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Thanks for visiting! My goal here is to discuss the latest scientific research to separate the good from all that "guff" in nutritional sciences and all aspects of human health. Because the more you Know, well...the more you Know!

Looking for a specific post? You can browse the Most Read Posts, the Blog Archives, or use the Search function in top left of this page. Thanks for your support and stay healthy!

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2012-02-29

Magnesium for High Blood Pressure

A new meta-analysis from the UK, show magnesium supplements may offer small but clinically significant reductions in blood pressure (BP).

Dietary sources of magnesium include green, leafy vegetables, meats, starches, grains and nuts, and milk. However, dietary studies show that a large portion of adults do not meet the RDA for magnesium (320 mg per day for women and 420 mg per day for men).

This study pooled data from 22 clinical trials involving 1173 people, and found that supplementing with the mineral may reduce systolic BP (pressure when the heart contracts) by 4 mmHG and diastolic BP (pressure when the heart relaxes/fills) by 3 mmHg. The best results observed for daily doses over 370 mg.


Source: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis

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2012-02-27

Curcumin fights Cancer

Another study adds to the ever-expanding bank of knowledge for curcumin's ability to prevent--or even treat--certain cancers. This new study reports that the compound, responsible for turmeric's yellow colour, could help to slow the growth of prostate cancer by blocking the receptors for certain molecular pathways, although it could also reduce the effectiveness of some cancer therapies.

The research team found that “physiologically attainable” doses curcumin suppresses two genetic receptors that have been linked to the incidence of certain types of cancer, and also act as a predictor of tumour growth. By blocking these receptors, the team found that the spice extract was “a potent inhibitor of both cell cycle and survival in prostate cancer cells.”

The lead researcher said the findings may also have implications beyond prostate cancer, “since [the receptors] are important in other malignancies, like breast cancer.” She noted that an important finding of the current study was that curcumin had such effects at “physiologically attainable” doses (since some previous studies suggested doses that were not realistic).

Curcumin has increasingly come under the scientific spotlight in recent years, with numerous studies investigating its potential health benefits. As a result, curcumin has been linked to a range of health benefits, including potential protection against prostate cancer, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson's (as in THIS previous post).

Source: Targeting pioneering factor and hormone receptor cooperative pathways to suppress tumor progression

Related prostate cancer posts:
Before I close this post, I want to say "thank you" to all who have supported me in this blog and all my readers--both regular and sporadic.

KnowGuff.com is now one-year old, and with your unrelenting support, it'll get bigger and better and continue to gather a wider and wider audience...hopefully.

And since many have asked in the past, here are the the top 10 countries where visitors to this blog come from:
  1. Canada
  2. United States
  3. Ukraine
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Russia
  6. China
  7. Germany
  8. India
  9. France
  10. Australia

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2012-02-24

Coffee May Prevent Fatty Liver Fibrosis

Here's just a very short post on another coffee study. This time, the study suggests higher amounts of coffee may offer health benefits to those with fatty liver, where it may reduce the risk of developing fibrosis.

 

The study found that high coffee intake significantly reduced the build up of fibrosis (connective tissue) in the liver of people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This study confirms that caffeine consumption (via coffee) reduces fibrosis in people with fatty liver disease in a similar way to that of people with chronic liver disease. 


Source: Association of coffee and caffeine consumption with fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and degree of hepatic fibrosis

If you've got fatty liver, you may also want to consider supplementation with L-carnitine as I discussed in THIS post (click HERE)

Other posts on coffee studies:
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2012-02-22

Omega-3s for Dysmenorrhea

In this new double-blind, crossover study, researchers examined whether dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids would relieve symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation).

Women 18 to 22 years old with primary dysmenorrhea were divided into 2 groups: Group 1 received 1 omega-3 capsule daily for 3 months, followed by placebo for 3 months; Group 2 received placebo for 3 months, followed by omega-3 fatty acids for 3 months.

