Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Eat Fruits and Veggies, Then - Breathe Easy

tidbits that tantalizeYou Can EAT These??

Science dealt yet another blow to innocent, fun-loving men recently. As if recommending procedures like colonoscopies weren't enough, it took direct aim at one of the most sacred of men's rituals: eating a wide variety of red meat, desserts and processed foods.

This time - so claim the scientists - it has to do with healthy lungs...

A study from the Harvard School of Public Health reports that men eating a Mediterranean style diet are less likely to develop chronic lung diseases. On the flip side, those consuming the standard "Western" diet push their odds of lung disease to a level that will garner the attention of Vegas odds makers.

The study followed over 42 thousand men for a dozen years. They were assigned to one of five groups, based upon levels of adherence to a "prudent" diet - meaning a diet rich in plant foods, whole grains and fish. A second five-group differentiation was made depending upon how "Western" their diet was.

The Results? Yes - with a capital "R."

Men eating the most "prudent" diet, that most closely resembling a Mediterranean diet, were one-half as likely to develop chronic lung problems as men at the opposite end of the "prudent" scale. The Western diet results were even more striking - those eating the most Western diets were more than Four Times as likely (F-O-U-R) to suffer from chronic lung disease.

Research shows fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants that have been tied to better lung function. The Omega-3 fatty acids may also help lungs stay healthy. But, processed foods contain nitrates and sugars that are harmful to the lungs.

So, men... Grab an apple, banana, or pear, and start getting healthy. Yes - it's OK to ask your wife exactly where you might find such an object in your house...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about health issues related to your lungs, see this from the American Lung Association.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Does Milk Really Do A Body Good?

tidbits that tantalizeDo You Feel Lighter Yet?

Will milk-mustachioed celebrities soon be throwing in the towel? Or, in a bow to public pressure, at least using the towel to wipe the milk mustaches from their famous mugs? Well, in a nation that often sets health policies according to the whim of the highest advertising bidder, it's doubtful. But, we will see some changes in milk advertising claims in the near future.

Dairy industry members have agreed to suspend advertising campaigns claiming milk promotes weight loss. While the industry continues to assert this claim, they have come under increasing pressure due to research that shows no such connection. In fact, independent studies show milk has little impact on weight.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine pressed the issue. They are an advocacy group that focuses on health, medical and research issues. They initially petitioned the Federal Trade Commission, claiming the milk industry was misleading the public with the weight loss claims.

How will it all play out?

Well, as in most things in America, both sides will issue a series of press releases detailing their victory. They will point to their own research, quote their own scientists and bemoan the failed and flawed methods of their counterparts. Then...

A new wave of television commercials will hit the airwaves. Let's see - can't claim milk helps you lose weight? Hmm - How about, "Wow, you look fabulous! Have you been drinking milk?"

To read more about the issue, see this from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. To read more about the health benefits of milks, see this from the Milk Processor Education Program.

By the way, you look fabulous...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Prostate Surgery Without The "Leaks"

news you may not knowLeak Free, Huh?

It's the shock of a lifetime. A single doctor's appointment confirms what you've dreaded, what you've feared, what you've suspected. You have cancer. If you're a man, the most common form of cancer is prostate. The American Cancer Society estimates over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer in 2007, and over 27,000 deaths due to the disease.

The good news is that both detection and survival rates continue to improve.

There are, however, some side effects that are troubling for men. Of particular concern following surgery, known as a prostatectomy, is urinary incontinence. It's truly adding insult to injury - not only must men deal with the impact of cancer, they must navigate a heretofore unknown world of specialty undergarments. This "inconvenient truth" often plays a key role in men's decisions about which form of prostate treatment to pursue.

But, there is hope. Surgeons at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have mounted their medical white horses once again. They have devised a new surgical method - actually, a fairly simple revision of the existing method - that has shown tremendous success in avoiding incontinence.

The surgical procedure involves the manipulation of existing tissue to support muscles that control retention of urine within the bladder. The additional steps add only 2 to 5 minutes to the operation. It's time well spent...

