104 Health Research Report 01 MAY 2011

 

#104
Health Technology Research Synopsis 104th Issue Date 1MAY2011 Compiled By Ralph Turchiano http://www.vit.bz

Editors Top Five:

1. Herbal medicines banned as EU directive comes into force
2. Study suggests another look at testosterone-prostate cancer link
3. ‘Apple a day’ advice rooted in science
4. Study: Reasonable quantities of red pepper may help curb appetite
5. System in brain — target of class of diabetes drugs — linked to weight gain

In this issue:

1. High levels of vitamin D appear to lower risk of age-related macular degeneration in young women
2. Pistachios deliver weight management support, heart health benefits
3. STRESS WRECKS INTESTINAL BACTERIA, COULD KEEP IMMUNE SYSTEM ON IDLE
4. New compounds show promise against hepatitis C infection
5. ‘Apple a day’ advice rooted in science
6. Study: Omega-3 consumed during pregnancy curbs risk for postpartum depression symptoms
7. Honey can reverse antibiotic resistance
8. 3 new studies link eating red to a healthy heart
9. Low doses of penta-brominated diphenyl ether flame retardants alter gene expression
10. Coffee in capsules contains more furan than the rest
11. NC State Develops Material To Remove Radioactive Contaminants From Drinking Water
12. Study suggests another look at testosterone-prostate cancer link
13. Researchers report widespread use of medications among pregnant women
14. Study: Reasonable quantities of red pepper may help curb appetite
15. Narcotic pain relief drug overdose deaths a national epidemic
16. Vitamin E or metformin may not be effective for treating liver disease in children and teens
17. Blacks more willing to exhaust financial resources for more cancer care
18. Topical treatment may prevent melanoma
19. Tropical blueberries are extreme super fruits
20. Vitamin E helps diminish a type of fatty liver disease in children
21. Melatonin might help in controlling weight gain and preventing heart diseases associated with obesity
22. Study: Cotton swabs prove problematic for ear health

23. Chemical found in crude oil linked to congenital heart disease
24. Formula-fed preemies at higher risk for dangerous GI condition than babies who get donor milk
25. Herbal medicines banned as EU directive comes into force
26. Chemical in plastic linked to wheezing in childhood
27. System in brain — target of class of diabetes drugs — linked to weight gain

Public release date: 11-Apr-2011

High levels of vitamin D appear to lower risk of age-related macular degeneration in young women
High levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream appear to be associated with a decreased risk of developing early age-related macular degeneration among women younger than 75 years, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a chronic, late-onset disease that results in degeneration of the macula, is the leading cause of adult irreversible vision loss in developed countries,” the authors write as background information in the article. “Age-related macular degeneration affects approximately 9 percent (8.5 million) of Americans aged 40 years and older.”

Amy E. Millen, Ph.D., of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, New York, and colleagues examined data from 1,313 women to investigate if serum 25(OH)D levels in the blood was associated with early age-related macular degeneration. “Serum 25(OH)D is the preferred biomarker for vitamin D status, as it reflects vitamin D exposure from both oral sources and sunlight.” Women were participants of the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study, an ancillary study within the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.

After adjusting for age and other known risk factors for AMD, no significant relationship was found between vitamin D status and early or advanced AMD. In women younger than 75 years (n=968), higher levels of serum 25(OH)D was associated with a significant decreased risk of early AMD, however in women 75 years and older (n=319), higher levels were associated with a borderline statistically significant increased risk.

In women younger than 75 years, intake of vitamin D from foods and supplements was associated with decreased risk of developing early AMD. Women who consumed the most vitamin D had a 59 percent decreased odds of developing early AMD compared with women who consumed the least vitamin D. The top food sources of vitamin D in the sample were milk, fish, fortified margarine and fortified cereal. No relationship was observed using self-reported time spent in direct sunlight.

“This is the second study to present an association between AMD status and 25(OH)D, and our data support the previous observation that vitamin D status may potentially protect against development of AMD,” the authors conclude. “More studies are needed to verify this association prospectively as well as to better understand the potential interaction between vitamin D status and genetic and lifestyle factors with respect to risk of early AMD.”

Public release date: 11-Apr-2011

Pistachios deliver weight management support, heart health benefits
New USDA study: Fat found in pistachios may not be readily absorbed by the body

Washington, D.C., April 11, 2011 – In a first-of-its-kind study with nuts, randomized controlled-feeding research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that fat in pistachios may not be completely absorbed by the body. The findings indicate that pistachios may actually contain fewer calories per serving than originally thought – further validating pistachios as one of the lowest calorie nuts with 160 calories per 30 gram serving (approximately 1 ounce). The study was presented today at the Experimental Biology conference in Washington, D.C.

The research measured the energy value of pistachios by feeding 16 healthy adults the nuts as part of a controlled diet and calculating the energy value from differences in energy excretion during the dietary treatment timeframe. The resulting energy value of one 30 gram serving of pistachios was 5.9 percent less than previous calculations.

“Existing scientific research indicates that fat from nuts is poorly absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract,” said lead ARS researcher David J. Baer, Ph.D., Supervisory Research Physiologist with the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center. “This study confirms that the fat from pistachio nuts, specifically, is not completely digested or absorbed, resulting in a lower energy value.”

Additional data from this study presented at Experimental Biology reinforced the heart-health benefits of pistachios. The ARS researchers found that when healthy individuals included 1.5 and 3 ounces of pistachios into their typical American diet, cardio-supportive results were shown.

Pistachios Deliver Weight Management Support Benefits

The new data demonstrating the potential calorie savings of pistachios builds on previous research showing that pistachios are a weight-wise snack. According to researchers at the University of California
– Los Angeles, choosing to snack on pistachios rather than pretzels not only supports body mass index (BMI) goals, but can support heart health, too.

In a 12-week randomized study, 52 overweight and obese subjects were placed on a 500-calorie deficit diet and assigned to either a pistachio snack (about 75 pistachios providing 240 calories) or a pretzel snack group (two-ounces of pretzels providing 220 calories). The results showed that the pistachio group had better success with supporting their BMI goals compared to the pretzel group, showing pistachios can be included in a healthy diet, even for those managing their weight.

Additionally, pistachios – also known as the “Skinny Nut” – are shown to be a “mindful snack” in terms of taking longer to eat and requiring the snacker to slow down and be more conscious of what has been consumed. According to behavioral eating expert, James Painter, Ph.D., R.D., Chair of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Eastern Illinois University, “Our research shows in-shell snackers eat 41-percent fewer calories than those who snack on shelled nuts. We also found that in-shell pistachios offer a visual cue to help reduce intake. When leftover shells are cleared immediately, snackers eat up to 22 percent more compared to leaving left over shells as a reminder of consumption. ”

Pistachios are also a good source of fiber and protein. Providing about 49 kernels per 30 grams (approximately 1 ounce) serving, pistachios offer the most nuts per serving when compared to other popular snack nuts – comparatively, almonds have 23 in a serving, walnuts 14 halves and cashews, 18.

Public release date: 11-Apr-2011

STRESS WRECKS INTESTINAL BACTERIA, COULD KEEP IMMUNE SYSTEM ON IDLE
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Stress not only sends the human immune system into overdrive – it can also wreak

havoc on the trillions of bacteria that work and thrive inside our digestive system.

New research suggests that this may be important because those bacteria play a significant role in triggering the innate immune system to stay slightly active, and thereby prepared to quickly spring into action in the face of an infection.

But exactly how stress makes these changes in these bacteria still isn’t quite clear, researchers say.
Michael Bailey

“Since graduate school, I’ve been interested in how stress affects the bacteria naturally in our bodies,’ explained Michael Bailey, an assistant professor of dentistry and member of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University.

“Even though we’ve known that stress changes these bacteria, we didn’t really understand what that meant or if there was any sort of biological function associated with effects on these bacteria.”

The new study appears in the current issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

The human digestive tract is a universe filled with microbes. There are probably 100 trillion bacteria in the average human, 90 percent of which live mainly in the intestine. They easily
outnumber human cells 10-to-one in each person.

Bailey and colleagues turned to mice to better understand the roles that bacteria play in immune balance. They ran a series of experiments using a common stressor for these animals. For two hours daily for six days, an aggressive mouse was placed in a cage of a group of more docile mice.

At the end of the string of experiments, blood samples were taken from both stressed animals and matched mice from a control group, along with samples of material from inside each animal’s intestine. The blood samples were analyzed to detect the levels of two biomarkers used to gauge stress – a cytokine called interleukin-6 (IL-6) and a protein called MCP-1 that summons macrophages, or scavenger cells, to the site of an infection.

From the intestinal samples, Bailey’s team could determine the relative proportion of at least 30 types of bacteria residing there.

“We know now that if we knock the population of bacteria down with antibiotics, we don’t have the same innate immune response,” Bailey said. “That showed that the bacteria are involved in the ability of stress to prime the innate immune system.”

Compared to the control mice, the stressed animals showed two marked differences: The proportion of one important type of bacteria in the gut – Bacteroides – fell by 20 to 25 percent while another type – Clostridium – increased a similar amount. Also, levels of the two biomarkers, IL-6 and MCP-1, jumped 10-fold in the stressed mice, compared to controls.

The researchers then treated stressed mice with broad-spectrum antibiotics that could kill as much as 90 percent of the intestinal bacteria for a short period. When they again looked at the two immune biomarkers in the stressed mice, they saw only a doubling of IL-6 and MCP-1 – an increase only one-fifth as much.

“We know now that if we knock the population of bacteria down with antibiotics, we don’t have the same innate immune response,” Bailey said. “That showed that the bacteria are involved in the ability of stress to prime the innate immune system.”

He said that the research shows that some of the changes in systemic immunity in the body can be influenced by changes in these bacterial colonies, a result that reinforces the idea that they have a broader effect on the immune response.

