Eating Lots of Dairy May Increase Prostate Cancer Risk, But Plant-Based Diets Reduce It, Study Finds
Dairy products are usually the leading source of calcium in Western countries. fcafotodigital / E+ / Getty Images
In a new study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Mayo Clinic researchers found that eating a lot of dairy products was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. And though the association between eating other animal products and prostate cancer wasn't as clear — meat diets showed both increased and unchanged risks — plant-based diets appeared to actually decrease that risk.
"Our review highlighted a cause for concern with high consumption of dairy products," lead author John Shin, a Mayo Clinic oncologist, said in a press release. "The findings also support a growing body of evidence on the potential benefits of plant-based diets."
Around one in every nine American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, making it one of the most common cancers in the U.S. Prostate cancer also has the second-highest mortality rate out of all cancers for men in the U.S., leading to 31,620 deaths annually.
Analyzing previous studies, the researchers found that dairy products are usually the leading source of calcium in Western countries, which have higher rates of prostate cancer compared to Asian countries, where dairy products aren't consumed as much.
It's thought that increased calcium levels are associated with prostate cancer, as the calcium can halt the formation of a type of vitamin D called calcitriol, which could otherwise prevent the proliferation and spread of prostate cancer cells. The study did not identify how much dairy per person was associated with the increased risk, the Daily Mail reported.
For the report, the researchers examined 550 scholarly references sourced from three databases. After excluding articles that did not investigate the link between diet and prostate cancer, as well as letters, editorials and case reports, the researchers found 47 usable studies published in scientific journals between 2006 and February 2017, which involved more than 1 million participants in total, Newsweek reported. These included cohort studies ranging in size from small to very large, case-control studies, meta-analyses and a population study.
But the researchers acknowledged this range was also a weakness because of the differing methods employed by the studies. Future research, they said, should have standardized methods for collecting data to better account for non-dietary factors and include randomized controlled trials.
Experts not involved in the study agreed. David Montgomery, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said that the findings could not yet replace weight, age and ethnicity as primary factors driving prostate cancer risk.
"The previous studies are of variable quality and have not consistently taken account of other factors beyond diet that could impact the results," Montgomery told FoodNavigator. "We would not encourage anyone to avoid or increase intake of certain foods as a result of this study."
Still, the association between plant-based foods and prostate cancer continues to grow. Another recent study this month found that eating at least three servings of mushrooms each week was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
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By Victoria Masterson
Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.
Sustainable Homes<p>UN-Habitat says an <a href="https://unhabitat.org/un-habitat-aims-to-use-plastic-waste-to-support-housing-for-all" target="_blank">estimated 60% of people living in urban areas of Africa are in informal settlements</a>. At the same time, between 1990 and 2017, African countries imported around 230 metric tonnes of plastic, "which mostly ended up in dump sites creating a massive environmental challenge," the agency adds.</p><p>UN-Habitat deputy executive director, Victor Kisob, said the aim of the partnership with Othalo was to "promote adequate, sustainable and affordable housing for all."</p>
Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo<p>Othalo's process involves shredding plastic waste and mixing it with other elements, including non-flammable materials. Components are used to build up to four floors, with a home of 60 square metres using eight tons of recycled plastic. A factory with one production line can produce 2,800 housing units annually.</p><p>Following successful laboratory tests, Othalo's factory in Estonia has started producing components to build three demonstration homes for Kenya's capital, Nairobi; Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon and Dakar, the capital of Senegal.</p><p>Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti has been developing and testing the technology since 2016 in partnership with <a href="https://www.sintef.no/en/" target="_blank">SINTEF</a>, a 70-year-old independent research organization in Trondheim, Norway, and experts at Norway's <a href="https://en.uit.no/startsida" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">University of Tromsø</a>.</p>
Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti. Othalo<p>Almost <a href="https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html" target="_blank">seven out of every 10 people in the world are expected to live in urban areas by 2050</a>. More than 90% of this growth will take place in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.</p><p>"In the absence of effective urban planning, the consequences of this rapid urbanization will be dramatic," UN-Habitat warns.</p><p>Lack of proper housing and growth of slums, inadequate and outdated infrastructure, escalating poverty and unemployment, and pollution and health issues, are just some of the effects.</p><p>Mindsets, policies, and approaches towards urbanization need to change for the growth of cities and urban areas to be turned into opportunities that will leave nobody behind, UN-Habitat says.</p>
Pioneers of Change<p>Reimagining cities and communities for greater resilience and sustainability was a key topic at the<a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/pioneers-of-change-summit-2020" target="_blank"> World Economic Forum's Pioneers of Change Summit 2020</a>.</p><p>The digital event brought together innovators and stakeholders from around the world to explore solutions to the challenges facing enterprises, governments and society.</p><p>Opening the summit, <a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/pioneers-of-change-summit-2020/sessions/opening-plenary-8f731cbc65" target="_blank">Stephan Mergenthaler, the Forum's Head of Strategic Intelligence and a member of the Executive Committee</a>, said: "We need to change the way we produce, the way we live and interact in our cities to make this transition to net-zero emissions a reality…</p><p>"And as this year has illustrated so dramatically, we need to make every effort that we keep populations healthy, if we want to avoid jeopardizing all this progress."</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/un-africa-recycled-plastic-housing/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649069252#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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