Health Technology Research Synopsis 106th Issue Date 06JUN2011 Compiled By Ralph Turchiano http://www.vit.bz
Editors top five:
1. Study finds copper proves effective against new E. coli strains
2. Cell phone use may reduce male fertility
3. That anxiety may be in your gut, not in your head
4. New research: Post-exercise recovery advantages of lowfat chocolate milk
5. Study shows pharmacies’ software systems miss potentially dangerous interactions In This Issue:
1. Younger doctors prescribe more drugs to reduce heart risk but offer less lifestyle advice
2. Coffee may reduce risk of lethal prostate cancer in men
3. That anxiety may be in your gut, not in your head
4. Safety concerns about adulterated drug ingredients
5. Study shows pharmacies’ software systems miss potentially dangerous interactions
6. Potentially toxic flame retardants detected in baby products
7. Sun protects against childhood asthma
8. Herbal remedies offer hope as the new antibiotics
9. The traditional remedy bitter cumin is a great source antioxidant plant phenols
10. New study suggests dietary supplement can protect against pre-eclampsia
11. Cell phone use may reduce male fertility
12. Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast to Reduce Food Cravings, Prevent Overeating Later, MU Researcher Finds from MU News Bureau on Vimeo.
13. California scientists discover how vitamins and minerals may prevent age-related diseases
14. Sleep loss lowers testosterone in healthy young men
15. Blueberry’s effects on cholesterol examined in lab animal study
16. Low-carb, higher-fat diets add no arterial health risks to obese people seeking to lose weight
17. Surgical removal of the tonsils and appendix associated with risk of early heart attack
18. A honey of a natural sunblock for UV-protective clothing: Honeysuckle extract
19. New research: Post-exercise recovery advantages of lowfat chocolate milk
20. Study finds copper proves effective against new E. coli strains
Public release date: 16-May-2011
Younger doctors prescribe more drugs to reduce heart risk but offer less lifestyle advice
Study looked at attitudes and prescribing trends of 1,078 family doctors, cardiologists and diabetologists Patients with heart disease risks are more likely to be prescribed cardiovascular (CV) drugs if they see a younger doctor and recommended to change their lifestyle if they see an older doctor, according to research in the June issue of IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
Italian researchers studied the attitudes and prescribing trends of 1,078 family doctors, cardiologists and diabetologists, together with clinical data on 9,904 of their outpatients, after inviting the doctors to take part in an educational training programme on managing CV risk.
“While physicians recognise the importance of patients’ age as a major driver for CV risk, little evidence is available on the potential impact of the doctor’s age on how they manage clinical risk” says cardiologist Professor Massimo Volpe from the Faculty of Medicine at Sapienza University, Rome.
“Although younger doctors prescribed more drugs, this did not result in significantly better control of their patients’ major CV risk factors, suggesting that other factors have an important role to play in the clinical management of CV risk, including lifestyle changes.”
The doctors, who were blind to the final purpose of the study, were selected by two-dozen regional referral centres, with 90% agreeing to take part.
All the doctors were asked to fill in questionnaires on themselves and their practice and reply anonymously on the administrative site of their regional referral centre. They were also asked to provide clinical details of the first 10 white patients over 50 they saw, for any reason, after they agreed to take part.
A fifth of the doctors (20%) were under 45 years of age, 61% were 46-55 and 19% were over 55. Female doctors accounted for 27% of the total sample and tended to be younger, ranging from 47% of those under 45 to just 8% of those over 55.
Family doctors accounted for 78% of the total sample, followed by cardiologists (13%) and diabetologists (9%). The youngest age group included the fewest GPs (53%) and most cardiologists (31%), with the highest percentage of GPs in the 46-55 age group (86%).
Just over half of the patients (54%) were male. The average age was 67 and the ages of the patients treated by the doctors in the various age groups was very similar. However, doctors over 55 tended to treat more male patients, obese patients and smokers.
Key findings of the study included:
•High blood pressure was the most common CV risk factor, affecting 75% of patients, followed by abnormal lipid (cholesterol and/or fat in the blood) in 59% of patients and diabetes mellitus in 37%. In each case, the percentage was highest in patients managed by doctors under 45.
•Blood pressure drugs were the most commonly prescribed, by 83% of doctors under 45, 78% of doctors aged 46-55 year-old and 80% of doctors over 55. However, not all patients with high blood pressure were
prescribed drugs, regardless of the age of their physician. This is consistent with research that shows that high blood pressure is widely undertreated and a key element in the global burden of CV disease in western countries.
•Younger doctors were also more likely to prescribe antidiabetic drugs, lipid-lowering agents and antiplatelet agents than their older colleagues.
•Older doctors were more likely to recommend lifestyle changes. Smoking cessation advice was highest in doctors over 55 and diet and exercise advice highest in doctors aged 46-55.
•Older doctors also tended to be more thorough and accurate when it came to recording clinical data on their patients. Previous analysis of the data provided showed a close relationship between high levels of accuracy and better CV outcomes.
“Our study demonstrated a significantly higher prevalence of major CV risk factors and associated clinical conditions among patients treated by younger, specialised doctors, rather than older doctors, who were more likely to be GPs” says Professor Volpe.
“Younger doctors were also more likely to prescribe medication and less likely to recommend lifestyle changes than their older colleagues. However this increased prescribing was not reflected in significantly better clinical management of CV risk factors.
“We believe these findings have important implications for the ongoing professional education of doctors treating patients with CV risk.”
Ralph’s Note – Two things. Pharmaceutical Influence though med school is probably a factor with the younger doctors. Second More drugs did not equate to better health. So older Doctors tend to care more, make better recommendations , and are less expensive in the long run.
Public release date: 17-May-2011
Coffee may reduce risk of lethal prostate cancer in men
Boston, MA – Men who regularly drink coffee appear to have a lower risk of developing a lethal form of prostate cancer, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers.
