Release Date 15 JAN 2015
Draft Report Compiled by
In this issue:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup found to kill animals almost twice as fast as table sugar
- Vitamin B may counter negative effect of pesticide on fertility
- 100 million Americans live with chronic pain, but treatment research is insufficient
- Rihanna eases kids’ pain after surgery
- Beyond prevention: Sulforaphane may find possible use for cancer therapy
- Fish peptide could help in battle against cardiovascular disease
- Potassium salts aid bone health and limit osteoporosis risk, new research finds
- Sweet potato leaves a good source of vitamins
- Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity
- A fatty acid used to decode weight control
- Vitamin D protects against colorectal cancer by boosting the immune system
High Fructose Corn Syrup found to kill animals almost twice as fast as table sugar
SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 5, 2015 – When University of Utah biologists fed mice sugar in doses proportional to what many people eat, the fructose-glucose mixture found in high-fructose corn syrup was more toxic than sucrose or table sugar, reducing both the reproduction and lifespan of female rodents.
“This is the most robust study showing there is a difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar at human-relevant doses,” says biology professor Wayne Potts, senior author of a new study scheduled for publication in the March 2015 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.
The study found no differences in survival, reproduction or territoriality of male mice on the high-fructose and sucrose diets. The researchers say that may be because both sugars are equally toxic to male mice.
Both high-fructose corn syrup found in many processed foods and table sugar found in baked goods contain roughly equal amounts of fructose and glucose. But in corn syrup, they are separate molecules, called monosaccharides. In contrast, sucrose or table sugar is a disaccharide compound formed when fructose and glucose bond chemically.
Potts says the debate over the relative dangers of fructose and sucrose is important “because when the diabetes-obesity-metabolic syndrome epidemics started in the mid-1970s, they corresponded with both a general increase in consumption of added sugar and the switchover from sucrose being the main added sugar in the American diet to high-fructose corn syrup making up half our sugar intake.”
James Ruff, the study’s first author and a postdoctoral fellow in biology, says, “Our previous work and plenty of other studies have shown that added sugar in general is bad for your health. So first, reduce added sugar across the board. Then worry about the type of sugar, and decrease consumption of products with high-fructose corn syrup.”
The new study is the latest in a series that used a new, sensitive toxicity test developed by Potts and colleagues. It allows house mice to compete in the seminatural environment of room-size “mouse barns.” Previous mouse studies with the test found harmful effects of inbreeding, the antidepressant Paxil and, last year, an added-sugar diet with fructose and glucose in amounts proportional to a healthy human diet plus three cans of soda daily. These health effects had been missed by conventional tests.
Potts and Ruff ran the new study with former University of Utah undergraduates Sara Hugentobler, Amanda Suchy, Mirtha Sosa, Ruth Tanner and Megumi Hite; and lab manager Linda Morrison. The other coauthors were nutrition researchers Sin Gieng and Mark Shigenaga at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.
New Findings Build on 2013 Sugar Toxicity Study
The 2013 study found that when mice were fed either a diet with 25 percent calories in the form of added fructose and glucose monosaccharides or 25 percent calories from starch, females died at twice the normal rate and males were a quarter less likely to hold territory and reproduce.
The new study compared two groups of mice that were fed a healthy diet with 25 percent calories from processed sugars. One group ate a mix of fructose-glucose monosaccharides like those in high-fructose corn syrup. The other group ate sucrose.
Female mice on the fructose-glucose diet had death rates 1.87 times higher than females on the sucrose diet. They also produced 26.4 percent fewer offspring.
The new study found no differences in males on the two diets in terms of survival, reproduction or ability to compete for territory. But Potts said the 2013 study showed male mice were a quarter less likely to hold territory and reproduce on the fructose-glucose mix compared with starch. That, combined with the new findings, “suggests sucrose is as bad for males as high-fructose corn syrup,” he says.
Ruff says it also is possible that “other factors are more important than the differences between these two diets for the males” – possibly inherited differences in ability to hold territory
Potts says female mice that ate the fructose-glucose mixture may be more likely to die than male mice because they undergo a bigger metabolic “energy crunch” during such studies: on the day they give birth, they mate and conceive the next litter, so they are nursing their first litter while gestating a second litter.
