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Health & Wellness Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<3456789101112>> Total issues:151

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May 01, 2014, to May 15, 2014

Study Shows That Obese Kids Eat Healthful Foods When They Live Closer To Supermarkets

Interventions to help obese children conquer their diet and weight problems work best when the families live near a supermarket, according to a Canadian study. The researchers analyzed data from a randomized, controlled clinical trial involving children aged  six to 12 in 14 pediatric practices in one state. The study compared the results of two different interventions that focused on the type of support provided to the families by the physicians. Though living closer to a supermarket did not affect consumption of sugary drinks, it did help increase the intake of fruits and vegetables. Kids who lived farther away also had larger body mass indexes.

Weight Gain Is Chief Worry Of Smokers Who Seek – Or Avoid – Stop-Smoking Programs

A U.S. study finds that smokers worry about gaining weight after quitting, whether or not they sought treatment, if they had tried quitting in the past and ended up gaining weight. On average, smokers who quit gain between eight and 14 pounds. This phenomenon often keeps smokers from quitting. For the study researchers questioned 186 smokers who had sought treatment to quit. They also questioned 102 smokers who avoided treatment. All were asked about weight gain during past attempts to quit and whether gaining weight was a concern. They found that smokers who sought treatment were equally concerned about gaining weight as the smokers who avoided treatment.

Seminal Study Of Inuits, Whale Blubber Diet And Heart Disease Called Into Question

Forty years ago two Danish scientists suggested that a whale and seal blubber diet protected the Inuit of Greenland from coronary artery disease. Nutritionists and physicians have relied on those findings in recommending oily fish to protect arteries. But a new Canadian study that looked at data from four decades of research shows that the Inuit actually did suffer from coronary artery disease (CAD), but it was underreported to medical authorities because of the difficulty of collecting health information from people in remote areas.  The new investigation shows that the Inuit not only are just as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease as non-Inuits, but they have very high rates of mortality due to strokes.

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April 15, 2014, to May 01, 2014

Exercise Prevents Brain Shrinkage Associated With Alzheimer’s

Moderate physical activity seems to protect people genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease from shrinkage of the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory and spatial orientation, a U.S. study has found. The researchers tracked four groups of healthy older adults ages 65-89 who had normal cognitive abilities but were genetically at risk for Alzheimer’s. Using magnetic resonance imaging, they measured the volume of the hippocampus at the start and at the end of the 18-month study.  Of all four groups studied, only those at high genetic risk for Alzheimer's who did not exercise experienced a decrease in hippocampal volume (three percent).

Meta-Study Finds No Evidence That Vitamin D Prevents Falls Among Seniors

Previous studies have reported evidence of a correlation between vitamin D supplements and a reduced risk of falls among older people. But a new meta-study of 20 clinical trials involving 29,535 people found no evidence at all that vitamin D reduced falls. But because most clinical trials report on only the total number of falls, not the number of falls per person, it cannot be established whether vitamin D might reduce falls in particularly vulnerable older people – i.e., those who fall often. The researchers acknowledged they are not sure whether a large clinical trial “in this vulnerable population” would be feasible.

Vitamin D Deficiency Among Seniors Linked To Cognitive Decline

A U.S. study adds to the mounting evidence that vitamin D deficiency in seniors is associated with cognitive decline over time. The researchers looked at 2,777 well-functioning adults aged 70 to 79 whose cognitive performance was measured at the start of the study and again four years later. Vitamin D levels were measured at the 12-month follow-up visit. Low vitamin D was associated with worse cognitive performance on one of the two cognitive tests used. The researchers were careful to point out they could not determine a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but there was enough associative data to support a campaign to increase vitamin D supplementation among the elderly.

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April 01, 2014, to April 15, 2014

Smaller Cereal Flakes Increase Total Weight Of Cereal Serving – And Caloric Intake

U.S. researchers who tested the influence of food volume on calorie intake – they used a rolling pin to gradually reduce the size of cereal flakes and the volume by weight – found that smaller flake size led to increased caloric consumption. Even though people poured a smaller volume of the crushed cereal into their bowls, they ended up eating more cereal by weight – and more calories. As the volumes decreased, people thought they were eating less cereal and the same or fewer calories, “but instead they ended up significantly overeating”. The researchers recommended that, when eating cereals with small pieces, people should reduce the recommended serving size to account for the low volume.

