Health Technology Research Synopsis 102nd Issue Date 27 MAR 11 Compiled By Ralph Turchiano www.vit.bz
Editors Top Five:
1.Supreme Court won’t review drug patent deal
2.Antioxidants in pregnancy prevent obesity in animal offspring 3. Prozac reorganizes brain plasticity
- 4. A dose of safflower oil each day might help keep heart disease at bay
5. Exposure to chemicals in environment associated with onset of early menopause In This Issue:
1. Supreme Court won’t review drug patent deal
- 2. Natural compounds: the future of anti-malarial treatment
- 3. Vitamin D insufficiency high among patients with early Parkinson disease
- 4. Omega-3 fatty acid intake linked with reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration in women
- 5. Antioxidants in pregnancy prevent obesity in animal offspring
- 6. Prozac reorganizes brain plasticity
- 7. Does selenium prevent cancer? It may depend on which form people take
- 8. Versatile vitamin A plays multiple roles in the immune system
- 9. Cranky? On a diet? How self-control leads to anger
- 10. Study suggests gastric banding associated with relatively poor long-term outcomes
- 11. A dose of safflower oil each day might help keep heart disease at bay
- 12. Obese and overweight women, children underestimate true weight
- 13. Physical activity decreases salt’s effect on blood pressure
14. Exposure to chemicals in environment associated with onset of early menopause
- 15. ‘Junk food’ moms have ‘junk food’ babies
- 16. Plant oil may hold key to reducing obesity-related medical issues, MU researcher finds
17. Walnuts are top nut for heart-healthy antioxidants
Public release date: 7-Mar-2011
Supreme Court won’t review drug patent deal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court let stand a ruling that drug companies can pay rivals to delay production of generic drugs without violating federal antitrust laws.
The justices refused to review a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the dismissal of a legal challenge to a deal between Bayer AG and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s Barr Laboratories. Bayer paid Barr to prevent it from bringing to market a version of the antibiotic drug Cipro.
The deal, involving Bayer’s 1997 settlement of patent litigation with Barr, was challenged by a number of pharmacies, which appealed to the Supreme Court. More than 30 states and various consumer groups supported the appeal.
The Federal Trade Commission has opposed such deals, saying they violate antitrust law and cost consumers an estimated $3.5 billion a year in higher prescription drug prices. It has supported legislation pending in Congress to prohibit such settlements, which it says have increased in recent years.
The New York-based appeals court, in its ruling last year, cited its similar 2005 decision involving the drug Tamoxifen, used to treat breast cancer, infertility and other conditions. The Supreme Court declined to review that case.
In the Cipro case, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal by the pharmacies without comment.
The Supreme Court case is Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co v. Bayer AG, No. 10-762.
Natural compounds: the future of anti-malarial treatment
In the run up to World Malaria Day on the 25th April 2011, BioMed Central’s open access journal Malaria Journal takes a long hard look at the development of natural compounds for use in the fight against malaria.
There are over 200 million cases of malaria each year with 85% of all cases being children under five years old and, according to the World Health Organisation, in 2009 malaria was responsible for 781,000 deaths worldwide. Low cost treatment is available, 100 million children a year are treated with Artemisinin combination therapy at a cost of about 30 cents per child, but resistance of the parasite to this treatment is increasing. In the face of this resistance, researchers are turning to traditional medicine to provide a starting point for the development of new drugs.
Traditional remedies are widely used especially in areas of poverty or where there is no access to medical treatment. The combination of artemisinin, flavanoids, and other compounds which occur naturally in the leaves of Artemisia annua, increases the effectiveness of the treatment and decreases metabolism of the active ingredient. Circumin (from turmeric) has anti-malarial properties and is being tested for use against cerebral malaria. Adding piperine (from black pepper seeds) to circumin increases the effectiveness of circumin 2000 times. Plant extracts such as lemon eucalyptus, citronella, and neem oil also have use as insect repellents but are not as yet recommended for use by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Researchers suggest following the Research Initiative on Traditional Anti-Malarial Methods (RITAM), which shows a consensus of observational and laboratory results with clinical clearance of parasites. They also advocate the inclusion of native healers for the review of disease surveillance, ethnobotanical treatments, and changes in health care policy to increase the validity of these traditional medicines.
However, there is currently no concerted research into the effectiveness of natural compounds as anti- malarials or as malaria prophylaxis. Consequently, there is a need for partnership organisations, such as African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDi), to promote standardisation in observing traditional remedies and the subsequent pharmacological purification and testing of compounds and combinations in the clinic.
