Today in medicine: The importance of fruits and vegetables

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Topic of Study: HPV and throat cancers

Study subjects: 55 studies from the past 20 years

Location of study: China

Results: A review of Chinese studies found that twenty-eight percent of people with laryngeal cancers also tested positive for HPV, though the numbers varied per study. Subjects with HPV were five times likelier to get cancer of the vocal chords or voice box than those without the STD.

Significance: “Someone who develops a base of tongue cancer when they’re 50, they probably were exposed to the virus years before, in their teens or 20s,” Dr. William Mendenhall, a radiation oncologist from the University of Florida in Gainesville who did not participate in the study, told Reuters. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 50 percent of sexually active people acquire HPV at some point in their lives.

Topic of Study: Add vegetables, obtain hero status

Study subjects: 500 mothers with two or more children under the age of 18

Location of study: U.S.

Results: In a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition, Cornell University researchers reported that meals that included vegetables alongside, say, chicken or steak, made people feel more positive about the meal and the cook who prepared it.

Significance: In the U.S., only 23 percent of evening meals include vegetables, leaving them nutritionally lacking. This study found that adding vegetables boosts nutritional benefit, enjoyment of the meal and the emotional bond with the preparer.

Topic of Study: Toxic flame-retardants in couches  

Study subjects: 102 polyurethane foam samples from couches purchased between 1985 and 2010

Location of study: U.S.

Results:  More than fifty percent of couches tested by Duke University and University of California-Berkeley contained potentially harmful toxic flame-retardants, including one called “Tris,” which was banned from baby pajamas in 1977 due to associated health concerns.  The chemicals were found in 94 percent of couches tested that were bought after 2005.

Significance: Flame-retardants are linked to cancer, hormone disruption and poor brain development.

Topic of Study: Is fruit as filling as we think?

Study subjects: A mix of 34 healthy, overweight and obese people

Location of study: U.S.

Results: Volunteers in a Purdue University study gained between 3.5 and 5 pounds when they added fruit juice to their diets for eight weeks, and heavier test subjects also gained when they added fresh fruits and vegetables to their plate.

Significance: Some doctors tout eating more fruits and vegetables as a way to fill up. But Barbara Rolls, the chair of nutritional sciences at Penn State, told Reuters that people must substitute fruits and vegetables for high-calorie foods, not just add them to their already-existing diet, in order to see weight loss.


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