8 things you need to know about nutrition for a healthier pregnancy

foods-pegnant-woman-avoid_leadHere are 8 things to know about nutrition before and during pregnancy:

Get a head start. Even before becoming pregnant, a woman’s nutrition, weight and general fitness can impact both her fertility as well as the health of future pregnancies. If you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to eat a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, fiber, lean protein and healthy fats. In addition, specific nutrients like antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and selenium can help protect the cells in the reproductive system from oxidative stress.

One of the most important nutrients during pregnancy is folate, also known as folic acid. Supplementing daily before and during early pregnancy with 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid can significantly reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the baby. Folate and vitamin B12 are required for the health of the neurocognitive and cardiovascular systems. Because half of all pregnancies are, in fact, unplanned it’s important for all women of childbearing age to take a multivitamin with at least 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid every day, even if they aren’t planning a pregnancy any time soon.

Get your vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for immune function, as well as reproductive and fetal health. Experts recommend between 2500 to 8000 International Units per day. Experts recommend between 2500 to 8000 International Units per day.

Vitamin D is key. Supplemental vitamin D is often required to correct deficiencies. Vitamin D plays multiple roles: it supports a healthy pregnancy, supports brain development and of course, increases the absorption of calcium. Also, if the mother has a vitamin D deficiency, there will be very low vitamin D in her breast milk, so that vitamin D supplement will continue to be important for breastfeeding.

High quality protein and healthy fats are vital to your diet. As your body builds another human, the need for protein increases, so it’s important to get plenty of high quality lean protein. Good sources are soy, egg whites, lean meat and milk. Pregnant women should also focus on healthy fats, especially the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. EPA supports the heart and immune system, while DHA plays an incredibly important role in the development of the brain, eyes, and central nervous system.

Minerals make a difference. Iron is important during pregnancy because it’s essential for the creation of hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins that help carry oxygen to the baby. And a recent study found that supplementing with iron and folic acid has a strong protective effect in life. During pregnancy, minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium not only help to build baby’s healthy bones and teeth, but also help to protect the mother’s bone density.

Iodine is imperative. During pregnancy and lactation, there’s an increased need for iodine, an essential trace mineral needed to produce thyroid hormones throughout life. During pregnancy, sufficient iodine consumption by mom is important for baby’s mental and physical health. Experts recommend 200 micrograms of supplemental iodine.

Get the extra healthy calories you need. Pregnant and lactating women need about an extra 300 calories daily, so try to increase your nutritional intake without adding too many calories. This means making good food choices, such as minimizing fast food consumption, and making sure your daily diet has a balanced amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fat, in addition to the micronutrients.

Quality nutrition is essential throughout our lives, but there’s no better time for women to develop those healthy habits than during their childbearing years. By taking care of yourself, you’re also helping to give your baby the best possible start in life. Supplements should be an important part of your strategy to accomplish that goal.

The Landmark Dietary Supplement Study

Usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users: a cross-sectional study

Gladys Block, Christopher D Jensen, Edward P Norkus, Tapashi B Dalvi, Les G Wong, Jamie F McManus and Mark L Hudes.

Nutrition Journal 2007, 6:30doi:10.1186/1475-2891-6-30
Published 24 October 2007


ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

Dietary supplement use in the United States is prevalent and represents an important source of nutrition. However, little is known about individuals who routinely consume multiple dietary supplements. This study describes the dietary supplement usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users, and where possible makes comparisons to non-users and multivitamin/mineral supplement users.

METHODS

Using a cross-sectional study design, information was obtained by online questionnaires and physical examination (fasting blood, blood pressure, body weight) from a convenience sample of long-term users of multiple dietary supplements manufactured by Shaklee Corporation (Multiple Supp users, n=278). Data for non-users (No Supp users, n=602) and multivitamin/mineral supplement users (Single Supp users, n=176) were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2002 and NHANES III 1988-1994. Logistic regression methods were used to estimate odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals.

RESULTS

Dietary supplements consumed on a daily basis by more than 50% of Multiple Supp users included a multivitamin/mineral, B-complex, vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin E, calcium with vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, lecithin, alfalfa, coenzyme Q10 with resveratrol, glucosamine, and a herbal immune supplement. The majority of women also consumed gamma linolenic acid and a probiotic supplement, whereas men also consumed zinc, garlic, saw palmetto, and a soy protein supplement. Serum nutrient concentrations generally increased with increasing dietary supplement use. After adjustment for age, gender, income, education and body mass index, greater degree of supplement use was associated with more favorable concentrations of serum homocysteine, C-reactive protein, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as lower risk of prevalent elevated blood pressure and diabetes.

