The recent death of Kenneth Jay Lane, famed costume jewelry designer whose ‘fake’ diamond designs were worn by legends such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Babe Paley and Diana Vreeland, inspires us to examine the recent AND alarming health headlines related to ‘fake’ sugars.
He was a champion for attainable luxury, making it acceptable and even chic to wear costume pieces.
“Kenneth Jay Lane is a nonconformist who changed the perception of the establishment toward costume jewelry. He even got the Duchess of Windsor and a host of British royals to wear costume jewelry — unheard of at the time,” says British filmmaker Gisele Roman wrote, produced and directed the new documentary about Kenneth Jay Lane’s life entitled, Fabulously Fake: The Real Life of Kenneth Jay Lane, “His designs still define the modern era, and he continues to work at 85!”
Actress Joan Collins was once stopped at customs with her KJL jewels and even the customs official couldn’t stop complimenting her about the baubles. “I was going through customs in Mexico — I keep all my jewelry in a box — and the customs man saw it and said, ‘Let me open it. Let me see it.’ He looked at it and I said, ‘Can we go into a private room? Because I don’t want people to see it,’ even though it wasn’t real,” says Collins. “We went into the private room, and the customs man is picking it up and said, ‘Very nice, these earrings very good.’ Finally, I said, ‘It’s not real, you know. It’s not diamonds and gold and rubies; it’s faux jewelry. And finally he closed it and said ‘You have very nice stuff here!’”
Fashion Designer Carolina Herrera, said there was a robbery during a friend’s dinner party in Caracas, Venezuela, and the KJL gems were the only concern. “We were at the home of a friend of mine who has a lot of jewels, and during dinner the butler came to say there’d been a burglary in the house, and they were very concerned about it because it had been upstairs. Her only reaction was ‘Oh, gosh! I hope they didn’t take any of my Kenny Lanes!’”
Kenneth Jay Lane was honored with numerous awards for his jewelry designs, including a special Coty Award in 1966, the Harper’s Bazaar International award in 1967, and the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award in 1968.
Kenneth Jay Lane’s love of fake jewels inspires us to discuss two health headlines related to ‘fake’ sugar.
The first one is the alarming findings of a linking diet drinks (made with fake sugar) to dementia published in the study in the journal Stroke.
“One can a day of artificially sweetened drink are nearly three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia.”
Before you overreact to this alarming headline let’s examine some possible reasons why an increased stroke risk was associated with diet drinks and not sugary drinks. One is what is called “reverse causality”. People who come to realize that they are ill and have a high risk of a stroke then switch their behavior by choosing diet drinks long after sugary drinks have helped cause the problem.
When it came to dementia, the link with diet drinks that new study’s researchers saw disappeared once they took some elements of the health of the people in the study into account. “When the researchers accounted for other risk factors for Alzheimer’s, such as risk genes, diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol levels and weight, this significant association was lost, suggesting that these drinks are not the whole story,” said Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The researchers point to it themselves: “We are unable to determine whether artificially sweetened soft drink intake increased the risk of incident dementia through diabetes mellitus or whether people with diabetes mellitus were simply more likely to consume diet beverages,” they write. But they call for more research and others will support them in that.
The second ‘fake’ sugar headline reports that artificial sweeteners may be associated with long-term weight gain and increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, according to a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Let’s face it, the health effects of artificial sweeteners are necessary because so many people use them. Another study published earlier this year found that a quarter of U.S. children and 41 percent of adults reported consuming them, most of them once per day. Even more people may be consuming them unwittingly in products such as granola bars or yogurt.
“We were really interested in the everyday person who is consuming these products not to lose weight, but because they think it’s the healthier choice, for many years on end,” says Meghan Azad, lead author of the review and a research scientist at the University of Manitoba. While more research needs to be done, from what we know now, “there is no clear benefit for weight loss, and there’s a potential association with increased weight gain, diabetes and other negative cardiovascular outcomes,” says Azad.
Both of the study linked to the ‘fake’ sugar headlines have their pluses and limitations. Randomized trials are typically shorter term and don’t include as many people because of the cost and effort involved.
They also may not reflect how people behave in the real world. Observational studies can track far more people for a much longer period, and they better reflect how people actually live. But the links they find between habits and health issues are associations, not direct evidence of cause and effect.
All that to say, that more research on ‘fake’ sugar is necessary given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners.
Tune in to our Luther Vandross Tribute podcast to learn more about the link between diabetes and stroke.
Luther Vandross died at age 54, two years after suffering a stroke related to his type 2 diabetes.
African-American men have a significantly higher risk of stroke, and death caused by stroke, than white males, according to the American Stroke Association. In 2002, the latest year for which data are available, the stroke-mortality rate for black men was 82 per 100,000 population, while the stroke mortality for white men was 54 per 100,000. Likewise mortality is higher in black women, at 72 per 100,000 population, versus white women, who die from stroke at a rate of 53 per 100,000.
Black men and women generally have more stroke risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension, according to George Howard, Dr. P.H., who chairs the department of biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. He is an authority on the demographics of stroke.
In the years since Luther’s passing, one constant has remained to define his life and musical success: the voice. Like any great singer of the past 100 years, Luther Vandross’ voice and distinct singing style led to not only monumental success, but an instant recognition when you hear him singing–through your stereo, car radio, on TV or in a movie. Coupled with that voice was Luther’s unique ability to write and sing about love and the shared emotions we all feel in that search for and enjoyment of love. Through his songs, for the last two generations Luther Vandross became a staple in the most joyous moments of people’s lives.
Luther’s style harkened back to a more genteel era of crooning, with songs that spoke to heartfelt emotions and gentle pillow talk rather than explicit sexuality.
“I’m more into poetry and metaphor, and I would much rather imply something rather than to blatantly state it,” said Luther. “You blatantly state stuff sometimes when you can’t think of a a poetic way to say it.”
Featured guests on our Luther Tribute podcast include Patricia Addie-Gentle RN, CDE, Tawatha Agee, Steve Kroon, Seveda Williams, Pat Lacy, Luther historian Leon Petrossian, members of ‘The Luther Vandross Experience’, friends and fans.
Throughout the podcast we will be featuring selected songs from the album entitled ‘Luther Vandross’ courtesy of SONY Music.