In early trials 29% of men were fully continent one week after having the urinary catheter removed. By six weeks the figure rose to 62% and, at 16 weeks, the figure stood at an impressive 95%. The surgeons hope the procedure will become part of the routine surgical procedure.

With the competitive nature of health care, look for hospitals to scramble to be the first within their region to offer the new procedure. One can envision television commercials encouraging men to take advantage of the new "Leak Free Guarantee."

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about prostate cancer, including diagnosis and treatment, see this from the American Cancer Society.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Few Young Women Recognize Heart Attack Symptoms

news you may not know
Do You Really Think It's My Heart?

Two figures standout: 90% and 42%.

90% - The percentage of women experiencing significant chest pain prior to having a heart attack.

42% - The percentage of women who think the chest pain is related to their heart.

A recent study of women's heart attacks, conducted at Yale, highlights the differences in attitude and perception between men and women. Men have been warned about heart attacks so persistently, virtually everyone is acutely aware of their symptoms. Should a man experience chest pain, it would not be surprising for his five-year-old daughter to volunteer, "Dad, you're probably having a cardiac event."

Not so with women.

The Yale study found a significant lack of awareness among women 55 and younger concerning heart related risk. This may be due to the relatively small numbers of women treated for heart disease each year. Women represent only 5% of all hospitalized heart disease patients in any given year. Yet, they still account for 16,000 deaths each year; this is on a par with the number of annual deaths due to breast cancer.

In addition to significant chest pain, the women studied also reported these symptoms:

58% - pain in the jaw or shoulder

38% - sweating

29% - nausea

29% - shortness of breath

21% - indigestion or heartburn

8% - weakness or fatigue

The stakes are high. The report finds that women with heart disease are twice as likely to die in the hospital as men. Further, only 56% of the women who had seen their primary physician for their symptoms were diagnosed as having a heart related ailment. Family history is especially significant - 88% of those studies had an immediate family member with a history of heart disease.

The researchers conclude both women and doctors need to rethink their perceptions. Doctors may have to take off their men-only specs and pay more heed to women's symptoms indicating heart related complications. Women also need to scrap the "it's only men who have heart attacks" idea and pay closer attention to what their bodies are saying - or, screaming.

As always, avoiding risk is critical. So, not smoking, watching your weight, exercising and lowering your cholesterol are all excellent investments in your present and future health.

What - another number? OK - how about...

100% - The percentage of women who will benefit by paying attention to the health of their heart.

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about women and cardiovascular disease, see this from the American Heart Association.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pure Juice Boosts Health, Not Weight

tidbits that tantalizeYou Can Drink This Stuff?

Parents concerned about giving their children 100% fruit juice can breath easy. A new study reports there is no association between drinking pure juices and weight gain. As a matter of fact, just the opposite appears to be true.

The study, presented at the annual convention of the Pediatric Academic Societies by researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine, analyzed the juice drinking habits of over 3,600 children between two and eleven. The scientists found no association between drinking 100% fruit juices and weight gain - or, being at risk for becoming overweight.

Surprisingly, they did find that 57% of the children drank no pure fruit juices at all. That's an astonishing figure and, though not explored within the study, does not speak well for the overall nutritional status of our children. However...

Among those who did in fact drink pure juices, the news was quite good. First, some basic figures. Children drink, on average, just over 4 ounces of juice each day. Even those at the high end of the consumption scale, drinking over 12 ounces each day, show no increased risk for weight gain. In fact, the heaviest drinkers among the 2 and 3-year-olds were almost three times less likely to be overweight than children who drink no juice.

Interestingly, children who drink 100% juices also eat healthier, consuming less total fat, sodium and sugars. They also have higher intakes of critical nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and iron. Hmm...

So, moms and dads of the world, take heart. Bust out the 100% pure juice and, though you'll have no mass media role models to lead the way, pour a glass for your kids. Then, sit back and enjoy - you may be surprised to find they actually enjoy drinking, well... real food.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the health benefits of fruit juices, see this from

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Are Home Repair Projects Hazardous to Health?

tidbits that tantalize

Hold On - I'll Get Another Ladder...

