Low levels of vitamin D are associated with a markedly higher risk of heart attack and early death, according to a new research.
The study involved more than 10,000 Danes and was conducted by the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital.
Vitamin D deficiency has traditionally been linked with poor bone health. However, the results from several population studies indicate that a low level of this important vitamin may also be linked to a higher risk of ischemic heart disease, a designation that covers heart attack, coronary arteriosclerosis and angina. Other studies show that vitamin D deficiency may increase blood pressure, and it is well known that high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack.
Scientists have moved a step closer to correcting some unhealthy gene mutations with diet, according to a new research report appearing in the April 2012 issue of the journal GENETICS. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, determined variations and responses to vitamin treatment in the human cystathionine beta synthase gene, which when defective, causes the disease homocystinuria, an inherited metabolic disorder sometimes treatable with vitamin B6. After the analysis, scientists correlated specific gene mutations with severity of the disease, ranging from perfectly healthy and functional to severe and untreatable. Although the current study focused on homocystinuria, testing the effects of naturally occurring gene variations using surrogate organism genetics can be applied to other inherited disorders, such as neural tube defect, cleft palate, and blindness.
“The era of personal genome sequences is upon us, but there is a growing gap between the ability to sequence human genomes and the ability to understand the significance of variation in genome sequences,” said Jasper Rine, Ph.D., the principal investigator of this research in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the California Institute of Quantitative Biosciences at the University of California, Berkeley. “This study demonstrates one way to close the gap; the data separate gene variants into distinct classes, including a group amenable to dietary intervention.”
To make their determination, scientists “swapped” the cystathionine beta synthase gene of baker’s yeast with the gene from humans to test which variants were healthy, treatable, or untreatable with additional vitamin B6. As a result, the study clarified the function of 84 DNA sequence variants in this gene, which will help physicians more effectively treat patients based on their particular genotypes. In addition, this approach opens doors for future studies examining other human genes that similarly cross over between humans and yeast.
The Department of Health was last night urged to review its guidance on red meat after a study found that eating almost half the daily recommended amount can significantly increase the risk of dying early from cancer and heart disease.
Small quantities of processed meat such as bacon, sausages or salami can increase the likelihood of dying by a fifth, researchers from Harvard School of Medicine found. Eating steak increases the risk of dying by 12%.
The study found that cutting the amount of red meat in peoples’ diets to 1.5 ounces (42 grams) a day, equivalent to one large steak a week, could prevent almost one in 10 early deaths in men and one in 13 in women.
The scientists said that the government’s current advice that people should eat no more than 2.5 ounces (70 grams) a day, around around the level the average Briton already consumes, was “generous”.
Mixed progress made by US government and schools to improve food marketing influencing children’s diets
New research has found that the US government and schools have made mixed progress to comprehensively address food and beverage marketing practices that put young people’s health at risk. A comprehensive review published in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that public sector stakeholders have failed to fully implement recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to support a healthful diet to children and adolescents.
“Evidence links the marketing of high-calorie, nutrient-poor branded food and beverage products to obesity rates. Our evaluation found that the prevailing marketing environment continues to threaten children’s health and the public sector has missed important opportunities to promote a healthful diet and create healthy eating environments,” says lead author Vivica Kraak, MS, RD, Research Fellow at Deakin University’s Population Health Strategic Research Center in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
In a study requested by Congress in 2004, the IOM determined that food marketing influences children and adolescents to prefer, request, and consume high-calorie and nutrient poor foods and beverages. In December 2005, an expert IOM committee issued a report with 10 recommendations to guide public- and private-sector stakeholders to promote healthy eating in children and adolescents. Kraak and colleagues Mary Story, PhD, RD, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and Ellen A. Wartella, PhD, Northwestern University School of Communication, conducted a comprehensive literature review of the evidence to determine what progress had been made toward 5 of the report’s recommendations for the public sector. The other 5 recommendations directed at industry stakeholders, were examined in a separate publication released in September 2011. They evaluated 80 data sources, including published articles, enacted legislation, and media stories over 5 years (from late 2005 to early 2011). Their work was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
An editorial authored by University of Cincinnati (UC) diabetes researchers to be published in the Feb. 7, 2012, issue of the journal Cell Metabolism sheds light on the biological factors contributing to rising rates of obesity and discusses strategies to reduce body weight.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about one-third of U.S. adults are obese, a number that continues to climb.
“While we don’t usually think of it this way, body weight is regulated. How much we weigh is influenced by a number of biological systems, and this is part of what makes it so hard for people to lose weight and keep it off,” says Randy Seeley, PhD, Donald C. Harrison Endowed Chair, director of the Cincinnati Diabetes and Obesity Center and author on the paper along with Karen Ryan, PhD, an assistant professor in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at UC.
Maybe laughter really is the best medicine—especially if it’s taken with a dose of chocolate.
Two practically-too-good-to-be-true studies presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s conference in Paris have found that chocolate and laughter are both good for the heart.
While previous studies have found that stress can cause blood vessels to constrict, the first team of researchers, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, wanted to find out if positive emotions had the opposite effect, lead researcher Dr. Michael Miller said in a release.
When they aired the opening clip of the drama “Saving Private Ryan,” volunteers responded with a constriction of the blood vessel linings, causing a reduction in blood flow. But when those same people watched clips of the comedy, “There’s Something About Mary,” the linings actually expanded.
Summer Is the Season for Shaping Up: American Dietetic Association Spokespeople Review the Latest Diet and Lifestyle Books
With seemingly endless information about food and diets available today, it is easy to be overwhelmed with which plan is right for you. Whether it’s a pill, a cleanse, a fast-results diet or an entire lifestyle change, there is no shortage of products, programs and books that promise life-changing results when it comes to weight loss.