Public release date: 14-Mar-2011
Vitamin D insufficiency high among patients with early Parkinson disease
CHICAGO – Patients with a recent onset of Parkinson disease have a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency, but vitamin D concentrations do not appear to decline during the progression of the disease, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Vitamin D is now considered a hormone that regulates a number of physiological processes. “Vitamin D insufficiency has been associated with a variety of clinical disorders and chronic diseases, including impaired balance, decreased muscle strength, mood and cognitive dysfunction, autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes (types 1 and 2), and certain forms of cancer,” the authors write as background information in the article. “Vitamin D insufficiency has been reported to be more common in patients with Parkinson disease (PD) than in healthy control subjects, but it is not clear whether having a chronic disease causing reduced mobility contributes to this relatively high prevalence.”
Marian L. Evatt, M.D., M.S., of Emory University School of Medicine and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues examined the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in untreated patients with early PD, diagnosed within five years of entry into the study. They conducted a survey study of vitamin D status in stored blood samples from patients with PD who were enrolled in the placebo group of the Deprenyl and Tocopherol Antioxidative Therapy of Parkinsonism (DATATOP) trial.
The authors found a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency in 157 study participants with early, untreated PD. At the baseline visit, most study participants (69.4 percent) had vitamin D insufficiency and more than a quarter (26.1 percent) had vitamin D deficiency. “At the end point/final visit, these percentages fell to 51.6 percent and 7 percent, respectively.”
“Contrary to our expectation that vitamin D levels might decrease over time because of disease-related inactivity and reduced sun exposure, vitamin D levels increased over the study period,” the authors write. “These findings are consistent with the possibility that long-term insufficiency is present before the clinical manifestations of PD and may play a role in the pathogenesis of PD.”
Vitamin D insufficiency in patients with early PD was similar or higher than the prevalence reported in previous studies.
“We confirm a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in patients with recent onset of PD, during the early clinical stages in which patients do not require symptomatic therapy,” the authors conclude. “Furthermore, vitamin D concentrations did not decrease but instead increased slightly over the course of follow-up. This provides evidence that during early PD, vitamin D concentrations do not decrease with disease progression.”
Public release date: 14-Mar-2011
Omega-3 fatty acid intake linked with reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration in women
CHICAGO – Regular consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish is associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration in women, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
“An estimated nine million U.S. adults aged 40 years and older show signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD),” the authors write as background information in the article. “An additional 7.3 million persons have early age-related macular degeneration, which is usually associated with moderate or no vision loss but does increase the risk of progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration.”
Using the Women’s Health Study, William G. Christen, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues collected data on 38,022 women who had not been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration. Information on women’s eating habits was obtained via questionnaire at the beginning of the study and included information on intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) [Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish], and arachidonic acid and linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acids). During ten years of follow-up, additional questionnaires tracked the women’s eye health, with specific focus on diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration.
Over the course of follow-up, 235 cases of age-related macular degeneration were reported. In analyses that adjusted for age and treatment assignment, women who consumed the most DHA compared with women who consumed the lowest amount had a 38 percent lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Similar results were observed for higher intake of EPA and for higher consumption of both types of acid together.
Results for fish intake showed that consumption of one or more servings of fish per week, when compared to less than one per month, was associated with a 42 percent lower risk of age-related macular degeneration. “This lower risk appeared to be due primarily to consumption of canned tuna fish and dark-meat fish.”
For omega-6 fatty acids, higher intake of linoleic acid but not arachidonic acid was associated with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, however this association was non-significant after adjustment for other risk factors and fats.
“In summary, these prospective data from a large population of women with no prior diagnosis of AMD indicate that regular consumption of DHA and EPA and fish significantly reduced the risk of incident AMD,” the authors conclude.
Antioxidants in pregnancy prevent obesity in animal offspring
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia research sheds light on prenatal influence of high-fat diets
New biological research may be relevant to the effects of a mother’s high-fat diet during pregnancy on the development of obesity in her children.
An animal study at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia suggests that a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet causes oxidative stress — an excess of deleterious free radicals — during pregnancy, predisposing the offspring to obesity and diabetes. Feeding rats antioxidants before and during pregnancy completely prevented obesity and glucose intolerance in their offspring.
If the results in animals prove to be similar in humans, the research may have implications for reducing obesity rates in children. “We already know that there are critical periods during human development that influence the later development of obesity,” said senior author Rebecca A. Simmons, M.D., a neonatologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This research suggests that if we can prevent inflammation and oxidative stress during pregnancy, we may lower the risk that a child will develop obesity.”
The study by Simmons and co-author Sarbattama Sen, M.D., was published in the December 2010 print edition of Diabetes.
Oxidative stress is a condition in which quantities of highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (free radicals and other chemicals) exceed the body’s ability to control their biological damage to cells. It is already known that obesity in people contributes to oxidative stress, in part by causing inflammation. Furthermore, obesity during pregnancy creates an abnormal metabolic environment during human gestation.
The current study tested the hypothesis that a high-fat diet during pregnancy increases oxidative stress and leads to obesity in the offspring of animals. Simmons and Sen also investigated whether supplementing the animals’ diet with antioxidants would prevent obesity in the offspring.