Regardless of sex, the researchers also found no difference between mice on the two diets when it came to food intake, weight gain or glucose tolerance. Sucrose is broken into fructose and glucose monosaccharides before the body absorbs it. So whatever caused the different mortality and reproduction in females on the two kinds of sugar diets, “it has to happen at the point of absorption or before – not once it is in the bloodstream, liver or brain,” Ruff says.
“So we speculate that the different sugars could favor different microbes in the guts of mice. Other research has shown differences in bacterial communities in the gut to be associated with metabolic diseases in rodents and in humans. It’s possible one form of sugar causes more bacteria to get across your gut than another.”
A Sugary American Diet
An estimated 13 percent to 25 percent of Americans eat a diet that includes 25 percent or more of calories in the form of added sugars – the percentage of added sugars consumed by mice in the new study. “Added sugars” are sugars added during food processing or preparation and not already naturally in food, like in a piece of fruit.
Ruff says that in the American diet, 44 percent of the added sugar is sucrose, 42 percent is high-fructose corn syrup and the remaining 14 percent includes honey, molasses, juice concentrates and agave – all of which also combine fructose and glucose (which also is known as dextrose). Yet worldwide, high-fructose corn syrup represents only about 8 percent of added sugar consumption, he adds.
Ruff says a number of previous studies in rodents and people tied pure fructose consumption to metabolic problems such as insulin resistance, obesity and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. He says those studies concluded high-fructose corn syrup was worse than sucrose, but most compared sucrose only to fructose instead of a more realistic fructose-glucose mix.
And “the few previous studies used much higher doses of sugars that are not particularly relevant to humans, and the effects were slight or small,” Potts says.
How the Study Was Performed
The mice in the new study were unrelated, house-type mice, rather than inbred lab mice, because the former compete with each other naturally. For about 40 weeks, mice were fed either the healthy diet with 25 percent of total calories as added fructose and glucose monosaccharides or as sucrose.
Then 160 mice were released into six mouse barns to compete for food, territory and mates for 32 weeks. Each of the 377-square-foot mouse barns held eight to 10 male mice and 14 to 20 females.
Each mouse barn was divided by wire mesh into six territories, each with either an open or protected nest box. Males competed for the better territories and protected nests. Implanted radio chips and antennas at feeders kept track of where mice fed and thus the territories they occupied. The researchers periodically checked for and removed dead mice, as well as pups so they would not breed.
After eating different sugar diets before entering the mouse barns, all the mice ate the fructose-glucose monosaccharide diet while competing in the barns, where they roamed together and couldn’t be kept on different diets. If there were harmful effects from the fructose-glucose diet before entering the mouse barns, they might be obscured if all the mice ate the sucrose diet once in the barns.
Public Release: 5-Jan-2015
Vitamin B may counter negative effect of pesticide on fertility
Women exposed to DDT who have adequate B vitamin intake more likely to get and stay pregnant than those who are deficient
Women who have adequate levels of B vitamins in their bodies are more likely to get and stay pregnant even when they also have high levels of a common pesticide known to have detrimental reproductive effects, according to new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research.
The findings, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that B vitamins may have a protective effect that counteracts the levels of DDT in their bodies. DDT, a known endocrine disruptor, is still used to kill mosquitoes in many countries where malaria remains a serious public health concern. The United States banned the pesticide in 1972; China, where the study was conducted, followed suit in 1984. DDT, however, can remain in the body and environment for decades.
“Our previous work has shown that high levels of DDT in the body can increase the risk of early miscarriage,” says study leader Xiaobin Wang, MD, ScD, MPH, the Zanvyl Krieger Professor and Director of the Center on the Early Life Origins of Disease at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This study tells us that improved nutrition may modify the toxic effects of DDT, by better preparing the body to cope with environmental toxins and stressors. We have shown that women with high levels of DDT who also had high levels of B vitamins had a better chance of getting and staying pregnant than those were deficient in those vitamins.”
The findings suggest that looking at toxins and nutrition in isolation doesn’t paint a full picture of how these different factors intersect. She says studies like this may provide a model for how future research groups can examine the relationship between other toxins and nutrients.
For the study, conducted between 1996 and 1998, Wang and her colleagues recruited and followed a group of female Chinese textile workers who were trying to get pregnant. Every day for up to a year, researchers tested the urine of the women in the study, detecting their levels of hCG the hormone that signals conception. This approach allowed researchers to determine whether a woman was pregnant much earlier than she might normally find out, in the days over even weeks before she realized she’d missed a menstrual period. It also allowed the researchers to determine whether women had an early pregnancy loss (miscarried before six weeks of pregnancy). DDT and DDE (major degraded product of DDT) and B vitamin levels were measured in the women before conception.
