Wednesday, January 31, 2007

TV making kids fat

Less Television, More Gathering Around Dinner Table Prevents Kids From Becoming Overweight ScienceDaily 2/1/07 "After following 8,000 children from kindergarten to third grade, researchers concluded that kids who watched the most TV were at the greatest risk of being or becoming overweight. Children who ate fewer meals with their families also were at risk for becoming overweight...Members of the persistently overweight groups also lived in neighborhoods that parents perceived as less safe for outdoor play. "These results suggest that some overweight children have fewer options for active play when they are at home," Gable said."

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Exercise Won't Up Knee Arthritis Risk

Study Shows Activity Didn't Hurt Healthy Knees of Older Exercisers WebMD 1/31/07 ""There really was no difference between those who exercised and those who didn't in terms of getting knee osteoarthritis," says researcher David T. Felson, MD, MPH...Good workout shoes matched to your activity -- walking, jogging, aerobics, or hiking -- are crucial, he says. "Don't wear them to mow the lawn or go to the mall," he says. Save them for the exercise activity.
And replace them every 3-6 months if you are exercising regularly, he says"

A previous study showed that if you didn't exercise too hard (high impact, high stress) your knees would probably do fine. Your hips on the other hand are another issue - greater chance of getting arthritis here than in the knees. At least for the knees there's a reason to keep only an 8 minute mile and buy new running shoes all the time.

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Grape juice good for the heart

Grape juice seems to have the same protective effect against heart disease as red wine Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/31/07 "Grape juice can have a similar effect (against heart disease) as red wine but without the alcohol. That is a very important message," said Dr Valerie Schini-Kerth, lead author of the study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research...polyphenols in Concord grape juice activate endothelial cells to produce nitric oxide which helps to protect against cardiovascular disease and to maintain healthy blood vessels and blood pressure..."But not every grape juice has the beneficial effect. It has to have a high level of polyphenols,"...The amount of polyphenols in grape juice, as in red wine, depends on the type of grape used and how it is processed"

I wish they listed the other types of high polyphenol grapes, not just Concord. From what I've seen in supermarkets, most 100% grape juice is almost always made from Concord grapes.

Also no discussion about whether grape juice has functional resveratrol.

The study was funded by Welch Foods Inc.

I'll post more on this study when I can get real details.

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transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS not so effective for depression

FDA Advisory Panel Sees Marginal Effect of TMS in Depression Treatment WebMD 1/31/07 "Several panelists expressed dismay that patients showed no improvement on some depression scales and only minor improvement on the ones that did show a difference. "Perhaps a reasonable person could question whether there has been an effect at all," says Thomas G. Brott, a neurologist from Mayo Medical School in Jacksonville, Fla., and the advisory panel's chairman...Ann Costello, PhD, an FDA medical official, questioned whether the mixed evidence of effectiveness in Neuronetics' studies contained "any clinical relevant information."..."It's not a statistically significant difference, and it's not a meaningful difference," says Zuckerman, a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist. "Yes, it is safer than ECT, but it doesn't appear to actually work." "

What a shame. A few years ago this technology was covered in the press as having such promise. It looks like what good evidence there is shows that TMS is not a useful therapy for those with depression.

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Lavender Oil May Spur Breasts in Boys

3 Cases of Gynecomastia Reported in Boys Using Products With Lavender or Tea Tree Oils WebMD 1/31/07 "Repeated use of products containing lavender oil or tea tree oil may spur breast growth in prepubertal boys, experts report in The New England Journal of Medicine..."This report raises an issue of concern, since lavender and tea tree oil are sold over the counter in their 'pure' form and are present in an increasing number of commercial products, including shampoos, hair gels, soaps, and body lotions," write researchers Derek Henley, PhD...The boys' breasts receded within months after they stopped using the products...The tests showed that lavender and tea tree oils may boost estrogen (a sex hormone that promotes female characteristics and is linked to breast development) and hamper androgens (sex hormones that promote male characteristics and inhibit breast growth)."
Henley, D. The New England Journal of Medicine, Feb. 1, 2007; vol 356: pp 479-485

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tall men at risk for prostate enlargement

Tall men seem to have a heightened risk of developing an enlarged prostate Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/30/07 "Advancing age and high fasting blood sugar levels also raise the odds of BPH, whereas a greater systolic blood pressure -- the first number in the blood pressure reading - may indicate a lower risk...BPH leads to bothersome lower urinary symptoms and is associated with complications such as urinary retention, bloody urine, stones, and urinary tract infections. Surgery may be required to relieve BPH...There was no relationship between BPH and weight or body mass index (BMI) or with a change in weight or BMI over time..."

It's not clear exactly what is going on. The hypothesis seems only to be that taller men have a greater chance of having larger prostates - but no good explanation why.

Flax lignans seem to hold potential as something that helps battle BPH

Saw Palmetto in the last big American study didn't seem to do so well. Although there seems to be plenty of people who find that saw palmetto helps. Could be variations in the active ingredients.

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Baby brain bleeding in vaginal births

Study finds baby brain bleeding in vaginal births Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/30/07 "About a quarter of babies born in vaginal deliveries had a small amount of bleeding in their brains, while none delivered by Caesarean section did...They said the findings suggest brain bleeding in some newborns has been commonplace in vaginal deliveries throughout history, but is being detected now only because of highly sophisticated imaging technology..."There's no evidence that these bleeds are associated with problems in later life in either mental or physical function or ability," said Dr. Honor Wolfe, an obstetrician involved in the study published in the journal Radiology. Pressure on the baby's skull while squeezing through the birth canal probably causes the bleeding, said Dr. John Gilmore, a psychiatry professor involved in the study..."While the vast majority of these are probably normal and go away and don't cause any problems, some of them were bigger and, we don't know, but may cause problems down the line as well," Gilmore said. Small bleeds usually heal harmlessly, but larger ones could lead later in life to learning or motor development problems or seizures...The researchers said the bleeding was unrelated to the baby's size or head circumference, the length of labor or the use of forceps or vacuum during delivery...Bones in a newborn's skull are not yet fused, allowing them to shift and overlap as the baby exits the birth canal -- a process that can compress the brain or tear blood vessels, causing bleeding...Most were small amounts of bleeding between the brain and the membrane that covers it inside the skull, called subdural hematomas"

A previous study done in Britain had found only 10% of babies had subdural hematomas. It is thought that this was an undercount due to lower resolution brain scans.

Although in Dr. Sarah Brewer's book Super Baby she mentions that Cesarean babies end up being adults with a slight IQ boost over adults that were born vaginally, I can't find evidence of this with a quick PubMed search. What's clear is there is very little research on intelligence and birth procedures. I find it hard to believe that subdural hematoma would have no effect on the development of the brain. Obviously the degree and type of hematoma must be a factor. But how much of a factor - they mention learning and motor disorders and increased chance of seizures, but is that all?

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Cannabinoid might help fight obesity

Cannabis drug may help fight obesity Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/30/07 "treatment from cannabis that could help suppress hunger. "The cannabis plant has 70 different cannabinoids in it and each has a different affect on the body,"...Some can stimulate your appetite, and some in the same plant can suppress your appetite. It is amazing both scientifically and commercially," "

Not a ton of details with this story - more like marketing for the pharmaceutical co. that is running trials on this in the 2nd half of 2007 - if things go well a drug based on their research might hit the market in 5 -7 yrs. The interesting thing is that there are a number of other pharmaceutical companies also mining cannabinoids for hunger suppression, pain relief and nausea relief. The utility of this plant is astounding. Even our dog leashes are now made of hemp. The other interesting thing is that these pharmaceuticals all have giant indoor cannabis farms that for obvious reasons the locations remain secret.

