Research from En Zed’s University of Otago highlights the strong relationship between alcohol and cancers—mouth, throat and oesophagus—especially among smokers. But the incidence of liver, colon, rectum, pancreas, prostate and skin (melanoma) cancers is also increased. Importantly, there is no safe limit for alcohol when it comes to breast cancer with a 13 per cent increase associated with light to moderate drinking. Alcohol is implicated in almost 500,000 cancer deaths worldwide annually.
Waking early on weekdays and sleeping in on weekends (our natural cycle!) appears to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers found that 85 per cent of people sleep longer on weekends than on workdays and those with the largest disruptions to their sleep schedule had higher cholesterol, fasting insulin, waist size and BMI. This fits with other research linking obesity and impaired cardiovascular function with what scientists call “social jetlag.”
If you have high blood pressure, even small amounts of alcohol can impair your heart functioning. An Italian study of people with hypertension found that those who drank the most alcohol had the thickest heart walls—a sign of cardiac damage. And the more they drank, the more trouble the heart had filling between beats. Even when adjustment was made for age, weight, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, alcohol was still an independent predictor for worsening
The Nurses Health Study found that girls who eat three servings of fruit a day have a 25 per cent lower risk of breast cancer as adults, compared to girls eating only half a serving a day. Most effective at reducing risk are apples, bananas and grapes in adolescence and oranges and kale during early adulthood.
Foods rich in polyphenols can improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which includes the combination of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. French researchers found evidence that green tea reduced weight, waist measurement and cholesterol; cocoa supplementation reduced blood pressure; cocoa and cinnamon reduced blood glucose; and supplementation with soy isoflavones, citrus products, hesperidin and quercetin improved cholesterol.