Health News Articles

Study: Some Low-Carb Diets Up Cancer, Death Risk

Low Carb Plant Sourced Diet Better Than Animal Sourced One

Children Who Eat Vended Foods Face Health Problems, Poor Diet

Childhood Obesity Woes Linked to Too Little Sleep

Nonstick Cookware May Raise Kids’ Cholesterol

Talented Bacteria Make Food Poisoning Unpredictable

Osteoporosis drugs linked to esophageal cancer

Organic strawberries are better — in some ways — researchers say

Michael Douglas suffers throat cancer

Cancer Research, features a new study from The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, that links capsaicin, a component of chili peppers, to skin cancer.

Less is more: Study shows that teens who sleep less eat more fatty foods and snacks

City’s Efforts Fail to Dent Child Obesity

Anti-Cancer Effects Of Broccoli Ingredient Explained
Tart Cherry Juice May Be A Natural Solution For Insomnia
Why A Low Calorie Diet Can Extend Lifespan — Even If Adopted Later In Life
Crucial Aspects Of Brain Dopamine Signaling Altered By A High Fat Diet
Link Between High Fat Diet And Risk Of Prostate Cancer And Disorders
Iced Tea May Raise Your Risk Of Painful Kidney Stones, Urologist Warns
Study Finds Cashew Seed Extract An Effective Anti-Diabetic
Less Salt For Everybody
Diet and Behavior Changes May Slow Alzheimer’s- Dog study also suggests brain plaques not a cause
Patterns: Added Sugar and High Blood Pressure
High Fructose Intake Linked to Higher Blood Pressure
Beet Juice: Benefits Cardiovascular System
Apigenin Phytonutrient Cuts Ovarian Cancer Risk
Depression Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease
Deadly Cancer Risk Linked to Cell Age
Can neck measure indicate body fat better than BMI?
Diabetics need to monitor sugar levels more during summer
Women Who Wear High Heels Should Not Go Back to Flats

(Articles follow below.)

Anti-Cancer Effects Of Broccoli Ingredient Explained

13 Jul 2010

Light has been cast on the interaction between broccoli consumption and reduced prostate cancer risk. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Molecular Cancer have found that sulforaphane, a chemical found in broccoli, interacts with cells lacking a gene called PTEN to reduce the chances of prostate cancer developing.

Richard Mithen, from the Institute of Food Research, an institute of BBSRC, worked with a team of researchers on Norwich Research Park, UK, to carry out a series of experiments in human prostate tissue and mouse models of prostate cancer to investigate the interactions between expression of the PTEN gene and the anti-cancer activity of sulforaphane. He said, “PTEN is a tumour suppressor gene, the deletion or inactivation of which can initiate prostate carcinogenesis, and enhance the probability of cancer progression. We’ve shown here that sulforaphane has different effects depending on whether the PTEN gene is present”.

The research team found that in cells which express PTEN, dietary intervention with SF has no effect on the development of cancer. In cells that don’t express the gene, however, sulforaphane causes them to become less competitive, providing an explanation of how consuming broccoli can reduce the risk of prostate cancer incidence and progression. According to Mithen, “This also suggests potential therapeutic applications of sulforaphane and related compounds”.

Source: BioMed Central Limited

Tart Cherry Juice May Be A Natural Solution For Insomnia

14 Jul 2010

Drinking tart cherry juice daily could help reduce the severity of insomnia and time spent awake after going to sleep, according to a new study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food1.

A team of University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester and VA Center of Canandaigua researchers conducted a pilot study on the sleep habits of 15 older adults. The adults drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice beverage (CheriBundi in the morning and evening for 2 weeks, and a comparable matched juice drink, with no tart cherry juice, for another 2 week period. There were significant reductions in reported insomnia severity and the adults saved about 17 minutes of wake time after going to sleep, on average, when drinking cherry juice daily, compared to when they were drinking the juice drink.

Ongoing sleep issues plague more than 40 million adults and another 20 million experience occasional sleep disruptions, putting their health and wellbeing at risk, and leaving many Americans on a quest for sleep solutions, according to the National Institutes of Health. Americans spend more than $84 million on over-the-counter sleep aids each year2.

The researchers suspect tart cherries’ natural benefits could be due in part to their relatively high content of melatonin – a natural antioxidant in cherries with established ability to help moderate the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Produced naturally by the body in small amounts, melatonin plays a role in inducing sleepiness at night and wakefulness during the day.

Russel J. Reiter, Ph.D, a biomedical scientist at the University of Texas Health Science Center and one of the world’s leading authorities on melatonin, says while melatonin supplement pills have been heavily promoted as a sleep aid, foods such as cherries – available year-round as dried, frozen and juice – may be a better alternative for boosting the body’s own supply of melatonin. “When consumed regularly, tart cherries may help regulate the body’s natural sleep cycle and increase sleep efficiency, including decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep,” says Reiter. “And, because cherries are so rich in other antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, you get other important health benefits.”