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Neurological diseases much more common than thought

Neurological disease common, survey finds Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/30/07 "Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and other neurological diseases may be far more common than most people had believed...Nearly one out of 1,000 Americans has multiple sclerosis or MS and one out of 100 elderly Americans has Parkinson's disease the survey found...Our estimate of MS prevalence is about 50 percent higher than a comprehensive review from 1982," said Dr. Deborah Hirtz of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who led the survey...the rate of Alzheimer's disease was up substantially from past estimates, with 67 out of 1,000 Americans over the age of 65 affected...out of every 100,000 has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease...nearly six out of every 1,000 children has autism, and two out of every 1,000 children has cerebral palsy...out of every 100,000 Americans has a traumatic brain injury each year, 50 percent fewer than previous estimates...180 out of every 100,000 people suffer a stroke each year, and close to five out of every 100,000 have a new spinal cord injury each year..."

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Could Some Sun Be Good for Your Skin? Vitamin D

Sunlight in Small Doses May Protect Skin From Damage WebMD 1/29/07 "Sunlight triggers the synthesis of vitamin D within the body. Stanford researchers found that this action causes immune cells to travel to the outer layers of the skin where they are available to protect and help repair damage such as that caused by sun exposure...There is a growing body of research suggesting that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk for a host of human cancers, as well as other disorders including type 1 diabetes diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, and multiple sclerosis...Vitamin D researcher Michael F. Holick, MD, PhD, believes the optimal daily dosage for preventing disease is closer to 1,000 IU. Holick heads the Vitamin D Research Lab at Boston University and is the author of the book The UV Advantage...Holick tells WebMD that he takes a 1,000-IU vitamin D supplement each day...Holick says most people can get more than enough vitamin D in the spring, summer, and fall by engaging in what he calls "sensible sun exposure" -- no more than five to 10 minutes of direct sun to unprotected legs and arms two or three times a week."

If you are going to supplement you want the D3 (cholecalciferol) form of Vitamin D - D2 is almost totally useless. Supplementing seems to make sense during winter months when it might be tough to get the 1000 IU a day. During warmer months short amounts of sun to bare skin appears to be very important for health.

More here and here. \

WebMD on this.

Science News article on Vitamin D.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition full journal article on Vitamin D here (all that you want to know about Vit D and more).

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

New weapon against cancer? DCA (dichloroacetate)

Scientists and patients are buzzing about DCA Newsweek 1/23/07 "If there were a magic bullet, though, it might be something like dichloroacetate, or DCA, a drug that kills cancer cells by exploiting a fundamental weakness found in a wide range of solid is an existing drug whose side effects are well-studied and relatively tolerable. Also, it's a small molecule that might be able to cross the blood-brain barrier to reach otherwise intractable brain tumors...lead author, Dr. Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta, was deluged with calls and e-mails from prospective patients...DCA is a remarkably simple molecule related to acetic acid, better known as vinegar. It acts in the body to promote the activity of the mitochondria, the cellular structures where glucose is oxidized to provide energy; its main pharmaceutical use has been to treat certain rare metabolic disorders...the mitochondria have another function: they initiate apoptosis, the fail-safe process by which cells with damaged DNA destroy themselves before they can do damage. This goes on continually in the body. But when a cell turns cancerous, it begins processing glucose outside the mitochondria; the mitochondria shut down, and the cell becomes immune to apoptosis—immortal, until it kills its own host. Researchers have assumed that the mitochondria in cancer cells were irreparably damaged. But Michelakis wondered if that was really true. With his colleagues he used DCA to turn back on the mitochondria in cancer cells—which promptly died"

More on DCA here, and (in pdfs) NewScientist , The Economist (good article), Cancer Cell journal article, and U of A Express news

It seems that with solid tumors the ability to tamper with mitochondria so as to encourage apoptosis of cancer cells is key - as capsaicin showed as well. Although in the case of capsaicin there is an attack on cancer cell mitochondria via a binding of proteins which then encourages apoptosis. DCA seems to rejuvenate the mitochondria in some cancers so as to wake the ability of apoptosis.

There is a very important aspect to this story that needs more play. You might think that at least one drug maker would be rushing to get this to market and you'd be wrong. DCA isn't patentable in the traditional sense (only a use patent has been granted). So the researchers are trying to gather funding for further research.

The only notable side effects of DCA for some people are pain and numbness in parts of the body and it can affect gait.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain

Add these 'superfoods' to your daily diet, and you will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy brain for the rest of your life. WebMD 6/12/06 "Blueberries...blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease or dementia dementia. Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats...Nuts and seeds...Beans....The brain is dependent on glucose for fuel, Kulze explains, and since it can't store the glucose, it relies on a steady stream of energy -- which beans can provide...Pomegranate juice...Freshly brewed tea" (no milk)"...Dark chocolate...Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants, including caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration, and stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood."

Not a lot of depth in the article, but a good quick list. I'd add curcumin from turmeric. And dark chocolate is looking better every day as a way to stave off age related decline in the brain. The list is by no means complete.

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'Couch Potato' Lifestyle Helps Drive Diabetes

Lack of exercise ups the risk for the disease, study finds HealthDay 1/26/07 "The benefits of physical activity in preventing diabetes are well-documented, but the message does not seem to be getting through, said study lead author Elaine Morrato...An estimated 20 million U.S. children and adults have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association..."

It should be a national outrage that a disease that could in large part be prevented by regular exercise afflicts 20 million! Think about that for a second. 20 million people with a disease that with more movement every day they would most likely have avoided. Doesn't reflect well on us as a society. And another reason why cutting physical education courses from schools is foolish.

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Insula key to harmful addictions like smoking

Insula, an area of the brain largely ignored by researchers, may hold the key to breaking harmful addictions Scientific American 1/25/07 "A patient who damaged his left insula, a region of the brain located deep within the cortex on either lateral side, may have opened the door to kick the habit without even trying...The day after suffering a stroke the 38-year-old man, who had a 40-cigarette-a-day addiction, reported to doctors that his "body forgot the urge to smoke." ...The insula has long been associated with conscious urges and visceral sensations. According to Steven Grant, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is also believed to act as a sensory receptor for the internal organs, perhaps remembering the way something tastes or if it upsets the stomach. During imaging studies probing the causes of addiction, the insula often was activated when drug abusers were shown movies of others taking drugs or shown pictures of cocaine, heroin or nicotine...until now researchers had ignored the silver dollar–size region because it was not implicated in reinforcement pathways and did not affect the signaling of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and pleasure..." (Lead author Antoine Bechara)

Insula = insular cortex

So all you have to do is induce a stroke in the left insula and voila, addictions are gone. What's amusing is that the researchers have gone out of their way to encourage people to not think that a stroke in that region is the cure for everyone. As if it ever was. Still, discovering the link between this area of the brain and addiction will probably lead to medication. I didn't see in the articles how long it might take to for such medications to arrive on the market... which usually means longer than 10yrs.

A couple articles mention that damage to the insula impairs social function, although they were not clear what that means.

More decent coverage at, Science, and USC News

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Link between inflammation and cancer

Molecular Link Between Inflammation And Cancer Discovered ScienceDaily 1/25/07 "“Although there is plenty of evidence that chronic inflammation can promote cancer, the cause of this relationship is not understood,” said Alexander Hoffmann, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at U.C. San Diego, who led the study. “We have identified a basic cellular mechanism that we think may be linking chronic inflammation and cancer.”...inflammation leads to an increase in p100, but that p100 is also used in certain steps in development. Therefore p100 allows communication between inflammation and development...A small amount of dialogue between inflammation and development is beneficial...On the other hand, the constant influence of defense processes on development is detrimental...“Studies with animals have shown that a little inflammation is necessary for the normal development of the immune system and other organ systems,” explained Hoffmann. “We discovered that the protein p100 provides the cell with a way in which inflammation can influence development. But there can be too much of a good thing. In the case of chronic inflammation, the presence of too much p100 may overactivate the developmental pathway, resulting in cancer.”"