CONCLUSIONS

This group of long-term multiple dietary supplement users consumed a broad array of vitamin/mineral, herbal, and condition-specific dietary supplements on a daily basis. They were more likely to have optimal concentrations of chronic disease-related biomarkers, and less likely to have suboptimal blood nutrient concentrations, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes compared to non-users and multivitamin/mineral users. These findings should be confirmed by studying the dietary supplement usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of other groups of heavy users of dietary supplements.


Author Affiliations:

  • Gladys Block
    PhD, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • Christopher D. Jensen
    PhD, MPH, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • Edward P. Norkus
    PhD, Department of Medical Research, Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center, Bronx, NY
  • Tapashi B. Dalvi
    MPH, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • Les G. Wong
    BS, Shaklee Corporation, Pleasanton, CA
  • Jamie F. McManus
    MD, Shaklee Corporation, Pleasanton, CA
  • Mark L. Hudes
    PhD, Nutritional Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, CA

 

Honey-Lavender Lemonade Recipe

5590Enjoy a refreshing twist on a classic beverage. This lemonade recipe includes honey and Lavender Vitality™ essential oil for an added touch of sophistication and depth.

Sophisticated, yes. Complicated, no. With just five simple ingredients, this is a warm-weather treat you can whip up in minutes. So throw on a sun hat, grab your favorite book, and find a sunny spot. This Honey-Lavender Lemonade is the perfect summer companion. You may even find yourself lifting your pinky finger as you sip.

Honey-Lavender Lemonade Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 10 cups

Ingredients

  • 6 lemons, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 drops Lavender Vitality essential oil
  • Ice water, about 10 cups
  • Lavender sprigs, optional

Preparation

  1. Combine lemon juice, lime juice, honey, and Lavender Vitality in a large glass pitcher.
  2. Add water to taste.
  3. Stir until well mixed.
  4. Garnish with sprigs of lavender.

This blog was reprinted with permission from the Young Living website.

Vitamin D Shines Beyond Bone Health

Shaklee Health Sciences

Green grass and blue sky with sun

Do you know which nutrient is created in your skin when exposed to adequate sunlight, facilitates calcium absorption and is so important to humans that it is considered to be both a vitamin and a hormone? Many of you may have guessed vitamin D and you would be correct! Vitamin D has long been recognized for its essential role in bone health. Working in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals and hormones, vitamin D helps promote bone mineralization (1). Your body is finely tuned to utilize Vitamin D in the incorporation of calcium and other minerals into supporting the very dynamic process of bone shaping and reshaping and without adequate intakes of vitamin D your bones can become brittle leading to an increased risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. But there are a number of other functions Vitamin D plays in the body and research is finally beginning to uncover some exciting new health benefits of Vitamin D.

Now there is really exciting new research indicating that vitamin D’s health benefits may shine well beyond bone health. Because vitamin D also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and regulating cell growth and differentiation (2, 3), the process that determines what a cell is destined to become, supplemental vitamin D may actually be helpful for cancer prevention, in particular prostate, breast and colon cancers (4, 5, 6, 7).

In 2005, Harvard researchers reported the results of a study involving 1029 men with prostate cancer and 1,300 healthy men. After analyzing the blood of these men, researchers found that men with the highest level of vitamin D had significantly lower overall risk (45%) of prostate cancer, including aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, men with a specific receptor that helps vitamin D work got greater protection if they also had high levels of vitamin D in their blood. Those men had a 55% lower risk of prostate cancer and 77% lower risk of aggressive cancer.

Just this year, researchers pooled data from two earlier studies, the Nurses Health Study and the St. George’s Hospital Study and found that women with the highest blood levels of the active form of vitamin D had the lowest risk of breast cancer. Researchers also reported that the level of vitamin D in the blood associated with a 50% reduction in risk could be maintained by taking 2000 IU of vitamin D3 daily plus spending as little as 10-15 minutes a day in the sun (8).

Vitamin D emerged as a protective factor against colon cancer in a study of over 3,000 adults (96% of whom were men) who underwent a colonoscopy between 1994 and 1997 to look for polyps or lesions in the colon. About 10% of the group was found to have at least one advanced cancerous lesion in the colon. However, there was a significantly lower risk of advanced cancerous lesions among men with the highest vitamin D intake.

