2015  |  2016  |  2017  |  2018

The lunch that kills - literally - (6/5/2018)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro 

Pharmacists usually eat lunch on the fly. Patients are waiting for their medications. Phones are ringing. There is little or no time to have a sit-down meal, let alone to eat healthily. Yet, one must refuel the machine. That is why the pharmacist has his lunch delivered each day to the pharmacy. Yes sir, a cheeseburger, French fries (supersize it!) and a Diet Pepsi. The lunch of champions?

As a healthcare professional, the pharmacist is always giving advice about nutrition, weight, cholesterol, and dieting. Yet, he is his own worst patient. Hypertensive, overweight, risky cholesterol levels. Could his diet be to blame? The World Health Organization has determined that dietary factors account for at least 30% of all cancers in Western countries. Studies done at Harvard Medical School show that daily meat eaters have approximately 3 times the colon cancer risk, compared to those who rarely eat meat. Burgers can be high in sodium, with a double hamburger with mayo containing 1,081 milligrams. A high-sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Diet soda does not fare much better. A report published in the journal Diabetes Care found that people who drank diet soda every day had a 67% greater risk of developing diabetes. Why? The artificial sweeteners in diet sodas raise blood sugar levels higher than sugary sodas do. 

However, the greatest mortal sin one can commit nutritionally is indulging in French fries. President Thomas Jefferson is credited with serving the first American French fry in 1802 at the White House. People have been loving them ever since, especially the pharmacist. A recent 8-year study of over 4,400 people has revealed a link between the frequent eating of French fries and an increased risk of premature death. The study analyzed the dietary habits of people ages 45 to 79 and focused on how often participants ate potatoes - fried or not. Researchers found that people who consumed fried potatoes - whether French fries, tater tots or hash browns - at least twice a week could more than double their risk of premature death. Those who ate potatoes that were not fried did not have this risk. 

Most likely, the people who died during the study did not die from eating French fries alone. Most likely, the habit meant they also indulged in other high-risk eating behaviors and had an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Why are they bad for us? French fries are extremely high in fat, oil, and starch, so they can cause obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart ailments. French fries can also cause cancer. The study’s research team has found that a substance called acrylamide is formed when potatoes are fried. Acrylamide is produced when starch-rich foods like potatoes are cooked in oil at a high temperature. This substance is a cancer-causing agent, according to the US government health agencies. French fries that are oven-baked do not form acrylamide. Thus, fried potatoes can cause the development of tumors in the lungs, stomach, thyroid glands, and other organs. This is not the happiest of Happy Meals.  

Do you want some good news? Eat your vegetables! Green vegetables should be part of a well-rounded diet that also includes whole grains, fruits, and lean proteins. Vegetables contain fiber, which helps you feel full for a longer period and aids in reducing hunger spikes between meals. Vegetable eaters have a lower risk of colon cancer, and heart disease. As for the pharmacist, it is OK to have an occasional cheeseburger, fries and a soda, but not every day. Practice what you preach!

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a registered pharmacist, medical writer, and principal at Rx-Press.com. Read more at www.rx-press.com                  


Show All News Headlines