What’s more, the lower risk was evident among men who drank either regular or decaffeinated coffee.
The study will be published May 17, 2011, in an online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“Few studies have specifically studied the association of coffee intake and the risk of lethal prostate cancer, the form of the disease that is the most critical to prevent. Our study is the largest to date to examine whether coffee could lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer,” said senior author Lorelei Mucci, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH. Lethal prostate cancer is cancer that causes death or spreads to the bones.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among U.S. men, affecting one in six men during their lifetime. More than 2 million men in the
U.S. and 16 million men worldwide are prostate cancer survivors.
“At present we lack an understanding of risk factors that can be changed or controlled to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer. If our findings are validated, coffee could represent one modifiable factor that may lower the risk of developing the most harmful form of prostate cancer,” said lead author Kathryn Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at HSPH.
The researchers chose to study coffee because it contains many beneficial compounds that act as antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and regulate insulin, all of which may influence prostate cancer. Coffee has been associated in prior studies with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstone disease, and liver cancer or cirrhosis.
The study examined the association between coffee consumption and the risk of prostate cancer, particularly the risk for aggressive prostate cancer among 47,911 U.S. men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who reported their coffee consumption every four years from 1986 to 2008. During the study period, 5,035 cases of prostate cancer were reported, including 642 fatal or metastatic cases.
Among the findings:
•Men who consumed the most coffee (six or more cups daily) had nearly a 20% lower risk of developing any form of prostate cancer.
•The inverse association with coffee was even stronger for aggressive prostate cancer. Men who drank the most coffee had a 60% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer.
•The reduction in risk was seen whether the men drank decaffeinated or regular coffee, and does not appear to be due to caffeine.
•Even drinking one to three cups of coffee per day was associated with a 30% lower risk of lethal prostate cancer.
•Coffee drinkers were more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise, behaviors that may increase advanced prostate cancer risk. These and other lifestyle factors were controlled for in the study and coffee still was associated with a lower risk.
The results from this study need to be validated in additional populations that have a range of coffee exposure and a large number of lethal prostate cancer cases. If confirmed, the data would add to the list of other potential health benefits of coffee. The authors currently are planning additional studies to understand specific mechanisms by which coffee may specifically lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer.
Public release date: 17-May-2011
That anxiety may be in your gut, not in your head
McMaster research finds link between gut bacteria and behavior
Hamilton, ON (May 17, 2011) – For the first time, researchers at McMaster University have conclusive evidence that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry and behaviour.
The findings are important because several common types of gastrointestinal disease, including irritable bowel syndrome, are frequently associated with anxiety or depression. In addition there has been speculation that some psychiatric disorders, such as late onset autism, may be associated with an abnormal bacterial content in the gut.
“The exciting results provide stimulus for further investigating a microbial component to the causation of behavioural illnesses,” said Stephen Collins, professor of medicine and associate dean research, Michael
G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Collins and Premysl Bercik, assistant professor of medicine, undertook
the research in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute. The research appears in the online edition of the journal Gastroenterology.
For each person, the gut is home to about 1,000 trillium bacteria with which we live in harmony. These bacteria perform a number of functions vital to health: They harvest energy from the diet, protect against infections and provide nutrition to cells in the gut. Any disruption can result in life-threatening conditions, such as antibiotic-induced colitis from infection with the “superbug” Clostridium difficile.
Working with healthy adult mice, the researchers showed that disrupting the normal bacterial content of the gut with antibiotics produced changes in behaviour; the mice became less cautious or anxious. This change was accompanied by an increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has been linked, to depression and anxiety.
When oral antibiotics were discontinued, bacteria in the gut returned to normal. “This was accompanied by restoration of normal behaviour and brain chemistry,” Collins said.
To confirm that bacteria can influence behaviour, the researchers colonized germ-free mice with bacteria taken from mice with a different behavioural pattern. They found that when germ-free mice with a genetic background associated with passive behaviour were colonized with bacteria from mice with higher exploratory behaviour, they became more active and daring. Similarly, normally active mice became more passive after receiving bacteria from mice whose genetic background is associated with passive behaviour.
While previous research has focused on the role bacteria play in brain development early in life, Collins said this latest research indicates that while many factors determine behaviour, the nature and stability of bacteria in the gut appear to influence behaviour and any disruption , from antibiotics or infection, might produce changes in behaviour. Bercik said that these results lay the foundation for investigating the therapeutic potential of probiotic bacteria and their products in the treatment of behavioural disorders, particularly those associated with gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Public release date: 17-May-2011
Safety concerns about adulterated drug ingredients
Government regulators and pharmaceutical companies are moving to address a major new risk for the global supply of medicines: The possibility that unsafe ingredients are entering the supply chain as pharmaceutical companies increasingly outsource the production of drug ingredients to third parties. That’s the topic of the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
C&EN Senior Editor Rick Mullin explains that the jolt for action came from several incidents. One incident —a major 2008 recall of contaminated heparin that likely caused 81 deaths in the U.S. In another incident, more than 300 people died in Panama after taking cough medicine manufactured with diethylene glycol that was shipped by a supplier as glycerin.
The story describes awareness within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that rampant globalization in drug manufacturing has outstripped the agency’s resources for inspecting foreign facilities. FDA has responded by establishing an information sharing network with European, Japanese,
and Australian regulators and has opened regional offices in Asia and elsewhere
Public release date: 17-May-2011
Study shows pharmacies’ software systems miss potentially dangerous interactions
University of Arizona researchers test prescription orders
TUCSON, Ariz. – A study conducted at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy found that only 28 percent of pharmacies’ clinical decision support software systems – the computer programs that are in place to alert pharmacists to possible medication problems – correctly identified potentially dangerous drug-drug interactions.
