Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at new research confirming that red and processed meat ups your cardiovascular risk, we review a study on how exercise helps you perform better on video games, and we cover government hearings regarding asbestos in cosmetics.
The price of a carnivore diet
A controversial report published a few months ago in the Annals of Internal Medicine dismissed concerns about eating red and processed meat, causing steak lovers to rejoice. However, a large new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has reiterated what health groups such as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association have been saying all along— there is potential harm in eating a meat-heavy diet.
In this new study in The New York Times, researchers examined data on 30,000 people who were followed for three decades as part of the landmark Framingham Heart Study. They found that those with the highest intakes of red meat, processed meat and poultry had a small but increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who regularly ate fish instead.
Eating two or more servings of red meat, processed meat or poultry a week was linked to a 4 to 7 percent higher risk of developing heart disease. The higher the intake, the higher the risk.
While the debate over red meat and its link to chronic disease is far from over, the lead author of the previous meat study in Annals was later found to have taken money from the food industry before his study dismissing concerns about meat. This author also had published an article in the same journal three years earlier, using the same methods to discredit guidelines that urged people to eat less sugar. In December, the Annals issued a correction on the meat paper, acknowledging the author’s conflicts.
Experts say the findings reinforce existing recommendations that people prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, nuts and seeds and limit red and processed meat, refined grains, fried foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.
A quick bout of cardio to help you level up online?
While time spent on video games usually means less time for exercise, it turns out that making time for a quick workout before you reach for the Xbox could mean a higher score.
A new study led by neuroscientist Marc Roig, Ph.D., at the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy at McGill University showed that just 15 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise performed immediately before playing a video game (in this case, online gaming platform League of Legends) improved the player’s performance in the same customized missions, compared with a rest period before picking up the controller.
Researchers hope this news will encourage the 2.3 billion gamers worldwide—many of them sedentary—to consider adding a little disease-fighting exercise into their day before gaming so they can nab higher scores online.
Researchers will next study the effects of other exercise modalities on gaming and are hoping to develop a video-game platform that could be used for research purposes, such as the study of different interventions (including exercise) on various cognitive and motor skills.
Government, industry wrangle over asbestos testing in cosmetics
For the first time in nearly 50 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering asbestos testing for talc powders and cosmetics after traces of the known carcinogen were found in several products, including Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Beauty Plus makeup sold at Claire’s stores, according to Reuters.
The process of milling talc for cosmetics has been known to break down minerals that have a characteristic spear shape—including asbestos—into small particles that could trigger the development of cancer and other diseases.
At a hearing this week, environmental groups urged the FDA to endorse rigorous testing methods recommended by a panel of government scientists, and they said the agency should add a warning label to talc products so consumers are aware that they may contain asbestos, as talc and asbestos are often found together in the ground.
FDA officials say they will continue studying the issue, but they provided no timetable for a decision on testing. The scrutiny on this issue follows a Reuters report that showed Johnson & Johnson knew for decades its raw talc and powders contained asbestos but that it did not report those findings to the FDA.
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