The Power of Red

Not only is melatonin linked to sleep, but research suggests melatonin can be a powerful antioxidant, helping reduce age-related inflammation and fighting free radicals in the body. Beyond melatonin, cherries are packed with other powerful antioxidant compounds, including anthocyanins – the compounds responsible for cherries’ bright red color. A growing body of science indicates that cherries may help reduce inflammation, aid muscle recovery and reduce risk factors of age-related conditions.

The Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) is an organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors. CMI’s mission is to increase the demand for tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research.

1. Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, Perlis ML. Effects of tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2010;13:579-583.
2. Hossain JL, Shapiro CM. The prevalence, cost implications, and management of sleep disorders: an overview. Sleep and Breathing. 2002;6:85-102.

Source: Weber Shandwick Worldwide

Why A Low Calorie Diet Can Extend Lifespan — Even If Adopted Later In Life

16 Jul 2010

New research being presented this week is giving scientists new insight into why a restricted diet can lead to a longer lifespan and reduced incidence of age-related diseases for a wide variety of animals. Scientists have known for some time that a restricted diet can extend the lifespan of certain animals but this work shows how it affects ageing mechanisms – and significantly has also shown that the effects occur even if the restricted diet is adopted later in life.

The work could help scientists to better understand, and ultimately, prevent a range of age-related diseases in humans.

The research is being presented at the conference of the British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA) in Newcastle. It was conducted by scientists at the BBSRC Centre for Integrated Systems Biology of Ageing and Nutrition (CISBAN) at Newcastle University.

Working with the theory that cell senescence – the point at which a cell can no longer replicate – is a major cause of ageing the researchers set out to investigate what effect a restricted diet had on this process. By looking at mice fed a restricted diet the team found that they had a reduced accumulation of senescent cells in their livers and intestines. Both organs are known to accumulate large numbers of these cells as animals age.

Alongside this the CISBAN scientists also found that the telomeres of the chromosomes of the mice on restricted diets were better maintained despite their ageing. Telomeres are the protective ‘ends’ of chromosomes that prevent errors, and therefore diseases, occurring as DNA replicates throughout an organisms lifetime but they are known to become ‘eroded’ over time.

The adult mice were fed a restricted diet for a short period of time demonstrating that it may not be necessary to follow a very low calorie diet for a lifetime to gain the benefits the scientists found.

Chunfang Wang, the lead researcher on this project at CISBAN, said: “Many people will have heard of the theory that eating a very low calorie diet can help to extend lifespan and there is a lot of evidence that this is true. However, we need a better understanding of what is actually happening in an organism on a restricted diet. Our research, which looked at parts of the body that easily show biological signs of ageing, suggests that a restricted diet can help to reduce the amount of cell senescence occurring and can reduce damage to protective telomeres. In turn this prevents the accumulation of damaging tissue oxidation which would normally lead to age-related disease.”

Professor Thomas von Zglinicki, who oversaw the research, said: “It’s particularly exciting that our experiments found this effect on age-related senescent cells and loss of telomeres, even when food restriction was applied to animals in later life. We don’t yet know if food restriction delays ageing in humans, and maybe we wouldn’t want it. But at least we now know that interventions can work if started later. This proof of principle encourages us at CISBAN in our search for interventions that might in the foreseeable future be used to combat frailty in old patients.”

CISBAN is one of the six BBSRC Centres for Integrative Systems Biology. The centres represent a more than £40M investment by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to support the development of systems biology in the UK. The centres are also supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Systems biology uses the study of a whole, interconnected system – a cell, an organism or even an ecosystem – with computer modelling to better make the outputs of biology more useful to scientists, policymakers and industry.

Prof Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive and keynote speaker at the BSRA Conference, said: “As lifespan continues to extend in the developed world we face the challenge of increasing our ‘healthspan’, that is the years of our lives when we can expect to be healthy and free from serious or chronic illness. By using a systems biology approach to investigate the fundamental mechanisms that underpin the ageing process the CISBAN scientists are helping to find ways to keep more people living healthy, independent lives for longer.”

Mike Davies
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Crucial Aspects Of Brain Dopamine Signaling Altered By A High Fat Diet

14 Jul 2010

Research presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that prolonged exposure to a high fat diet is correlated with changes in the brain chemical dopamine within the striatum, a critical component of the brain’s reward system.

The authors measured ‘real-time’ changes in dopamine levels after rats consumed a high fat diet for either 2 or 6 weeks. Compared to rats consuming a standard low fat diet, high-fat diet rats exhibited reduced dopamine release and also reduced reuptake by “dopamine transporters” within the striatum. Mitchell Roitman from the University of Illinois at Chicago says, “Previous research has demonstrated reduced dopamine transporter numbers in association with obesity and exposure to a high fat diet. Our research shows that these changes lead to major differences in the way dopamine functions in the brain.” The results from this study highlight the impact of diet on brain neurochemistry – and in particular on brain systems that regulate motivation and willingness to work for food reward in rats as well as humans.

Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Lead author:
Jackson J. Cone, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

J.D. Roitman and M.F. Roitman, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Jamie Price
Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior

Link Between High Fat Diet And Risk Of Prostate Cancer And Disorders

16 Jul 2010

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men with an estimated 192,280 new cases diagnosed in the US in 2009 (Jemal 2009). Diet is considered one of the most important controllable risk factors for inflammation and prostate diseases including benign prostatic hyperplsia (BPH), prostatitis, and prostate cancer.

Sanjay Gupta, MS, PhD, Carter Kissell associate professor & research director in the Department of Urology and associate professor in the Department of Nutrition in the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and his team of post-doctoral fellows have focused on understanding the mechanisms of the deleterious effects of a high fat diet on the prostate. Previously, Dr. Gupta’s team demonstrated that nuclear factor kappa B (NF-B), a protein complex that controls DNA transcription which is activated as a result of inflammation and stress, is constitutively activate in human prostate adenocarcinoma and is related to tumor progression (Shukla S et al, Neoplasia, 2004).

In a study, “High Fat Diet Increases NF-B Signaling in the Prostate of Reporter Mice”, released online in the journal The Prostate, Dr. Gupta and his team demonstrate that a high fat diet results in activation of NF-B in the abdominal cavity, thymus, spleen, and prostate (Vykhovanets et al, The Prostate, 2010). Non obese NF-B reporter mice were fed a high fat diet for four, eight, and 12 weeks. Compared with mice fed a regular diet, the high fat diet group had significant increases in prostate weight, and in the prostate expression of markers of oxidative stress (such as NADPH), and inflammation (such as the downstream targets of NF-B: nitric oxide synthase, and cyclooxygenase [COX-2]) were increased. These studies provide direct evidence that a high fat diet causes proliferation, inflammation, and oxidative stress that can lead to benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis, and cancer of the prostate, some of the most common disorders affecting adult men.

“Our studies provide evidence that a high-fat diet increases the activation of NF-B along with elevated levels of NADPH oxidase components which might lead to intraprostatic inflammation. This study strengthens the link between a high-fat diet – typical of “Western style” high fat diet – as a potential cause of prostatic diseases including BPG and prostate cancer,” said Dr. Gupta.

This work was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Sullivan Foundation for the Study of Prostatitis.

Christina DeAngelis
Case Western Reserve University

Iced Tea May Raise Your Risk Of Painful Kidney Stones, Urologist Warns

21 Jul 2010

Mark Mulac was an “avid lover” of iced tea, downing up to six glasses a day of the popular summertime thirst-quencher.

“I was a junkie on a bender. I had to have it every day,” said Mulac, a resident of Brookfield, Ill. “Iced tea was very refreshing, cheap to buy and easy to make.”

Unfortunately, for health reasons, Mulac has been forced to go cold turkey. All the iced tea he was downing helped to bring on an excruciating bout of kidney stones that eventually led to surgery at Loyola University Hospital in Maywood, Ill.

“The pain was so bad that once it felt like I was delivering a child made out of razor blades,” said the 48-year-old Mulac. “I really had no idea that iced tea could lead to that.”

Iced tea contains high concentrations of oxalate, one of the key chemicals that lead to the formation of kidney stones, a common disorder of the urinary tract that affects about 10 percent of the population in the United States. Though hot tea also contains oxalate, it isn’t as easy to consume a quantity large enough amount to encourage the formation of stones.

“For many people, iced tea is potentially one of the worst things they can drink,” said Dr. John Milner, assistant professor, Department of Urology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill. “For people who have a tendency to form kidney stones, it’s definitely one of the worst things you can drink.”

Kidney stones are a common disorder of the urinary tract that affects about 10 percent of the population in the United States. Men are four times more likely to develop kidney stones than women, and the risk rises dramatically once they reach their 40s. Postmenopausal women with low estrogen levels and women who have had their ovaries removed also have an increased risk of developing stones.

Kidney stones are small crystals that form from the minerals and salt normally found in the urine in the kidneys or ureters, the small tubes that drain urine from the kidney to the bladder. Most of the time kidney stones are so small that they are harmlessly expelled from the body. But on some occasions, the stones grow to the point that they can become lodged in the ureters.

The most common cause of kidney stones is the failure to drink enough fluids. During the summer, people are generally more dehydrated due to sweating. The dehydration combined with increased iced tea consumption raises the risk of kidney stones, especially in people who are prone to develop them.

“People are told that in the summertime they should drink more fluids,” said Milner, who treated Mulac’s kidney stones. “A lot of people choose to drink more iced tea, thinking it’s a tastier alternative. However, in terms of kidney stones, they’re actually doing themselves a disservice.”

