What Your Blood Type Means For Your Health

Original post from The Huffington Post

‘…………….By Beth Howard

New research suggests that blood type could increase your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more.

SPECIAL FROM 2013-02-21-grandparentslogo.jpg

Quick: What’s your blood type?

If you’re scratching your head, you may be missing out on an important health clue. A spate of recent research suggests that your blood type—whether A, B, AB, or O—may influence your risk for a variety of health conditions, from cardiac disease to cancer.

The research is still early and scientists aren’t yet sure how to explain the connections. Although you can’t change your blood type, however, knowing about added risks can still be helpful. Here are several ways your blood type could be affecting your health—and what to do about it:

Heart disease

“Blood type relates to several diseases including heart attack, stroke, and venous thrombolism,” says Mary Cushman, M.D., a hematologist at the University of Vermont. In fact on average non-O blood groups have a 60-80 percent higher risk than people with blood group O for developing dangerous blood clots, the kind that can break off and travel to the lungs with sometimes devastating results. Similarly people with blood types A, B, or AB are at a greater risk for coronary heart disease than people with blood type O, according to a study from Harvard School of Public Health. Other research has linked non-O blood to greater inflammation, which may help explain the connection.

Don’t fret if you have a blood type other than O, however, Cushman says. Managing heart-related risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes with lifestyle habits and prescribed medications can tip the scales in the opposite direction, helping keep your ticker in tip-top shape.

Memory problems 

A recent study of 30,000 people from the University of Vermont showed that people with the AB blood type were 82 percent more likely than other blood types to develop thinking and memory problems that lead to dementia. “Blood type has been related to diseases like stroke that have a vascular basis so we thought that maybe vascular issues contribute to memory problems,” says Dr. Cushman, who led the study.

Luckily, Dr. Cushman says, the effect was still small. “But it’s important to keep as healthy as possible by controlling high blood pressure, not smoking, staying physically fit and having a healthy diet.” she says. “Each of these can slow the development of memory problems.” It can also help to keep your brain active through things like reading, doing puzzles, and social interaction.

Gastro-intestial conditions 

Several studies have found that that people with blood type A have a higher risk of gastric cancer, says investigator Gustaf Edgren, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. People with type O, on the other hand, are more likely than others to develop peptic ulcer. Since both conditions are associated with a bacteria called h pylori infection, he believes that the findings have to do with different susceptibility to bacterial infections associated with the blood types.

‘There’s little we can do about this regarding gastric cancer,” Dr. Edgren says, “but the risk associated with blood group is actually too small to make much of a difference.” Nevertheless, he says, everyone should try to avoid the three most important risk factors for many diseases: smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and being overweight.

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No proof that butter is better

Original post from Heart Matters


 “Butter unlikely to harm health, but margarine could be deadly”butter2_300x196_exp0318

– The Telegraph, 12 August 2015

The BHF’s view

This story was covered widely, in the Times, Telegraph, Independent, Sun, Express and others.

This was a literature review, published in the British Medical Journal, which combined the findings of many different studies from around the world looking at the link between eating saturated fat and trans fats and the effects on our health.

The review found a link between trans fats and heart disease. Trans fats are found in small amounts in foods like meat and dairy products, where they are naturally occurring, as well as being formed industrially when liquid fats and oils are turned into a solid through a process called hydrogenation. These are already known to have harmful effects on heart health, which is why in the UK virtually all of the artificially produced trans fats have been removed from foods that may have previously contained them, including spreading fats. While the amount of trans fat in the diet varies across the world, in the UK we consume well below the recommended maximum, which is 2 per cent of food energy.

Overall they did not find a link between eating more saturated fat and either cardiovascular disease (CVD) or overall death rates, though they acknowledged that the evidence was mixed and had some limitations. What they did find was some evidence that what you have instead of saturated fats made a difference.

Some studies showed that replacing saturated fat with high glycaemic index foods increased the risk of CVD, while replacing it with lower glycaemic index foods like fruit and vegetables, pulses and grains reduced the risk.

Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat was shown by some studies to reduce the risk of CVD. Most people in the studies who ate less saturated fat were eating more processed foods with a high glycaemic index (for example most sugary foods, pasta). So we don’t know how much these foods could have affected the results.

The Express headline: “Normal milk and butter safe to eat but low fat versions could KILL YOU” did not reflect the findings of the study. The study did not look at low fat dairy products. The headline writer may have been thinking of trans fats, but these are not found in low fat milk or in spreads, which in this country were reformulated a number of years ago to remove the artificially produced trans fats.

The Telegraph report was similarly confused, saying “Saturated fat found in butter, meat or cream is unlikely to kill you, but margarine just might… Trans-fats, found in processed foods like margarine raises the risk of death by 34 per cent.”

The Times pointed to cakes and takeaway meals as the foods high in trans fats, although it did acknowledge that their use has been reduced in recent years.

The Express said: “The verdict marks an astonishing U-turn on dietary advice,” implying that mainstream dietary advice has now changed, which is not the case.

There are several limitations of the research, in particular that the types of studies they looked at cannot prove that saturated fats or trans fats had the effects seen in terms of health, only that there are associations.

The researchers say that some of the studies they included may have suffered from measurement errors, including failing to take account of other factors such as age, smoking or family history. Most of the studies relied on the participants to record what they ate and drank, and these types of records are often not accurate.

The researchers said it is particularly difficult to measure trans fat intakes because the trans fat content of industrially-produced food tends to change often, especially as the studies happened while many countries were trying to remove trans fats from the food supply. It can also be difficult to classify trans fats as coming from processed foods or animal sources.

The researchers concluded that there are still unanswered questions, such as whether different types of saturated fats might have different effects on health, or how much of the results were caused by other nutrients in the diet.

There are many factors which cause coronary heart disease and no single food or nutrient is solely responsible for this Victoria Taylor, our Senior Dietitian, said: “The results of this review support existing guidance to avoid industrially produced trans fats. In the UK, industry action to remove these fats from manufactured foods means that our intakes are already below the recommended maximum 2 per cent of food energy.

“While saturated fats were not robustly associated with total or deaths from coronary heart disease (CHD), this does not mean we should all go back to eating butter – the studies that this review is based on can’t show cause and effect. Rather, it highlights how difficult it is to understand the true relationship between diet and our health.

“Diets high in saturated fat are linked to raised cholesterol levels, a risk factor for CHD. But when one nutrient is reduced it will be replaced by another and, depending on what this is, it can have positive or negative health consequences.

“It’s easy to forget that we need to consider our whole diet to reduce our overall risk. There are many factors which cause CHD and no single food or nutrient is solely responsible for this.

“We will continue to recommend switching saturated fat for unsaturated fat. This is consistent with a traditional Mediterranean style diet, which is a style of eating associated with a lower rate of coronary heart disease.”


Parents who smoke are screwing up their kids even more than we thought

Original post from Salon

‘……….A new study found that children with parents who smoked were twice as likely to develop heart disease

A new study published this week in the journal Circulation has found that children who had a parent who smoked cigarettes– even when the children weren’t in the room –were almost twice as likely to develop heart disease as an adult as children with nonsmoking parents.

Researchers tracked more than 1,500 Finnish children over 20 years. First collecting data between 1980 and 1983, measuring the level of cotinine in their blood. Cotinine is left behind in the blood after nicotine exposure. The researchers then followed up again in 2001 and 2007 to measure the level of carotid plaque in the now grown adults. Those children who had measured with higher levels of cotinine also had higher levels of carotid plaque, as an adult. A build-up of the plaque can lead to heart disease.

“This paper adds to the evidence base that exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood increases risk of heart disease,” said Stanton Glantz of the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, more children are exposed to secondhand smoke than are nonsmoking adults, with most of the exposure occurring at home. About 22 percent of all children under the age of 18 are exposed to smoke in the home.

In a statement, lead author Costan Magnussen of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research said that parents “may be able to reduce some of the potential long-term risk for their children by actively reducing their children’s exposure to secondhand smoke.”


Joanna RothkopfJoanna Rothkopf is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on science, health and society. Follow @JoannaRothkopf or email jrothkopf@salon.com……..’