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fiber lowers breast cancer risk

Fibre 'lowers breast cancer risk' BBC News 1/24/07 "those who ate 30g of fibre a day had half the risk of those who ate less than 20g...To eat 30g, a person would need to eat a high-fibre cereal for breakfast, switch from white or brown bread to wholemeal and ensure they have five portions of fruit and vegetables a day." (Lead researcher Professor Janet Cade)

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Metabolic syndrome does predict heart disease

Metabolic Syndrome Predicts Heart Risk HealthDay/Yahoo!Health 1/23/07 "A cluster of cardiac factors known as "metabolic syndrome" is a strong indicator of increased risk of heart disease, an exhaustive review of the literature concludes...Metabolic syndrome includes factors such as lower-abdomen obesity, high blood pressure, blood fat disorders such as high LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and insulin resistance or elevated blood sugar levels. Generally, someone with three or more of these factors is said to have metabolic syndrome... Dr. Apoor S. Gami, an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. "What is the quantified risk in patients with metabolic syndrome? That is one question we could answer by meta-analysis."...The meta-analysis found the risk of heart attack or death was 78 percent higher for people with metabolic syndrome than those who did not have this constellation of risk factors..."

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Calcium and Vitamin D lowers cholesterol during weight loss

Calcium helps cut cholesterol during weight loss Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/23/07 "Overweight or obese women who took calcium and vitamin D supplements while on a 15-week diet showed greater drops in LDL or "bad" cholesterol and increases in HDL ("good") cholesterol, Dr. Angelo Tremblay of Laval University in Ste-Foy, Quebec and colleagues found... two 600-milligram tablets daily of calcium and 200 IU of vitamin D...calcium appears to interfere with fat absorption in the gut. The mineral also helps the body mobilize and burn fat, and may also aid in appetite control"

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Microwave zaps germs on sponges

Microwave zaps germs on sponges, study finds Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/22/07 "A team of engineering researchers at the University of Florida found that two minutes of microwaving on full power killed or inactivated more than 99 percent of bacteria, viruses or parasites, as well as spores, on a kitchen sponge..."People often put their sponges and scrubbers in the dishwasher, but if they really want to decontaminate them and not just clean them, they should use the microwave," said Gabriel Bitton, a professor of environmental engineering who led the study"

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Problems with some multivitamins report finds unexpected nutrient levels, contamination MSNBC via 1/19/07 "Of 21 brands of multivitamins on the market in the United States and Canada selected by and tested by independent laboratories, just 10 met the stated claims on their labels or satisfied other quality standards...Most worrisome, according to president Dr. Tod Cooperman, is that one product, The Vitamin Shoppe Multivitamins Especially for Women, was contaminated with lead...On a positive note, several of the most popular multivitamins on the market did pass muster, said David Schardt, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C. These included Centrum Silver, Member's Mark Complete Multi (distributed by Sam's Club), One A Day Women's and Flintstones Complete."

Being a member of ConsumerLab for a while, it is apparent that the name brands you see in your supermarket are some of the highest quality supplements you can buy. Of course there is a very limited selection. But for basic needs, look no further than a supermarket.

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Folate improves cognitive performance in elders

Folic Acid Improves Cognitive Performance in Older Adults Medscape via 1/19/07 "A randomized, placebo-controlled trial has shown daily folic acid significantly improves cognitive performance in older adults — specifically as it relates to memory and information processing..."The effect of folic acid might be restricted to basic aspects of speed and information processing, rather than high order information processing. Word fluency was not affected by folic acid supplementation, perhaps not surprisingly because encyclopedic memory is a component of crystallized intelligence that stays relatively intact as one grows older,"..."

More information on Folic Acid via NIH

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Dos, and Don'ts of Pregnancy

Myths, Dos, and Don'ts of Pregnancy WebMD 5/25/06

  • Cheeses must be pasteurized
  • Diet sodas are minimally harmful (you have to divine what this means)
  • Caffeine is fine in regular amounts - possibly harmful in higher amounts
  • "Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or golden or white snapper (tilefish) because they contain high levels of mercury"
  • Eat lots of spinach (folate and other good stuff)
  • Don't drink alcohol
  • Don't smoke
  • Stay out of nail salons
  • Don't overheat while pregnant - no hot tubs and don't overdo it while exercising
  • Have dad change litter box so mom avoids toxoplasmosis
  • Avoid chemicals related to lawns/gardens]

The article doesn't mention these but they are very important:

  • Prenatal vitamins
  • DHA (at least 500mg a day)
  • Choline (at least 550mg a day)

More info in the article. WebMD has a very nice section dedicated to pregnancy info.

And we found the book Pregnancy Do's & Don'ts by Elisabeth Aron, M.D. useful, along with Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Dr. Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler

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Carbs, ethnicity and variations in cholesterol

Carbs may explain ethnic variations in cholesterol Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/19/07 "South Asians ate the most carbohydrate and had the lowest HDL cholesterol levels, while Chinese individuals ate the least carbohydrate and had the highest levels of the beneficial blood fat, Dr. Anwar T. Merchant of the Population Health Research Institute in Hamilton, Ontario and colleagues found...When calories from carbohydrates replace energy from fat in a person's diet, both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels fall while triacylglycerol levels rise, the researchers explain...South Asians ate the most carbohydrates, followed by Europeans, Native Americans, and Chinese. After adjustment for several factors including age, ethnicity, body mass index and alcohol intake, the association between carbohydrates and lower HDL cholesterol remained, with people consuming the most carbs having an average level of 1.08 mmol/L, compared to 1.21 mmol/L for those who ate the fewest carbohydrates. Each additional 100 gram per day of carbohydrates was tied to a 0.15 mmol/L drop in HDL cholesterol. Triacylglycerol levels also rose in tandem with carbohydrate intake"

They also noted that increases sugar intake was associated with lower HDL levels.

Also more evidence that Triacylglycerols (a more awkward name for triglycerides) is highly linked with carbohydrate intake.

This comes as a great disappointment to a carb lover like myself. The evidence seems fairly clear that one should control intake of carbs. With the simplistic formula being more carbs = greater chance of heart disease. Also more sugar = greater chance of heart disease.

The question then becomes are there carbs that are less bad, and are there forms of sugar less bad?

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Consumer Reports retracts infant car seat report

Consumer Reports magazine withdraws negative report on infant car seats IHT 1/18/07 "Consumer Reports was forced to retract a damning report on infant car seats after the U.S. government said test crashes on the seats were conducted at drastically higher speeds than the magazine had claimed...The magazine reported Jan. 4 that most of the seats it tested "failed disastrously" in crashes at speeds as low as 35 mph (56 kph). In one test, it said, a dummy child was hurled 30 feet (9 meters). But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which performed its own tests after seeing the report, discovered that some of the crash tests were conducted under conditions that would represent being struck at more than 70 mph (112.6 kph)..."When NHTSA tested the same child seats in conditions representing the 38.5 mph conditions claimed by Consumer Reports, the seats stayed in their bases as they should, instead of failing dramatically,""

Many people will now write off this test completely. But what of the two seats that did ok? At 70mph? "Consumer Reports found that of the 12 seats tested, 2 did ok - the Baby Trend Flex-Loc came in first and then the Graco SnugRide with EPS came in second." Maybe the testing is of no value at all. I hope we'll find out.