The popularity of iced tea has grown dramatically with more than 2 billon gallons consumed a year in the U.S., according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Nearly 128 Americans drink the beverage daily.

Much of iced tea’s appeal is due to the belief that it is healthier than other beverages such as soda and beer.

“I stayed away from carbonated drinks for a long time because I thought it was upsetting my stomach and that it wasn’t as good for me, but I guess overdid it with the iced tea,” Mulac said.

To quench thirst and to properly hydrate, there is no better alternative than water, Milner said. You might try flavoring it with lemon slices. Lemonade helps to ward off kidney stones.

“Lemons are very high in citrates, which inhibit the growth of kidney stones,” Milner said. “Lemonade, not the powdered variety that uses artificial flavoring, actually slows the development of kidney stones for those who are prone to the development of kidney stones.”

Milner also said people concerned about developing kidney stones should cut back on eating foods that also contain high concentrations of oxalates such as spinach, chocolate, rhubarb and nuts. They should ease up on salt, eat meat sparingly, drink several glasses of water a day and eat foods that are high in calcium, which reduces the amount of oxalate the body absorbs.

Source: Loyola University Health System

Study Finds Cashew Seed Extract An Effective Anti-Diabetic

16 Jul 2010

Cashew seed extract shows promise as an effective anti-diabetic, according to a new study from the University of Montreal (Canada) and the Universite de Yaounde (Cameroun). Published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, the investigation analyzed the reputed health benefits of cashew tree products on diabetes, notably whether cashew extracts could improve the body’s response to its own insulin.

Diabetes is caused when a person has high blood sugar because their body does not respond well to insulin and/or does not produce enough of the hormone. The illness, which affects nearly 220 million people worldwide, can provoke heart or kidney disease. The goal of the study was to examine the impact of leaves, bark, seeds and apples from cashew trees, native to northeastern Brazil and other countries of the southern hemisphere, on cells that respond to insulin.

“Of all the extracts tested, only cashew seed extract significantly stimulated blood sugar absorption by muscle cells,” says senior author Pierre S. Haddad, a pharmacology professor at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine. “Extracts of other plant parts had no such effect, indicating that cashew seed extract likely contains active compounds, which can have potential anti-diabetic properties.”

Cashew tree products have long been alleged to be effective anti-inflammatory agents, counter high blood sugar and prevent insulin resistance among diabetics. “Our study validates the traditional use of cashew tree products in diabetes and points to some of its natural components that can serve to create new oral therapies,” adds Dr. Haddad, who is also director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team in Aboriginal Anti-Diabetic Medicines at the University of Montreal.

About the study:
The article “Hydro-ethanolic extract of cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) nut and its principal compound, anacardic acid, stimulate glucose uptake in C2C12 muscle cells,” published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, was authored by Leonard Tedong, Padma Madiraju, Louis C. Martineau, Diane Vallerand, Louis Lavoie and Pierre S. Haddad of the University of Montreal (Canada) as well as John T. Arnason, Dzeufiet D. P. Desire and Pierre Kamtchouing of the Université de Yaoundé (Cameroun).

Partners in Research:
This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods.

Source: University of Montreal

Less Salt For Everybody

16 Jul 2010

Restricting the amount of sodium chloride in food can lower the risk of cardiovascular morbidities. This is the conclusion that Dieter Klaus and colleagues come to in the current issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107[26]: 457-62).

People whose intake of dietary sodium chloride is in excess of 6 g per day increase their risk of cardiovascular morbidities and hypertension. This is particularly notable in view of the fact that in the Western industrialized nations, one in two deaths is due to a cardiovascular disorder and the average intake of sodium chloride is in the range of 8 to 12 g/d. Salt restriction may help not only to prevent cardiovascular morbidities but may also counteract other lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

As a preventive measure, the authors suggest reducing dietary salt intake population-wide. By successively lowering the NaCl content of industrially processed foods by 40% to 50%, people’s daily salt intake would be lowered to 5 to 6 g/d per head of population.

Diet and Behavior Changes May Slow Alzheimer’s

Dog study also suggests brain plaques not a cause

Posted: July 22, 2010

By Gwyneth Dickey, Science News

A combination of diet and lifestyle changes decreases Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in dogs more than either treatment does on its own, a new study shows. The findings show the importance of taking multiple approaches to arrest the disease in humans, the authors say. Their results also provide evidence supporting recent research that suggests plaque deposits in the brain are not the cause of Alzheimer’s.

Click here to find out more!

Alzheimer’s disease usually strikes people over the age of 60 and causes memory loss, shrinking brain tissue and eventually death. People with the disease get plaques in their brains made up of a small protein called amyloid-beta, which clumps together and disrupts brain signals.

