Nutrition Action Healthletter
March 2000 — U.S. Edition 

In a study of 115 adults with wrist fractures, those assigned to take 500 mg a day of vitamin C for 50 days had only a third the risk of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). People with RSD suffer pain, changes in skin color and temperature, edema, and sometimes impaired movement in an injured area, possibly due to nerve damage.

Lancet 354: 2025, 1999.

In studies involving more than 360,000 people, those at low risk for heart disease—non-smokers with cholesterol below 200 and blood pressure no higher than 120 over 80—had a life expectancy that was six to ten years longer than people at greater risk.

J. Amer. Med. Assoc. 282: 2012, 1999.

Flawed studies have claimed that people on low-salt diets have a higher risk of heart disease or stroke (see June 1998, p. 9). A well-designed study now shows that among the overweight, those who consume more sodium are about twice as likely to die of a stroke and may also be more likely to die of heart disease. (The study found no link between sodium and stroke or heart disease in normal-weight people, possibly because the researchers didn’t have enough information on long-term sodium intakes.)

J. Amer. Med. Assoc. 282: 2027, 1999.

 Soup, Anyone?

Want to tame your appetite? At least in the short run, it might help to start your meal with soup or some other food with low calorie density, say researchers at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park. (A food’s calorie density is its calories divided by its weight.)

   Barbara Rolls and co-workers fed 24 lean women one of three “preloads”—each with 270 calories—five minutes before lunch: (1) a chicken-rice casserole, (2) the same casserole served with a 12-ounce glass of water, or (3) the same casserole and the same glass of water, but mixed together, heated, and served as chicken-rice soup.

   The results: After the soup, the women ate an average of 290 calories at lunch. But after the casserole, they averaged 390 calories at lunch, whether or not they had the glass of water with their casserole.

   “We’ll try to figure out why in subsequent studies,” says Rolls. Among the possibilities: People may have been less hungry after the soup because it looked like more food. “The casserole looked small, but the soup looked like a lot of soup,” she explains. “And there was more sensory stimulation with the soup because it was a big volume.”

   It’s also possible that the water may not have registered on the sensors that assess how hungry we are. “When you drink water on the side,” says Rolls, “it’s processed by thirst mechanisms, while soup is processed by hunger mechanisms.”
Bonnie Liebman

Amer.J. Clin. Nutr. 70: 448, 1999.

Lymphoma and Meat

Women who eat red meat frequently have a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, says a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. The cancer of the lymph glands is on the upswing among older people.

   Shumin Zhang and her colleagues tracked more than 88,000 women who enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study in 1980. After 14 years, they found that women who reported eating red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) as a main dish at least once a day had a risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma roughly twice that of women who ate red meat less than once a week.

   Women who ate the most trans fat also had double the risk of lymphoma. Among the largest sources of trans were margarine, red meat, cookies, cakes, and pies.

   “The risk of lymphoma is probably related to saturated fat or trans fat or to some unknown factor in red meat,” says Zhang. Trans seems to have an independent effect, she adds.

   While we need more research, says Zhang, the results are consistent with another large study, which found a higher risk of the disease in women who consumed more hamburger.

J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 91: 1751, 1999.

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