Ability To Taste Fats, Sweets Dampened In Obese Women Who Smoke

Obese women who smoke are much less sensitive to the taste of fats and sweets, a U.S. study finds, which means they are more likely to consume more fatty, sugary foods to satisfy cravings. The researchers tested four groups of women age 21 to 41: obese smokers, obese nonsmokers, normal weight smokers and normal weight nonsmokers. All were asked to taste vanilla puddings that contained various amounts of fat. The obese smokers perceived less creaminess and sweetness, compared to the other three groups.. "They also derived less pleasure from tasting the puddings," according to the authors.

“Proof” Of Vitamin D’s Multiple Health Benefits Remains Unconvincing

A growing number of scientific studies link vitamin D with reduced risk of conditions like bone mineral disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, etc. But two new literature reviews from U.S. and European researchers say there still isn’t much convincing evidence that vitamin D has a beneficial effect. Only 10 clinical trials of 137 that reported a beneficial outcome from vitamin D intake were thorough enough to be believable. The researchers did find "probable" associations between vitamin D levels and birth weight, dental caries in children, maternal vitamin D levels at term and parathyroid hormone levels in chronic kidney disease patients. What is needed is many more well-designed trials before conclusions can be drawn.

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March 15, 2014, to April 01, 2014

Medical Marijuana Provides Some Symptom Relief In Multiple Sclerosis

The American Academy of Neurology has published a new guideline stating that medical marijuana pills and oral sprays do ease the symptoms of people with multiple sclerosis, including spasticity, pain from spasticity and frequent urination. The guideline looked at other so-called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies for MS, finding no evidence of therapeutic value. Other nonconventional therapies included ginkgo biloba, magnetic therapy, bee sting therapy, omega-3 fatty acids and reflexology. The researchers noted that the marijuana-based therapies often have adverse side effects and should be taken only with the advice of physicians. The FDA has approved certain synthetic marijuana ingredients for treatment of some disease symptoms and drug side effects.

Supplements Are Not The Only Viable Source Of Healthful Vitamin E

Vitamin E has been shown to improve age-related diseases and conditions, like Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration. That fact, and the growing proportion of older people in the world, led Swiss vitamin supplier DSM to recently call for a substantial increase in the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin E. But supplements are not the only viable source, Euromonitor says. The two most common food sources are gamma-tocopherol – found in corn oil, soybean oil and margarine – and alpha-tocopherol, found in wheat germ oil, sunflower and safflower oils, as well as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts. According to Euromonitor, in 2012 nearly 1,500 tons of vitamin E were consumed in food and drink products, of which 40 percent came from oils and fats.

Teaching People How To Substitute Herbs And Spices Reduces Salt Intake

A two-phase U.S. clinical study in which participants were taught strategies for substituting herbs and spices for salt found that those involved in the intervention learned to consume healthier levels of sodium. More than 60 percent of the participants had high blood pressure, 18 percent had diabetes; all were overweight. In phase 1 of the study, all participants ate a low-sodium diet for four weeks, reducing average sodium intake by half. In phase 2, half of the participants spent 20 weeks learning how to use herbs and spices in recipes, how to make low-sodium intake permanent, etc. Those in the intervention group consumed on average 966 mg less sodium daily than the control group, indicating that the coaching process was a more effective way to reduce sodium intake.

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March 01, 2014, to March 15, 2014

Waste Product From Beer Brewing Process Prevents Cavities

Hops leaves discarded during the brewing of beer contain healthful antioxidants that may be used to prevent cavities and gum disease, a Japanese study finds. Extracts from hops leaves (called bracts) stopped the bacteria responsible for harmful dental conditions from sticking  to surfaces and prevented the release of some bacterial toxins. The researchers used a laboratory technique called chromatography to find three new polyphenol compounds, one already-known compound identified for the first time in plants, 20 compounds found for the first time in hops, and many healthful proanthocyanidins.

Healthy Diet During Pregnancy Reduces Risk Of Premature Birth

Mothers-to-be can reduce the risk of a premature or preterm birth by making sure they eat a “prudent” diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and water, and even a “traditional” diet of boiled potatoes, fish and cooked vegetables, a British study finds. The researchers examined data from a Norwegian study of preterm births among 66,000 women between 2002 and 2008. They said their findings do not establish a causality between poor diet and premature births: the "Western" dietary pattern, for example, was not independently associated with preterm delivery. The data do show a link between maternal dietary habits and the health of the unborn child.

Study Shows Potential Effectiveness Of Cork Tree Bark Extract In Treating Prostate Cancer

A species of cork tree found in eastern Asian countries and long used in Chinese herbal medicines may play a significant role in the treatment of both pancreatic and prostate cancer,  U.S. researchers report. In the study it was found that an extract (Nexrutine) of the Amur cork tree bark blocks cancer tumor development pathways (proteins) that are similar in the pancreas and the prostate. The extract inhibits the scarring (fibrosis) around the tumors that thwart the entry of anti-cancer drugs, hindering effective treatment. Nexrutine has already been shown to be both safe and effective in a clinical trial involving 24 prostate cancer patients.