The study was conducted at 64 pharmacies across Arizona. Members of the research team tested the pharmacy software using a set of prescription orders for a standardized fictitious patient. The prescriptions consisted of 18 different medications that posed 13 clinically significant drug-drug interactions. Of the 64 pharmacies, only 18 correctly identified all of the eligible drug-drug interactions and non- interactions.
“These findings suggest that we have a fundamental problem with the way interactions are evaluated by drug knowledge databases,” says Daniel Malone, PhD, UA professor of pharmacy and lead investigator on the study. “The weakness of these systems could lead to medication errors that might harm patients.
Pharmacists should become familiar with how their computer system identifies drug interactions. Consumers should always inform their doctor and pharmacist about all medications and other therapies they are using. The risk of harm from dangerous combinations can be reduced when patients create and maintain a medication list.”
Public release date: 18-May-2011
Potentially toxic flame retardants detected in baby products
Scientists are reporting detection of potentially toxic flame retardants in car seats, bassinet mattresses, nursing pillows, high chairs, strollers, and other products that contain polyurethane foam and are designed for newborns, infants and toddlers. In a study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, they describe hints that one flame retardant, banned years ago in some areas, actually remains in use. “To the authors knowledge, this is the first study to report on flame retardants in baby products,” the report states.
Heather M. Stapleton and colleagues point out that health concerns led to a phase-out in use of penta brominated diphenyl ethers (pentaBDE), once the most popular flame retardant, prior to 2004. Flame retardants are added during manufacture to reduce the risk of polyurethane foam catching fire and to slow down burning if it does. Seeking to meet government flammability standards, manufacturers then turned to other flame retardants, which in many cases, have less health data available. The situation left gaps in knowledge about exactly which flame retardants were being used in polyurethane foam products, and at what concentrations. Stapleton’s group set out to fill those gaps.
They detected potentially toxic flame retardants in 80 percent of the polyurethane foam samples collected from 101 common baby products. Among them were compounds associated with pentaBDE, suggesting that the substance – banned in 172 countries and 12 U.S. states – still remains in use, as well
as two potential carcinogens, TCEP and TDCPP. “Future studies are therefore warranted to specifically measure infants exposure to these flame retardants from intimate contact with these products, and to determine if there are any associated health concerns,” the report states.
Public release date: 18-May-2011
Sun protects against childhood asthma
Vitamin D, which is primarily absorbed from the sun, plays a role in protection against childhood asthma. Now, a new study led by Valencian researchers has shown that children who live in colder, wetter cities are at greater risk of suffering from this respiratory problem, since there are fewer hours of sunlight in such places.
“Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause cancer, but it’s also dangerous to avoid it. There has to be a balance between the pros and cons”, Alberto Arnedo-Pena, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Centre in Castellón and lead author of the research, which is part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), led by Luis García Marcos of the University of Murcia, tells SINC.
In fact, 90% of our vitamin D is synthesised through exposure to the sun. This vitamin, which can be found in various cell receptors, is usually found at lower levels in people with asthma. The study results show that there is a higher prevalence of this illness among children in wetter places with less sun (northern Spain).
The research, carried out on more than 45,000 children and teenagers from nine Spanish cities and published in the International Journal of Biometeorology, shows that climatic conditions, above all solar radiation, can in many cases explain the high geographical variation in the prevalence of asthma in Spain.
“Although we need more studies on this issue – this hypothesis is not even five years old – it is clear that an average level of sun exposure is important for the assimilation of vitamin D, a compound that is extremely important in preventing illnesses such as asthma, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases”, stresses Arnedo-Pena.
The solar vitamin
In northern countries (where there are fewer hours of sunshine than in the Mediterranean), the advice is to spend 20 to 30 minutes’ in the sun each day, although not at times within the highest risk period (from noon to 4pm). For now, no similar advice exists in Spain.
Once the benefits of sun exposure are understood, it can be seen that there is a problem in countries at latitudes higher than 40º north, where it is not possible to absorb enough vitamin D during the winter months. “People in these countries should take supplements to ensure they are not at risk”, the researcher concludes.
Public release date: 19-May-2011
Herbal remedies offer hope as the new antibiotics
Cancer treatments often have the side effect of impairing the patient’s immune system. This can result in life-threatening secondary infections from bacteria and fungi, especially since bacteria, like Staphylococcus aureus, are becoming multi-drug resistant (MRSA). New research published by BioMed Central’s open access journal Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials investigates the potency
of Indian wild plants against bacterial and fungal infections in the mouths of oral cancer patients.
Researchers from Rohtak, India, tested extracts from several plants used in traditional or folk medicine against microbials found in the mouths of oral cancer patients. Of the 40 patients involved in the study, 35 had compromised immune systems with severely reduced neutrophil counts. Eight of the plants tested were able to significantly affect the growth of organisms collected by oral swab, and pure cultures of bacteria and fungi grown in the lab. This included wild asparagus, desert date, false daisy, curry tree, caster oil plant and fenugreek.
Dr Jaya Parkash Yadav said, “Natural medicines are increasingly important in treating disease and traditional knowledge provides a starting point in the search for plant-based medicines. Importantly we found that the extraction process had a huge effect on both the specificity and efficacy of the plant extracts against microbes. Nevertheless several of the plants tested were broad spectrum antibiotics able to combat bacteria including E. coli, S. aureus and the fungi Candida and Aspergillus. Both desert date and caster oil plant were especially able to target bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which are known to be difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics.”
Dr Yadav continued, “Although the plants tested had a lower potency than conventional antibiotics they offer hope against resistant species. These results are a starting point for further testing in the lab and clinic.”