Original story here.

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blood sodium at birth might affect the rest of your life

Like Salty Food? Chances Are You Had Low Blood Sodium When You Were Born ScienceDaily 1/19/07 " new study concludes that low birthweight babies born with low sodium (salt) in their blood serum will likely consume large quantities of dietary sodium later in life. In the study, researchers also found that newborns with the most severe cases of low sodium blood serum consumed ~1700 mg more sodium per day and weighed some 30 percent more than their peers. These data, taken together with other recent findings, make it clear that very low serum sodium in pre-term and new born infants is a consistent and significant contributing factor for long-term sodium intake, a key marker for obesity" (conducted by Adi Shirazki, Edith Gershon, and Micah Leshem, all of the University of Haifa)

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Breast Density, Cancer Link?

Women 40 and Older Links Denser Breasts, Higher Breast Cancer Risk WebMD 1/17/07 "looking at more than 2,200 Canadian women, those with denser breasts were three to five times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer cancer during the study period...The researchers suggest breast cancer risk assessment and screening techniques such as digital mammography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as possibly beneficial for women with denser breasts" (SOURCES: Boyd, N. The New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 18, 2007; vol 356: pp 227-236. Kerlikowske, K. The New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 18, 2007; vol 356: pp 297-300. )

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Green tea inhibits bacteria

Cup Of Green Tea To Keep The Bacteria Away ScienceDaily 1/16/07 "green tea catechins inhibit essential bacterial enzyme DNA gyrase, which is the target of several existing clinically used drugs. By the use of NMR spectroscopy, researchers from Slovenia have now pinpointed the ATP-binding site of DNA gyrase as target of EGCG, the most abundant catechin from the green tea extract. Up to now several compounds targeted against the ATP-binding site of bacteria gyrase have been known but couldn't be used as drugs due to their side effects on mammalian cells...Lead researcher Roman Jerala, the head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology at NIC explains: "We can anticipate to avoid the problem of toxicity using the compounds based on the green tea catechins, which have centuries of established safety record in the human diet."This finding may be used to develop even more potent antibacterial compounds."

The article seems somewhat incomplete. It's not clear what bacteria green tea inhibits. It's known that green tea can help prevent cavities so one would assume that green tea is inhibiting the bacteria that causes most cavities - mutans streptococci. But there is other bacteria that causes gum disease and maybe EGCG has an effect on these.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

calcium lowers pre cancerous polyp formation

Calcium lowers colon polyp formation up to 5 yrs Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/16/07 "Treatment with calcium supplements for 4 years appears to provide protection against recurrent colorectal adenomas -- the type of polyp that leads to cancer -- for up to 5 years after the supplements are stopped, new research shows...studies have suggested calcium may reduce the risk of colorectal adenomas (and colorectal cancer) by forming a complex with bile acids and preventing potential carcinogens from contact with the inner mucosal lining of the colon. He added that there is also evidence that calcium may have a specific effect on blocking formation of colon cells..." (study co-author Dr. John A. Baron, from Dartmouth Medical School )

The amount of calcium used daily was 1,200mg. From this a 17% reduction in polyp recurrance was observed.

More at WebMD

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The healing potential of curcumin

An ingredient in curry shows promise for treating Alzheimer's, cancer and other diseases Scientific American 2/07 "A chapter in a forthcoming book, for instance, describes the biologically active components of turmeric--curcumin and related compounds called curcuminoids--as having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, with potential activity against cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and other chronic maladies. And in 2005 nearly 300 scientific and technical papers referenced curcumin in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database, compared with about 100 just five years earlier."

A good article on curcumin in the February edition of Scientific American. They even touch on the P53 debate - whether curcumin turns it on, or off and what it means for cancer (more research needed).

Sites mentioned in the article have some very good info on curcumin here and here.

The author of The Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Curcumin in Health and Disease is Bharat Aggarwal

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gum disease linked with cancer

Gum disease linked with pancreatic cancer in study Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/16/07 "men who had periodontal disease had a 63 percent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than men with healthy teeth and gums. Men who lost teeth within the past four years were especially likely to develop pancreatic cancer..."Most convincing was our finding that never-smokers (with gum disease) had a two-fold increase in risk of pancreatic cancer," said Dominique Michaud of the Harvard School of Public Health, who led the study...Michaud's team studied 48,000 men taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2002...Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. It will kill 95 percent of the 32,000 people who get it this year...Periodontal disease is caused when bacteria infect the gums and the infection gradually destroys bone..."The association may be due to systemic (throughout the body) inflammation and/or increased levels of carcinogenic compounds generated by bacteria in the oral cavity of individuals with periodontal disease,"...The men with gum disease seemed to have chronic inflammation -- their levels of a protein called C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation, were 30 percent higher than those of men with healthy gums...Or the bacteria responsible for the gum loss could produce nitrosamines, which are compounds known to cause cancer "

More on nitrosamines here.

More on C-reactive protein and ideas on how to lower it here.

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Tomato broccoli combo fights prostate cancer

Worried About Prostate Cancer? Tomato-broccoli Combo Shown To Be Effective ScienceDaily 1/16/07 ""When tomatoes and broccoli are eaten together, we see an additive effect. We think it's because different bioactive compounds in each food work on different anti-cancer pathways," said University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor John Erdman...The only treatment that approached the tomato/broccoli diet's level of effectiveness was castration...To get these effects, men should consume daily 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato, or 1 cup of tomato sauce, or ½ cup of tomato paste..."It's better to eat tomatoes than to take a lycopene supplement," he said. "And cooked tomatoes may be better than raw tomatoes. Chopping and heating make the cancer-fighting constituents of tomatoes and broccoli more bioavailable."" - study using rats -

More information at NutraIngredients where they mention what most articles miss, that the combo of broccoli and tomato they used caused a 52% reduction in tumor weight in 22 weeks. Remarkable. I also like the tip of putting broccoli on pizza. Just ask for extra sauce. (and don't eat this every night!) Also remember this when preparing broccoli.

I think any time researchers throw in the C word - "castration" - as a competing therapy, all of a sudden almost anything becomes palatable - 1.4cups of broccoli and 1 cup of tomato sauce a day is easy.

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Cloudy Apple Juice Has Clear Benefits

Cloudy Apple Juice Contains More Antioxidants Than Clear Juice WebMD 1/17/07 "unclarified -- apple juice contains up to four times the polyphenols as some types of clear apple juice...cloudy juice made from Champion apples had the highest polyphenol content...cloudy Champion apple juice had a total polyphenolic content of 1,044 milligrams per liter (mg/L) compared with 250 mg/L found in clear Idared juice" (Researcher Jan Oszmianski )

This isn't very surprising. Nor is the reason why clear juice dominates store shelves - it lasts many times longer. Now where's the study on pulp in orange juice?

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Growth Hormones Not Fountain of Youth

Treatment Offers Few Benefits but Definite Risks WebMD 1/16/07 "Stanford University researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing 31 studies that included a total of more than 500 relatively healthy elderly people. The only clearly positive effect found from taking the hormones was a slight improvement in lean body mass...participants who took human growth hormones were significantly more likely to develop joint swelling and pain, and carpal tunnel syndromecarpal tunnel syndrome. There was also a suggestion of an increased risk of diabetesdiabetes and prediabetes, but that association did not reach statistical significance..."The cost of this treatment can be $12,000 a year or more, but even if you take the cost out of the equation, there is still a huge potential for causing harm," Perls says. "The people promoting this stuff have absolutely no idea what the long-term health effects are.""

