Health Technology Research Synopsis
3rd Issue Date 10 JUL 2007
Compiled By Ralph Turchiano
Public release date: 2-Jul-2007
Probiotic drinks can help reduce diarrhoea associated with antibiotics
Drinks containing probiotic bacteria can help reduce diarrhoea among older people, which may reduce length of stay in hospital and save the NHS money, say Imperial College researchers at Hammersmith Hospital in a study published on bmj.com today.
Between 5% and 25% of patients experience diarrhoea, including Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea, as a complication of treatment with antibiotics.
Drinks were given twice a day, within 48 hours of the people starting antibiotic therapy and continued for one week after the antibiotics were stopped. The people were also contacted for follow up four weeks later.
Of the 113 patients who were able to be contacted for follow-up, results showed the group taking probiotic drinks fared much better. Only 12% of those people developed antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, compared to 34% of the other group.
Of the probiotic group of patients, none developed C.difficile associated diarrhoea, compared to 17% of people in the other group
Public release date: 2-Jul-2007
Papworth breathing technique cuts asthma symptoms by a third
A sequence of breathing and relaxation exercises known as the Papworth method has been shown to reduce asthma symptoms by a third by the first randomised controlled trial to investigate the technique, which is published online ahead of print in Thorax.
And this improvement in symptoms was still maintained one year later. At 12 months patients who had been treated using the Papworth method scored 24.9, while patients who had not scored 33.5.
The Papworth method of physical therapy is a series of integrated breathing and relaxation exercises developed in the 1960s. The breathing training involves a specific diaphragmatic breathing technique, emphasises nose breathing and development of a breathing pattern to suit current activity. It is accompanied by relaxation training and education to help people integrate the exercises into their daily lives and recognise the early signs of stress
Public release date: 2-Jul-2007
POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice may improve erectile dysfunction
Research published in the International Journal of Impotence Research finds drinking 8 ounces of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice daily may help the management erectile dysfunction
This randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot study examined the efficacy of pomegranate juice versus placebo in improving erections in 61 male subjects. To qualify, participants had to experience mild to moderate ED for at least 3 months; be in a stable, monogamous relationship with a consenting female partner; and be willing to attempt sexual intercourse on at least one occasion per week during each study period.
For the first four weeks of the study, the subjects were assigned to drink either 8 oz. of POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice or 8 oz. of placebo beverage daily with their evening meal or shortly after. After a two-week washout period during which the subjects did not consume any study beverage nor utilize any ED treatment, they were assigned to drink 8 oz. of the opposite study beverage every evening for another four weeks. At the end of each four week period, efficacy was assessed using the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and Global Assessment Questionnaires (GAQ). The IIEF is a validated questionnaire that has been demonstrated to correlate with ED intensity. The GAQ elicits the patient’s self-evaluation of the study beverages’ effect on erectile activity.
Forty seven percent of the subjects reported that their erections improved with POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice, while only 32% reported improved erections with the placebo (p=0.058). These results compare favorably to a recent 24-week study using a PDE5 inhibitor (such as Cialis), in which roughly 73% of subjects reported a benefit from the PDE5 inhibitor and 26% reported a “placebo effect” (i.e. experiencing improvement while on the placebo).3
Researchers believe that the results might be due to the potent antioxidant content of pomegranate juice, which can prevent free radical molecules from disrupting proper circulatory function. In several previously published medical studies, pomegranate juice has been shown to enhance blood flow and to slow or reverse arterial plaque growth.4, 5, 6 Because an erection requires significant blood flow, these potent pomegranate antioxidants may provide benefit by mitigating arterial plaque and promoting blood vessel dilation.
Junk Science ALERT
Public release date: 2-Jul-2007
Older patients reap positive benefits with high dose statins
1. Funded By the Drug Company
2. Analyzed by Doctor who Had Prior Experimenter Bias
3. Does Not List all causes of death (pick and Choose)
“The exciting part of this study is that not only do older patients benefit from statin therapy, but aggressive use of high-dose statin to reduce the bad cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol, to levels lower than 100 mg/dL, provided additional benefit,” says Dr. Wenger. “The study participants had a relative reduction in risk of 19 percent for a major cardiovascular event with high-dose compared with low-dose atorvastatin. The important feature is that this occurred without any evidence of increase in risk from the high dose.”