Research suggests diet and exercise can improve human brain function and defend against Alzheimer’s, but researchers aren’t sure why. Dogs naturally accumulate the same brain plaque, and though they don’t get Alzheimer’s, they do experience age-related cognitive decline. So scientists can study the animals to learn more about the human form of the disease.

In this study, 24 beagles 8 to 12 years old received one of four treatments over about 2 ½ years. Some dogs were fed a diet enriched with high-antioxidant foods, like spinach, tomatoes, grapes, carrots and citrus fruit. Other dogs were given behavioral enrichment, in which they socialized with other dogs, played with new toys, took long walks and learned new tasks. One group of dogs received both treatments, while the last group received none.

This is the first study to look at antioxidant and behavioral enrichment treatments in dogs that naturally accumulate amyloid-beta plaques, says neuroscientist Viorela Pop, who conducted the research as a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine. The results were published July 21 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers found that compared with controls, dogs given the combined treatment had the greatest benefit. Those dogs had the biggest improvement in cognition and moderately reduced plaques in their brains. Dogs given just antioxidants fared better than dogs that underwent only enrichment activities. “The combination treatment is a key component of this study,” says Pop, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Loma Linda University in California. “If we were to try to slow down Alzheimer’s disease in humans, we would want to try a multifactorial treatment.”

Her study also adds to a growing body of research that suggests amyloid-beta plaques, once thought to be the cause of Alzheimer’s, are just a symptom of the disease. Beagles receiving both dietary and behavioral treatments showed major improvements in cognition, but only minor decreases in amyloid-beta plaques in their brains.

The results fit with evidence showing that humans and dogs immunized against amyloid-beta plaques have no clumps but continue to experience cognitive decline, says Alex Roher of the Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, Ariz. “Patients continue to deteriorate in spite of all treatments, which tells you the plaques are not the ultimate cause of the disease.”

That’s not to say amyloid-beta isn’t important. “It just doesn’t seem to be the main thing responsible for cognitive decline in dogs and Alzheimer’s disease in humans,” Pop says.

Researchers need to conduct more studies before these results can be generalized to humans, says psychologist Catherine Roe of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Going from dogs to people is a big jump,” she says, and researchers need to find links between enriched diet and environment in humans. “So far we haven’t found any association.”
Source: Deutsches Aerzteblatt International

Patterns: Added Sugar and High Blood Pressure


A new study suggests that foods high in added sugar may increase the risk of high blood pressure.

Researchers analyzed data for 4,528 adults with no history of hypertension who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2003-6. Those who consumed at least 2.6 ounces a day of fructose in the form of table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup were found to have almost double the risk for systolic blood pressure higher than 160. (The top number of the two, a measure of blood pressure while the heart is beating, it should normally be no higher than 120.)

“Systolic pressure is really what physicians are interested in, because it’s related to outcomes, and the increase is pretty dramatic,” said Dr. Michel Chonchol, an associate professor of medicine at University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center and the senior author of the paper, which appeared in The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

But Dr. Chonchol cautioned that more research was needed to prove that added fructose played a causal role in hypertension. “This needs to be proven with the next step, which is a randomized controlled trial,” he said.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting food and beverages with added sugars. In a statement last year, the association said an “emerging but inconclusive body of evidence” suggested “that increased intake of added sugars might raise blood pressure.”

A version of this article appeared in print on July 6, 2010, on page D6 of the New York edition.

High Fructose Intake Linked to Higher Blood Pressure

Laurie Barclay, MD (From Medscape Medical News)

July 9, 2010 — High fructose intake in the form of added sugar is independently associated with higher blood pressure (BP), according to the results of a cross-sectional analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003 to 2006), reported online ahead of print July 1 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

“The recent increase in fructose consumption in industrialized nations mirrors the rise in the prevalence of hypertension, but epidemiologic studies have inconsistently linked these observations,” write Diana I. Jalal, from University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center in Aurora, and colleagues. “We investigated whether increased fructose intake from added sugars associates with an increased risk for higher BP levels in US adults without a history of hypertension.”

In the study sample of 4528 adults without a history of hypertension, median fructose intake was 74 g/day, which is approximately equivalent to 2.5 sugary soft drinks each day. Increased fructose intake of at least 74 g/day was independently and significantly associated with higher odds of elevated BP levels, after adjustment for demographics; comorbid conditions; physical activity; total kilocalorie intake; and dietary confounders including total carbohydrate, alcohol, salt, and vitamin C intake. Increased risk associated with fructose intake of 74 g/day or more was 26% for a BP cutoff point of 135/85 mm Hg or higher, 30% for a BP cutoff point of 140/90 mm Hg or higher, and 77% for a BP cutoff point of 160/100 mm Hg or higher.

“These results suggest that high fructose intake, in the form of added sugar, independently associates with higher BP levels among US adults without a history of hypertension,” the study authors write.

