Saturday, March 20, 2004

Studies show that aggressive treatment may not prevent heart attacks.

An article in tomorrow's New York Times says that treatments like bypass surgery, angioplasty, and stents may be doing little or nothing to prevent heart attacks.  Apparently most heart attacks do not originate with obstructed arteries.

What's the answer if you're at high risk? Go with the boring old advice — stop smoking, change your eating habits, and take drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. This is thought-provoking, and worth a read or discussing with your doctor.

[New York Times]

3:12:59 PM    
 Sunday, January 25, 2004

Don't Try This At Home: Supersize Me!

Just in case you thought fast food is harmless, check out this article.

"Morgan Spurlock decided to become a gastronomical guinea pig.  His mission: To eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald's and document the impact on his health.

Scores of cheeseburgers, hundreds of fries and dozens of chocolate shakes later, the formerly strapping 6-foot-2 New Yorker - who started out at a healthy 185 pounds - had packed on 25 pounds.

Within a few days of beginning his drive-through diet, Spurlock, 33, was vomiting out the window of his car, and doctors who examined him were shocked at how rapidly Spurlock's entire body deteriorated.

"It was really crazy - my body basically fell apart over the course of 30 days," Spurlock told The Post.

His liver became toxic, his cholesterol shot up from a low 165 to 230, his libido flagged and he suffered headaches and depression. "

[New York Post]

11:22:20 AM    
 Friday, January 23, 2004

Got a Tough Problem? Sleep on It!

Don't bother me. I'm solving problems!BBC Science -- Scientists say that they have shown how the brain can crack complex mental puzzles while its owner is sleeping. Research at Luebeck university, in Germany, says tests on 106 volunteers back up anecdotal evidence that a good night's sleep can help solve problems. The volunteers were shown a number puzzle in which was embedded a "hidden code" revealing the answer, the journal Nature reports. Those kept awake overnight reportedly had far less chance of solving it. The scientists believe that because the brain appears to restructure information from the previous day during sleep hours, a period of sleep may produce insight into problems such as these. Other experts say it is the first hard evidence that creativity and problem-solving may be assisted by the activity of the brain during sleep. Dr Jan Born, who led the study, said: "This restructuring might be occurring in such a way that the problem is easier to solve." He highlighted a period of sleep called slow-wave sleep - a deep sleep not thought to be punctuated by dreams. Even small reductions in this sleep phase have been linked by other studies to a decrease in memory function, and in decreasing ability to recognise "hidden structures". Their 106 volunteers were all given a quick look at a test that involved sorting numbers based on a couple of set rules. However, underlying these rules was a third, "hidden" rule which, when spotted, dramatically simplified the completion of the puzzle. Some of the volunteers then got a full eight hours' sleep, while others had various degrees of sleep deprivation. The scientists then sat back to see which volunteers had a flash of inspiration and spotted the third rule and how quickly they managed it. Twice as many of the rested participants caught on to the rule than volunteers from the sleepless group. Dr Carl Hunt, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health in the US, said that the study was important. (01/23/04)

[My World of “Ought to Be”]
11:41:47 PM    
 Thursday, January 22, 2004

Vitamins E & C protect from Alzheimer's

BBC Health -- It may be possible to reduce the effects of Alzheimer's disease by taking the right combination of vitamins, US research suggests. Scientists have found vitamins E and C may protect the ageing brain - but only if taken together. They both mop up destructive molecules, called free radicals, released by the body's metabolic processes. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland announced their findings in the journal Archives of Neurology. Brain cells, known as neurons, are thought to be particularly sensitive to damage caused by free radicals. Lead researcher Dr Peter Zandi said: "These results are extremely exciting. Our study suggests that the regular use of vitamin E in nutritional supplement doses, especially in combination with vitamin C, may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease." Dr Zandi's team examined data on 4,740 people aged 65 years or older. Of these 304 showed signs of Alzheimer's disease. Approximately 17% of the study participants reported taking vitamin E or C supplements. Another 20% used multivitamins, but without a high dosage of vitamin E or C. The researchers found that taking a combination of vitamin E and C seemed to have a protective effect. People taking both vitamins were 78% less likely to show signs of Alzheimer's than those not taking the combination. They found no benefit from taking either of the vitamins in isolation, or from taking multivitamins alone. ... Multivitamins typically contain the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E (22 IU or 15 mg) and vitamin C (75-90 mg), while individual supplements contain doses up to 1,000 IU of vitamin E and 500-1,000 mg or more of vitamin C. ... It was possible that it was simply a dosage effect - taking two vitamins instead of just one meant more was circulating around the body. However, he said: "There is also evidence of a synergistic effect between the activities of vitamin E and C. "Vitamin E is lipid-soluble and thus sticks around in fat tissues of the body a relatively long time. In contrast, vitamin C is water-soluble and is rapidly excreted from the body. Vitamin C may act to recharge the antioxidant capacities of vitamin E so that the vitamin E can continue doing its job of soaking up free radicals and reducing oxidative stress."

[My World of “Ought to Be”]

4:34:08 PM    
 Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Nutrition Information.

