Disease and Conditions

Health Research Report #169 29 NOV 2013

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169

Health Research Report

WHITE PAPER /ROUGH COPY

169th Issue Date 29 NOV 2013

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

 

In this Issue:

1.      Bitter melon extract may have potential to fight head and neck cancer
2.      Men with prostate cancer who ate a low-fat fish oil diet showed changes in their cancer tissue
3.      Natural Compound Mitigates Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse, University of Missouri Researchers Find
4.      Introducing solid foods while continuing to breast feed could prevent child allergies
5.      LSUHSC research finds combo of plant nutrients kills breast cancer cells
6.      Regular physical activity in later life boosts likelihood of ‘healthy aging’ up to sevenfold
7.      A touch of garlic helps kill contaminants in baby formula
8.      Micronutrient supplements reduce risk of HIV disease progression and illness
 
 

Bitter melon extract may have potential to fight head and neck cancer

ST. LOUIS – Extract taken from an Asian vegetable may have therapeutic qualities to treat head and neck cancer, a Saint Louis University researcher has found.

Preliminary findings of the research were published in the Public Library of Science One Journal by Ratna Ray, Ph.D. associate professor of pathology at Saint Louis University. Ray found that bitter melon extract, a vegetable commonly used in Indian and Chinese diets, reduces the head and neck cancer cell growth in the animal model.

“We wanted to see the effect of the bitter melon extract treatment on different types of cancer using different model systems,” said Ray, who first tested the extract in breast and prostate cancer cells. “In this study, the bitter melon extract treatment suppressed the head and neck cancer cell growth in the mouse model, reducing the growth of the tumor.”

In a controlled lab setting, Ray found that bitter melon extract regulated several pathways that helped reduce the head and neck cancer cell growth in the animal model. After a period of four weeks, Ray found that the growth and volume of the tumor had reduced.

Bitter melon is a tropical vegetable that is commonly used in Indian and Chinese cooking. Ray, who is originally from India, often uses bitter melon in her meals. People in Asia use this vegetable in stir fries, salads, and also drink its juice as part of a healthy diet.

Although more research is needed, Ray believes the bitter melon extract may enhance the current treatment option.

“It’s difficult to measure the exact impact of bitter melon extract treatment on the cell growth, but a combination of things – existing drug therapy along with bitter melon – may help the efficacy of the overall cancer treatment,” Ray said.

Head and neck cancers, which account for 6 percent of all cancer cases, start in the mouth, nose, sinuses, voicebox and throat. They frequently are aggressive, and often spread from one part of the head or neck to another.

Before moving to phase I clinical trial with head and neck cancer patients, Ray said she and her team would need to validate their results with other preclinical models.

Ray’s initial research found that treatment with this natural substance halted the breast and prostate cancer cell growth, eventually stopping them from spreading.

Men with prostate cancer who ate a low-fat fish oil diet showed changes in their cancer tissue

For prostate cancer patients, it’s a case of you are what you eat

Men with prostate cancer who ate a low-fat diet and took fish oil supplements had lower levels of pro-inflammatory substances in their blood and a lower cell cycle progression score, a measure used to predict cancer recurrence, than men who ate a typical Western diet, UCLA researchers found.

The findings are important because lowering the cell cycle progression (CCP) score may help prevent prostate cancers from becoming more aggressive, said study lead author William Aronson, a clinical professor of urology at UCLA and chief of urologic oncology at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“We found that CCP scores were significantly lower in the prostate cancer in men who consumed the low-fat fish oil diet as compare to men who followed a higher fat Western diet,” Aronson said. “We also found that men on the low-fat fish oil diet had reduced blood levels of pro-inflammatory substances that have been associated with cancer.”

This study appears in the early online edition of Cancer Prevention Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

This study is a follow-up to a 2011 study by Aronson and his team that found a low-fat diet with fish oil supplements eaten for four to six weeks prior to prostate removal slowed the growth of cancer cells in human prostate cancer tissue compared to a traditional, high-fat Western diet.