The researchers simulated a Western-style diet by feeding high-fat, high-carbohydrate chow to one group of rats, compared to a control group fed a more balanced diet. In two other groups (one fed a Western diet, the other fed a control diet), the researchers added antioxidant vitamins.
Among the rats that ate only the Western diet, the offspring had significantly higher measures of inflammation and oxidative stress, and as early as two weeks of age, were significantly fatter, with impaired glucose tolerance compared to control rats. However, rats eating the Western diet plus antioxidants had offspring with significantly lower oxidative stress, as well as no obesity and significantly better glucose tolerance. The effects persisted at two months of age.
“These results suggest that if we prevent obesity, inflammation and oxidative stress in pregnant animals,
we can prevent obesity in the offspring,”
said Simmons. Simmons added that a next step in this research
is to determine the mechanisms by which inflammation and oxidative stress cause more fat tissue to develop.
She cautioned that until these effects are carefully studied in people, one shouldn’t conclude that the biological effects seen in animals are the same in humans. In the meantime, she added that, whether pregnant or not, women should certainly not conclude from this study that they should consume large doses of antioxidant vitamins.
Public release date: 15-Mar-2011
Prozac reorganizes brain plasticity
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as Prozac are regularly used to treat severe anxiety and depression. They work by immediately increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain and by causing long term changes in brain function. However it can take weeks of treatment before a patient feels any effect and both beneficial effects and side effects can persist after treatment is stopped. New research published by BioMed Central’s open access journal Molecular Brain investigates physiological changes within the brain that may be caused by SSRI treatment.
The hippocampus is an area of the brain involved in long term memory and spatial awareness, and is involved in symptoms afflicting people with Alzheimer’s disease, such as loss of memory and disorientation. Neuronal cells in the hippocampus can change their activity and strength of connections throughout life, a process known as plasticity, which thought to be one of the ways new memories are formed. Altered plasticity is often associated with depression and stress.
Researchers from the Department of Pharmacology, Nippon Medical School, showed that chronic treatment of adult mice with fluoxetine (Prozac) caused changes to granule cells, one of the main types of neuronal cells inside the hippocampus, and to their connections with other neuronal cells. The granule cells appeared to undergo serotonin-dependent ‘dematuration’, which increased their activity and reversed adult-type plasticity into an immature state. These changes to the cell’s plasticity were associated with increased anxiety and in alternating between periods of hyper or hypo activity.
Katsunori Kobayashi explained, “Some of the side effects associated with Prozac in humans, such as anxiety and behavioral switching patterns, may be due to excessive dematuration of granule cells in the hippocampus.”
Does selenium prevent cancer? It may depend on which form people take
Scientists are reporting that the controversy surrounding whether selenium can fight cancer in humans might come down to which form of the essential micronutrient people take. It turns out that not all “seleniums” are the same — the researchers found that one type of selenium supplement may produce a possible cancer-preventing substance more efficiently than another form of selenium in human cancer cells. Their study appears in the ACS’ journal Biochemistry.
Hugh Harris and colleagues note that although the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer clinical trial showed that selenium reduced the risk of cancer, a later study called the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial did not show a benefit. A major difference between the trials was the form of selenium that was used. To find out whether different types of selenium have different chemopreventive properties, the researchers studied how two forms—SeMet and MeSeCys—are processed in human lung cancer cells.
Theresearchers found that MeSeCys killed more lung cancer cells than SeMet did. Also, lung cancer cells treated with MeSeCys processed the selenium differently than than cells treated with SeMet. They say that these findings could explain why studies on the health benefits of selenium sometimes have conflicting results.
Ralph’s Note: SeMet = selenomethionine, and MeSeCys = methylselenocysteine
Public release date: 17-Mar-2011
Versatile vitamin A plays multiple roles in the immune system
Although it has been known for some time that vitamin A deficiency is linked with an impaired ability to resist infections, exactly how vitamin A and its metabolites contribute to the immune response is not well understood. Somewhat paradoxically, research has indicated that vitamin A can also act as an immunosuppressive agent. Now, a study published by Cell Press in the March issue of the journal Immunity sheds light on how this critical vitamin integrates into both pro-inflammatory and anti- inflammatory immune responses in the gastrointestinal tract.
The vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid (RA), along with one of its receptors RAR has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Specifically, RA has been shown to induce production of regulatory T cells that help dampen the immune response to self and foreign antigen, including the bacteria that are normally present in the gastrointestinal tract. However, vitamin A insufficiency is associated with increased mortality to common gastrointestinal and lung infections and poor responses to vaccines, and there is evidence that in addition to its regulatory role, RA may help to stimulate the pro-inflammatory immune response to overcome infection. It is not clear how RA accomplishes these seemingly disparate roles.
