Article Content


[check mark] Fruit Remains Good Dessert


[check mark] Does Promegranate Juice Fight Prostate Cancer?


[check mark] Smoke Gets in Your Eyes


Sweet Tooth May Be Curbed With Fruit

Folks with a sweet tooth know that they are drawn to candy bars and ice cream. But, believe it or not, research shows that this group also finds fruit more appealing-a fact that could be turned to their advantage.


This study, edited by Brian Wansink at Cornell University and published in the journal Appetite, concluded that if someone does have a sweet tooth, the same desire for sugar that leads this person to eat candy is also the same as that which leads him or her to like fruit.


Wansink's group analyzed that those who love sweet snacks also eat more fruits each day than do salty-snack lovers. Even when accounting for total snack consumption of all kinds, sweet-snack consumption had more than twice the impact on fruit consumption than did salty-snack intake.


The Cornell team then focused on 405 people with a strong preference for either fruits or vegetables and definite taste trends emerged. Fruit lovers ate more sweet snacks than veggie lovers did. In fact, fruit lovers ate sweet snacks more than 15 times a week, whereas vegetable lovers ate sweet snacks approximately 11 times weekly. On the other hand, vegetable lovers indulged in salty snacks 15 times a week, whereas fruit lovers turned to salty snacks just over 11 times a week. The author sees this as meaning that individuals should "play to your taste preferences to get in your fruits and vegetables." Parents can use their child's sweet/salt preferences as a means of nudging them toward healthier foods, and adults can use the information to help improve their own eating habits, Wansinck added.


Source: Medline Plus


Cancer Patients May Not Benefit From Dietary Modifications

Cancer patients are often advised to watch their diets, although the recommendations vary from one doctor to the other. Thus, there is a pressing need for guidelines for cancer survivors. Numerous studies have linked dietary modifications and vitamins to cancer prevention and treatment. A recent meta-analysis of 59 trials found little evidence that diet is associated with survival or prognosis in cancer. However, researchers are worried that some dietary changes may not be harmless, a concern echoed by a European Union recommendation to tighten sales of supplements. Researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom used database searches to identify 59 trials that investigated the effects of a diverse range of nutritional interventions on patients with a previous diagnosis of cancer or precancerous lesions. Trial results were combined using the meta-analysis technique. The trials provided little evidence that specific interventions had any effect on disease-free survival, mortality, or recurrence. However, they also say that the impact of most nutritional interventions cannot be estimated reliably because of the limited number of trials, many of which are small or of low quality. Therefore, we need more and better studies.


Source: Medical News Today.


Pomegranate Juice May Keep Prostate-Specific Antigen Levels Stable in Men With Prostate Cancer

Drinking an 8-oz glass of pomegranate juice daily increased by nearly 4 times the period during which prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men treated for prostate cancer remained stable, a 3-year University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study has found. Pomegranate juice is known to have anti-inflammatory effects and high levels of antioxidants, which are believed to protect the body from free-radical damage. It also contains polyphenols, natural antioxidant compounds found in green tea; isoflavones, commonly found in soy; and ellagic acid, which is believed to play a role in cancer cell death.


The study involved 50 men who had undergone surgery or radiation but quickly experienced increases in PSA, a biomarker that indicates the presence of cancer. Researchers from UCLA measured "doubling time," that is, how long it takes for PSA levels to double, a signal that the cancer is progressing, which is crucial in prostate cancer because patients who have short doubling times are more likely to die from their cancer. The average doubling time is approximately 15 months. In the UCLA study, the researchers observed increases in doubling times from 15 to 54 months, an almost 4-fold increase. The researchers do not know yet the specific factors behind this response. Because the study was not randomized, there is no control group, and thus, it is difficult to know if pomegranate juice had any or no effect whatsoever. The first step is to perform a decent randomized study that is powered to answer this question. The next step in this research is to find out which cell signaling pathways might be affected, what one must do to keep PSA levels stable, and of course, whether PSA levels are good indicators of cancer progression.


Source: Clinical Cancer Research.


Smoking Increases, Omega-3s Decrease Risk of Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible visual impairment and blindness among persons aged 60 and older. With the elderly population steadily growing, the burden related to this loss of visual function will increase. Limited treatment options exist, and prevention remains the best approach for addressing this public health concern.


A new study looking at elderly male twins found that those who smoke or have a history of smoking had an increased risk of developing AMD as compared with those who never smoked. At the same time, those who ate more fish and had diets with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids reduced their risk of this blinding disease. Researchers at Harvard studied 681 male twins from the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council World War II Veteran Twin Registry. The study included 222 twins with intermediate and late-stage AMD and 489 twins with no signs of the disease.


Current smokers had a 1.9-fold increased risk of developing AMD, whereas past smokers had an approximately 1.7-fold increased risk. They also found that increased intake of fish reduced the risk of AMD, particularly if they ate 2 or more servings per week. Dietary omega-3 fatty intake was also inversely associated with AMD. This study of twins provides further evidence that cigarette smoking increases risk, whereas fish consumption and omega-3 fatty acid intake reduce risk of AMD.


Source: Archives of Ophthalmology.


New Risk Factors Do Not Improve Assessment of Coronary Heart Disease

Screening for levels of C-reactive protein and other compounds associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) may not help physicians predict risk for the condition any better with any more accuracy than they would by relying on traditional major risk factors, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.


Major risk factors for CHD include age, race, sex, blood pressure, diabetes, total and high-density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol levels, smoking status, and the use of medications to control blood pressure. These factors predict with reasonable accuracy an individual's probability of developing CHD. Most of these risk factors are also modifiable, so physicians can advise patients on how to change their lifestyle to reduce their risk. In recent years, researchers have identified additional risk factors and chemical markers associated with CHD, such as C-reactive protein, a compound in the blood that signifies inflammation caused by injury or infection.


Researchers from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, assessed the benefits of screening patients' levels of 19 novel chemical markers, including C-reactive protein, antibodies against infectious diseases, B vitamins, and compounds involved in the functioning of blood vessel lining. Several of the compounds tested, including C-reactive protein and vitamin B6, were significantly associated with CHD. The researchers looked at each marker and assessed the probability that a participant who developed CHD within a 5-year period had a higher risk score than did a participant who did not develop CHD. Using this method, they determined that most of the novel markers did not significantly increase the ability of physicians to predict CHD. Based on the evidence, C-reactive protein level did not emerge as a clinically useful addition to basic risk factor assessment for identifying patients at risk for a first CHD event, nor was routine screening warranted for any of the other 18 novel risk factors tested. At present, it is better to stick to major, modifiable risk factor assessment to identify individuals at risk for CHD who could benefit from prevention.


Source: Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1368-1373.