Archives for: November 2003
JOURNAL: Obes Res. 2003;11:1033-1039
ABSTRACT: Health professionals specializing in obesity tend to be biased against overweight individuals, according to the results of a study published in the September issue of Obesity Research. Although the level of bias is lower than in the general community, it is striking in a group trained in the genetic and environmental basis of obesity.
COMMENTARY: In this study, 389 health professionals attending an international obesity conference in Quebec City completed the Implicit Associations Test and a self-administered questionnaire measuring explicit attitudes, personal experiences with obesity, and demographic characteristics.
These clinicians and researchers associated the stereotypes lazy, stupid, and worthless with obese people.
Bias was less in older individuals, in men, in those working directly with obese patients, in those who felt they understood the experience of obesity, and in those who had obese friends.
Bottom line is to fnd docs that care.
JOURNAL: ACG 68th Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract 48. Presented Oct. 14, 2003.
AUTHORS: Gurvinder Sethi
ABSTRACT: Patients who drink nine or more drinks made with distilled spirits a week for 10 years or more are about three times more likely to develop significant left-sided colorectal pathology than teetotalers.
A glass or two of wine a week, on the other hand, cuts the risk of neoplastic lesions by nearly two thirds.
COMMENTARY: All of the patients had a screening colonoscopy and were asked how much and for how long they smoked and drank. The researchers then subdivided the patients by type of alcohol beverage and number of drinks consumed per week over the past 10 years: 0 drinks a week corresponded to abstinence; one to eight drinks a week, moderate; and nine or more drinks a week, heavy.
Significant left-sided neoplastic lesions — defined as large, multiple villous adenomas, high-grade dysplasias or adenocarcinomas, distal to the splenic flexure — were found in 6.1% of the nondrinkers compared with 17.4% of those who drank at least nine glasses per week of spirits for more than 10 years.
A multivariate analysis that controlled for age, sex, smoking, weight, diet, exercise, family history, and education level showed heavy drinkers were 3.3 times more likely to develop colon cancer than nondrinkers (P < .003).
While moderate wine drinkers were 63% less likely to develop colon cancer (P < .01), heavier wine drinking was not protective (odds ratio, 0.83; P = .720.
Beer consumption appeared to have no effect on colon cancer risk, the study showed.
Nevertheless, drinking is not nearly as bad for your colon health as smoking, Dr. Rex pointed out. "Cigarette smoking is often overlooked in this regard, even by physicians. About 20% of cases of colon cancer can be attributed to it."
STUDY: More help for bone loss
JOURNAL: Journal of Nutrition
ABSTRACT: A mouse model of osteoporosis was used to ascertain the benefit of hesperidin, a citrus bioflavonoid, on bone mineral density and lipids.
COMMENTARY: Osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mineral density and an increase in fracture risk, is most frequently found in women following menopause, when the ovaries’ production of estrogen has declined.
An increase in serum lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, is also a concern among aging women and men. Mice in this study had their ovaries removed to mimic the endocrine status of postmenopausal females.
The Japanese researchers removed the ovaries of thirty-two mice. Eight rats serving as controls received sham surgeries which left the ovaries intact. The ovariectomized rats were divided into groups who received a diet containing hesperidin, alpha-glucosylhesperidin (hesperidin enzymatically modified to be more water soluble), or a control diet without hesperidin for four weeks. Some of the ovarietctomized mice who received the control diet additionally received subcutaneous estrogen replacement.
When the femurs of the mice were examined after four weeks, bone mineral density was much lower in the mice without ovaries on the control diet than in those who received the sham surgeries.
However, ovariectomized mice who received the diets enhanced with hesperidin had bone mineral density measurements similar to the mice with intact ovaries at all femur sites measured. Estrogen administration also prevented bone loss in the mice lacking ovaries.
When serum lipids were measured, total cholesterol and triglycerides were lower in the groups who received hesperidin than in the ovariectomized mice who received the control diet, although high density lipoprotein levels were similar.
