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24 September 2010

Krill oil may reduce arthritis symptoms: Mouse study

Daily supplements of krill oil may reduce the symptoms of arthritis, with the benefits linked to the omega-3 and antioxidant content of the ingredient, suggests a new study.

The study, which compares krill oil (Superba Krill Oil, Aker BioMarine) and fish oil, showed that addition of EPA and DHA to the diet of mice reduced levels of inflammation in a mouse model of arthritis.

“Krill oil provides protection in terms of arthritis scores and joint pathology in the CIA model. Thus, this source of (omega-3) fatty acids deserves more investigation as a food supplement for patients suffering from not only RA but also osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions,” wrote researchers from MD Biosciences (Zurich, Switzerland), Aker BioMarine, and Clanet (Finland) in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Understanding krill

Krill are tiny shrimp gaining attention as a rich source of omega-3, as well as other nutrients.

There are about 85 species of the deepwater marine planktonic crustacean, or deepwater shrimp, which the planet's most abundant animal biomass and which when captured and converted to oil, pack 48 times the antioxidant punch of standard fish oils, according to ORAC antioxidant scales.

Study details

The researchers used an animal model of arthritis to evaluate the effects of krill or fish oil on markers of joint health. The levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in the krill oil was 0.44 g of 100 grams of diet and 0.47 grams per 100 grams of diet in fish oil group.

Whey proteins show blood pressure lowering powers

Beverages formulated with whey proteins may offer a dietary approach to reducing blood pressure in people at risk of hypertension, suggests a new study.

Young adults in the early stages of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) experienced significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures following six weeks of drinking a whey-rich beverage every day, according to findings published in the International Dairy Journal.

Effects were observed whether the subjects consumed hydrolyzed or non-hydrolyzed whey beverages, leading the researchers to propose that the benefits were due to a factor other than the presence of antihypertensive peptides was produced during hydrolysis.

“The majority of the subjects enjoyed the taste and convenience of the functional whey protein beverages. Taste and convenience are both important to ensure compliance during a dietary intervention,” wrote researchers from Washington State University.

“Whey protein beverages may be a valuable dietary intervention in the treatment of hypertension,” they added.

High blood pressure (hypertension),defined as having a systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) greater than 140 and 90 mmHg, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) - a disease that causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year.

Study details

Led by Susan Fluegel, the WSU researchers recruited 71 young men and women with an average age of 20 and an average BMI of 24.6 kg/m2 and randomly assigned them to receive either a beverage containing 28 grams of whey protein concentrate 80 (WPC80 TemPro, Leprino Foods) or a beverage containing 28 grams of hydrolyzed WPC80.

After six weeks of intervention, the researchers noted no overall differences in systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), or mean arterial pressure (MAP) between the groups.

20 Things You Need to Know About Perimenopause and Menopause

Hot flashes, irregular periods, headaches, cold hands and feet, forgetfulness – these are common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Affecting each woman differently, the symptoms of menopause signify the cessation of menses and the end of the fertile phase in a woman’s life, usually occurring during their late 40s or early 50s. This transition is brought on by a major reduction in hormonal production, which is either due to the natural aging process or through artificial means, such as a surgical hysterectomy.

1. Menopause itself is technically just one point in time: the day when an entire year has passed since the end of a woman's last menstrual cycle. The average age on this day is 51 years, but women may be as young as 40 or as old as 58 and still be within the normal range for menopause. Just as the timing of this change in ovarian function differs from one woman to another, so do the timing and intensity of menopausal symptoms. Some women barely notice a hot flash or two. We've even spoken with women who had "cold flashes" rather than hot flashes.
- Joe Graedon, M.S. and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., Best Choices From the People's Pharmacy

2. “Natural menopause" is simply menopause not caused by any medical intervention, as opposed to "induced menopause," which is usually due to removal of both ovaries (surgical menopause), but can also be secondary to drugs (such as chemotherapy) or radiation treatment. Natural menopause can also refer to the experience of menopause without the use of replacement hormones, such as estrogen or progesterone.
- Bradley J. Willcox, D. Craig Willcox, and Makoto Suzuki, The Okinawa Program: How the World's Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health

3. Menopause occurs when there are no longer any active eggs left in the ovaries due to normal aging or as a result of chemotherapy or surgery.
- Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

4. Estrogen production after menopause or hysterectomy decreases bone calcium and strength. Most if not all American women are deficient in calcium.
- Joseph E. Mario, Anti-Aging Manual: The Encyclopedia of Natural Health

20 September 2010

Teens who smoke, weigh too much, fail to exercise may risk headache

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 5,847 teenagers, including how often they exercised, how much they weighed and whether they smoked. Among those who were overweight, smoked and did not exercise, about 55 percent had recurring headaches, compared with 25 percent of the teens who had none of these traits. Smoking alone raised the risk for headaches by 50 percent, being overweight increased it by 40 percent and not exercising raised it by 20 percent, when compared with teens who did not smoke, were not overweight and did exercise. Frequent headaches were nearly twice as common among teens with two negative behaviors and more than three times as frequent with three such behaviors.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Teenagers. Physical activity often decreases as kids become teens. In the United States, an estimated 20 percent of high school students and 6 percent of middle school students smoke, and at least 20 percent are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CAVEATS Data on the teens' behaviors came from their responses to questionnaires as well as from interviews and examinations. Other factors, such as socioeconomic and psychological status, were not considered and may have affected the results. The study did not test whether changing negative behaviors would reduce the frequency of headaches.

