Friday, April 05, 2019

Do low-cal fizzy drinks give you stroke?

This should not be taken too seriously. The study discussed below DID show a greater frequency of stroke among women who were big drinkers of diet fizz -- but the difference may trace back not to the drink but to the sort of people who bought it -- e.g. poor people

Around 2 decades ago, researchers asked tens of thousands of participants in the Women’s Health Initiative study how often they consumed artificially sweetened beverages over the past 3 months. Recently, they looked at how the diet sodas and fruit drinks the women drank back then correlated with their risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and death in the intervening years.

The results, recently published in Stroke, showed higher intakes of artificially sweetened beverages were associated with increased health risks. Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, PhD, RD, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, emphasized that the work doesn’t prove cause and effect. But despite the study’s limitations, “[T]his is a time to pause and look into all these associations and maybe reconsider if we’re having excessive amounts of these drinks,” she told JAMA in a recent interview.

The following is an edited version of that conversation, in which the nutrition scientist said she hopes the public doesn’t walk away with the wrong message.

JAMA:Your study isn’t the first to look at associations with artificially sweetened beverages and cardiovascular disease. What did the previous studies show?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:There was another study from the Women’s Health Initiative in 2014. They looked at a composite of events: [incident coronary heart disease], heart failure, myocardial infarction, coronary revascularization procedures, ischemic stroke, peripheral artery disease, and cardiovascular death. They saw [an increased] risk with high consumption of diet drinks. Then, in 2017, there was research involving the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort in men and women. They saw an increased risk again, specifically for stroke and Alzheimer disease. The results have been mixed in different studies. But there seems to be a certain pattern of association with cardiovascular disease.

JAMA:What’s different about your study?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:We followed 81 714 women over an average of 11.9 years. The previous study in the Women’s Health Initiative followed [59 614] women for about 8 years. We also looked separately at stroke and its subtypes.

JAMA:Tell us what you learned.

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:We found that 5.1% of the women drank 2 or more artificially sweetened beverages per day. But most were infrequent drinkers. About 64.1% of the women drank artificially sweetened beverages never or less than once a week.

When we looked at this group of high vs low consumers of diet drinks, we found that women who had the higher level of consumption were 23% more likely to have a fatal or nonfatal stroke; 31% more likely to have the type of stroke from a clot in the brain or ischemic stroke; 29% more likely to develop fatal or nonfatal heart disease; and 16% more likely to die from any cause.

JAMA:The stroke risks were higher for certain women, correct?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:That’s right. The results I just quoted were for all women. We also looked at women without previous heart disease or diabetes. In that group, [high consumers] were 2.44 times more likely to have a common type of stroke that’s caused by the blockage of the very small arteries—small artery occlusion—than women with no or low levels of consumption. If you looked at all women, that risk was 1.81 times. These are small vessel strokes that, if you just have 1, it’s not a big deal. But if you have many of them over time, there’s an association with dementia.

Additionally, obese women without previous heart disease or diabetes were about twice as likely to have an ischemic stroke and African American women without previous history of heart disease or diabetes were about 4 times as likely.

These associations don’t imply causation. And while the risk of stroke is higher in high consumers of diet drinks, the actual absolute risk is small. The incidence rate is about 2 per 1000 people per year.

JAMA:As you say, because this is an observational study, we can’t know if artificial sweeteners caused the strokes and heart attacks or if they’re just correlated. And, in fact, the women who drank the most artificially sweetened beverages on average were heavier, exercised less, consumed more calories, had lower-quality diets, and were more likely to smoke and have a history of diabetes, heart attack, or stroke, correct?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:That’s correct, yes.

JAMA:To what extent were you able to control for these factors?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:We did control for all these factors. However, there could be residual confounding. The diet quality variable, for example, may not capture all the quality of the diet. The physical activity variable may not capture everything about someone’s physical activity.

We’re also limited by self-report. And we’re limited by the fact that we asked the question in 1996 to 2001. The diet drinks at that time were limited compared to what’s available now. The answer is also dependent on what the women perceived diet drinks to be. And, also, we asked the question one time. We didn’t continue to ask the question [over time].

So these are the limitations. The only way we can figure out if it’s the diet drink or something else that’s causing [the increased risks] is to do a randomized clinical trial.

JAMA:What about reverse causality? Isn’t it possible that women with obesity who already have a heightened stroke risk may be more likely to drink a lot of diet soda to try to control their weight?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:That’s one possibility. We tried to control for obesity and body mass index in the models, but there is a possibility for residual confounding. We didn’t, for example, know the prediabetic status of the women. If somebody was prediabetic and was trying to have artificially sweetened beverages [for that reason], we would not have been able to capture that. That data was not available.