Limitations of this study include cross-sectional analysis, precluding determination of causality; reliance on self-report for fructose intake; and inability to rule out the possibility that the high glucose content of the included foods may have contributed to the findings.

“These findings support the hypothesis that increased intake of fructose may result in hypertension through a variety of mechanisms,” the study authors conclude. “Limiting fructose intake is readily feasible, and, in light of our results, prospective studies are needed to assess whether decreased intake of fructose from added sugars will reduce the incidence of hypertension and the burden of cardiovascular disease in the US adult population.”

The National Institutes of Health supported this study. One of the study authors (Richard J. Johnson) is listed as an inventor on several patent applications on lowering uric acid levels as it relates to BP and metabolic syndrome. He is also author of The Sugar Fix (2008, Rodale Inc; 2009, Simon and Schuster).

J Am Soc Nephrol. Published online July 1, 2010.

Beet Juice: Benefits Cardiovascular System

By Jody Smith

July 22, 2010

The lowly beet possesses some features of greatness. Beets contain a wealth of a nutrient called betaine. Betaine reduces blood concentration of homocysteine which has an association with stroke and heart disease.

According to “Hypertension”, the journal of the American Heart Association, beet juice can reduce high blood pressure. It may be an effective natural treatment for some cardiovascular problems.

“British scientists at the Queen Mary University of London found that drinking beet juice lowered blood pressure to healthy levels within 24 hours. In fact, it was just as effective as prescription nitrate tables in treating hypertension. In a previous study two years ago, the same research team had first observed that drinking beetroot juice lowered blood pressure — now they’ve figured out exactly why.”

Apigenin Phytonutrient Cuts Ovarian Cancer Risk

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) High intake of foods containing the natural plant compound apigenin might decrease a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School have found.

Apigenin is a class of flavonoid, a phytonutrient (plant compound) family known for its high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are renowned for removing cell-damaging free radicals from the body, thereby reducing the symptoms of aging and the risk of chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease.

Foods high in apigenin include celery, parsley, tomato sauce and red wine. The compound is widely believed to be safe when consumed in plant foods, with no toxic or mutagenic effects.

In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health, and published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers gave questionnaires to 1,141 ovarian cancer patients and 1,183 women of similar age to assess the content of their diets over the course of one week. The average participant age was 51. Women with ovarian cancer were more likely to be heavier and have a higher daily calorie intake, with a less healthy diet than the healthy women.

The researchers used the questionnaires to calculate the participants’ intake of five different, common flavonoids: apigenin, kaempferol, luteolin, myricetin and quercetin. The bulk of these antioxidants in the women’s diets came from tea, red wine, apples, blueberries, celery, kale, lettuce, oranges and tomato sauce.

Higher intake of certain rich-rich foods such as cauliflower, raisins and tomato sauce was associated with a decreased risk of ovarian cancer, though this correlation was not statistically significant. There was no correlation between total flavonoid consumption and cancer risk after adjusting for known cancer risk factors such as age, physical activity, use of oral contraceptives, and history of childbirth, breastfeeding and tubal ligation. There was also no correlation between cancer risk and any of the flavonoids except for apigenin.

Women with the highest apigenin intake, however, had a “borderline significant” 28 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer than women with the lowest intake, after adjusting for other risk factors and intake of the other four flavonoids.

Ovarian cancer is among the most lethal forms of cancer in women. There are 20,000 new cases in the United States each year, leading to 15,000 deaths per year. According to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, the disease affects one in 69 women and kills one in 95.

This study is not the first to indicate a connection between apigenin and decreased cancer risk. Previous research has found that apigenin decreases the structural stability and inhibits the expression of a protein that is involved in the migration of ovarian cancer cells to other parts of the body. It has also been more directly observed to interfere with the movement of ovarian cancer cells. Apigenin has also been shown to inhibit the expression in ovarian cancer cells of a protein linked to the development of blood vessels in tumors, as well as overall tumor growth.

Other studies have found that apigenin inhibits the growth of some breast cancers and may induce programmed cell death. Higher intake of other flavonoids has also been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

Depression Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Study Shows Depression in Elderly Doubles Dementia Risk

By Salynn Boyles

WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 6, 2010 — Older people who suffer from depression have nearly double the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, a new study finds.

Researchers followed elderly participants in the ongoing Framingham Heart Study for up to 17 years to explore late-life depression and dementia.

They found depression to be a significant risk factor for dementia, even after other suspected contributors to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease had been considered.

But it is not clear if depression is a risk factor for dementia or if vulnerability to depression also makes people more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous studies examining the impact of late-life depression on dementia have been mixed, possibly because participants were not followed long enough, study researcher Jane Saczynski, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School tells WebMD.

“A major criticism of many of the earlier studies was that the interval between the measurement of depression and dementia was not long enough,” she says. “In our study, people were followed for up to 17 years and the assessment of dementia was very, very rigorous.”