Public release date: 19-May-2011
The traditional remedy bitter cumin is a great source antioxidant plant phenols
Bitter cumin is used extensively in traditional medicine to treat a range of diseases from vitiligo to hyperglycemia. It is considered to be antiparasitic and antimicrobial and science has backed up claims of its use to reduce fever or as a painkiller. New research published in BioMedCentral’s open access journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine shows that this humble spice also contains high levels of antioxidants.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radicals, are produced as part of the metabolic processes necessary for life. Oxidative stress, however, is caused by overproduction or under-removal of these free radicals. Oxidative stress is itself involved in a number of disorders, including atherosclerosis, neural degenerative disease, inflammation, cancer and ageing. Antioxidants are thought to mop up these free radicals, reduce oxidative stress, and prevent disease.
Phenolic compounds from plants, especially polyphenolic compounds, are often considered to be antioxidants. Researchers from Mysore, India, have used biochemical and biological techniques to show that seeds from bitter cumin (Centratherum anthelminticum (L.) Kuntze), a member of the daisy family, are a rich source of phenolic antioxidants.
Researchers from the Central Food Technological Research Institute said that, “Bitter cumin extracts were strong antioxidants in the free radical scavenging systems tested. The extracts were also strong electron donors and hence reducing agents, another marker of antioxidation. In biological tests bitter cumin inhibited the oxidation of liposomes (used as a model for cell membrane oxidation) and offered complete protection against DNA damage.”
Dr Naidu said, “The amount of plant phenols we were able to extract and the antioxidant activity of bitter cumin depended on the method used. Nevertheless the antioxidant activity of bitter cumin correlated with total phenol content so it may well be that an array of phenolic compounds within bitter cumin seeds are
responsible for the antioxidant activity seen.”
Public release date: 19-May-2011
New study suggests dietary supplement can protect against pre- eclampsia
Research: Effect of supplementation during pregnancy with L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins in medical food on pre-eclampsia in high risk population: Randomized controlled trial
A dietary supplement containing an amino acid and antioxidant vitamins, given to pregnant women at high risk of pre-eclampsia, can reduce the occurrence of the disease, finds a study published on bmj.com today.
Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition where abnormally high blood pressure and other disturbances develop during pregnancy. It affects about 5% of all first-time pregnancies and is dangerous for both mother and child.
Pre-eclampsia is thought to be linked to a deficiency in L-arginine, an amino acid that helps to maintain a healthy blood flow during pregnancy. Some experts also think that antioxidant vitamins can help protect against the condition.
So a team of researchers in Mexico and the United States set out to test the theory that a combination of L- arginine and antioxidants would prevent the development of pre-eclampsia in high risk women.
The study took place at a hospital in Mexico City. Pregnant women at high risk of pre-eclampsia were randomly divided into three groups: 228 received daily food bars containing both L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins, 222 received bars containing only vitamins, and 222 received placebo bars (containing no L-arginine or vitamins).
The supplements began when women were around 20 weeks pregnant and continued until delivery. Blood pressure and L-arginine levels were measured every three to four weeks at the hospital clinic.
The proportion of women developing pre-eclampsia was 30.2% in the placebo group, 22.5% in the vitamin only group, and 12.7% in the L-arginine plus vitamin group.
This means that women in the L-arginine plus vitamin group were significantly less likely to develop pre- eclampsia compared with the placebo group. However, vitamins alone did not significantly reduce the occurrence of pre-eclampsia.
The team also found that L-arginine plus vitamins significantly reduced the risk of premature birth compared with placebo.
“This relatively simple and low cost intervention may have value in reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia and associated preterm birth,” conclude the authors. However, they say that further study is needed to determine whether these results can be repeated and to identify whether they are due to L-arginine alone or the combination of L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins.
This trial reports an important finding but crucial questions remain, say two UK experts in an accompanying editorial. For instance, how do L-arginine and vitamins work together, what are the potential harmful effects, and what are the effects in other settings and populations?
They suggest that, before more trials are started, a rigorous systematic review is needed “of the numerous inconsistent strands of evidence relating to L-arginine and its possible effects on pre-eclampsia.”
Public release date: 19-May-2011
Cell phone use may reduce male fertility
Men who have been diagnosed with poor sperm quality and who are trying to have children should limit their cell phone use. Researchers have found that while cell phone use appears to increase the level of testosterone circulating in the body, it may also lead to low sperm quality and a decrease in fertility.
“Our findings were a little bit puzzling,” says Rany Shamloul, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and lead researcher on the project. “We were expecting to find different results, but the results we did find suggest that there could be some intriguing mechanisms at work.”
The research team discovered that men who reported cell phone use had higher levels of circulating testosterone but they also had lower levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), an important reproductive hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain.
The researchers hypothesize that electromagnetic waves (EMW) emitted by cell phones may have a dual action on male hormone levels and fertility. EMW may increase the number of cells in the testes that produce testosterone; however, by lowering the levels of LH excreted by the pituitary gland, EMW may also block the conversion of this basic circulating type of testosterone to the more active, potent form of testosterone associated with sperm production and fertility.
More in-depth research is needed to determine the exact ways in which EMW affects male fertility.
Public release date: 19-May-2011
Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast to Reduce Food Cravings, Prevent Overeating Later, MU Researcher Finds from MU News Bureau on Vimeo.
COLUMBIA, Mo. – A University of Missouri researcher has found that eating a healthy breakfast, especially one high in protein, increases satiety and reduces hunger throughout the day. In addition, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) the researchers found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces the brain signals controlling food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior.
Eating healthy, protein-rich breakfasts, such as waffles made with protein powder, can be a simple strategy for improving appetite control and preventing overeating.
“Everyone knows that eating breakfast is important, but many people still don’t make it a priority,” said Heather Leidy, assistant professor in the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. “This research provides additional evidence that breakfast is a valuable strategy to control appetite and regulate food intake.”
In the study, Leidy assessed physiological hunger and satiety by measuring perceived appetite sensations and hormonal markers in combination with psychological reward- driven motivation to eat, using fMRI to identify brain activation in specific regions related to food motivation and reward.
MU researchers assessed hunger and satiety by measuring appetite sensations and hormonal markers in combination with reward-driven motivation to eat, using fMRI technology to identify brain activity related to food motivation and reward.