A 2003 study by Wang and her colleagues showed that one-third of all conceptions end before women even know they are pregnant. “This is a very vulnerable period,” she says.
Among the 291 women ultimately included in the study, there were 385 conceptions, 31 percent of which were lost before six weeks. Women with high DDT levels and sufficient levels of vitamin B had a 42 percent greater chance of early miscarriage than women with lower DDT levels. But in those with high DDT levels and vitamin B deficiencies, women were twice as likely to suffer a miscarriage before six weeks of gestation. The researchers looked at three types of B vitamins – B-6, B-12 and folic acid – and determined that the risk to a pregnancy was higher with B-12 and folic acid deficiencies and with deficiencies in more than one type of B vitamins.
The researchers also found that women with high DDT and low B vitamin levels took nearly twice as long to conceive in the first place.
The standard of care in many nations is to give an iron-folate supplement to women once they seek prenatal health care, which typically occurs between eight and 12 weeks of gestation, if at all. But that supplement is rarely taken prior to conception, meaning it likely comes too late to prevent early pregnancy loss. And unlike in the United States, where many foods are fortified with folic acid, that is not the norm around the world.
Difficulty conceiving is prevalent in both developed and developing countries. In the United States, the percentage of married women between the ages of 15 and 44 who had difficulty achieving and maintaining pregnancy increased from 8 percent in 1982 to 11.8 percent in 2002, an increase that cannot be completely explained by the age of the women.
Better nutrition – including fortifying foods with B vitamins – in countries where DDT is still in wide use could improve pregnancy outcomes, Wang says. She says there may also be implications in the United States, particularly among women who immigrate from countries where DDT is still common and among low-income women whose diets may not include foods high in B vitamins such as leafy green vegetables and beans. Even women from the United States may have DDT in their systems, which may come from imported foods or even from local food grown in soil still contaminated with DDT.
“Health care providers need to make sure women get adequate micronutrients including B vitamins in their diets not only during pregnancy but before they even conceive,” she says. “Otherwise, we may miss that critical window.”
PUBLIC RELEASE: 13-JAN-2015
100 million Americans live with chronic pain, but treatment research is insufficient
INDIANAPOLIS — An estimated 100 million Americans live with chronic pain. A new report by an independent panel convened by the National Institutes of Health has found a need for evidence-based, multidisciplinary approaches to pain treatment that incorporate patients’ perspectives and desired outcomes while also avoiding potential harms.
“We learned that sufficient clinical research doesn’t exist to show physicians how best to treat chronic pain in adults, many of whom suffer from multiple health problems,” said the founding director of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and Regenstrief Institute investigator Christopher Callahan, M.D., who served on the seven-member panel.
While opioids are frequently prescribed for chronic pain, the panel noted the absence of pain assessment and treatment guidelines. The panel also reviewed reports that suggest insufficient data exists on drug characteristics, dosing strategies and tapering options.
“Are opioids the appropriate treatment? And, if so, at what dose and for how long? Could other, less dangerous treatments work for some people? The panel found that, in spite of what many clinicians believe, there is no evidence that pain narcotics — with their risks of dependency, addiction and death — are an effective long-term pain treatment. More research is needed to guide effective care for chronic, often debilitating, pain,” Dr. Callahan said.
The panel identified barriers to implementing evidence-based, patient-centered care, including what Dr. Callahan described as the important emotional aspects of pain, including the perceptions of suffering endured by people with chronic pain.
“Ten years ago, the medical community spoke of pain as the fifth vital sign,” Dr. Callahan said. “Even though we know that treatment should be tailored to individual patients, there is no existing algorithm that helps researchers or clinicians determine which patients with which type of pain should be treated with which available approach.
“We heard information presented that there has been a dramatic increase in opioid overdoses by individuals who illegally obtain and abuse these prescription drugs — often family members or family friends who take the medications from the patient,” Dr. Callahan said.
“The panel did hear suggestions of what providers might do in the face of the limited available evidence. For example, physicians might prescribe smaller quantities of opioids. This could potentially require individuals in pain to travel more frequently for prescription refills, but it would also decrease the amount of drugs potentially available to abusers.
