Friday, February 25, 2005

Carotenoids May Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Reuters Health Information 2005. © 2005 Reuters Ltd.
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By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Feb 24 - Dietary lycopene and other carotenoids may be protective against prostate cancer, Australian and Chinese researchers report in the March 1st issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

This is the first time such findings have been reported in an Asian population, investigator Dr. Andy H. Lee told Reuters Health. The findings confirm those of other studies that have identified lycopene as a protective agent against some types of cancers.

Dr. Lee, of Curtin University of Technology, Perth, and colleagues note that there is a lack of evidence in Asian countries on the possible benefits of dietary carotenoids. Among reasons is the low incidence of prostate cancer.

To investigate further, the researchers conducted a case-control study in southeast China. Involved were 130 patients with histologically confirmed adenocarcinoma of the prostate, and 274 controls. The controls were hospital inpatients without prostate cancer or malignant diseases.

The subjects were interviewed about food consumption and a variety of other matters. After adjustment for factors including, age, total fat and caloric intake as well as a family history of prostate cancer, diet appeared to have an influence.

The risk of prostate cancer declined with increasing consumption of lycopene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and other carotenoids. Consumption of foods including tomatoes, spinach and citrus fruits was also inversely associated with cancer risk.

In particular, compared to those with the lowest intake of lycopene, those with the highest had an odds ratio for prostate cancer of 0.18. Corresponding odds ratios were 0.43 for alpha-carotene, 0.34 for beta-carotene, 0.15 for beta-cryptoxanthin and 0.02 for lutein and zeaxanthine.

The researchers call for further studies to establish whether these benefits are associated with whole foods or pure carotenoids. However, they conclude that "carotenoids in vegetables and fruits may be inversely related to prostate carcinogenesis among Chinese men."

Int J Cancer 2005;113:1010-1014.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Herbal Remedy as Good as Drug for Depression: Study

LONDON (Reuters) - An extract of the herbal remedy St. John's wort is as effective as a commonly prescribed drug for people with moderate-to-severe depression, researchers reported this week Friday.

They compared the extract called WS 5570, which is made by the German company Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals, and the antidepressant paroxetine sold by GlaxoSmithKline Plc under the brand name Paxil or Seroxat.

St. John's wort is also known as hypericum perforatum. ...................................

Monday, February 14, 2005

St. John's Wort as Effective as Paroxetine for Major Depression

Feb 10 - Extract of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort) is at least as effective as paroxetine (Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline) for the treatment of moderate to severe major depression, while being better tolerated, Germany investigators report in the British Medical Journal, published online on February 10.

Dr. Meinhard Kieser, at Dr Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals in Karlsruhe, and his associates enrolled outpatients in 21 clinics. All scored 22 points or higher on the 17-item Hamilton depression scale. A total of 125 were randomly assigned to hypericum extract WS 5570 300 mg t.i.d. and 126 to paroxetine 20 mg q.d. Doses were doubled after 2 weeks if depression score had not improved by at least 20%.

After 42 days, Hamilton depression scores declined by 14.4 points in the hypericum group and 11.4 points in the paroxetine group (corresponding to decreases of 57% and 45%, respectively), a difference that the authors call "clinically relevant."

Responder rates were 70% and 60%, respectively, and remission rates were 50% and 35%. The authors observed differences favoring hypericum in secondary measures, including Montgomery-Asperg depression rating scale, Beck depression inventory and clinical global impressions.

During the trial, there were 172 adverse events reported in 55% of those in the hypericum group, and 269 reported by 76% in the paroxetine group.

"Our results support the use of hypericum extract WS 5570 as an alternative to standard antidepressants in moderate to severe depression, especially as it is well tolerated," Dr. Kieser's group concludes.

BMJ 2005.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Red wine boosts good cholesterol

Now we all have the perfect excuse to crack open a bottle of red wine after a long hard day
- a glass of red wine increases good cholesterol and lowers levels of a blood-clotting chemical.

New research shows that a daily glass of red wine for four weeks increases HDL or good cholesterol by up to 16 per cent, and reduces the amount of the clotting compound fibrinogen by up to 15 per cent.

And the research shows that it's the alcohol in the wine that provides the beneficial effects. No similar effects were found among people taking the same amount of red grape extract.

Although red wine has been linked to health benefits, especially for the heart, it's not been known how the effects are achieved. Antioxidants and other non-alcoholic compounds have been suggested, but the new research points to alcohol itself.

In the research at the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen, men and women aged 30 to 74, were given either 300ml of red wine a day, or red grape extract or water for a month, after which their cholesterol and fibrinogen levels were measured.

The levels of good cholesterol went up by between 11 and 16 per cent in the wine drinkers, and the amount of fibrinogen went down by eight to 15 per cent.

HDL cholesterol is considered good because a high level of it seems to protect against heart problemspossibly because it carries cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver. Fibrinogen is a bloodclotting agent and high levels are associated with an increased risk of heart problems.

"Moderate red wine consumption for four weeks is associated with desirable changes in HDL and fibrinogen compared with drinking water with or without red grape extract.

"The impact of wine on the cardiovascular risk factors thus seems primarily explained by an alcoholic effect," say the researchers.

Other research has shown that while red wine may be protective, other forms of alcohol are not. That, say the researchers, may be explained by other lifestyle differences between people who favour different kinds of drink.

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