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16 April 2010

Omega-3 intakes may improve diabetic kidney health

Increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce kidney damage in type-1 diabetics, without impacting the incidence of the condition, says a new study.

Kidney function was improved in type-1 diabetics with the highest average intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), compared with people with the lower intakes of the fatty acids, according to findings published in Diabetes Care.

The results are based on data from 1,436 participants in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial – a trial including people aged between 13 and 39 and funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Type-1 diabetes occurs when people are not able to produce any insulin after the cells in the pancreas have been damaged, thought to be an autoimmune response. The disease is most common among people of European descent, with around two million Europeans and North Americans affected.

In addition, the incidence of the disease is reportedly on the rise at about three per cent per year. The number of new cases is estimated to rise 40 per cent between 2000 and 2010.

Diabetics are known to be at increased risk of kidney disease.

Study details

The researchers, led by Dr Amanda Adler from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge (UK), measured the excretion of the protein albumin in urine. Albumin is the most abundant protein in human serum and in people with kidney problems the protein leaks from the kidney into the urine. A level of 30 mg per 24 hours is reportedly representative of sufficient function.

According to the results, people with a higher average intake of omega-3s had albumin excretion levels 22.7 mg per 24 hours lower than people with the lowest average intakes of omega-3.

However, no link was observed with the incidence of kidney damage or raised albumin levels, said the researchers.

The Claim: Milk Makes You Phlegmy

Many people believe milk leads to upper-respiratory congestion, but studies have generally dismissed it as an old wives’ tale. In one well-known experiment, scientists found that even people inoculated with the common cold virus did not exhibit a statistically significant increase in symptoms or nasal secretions when they drank milk.

But a new report suggests a possible explanation: only a small group of people are susceptible. The theory is described in Medical Hypotheses, a journal devoted to publishing bold and sometimes radical biomedical theories.

In their report, the authors point to studies showing that not all milk is the same. Some types of milk, from certain breeds of cow, contain a protein called beta-CM-7, which has been shown in studies to stimulate mucus glands in the digestive tract. These glands are also found in the respiratory tract, where they are known to overproduce mucus in conditions caused by inflammation, like asthma.

The authors assert that consuming milk containing the beta-CM-7 protein may stimulate phlegm in the respiratory tract, particularly in people with chronic lung conditions.

“These prerequisites,” they write, “could explain why only a subgroup of the population, who have increased respiratory tract mucus production, find that many of their symptoms, including asthma, improve on a dairy-elimination diet.”


There may be a link between milk and phlegm in some people, but for now it is only hypothetical.

White bread, rice, and other carbs boost heart disease risk in women

Women who eat more white bread, white rice, pizza, and other carbohydrate-rich foods that cause blood sugar to spike are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease than women who eat less of those foods, a new study suggests.

Men who eat lots of those carbohydrates -- which have what's known as a high glycemic index -- do not have the same increased risk, however, perhaps because their bodies process the carbs differently, the researchers found.

Only carbohydrates with a high glycemic index appear to hurt the heart. Carbs with a low glycemic index -- such as fruit and pasta -- were not associated with an increased risk of heart disease, which suggests that the increased risk is caused "not by a diet high in carbohydrates, but by a diet rich in rapidly absorbed carbohydrates," says the lead author of the study, Sabina Sieri, of the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, a national institute for cancer research in Milan, Italy.

The glycemic index ranks on a scale from 1 to 100 how quickly (or slowly) carbohydrates affect your blood-sugar levels. (White bread scores 100.) Foods that rank below 55 are considered to have a low glycemic index and produce only small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels; foods that rank above 70 are said to have a high glycemic index and tend to cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar. 10 best foods for your heart

In the study, published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Sieri and her colleagues analyzed data from a large, ongoing study of nutrition and cancer risk. The researchers surveyed roughly 48,000 Italian adults about their diets in detail, noting the amount and types of carbohydrates they consumed on a regular basis. (People with diabetes, who have abnormal levels of blood sugar and insulin, were excluded.) Not surprisingly -- the study was conducted in Italy, after all -- bread, pasta, and pizza were common sources of carbs. 25 diet-busting foods you should never eat

During the eight-year follow-up period, 463 people in the study -- 65 percent of them men -- experienced heart problems (including heart attacks), had angioplasty or bypass surgery, or died of heart-disease-related causes.

The women who reported eating the most carbohydrates had twice the risk of developing heart disease as their counterparts who consumed the fewest carbs.

When the researchers broke the carbs into high and low glycemic index categories, the increased risk was even more apparent: Women who ate the most high glycemic foods had about 2.25 times the risk of developing heart disease than women who consumed the fewest. (To isolate the effect of the carbs on heart health, the researchers took body weight, physical activity, saturated fat intake, smoking, and a range of other health factors into account.)