In the study funded by drug manufacturer Pfizer, researchers studied 3,809 patients with a baseline age of 65 that were enrolled in a randomized trial of 10,001 patients with known coronary artery disease. Patients were randomly assigned to receive daily doses of either 80 mg or 10 mg of the statin drug Lipitor, and the were monitored for nearly five years.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that comes from two sources, in two forms. Produced primarily in the liver, our bodies need cholesterol to maintain healthy cell walls, make hormones, vitamin D and the bile acids which aid in fat digestion
“This reinforces what I have been doing clinically for my older patients, and that is treating them as aggressively as patients younger than 65 years of age.” says Dr. Wenger
Public release date: 3-Jul-2007
Consumption of small amounts of dark chocolate associated with reduction in blood pressure
Eating about 30 calories a day of dark chocolate was associated with a lowering of blood pressure, without weight gain or other adverse effects, according to a study in the July 4 issue of JAMA
Dirk Taubert, M.D., Ph.D., of University Hospital of Cologne, Germany, and colleagues assessed the effects of low regular amounts of cocoa on BP. The trial, conducted between January 2005 and December 2006, included 44 adults (age 56 through 73 years; 24 women, 20 men) with untreated upper-range prehypertension (BP 130/85 – 139/89) or stage 1 hypertension (BP 140/90 – 160/100). Participants were randomly assigned to receive for 18 weeks either 6.3 g (30 calories) per day of dark chocolate containing 30 mg polyphenols or matching polyphenol-free white chocolate
The researchers found that from baseline to 18 weeks, dark chocolate intake reduced average systolic BP by -2.9 (1.6) mm Hg and diastolic BP by -1.9 (1.0) mm Hg without changes in body weight, plasma levels of lipids or glucose. Hypertension prevalence declined from 86 percent to 68 percent. Systolic and diastolic BP remained unchanged throughout the treatment period among those in the white chocolate group. Dark chocolate consumption resulted in the short-term appearance of cocoa phenols in plasma and increased vasodilatory S-nitrosoglutathione. There was no change in plasma biomarkers in the white chocolate group.
Public release date: 3-Jul-2007
UT Study Reveals Inaccuracies in Cardiac PET-CT Imaging – And Finds Solution
HOUSTON—(July 3, 2007)—Current PET-CT scanners with standard commercial software designed to provide images of the heart are falsely indicating coronary artery disease in as many as 40 percent of patients, according to a study published today on the cover page of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
The technology showed false-positive results in 40 percent of the 259 patients who participated in Gould’s study. In 23 percent of those patients, it showed severe false abnormalities suggesting heart disease, which Gould said could have resulted in unwarranted, emergency heart procedures if he had not run additional tests to confirm his suspicions of the inaccurate results.
PET-CT is a valuable tool in the detection and management of coronary artery disease, Gould said, and he hopes other cardiologists and their patients will insist that scanner manufacturers resolve problems with the software to produce the most accurate results.
Public release date: 4-Jul-2007
Common environmental chemicals in diet affect fetal ovarian development
Lyon, France: Exposing a developing female sheep fetus to low doses of chemicals commonly present in the environment can disturb the development of the ovary, a scientist told the 23rd annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Wednesday 4 July). Dr. Paul Fowler, of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, said that this research would help to establish the importance of the effect of environmental chemicals for fertility.
Over recent decades there has been a dramatic increase in the production of industrial and agricultural chemicals and heavy metals, and this has coincided with widespread reports of breeding problems in wild animals. Fertility also appears to be declining among humans and there has also been a rise in reproductive defects observed in newborn
Public release date: 9-Jul-2007
Can an apple a day keep asthma away?
(NORTHBROOK, IL, JULY 9, 2007) –Teenagers who forego a healthy and balanced diet may have a harder time catching their breath. A new study, published in the July issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), shows that a low dietary intake of certain nutrients increases the likelihood of respiratory symptoms such as asthma, especially in teens who smoke. Furthermore, a lack of these nutrients may also lead to lower lung function.
“Our study, as well as other research, suggests that higher intakes of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory micronutrients are associated with lower reports of cough, respiratory infections, and less severe asthma-related symptoms,” said lead study author Jane Burns, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health. “Teenagers who have low dietary intakes of fruit, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids are at greater risk of having asthma, emphasizing the importance of a balanced diet, composed of whole foods.”
The majority of adolescents in the study were white, one third was overweight, and 72% did not consume multivitamins. Also, nearly 25% reported smoking on a daily basis. Researchers also found that at least one third of the students’ diets were below the recommended levels of fruit, vegetable, vitamins A and E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acid intake.
“Vitamin supplements can help teens meet their daily recommended levels,” said Dr. Burns, “and surprisingly, even relatively low levels of omega-3 fatty acids appeared to protect teens from higher reported respiratory symptoms.”
Results showed that low dietary intakes of fruit, vitamins C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids were associated with decreased lung function and a greater risk of chronic bronchitic symptoms, wheeze, and asthma. These risks were further increased among students with the lowest intakes and who also smoked.