The next step, the researchers say, is to better understand the roles that the bacteria play in activating the immune system, and to determine if other factors are playing a key role in the process.

Working with Bailey on the project were Jeff Galley, Amy Hufnagle and Rebecca Allen, also from Ohio State; Scot Dowd of the Medical Biofilm Research Institute in Lubbock, TX, and Mark Lyte from Texas Tech University.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and by grants from both Ohio State and Texas Tech.

Public release date: 12-Apr-2011

New compounds show promise against hepatitis C infection
Approximately 270-300 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C, and about 1%-2% of the
U.S. population is infected. This infectious disease can lead to scarring of the liver, cirrhosis, and eventually liver failure. A significant number of infected patients develop liver disease or cancer. The current standard treatment is interferon, which has only a 50% success rate. Compounding the 50% failure rate are severe side effects which lead many people to discontinue treatment.

Dr. Samuel Wheeler French Jr., MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UCLA and researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, is a liver pathologist who is currently developing a proteomic-based program to study the development of liver cancer from hepatitis C viral infection. His most recent study results, to be presented in an American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) symposium on “Pathobiology of Liver Injury and Fibrosis” on Tuesday afternoon, April 12 at Experimental Biology 2011, evaluate the effects of several flavonoids on hepatitis C viral infection. Previously, Dr. French has shown that quercetin, a plant-derived bioflavonoid used by some as a nutritional supplement, attenuates Hepatitis C virus production with no cell toxicity. In his most recent research, French and colleagues found that two other bioflavonoids, catechin and naringenin, displayed antiviral activity on tissue culture. The next step is to determine through a Phase I Clinical Trial that they are safe for patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.

“We now have several new compounds we can test to see if they reduce virus infection,” said Dr. French. “The positive thing about this family of compounds is that they are nontoxic, and can be taken at high doses. Bioflavonoids represent a very promising therapy with very few side effects that could help millions of people.”

Public release date: 12-Apr-2011

‘Apple a day’ advice rooted in science
Everyone has heard the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We all know we should eat more fruit. But why apples? Do they contain specific benefits?

According to Dr. Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD, Margaret A. Sitton Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at The Florida State University, apples are truly a “miracle fruit” that convey benefits beyond fiber content. Animal studies have shown that apple pectin and polyphenols in apple improve lipid metabolism and lower the production of pro-inflammatory molecules. Arjmandi’s

most recent research is the first to evaluate the long-term cardioprotective effects of daily consumption of apple in postmenopausal women. The results of this USDA-funded study will be presented at Experimental Biology 2011 on Tuesday, April 12, at 12:45 pm in Washington, DC.

This study randomly assigned 160 women ages 45-65 to one of two dietary intervention groups: one received dried apples daily (75g/day for 1 year) and the other group ate dried prunes every day for a year. Blood samples were taken at 3, 6 and 12-months. The results surprised Dr. Arjmandi, who stated that “incredible changes in the apple-eating women happened by 6 months- they experienced a 23% decrease in LDL cholesterol,” which is known as the “bad cholesterol.” The daily apple consumption also led to a lowering of lipid hydroperoxide levels and C- reactive protein in those women.

“I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by about 4%,” Arjmandi said. Yet another advantage is that the extra 240 calories per day consumed from the dried apple did not lead to weight gain in the women; in fact, they lost on average 3.3 lbs. “Reducing body weight is an added benefit to daily apple intake” he said. Part of the reason for the weight loss could be the fruit’s pectin, which is known to have a satiety effect. The next step in confirming the results of this study is a multi-investigator nationwide study.

There is frequently some truth behind our common expressions, and in the case of ‘an apple a day,’ Dr. Arjmandi has shown that nutrition science backs up the expression. “Everyone can benefit from consuming apples,” he said.

Public release date: 12-Apr-2011

Study: Omega-3 consumed during pregnancy curbs risk for postpartum depression symptoms
Fish has long been considered in myriad cultures to be “brain food,” but only recently has bona fide science begun to support this deep-rooted belief. Researchers now know that the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon and herring may play a critical role in both development and maintenance of the brain and nerves. Although sufficient amounts of these long-chain fats can be synthesized endogenously by most adults, experts recommend that pregnant women and infants get additional amounts of these compounds from their diets. This, combined with research suggesting that these fats play a critical role in cognitive and visual development during early life, has prompted much research and product development aimed at pregnant women and newborn infants. Studies have also suggested that higher consumption of certain omega-3 fatty acids may also benefit adult mental health as well – for instance, as it might relate to lower risk for depression.

Dr. Michelle Price Judge, a faculty member at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, is keenly interested in how omega-3 fatty acids consumed during pregnancy impact both maternal and infant health. She has demonstrated previously that maternal consumption of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; a prominent omega-3 fatty acid) during pregnancy gives infants a developmental advantage even 9 months after they are born. These findings prompted her to consider the benefits that DHA could holistically have on the maternal-infant dyad. Specifically, might greater omega-3 fatty acid intake during pregnancy lower risk for postpartum depression, a condition that leads to a multitude of problems including interruptions in maternal-infant attachment and subsequent impairments in later infant development? As part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition, results from this study will be presented on April 12 at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting in Washington, DC.

To answer this question, Dr. Judge oversaw a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled dietary

intervention trial in which 52 pregnant women took either a placebo (corn oil) or a fish oil capsule containing 300 milligrams of DHA 5 days each week from 24-40 weeks of pregnancy. This is the amount a woman would consume if she ate about ½ serving of salmon. It is noteworthy that dietary DHA intake during pregnancy has been estimated to be 50-70 milligrams of DHA daily: a mere fraction of the 200 milligrams daily that is considered optimal during pregnancy by most experts. Using the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale developed by her colleague and coauthor Dr. Cheryl Beck, Judge was able to categorize postpartum women as having negligible depressive symptoms, significant symptoms of postpartum depression, or being “positive” for this condition. The Postpartum Depression Screening Scale also assisted the research team in discerning between several symptoms specific to the disorder including sleeping/eating disturbances, anxiety, emotional liability, confusion, loss of self, guilt, and thoughts of suicide.

Although the study did not have enough women to investigate if fish oil consumption resulted in a lower incidence of diagnosable postpartum depression, women in the treatment group had significantly lower total Postpartum Depression Screening Scale scores, with significantly fewer symptoms common to postpartum depression. For example, compared to those in the control group, women in the fish oil group were less likely to report symptoms related to anxiety and loss of self.

Judge and coworkers concluded “DHA consumption during pregnancy – at levels that are reasonably attained from foods – has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression.” Why is this important? For starters, some experts estimate that postpartum depression affects a whopping 25% of new mothers. And healthcare providers agree that this condition can have devastating consequences, not only for the women experiencing it but also for their children and family.

The bottom line? Although larger-scale intervention studies will be needed to better understand the mechanisms and magnitude by which fish oil consumption can improve postpartum mental health, women would be wise to eat at least a serving of high-omega-3 fish 2-3 days per week. Although fish oil supplements may be more acceptable to some women, the real thing is clearly the more nutritious option as a serving of fish is also protein- and mineral-rich. Clearly, fish as a “brain food” is gaining the nod from not only from the general public, but scientists as well.

Public release date: 12-Apr-2011

Honey can reverse antibiotic resistance
Manuka honey could be an efficient way to clear chronically infected wounds and could even help reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics, according to research presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s Spring Conference in Harrogate.

Professor Rose Cooper from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff is looking at how manuka honey interacts with three types of bacteria that commonly infest wounds: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Group A Streptococci and Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Her group has found that honey can interfere with the growth of these bacteria in a variety of ways and suggests that honey is an attractive option for the treatment of drug-resistant wound infections.

Honey has long been acknowledged for its antimicrobial properties. Traditional remedies containing honey were used in the topical treatment of wounds by diverse ancient civilisations. Manuka honey is derived from nectar collected by honey bees foraging on the manuka tree in New Zealand and is included in modern licensed wound-care products around the world. However, the antimicrobial properties of honey have not been fully exploited by modern medicine as its mechanisms of action are not yet known.

Professor Cooper’s group is helping to solve this problem by investigating at a molecular level the ways in which manuka honey inhibits wound-infecting bacteria. “Our findings with streptococci and

pseudomonads suggest that manuka honey can hamper the attachment of bacteria to tissues which is an essential step in the initiation of acute infections. Inhibiting attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections,” explained Professor Cooper. “Other work in our lab has shown that honey can make MRSA more sensitive to antibiotics such as oxacillin – effectively reversing antibiotic resistance. This indicates that existing antibiotics may be more effective against drug-resistant infections if used in combination with manuka honey.”

This research may increase the clinical use of manuka honey as doctors are faced with the threat of diminishingly effective antimicrobial options. “We need innovative and effective ways of controlling wound infections that are unlikely to contribute to increased antimicrobial resistance. We have already demonstrated that manuka honey is not likely to select for honey-resistant bacteria,” said Professor Cooper. At present, most antimicrobial interventions for patients are with systemic antibiotics. “The use of a topical agent to eradicate bacteria from wounds is potentially cheaper and may well improve antibiotic therapy in the future. This will help reduce the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from colonised wounds to susceptible patients.”

Public release date: 12-Apr-2011

3 new studies link eating red to a healthy heart
Tart cherries may reduce inflammation, risk factors for heart disease

WASHINGTON D.C., April 12, 2011 – Tart cherries have a unique combination of powerful antioxidants that may help reduce risk factors for heart disease, according to new research presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in Washington, DC.

