Research

Primavita Family Medicine Newsflashes!

DIET INCREASES HEART RISK: A study has found that a specific type of high-carbohydrate diet increases coronary heart disease risk in women – but not in men. The greater risk stems – not from high-carbohydrate diets – but specifically from high-carbohydrate diets scoring high on the Glycemic Index (GI). Low-GI foods digest slowly, causing gradual fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin; high-GI foods digest quickly, causing sudden fluctuations. Women eating the highest-GI foods had 2.24 times the risk of women consuming the lowest-GI diet. For foods’ GI scores, check http://www.glycemicindex.com/. The study was published in the April 12, 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

DIET PROTECTS AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S:A study has identified a combination of foods that reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Scientists defined various dietary patterns among 2,148 persons. One diet type stood out as effective against AD: one including high intakes of salad dressing, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, fruits and cruciferous and dark and green leafy vegetables; and low consumption of high-fat dairy, red meat, organ meat and butter. This suggests that this diet’s nutrients work synergistically; that no single nutrient offers sufficient effect. Just released, this study will be published in the June, 2010 issue of Archives of Neurology.

LYCOPENE SUPPLEMENTS EQUALLY EFFECTIVE: A study suggests lycopene – a beneficial substance found in cooked tomatoes, tomato juice and paste – offers protection against prostate cancer whether ingested as lycopene-rich, red tomato paste or purified lycopene supplements. Lycopene-free yellow tomato paste offered no protection. Prostate cancer cells were incubated in the blood taken from thirty volunteers who had been taking these three different items. Specific prostate cancer-linked proteins were measured to judge protective effect. Best food sources of lycopene are processed tomatoes, watermelons and pink grapefruit. Released April 14, the study will appear in a future issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

DID YOU KNOW…?
Contrary to common belief and some media articles, hair does not grow back any faster, coarser or darker after you shave it. This finding stems all the way back to a 1928 clinical trial and has been confirmed many times since. When hair grows back after shaving, it just seems coarser because it lacks the fine taper of unshaved hair. Also, it may seem darker because it hasn’t been exposed to the sun like the unshaved hair it replaced.

FISH CUTS OVARIAN CANCER RISK:Although meat and fish intakes were previously associated with some cancers, a study has uncovered the links between ovarian cancer and the consumption of total meat, red meat, poultry, fish and processed meat. Australian researchers studied the eating habits of 4,240 women and concluded that total meat and red meat have no association with ovarian cancer. Poultry showed a slight reduction in risk and fish showed a significant reduction. But processed meat caused a significant increase in ovarian cancer risk. Disclosed April 14, this study will appear in a future edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

HERBICIDE LINKED TO HYPERTHYROIDISM: A study reminds us environmental factors can increase the risk of autoimmune diseases. Exposure to TCDD, a dioxin compound in Agent Orange, may triple the incidence of Graves’ disease. Agent Orange was the name given to an herbicide used by the US military in Vietnam. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder, typically resulting in hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid. Interestingly, exposure reduced the risk of hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid. Researchers stressed that study limitations mean the results are not conclusive. The study was presented April 15 in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

HEART DEFECTS LINKED TO MOTHER’S WEIGHT: A study concludes the more obese a woman is when conceiving, the greater the risk her baby will have a congenital heart defect. Risk for obese women is 15 percent greater; for morbidly obese women, 33 percent greater; and for merely overweight women, no increased risk. Overweight is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9; obese means a BMI of 30 and up. Calculate your BMI by visiting http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/index.html. Released late on April 7, this National Institutes of Health study will publish in a future issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

ALCOHOL AND OBESITY – GREATER EFFECT TOGETHER: Two studies published April 10, 2010 in the British Medical Journal conclude that the combined risk of liver disease from alcohol consumption and from obesity is far greater than the sum of these two effects together. Both obesity and alcohol are linked – separately – to cirrhosis of the liver and death from cirrhosis. But together, the effect is far greater. Obese men who consumed 15 or more alcoholic drinks per week experienced nearly 18 times the relative risk of dying from chronic liver disease as compared to their obese counterparts who drank significantly less alcohol.

HARDENING OF ARTERIES NOW COMMON IN YOUNG: A new study suggests an unsettling conclusion: that atherosclerosis, also called peripheral vascular disease or hardening of the arteries, now afflicts many younger men and women. Research on 994 patients under age 56 who were treated at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Vascular Center, found severe, premature artery disease – to the extent of causing “advanced damage” – in over 88 percent. In atherosclerosis, arteries narrow when the walls thicken with a build-up of fatty materials, such as cholesterol. The study was presented April 10 at the American Heart Association conference in San Francisco.

SPICES REDUCE MEAT RISK: A study concludes that adding antioxidant-rich spices to hamburger meat during cooking reduces levels of malondialdehyde, a product of fat oxidation that increases the risk of hardening of the arteries and cancer. Cooked fat can oxidize in meat itself or in the stomach but spices were found to cut the levels of this risky compound detected in the burger and in subjects’ urine and blood. At 11 grams per burger, the spicing was far greater than normal and was mostly oregano and paprika. The just-released study will appear in a future issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

DID YOU KNOW…? Is it feed a cold, starve a fever? Or starve a cold, feed a fever? Actually, neither. This old saying popularized by Mark Twain has no merit. When you’re sick, whether you have a cold or a fever or both, you need the same liquids and nutrients you needed when you were well or you’ll take longer getting better. Don’t feel like eating solids? Then opt for liquid nutrition such as tomato juice, protein drinks or soup. And of course, talk to your health practitioner.

