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Yo kid, whatcha drinkin’?  Not water, that’s for sure.  A recent study to be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that children in the U.S. are drinking far too little water.  Since water makes up the bulk of the human body weight, getting sufficient amounts is vital.  And since we can’t store water for the long term, running on a water deficiency can wreak havoc on the health.

According to the study conducted by the Queens College of the City University of New York and the U.S. National Cancer Institute, American children drink far less than the minimum amount of water recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.  The study looked at the water intake of 3,978 boys and girls, aged 2 to 19 years, who had been included in a national nutrition study from 2005 to 2006.  They found that only 15-60% of boys and 10-54% of girls, depending on age, drink enough water.  Instead, children are primarily drinking…yup, you guessed it, sugary drinks like sodas.

The study found that most kids drank sweetened beverages with meals and not plain water.  Yecchh!  And girls overall drank less water than boys.  The good news is that as children age, they start to drink a bit more water, but not enough to preserve good health.  Let’s go over some points on the importance of proper hydration:

  • Human beings cannot live without water for a few days
  • We lose approximately two liters of water per day through sweat, urine, tears, saliva and the breath, among other processes
  • Caffeinated drinks–sodas, iced tea, coffee drinks–are diuretics, which make us urinate more, thus increasing the need for water
  • Insufficient water levels lead to
  • fatigue
  • increased hunger
  • muscle weakness
  • headaches
  • dry mouth
  • heat stroke and other maladies

Furthermore, high consumption of sugary drinks leads to…yes, right again, obesity (along with other illnesses like diabetes).  And you heard childhood obesity is due to the common cold virus, now, didn’t you?

Listen, adults in the U.S. aren’t doing much better.  Sodas are still the number one consumed beverage in America.  And kids learn from their parents, so if you are a soda junkie, don’t expect less from junior.

Simple solution: stop buying soda! If you have younguns at home, don’t give them any of that crap, period.  My girls have never tasted a soda in their lives, and they won’t ever in our house.  Yes, I’m on a soapbox on this one, and I’m not getting off anytime soon.  That garbage is killing people, and I’ll keep screaming it till people listen.

Water is the elixir of life, and if you or your child are not getting enough, then you’re playing with fire.  Play with water instead, give your kids good ol’ H2O to drink and watch them flourish.  It’s in your hands parents–do the right thing.

Enigma time: stomach cancer is up in young white adults, while rates in all other adults has declined. In fact, the chances of developing this cancer among 25 to 39 year old whites has climbed by almost 70% in the past 30 years. Although the risks for developing this cancer in young adults is still very low, the racial differences has scientists baffled.

According to a recent study by the National Cancer Institute, which examined new cases of cancer in the lower stomach from 1977 to 2006, the incidence for young white adults rose from .54 per 200,000 to about 1 per 200,000. At the same time, the incidence of lower stomach cancer in young black adults actually declined by about 42%. The rates for other races also declined, but numbers were not specified.

The study focused on lower stomach cancer and not upper stomach cancer, which has been linked with gastric reflux. These two cancers together are the fourth most common type of cancer worldwide. In American men, stomach cancer is among the top 10 most common cancers in blacks, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians. It’s also among the most common cancers in Asian-American women.

Lower stomach cancer is thought to result from chronic infection with the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, the same bacteria responsible for many stomach and peptic ulcers. It has also been linked with diets high in salt and salt-preserved foods (cured meats, fish, beef jerky, etc.) and low in fresh fruits and vegetables. The incidence of lower stomach cancer has historically been higher in Asia and other countries where salt-preservation of food is more common.

Stomach cancer rates have been declining around the world, however, due to improved food preservation methods and better hygiene. This makes the increase seen young white adults so much more perplexing. Experts believe that increased salt intake among all young adults has something to do with it, but further investigation is needed.

I think that proving a dietary connection will be difficult, as eating habits among varying races in the U.S. can’t be all that different to account for such a change. I’d like to propose a mental component to this increase in stomach cancer among young white adults. There is no denying that the mind influences the body, and it is a long neglected aspect of health in general. American culture is far too intertwined to account for a non-genetic behavior difference as what we are seeing here. I do believe, though, that psychological patterns can be developed among groups or cohorts. It is an area that we would be wise to investigate in health care–an unexplored frontier, if you will; one I am certain will be the next gateway to understanding.

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