Such study results have sparked further interest in the role of vitamin D for cancer prevention and more good news for vitamin D has just arrived. In the June 2007, issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers at the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University discovered that postmenopausal women taking calcium or calcium plus vitamin D for reducing the risk of bone fractures (the primary outcome of the study), got the added benefit of a significant reduction in the risk of cancer. In this study, 1179 healthy, post-menopausal women were randomly assigned to receive 1400-1500 mg of calcium, 1400-1500 mg of calcium plus 1100 IU of vitamin D3, or a placebo. After 4 years, women receiving calcium only reduced their risk of developing cancer by 47% and the women taking calcium plus vitamin D, had a 60% risk reduction!

The findings of such studies really do highlight the importance of achieving optimum vitamin D status. Eating a healthy diet including foods fortified with vitamin D, like reduced fat milk or soy milk is certainly a good place to start. However keep in mind that many dairy products made from milk (e.g. cheese, reduced fat ice cream) are not typically fortified with vitamin D and contain only small amounts. Some ready to eat cereals may be fortified but only a few commonly eaten foods are good sources of vitamin D, like cooked salmon, mackerel and tuna.

Sun exposure for about 10 to 15 minutes at least two times a week can help, but remember sunscreen use which helps reduce the risk of skin cancer, actually blocks vitamin D synthesis in the skin. And if you plan on being out in the sun, make sure you avoid the most dangerous time of the day, between the hours of 10 am to 2 pm.

And of course, one of the safest and most convenient ways to get adequate amounts of vitamin D is to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement and/or a calcium supplement with added vitamin D. Look for a supplement with at least 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D per serving and one that provides the most active form of vitamin D, Vitamin D3 also known as cholecalciferol.

Be well.

Dr. Jamie McManus MD, FAAFP

Chairman, Medical Affairs, Health Sciences and Education

References

Deluca HF and Zierold C. Mechanisms and functions of vitamin D. Nutr Rev 1998;56:S4-10.
Hayes CE, Hashold FE, Spach KM, Pederson LB. The immunological functions of vitamin D endocrine system. Cell Mol Biol 200;49:277-300.
Holick MF. Evolution and function of vitamin D. Recent Results Cancer Res. 2003;164:3-28.
Martinez ME and Willet WC. Calcium, vitamin D and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic evidence. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomark. Prev 1998;7:163-68.
Garland C et al. Dietary vitamin D and calcium and risk of colorectal cancer: a 19 year prospective study in men. Lancet 1985;1:307-9.
H. Li, M. Stampfer, E. Giovannucci et al. Prediagnostic plasma vitamin D levels, vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms, and susceptibility to prostate cancer. 2005 Prostate Cancer Symposium.
Leiberman D, et al. Risk factors for advanced colonic neoplasia and hyperplastic polyps in asymptomatic individuals. JAMA 2003;290:2959-67.
Lappe JM, et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. AJCN 2007;85:1586-91.

Essential Smoothies: Ingredients and Recipes to Power Your Day

green-smoothie-300x199Smoothies are a great way to satisfy your hunger, while easily adding in your daily fruits and vegetables. Here are some of the best ingredients for smoothies, and a few recipes that you’ll love.

Ingredients

High Protein Ingredients: Pack your smoothie full of protein with these ingredients, which will provide you with the energy you need to keep your day going:

  • Nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • Nonfat or low-fat plain milk
  • Nonfat or low-fat plain kefir
  • Tofu
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Plain soymilk
  • Almond milk
  • Young Living Pure Protein Complete: Vanilla Spice or Chocolate Deluxe

Greens: Get in your daily dose of vegetables by adding spinach, kale, or celery to your smoothies. Since they will be grounded down into a drinkable form, these foods will be a lot easier to consume. Plus, your body needs them and they will boost your energy.

Fruit: Use fresh fruit or frozen fruit. If your fruit is frozen, your smoothie will end up more thick. The best fruits for smoothies are:

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Melon
  • Cherries
  • Apricot

Essential Oils: Pack your smoothie with energy and flavor with essential oils. Some of the best essential oils for smoothies include Orange, Lime, Lemon, Grapefruit, and Tangerine. Be sure to consult individual product labels before using any essential oils in smoothies.

NingXia Red: With the combination of the wolfberry superfruit, pure Lemon, Orange, Yuzu, and Tangerine essential oils, along with blueberry, aronia, cherry, pomegranate, and plum juices, NingXia Red has tons of awesome ingredients you will love. Add 1-2 ounces to your smoothie or add a NingXia Red Singles packet.

NingXia Nitro: Give your smoothie an energy boost with NingXia Nitro! This product combines 100 percent pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils with powerful ingredients such as Green tea extract, Korean ginseng, and several fruit juices.

