News Briefs – June 2016Michael Downey June 1, 2016
The Latest Research on Nutrition, Health & Anti-Aging From Around the World
Raspberries Have Strong Metabolic, Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Six separate studies have been released simultaneously, all pointing to raspberries as having potent effects on various aspects of health including cardiovascular risk reduction, normal blood glucose level maintenance, healthy liver function, and anti-inflammatory effects related to bone health.
(In January, researchers had published a comprehensive review of the available scientific literature on the potential role of red raspberries in helping to reduce the risk of numerous diseases, all of which shared critical metabolic, oxidative, and inflammatory links. The six new April studies are all animal studies, and while in vitro and animal studies suggest that these phytochemicals may help to reduce risk for some chronic diseases, additional research is needed to confirm these effects in human metabolism.)
Red raspberries contribute a number of valuable essential nutrients, including vitamin C and nine grams of fiber per cup. They are also among the few plant foods that provide a good source of two beneficial compounds – ellagitannins and anthocyanins – in the same package.
The six current findings were presented in detail on April 6, 2016 in San Diego at the 2016 Experimental Biology conference. The full-text studies have not been published, but abstracts of all six have been posted on the website of the journal FASEB Letters. These abstracts can all be read online without cost at these links:
DID YOU KNOW…?
Only about 5 to 8 percent of cancers, depending on cancer site, are caused by an inherited gene.
DID YOU KNOW…?
Despite advice to increase fibre intake to avoid constipation – which affects about 14 percent of people worldwide – a large new study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that people who get plenty of fluids, regardless of fibre intake, are least likely to have irregularity.
Lycopene May Protect Against Radiation
Researchers have reported that lycopene, the carotenoid compound that give tomatoes their red pigmented colour, is extremely successful at guarding against the harmful effects of radiation. Lycopene may also have usefulness in future cancer radiation therapies. (Radiation therapy is used to treat a wide range of tumours, but until now its side effects have constrained its effectiveness. Recently, there has been interest in the possible role of dietary carotenoids in limiting these effects. In addition, interest has grown in identifying dietary counter-measures against nuclear accidents.)
In this study, lycopene was demonstrated to be effective at offering protection from the damaging effects of gamma radiation.
A plentiful supply of tomatoes cooked in oil, which helps the body absorb carotenoids, can effectively add lycopene to the diet and may protect against radiation from scanning.
A critical major finding of the study was that such protective effects are effective where oxygen is low, but are reduced as the oxygen concentration is increased. This suggests a use beyond simple radiation protection: if the oxygen concentration can be increased in solid tumours compared to the healthy surrounding tissue, lycopene could be used to protect healthy tissues while radiation kills unprotected tumour tissue. Future studies will look at other dietary carotenoids, as well as mixtures.
This study will be published in a future issue of the journal FEBS Letters. Meanwhile, the full-text report can be read online for a fee at https://tinyurl.com/j53vt42
Sugary Drinks, ‘Bad’ Carbs Boost Breast and Prostate Cancer Risk
A freshly presented study suggests that people who consume a lot of processed carbohydrate snack foods and sweets or sugary drinks heighten their risks of breast and prostate cancers. (Breast and prostate cancers are two of the most common cancers in North America. Few dietary factors apart from alcohol or obesity have been consistently related to postmenopausal breast cancer and prostate cancer. Health experts already recommend limiting sugary drinks and processed carbohydrates, and eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, fibre-rich whole grains, and good unsaturated fats. The new findings add more weight to that advice.)
Compared with men who never drank sugary beverages (both soda and fruit juice), those who consumed them a few times a week showed more than triple the risk of developing prostate cancer. Men who ate processed lunch foods such as pizza, deli meats, and burgers four or more times a week were twice as likely to develop prostate cancer, compared to men who had them no more than once a week. A higher intake of carbs generally was tied to a lower risk of breast cancer. But women with diets that emphasized healthy carbs, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes were 67% less likely to develop breast cancer, compared to women who primarily ate refined carbs including many baked goods, white bread, and white potatoes. All findings were adjusted for possible confounding factors such as obesity, smoking, and other diet habits. This research does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
This study, considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, was reported April 6, 2016 in San Diego at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting. It has not yet been published or posted.
