Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The immortal berry--or not

Everything causes cancer in rats; everything cures cancer in rats--That used to be the motto of this blog and maybe I'll bring it back. As we have discussed, medical researchers only pretend to know anything about nutrition and part of the problem has to do with science writers. Here is the latest on what will and what will not make you immortal, all reported in the press. If you are confused it is only because you are paying attention--and many science writers aren’t.

  • Antioxidants, show no sign of being beneficial in preventing heart attacks or sudden death in high risk women. This, of course, despite the fact that scientific papers by the scores and scientific articles by the hundreds (and yes, I’ve written a few myself) exclaim how wonderful antioxidants are, especially for heart disease. “Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and limit the damage they can cause," says a paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "Diets high in fruit and vegetable intake, and thus rich in such antioxidants, have been associated with reduced rates of coronary heart disease and stroke. Vitamins C and E and beta carotene are potential mediators of the apparent protective effect of a plant-based diet on cardiovascular disease." Except there is no evidence in this study, which made use of more than 8,000 women over almost 10 years. Nada.
  • Studies showing that vitamin E has no effect on heart disease may have failed because the researchers didn’t test the right dosage, according to a study at Vanderbilt. In fact, the scientists said, no study has yet established what the right dosage is for vitamin E. They found that if they gave very high doses of E, 3200 IUs per day, far more than the minimum recommended dosage, for 16 weeks, they could finally get the vitamin to impressively suppress free radicals. The Duke people found that it required a minimum of 1600 IU per day to make a mark on oxidative stress. None of the published studies used that much.
  • Remember cranberries? A new study shows that it may improve chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. Rutgers and Brown scientists found that cancer cells showed increased efficiency of platinum chemotherapy in patients who were resistant to those drugs. The cells became six times more sensitized to the platinum. The main researcher involved said it was “exciting” to see this--until someone proves it isn’t so and that’s before someone proves it is so again.
  • Since cranberries are red, does it make sense to think the color has something to do with the health benefits. Why of course. Ohio State researchers claim that the rich colors in berriesl, fruits and vegetables, may be powerful colon cancer fighters. At an American Cancer Society meeting, they said anthocyanins, the compound that produces the color, cut the growth of human cancer cells--in rats. Slightly altering the anthocyanin molecules increased the potency. The compound was extracted frrom grapes, radishes, purple corn, chokeberries, bilberries, purple carrots and elderberries.
  • Oh, and grapefruit is now linked to breast cancer.

Are you confused? Maybe science writers need to exercise a bit more discretion in publishing these stories. I can’t account for science journals.

1 comment:

Hearthealth said...

Yeah, I do recall Reader's Digest coming out with an article that said antioxidants in reality dont have much the hyped clout. Kinda sad for me, that.
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