In a series of three studies, researchers from University of Michigan, University of Arizona and Brunswick labs studied the antioxidant levels and anti-inflammatory benefits of tart cherries. They found:

•Reduced Inflammation and Cardiovascular Risk: Drinking eight ounces of tart cherry juice daily for four weeks significantly reduced important markers of inflammation in a study of 10 overweight or obese adults. Many of the adults also had lower levels of uric acid (linked to inflammation and gout) and triglycerides (linked to heart disease). 1

•Reduced Atherosclerosis and other Heart Disease Risk: A cherry diet (at 1% of diet as tart cherry powder) reduced C reactive protein and other markers of inflammation by up to 36 percent and lowered levels of total cholesterol by 26 percent in a five-month mouse study. The researchers suggest that there’s an atherosclerosis benefit connected to both lowering cholesterol, and an anti-inflammatory effect, specifically in the blood vessels coming from the heart. Importantly, the mice eating the cherry diets had a 65 percent reduction in early death, likely due to improved cardiovascular health.2

•Powerful Antioxidants: The heart benefits and many others may be due to the unique combination of natural antioxidant compounds in the “Super Fruit.” About one cup of freeze-dried tart cherries have an ORAC over 10,000, and contain a diverse combination of antioxidant compounds and phytochemicals likely responsible for their health benefits, according to the researchers.3

The Power of Eating RED

This is the latest in a growing body of science linking cherries to protection against heart disease and

inflammation. Previous research from the University of Michigan revealed that cherry-enriched diets in animals lowered multiple risk factors for heart disease, from lowering total blood cholesterol levels to reducing total body weight and fat, in particular the “belly fat” that is most often associated with heart disease risk .4,5 The University of Michigan researchers, using a “whole food” approach, also found the cherry-enriched diets reduced not only overall body inflammation, but inflammation at key sites (belly fat, heart) known to affect heart disease risk in obese, at-risk rats.6

Researchers attribute the benefits to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compounds in the red fruit called anthocyanins, also responsible for cherries’ bright red color. In addition to heart heath benefits, research also suggests cherries could affect inflammation related to muscle recovery post-workout and arthritis.

Available year-round in dried, juice and frozen form, it’s easy to incorporate the RED power of cherries into the daily diet to manage inflammation– from topping dried cherries in oatmeal to making a heart- smart smoothie with cherry juice and lowfat yogurt.

Public release date: 13-Apr-2011

Low doses of penta-brominated diphenyl ether flame retardants alter gene expression
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are chemicals that have been widely used as flame retardants and are now classified as persistent organic pollutants. Health concerns in humans have arisen based primarily on studies with laboratory animals exposed to high levels of PBDEs. Three commercial mixtures of PBDEs have been manufactured in or imported into the United States which include penta-, octa-, and deca-brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs). Of particular concern has been the penta-BDEs used primarily in foams in computers, televisions, mattresses, pillows, carpets, and furniture. The components of penta- BDEs mixtures are present in water, soil, animal products and air, and people are exposed primarily through ingestion of food or inhalation. Penta-BDEs have been measured in human blood, fat, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood. Since 2004, the penta- and octa-BDEs are no longer being manufactured in the USA and deca-BDE manufacture in the USA will be phased out by the end of 2013. Even so, due to their chemical nature, PBDEs will persist in the environment long after their use in manufacturing has ended. It is unclear what impact PBDEs have on human health as people are typically not exposed to the high concentrations of PBDE compounds that have detrimental neurological and endocrine effects in laboratory animals. There is a need to determine the impact of low doses of PBDEs in laboratory animals
which approach the levels that humans are exposed to in daily life, and in addition to determine the effects of these compounds in offspring exposed during critical developmental periods.

In the work published in the April issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine, Blake, LaVoie, and co- investigators set out to determine the effects of a relatively low dose of the commercial penta-BDE mixture, DE-71, on reproductive and endocrine function in a laboratory rat model. Female rats were orally administered 60 micrograms/kilogram body weight/day during pregnancy and lactation to expose them and their developing offspring to DE-71. The offspring were followed to adulthood and mated to evaluate their reproductive outcomes, thyroid hormone concentrations, body and organ weights, and gene expression in selected organs. The work was carried out jointly by the laboratories of Charles A. Blake and Holly A. LaVoie at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia, South
Carolina.

Dr. LaVoie, who led the research team, stated “we were happy to see that low doses of DE-71 did not overtly affect reproductive outcome of pregnancy in terms of resorbed embryos and number of viable offspring of either the mothers receiving DE-71 or their first generation offspring. However, gene profiling of reproductive organs of offspring identified a single gene spp1 that encodes osteopontin, which exhibited 3-fold or higher expression in both the immature testes of male offspring and adult ovaries of

female offspring that were exposed to low dose DE-71 in utero and via their mother’s milk. This shows that molecular changes are occurring in reproductive organs and that some of these molecular changes appear even after the penta-BDE delivery was ceased.”

Additional cell culture studies further confirmed that the osteopontin gene promoter is a novel target of PBDEs. Osteopontin is a multi-functional extracellular matrix protein. The long-term implications of elevated osteopontin gene expression in gonads is unclear at this time, however, osteopontin protein is known to be elevated in ovarian and other cancers. PBDEs are formed by adding 1-10 bromine groups to a double ring structure to form different congeners. Different PBDE congeners can mimic or inhibit thyroid hormone, estrogen, and androgen function. The mechanism of how PBDEs regulate the osteopontin gene will require further study. Also in need of further study are the long-term implications of altered osteopontin in ovaries and testes.

In contrast to prior studies with much higher concentrations of penta-BDEs that demonstrated reduced serum thyroid hormone concentrations, the study showed that first generation females during their own pregnancies had elevated serum thyroid hormones. Furthermore, the DE-71 exposed female offspring sacrificed two months after their own pregnancies, had enlarged thyroids without altered serum thyroid hormones.

Dr. Blake, who led the endocrine studies remarked, “Our thyroid findings, taken together with previous work with high doses of penta-BDEs, indicate that these compounds may have biphasic effects depending on exposure levels where low dose exposures may increase thyroid hormone concentrations and higher PBDE doses may decrease them. In addition, the physiological status of the animal (i.e., pregnant versus non-pregnant) may determine if the thyroid hormone levels are affected. These studies could potentially be critical to understanding the effects of PBDE accumulation in the tissues of pregnant women. They also emphasize the potential importance of reducing exposure to PBDEs in homes and the environment and regulating the import of manufactured items that contain PBDEs.”

The first generation offspring in the study received DE-71 via maternal exposure to a low dose, showing that in utero and lactational exposure of offspring can have effects lasting into adulthood. Moreover, most differences were observed in female rat offspring, suggesting sex differences in the physiological responses to PBDEs. This study sets the stage for future investigations of long-term effects of low level PBDE ingestion.

Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine, said “This important environmental health study by Holly Lavoie, Charles Blake and colleagues has looked at the effect of low doses of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on laboratory animals. Their findings indicate these organic pollutants, found in flame retardents, caused pregnant and lactating rats to have increased levels of thyroid hormone in female offspring and increased gonadal osteopontin gene expression. It is clear that this sets the stage for future studies aimed at understanding the long term consequences of PBDE exposure.”

Public release date: 13-Apr-2011

Coffee in capsules contains more furan than the rest

“Preparing a coffee in a drip coffee maker is not the same as making one in an espresso machine or from capsules, because these give rise to differing levels of furan”, Javier Santos, a professor at the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Barcelona and lead author of the study, tells SINC.

Concern has risen over recent years about the presence of this compound in foods, because of its toxic and carcinogenic effects in animals, as well as the fact that the International Agency for Research on

Cancer has listed it as a possible carcinogen in humans.

Against this backdrop, the scientists used an automated analytical method to assess the presence of furan in coffee. The results, published online in the Journal Food Chemistry, reveal that higher concentrations are found in espresso (431146 nanograms/mililitre) than in coffee made in drip coffee makers, both in the case of normal coffee (20178 ng/ml) and decaffeinated coffee (14165 ng/ml).

The levels of these toxic products were “slightly lower” (12135 ng/ml) in instant coffee, but a great deal higher in those made from the capsules of a well-known brand, which showed up higher levels (1170244 ng/ml).

“The reason for these higher levels is due to the fact that hermetically-sealed capsules prevent furan, which is highly volatile, from being released, while the coffee makers used to brew this coffee use hot water at higher pressures, which leads to the compound being extracted into the drink”, says Javier Santos. The longer that coffee is exposed to the air in cups or jugs, meanwhile, the more the furan evaporates.

Different values, but not dangerous

The researcher stresses that, in all these cases, the levels of the substances found are within the limits considered to be “safe” to health. In fact, the team has estimated the amount of furan ingested as a result of coffee consumption in Barcelona, obtaining values of 0.0310.38 micrograms/kilogram of body weight, which is less than the maximum acceptable level (2 µg/Kg of body weight).

In order for furan ingestion to exceed the maximum acceptable values, a person would have to drink at least 20 cups of capsule coffee or 30 espressos per day (for the brands with the highest furan content), or 200 instant coffees. These estimates were made on the basis of 40 ml cups and an average body weight for coffee drinkers of around 70 Kg.

The study also shows that furan concentrations are lower if coffee is roasted at low temperatures over a longer time (140ºC for 20 minutes) than in coffee roasted under usual conditions (2001220ºC for 10-15 mins).

Furan, like acrylamide, is one of a group of carcinogenic substances that can form when foods and drinks are subject to heat treatment. They are the result of a reaction, known as the Maillard reaction, between carbohydrates, unsaturated fatty acids and ascorbic acids or its derivatives.

Public release date: 13-Apr-2011

NC State Develops Material To Remove Radioactive Contaminants From Drinking Water

Caroline Barnhill | News Services | 919.515.6251
Dr. Joel Pawlak | College of Natural Resources | 919.302.1663

A combination of forest byproducts and crustacean shells may be the key to removing radioactive materials from drinking water, researchers from North Carolina State University have found.

