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19 November 2010

Eating vegetables, seafood may cut breast cancer risk - study

The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month or the pink month, which is October, does not seem over yet. We continue to publish reports on new research to help readers to understand how a healthy diet or lifestyle may modify the risk of breast cancer.

A new study published in the Nov 2010 issue of Nutrition and Cancer suggests eating lots of vegetables and seafood may reduce risk of breast cancer in women.

The study led by Cho Y.A. and colleagues of the National Cancer Center in Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea found an inverse association between a vegetable-seafood pattern and breast cancer risk.

The researchers analyzed dietary data from 357 Korean women with breast cancer and 357 age-matched controls to determine the association between dietary patterns and breast cancer risk and the effect of menopause and hormone receptor statuses on the association.
They identified two dietary patterns, vegetable-seafood and meat-starch pattern after analysis of 39 food groups surveyed via a food frequency questionnaire.

Using multivariate logistic regression, Cho et al. found those who ate highest amounts of vegetables and seafood were 86 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, compared with those with the lowest intake.

However, there was no association between meat-starch pattern and breast cancer risk.

The researchers also found the correlation between dietary patterns and beast cancer risk was not affected by the menopausal status and combined hormone receptor status.

They concluded that a diet high in vegetables and seafood is linked with decreased risk of breast cancer in Korean women.

Many other studies have associated intake of vegetables with reduced risk of breast cancer. Although the study results may also be applicable to women in other ethnic groups, the protection may vary.

Breast cancer is diagnosed in more than 175,000 women and kills about 50,000 each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. The disease is expected in one in seven women in their lifetime.

The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign organized by interest groups and drug companies to encourage women to receive breast cancer screening.

Chocolate eaters may have healthier hearts: study

(Reuters Health) - Older women who eat more chocolate are less likely to develop heart problems over a nearly 10-year-period, new study findings report.

The authors found that women older than 70 who ate chocolate at least once per week were 35 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease over the course of the study, and nearly 60 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure.

What's nice, study author Dr. Joshua Lewis told Reuters Health, is that women did not have to eat a ton of chocolate to see benefits.

"We would therefore caution against people eating foods with high sugar and fat regularly and believe our findings support moderate rather than frequent chocolate consumption," said Lewis, based at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Australia.

But it is probably too early to begin recommending people eat more chocolate, cautioned Dr. Brian Buijsse at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, who did not participate in the study. And even if additional large studies confirmed its benefits, doctors still may not want to prescribe chocolate, he added.

"The danger is that many people will start eating more of it than is necessary, without cutting back in calories from other snacks, which will result in weight gain and will counteract any beneficial effects of chocolate," Buijsse said.

This is not the first study to tout chocolate's potential benefits: in 2008, Italian researchers found that eating dark chocolate regularly may help lower levels of inflammation, which is strongly associated with heart and blood vessel disease.

The previous year, another study showed that foods rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids - including dark chocolate and apples and red wine -- may help shield postmenopausal women from coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Flavonoids are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in many industrialized countries, by helping to increase nitric oxide, which in turn helps boost the functioning of blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

To investigate further, the authors reviewed data collected from 1216 older women, who estimated how often they ate chocolate, and the amount. One serving consisted of the equivalent amount of cocoa in 1 cup of hot cocoa. The authors tracked the women for almost a decade, noting who was hospitalized or died from heart disease.

Roughly half of the women said they ate less than one serving of chocolate per week. Nearly 90 of those who ate chocolate rarely were hospitalized or died from heart disease during the study period, versus 65 women who ate chocolate more frequently.

Another 35 of the infrequent consumers experienced heart failure, while only 18 women who reported eating chocolate at least once per week were hospitalized or died from the same condition, the authors report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Although they grouped women who ate chocolate daily and weekly together, the authors also looked at each separately, and found that both appeared to fare equally well, suggesting that only one serving per week might suffice to get heart benefits.