“Gaining an understanding of the metabolites that control vitamin A dependent immunity and the relevant signaling pathways invoked is critical to resolving the paradox of why retinoids are immunosuppressive in some contexts, yet vital for host protective immunity,” explains senior study author, Dr. Yasmine Belkaid from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In their study, Dr Jason Hall, primary author of the study, and colleagues demonstrated that immune responses to infection and vaccination were compromised upon loss of vitamin A, and that RA served to activate the T cells driving these responses.
Based on their findings, the researchers propose that RA influences the immune response during the initial stages of activation and can amplify, in a context dependent manner, the capacity of the host t develop regulatory or inflammatory responses.
“The gastrointestinal tract must be able to tolerate constant exposure to food and the beneficial microbes that colonize this site, while maintaining the capacity to rapidly respond to encounters with pathogens,” says Dr. Belkaid. “These conflicting pressures confront the immune system responsible for defending the gastrointestinal tract with a unique challenge. In our study, we identified RA/RARI signaling pathway as a fitting system to accomplish these tasks, promoting generation of regulatory T cells and likely tolerance during normal conditions and adaptive T cell responses when faced with pathogen.” Taken together, these findings reveal a fundamental role for Vitamin A in the development of both regulatory and inflammatory arms of immune responses and establish nutritional status as a broad regulator of the immune system.
Public release date: 17-Mar-2011
Cranky? On a diet? How self-control leads to anger
People who make an effort to exert self-control are attracted to aggressive art and public policy appeals, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. They also don’t appreciate messages that nag them to control their behavior.
“We set out to examine whether exerting self-control can indeed lead to a wide range of angry behaviors and preferences subsequently, even in situations where such behaviors are quite subtle,” write authors
David Gal (Northwestern University) and Wendy Liu (University of California San Diego).
“Research has shown that exerting self-control makes people more likely to behave aggressively toward others and people on diets are known to be irritable and quick to anger,” the authors explain. The researchers found that people who exerted self-control were more likely to prefer anger-themed movies, were more interested in looking at angry facial expressions, were more persuaded by anger-framed appeals, and expressed more irritation at a message that used controlling language to convince them to change their exercise habits.
In one study, people who choose an apple instead of a chocolate bar were more likely to choose movies with anger and revenge themes than milder movies.
In another study, participants who exerted financial restraint by choosing a gift certificate for groceries over one for a spa service showed more interest in looking at angry faces rather than at fearful ones.
In a third experiment, dieters had more favorable opinions toward a public policy message that used an anger-framed appeal (if funds are not increased for police training, more criminals will escape prison) than they did toward a sad message.
Finally, participants who chose a healthy snack over a tastier, less-healthy one were more irritated by a marketer’s message that included controlling language (words such as “you ought to,” “need to,” and “must”).
“Public policy makers need to be more aware of the potential negative emotions resulting from encouraging the public to exert more self control in daily choices,” the authors write. “Instead behavioral interventions might rely on a broader range of methods to foster positive behaviors toward long-term goals.”
Public release date: 21-Mar-2011
Study suggests gastric banding associated with relatively poor long-term outcomes
In a study of 82 patients who were evaluated 12 or more years after undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding for morbid obesity, a majority of patients reported that they were satisfied with the procedure, although approximately 40 percent experienced major complications and nearly half required removal of their bands, according to a report posted online that will appear in the July print issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
“There is substantial evidence that surgery is the only valid treatment for morbid obesity,” the authors write as background information in the article. “Presently, the most commonly performed techniques are laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which is also typically performed laparoscopically.” Opponents of LAGB claim it can result in mediocre quality of life and a significant number of complications, and that there is a tendency for patients to regain weight after some years.
Jacques Himpens, M.D., and colleagues at the European School of Laparoscopic Surgery, Saint Pierre University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium, conducted a clinical assessment of patients 12 or more years after undergoing LAGB to determine the long-term efficacy and safety of the surgery for morbid obesity. A total of 151 consecutive patients who were treated with LAGB between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 1997 were contacted at the end of 2009, and 82 (54.3 percent) were available for full evaluation.
“Based on a follow-up of 54.3 percent of patients, LAGB appears to result in a mean excess weight loss of 42.8 percent after 12 years or longer,” the authors report.
Thirty-nine percent of patients experienced major complications, and 22 percent experienced minor complications. Nearly half the patients required removal of their gastric bands and nearly 60 percent needed additional operations.
“Still, 60.3 percent of the patients were satisfied, and the quality-of-life index was comparable to the nonsurgical average,” the authors write.
Fourteen patients were switched to laparoscopic gastric bypass, with good results.
“The high failure rate of LAGB, at least in our hands, could be detrimental to its future continued widespread use as a restrictive weight loss operation,” the authors conclude.