Both groups included a washout period. 400 mg of ibuprofen was dispensed as a rescue dose if severe menstrual pains were experienced. Reduction in pain intensity was observed after 3 months of treatment with omega-3 fatty acids. Women who received omega-3 fatty acids also required fewer rescue doses than women who received placebo. Findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation may reduce the symptom intensity of primary dysmenorrhea.

This is something that was seen previously, and I share an older study with you (not typical of this blog) because the results were so dramatic (more so for the those taking krill oil, but the fish oil group saw some good results too). Here is the graph that summarizes the results. Most relevant to this post would be the Abdominal Pain, but all factors measured saw quite impressive results!




Source: Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on intensity of primary dysmenorrhea

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2012-02-17

Do Omega-3s Cause Cancer in Women?

Mass media was waiting for something like this... so hopefully readers of this blog will be able to have an educated opinion when the topic arises with friends and family.

A new study on omega-3 fatty acids suggests it can significantly increase the risk of cancer in women--but is this really true? I don't think so. When you look at the totality of evidence, it would suggest the opposite, but let's look specifically at the study at hand.

Called the Supplementation with Folate, Vitamins B6 and B12 and/or Omega-3 Fatty Acids (SU.FOL.OM3) trial, the study was designed to investigate prevention of secondary cardiovascular disease. In the study, 45-80 year olds were randomized in a 2x2 factorial design to one of four study arms:
  1. B vitamins: 5-methlytetrahyrdofolate (the active folic acid metabolite) 560 mcg, 3 mg vitamin B6, and 20 mcg vitamin B12 
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 600 mg
  3. B vitamins AND omega-3 fatty acids, or
  4. Placebo
The main results showed that treatment with vitamin B or omega-3 fatty acids had no effect of major cardiovascular events. However, given the availability of the data, the researchers then examined the benefit of these supplements on cancer risk.

In an age- and sex-adjusted multivariable model, there was no effect of the B vitamins or omega-3s on cancer incidence and cancer mortality. The investigators did, however, observe a statistically significant interaction by sex, with women taking omega-3 fatty acids at an increased for cancer and cancer mortality--in fact, a threefold greater risk of developing cancer, and a fivefold increased risk of dying from cancer. Ouch...that's kinda scary.

However, even the researchers caution against reading too much into the increased cancer risk in women taking the omega-3 fatty acids, given that there were only 29 cancer cases in females, compared with the 145 cases that occurred in males, so the findings are only preliminary and hypothesis-generating for future studies.

In fact, their own statistical analysis shows how weak the data was, with very large ranges in what's called the "Confidence Interval" (meaning, statistically, they are not confident in the accuracy of their data).

Also consider that cancers are typically slow growing. It usually takes decades from the initiation of cancer cells to clinical manifestations. Five years is not nearly enough time to determine the effect of supplementation on cancer risk. In fact, it's almost a certainty that those who were diagnosed with cancer during the study period already had cancer before the study--it just hadn't been diagnosed yet.

Lastly, we have no further information on the type of omega-3s they were taking. How pure were they (we know common contaminants in fish oils are carcinogenic)? What form where the fatty acids in (the natural triglyceride form or the more common synthetic ethyl esters)?

For me, there is just too many unanswered questions and too many holes in this study to give it much weight. Again, you can't base conclusions on a particular supplement from one study. Some of you may have heard me say, "nothing is 100% good, and nothing is 100% bad." Every compound studied, whether a synthetic drug or natural substance will have positive and negative studies. You really must look at the totality of evidence to determine the bigger picture.

Source: B Vitamin and/or ω-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Cancer: Ancillary Findings From the Supplementation With Folate, Vitamins B6 and B12, and/or Omega-3 Fatty Acids (SU.FOL.OM3) Randomized Trial

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2012-02-16

L-Carnitine May Help Kids with Asthma

Here's an older video I watched, instigated by Valentine's Day. I post it here to share this happy love story with you.


Oh geez...if I wore mascara, I'd look scary right now...