Depression, Dementia Common

As many as 6 million Americans ages 65 and older suffer from depression, but only about one in 10 receives treatment because depression is often not recognized or is wrongly considered a normal part of aging.

Depression can also lead to memory and other cognitive impairments in older people, complicating the diagnosis of both disorders.

The newly published study included 947 longtime participants in the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed residents of Framingham, Mass., since the late 1940s.

All were elderly but showed no signs of dementia when enrolled in the study. Their average age at enrollment was 79, and 125 (13%) were classified as having depression at the start of the study.

By the end of follow-up, 164 people had developed dementia, including 136 with a specific diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Those with a diagnosis of depression at the start of follow-up had a 70% greater risk for developing dementia.

Roughly one in three people with depressive symptoms at the start of the study developed dementia compared to one in five people without a diagnosis of depression.

3 Studies Show Depression, Dementia Link

The study was one of three published in the July 6 issue of Neurology, suggesting a link between late-life depression and dementia.

In a separate study that included just over 1,200 older participants, having two or more episodes of depression late in life doubled the risk of dementia, but not a lesser form of cognitive decline known as mild cognitive impairment.

In a third study, symptoms of depression showed little change during the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The association between depression and dementia has been a major topic for more than two decades, and it is increasingly clear this association is real,” Alzheimer’s researcher Yonas E. Geda, MD, tells WebMD.

3 Studies Show Depression, Dementia Link continued…

Geda is an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn.

In an editorial published with the studies, Geda suggested several possible explanations for the observed link between late-life depression and dementia, including:

Major depression may directly damage the part of the brain associated with learning and memory via inflammation or the release of stress hormones.

• Depression may be in response to early, but medically unrecognized, memory declines.

• Depression may act synergistically with biological factors that have been linked to dementia to cause cognitive decline.

• The same biological factors that lead to depression late in life also lead to dementia.

A major brain imaging study known as the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative may lead to new insights into the association between depression and dementia, Geda says.

If depression is a direct risk factor for depression, treating more elderly people for depression could have a big impact, Saczynski adds.

Deadly Cancer Risk Linked to Cell Age

Study Shows Shorter Telomere Length Is Linked to Increased Cancer Risk

By Daniel J. DeNoon

WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 7, 2010 — Aging cells greatly increase your risk of deadly cancer — even if you’re still relatively young.

Cells stay young as long as they can repair their own DNA. That’s up to telomeres, the proteins at the end of each chromosome. But every time a cell reproduces, its telomeres get shorter.

A few aging cells isn’t much of a problem. But a startling new study now shows that people who accumulate a lot of cells with short telomeres have greatly increased risk of fatal cancers.

Compared to people at the top third of average telomere length, those at the bottom third have a threefold higher risk of cancer. Those in the middle third have twice the cancer risk as those with the longest telomeres.

“Of note, telomere length was preferentially associated with individual cancers characterized by a high fatality rate such as gastric, lung, and ovarian cancer — but less so with tumors linked to better prognosis,” find Peter Willeit, MD, of Austria’s Innsbruck Medical University, and colleagues.

Those in the lowest third of telomere length were over 11 times more likely to die of cancer than those in the highest third. Those in the middle third were 5.6 times more likely to die of cancer.

For 10 years, Willeit’s team followed 787 residents of Bruneck, Italy, who received all their medical care at the same local hospital. Ranging in age from 40 to 79, all were cancer free at the beginning of the study. A decade later, 92 of the study participants had developed cancer.

At regular intervals, the researchers calculated the average telomere length of each participant’s white blood cells. This led to a number of interesting findings:

• Men had shorter telomeres than women.

• Short telomere length was linked to risk of diabetes, chronic infection, and less physical activity.

• Short telomere length was linked to increased risk of bladder, lung, kidney, and head-and-neck cancer, as well as to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

• Short telomere length was not linked to breast or colon cancer.

What’s going on? Willeit and colleagues calculate that short telomere length gives a person the cancer risk of a much older individual. They suggest that short telomere length indicates an aging immune system.

Moreover, they suggest that cells with short telomere length may reactivate the enzyme telomerase in a desperate attempt to restore telomere length. In doing so, these cells may accidentally transform themselves into tumor cells.

The Willeit study appears in the July 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Can neck measure indicate body fat better than BMI?

By Madison Park, CNN


• Body mass index widely criticized as being flawed and not measuring body fat

• New study suggests neck circumferences could be used to supplement BMI

• Wide neck circumference associated with obesity conditions such as diabetes

(CNN) — Flawed, limited and inaccurate. The complaints against the body mass index are many.

Among them: The BMI, which measures weight relative to height, doesn’t accurately calculate body fat. It deems athletes or muscular people to be obese and underestimates body fat in older people.

But it’s inexpensive and simple, so the BMI continues to be the public health agencies’ standard for assessing for obesity.

