Jul
01
2004

Beer A Red Flag For Gout

For centuries gout has been known as the affliction of the affluent. The Greek physician Hippocrates first described it as “the disease of the kings”. In the meantime the illness has jumped social boundaries, as the over consumption of meats and alcohol will occur in all population groups.

In its April 17 issue the British medical paper”The Lancet” shows the first publication on the link between alcohol and gout. Dr. Hyon Choi of the rheumatology unit of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, headed a study that showed that moderate amounts of wine did not pose a risk for gout. It was the beer drinkers that were headed for trouble! Those who drank more than two 350 ml cans or bottles of beer per day had a 2.5 times higher risk of developing gout than nondrinkers. People who had 2 shots of liquor a day ran a risk that was 1.6 times higher than those who did not drink. Moderate wine drinkers had the same risk of developing gout as nondrinkers, as long as they did not overindulge: 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day were the limit! It is not clear at this point, which would be the noxious substance in beer and spirits that is responsible for attacks of gout, and moderation is still in order for all wine lovers!

Beer A Red Flag For Gout

Beer A Red Flag For Gout

More info about gout: http://nethealthbook.com/arthritis/gout/

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, May 15,2004, pg.10

Last edited Oct. 26, 2014

May
01
2004

Sugar And Starchy Foods Cause Colorectal Cancer

A study from the Harvard University involving 38,000 women and having been started in 1993 has surprised the researchers. They wanted to find out whether there were certain foods that may cause colon and rectal cancer. So they administered a “food-frequency” questionnaire with 131 questions to women 45 years or older who entered into the study. Such factors as low-dose aspirin, vitamin E and beta-carotene were included in the questionnaire as was the exact food composition for the year prior to enrolment into the study.

A sugar load (glycemic load) was calculated. This way the impact of various sugar and starch containing foods could be assessed and compared among different subgroups regarding the later development of cancer in the colon and rectum.
When Dr. Susan Higginbotham and Dr. Simin Liu analyzed the diets of the 174 patients who did develop cancer (26 rectal cancers, 148 colon cancers) they found that the women with the highest sugar and starch load were 3 times more likely to develop cancer than the controls with a low glycemic load. High glycemic load foods are candy, cakes, cookies; any other refined flour products including white bread, pasta, French fries and baked potatoes. Together with other literature in this field the authors of this study concluded that the high glycemic food load leads to increased insulin levels in the blood as well as insulin-like growth factors. This in turn leads to cell division in normal and cancerous cells including the lining of the colon and rectum. In addition it is known that the C-reactive protein promotes an inflammatory response that will lead to heart attacks and to cancer.

Sugar And Starchy Foods Cause Colorectal Cancer

Sugar And Starchy Foods Cause Colorectal Cancer

Dr. Bob Bruce from the University of Toronto has shown in his research on colon cancer that insulin and related factors are important in the promotion of this cancer. He commented regarding the Harvard study reviewed here that more research is required before the exact cause of cancer of the colon and rectum would be understood. This knowledge is required before more effective preventative measures can be found other than a simple reduction of sugar and starch in the foods we eat.

Based on the Feb.4 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (U.S.) and the National Review of Medicine (Canada) March 15, 2004.

More info about Colorectal cancer can be found through this link.

Last edited October 26, 2014

Apr
01
2004

Lycopene Of Tomatoes Fights Cancer Cells

Dr. John Erdman Jr. from the University of Illinois has done epidemiological studies that suggest that the red color of tomatoes, which is provided by lycopenes, is only effective against prostate cancer, if the whole tomato is consumed.

The professor of food science and human nutrition found that other phytochemicals in the tomato act in concert with lycopene to protect against cancer. To prove this more conclusively, he designed an experiment involving 194 rats with prostate cancer into three groups.

Group 1 was the control group without any detectable lycopene in their diet. Group 2 was fed the control diet with purified lycopene. Group 3 was fed the control diet with ground-up tomato paste (with seeds and skins). Group 3 was the only group where the risk of dying from prostate cancer was reduced by 30%. Group 2 rats had the same high death rates as the control group. These results were recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Erdman concluded that taking lycopene is not as effective as eating the whole tomato to prevent cancer of the prostate. He also suggested to use whole tomato products in tomato juice, in salads, pasta and pizzas.