JAMA:The women only reported their artificially sweetened beverage intake over one 3-month period, so you don’t know what they were drinking before or after. How can this limitation be addressed in the future?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:The only way to address it is to do more studies. Follow the women over time and assess their artificial sweetened beverage consumption periodically, maybe annually.

JAMA:Are there other ways to refine the study design in an observational study? For example, using objective measures?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:You’d need to look at biomarkers for different artificial sweeteners. Maybe with metabolomics we’ll get to that level at some point. A lot of these studies have specimens that have been collected, so future researchers can take a look at that. If we have the right biomarker for these beverages, we could.

JAMA:Say the artificial sweeteners were causative. What are some of the mechanisms that could explain that?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:There are different hypotheses. There’s some evidence that they may be changing the gut microbiome. That they may affect the way glucose is used. I’ve also read theories about how they might affect how the brain processes or understands the taste sensation for sugar. I think we just need more evidence.

JAMA:What does your gut tell you, so to speak? Do you think it’s correlation? Or causation? Or both?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:My job is just to report what I found, which was correlation. My gut is that we just need more research. And, again, this was done at a time where there was a limited amount of artificially sweetened beverages.

Now there are drinks made with stevia, the natural sweeteners. There are synthetic sweeteners. There are nutritive sweeteners like polyols and sugar alcohols. There are new items in the market that need to be tested, both in the microbiome and other parts of our physiology.

JAMA:Are you at all concerned that, based on studies like these, people might switch from drinking artificially sweetened beverages, which the jury is still out on, to drinking sugary beverages, which we know are unhealthy?

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani:I think the message is that artificially sweetened beverages should be an interim step [before switching] to water. I’m hoping that women don’t go back to having sugary beverages.


Police Aren't Enough

Walter E. Williams

Sometimes, during my drive to work, I listen to Clarence Maurice Mitchell IV, host of the Baltimore's WBAL C4 radio show. Mitchell was formerly a member of Maryland's House of Delegates and its Senate. In recent weeks, Mitchell has been talking about the terrible crime situation in Baltimore. In 2018, there were 308 homicides. So far this year, there have been 69. That's in a 2018 population of 611,648 — down from nearly a million in 1950. The city is pinning its hopes to reduce homicides and other crime on new Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.

Another hot news item in Baltimore is the fact that Johns Hopkins University wants to hire 100 armed police officers to patrol its campuses, hospital and surrounding neighborhoods. The hospital president, Dr. Redonda Miller testified in Annapolis hearings that patients and employees are "scared when they walk home, they're scared when they walk to their cars."

Philadelphia's Temple University police department is the largest university police force in the United States, with 130 campus police officers, including supervisors and detectives.

In 1957, I attended night school at Temple University. There was little or no campus police presence. I am sure that people who attended Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, and other colleges in or adjacent to black neighborhoods during the '40s, '50s and earlier weren't in an armed camp. In the nation's largest school districts that serve predominantly black youngsters, school police outnumber, sometimes by large margins, school counseling staffs. Again, something entirely new. I attended predominantly black Philadelphia schools from 1942 to 1954. The only time we saw a policeman in school was during an assembly where we had to listen to a boring lecture on safety. Today, Philadelphia schools have hired more than 350 police officers. What has happened to get us to this point? Will hiring more police officers and new police chiefs have much of an impact on crime?

No doubt hiring more and better trained police officers will have some impact on criminal and disorderly behavior — but not much unless we create a police state. The root of the problem, particularly among black Americans, is the breakdown of the family unit where fathers are absent. In 1938, 11 percent of blacks were born to unmarried women. By 1965, that number had grown to 25 percent. Now it's about 75 percent. Even during slavery, when marriage between blacks was illegal, a higher percentage of black children were raised by their biological mothers and fathers than today. In 1940, 86 percent of black children were born inside marriage. Today, only 35 percent of black children are born inside marriage. Having no father in the home has a serious impact. Children with no father in the home are five times more likely to be poor and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to be in prison.

Our generous welfare system, in effect, allows women to marry the government. Plus, there is shortage of marriageable black men because they've dropped out of school, wound up in jail and haven't much of a future. Unfortunately, many blacks followed the advice of white liberal academics such as Johns Hopkins professor Andrew Cherlin who in the 1960s argued that "the most detrimental aspect of the absence of fathers from one-parent families is not the lack of a male presence but the lack of male income" Cherlin's vision suggested that fathers were unimportant and if black females "married the government"; black fathers would be redundant.

Most of today's major problems encountered by black people have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination and a legacy of slavery. People who make those excuses are doing a grave disservice to black people. The major problems black people face are not amenable to political solutions and government anti-poverty programs. If they were, then they'd be solved by the more than $20 trillion dollars nation has spent on poverty programs since 1965. As comic strip character Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."