The study's nature means researchers can't prove any cause-effect relationship. Given the growing body of evidence suggesting the benefits of chocolate, the next step should be a large clinical trial that vigorously tests chocolate's benefits, Lewis said in an e-mail.

Buijsse agreed that more research is needed, in part because other factors in the current study may explain its results. For instance, he said in an e-mail, elderly women with early signs of heart disease may have reduced their chocolate intake, perhaps because their doctors told them to adopt a healthy diet.

"For now, I would say that if people want to eat chocolate to improve their health, they should keep it to low amounts and replace it for other energy-dense snacks," Buijsse said

18 November 2010

Dr Kevin Lau in November issue of Shape Magazine

Health In Your Hands - Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment

The central premise of my book is how to diagnosis and correct scoliosis non- invasively at any stage in order to arrest it progress before it’s too late.

Scoliosis, is a widespread condition in the world. According to available statistics, the spinal disorder, that leads to an curvature of the spine, strikes nearly two to three percent of all adolescents and becomes noticeable between the age of 10 and 15, when an adolescent is very image conscious.

Nearly, one in 10 Singaporeans suffers from lumbar scoliosis, according to a recent study conducted by a team of spine surgeons led by Professor Wong Hee Kit, chairman of the Orthopedics and Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgery Cluster at the National University Health System (NUHS). Worse, the study also revealed that the condition is 1.6 times more prevalent in women and that it occurs twice more often in Chinese and Malays than in Indians.
Conventional scoliosis treatment involves braces that patients have to wear passively through the day; while surgical procedures carry significant, other risks. My book in contrast draws heavily upon my own experiences as a Chiropractor and Nutritionist, and how I have helped hundreds of scoliosis patients with nothing more elaborate than a highly customized nutritional plan and a structured exercise/stretch program that I’ve explained at length with illustrations in this book.

Among other things, the book explains in simple, layman's language the anatomy and functioning of of the human spine and its relationship to food and exercise. The book is based is painstaking research collected over years of practice with scoliosis patients of all demographics. Testimonials of some of these patients are also appended in the book.

It's my firm conviction that this book will prove a valuable informational resource to the parents, who have children afflicted with scoliosis, as well as adults who suffer from the condition.

16 November 2010

Vitamin D Deficit Doubles Risk of Stroke in Whites, but Not in Blacks, Study Finds

Low levels of vitamin D, the essential nutrient obtained from milk, fortified cereals and exposure to sunlight, doubles the risk of stroke in whites, but not in blacks, according to a new report by researchers at Johns Hopkins.

Stroke is the nation's third leading cause of death, killing more than 140,000 Americans annually and temporarily or permanently disabling over half a million when there is a loss of blood flow to the brain.

Researchers say their findings, to be presented Nov. 15 at the American Heart Association's (AHA) annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago, back up evidence from earlier work at Johns Hopkins linking vitamin D deficiency to higher rates of death, heart disease and peripheral artery disease in adults.

The Hopkins team says its results fail to explain why African Americans, who are more likely to be vitamin D deficient due to their darker skin pigmentation's ability to block the sun's rays, also suffer from higher rates of stroke. Of the 176 study participants known to have died from stroke within a 14-year period, 116 were white and 60 were black. Still, African Americans had a 65 percent greater likelihood of suffering such a severe bleeding in or interruption of blood flow to the brain than whites, when age, other risk factors for stroke, and vitamin D deficiency were factored into their analysis.

"Higher numbers for hypertension and diabetes definitely explain some of the excess risk for stroke in blacks compared to whites, but not this much risk," says study co-lead investigator and preventive cardiologist Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute. "Something else is surely behind this problem. However, don't blame vitamin D deficits for the higher number of strokes in blacks."

Nearly 8,000 initially healthy men and women of both races were involved in the latest analysis, part of a larger, ongoing national health survey, in which the researchers compared the risk of death from stroke between those with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D to those with higher amounts. Among them, 6.6 percent of whites and 32.3 percent of blacks had severely low blood levels of vitamin D, which the experts say is less than 15 nanograms per milliliter.