The authors hypothesize that hesperidin acts on bone by the same mechanism as that of statin drugs: that of producing bone morphogenic protein. They recommend studies of the bioflavanoid’s effect on bone metabolism in humans.
STUDY: Are we all toxic?
JOURNAL: EPA Study
AUTHORS: Jeffrey Holmstead
ABSTRACT: The findings are contained in a long-awaited EPA assessment of health risks from 32 toxic chemicals. The study is based on 1996 emissions data that has been the subject of several years of internal analysis.
COMMENTARY: The assessment concludes that the accumulated exposure to the various toxic chemicals can be expected to cause 10 additional cancers over a lifetime of exposure for every 1 million people, or a 10 in 1 million cancer risk. These risks can be found across virtually the entire country, said the study, which was reviewed by outside scientists.
More than 200 million people live in census tracts where the combined upper bound lifetime cancer risk from these (chemical) compounds exceeded 10 in 1 million risk,” said the study.
It added that 20 million people live in areas where the risks are even higher — a risk of 100 additional lifetime cancers for every 1 million people.
The EPA considers a cancer risk of 1 in a million or greater as a matter of concern, although those levels do not always trigger regulatory actions.
Environmentalists said the study’s findings provide clear evidences that tougher measures are needed to reduce releases of toxic chemicals — such as benzene, mercury, formaldehyde and other carcinogens — from automobiles, power plants and industrial sources.
They show “a lifetime cancer risk at least 10 times greater than the level considered acceptable by the EPA,” said Emily Figdor of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
“These findings are a wake-up call that EPA should take action to reduce this long overlooked public health threat” from toxic air releases, argued Figdor.
Among the study’s conclusions is that automobiles and trucks contribute substantially to the public’s exposure to cancer-causing air toxins.
It estimated that 100 million people live in areas where motor vehicles — both on and off-road — account for an additional lifetime cancer risk of at least 10 in a million.
These risks are largely the result of exposure to such chemicals as benzene, formaldehyde and butadiene — all components of motor fuels.
The study also concluded that toxic chemicals pose a significant health hazard other than cancer to much of the U.S. population, especially problems with respiratory systems.
The report said the assessment was viewed as a “snapshot” that identifies the greatest health risks from toxic chemicals and the areas of most potential concern. It said the EPA will update the assessment with another report next year.
In some cases the shortcomings may have understated the risks, the authors suggested. For example, the study did not attempt to assess various dioxin compounds “that may contribute substantially to (cancer) risks,” they wrote.
In addition, the study noted, the EPA is reassessing the health effects of the 32 toxic chemicals that were studied and that reassessment could show an increase in the overall risks that the chemicals pose.
STUDY: One more reason to eat fruit and veggies
AUTHORS: Dr. Andrew Neil
ABSTRACT: Results of a randomised trial show that encouraging individuals to increase their intake of fruit and vegetables increases plasma antioxidant levels and decreases blood pressure.
COMMENTARY: Dr. Andrew Neil and colleagues from the University of Oxford, UK, randomly assigned 690 healthy individuals, 25 to 64 years of age, to a program that encouraged them to increase fruit and vegetable consumption to at least five servings per day, or to no intervention.
During 6 months of follow-up, those in the intervention group had significant increases in plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene (7% from baseline), beta-carotene (7%), lutein (4%), beta-cryptoxanthin (25%) and ascorbic acid (7%), compared with controls (significance ranged from p = 0.032 to p = 0.0002.
Systolic blood pressure fell significantly more in the intervention group (4 mm Hg, p < 0.0001) as did diastolic blood pressure (1.5 mm Hg, p = 0.02) compared with controls, the researchers found.
There was no difference in the groups in total cholesterol, lycopene, retinol, alpha-tocopherol or gamma-tocopherol.
They add that "a reduction of 2 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure results in a decrease of about 17% in the incidence of hypertension, 6% in the risk of coronary heart disease and 15% in the risk of stroke and transient ischaemic attack."