Ah, spring. Of course, that can mean only one thing: men are rousing themselves from hibernation and beginning the annual ritual of Self-Injurious-Activity (SIA). Early reports indicate a strong start to the season, with men from all regions of the country spending heavily for the latest home repair gadgets. Power tools top the list, followed closely by specialty ladders, sharp instruments and miscellaneous outdoor-use "stuff."

Scientists have studied SIA for decades, but have yet to crack its code. Is it genetics that drives men to cast themselves off ladders, and to drive nails through their hands at 120 PSI? Or, in the age-old debate, is it nurture? Are men simply aping the activities their fathers demonstrated while injuring themselves with crude instruments, like the handheld hammer, the arm-powered saw and the little twisty-thing used to set screws?

We may never know, but...

Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) at Columbus Children's Hospital confirm the trend continues. The scientists at CIRP reviewed data related to the use of ladders for the period of 1990 through 2005. They found over 2 million people suffered injury and received treatment at emergency rooms during the period.

Two figures stand out from their findings: 97% and 77%.

97% - The scientists found 97% of the injuries occurred at home or on the farm. In other words, ladder injuries occurring at work, where people actually understand the basic principle of gravity, were minimal.

77% - Ah, leave it to the men. 77% of all ladder related injuries were suffered by men. Though no data was collected, it is believed that most of the injuries to women occurred when men became distracted, let go of the ladder they were supporting, and wandered off.

Tom Clumps, spokesman for the National Association of Injured Men, summed up the attitude of most members. "We do what we can to support our communities and the local economies. Our research indicates our payments to the medical systems often make the difference between them staying in business or having to close their doors. I tell ya, in my eyes - these men are real heroes."

...Tom's dad taught him well.

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read safety tips on the appropriate use of portable ladders, see this from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, or this from the Home Safety Council.

Friday, May 18, 2007

No Insurance Means Higher Hospital Bill

news you may not know
Yeah - They'll Take This Too...

Though it's the ultimate irony, there is nothing the least bit humorous about the situation. If you have health insurance, you're quite familiar with the routine. Here's how it works...

You burn the candle at both ends, running your life out of control, shunning all forms of exercise that involve effort beyond raising your fork to your mouth. Diet? Hmm, you've heard about the concept, but dismissed it as another "vegan conspiracy" aimed at subverting the American culture. As they say - or, someone says - ok, as you say, "Barbeque rules!"

Then, out of the blue, it happens. A sudden rush of pain across your chest, a little shortness of breath and your wife panics, insisting this is really one of those times you go to the hospital. Being the thoughtful husband type, you indulge her and head to the emergency room. Seven hours later you're back home, multiple tests having confirmed your chest pain was nothing more than a bit of gas - probably the deep-dish pepperoni - and you're ready for a midnight snack. Life is good...

Then, the hospital bill arrives in the mail. This returns us to the moral of this story. The charges for your foray to the ER total $6,237 and change. The change you can live with. Now, what do you do about the rest of the bill? Well, if you have insurance, you do absolutely nothing. You toss it in a draw and wait for the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) to arrive. And, when it does...

You find the $6,237 and change has devolved into a manageable $300 deductible and $212 in co-payment, a total of $512. In addition, you note the hospital has reduced its fees by an astounding 57%, agreeing to accept $2,681 - and change - as payment in full. Just like that, over $3,500 has disappeared from the ledger. Wow - this is truly the power of collective bargaining at its best. But, what if you have no insurance? Well, then your health care nightmare is just beginning.

Without insurance, the process starts out in the same manner - you receive the hospital bill. But, you can't just throw it into a drawer and wait. There is no EOB on the way. There is no deductible, no co-payment, no 57% reduction in fees. There is a bill of $6,237 and they want it all - including the change.

The sad truth is the uninsured pay an enormous premium for health care. On average, based on figures from 2004, the uninsured pay over 2.5 times more for services than those with health insurance. In the convoluted sphere of inflated charges and negotiated offsets, the uninsured are the only ones yet to be invited to join the game. They are left on the sidelines to fend for themselves - by themselves.

