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LE Magazine January 2009
In The News

Greater Soy Consumption Associated With Lower Breast Cancer Risk in Women

Greater Soy Consumption Associated With Lower Breast Cancer Risk in Women

An article published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer reveals a protective effect of soy on the risk of developing breast cancer.*

Scientists at Hanyang University in Korea compared 362 women diagnosed with breast cancer with an equal number of healthy women matched for age and menopausal status. Participants were interviewed concerning their diets, which included tofu, soybean paste, and soy milk. Total soy protein intake was used as a measure of total soy food consumption.

Among premenopausal women whose intake of soy protein was among the top 20% of participants, there was a 61% lower adjusted risk of breast cancer compared with those in the lowest 20%. For postmenopausal women, the risk experienced by the highest soy protein intake group was 78% lower. 

“Our findings, if confirmed, can provide a dietary guideline for the prevention of breast cancer,” the authors conclude.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Kim MK, Kim JH, Nam SJ, Ryu S, Kong G. Dietary intake of soy protein and tofu in association with breast cancer risk based on a case-control study. Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(5):568-76.

Resveratrol May Protect Against Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Resveratrol May Protect Against Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

A recent issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology reported the finding of researchers at the University of South Florida Health Sciences Center in Tampa of a protective effect for resveratrol against alcoholic fatty liver disease in mice.*

Laboratory research has associated alcoholic fatty liver with the inhibition of two signaling molecules, SIRT1 and AMPK, which regulate the liver’s fat metabolism pathways. Dr. Min You and colleagues fed mice low-fat diets supplemented with or without ethanol (alcohol) and/or a low or high dose of resveratrol, and measured the expression of SIRT1 and AMPK in the animals’ livers. They confirmed that resveratrol activated SIRT1 and AMPK in the mice that received alcohol, which prevented fatty liver. 

“Our study suggests that resveratrol may serve as a promising agent for preventing or treating human alcoholic fatty liver disease,” the authors concluded.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Ajmo JM, Liang X, Rogers CQ, Pennock B, You M. Resveratrol alleviates alcoholic fatty liver in mice. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2008 Oct;295(4):G833-42.

Lutein, Zeaxanthin May Protect Against Colon Cancer

Lutein, Zeaxanthin May Protect Against Colon Cancer

The carotenoid pigments lutein and zeaxanthin may work together to help prevent colon cancer, according to a new laboratory study.1 These antioxidants are best known for their importance in reducing the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.2

Korean researchers extracted several bioactive carotenoid compounds, including lutein and zeaxanthin, from two common types of algae. Using a standard laboratory test, the researchers then measured the extracts’ effects on human colon cancer cells growing in test tubes. Both extracts inhibited cancer cell growth and induced cells to undergo apoptosis, or programmed “cellular suicide.”1

Although lutein and zeaxanthin are most often cited as crucial eye-health nutrients, the results were not unexpected. Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that fruit and vegetable-rich diets, which provide high levels of these and other carotenoids, are associated with a reduced risk of various types of cancer.3

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

1.Cha KH, Koo SY, Lee DU. Antiproliferative effects of carotenoids extracted from chlorella ellipsoidea and chlorella vulgaris on human colon cancer cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Oct 23.
2.Rhone M, Basu A. Phytochemicals and age-related eye diseases. Nutr Rev. 2008 Aug;66(8):465-72.
3.Muller K, Carpenter KL, Challis IR, Skepper JN, Arends MJ. Carotenoids induce apoptosis in the T-lymphoblast cell line Jurkat E6.1. Free Radic Res. 2002 Jul;36(7):791-802.

Sunlight Exposure, Lack of Antioxidants Increase Macular Degeneration Risk

A new study suggests that protecting the eyes from sunlight exposure (using protective sunglasses and/or hats, for example) and consuming high levels of dietary antioxidants may significantly reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.*

British researchers examined 4,400 older people participating in the European Eye Study for signs of the vision-blurring disease. The scientists also assessed estimated lifetime exposure to sunlight, and measured blood antioxidant levels, including vitamin C, vitamin E, zeaxanthin, and zinc.