STUDY: Eat thoses red colored fruits
JOURNAL: Sixty-third annual meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology
AUTHORS: Salvador Gonzalez, MD, PhD,
ABSTRACT: Lutein, an antioxidant nutrient found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, can help protect the skin from sun damage, thereby additionally helping to prevent skin cancer.
The Harvard Medical School researchers along with investigators from Boston University Medical School fed one group of mice a diet enriched with lutein for two weeks, while another group was fed a standard diet. The mice were exposed to ultraviolet-B light for five days per week during a twenty-two week period.
COMMENTARY: The mice who received lutein were protected from the development of tumors for a longer period of time, and developed fewer and smaller tumors than the control group.
The lutein-fed group also had less skin cell damage and reduced inflammation. Lead researcher Salvador Gonzalez, MD, PhD, commented, "Lutein has been widely recognized for its eye health benefits for several years. But, our data is the first of its kind to suggest that lutein may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer. In addition, these data suggest that lutein protects the skin against damage caused by exposure to UVB light, further validating our position that lutein is a critical component to overall skin health."
Lutein has been shown to be vital to the health of the eye and is taken by many to help prevent macular degeneration. In a study published year ago in the journal Circulation, higher levels of lutein were shown to be protective against atherosclerosis. This new finding shows that the antioxidant is important in yet another area: the skin. To ensure that optimal levels of lutein reach the skin, the addition of the nutrient to sun protection formulas may prove to be of benefit.
STUDY: Don't rush for new drugs
JOURNAL: Journal of the American Medical Association
AUTHORS: Dr Karen Lasser
ABSTRACT: The Journal of the American Medical Association reported the results of a study that sought to determine the frequency of previously unrecognized adverse drug reactions occurring in recently approved drugs.
COMMENTARY: By analyzing volumes of the Physician's Desk Reference published over a twenty-five year period as well as other information, researchers at Harvard University discovered that half of the newly established adverse effects, which include liver, bone marrow and heart damage as well as pregnancy risks, are found within seven years of their approval, and half of the drugs withdrawn were taken off the market within two years following their release.
Study author and primary care physician and researcher at Cambridge Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Dr Karen Lasser, stated, "This study will change the way I talk to patients about the use of new drugs. If there is a safer, effective drug that has been in use for a number of years, I would strongly recommend it over a newer drug whose safety profile is unknown. I would prescribe a new drug only when absolutely necessary, and then watch for adverse effects very, very closely."
STUDY: Another reason to take Cod liver oil
JOURNAL: Journal of Clinical Cancer Research
AUTHORS: Sujatha Sundaram
ABSTRACT: An analog of vitamin D, can destroy radiation-resistant cells that can remain following radiation therapy for breast cancer. Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School utilized a mouse model of breast cancer to compare radiation alone to radiation combined with EB 1089. They found final tumor volumes in the mice who received the combination therapy to be half that of mice who did not receive the vitamin D analog.
COMMENTARY: Radiation-resistant cells are dangerous, because they can lead to a reccurrence of the cancer being treated. Vitamin D has been found to prevent and treat several types of cancer, but an excess of the vitamin can elevate serum calcium, affecting bone structure. The modified form of the vitamin used in this study causes less of this type of side effect, and is much more readily tolerated by the patient than chemotherapy.
Lead author and assistant research professor at Dartmouth Medical School, Dr Sujatha Sundaram, commented, "The results of our latest study with EB 1089 are very encouraging. The vitamin D analog has proven effective in enhancing radiation treatments in our prior studies with cell cultures and now in live mice. We are eager to push ahead to clinical trials with breast cancer treatments in humans."
Here is another reason to make sure to get your cod liver oil as it contains vit D. This is especially true if you live in the north where there is less sunlight.
JOURNAL: Molecular and Cellular Biology
AUTHORS: Randy Jirtle PhD
ABSTRACT: Findings revealed a profound effect of prenatal nutrition on mice.
COMMENTARY: Female yellow Agouti mice fed the methyl donor nutrients folic acid, vitamin B12, choline and trimethylglycine (betaine) before and during pregnancy and lactation gave birth to offspring with brown coats, while mice not provided with supplements gave birth to mice with yellow coats.