That short-term study also found that the men on the low-fat fish oil diet were able to change the composition of their cell membranes in both the healthy cells and the cancer cells in the prostate. They had increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and decreased levels of the more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids from corn oil in the cell membranes, which may directly affect the biology of the cells, Aronson said.

“These studies are showing that, in men with prostate cancer, you really are what you eat,” Aronson said. “The studies suggest that by altering the diet, we may favorably affect the biology of prostate cancer.”

The men in the previous study were placed into one of two groups, the low-fat fish oil diet or the Western diet. The Western diet consisted of 40 percent of calories from fat, generally equivalent to what many Americans consume today. The fat sources also were typical of the American diet and included high levels of omega-6 fatty acids from corn oil and low levels of fish oil that provide omega-3 fatty acids.

The low-fat diet consisted of 15 percent of calories from fat. Additionally, the men on this diet took five grams of fish oil per day in five capsules, three with breakfast and two with dinner, to provide omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce inflammation, and may be protective for other malignancies.

For this study, Aronson wanted to look at the potential biological mechanisms at work in the low-fat fish oil diet that may be providing protection against cancer growth and spread. They measured levels of the pro-inflammatory substances in the blood and examined the prostate cancer tissue to determine the CCP score.

“This is of great interest, as the CCP score in prostate cancer is known to be associated with more aggressive disease and can help predict which patients will recur and potentially die from their cancer,” Aronson said.

Further, Aronson and his team analyzed one pro-inflammatory substance called leukotriene B4 (LTB4) and found that men with lower blood levels of LTB4 after the diet also had lower CCP scores.

“Given this finding, we went on to explore how the LTB4 might potentially affect prostate cancer cells and discovered a completely novel finding that one of the receptors for LTB4 is found on the surface of prostate cancer cells,” Aronson said.

Further studies are planned to determine the importance of this novel receptor in prostate cancer progression, Aronson said.

Based on the results of his research, Aronson has been funded to start a prospective, randomized trial at UCLA next year studying 100 men who have elected to join the active surveillance program, which monitors slow-growing prostate cancer using imaging and biopsy instead of treating the disease. Study volunteers will receive a prostate biopsy at the beginning of the trial and again at one year. The men will be randomized into a group that eats their usual diet or to a low-fat fish oil diet group. Aronson will measure markers in the prostate biopsy tissue to check for cell growth and CCP score.

Prostate cancer is a leading cause of death among men in the United States. It’s estimated that more than 230,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year alone, with more than 29,000 dying from their disease.

Natural Compound Mitigates Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse, University of Missouri Researchers Find

Story Contact(s):
Jeff Sossamon, sossamonj@missouri.edu, 573-882-3346

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Studies have shown that resveratrol, a natural compound found in colored vegetables, fruits and especially grapes, may minimize the impact of Parkinson’s disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease in those who maintain healthy diets or who regularly take resveratrol supplements. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that resveratrol may also block the effects of the highly addictive drug, methamphetamine.

Dennis Miller, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Arts & Science and an investigator with the Bond Life Sciences Center, and researchers in the Center for Translational Neuroscience at MU, study therapies for drug addiction and neurodegenerative disorders. Their research targets treatments for methamphetamine abuse and has focused on the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in drug addiction.  Dopamine levels in the brain surge after methamphetamine use; this increase is associated with the motivation to continue using the drug, despite its adverse consequences. However, with repeated methamphetamine use, dopamine neurons may degenerate causing neurological and behavioral impairments, similar to those observed in people with Parkinson’s disease.

“Dopamine is critical to the development of methamphetamine addiction—the transition from using a drug because one likes or enjoys it to using the drug because one craves or compulsively uses it,” Miller said. “Resveratrol has been shown to regulate these dopamine neurons and to be protective in Parkinson’s disease, a disorder where dopamine neurons degenerate; therefore, we sought to determine if resveratrol could affect methamphetamine-induced changes in the brain.”