Lycopene Of Tomatoes Fights Cancer Cells

Lycopene Of Tomatoes Fights Cancer Cells

Based on an article in the Medical Post, Vol 40, No.8, Feb.24, 2004 (page 33).

Link to prostate cancer chapter of the Net Health Book.

Last edited December 8, 2012

Mar
01
2004

Vitamins C And E – A Weapon Against Alzheimers

A study in a recent edition of the Archives of Neurology reports about 4740 patients from Cache County, Utah, who were 65 years or older and were followed over 5 years. At the start it was found that those who had taken vitamin C and E on a regular basis as separate supplements had a 78% lesser risk of developing Alzheimers (correct medical term: “Alzheimer’s disease”).

5 years later out of 3227 survivors who were at risk 104 more people had developed Alzheimers, but 64% of those who combined vitamin C and E as a supplement did not develop Alzheimers. Dr. Peter Zandi from the Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University/ Baltimore, Md was the lead author of this study. He stated that this was only an observational study, but that the data was convincing enough to warrant a full-scale controlled trial to examine the value of anti-oxidant agents (such as vitamin C and E) as a preventative against Alzheimers. There were a number of built-in controls such as vitamin C alone, vitamin E alone and multiple vitamins (including vitamin C and E in smaller dosages) that were all ineffective in preventing Alzheimers. The daily dosages that were necessary for the protective effect were vitamin C 500mg to 1000 mg or more per day as well as 400 IU to 1000 IU of vitamin E per day. The U.S. recommended daily allowance was insufficient for the protective effect. These dosages typically are in the order of 22 IU of vit. E and 75 to 90 mg of vit. C. Vitamin B complex alone was also ineffective in protecting against Alzheimers.

Vitamins C And E - A Weapon Against Alzheimers

Vitamins C And E – A Weapon Against Alzheimers

Comments: There are many unanswered questions about Alzheimers, but this paper gives valuable hints in terms of the protective effect of two vitamins (vitamin C and E taken as separate supplements daily). There are other factors such as genetic ones and perhaps a dysregulation of the cholesterol brain metabolism that lead to the production of a glue-like substance, called “beta-amyloid” ,that causes memory loss in Alzheimers patients. Testosterone has recently also been noticed to be important in the prevention of Alzheimers disease. In addition to these vitamin supplements a low glycemic, low fat diet would likely be very beneficial together with a regular exercise program and calorie restriction to prevent Alzheimers disease in many patients (prevention of the metabolic disease).

More info on Alzheimer’s disease: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/

Arch Neurol – 01-JAN-2004; 61(1): 82-8

Last edited October 26, 2014

Mar
01
2004

Less Diabetes With Coffee

A Dutch Study has shown previously that coffee consumption was reducing the risk for developing diabetes. Now Dr. Salazar-Martinez and co-workers have confirmed this in a study involving even larger numbers of both men and women. This was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and the research team is from the Harvard School of Public Health, Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. A total of 41,000 men and 84,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Followup Study were followed between 12 and 18 years. 1,333 men and 4,085 women developed diabetes during the time of observation. All of the data was analyzed carefully by controlling for other factors such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure etc. to be certain that the only difference in the observed groups was the amount of coffee consumed.

According to the authors the gender differences are probably unimportant and may have to do with the different sample sizes. However, as the graph shows clearly, with the consumption of around 4-5 cups of coffee per day there is a significant 30 % drop in risk to develop diabetes.

The Dutch Study showed a 50% drop in risk with 7 cups or more per day and the study here suggests a similar drop with 6 cups or more.

Less Diabetes With Coffee

Less Diabetes With Coffee

Dr. Frank Hu, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, who co-authored this study stated that physicians should still recommend to patients first to exercise and to loose weight to control diabetes. It would be premature to recommend heavy coffee consumption to patients for diabetes control.

Diabetes risk decreases with coffee consumption (%reduction)
 Less Diabetes With Coffee1

This beneficial effect was also observed to a lesser extent with decaffeinated coffee, but not with tea. According to Dr. Hu caffeine, chlorogenic acid and magnesium likely play a role in the protective effect with regard to diabetes prevention. Further studies will be done to see whether diabetes patients who drink coffee have a better outcome when they develop a heart attack.

