Archives for: June 2004
STUDY: Summer fruit a major source of antioxidants
JOURNAL: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
ABSTRACT: New government research shows that tomatoes should not be considered our only major source of lycopene, the phytochemical (natural plant substance) that could help prevent certain cancers and other health problems. Watermelon is just as good a source.
COMMENTARY: Lycopene is the substance that gives tomatoes, watermelon, guava, and red and pink grapefruit their characteristic color. Besides adding color, lycopene seems to be a powerful antioxidant. It neutralizes highly unstable molecules that would otherwise react with and damage our cells.
In a large Harvard University study, the risk of prostate cancer was a third lower in men who ate the most tomato products compared to men who ate the least, and many researchers believe lycopene was the reason. Later studies also linked greater consumption of foods high in lycopene with a lower risk of prostate and other cancers.
According to a new report published in Agricultural Research, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) tested 13 varieties of watermelon for lycopene content and found that watermelon contains more than tomatoes do. The amount of lycopene varied among varieties (red seedless have most) as well as growing conditions.
Even without these new findings about lycopene, watermelon has always been an excellent choice for snacks, desserts and salads. Each cup (about half a large slice) offers about 14 milligrams of vitamin C (16 to 19 percent of recommended daily intake). Watermelon also offers a weight-control bonus. A one-cup serving can satisfy a sweet tooth with just 49 calories, making it one of the fruits least concentrated in sugar and calories.
STUDY: Computer users also more likely to experience physical pain
JOURNAL: American Journal of Industrial Medicine
AUTHORS: Dr. Tetsuya Nakazawa
ABSTRACT: Prolonged daily computer use can make you sore and sap your strength, energy and motivation.
COMMENTARY: Japanese researchers discovered that people who sat in front of computer screens were more likely to experience physical pain such as eye and shoulder strain, and to suffer from motivational symptoms such as lethargy.
Although workers are spending an increasing amount of time in front of their computers, no consistent guidelines exist about how long is safe to sit at a computer screen.
Workers who spent more than five hours per day in front of a computer screen reported significantly higher complaints of sleep-related symptoms and mental stress.
Physical symptoms increase with duration of daily VDT (visual display terminal) use without threshold, while mental- and sleep-related symptoms increase with VDT work of more than five hours per day.
STUDY: Organ may harbor stem-cell reserves
JOURNAL: The New England Journal of Medicine 2002;346:5-15, 55-56
AUTHORS: Dr. Piero Anversa
ABSTRACT: In a study that turns on its head the traditional view that the heart cannot help heal itself, scientists have found evidence that the organ may indeed harbor stem-cell reserves capable of regenerating damaged tissue.
COMMENTARY: Their study of men who received heart transplants from female donors revealed that primitive cells from the recipients migrated into the donor hearts, after which new muscle cells and small blood vessels formed. The researchers were able to pin down the phenomenon by finding a considerable number of cells in the donor heart that bore the Y chromosome--the "male" sex chromosome, which could only have come from the transplant recipients themselves.
Now that there is strong evidence of the heart's regenerative capacity, scientists can study the possibility of harnessing this self-healing potential to treat damaged hearts, according to Anversa.
The study looked at autopsied tissue from eight men who died sometime after receiving a heart from a female donor. The patients had lived with their new hearts for anywhere from 4 to 552 days.
Anversa's team found that up to 20% of the cells in the men's heart muscle and small blood vessels called arterioles and capillaries bore the Y chromosome. Even the patient who died 4 days after his transplant had Y-bearing cells in the donor heart.
According to the researchers, this suggests that the recipients' own primitive cells moved into the foreign heart and matured to aid in the "remodeling" of the organ.
In addition, when they looked at a small group of autopsied normal hearts, the investigators found small populations of immature cells. This gives further evidence that there is a "stem-cell population normally there that helps regenerate the heart," Anversa explained.
The discovery of primitive cells in normal hearts is one of the most intriguing findings of this remarkable study.
If researchers can figure out how to mobilize self-repair cells in the heart, they could become an important weapon against a "host of disorders" including coronary artery disease and heart muscle conditions.
STUDY: Eat your Tumeric
JOURNAL: ENVIRONMENTAL MUTAGENESIS, 2000, Vol 465, Iss 1-2, pp 131-137
ABSTRACT: Dietary antioxidants are showing evidence of preventing chromosomal damage in non-tumor cells, which is induced by anti-tumor drugs.
COMMENTARY: Curcumin is a dietary antioxidant that has been reported to protect against disruption or breakages in chromosomes.
A study investigated the effects of curcumin on chromosomal aberrations in rat bone marrow cells and whether there is any enhancement of these effects with the combination of curcumin and vitamin C. Animals treated with curcumin plus a single dose of cisplatin (an anti-tumor drug), between 18-72 hours after the drug.
The results showed a significant reduction in the total amount of chromosomal damage and in the number of abnormal metaphases (2nd stage of cell division). Thus, curcumin could prevent damage to chromosomes, caused by a tumor suppressor drug, by acting as a free radical scavenger.
Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus.June 10th, 2004 , by admin
STUDY: Licorice for SARS
JOURNAL: Lancet (2003Jun14)
AUTHORS: Cinatl J ,Morgenstern B ,Bauer G ,Chandra P ,Rabenau H ,Doerr HW
ABSTRACT: The outbreak of SARS warrants the search for antiviral compounds to treat the disease. At present, no specific treatment has been identified for SARS-associated coronavirus infection.
COMMENTARY: We assessed the antiviral potential of ribavirin, 6-azauridine, pyrazofurin, mycophenolic acid, and glycyrrhizin against two clinical isolates of coronavirus (FFM-1 and FFM-2) from patients with SARS admitted to the clinical centre of Frankfurt University, Germany.
Of all the compounds, glycyrrhizin was the most active in inhibiting replication of the SARS-associated virus. Our findings suggest that glycyrrhizin should be assessed for treatment of SARS.
STUDY: Asian fruit kills Herpes virus
JOURNAL: J Infect Dis 2000 Aug;53(4):156-61
AUTHORS: Wetprasit N, Threesangsri W, Klamklai N,
ABSTRACT: It appears that the lectin from Jackfruit inhibits herpesvirus.
COMMENTARY: Jackfruit lectin (JFL) from Artocarpus heterophyllus has been found to
exhibit inhibitory activity in vitro with a cytopathic effect towards
herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), and
The 50% inhibitory dose values from plaque reduction assay (inactivation) were 2.5, 5, and 10 Eg/ml of JFL for HSV-2, VZV, and CMV, respectively. Lymphocyte proliferation was significantly increased in the presence of the JFL in the concentration range of 2.5 to 50 Eg/ml, but was reduced at 500 Eg/ml. It was found that CD16(+)/CD56(+) cells (natural killer cells) were induced among the
primary lymphocyte subpopulations.
The activity of natural killer (NK)cells was not affected by JFL in the concentration range of 5 to 500 Eg/ml. These data suggest that JFL is mitogenic for NK lymphocyte(CD16(+)/CD56(+)) and also active against HSV-2, VZV, and CMV.
You can get this fruit at asian grocery stores.
STUDY: Alternative Methods to deal wth the pain of labor
JOURNAL: University Hospital
AUTHORS: Britt-Ingjerd Nesheim, MD; Ragnhild Kinge, RN;
ABSTRACT: Acupuncture during labor reduced the requirement for other painkillers and has high patient satisfaction in this randomized, unblinded, controlled study.
COMMENTARY: One group received acupuncture (N = 106); another did not (N = 92). A second control group (N = 92), drawn from the labor ward protocol, consisted of patients who met the eligibility criteria for the study and were matched to the "no acupuncture" group by parity, but who had not been offered the opportunity to take part. Outcome measure "effectiveness of acupuncture" was measured by the requirement for use of meperidine.
Meperidine was given to 11% of the acupuncture group, 37% of the no acupuncture group (P < 0.0001), and 29% of the control group.
The use of other analgesics was also lower in the acupuncture group.
Patient satisfaction was high: 89 of 103 patients asked said they would want acupuncture during another labor.
STUDY: Stop Smoking
JOURNAL: Eur J Cancer 2002;38:1520-1525.
AUTHORS: Dr. M. Prochazka
ABSTRACT: An international team of researchers report in the European Journal of Cancer that women with a history of breast cancer have a "significantly increased risk of developing a subsequent lung cancer, possibly related to an interaction between radiotherapy and smoking."
COMMENTARY: Dr. M. Prochazka of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and colleagues there and at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, set out to analyze the adverse effects of breast cancer therapy in light of prolonged survival in these patients.
Using the Swedish Cancer Registry, the investigators identified approximately 141,000 women with breast cancer diagnosed between 1958 and 1997. The cohort was then followed for the development of lung cancer.
Dr. Prochazka and colleagues found 613 subsequent lung cancer cases among this cohort and "a statistically significant increased risk of lung cancer was seen > 5 years after breast cancer diagnosis, in contrast to a significantly decreased risk in the first 5 years after the breast cancer diagnosis."
Women with a history of breast cancer who continue to smoke may experience an interaction between smoking and radiotherapy that makes them more susceptible to subsequent lung cancer, Dr. Prochazka's group concludes.
STUDY: more frequent examinations needed
JOURNAL: Journal of the American Medical Association
AUTHORS: Robert Schoen
ABSTRACT: Colon cancer can develop more quickly than previously thought.Older adults should undergo more frequent examinations to look for the disease
COMMENTARY: Colon Cancer, the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States after lung and breast cancer, was found in nearly 1 percent of 9,000 patients who were shown to be free of the disease just three years earlier.
Precancerous polyps were discovered in 14 percent of the returning patients, who averaged 66 years old.
The patients underwent a sigmoidoscopy, in which a doctor guides a camera-equipped tube through the lower portion of the colon to search for cancerous lesions or polyps.