Resveratrol Alters Gut Bacteria to Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Researchers have found that resveratrol, a compound without side effects, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by a surprising mechanism. It works by changing the gut microbiome. (The gut microbiome apparently plays a role in the build-up of plaque inside arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in wine and known to have antioxidant effects, was found in this study to exhibit anti-atherosclerosis effects. This report indicates that gut microbiota may become an interesting target for dietary interventions to decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.)
Researchers conducted a number of experiments with mice and found that resveratrol reduces levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a contributor to the development of atherosclerosis. Resveratrol also inhibits production by gut bacteria of TMA, which is necessary for the production of TMAO. They showed that resveratrol remodels gut microbiota by increasing the abundance of beneficial bacteria including Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacter-ium, and Akkermansia. This study was posted online by the journal mBio, published by the American Society for Microbiology, in advance of its being published in print.
DID YOU KNOW…?
The most common causes of serious pet poisonings are chocolate, gum, mints, medications, cleaning agents, pesticides, hand sanitizer liquids and gels, and vitamin supplements intended for humans.
Testosterone-suppressing Therapy for Prostate Cancer Increases Depression Risk
Scientists have reported that older men who receive testosterone-suppressing therapy to treat their prostate cancer may be increasing their risk of developing depression. (Hormone therapy is an option for treating some prostate tumours because testosterone can feed cancer growth.) In this very large study of over 78,000 men being treated for earlier-stage prostate cancer, researchers found that 7 percent of those given hormone-suppressing therapy developed clinical depression within the next few years. That compared with 5 percent of men who did not have hormone-suppressing treatment. These findings do not prove that hormone-suppressing therapy causes depression, although they do offer substantial evidence that it does.
The team accounted for other factors that could have affected depression risk, including the severity of the cancer, age, and education, but the connection between testosterone-suppressing therapy and depression remained strong. And the longer the men were on hormone therapy, the higher the risk of depression. Of men treated for six months or less, 6 percent developed depression within three years of cancer diagnosis; among those on hormone therapy for a year or more, 8 percent developed depression within three years. Once various other factors were taken into account, testosterone-suppressing therapy was tied to an overall 23 percent increase in the risk of depression.
This study was released online first and will be published in a future issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The report can be read for a fee at https://tinyurl.com/jzmc9pk
Fructose Triggers Diseases — Omega 3 Fat Undoes the Damage
Researchers have reported that hundreds of genes can be damaged by fructose, a sugar that is common in the Western diet, in a way that may lead to a variety of different diseases. The study team also discovered that the omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, seems to reverse the entire pattern of harmful, fructose-caused, gene changes. (Diseases ranging from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, to Alzheimer’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, are linked to changes to genes in the brain. Americans get most of their fructose in foods, including baby foods, that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener made from corn starch, and from sweetened drinks, syrups, honey, and desserts. DHA occurs naturally in the membranes of brain cells but not in a large enough quantity to help fight diseases; for full benefit, DHA must come through diet, including non-farmed salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, fruits, and vegetables.)
Rats that had been given only the fructose navigated a maze about half as fast as rats that drank only water, indicating that the fructose diet had impaired their memory. Rats given fructose and DHA, however, showed results very similar to those that only drank water, which strongly suggests that the DHA eliminated the harmful effects of the fructose. Also, rats receiving a high-fructose diet had much higher blood glucose, triglycerides, and insulin levels, all of which are linked to obesity, diabetes, and many other diseases in humans. The team then sequenced over 20,000 genes in the brains of the rats and identified over 700 genes in the hypothalamus and over 200 genes in the hippocampus that had been altered by the fructose. Among the conditions that can be caused by alterations to those specific genes are Parkinson’s disease, depression, bipolar disorder, and other brain diseases. (Previous research found that a long-term, high-fructose diet diminishes the ability of the brain to learn and remember information.)
This study was posted online April 15, 2016 as a proof, pending later publication in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The full-text proof can be read free of chargeonline at https://tinyurl.com/zztmke4