"It may be that blacks have adapted over the generations to vitamin D deficiency, so we are not going to see any compounding effects with stroke," says Michos, who notes that African Americans have adapted elsewhere to low levels of the bone-strengthening vitamin, with fewer incidents of bone fracture and greater overall bone density than seen in Caucasians.

"In blacks, we may not need to raise vitamin D levels to the same level as in whites to minimize their risk of stroke" says Michos, who emphasizes that clinical trials are needed to verify that supplements actually do prevent heart attacks and stroke. In her practice, she says, she monitors her patients' levels of the key nutrient as part of routine blood work while also testing for other known risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including blood pressure, glucose and lipid levels.

Michos cautions that the number of fatal strokes recorded in blacks may not have been statistically sufficient to find a relationship with vitamin D deficits. And she points out that the study only assessed information on deaths from stroke, not the more common "brain incidents" of stroke, which are usually non-fatal, or even mini-strokes, whose symptoms typically dissipate in a day or so. She says the team's next steps will be to evaluate cognitive brain function as well as non-fatal and transient strokes and any possible tie-ins to nutrient deficiency.

Besides helping to keep bones healthy, vitamin D plays an essential role in preventing abnormal cell growth, and in bolstering the body's immune system. The hormone-like nutrient also controls blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, essential chemicals in the body. Shortages of vitamin D have also been tied to increased rates of breast cancer and depression in the elderly.

Michos recommends that people maintain good vitamin D levels by eating diets rich in such fish as salmon and tuna, consuming vitamin-D fortified dairy products, and taking vitamin D supplements. She also promotes brief exposure daily to the sun's vitamin D-producing ultraviolet light. And to those concerned about the cancer risks linked to too much time spent in the sun, she says as little as 10 to 15 minutes of daily exposure is enough during the summer months.

If vitamin supplements are used, Michos says that daily doses between 1,000 and 2,000 international units are generally safe and beneficial for most people, but that people with the severe vitamin D deficits may need higher doses under close supervision by their physician to avoid possible risk of toxicity.

The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) previously suggested that an adequate daily intake of vitamin D is between 200 and 600 international units. However, Michos argues that this may be woefully inadequate for most people to raise their vitamin D blood levels to a healthy 30 nanograms per milliliter. The IOM has set up an expert panel to review its vitamin D guidelines, with new recommendations expected by the end of the year. Previous results from the same nationwide survey showed that 41 percent of men and 53 percent of women have unhealthy amounts of vitamin D, with nutrient levels below 28 nanograms per milliliter.

Funding for this study was provided by the American College of Cardiology and the P.J. Schafer Cardiovascular Research Fund.

Chemicals in Fast Food Wrappers Show Up in Human Blood

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada - Chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are migrating into food, being ingested by people and showing up as contaminants in blood, according to new research at the University of Toronto.

The contaminants are perfluoroalkyls, stable, synthetic chemicals that repel oil, grease, and water. They are used in surface protection products such as carpet and clothing treatments and coating for paper and cardboard packaging.

Earlier research by University of Toronto environmental chemists Scott Mabury and Jessica D'eon, established in 2007 that the wrappers are a source of these chemicals in human blood. Their new study shows that perfluorinated chemicals can migrate from wrappers into food.

The specific chemicals studied are polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters, or PAPs, breakdown products of the perfluorinated carboxylic acids, or PFCAs, which are used in coating the food wrappers.

"We suspected that a major source of human PFCA exposure may be the consumption and metabolism of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters, or PAPs," said D'eon, a graduate student in the University of Toronto's Department of Chemistry.

"PAPs are applied as greaseproofing agents to paper food contact packaging such as fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags," she explained.