The study's findings suggested the currently recommended five-year interval between sigmoidoscopy exams and the 10-year wait for a more thorough colonoscopy might be too long.
Colon cancer will be diagnosed in nearly 150,000 Americans this year and will kill 57,000.
The study discovered cancer in places that had been looked at three years earlier, indicating "these lesions ... can crop up in a smaller period of time," said Robert Schoen, who led the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
STUDY: Stress reduction a must
JOURNAL: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
ABSTRACT: It's no surprise that constant stress can make people sick, and now a team of researchers has figured out how.
COMMENTARY: A study focused on 119 men and women who were taking care of spouses with dementia.
The health of the caregivers was compared with that of 106 people of similar ages who were not living under the stress of constant care giving.
Blood tests showed that a chemical called Interleukin-6 sharply increased in the blood of the stressed caregivers compared with blood of the others in the test.
Previous studies have associated IL-6 with several diseases, including heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, type-2 diabetes and certain cancers.
The study also found the increase in IL-6 can linger in caregivers for as long as three years after a caregiver had ceased that role because of the spouse's death. Of the test group, 78 spouses died during the survey.
"This really makes a link to why chronic stress can actually kill people," said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University. "We haven't had a good mechanism before."
She explained that people under stress tend to respond by doing things that can increase their levels of IL-6.
For example, they may smoke or overeat; smoking raises IL-6 levels, and the chemical is secreted by fat cells. Stressed people also may not get enough exercise or sleep, she added. Exercise reduces IL-6, she said, and normal sleep helps regulate levels of the chemical.
It clearly points to the need to control stress better, she said.
STUDY: One more nail
JOURNAL: JAMA. 2003;289:3243-3253, 3254-3263, 3304-3306
AUTHORS: Rowan T. Chlebowski, MD,
ABSTRACT: Two studies in the June 25 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association provide more evidence against the use of combined hormone therapy (CHT) in postmenopausal women. The first study, from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), shows that not only is the incidence of breast cancer increased with CHT, but that it is diagnosed at a more advanced stage. The second study again shows that progestin, not estrogen, is primarily responsible for the increase in breast cancer risk.
COMMENTARY: "Relatively short-term combined estrogen plus progestin use increases incident breast cancers, which are diagnosed at a more advanced stage compared with placebo use, and also substantially increases the percentage of women with abnormal mammograms," write Rowan T. Chlebowski, MD, PhD, from Harbor-UCLA Research and Education Institute in Torrance, California, and colleagues from the WHI Randomized Trial.
These results suggest estrogen plus progestin may stimulate breast cancer growth and hinder breast cancer diagnosis.
The WHI was a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of CHT in 16,608 postmenopausal women. As Medscape has reported previously, the WHI was stopped early, on July 9, 2002, when interim analysis revealed that the overall health risks associated with CHT, including breast cancer, exceeded the benefits. The present analysis determined the association of CHT with breast cancer characteristics and annual mammography findings.
After one year, the percentage of women with abnormal mammograms was 9.4% (716 of 7,656) in the CHT group and 5.4% (398 of 7,310) in the placebo group (P < .001). Throughout the study, more women receiving CHT had abnormal mammograms than did women receiving placebo.
According to the authors, about 3 million postmenopausal women in the U.S. currently use CHT, so the absolute increase in abnormal mammograms of about 4% per year with CHT is equivalent to approximately 120,000 otherwise avoidable abnormal mammograms annually in these women.
The breast cancers diagnosed in women in the [CHT] group had similar histology and grade but were more likely to have advanced stage vs. women in the placebo group.
These results suggest that invasive breast cancers developing in women receiving estrogen plus progestin therapy may have an unfavorable prognosis.
Consideration for use of estrogen plus progestin for any duration by postmenopausal women should incorporate the current findings into established and emerging risks and benefits of these agents."
In an accompanying editorial, admin H. Gann, MD, ScD, and Monica Morrow, MD, from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, refer to CHT as "a single-edged sword."
Commenting on the WHI trial, they note that "alteration of a woman's basic hormonal physiology over decades in the interest of long-term disease prevention is fraught with hazard."
They point out that CHT increases the risk of developing breast cancer while decreasing mammographic sensitivity and thereby delaying detection of the cancer.
AUTHORS: Fryer MJ
ABSTRACT: Progression to renal failure is significantly worsened by oxidative stress in chronic inflammatory kidney disease (IgA nephropathy, antiglomerular basement membrane nephritis, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis), rhabdomyolysis (myoglobinic acute renal failure), diabetic nephropathy and in poisoning by nephrotoxic compounds such as transition metals, paraquat and drugs such as cyclosporine A and cisplatin.
COMMENTARY: The membrane antioxidant vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is examined as a potential therapeutic intervention that may help to slow the rate of decline of kidney function in such conditions.
An impaired plasma antioxidant defence system is characteristic of chronic renal failure and the uremic state.
Vitamin E therapy is also considered as a means of correcting plasma antioxidant status and attenuating the cardiovascular disease that accompanies kidney failure.