“As we’re currently seeing in Japan, one of the major health risks posed by nuclear accidents is radioactive iodide that dissolves into drinking water. Because it is chemically identical to non-radioactive iodide, the human body cannot distinguish it – which is what allows it to accumulate in the thyroid and eventually lead to cancer,” says Dr. Joel Pawlak, associate professor of forest biomaterials. “The material that we’ve developed binds iodide in water and traps it, which can then be properly disposed of without risk to humans or the environment.”

The new material – a combination of hemicellulose, a byproduct of forest materials, and chitosan, crustacean shells that have been crushed into a powder – not only absorbs water, but can actually extract contaminates, such as radioactive iodide, from the water itself. This material, which forms a solid foam, has applications beyond radioactive materials. Pawlak and fellow researchers found that it has the ability to remove heavy metals – such as arsenic – from water or salt from sea water to make clean drinking water.

“In disaster situations with limited-to-no power source, desalinating drinking water is difficult, if not impossible. This foam could be brought along in such situations to clean the water without the need for electricity,” Pawlak says. “This material could completely change the way we safeguard the world’s drinking water supply.”

The foam, which is coated on wood fibers, is used like a sponge that is immersed in water. For smaller- scale applications, the foam could be used in something like a tea bag. Or on a larger scale, water could be poured through it like a filter.

Pawlak worked with NC State professor Dr. Richard Venditti on the research, which was funded by the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, the N.C. Forestry Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. Additional research into how the material can be used on a larger scale is currently being conducted.

Public release date: 13-Apr-2011

Vegetarians may be at lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke
Loma Linda University study suggests metabolic syndrome is significantly less prevalent in vegetarians. Vegetarians experience a 36 percent lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome than non- vegetarians, suggests new research from Loma Linda University published in the journal Diabetes Care. Because metabolic syndrome can be a precursor to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, the findings indicate vegetarians may be at lower risk of developing these conditions.

Metabolic syndrome is defined as exhibiting at least three out of five total risk factors: high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high glucose levels, elevated triglycerides, and an unhealthy waist circumference. The Loma Linda University study found that while 25 percent of vegetarians had metabolic syndrome, the number significantly rises to 37 percent for semi-vegetarians and 39 percent for non-vegetarians. The results hold up when adjusted for factors such as age, gender, race, physical activity, calories consumed, smoking, and alcohol intake.

“In view of the high rate of metabolic syndrome in the United States and its deleterious health effects, we wanted to examine lifestyle patterns that could be effective in the prevention and possible treatment of this disorder,” says lead researcher Nico S. Rizzo, PhD.

“I was not sure if there would be a significant difference between vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and I

was surprised by just how much the numbers contrast,” he continues. “It indicates that lifestyle factors such as diet can be important in the prevention of metabolic syndrome.”

The study examined more than 700 adults randomly sampled from Loma Linda University’s Adventist Health Study 2, a long-term study of the lifestyle and health of almost 100,000 Seventh-day Adventist Christians across the United States and Canada.

Thirty-five percent of the subjects in this smaller sub-study were vegetarian. On average, the vegetarians and semi-vegetarians were three years older than non-vegetarians. Despite their slightly older age, vegetarians had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI). Semi-vegetarians also had a significantly lower BMI and waist circumference compared to those who ate meat more regularly.

“This work again shows that diet improves many of the main cardiovascular risk factors that are part of metabolic syndrome,” says Gary Fraser, MD, PhD, principal investigator of Adventist Health Study 2. “Trending toward a plant-based diet is a sensible choice.”

Too Much Information? Risk-benefit data does not always lead to informed decision-making Quantitative data should not be disclosed to all patients, article argues, and a commentary calls for research into how best to present information about risk
(Garrison, NY) Giving patients data about the risks and benefits of a medical intervention is not always helpful and may even lead them to irrational decisions, according to an article in the Hastings Center Report. That finding calls into question whether it is essential to disclose quantitative data to patients to help them make informed decisions. An accompanying commentary calls for experimental evidence to determine the best way to provide information to patients.

The analyses come at a time when many patient advocates and others are embracing the “quantitative imperative” – the obligation to disclose risk-related data to patients to ensure informed consent and promote shared decision-making. Because patients often do not get information about all of their options by talking to their health care providers, decision aids – pamphlets, videos, and computer programs – increasingly are being used to convey such data more comprehensively. There are more than 500 decision aids and more than 55 randomized controlled trials studying their impact. A recent review concluded that decision aids increase patient knowledge and the feeling of being informed while decreasing indecision and passivity.

However, disclosure of quantitative data can backfire. “There are important problems with it stemming from the way people understand and respond to numerical and graphical information,” writes Peter H. Schwartz, a faculty investigator at the Indiana University Center for Bioethics. An accompanying commentary by Peter Ubel, professor of marketing and public policy at Duke University, agrees with Schwartz’s analysis of the numeracy problem, and argues that there ways to present risk that overcome some of the problems.

One problem is that more than half of adults have significant difficulty understanding or applying probabilistic and mathematical concepts. National surveys suggest that at least 22 percent of adults have only the most basic quantitative skills, such as counting, while another 33 percent fare only slightly better and are able to do simple arithmetic.

But even people who have a good grasp of probability and math are prone to biases in how they interpret data on risks, Schwartz says, citing 30 years of psychology literature. They may give exaggerated importance to small risks or, conversely, exhibit “optimism bias” and exaggerate the chance that they will be in the “lucky” group. “Which of these biases come into play in a given situation…. depends on the individual’s psychology and the way the information is presented,” he writes. Either way, the bias can lead patients to make decisions about medical interventions that are not based on reason or facts.

Schwartz cites as an example the interpretation of the new mammography guidelines announced by the United States Preventive Services Task Force in 2009, which proposed that screening start at age 50 instead of 40 and be done every two years instead of annually. While mammograms for women ages 40 to 49 slightly reduce mortality from breast cancer, they also result in significantly more false positives and overtreatment. Thus a woman’s decision to get mammograms while she is in this age range involves important trade-offs, and the choice depends on the individual’s beliefs and values.

Schwartz argues that clinicians should not always disclose all available quantitative data to all patients. “While the data should always be available to patients who want it, the question is, how to offer it and in what form,” he writes. “These issues suggest that much more empirical research and ethical analysis are required about the use of quantitative information in decision-making.”

“Questions about how and when to disclose quantitative information will become ever more pressing as advances in epidemiology and genetics provide increasingly precise ways to characterize the risks that patients face and the possible impacts of preventive treatments.”

In his commentary, Peter Ubel reports that his studies show that whether decision aids improve patient decisions depends on how it is constructed. For example, pictographs proved better at conveying risks than narrative or other kinds of graphic information. He argues for research into how best to present information about risk to patients so as to aid decision making. “Those of us who care about patient autonomy and informed consent should work to find out what kind and manner of information will be most useful and least biasing to the largest number of people,” he concludes.

Public release date: 19-Apr-2011

Study suggests another look at testosterone-prostate cancer link

BOSTON – The long-standing prohibition against testosterone therapy in men with untreated or low-risk prostate cancer merits reevaluation, according to a new study published in The Journal of Urology.

“For many decades it had been believed that a history of prostate cancer, even if treated and cured, was an absolute contraindication to testosterone therapy, due to the belief that testosterone activated prostate cancer growth, and could potentially cause dormant cancer cells to grow rapidly,” says Abraham Morgentaler, MD of Men’s Health Boston. “Generations of medical students and residents were taught that providing testosterone to a man with prostate cancer was like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

This study, involving 13 symptomatic testosterone deficient men who also had untreated prostate cancer, suggests this traditional view is incorrect, and that testosterone treatment in men does not cause rapid growth of prostate cancer. It is the first to directly and rigorously assess changes in the prostate among men with prostate cancer who received testosterone therapy.

The men received testosterone therapy while undergoing active surveillance for prostate cancer for a median of 2.5 years. Median age was 58.8 years. The initial biopsy Gleason score was 6/10 for 12 of the men, 7/10 for the other (Gleason score grades the aggressiveness of prostate cancer by its microscopic appearance on a scale of 2-10.

Gleason 6 is generally considered low to moderately aggressive, and Gleason 7 moderately aggressive).

Mean testosterone concentration increased from 238 to 664 ng/dl with treatment, yet neither prostate specific antigen (PSA) concentrations nor prostate volume showed any change. Follow-up biopsies of the prostate were performed in all men at approximately yearly intervals, and none developed cancer progression. In fact, 54 percent of the follow-up biopsies revealed no cancer at all.

Although the number of men in the study was small, and none had aggressive or advanced prostate cancer, Morgentaler observed, “These men were rigorously followed. The cancers in these men were typical of the prostate cancers for which men have undergone invasive treatment with surgery or radiation for 25 years. Clearly, the traditional belief that higher testosterone necessarily leads to rapid prostate cancer growth is incorrect.”

In a Journal of Urology editorial comment, Martin M. Miner, MD, of the Miriam Hospital and Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University notes the conclusions represent “a remarkable shift in thinking from only five years ago. … If testosterone therapy was not associated with disease progression in men with untreated prostate cancer, how concerned must we be about testosterone therapy in men with treated prostate cancer?”

“An increasing number of newly diagnosed men with prostate cancer opting for active surveillance, and with many of them also desiring treatment for their signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency, the results suggest a reevaluation of the long standing prohibition against offering testosterone therapy to men with prostate cancer,” says Morgentaler.

Refraining from testosterone therapy due to unmerited prostate cancer fears may have adverse lifestyle and health consequences, since testosterone therapy in testosterone deficient men has been shown to improve symptoms of fatigue, decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction. Testosterone therapy may also improve mood, blood sugar control, increase muscle, decrease fat, and improve bone density. Four recent studies have shown that men with high testosterone levels appear to live longer than men with low levels, although it has not yet been shown that treating men with testosterone increases longevity.

