Author Archives: Zuzanna Walter

Meatless Meat: How Healthy Are Plant-based Meat Alternatives?

Plant-based diets have grown in popularity over recent years as rising awareness of the associated health benefits, climate change, environmental pollution, and ethical concerns have driven consumers to adopt vegetarian or vegan diets. Although it is difficult to measure the exact number of vegetarians or vegans in the United States, current estimates suggest that between 2% and 6% of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians, and about 1% of those consider themselves vegan. Responding to high demand and providing consumers with appealing product options, plant-based food companies are creating a variety of meatless foods.

While plant-based meat alternatives are not a new concept, the market has witnessed an influx of a novel product – meatless burgers designed to taste like traditional beef burgers. Spearheading the meatless meat movement, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have experienced instantaneous success, with sales of Beyond Meat increasing five-fold since 2016 and the latest round of funding valuing Impossible Foods at $2 billion. This positive attention is due in part to the environmental benefits and assumed positive health impact of eating a plant-based diet, however, the nutritional content of these products has been largely overlooked. Are meatless burgers as healthy as they have been positioned to be or are they just less harmful than their animal-based counterparts?

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The Connection Between Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Children’s IQ Levels

The potentially noxious effects of fluoride are a highly contested subject within the medical community and the public arena as previous research has hinted at the possibility of detrimental health consequences caused by drinking fluoridated water ranging from dental fluorosis to neurotoxicity. As fluoride crosses the placenta – accumulating in the brain regions associated with learning and memory –  it may alter proteins and neurotransmitters in the central nervous system of the fetus, making it potentially neurotoxic.

Although still a controversial subject, increased fluoride exposure from community water fluoridation has been tied to lowered children’s IQ levels in past studies, prompting growing research efforts aimed at uncovering the link between prenatal fluoride exposure and IQ levels in offspring. A recently published prospective study implicates that high fluoride intake during pregnancy may be associated with a reduction in children’s IQ at ages 3 to 5 years, and potentially beyond.

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Age Disparities in Cancer Trial Patients

Two decades ago, the oncology community was alerted to age disparities in cooperative group studies by an analysis of National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded trials. Older cancer patients have long been underrepresented in clinical trials, despite the disease primarily affecting the aging population. Researchers had not only investigated the disparities in age, but they also noted lesser representation of racial and ethnic minorities, and women.

The latest analysis of oncologic treatment clinical trial cohort demographics reveals a concerning lack of improvement in diversified representation, especially of the aging population.  Today, the median age of trial participants is nearly 7 years younger than the median age of cancer patients and the age gap is worsening, according to new research published online in JAMA Oncology.

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