Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chocolate Relieves Fatigue for CFS Sufferers

There's some tantalizing news from Hull York Medical School. In a study, researchers found that eating dark chocolate reduced symptoms of fatigue in sufferers of CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as ME.

CFS causes a range of symptoms including a feeling of great fatigue in muscles after physical exertion.

In the study, patients were given a daily dose of either dark chocolate or white chocolate dyed to look like dark chocolate for two months. The researchers then let another month pass before starting the patients on the other type of chocolate.

The results were that those eating dark chocolate reported less fatigue but when switched to the other type of chocolate, their complaints of fatigue increased. Researchers think that the high polyphenol content of dark chocolate may have an effect on levels of serotonin in the brain.

Professor Steve Atkin stated that more research is needed but that there was no harm in eating a small amount of dark chocolate. "If you derive benefit, then it's a no-harm, no-risk situation", he said.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Carbs Not The Dieter's Enemy

There's good news for carb-lovers. According to University of Virginia professor Glenn Gaesser, carbohydrates don't deserve the bad reputation they have among dieters. Eating carbs won't make you fat, not even the occasional doughnut. Gaesser, author of It's the Calories, Not the Carbs states carbs are not the dieter's enemy.

Gaesser has authored an article in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in which he explains that diets high in carbohydrates are almost universally associated with slimmer bodies. He cites studies in the US that indicate that high carb diets are linked to better weight control.

Carbohydrates have been categorized into "good" carbs and "bad" carbs according to their glycemic index, a measure of how much they raise blood sugar. But according to Gaesser, digestion is a complicated process and there is no way to know the glycemic load of a whole meal.

Reducing any part of the diet — carbs or proteins or fats — will result in modest weight loss in the short term, if calorie consumption is reduced, he points out. But for long-term weight maintenance, a high-carb, low-fat diet is still the best bet, he said.

"Bad Carbs" Not the Enemy, U Va. Professor says

Friday, September 28, 2007

Anorexics Show Difference in Sensing Taste

An imaging study using fMRI has shown distinct differences in responses in the region of the brain known as the insula in women with anorexia nervosa and may shed light on the cause of the disorder. The insula is important for recognizing taste and the researchers think that women with anorexia may have difficulty recognizing taste and responding to the pleasure of food.

The study the study led by Angela Wagner, M.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Walter H. Kaye, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Schools of Medicine involved 16 women who had recovered from anorexia nervosa and a control group of 16 women who did not suffer from the disorder. They measured their brains’ reactions to pleasant taste (sucrose) and neutral taste (distilled water.) The findings suggest that women who have recovered from anorexia had significantly reduced response in the insula and related brain regions when compared to the control group. These areas of the brain recognize taste and judge how rewarding that taste is to the person.

“We know that the insula and the connected regions are thought to play an important role in interoceptive information, which determines how the individual senses the physiological condition of the entire body,” said Kaye.

“Interoception has long been thought to be critical for self-awareness because it provides the link between thinking and mood, and the current body state.”

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder characterized by the pursuit of thinness, leading to emaciation and may be lethal in ten percent of cases. Women are nine times more likely to suffer from anorexia than men.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Whether you drink wine, beer or spirits, your risk of breast cancer increases with alcohol intake. The type of alcohol you consume seems to make no difference, it is the quantity consumed.
These are the results of a study of over 70,000 multi-ethnic women and their drinking habits. According to Dr Arthur Klatsky, speaking at the European Cancer Conference in Barcelona, drinking more than 3 alcohol drinks per day amounted to a 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

“A 30% increased risk is not trivial. To put it into context, it is not much different from the increased risk associated with women taking oestrogenic hormones. Incidentally, in this same study we have found that smoking a pack of cigarettes or more per day is related to a similar (30%) increased risk of breast cancer.”

Dr Klatsky is adjunct investigator in the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland.

To read the full report, go here

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Acetaminophen and Caffeine Combined Cause Liver Damage

A new report from the researchers at the University of Washington indicates that combining acetaminophen with caffeine could cause liver damage.

Acetaminophen has been shown to cause liver damage in cases of overdose and it has long been known that combining acetaminophen with alcohol can cause liver damage, but the new study implicates caffeine as another substance that should not be taken at the same time as acetaminophen.

Acetominophen products often have caffeine added because it enhances the effects of the pain-killer. Researchers say the doses used in the experiment were higher than a human would normally consume but they do not have data on what doses would be harmful to humans. The experiments involved in the research were carried out on genetically modified E. coli bacteria and rats.

Dr. Sid Nelson, Team Leader:
“People should be informed about this potentially harmful interaction,” Nelson says. “The bottom line is that you don’t have to stop taking acetaminophen or stop taking caffeine products, but you do need to monitor your intake more carefully when taking them together, especially if you drink alcohol.”

In the UK, there are already restrictions on the amount of tablets of acetaminophen that consumers can buy over the counter because of the possibility of liver damage.

American Chemical Society

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lack of Sleep Doubles Risk of Death

A new study from the University of Warwick and University College London indicates that too little sleep can increase your risk of death from all causes but can double the risk of death from specifically cardiovasular-related problems.

Conversely, the study also concluded that sleeping too much, more than 8 hours per night on a regular basis, also increased mortality risk.

“Short sleep has been shown to be a risk factor for weight gain, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes sometimes leading to mortality but in contrast to the short sleep-mortality association it appears that no potential mechanisms by which long sleep could be associated with increased mortality have yet been investigated. Some candidate causes for this include depression, low socioeconomic status and cancer-related fatigue.” Francesco Cappucio, University of Warwick

The researchers concluded that a sleep cycle of 7 hours per night is optimal in terms of prevention.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Two Thirds of Women Unaware of HRT Study Findings

The Womens Health Initiative in 2002 was a long-term study of postmenopausal women and hormone replacement therapy. HRT was commonly prescribed for menopausal women, based on studies that showed it might protect women against heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia. However, data from the study showed that women taking HRT had higher rates of breast cancer, heart attack, blood clots and stroke and the study was halted in 2004. Researchers concluded that the risks of HRT well outweighed the benefits.

However, two years after the WHI study on the health risks and potential dangers of hormone replacement therapy, less than one-third of all women were aware of the study. These are the findings of researchers at Stanford University.

Only 29 percent of women were aware of the study. Women surveyed were able to correctly identify possible risks and benefits of hormone therapy only 40 percent of the time.

Senior author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said the new study points out that the medical profession hasn’t yet figured out an effective way of communicating crucial health information to patients.

“This study suggests that we have a flawed mechanism for getting information down to the level of the population,” Stafford said. “Although we looked specifically at menopause and hormone therapy, the findings have consequences for many other medical issues.”

Stafford found that of the women who were aware of the WHI study, 36% had discussed the issue of HRT with their physicians.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

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