Morgentaler commented on an Italian study that showed that low levels of testosterone were associated with aggressive prostate cancer. The risk of aggressive cancer was reduced for men with normal testosterone compared with men with low testosterone.

In an editorial in the journal Cancer, “Turning Conventional Wisdom Upside Down: Low Serum Testosterone and High-Risk Prostate Cancer Morgentaler wrote, “After seven decades of circumstantial evidence pointing us in the wrong direction, perhaps it is time to consider the once unthinkable – conducting a testosterone therapy trial of sufficient size and duration to determine whether normalization of serum testosterone in

older men many reduce the risk of prostate cancer, particularly high-risk prostate cancer.”

Public release date: 25-Apr-2011

Researchers report widespread use of medications among pregnant women

(Boston) – Researchers from Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Harvard School of Public Health, have reported widespread and increasing medication use among pregnant women. The study, which currently appears online in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also found that medication use varied by socioeconomic status, maternal age, race/ethnicity and state of residence.

Although a number of antenatal medication exposures are known to cause birth defects, there is insufficient information on the risks and safety for the vast majority of medications, whether they are obtained by prescription or over-the-counter (OTC). As a result, pregnant women may unknowingly take a medication that poses risk to their fetus; on the other hand, anxiety about the potential harmful effects to the fetus may discourage women from adhering to beneficial treatments.

The findings came from data collected by the Slone Epidemiology Center’s Birth Defects Study (1976-2008) and the CDC’s National Birth Defects Prevention Study (1997-2003), which together interviewed more than 30,000 women about their medication use during pregnancy. The results included information not only on use of prescription drugs but also OTC medications, which are more commonly used and are not typically recorded in electronic medical/insurance records.

The following is an outline of the study’s findings:

1. During the first trimester of pregnancy
◦70-80 percent of women reported taking at least one medication; and
◦By 2008, about 50 percent of women reported taking at least one prescription medication.

2. Over the last 30 years
◦First trimester use of prescription medications increased by more than 60 percent;
◦Use of 4 or more medications during the first trimester tripled; and
◦Antidepressant use during the first trimester increased dramatically.

3. In addition, this study reported that
◦Medication use increased with a woman’s age and education level;
◦Use was higher among non-Hispanic white women compared with women of other races or ethnicities that were studied; and
◦Use during pregnancy varied by state of residence.

According to the researchers, defining research priorities requires an understanding of patterns and factors associated with actual use of the wide range of specific medications that are taken during pregnancy and particularly during the first trimester, when concerns about development of birth defects are greatest. “These data identify prescription medications that are currently most commonly used and therefore urgently require research on their risks and safety; they also reinforce the need for ongoing surveillance regarding medication use in pregnancy and its consequences,” said lead author Allen A. Mitchell, MD, director of BU’s Slone Epidemiology Center. “Not only is it critical to identify how many OTC and prescription medications are taken by pregnant women and what those specific medications are, but it is also important to know how use of medications changes over time,” he added.

Public release date: 25-Apr-2011

Study: Reasonable quantities of red pepper may help curb appetite

April 25, 2011 WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Spicing up your daily diet with some red pepper can curb appetite, especially for those who don’t normally eat the popular spice, according to research from Purdue University.

“We found that consuming red pepper can help manage appetite and burn more calories after a meal, especially for individuals who do not consume the spice regularly,” said Richard Mattes, distinguished professor of foods and nutrition who collaborated with doctoral student Mary-Jon Ludy. “This finding should be considered a piece of the puzzle because the idea that one small change will reverse the obesity epidemic is simply not true. However, if a number of small changes are added together, they may be meaningful in terms of weight management. Dietary changes that don’t require great effort to implement, like sprinkling red pepper on your meal, may be sustainable and beneficial in the long run, especially when paired with exercise and healthy eating.”

Other studies have found that capsaicin, the component that gives chili peppers their heat, can reduce hunger and increase energy expenditure – burning calories. The amounts tested, however, were not realistic for most people in the U. S. population, Mattes said.

The current study measured the spice’s effects using quantities of red pepper – 1 gram or half a teaspoon – that are acceptable for many consumers. Other studies also have looked at consumption via a capsule, but Ludy and Mattes’ study demonstrated that tasting the red pepper may optimize its effects. The findings are published in Physiology & Behavior.

This study used ordinary dried, ground cayenne red pepper. Cayenne is a chili pepper, which is among the most commonly consumed spices in the world. Most, but not all, chili peppers contain capsaicin.

Twenty-five non-overweight people – 13 who liked spicy food and 12 who did not – participated in the six-week study. The preferred level of pepper for each group was determined in advance, and those who did not like red pepper preferred 0.3 grams compared to regular spice users who preferred 1.8 grams. In general, red pepper consumption did increase core body temperature and burn more calories through natural energy expenditure.

This study found that those who did not consume red pepper regularly experienced a decrease of hunger, especially for fatty, salty and sweet foods.

“The appetite responses were different between those who liked red pepper and those who did not, suggesting that when the stimulus is unfamiliar it has a greater effect. Once it becomes familiar to people, it loses its efficacy. The finding that there is a difference between users and non-users is novel and requires further study to determine how long it will be effective and how to adjust the diet to improve continuous effectiveness.”

The failure to account for individual differences in liking the burn of chili peppers may explain why some previous studies varied on capsaicin’s impact on appetite suppression and thermogenic response, which is an increase in body heat produced when digesting food.

Mattes said the findings also show that red pepper should be consumed in non-capsule form because the taste – the sensory experience – maximizes the digestive process.

“That burn in your mouth is responsible for that effect,” he said. “It turns out you get a more robust effect if you include the sensory part because the burn contributes to a rise in body temperature, energy expenditure and appetite control.”

Mattes, who specializes in taste and directs Purdue’s Ingestive Behavior Research Center, studies the role taste plays in feeding and digestion.

“Taste works on two very different levels,” he said. “First, it determines the palatability of foods, and that influences food choice. Second, it influences physiology, so it alters how you digest foods and the efficiency with which you absorb the nutrients from them and use them throughout the body.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health under the Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award and by the McCormick Science Institute.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Richard Mattes, 765-494-0662, mattes@purdue.edu

Public release date: 25-Apr-2011

Narcotic pain relief drug overdose deaths a national epidemic

Approximately 27,500 people died from unintentional drug overdoses in 2007, driven to a large extent by prescription opioid overdoses. This is 4.6 times as many deaths as all U.S. fatalities in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Unintentional overdose deaths in teens and adults have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. In some 20 states in 2007 the number of unintentional drug poisoning deaths exceeded either motor vehicle crashes or suicides, two of the leading causes of injury death. Prescription opioid pain medications are driving this overdose epidemic. Opioid pain medications were also involved in about 36 percent of all poisoning suicides in the U.S. in 2007.

In a commentary article released ahead of the print version in the April 19, 2011 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, physicians affiliated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and Duke University Medical Center cite data noting that in 2007 unintentional deaths due to prescription opioid pain killers were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

The new report was co-authored by CDC medical epidemiologist Leonard J. Paulozzi, MD, MPH; Richard H. Weisler, MD, adjunct professor of psychiatry at UNC and adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center; and Ashwin A. Patkar, MD, associate professor in the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at Duke University. More than describing the scope of unintentional prescription opioid overdose deaths, their report is aimed at helping doctors control the problem.

Approximately 27,500 people died from unintentional drug overdoses in 2007, driven to a large extent by prescription opioid overdoses. Dr. Weisler says that to put this in perspective, the number of 2007 U.S. unintentional drug poisoning deaths alone represents tragically about 4.6 times as many deaths as all U.S. fatalities in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from the beginning of both wars through Feb 20, 2011.

Alternatively, the 2007 U.S. unintentional drug poisoning deaths would be equivalent to losing an airplane carrying 150 passengers and crew every day for six months, which

clearly would be totally unacceptable from a public health perspective.

The CDC sounded alarms regarding the issue in several reports last year. In June 2010, for example, the agency announced that the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that 1 in 5 high school students in the United States have abused prescription drugs, including the opioid painkillers OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin.
Opioids are synthetic versions of opium that are used to treat moderate and severe pain.

And in June last year the CDC reported that visits to hospital emergency departments involving nonmedical use of prescription narcotic pain relievers has more than doubled, rising 111 percent, between 2004 and 2008.

The authors note various reports citing some key factors linked to the problem: increased nonmedical use of opioids without a prescription “… solely for the feeling it causes” and that medical providers, psychiatrists and primary care physicians included, may fail to anticipate among their patients the extent of overlap between chronic pain, mental illness and substance abuse.

For example, 15 percent to 30 percent of people with unipolar, bipolar, anxiety, psychotic, non-psychotic, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders will also have substance abuse problems. Dr. Patkar said, “Similarly, people with substance abuse are more likely to have another mental illness and a significant number of patients with chronic pain will have mental illness or substance abuse problems.”

Moreover, opioids, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, and sleep aids “are frequently prescribed in combination despite their potentially harmful additive effects,” the authors point out. And it’s the combinations of these drugs that are frequently found in the toxicology reports of people dying of overdoses.

In their recommendations to physicians, the authors suggest that before prescribing opioids, doctors should try non-narcotic medications as well as, when possible, physical therapy, psychotherapy, exercise, and other non-medicinal methods. And that these methods are given “an adequate trial” before moving to opioids.

“It is very important to screen patients with chronic pain who may require opioid therapy for substance abuse and mental health problems, especially depression and other mood and anxiety disorders and address these problems adequately,” they state

Public release date: 26-Apr-2011

Vitamin E or metformin may not be effective for treating liver disease in children and teens

!!!READ THE VITAMIN E SECTION – TITLE IS MISLEADING!!!

In contrast to previous preliminary data, use of vitamin E or the diabetes drug metformin was not superior to placebo on a measured outcome for treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in children and adolescents, according to a study in the April 27 issue of JAMA.