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Aspirin 'stops asthma developing'

Taking an aspirin every other day may be a way for adults to avoid developing asthma BBC News 1/15/07 "A US study of 22,000 people found the painkiller reduced the risk of being diagnosed with asthma by 22%, possibly by acting against inflammation...Experts said it might shed light on the reasons for adult-onset asthma, but queried how useful it would be to use aspirin as a means of intervention. Aspirin can trigger asthma attacks among those with the condition...They do not imply that aspirin improves symptoms in patients with asthma. "Indeed, aspirin can cause severe bronchospasm in some patients who have asthma." " (Lead researcher Dr Tobias Kurth)

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Pancreatic polypeptide that safely battles obesity

Scientists are looking at whether an appetite-suppressing chewing gum could be used to tackle obesity BBC News 1/15/07 "The Imperial College London team are developing a drug based on a natural gut hormone that mimics the body's "feeling full" response...The hormone in question is called pancreatic polypeptide (PP), which the body produces after every meal to ensure eating does not run out of control...Early tests have shown moderate doses of the hormone, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), can reduce the amount of food eaten by healthy volunteers by 15% to 20%...As well as chewing gum, they believe it could be incorporated in a nasal spray" (Lead researcher Professor Steve Bloom )

Looks like PP is free of side effects. Unlike leptin, our bodies do not develop resistance to PP. And although the hype is that it could be made into a chewing gum
format, or a nasal spray - first it will be used as an injection by prescription. It can't be made into a pill because PP is destroyed in the stomach.

Another amazing part to this story is that Professor Bloom struggled for ages to get funding for this research. A PP prescription might actually be nearing market by now if he had his funding when he first needed it.

More at The Guardian , and The Independent

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Biological Aging Predicts Heart Attack

People Who Age Fast Are at Highest Heart Attack Risk; Statin Drugs May Help WebMD 1/11/07 "Does our "biological age" really predict death and disease? Scott W. Brouilette, PhD, and colleagues have previously shown that telomere length in people who have heart attacks before age 50 and in people who are candidates for triple bypass surgery tends to be shorter than telomere length in healthy people of the same age and sex...In their current study, the researchers looked at people enrolled in a clinical trial of the cholesterol-lowering drug Pravachol. Over five years, 484 patients developed heart disease. The researchers compared their telomere length in white blood cell DNA to that of 1,058 matched people who remained free of heart disease. Sure enough, those who got heart disease had telomere lengths similar to those in the comparison group who were six years older. ...Brouilette and colleagues suggest that statin drugs may slow biological aging not by lowering cholesterol but by increasing blood levels of a molecule that stabilizes telomeres..."

The last sentence appears to be theory only. But what an interesting theory.

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Antiviral might help some with chronic fatigue

Small trial stirs hope for chronic fatigue patients Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/14/07 "Dr. Jose Montoya, associate professor of medicine at Stanford University and a specialist in infectious diseases... believes the disorder may be caused -- at least in some cases, by one or more viruses...suggested an antiviral drug called Valcyte, made by Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG, could be helpful in treating certain CFS patients...Montoya now has data on 25 CFS patients, nearly all of whom had high levels in their blood plasma of antibodies to the human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6) and the Epstein-Barr virus. The data -- presented recently at a conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida -- were remarkably consistent. Nearly every patient responded to the drug, Montoya said, and most of the responses were dramatic"

There's been discussion for years about a viral connection to some forms of chronic fatigue and this looks like evidence - small though it is. I only wish the study had been larger. As I understand it all 25 patients were picked for their particular type of chronic fatigue - so in a broader study Valcyte might not be as effective for some. The next study is on 30 people.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Glyceollins from soybeans might fight breast cancer

Glyceollins from soybeans may stop breast cancer cell growth 1/10/07 "Writing in the journal Clinical Cancer Research lead author Virgilo Salvo from Tulane University in New Orleans reports that glyceollin compounds from the soybeans were successful in suppressing the growth of breast and ovarian cancer cell lines...population studies have shown that a diet rich in soy is associated with fewer cases of breast cancer, linked to the presence of soy isoflavones. China has the world's lowest incidence and mortality from breast cancer ...The concentration of glyceollins in commercial soybeans is very low since the compounds are only produced by soy as a defence mechanism from disease or infection, which is said to be uncommon in today's clean, disease-free soy fields...The researchers report that the glyceollins suppressed the tumour growth of MCF-7 cells by 53.4 per cent and the BG-1 cells by 73.1 per cent. “This study is the first demonstration of ability of the glyceollin mix to significantly suppress oestrogen-stimulated tumour growth of MCF-7 and BG-1 cells in ovariectomised female nude mice,” said the researchers. “These findings identify glyceollins as antiestrogenic agents that may be useful in the prevention… of breast and ovarian carcinoma,”"

Early days yet for glyceollins, but hopefully human studies will be soon and will produce positive results. Primate studies at Wake Forest, mentioned in the article, seem to offer hope.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Prunes might reverse bone loss

Can Prunes Reverse Bone Loss After Menopause? ScienceDaily 1/11/07 "previous studies found that dried plums -- better known as prunes -- restored lost bone in animal models of osteoporosis, and improved biomarkers linked to bone formation in postmenopausal women...In a 2004 study he led while at Oklahoma State University, Arjmandi found that a diet supplemented with dried plums produced significant restoration of bone mass in female rats whose ovaries had been surgically removed..."I've never seen results that were more consistent," he said. "If the findings from FSU's human study are similarly positive and reproducible, they could help researchers isolate the compounds responsible. From there, it may be possible to create a safe, low-cost alternative or adjunct to prescription medications for osteoporosis." ..."

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Chili compound Capsaicin kills cancer

A Curry A Day Keeps The Doctor Away? ScienceDaily 1/11/07 "The chemical that gives spicy food its kick could hold the key to the next generation of anti-cancer drugs that will kill tumours with few or no side effects for the patient...the chemical compound capsaicin -- which is responsible for the burning sensation when we eat chillies -- can kill cells by directly targeting their energy source...It could mean that patients could control or prevent the onset of cancer by eating a diet rich in capsaicin and that existing products to treat conditions such as psoriasis and muscle strain, which contain the compound and are already approved for medical use, could be adapted to tackle this more serious disease...the family of compounds to which capsaicin belongs, vanilloids, can kill cancer by attacking the mitochondria of the tumour cell, commonly known as its 'powerhouse', which produces ATP, the major energy-containing chemical in the body. By binding proteins in the cancer cell mitochondria the compound triggers apoptosis, or natural cell death, without harming the healthy surrounding cells..."This is incredibly exciting and may explain why people living in countries like Mexico and India, who traditionally eat a diet which is very spicy, tend to have lower incidences of many cancers that are prevalent in the western world."...(Dr Timothy Bates, the study's leader, is a member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) College of Experts )"

Much more on this important research in the article. And another reason to add hot sauce to your food on a regular basis.

Capsaicin in a 2005 study (mice) killed prostate cancer via apoptosis (equiv. of 400mg 3x a week for 200 lb man).

This Texas study shows that capsaicin can help stop skin cancer.

All studies so far seem to indicate that the mitochondria in various cancers is attacked by the capsaicin in chilis and this in turn shuts down cell growth and initiates cell death - apoptosis.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Two cups of coffee may douse workout pain

Caffeine cuts muscle soreness better than some drugs MSNBC 1/10/07 "“If you can use caffeine to reduce the pain, it may make it easier to transition from that first week into a much longer exercise program,” said lead researcher Victor Maridakis of the University of Georgia...Past studies have shown it also boosts endurance, and one experiment found caffeine reduces pain during moderate-intensity cycling.
The researchers suggest the caffeine likely works by blocking the body’s receptors for adenosine, a chemical released in response to inflammation...too much caffeine can cause jitteriness, heart palpitations and sleep disturbances in some people. Also, the results might not apply to regular caffeine users, who might be less sensitive to caffeine’s effects"

Normally I wouldn't post a study based on 9 people, but from my own experience (make it 10! ) I can vouch for this. Later they might find it's all hooey, but for now, you can count me as number ten in this study. However, I do wonder if caffeine is only masking the pain where aspirin and ibuprofen actually limit inflammation thus lowering pain.