Data for 2004, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, show the average hospital stay lasted 4.6 days, resulting in a bill of $20,455. There are more than 45 million uninsured Americans...

45 million...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about health insurance and the uninsured, see this from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Prick-Free Diabetic Device in Development

news you may not know
Ah - Choices, Choices...

Hong Kong

This is fabulous news for diabetics.

But, first, a bit of perspective. Diabetes currently affects 180 million people worldwide - that number will likely double by 2030. Over 1 million people died of diabetes-related complications in 2005. The World Health Organization projects diabetes-related deaths will increase by 80% in upper-middle income countries by 2015.

The financial impact is also staggering. In 2002 in the United States the cost to treat diabetes was $132 billion - yes, that's a "b," as in billion - this represents 10% of all United States health care spending.

Asian populations are at particular risk of developing diabetes and the current trend represents an impending health care crisis. There are two primary factors at work. Historically, Asian diets have been simple and sparse. The agrarian roots of the Asian culture offered the protection of hard work and basic foods. Thus, Asians have difficulty adapting to a diet comprised of high-fat and rich foods.

Unfortunately - factor number two - China, India, and other Asian countries are following the same path as others with newfound affluence. They are abandoning the simple pleasures of hard work and brown rice for the indulgence of high definition television and deep-dish pizza. The tradeoff may be pleasurable but, in the long run, it is also quite painful.

...Now, to the new device.

In light of the explosion of diabetes among Asians, it seems fitting the breakthrough comes to us from Hong Kong. Scientists at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Nursing have developed a pain-free diabetic testing device. The device uses infrared technology to transmit an infrared beam through the skin - no prick required. The beam measures the wavelength, or frequency, specific to glucose particles and reports their level as a blood sugar concentration.

The device assesses the blood glucose levels in about ten seconds, with an 85% accuracy, on a par with current technologies. The device took four years to develop and is likely to hit the marketplace within a year.

In the meantime, perhaps some hard work and a bit of brown rice may be in order...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about diabetes, including prevention and treatments, see this from the World Health Organization and this from the American Diabetes Association.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Nanotechnology Helps Fight Cancer

news you may not knowI Don't See It...

Odd, isn't it.

The biggest foe of health care is about to be taken out by a drug that's smaller than a single human cell. Researchers at a private Australian biotech firm, EnGeneIC, have devised a method of fighting cancer that relies upon nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is the growing field in which extraordinarily small materials are used to complete tasks. For a perspective on scope, consider: most nanotechnology applications utilize components that are between 1 and 100 nanometers. What is a nanometer? Well, a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Still not quite sure? Join the club. Yes, this is the point at which we all bow our heads, and give thanks to the God they often deny that scientists are exceedingly bright.

EnGeneIC reports it has developed nano-cells that contain chemotherapy drugs. It's fantastic. The nano-drugs are injected into the patient, where they target and seek out the cancer cells. Once they find the cells, they attach themselves. The cancer cells, in a fatal error, absorb the nano-drugs and the beginning of the end commences. Once absorbed within the cancer cells, the nano-drugs release the chemotherapy agent and kill the cancer cell - it's the ultimate medical miracle inside job.

The unique treatment method allows for doses that are thousands of times smaller than those currently employed. As a result, the devastating side effects of traditional cancer treatments are significantly reduced.

Trials with primates have indicated the drug is safe and EnGeneIC hopes to initiate human trials in late 2007.

So, in yet another odd twist, science and religion have formed a unique partnership in confirming the old truth of good things coming in small packages. After all, when it comes to this new treatment, the sentiment appears to be, "I can't see it - but I believe it."

To read more about the research, see this from Reuters. To learn more about nanotechnology, see this from the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tea Squelches Squamous Cell

tidbits that tantalize
I Have To Choose?

It's a difficult decision. Tea or chocolate?