Men, by contrast, were not at increased risk for heart disease regardless of how many -- or what type of -- carbs they consumed. Although the researchers aren't certain why this is, they suggest that it may be in part because carbohydrates with a high glycemic index lower HDL (or good cholesterol) and raise triglycerides less readily in men than they do in women. 20 meals that won't kill your cholesterol

Previous studies have shown a similar link between glycemic index and heart disease risk, and a similar discrepancy between men and women. "We hope to be able to repeat this analysis on...more than 500,000 subjects in order to confirm our results," Sieri says.

Joanna McMillan Price, a nutritionist in Sydney, Australia, and the author of The Low GI Diet, says that the new study provides yet more evidence to support a diet that favors low versus high glycemic index foods. "That means cutting out processed carbs and choosing instead minimally processed whole grains and low-GI starchy vegetables, fruits, and legumes," she says. Heart-healthy recipe of the day

There are many benefits to limiting foods with a high glycemic index, Price adds. People who do so "will find their appetite easier to control, making weight control easier in turn," she says. "They will help to keep energy and mood steady over the day, and they reduce their risk of several chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers."

According to Price, the best low glycemic index foods are whole-grain breads, barley, quinoa, beans and chickpeas, low-fat dairy products, fruit, and sweet potatoes.

Diet alone will not likely lead to significant weight loss

PORTLAND, Ore – Newly-published research by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University demonstrates that simply reducing caloric intake is not enough to promote significant weight loss. This appears to be due to a natural compensatory mechanism that reduces a person's physical activity in response to a reduction in calories. The research is published in the April edition of the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

"In the midst of America's obesity epidemic, physicians frequently advise their patients to reduce the number of calories they are consuming on a daily basis. This research shows that simply dieting will not likely cause substantial weight loss. Instead, diet and exercise must be combined to achieve this goal," explained Judy Cameron Ph.D., a senior scientist at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center, and a professor of behavioral neuroscience and obstetrics & gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine, as well as a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

To conduct the research, Cameron and OHSU post-doctoral fellow Elinor Sullivan, Ph.D., studied 18 female rhesus macaque monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. The monkeys were placed on a high-fat diet for several years. They were then returned to a lower-fat diet (standard monkey food) with a 30 percent reduction in calories. For a one-month period, the monkeys' weight and activity levels were closely tracked. Activity was tracked through the use of an activity monitor worn on a collar.

"Surprisingly, there was no significant weight loss at the end of the month," explained Sullivan. "However, there was a significant change in the activity levels for these monkeys. Naturally occurring levels of physical activity for the animals began to diminish soon after the reduced-calorie diet began. When caloric intake was further reduced in a second month, physical activity in the monkeys diminished even further."

A comparison group of three monkeys was fed a normal monkey diet and was trained to exercise for one hour daily on a treadmill. This comparison group did lose weight.

"This study demonstrates that there is a natural body mechanism which conserves energy in response to a reduction in calories. Food is not always plentiful for humans and animals and the body seems to have developed a strategy for responding to these fluctuations," added Cameron. "These findings will assist medical professionals in advising their patients. It may also impact the development of community interventions to battle the childhood obesity epidemic and lead to programs that emphasize both diet and exercise."

Toxic Fish Expose Greater Concern of Imported Foods into U.S.

The American seafood industry is being flooded with products imported from developing countries, much of which have proven to be contaminated with banned chemicals, poisons, carcinogens and high levels of antibiotics, according to a report by ABC News.

The report found that over 80 percent of the seafood sold in America today is imported, much of it from Third World nations such as China, Vietnam and the Philippines, none of which are known for their food safety standards.

The Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with promoting public health through regulation and supervision of food safety, inspects less than one percent of the nation’s imported seafood. Alabama, one of the few states with stringent seafood safety testing, regularly rejects 50 to 60 percent of imported seafood due to safety concerns, ABC News reported.

But, the FDA’s lack of regulation of food imports is no surprise given how understaffed and underfunded the agency is. In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, estimated that it would conduct border inspections of just 0.6 percent of the food it is supposed to regulate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, another agency charged with supervising food safety, conducted inspections on roughly 11 percent of imported foods in 2007.

It is no wonder then that the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year 76 million Americans are afflicted by food poisoning. Of those, an estimated 5,000 will die each year. The Trust for America’s Health found that foodborne illnesses caused by major pathogens cost $44 billion annually in medical care and lost productivity.

The seafood case is just one of many episodes in the ongoing saga of America being invaded with toxic, faulty or dangerous foreign imports.

Recently, over 60 million cans and pouches of dog and cat food originating from China were recalled after, by some estimates, 3,600 American pets died from eating foods contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine.

