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LE Magazine December 2010
In The News

Berries May Activate “Housekeeping” Mechanism in Brain

Berries May Activate “Housekeeping” Mechanism in Brain

A recent presentation at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) brought to light studies that highlight berries’ ability to switch on a natural “housekeeper” mechanism in the brain.*

Shibu Poulose, PhD, who is with the US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, gave the presentation, stating that this new research was built on previous studies that suggested that a factor in aging is a constant decline in the body’s ability to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative damage.

“The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline,” Poulose said.

One of the experiments proving berries’ effectiveness involved using cultures of mouse brain cells. Poulose and other researchers found that extracts of berries inhibited the action of a protein that shuts down the autophagy process.

“Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect. They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries,” Poulose said.

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* Presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Higher Selenium Levels Associated with Reduced Bladder Cancer Risk

Higher Selenium Levels Associated with Reduced Bladder Cancer Risk

The results of a meta-analysis reported in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, conclude that the mineral selenium may have a protective effect against bladder cancer, one of the most common types of cancer worldwide.*

Núria Malats, MD, PhD of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center and colleagues analyzed data from 7 epidemiologic studies that reported the association between bladder cancer incidence and selenium levels measured in blood, serum, nails, hair, or saliva. The researchers found a 39% lower risk of bladder cancer in those with high versus low selenium levels. The protective effect extended mainly to women, who are at lower risk of developing the disease than men.

“Although our results suggest a beneficial effect of high selenium intake for bladder cancer risk, more studies are needed to confirm these findings before an enforcement of high selenium intake is recommended,” Dr. Malats stated.

Editor’s note: In an accompanying editorial, Elizabeth A. Platz, ScD, MPH concurred that “These findings provide a valuable lead for what to do next to understand if there is a role for selenium supplementation in bladder cancer prevention.”

—D. Dye

Reference

* Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. 2010 Sep.

Resveratrol Improves Endothelial Function in Overweight Men and Women

Resveratrol Improves Endothelial Function in Overweight Men and Women

An article published recently in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease revealed the results of a clinical trial of overweight and obese individuals which found a benefit for resveratrol in improving flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), a biomarker of endothelial function and cardiovascular health.*

For their research, 19 overweight or obese men and postmenopausal women with borderline hypertension were given 30, 90, or 270 milligrams resveratrol or a placebo over 4 weekly intervals, and plasma resveratrol and flow-mediated dilatation of the brachial artery were measured one hour later.

Plasma resveratrol increa-sed with dosage, corresponding to improvements in flow-mediated dilatation compared to placebo.

“The present study is the first to demonstrate that synthetic trans-resveratrol can improve FMD acutely and in a dose-related manner in at-risk population groups,” the authors announce.

“However, even the lowest resveratrol dose (30 mg) used in this study cannot be obtained from normal dietary habits.”

Editor’s note: While it is true that a normal diet does not provide this level of resveratrol, over the counter resveratrol supplements make it easy to obtain the dosages administered in the study.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010 Jul 29.

Sleep Loss Causes Dieters to Lose Muscle Instead of Fat

A recent article in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine reports on a study by researchers from the University of Chicago evaluating the effect adequate sleep has on managing body weight.*

The researchers studied 10 overweight males and females in a sleep research center over two separate two-week periods. During each two-week period the participants followed the same low calorie diet, but they had different sleep schedules each session. During the first two-week period, the participants slept 8.5 hours per night, while during the second session, they slept just 5.5 hours each night.

The researchers discovered that while on 8.5 hours sleep each night, over 50% of the participants’ weight loss consisted of fat, while on 5.5 hours of sleep each night, only around 25% of the participants weight loss consisted of fat. In short, participants lost 55% less fat than when they were sleeping 8.5 hours.

—Jon Finkel

Reference

* Ann Intern Med. 2010 Oct 5;153(7):435-41.

Higher Serum Selenium Levels Linked with Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

Higher Serum Selenium Levels Linked with Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

An article published online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reports an association between higher levels of the mineral selenium and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.*

European researchers age-matched 248 men diagnosed with prostate cancer with 492 control subjects who did not have the disease. Serum samples obtained upon enrollment were analyzed for selenium, selenoprotein P concentrations, and activity of glutathione peroxidase.

A reduction in prostate cancer risk was found in association with higher serum levels of selenium. When participants were divided into four groups according to selenium status, those whose selenium was in the third highest group had a 39% lower risk of prostate cancer than those whose selenium levels were lowest. This reduction in risk lessened among those whose selenium levels were in the top quarter. Serum glutathione peroxidase levels exhibited a similar protective pattern.

Editor’s note: The finding contradicts the conclusion of other research which failed to determine a protective benefit for selenium against the disease.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. 2010 Sep 17.

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