The researchers decided to target ‘breakfast-skipping’ teens for two reasons, Leidy said. First, breakfast skipping has been strongly associated with unhealthy snacking, overeating (especially at night), weight gain and obesity. Second, approximately 60 percent of adolescents skip breakfast on a daily basis.
For three weeks, the teens either continued to skip breakfast or consumed 500-calorie breakfast meals containing cereal and milk (which contained normal quantities of protein) or higher protein meals prepared as Belgium waffles, syrup and yogurt. At the end of each week, the volunteers completed appetite and satiety questionnaires. Right before lunch, the volunteers completed a brain scan, using fMRI, to identify brain activation responses.
Compared to breakfast skipping, both breakfast meals led to increased fullness and reductions in hunger throughout morning. fMRI results showed that brain activation in regions controlling food motivation and reward was reduced prior to lunch time when breakfast was consumed in the morning. Additionally, the higher protein breakfast led to even greater changes in appetite, satiety and reward-driven eating behavior compared to the normal protein breakfast.
“Incorporating a healthy breakfast containing protein-rich foods can be a simple strategy for people to stay satisfied longer, and therefore, be less prone to snacking,” Leidy said. “People reach for convenient snack foods to satisfy their hunger between meals, but these foods are almost always high in sugar and fat and add a substantial amount of calories to the diet. These findings suggest that a protein-rich breakfast might be an effective strategy to improve appetite control and prevent overeating in young people.”
The article, “Neural Responses to Visual Food Stimuli after a Normal vs. Higher Protein Breakfast in Breakfast-Skipping Teens…” has recently been published online in Obesity. The Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology is a joint effort by MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, College of Human Environmental Sciences, and
School of Medicine. Funding for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health.
Public release date: 19-May-2011
Curcumin compound improves effectiveness of head and neck cancer treatment, U-M study finds Compound sensitizes resistant cells, allowing lower doses of chemotherapy
Thomas Carey, Ph.D.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A primary reason that head and neck cancer treatments fail is the tumor cells become resistant to chemotherapy drugs. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that a compound derived from the Indian spice curcumin can help cells overcome that resistance.
When researchers added a curcumin-based compound, called FLLL32, to head and neck cancer cell lines, they were able to cut the dose of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin by four while still killing tumor cells equally as well as the higher dose of cisplatin without FLLL32.
The study appears this week in the Archives of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.
“This work opens the possibility of using lower, less toxic doses of cisplatin to achieve an equivalent or enhanced tumor kill. Typically, when cells become resistant to cisplatin, we have to give increasingly higher doses. But this drug is so toxic that patients who survive treatment often experience long-term side effects from the treatment,” says senior study author Thomas Carey, Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology and pharmacology at the U-M Medical School and co-director of the Head and Neck Oncology Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
That tumors become resistant to cisplatin is a major reason why head and neck cancer patients frequently see their cancer return or spread. It also plays a big role in why five- year survival for head and neck cancer has not improved in the past three decades.
FLLL32 is designed to sensitize cancer cells at a molecular level to the antitumor effects of cisplatin. It targets a key type of protein called STAT3 that is seen at high levels in about 82 percent of head and neck cancers. High levels of STAT3 are linked to problems with normal cell death processes, which allow cancer cells to survive chemotherapy treatment. STAT3 activation has been associated with cisplatin resistance in head and neck cancer.
Curcumin is known to inhibit STAT3 function, but it is not well-absorbed by the body. FLLL32 was developed by researchers at Ohio State University to be more amenable to
use in people. The current study used the compound only in cell lines in the laboratory.
In the current study, researchers compared varying doses of cisplatin alone with varying doses of cisplatin plus FLLL32 against two sets of head and neck cancer cells: one line that was sensitive to cisplatin and one line that was resistant.
They found that FLLL32 decreased the activation levels of STAT3, sensitizing both resistant and sensitive tumor cells to cisplatin. Further, lower doses of cisplatin with FLLL32 were equally effective at killing cancer cells as the higher doses of cisplatin alone.
Separate studies suggest FLLL32 may not be well-absorbed by the body and researchers are developing a next generation compound that they hope improves on that. The U-M team plans to further study this newer compound for its potential as part of head and neck cancer treatment. Clinical trials using this compound are not currently available.
Public release date: 31-May-2011
California scientists discover how vitamins and minerals may prevent age-related diseases
New research in the FASEB Journal demonstrates need for public health initiatives aimed at identifying, treating and taking seriously modest vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Bethesda, MD—Severe deficiency of the vitamins and minerals required for life is relatively uncommon in developed nations, but modest deficiency is very common and often not taken seriously. A new research published online in the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), however, may change this thinking as it examines moderate selenium and vitamin K deficiency to show how damage accumulates over time as a result of vitamin and mineral loss, leading to age-related diseases.
“Understanding how best to define and measure optimum nutrition will make the application of new technologies to allow each person to optimize their own nutrition a much more realistic possibility than it is today.” said Joyce C. McCann, Ph.D., a co-author of the study from the Nutrition and Metabolism Center at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, California. “If the principles of the theory, as demonstrated for vitamin K and selenium, can be generalized to other vitamins and minerals, this may provide the foundation needed.”
McCann and colleagues reached their conclusions by compiling and assessing several general types of scientific evidence. They tested whether selenium-dependent proteins that are essential from an evolutionary perspective are more resistant to selenium deficiency than those that are less essential. They discovered a highly sophisticated array of mechanisms at cellular and tissue levels that, when selenium is limited, protect essential selenium-dependent proteins at the expense of those that are nonessential. They also found that mutations in selenium-dependent proteins that are lost on modest selenium deficiency
result in characteristics shared by age-related diseases including cancer, heart disease, and loss of immune or brain function. Results should inform attempts to locate mechanistic linkages between vitamin or mineral deficiencies and age-related diseases by focusing attention on the vitamin and mineral-dependent proteins that are nonessential from an evolutionary perspective. Such mechanistic linkages are likely to present opportunities for treatment.
