Scones, Cancer Statistics, Lemonade Detox

Q: Is there much difference in the healthfulness of scones compared to muffins?
Q: Is it true that the latest cancer statistics show we’ve turned the corner in the war on cancer?
Q: What do you think about the popular cleansing approach to weight loss based on laxatives and unsweetened lemonade with red pepper?

Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Is there much difference in the healthfulness of scones compared to muffins?
A: Calorie, fat and sugar content of scones and muffins varies with how they are made. One popular chain, for example, makes scones with about 30 percent more fat than their muffins; another puts more fat in their muffins. Sugar content of muffins at popular restaurants tends to be about double that of scones. Reduced-fat muffin versions can be an improvement, but especially with muffins’ high sugar content, these still contain about 300 calories. Size ends up having the biggest impact on the nutritional content of both these bakery items. Today’s mega-sizes usually put them in the 400 to 550 calorie range. Many restaurants and shops today sell scones that weigh four to five ounces, compared to the traditional British scone of less than three ounces. The large muffins more than three inches in diameter weigh in at five to six ounces. “Mini-muffins,” which are equal to about three of the traditional one-inch wide mini-muffins, are the lowest in fat, sugar and calories (about 120). The mega-size versions give you the calories of a meal without a meal’s protein, fiber or vitamins.

Q: Is it true that the latest cancer statistics show we’ve turned the corner in the war on cancer?

A: The latest statistics on cancer incidence and death rates in the United States show a lot of good news, but it would be premature to think it will be downhill from here. Death rates from cancer were down in 2004 for the second year in a row. Five-year survival rates are also improving. But a recent National Cancer Institute report found that from 1975 to 2003 the incidence of overall cancers has remained stable. Decreased death rates can reflect improved treatment and screening as well as less cancer occurring. For some of our most common cancers, including breast and colon, major advances in screening mean that cancer and pre-cancerous polyps are being caught early enough to treat successfully. Lung cancer incidence is down in men because so many have quit smoking. Unfortunately, women have not been as quick to quit, so their lung cancer incidence has not dropped. Excess weight is associated with an increased risk of many types of cancers, such as breast, colon and kidney, and our continuing rise in obesity from youth through adults does not bode well for preventing these cancers. Making lifestyle choices that make cancer less likely to occur healthful eating, weight control, regular physical activity and tobacco avoidance will help in human and economic costs.

Q: What do you think about the popular cleansing approach to weight loss based on laxatives and unsweetened lemonade with red pepper?
A: Body fat does not come from toxins or built up waste; it is the body’s way of storing excess calories consumed and not burned. Laxatives and fasts will make the number on the scale go down quickly, but that reflects water loss that will come back as soon as you end the regimen. Red pepper is rumored to hasten weight loss by speeding metabolism, but there is no solid research showing that this happens to any practically significant degree. We do know for sure that as little as an extra 10 to 15 minutes of moderate walking each day can begin to make a substantial difference in energy balance. The smart approach to weight loss is to make a few changes you can maintain, such as in decreasing portion size and increasing your physical activity.

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research www.aicr.org

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