Reference: Ann Intern Med – 6-JAN-2004; 140(1): 1-8

Last edited December 8, 2012

Feb
01
2004

Cinnamon A Natural Insulin Booster For Diabetics

In a recent edition of the medical journal Diabetes Care an interesting article appeared regarding the healing effects of the spice cinnamon. A medical research team in Pakistan (Dr. Khan et al.) in collaberation with a U.S. research team divided a group of 60 comparable diabetics (males and females) in the age range of 45 to 55 and fed one half different concentrations of cinnamon while the other half served as a placebo control. There were three different concentrations of capsules of cinnamon given: 1g, 3 g and 6 g. The placebo control group got capsules with inert material. Here are the results:

The placebo control group showed no change in blood values. The effect documented in this table was achieved after 40 days of cinnamon exposure and was “washed out” after 20 days. Other experiments had found that the substance MHCP (methylhydroxychalcone polymer) is the active ingredient in cinnamon that stimulates insulin and also acts on insulin receptors similar to insulin.

Cinnamon A Natural Insulin Booster For Diabetics

Cinnamon A Natural Insulin Booster For Diabetics

Dr. Richard A. Anderson and his colleagues at the Human Nutrition Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture had already published a number of medical papers on the effects of cinnamon. He was the co-author of this study from the Department of Human Nutrition, NWFP Agricultural University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

Effect of cinnamon on blood values of diabetics
Blood component
investigated:
% Reduction
of blood test:
Blood sugar
level

18-29%
Triglycerides (blood
fat value)
23-30%
LDL cholesterol
(damaging cholesterol)
7-27%
Total cholesterol 12-26%
HDL cholesterol
(protective cholesterol)
unchanged

The interesting observation here is that several cardiovascular risk factors (blood sugar, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol) are simultaneously being reduced with something as simple as cinnamon powder. The authors stated that the cinnamon oil is not effective, only the cinnamon powder or a cinnamon stick dipped into tea (the water soluble component of cinnamon or MHCP). Dr. Anderson also warned not to make the mistake to eat more cinnamon buns or apple pie as there would be unhealthy amounts of sugar, starch and fat added. He suggested that the best to do instead would be to simply sprinkle cinnamon powder over whatever you are presently eating, as this will reduce the risk of getting diabetes or will reduce the risk of a heart attack in diabetics.

This article based on: “Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care – 01-DEC-2003; 26(12): 3215-8.

Here is a link to diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes).

Last edited December 8, 2012

 

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Feb
01
2004

Kidney Disease, Another Complication Of Metabolic Syndrome

The metabolic syndrome is a new disease entity that is known to be associated with obesity. In order to make the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome at least 3 of the 5 components listed in the table under this link (hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level or LDL cholesterol, high glucose level, abdominal obesity) have to be present.

Dr. Jing Chen and colleagues of Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, La., published an analysis of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the Feb.3, 2004 edition of the Annals of Medicine. Patients with chronic kidney disease were identified in this study where 3, 4 or 5 of the metabolic syndrome criteria were positive. Two criteria for chronic kidney disease were measured:

1. if there was a significant reduction of the filtration capacity of the kidney.

2. if there was critical leakage of blood protein into the urine.

Kidney Disease, Another Complication Of Metabolic Syndrome

Kidney Disease, Another Complication Of Metabolic Syndrome

Depending on how advanced the metabolic syndrome was (all 5 criteria of metabolic syndrome positive versus only 3 or 4) there was a higher or lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

I have depicted the results of this study in bar graph form here. It shows clearly that chronic kidney damage occurs in a dose-response curve pattern depending on how severe the degree of the metabolic syndrome is.

Risk of developing kidney disease with various degrees of severity of the metabolic syndrome
 Kidney Disease, Another Complication Of Metabolic Syndrome1

With 5 factors of the metabolic syndrome present the risk to develop reduction in filtration capacity of the kidneys is almost 6-fold. This is 3-fold higher than in a person with a milder degree of metabolic syndrome where only two factors are present. Such a person would only have a 2-fold risk for developing chronic kidney damage (dark blue shaded bars in graph). A dipstick urine test can measure protein in urine, which is an alternative way to measure kidney damage due to the metabolic syndrome. These values followed a very similar dose-response curve (light blue shaded bars in graph). The authors of this study believe that the kidney damage inflicted by the metabolic syndrome is different from that caused by high blood pressure or by diabetes. Future studies will have to establish whether this type of kidney damage can be repaired by treating the metabolic syndrome with a low glycemic, calorie restricted diet coupled with exercise.