“In educating their patients, providers might also tip the balance of their cautions about these drugs to highlight that they are important drugs with important dangers to both the patient and those who might obtain them accidentally or illegally. At the same time, the panel heard testimony that patients who responsibly use these medications should not be treated like criminals.”
Dr. Callahan, who is the Cornelius and Yvonne Pettinga Professor of Medicine at the IU School of Medicine, calls for funding for clinical trials designed with input from both patients and those who treat pain. An internist and geriatrician who is an expert in health services research, health care systems and policy, Dr. Callahan has conducted several studies that have found the multidisciplinary team approach recommended by the panel has been effective in the care of older adults, who, like many chronic pain patients, often have multiple health problems and needs.
Rihanna eases kids’ pain after surgery
Music and stories kids choose themselves lessen their pain after major surgery
- Distracting the brain to refocus on something else
- Audio therapy avoids risky side effects of opioid drugs
- Children’s pain not well controlled by drugs
CHICAGO — Pediatric patients who listened to 30 minutes of songs by Rihanna, Taylor Swift and other singers of their choosing — or audio books — had a significant reduction in pain after major surgery, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.
The children, ages nine to 14, chose from a playlist of top music in different genres including pop, country, rock and classical. Short audio books were another option in the study.
A strategy to control post-surgical pain without medication is important because opioid analgesics — most commonly used to control post-surgical pain — can cause breathing problems in children. Thus, caregivers usually limit the amount of opiods prescribed, and children’s pain is not well controlled.
“Audio therapy is an exciting opportunity and should be considered by hospitals as an important strategy to minimize pain in children undergoing major surgery,” said study senior author Dr. Santhanam Suresh. “This is inexpensive and doesn’t have any side effects.”
Suresh is a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and chair of pediatric anesthesiology at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Suresh conducted the study with his daughter, Sunitha Suresh, who designed it when she was a biomedical engineering student at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science with a minor in music cognition. She now is a fourth-year medical student at Johns Hopkins Medical School.
The paper was published in Pediatric Surgery International Jan. 3, 2015.
This is believed to be the first randomized study to evaluate and demonstrate the use of patient-preferred audio therapy as a promising strategy to control post-surgical pain in children. Prior studies looked at the effectiveness of music for pain during short medical procedures. Those studies also did not use objective measures of pain nor did they show whether the perception of pain was affected by the music itself or if an alternate audio therapy would be equally as effective.
Santhanam Suresh believes the audio-therapy helped thwart a secondary pathway in the prefrontal cortex involved in the memory of pain.
“There is a certain amount of learning that goes on with pain,” he said. “The idea is, if you don’t think about it, maybe you won’t experience it as much. We are trying to cheat the brain a little bit. We are trying to refocus mental channels on to something else.”
Letting patients choose their music or stories is an important part of the treatment, Suresh said. “Everyone relates to music, but people have different preferences.”
The therapy worked regardless of a patient’s initial pain score. “It didn’t matter whether their pain score was lower or higher when they were first exposed to the audio therapy,” Suresh said. “It worked for everyone and can also be used in patients who have had ambulatory surgery and are less likely to receive opiods at home.”
“One of the most rewarding aspects of the study was the ability for patients to continue their own audio therapy,” said Sunitha Suresh, the first author on the study. “After the study, several patients ended up bringing in their iPods and listening to their own music. They hadn’t thought of it before.”
The equal effectiveness of the audiobooks was an unexpected finding, Sunitha Suresh noted. “Some parents commented that their young kids listening to audio books would calm down and fall asleep, “she said. “It was a soothing and distracting voice.”
In the study, about 60 pediatric patients at Lurie Children’s received pain evaluations prior to and after receiving the audio therapy. They reported their pain levels based on identifying facial images such as a grimace or tears or a happy face to illustrate how they were feeling.
The children were divided into three groups; one heard 30 minutes of music of their choice, one heard 30 minutes of stories of their choice and one listened to 30 minutes of silence via noise-canceling headphones. The patients in the music and story groups had a significant reduction in pain. The patients who heard silence did not experience a change in pain.