A dose of safflower oil each day might help keep heart disease at bay
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A daily dose of safflower oil, a common cooking oil, for 16 weeks can improve such health measures as good cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and inflammation in obese postmenopausal women who have Type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
This finding comes about 18 months after the same researchers discovered that safflower oil reduced abdominal fat and increased muscle tissue in this group of women after 16 weeks of daily supplementation.
This combination of health measures that are improved by the safflower oil is associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that can increase risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
These new findings have led the chief researcher to suggest that a daily dose of safflower oil in the diet – about 1 2/3 teaspoons – is a safe way to help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
“The women in the study didn’t replace what was in their diet with safflower oil.
Theyadded it to what they were already doing. And that says to me that certain people need a little more of this type of good fat – particularly when they’re obese women who already have diabetes,” said Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
“I believe these findings suggest that people consciously make sure they get a serving of healthy oil in their diets each day– maybe an oil and vinegar dressing on a salad, or some oil for cooking. And this recommendation can be extended to everyone.”
The research appears online and is scheduled for future print publication in the journal Clinical Nutrition.
Safflower oil contains linoleic acid, which is a PUFA — a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Research dating back to the 1960s has suggested that these dietary oils from plant sources can help prevent heart disease, said Belury, who holds the Carol S. Kennedy professorship in nutrition. But attention to these fats has declined as omega-3 fish oils have gained popularity among consumers, she said.
“The health benefits of omega-3 PUFAs seem convincing, but I think there’s also a place for omega-6 PUFAs. We’ve known for a long time that polyunsaturated oils are very beneficial for cardiovascular disease prevention, and these data we are adding now show that these oils can also help with other aspects of metabolic syndrome, including even glycemic control,” Belury said. “We suspect it could be through a mechanism that is not yet identified.”
In the first study, published in September 2009, Belury and colleagues had compared the effects of safflower oil and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound naturally found in some meat and dairy products, on obese postmenopausal women with Type 2 diabetes.
CLA had a reputation from previous studies for contributing to weight loss. Safflower oil’s association with reduced abdominal fat took the researchers by surprise.
For this current research, the scientists performed a secondary analysis of data collected from that clinical trial, applying a powerful statistical analysis to the results and also checking to see how long it took for any effects of the oils to appear in the women’s health profiles. The scientists had taken blood samples every four weeks during the study to obtain these measures.
In almost all cases in this analysis, safflower oil supplementation improved metabolic measures while CLA did not show any effects for glycemic or lipid control. Sixteen weeks of CLA supplementation did reduce total body fat and lowered the women’s body mass index (BMI), a common health measure of weight relative to height.
Several of the beneficial effects of safflower oil were evident after 16 weeks of supplementation. On average among all of the women tested, these included:
An increase in insulin sensitivity of about 2.7 percent as measured by a formula known as the quantitative insulin-sensitivity check index. Higher insulin sensitivity is important for the transfer of sugar, or glucose, from the blood into the tissues, where it is used for energy. Insulin resistance, or lowered insulin sensitivity, is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes.
A small, but significant, .64 percent decrease in a blood protein called HbA1C, which is a marker of long-term presence of excess glucose in the blood.
A roughly 17.5 percent decrease in C-reactive protein, a protein in the blood that rises in the presence of inflammation. A growing body of research suggests that high levels of this protein increase the risk for a heart attack.
The researchers had documented in the previous study that safflower oil also lowered fasting blood sugar levels by between 11 and 19 points on average. Blood sugar is considered normal if it falls below 110 milligrams per deciliter; the women’s average blood sugar levels ranged from 129 to 148 after 16 weeks of safflower oil supplementation.
Within 12 weeks, the safflower oil led to a 14 percent increase in HDL, or “good,” cholesterol, as well as an increase in adiponectin, a hormone that regulates levels of blood sugar and fats and which influences insulin levels. Higher levels of adiponectin could be expected to increase the efficiency of dietary fat burning, Belury said.
People with metabolic syndrome generally have three or more of the following conditions: excess fat in the abdominal area, borderline or high blood pressure, cholesterol problems that foster plaque buildup in arteries, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance and a high level of triglycerides, a form of fat in the blood.
At the start of the study, the women were obese and had Type 2 diabetes, low HDL cholesterol and high levels of C-reactive protein and the HbA1c protein. Though in many cases their health measures were still high or low enough at the end of the study to leave them at increased risk for heart disease, Belury said the safflower oil could function as a complementary intervention in combination with medications used to control their disorders.
“We don’t know the long-term effects of safflower oil from this study alone, but I certainly think it’s possible that the risk for cardiovascular problems could be significantly decreased in this high-risk group if supplementation were continued,” Belury said.
She noted that the total dose of dietary oils the women took between their normal diets and the safflower oil supplementation amounted to 9.8 percent of their daily calories – a level that falls within federal guidelines for vegetable oil consumption. The women had been instructed not to change their diets during the study, and self-reports of their food intake showed that their eating habits did not change while they were taking the supplements.