Using procedures established by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease research, rats received resveratrol once a day for seven days in about the same concentration as a human would receive from a healthy diet. After a week of resveratrol, researchers measured how much dopamine was released by methamphetamine. Researchers found that resveratrol significantly diminished methamphetamine’s ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Furthermore, resveratrol diminished methamphetamine’s ability to increase activity in mice, a behavior that models the hyperactivity observed in people that use the stimulant.

“People are encouraged by physicians and dieticians to include resveratrol-containing products in their diet and protection against methamphetamine’s harmful effects may be an added bonus,” Miller said. “Additionally, there are no consistently effective treatments to help people who are dependent on methamphetamine. Our initial research suggests that resveratrol could be included in a treatment regimen for those addicted to methamphetamine and it has potential to decrease the craving and desire for the drug. Resveratrol is found in good, colorful foods, and has few side effects. We all ought to consume resveratrol for good brain health; our research suggests it may also prevent the changes in the brain that occur with the development of drug addiction.”

The study “Repeated resveratrol treatment attenuates methamphetamine-induced hyperactivity and [3H]dopamine overflow in rodents,” was published in Neuroscience Letters. Collaborators included Grace Y. Sun, professor of biochemistry, and Agnes Simonyi, associate research professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, at the University of Missouri.

The Center for Translational Neuroscience is home to research teams who work together to translate neuroscience discoveries into clinical treatments for patients and highlights MU’s interdisciplinary, highly collaborative culture in the area of One Health/One Medicine. Four key areas of collaborative strength that distinguish MU are collectively known as the Mizzou Advantage. The other three areas are Food for the Future, Sustainable Energy, and Media of the Future.

Introducing solid foods while continuing to breast feed could prevent child allergies

Introducing solid food with breast milk after the 17th week of birth could reduce food allergies in babies, according to University of Southampton research.

The research, led by Dr Kate Grimshaw, dietitian and senior research fellow at the University, say that giving the baby solid food beside breast feeding helps it develop a better, stronger immune system to fight food allergies.

“Introducing solid foods alongside breastfeeding can benefit the immune system,” Dr Grimshaw explains. “It appears the immune system becomes educated when there is an overlap of solids and breast milk because the milk promotes tolerogenic mechanisms against the solids.

“Additionally, our findings suggest 17 weeks is a crucial time point, with solid food introduction before this time appearing to promote allergic disease whereas solid food introduction after that time point seems to promote tolerance.”

Infants are largely intolerant of solid food before four to six months of age. This is thought to be due to the infant gut being relatively immature, which may cause symptoms of food allergy.

The study, funded by the UK Food Standards Agency and published in Pediatrics, recruited 1140 infants at birth from the Hampshire area in a study known as ‘PIFA’. 41 of these children went onto to develop a food allergy by the time they were two years of age. The diet of these infants was compared with the diet of 82 infants who did not develop food allergy by the time they were two.

The team found that children who had developed allergies began eating solid food earlier than children with no allergies — roughly, at age 16 weeks or earlier. Children with allergies were also more likely to not be being breastfed when the mother introduced cow’s milk protein, from any source. Women who are not breastfeeding are encouraged to introduce solids after 17 weeks of age, Dr Grimshaw says.

This unique research supports the recommendations of the American Academy of Paediatrics and the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition who urge mothers not to introduce solid foods before four to six months of age. Furthermore the findings also support the American Academy of Paediatrics’ breastfeeding recommendations that breastfeeding should continue while solid foods are introduced into the diet.

LSUHSC research finds combo of plant nutrients kills breast cancer cells

New Orleans, LA – A study led by Madhwa Raj, PhD, Research Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans and its Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, has found that a super cocktail of six natural compounds in vegetables, fruits, spices and plant roots killed 100% of sample breast cancer cells without toxic side effects on normal cells. The results, which also revealed potential treatment target genes, are published in the November 2013 issue of The Journal of Cancer.

“One of the primary causes of both the recurrence of breast cancer and deaths is a small group of cancer stem cells that evade therapy,” notes Dr. Raj. “These often multi-drug-resistant cells have the ability to generate new tumors, so it is critically important to develop new approaches to more effective and safer treatment or prevention of breast cancer.”