Public release date: 8-Jul-2007
Pumpkin: A fairytale end to insulin injections?
Compounds found in pumpkin could potentially replace or at least drastically reduce the daily insulin injections that so many diabetics currently have to endure. Recent research reveals that pumpkin extract promotes regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells in diabetic rats, boosting levels of insulin-producing beta cells and insulin in the blood, reports Lisa Richards in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.
A group, led by Tao Xia of the East China Normal University, found that diabetic rats fed the extract had only 5% less plasma insulin and 8% fewer insulin-positive (beta) cells compared to normal healthy rats (Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(9) 1753-7 2007).
Xia says: ‘pumpkin extract is potentially a very good product for pre-diabetic persons, as well as those who have already developed diabetes.’ He adds that although insulin injections will probably always be necessary for these patients, pumpkin extract could drastically reduce the amount of insulin they need to take.
David Bender, sub-dean at the Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, says: ‘this research is very exciting… the main finding is that feeding pumpkin extract prevents the progressive destruction of pancreatic beta-cells… but it is impossible to say whether pumpkin extract would promote regeneration in humans.’ He added: ‘I think the exciting thing is that this may be a source of a medication that could be taken by mouth.’
The protective effect of pumpkin is thought to be due to both antioxidants and D-chiro-inositol, a molecule that mediates insulin activity. Boosting insulin levels has the effect of lowering blood sugar levels, which reduces levels of oxidative oxygen species that damage beta-cell membranes, preventing further damage and allowing for some regeneration. Beta cells levels in the diabetic rats are, however, unlikely ever to reach that of controls, because some of the cells will have been damaged beyond repair.
A compound from olive-pomace oil gets 80% slowing down of HIV spread
– Researchers from the University of Granada and Hospital Carlos III in Madrid, verified that maslinic acid – found in wax from olive skin – inhibits serin-protease, the enzyme used by HIV to release itself from the infected cell into the extracellular environment.
C@MPUS DIGITAL Olive oil has become part of the fight against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – the cause of AIDS – thanks to the research carried out by the Bionat team, from the University of Granada, headed by Prof. Andrés García-Granados, senior lecturer in Organic Chemistry. Their work shows that maslinic acid – a natural product extracted from dry olive-pomace oil in oil mills – inhibits serin-protease, an enzyme used by HIV to release itself from the infected cell into the extracellular environment and, consequently, to spread the infection into the whole body. These scientists from Granada determined that the use of olive-pomace oil can produce an 80% slowing down in AIDS spreading in the body.
Maslinic or crataegolic acid is a pentacyclic terpene with antioxidant and anticancer effects found in wax from olive skin, alongside oleanolic acid. The effects of this compound in the fight against AIDS are simultaneously being studied in the UGR and in Hospital Carlos III in Madrid by a team headedbyProf.VallejoNájera.
Maslinic acid innovative properties stem from its powerful protease-inhibition activity, allowing researchers from Granada to register two patents on behalf of the UGR to produce drugs for treatment of diseases caused by protozoa Cryptosporidium – a parasite causing small intestine infection and diarrhoea – and by HIV. The University of Granada has already registered almost ten other patents related to this compound’s properties.
Maslinic acid is also a very active compound in opportunistic parasitic infections seriously affecting HIV patients.
In trials carried out by these researchers with the MT2 cell line, for concentrations of 25 and 30 µg/ml maslinic acid inhibited replication of a primary HIV-1 isolate. For 25 µg/ml a decrease in the cytopathic effect and in p24 antigen levels in the supernatant culture medium was detected. For 30 µg/ml, there was total absence of the cytopathic effect and also a decrease of p24 antigen levels.
Public release date: 9-Jul-2007
Low vitamin D levels may be common in otherwise healthy children
A study in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition measured blood levels of vitamin D in 382 healthy children between six years and 21 years of age living in the northeastern U.S. Researchers assessed dietary and supplemental vitamin D intake, as well as body mass, and found that more than half of the children had low blood levels of vitamin D. Of the subjects, 55 percent of the children had inadequate vitamin D blood levels and 68 percent overall had low blood levels of the vitamin in the wintertime.
Vitamin D is crucial for musculoskeletal health. The primary dietary source of the vitamin is fortified milk, but the best way to increase vitamin D levels is from exposure to sunshine. Severe deficits in vitamin D may lead to muscle weakness, defective bone mineralization and rickets. In addition to musculoskeletal effects, vitamin D is important for immune function, and low blood levels of the vitamin may contribute to diseases such as hypertension, cancer, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes. Decreased blood levels of vitamin D have also been linked to obesity.
Further study is needed to determine the appropriate blood levels of vitamin D in children, said Dr. Zemel, who added that a review of the current recommendations for vitamin D intake is needed.
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