“A small change in eating behavior to alter the fatty acid content of the diet might improve metabolic measures in people already consuming what is considered to be an adequate amount of dietary linoleic acid,” Belury said. “What is needed in our diet is PUFAs to help with cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer of men and women in this country.”
Obese and overweight women, children underestimate true weight
Overweight and obese mothers and their children think they weigh less than their actual weight, according to research reported at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.
In the study of women and children in an urban, predominantly Hispanic population, most normal weight women and children in the study correctly estimated their body weight, but most obese women and children underestimated theirs.
“Obesity is a well-known risk factor for the development of many diseases, including heart disease and diabetes,” said Nicole E Dumas, M.D., lead author and an internal medicine resident at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Dumas and colleagues surveyed women and their pre-adolescent children attending an urban, primary care center in New York City. They asked the subjects about their age, income, heart disease risk factors, and perceptions of their body size using silhouette images that corresponded to specific body mass index (BMI) types — for example, underweight, normal and overweight.
The researchers also recorded participants’ height, weight and BMI, which is a measurement of body weight based on height. A BMI of 25-29 is overweight, and a BMI over 30 is obese.
The researchers found:
•65.8 percent of the mothers surveyed were overweight or obese.
•38.9 percent of children surveyed were overweight or obese.
•81.8percentof obese women underestimated their weight compared to 42.5 percent of overweight and 13.2 percent of normal weight women; similarly, 86 percent of overweight or obese children underestimated their weight compared to 15 percent of normal weight children.
•Of mothers with overweight or obese children, almost half (47.5 percent) thought their children were of normal weight.
•Children selected larger body images than those chosen by their mothers to describe an “ideal” or “healthy” body image for a woman.
•41.4 percent of the children in the study thought their moms should lose weight.
“These findings imply that not only is obesity prevalent in urban America, but that those most affected by it are either unaware or underestimate their true weight,” she said. “In addition, obesity has become an acceptable norm in some families. Strategies to overcome the obesity epidemic will need to address this barrier to weight loss.”
Future research should include interventions that study the effect of increased accuracy of body image perception on weight loss among families.
Physical activity decreases salt’s effect on blood pressure
The more physically active you are, the less your blood pressure rises in response to a high-salt diet, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.
“Patients should be advised to increase their physical activity and eat less sodium,” said Casey
M. Rebholz, M.P.H., lead author of the study and a medical student at the Tulane School of Medicine and doctoral student at the Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. “Restricting sodium is particularly important in lowering blood pressure among more sedentary people.”
Investigators compared study participants’ blood pressure on two one-week diets, one low in sodium (3,000 mg/day) and the other high in sodium (18,000 mg/day).
The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 mg/day of sodium.
If a person’s average systolic blood pressure (the top number in the reading, measured when the heart is contracting) increased 5 percent or more from the low-sodium to the high-sodium regimen, the researchers labeled them as high salt-sensitive.
Based on physical activity questionnaires, researchers divided participants into four groups ranging from very active to quite sedentary.
The average increases in systolic blood pressure after switching from low to high sodium, adjusted for age and gender, were:
•5.27 mm Hg in the least active group
•5.07 mm Hg in the next-to-lowest activity group
•4.93 mm Hg in the next to highest activity group
•3.88 mm Hg in the most active group
Compared with the sedentary group, the odds of being salt-sensitive, adjusted for age and gender, fell:
•10 percent in the next-to-lowest activity group
•17 percent in the next-to-highest activity group
•38 percent in the most active group
“In all the analyses we found a dose-response relationship with the more activity, the better,” Rebholz said.
The participants were 1,906 Han Chinese adults (average age 38) in the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Salt Sensitivity (GenSalt), a large project to identify genetic and environmental
factors contributing to salt sensitivity. Siblings and their parents were invited to become involved in GenSalt if at least one sibling had pre-hypertension (blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg) or stage-1 hypertension (between 140/90 and 159/99 mm Hg). No one was on blood pressure medication during the study.
The GenSalt project is located in rural China because the homogeneous population makes it more likely that genes influential to blood pressure control will be identified.
“The study needs to be repeated, but I suspect that the relationship between physical activity and salt-sensitivity will apply to other populations,” Rebholz said.
Public release date: 23-Mar-2011
Exposure to chemicals in environment associated with onset of early menopause
Exposure to perfluorocarbons associated with lower concentrations of the hormone estradiol
Chevy Chase, MD— A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that higher levels of perfluorocarbons (PFCs) in the body are associated with increased odds of having experienced menopause in women between 42 and 64 years old. Women in this age group with high levels of PFCs also had significantly lower concentrations of estrogen when compared to women who had low levels of PFCs.
PFCs are man-made chemicals used in a variety of household products including food containers, clothing, furniture, carpets and paints. Their broad use has resulted in widespread dissemination in water, air, soil, plant life, animals and humans, eve in remote parts of the world. A probability sample of U.S. adults, found measurable concentrations of PFCs in 98 percent of the participants tested.