Tea receives rave reviews for its ability to calm nerves, lower cholesterol, cleanse the blood and soothe the spirit. Chocolate's fame grows daily, with dark chocolate consumption up an astonishing 49% from 2003 to 2006. So, if you want to be responsible, treat your body kindly and enjoy superior health...


There's simply not enough time or space to detail all the latest discoveries relating to tea and chocolate. Virtually everyday a new study announces additional health benefits. So, you have to pick and choose.

Today, we'll do tea.

In a new study conducted at Dartmouth Medical School tea is shown to protect against skin cancer. Regular tea drinkers, even those drinking just a single cup per day, are 20-30% less likely to develop skin cancer than non-tea drinkers. The protective benefits increase proportionately for long term tea drinkers and for those drinking two or more cups each day.

The study assessed the benefit in protecting against the two most common forms of skin cancer, squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma. Skin cancer is often the result of exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation and, with a fun-in-the-sun culture running at full steam, Americans face significant risk. Researchers postulate that tea's antioxidants protect the skin against the harmful effects of sun exposure.

"EGCG." Go ahead - say it out loud. "EGCG!" Ah... It appears to be the antioxidant in tea most effective in fighting skin cancer.

So, there it is. Chocolate will be saved for another day. What's that? You say you already ate all the chocolate? Hmm...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of skin cancer, see this from the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Annual Osteoporosis Treatment On the Horizon?

tidbits that tantalize
Once A Year? Woohoo!

Move over Sally Field. The competition is about to run you right off the set and out of our living rooms.

You know the commercial. Sally bemoans the fate of her poor girlfriend, who has to "set aside time one morning every week" to take her osteoporosis medicine. It is a brutal world out there. Ms. Field then goes on to talk about the advantages of once-a-month dosing with Boniva. Of course, that was before...

Novartis developed Reclast, an osteoporosis medication that appears to be effective when administered once per year. Reclast is currently being used around the world to treat Paget's disease, a metabolic bone disease that causes abnormal growth and bone deformity. Now, studies indicate Reclast reduces the risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis with a single yearly treatment.

The three-year study yielded impressive results mixed with questions about side effects. The patients treated with Reclast were 70% less likely to suffer a spine fracture and 41% less likely to experience a fracture of the hip. This compares to a 40% - 50% reduction for spine fractures in patients taking conventional oral medications.

The numbers look good and compliance is certainly much easier. Researchers report that patients fail to take oral osteoporosis medications about 20% of the time. So, a once a year option may be a terrific alternative.


The questions about potentially serious side effects still linger. In the study, 1-in-77 Reclast patients developed serious atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that accelerates the heart rate, causes dizziness and fainting, and increases the chance of stroke. In addition, over 30% of patients experienced fever, joint and muscle pain, headache or flu-like symptoms. Hmm...

The jury, and the FDA, are still out.

In the meantime, word is that Ms. Field is revising her Boniva pitch. "My poor girlfriend," she is to say, "has to wait for One Whole Year before she gets the satisfaction of knowing she's taking good care of herself. Not me - I get to enjoy that special sense of accomplishment Every Single Month!" It almost makes one nostalgic for the simpler days, when television was in black and white, and nuns could fly...

To read more about the study, see this from Medical News Today, or this from Reuters. To read more about osteoporosis, see this from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Is Coffee the New Green Tea?

tidbits that tantalize A Magical Elixir?

The debate rages on. Is coffee a natural born killer, inexorably driving blood pressures to unsustainable levels, contributing to stroke, heart disease and cancer? Or, is the new persona of coffee destined to be the face of vim, vigor and vitality? A Super Drink - a magical elixir with the power to heal the downtrodden, the weary, the forlorn...

Who's to say? Well, sure - anyone with a kitchen table can weigh in on the debate, but what of the pros? You know, the type of people who schedule conferences with names like, "Experimental Biology 2007." Ah, seems we're in luck. The conference just wrapped up on May 2nd, and coffee was indeed a "hot" topic.