The research team tested ten known protective chemical nutrients found in foods like broccoli, grapes, apples, tofu, and turmeric root (a spice used in Indian curry) before settling upon six – Curcumin known as tumeric, Isoflavone from soybeans, Indo-3-Carbinol from cruciferous plants, C-phycocyanin from spirulina, Reservatrol from grapes, and Quercetin, a flavonoid present in fruits, vegetables, and tea. The researchers administered these six at bioavailable levels to both breast cancer and control cells. They tested the compounds individually and in combination. They found that the compounds were ineffective individually. When combined, though, the super cocktail suppressed breast cancer cell growth by more than 80%, inhibited migration and invasion, caused cell cycle arrest, and triggered the process leading to cell death resulting in the death of 100% of the breast cancer cells in the sample. The researchers observed no harmful effects on the control cells. Further analysis also identified several key genes, which could serve as markers to follow the progress of therapy.

Although the cocktail was not tested against BRCA1 and BRAC2, previous studies have shown that they are molecular targets of four of the six compounds. The researchers also earlier demonstrated that two of the compounds synergize effectively to kill ovarian cancer cells.

According to the National Cancer Institute’s SEER Program, which includes data from LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, breast cancer is the second most common cancer with 232,340 new cases estimated this year and 39,620 deaths. There are an estimated 2,829,041 women currently living with breast cancer in the United States.

Regular physical activity in later life boosts likelihood of ‘healthy aging’ up to sevenfold

Helps stave off major ill health and dementia even for those getting started relatively late

It’s never too late to get physically active, with even those starting relatively late in life reaping significant health benefits, finds research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Four years of sustained regular physical activity boosted the likelihood of healthy ageing sevenfold compared with consistent inactivity, the findings show.

The researchers tracked the health of almost 3500 people, whose average age was 64, for more than eight years. All were participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which involves a nationally representative sample of the household population of England, born on or before 29 February 1952.

The researchers wanted to quantify the impact of physical activity on the risk of developing long term conditions, depression, and dementia, and on the likelihood of “healthy ageing.”

This is usually taken to mean not only an absence of major disease and disability, but also good mental health, the preservation of cognitive abilities, and the ability to maintain social connections/activities.

There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that regular physical activity is essential for the maintenance of good health, while across the developed world, inactivity is ranked alongside smoking, excess drinking, and obesity as a leading cause of reduced life expectancy.

Participants described the frequency and intensity of regular physical activity they did in 2002-3, and then every subsequent two years until 2010-11.

Their responses were categorised as: inactive (no moderate or vigorous activity on a weekly basis); moderately active (at least once a week); and vigorously active (at least once a week).

Any changes in frequency and intensity were noted at the two yearly monitoring sessions: always inactive; became inactive; became active; always active.

Serious ill health, such as heart disease/stroke, diabetes, emphysema, or Alzheimer’s disease, was confirmed by medical records.

Cognitive abilities and mental health were assessed using a battery of validated tests, while disability was measured according to participants’ responses to questions about the ease with which they were able to carry out routine activities of daily living, and an objective test of walking speed.

Nearly one in 10 of the sample became active and 70% remained active. The rest remained inactive or became inactive.

At the end of the monitoring period almost four out of 10 had developed a long term condition; almost one in five was depressed; a third had some level of disability; and one in five was cognitively impaired.

But one in five was defined as a healthy ager. And there was a direct link to the likelihood of healthy ageing and the amount of exercise taken.

Those who had regularly indulged in moderate or vigorous physical activity at least once a week were three to four times more likely to be healthy agers than those who had remained inactive, after taking account of other influential factors.

Those who became physically active also reaped benefits, compared with those who did nothing. They were more than three times as likely to be healthy agers.

And those who sustained regular physical activity over the entire period were seven times as likely to be healthy agers as those who had consistently remained inactive.

“This study supports public health initiatives designed to engage older adults in physical activity, even those who are of advanced age,” conclude the authors.