“The current study is the largest ever to be done on the endocrine-disrupting effects of perfluorocarbons in human women,” said Sarah Knox, PhD, of the West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown and lead author of the study. “Our data shows that after controlling for age, women of perimenopausal and menopausal age in this large population are more likely to have experienced menopause if they have higher serum concentrations of PFCs than their counterparts with lower levels.”
In this study of 25,957 women aged 18 to 65 years, researchers ascertained menopausal status of participants and then measured their serum concentration levels of PFCs and estradiol. They found that there was an association between PFC exposure, decreased estradiol and early menopause in women over age 42. There was also an inverse association between PFC levels and estradiol in women of child bearing age but this association was not statistically significant.
“There is no doubt that there is an association between exposure to PFCs and onset of menopause,but the causality is unclear,” said Knox. “Part of the explanation could be that women in these age groups have higher PFC levels because they are no longer losing PFCs with menstrual blood anymore, but, it is still clinically disturbing because it would imply that increased PFC exposure is the natural result of menopause.”
PFCs are known to have multiple adverse health outcomes including increased cardiovascular risk and impairment of the immune system.
“Our findings suggest that PFCs are associated with endocrine disruption in women and that further research on mechanisms is warranted,” said Knox.
Public release date: 23-Mar-2011
‘Junk food’ moms have ‘junk food’ babies
New research in the FASEB Journal involving rats suggests that pregnant and breastfeeding women who indulge in high levels of fat and sugar are likely to have children who indulge in the same types of food A new research report published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.faseb.org) suggests that pregnant mothers who eat high sugar and high fat diets have babies who are likely to become junk food junkies themselves. According to the report, which used rats, this happens because the high fat and high sugar diet leads to changes in the fetal brain’s reward pathway, altering food preferences. Not only does this offer insight into the ever-increasing rate of human obesity, but it may also explain why some people easily resist fatty and sugary foods, while others seem hopelessly addicted.
“These results will help us to better help women about diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding for giving their infants the best start in life,” said Beverly Muhlhausler, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the FOODplus Research Centre in the School of Agriculture Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia.
To make this discovery, Muhlhausler and colleagues studied two groups of rats, which during pregnancy and lactation, were either fed standard “rat chow” or a junk food diet made up of a selection of common human foods high in fat and high in sugar. After the baby rats were weaned, the pups from both groups were allowed to select their own diets from either the same range of junk food or the standard rat chow. Brains from some of the pups also were collected at different times after birth and measured for the levels of the “feel good” chemicals (dopamine and opioids) and the receptors that these chemicals act upon. The scientists found that the group of rats whose mothers had eaten the junk food diet had higher levels of the receptor for opioids after they were weaned. This group also chose to eat more of the fatty foods as compared to the pups whose mothers ate the standard rat chow. This suggests that infants whose mothers eat excessive amounts of high-fat, high-sugar junk foods when pregnant or breastfeeding are likely to have a greater preference for these foods later in life.
“How ironic that your mother nags you to eat your fruits and vegetables, but it could have been her actions that helped you to prefer junk food!” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Perhaps in the future, studies like these will convince pregnant moms to go heavier on the green vegetables and a little lighter on the ice cream and Twinkies.”
Public release date: 23-Mar-2011
Plant oil may hold key to reducing obesity-related medical issues, MU researcher finds
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Scientists have known for years that belly fat leads to serious medical problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found a plant oil that may be able to reduce belly fat in humans.
In his latest study, James Perfield, assistant professor of food science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), found that a specific plant oil, known as sterculic oil, may be a key in the fight against obesity. Sterculic oil is extracted from seeds of the Sterculia foetida tree. The oil contains
unique fatty acids known to suppress a bodily enzyme associated with insulin resistance, which could indirectly help with reducing belly fat. Previous studies show that reducing the enzyme in rodents improves their metabolic profile, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing chances for later chronic diseases.
“This research paves the way for potential use in humans,” Perfield said. “Reducing belly fat is a key to reducing the incidence of serious disease, and this oil could have a future as a nutritional supplement.”
To study the compound, Perfield added sterculic oil to the feed of rats that are genetically disposed to have a high amount of abdominal fat. He tested the rats over the course of 13 weeks and found that rats given a diet supplemented with sterulic oil had less abdominal fat and a decreased likelihood of developing diabetes. Perfield gave the rats a relatively small dose of oil each day, comparable to giving three grams to a 250-pound human.
Belly fat, clinically known as intra-abdominal fat, is between internal organs and the torso. Intra- abdominal fat is composed of “adipose” deposits. Unusually high adipose levels trigger health problems that may induce insulin resistance, which causes the body to have difficulty maintaining blood sugar levels. Initially, the body is able to compensate by producing more insulin, but eventually the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, thus increasing excess sugar in the bloodstream and setting the stage for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other obesity-associated health disorders.