Ok, in another new study on L-carnitine, researchers investigated the level and the effects of its supplementation in children with moderate persistent asthma (MPA) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial over 6 consecutive months.

The children received either L-carnitine or placebo and received pulmonary function tests (PFT) and childhood-asthma control test (C-ACT) before and 6 months after carnitine supplementation.

Results revealed that initial L-carnitine levels were significantly lower in the patient group as compared to the control group. PFT and C-ACT showed significant improvements in asthmatic children supplemented with L-carnitine, as compared to placebo. These findings suggest L-carnitine supplementation may lead to an improvement of C-ACT and PFT in children with MPA.

Source: L-Carnitine improves the asthma control in children with moderate persistent asthma

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2012-02-14

Study Proves Vitamin K2 Supplements Reverse Deficiencies

...found love at KnowGuff.com
Happy Valentine's Day
Vascular calcification is a strong predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and hemodialysis patients are known to experience severe vascular calcifications. Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is an inhibitor of vascular calcification and dependent on vitamin K for activation.

Uncarboxylated (inactive) MGP, a result of vitamin K deficiency, is associated with cardiovascular disease. Recent studies suggest poor vitamin K status in hemodialysis patients. The researchers, therefore, aimed to investigate whether daily vitamin K supplementation improves the bioactivity of vitamin K-dependent proteins in hemodialysis patients, assessed by circulating uncarboxylated MGP (ucMGP), uncarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC), and uncarboxylated prothrombin (ucPIVKA-II).

This study was a randomized, non-placebo-controlled trial with 3 parallel groups of differing menaquinone-7 (MK-7, a form of vitamin K2) treatment at 45, 135, or 360 μg/d for 6 weeks.

At baseline, hemodialysis patients had 4.5-fold higher ucMGP and 8.4-fold higher ucOC levels compared with controls. ucPIVKA-II levels were elevated in 49 hemodialysis patients. MK-7 supplementation induced a dose- and time-dependent decrease in circulating ucMGP,ucOC , and ucPIVKA-II levels. Response rates in the reduction in ucMGP levels were 77% and 93% in the groups receiving 135 μg and 360 μg of MK-7, respectively.

This study confirms that most hemodialysis patients have a functional vitamin K deficiency, but more importantly, it shows that inactive MGP levels can be decreased markedly by daily vitamin K2 supplementation. This study provides the rationale for intervention trials aimed at decreasing vascular calcification in hemodialysis patients by vitamin K supplementation.

Source: Effect of Vitamin K2 Supplementation on Functional Vitamin K Deficiency in Hemodialysis Patients: A Randomized Trial

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2012-02-10

Low-Dose K2 (as MK-7) Proven to be Effective

Vitamin K is required for the activation of "Gla-proteins" in the liver (coagulation factors) and extra-hepatic tissues, such as bone (osteocalcin, OC), and arterial wall (matrix Gla-protein, MGP). Although the coagulation factors are essentially fully carboxylated (activated) under normal conditions, 10-40 % of OC and MGP remains undercarboxylated (inactive).

The researchers of this study, therefore, were interested in studying the dose-response effects of extra intake of vitamin K2 on the carboxylation of these extra-hepatic vitamin K-dependent proteins. A total of 42 healthy Dutch men and women aged between 18 and 45 years were randomised into seven groups to receive: placebo capsules or menaquinone-7 (MK-7) capsules at a dose of 10, 20, 45, 90, 180 or 360 μg/day. Circulating uncarboxylated OC (ucOC), carboxylated OC (OC) and desphospho-uncarboxylated MGP (ucMGP) were measured.

Since this was a small study with few participants, in order to increase the statistical power, the researchers collapsed the treatment groups into three dosage groups: placebo, low-dose supplementation (doses below RDA), and high-dose supplementation (doses around RDA).

Results showed that MK-7 supplementation at relatively low doses in the order of the RDA increased the carboxylation of circulating OC and MGP. No adverse effects on thrombin generation (blood clotting) were observed.