Based on an article published in: Ann Intern Med 2004:140:167-174.

Last edited December 8, 2012

Jan
03
2004

Any Diet A Winner Research Says

 

Dr. Michael Dansinger reported at a recent annual meeting of the American Heart Association about a study where he compared the effect of 4 major diet plans on the lowering of risk factors for heart disease.

Dr. Dansinger is the director of obesity research at the Tufts New England Medical Centre’s Atherosclerosis Research Lab in Boston. Originally, the objective was to see whether any of the following four diets investigated would be superior: the Atkins diet, the Ornish diet, the Zone diet and the Weight Watchers diet. In the table below there are links for each of these diet plans. Briefly, the Atkins diet is a high protein/low carbohydrate diet; the Ornish diet is a vegetarian/low-fat diet; the zone diet is a low-glycemic load/balanced protein/low fat diet; weight watchers is a calorie restricted diet.

160 obese patients were divided into 4 groups and assigend to one of these four diet plans. They were instructed in the type of diet plan they were to follow in 4 couselling sessions in the beginning of the weight loss program. The participants ranged in age from 22 to 72 years of age (average age 50) and had on average starting weight of 220 lbs.

Any Diet A Winner Research Says

Any Diet A Winner Research Says

They were to follow the diet plan for 2 months strictly and were allowed to follow less supervised for another 10 months. To the surprise of the research team under Dr. Dansinger they all lost about the same amount of weight (average of weight loss 10 lbs or 5% of body weight), in other words they were all successful with any of these programs and none was superior. Below are the results in modified tabular form.

Dr. Dansinger indicated that the focus would now have to shift from “which is the best diet plan” to “which is the best diet plan for a particular patient”. The doctor should attempt to fit the weight loss programs that fit patients’ food preferences best and that patients can easiest fit into their lifestyle. This will hopefully lead to the lowest dropout rate. This trial showed that the Zone diet and the Weight Watchers diet had the least dropout rates. But those who stayed on the Atkins or Ornish diet were successful with their weight loss program also, as these may have been fitting these patients best.

Comparison of various diets with regard to weight loss effectiveness
Diets that
were compared:
Reduction of
heart risk (Framingham score):
Dropout rates
over 1 year:
Atkins diet
12.3% 48%
Ornish diet 6.6% 50%
Zone diet 10.5% 35%
Weight Watchers
diet
14.7% 35%

In other words, if the one diet plan does not work satisfactorily, try another one. The common denominator with all food plans was some form of calorie restriction despite all of the differences.

Based on The Medical Post, Dec. 16, 2003 (p. 15).

Here is a link to the Net Health Book’s weight loss and diet chapter.

Last edited December 8, 2012

Jan
03
2004

Old-Fashioned Fish Oil Boosts Heart Health

You do not need to spoil your appetite with the thought of swallowing cod liver oil, but see yourself enjoy a piece of salmon instead. Dr. Jehangir N Din and collegues published an article entitled “Omega 3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease—fishing for a natural treatment” in the first January edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2004;328:30-35,January 3, 2004). These cardiology researchers from the University of Edinburgh/England have reviewed all of the recent medical literature regarding the beneficial effects of omega-3-fatty acids on heart disease. The following are some facts they found.

The interesting story regarding the omega-3-fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory qualities, is that they balance the detrimental effects of the omega-6-fatty acids, which lead to inflammation not only in joints, but also in blood vessels. In the standard North American and European foods the omega-6-fatty acids are overconsumed. To counter the bad effects of the omega-6-fatty acids, more omega-3-fatty acids need to be ingested.

Old-Fashioned Fish Oil Boosts Heart Health

Old-Fashioned Fish Oil Boosts Heart Health

So, what should we consume in terms of omega-3-fatty acids? The American Heart Association made the recommendations in the second table below.

Current consumption of omega-3-fatty acids in North America and Europe is low. Recently an expert US panel of nutritionists determined that the US consumption per day is about 0.1 to 0.2 grams per day and should be 0.65 grams per day as a minimum according to the recommendations by the American Heart Association.