“Coincident with the rise in prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity over the past few decades, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the most common cause of chronic liver disease in children in the United States,” according to background information in the article. NAFLD encompasses a range of severity, from mild to severe disease that may ultimately result in advanced fibrosis (development of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ), cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Insulin resistance is frequently identified in both adults and children with NAFLD, and treatment approaches to NAFLD target reduction in insulin resistance and oxidative stress. Pediatric pilot data demonstrated potential efficacy of metformin or vitamin E in treating NAFLD.

Joel E. Lavine, M.D., Ph.D., of Columbia University, New York, and colleagues conducted a randomized-controlled trial evaluating vitamin E or metformin for the treatment of NAFLD in children. The study, conducted at 10 university clinical research centers between September 2005 and March 2010, included 173 patients (ages 8-17 years) with biopsy-confirmed NAFLD. Patients received daily dosing of 800 IU of vitamin E (58 patients), 1000 mg of metformin (57 patients), or placebo (58 patients) for 96 weeks. The predefined primary outcome measure for this trial was sustained reduction in alanine aminotransferase (ALT; an enzyme which is significantly associated with NAFLD activity score and fibrosis stage in children) defined as 50 percent or less of the baseline level or 40 U/L or less at visits every 12 weeks from 48 to 96 weeks of treatment.

The researchers found that the attainment of sustained reduction in ALT level was similar to placebo (10/58; 17 percent) in both the vitamin E (15/58; 26 percent) and metformin treatment groups (9/57; 16 percent). The average change in ALT level from baseline to 96 weeks was -35.2 U/L in the placebo group vs. -48.3 U/L in the vitamin E group and -41.7 U/L in the metformin group.

Among the 121 patients who had either NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; fatty inflammation of the liver) or borderline NASH at baseline, the resolution of NASH was significantly greater in children treated with vitamin E than with placebo (58 percent vs. 28 percent). Differences between treatment groups in terms of frequency or severity of adverse events were not significant.

“In summary, this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of metformin or vitamin E for the treatment of NAFLD in children without diabetes or cirrhosis had a negative primary outcome. The data suggest that children treated with vitamin E who had biopsy-proven NASH or borderline NASH had significant improvement in secondary histologic outcomes with vitamin E.”

“However, risk of biopsy might outweigh the benefits of therapy, so development of

noninvasive markers for identification and monitoring of those who may benefit is desirable. Lifestyle modification is warranted for all children with NAFLD. The role of treatment with vitamin E in those who have a biopsy demonstrating borderline or definite NASH remains to be determined,” the authors conclude.

Ralph’s Note – The misleading title of the report is just plain evil…

Public release date: 26-Apr-2011

Blacks more willing to exhaust financial resources for more cancer care

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – People in minority groups, especially black Americans, are more willing than their white counterparts to exhaust their personal financial resources to prolong life after being diagnosed with lung or colorectal cancer, according to a University of Alabama at Birmingham study published April 26, 2011, online in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society.

This revelation should inform the treatment plans and help physicians design state-of-the- art cancer care that reflects patient wishes, says lead author Michelle Martin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and a scientist with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“As new cancer-treatment options emerge, patients are asked to make complex decisions that often involve tradeoffs between quality and quantity of life,” Martin says. “A key tenet of delivering high-quality, patient-centered care is understanding and respecting patients’ treatment decisions. Our results highlight the fact that personal finances can influence the decisions patients make about their treatment.”

Martin and her colleagues compared the willingness of 4,214 participants in the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance (CanCORS) study — a multi-center observational study of patients with newly diagnosed lung or colorectal cancer — to use their personal financial resources to extend their lives.

Among other questions, patients were asked, “If you had to make a choice now, would you prefer treatment that extends life as much as possible, even if it means using all of your financial resources, or would you want treatment that costs you less, even if it means not living as long?”

The researchers found that 80 percent of blacks were willing to spend all of their personal finances to extend life, while 54 percent of whites, 69 percent of Hispanics and 72 percent of Asians were willing to do so.

After accounting for a number of factors, including income, disease stage, quality of life, age, perceived time left to live and other medical illnesses, blacks were 2.4 times more likely to expend all personal financial resources to extend life than whites. Hispanic

patients were 1.45 times more likely and Asian patients were 1.59 times more likely to expend all personal financial resources than white patients.

The availability of insurance had no statistical effect on the results, by race.

Several other factors were independently associated with a decreased willingness to exhaust finances to extend life, Martin said, especially age, family size and social support.

Single, divorced or separated people were more willing to spend all their financial resources than people who were married or living with a partner. People who did not know their life expectancy or who believed their life expectancy was in God’s hands were more willing to spend than whose life expectancy was considered five years or less.

Martin says the study did not provide concrete reasoning for the differences, but its findings do create a basis for future studies.

“The next step is to obtain an in-depth understanding of the factors that influence treatment preferences,” she says. “Future work could broaden the factors that we examine, and time spent with cancer patients in conversation about their experience and treatment preferences will help us better deliver cancer care that reflects those.”

Ralph’s Note – Does anyone else see something a little disturbing by this type of research?

Public release date: 26-Apr-2011

Topical treatment may prevent melanoma

While incidents of melanoma continue to increase despite the use of sunscreen and skin screenings, a topical compound called ISC-4 may prevent melanoma lesion formation, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

“The steady increase in melanoma incidence suggests that additional preventive approaches are needed to complement these existing strategies,” said Gavin Robertson, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, pathology, dermatology and surgery, and director of Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center.

Researchers targeted the protein Akt3, which plays a central role in 70 percent of melanoma by preventing cell death and has the potential to prevent early stages of melanoma.

“The Akt3 signaling pathway is deregulated in the majority of melanomas, making it a promising target which, if inhibited, could correct the apoptotic — or cell death — defect in melanocytic lesions, thereby preventing this disease,” Robertson said.

Isothiocyantes were identified as inhibitors of Akt3. These are naturally occurring compounds found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts that have anticancer properties. Unfortunately, previous research showed they have low chemotherapy potency on melanoma cells because high concentrations are needed to be effective. To create a more potent version, Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center researchers previously developed isoselenocyanates (ISC-4), by replacing sulfur with selenium.

Researchers have now found that repeated topical application of ISC-4 can reduce tumor cell expansion in laboratory-generated human skin by 80 to 90 percent and decrease tumor development in mice skin by about 80 percent. The research also showed that the use of the compound is safe. The research was recently reported in Cancer Prevention Research and featured on the journal cover.

To be an effective preventative agent, a substance needs to kill the melanoma cells while having little effect on normal cells. Researchers learned that ISC-4 kills melanoma cells two to five times more effectively than it kills normal cells. In addition, examination of the treated skin showed no obvious damage to skin cells or skin structure, and treated animals did not show signs of major organ-related toxicity. This indicates a potential for use as a topical application.

“ISC-4 prevented melanoma by decreasing Akt3 signaling that led to a three-fold increase in apoptosis rates,” Robertson said. “Thus, topical ISC-4 can delay or slow down melanocytic lesion or melanoma development in preclinical models and could impact melanoma incidence rates, if similar results are observed in humans.”

Currently, surgical excision is used to remove melanocytic lesions or prevent development into more aggressive cancer. Topical ISC-4 treatment could potentially be an alternative to surgery for some patients.

“Topical or localized treatments, such as those we propose for ISC-4, could permit the use of high local concentrations with minimal toxicity and be useful for treating cutaneous lesions not amenable to surgical removal or other currently available approaches,” Robertson said.

“With more than $1 billion spent on sunscreen every year in the United States, the market for skin cancer prevention is enormous and continues to grow,” Robertson said. “Addition of agents such as ISC-4 to sunscreens, body lotions or creams could have a profound impact on this market for preventing melanoma.”

Public release date: 27-Apr-2011

Tropical blueberries are extreme super fruits

The first analysis of the healthful antioxidant content of blueberries that grow wild in Mexico, Central and South America concludes that some of these fruits have even more healthful antioxidants than the blueberries — already renowned as “super fruits” — sold throughout the United States. These extreme super fruits could provide even more protection against heart disease, cancer and other conditions, the report suggests. It appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Edward Kennelly and colleagues note that although there are over 600 species of blueberries and blueberry-like fruits growing in Mexico, Central and South America (the so-called “neotropics”), very little research has been done on them. U.S.-grown blueberries are already famous for their antioxidants, which help the body get rid of harmful free radicals. So, the researchers decided to find out how neotropical blueberries stacked up against a grocery-store variety.

They found that two types of neotropical blueberries were extreme super fruits — they had significantly more antioxidants than a type of blueberry commonly sold in
U.S. supermarkets stores. The researchers say that these neotropical blueberries “have the potential to be even more highly promising edible fruits.”

Public release date: 27-Apr-2011

Vitamin E helps diminish a type of fatty liver disease in children

NIH-funded researchers gain ground in treatment

A specific form of vitamin E improved the most severe form of fatty liver disease in some children, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Results appear in the April 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. A previous study found vitamin E effective in some adults with the disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease among U.S. children. NAFLD ranges in severity from steatosis (fat in the liver without injury) to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH (fat, inflammation, and liver damage). Fatty liver increases a child’s risk of developing heart disease and liver cirrhosis. The only way to distinguish NASH from other forms of fatty liver disease is with a liver biopsy.
Weight loss may reverse the disease in some children, but other than dietary advice, there are no specific treatments. Excess fat in the liver is believed to cause injury by increasing levels of oxidants, compounds that damage cells.

Most children with fatty liver disease are overweight and resistant to insulin, a critical hormone that regulates energy. Boys are more likely affected than girls, as are Hispanic children compared to African-Americans and whites.