The coat color in this strain of mice changes to brown when expression of the Agouti gene is reduced, yet giving the nutrients to the mice did not changed the gene itself.
The nutrients given to the mice in the study enhance DNA methylation.
Methylation of the Agouti gene also reduced the animals' susceptibility to obesity, diabetes and cancer, and could affect other genes.
Lead author Rob Waterland PHD added, "The implications for humans are huge because methylation is a common event in the human genome, and it is clearly a malleable effect that is subject to subtle changes in utero . . . Diet, nutritional supplements and other seemingly innocuous compounds can alter the development in utero to such an extent that it changes the offspring's characteristics for life, and potentially that of future generations."
JOURNAL: The Prostate
AUTHORS: James Barnard
ABSTRACT: Research published in the journal, The Prostate, showed a remarkable effect of diet and exercise on the destruction of prostate cancer cells.
COMMENTARY: The researchers added blood serum from three groups of middle-aged men to cultured human prostate cancer cells and observed the effects. The first group consisted of fourteen men who were overweight and sedentary, and had diets that were high in fat and sugar.
The second group of men had been following the Pritikin program (which recommends exercise and a diet that is low in fat, sugar and sodium and high in fiber) for fourteen years. The third group included twelve men who consumed typical American diets but had been part of the University of Nevada Las Vegas Adult Fitness Program for fourteen years.
Serum from both groups of exercisers was found to contain lower levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and higher levels of IGF binding protein 1, than that of the nonexercising group of men. Three days after administering the sera to the prostate cancer cell cultures, it was found that the serum of the third group destroyed one quarter of the prostate cancer cells, compared to the destruction of only 3 percent of the cells by serum from the first group. However, followers of the Pritikin program had blood serum that killed half of the prostate cancer cells when added to the culture.
AUTHORS: Eric Hentges
ABSTRACT: The U.S. government will refashion its Food Guide Pyramid to help pear-shaped Americans eat less and exercise more.
COMMENTARY: With two thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, consumers have largely ignored the government's dietary guidelines, and keep eating too many sweets and fats rather than more fruits and vegetables.
"We've got to do something to get a behavioral change," said Eric Hentges, director of U.S. Agriculture Department's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. The USDA and the Health and Human Services are responsible for federal nutrition policy.
Developed in 1992, the Food Guide Pyramid offers a general outline for how much a healthy person should eat each day from the five major food groups.
The Pyramid is the main educational tool used to help consumers interpret the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, which will be revised in 2005.
Hentges said the USDA is reviewing every aspect of the Food Guide Pyramid, so consumers can make nutritional choices that are "adequate, but moderate."
Depending on how food producers, consumer advocates and other interested parties respond to the proposal, the pyramid could take a different shape when the revisions are published in February 2005. No new shapes have been proposed, Hentges said.
For the first time, the USDA is taking into account that most Americans do not exercise regularly. "Given the sedentary lifestyles of many Americans, it was considered better not to assume any specific level of physical activity," the USDA said.
Hentges said the department may focus its new educational materials on consumers with sedentary lifestyles. More active individuals would be encouraged to obtain more specific dietary information through a government Web site.
The USDA said its publications would encourage regular exercise.
USDA's proposal also takes into consideration recent concerns over trans fats and the benefits of whole grains. Under the proposal, the USDA offers significantly more detail on the amount of calories certain groups should consume on a daily basis.
Groups are based on age, sex and level of exercise. The proposed recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and milk are based on 12 calorie levels ranging from 1000 to 3200 calories daily. The current Pyramid bases food portions on only three levels--1600, 2200 and 2800 calories.
An example, a 25-year-old female who doesn't exercise needs about 2000 calories per day. While a woman of the same age who walks 3 miles a day needs 400 more calories to maintain her weight.
JOURNAL: Hypertension 2003;42:239-246.
AUTHORS: Dr. Michael H. Alderman
ABSTRACT: Complete information from the ALLHAT study reinforces the benefit of thiazide-type diuretics over doxazosin, and probably other alpha-blockers, for the treatment of hypertension in patients at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) events.