In a "controversy session," panelists debated the power of coffee for both good and evil. The session included discussions of recent studies conducted at Harvard indicating coffee may inhibit Type 2 Diabetes and certain types of cancers. A review of 400 studies assessing coffee consumption and cancer was also presented.

Studies indicate coffee consumption may reduce colon, rectal and liver cancers. Researchers postulate the protective action is the result of coffee's ability to lower secretions of cholesterol, bile acid and natural sterol in the colon. On the flip side, coffee consumption appears to increase the likelihood of leukemia and stomach cancer. Confused? Welcome to life's version of the pop quiz.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, led by Dr. Rob van Dam, are also conducting a clinical trial to further their understanding of coffee's ability to protect against diabetes. The scientists are attempting to identify which of the hundreds of components of coffee are active players in this game. They are quite sure caffeine is not, as both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee show the same benefit. The most likely candidate at this point is chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant.

So, while the pros carry on the debate, what are your plans? That's right - mosey on over to that espresso machine and grab a refill. After all, you want to do your part in the fight against cancer...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the clinical trial being conducted at Harvard, see this from

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Prenatal Diet May Protect Children From Disease

tidbits that tantalize
The Ultimate Takeout Food?

You've always had a good relationship with your husband. You were high school sweethearts, went to college together and married the summer after graduation. He's a biologist, working on restoring the natural balances of local ecosystems for the state - at least, that what you think he does - and, you're a philosophy major. So, obviously, the really important work being done in the family is your study of the impact of plastic bags on mental health.

Lately, however, you've begun to notice a bit of a strain in your marriage. It seems to have started just after you found you were pregnant, and that surprised you. Not the pregnancy, because that was planned. But, the upset. Sure, you both knew there would be changes. In the past, you've both thrived on changes. But, ever since you moved into the apple orchard, things have seemed slightly tense. Heck, you figured your husband the biologist would love it! But, he says he misses things - the television, the bed, the kitchen, the bathroom, the washer and dryer...

Really, you've never known him to be such a whiner!

Might there be an advantage to life in the apple orchard? Well, scientists in the Netherlands have found a surprising advantage to eating apples. Pregnant women who consume a steady diet of apples bear children with a significant protection against asthma.

The scientists followed the dietary habits of roughly 2,000 pregnant women. They then checked the lung function of over 1,200 of their offspring. The results pointed to a single food that lowers the incidence of asthma: apples.

Children of mothers who ate 4 or more apples per week were 37% less likely to experience bouts of wheezing. They were also 53% less likely to have a doctor-diagnosed case of asthma. The results are in comparison to the children of mothers consuming no more than one apple each week.

Researchers believe the benefit may derive from the apple's phytochemical content; apple's flavonoids have previously been shown to benefit lung function in adults. The positive effect was not associated with consumption of other citrus or vegetables.

The researchers also found that a prenatal diet rich in fish offers protection against childhood eczema.

...Sure, sleeping under the stars in an apple orchard has its drawbacks. The helmets are a nuisance and, yes, a tent would be nice. But, you want the freshest apples you can get and - your husband's groan alerts you to a fresh apple. Ah - a midnight snack!

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about apples, see this from the University of Illinois Extension.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Will Toenail Treatment Tame Cancer?

news you may not knowThese Are Perfect...

Ah, yes - it's all starting to come back. Flipping through the pages of your college yearbook has stirred distant memories and, oddly, awakened an unrelenting craving for your mother's meatloaf. Hmm...

It's also served a more significant purpose. Once you got out the magnifying glass and gave things a good study, there was little doubt. The toenail fungus that plagued you throughout your college days was definitely the result of poor hygiene. From the looks of it, you may have owned a single pair of socks and certainly no more than two. It was the perfect environment for sustained growth.

Now all you have to do is recapture the single pair of socks strategy, stop bathing for the next few weeks and sleep with your shoes on. You'll have a toenail fungus that will have doctors falling all over themselves for a chance to treat you. And, once they treat the toenail fungus, your cancer won't stand a chance...

