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Myth, Fact, Or It Couldn't Hurt?

By Kathy Hubbard

A friend of mine’s daughter just took her first steps. I know because she posted the video on Facebook. My niece posted that she’s taken a new job. Another friend posted a picture of eggs benedict served on a hubcap “because there’s no plate like chrome for the hollandaise!” All made me smile.

Then, I read that asparagus can cure cancer, and that wasn’t the punchline of a joke. No. Someone, actually a whole bunch of someones, posted an article that stated that there were miraculous benefits to eating mashed up asparagus every day. So I went to a better resource, American Institute for Cancer Research, to see what that’s all about.

They repeated what I had read, that there were a few testimonials and an indication that the “proof” was based on a “doctor’s” 1979 journal article. But, AICR reported, “no such article has been published in peer-reviewed research journals, and our Internet searches uncovered no information on the origin of the article or the doctor.”

They did say that if you enjoy asparagus, by all means, eat it. Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, contains vitamin C and beta-carotene, and foods high in these nutrients may offer some cancer protection. You know, as in lowering your risk, not curing the disease.

“The false hope of these ‘cancer cure’ or ‘miracle food’ claims may prevent some from pursuing more effective treatments,” AICR said. “Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian about these claims before pursuing them. As with most whole foods, however, you can enjoy asparagus roasted, grilled, or lightly steamed as one part of a cancer-protective diet.” Forget about getting out the blender.

About a month ago, I mentioned cranberry juice in an article about urinary tract infections. In 2010 an article published by WebMD stated that within eight hours of drinking cranberry juice, the juice could help prevent bacteria from developing into a UTI.

“Studies have suggested that the digestive system does not destroy the active compounds in cranberry juice after people drink them, but instead work to fight against bacteria, including E. coli. This latest study, presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, affirms that and provides evidence of the medicinal value of cranberries,” WebMD said.

But in 2015, the Cleveland Clinic published an article on cranberry juice and UTIs by urologist Courtenay Moore, MD, where she stated that “There is an active ingredient in cranberries that can prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall, particularly E. coli. But most of the studies have shown that juice and supplements don’t have enough of this active ingredient, A-type proanthocyanidins, to prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract.”

Once again, it might not help, but it couldn’t hurt!

I was talking about these findings when my life-partner said with great authority, “Drinking three or more cups of coffee per day reduces heart disease.” Well, you know I wasn’t going to take his word for it, so I looked it up.

Holy macaroni, you can get all kinds of conflicting answers when you Google “Coffee and Heart Disease.” The American Heart Association says that coffee can give you energy, help you lose weight, sharpen your mental focus, lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

What about heart disease? “Higher consumption of coffee, caffeinated and decaf alike was associated with a lower risk of total mortality, including deaths attributed to heart disease, nervous system diseases, and suicide. More specifically, habitual coffee drinking has been linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease in women.”

Wait. An article in WebMD published in 2006 says that the risk of heart attack increases fourfold for people who drink one cup of coffee per day. It states that research published in the September issue of Epidemiology “suggests coffee can trigger a heart attack within an hour in some people.”

Medical News Today says that drinking a lot of coffee can contribute to aortic stiffness. This is when the aorta becomes less flexible and can contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease.

I’ll leave it to you. I rarely drink coffee, but I do love asparagus and if you were to slip a little vodka into that cranberry juice… Here’s to your health!

Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

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