Smoothie Recipes

Try any of these delicious smoothie recipes to power your morning, afternoon, or evening.

Green Banana Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ½ cup kale
  • 1 banana
  • 1-2 drops of each essential oil of your choice
  • 1 cup ice

Directions

Put ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pure Protein Green Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 scoop Young Living Pure Protein Complete
  • 1-2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
  • 1-2 drops of each essential oil of your choice
  • 1 cup ice

Directions

Put ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.

Strawberry Banana Power Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Spice Pure Protein Complete
  • 1-2 drops of each essential oil of your choice
  • 1 cup ice

Directions

Put ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.

Chocolate Protein Delight Smoothie

Ingredients

  • I cup water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Deluxe Pure Protein Complete
  • 1-2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
  • 1-2 drops of each essential oil of your choice
  • 1 cup ice

Directions

Put ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.

Thiamine ‘reverses kidney damage

Doses of vitamin B1 (thiamine) can reverse early kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes, research shows.
The team from Warwick University tested the effect of vitamin B1, which is found in meat, yeast and grain, on 40 patients from Pakistan.
The treatment stopped the loss of a key protein in the urine, the journal Diabetologia reports.
Charity Diabetes UK called the results “very promising” – but said it was too early for any firm conclusions.
The latest findings build on earlier work by the Warwick University team, showing that many diabetes patients have a deficiency of thiamine.
According to the researchers, this cheap and readily available supplement could benefit most people with diabetes – both type 1 and type 2 – as between 70% and 90% of people with diabetes are thiamine deficient.
In diabetes the small blood vessels in the body can become damaged.
We would not advise that people look to vitamin supplements to reduce their risk of kidney complications at this stage
Dr Iain Frame of Diabetes UK
When the blood vessels that supply blood to the kidneys are involved, the kidneys stop working correctly and important proteins, such as albumin, are lost from the blood into the urine.
A third of the patients in the study saw a return to normal urinary albumin excretion after being treated with high dose (300mg) thiamine taken orally each day for three months.
The experts say thiamine works by helping protect cells against the harmful effects of the high blood sugar levels found in diabetes.
Lead researcher Professor Paul Thornalley said: “This is the first study of its kind and suggests that correcting thiamine deficiency in people with diabetes with thiamine supplements may provide improved therapy for early-stage kidney disease.”
They plan more work to confirm their findings.
Dr Iain Frame of Diabetes UK said: “Diabetes UK hopes a large clinical trial will be possible as results so far are very promising.
“However, we would like to stress that it’s still too early to come to any firm conclusions about the role of vitamin B1 and we would not advise that people look to vitamin supplements to reduce their risk of kidney complications at this stage.”
A person should be able to get all the thiamine they need from a normal healthy diet.

Microwave-popcorn fumes a home hazard?

By MARCUS KABEL
The Associated Press
Consumers, not just factory workers, may be in danger from fumes from buttery flavoring in microwave popcorn, according to a warning letter to federal regulators from a doctor at a leading lung-research hospital.
A pulmonary specialist at Denver’s National Jewish Medical and Research Center has written to federal agencies to say doctors there believe they have the first case of a consumer who developed lung disease from the fumes of microwaving popcorn several times a day for years.
“We cannot be sure that this patient’s exposure to butter-flavored microwave popcorn from daily heavy preparation has caused his lung disease,” said Dr. Cecile Rose. “However, we have no other plausible explanation.”
The July letter, made public Tuesday by a public-health policy blog, refers to a potentially fatal disease commonly called popcorn lung that has been the subject of lawsuits by hundreds of workers at food factories exposed to chemicals used for flavoring.
In response to Rose’s finding, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association issued a statement Tuesday recommending that its members reduce “to the extent possible” the amount of diacetyl in butter flavorings they make. It noted that diacetyl is approved for use in flavors by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
One national popcorn manufacturer, Weaver Popcorn, of Indianapolis, said last week it would replace the butter-flavoring ingredient because of consumer concern. Congress also has been debating new safety measures for workers in food-processing plants exposed to diacetyl.
The FDA said in an e-mail it is evaluating Rose’s letter and “carefully considering the safety and regulatory issues it raises.”
Fred Blosser, spokesman for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said it is the first case the institute has seen of lung disease apparently linked to popcorn fumes outside the workplace.
The occupational-safety arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is working on a response to the letter.
William Allstetter, spokesman for National Jewish Medical, confirmed the letter was sent by Rose, a specialist in occupational and environmental lung diseases and director of the hospital’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic.
In the letter, Rose acknowledged it is difficult to confirm through one case that popping buttered microwave popcorn at home can cause lung disease.
However, she said she wanted to alert regulators of the potential public-health implications.
Rose said the patient, a man she wouldn’t identify, consumed “several bags of extra-butter-flavored microwave popcorn” every day for several years.
He described progressively worsening respiratory symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath. Tests found his ability to exhale was deteriorating, Rose said, although his condition seemed to stabilize after he quit making microwave popcorn.
She said her staff measured airborne levels of diacetyl in the patient’s home when he cooked the popcorn. The levels were “similar to those reported in the microwave-oven exhaust area” at the quality-assurance unit of the popcorn plant where the affected employees worked, she said.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

