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22 October 2010

Study: Vitamin B12 may help ward off Alzheimer's

People who consume lots of foods rich in vitamin B12 -- such as fish and fortified cereals -- may be at lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than people who take in less of the vitamin, a small study conducted in Finland suggests.

In the study, which was published in Neurology, researchers in Scandinavia analyzed blood samples from 271 individuals ages 65 to 79 who showed no evidence of dementia. The researchers tested for levels of a blood marker of vitamin B12 and for levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (as well as heart disease and stroke).

B vitamins, including B12 and folate, have been shown to help lower homocysteine levels, so high levels of the amino acid suggest low levels of B12.

Over the next seven years, 17 study participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The people with the highest levels of homocysteine at the beginning of the study had the greatest risk of developing the disease. In contrast, each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (known as holotranscobalamin) reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer's by 2 percent.

The relationship between vitamin B12 and Alzheimer's risk is "complex," says Dr. Sudha Seshadri, M.D., an associate professor of neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine and the author of an editorial accompanying the study. But, she adds, "B12 levels, particularly holotranscobalamin levels, likely play a contributory role."

The links among Alzheimer's risk, homocysteine, and B12 were more pronounced in older individuals, the study found.

Blood levels of folate, which the researchers also measured, were not related to homocysteine levels or Alzheimer's risk in this study. Folic acid -- a synthetic version of folate found in many supplements and multivitamins -- has been shown to lower homocysteine in previous studies, but its effect on disease risk is disputed.

A National Institutes of Health panel recently concluded that there are no foods or vitamins that definitively prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease, and experts say this study is consistent with the panel's recommendations. "A healthy diet likely remains important," Seshadri says. "The role of supplementation remains unclear."

Maria Carillo, Ph.D., the senior director of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer's Association, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, urges caution in interpreting the new findings, especially given that so few study participants developed the disease.

"We do know that vitamin B12 is a huge contributor to lowering homocysteine levels," she says. "Lowering these in general is important for cardiovascular health, and this study strengthens our knowledge about its role in risk for Alzheimer's disease."

Dr. Sam Gandy, M.D., the associate director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City, says that it may make sense for people to get blood tests to measure their levels of B12 and folate
However, he says, the study findings may not necessarily translate to people outside Scandinavia. And he worries that the results may spur doctors to recommend B12 injections to their patients -- a preventive treatment that he says is unfounded and already overused.

It's still unclear whether increasing your intake of vitamin B12 will help protect you from Alzheimer's, Gandy says. "Good nutrition should minimize the risk of Alzheimer's disease, but we can't say that any specific food has been proven to reduce this risk."

3 Lifestyle Choices Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Women who make healthy lifestyle choices lower their risk of developing invasive breast cancer, regardless of whether they have a family history of the disease, according to a new study.

"We have more awareness of our familial risks, and we may be led to believe there's nothing we can do — that it's fate," said study researcher Dr. Robert Gramling, a professor at the University of Rochester in New York. But his study showed "whether or not you have a family history of the disease, engaging in healthy behaviors is beneficial."

Women with a family history of breast cancer had a higher risk than those without, he said, but both groups lowered their risk by a similar proportion by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Specifically, the researchers found women who had a family history of breast cancer lowered their risk by about one-fourth by getting regular exercise, limiting their alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Similarly, women without a family history of the disease who followed a healthy lifestyle lowered their risk by about the same amount, Gramling said.

The researchers based their analysis on data from 85,644 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women's Health Initiative, a long-term study launched in 1991 and conducted by the National Institutes of Health. They considered a woman to have a family history of breast cancer if her mother or sister developed the disease after age 45.

Gramling was surprised, he said, that the findings in the two groups were nearly the same.

"It would have been expected that women without a family history of the disease would have lowered their risk," with a healthy lifestyle, he said. That women with a family history of breast cancer lowered their risk by a nearly-identical amount was more unexpected, he said.

In his medical practice, Gramling told MyHealthNewsDaily, he's encountered women who seem to have come to believe there's nothing they can do to lower their risk, but these results show otherwise.

The researchers defined regular exercise as 20 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity at least five times a week, moderate drinking as fewer than seven drinks per week and a healthy body weight as having a body mass index or BMI (a measure of a person's weight in proportion to her height) between 18.5 and 24.9.

The researchers chose to include exercise, BMI and alcohol intake in their definition of a healthy lifestyle, Gramling said, as opposed to other factors such as eating lots of fruits and vegetables, because these criteria have shown the strongest evidence, based on previous studies, of having an impact on one's breast cancer risk.

"Many of us have some family history of a scary disease," Gramling said, "this shouldn't be a barrier to making healthy choices."

The analysis excluded women who had previously had breast cancer, as well as those with a mother or sister who had developed early-onset breast cancer (before age 45), because it was more likely such women have genetic factors that may put them at an even higher risk.

Vitamin D Deficiency Puts Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients at Greater Risk of Osteoporosis, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Oct. 18, 2010) — Vitamin D deficiency puts patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) at greater risk of osteoporosis, osteopenia and an overall higher rate of abnormal bone density, according to the results of a new study unveiled at the American College of Gastroenterology's (ACG) 75th Annual Scientific meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The study, "Vitamin D Deficiency and Abnormal DEXA Scans in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients," found that of the 161 IBD patients in the cohort, reduction in bone density with a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia was found in 22 percent of these patients, 50 percent of whom were under age 50.

