Thursday, September 19, 2013

Orange Juice to Battle Cancer? Is There Anything to the Recent Mainstream Media News? Plus: How Much of The "Good Stuff" Is Lost Upon Pasteurization?

I am sorry, but if you still believe this was a healthy breakfast, I am not sure you will be able to escape diabesity ;-)
You may have read it on one of the major Science News Portals, on Saturday: "[Orange juice] could contribute to chemoprevention at every stage of cancer initiation and progression. Among the most relevant biological effects of OJ [orange juice] is the juice's antigenotoxic and antimutagenic potential, which was shown in cells in culture and in rodents and humans." (Taylor & Francis. Press Release from 13. September 2013).

Really? And what about the >20% increased diabetes risk from drinking fruit juices (Muraki. 2013)?

If that's what you have just been thinking, I bet you will like to get some more information about the hesperidine and naringenine content of orange juice and how these could influence cancer development.

Three epidemiological studies! Really?

It does not take much these days to turn hopes into hypes - for orange juice it appears at first sight as if three studies were enough. If you look closer at the image that emerges whence you read the information Rech Franke et al. provide in a tabular overview in their paper you it does however turn out that their "evidence" is actually refuting their own argument:
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    Drinking orange juice is associated with increased skin cancer risk: A population-based case-control study evaluating the relationship between citrus consumption and the history of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin in an elder Southwestern U.S. population (n=242 cases and 228 controls) that found that there was no association of OJ consumption and reduced risk of developing skin cancer, but a highly significant -34% risk reduction for those who are too lazy to get rid of the citrus peel (Hakim. 2000).
  • Vitamin rich foods in general are cancer-protective, but orange juice is not: A follow-up study conducted with data from two Nurses' Health Study cohorts found a relationship between vitamins and certain foods and the risk of melanoma, orange juice, however was not among those foods. In fact, the more OJ the subjects were drinking the higher was their risk of developing skin cancer (Feskanich. 2003)
Ok, I got to be fair, there is a third human study, where OJ does actually appear to to the trick - it's not skin cancer, but leukenia, but still:
  • Early life OJ consumption is linked to lower leukemia risk: A case-control study by Kwan et al. aiming to study the relation between child’s early diet and risk of childhood leukemia in diverse California population (n=328 case-control sets) observed that the regular consumption of orange juice before the age of 2 years was associated with a -46% reduction in risk of childhood leukemia diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 14 yr (Kwan. 2004)
Now, aside from the fact that we are obviously talking about different forms of cancer, it should be obvious that you are picking only the best orange juice for your toddler and won't feed him or her the same junk you are probably going to buy for your Tequila Sunrise ;-)

Is OJ quality the critical factor?

If you are a regular, here at the SuppVersity you will probably already be guessing, where this is heading: Towards a quality, not a quantity discussion. We all do after all know that citrus fruits with their thick skin are the #1 favorite target for the spray on pesticides (Lu. 2005)
Figure 1: Loss of selected total and individual flavanones, flavones, and hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives (all healthy secondary plant products) after standard pulp pasteurization of commercial OJ (Gil-Izquierdo. 2002)
Doesn't matter? Who eats the peel anyway... Oh, yes you are right. The only problem with this logic is that if you don't eat the peel or at least the white bitter stuff that's right in-between the peel and the fruit, you don't get the full load of phenols and will hardly see any of the benefits the companies selling commercial "orange juice" (not so sure there are oranges in this stuff, anyway) claim their products would have.

If you go hardcore, though, and simply "juice" the whole fruit, on the other hand, you will not just increase the amount of allegedly healthy secondary plant products. You will also maximize the amount of pesticides you ingest and the truckloads of sugar you will need to make the bitter brew palatable. If we do now also take into consideration that Lu et al. report that even "organic" orange juice from oranges where 99% of the peel has been removed has pesticides in it, it may, after all, still be a quantitative issue, where minimizing your intake of orange juice and eating the occasional organically grown orange would be your best bet to cheat death by "healthy juices" ;-)

Conventional vs. organic? All bullocks or is it worth paying more (learn more)
Bottom line: So, what does the real-world check tell us about the "benefits" of orange juice? Right, it's neither laden with hesperitin nor narengenin, because those are in the part of the fruit we throw away because it is (a) laden with pesticides and (b) so bitter that even the tons of sugar we currently add to the commercial orange juices will not make it tasty.

So, what do we do with b***s*** mainstream science news like these? File them next to the "eating chocolate will turn you into a Nobel laureate" news that even made it to CNN and co, when the pertinent study Messerli was published in 2012. What folder that would be? Well it's the "for those who are stupid enough to believe everything they read folder" ;-)

  • Feskanich D, Willett WC, Hunter DJ, and Colditz GA: Dietary intakes of vitamins A, C, and E and risk of melanoma in two cohorts of women. Br J Cancer. 2003; 88:1381–1387.
  • Gil-Izquierdo A, Gil MI, Ferreres F. Effect of processing techniques at industrial scale on orange juice antioxidant and beneficial health compounds. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Aug 28;50(18):5107-14.
  • Hakim IA, Harris RB, and Ritenbaugh C: Citrus peel use is associated with reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Nutr Cancer. 2000; 37:161–168.
  • Kwan ML, Block G, Selvin S, Month S, and Buffler PA: Food consumption by children and the risk of childhood acute leukemia.Am J Epidemiol. 2004; 160:1098–1107.
  • Lu C, Bravo R, Caltabiano LM, Irish RM, Weerasekera G, Barr DB. The presence of dialkylphosphates in fresh fruit juices: implication for organophosphorus pesticide exposure and risk assessments. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2005 Feb 13;68(3):209-27.
  • Messerli FH. Chocolate consumption, cognitive function, and Nobel laureates. N Engl J Med. 2012 Oct 18;367(16):1562-4.
  • Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, Hu FB, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Sun Q. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ. 2013 Aug 28;347:f5001.
  • Rech Franke SI, Guecheva TN, Henriques JA, PrĂ¡ D. Orange Juice and Cancer Chemoprevention. Nutr Cancer. 2013 Aug 6. [Epub ahead of print]