“This paper should settle any debate about the importance of taking a good, complete, multivitamin every day,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “As this report shows, taking a multivitamin that contains selenium is a good way to prevent deficiencies that, over time, can cause harm in ways that we are just beginning to understand.”
Public release date: 31-May-2011
Sleep loss lowers testosterone in healthy young men
Cutting back on sleep drastically reduces a healthy young man’s testosterone levels, according to a study published in the June 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Eve Van Cauter, PhD, professor in medicine and director of the study, found that men who slept less than five hours a night for one week in a laboratory had significantly lower levels of testosterone than when they had a full night’s sleep. Low testosterone has a host of negative consequences for young men, and not just in sexual behavior and reproduction. It is critical in building strength and muscle mass, and bone density.
“Low testosterone levels are associated with reduced well being and vigor, which may also occur as a consequence of sleep loss” said Van Cauter.
At least 15% of the adult working population in the US gets less than 5 hours of sleep a night, and suffers many adverse health effects because of it. This study found that skipping sleep reduces a young man’s testosterone levels by the same amount as aging 10 to 15 years.
“As research progresses, low sleep duration and poor sleep quality are increasingly recognized as endocrine disruptors,” Van Cauter said.
The ten young men in the study were recruited from around the University of Chicago campus. They passed a rigorous battery of tests to screen for endocrine or psychiatric disorders and sleep problems. They were an average of 24 years old, lean and in good health.
For the study, they spent three nights in the laboratory sleeping for up to ten hours, and then eight nights sleeping less than five hours. Their blood was sampled every 15 to 30
minutes for 24 hours during the last day of the ten-hour sleep phase and the last day of the five-hour sleep phase.
The effects of sleep loss on testosterone levels were apparent after just one week of short sleep. Five hours of sleep decreased their testosterone levels by 10% to 15%. The young men had the lowest testosterone levels in the afternoons on their sleep restricted days, between 2 pm and 10 pm.
The young men also self-reported their mood and vigor levels throughout the study. They reported a decline in their sense of well-being as their blood testosterone levels declined. Their mood and vigor fell more every day as the sleep restriction part of the study progressed.
Testosterone levels in men decline by 1% to 2% a year as they age. Testosterone deficiency is associated with low energy, reduced libido, poor concentration, and fatigue.
Public release date: 31-May-2011
Blueberry’s effects on cholesterol examined in lab animal study
Laboratory hamsters that were fed rations spiked with blueberry peels and other blueberry-juice-processing leftovers had better cholesterol health than hamsters whose rations weren’t enhanced with blueberries. That’s according to a study led by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chemist Wallace H. Yokoyama.
Yokoyama pointed out that further research is needed to confirm whether the effects observed in hamsters hold true for humans. He works at the Western Regional Research Center operated in Albany Calif., by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the principal scientific research agency of USDA.
In the investigation, hamsters were fed high-fat rations. For some animals, those rations were supplemented with one of three different kinds of juice byproducts: blueberry skins- that is, peels leftover when berries are pressed to make juice; fiber extracted from the peels; or natural compounds known as polyphenols, also extracted from the peels.
Blueberry polyphenols give the fruit its purple, blue, and red coloration.
In an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2010, Yokoyama and his coinvestigators reported that all the hamsters that were fed blueberry-enhanced rations had from 22 to 27 percent lower total plasma cholesterol than hamsters fed rations that didn’t contain blueberry juice byproducts.
Levels of VLDL (very low density lipoprotein-a form of “bad” cholesterol) were
about 44 percent lower in the blueberry-fed hamsters.
Yokoyama and his coinvestigators used a procedure known as real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, to learn about the genes responsible for these effects. This approach allowed the scientists to pinpoint differences in the level of activity of certain liver genes.
In hamsters-and in humans-the liver both makes cholesterol and helps get rid of excessive levels of it. Results suggest that activity of some liver genes that either produce or use cholesterol resulted in the lower blood cholesterol levels.
The study is apparently the first published account of cholesterol-lowering effects in laboratory hamsters fed blueberry peels or fiber or polyphenols extracted from those peels.
Of course, some pieces of the cholesterol puzzle are not yet in place. For example, the researchers don’t know which berry compound or compounds activated the liver genes, or which parts of the berry have the highest levels of these compounds.
Public release date: 1-Jun-2011
Low-carb, higher-fat diets add no arterial health risks to obese people seeking to lose weight
Overweight and obese people looking to drop some pounds and considering one of the popular low-carbohydrate diets, along with moderate exercise, need not worry that the higher proportion of fat in such a program compared to a low-fat, high-carb diet may harm their arteries, suggests a pair of new studies by heart and vascular researchers at Johns Hopkins.
“Overweight and obese people appear to really have options when choosing a weight-loss program, including a low-carb diet, and even if it means eating more fat,” says the studies’ lead investigator exercise physiologist Kerry Stewart, Ed.D.
Stewart, a professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute, says his team’s latest analysis is believed to be the first direct comparison of either kind of diet on the effects to vascular health, using the real-life context of 46 people trying to lose weight through diet and moderate exercise. The research was prompted by concerns from people who wanted to include one of the low-carb, high-fat diets, such as Atkins, South Beach and Zone, as part of their weight-loss program, but were wary of the diets’ higher fat content.
In the first study, scheduled to be presented June 3 at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver, the Hopkins team studied 23 men and women, weighing on average 218 pounds and participating in a six-month weight-loss program
that consisted of moderate aerobic exercise and lifting weights, plus a diet made up of no more than 30 percent of calories from carbs, such as pastas, breads and sugary fruits. As much as 40 percent of their diet was made up of fats coming from meat, dairy products and nuts. This low-carb group showed no change after shedding 10 pounds in two key measures of vascular health: finger tip tests of how fast the inner vessel lining in the arteries in the lower arm relaxes after blood flow has been constrained and restored in the upper arm (the so-called reactive hyperemia index of endothelial function), and the augmentation index, a pulse-wave analysis of arterial stiffness.