Facts regarding omega-3-fatty acids:
Omega-3-fatty acids from fish and fish oils protect against heart disease
Following heart attacks fish oil is helpful in preventing more heart attacks
Hardening of arteries stops when fish oil or fish is eaten regularly
Rapid response critics pointed out that exercise is as important as fish oil
Trials with fish oil showed reduction in death rates from strokes and heart attacks from between 15% and 29% over 2 to 3.5 years (several studies)
The beneficial effects are due to a combination of stabilizing irregular heart beats, preventing clots, countering hardening of arteries, countering inflammation, improving function of lining of arteries, lowering of triglycerides (bad fatty acids) and lowering of blood pressure

The authors of this paper from England disagree and state that at least 1 gram per day would be needed to lower the heart attack risk to the low levels in Asia. The British Nutrition Foundation has recommended to use 1.2 grams of omega-3-fatty acids per day.

Fish or fish oil capsules as a protective effect on blood vessels*
Patients without documented coronary heart disease: Eat a variety of (preferably oily) fish at least twice weekly. Include oils and foods rich in inolenic acid
Patients with documented coronary heart disease: Consume 1 g of eicosapentanoic and docosahexanoic acid daily, preferably from oily fish. Supplements could be considered in consultation with a doctor
Patients with hypertriglyceridemia: Take 2-4 g of eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid daily, provided as capsules under a doctor’s care
*As recommended by American Heart Association 

How does that translate into how much fish you would have to eat to get about 1 gram of omega-3-fatty acids per day? To make things simpler I have categorized fish and seafood in the table below based on the data from this article into low, medium and high marine derived omega-3-acid foods. You obviously need to eat more of the low category seafood to achieve 1 gram of omega-3-fatty acid than of the high category seafood.

How much fish and seafood you need to eat to get 1 gram of omega-3-fatty acids…
Concentration of omega-3-fatty acids in seafood: Type of fish and seafood consumed:
Low (eat 1 lbs) Catfish, Haddock
Medium (eat 1/3 -1/2 lbs) Tuna, Halibut, Oyster, Cod, Flounder, Sole
High (eat 2 or 3oz.) Atlantic salmon, Sardines, Rainbow trout, Atlantic herring, Mackerel

Before you overindulge in seafood from the low and medium category, check with your doctor first whether you are allowed so much protein. Some people have protein restrictions due to poor kidney function or because of gout. The authors of this study stated that you should eat a seafood meal with 1 gram of omega-3-fatty acid twice per week. Other sources of omega-3-fatty acids (=alpha-linolenic acid) are plant products such as soy beans,flaxseed, walnuts and rapeseed oil. In Asia fish and soy bean products are consumed in much bigger quantities than in the US.

Last edited December 8, 2012

Sep
01
2003

Stillbirth Associated With High Coffee Consumption In Pregnancy

A study entitled “Maternal consumption of coffee during pregnancy and stillbirth and infant death in first year of life” by Dr. K. Wisborg et al. was published recently in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2003; 326: 420-423).

The pregnancy outcome of 18,478 women who completed a questionnaire at their first prenatal visit was studied. They were asked about coffee consumption and the following 4 groups were identified: group 1 consisted of the 43% of women who drank no coffee. Group 2 (34%) drank 1-3 cups per day, group 3 drank 4-7 cups per day (18%). Group 4 drank 8 or more cups per day (5%).

Below are the results in tabular form.

The surprising result was that a small amount of coffee (1-3 cups per day) was actually reducing the risk of stillbirth by 30% when compared to women who drank no coffee at all. However, from 4 cups of coffee per day or more there was a sharp increase of stillbirths within the first year (=sum of stillbirths and deaths within the first year of life).

Stillbith Associated with High Coffee Consumption in Pregnancy

Stillbith Associated with High Coffee Consumption in Pregnancy

The authors suggest that physicians should advise their pregnant patients to limit coffee consumption in pregnancy to 1 or 2 cups of coffee or the equivalent of caffeinated drinks per day as a precautionary measure.

Stillbirth coffee study
Groups with varying amounts of coffee consumption: Risk increase of stillbirth compared to group 1 as control:
group 2  (1- 3 cups per day) -30%
group 3 (4 – 7 cups per day) 80%
group 4 (8 or more cups per day) 300%

Last edited December 9, 2012