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics suggests another simple, straightforward measurement could be used to supplement the BMI: neck circumference.

A wide neck circumference is associated with obesity-related conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes and hypertension, according to research. Neck circumference has been explored in studies for potential obesity and heart problems in adults.

Lead author Dr. Olubukola Nafiu and his colleagues examined 1,102 children and recorded their heights, weights and neck circumferences to determine whether this measurement could be another way to assess obesity in children.

They measured necks using a flexible tape at the most prominent part of the neck. For older males, that area was the Adam’s apple.

The authors found that a 6-year-old boy with a neck circumference greater than 11.2 inches was 3.6 times more likely to be overweight or obese than a peer below that level. Using the data, they devised neck measurements at which children could be at higher association with overweight and obesity.

Taking such a measurement is inexpensive, easy and could be predictive of health problems such as sleep apnea, Nafiu wrote in the article. He’s an assistant professor of pediatric anesthesia at the University of Michigan School of Medicine Health, Ann Arbor.

One of BMI’s shortcomings is that it “does not accurately define central body fatness,” Nafiu said. Neck circumference could give better clues to body fat composition, he said.

Calculator: Are you overweight?

Studies have shown that regional adiposity, which is fat collected around the midsection, is often a good indicator for obesity-related complications, including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. The correlation between regional adiposity and a high neck circumference is strong, said Nafiu. This could give doctors more information than BMI alone.

“We’ve been using BMI to advise parents and patients for making healthy choices,” he said. “Unfortunately, often we tell someone their BMI is 27 or 30, most of the time it doesn’t mean much. To tell you that your neck is wide, these are some of the risks associated to it — that we feel people would be able to relate to it better than BMI.”

The idea of using circumferences of various body parts has been around for awhile, said Jim Pivarnik, director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health at Michigan State University.

“It’s not widely used,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s not correct, but it’s not widely used.”

One of the challenges is the difficulty of accurate measurements. Waist circumference “is harder to measure than you might think,” said Dr. Cora Lewis, a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“There’s the issue of figuring out where you measure,” she said. “If someone is obese, should the waist measurement come under or over the fold?”

Despite its flaws, Lewis said the BMI still gives information.

“It’s a good place to start,” she said. “Lots of people bash it, but what else are we going to use?”

The alternatives, such as air chambers that measure a person’s mass and volume to calculate the composition of muscle and fat and underwater scales, are expensive and impractical, Pivarnik said.

The neck circumference could an initial screening tool someday, Nafiu said. But he wrote additional studies are needed to evaluate how useful it is in detecting abdominal fat.

“If a neck circumference is above what you regularly see, that raises a red flag,” he said. “You want to ask further questions, then see other indices of body fat — BMI, abdominal circumference and other parameters.”

Find this article at:

Diabetics need to monitor sugar levels more during summer

the UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care

Raleigh, N.C. — When temperatures rise, so do the risks for people with diabetes, doctors say.

Even the medications and tools they use to manage their blood sugar can be affected.

“You need to be aware that the insulin, the strips that you test your blood sugar with, the meter that you’re using and oral medications – all can be affected by the heat. All these things should be kept at room temperature,” WakeMed diabetes educator nurse Rosie O’Hara said.

O’Hara said people with diabetes have an impaired ability to sweat which places them at greater risk of heat-related illness. So, drinking plenty of water is vital.

O’Hara also warns diabetics not to skip exercise, a cornerstone of their treatment.

“Make sure that you exercise either early in the morning, later in the evening or in air conditioning,” she said. “If you are outside in high heat, then you should probably limit it to an hour or less of exposure.”

Diabetics also need to be aware of the heat index, a combination of the temperature and humidity. As the body heats up, so does the blood sugar level, so diabetics need to check their sugar levels more often.

Women Who Wear High Heels Should Not Go Back to Flats

Friday , July 16, 2010

Women who wear high heels for long periods of time should not switch to flats, a scientist warned Friday.

Scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University, in northern England, found continued wear of high heels caused the Achilles’ tendon to thicken and stiffen permanently, so calf muscles were forced to stretch painfully when switching to flat shoes.

In the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, two groups of women aged between 20 to 50 years were tested. One group regularly wore high heels of two inches or more for two or more years, while the other group had always wore flats.

The high heel wearers, who complained of discomfort when they switched to flats, were found to have muscle fibers 13 percent shorter than the women in flats.

“If you wear high heels for two years or more, five times a week, muscle fibers will become shorter and tendons will thicken and stiffen,” Professor Marco Narici, who led the research, told NewsCore.

“This has an immediate effect in restricting ankle movement and impacts your ability to walk fast and run — both in heels and flats.”

Narici said he would recommend women wear heels and flats on alternate days, but said he found most women who wear heels prefer to wear them at least five days a week.

The study said heel lovers should try stretching exercises at the end of each day’s wear to avoid soreness.


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