Broccoli Sprouts, Cabbage, Ginkgo Biloba And Garlic: A Grocery List For Cancer Prevention

ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2005) — In the high-tech 21st century, the most rudimentary natural products continue to reveal exciting ant-cancer properties to scientists, offering people relatively simple ways to help protect themselves from the disease.
Five studies presented today during the American Association for Cancer Research’s 4th annual Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting in Baltimore, Md., add to the arsenal of research that shows adding certain vegetables and herbs to the diet can prevent or, in some cases, halt the growth of cancer.
Moreover, it is not just a matter of mechanical prevention, such as adding fiber to the diet to maintain digestive health. This research deals with the chemical interactions between compounds found in foods and the body’s cells and DNA, and it shows that the addition of these foods to the diet can reap benefits at any stage of life.
Broccoli Sprouts Relieve Gastritis in H. pylori Patients; May Help Prevent Gastric Cancer (Abstract #3442)
Broccoli sprouts may not be a culinary favorite for some, but their chemical properties are becoming increasingly popular among those interested in preventing cancer.
In the latest series of studies, a team from Japan has found that a diet rich in broccoli sprouts significantly reduced Helicobacteri pylori (H. pylori) infection among a group of 20 individuals. H. pylori is known to cause gastritis and is believed to be a major factor in peptic ulcer and stomach cancer.
“Even though we were unable to eradicate H. pylori, to be able suppress it and relieve the accompanying gastritis by means as simple as eating more broccoli sprouts is good news for the many people who are infected,” said Akinori Yanaka from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, lead investigator of the study.
Scientists are focusing on the anti-cancer properties of a chemical derived from broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane. Among other things, this chemical has the ability to help cells defend against oxidants, the highly reactive and toxic molecules that damage DNA and kill cells, leading potentially to cancer. Previously, researchers working with H. pylori discovered that sulforaphane acts against the bacterium in vitro, alleviating gastritis in H. pylori-infected mice through its antioxidant activity.
None of these findings had been tested in people, however, until the Yanaka-led team added broccoli sprouts (the plant at its youngest and most sulforaphane-rich, just two or three days old) to the diet of 20 individuals infected with H. pylori. Another group of 20 infected with the bacterium received alfalfa spouts instead of broccoli sprouts. Each received 100 grams of fresh sprouts daily for two months.
“We wanted to test alfalfa spouts together with broccoli sprouts,” Yanaka explained, “because the chemical constituents of the two plants are almost identical.”
However, the way in which they differ is significant. Broccoli sprouts contain 250 milligrams of sulforaphane glucosinolate per 100 grams per serving, whereas alfalfa sprouts contain neither sulforaphane nor sulforaphane glucosinolate.
Glucosinolates occur in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cabbage, and are broken down enzymatically into sulforaphane and a variety of other, biologically active compounds when damage occurs to the plant–that is, by cutting or chewing it.
The presence of H. pylori was assessed by performing urea breath tests and evaluating H. pylori-specific stool antigen. The degree of gastritis was evaluated by measuring the level of pepsinogen in the blood. Pepsinogen is also an indicator of gastric atrophy. These tests were performed just before adding broccoli and alfalfa sprouts to the diet, and at one and two months after starting the dietary regimen. Following two months’ consumption of 100 grams of broccoli sprouts per day, patients showed significantly less H. pylori and markedly decreased pepsinogen. Alfalfa sprouts had no effect, and the broccoli failed to eliminate H. pylori completely. Two months after eliminating broccoli sprouts from the diet, H. pylori and pepsinogen returned to pre-test levels in the subjects.
“The data suggest strongly that a diet rich in sulforaphane glucosinolate may help protect against gastric cancer, presumably by activating gastric mucosal anti-oxidant enzymes that can protect the cells from H. pylori-induced DNA damage,” Yanaka concluded.
Broccoli Sprout-extract Protects Against Skin Cancer from UV Light in High-risk Mice (Abstract #2597)
Eat it or wear it? That is the question.
If you ask Albena T. Dinkova-Kostova, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, she will likely answer “both.”
In the laboratory of Paul Talalay, M.D., who first reported the indirect antioxidant properties of sulforaphane, the compound derived from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Dinkova-Kostova and her colleagues applied broccoli sprout extract to the skin of hairless mice, and found it counteracted the carcinogenic response to ultraviolet light exposure.
Mice from a strain characterized by post-weaning hair loss were exposed to a dose of UV light comparable to what a person would get sunbathing at the beach on a clear day, twice a week for 20 weeks. After irradiation, broccoli sprout extracts containing either a low or high dose of sulforaphane were applied to the backs of the mice, five days a week for 11 weeks. Acetone (known commonly as the ingredient in nail polish remover) was used as the vehicle for delivering the sulforaphane, and it alone was applied on the control group. At the conclusion of the study period, 100 percent of the control mice had developed cancerous skin tumors.
The incidence and number of tumors was reduced by half, however, in the mice receiving the high dose of broccoli sprout extract. The rate of tumor reduction was less among the low-dose recipients, but even in their case, some benefit was observed.
“We weren’t looking for a sunscreen effect,” Dinkova-Kostova is quick to point out. “The sulforaphane-containing extract was applied after the period of regular exposure to ultra-violet light. That’s more relevant, since most people receive some sun damage to their skin in childhood, particularly adults who grew up before effective sunscreen lotions were developed.”
Previous research has shown that sulforaphane boosts protective and detoxifying reactions in cells, inactivating carcinogens and reactive oxygen intermediates that contribute to the disease by damaging DNA. As in other studies involving the anti-cancer potential of sulforaphane, Dinkova-Kostova’s group notes that broccoli sprouts contain much more of the compound than adult broccoli.
“Our findings suggest a promising strategy for skin cancer prevention after exposure to UV light,” Dinkova-Kostova said.
Change in Diet at Any Age May Help Protect Against Breast Cancer (Abstract #3697)
Many find it to be the perfect companion to hot dogs and sausage, but new studies suggest that sauerkraut may have another beneficial side effect — it may protect women from breast cancer.
Results from the U.S. component of the Polish Women’s Health Study are showing an association between cabbage and sauerkraut consumption, and a constituent called glucosinolate, and a lower risk of breast cancer. The influence seemed to be highest among women who consumed high amounts beginning in adolescence and throughout adulthood.