Among subjects with the lowest combined antioxidant levels, sunlight exposure was significantly associated with elevated risk of developing advanced macular degeneration. Although the results did not establish that sunlight exposure causes age-related macular degeneration, researchers noted the findings did suggest that in order to safeguard visual health, “people in the general population should use [eye] protection and follow dietary recommendations for the key antioxidant nutrients.”

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Fletcher AE, Bentham GC, Agnew M, et al. Sunlight exposure, antioxidants, and age-related macular degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008 Oct;126(10):1396-403.

Breastfed Infants May Require Extra Vitamin D

Breastfed Infants May Require Extra Vitamin D

Despite the known benefits of breast milk, exclusively breastfed infants may develop vitamin D deficiency, as detailed in a recent case study.*

The patient was a healthy 11-month-old African American girl living in Boston. A routine checkup showed undetectable blood levels of 25-hydroxy- vitamin D, and radiographs of the wrists and knees revealed severe rickets (softening of the bones in children) and low bone mineral density. Vitamin D and calcium supplements were prescribed, and blood vitamin D levels subsequently improved.

Mothers living in extreme northern and southern latitudes are at risk for vitamin D deficiency in the blood and breast milk because of inadequate exposure to ultraviolet light. Further, African Americans are particularly at risk because dark skin synthesizes less vitamin D. Although sometimes asymptomatic, rickets can lead to stunted growth and bone deterioration.

The authors therefore conclude, “supplementation is required for strictly breastfed infants because they are at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency and its implications for skeletal and overall health.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Williams AL, Cox J, Gordon CM. Rickets in an otherwise healthy 11-month-old. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2008 May;47(4):409-12.

DHEA Protects the Heart

The prohormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), protects the heart via numerous mechanisms, according to recent research.1,2

Working with human samples obtained during cardiac catheterizations, researchers compared levels of DHEA and the adrenal hormone, aldo-sterone. Samples taken from patients with heart failure featured measurable aldosterone, but no DHEA. Normal control subjects, on the other hand, were found to secrete DHEA, but not aldosterone in cardiac tissues. “We postulated that DHEA and/or its metabolites exert a cardioprotective action through [suppression of heart enlargement] effects,” researchers conclude in the journal Circulation.1

Scientists at Virginia Polytechnic Institute further examined DHEA’s cardioprotective effects. Working with both human and bovine endothelial cells harvested from the aorta, they conducted tissue culture experiments, which demonstrated that “…DHEA, at physiological concentrations, inhibited serum deprivation-induced apoptosis [cell death] of both bovine and human vascular endothelial cells.” They conclude “this suggests that DHEA may be a pro-survival factor for the vascular endothelium.”2

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

1. Nakamura S, Yoshimura M, Nakayama M, et al. Possible association of heart failure status with synthetic balance between aldosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone in human heart. Circulation. 2004 Sep 28;110(13):1787-93.
2. Liu D, Si H, Reynolds KA, Zhen W, Jia Z, Dillon JS. Dehydroepiandrosterone protects vascular endothelial cells against apoptosis through a Galphai protein-dependent activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt and regulation of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 expression. Endocrinology. 2007 Jul;148(7):3068-76.

Arthroscopic Surgery Not Better Than Conservative Treatment For Knee Pain

Arthroscopic surgery is no better than optimal physical and medical therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee, according to a recent study.1

In this study, adults with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to treatment with arthroscopic surgery plus physical and medical therapy or physical and medical therapy alone (control group). Eighty-six patients in each group completed treatment. After two years, scores for both osteoarthritis severity and quality of life were similar in the surgery group and the control group, with minor differences that were not statistically meaningful.

The results confirm previous findings of a lack of superiority of arthroscopy versus placebo treatment for osteoarthritis.2 Interestingly, a recent study showed that patients with osteoarthritis often have a torn meniscus—a common reason for arthroscopy—yet meniscal damage is often unrelated to pain.3

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

1. Kirkley A, Birmingham TB, Litchfield RB, et al. A randomized trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. N Engl J Med. 2008 Sept 11;359(11):1097-107.
2. Moseley JB, O’Malley K, Petersen NJ, et al. A controlled trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. N Engl J Med. 2002 Jul 11;347(2):81-8.
3. Englund M, Guermazi A, Gale D, et al. Incidental meniscal findings on knee MRI in middle-aged and elderly persons. N Engl J Med. 2008 Sep 11;359(11):1108-15.

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