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LE Magazine May 2009
In The News

Cognitive Impairment Linked to Low Vitamin D Blood Levels

Cognitive Impairment Linked to Low Vitamin D Blood Levels

In an article scheduled for publication in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, Ian Lang, PhD, and colleagues report an association between decreased levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of cognitive impairment in older men and women.* 

The study included 708 men and 1,058 women who participated in the Health Survey for England 2000. Neurocognitive testing revealed cognitive impairment in 212 subjects. The risk of impairment was found to increase with declining levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Participants whose blood vitamin D levels were among the lowest 25% of participants experienced an adjusted risk of cognitive impairment that was 2.28 times greater than that of men and women whose vitamin D levels were in the top quarter.

“We need to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation is a cost-effective and low-risk way of reducing older people’s risks of developing cognitive impairment and dementia,” Dr. Lang observed.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

*Llewellyn DJ, Langa K, Lang I. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and cognitive impairment. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2008 Dec 10.

Green Tea Catechins Improve Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss

Green Tea Catechins Improve Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss

A recent article published in the Journal of Nutrition reports that green tea catechins combined with exercise helps decrease abdominal fat and triglycerides in overweight adults.*

Kevin C. Maki, PhD, of Provident Clinical Research in Bloomington, Indiana, and colleagues randomized 132 overweight adults to receive a beverage containing green tea catechins and caffeine, or a beverage containing the same amount of caffeine without catechins daily for 12 weeks while engaging in an exercise program. Both groups lost weight by the end of the study, yet participants who received catechins lost a greater amount. Abdominal fat area, subcutaneous abdominal fat, and serum triglycerides were significantly lower in subjects who received tea catechins.

“Our results are not inconsistent with the possibility that catechin consumption increases energy expenditure to a degree that could produce clinically important changes in body fat over time,” the authors concluded.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

*Maki KC, Reeves MS, Farmer M, et al. Green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss in overweight and obese adults. J Nutr. 2009 Feb;139(2):264-70.

Soy Protects Against Colorectal Cancer in Postmenopausal Women

Regular soy consumption may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women, according to a Chinese study.* This report from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study included 68,412 women with an average age of 52 years. Participants reported their average soy intake during interviews and were monitored for colorectal cancer.

After an average of 6.4 years, 321 cases of colorectal cancer occurred. The risk of cancer was 30% lower among those with the highest consumption of soy, whether measured as soy foods, soy protein, or isoflavones. Each increase of 5 grams/day in soy intake (dry weight; equivalent to about 1 ounce tofu/day) was associated with an 8% lower risk, even after adjusting for cancer risk factors. The benefit applied primarily to postmenopausal women.

The authors concluded, “given the fact that colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide and that soy can be readily incorporated into most diets, our findings have important public health implications in the prevention of this common malignancy.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

*Yang G, Shu XO, Li H, et al. Prospective cohort study of soy food intake and colorectal cancer risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;89(2):577-83.

EPA Helps Relieve Psychological Distress in Women

EPA Helps Relieve Psychological Distress in Women

A recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported the outcome of a Canadian clinical trial that found a beneficial effect for the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in middle-aged women suffering from psychological distress.*

Michel Lucas and his associates at Laval University enrolled 120 women between the ages of 40 and 55 with moderate to severe psychological distress, which can sometimes occur during the menopausal transition. The group was randomized to receive EPA in divided doses, or a placebo daily for eight weeks.

After excluding women undergoing major depression, psychological distress among those who received EPA was found to have improved significantly after eight weeks compared with subjects who received the placebo.

“Because EPA and DHA supplements have beneficial outcomes on cardiovascular disease, have no serious side effects, and might be helpful in reducing hot flashes, research should be encouraged in middle-aged women with psychological distress and depressive symptoms,” the authors stated.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Lucas M, Asselin G, Merette C, Poulin MJ, Dodin S. Ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid for the treatment of psychological distress and depressive symptoms in middle-aged women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;89(2):641-51.

Higher Vitamin E Levels in Smokers Linked With Reduced Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Higher Vitamin E Levels in Smokers Linked With Reduced Pancreatic Cancer Risk

A recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports an association between higher concentrations of vitamin E and a lower risk of pancreatic cancer in smokers.*

Rachel Z. Stolzenberg-Solomon, PhD, and colleagues evaluated data from 29,092 men who participated in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study, a placebo-controlled trial that sought to determine the effect of vitamin E and beta-carotene supplementation on the prevention of cancers in smokers. During up to 19.4 years of follow-up, 318 cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed.

For participants whose serum alpha tocopherol levels at the beginning of the study were among the top 20% of participants, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer was 48% lower than those whose levels were in the lowest fifth.

“Our results support the hypothesis that higher concentrations of serum alpha tocopherol may protect against pancreatic carcinogenesis in smokers,” the authors concluded.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ, Sheffler-Collins S, Weinstein S, et al. Vitamin E intake, alpha-tocopherol status, and pancreatic cancer in a cohort of male smokers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;89(2):584-91.

Younger Men With Erectile Dysfunction May be at Increased Risk For Heart Disease

In the February 2009 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Jennifer St. Sauver, PhD, and colleagues report the results of a study that found men between the ages of 40 and 49 who experience erectile dysfunction (ED) have a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease compared with those not affected by the condition.*

For the investigation, 1,402 men were screened for ED every two years. Cardiac events and coronary angiograms diagnostic of coronary artery disease were tracked and confirmed.

Over the 10-year follow-up, coronary heart disease developed in 11% of the participants, and was 80% more likely to occur in men with ED. Men with ED between the ages of 40 and 49 experienced a 50-fold higher number of new cases of heart disease than men in the same age group who did not report the condition.

“Erectile dysfunction and coronary artery disease may be differing manifestations of a common underlying vascular pathology,” the authors concluded.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Inman BA, Sauver JL, Jacobson DJ, et al. A population-based, longitudinal study of erectile dysfunction and future coronary artery disease. Mayo Clin Proc. 2009 Feb;84(2):108-13.

Arginine Shows Promise Against Obesity

Arginine Shows Promise Against Obesity

In a study reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Nutrition, scientists at Texas A&M University showed that arginine helps reduce fat gain in rats.*

Guoyao Wu, PhD, and associates fed 24 rats a high-fat diet and gave 24 animals a low-fat diet for 15 weeks. The animals were then divided to receive drinking water supplemented with L-arginine or L-alanine while maintaining their previous diets.

After 12 weeks, weight gain in the rats on the high-fat diet was 40% lower among those that received arginine compared with the controls, and for rats on the low-fat diet, weight gain was 60% lower. White fat pad weight increased by 98% in animals that received alanine; for animals that received arginine, the increase averaged only 35%.

The researchers concluded that arginine promotes lean tissue growth over fat gain. Dr. Wu stated that future investigations will involve obese children and adults.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Jobgen W, Meininger CJ, Jobgen SC, et al. Dietary L-arginine supplementation reduces white fat gain and enhances skeletal muscle and brown fat masses in diet-induced obese rats. J Nutr. 2009 Feb;139(2):230-7.

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