In their latest study, D'eon and Mabury exposed rats to PAPs either orally or by injection and monitored for a three-week period to track the concentrations of the PAPs and PFCA metabolites in their blood.

The researchers used the PAP concentrations previously observed in human blood together with the PAP and PFCA concentrations observed in the rats to calculate human exposure to the chemical perflurooctanoic acid, PFOA.

"In this study we clearly demonstrate that the current use of PAPs in food contact applications does result in human exposure to PFCAs, including PFOA," said Mabury, the lead researcher and a professor in the university's Department of Chemistry.

Elevated levels of PFOA in blood have been associated with changes in sex hormones and cholesterol, according to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances. Exposure to PFOA also has resulted in early death and delayed development in mice and rat pups, the agency says.

Rats that ingested PFOA for a long time developed tumors. However, based on differences between rats and humans, scientists have not determined for certain whether this could also occur in humans, the agency says.

"We found the concentrations of PFOA from PAP metabolism to be significant and concluded that the metabolism of PAPs could be a major source of human exposure to PFOA, as well as other PFCAs," said Mabury.

"This discovery is important because we would like to control human chemical exposure, but this is only possible if we understand the source of this exposure," Mabury said.

"In addition," he said, "some try to locate the blame for human exposure on environmental contamination that resulted from past chemical use rather than the chemicals that are currently in production."

The study is published today in the journal "Environmental Health Perspectives," published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

"We cannot tell whether PAPs are the sole source of human PFOA exposure or even the most important, but we can say unequivocally that PAPs are a source and the evidence from this study suggests this could be significant," Mabury said.

The researchers concluded that due to the long time that PFOA remains in human blood, even low-level PAP exposure could, over time, result in significant exposure to PFOA.

Although humans are exposed directly to PFCAs in food and dust, the University of Toronto researchers said that because of the way the human body processes these chemicals, "PAP exposure should be considered as a significant indirect source of human PFCA contamination."

Regulatory interest in human exposure to PAPs has been growing. Governments in Canada, the United States and Europe have signaled their intentions to begin extensive and longer-term monitoring programs for these chemicals.

Regulators have made three assumptions, said Mabury, releasing the results of his 2007 study. "That the chemicals wouldn't move off paper into food, they wouldn't become available to the body and the body wouldn't process them. They were wrong on all three counts."

Green tea extracts plus vitamin D may boost bone health

Combining green tea polyphenols and a form of vitamin D called alfacalcidol may boost bone structure and strength, according to a new study in mice.

The new research in mice suggests that supplementation with either green tea polyphenols or alfacalcidol (1-alpha-OH-vitamin D3) may reverse damage to bones caused by lipopolysaccharide induced chronic inflammation, while combining the ingredients may sustain bone micro-architecture and strength, according to new findings published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

According to the authors, led by Dr Chwan-Li Shen from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the study also shows that the improvement in bone micro-architecture and quality along with the down-regulation bone TNF-alpha expression mechanism further corroborate the anti-inflammatory role of green tea polyphenols and 1-alpha-OH-vitamin D3 (alfacalcidol) in skeletal health – which may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Bone loss

Chronic inflammation has been associated with progression of bone loss and micro- architecture deterioration through oxidative stress and excessive production of pro-inflammatory molecules such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).

Various anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as green tea, alfacalcidol, and soy isoflavones have been suggested suppress TNF-alpha expression.

The researchers noted that certain compounds suggested to inhibit inflammation via suppressing TNF-alpha expression, may have therapeutic value in the prevention and treatment of chronic inflammation-induced bone loss.

In particular green tea (Camellia sinensis), has been suggested to have a wide range of effects on animal and human health due to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

It has been reported in previous studies to have beneficial effects in various inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, collagen-induced arthritis and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced gingival inflammation.

The new study investigated the effects of green tea polyphenols and alfacalcidol on bone microstructure and strength along with possible mechanisms in rats with chronic inflammation.

Damage reversal