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Education no protection against later memory loss

Education Does Not Protect Against Age-related Memory Loss ScienceDaily 1/10/07 "Adults over 70 with higher levels of education forgot words at a greater rate than those with less education...More education is consistently related to better cognitive performance in older adults and in this study, too, individuals with higher levels of education had a higher ability at any given age. However, it was those with the highest education whose performance dropped the most..."Even though we find in this research that those with higher education do better on mental status tests that look for dementia-like symptoms, education does not protect against more normal, age-related declines, like those seen on memory tests," said lead author Dawn Alley of the University of Pennsylvania..."

So how can we slow cognitive decline ?

Research shows these have promise:

Green Tea (don't use milk)

Coffee (3 cups a day)

Dark Chocolate with lots of cocoa (no milk again)

Curcumin and more on Curcumin

Eat lots of green leafy veggies

Take a daily fish oil supplement with lots of DHA and more here

Exercise and more here

A cousin of exercise - keep your weight down

Another cousin of exercise - keep symptoms of metabolic syndrome low (blood pressure, HDL (keep this high), triglycerides, blood sugar)

I suspect research will prove resveratrol will be useful in preventing some cognitive decline, but there isn't much out there yet on this subject.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Salt reduction may have asthma benefits

Reducing salt intake may affect asthma severity 1/5/07 "The authors of the new review, Timothy Mickleborough from Indiana University and Andrew Fogarty from the University of Nottingham, analyse both epidemiological and clinical evidence and conclude that, collectively, increased salt intake may increase the severity of asthma for people with the disease..."Collectively, the studies to date investigating the potential relationship between dietary sodium and the severity of asthma or airway hyper-responsiveness have provided support for the hypothesis that increased dietary intake of sodium may increase the severity of disease in those with asthma," ..."For several reasons previous research has shown that eating lots of fresh foods can help to reduce symptoms in some people with asthma and we also know that many processed foods contain high levels of salt. With this in mind we would encourage people with asthma to eat a healthy diet of fresh foods that are likely to contain lower levels of salt.""

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Lactobacillus reuteri may help infants

Probiotic may help with colic in babies Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/8/07 "Treatment with the probiotic organism Lactobacillus reuteri may improve colicky symptoms in infants, new research suggests...Within 7 days of treatment, L reuteri improved colicky symptoms significantly, compared with simethicone. The investigators found that 95 percent of infants had a therapeutic response to L reuteri compared with only 7 percent of the infants in the simethicone group...It's possible that L. reuteri promotes an anti-inflammatory tone in the intestines," which has beneficial effects on the immune response and movement of the gut - Dr. Francesco Savino and colleagues from Regina Margherita Children's Hospital in Turin, Italy"

Plus reuteri may help reduce gastrointestinal tract infections

reuteri helping lessen side effects of antibiotics

daily oral reuteri fights strep

oral reuteri fights gum disease

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Medicinal powers of Turmeric

Tasty curry might have a fringe benefit USA Today 1/8/07 "A study in the November issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism suggests turmeric, one component of curry spice, almost completely prevented joint swelling in rats with arthritis. Other studies have suggested that the spice could protect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's...Rates of Alzheimer's in India are about four times lower than in the USA, says Gregory Cole, a researcher at the University of California-Los Angeles. His studies suggest that curry contains a powerful substance that might protect the brain from damage that leads to Alzheimer's...In the November study, Funk and her colleagues gave rats that were bred to develop rheumatoid arthritis injections of turmeric. "The turmeric almost completely prevented the onset of arthritis," Funk says. The spice also seemed to help stop joint destruction in rats that had already started to develop the disease, she says...Indians eat from 100 to 200 milligrams of curry every day, and that might be enough to prevent cancer," says Aggarwal of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center...curcumin in curry seems to shut down genes that trigger the development and the spread of breast cancer, animal studies in Aggarwal's lab suggest. And a preliminary human study suggests curcumin supplements might — in a handful of cases — be able to stabilize pancreatic cancer, he says... "

And of course I can't resist saying that curcumin has similar effects in dogs as in us.

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More on how milk negates the health benefits of tea

Milk Eliminates Cardiovascular Health Benefits Of Tea, Researchers Warn ScienceDaily 1/9/07 "There is a broad body of evidence from experimental and clinical studies indicating that tea exerts antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and vasodilating effects, thereby protecting against cardiovascular diseases. As worldwide tea consumption is second only to that of water, its beneficial effects represent an important public health issue. But, up to now, it’s not been known whether adding milk to tea, as widely practised in the UK and some other countries, influences these protective properties...Milk contains a number of different proteins: by testing each one separately, the researchers found that it was the three caseins that accounted for the inhibiting effect, probably by forming complexes with tea in the process of comparing the effects of green and black tea on vascular function. “It’s an ongoing question whether green tea, with its higher catechin content, is superior to black tea in regard to endothelial function. In addition, because of the antiatherogenic potential of tea ingredients, we want to investigate the effects of the ingredients on chronic cardiovascular processes such as the development of restenosis (re-narrowing of arteries) after catheter procedures.”"

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Don't boil veggies - steam or microwave instead

Avoid watering down veggie nutrition MSNBC 1/5/07 "...too much heat and water can cause the loss of some vitamins, minerals and other healthful plant compounds called phytochemicals...Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, for example, contain antioxidants called glucosinolates. When comparing boiled to steamed broccoli, analysis found that steamed broccoli lost little of the vitamin C it contained when raw and contained more glucosinolates than boiled broccoli...Steaming produced no significant loss of folate, even after 4½ minutes of steaming spinach and 15 minutes steaming broccoli. Yet when these vegetables were cooked by boiling in water, each lost more than half its folate...Another study showed that zucchini, beans and carrots cooked in a small amount of water were significantly higher in phytochemicals called flavonoids than those cooked in larger amounts of water...In yet another study, cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, lost about 90 percent of their glucosinolates when boiled, but showed no significant loss when steamed, microwaved or stir-fried"

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Milk cancels benefit of tea

Milk cancels health benefit of drinking tea: study Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/8/07 "Research has shown that tea improves blood flow and the ability of the arteries to relax but researchers at the Charite Hospital at the University of Berlin in Mitte found milk eliminates the protective effect against cardiovascular disease..."The beneficial effects of drinking black tea are completely prevented by the addition of milk, said Dr Verena Stangl, a cardiologist at the hospital...proteins called caseins in milk decrease the amount of compounds in tea known as catechins which increase its protection against heart disease..."

The researchers of this study also think milk prevents the anti-cancer effect of tea.

Kinda wish I knew this a few decades ago. Ok then, milk-less the tea shall be. The article mentions that the milk in British tea might explain why in a nation that loves tea, the benefits don't seem all that apparent.

Funny how this one study will probably change the way millions of people drink tea.

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Australians among longest living

Australians among longest living in world Reuters/Yahoo!News 1//8/07 "Australians are among the longest-living people in the world, with an average lifespan of 78.5 years for males and 83.3 years for females ...figures drop by around 17 years for indigenous Australians, whose average life expectancy in 2001 was 59.4 years for males and 64.8 for females...poverty, discrimination, substance abuse and poor access to health, are believed to affect the lifespan of these original Australians...Australia's nationwide average life expectancy for males is exceeded only by Iceland and Hong Kong while the female life expectancy is exceeded by Japan and Hong Kong'"

No real explanation in the article for why their longevity is so good. But what a remarkable divide between indigenous Australians and the rest of the population. And I'm sure that divide has existed for decades. It's a crime of sorts and a shame upon Australia. Not that the US is any better with indigenous Americans.