“The observed pattern of risk reduction indicates that the breakdown products of glucosinolates in cabbage may affect both the initiation phase of carcinogenesis–by decreasing the amount of DNA damage and cell mutation–and the promotion phase–by blocking the processes that inhibit programmed cell death and stimulate unregulated cell growth,” said Dorothy Rybaczyk- Pathak, Ph.D., from the University of New Mexico.
Pathak, along with colleagues from Michigan State University and the National Food and Nutrition Institute of Warsaw, Poland, evaluated the diet of Polish immigrants to the United States, living in Chicago and surrounding Cook County, Ill., and the Detroit, Mich., metropolitan area. Women with higher rates of raw- or short-cooked cabbage and sauerkraut consumption, three or more servings per week, compared to those who consumed less than one serving a week, had a significantly reduced breast cancer risk.
Like broccoli, cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable–its flowers are in the shape of a cross–and a member of the Brassica family, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens and cauliflower. These plants contain glucosinolates and the enzyme myrosinase which, when broken down by chewing or cutting, release several biologically active products which previous studies have shown to possess anti-carcinogenic properties.
Pathak began the study by wondering why the breast cancer risk of Polish women rose three-fold after they immigrated to the United States. She hypothesized that dietary changes were among the environmental factors contributing to this rapid increase in risk. In Poland, where abundance of food is a recent phenomenon, women traditionally eat an average of 30 pounds of cabbage and sauerkraut per year, as opposed to just 10 pounds per year among American women. Moreover, Polish women traditionally eat more raw cabbage and sauerkraut, in salads, or short-cooked, as a side dish.
She observed the lowest rate of breast cancer among women who consumed high amounts of raw- or short-cooked cabbage during adolescence, but found that high consumption during adulthood provided a significant protective effect for women who had eaten smaller quantities of this vegetable during adolescence. Cabbage cooked a long time, such as in hunter’s stew, cabbage rolls and pierogi, had no bearing on breast cancer risk.
Possible Chemoprevention of Ovarian Cancer by the Herbal, Ginkgo Biloba (Abstract #3654)
Researchers in Boston, led by Drs. Bin Ye and Daniel Cramer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have developed new laboratory and epidemiological evidence that demonstrates, for the first time, that ginkgo biloba appears to lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
In a population-based study which involved more than 600 ovarian cancer cases and 640 healthy, matched controls, women who took ginkgo supplements for six months or longer were shown to have a 60 percent lower risk for ovarian cancer.
Ye and his colleagues found that ginkgo, echinacea, St. John’s Wort, ginseng, and chondroitin were the most commonly used herbals among study participants. A further analysis of the data showed that ginkgo was the only herb linked to ovarian cancer prevention. The preventive effect was more pronounced in women with non-muncious ovarian cancers, with data showing that ginkgo may reduce the risk of this type of ovarian cancer by 65-70 percent. “Among the mixture of ginkgo chemicals,” said Ye, “we found laboratory evidence that ginkgolide A and B–terpene compounds–are the most active components contributing to this protective effect.”
Ye’s team, which included scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School, Boston University and Linden Bioscience, next took the evidence demonstrated by their population studies to the laboratory. In vitro experiments showed that a low dosage of ginkgolide caused ovarian cancer cells to stop growing. They observed significant cell cycle blockage in non-mucinous ovarian cancer cells. Ginkgolides appeared to be less effective against the mucinous type of ovarian cancer cells.
“While the detailed mechanism of ginkgo action on ovarian cancer cells is not yet well understood,” Ye explained, “from the existing literature it most likely that ginkgo and ginkgolides are involved in anti-inflammation and anti-angiogenesis processes via many extra- and intra-cellular signal pathways. In the future, these findings could potentially offer a new strategy for ovarian cancer prevention and therapy, using the active forms of ginkgolides.”
Ovarian cancer is the most deadly of all gynecological cancers. It is called a “silent killer” because most cases are discovered only in very advanced stages.
Changing Genes: Garlic Shown to Inhibit DNA Damaging Chemical in Breast Cancer (Abstract #2543)
Legend suggests that garlic may ward off evil spirits, such as vampires. Now scientists are finding that garlic, or a flavor component of pungent herb, may help ward off carcinogens produced by meat cooked at high temperatures.
Cooking protein-rich foods like meats and eggs at high temperatures releases a chemical called PhIP, a suspected carcinogen. Epidemiological studies have shown that the incidence of breast cancer is higher among women who eat large quantities of meat, although fat and caloric intake and hormone exposure may contribute to this increased risk.
Diallyl sulfide (DAS), a flavor component of garlic, has been shown to inhibit the effects of PhIP that, when biologically active, can cause DNA damage or transform substances in the body into carcinogens.
Ronald D. Thomas, Ph.D., and a team of researchers at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee hypothesized that PhIP enhances the metabolism of the enzymes linked to carcinogenesis. They further suggested that the diallyl sulfide derived from garlic might counter this activity.
“We treated human breast epithelial cells with equal amounts of PhIP and DAS separately, and the two together, for periods ranging from three to 24 hours,” said Thomas. “PhIP induced expression of the cancer-causing enzyme at every stage, up to 40-fold, while DAS completely inhibited the PhIP enzyme from becoming carcinogenic.”
The finding demonstrates for the first time that DAS triggers a gene alteration in PhIP that may play a significant role in preventing cancer, notably breast cancer, induced by PhIP in well-done meats.
Thomas noted that no studies have shown a link between cooking vegetables and fruits and PhIP, regardless of the method used.
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research is a professional society of more than 24,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical scientists engaged in all areas of cancer research in the United States and in more than 60 other countries. AACR’s mission is to accelerate the prevention and cure of cancer through research, education, communication, and advocacy. Its principal activities include the publication of five major peer-reviewed scientific journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. AACR’s Annual Meetings attract nearly 16,000 participants who share new and significant discoveries in the cancer field. Specialty meetings, held throughout the year, focus on the latest developments in all areas of cancer research.
Adapted from materials provided by American Association for Cancer Research.
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Food additives may cause hyperactivity: study