Public Release: 12-Jan-2015
Beyond prevention: Sulforaphane may find possible use for cancer therapy
CORVALLIS, Ore. – New research has identified one of the key cancer-fighting mechanisms for sulforaphane, and suggests that this much-studied phytochemical may be able to move beyond cancer prevention and toward therapeutic use for advanced prostate cancer.
Scientists said that pharmacologic doses in the form of supplements would be needed for actual therapies, beyond the amount of sulforaphane that would ordinarily be obtained from dietary sources such as broccoli. Research also needs to verify the safety of this compound when used at such high levels.
But a growing understanding of how sulforaphane functions and is able to selectively kill cancer cells indicate it may have value in treating metasticized cancer, and could work alongside existing approaches.
The new findings on the unique abilities of sulforaphane were recently published in the journal Oncogenesis, by researchers from Oregon State University and the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
“There’s significant evidence of the value of cruciferous vegetables in cancer prevention,” said Emily Ho, professor and director of the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and lead author on this research.
“However, this study is one of the first times we’ve shown how sulforaphane can affect a histone methylation and alter gene expression in metasticized prostate cancer cells,” said Ho, who is also a principal investigator in OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute. “It begins a process that can help to re-express tumor suppressors, leading to the selective death of cancer cells and slowing disease progression.”
The evidence now shows that sulforaphane should have therapeutic value against some forms of cancer, Ho said, including late-stage, metasticized disease. Its multiple impacts on metabolic processes might also make it a valuable adjunct to existing therapies, helping them to work better.
No clinical trials have yet been done to test the value of sulforaphane in cancer therapy, although a trial is under way using sulforaphane supplements in men with high risk for prostate cancer. Results from that may help demonstrate the safety of higher-dosage supplements and set the stage for therapeutic trials, Ho said.
Dozens of studies have examined the health value of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages, and many of them ultimately focused on the role of sulforaphane, one compound found in these foods. Broccoli sprouts contain some of the highest dietary levels of the sulforaphane precursor.
The new study identified a particular enzyme in prostate cancer cells, SUV39H1, that is affected by exposure to sulforaphane. Aside from potential dietary approaches, the researchers said that this establishes SUV39H1 as a new therapeutic target, in general, for advanced cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States, and existing therapies include surgical removal of the prostate, radiation therapy, hormones or other approaches. Although often slow growing, prostate cancer can be much more aggressive if it metasticizes to other areas of the body, at which point survival rates decrease dramatically. In the U.S. it’s the fifth leading cause of cancer death.
In laboratory studies, sulforaphane has shown toxicity to a number of human cancer cell lines, including prostate, breast, ovarian, colon and pancreatic cancer, and in animal studies it decreased metastases of prostate cancer.
Public Release: 12-Jan-2015
Fish peptide could help in battle against cardiovascular disease
University of Leicester Professor contributes to major International Review of peptide Urotensin II
A major international review of a peptide originally found in fish that could be used in the battle against cardiovascular disease has been published.
Professor David Lambert from the University of Leicester’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences contributed to the review, which has been largely written by the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) subcommittee, to pull together the vast literature on Urotensin II (UII), a peptide first isolated from teleost fish.
UII activates a G protein-coupled receptor called UT to modulate a number of signalling pathways including intracellular Calcium. Interestingly, the peptide can constrict some blood vessels yet dilate others.
The review, which is published in the high impact journal Pharmacological Reviews, has shown that UII can modulate a vast array of biologic activities encompassing the cardiovascular system, kidneys and central nervous system.
Professor Lambert said: “We have been working on this exciting peptide for a number of years; it exhibits a very interesting pharmacological profile. Design and evaluation of small molecule drugs has potential for use in the treatment of several cardiovascular diseases.”
Public Release: 14-Jan-2015
Potassium salts aid bone health and limit osteoporosis risk, new research finds
Latest research from the University of Surrey has found that the potassium salts (bicarbonate and citrate) plentiful in fruit and vegetables, play an important part in improving bone health. For the first time, the results also showed that these potassium salts reduce bone resorption, the process by which bone is broken down, therefore increasing their strength.
The study, published in the journal Osteoporosis International, also revealed that high intake of potassium salts significantly reduces the excretion of calcium and acid in urine.
“This means that excess acid is neutralised and bone mineral is preserved,” said lead author Dr Helen Lambert from the University of Surrey.
“Excess acid in the body, produced as a result of a typical Western diet high in animal and cereal protein, causes bones to weaken and fracture. Our study shows that these salts could prevent osteoporosis, as our results showed a decrease in bone resorption.”