A touch of garlic helps kill contaminants in baby formula

Media Release | November 25, 2013

Two compounds derived from garlic may help contaminants in baby formula, says a UBC study. Photo: Rüdiger Wölk, Münster/Wikimedia Commons.

Garlic may be bad for your breath, but it’s good for your baby, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

The study, recently published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, is the first to identify two compounds derived from garlic – diallyl sulfide and ajoene – that significantly reduce the contamination risk of Cronobacter sakazakii in the production of dry infant formula powder.

The discovery could make the product safer to consume, easing the minds of new mothers who can’t or opt not to breastfeed.

“A trace dose of these two compounds is extremely effective in killing C. sakazakii in the food manufacturing process,” says Xiaonan Lu, corresponding author and assistant professor of food safety engineering in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. “They have the potential to eliminate the pathogen before it ever reaches the consumer.”

C. sakazakii is a foodborne pathogen that is sometimes present in dry infant formula powder and other fortified foods. C. sakazakii infection is rare, but often fatal for infants. It can poison a baby’s bloodstream and lead to life-threatening cases of meningitis. Outbreaks of C. sakazakii have occurred worldwide.

According to Lu, the garlic compounds could be used to prevent C. sakazakii contamination on food contact surfaces and in every step of food production – from processing, packaging and delivery.

“Pipes used in the manufacturing of milk products are typically cleaned with chemicals like chlorine, but these garlic compounds are a natural alternative,” says Lu. “We believe these compounds are more beneficial in protecting babies against this pathogen.”

Micronutrient supplements reduce risk of HIV disease progression and illness

Long-term (24-month) supplementation with multivitamins plus selenium for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients in Botswana in the early stages of disease who had not received antiretroviral therapy delayed time to HIV disease progression, was safe and reduced the risk of immune decline and illness, according to a study appearing in the November 27 issue of JAMA.

“Micronutrient deficiencies, known to influence immune function, are prevalent even before the development of symptoms of HIV disease and are associated with accelerated HIV disease progression. Micronutrient supplementation has improved markers of HIV disease progression (CD4 cell count, HIV viral load) and mortality in clinical trials; however, these studies were conducted either in the late stages of HIV disease or in pregnant women,” according to background information in the article.

Marianna K. Baum, Ph.D., of Florida International University, Miami, and colleagues examined whether specific supplemental micronutrients enhance the immune system and slow HIV disease progression during the early stages of the disease in antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naive adults. They randomized 878 HIV patients to supplementation with daily multivitamins (B vitamins and vitamins C and E), selenium alone, multivitamins with selenium, or placebo for 24 months. The vitamins (vitamins B, C and E, and the trace element selenium) are nutrients essential for maintaining a responsive immune system. Selenium may also have an important role in preventing HIV replication.

Participants receiving the combined supplement of multivitamins plus selenium had a lower risk compared to placebo of reaching a CD4 cell count 250/µL or less (a measure that is consistent with the standard of care in Botswana for initiation of ART at the time of the study). This supplement also reduced the risk of a combination of measures of disease progression (CD4 cell count ≤ 250/µL, AIDS-defining conditions, or AIDS-related death, whichever occurred earlier).

“This evidence supports the use of specific micronutrient supplementation as an effective intervention in HIV-infected adults in early stages of HIV disease, significantly reducing the risk for disease progression in asymptomatic, ART-naive, HIV-infected adults. This reduced risk may translate into delay in the time when the HIV-infected patients experience immune dysfunction and into broader access to HIV treatment in developing countries,” the authors conclude.

The researchers add that their “findings are generalizable to other HIV subtype C-infected cohorts in resource-limited settings where the provision of ART is being scaled up, rolled out, or not yet available to all in conditions similar to those in Botswana at the time of this study.”

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These reports are done with the appreciation of all the Doctors, Scientist, and other Medical Researchers who sacrificed their time and effort. In order to give people the ability to empower themselves. Without base aspirations of fame, or fortune. Just honorable people, doing honorable things.

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