This powerpoint file introduces the nutrients, calorie value of the nutrients and basic nutrition.
Daily reference intakes are also presented. Pictures are included to emphasize malnutrition, overnutrition and undernutrition. via [Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX) Newest]

12:54:58 PM    
 Monday, January 19, 2004

Vitamin D may protect against MS.

You didn't see this on television news and you probably didn't notice it in your newspaper. Approximately 350,000 Americans have MS, so this is not an insignificant group.

The big drug companies pretty much control what you see and read, so it isn't surprising that a ten- to twenty-year study would get ignored -- especially if the results don't benefit the big drug companies. But that is just what is coming out of The Nurses Health Study. Click here to read one of the few accounts of this finding published in a newspaper.

"A huge study testing a long-held theory about the cause of multiple sclerosis has found that women who took a vitamin D supplement cut their risk of developing the incurable neurological disorder 40 percent. ... Vitamin D from food sources did not seem to lower the incidence of MS."

Take a good supplement, and don't take more than is in the supplement. Too much Vitamin D can be toxic. If you need the name of a good supplement, I can recommend one. Contact me through the mailto: link on this weblog.

10:20:20 AM    
 Monday, December 29, 2003

Health-Related News Items


Are You Hungry?

Raj Patel writes: During this season of goodwill, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, reminds us that not everyone will be eating well over the holidays. Its report on world hunger provides some dyspeptic reading. More than 840 million people worldwide will be going hungry this holiday season, and the report notes that "bluntly stated, the problem is not so much a lack of food as a lack of political will." "Political will" is a fairly murky term, though. There is no shortage of political will when it comes to agriculture, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere. Large agricultural corporations have been buying political will in Washington for decades. The majority of the 2002 farm bill's $180-billion appropriation is earmarked for corporations and wealthy landowners, in defiance of economic or good sense. As a direct result, family farms have gone bankrupt, farming communities have been devastated and poverty is eviscerating rural America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in November that 34.9 million citizens were hungry in 2002, 1.3 million more than the previous year. The rate of rural poverty is about one-third higher than urban poverty and since 2001 has been climbing. This at a time of an abundance of food and sufficient subsidies to bankroll agricultural corporations into the next decade. When the FAO talks of political will, it refers directly to a social commitment to ensure that the poorest people in society are able to eat. But it is a commitment that has eroded. This hurts rural communities most, not just in this nation but worldwide. In every country, the poorest people are those who live and work in agricultural communities. Policy that affects farming is necessarily policy that affects poverty. (12/29/03)


Obesity linked to Prostate Cancer

BBC Health -- Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may boost their chances of survival by losing weight, say experts. It follows two studies in the United States which found the disease hits obese men much harder than others. The studies involving more than 4,000 men found obese men suffered more aggressive forms of the disease and were more likely to suffer a relapse. Writing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers urged obese men with the disease to lose weight. In the first study, Dr Christopher Amling, who is based at the US Naval Medical Center in San Diego, examined data on 3,162 men with prostate cancer. Of these, 19% were obese. They found that obese men - with a body mass index score of 30 or more - had more aggressive forms of prostate cancer and a higher rate of recurrence. In the second study, Dr Stephen Freedland, who is based at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, examined data from 1,106 men with the disease. Some 22% of these were obese. He found that men who were moderately or severely obese - with a body mass index of 35 or more - had more aggressive forms of the disease. They were also 60% more likely to have a recurrence of cancer compared with other men. Both doctors believe that the proteins and hormones in body fat may promote tumour growth in obese men. These men also have lower levels of testosterone and higher oestrogen levels, which they said may also help fuel the disease. (12/29/03)


Controlling Cancer with Cox-2 Inhibitors?

Breast tumourBBC Health -- Mice genetically altered to produce larger quantities of a chemical called COX-2 had faster-growing and spreading breast cancers. Drugs that "inhibit" COX-2 - from the aspirin family - could have a role fighting breast cancer, say experts. The research was carried out at the University of Connecticut, and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. One of the key factors that allows a tumour to grow is whether it has sufficient blood supply to support its new size. Many tumours can harness chemical pathways that prompt the body to create a web of new blood vessels around the cancer, a process called angiogenesis. COX-2, and another chemical linked to it, called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), are already under suspicion for having a role in this process. If this role is proven, there are already drugs available which could interfere with this process, and perhaps improve the chances of patients with breast cancer, which has become the most common cancer in women in the UK. Dr Timothy Hla, who led the study, created a genetically modified mouse which produced more COX-2 in its breast tissue - in theory producing the perfect environment for a breast tumour to create the necessary blood vessels to allow growth. This was what they found - blood vessel density increased prior to visible tumour growth in the mouse breast tissue, and during progression, the density of the blood vessels increased at an exponential way. When drugs called COX-2 inhibitors - designed to interfere with the workings of this chemical - were added to the mix, tumour growth slowed and blood vessel density decreased, pointing again to the role of COX-2 in the process. (12/29/03)








[My World of “Ought to Be”]
2:42:16 PM