Antibiotics mess up your stomach, U.S. study finds

An intimate study of three women given ciprofloxacin showed the drug suppressed entire populations of beneficial bacteria, and at least one woman took months to recover.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports the common wisdom that antibiotics can damage the "good" germs living in the body.

It may also support the idea behind the development of so-called probiotic products including yogurt with live cultures of bacteria.

The researchers tested the three volunteers daily, giving them a five-day course of the commonly used antibiotic ciprofloxacin twice during the 10-month study.

They ran DNA tests on stool samples from the volunteers to determine what kind of microbes were living in the gut.

"The effect of ciprofloxacin on the gut microbiota was profound and rapid," Les Dethlefsen and David Relman of Stanford University in California wrote.

"By one week after the end of each course, communities began to return to their initial state, but the return was often incomplete."

More and more studies support the idea that humans and other animals have a symbiotic relationship with germs. Microbes in the intestines help digest food and "good" germs can take up space and keep bad germs away.

"The human distal gut is one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet," the researchers wrote in the study, available here

Gut microbes can affect obesity and may play a role in allergy. Lactobacillus reuteri, found in breast milk, may protect against rotavirus infections, other researchers have found.

Several recent studies have found that certain bacteria cause inflammation that can affect appetite as well as inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn's disease and colitis.

Regularly wiping out the body's bacterial population could also be helping drive the rapid spread of drug-resistant superbugs, the Stanford team said.

"One potential ramification of the altered community is an enhanced carriage of antibiotic-resistance genes in the human population," they wrote.

"Every course of antibiotics may represent another roll of the dice," they added -- potentially a "bad" strain to replace a beneficial species.

Chemicals In Indoor Swimming Pools May Increase Cancer Risk

Newswise — Swimming in indoor chlorinated pools may induce genotoxicity (DNA damage that may lead to cancer) as well as respiratory effects, but the positive health effects of swimming can be maintained by reducing pool levels of the chemicals behind these potential health risks, according to a new study published in a set of three articles online September 12 ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). This study is the first to provide a comprehensive characterization of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in an indoor pool environment and the first to study the genotoxicity of exposure to these chemicals among swimmers in an indoor chlorinated pool.

DBPs form in pool water from reactions between disinfectants such as chlorine and organic matter that is either present naturally or is introduced by swimmers, such as sweat, skin cells, and urine. Previous epidemiologic studies have found an association between exposure to DBPs in drinking water and risk of bladder cancer, and one such study has found this association for dermal/inhalational exposure such as occurs during showering, bathing, or swimming.

The new study details a comprehensive investigation of DBPs and mutagenicity of water samples collected from two indoor pools, one disinfected with chlorine, the other with bromine. In addition, short-term changes in biomarkers of genotoxicity and respiratory effects were studied in swimmers who swam in the chlorinated pool. No previous studies have combined investigations of the mutagenicity (ability to cause permanent DNA mutations) of pool water with a comprehensive chemical characterization of the water and studies of human exposures, the authors stated.

Evidence of genotoxic effects were seen in 49 healthy adults after they swam for 40 minutes in the chlorinated pool. Specifically, researchers found increases in two genotoxicity biomarkers relative to the concentration of the most common types of DBPs in exhaled breath, which were used as a measure of the swimmers’ exposures. The biomarkers that increased were micronuclei in blood lymphocytes, which have been associated with cancer risk in healthy subjects, and urine mutagenicity, which is a biomarker of exposure to genotoxic agents.

Detailed measurements were also made of the most common exhaled DBPs (trihalomethanes) in air around the pool and in exhaled breath of the swimmers before and after swimming. Researchers measured several biomarkers of respiratory effects after swimming and found changes in only one—a slight increase in serum CC16, which suggests an increase in lung epithelium permeability. This result was explained by the effects of exercise itself as well as exposure to DBPs. Further research is needed to sort out the clinical relevance of this acute change, the researchers stated.

In addition, the authors identified more than 100 DBPs in the pool waters, some never reported previously in swimming pool water and/or chlorinated drinking water. In vitro assays showed that the swimming pool water was mutagenic at levels similar to that of drinking water but was more cytotoxic (can kill cells at a lower concentration) than drinking water.

The human exposures studied were short-term, and further investigations of genotoxic and respiratory effects of longer-term exposures are needed, the authors stated. Also noted was a need for further research on an array of swimming pools under various conditions of maintenance and use, as well as more complete evaluations of the uptake and potential effects of the wide range of compounds present in pool water. These are preliminary results that should be confirmed in studies with larger sample sizes.