Sushi, Diet Soda Latest Health Targets
BY BRADLEY HOPE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
July 24, 2007
Two foods once thought healthy — sushi and diet soda — pose grave health threats, according to two studies released yesterday.
The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is launching a campaign against sushi, encouraging women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to have children in the near future to stop eating raw fish and cut down on their intake of even cooked fish with high levels of mercury. The campaign was prompted by a citywide survey that showed that women of childbearing age in New York had three times the level of mercury in their blood stream as did women in the same age group nationwide.
Meanwhile, a study published online in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, by nine researchers affiliated with Harvard, Tufts, Boston University, and the federal government's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute from a center at Boston University found that people who drank one or more soft drinks a day, including diet soda, were 48% more likely to have conditions that lead to heart disease. The thousands of participants of the study had a 31% increased likelihood of becoming obese, a 25% increased risk of high blood sugar, and a higher risk for low levels of "good" cholesterol, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
The soda industry and the seafood industry lashed out at the studies.
"This study doesn't prove any link between soft drinks and increased risk of heart disease. Its assertions defy the existing body of scientific evidence, as well as common sense," the president of the American Beverage Association, Susan Neely, said of the soda study. "It is scientifically implausible to suggest that diet soft drinks — a beverage that is 99 percent water — cause weight gain or elevated blood pressure."
"It is extremely important to eat seafood during pregnancy," a spokeswoman for the National Fisheries Institute, Stacey Viera, said. She complained that the brochure issued by the city of New York "muddies that message."
She said that 90% of the fish consumed in America are "fairly low in mercury, if any mercury is detected at all."
The chef de cuisine at Sea Grill, a fish restaurant in Rockefeller Center, Jawn Chasteen, said the city's campaign against mercury in seafood could "affect the restaurant pretty severely."
"People will still come to the restaurant but something like that would seem to affect sales," the chef said.
The amount of mercury found in most of the 1,811 people surveyed by the city poses little if any threat to most adults, but could negatively affect the development of the brain of a fetus or young child, city health officials said.
The survey found an average level of 2.64 micrograms or mercury a liter of blood in women between the ages of 20 and 49, compared with a national average of 0.83 micrograms in women of the same age range.
The heightened levels were correlated with the fish consumption reported by the survey's participants. Recent immigrants from China and people from the highest income bracket had especially high levels.
"This is an issue for the short period of time that a woman may be pregnant," the department's assistant commissioner of environmental surveillance and policy, Daniel Kass, said. "What we're saying to those groups of people is ‘keep eating fish, but choose fish that are lower in mercury.'"
The department created a brochure that categorizes fish by how much mercury they have. The brochure recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding women and young children not eat Chilean sea bass, tilefish, tuna, or swordfish, while salmon, tilapia, and shrimp are okay to be eaten up to five times a week. Dinners of lobster or bass should be limited to once a week at most, the brochure says.
It also recommends that pregnant women avoid sushi because it can have "harmful bacteria."
An doctor at SoHo Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dena Harris, said that she recommends her patients limit their intake of high-mercury fish and raw fish.
There is nothing wrong with eating some types of sushi, but the risks posed by any raw food could affect a pregnancy, she said.
"You don't want to get sick while you're pregnant because it is very hard to treat," she said. Of sushi, she said: "You could eat it, but I would think twice about where you are eating."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women avoid high-mercury fish because consumption can harm the developing fetus and to avoid raw foods and unpasteurized milk because a bacteria sometimes found in raw food, listeriosis, can cause stillbirth and miscarriage, according to a 2007 pamphlet titled "Nutrition During Pregnancy."
New Yorkers who had incomes of more than $75,000 had an average of 3.6 micrograms of mercury a liter of blood, while those who made less than $25,000 had 2.4 micrograms a liter. Asian women averaged 4.1 micrograms per liter.
"It is one of those curious paradoxes," a professor of environmental science and director of the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University, Robert Lawrence, said. "The higher income women are probably having grilled swordfish and tuna. The Asian women may be eating tilefish and giant king mackerel."
Dr. Lawrence said that it was important that the city's message emphasize that eating seafood is an important part of a diet, particularly for a pregnant woman trying to increase her intake of certain fish oils that are important for brain development.
He and other experts said that increased mercury levels in the body present a danger to health.
"The cumulative effect of all these toxins creeping into our diet are of considerable concern," a professor at the Columbia University Medical Center, Mady Hornig, said.
The soda study found that middle-aged adults drinking one soft drink a day or more increased their likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk for heart disease. The "risk factors," or conditions, include increased waist circumference, blood glucose, trigylicerides, and blood pressure, as well as reduced "good" cholesterol in the body.
"We were struck by he fact that it didn't matter whether it was a diet or regular soda that participants consumed," a senior author of the study, Ramachandran Vasan, said in a report posted yesterday on the Web site of a Pennsylvania television station, WJAC. He also said that the issue required more study to understand why diet soda was causing the symptoms.
A spokeswoman for the city Department of Health, Sara Markt, said the city encourages people to drink water as a substitute for soft drinks.
mardi, juillet 24, 2007
sushi and diet soda not so good for you
Rhiannon's with child and was listing the things that she misses eating the most. Sushi was the thing that jumped to the top of her list. Now I understand why.