Thursday, March 23, 2006

Better results with cholesterol-lowering food combo - Yahoo! News

Better results with cholesterol-lowering food combo - Yahoo! News: "Making certain dietary changes, such as consuming cholesterol-lowering foods in combination rather than separately, may be as effective as some prescription drugs for certain patients with high cholesterol, according to new study findings.

'A diet can be much more effective than originally thought, in terms of lowering cholesterol,' Dr. Cyril W. C. Kendall, of the University of Toronto in Canada, told Reuters Health." ..............

Their findings are based on 55 study participants who consumed a diet with high levels of plant sterols, soy protein, viscous fibers (found in oats, barley and eggplant) and almonds.

At 3-month and 12-month follow-up, study participants exhibited an average 14 percent and 13 percent reduction, respectively, in levels of the "bad" LDL-cholesterol, the investigators report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

What's more, over 30 percent of the study participants lowered their LDL-cholesterol by more than 20 percent by the end of the study period, a reduction comparable to that seen among patients taking older formulations of statin drugs, the researchers note.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Diabetes News - a key underlying cause of Insulin Resistance

I haven't found the original link, and this entry has no permalink, so please let me know if the pointer "slips". The issue is how we become pre-diabetic and the relationship to moderate exercise.
Diabetes News: "Despite being young, healthy and lean, all of the test subjects had high levels of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is often referred to as 'pre-diabetes' because it's the first sign that the body is not processing sugar properly." ...........
"And as Shulman says, "Fat inside the muscle cell causes insulin resistance; so the real question becomes, 'Why is the fat building up?'"

One of the goals of the team's research was to figure out exactly what was happening on a cellular level to cause this fat buildup.................

They found that compared to normal volunteers, the insulin-resistant group had much less mitochondrial activity. So it was, in fact, the mitochondria that were to blame for the fat building up inside the cells and not a defect in fat cells.

Shulman says that discovering that reduced mitochondrial activity is to blame is a key step in coming up with treatments and prevention. "I'm very excited about this because, really, if you understand the mechanisms to the disease, this will allow us to develop pharmacologic interventions to correct the disease or ideally prevent it," he says. In an even more recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Shulman's team revealed that the lower mitochondrial activity in these insulin-resistant patients is actually due to the fact that they have fewer mitochondria. As a result, the team is also focusing on identifying the genes that might be responsible for this reduced mitochondria count. Until treatments are available, though, Shulman says there's a lot we can do to keep the risk of diabetes at bay. In another study, his team actually observed a total reversal of insulin resistance as a consequence of — you guessed it — regular exercise. "We've taken the same group of individuals and had them exercise four times a week on a stairmaster, and have totally reversed the insulin resistance in skeletal muscle," he says. "

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Could Alzheimer's be a form of diabetes?

Home: "An intriguing new study from Brown University has linked declining insulin production in the brain to Alzheimer's disease, leading inevitably to the question - could Alzheimer's be a form of diabetes?

'Insulin disappears early and dramatically in Alzheimer's disease,' says senior researcher Suzanne M. de la Monte, a neuropathologist at Rhode Island Hospital and a professor of pathology at Brown University Medical School.

'And many of the unexplained features of Alzheimer's, such as cell death and tangles in the brain, appear to be linked to abnormalities in insulin signaling. This demonstrates that the disease is most likely a neuroendocrine disorder, or another type of diabetes.'"

Friday, March 10, 2006

Nanomedicine's brave new world

Alan H. Goldstein, the author of this article, is sounding a note of caution regarding our wholesale rush towards the smallest "silver bullet" we have seen yet. The writing style requires some perserverence, but it is a thought-provoking take on the situation. Technology | Nanomedicine's brave new world: "n just a few years, doctors will know everyone's genetic identity. This knowledge will be a blessing -- and a curse." .............

"How close are we to cancer-killing nanobots? The NIH Web site talks about nanoshells -- minuscule beads coated with gold. By manipulating the thickness of the layers constituting the nanoshells, scientists will design them to absorb specific wavelengths of light. The most useful nanoshells are those that absorb near-infrared light, which can easily penetrate into the body. Absorption of light by the nanoshells generates a lethal dose of heat. Researchers can already link nanoshells to antibodies that recognize cancer cells. In a "magic bullet" scenario, nanoshells will seek out their cancerous targets. Once they have docked, they will be zapped with near-infrared light. In laboratory cultures, the heat produced by light-absorbing nanoshells killed tumor cells while leaving neighboring cells intact. Experts believe quantum dots, nanopores and other devices may be available for clinical use in five to 15 years. Therapeutic agents are expected to be available within a similar time frame. Devices that integrate detection and therapy could arrive in the clinic in about 15 to 20 years, which means a cure for your Stage III melanoma and other forms of cancer could arrive within your lifetime."

Monday, March 06, 2006

The importance to Heart Health of managing Insulin levels and Insulin Resistance

A segment has been taken from the ABC Health report (available as podcast through iTunes for free) and it reinforces the theme that managing insulin levels is the primary key to reducing risk of heart attack or stroke in overweight people. Note: not managing Blood glucose (although that is vital for other reasons) but managing insulin levels.

The Health Report: 12 December 2005 - Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: "Norman Swan: So what you did is you took 100 women and compared them to 20 women who didn’t have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Helena Teede: Yes, and the main question that we were asking is: is this high cholesterol and these cardiovascular risk factors or heart disease risk factors, are those there because these women are overweight, or is there something about obesity and having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome that makes the heart risk factors and the blood vessel health worse? So we took a large group of overweight women, some of whom had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and some of whom were just overweight but didn’t have the syndrome. And we looked at the difference between the two groups.

Norman Swan: And how did you assess for heart disease?

Helena Teede: What we did was use ultrasound, to look at the health and stiffness of the blood vessels, which predict heart disease in the longer term, because they actually measure the early signs of heart disease developing in the blood vessels.

Norman Swan: Now I’m just looking at the table of results here and just on the testing you did before we come to the heart disease, and it’s quite amazing stuff. Three times the level of insulin. Interestingly, the blood sugar wasn’t that much different. Why was that, with the insulin so high, is the insulin doing the job at that level, is that what’s going on there?

Helena Teede: Yes. Resistance to the hormone insulin is the first stage. As long as the pancreas can keep up with producing that insulin, our sugars stay normal. You need a combination of that resistance and then an eventual inability as the body to keep producing more and more insulin to eventually develop diabetes.

Norman Swan: And their menstrual cycles were three times as long?

Helena Teede: Yes, absolutely. The menstrual cycles in these women often they may only cycle four times a year, sometimes only once or twice, "