FOR WOMEN, EARLY CHEMICAL EXPOSURE RISKIEST: Women might increase two- to seven-fold, their post-menopausal breast cancer risk – by exposure to certain workplace chemicals before their mid-thirties. A study published April 1, 2010 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine found women occupationally exposed to acrylic fibers had a seven-fold risk of breast cancer, while those exposed to nylon fibers doubled their risk. Other risky chemicals included rayon fibers and some petroleum products. The Canadian team admits findings could be due to chance but they’re consistent with theories that breast cells are more chemical-sensitive when they’re still active – before a woman reaches her 40s.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION INCREASES MEN’S FOOD INTAKE: Sleep deprivation raises the blood level of the compound ghrelin and lowers the level of leptin. A French study examined the effects of these changes on men’s net calorie intake. In comparison to an 8-hour sleep group, men limited to a 4-hour sleep for one night only, consumed 22 percent more calories the next day and were more active despite sleepiness. Increased calorie intake substantially exceeded increased output, suggesting sleep deprivation could be an obesity factor. Just released, this study is expected to appear in the June, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

FISH LINKED TO FEWER HEART-RELATED DEATHS: After studying a large population with a low fish intake, Dutch scientists have identified a link between comparatively higher intakes of either fish or omega-3 fatty acids, and a lower risk of fatal heart attacks and fatal coronary heart disease. There was no link to nonfatal heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in supplements; oily fish, including salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and to a lesser extent, tuna; flaxseeds; and some fruits and vegetables, including strawberries and broccoli. This newly disclosed study is expected to appear in the June, 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

ESSENTIAL OILS COULD BE CHEAP ALTERNATIVE TO ANTIBIOTICS: Some effective and inexpensive essential oils might be used to combat drug-resistant hospital super-bugs, according to not-yet-published research just presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s meeting in Edinburgh. Thyme essential oil was the most effective and was able to almost completely eliminate bacteria within 60 minutes. Almost as effective was cinnamon oil. The therapeutic value of essential oils has been shown previously for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including acne, dandruff, head lice and oral infections. These oils are being included in food stuffs to replace synthetic chemicals that act as preservatives.

PISTACHIOS IMPROVE CHOLESTEROL AND ANTIOXIDANT LEVELS: Compared to other nuts, pistachios are high in the antioxidants lutein, beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol. Pennsylvania researchers studied the effect of adding pistachios to the diets of patients with high LDL, or bad, cholesterol. After adding one or two daily servings to different diets, both groups experienced a moderate decrease in LDL cholesterol and an increase in antioxidants in the blood. This suggests pistachios help lower bad cholesterol and offer added benefits from antioxidants. A serving is 32-63 grams. The just-released study will appear in a future issue of the Journal of Nutrition, likely June, 2010.

EXERCISE IN PREGNANCY LINKED TO BABY’S BIRTH WEIGHT: A study released online today found pregnant women regularly performing moderately strenuous, aerobic – but not weight-bearing – exercise gave birth to babies with modestly reduced weight. Increased weight at birth is considered to increase the risk of an individual developing obesity during childhood. Even a modest reduction in birth weight may have long-term health benefits for offspring by lowering this risk. Participants were assigned five 40-minute sessions a week of stationary cycling. The study was released online early and will be published in the May, 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

DID YOU KNOW…?
If you want to maintain your muscles, emphasize fruits and vegetables – not protein – in your diet. According to a 2008 study at Tufts University, that’s because produce is a good source of potassium. Our bodies convert protein and cereal grains, both heavily represented in the North American diet, into acid residues. This triggers the breakdown of muscle to produce ammonia, which removes the excess acid. Potassium-rich diets are alkaline – the opposite of acidic – and buffer acids without sacrificing muscle.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES WEAKLY LINKED TO CANCER PREVENTION: A large study has found that the link between a high consumption of fruits and vegetables and a reduced overall risk of cancer is not as strong as commonly believed. An increase of 200 grams a day of produce reduced cancer risk by only three percent. Numerous previous studies have strongly linked produce consumption with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as some specific cancers. The new study was released April 6 but will be published in a future issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

CUT SATURATED FATS PROPERLY: A study concludes that replacing dietary saturated fat with carbohydrates can increase or decrease heart risks, depending on what foods are selected as replacements. Those who replaced saturated fats with carbohydrates scoring low on the “glycemic index” (GI) reduced their heart attack risk. Those who replaced saturated fats with high-GI carbohydrates increased heart attack risk. Low-GI foods digest slowly, causing gradual fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin; high-GI foods digest quickly, causing sudden fluctuations. For GI scores, check http://www.glycemicindex.com/. Released April 7, the study will publish in a future issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 

 

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