Source: Low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation improved extra-hepatic vitamin K status, but had no effect on thrombin generation in healthy subjects

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2012-02-08

Proton Pump Inhibitors Increase Risk of Hip Fractures

A new "common-sense study" solidifies the association of long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) with increased risk for hip fracture in postmenopausal women, particularly those who smoke.

PPIs can affect fracture risk by various mechanisms: increasing gastrin secretion, inhibiting calcium absorption, and altering osteoclast function. These drugs are extensively used to treat acid reflux--usually inappropriately.

The study found that hip fracture risk increased the longer a person was taking PPIs. Compared with non-users, there was a 36% higher risk for women using a PPI for two years, 42% higher risk for four years' use, and 55% higher risk for six to eight years' use. However, the risk returns to normal for women who have ceased taking the drugs for at least 2 years.

Smoking history stood out among the risk factors considered. Fracture risk rose by about 51% for women who currently smoke or did so previously. The researchers suggests that smoking inhibits calcium absorption and this may act synergistically with PPIs to increase fracture risk

Just over a month ago, I covered another study the linked PPIs to pneumonia. You can click HERE to read that post.

Source: Use of proton pump inhibitors and risk of hip fracture in relation to dietary and lifestyle factors: a prospective cohort study

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2012-02-06

Diet Pop/Soda Increases Risk of Heart Attacks

According to new research findings, those who drink diet soft drinks could be at an increased risk of suffering from heart attacks or stroke. The researchers found that individuals who drink diet soda daily could be at a 43% increased risk of such cardiovascular events, but found no increase in risk for consumption of ‘regular’ soft drinks

Rising rates of obesity and diabetes have led to soft drinks with artificial sweeteners being marketed as healthier alternatives to ‘regular’ beverages (although I'm not sure who initially thought that adding sweet-tasting toxic chemicals would be any better than sugar).

However, this study shows that drinks full of chemicals are not good for you--if this wasn't already common-sense. Add this to a large body of evidence that shows regular soft drinks are unhealthy for numerous reasons, and you'll soon realize that you should stick with refreshing water. Water = life.


Source: Diet Soft Drink Consumption is Associated with an Increased Risk of Vascular Events in the Northern Manhattan Study

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2012-02-03

Medicinal Uses for "Magic" Mushrooms


Can you see the mushrooms in this stereogram?
A new study supports the expanding body of evidence that psilocybin, the hallucinogenic active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," may be therapeutic in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and possibly cluster headaches.

The healthy volunteers in this study showed decreased brain blood flow and venous oxygenation in certain areas of the brain (specifically the cingulate cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex) after the participants received intravenous injections of psilocybin. This surprised the researchers, who thought that psilocybin was going to increase brain activity in regions like the visual cortex, which would explain the visual changes associated with its recreational use.

"Remarkably, the decreases were localized to important connector hubs in the brain that serve as key junctions for information transfers. Knocking out these key hubs with psilocybin appears to allow information to travel more freely, probably explaining why people's imaginations become more vivid and animated and the world is experienced as unusual," said the lead author.

The researchers noted that these areas of the brain are known to be overactive in patients with depression and that antidepressants, psychotherapy, and even meditation are used to bring the activity in these regions back to "normal."

"We think that in depression, people are continually overlinking thoughts and ruminations and we think this may help break that link," added another researcher involved in the study. "We've also heard case reports that it's been useful in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, so it would be great if research were to also look at that area too."

Also, according to the researchers, previous "anecdotal reports" have suggested that psychedelics may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of cluster headaches.

Although more research is needed, the ongoing stigmatization of psychedelics continues to provide obstacles. By the 1960s, psilocybin, LSD, and other drugs were taken from the laboratory setting and used recreationally by many people who often had no idea how to take these compounds safely.
As this became a public health concern, clinical research with these drugs went dark for several decades. Now, a number of researchers are starting to take a safe and fresh look at these compounds to help us understand consciousness and psychopathology, and perhaps to help us develop new and more effective treatments.

Source: Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin

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