Low-carb dieters showed no harmful vascular changes, but also on average dropped 10 pounds in 45 days, compared to an equal number of study participants randomly assigned to a low-fat diet. The low-fat group, whose diets consisted of no more than 30 percent from fat and 55 percent from carbs, took on average nearly a month longer, or 70 days, to lose the same amount of weight.
“Our study should help allay the concerns that many people who need to lose weight have about choosing a low-carb diet instead of a low-fat one, and provide re-assurance that both types of diet are effective at weight loss and that a low-carb approach does not seem to pose any immediate risk to vascular health,” says Stewart. “More people should be considering a low-carb diet as a good option,” he adds.
Because the study findings were obtained within three months, Stewart says the effects of eating low-carb, higher-fat diets versus low-fat, high-carb options over a longer period of time remain unknown.
However, Stewart does contend that an over-emphasis on low-fat diets has likely contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States by encouraging an over- consumption of foods high in carbohydrates. He says high-carb foods are, in general, less filling, and people tend to get carried away with how much low-fat food they can eat. More than half of all American adults are estimated to be overweight, with a body mass index, or BMI, of 26 or higher; a third are considered to be obese, with a BMI of 30 or higher.
Stewart says the key to maintaining healthy blood vessels and vascular function seems – in particular, when moderate exercise is included — less about the type of diet and more about maintaining a healthy body weight without an excessive amount of body fat.
Among the researchers’ other key study findings, to be presented separately at the conference, was that consuming an extremely high-fat McDonald’s breakfast meal, consisting of two English muffin sandwiches, one with egg and another with sausage, along with hash browns and a decaffeinated beverage, had no immediate or short-term impact on vascular health. Study participants’ blood vessels were actually less stiff when tested four hours after the meal, while endothelial or blood vessel lining function remained normal.
Researchers added the McDonald’s meal challenge immediately before the start of the six- month investigation to separate any immediate vascular effects from those to be observed in the longer study. They also wanted to see what happened when people ate a higher amount of fat in a single meal than recommended in national guidelines. Previous research had suggested that such a meal was harmful, but its negative findings could not be confirmed in the Johns Hopkins’ analysis. The same meal challenge will be repeated at the end of the study, when it is expected that its participants will still have lost considerable weight, despite having eaten more than the recommended amount of fat.
“Even consuming a high-fat meal now and then does not seem to cause any immediate harm to the blood vessels,” says Stewart. However, he strongly cautions against eating too many such meals because of their high salt and caloric content. He says this single meal — at over 900 calories and 50 grams of fat — is at least half the maximum daily fat intake recommended by the American Heart Association and nearly half the recommended average daily intake of about 2,000 calories for most adults.
All study participants were between the age of 30 and 65, and healthy, aside from being overweight or obese. Researchers say that in the first study, because people were monitored for the period they lost the same amount of weight, any observed vascular differences would be due to what they ate.
Public release date: 1-Jun-2011
Surgical removal of the tonsils and appendix associated with risk of early heart attack
The surgical removal of the appendix and tonsils before the age of 20 was associated with an increased risk of premature heart attack in a large population study performed in Sweden.(1) Tonsillectomy increased the risk by 44% (hazard ratio 1.44) and appendectomy by 33% (HR 1.33). The risk increases were just statistically significant, and were even higher when the tonsils and appendix were both removed.
However, there was no risk association evident when the operations were performed in people over the age of 20.
Both the appendix and tonsils are lymphoid organs and thus components of the body’s immune system, albeit of modest importance. The recurrence of tonsillitis and appendicitis – caused by infection – are the usual reasons for removal. Behind the study lay evidence that removal was associated with moderate long-term effects on the immune system and alterations in risk for some autoimmune disorders. Studies suggest that between 10 and 20% of all young people have tonsils or appendix removed.
“Given the strong biological and epidemiological evidence linking inflammation with coronary heart disease,” said investigator Dr Imre Janszky from the Department of Public Health Science of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, “one might anticipate that surgical removal of the tonsils and appendix, with their consequent effects on immunity,
might also have a long-term effect on CHD. However, we were aware of no studies evaluating the potential effects of appendectomy or tonsillectomy on atherosclerosis or CHD risk.”
The study, published online today in the European Heart Journal, examined the national health records of every Swedish resident born between 1955 and 1970 and identified each one who had had tonsils and/or appendix removed. Each of these “cases” was then matched with five randomly chosen “controls” who had not had the operations. These subjects were then followed up through the health records for an average of 23.5 years to cross-check for the occurrence of fatal or non-fatal heart attack (acute myocardial infarction, AMI). Because the appendix and tonsils appear to have reduced function after adolescence, the primary analyses were restricted to individuals below the age of 20 at the time of surgery, which amounted to 54,449 appendectomies and 27,284 tonsillectomies.
Results showed that these cases had a higher prevalence of AMI than the controls, with 89 of the appendectomies and 47 of the tonsillectomies experiencing an AMI within the follow-up period. When compared with controls, the added risk was calculated as a hazard ratio of 1.33 (95% confidence interval 1.05 – 1.70) for appendectomy and 1.44 (95% CI
1.04 – 2.01) for tonsillectomy.
Dr Janszky, the study’s first author, emphasises that the absolute numbers of AMI cases in the study are small, with only slightly more than 400 and 200 total cases of AMI in more than 7.5 million and nearly 4 million person-years of follow-up. “As expected from the young age of the population,” he says, “the observed moderate increases in relative risk actually corresponded to very small risk increases in absolute terms.” The investigators also note that the study population, despite its size, was restricted to childhood exposure, with participants still relatively young at the end of follow-up. “Consequently,” they write, “we cannot directly extrapolate our findings to cases of AMI that occur among older men or women, in whom risk is highest.”