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Folate might reduce Alzheimer's risk

Study finds folate may reduce Alzheimer's risk Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/8/07 "Higher intake of the nutrient folate may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, but vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 did not yield the same benefit...This was the latest study to indicate folate may protect against Alzheimer's disease, perhaps by breaking down an amino acid in the blood called, led by Dr. Jose Luchsinger of Columbia University Medical Center "

More on fighting Alzheimer's here.

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Stem cells in amniotic fluid

Human stem cells found in amniotic fluid Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/8/07 "Embryonic cells are considered the most malleable of the various types of stem cells, but these amniotic fluid-derived cells are a close second, said Dr. Anthony Atala..."It has been known for decades that both the placenta and amniotic fluid contain multiple progenitor cell types from the developing embryo, including fat, bone, and muscle,"...They used discarded samples from amniocentesis, a test used to check fetuses for birth defects...Atala said a bank with 100,000 specimens of the amniotic stem cells theoretically could supply 99 percent of the U.S. population with perfect genetic matches for transplant"

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Consumer Reports finds most infant car seats fail

UPDATE 1/18/07: This test and the ratings that followed have been retracted due to errors in testing. More here and here.

Most infant car seats fail our new front- and side-crash tests Consumer Reports 2/1/07 "Cars and car seats can’t be sold unless they can withstand a 30-mph frontal crash. But most cars are also tested in a 35-mph frontal crash and in a 38-mph side crash. Car seats aren’t...When we crash-tested infant car seats at the higher speeds vehicles routinely withstand, most failed disastrously. The car seats twisted violently or flew off their bases, in one case hurling a test dummy 30 feet across the lab"

Consumer Reports found that of the 12 seats tested, 2 did ok - the Baby Trend Flex-Loc came in first and then the Graco SnugRide with EPS came in second.

They also noted that in Europe they have tougher standards for such seats and when they tested a European model it was better than all the US models. The model was the Cosy Tot made by Britax Childcare Group LTD. But in case you think this company is gold, the seat they made for America failed.

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Friday, January 5, 2007

More on epigenetics

Parents May Pass Along Not Just DNA Richmond Times-Dispatch/LEF 1/3/07 "Until recently, researchers believed that DNA was "stripped bare" of its markers and switches in each new birth. Work by Randy Jirtle of Duke University demonstrates that switch settings can be passed along to offspring...Subtle environmental changes can add to or remove methyl groups (the switches) from DNA. Diet, vitamins, smoke, poisons, toxins and stress all play a role. As a result, a woman transmits environmental as well as DNA information to her fetus at conception...After birth, parental care and love for an infant releases serotonin in the brain, which alters genomic switches, reducing stress and shaping behavior for life...Implications for social policy abound in this. Whole classes of individuals (criminals and the poor, for example) have been dismissed by our society as "having bad genes" and "doomed for life." Epigenetics carries a hope that there are changes possible, such as with diet, green tea, and vitamins, as well as in designed-to- purpose drugs that may reset some of the inherited epigenetic switches and cause dramatic, positive, lifelong change. "

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Fish oil and dementia

Can Fish Intake Predict Chances Of Developing Dementia? ScienceDaily 1/3/07 "People who ate the most fish on a weekly basis -- putting them in the top quarter of a study population -- were nearly 50 percent less likely to develop the mental deterioration known as dementia over time than participants in any of the other three quarters...participants who reported consuming an average of about three servings of oily fish a week--equivalent to blood levels of DHA at 180 milligrams daily--were associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing dementia of all types, including Alzheimer's disease. No other fatty acid blood level was independently linked to the risk of dementia."

Lead researcher: Ernst J. Schaefer - Agricultural Research Service-funded scientist

Quite astounding that so little DHA has such a seemingly strong effect on dementia. Also the study is impressive in that they control form apo-e related dementia.

Coming from a family that was hit by Alzheimer's and knowing what I know now I would have been pushing ibuprofen, DHA and curcumin on my mother from the start. As it is... too late.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Pterostilbene might help prevent cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol

Berry Compound Thwarts Enzyme Linked To Cancer ScienceDaily 1/3/07 "She (Agnes Rimando) also led studies that found that the compound is a powerful antioxidant that shows cancer-fighting properties similar to those of resveratrol. Indeed, pterostilbene is a derivative of resveratrol, a compound found in large quantities in the skins of red grapes that's known for its cardiovascular and cancer-fighting benefits...Pterostilbene showed strong inhibitory activity--much more than resveratrol--against a particular form of cytochrome P450... She added that the results may explain the cancer-preventive property the compound demonstrated in a mouse mammary gland culture assay...However, Rimando cautioned that more studies are needed to explain this process, as well as the activity of other trans-resveratrol compounds"

You can find pterostilbene in blueberries, grapes and cranberries. I thought a short while ago (bottom of entry) that pterostilbene might start getting some favorable press.

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Dads with only daughters at higher risk for prostate cancer

Men With No Sons More At Risk For Prostate Cancer ScienceDaily 1/4/07 ""We surveyed vital status and cancer incidence, and found a strong trend for a decrease in prostate cancer risk as the number of sons increased," said Susan Harlap, MD... Overall, there was a 40% increase in prostate cancer in men lacking men with exactly two offspring, those with no daughters had an 11% increase in the incidence of prostate cancer, and those with no sons had a 47% increase, compared with men who had one son and one daughter. "The increased risk of prostate cancer in men with no daughters is probably due to chance," says Dr. Harlap, "but it might indicate a problem with a gene on the X-chromosome."

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Soap and water good sanitizers to clean hands - but gels maybe more realistic

Soap and water as good as sanitizers to clean hands
Reuters 1/4/07 "Dr Anthony Komaroff, editor of the Harvard Health Letter, said studies have shown that washing hands with soap and water for just 15 seconds removes 90 percent of bacteria -- but many people do not wash their hands often enough or dry them thoroughly...Komaroff said the latest alcohol-based gels sold as hand sanitizers can be a useful alternative to soap and water but people often underestimate how much they need to do the job..."You have to use several squirts out of a hand sanitizer and really make sure it covers all surfaces of your hands. Most people are pretty good about the palm but they're not as good about the back of the fingers and back of the hand,""

Not a lot of details in this Reuters article. It seems to me that soap and water might be great for home use, but in the outside world with slightly less hygienic bathrooms you touch a variety of surfaces before, during and esp. after washing and drying that might transfer germs. It must be more hygienic to skip the wash and dry and once out of the bathroom use the sanitizing gel with "several squirts" as the article mentioned. Anything on your hands from the whole bathroom experience should be rendered lifeless... one would hope. We think of bathrooms as being fairly nasty germ infested places but really it's those innocent looking doorhandles that are the evil germ exchangers and our penchant for handshakes.

There is something distinctly infantile about blogging about the basics of hand washing and hygiene... oh well.

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Mom's vitamin E linked to bigger babies

Mom's vitamin E linked to fetal growth Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/4/07 "Pregnant women with high vitamin E levels in their blood may tend to have bigger babies...For the study, Dr. Theresa O. Scholl and colleagues at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Stratford followed 1,231 pregnant women. They measured the women's blood concentrations of two forms of vitamin E at the start of the study and again during the 28th week of pregnancy...Only one form of vitamin E -- alpha-tocopherol, the form used in supplements -- was related to fetal growth, the researchers found. On average, birthweights were highest among the 20 percent of women with the highest alpha-tocopherol levels...These mothers were also three times less likely to have a smaller-than-average baby than women with the lowest concentrations of the vitamin...However, it's not clear that women should take any extra vitamin E beyond what's in standard prenatal multivitamins. In fact, one recent clinic trial found that large doses of vitamins C and E not only failed to prevent the pregnancy complication pre-eclampsia, but also seemed to raise the risk of low birthweight."

