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LE Magazine August 2009
In The News

Curcumin Reduces Adipose Tissue Formation in Mice

Curcumin Reduces Adipose Tissue Formation in Mice

A recent issue of the Journal of Nutrition reports the discovery by researchers at Tufts University of a reduction in the formation of adipose (fat) tissue and the blood vessels that feed it in mice given high-fat diets supplemented with curcumin, the major polyphenol in turmeric.*

The researchers divided 18 mice to receive a control diet, a high-fat diet, or a high-fat diet supplemented with curcumin for 12 weeks. At the end of the treatment period, mice that received the high-fat diet had gained more weight than those that received the low-fat diet; however, the effect was reduced in mice that received curcumin, even though the same amount of food was consumed. Additionally, curcumin-treated mice experienced a reduction in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), indicating reduced angiogenesis, as well as significantly lower microvessel density in adipose tissue.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

*J Nutr. 2009 May;139(5):919-25.

Poor Diet Quality Predicts Mortality in Men Over a Seven-Year Period

Poor Diet Quality Predicts Mortality in Men Over a Seven-Year Period

Swedish researchers report that men who consume a high amount of unhealthy foods and fail to consume enough beneficial foods have a greater risk of dying over a 7.7-year average period compared with those whose diets are healthier.*

Researchers analyzed data from 40,837 participants in the Cohort of Swedish Men. Responses to dietary questionnaires completed upon enrollment were scored on the intake of 36 recommended foods and 16 non-recommended food items. Between 1998 and 2005, 4,501 deaths were documented.

Men with a high recommended food score had a 19% lower rate of dying over follow-up compared with men who scored low in recommended foods. When non-recommended food scores were analyzed, those with high scores had a 21% greater risk of mortality compared with men who had low food scores.

The findings indicate that not only frequency but diversity of healthy foods is important to wellness.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;63(4):451-7.

Pomegranate Juice Slows Prostate Cancer Progression

Pomegranate Juice Slows Prostate Cancer Progression

Consumption of pomegranate juice slows further increases in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) among men previously treated for prostate cancer, according to a presentation at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Urological Association.1 PSA is a blood marker that correlates with tumor growth and progression.

In a previous study, 46 men with rising PSA after treatment for prostate cancer were given eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily until disease progression.2 “Doubling time” of PSA slowed significantly from an average of 15 months at baseline to 54 months at follow-up, indicating a slowing of disease progression, while tumor cell growth decreased 12% and tumor cell death rose by 17%.

The present report extended the follow-up to a median of 56 months in 15 men who remained in the study.1 Again, PSA doubling time increased, from 15 months at baseline to 60 months at follow-up. Given these promising results, a randomized, placebo-controlled study is underway to confirm the antioxidant effects of pomegranate juice.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

1. J Urol. 2009 April;181(4;Suppl 1):295. Abstract 826.
2. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 1;12(13):4018-26.

Asthma Severity in Children Associated With Low Vitamin D Levels

Asthma Severity in Children Associated With Low Vitamin D Levels

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston report a link between insufficient levels of vitamin D and increased severity of asthma in children.*

Juan Celedón, MD, DrPH, and colleagues measured serum allergy markers and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in 616 children with asthma aged 6 to 14 living in the central valley of Costa Rica. Lung function tests and allergy skin testing were also conducted.

Twenty-eight percent of the children were found to have insufficient vitamin D levels of less than 30 ng/mL. Lower vitamin D levels were associated with increased allergy markers IgE and eosinophils. Those with higher vitamin D levels experienced a reduction in the risk of being hospitalized for any cause or using anti-inflammatory medications during the previous year.

“This study suggests that there may be added health benefits to vitamin D supplementation,” Dr. Celedón noted.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009 May 1;179(9):765-71.