The blood thinner Heparin manufactured in China was also recalled recently by the FDA after it was found to have caused the deaths of 81 American citizens. Authorities believe that the contaminant, oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, a substance that mimics heparin but costs 99 percent less, entered the drug’s supply chain in China.

In the latter half of 2007, over 25 million childrens toys manufactured in China were recalled after they were found to be contaminated with toxic amounts of lead.

In that same year, roughly 450,000 tires were purchased from a Chinese manufacturer and sold in the U.S after they were found to be faulty and pose dangers to drivers.

Most recently, millions of pounds of Chinese-made drywall were recalled after it was found to emit sulfur gases that ruined numerous air conditioner and refrigerator coils, microwaves, computer wiring, faucets and copper tubing. In addition, rashes, allergic reactions, asthma and sore throats were reportedly caused by exposure to the substance.

U.S. officials have also had to contend with a rash of foodborne illnesses caused by imported peppers, spinach, peanuts and most recently pistachios. And more than 20 countries and markets have banned or recalled milk products from China because of melamine contamination.

The only way to prevent an influx of contaminated imports is better regulation and oversight at the federal level, experts say.

“Consumers may be getting a dose of antibiotics with their seafood dinner, and that’s something that the government should stop,” Caroline Smith DeWaal, a member of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told ABC News.

Smoking may increase risk of multiple sclerosis: study

The findings suggest that smokers who have high levels of a protein that protects against the Epstein-Barr virus, a common herpes virus, were twice as likely as nonsmokers to get multiple sclerosis (MS), the researchers wrote in the online edition of the journal Neurology.

Previous studies have suggested that smoking and the virus-fighting protein were independent risk factors and this research looked at how they may be associated with each other, Claire Simon of Harvard University said in a telephone interview.

"We found that that association was stronger in people who reported smoking compared with people who did not report smoking," Simon said.

The study found no association between smoking and a gene related to the immune system gene called HLA-DR15, which is thought to be another risk factor for MS, she said.

Studying the potential risk factors simultaneously might provide clues about why some people get MS and others do not, Simon said.

MS is an incurable condition that affects more than 1 million people worldwide. The disease can cause mild symptoms in some people and permanent disability in others. Symptoms may include numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, partial or complete loss of vision, tingling or pain, electric-shock sensation with certain head movements, tremors and an unsteady gait.

Simon and colleagues analyzed information from 442 people with MS and 865 without the disease. All were participants in either the U.S.-based Nurses' Health Study, the Tasmanian MS Study and the Swedish MS Study.

The team determined whether participants had either of the potential factors and looked at the participants' smoking history. The researchers said they found a consistent association between MS, smoking and the body's immune response to the Epstein-Barr virus across the three distinct, geographic regions.

Green tea extract effective for weight loss at low doses

Daily supplements of a purified extract of green tea may increase energy expenditure and help men beat the bulge, say results from a new human study.

A low dose of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea was found to increase fat oxidation by 33 per cent, according to findings published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“This pilot study provides for the first time evidence that a single green tea catechin, EGCG, can increase fat oxidation in obese men, at least within 2 h after meal intake. Within this postprandial phase, EGCG is equipotent with caffeine with regard to fat oxidation,” wrote the authors, led by Frank Thielecke from DSM Nutritional Products.

Growing waistlines, growing market

With the World Health Organization estimating that by 2015, there will be more than 1.5 billion overweight consumers, incurring health costs beyond $117 billion per year in the US alone, the opportunities for a scientifically-substantiated weight management food product are impressive.

Green tea has been studied extensively for its potential in the weight management category, with the compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) highlighted as a key component.

Three mechanisms have been proposed: EGCG could increase energy metabolism and fatty acid oxidation; inhibit fat cell development (apidogenesis); and/or reduce lipid absorption and increase fat excretion.

It has also been reported that caffeine must also be present as, for EGCG to aid weight loss, a stimulated nervous system is needed.

The new research, performed in collaboration with scientists from Universitary Medicine Berlin, supports the link between caffeine and EGCG, but also found that the compounds produce similar effects. A daily dose of 300 mg of EGCG was associated with a 33 per cent increase in fat oxidation, while a daily dose of 200 mg caffeine was linked to a 34.5 per cent increase. When male subjects were given a combination of EGCG (300 mg) and caffeine (200 mg), fat oxidation increased by almost 50 per cent, added the researchers.

The EGCG used in the study was DSM's Teavigo ingredient, with 94 per cent EGCG purity.

