STUDY: Women with rheumatoid disease have increased risk
JOURNAL: Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association
AUTHORS: Daniel Solomon
ABSTRACT: Women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may face up to double the heart attack risks of women without the condition.
COMMENTARY: Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed health conditions of more than 114,000 people in a 20-year study, including 527 arthritis sufferers.
Their findings, point to a possible correlation between rates of arthritis and heart attack risks in women.
The Brigham and Women’s study found women with rheumatoid arthritis had twice the risk of heart attack compared to those without it. Those who had the joint condition for at least 10 years faced triple the heart attack risks of non-sufferers.
“Both physicians and patients should recognize rheumatoid arthritis as a marker for increased heart attack risk,” said Daniel Solomon, a rheumatologist and epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s in Boston.
“Our study, the largest of its kind to date, illustrates the importance of considering more aggressive cardiac preventive measures in arthritic patients,” he said.
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, involves inflammation in the lining of the joints and/or other internal organs. RA typically affects many different joints. It can be chronic or can be a disease of flares and remissions.
STUDY: Synthetic vitamin prevents retina damage in rats, study finds
JOURNAL: Nature Medicine
AUTHORS: Dr. Michael Brownlee
ABSTRACT: New hope for people with a diabetes-related eye disease may be found in a synthetic form of vitamin B1 used to treat nerve problems. Benfotiamine has been shown to prevent the most common form of diabetes-related eye disease in rats.
COMMENTARY: Diabetic rats treated with this form of Vitamin B1 for 36 weeks did not develop any of the retina damage found in a similar group of untreated rats.
In diabetics, excess sugar in the blood can damage some cells, especially those lining blood vessels, that are unable to block the sugar from entering. That sugar is burned for fuel by mitochondria, the energy engines of cells.
In cells that cannot regulate their amount of sugar, byproducts accumulate that can activate three different pathways of cell damage that can lead to blindness and other complications.
Brownlee’s group focused on two compounds involved in this damage. Those compounds are affected by an enzyme called transketolase, which depends on thiamine — also known as vitamin B1 — for its activity.
The researchers sought to block the cell damage by using thiamine to boost the activity of transketolase, but this increased the enzyme activity only about 20 percent.
German researchers on the team suggested trying the synthetic thiamine form, benfotiamine, and it increased the enzyme activity by 300 percent to 400 percent.
While benfotiamine is a synthetic derivative of thiamine, it is different from that vitamin, Brownlee said. He cautioned diabetics that “going out to a health food store and buying a lot of thiamine is not going to help.”
Antidiabetic Effects of Panax ginseng Berry Extract and the Identification of an Effective ComponentJanuary 9th, 2005 , by admin
STUDY: Antihyperglycemic and anti-obese effects of Panax ginseng berry extract and its major constituent, ginsenoside Re, in obese diabetic mice and their lean littermates.
JOURNAL: Diabetes 51:1851-1858, 2002
AUTHORS: Anoja S. Attele, Yun-Ping Zhou, Jing-Tian Xie, Ji An Wu
ABSTRACT: We evaluated antihyperglycemic and anti-obese effects of Panax ginseng berry extract and its major constituent, ginsenoside Re, in obese diabetic C57BL/6J ob/ ob mice and their lean littermates. Animals received daily intraperitoneal injections of Panax ginseng berry extract for 12 days. On day 12, 150 mg/kg extract–treated ob/ob mice became normoglycemic (137 ± 6.7 mg/dl) and had significantly improved glucose tolerance.
COMMENTARY: IT’S ONE of those cases when you shrug your shoulders and ask, “Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?” For more than 2,000 years, Chinese practitioners have prescribed ginseng root to restore energy to patients suffering from everything from cancer to heart failure. In the United States, extracts made from the ginseng root are the fifth best-selling herbal supplement.
But only now, for the first time, have Chicago researchers studied the berry of the ginseng and found that it — not the root — may hold the key to wellness for millions. Previously, there had been no study of the ginseng berry’s biological activity, People believed that nutrients accumulated in the root and thus shied away from testing the berry for medicinal effects. A new study, which appears in the June issue of the journal Diabetes, suggests they should have broadened their view long ago. Antidiabetic Effects of Panax ginseng Berry Extract and the Identification of an Effective Component
It is stunning how different the berry is from the root in terms of its chemical profile and by how effective it is in correcting the multiple metabolic abnormalities associated with diabetes. In fact, the berry is more effective than the root in multiple ways, with an extract made from its pulp normalizing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol levels in fat mice. Additionally, obese mice given the extract ate less and exercised more — the payoff being weight loss. There’s some anti-diabetes effect with the root, but the effect of the berry is much stronger. Additionally ginseng root doesn’t change body weight at all.
The Key Ingredient
So what makes the ginseng berry so unique? In terms of its weight-loss effects, that remains to be seen. But when it comes to fighting diabetes, the key ingredient appears to be a substance known as ginsenoside Re. “This is very interesting,” says Dr. Nathaniel Clark, national vice president for clinical affairs at the American Diabetes Association (ADA). “The results are quite dramatic both in helping blood sugar levels to normalize and in causing weight loss, which is extremely important in type 2 diabetes.”