Multivitamins Improve Bone Quality in the Elderly

Multivitamins Improve Bone Quality in the Elderly

Supplementation with a multivitamin raises micronutrient concentrations, improves bone quality, and reduces the risk of falling, according to a six-month study of elderly people in Australia.* Elderly persons have higher micronutrient requirements than younger people yet typically have poor nutritional intake.

Ninety-two elderly persons living in a residential care facility were randomly assigned to take a daily multivitamin supplement or placebo tablet. By six months later, supplementation achieved significantly higher blood levels of vitamin D, vitamin B12, and folate compared with placebo, along with lower rates of micronutrient deficiency. The multivitamin group also had significantly higher bone density measured in the heel and a promising trend toward a 63% lower likelihood of falling.

The authors hope that future studies “assess whether these nutrient combinations result in sustained improvements in bone and muscle function, potentially leading to a significant reduction in falls and fractures among aged care residents.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;63(4):558-65.

Soy May Offer Benefits for Menopause

Dietary supplementation with soy isoflavones reduces blood cholesterol and preserves the vaginal epithelium in rats subjected to ovary removal (ovariectomy).* Ovariectomy in rats simulates the estrogen deficiency of human menopause, and soy isoflavones have known estrogenic activity.

Thirty rats were randomly assigned to one of three groups: low-dose or high-dose dietary supplementation with soy aglycons of isoflavone, and a control diet. The supplement included 14.5% genistein, 4.5% daidzein, and 1% other isoflavones. After three months, the rats were examined for biochemical indices and effects on the vaginal epithelium.

Supplemented rats showed significantly higher blood concentrations of isoflavone than the control group. They also demonstrated higher concentrations of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and lower levels of both total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Soy isoflavone supplementation helped preserve the vaginal epithelium and also increased liver antioxidant activity. All changes were most pronounced in the high-dose group.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009 Apr 9;6(1):15.

Oily Fish, Wine Intake May Protect the Skin

Oily Fish, Wine Intake May Protect the Skin

Diets that include oily fish and moderate wine consumption may reduce the risk of actinic keratosis, according to an Australian study.* Actinic keratosis is a common precursor of skin cancer caused by excessive sun exposure.

A total of 1,119 healthy adults reported their average food intake and underwent skin examinations between 1992 and 1996. The investigators assessed the effects of diet after accounting for age, sex, sun exposure, and other factors.

Over time, the number of actinic keratoses increased in the total group. However, participants who consumed the highest amounts of oily fish showed a 28% decrease in acquisition of actinic keratosis compared with minimal fish intake. Higher wine consumption was also associated with a 27% lower risk. High consumption was defined as one serving of oily fish every five days and about a half glass of wine per day. Beneficial constituents for skin health are believed to be omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenolic compounds, respectively.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;89(4):1246-55.

Whey Protein Benefits Elderly Adults

Scientists have long known that whey, a complete protein providing both essential and non-essential amino acids, provides benefits for immunity, cancer support, and athletic training. Now, new research is illustrating whey protein’s benefits for older populations, who are at risk for age-related loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia).1,2

Fifteen elderly persons were randomly assigned to ingest 15 grams of whey, approximately 7 g of essential amino acids, or approximately 7.5 g of non-essential amino acids. Using a standard index, the researchers found that whey alone improved muscle protein accrual.1 The researchers concluded, “whey ingestion improves skeletal muscle protein accrual through mechanisms that are beyond those attributed to its essential amino acid content. This finding may have practical implications for the formulation of nutritional supplements to enhance muscle anabolism [tissue building] in older individuals.”1

Resistance exercise may complement whey’s effects in preventing sarcopenia. A recent review showed that supplementing with whey protein augments the effects of resistance training in maintaining lean tissue mass in older adults.2 The researchers in this study concluded, “simple dietary and exercise strategies that may improve the maintenance of skeletal muscle mass will likely result in a decrease in the overall burden of a number of diseases and improve the quality of life as we age.”2

—Will Brink

Reference

1. Nutr Res. 2008 Oct;28(10):651-8.
2. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008 Jan;11(1):40-4.