COMMENTARY: The arm of the ALLHAT (Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial) in which doxazosin was compared with chlorthalidone was ended early because of a 25% greater incidence of CVD events among subjects treated with the alpha-blocker.
There was a 20% excess in all CVD events, including an 80% increase in heart failure and a 26% increase in stroke, among patients taking doxazosin. The higher rate of heart failure was greater when the analysis was restricted to individuals who achieved blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg.
Subgroup analysis of ethnicity, gender, diabetic status and age did not alter the perceived benefit of chlorthalidone.
STUDY: When too low enough?
JOURNAL: 16th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
AUTHORS: Dr. Y. Kim
ABSTRACT: A new study has found evidence that depressed patients with low cholesterol may be at increased risk of suicide.
COMMENTARY: Low levels of cholesterol in patients suffering from depression have previously been linked to suicide and violence, although the issue remains highly controversial.
The team compared cholesterol levels in 149 patients with major depression who were admitted to an emergency room after trying to committing or trying to commit suicide with those of 149 patients who also suffered from depression but who did not attempt suicide and those of 251 healthy controls.
"Significant differences in total serum cholesterol levels were observed between the suicide patients and non-suicide depressive patients when age, sex, body mass index and total serum proteins levels were controlled," Dr. Y. Kim said.
He said that cholesterol of 150 mg/dl or below was the cut-off point where it was possible to predict the risk of suicide with a high degree - 72% - of specificity. The cutoff point with the best possible sensitivity and specificity was 160 mg/dl.
Kim said further studies were needed but the results of this study "suggest that total cholesterol level can be used as a predictor for the risk of suicide and violent suicide attempt in depressive patients."
Hepatoprotective effect of Phyllanthus amarus Linn. and its mechanism on paracetamol hepatotoxicity in ratsNovember 5th, 2003 , by admin
JOURNAL: Seminar on Thai Traditional Medicine
AUTHORS: Malinee Wongnawa,
ABSTRACT: The hepatoprotective effect of Phyllanthus amarus Linn. and its mechanism were studied on paracetamol toxicity in rats by monitoring serum transaminase (SGOT and SGPT) and alkaline phosphatase, as well as by histopathological examination of liver.
COMMENTARY: The activity of cytochrome P450 and hepatic reduced glutathione were also determined. P. amarus in the dose of 0.8, 1.6 or 3.2 g/kg were orally administered at 1 hr. prior to, 2 or 4 hr. after single oral dose of paracetamol (3 g/kg).
The results showed that the hot water extract of P. amaurs, as well as the dried powder in the dose fo 3.2 g/kg given at 1 hour prior to paracetamol administration (3g/kg) exhibited the greatest hepatoprotective effects as indicated by the decrease in SGOT and SGPT, while SALP and histopathology were not change.
The hepatoprotective mechanism of this plant was not related to the inhibition of cytochrome P450 activity, but partly due to the increased in hepatic reduced glutathione.
STUDY: Mutations of the BRAF gene in human cancer
AUTHORS: HELEN DAVIES et al.
ABSTRACT: Sixty-six per cent of malignant melanomas have mutations in the BRAF gene. The same gene is also mutated in a smaller proportion of a wide range of other human cancers.
COMMENTARY: The discovery "may provide new therapeutic opportunities in malignant melanoma.
The discovery has emerged from the first stage of a systematic genome-wide search for the genes that often accrue cancer-causing mutations - those that alter normal programmes of cell proliferation, differentiation and death.
The mutations were initially identified by comparing the BRAF sequence from 15 cancerous cell lines with that from healthy cells from the same donors. Similar mutations were then found in numerous other cancer cell lines and in a high proportion of the 378 primary human cancer samples screened. Most of the mutations are at a very specific location in the BRAF gene.
They disrupt the enzymatic activity of the BRAF protein and hence the growth of an affected cell. The researchers focussed on BRAF as it is biochemically linked to a central cellular growth control pathway on which several other important human oncogenes have been found.