Although bone resorption and bone formation is a natural process, allowing bones to grow, heal and adapt, in osteoporosis, the balance is shifted so that more bone is broken down than is built up, leading to fragility and fractures.
The debilitating disease affects almost three million people in the UK. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone because of poor bone health.
This study shows that eating more fruits and vegetables could be a way to improve the strength of our bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Public Release: 14-Jan-2015
Sweet potato leaves a good source of vitamins
Study confirms leaves of sweet potato plants contain significant levels of vitamin B6, other water-soluble vitamins
BATON ROUGE, LA – Sweetpotato is known to be a good source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and certain B vitamins that are considered essential to human health. Besides the commonly consumed root of the plant, certain tissues in sweetpotato are also edible and high in nutritional value. Although studies have confirmed that water-soluble vitamins exist in sweetpotato roots and leaves, there has been limited information about how these vitamins are actually distributed in the plants. Wilmer Barrera and David Picha from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center published a research study in HortScience that shows that mature and young leaves of sweetpotato can provide significant amounts of vitamin B6 and other essential vitamins.
“The objective of the study was to determine the ascorbic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 content in a wide range of edible tissues of ‘Beauregard’ and ‘LA 07-146’ sweetpotatoes, two important commercial cultivars in Louisiana,” Barrera and Picha said. The scientists analyzed a variety of sweetpotato tissue types (mature leaves, young leaves, young petioles, buds, vine sections, and root tissue) from a sweetpotato plot at Louisiana State University in late October and again the following September. They conducted a third experiment to study water-soluble vitamin content among different sweetpotato root tissues.
Analyses revealed differences in total ascorbic acid (AA) content among tissue types. Young leaves contained the highest AA content, followed by mature leaves and buds. Buds also contained significantly higher AA content than sweetpotato roots, vines, and petiole tissues. “These results confirm previous studies that sweetpotato foliar tissues are a good source of ascorbic acid, and that young leaves have the highest foliar AA content,” the scientists noted. The experiments showed no presence of thiamin in foliar tissues, a finding the authors say differs from previous studies. “The lack of thiamin in our results might be explained by cultivar differences,” they explained.
Results also showed that riboflavin content differed with sweetpotato tissue type, but was consistently higher in the leaves; mature leaves contained higher amounts of riboflavin than young leaves and other plant tissues, including roots. “Leaf tissue also contained higher total vitamin B6 content compared with other tissues. Mature leaves contained 3.4 times higher vitamin B6 than roots, whereas mature petioles contained 2.3 times more than roots,” the authors said. “Bud tissue and young leaves also contained higher B6 levels than roots, whereas the vine and young petiole tissue contents were lower than roots.”
Barrera and Picha concluded that ascorbic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 contents were higher in leaf tissue than in other tissue types. “Our results indicate that mature and young leaves of sweetpotato could provide significant amounts of vitamin B6 to the human diet,” they said. They noted that the vitamin B6 content in sweetpotato leaves compares well with fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, avocados, carrots, bananas, and cauliflower.
Public Release: 14-Jan-2015
Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity
A brisk 20 minute walk each day could be enough to reduce an individual’s risk of early death, according to new research published today. The study of over 334,000 European men and women found that twice as many deaths may be attributable to lack of physical activity compared with the number of deaths attributable to obesity, but that just a modest increase in physical activity could have significant health benefits.
Physical inactivity has been consistently associated with an increased risk of early death, as well as being associated with a greater risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Although it may also contribute to an increased body mass index (BMI) and obesity, the association with early death is independent of an individual’s BMI.
To measure the link between physical inactivity and premature death, and its interaction with obesity, researchers analysed data from 334,161 men and women across Europe participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study. Over an average of 12 years, the researchers measured height, weight and waist circumference, and used self-assessment to measure levels of physical activity. The results are published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The researchers found that the greatest reduction in risk of premature death occurred in the comparison between inactive and moderately inactive groups, judged by combining activity at work with recreational activity; just under a quarter (22.7%) of participants were categorised as inactive, reporting no recreational activity in combination with a sedentary occupation. The authors estimate that doing exercise equivalent to just a 20 minute brisk walk each day – burning between 90 and 110 kcal (‘calories’) – would take an individual from the inactive to moderately inactive group and reduce their risk of premature death by between 16-30%. The impact was greatest amongst normal weight individuals, but even those with higher BMI saw a benefit.