In explaining the results the authors also implicate some “complex” long-term effect of the immune system, noting that the appendix and tonsils are secondary lymphoid organs whose removal can affect several aspects of immune activity, including decreased production of immunoglobulins. They also note that atherosclerosis, the underlying pathophysiology of AMI, is widely considered to be an inflammatory process.
“In the light of our current knowledge on the complex relationship between atherosclerosis and the immune system, the findings are biologically plausible,” said Dr Janszky. “There is already some evidence that removal of the spleen, another secondary lymphoid organ, is also associated with accelerated atherosclerosis and increased cardiovascular risk.”
Public release date: 1-Jun-2011
A honey of a natural sunblock for UV-protective clothing: Honeysuckle
With those months of blazing summer sunshine head, scientists are reporting that an extract of the honeysuckle plant could make a highly-effective natural coating for clothing designed to protect people from exposure to potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Their report appears in ACS’ journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.
Ren-Cheng Tang and Sha-Sha Sun note the growing trend among consumers — concerned about the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin — toward relying on clothing for protection from the sun ultra-violet rays. Natural UV-protection coatings can have advantages, including production in a more sustainable fashion with less environmental impact. They note that honeysuckle has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds and fever. An ingredient in honeysuckle is used to preserve food and as additive in cosmetics to keep the skin looking younger. In their new study, the scientists wanted to see whether honeysuckle extract could boost wool’s ability to block UV rays.
They found that wool coated with honeysuckle extract blocked UV rays much more effectively than untreated wool, giving the fabric a high UV protection factor. The extract was durable and remained active on wool, even after a long exposure to sunlight and laundering. The researchers conclude that honeysuckle extract shows significant potential as a natural UV-blocking agent for clothing.
Public release date: 2-Jun-2011
New research: Post-exercise recovery advantages of lowfat chocolate milk
3 new studies reinforce benefits of drinking ‘nature’s recovery drink’ after a tough workout
WASHINGTON (June 2, 2011) – New research suggests an effective recovery drink may already be in your refrigerator: lowfat chocolate milk. Grabbing lowfat chocolate milk after a tough workout helped give both trained and amateur athletes a post-exercise training advantage, according to three new studies presented at the American College of Sports Medicine and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research this month. Athletes in the studies who had a post-exercise lowfat chocolate milk– with the right mix of carbs and high-quality protein – had improved training times, better body composition (more muscle, less fat) and were in better shape than their peers who drank typical sports beverages with carbohydrates only.
In three related studies, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin compared the recovery benefits of drinking lowfat chocolate milk after exercise to a carbohydrate beverage with the same calories (similar to a typical sports drink) and calorie-free
beverages. The new research linked drinking lowfat chocolate milk after strenuous exercise to:
•Improved Performance: Following an exhausting ride, trained cyclists had significantly more power and rode faster, shaving about six minutes, on average, from their ride time when they recovered with lowfat chocolate milk compared to a carbohydrate sports drink and calorie-free beverage. The 10 cyclists rode for 90 minutes at a moderate intensity followed by 10 minutes of high intensity intervals. During a four-hour recovery period, they drank one of the three recovery beverages immediately and two hours later before heading on a second 40 kilometer ride. (1)
•Quicker Exercise Adaptation: Compared to the other recovery drinks, chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in V02max – a measure of aerobic fitness and adaptation – after a 4.5 week cycling regimen that included intense exercise five days a week, followed by one of the three recovery beverages. The study included 32 healthy but untrained male and female cyclists.(2)
•Better Body Composition (More Muscle, Less Fat): Chocolate milk drinkers gained more muscle and lost more fat during training, with a 3 pound lean muscle advantage at the end of the 4.5 weeks compared to athletes who grabbed a carbohydrate drink. The 32 healthy but untrained male and female cyclists rode for one hour, five days a week and drank one of the three recovery beverages immediately following and one hour post-exercise. (3)
“Collectively, our research suggests that lowfat chocolate milk – easily accessible for most athletes – can improve performance and aid training for trained and amateur athletes faced with tough routines,” said John L. Ivy, Ph.D, lead researcher on the University of Texas at Austin studies. “We may need more research to understand the exact mechanisms, but there’s something that chocolate milk naturally has that likely gives it the post-exercise advantage.”
Experts agree the two-hour window after exercise is an important, yet often neglected, part of fitness routine. After strenuous exercise, this post-workout recovery period is critical for active people at all fitness levels to help make the most of a workout and stay in top shape for the next workout.
Public release date: 2-Jun-2011
Study finds copper proves effective against new E. coli strains
As the World Health Organisation suggests the E. coli outbreak in Germany is a strain never before seen in an outbreak – O104:H4 – laboratory science conducted at the University of Southampton indicates a role for copper in preventing the spread of such infections.
Professor Bill Keevil, Head of the Microbiology Group and Director of the Environmental Healthcare Unit at the University of Southampton, explains: “A study looking at copper’s efficacy against new strains of E. coli has just been completed. Although it did not specifically look at O104, all the strains investigated have died rapidly on copper.”
On a dry copper surface, the study shows 10 million E. coli bacteria are eliminated within 10 minutes. On a wet copper surface, one could expect a total kill within around 45 minutes. This antimicrobial property is inherent to the metal, and shared with alloys such as brass and bronze.
In the wake of this outbreak, hand washing and careful food preparation have been highlighted as key concerns, as has cross-contamination. Any raw food placed on a work surface can contaminate other food, or have bacteria transferred onto it from previous items resting there. Deployed as a touch surface in food preparation areas, copper will continuously kill any pathogens that settle on it, reducing the risk of cross- contamination, and helping to prevent the spread of infection.
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