Wed Sep 5, 2007 6:32 PM ET
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Certain artificial food colorings and other additives can worsen hyperactive behaviors in children aged 3 to 9, British researchers reported on Wednesday.
Tests on more than 300 children showed significant differences in their behavior when they drank fruit drinks spiked with a mixture of food colorings and preservatives, Jim Stevenson and colleagues at the University of Southampton said.
“These findings show that adverse effects are not just seen in children with extreme hyperactivity (such as ADHD) but can also be seen in the general population and across the range of severities of hyperactivity,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the Lancet medical journal.
Stevenson’s team, which has been studying the effects of food additives in children for years, made up two mixtures to test in one group of 3-year-olds and a second group of children aged 8 and 9.
They included sunset yellow coloring, also known as E110; carmoisine, or E122; tartrazine, or E102; ponceau 4R, or E124; the preservative sodium benzoate, or E211; and other colors.
One of the two mixtures contained ingredients commonly drunk by young British children in popular drinks, they said. They did not specify what foods might include the additives.
Both mixtures significantly affected the older children. The 3-year-olds were most affected by the mixture that closely resembled the average intake for children that age, Stevenson’s team reported.
“The implications of these results for the regulation of food additive use could be substantial,” the researchers concluded.
ONGOING DEBATE
The issue of whether food additives can affect children’s behavior has been controversial for decades.
Benjamin Feingold, an allergist, has written books arguing that not only did artificial colors, flavors and preservatives affect children but so did natural salicylate compounds found in some fruits and vegetables.
Several studies have contradicted this notion.
Stevenson’s team made up several batches of fruit drinks and carefully watched the children after they drank them. Some did not contain the additives.
The children varied in their responses but in general reacted poorly to the cocktails, Stevenson’s team reported.
“We have found an adverse effect of food additives on the hyperactive behavior of 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children,” they wrote.
Dr. Sue Baic, a registered dietitian at the University of Bristol, said in a statement: “This is a well designed and potentially very important study.”
“It supports what dietitians have known for a long time, that feeding children on diets largely consisting of heavily processed foods which may also be high in fat, salt or sugar is not optimal for health.”
Others disagreed.
“The paper shows some statistical associations. It is not a demonstration of cause and effect,” said Dr. Paul Illing, a registered toxicologist and safety consultant in Wirral, Britain.