Using the most recent available data on deaths in Europe the researchers estimate that 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths amongst European men and women were attributable to obesity (classed as a BMI greater than 30): however, double this number of deaths (676,000) could be attributed to physical inactivity.
Professor Ulf Ekelund from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, who led the study, says: “This is a simple message: just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive. Although we found that just 20 minutes would make a difference, we should really be looking to do more than this – physical activity has many proven health benefits and should be an important part of our daily life.”
Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Unit, adds: “Helping people to lose weight can be a real challenge, and whilst we should continue to aim at reducing population levels of obesity, public health interventions that encourage people to make small but achievable changes in physical activity can have significant health benefits and may be easier to achieve and maintain.”
PUBLIC RELEASE: 15-JAN-2015
A fatty acid used to decode weight control
A Fatty Acid used to Decode Weight Control
Obesity can be described as an excess of fat leading to metabolic diseases and adipose tissue has a pivotal role in obesity and its related complications.
Dietary management is the conventional strategy to promote weight loss and improve health, new research suggests the central role of myristoleic acid – a minor fatty acid not found in food – could provide the answer to the success of that New Year’s Resolution.
Emilie Montastier, Nathalie Villa-Vialaneix, Sylvie Caspar-Bauguil, Nathalie Viguerie and colleagues from the University of Toulouse developed a method to understand how molecular signatures of adipose tissue respond to weight control.
The study, publishing this week in PLOS Computational Biology, uses a data-driven approach to jointly analyze the lipidome, gene expression and phenotype from 135 obese women who took part in one of the most comprehensive dietary programs worldwide. The trial induced weight loss through an 8-week low calorie diet and a subsequent 6-month ad libitum weight maintenance diet.
A comprehensive insight of adipose tissue response during and after calorie restriction might improve obesity management. To figure out how weight change impacts the intrinsic complexity of adipose tissue biology the authors investigated the global adipose tissue network of fatty acid content and mRNAs together with bio-clinical parameters at each step of this dietary intervention.
Unravelling the complexity of adipose tissue is not an endpoint but a new starting point to understand the complexity of obesity-related complications. The research is central in nutrition research to gain deeper understanding of the interactions between nutrition and health.
PUBLIC RELEASE: 15-JAN-2015
Vitamin D protects against colorectal cancer by boosting the immune system
A new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators demonstrates that vitamin D can protect some people with colorectal cancer by perking up the immune system’s vigilance against tumor cells.
The research, published today by the journal Gut, represents the first time that a link between vitamin D and the immune response to cancer has been shown in a large human population. The finding adds to a growing body of research showing that vitamin D – known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced by the body in response to sunlight exposure – plays a key role in cancer prevention.
“People with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a lower overall risk of developing colorectal cancer,” said the study’s senior author, Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber, Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Laboratory research suggests that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T cells that recognize and attack cancer cells. In this study, we wanted to determine if these two phenomena are related: Does vitamin D’s role in the immune system account for the lower rates of colorectal cancer in people with high circulating levels of the vitamin?”
Ogino and his colleagues theorized that if the two phenomena were connected, then people with high levels of vitamin D would be less likely to develop colorectal tumors that are permeated with large numbers of immune system cells. Colorectal tumors that do develop in these individuals would, by the same logic, be more resistant to the immune response.
To determine if this is indeed the case, the research team drew on data from 170,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, two long-term health-tracking research projects. Within this population, researchers compared carefully selected groups of 318 colorectal cancer patients and 624 individuals who were free of cancer. All 942 of them had blood samples drawn in the 1990s, before any developed cancer. The investigators tested these samples for 25-hydroxyvitamin D, (abbreviated 25(OH)D), a substance produced in the liver from vitamin D.
They found that patients with high amounts of 25(OH)D indeed had a lower-than-average risk of developing colorectal tumors that were enriched with immune system cells.
“This is the first study to show evidence of the effect of vitamin D on anti-cancer immune function in actual patients, and vindicates basic laboratory discoveries that vitamin D can interact with the immune system to raise the body’s defenses against cancer,” Ogino said. “In the future, we may be able to predict how increasing an individual’s vitamin D intake and immune function can reduce his or her risk of colorectal cancer.”