This might be another example where a large dose of supplements can actually be counter-productive. Beyond prenatal vitamins it is probably best to get vitamin E from the diet.

For a variety of reasons almonds are probably one of the best sources of vitamin E.

Vitamine D (D3) and calcium have been shown to help prevent preeclampsia.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Education health and longevity

Education Level a Leading Factor in Good Health, Longevity
Kolata, New York Times, 1/3/07 "Education, not income or race, is the most important indicator of life span and health during old age, according to researchers, the New York Times reports...studies have found a link between a few additional years of education and longer life spans and large improvements in health during old age...individuals with less education might have shorter life spans because they have less ability to plan for the future and delay gratification"

IHT full article here.

Make of it what you will...

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Stored Calories May Raise Cancer Risk

Cancer Risk Not From Calories Eaten, but From Calories Kept WebMD 1/2/07 "It's not the calories you eat -- it's the calories you don't burn off that increase cancer cancer risk, studies of mice suggest...This study suggests that ... being lean as opposed to being obese has a greater protective effect against cancer," ..."Excess calorie retention, rather than consumption, confers cancer risk."...Fat cells, Nagy and colleagues note, aren't just storage cells that hold extra energy. These cells emit many kinds of chemical signals that have profound effects on the body. One of these signals is called leptin. Leptin promotes some cancers. The heavier mice in the Nagy study had higher leptin levels than the cooler, leaner mice. Another signal is adiponectin, which seems to protect from cancer. The fat cells of obese people don't give off as much adiponectin as fat cells of lean people...The heavier mice in the Nagy study had lower adiponectin levels than the cooler, leaner mice"

Nagy wonders whether exercise might create some of the benefits seen with the cooler mice. The article mentions that

"It's now well known that a restricted-calorie diet cuts the risk of getting cancer and slows the growth of some cancers. Most researchers think this is directly related to calorie intake. But not Tim Nagy, PhD, professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham."

It may cut the risk of various types of cancer but what about longevity? At least with studies involving rodents , exercise lengthens life only modestly - calorie restriction and resveratrol increases it dramatically. Strange isn't it. You'd think exercise would have a more profound effect on longevity but it doesn't appear to. For humans the thinking is exercise might add 3.5years to your life (I bet it's more in the 7-9% for daily exercise - similar to rodents, than 5% - this study isn't as good as it could be). Maybe a better way to look at it is that you might not live much longer, although I'm not sniffing at an extra 3.5 (or 4-6yrs), but those years will be considerably healthier and able (esp. during the latter years). This study noted that most of the 3.5 years gained were from prevention of heart disease, but if Nagy is right, there must be some prevention of cancer as well, including some early onset cancers.

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Folic Acid May Slow Hearing Loss

Older Adults Taking Folic Acid Supplements Show Less Loss of Low-Frequency Hearing WebMD 1/2/07 "After three years, those who got folic acid pills had less low-frequency hearing loss than did placebo recipients. The difference was slight: 0.7 decibels. The smallest change in sound intensity most people can notice is 1.0 decibels. There was no slowing of high-frequency hearing loss. That may be because high-frequency hearing loss begins earlier in life than age 50..."If this [hearing] benefit applies to the entire population (a big 'if') and continues to accrue each year (another big 'if'), one might expect a 5-decibel reduction in age-related [hearing loss] over a 20-year period,""

Lead researcher Jane Durga, PhD

This study doesn't appear to go further than this study in answering whether the problem of hearing loss might be greatly attributable to free radical damage from high homocysteine levels. Attacking the free radical damage from the antioxidant angle, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), seems to show increasing promise.

The Dutch do not supplement their flower with folate the way we do in the U.S., so one would suspect that our higher folate diets would be slowing our hearing loss, but the study doesn't address this. As always, we need more research.

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alcohol helps heart disease

A drink may help high blood pressure risk Reuters/Yahoo!News 1/2/07 "The study of 11,000 men supports other research that shows small-to-moderate amounts of alcohol can lower the risk of heart disease, by increasing the levels of high density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol, and by making blood less likely to clot..."Men diagnosed with hypertension probably get a lot of advice on how to change their lifestyle, physical activity and diet," said Joline Beulens, who led the study. "This study indicates that if they drink alcohol in moderation they may not need to change their drinking habits""

Another study that shows there is a "two drink" minimum/maximum to heart health. Much less and you don't get as much benefit, more and you hurt your health.

Beer (3-6%) 1 drink = 12oz
Wine 1 drink = 5oz
80 proof liquor (really?) 1 drink = 1.5 oz
100 proof (what are you doing!!) = 1oz

As much as I love good beer it's hard to argue with switching most drinking over to red wine since there is a chance to offset the increased risk of various cancers with alcohol. "A convincing relationship has been shown between alcohol consumption and cancers of the mouth and pharynx, larynx, esophagus and liver. In addition, alcohol is probably linked to cancers of the colon, rectum and breast, and possibly related to lung cancer." However red wine has anti-cancer properties and helps fight heart disease "the Copenhagen City Heart Study, in which 13,285 men and women were observed for 12 years. The results from this study suggested that patients who drank wine had half the risk of dying from coronary heart disease or stroke as those who never drank wine. Those who drank beer and spirits did not experience this advantage. The additional benefit of red wine is supported further by an analysis of 13 studies involving 209,418 participants."

I keep hoping that studies will show that fresh micro brewed beer, esp. the hoppy kind is even better for health than wine.

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Monday, January 1, 2007

Global Warming and health

World faces hottest year ever, as El Niño combines with global warming Independent Online 1/1/07 "combination of global warming and the El Niño weather system is set to make 2007 the warmest year on record with far-reaching consequences for the planet, one of Britain's leading climate experts has warned...the forecast for the next 12 months is of extreme global weather patterns which could bring drought to Indonesia and leave California under a warming - already blamed for bringing drought to the Horn of Africa and melting the Arctic ice shelf ...Dr Hansen predicted that global warming would run out of control and change the planet for ever unless rapid action is taken to reverse the rise in carbon emissions..."We just cannot burn all the fossil fuels in the ground. If we do, we will end up with a different planet."... "

A bit perverse to live a healthy life and ignore the sick earth. According to Dr. Hansen we have roughly 8yrs to dramatically curb greenhouse emissions, after which a tipping point occurs and this planet changes dramatically. Our children and their children will suffer miserably. Issues such as health and longevity will be an artifact of the past. Just trying to survive will be the order of the day.

There is no greater threat to civilization than global warming and researchers know we have precious little time to act. And sadly global warming models don't take into full account factors like faster melting of methane hydrates. So things could actually be worse than the most gloomy peer reviewed climate model shows. James Lovelock also believes things are gloomy. And in his book Revenge of Gaia he shows how there has been a trend to underestimate global warming in almost all climate models of the last three decades.

What we are facing as Hansen and other climatologist argue is nothing less than the collapse of modern civilization... in this century. Lovelock foresees billions dead.

We don't have time for grass roots, we need politicians that understand the science, the implications and what they need to do. If they don't fully understand global warming, and if it isn't their number one issue, vote them out quick! The number one voting issue around the world should now be whether politicians fully understand global warming and what that means for civilization. All else, health and longevity included, are contingent.