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February 15, 2014, to March 01, 2014

Several Factors – Not Just Willpower – Account For Lapses When Dieting

A small, week-long study among dieters has found that late night cravings, alcohol use and friends contribute significantly to a drop in willpower and self-control. For the study, 80 people who were dieting were given mobile phones to use as an electronic diary. Researchers found that participants gave in to food temptations just over 50 percent of the time, and were especially vulnerable at night. They were more likely to give in to alcoholic temptations than to eat a sugary snack or to overindulge. And they were often influenced by the presence of others, regardless of whether a dietary temptation was unexpected or whether the dieter went looking for something to eat.

Vigorous Activity At Work Can Be Fatal

Workplaces where employees are involved in vigorous physical activity should prepare for the possibility of heart attacks and strokes on the job and should screen for high-risk workers carefully, a U.S. study finds. Researchers gathered data on on-duty deaths of firefighters that had been forwarded to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention between 1998 to 2012  There were 199 fatal cardiovascular events while firefighters – average age 49 – were on duty, including 167 were heart attacks, 12 from irregular heartbeat, three from stroke, and  the rest from other cardiovascular causes. A total of 148 of the events occurred after vigorous activity lasting an average of 33 minutes.

Selenium And Vitamin E Prove A Dangerous Combination For Men

Data derived from a seven-year, multicenter, 35,000-men clinical trial show that selenium and vitamin E not only do not protect against prostate cancer, they actually increase the risk. At the start of the trial in 2001, U.S. researchers measured the concentration of selenium in participants to see whether selenium supplements would benefit men with low levels. They instead found  that taking selenium increased the risk of high-grade cancer by 91 percent among men with high selenium status at baseline. In addition, taking vitamin E increased cancer risk in men with low selenium at the beginning by 63 percent and increased the risk of high-grade cancer by 111 percent.

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February 01, 2014, to February 15, 2014

Monkeys Fed Omega-3-Rich Diet Have Highly Developed Neural Networks

Oregon researchers who used functional brain imaging in live, older rhesus macaque monkeys show that animals whose diet was rich in omega-3 fatty acids had highly connected and well-organized neural networks compared to those whose diet lacked omega-3s. The imaging data show how similar the brain networks in monkeys and humans are, but “only in the context of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids”. The next step is to see if monkeys with deficits in certain neural networks have behavioral patterns similar to those in humans with neurological conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism.

Novel Dietary Supplement Improves Brain Processing Speed In Older Adults

Scientists in Florida have concocted a dietary supplement rich in antioxidants and other natural components that boosts the speed of information processing in the brains of older adults. The supplement (NT-020) contains extracts of blueberries and green tea combined, as well as vitamin D3 and amino acids like carnosine. The mixture was tested in a two-month clinical trial involving 105 healthy adults aged 65 to 85. Test results at the end of study show modest improvements in two measures of cognitive processing speed for those taking the supplement compared to those taking a placebo. Processing speed – in areas like memory and verbal ability – is most often affected early in cognitive aging.

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Heart Disease Risk Better Than Low-Fat Diet

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish – basically the Mediterranean diet – is a better way to reduce cardiovascular risk than by lowering fat intake, according to a review of studies on the subject. Clinical trials conducted over the last fifty years usually compared low fat, low saturated fat, low dietary cholesterol and high polyunsaturated fat eating to conventional meals. Though those diets did reduce cholesterol levels, they did not reduce fatal heart attacks or other coronary heart disease deaths. In their survey of studies, the U.S. researchers found that Mediterranean-style diets prevent heart disease, even though they may not lower total serum or LDL cholesterol.

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January 15, 2014, to February 01, 2014

High-Protein Diet Is Risky Without Fruits And Vegetables

A Spanish study in rats shows that high-protein diets, like Dukan and Atkins, boost the risk of developing kidney problems, unless supplemented with fruits and vegetables. Animals on a high-protein diet lost as much as 10 percent of their body weight over the 12-week study, but the protein had a negative effect on kidney structure, a signal of an increased risk of kidney disease and serious pathologies like calcium kidney stones. High protein foods drastically reduce urinary citrate, an inhibitor of calcium salt crystallization and urinary pH. The researchers noted, however, that fruits and vegetables added to the diet reduce the risk of kidney stones forming. Why? Potassium and magnesium compensate for the acidity of the high-protein diet.