Perfield plans to conduct further studies of sterulic oil in hopes of developing a natural nutritional supplement. He says future research will focus on the effectiveness of the oil in humans, as well as any side effects.
“The oil from this seed is very similar to other vegetable oils,” Perfield said. “It shares many of the same chemical properties, which could allow it to be easily substituted with other oils. While eating the seed directly may be possible, it’s easier to control the amount of oil if you extract it directly.”
Public release date: 24-Mar-2011
When you cough up green or yellow phlegm you need to be prescribed antibiotics, right?
Prescribing antibiotics for patients with discoloured phlegm caused by acute cough has little or no effect on alleviating symptoms and recovery, a Cardiff University study has found.
Acute cough is one of the common reasons why people visit their GP and accounts for a large proportion of antibiotics prescribed in the community. One of the most common questions asked by GPs to their patients is about their phlegm: “Are you coughing anything up?” or “What colour is your phlegm?”
Clinicians and patients commonly believe that yellow and green phlegm production is associated with a bacterial infection, which is more likely to benefit from antibiotic treatment compared to non-productive cough or cough that produces clear phlegm.
However, in a new study published in the European Respiratory Journal, Professor Chris Butler and his team from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, together with colleagues from 14 European centres present data from an observational study of 3402 adult patients with acute cough presenting for health care in 14 primary care networks.
The research found that patients producing discoloured phlegm are prescribed antibiotics more frequently than those not producing phlegm unlike those producing clear/white phlegm.
Crucially, antibiotic treatment was not associated with greater rate or magnitude of symptoms score resolution among those who produced yellow or green phlegm. Neither was recovery among those feeling generally unwell on its own, or taken together with phlegm production, associated with antibiotic treatment.
Clinicians and patients are therefore likely to both be over interpreting the importance of the colour of phlegm in the decision whether or not to prescribe, or take, antibiotics.
Professor Butler, who led the study said: “One of the exciting things about this research is that our findings from this large, multi-country observational study resonate with findings from randomised trials where benefit from antibiotic treatment in those producing discoloured phlegm has been found to be marginal at best or non-existent.
“Our findings add weight to the message that acute cough in otherwise well adults is a self-limiting condition and antibiotic treatment does not speed recovery to any meaningful extent.
“In fact, antibiotic prescribing in this situation simply unnecessarily exposes people to side effects from antibiotics, undermines future self care, and drives up antibiotic resistance.”
A single centre study, using different research methods, by one of Professor Butler’s predecessors at Cardiff University came to similar conclusions to this new research. Despite this, non-evidence based practice remains common across the UK.
Public release date: 27-Mar-2011
Walnuts are top nut for heart-healthy antioxidants
ANAHEIM, March 27, 2011 — A new scientific study positions walnuts in the No. 1 slot among a family of foods that lay claim to being among Mother Nature’s most nearly perfect packaged foods: Tree and ground nuts. In a report here today at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, scientists presented an analysis showing that walnuts have a combination of more healthful antioxidants and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut.
“Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts,” said Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who did the analysis. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don’t eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet.”
Vinson noted that nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits — in addition those antioxidants — wrapped into a convenient and inexpensive package. Nuts, for instance, contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and are dairy- and gluten-free. Years of research by scientists around the world link regular consumption of small amounts of nuts or peanut butter with decreased risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.
Despite all the previous research, scientists until now had not compared both the amount and quality of antioxidants found in different nuts, Vinson said. He filled that knowledge gap by analyzing antioxidants in nine different types of nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans. Walnuts had the highest levels of antioxidants.
Vinson also found that the quality, or potency, of antioxidants present in walnuts was highest among the nuts. Antioxidants in walnuts were 2-15 times as potent as vitamin E, renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects that protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease.
“There’s another advantage in choosing walnuts as a source of antioxidants,” said Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. “The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants. People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants.”
If nuts are so healthful and nutritious, why don’t people eat more? Vinson’s research shows, for instance, that nuts account for barely 8 percent of the daily antioxidants in the average person’s diet. Many people, he said, may not be aware that nuts are such a healthful food. Others may be concerned about gaining weight from a food so high in fat and calories. But he points out that nuts contain healthful polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats rather than artery-clogging saturated fat. As for the calories, eating nuts does not appear to cause weight gain and even makes people feel full and less likely to overeat. In a 2009 U. S. study, nut consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of weight gain and obesity. Still, consumers should keep the portion size small. Vinson said it takes only about 7 walnuts a day, for instance, to get the potential health benefits uncovered in previous studies.
These reports are done with the appreciation of all the Doctors, Scientist, and other Medical Researchers who sacrificed their time and effort. In order to give people the ability to empower themselves. Without the base aspirations for fame, or fortune.
Just honorable people, doing honorable things.
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