Researchers at Johns Hopkins recently stumbled upon a surprising cancer treatment. Well, stumbled upon doesn't do justice to their exhaustive analysis of potential cancer treating agents. The scientists examined 2,400 existing drugs to determine which, if any, could stop cancer cells from dividing. The clear winner was Itraconazole, a medication used to treat common toenail fungus.

The drug actually inhibits the growth of new blood vessels, angiogenesis, a process necessary for cancer to spread. By inhibiting new blood vessels from developing, the cancer is deprived of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive.

The study looked at the impact of drugs on the blood of mice induced to exhibit excessive blood vessel growth. The mice treated with Itraconazole showed a 67% lower blood vessel growth rate than the placebo group.

Because the drug is already FDA approved for another use, it may receive fast track designation, allowing for a quicker review of its potential as a cancer drug. Scientists are also hopeful the treatment will be effective in its current oral form.

...You take a single step into the doctor's waiting room and the other patients begin to cough and gasp. Perfect - it's a sure sign your poor hygiene strategy is working its magic...

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about cancer and angiogenesis, see this from The Angiogenesis Foundation, or this from the National Cancer Institute.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Does Steaming Food Add Years to Your Life?

tidbits that tantalizeGeorge? - For ME??!

Yeah, sure - you're a bit nervous. Who wouldn't be? George is a huge guy and, despite that warm smile and winning presence, you're pretty sure he'd love to just stomp you into the ground. After all, it was your report that lead to the second quarter sales decline, the third quarter mass street protests and the fourth quarter call for George's addition to the FBI's most wanted list.

But, really - you were just doing your job. As a certified, registered, licensed, tenured molecular food biologist, well - you simply have standards to uphold and reports to issue. Little did you know your email would be leaked to the press, setting in motion the disastrous series of events. Had you any inkling, you may been more circumspect in sharing your findings:

"Tom - Just wrapped up work on the George Foreman grill analysis and, wow! It's true! The grill definitely loads up foods with AGEs - sure, they taste great, but ole George is in for the fight of his life. Man, I wish I could deliver the news to him myself. I'd give the scrawny little pipsqueak a piece of my mind all right. I'd look him in square in the eyes and let it rip. Yeah, he looks great on TV, but he'd be nothing more than a blubbering mass of whimpers when I got through with him..."

So, the email was leaked to the press, George's company hit the skids and - for some absolutely bizarre reason - he blames you. Now, he's waiting for you in the lobby. Well, steady on. You adjust your pocket protector, make sure your clip-on tie is secure and head for the door...

Scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine report that toxic substances generated by grilling food are a major health hazard. The toxins, Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), are produced when animal products are grilled, fried or broiled. Sorry, George. The AGEs have been linked to multiple diseases, including inflammatory illnesses, diabetes, vascular disease and Alzheimer's.

The toxins are also produced when food is sterilized and pasteurized.

Significantly, the researchers found it was not the food itself, but the method of preparation that produced the unwanted AGEs. So, while you may have a hankering for a huge hunk of beef, you may need to consider an alternative to the backyard grill. Ah, but there's the rub. The same grilling process that produces the harmful AGEs also unleashes a cavalcade of wondrous, wafting aromas and sensational tastes that make food - wonderful...

However, all tasty considerations aside, the scientists believe the AGEs not only contribute to multiple diseases, they may also shorten life expectancy. A steady diet of AGE rich foods causes a buildup of the toxins in the blood. As we age, we become less capable of eliminating the AGEs from our body, become more prone to developing chronic illnesses and may experience a shorter lifespan.

The scientists recommend steaming, boiling and stewing foods as a healthy alternative. They note the same foods may be consumed, without reducing fat or caloric intake, and healthier results may be achieved by using alternate cooking methods. There is no word on the progress of developing a boiling method that wafts grill-style aromas into the air.

...As the elevator doors slide open, you put your plan into motion. You walk on your tiptoes, extending your height to an impressive 5'9" - you spread your arms wide, curl your hands into fists and snarl. You want George to know you're coming at him in a raging fit of fury - all 129 pounds of you...

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. For tips on healthy cooking techniques, see this from Dr. Andrew Weil.