

Have a simple cup of coffee or tea! Don’t risk your health with these drinks. 

The new guidelines for blood pressure readings have caused quite a stir in the health field this past week. It is so controversial that it warrants its own post. I will look at both sides of the argument next week & talk about how to lower your blood pressure naturally.

Until then…Mary 🙂