Impulsive Behavior Linked To Food Addiction, And To Obesity

People with impulsive personalities are more likely to report higher levels of food addiction and obesity, a U.S. study has found. Food addiction, a relatively new disorder, is a compulsive pattern of eating similar to drug addiction. The study used two different scales to determine levels of food addiction and impulsivity among the 233 participants, then compared these results with body mass index, a measure of obesity. Researchers said impulsive behavior was not necessarily associated with obesity, but impulsive behaviors can lead to food addiction, which is an indicator of obesity.

Scientists Shed Light On How Ancient Wound Treatment Works At The Molecular Level

German researchers have discovered the molecular basis of the age-old healing action of birch bark. In phase one of healing, an extract of the bark, and its main ingredient betulin, temporarily increases inflammatory substances released by damaged skin cells by activating proteins that extend the half-life of the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). Healing proceeds to a second phase, in which the birch extract (with betulin and lupeol) speeds up proteins involved in the restructuring of the actin cytoskeleton, which gives skin cells their shape. The cells then migrate to the wound and close it, completing the healing process. 

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January 01, 2014, to January 15, 2014

Algal Culture Extract Shown To Increase Good Cholesterol, Even In High-Fat Diet

A proprietary algal culture – known as “PAZ” or “ProAlgaZyme” – was found to support healthy cholesterol balance by increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL) and reducing non-HDL cholesterol while consuming a high-fat diet. The testing in lab animals showed that PAZ helped remove excess cholesterol from cell storage and transported it to the liver for excretion from the body. Health Enhancement Products, Inc., maker of the algal culture extracts, says  the effects of its product in improving "good" cholesterol, and therefore cardiovascular health, “are significant and potentially wide-reaching”.

Vitamin E Slows Functional Decline Among Alzheimer’s Patients

A U.S. study finds evidence that vitamin E slows functional decline in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease, though no added benefit for memory or cognitive testing was discerned. The clinical study involved 613 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's and was conducted from August 2007 to September 2012 at 14 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. The trial showed that vitamin E delays progression of functional decline by 19 percent a year, which translates into 6.2 months benefit over placebo. Alzheimer's affects 5.1 million Americans and is a taxing burden on 5.4 million family members and friends who serve as caregivers.

Healthy Sleep Promotes A Healthy Brain, Study Finds

One night of sleep deprivation increases morning concentrations of molecules that signal a decline in brain tissue, Swedish scientists have found. For the study, fifteen normal-weight men were sleep-deprived for one night, and then slept a normal eight hours. A night of total sleep loss was followed by increased blood concentrations of NSE and S-100B, brain molecules that typically rise in blood under conditions of brain damage. “Our results indicate that a lack of sleep may promote neurodegenerative processes,” the researchers concluded, “ and “a good night’s sleep may be critical for maintaining brain health.”

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December 15, 2013, to January 01, 2014

African-American Women Need To Exercise More, Eat Less Than Caucasians To Lose Weight

Researchers who looked for metabolic reasons why African-American women don’t lose as much weight as white women when they diet or exercise have found that the African-American women had lower resting metabolic rates and generally expended less energy during activity. That means that to lose weight they need to eat fewer – and burn more – calories than Caucasian women. The U.S. study was conducted among 39 severely obese African-American and 66 Caucasian women who participated in a six-month weight loss program. The African-American women lost about seven pounds fewer than the Caucasian women, even though their starting body mass index, or BMI, measures were comparable and they consumed the same number of calories and exercised the same way.

Tomato-Rich Diet Reduces Risk Of Breast Cancer In Post-Menopausal Women

U.S. researchers who conducted a longitudinal cross-over study examining the effects of diet on 70 postmenopausal women found that a tomato-rich diet may help protect against breast cancer. A diet rich in tomatoes had a larger impact on the levels of hormones that regulate fat and sugar metabolism in women who maintained a healthy weight, the researchers said. Breast cancer risk rises in postmenopausal women as their body mass index climbs. With the tomato-rich diet, participants' levels of the hormone adiponectin climbed nine percent.

Skip The Supplements, Stick To Nutrient-Rich Foods, Studies Advise

Dietary supplements may help some people with special nutrient needs, but generally eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way to get healthy nutrients needed to reduce the risk of chronic disease, U.S. studies have found. The studies, along with an accompanying editorial, say there really is not clear benefit for most healthy people to take vitamin supplements. Choosing foods that provide the most nutrients per calorie “can build a healthier life and start down a path of health and wellness”. Recommendations include a healthy breakfast, whole grains, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, omega 3-rich seafood and fiber- and folate-rich beans.
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