Chemicals in curry and onions may help prevent colon cancer

30 11 2006

TurmericA pill combining chemicals found in turmeric, a spice used in curries, and onions reduces both the size and number of precancerous lesions in the human intestinal tract.

Familial adenomatous polyposis is a disorder that runs in families and is characterized by the development of hundreds of colorectal adenomas (polyps) and eventual colon cancer. Recently, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been used to treat some patients with this condition, but these compounds often produce significant side effects, including gastrointestinal ulcerations and bleeding.

In the study, published in the journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, five patients with an inherited form of precancerous polyps in the lower bowel known as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) were treated with regular doses of curcumin (the chemical found in turmeric) and quercetin, an antioxidant in onions, over an average of six months. The average number of polyps dropped 60.4 percent, and the average size dropped by 50.9 percent.

“This study showed for the first time that curcumin treatment was efficacious in decreasing the number of polyps in patients with FAP, similarly to what has been seen with the use of synthetic NSAID agents, but with minimal side effects. The amount of quercetin we administered was similar to what many people consume daily; however, the amount of curcumin is many times what a person might ingest in a typical diet, since turmeric only contains on average 3 percent to 5 percent curcumin by weight,” said one of the researchers. Because of this, he cautions that simply consuming curry and onions may not have the same effect as was produced in this study.

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Time to protect patients from exploitation by alternative medicines industry

27 11 2006

That’s what Dr. Jonathan Waxman says in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal. Waxman is a professor of oncology in the Imperial College of London.
He says that it is estimated that up to 80% of all patients with cancer take a complementary treatment or follow a dietary programme to help treat their cancer, yet the rationale for the use of many of these approaches is obtuse.

The reason that these products are accessible to patients is that they are not subject to the testing of pharmaceuticals because they are classified as food supplements. Waxman believes that patients take alternative mediciness because the complementary therapists offer something that doctors cannot offer – hope. “If you eat this, take that, avoid this, and really believe this then we can promise you sincerely that you will be cured. And if the patient is not cured, it is the patient who has failed, not the alternative therapy. The patient has let down the alternative practitioner and disappointed his family who have encouraged his “treatment”.”

“As well as the complementary medicines they take, many patients will have changed their diets in order to cure their cancers”, says the author. “But although there is a strong dietary basis to the development of cancer, once cancer has been diagnosed no change in diet will lead to any improvement in cancer outcomes.”

“It’s time for legislation to focus on a particularly vulnerable section of our society and do something to limit the exploitation of our patients,” he says. Why not subject the alternative medicines industry to the level of scrutiny that defines pharmaceuticals. Reclassify these agents as drugs – for this is after all how they are marketed – and protect our patients from vile and cynical exploitation whose intellectual basis, at best, might be viewed as delusional”.

I couldn’t agree more with this words.

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A must see: An inconvenient truth

19 11 2006

This afternoon I went to see Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. It really shocked me, not because I wasn’t aware of the global warming problem, but because it is a very important one.

I liked it because it tries to reach all audiences. The facts are very well explained, in an easy way, so everyone can understand the problem. But, they are also supported by real scientific knowledge. I was aware of the debate between those who support the global warming movement, and those who think is just a theory and not a real fact. So, I was doubtful. In the movie is explicitly explained that none a single article published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal is against global warming. But 57% of mainstream (non-scientific) magazines have mentioned that global warming is just a theory. So, it seems that those who control those media groups are spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt).

Please, go and watch this movie, everyone should do it. For more information check their website.

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Happy people are healthier

15 11 2006

As if we needed to be told that, at least now there seems to be scientific proof. A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine has shown that happiness and other positive emotions play an even more important role in health than previously thought.

It seems that people who are happy, lively, calm or exhibit other positive emotions are less likely to become ill when they are exposed to a cold virus than those who report few of these emotions. In that study, the researchers found that when they do come down with a cold, happy people report fewer symptoms than would be expected from objective measures of their illness. In contrast, reporting more negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and anger was not associated with catching colds. That study, however, left open the possibility that the greater resistance to infectious illness among happier people may not have been due to happiness, but rather to other characteristics that are often associated with reporting positive emotions such as optimism, extraversion, feelings of purpose in life and self-esteem.

You can read the abstract of the study here, there’s also free access to the whole article (no subscription needed).

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Microwave pre-cooking of French fries reduces cancer chemicals

8 11 2006

french friesSome time ago there was a big coverage in the media about french fries (and other foods high in carbs) and a cancer compound called acrylamide. Basically, acrylamide forms during processes such as frying, baking and roasting where high-temperature and low-moisture conditions exist.

It seems that the discovery led to much research being done to investigate the benefits of alternative cooking methods. Now, a team of researcher from Turkey has shown that microwaving your French fries before you fry them reduces the levels of the cancer-causing substance.

When the potato strips were subjected to frying after a microwave pre-cooking step, acrylamide content in the whole potato strip was reduced by 36%, 41% and 60% for frying at 150, 170 and 190oC respectively.

The findings have been published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, read the abstract here.

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