IBD is a fairly common condition affecting more than one million people in the United States. The number of IBD patients is split equally between those with Crohn's disease and those with ulcerative colitis. Children and adults with IBD between the ages of 10 and 70 participated in the prospective study between 2008 and 2010. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as Vitamin D 25‐hydroxy levels less than 30ng/mL. DEXA scan results were considered abnormal if osteopenia and osteoporosis were found.

"IBD patients with an abnormal bone density exam had a significantly higher rate of Vitamin D deficiency than those who had normal DEXA scans," said Dr. Bincy P. Abraham, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine and Director, Baylor Clinic Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program.

Dr. Abraham, who presented the findings, said that previous research has suggested a high prevalence of osteoporosis and overall abnormal bone density in IBD patients that is likely caused by corticosteroid use and excess of inflammatory cytokines, as well as from calcium and Vitamin D malabsorption.

"We aimed to determine the association between Vitamin D deficiency and abnormal bone density in IBD patients," said Dr. Abraham.

According the study, Crohn's disease patients with Vitamin D deficiency were four times more likely to have a higher rate of abnormal bone density exams compared to patients with ulcerative colitis.

"This finding is not surprising since Crohn's disease usually affects the small intestine, which is the part of the gut that absorbs the most nutrients," said Dr. Abraham. "The widespread malabsorption in Crohn's disease does not occur in ulcerative colitis, which involves only the colon."

However, both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patients diagnosed with osteoporosis had a significantly higher rate of Vitamin D deficiency irrespective of prednisone intake, according to the study.

"Abnormal bone density was relatively high among our IBD patients with Vitamin D deficiency irrespective to age, gender or corticosteroid use that would place them at a significantly higher risk of having an abnormal DEXA result," said Dr. Abraham. "It remains important for those caring for IBD patients to evaluate for Vitamin D nutritional deficiency and for its potential consequence of osteopenia or osteoporosis."

Study makes the case for vegetable juice

A study published in Nutrition Journal has suggested that promotion of vegetable juice could be an effective way of increasing vegetable intake among healthy adults.

A diet rich in vegetables has been associated with lower risk of various health disorders including heart disease and yet the authors of the paper said vegetable consumption in the US has fallen over the past decade.

Working from the nutritional science lab at the University of California, Davis, the scientists therefore sought to determine whether drinking vegetable juice is a practical way of closing the gap between dietary recommendations and vegetable intake. The second research aim was to see how vegetable juice affected cardiovascular health.

To fulfill these objectives, a randomised, controlled study was constructed with 90 volunteers who received 0, 8 or 16 fluid ounces of vegetable juice daily for 12 weeks and were asked to follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Daily vegetable servings with and without the vegetable juice were measured along with heart health parameters including blood pressure

Study results

Without the addition of the juice, the results showed that consumption of vegetable juice was below both dietary guidelines and DASH diet recommendations. This was in spite of the education that the participants received about the DASH diet.

Compared to public health recommendations of 4 servings per day, average vegetable intake for all groups, without counting vegetable juice, was 2.6 servings per day after 6 weeks and 2.3 servings per day after 12 weeks.

But once the vegetable juice was counted, the participants were able to reach the daily recommendations.

The authors concluded from these results that vegetable intake, even in an educated, healthy population, remains lower than recommendations and that adding vegetable juice daily was “an effective and acceptable way for healthy adults to close the dietary vegetable gap.”

Heart health impact

Regarding the secondary aim of the study, the authors said that generally parameters associated with heart health did not change over time. However, participants who were pre-hypertensive at the start of the study showed a significant decrease in blood pressure during the intervention period.

The authors called for more research to be done to explore the health impact of drinking vegetable juice among other at risk subgroups.

Funding for the study was provided by the Campbell Soup Company, which makes V8 vegetable juice, and the UC Davis Center for Health and Nutrition Research.

Source: Nutrition Journal
The use of a commercial vegetable juice as a practical means to increase vegetable intake: a randomized controlled trial
Authors: Sonia F Shenoy, Alexandra G Kazaks, Roberta R Holt, Hsin Ju Chen1, Barbara L Winters, Chor San Khoo, Walker SC Poston, C Keith Haddock, Rebecca S Reeves, John P Foreyt, M Eric Gershwin and Carl L Keen

20 October 2010

Health In Your Hands – Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction DVD

The Health In Your Hands DVD is a careful selection of exercises that you can do to reverse scoliosis in the comfort of your own home.

Broken down into three easy-to-digest sections, the DVD will take you through the various steps in order to start rebuilding and rebalancing your spine and its surrounding muscles and ligaments. The comprehensive sections cover everything from Body Balancing Stretches to Building Your Core and a number of different Body Alignment Exercises that have all been carefully designed and selected by Dr Kevin Lau.

Presented in a unique and accessible way, the DVD covers all areas of non-surgical intervention in the treatment of scoliosis in order to cure you permanently. The exercises in the DVD are tried and tested by qualified personal trainers, explained in the informative and insightful voice over of Dr Kevin Lau, who guides you to a straighter spine.

For anyone who suffers scoliosis, the main advantages of the DVD are:

•    It gives a 60-minute concise expansion of Dr Lau’s book by the same name, Health In Your Hands: Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment.
•    The Body Balancing section in the DVD explains in detail the correct stretching techniques for scoliosis sufferers.
•    The Building Your Core section focuses on strengthening the muscles that give stability to your spine. Incorporating these core exercises in your daily routine will support and stabilise both your spine and your pelvis area
•    The last section, Body Alignment Exercises will ensure overall repositioning of your spine.
•    All the exercises that feature in the DVD are suitable for pre and post-operative rehabilitation for scoliosis conditions
•    All exercises covered in the Health In Your Hands DVD can be practiced at home, and with no special equipment required other than an exercise ball.