Study details

Thielecke and his co-workers recruited ten healthy overweight and obese men (average BMI of 31.3 kg/m2) to participate in the randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover trial. The men were randomly assigned them to one of five groups: Placebo, low-dose EGCG (300 mg), high-dose EGCG (600 mg), caffeine (200 mg), or EGCG plus caffeine (300 mg/200 mg). The men took the supplements for three days, then seven days of washout, and cross-over to another group. At the end of the study, all the men had participated in each group.

Zinc may ease female anger and depression: Study

Daily supplements of zinc may reduce measures of anger and depression in young women, according to a new study from Japan.

A daily supplement of 7 milligrams of zinc as zinc gluconate was associated with significant decreases in measures of anger-hostility and depression-dejection, report scientists from Daigaku Junior College and Seitoku University in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

On the other hand, multivitamin supplements did not affect the mood state of women who participated in the study.

“Although our findings are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution, they may prompt further investigations to evaluate the relationship between zinc nutriture and mood states in women,” wrote the researchers.

Study details

Zinc deficiency affects 30 per cent of the world’s population, and mood swings are reportedly common symptoms of mild zinc deficiency. In order to test if zinc supplements could affect mood the Japanese researchers recruited 30 young women and randomly assigned them to receive either multivitamins, or multivitamins plus zinc for 10 weeks.

13 April 2010

MEDITRAC: TRACTION ON THE MOVE Treating your patient's BACK by moving FORWARD

Give your practice the competitive advantage needed to thrive by using Meditrac's revolutionary rehabilitation devices to treat neck and back pain. Always at the forefront of spinal rehabilitation technology, Meditrac is the only company that implements portable traction devices, allowing for "Traction on the Move". The use of our innovative wearable cervical and lumbar spine traction units lets patients engage in physical activity while receiving treatment. This gives the patient the added benefits of enhanced circulation, muscle strength and joint flexibility.

Vertetrac®, for the lumbar spine, provides three-dimensional decompression therapy for Lower Back Pain and Sciatica- a feature not offered by any other traction device. With the addition of an optional DBS (Dynamic Brace System), the device can be used for the treatment of Juvenile Scoliosis and degenerative spinal changes.

CerviCo 2000®, for the cervical spine, performs low-load (unloading) traction in the upright, natural spinal position. The device performs powerful yet controlled traction which produces forces that act equally on all parts of the disc.

Both Meditrac devices are easy to use and completely customizable to the needs of each patient. They are compact, portable and reliable, all while providing cost-effective results.

For more information please contact Meditrac.
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12 April 2010

Vitamin K may reduce cancer risk: EPIC study

Consuming foods rich in vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of cancer, says a new study supporting the potential anti-cancer benefits of this emerging nutrient.

Results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study found that the highest intakes of vitamin K2, but not vitamin K1, were associated with a reduced risk of both overall cancer and cancer mortality, with the latter reduced by about 30 per cent.

There are two main forms of vitamin K: phylloquinone, also known as phytonadione, (vitamin K1) and menaquinones (vitamins K2). K1 is found in green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach, and makes up about 90 per cent of the vitamin K in a typical Western diet; while K2, which makes up about 10 per cent of Western vitamin K consumption and can be synthesised in the gut by microflora.

There are various forms of menaquinones, and these can also be found in the diet: Menaquinone-4, for example, can be found in animal meat, while menaquinones-7, -8, and-9 are found in fermented food products like cheese, and natto is a rich source of menaquinone-7.

Maintaining intakes

The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, appear to support the anti-cancer benefits of vitamin K2, with the majority of the nutrient being consumed from cheese.

The study adds to an ever-growing body of science supporting the benefits of vitamin K2, most well established for bone and cardiovascular health. Emerging evidence also supports a potential role for reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

Interestingly, Joyce McCann, PhD, and Bruce Ames, PhD, from the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute reported last year that current recommendations for vitamin K are not being met, placing people at increased risk of age-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Current recommendations are based on levels to ensure adequate blood coagulation, but failing to ensure long-term optimal levels of the vitamin may accelerate bone fragility, arterial and kidney calcification, cardiovascular disease, and possibly cancer, wrote the researchers in the October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

New data

The new study, led by Jakob Linseisen from the German Research Centre for Environmental Health, analysed data from 24,340 participants aged between 35 and 64 participating in the EPIC-Heidelberg cohort study.

The participants were following for over 10 years, during which 1,755 cases of cancer were documented. Of these 458 turned out to be fatal cases. Results showed that people with the highest average intakes of vitamin K2 were 14 per cent less likely to develop cancer, compared to people with the lowest average intakes.

Furthermore, a 28 per cent reduction in cancer mortality was observed for people with the highest average intakes.

Dr Linseisen and his co-workers also report that significant associations with prostate cancer, as observed in previous studies, meant that the cancer risk reduction was more pronounced in men.