In ‘White Man’s Culture’ Remarks, Biden Shows How Little He Knows About History

Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Biden Courage Awards ceremony in preparation for his presidential campaign launch. There, in an attempt to forestall claims that as a white man, he simply isn’t intersectional enough to compete in the Democratic primaries, he critiqued a central pillar of Western civilization as inherently racist.

“Back in the late 1300s, so many women were dying at the hands of their husbands because they were chattel, just like the cattle, or the sheep, that the court of common law decided they had to do something about the extent of the deaths,” Biden fibbed.

So you know what they said? No man has a right to chastise his woman with a rod thicker than the circumference of his thumb. This is English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture. It’s got to change. It’s got to change.

Biden’s take was, as always, historically illiterate. The “rule of thumb” story has been circulating for years—and it has been repeatedly debunked. There was no “rule of thumb,” as feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers points out.

“On the contrary,” she writes, “British law since the 1700s and our American laws predating the Revolution prohibit wife beating.” In actuality, the phrase originated in craftsmen so expert that they could perform tasks without precise measuring tools.

More importantly, however, Biden’s characterization of “English jurisprudential culture” as “white man’s culture” is profoundly disturbing.

English jurisprudential culture is rooted in the belief in the rule of law, due process of law, equal rights under law; English jurisprudential culture is responsible for preserving the natural rights we hold dear, rights which were imperfectly but increasingly extended over time to more and more human beings, particularly minorities.

No less a leftist figure than Barack Obama explained just that in 2009, saying he sought a system at Guantanamo Bay that “adheres to the rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo-American legal system.”

Protection of individual rights—and in particular, minority rights—lies at the heart of English jurisprudence. Yet Biden boiled down those rights to racial privilege.

And the attempt to reduce the fundamental principles of our civilization to a mask for racial hierarchical power is both false and frightening. It suggests that those principles ought to be undermined for purposes of disestablishing that supposed hierarchy. Get rid of English jurisprudential law, presumably, in order to fight racism.

Ironically, reduction of Western civilization to racial supremacy isn’t just a strategy of the intersectional left; it’s a strategy of the despicable alt-right, which champions Western civilization as white civilization and then seeks to rip away the universalism of its principles from nonwhite people.

Thus, the very term “Western civilization” is under assault by a variety of political forces seeking to tear out eternal truths and natural rights in the name of tribalism.

But that’s not what Western civilization is about at all. Western civilization was built on Judeo-Christian values and Greek reason, culminating in a perspective on natural rights that is preserved by institutions like English jurisprudence.

It is thanks to those philosophical principles that free markets, free speech, and free association have grown and flourished. Only if we re-enshrine those principles, rather than undermine them, will our prosperity and freedoms be preserved.


At least a MILLION Sub-Saharan Africans have moved to Europe since 2010, figures reveal - and up to 75% of people in some African nations want to move to another country

At least a million migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have moved to Europe since 2010, new data has revealed.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from Statista, Europe’s statistical agency, more and more migrants from Africa have sought entry to Europe over the past decade.

The Pew Research Centre noted around 970,000 sub-Saharan migrants legally moved to Europe between 2010 and 2017.

In fact, the number of migrants entering Europe has grown at such a rate that the figure is now estimated to be well in excess of one million arrivals since 2010.

The data shows that most years since 2010 have witnessed a rising inflow of sub-Saharan asylum applicants in Europe.

According to the Pew Research Centre, Sub-Saharan Africans also most commonly moved to Europe as international students and resettled refugees, through family reunification and by other means.

A poll carried out among several African nations showed that many more would move to another country if the means and opportunity arose.

And in Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria, more than a third say they actually plan to migrate in the next five years. 

In terms of destinations, as of 2017, nearly three-quarters (72%) of Europe’s sub-Saharan immigrant population was concentrated in just four countries: the UK (1.27 million), France (980,000), Italy (370,000) and Portugal (360,000).

Between 2010 and 2017, the total number of Somalians in Europe increased by 80,000 people. Over the same period, the total population of Eritreans living in Europe climbed by about 40,000, according to UN estimates.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"At least a MILLION Sub-Saharan Africans have moved to Europe since 2010, figures reveal - and up to 75% of people in some African nations want to move to another country"

The solution to this strikes me as fairly straightforward - if NOT simple. We need a return to good old fashioned Colonial Paternalism. The reason Sub-Saharan Africans want to move to Europe is that the people running their home countries are - for the most part - kleptocrat swine with the morals of Al Capone. It seems to me that a return of the old Colonial regimes could only be an improvement.