More vitamin D could mean fewer cancers: study

Wed Sep 5, 2007 11:05 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Thousands of cases of breast and colon cancers might be averted each year if people in colder climates raised their vitamin D levels, researchers estimate in a new report.
A number of studies have suggested that vitamin D may be important in cancer risk. Much of this research is based on cancer rates at different latitudes of the globe; rates of breast, colon and ovarian cancer, for example, are lower in sunnier regions of the world than in Northern climates where cold winters limit people’s sun exposure.
Sunlight triggers the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin, and people who get little sun exposure tend to have lower stores of the vitamin.
Complementing these studies are lab experiments showing that vitamin D helps prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading, as well as some clinical trials in which people given high doses of vitamin D showed lower cancer risks.
For the new study, researchers at the University of California used data on average wintertime blood levels of vitamin D and rates of breast and colon cancers in 15 countries.
They found that rates of the diseases tended to fall as average vitamin D levels climbed, according to their report in the journal Nutrition Reviews. The protective effect against colon cancer seemed to begin when blood levels of vitamin D reached 22 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL); for breast cancer, that number was 32 ng/mL.
The average late-winter vitamin D level among Americans is 15 to 18 ng/mL, according to the researchers.
They argue that, based on their data, if Americans were able to maintain a vitamin D level of at least 55 ng/mL, 60,000 cases of colon cancer and 85,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented every year. Worldwide, those figures could be 250,000 and 350,000, respectively.
“This could be best achieved with a combination of diet, supplements and short intervals — 10 or 15 minutes a day — in the sun,” lead study author Dr. Cedric F. Garland, a cancer prevention specialist at the University of California San Diego, said in a statement.
No one is recommending that people bake in the sun to reach high vitamin D blood levels. According to Garland, spending a matter of minutes in the midday sun, with 40 percent of the skin exposed, is enough. For fair-skinned people, the researchers estimate that just 3 minutes in the sun can be adequate, while darker-skinned people may need about 15 minutes.
A lifeguard in Southern California, Garland said, may have little need for extra vitamin D to reach potentially protective levels, whereas a Northerner who tends to stay indoors much of the year may need much more.
Garland and his colleagues recommend that, in addition to modest sun exposure, adults get 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day — which is the “tolerable upper intake level” set by U.S. health officials.
That limit exists because of the risk of vitamin D toxicity, which causes elevated calcium levels in the blood and problems such as nausea, weight loss, fatigue and kidney dysfunction.
SOURCE: Nutrition Reviews, August 2007.