For the study, Yuan and colleagues used genetic engineering to breed mice predisposed to weight gain and type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity.
Among the findings of the 12-day study:
Daily injections of an extract of the ginseng berry extract restored normal blood sugar in mice who had suffered “quite high” levels. Treated mice also had better scores on a glucose tolerance test, which measures how quickly the mice could remove excess sugar from the blood.
The obese diabetic mice shed more than 10 percent of their bodyweight, while untreated mice gained 5 percent of their weight. The reason: The treated mice ate 15 percent less and were 35 percent more active than untreated mice. Once the injections stopped, weight gain gradually resumed.
The extract improved insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, in mice with diabetes.
Cholesterol levels dropped 30 percent in the treated mice, while the extract had no detectable effect on normal mice.
Tests using ginsenoside Re alone found that it had all of the anti-diabetic but none of the obesity-fighting activities of the extract. The scientists hypothesize that ginsenoside Re may speed up sugar transport from the blood to the muscle, thereby lowering blood sugar and reducing the risk of diabetes.
The extract appears to be safe though only tests in humans can bear that out. The next steps: Finding the right dose, isolating other obesity-fighting compounds in the berry and learning more about how the compounds exert their beneficial effects.
Ginsenoside Re could serve as the basis for a whole new class of anti-diabetic medications. Once they identify all the obesity-fighting compounds contained in this plant they can develop better compounds to combat obesity and diabetes.
STUDY: Starting the day with food is crucial to health
JOURNAL: Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology at Cardiff University
AUTHORS: Andy Smith
ABSTRACT: Breakfast may indeed be the most important meal of the day, according to new study findings. People who regularly eat breakfast may be less likely to get a cold or the flu, a UK researcher reports.
COMMENTARY: "Regular consumers of breakfast get fewer and less severe colds than non-consumers," study author Professor Andy Smith, director of the Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology at Cardiff University in the UK, told Reuters Health.
This adds to the increasing body of evidence showing the health benefits--physical and mental--of breakfast consumption, and potential problems associated with skipping breakfast.
Smith investigated "the psychology of the common cold" in a 10-week study of 100 healthy students who recorded information about their physical and mental health in a diary on a weekly basis. Students who developed a cold during the study period had their temperature recorded along with other measures of the severity of their symptoms. All of the students also completed regular computerized assessments of their mood and performance.
Nearly half of the participants developed at least one upper respiratory infection during the study period, Smith reports. Those with multiple illnesses, however, were more likely to report that they did not eat breakfast regularly.
Students who reported more negative life events, such as bereavement and divorce, in the 12 months prior to the study also developed more illnesses than their peers, the findings indicate.
Overall, cold and flu symptoms were associated with the study participants' not eating breakfast, as well as their feelings of stress and loneliness, according to Smith. Those prone to persistent anxiety also had more cold and flu symptoms.
The association between breakfast and cold symptoms has implications for a range of health issues, which in turn has implications for absenteeism from education (and) work and efficiency there.
In other findings, students who developed one or more upper respiratory infections reported a more negative mood than did their healthy peers and also exhibited slower responses to reaction tests.
Bottom line is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should never be skipped.
STUDY: There is a new twist on the amount of healthful lycopene found in raw watermelon versus raw tomato.
JOURNAL: Agricultural Research
AUTHORS: Beverly A. Clevidence, Alison J. Edwards
ABSTRACT: Watermelon growers aren't exactly singing the new tune: "Our lycopene is better than your lycopene." But there is a new twist on the amount of healthful lycopene found in raw watermelon versus raw tomato that's heating up discussions.
COMMENTARY: Besides sharing a pinkish-red color, watermelon and tomato are known sources of the phytochemical lycopene--one of a host of beneficial compounds found in plant foods. Phytochemicals have not yet been classified as traditional nutrients, such as the vitamins and minerals considered essential for life. Still, they've been found to reduce the risks of age-related diseases and many people call them phytonutrients.
Agricultural Research Service scientists working to determine lycopene levels in varieties of watermelon have found many have as much as--or more than--that found in raw tomato. But lycopene content in food is different from bioavailability in humans. Bioavailability is how well the body digests, uses and stores a given chemical.
ARS nutritionists Beverly A. Clevidence and Alison J. Edwards of the Phytonutrients Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., conducted a 19-week study with 23 volunteers to assess the bioavailability of lycopene from watermelon. Tomato traditionally has been used in lycopene research because of its established lycopene levels.
Now here's the rub: Past testing showed lycopene bioavailability to be low from ingesting raw tomato, yet higher from ingesting heat-processed products, such as tomato juices and sauces. Heating and homogenizing are known to increase tomato's lycopene bioavailability.
Researchers wondered whether raw watermelon would echo raw tomato's low bioavailability. Would watermelon also need to be heat-treated to increase its available lycopene?
It didn't. That's good news for people who don't like or can't eat tomatoes but do like watermelon. They can eat their watermelon and absorb their lycopene, too.