Study finds diet is chief reason for racial difference in blood pressure in US

NBC News (10/2) reports the “Southern diet” described as including “fried food, cheesy casseroles, and sweet, sweet tea” is “deadly, especially to African-Americans,” by increasing “blood pressure up to killer levels,” according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study included “7,000 people who had been taking part in a larger, long-term study of diet and lifestyle,” and included recording “weight, blood pressure, cholesterol,” alcohol consumption, “income and about exercise habits,” as well as “symptoms of stress and depression.” The researchers also asked about diet and found “big differences between blacks and whites in terms of eating the least-healthy foods.” African-Americans were also found to be “less likely to eat healthy foods that lower the risk of heart disease, including vegetables, fruits and whole grains.” They found no racial difference in BMI among men, though “black women were more likely to be obese than white women.”

U.S. News & World Report (10/2, Lardieri) states, “African-Americans who die younger mostly die from heart disease caused by high blood pressure” and the reason found was “a Southern diet, one filled with high amounts of salt, sugar and fat.” Overall, the study found that “the Southern-style diet accounted for 51.6 percent of excess risk for high blood pressure in black men and 29.2 percent in black women.”

Eating processed meat linked to increased risk for breast cancer, review indicates

The New York Times (10/3, Bakalar) reports in “Well” that “eating processed meat is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, a review of studies” indicated. The findings were published in the International Journal of Cancer.

CNN (10/3, Picheta) reports, “Regularly consuming the foods was linked with a 9% higher risk of breast cancer, according to” the “analysis of previous studies looking at over 1.2 million women.” These “findings follow previous research from the World Health Organization, which categorized processed meat as a carcinogen after finding that its consumption can cause various types of cancer.”

Nearly 80,000 died of flu last year, CDC says

The AP (9/26, Stobbe) reports about 80,000 Americans died of the flu and related complications this past winter – “the disease’s highest death toll in at least four decades” – according to CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. Dr. Redfield said, “I’d like to see more people get vaccinated. … We lost 80,000 people last year to the flu.” Daniel Jernigan, M.D., “a CDC flu expert,” explained that while the flu detected this year appears to be a less aggressive strain, officials still “don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re seeing more encouraging signs than we were early last year.” The AP adds that in recent years, “flu-related deaths have ranged from about 12,000 to – in the worst year – 56,000, according to the CDC.”