Using liver biopsies, researchers found that after 96 weeks of treatment, 58 percent of the children on vitamin E no longer had NASH, compared to 41 percent of the

children on metformin (a diabetes drug), and 28 percent on placebo. Vitamin E was better than placebo because it significantly reduced enlargement and death of liver cells.

“These results suggest that vitamin E improves or resolves NASH in at least half of children, which we previously showed to be true in adults,” said Stephen P. James, M.D., director of the digestive diseases and nutrition division at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which funded the study. While the results are encouraging, patients using vitamin E for NASH should be under a doctor’s care. “We hope to build on these results by looking for other therapies and reliable, non-invasive ways to monitor the disease and response to therapy.”

The Treatment of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Children (TONIC) trial studied whether vitamin E (an antioxidant) or metformin could improve fatty liver disease. The endpoint to measure success was either a sustained reduction in the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT) or improvements in the liver as shown by biopsies. A total of 173 children, mostly whites and Hispanics ages 8 to 17, were recruited into three treatment groups. The children received either 500 milligrams of metformin or 400 international units of a natural form of vitamin E or placebo twice a day for two years.

Neither vitamin E nor metformin were significantly better than placebo in reducing ALT levels. Twenty-six percent of patients on vitamin E, 16 percent on metformin, and 17 percent of those on placebo had reduced liver enzyme levels. Interestingly, ALT levels improved more rapidly among patients on vitamin E (within six months) compared to those on placebo. The ALT levels among the children on placebo improved over the two years.

“We believe all children in the trial benefited from the frequent diet and exercise advice provided throughout the study,” said Joel E. Lavine, M.D., Ph.D., a TONIC principal investigator and professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, New York. “Now we have information on the natural history of a placebo group over time, which will help us design future trials.”

Using biopsies in children with liver disease is unique. “TONIC is ground-breaking on two fronts. It is the first study to use liver biopsy to evaluate potential treatments for any liver disease in children,” said Patricia Robuck, Ph.D., M.P.H., the project scientist at NIDDK. “It is also the first multi-center, randomized, controlled trial to use a liver biopsy to evaluate a therapy for fatty liver in children, considered the most rigorous design for studies of liver disease.”

Ralph’s Note – This was a re-write of the prior article saying vitamin E had no benefit.. Suggesting that there are good people as well as bad in the medical world.

Public release date: 28-Apr-2011

Melatonin might help in controlling weight gain and preventing heart diseases associated with obesity

University of Granada researchers have proven that melatonin –a natural hormone produced by the body– helps in controlling weight gain –even without reducing the intake of food–, improves blood lipid profile –as it reduces triglicerids–, increases HDL cholesterol and reduces LDL cholesterol.

Melatonin is found in small quantities in some fruits and vegetables as mustard, Goji berries, almonds, sunflower seeds, cardamom, fennel, coriander and cherries. Thus, the intake of this kind of food might help in controlling weight gain and preventing heart diseases associated to obesity and dyslipidemia.

Trials with rats

University of Granada researchers have analyzed in young Zucker diabetic obese rats the effects of melatonin on obesity, dyslipidemia and high blood pressure associated to obesity. Melatonin was found to be beneficial for young rats that had not still developed any methabolic or heart disease. Researchers think that melatonin might help in preventing heart diseases associated to obesity and dyslipidemia.

Finally, authors state that, if this finding is confirmed in humans, administration of melatonin and intake of food containing melatonin might be a useful tool to fight obesity and the risks associated to it.

Public release date: 28-Apr-2011

Study: Cotton swabs prove problematic for ear health
DETROIT – A study by Henry Ford Hospital shows a direct association between cotton swab use and ruptured eardrum.

The study also shows that in most cases the rupture heals on its own and surgery is only necessary for the most severe cases.

“In the past, many otolaryngologists have wondered if surgery is really necessary to treat a ruptured eardrum. The results of this study show that 97 percent of cases healed on their own within two months, proving that most cases do not require surgery,” says Ilaaf Darrat, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Henry Ford Hospital and co-author of the study.

The study is being presented April 29 at the Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meeting in Chicago.

More than half of patients seen in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) clinics, regardless of their primary complaint, admit to using cotton swabs to clean their ears. But if the cotton swab is pushed too far in the ear canal, it can cause serious damage, including ruptured eardrum, also known as tympanic membrane perforations (TMP).

Severe TMP can cause facial paralysis and vertigo.

“If a patient is experiencing symptoms such as hearing loss, drainage, dizziness or abnormality in their facial movements they should see a doctor immediately to assess the possible ear damage,” says Dr.
Darrat.

Study co-author Michael Seidman, M.D., FACS, director of the division of otologic and neurotologic surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, recommends instead of cotton swabs, using these alternatives to clean the inner ear.

•Take cool peroxide, hot tap water and mix equally. Be sure it is body temperature and gently irrigate the ear one or two times per month.
•Take plain vinegar and water and use four or five drops in the ear once a week.
•See a doctor, who can remove ear wax for you.
•Try an over-the-counter treatment such as Debrox.

The Henry Ford study included 1,540 patients with a diagnosis of TMP from 2001-2010. Patients with a cotton swab injury were subdivided into two groups: observation and surgery. Successful outcomes were defined as healed TMP, resolution or improvement of vertigo, tinnitus or facial nerve paralysis, and/or closure of the air-bone gap.

A ruptured eardrum can be treated in one of two ways, depending on the severity of the symptoms. The most common method of treatment is observation of the perforation by an otolaryngologist because often times the eardrum will heal on its own within two months. More severe cases are treated with surgery.

While the study found that most cases or ruptured eardrum heal on their own, neurological deficits, such as facial nerve paralysis, require surgical intervention to repair the eardrum.

Surgical intervention proved very successful, with only one patient suffering mild, but improved vertigo.

Dr. Darrat and her colleagues concluded that proper follow-up with a doctor to test hearing after a case of ruptured eardrum is healed is essential to ensure that no hearing loss was caused from the injury.

Public release date: 30-Apr-2011

Chemical found in crude oil linked to congenital heart disease
Study shows fetal exposure to solvents may damage heart

DENVER – While it may be years before the health effects of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are known, a new study shows that fetal exposure to a chemical found in crude oil is associated with an increased risk of congenital heart disease (CHD).

The study, to be presented Saturday, April 30, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Denver, also showed that babies who had been exposed in utero to a chemical found in cleaning agents and spot removers were at increased risk of CHD.

Environmental causes of CHD have been suspected, and animal studies have suggested certain chemicals may cause CHD, a problem with the heart’s structure and function due to abnormal heart development before birth.

“Congenital heart disease is a major cause of childhood death and life-long health problems,” said D. Gail McCarver, MD, FAAP, lead author of the study and professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Research Institute, Milwaukee. “Thus, identifying risk factors contributing to

CHD is important to public health.”

Dr. McCarver and her colleagues sought to determine whether human fetal exposure to solvents is associated with increased risk for CHD. The researchers tested samples of meconium, or fetal stool, from 135 newborns with CHD and 432 newborns without CHD. Meconium has been used to assess fetal exposure to illicit drugs such as cocaine. Seventeen compounds were measured in meconium samples using methods that detect very low levels of chemicals.

Additional data collected included race of the mothers and infants, family history for CHD, and maternal alcohol, tobacco, vitamin and drug use.

Infants with chromosomal abnormalities known to be linked to CHD, and babies of diabetic mothers were excluded from the study.

Results showed that 82 percent of infants had evidence of intrauterine exposure to one or more of the solvents measured.

Among white infants, but not black infants, fetal exposure to ethyl benzene was associated with a four-fold increased risk of CHD. In addition, exposure to trichloroethylene was associated with a two-fold increased risk for CHD among white infants and an eight-fold increased risk among black infants.

“This is the first report that exposure to ethyl benzene, a compound present in crude oil, was associated with CHD,” Dr. McCarver said. Humans also can be exposed to ethyl benzene through inhalation of motor vehicle emissions, gasoline pump vapors and cigarette smoke.

“The association with ethyl benzene exposure is concerning, particularly considering recent oil spills,” she said. “However, additional confirmatory studies are needed.”

The study also adds to existing concerns about trichloroethylene (TCE). “This is of particular importance because TCE is a commonly used degreasing agent, which also is present in many cleaners and spot removers. TCE also has been the most common chemical identified around hazardous waste sites,” Dr. McCarver said.

“Limiting known maternal exposure to this compound during early pregnancy appears prudent, particularly among those at increased CHD risk,” Dr. McCarver concluded.

Public release date: 30-Apr-2011

Formula-fed preemies at higher risk for dangerous GI condition than babies who get donor milk
News tips from the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, April 30-May 3, Denver, Colo.

Extremely premature babies fed human donor milk are less likely to develop the dangerous intestinal condition necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) than babies fed a standard premature infant formula derived from cow’s milk, according to research by investigators at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and elsewhere.

Only one of the 29 infants who received human milk developed NEC and it recovered without

surgery, compared with five out of the 24 babies on formula, four of whom required surgery. The findings, the researchers said, justify a move toward a “human milk only” diet in extremely premature babies — those born weighing less than 1,500 grams, or 3.3 pounds.

“The stark differences in the risk of NEC, its complications and the need for surgery between babies who receive human donor milk and those who get formula signal the need for a change in feeding practices across neonatal intensive care units,” said lead investigator Elizabeth Cristofalo, M.D., a neonatologist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Moreover, babies who got human milk tolerated feeding better, allowing them to be taken off supplemental IV nutrition much sooner — after 27 days on average — than the group who received cow’s milk formula. Those babies spent an average of 36 days on IV nutrition, largely because their intestinal tracts were not adapting to food as well, the researchers say. IV nutrition, used temporarily in all premature babies to supplement feeding, carries risks, the most serious of which is liver damage.