Do these plans work? Are they healthful? How can people tell the good advice from the bad? The American Dietetic Association is here to help.
“Every day, Americans are flooded with information about how to lose weight and feel great fast. While some of these products and programs offer sound nutrition information, others are gimmicks and can even be dangerous,” says registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Marjorie Nolan. “It is important for consumers to achieve a healthy weight in a way that is safe and provides their bodies with the nutrition they need to thrive. There is no miracle cure or overnight plan for healthy weight loss.”
A new study by Baylor University environmental health researchers found that zebra fish exposed to several different technical mixtures of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) - a common fire retardant - during early development can cause developmental malformations, changes in behavior and death.
The study will appear in the June issue of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and is the first to test multiple PBDE mixtures for changes in behavior, physical malformations and mortality on zebra fish.
PBDEs are found in many common household products from blankets to couches to food wrappers. Lab tests have shown that PBDEs have been found in human breast milk and cord blood. Previous studies have showed children with high levels of PBDEs in their umbilical cord at birth scored lower on tests between one and six years of age. In 2006, the state of California started prohibiting the use of PBDEs.
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), have identified components in pomegranate juice that seem to inhibit the movement of cancer cells and weaken their attraction to a chemical signal that has been shown to promote the metastasis of prostate cancer to the bone, according to a presentation today at the American Society for Cell Biology’s 50th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
The researchers in the UCR laboratory of Manuela Martins-Green, Ph.D., plan additional testing in an in vivo model for prostate cancer to determine dose-dependent effects and side effects of the two components.
The effect, if any, of pomegranate juice on the progression of prostate cancer is controversial.
More and more people have become aware of the dangers of excessive fructose in diet. A new review on fructose in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) indicates just how dangerous this simple sugar may be.
Richard J. Johnson, MD and Takahiko Nakagawa, MD (Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension, University of Colorado) provide a concise overview of recent clinical and experimental studies to understand how excessive amounts of fructose, present in added sugars, may play a role in high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Dietary fructose is present primarily in added dietary sugars, honey, and fruit. Americans most frequently ingest fructose from sucrose, a disaccharide containing 50% fructose and 50% glucose bonded together, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a mixture of free fructose and free glucose, usually in a 55/45 proportion.
School-age children whose mothers tightly control their diets may be prone to overeating, while those with moms who pressure them to eat tend to be fussy about food, a new study finds.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, do not necessarily mean that parents’ mealtime strategies cause their children to overeat or become picky eaters.
In fact, the researchers say, it’s likely that parents who pressure or restrict are often reacting to their children’s eating habits.
Although some data have suggested that omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as from fish oil, may improve treatment of atrial fibrillation, a randomized trial with more than 600 patients finds that treatment with high-dose prescription omega-3 did not reduce the recurrence of atrial fibrillation over six months, according to a study that will appear in the December 1 issue of JAMA. The study is being released early online because it will be presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting.
“Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a highly prevalent disease that is responsible for reduced quality of life, costly hospitalizations, heart failure, stroke, and death. No current therapy, drug, device, or ablation [removal of tissue or cells] is uniformly effective, and several available therapies have the potential to cause harm. Consequently, useful alternatives are being sought,” the authors write. “Limited data from small trials suggest omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may provide a safe, effective treatment option for AF participants.”
Peter R. Kowey, M.D., of the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Wynnewood, Pa., and colleagues conducted a randomized clinical trial to assess the efficacy of a pure prescription formulation of omega-3 fatty acids (prescription omega-3), at a dose considerably higher than what has been tested in previous trials, for preventing recurrent atrial fibrillation. The study included 663 U.S. outpatient participants with confirmed symptomatic paroxysmal (sudden attacks) (n = 542) or persistent (n = 121) AF, with no substantial structural heart disease, who were recruited from November 2006 to July 2009 (final follow-up was January 2010). Participants received prescription omega-3 (8 grams/day) or placebo for the first 7 days; prescription omega-3 (4 grams/day) or placebo thereafter through week 24.
Fish oil capsules are a cheap and easy way to get omega-3 fatty acids, but they don’t help pregnant women steer clear of postpartum depression.
Nor do they boost mental development in their babies, according to researchers from Australia who tested the effect of daily supplements during the second half of pregnancy—a period that spans the growth spurt in the fetus’ brain.
The researchers gave more than 2,000 women either vegetable oil or fish oil containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which earlier studies have hinted—but not proved—might improve pregnancy outcomes.
For the first time researchers have found out what effect multiple, rather than just single, foods with anti-inflammatory effects have on healthy individuals.
The results of a diet study show that bad cholesterol was reduced by 33 per cent, blood lipids by 14 per cent, blood pressure by 8 per cent and a risk marker for blood clots by 26 per cent. A marker of inflammation in the body was also greatly reduced, while memory and cognitive function were improved.
“The results have exceeded our expectations! I would like to claim that there has been no previous study with similar effects on healthy subjects”, says Inger Björck, professor of food-related nutrition at Lund University and head of the University’s Antidiabetic Food Centre.
School children who consume foods purchased in vending machines are more likely to develop poor diet quality – and that may be associated with being overweight, obese or at risk for chronic health problems such as diabetes and coronary artery disease, according to research from the University of Michigan Medical School.
The study also looked at foods sold in school stores, snack bars and other related sales that compete with USDA lunch program offerings and found that these pose the same health and diet risks in school-aged children.
“The foods that children are exposed to early on in life influence the pattern for their eating habits as adults,” says lead study author Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., clinical lecturer of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.