A report from research in Cambridge, England suggests that women who have had a number of miscarriages (three or more before the first successful pregnancy) are 2.5 times more likely to die from heart disease than women without any miscarriages. This study of 130,000 women also found that one miscarriage correlated to about a 50-percent increase in risk. The researchers aren't sure why this relationship exists, but suspect a problem with the blood-clotting mechanism.1
- British Medical Journal, Feb. 22, 2003.
Hormone Replacement Therapy and Heart Disease
A study from Denmark reports a fourfold increase in the incidence of heart disease among diabetic women who take hormone replacement therapy. HRT, often used to treat symptoms of menopause, was once thought by some to help prevent the development of heart disease in postmenopausal women, although that conjecture has recently been discredited. This study looked at statistics from 13,000 nurses, and noted that the risk of heart attack among HRT users is even more alarming: about nine times higher than normal.2
- British Medical Journal, Feb. 22, 2003.
A study from Stanford University concludes that most addictive drugs have a similar action on the brain: They appear to make a specific area more sensitive to glutamate, which raises the production of dopamine. Researchers found that alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, morphine and nicotine all make the ventral tegmental area (VTA) react more to blood levels of glutamate for up to a week after their use. They are hoping this work will lead to some kind of universal treatment for such addictions.3
- Neuron, February 2003.
Fruit for Children
A study involving approximately 4,000 men and women reports an inverse relationship between the amount of fruit consumed as a child and the incidence of certain cancers as an adult. Lung, bowel and breast cancer were all less likely to occur in subjects who ate larger amounts of fruit when they were young. In addition, deaths among these individuals were fewer from all causes in general.4 The researchers were unable to correlate the benefits to intake of individual antioxidant vitamins, such as C, E and beta-carotene. Vegetable intake also did not show a correlation, although the researchers noted that in the 1930s, when this study began, vegetables generally were prepared by boiling, which tends to leech vitamins and minerals.
- Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, February 2003.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Disease
Brigham and Women's Hospital recently reported that women diagnosed with rheumatoid heart disease are twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks. The 20-year study involved 114,000 people, of whom 527 where rheumatoid arthritis patients. In those who had the condition at least 10 years, the risk was three times higher than normal. No correlation was found to stroke risk.5
- Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, February 2003.
A new study from the National Cancer Institute suggests the most accurate mammogram readings come not from radiologists who read the most films, but from those who have the most recent training. Centers that require readings from two radiologists also appeared to fare better in diagnosis.6 This study was relatively small, however, involving only 148 cases, and conflicts with other studies that reached the opposite conclusion. In the United States, mammograms are successful in detecting cancers approximately 75 percent of the time.7
- Journal of the National Cancer Institute, February 2003.
- Associated Press, Feb. 18, 2003.
New Atkins Study
A new federal study is underway to compare the Atkins diet with a more well-accepted USDA high-carb, low-fat diet. Researchers will follow 360 men and women for two years to try to answer weight-loss and health questions about both diets. Several recent studies, perhaps initiated to discredit the late Dr. Robert Atkins' work, have surprised the authors by suggesting he was right. Some of the preliminary findings from these studies suggest that while on the Atkins diet, people:
- lose about twice as much weight;
- seem to lose more weight than they do under a traditional diet, even if they consume more calories;
- improve their HDL:LDL cholesterol ratio;
- decrease their triglycerides; and
- reduce blood pressure and vascular inflammation.
The new study will attempt to further evaluate these findings.8
- Associated Press, Feb. 15, 2003,
A study of the effects of soy in rats is causing some concern about its consumption during pregnancy. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland fed soy products to pregnant rats, then examined their offspring. They found that the male rats' prostates became enlarged and their testes were underdeveloped. At adulthood, they were unable to mate. The rats were fed genistein, a phytoestrogen component of soy, at levels thought to be comparable to what might be consumed by some human cultures.9 Curiously, moderate levels of the compound had a more pronounced effect than a large dose.10
- Reuters, Feb. 12, 2003, reporting on the work of Sabra Klein, et al.
- http://vienna-doctor.com/ENG/Articles_ENG/no_soya_when_ preg-nant.html.
E. Coli Against Cancer
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science11,12 suggests a possible explanation for why colon cancer rates are so much lower in poorer countries. It seems the E. coli bacteria produces a toxin that, in addition to promoting diarrhea, also inhibits cancerous growths. Researchers added the toxin to a dish of rapidly dividing cancer cells and observed a marked growth slowdown. The work was done in response to other research that has correlated endemic rates of diarrhea to an inverse incidence of colorectal cancers.
A report presented at a conference of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease implicates hospital showers and spigots as the source for aspergillis infections that kill up to 15 percent of patients with weakened immune systems.13 The researchers used genetic matching to trace infections taken from patients and autopsies to their originating colony.
- Associated Press, May 12, 2003, reporting on work from Nijmegen University.
A group of experts from Duke University reports that unseen deposits of fat located around the internal organs accumulate faster than anyone thought, particularly in extremely sedentary people. This type of fat is particularly dangerous because it is linked strongly to insulin resistance and heart disease. The good news is that this fat disappears pretty quickly with vigorous exercise. The bad news is the definition of "vigorous": approximately 17 miles of jogging per week.14
- Reuters, May 28, 2003, reporting on the work of Cris Slentz of Duke University.
Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill concludes that teenagers are becoming more obese not because they are eating more, but because they are exercising less. From 1980-2000, teen obesity rose 10 percent, while caloric intake rose only 1 percent. Physical activity, however, dropped 13 percent during that time.15
- Associated Press, reporting on the work of Lisa Sutherland, May 11, 2003.
Brian Sutton, DC
Colorado Springs, Colorado
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