Seeing Red in Cherries May Promote Health Benefits
Researchers at the Ohio State University and University of Michigan suggest that the coloring in cherries and other fruits and vegetables may help slow the growth of colon cancer cells or lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
The pigments found in many fruits and vegetables are known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants found in red and purple fruits and vegetables, especially tart cherries, red cabbage, eggplant and purple corn. And while there may be health benefit from all of these fruits and vegetables, it appears that tart cherries contain a unique combination of up to eight different types of anthocyanins, which belong to a class of plant compounds known as flavonoids.
"Anthocyanins are the next big thing in health," said Dr. Elizabeth Sloan, president of Sloan Trends, Inc. "Lutein and lycopene were the first types of plant compounds or phytonutrients to be added to consumer's lexicon, but now anthocyanins are taking spotlight."
Breath Analysis for Glucose Monitoring Shows Promise
Early results from an experimental breath test in children with type 1 diabetes shows promise. According to a study published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exhaled methyl nitrate levels measured with air-pollution testing techniques in the laboratory paralleled plasma glucose in a small study in children with type 1 diabetes. Pietro R. Galassetti, MD, PhD, of the University of California at Irvine, Orange, California, reported that methyl nitrate levels were significantly elevated during hyperglycemia and fell as normal glucose levels were restored and remained steady.
The investigators' findings suggest diabetes breath analysis has potential, although the low, parts-per-trillion concentrations of exhaled methyl nitrate found in the study may present a challenge for developing point-of-care testing. Regardless, the researchers remain optimistic about its potential. "Attempts to develop alternative, noninvasive monitoring methods [for diabetes] have been pursued for decades and, if successfully developed, are likely to have an immense global impact on diabetes screening, diagnosis, monitoring, and prevention."
For now, the researchers say their very sophisticated equipment is not reproducible in the doctor's office and requires further study to develop a "cost-effective, less bulky, less complicated device." But Dr. Galassetti remains confident that such a device will eventually be available in a doctor's office and "hopefully, even patient handheld devices that can be kept at home."
Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy Has No Effect on Memory
A report in Neurology concludes that hormone replacement therapy had no significant effect on memory or concentration in postmenopausal women. According to Michael J. Gast, MD, PhD, of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a trial of 180 postmenopausal women with memory and concentration complaints who were randomized to hormone therapy for four months uncovered that while they may have had increased sexual desire and thoughts, they demonstrated no difference in their cognition. There was some evidence of a reduction in vasomotor symptoms; the decrease was modest and not statistically significant enough, however, to draw any definite conclusions.
The investigators concluded that their findings showed "near-significant, modest negative effects of combined estrogen and progestin therapy on verbal memory contrasts with previous clinical trials using estrogen alone. This raises the possibility that progestins might modulate the effects of estrogen on verbal memory."
Childhood Use of Statins May Delay Problems Later
Researchers at the University of Amsterdam Academic Medical Centre, The Netherlands, report that early, long-term statin therapy can help prevent arterial damage in familial hypercholesterolemia later in life. And, according the investigators, the earlier therapy begins the better.
The results arose out of a clinical study of children as young as age 8. Statin therapy at a younger age was linked to less carotid intima-media thickening, a marker of atherosclerosis, said Barbara A. Hutten, PhD, of the Academic Medical Centre, and colleagues and reported in Circulation.