According to a Swedish medical study, people who drink six or more cups of coffee a day may be reducing their risk of colon cancer.
Garlic and Colon Cancer
Pennsylvania State University researchers used a garlic extract known as DADS to shrink human colon cancer tumors by 60 percent. The cells had been implanted in mice and the mice were fed the compound three times a week for three weeks. Epidemiological evidence also associates garlic consumption with a lowered risk of colon cancer.2
Teenagers Not Ready for Pregnancy
A new study at the University of Utah concludes that most premature births to teenager mothers are not due to poverty and poor prenatal care as is commonly believed, but are more a result of the mother's youth. Middle-class teenagers were nearly twice as likely to deliver prematurely as older women.3 The reason for this is not understood, though researchers speculate that teenage girls require more nutrients and energy because their bodies are still growing, thus creating a competition between the baby and mother.
About 13 percent of all births in the United States are to teenage mothers.
Chewing Tobacco Addictions
New research published in the journal Tobacco Control4 documents the contention that various brands of smokeless tobacco release nicotine at different rates and that users start with the milder brands and gradually change to more potent forms as their addiction grows. The study uses acidity levels as an indicator of potency. Higher acidity slows the release of nicotine. Researchers found that when most teenagers started using chewing tobacco they preferred the brand with the highest acidity, which releases nicotine very slowly. After four years of use, about one third of the users had switched to the lowest acidity brand, which releases nicotine 11 times faster.
Documents submitted to Congress last fall revealed a tobacco company's marketing plan to introduce younger users to the slow release nicotine snuff, and then slowly graduate them to the high release nicotine product.5
C-Phones Make Pacemakers Skip Beats
Two separate studies6 indicate that digital cellular phones may disrupt cardiac pacemakers under certain conditions. Researchers at the Mayo clinic in Rochester and Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami say that when the phone antenna is placed near the pacemaker (for example, when carrying the phone in a suit jacket pocket), the pacemaker rhythm can change when the phone rings. This can cause skipped beats or temporary changes in the heart rate.
The disruption did not occur when researchers tested the older analog type of cellular phones. Studies in Europe have noted similar findings.
Measles Vaccine and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
A preliminary study of the effects of the measles vaccine in London has found that subjects who were vaccinated were more than three times as likely to develop chronic inflammatory bowel disease compared to unvaccinated controls.7 Dr. Nicholas Thompson of the Royal Free Hospital in London said, "This study provides further evidence that the measles virus plays a role in the etiology of inflammatory bowel disease."8 The vaccine contains a live, "weakened" form of the virus.
Other medical experts immediately criticized the publication of these early results since parents may be too frightened at the prospect of severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and blood loss to have their children inoculated.
Virus Becomes More Dangerous in Absence of Selenium
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have confirmed that a virus associated with Keshan disease, a heart condition, mutates into a more dangerous form when levels of selenium are low.9 A viral immunologist at the university suggests that the findings may explain how other virus-associated diseases such as influenza and hepatitis evolve into deadlier forms. Basically, insufficient nutritional resources prevent the patient from destroying the virus in the early stages of infection, allowing a variety of permutations in successive generations of the virus. Natural selection then favors the more vicious forms.
Keshan disease used to be prevalent in some areas of China, but has been eradicated through the use of selenium supplementation.
Losing Weight Also Loses Cholesterol
In a Baylor College of Medicine study, weight loss has been tied to lower cholesterol levels. Subjects who lost five pounds in 30 days and kept it off for six months showed decreased cholesterol readings of nearly 10 percent. Persons on the same type of diet, without the weight loss, experienced not even half that improvement.10
High-Definition MRI System Developed
Toshiba Corporation has come up with a new method of magnetic resonance imaging that produces a near 3-D image and differentiates between the cerebral cortex and nearby blood vessels. The higher resolution is due to Toshiba's double-echo technique, which compares two images taken at slightly different time frames. This allows the software to identify blood vessels, since blood flow increases during exposure to high magnetic fields.11
Drug Studies Result in "Overly Optimistic Success Rate"
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine12 finds that in real life drug effectiveness and side effects differ significantly from those suggested by formal clinical studies done when initially evaluating a product. The study, performed on over 2,000 patients in Massachusetts, found that adverse side effects and ineffectiveness are "far more common"13 than the clinical trials indicate. As a result, practicing physicians' judgment is distorted, according to Susan Andrade of the Harvard School of Public Health.
A big reason for the unreliability is that researchers use very specific criteria to select subjects for a clinical trial. Patients with a number of health problems or who vary significantly from certain norms are often excluded. Therefore, the final subjects are most likely to be ideal candidates for the procedure, unlike most patients found in general practice.
When researchers looked at real patients on one treatment regimen, they found that 46 percent dropped out because of side effects or ineffectiveness of the medication. The clinical trials for that preparation showed a dropout rate of only four percent.
Low Fat Diets May Promote Weight Gain
According to an Ohio State University Nutritionist, current emphasis on cutting fat from the diet may actually be causing people to gain more weight. John Allred of OSU's Department of Food Science and Technology, notes that from 1983 to 1990 statistics indicate that fat as a percentage of diet had decreased. However, at the same time total calories consumed daily increased significantly.
Besides the conjecture that people don't worry about quantities if they're eating low fat foods, Allred notes that fat promotes a feeling of satiety that helps discourage excessive food consumption. Also, since carbohydrates are normally substituted for fats, the resulting extra insulin released eventually leads, through a series of metabolic reactions, to more fat deposition.14
- Reuter, April 19, 1995.
- United Press International, "Health Notes" April 20, 1995.
- New England Journal of Medicine.
- Tobacco Control, April 26, 1995.
- Associated Press, April 26, 1995.
- Findings were scheduled for presentation at a meeting of the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology in Boston this past May.
- The Lancet, April 29, 1995.
- Associated Press quote, April 27, 1995.
- Nature Medicine, May 1, 1995.
- United Press International, "Health Notes" April 20, 1995.
- Med/Technotes from Japan, United Press April 26, 1995.
- New England Journal of Medicine, April 28, 1995
- Reuters report, April 27, 1995
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association, April 1995.
Brian Sutton, DC
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