“Although we didn’t look specifically at liver function, we know from experience and from previous research that prolonged IV nutrition can harm a premature baby’s liver,” Cristofalo said. “Using human milk cuts that risk by allowing us to wean babies off IV nutrition sooner.”

The health advantages of mother’s milk have been well-established, but some concerns about donor milk have lingered, including how it compares to mother’s milk and whether it is, indeed, superior to cow milk formula. The new findings should resolve any residual doubts about the risks and clarify the benefits of human donor milk, the investigators said.

The multi-center study is the first trial of its kind to compare the risk for NEC and NEC surgery between premature infants fed human donor milk and those fed preterm baby formula. An earlier study by the same team showed that babies who get their own mother’s milk fortified with the standard cow milk protein are more prone to NEC than babies given a combination of their mothers’ milk fortified with human donor milk.

Necrotizing enterocolitis is marked by tissue damage to the baby’s bowel. Because up to 40 percent of babies who develop NEC die, the condition is considered an emergency. Some cases of NEC can be treated with antibiotics and by temporarily withholding of food, but some babies require surgery to remove the dead portions of the intestines. The remaining intestine, however, can develop scarring that leads to poor absorption of nutrients, growth problems and the need for more surgery down the road.

Public release date: 30-Apr-2011

Herbal medicines banned as EU directive comes into force
By Daily Mail Reporter

Patients have lost access to hundreds of herbal medicines today, after European regulations came into force.

Sales of all herbal remedies, except for a small number of popular products for ‘mild’ illness such as echinacea for colds and St John’s Wort for depression have been banned.

For the first time traditional products must be licensed or prescribed by a registered herbal practitioner.

The Government allowed access to some unlicensed manufactured herbal medicines via a statutory register

Both herbal remedy practitioners and manufacturers fear they could be forced out of business as a result.

Some of the most commonly used products were saved after the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley approved a plan for the Health Professions Council to establish a register of practitioners supplying unlicensed herbal medicines.

However, many remedies were lost as it was only open to those who could afford the licensing process which costs between £80,000 to £120,000.

At least 50 herbs, including horny goat weed (so-called natural Viagra), hawthorn berry, used for angina pain, and wild yam will no longer be stocked in health food shops, says the British Herbal Medicine Association.

The 2004 EU directive demands that a traditional herbal medicinal product must be shown to have been in use for 30 years in the EU – or at 15 years in the EU and 15 years elsewhere – for it to be licensed.

The UK drug safety watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency, has issued more than a dozen alerts in the past two years, including a warning last month over a contaminated weight loss pill called Herbal Flos Lonicerae (Herbal Xenicol) due to concerns over possible side- effects.

Mr Lansley, in a written statement, said the Government wanted to ensure continuing access to unlicensed herbal medicines via a statutory register for practitioners ‘to meet individual patient needs’.

Acupuncture falls outside the EU directive and so remains unaffected.

Prince Charles, a long-standing supporter of complementary therapies, has voiced his support for formal regulation of herbal practitioners.

Up til now the industry has been covered by the 1968 Medicines Act. This was drawn up when only a small number of herbal remedies were available.

But recent studies show that at least six million Britons have used a herbal medicine in the past two years.

Professor George Lewith, professor of health research at Southampton University, said: ‘Evidence for the efficacy of herbal medicines is growing; they may offer cheap, safe and effective approaches for many common complaints.’
Ralph’s Note – So……. Basically without adequate justification to Risk versus Benefit, Nor safety records, nor research on to contraindications etc… The spoiled brat corrupt power hungry megalomaniacs of the new Europe, claimed intellectual superiority over all their populations. Deemed themselves in control on their populations Individual right to self determination, and personal sovereignty. Freedom, and Harmless Intellectual exploration obviously is not a priority to these selfish paranoid morons. Welcome Europe to the new Dark Ages, where you are free to eat as much Cake and Candy as possible. Just don’t dare think about being proactive about your health….. Wait I guess this is the Power elite’s way of saying “let them eat cake” after all… Just Food for thought, before they Ban that too..

Public release date: 1-May-2011

Chemical in plastic linked to wheezing in childhood
Women’s exposure to high levels of BPA early in pregnancy may put their infants at risk

DENVER – If a pregnant woman is exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), especially during the first trimester, her child may be at higher risk of wheezing early in life, according to a study to be presented Sunday, May 1, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Denver.

BPA is a chemical that has been used for more than 40 years in the manufacture of many hard plastic food containers and the lining of metal food and beverage cans. Trace amounts of BPA can be found in some foods packaged in these containers, and the chemical is detectable in over 90 percent of the U.S. population.

The National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health has some concern that exposure to BPA might affect the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children. In addition, exposure to BPA in the perinatal period has been associated with asthma in mice, but studies in humans are lacking.

In this study of 367 pairs of mothers and infants, researchers examined the relationship between prenatal exposure to BPA and wheeze in childhood. BPA levels were measured in the urine of the pregnant women at 16 and 26 weeks’ gestation as well as when they delivered their babies. In addition, every six months for three years, parents were asked whether their child wheezed.

Results showed that 99 percent of children were born to mothers who had detectable BPA in their urine at some point during pregnancy. The amount of BPA detected in a mother’s urine was related to wheeze only in the youngest group of children. At 6 months of age, infants whose mothers had high levels of BPA during pregnancy were twice as likely to wheeze as babies whose mothers had low levels of BPA. However, no differences in wheezing rates were found by 3 years of age.

Researchers also found that high BPA levels detected in women at 16 weeks’ gestation were associated with wheeze in their offspring, but high levels at 26 weeks’ gestation and birth were not.

“Consumers need more information about the chemicals in the products they purchase so they can make informed decisions,” said Adam J. Spanier, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAP, lead author of the study and assistant professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. “Additional research is needed in this area to determine if changes should be made in public policy to reduce exposure to this chemical.”

Until more information is available, Dr. Spanier concluded, women of child-bearing age should consider avoiding products made with BPA.

Public release date: 1-May-2011

System in brain — target of class of diabetes drugs — linked to weight gain

CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers have determined why a certain class of diabetes drugs leads to weight gain and have found that the molecular system involved (PPAR-γ found in the brain) is also triggered by consumption of high-fat foods.

The study could lead to the modification of existing diabetes therapies and even dietary recommendations to limit the action of this nuclear receptor in the brain.

The research, led by Randy Seeley, PhD, UC professor and Donald C. Harrison Endowed Chair in Medicine, appears as an advanced online publication May 1, 2011, in the journal Nature Medicine.

PPAR-γ is found in white adipose (fat) tissue where it regulates the production of fat cells. This new research describes an important role for PPAR-γ in the brain.

PPAR-γ is the target of a class of diabetes drugs called TZDs (thiazolidinediones). This class of drugs reduces blood glucose levels but also causes considerable weight gain. That weight gain, Seeley says, makes many patients reluctant to use these therapies particularly since many are already trying to lose weight to improve their diabetes.

Seeley and his team set out to determine whether or not the brain’s PPAR-γ system was responsible for the weight gain associated with TZDs. The team also wanted to learn if this system in the brain was activated by a high-fat diet.

To do so, they used animal models to test how the class of drugs interacted with the brain PPAR-γ system. They found that by giving TZD drugs in the same manner that people take them, rats gained weight. This was because the drugs activated PPAR-γ in the brain. Thus, weight gain associated with this class of drugs may not be a result of action of PPAR-γ in fat as had been previously thought, but rather a result of a change in activity in parts of the brain known to regulate appetite.

Seeley’s team went on to also show that high-fat diets result in activation of the brain PPAR-γ system. Experiments in which the activity of the brain PPAR-γ system was limited resulted in less weight gain when animals were exposed to a high-fat diet similar to diets of many Americans.

“If you artificially turn on PPAR-γ, you can increase food intake in rats,” says Seeley. “If you block these receptors in animals on high-fat diets that make animals obese, animals gain less weight.”

In the past, says Seeley, people thought that the production of more fat cells in response to TZD drugs was the cause of the resulting weight gain, but he adds, “Just having more fat cells is not enough to make animals or people fatter. Rather you have to eat more calories than you burn and that is exactly what happens when you turn on the brain PPAR-γ system.

“This work helps us understand the complex relationship between our fat, our appetites and type 2 diabetes.”

Fat cells are actually quite protective and act as safe repositories for excess nutrients that cause damage when stored in other tissues like the liver and muscle, says Seeley. “It’s when nutrients are stored in these cells that individuals are at increased risk for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.”

This, he says, is why TZDs are effective at lowering glucose. The extra fat cells produced become the storage containers for nutrients that would otherwise be harmful if they are stored in other areas of the body.

“You can think of your fat tissue like a bathtub,” Seeley says. “A bathtub is designed to hold water. It’s a good place to store it. If you turned on the faucet but didn’t have a bathtub, the water would go to other

parts of your house and cause water damage.”

The same is true for nutrients, says Seeley. “It is better to store them in your fat tissue “bathtub” than to have them go to other parts of your body where they can do more harm.”

Seeley says PPAR-γ is a system designed at all levels to help you prepare to eat more and gain weight opening up the possibility that food we eat that can activate PPAR-γ might contribute to increasing rates of obesity.

“It tells your brain to eat more and it tells your fat tissue to add new fat cells to serve as repositories to store those extra calories.”

He says the next steps would be to find ways to redesign TZDs so that they retain their important glucose- lowering function but with less access to the brain, thereby limiting weight gain.

In the longer term, Seeley says, it’s important to better understand the interaction between the brain’s PPAR-γ system and the specific micronutrients we consume from fat, protein and sugar.

“We know that one way to activate PPAR-γ is by exposing cells to fatty acids. If we know which ones activate PPAR-γ, we could find ways to alter diets so as to limit their ability to turn on this system that drives increased food intake, making it easier for people to avoid weight gain.”

Ralph’s Note – HUH?

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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