Thursday, October 4, 2007

Alcohol Increases Your Risk of Getting Breast Cancer

Red wine is good for you, right? – Buzzz. - Not when it comes to breast cancer. According to a study involving 70,033 multi-ethnic women, anything that contains alcohol increases your risk for breast cancer.

How much of a risk are we talking about? Compared to women who drank less than one alcoholic beverage a day, those drinking one or two had a 10% increased risk. Those drinking three of more per day had an increased risk of 30%.

This 30% risk is similar to the increase in risk which results from smoking a pack or more of cigarettes per day.

The statistical risk of using Hormone Replacement (HR) is not universally agreed upon. One study reported an increased risk of 1 chance in 60 and another an increase of 1 chance in 1000 of developing breast cancer from use of conjugated progesterone/estrogenic hormones or plain estrogen.

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on the effects of the hormone therapies. In the meanwhile, drug companies are rushing to supply us with drugs to reduce development of osteoporosis, weight gain, circulatory disorders and hot flashes.

The information on the alcohol effects was presented by Dr. Arthur Klatsky of the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, USA at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) in Barcelona.

For further information on how alcohol affects the development of breast cancer, go to - Wine, women and... spirits, beer and breast cancer risk

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Roasted Corn in Coffee

Dr. Gulab Jham and his associates at the USDA have developed a method of detecting adulteration of ground coffee with roasted corn by measuring its Vitamin E content. Based on his detection method, one popular brand of Brazilian coffee was found to contain about nine percent corn.

Consumers are being cheated by this substitution as coffee beans are much more expensive than corn.

This article, “Gamma-Tocopherol as a Marker of Brazilian Coffee (Coffea arabica L.) Adulteration by Corn” can be found in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry located on line at < >.

Now wouldn’t it be a kick in the head if it were the Vitamin E in coffee that was responsible for the recently touted health effects of coffee?

Lowering Blood Sugar Level While Reducing Hunger

According to new research, if you moderate sugars and consume low Glycemic Index (GI) foods, your blood sugar level will be improved. If you eat such foods for both breakfast and supper, the effect continues for the entire 24 hour period. More information can be found at < - Right breakfast bread keeps blood sugar in check all day>.

Glucose has a Glycemic Index of 100. Low glycemic foods have GIs around half of that of glucose. Some examples are whole/cracked grains and most fruits and vegetables. Notable exceptions are potatoes and some types of rice. A good source of information for Glycemic Indexes is .

Because these foods are not quickly and easily digestible, they pass from the upper part of the digestive tract where food breakdown and absorption generally occur, to the colon where friendly bacteria continue this processing. Some of the short-chained fatty acid byproducts can be absorbed into the blood stream. These can reduce inflammation and risk of diabetic conditions. As a bonus dividend, they also moderate hunger.

According to Wikipedia (Vinegar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) consuming vinegar as part of a meal will lower the GI of foods.

May all your sandwiches be on dark bread served with an extra slice of dill pickle.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Making Fresh Vegetables and Fruits Safe

USDA scientists spoke on Monday at the ongoing meetings of the Society for General Microbiology’s 161st Meeting at the University of Edinburgh, UK about safety in harvesting, processing and marketing of fresh produce. They said that there was no absolute way to assure safety in these procedures despite use of harvesting mowers for some products, use of water flumes for processing, triple washing, and packaging in a modified atmosphere.

Prior to the recent fresh spinach contamination problem, I read about a cheap and simple way of disinfecting fresh vegetables.

You put hydrogen peroxide in one spray bottle and a solution of water and vinegar (I use 1 part cider vinegar to 2 parts water.) in another. Spray the vegetables with one, wait a few minutes and spray with the other. It doesn’t matter which solution you use first. If you have clean water, you can rinse with it. But that’s not necessary.

As a bonus, when I used this with grapes and strawberries, they seemed to keep longer in the refrigerator.

If you wish to read the summary for the latest article on fresh produce contamination, you can go to – Lettuce, leafy greens and E. coli

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Diabetics: Many of Your Worst Problems Are Due to Vitamin B1 Deficiency

This article may sound to you like Elisha's directive to Naaman sounded to him. "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times..." (2 Kings 5: 1 - 15) At first Naaman refused this easy cure for his leprosy as being too simple.

This information on Diabetes sounds almost too simple to me, but the medical literature (not the popular stuff out there) says researchers have "shown conclusively that diabetic patients are thiamine deficient in blood plasma". Please go to the source articles and even print them out for your doctor. It is hot off the press and I would really be surprised if very many doctors have seen it yet.

The summary article is at the following URL:

The article, "High prevalence of low plasma thiamine concentration in diabetes linked to a marker of vascular disease", was published on August 4, 2004 in the journal, Diabetologia.

Many of the complications of diabetics are those related to blood vessels not functioning correctly. This can give rise to

Damage to the retina of the eye which can lead to vision problems.
Peripheral neuropathy or pain in the arms and legs due to nerve damage.
Damage to the heart due to damaged blood vessels.
Inflammation to blood vessel walls.
High blood pressure.
Kidney damage which can lead to the need for dialysis.

The cause for these complications? Loss of thiamine (Vitamin B1) from the body. This is due not to lack of thiamine in the diet, but the loss of it by way of the kidneys.

Doctors typically test for levels of thiamine by measuring the activity of transketolase. This can check out as being normal when the level in either Diabetes I or Diabetes II will actually be only a quarter of the level needed.

Please, please, please check with your medical specialist before any more damage is done!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Colon and Breast Cancer: Vitamin D3 is Deterrent

Adequate levels of Vitamin D3 should reduce breast and colorectal cancer worldwide rates by 600,000 cases per year, according to University of California, San Diego studies. The researchers showed an inverse relationship between levels of serum vitamin D3 and numbers of individual with these cancers.

In order to obtain an adequate level of D3, you would need approximately fifteen minutes in the sun and an intake of 2000 IU of D3 per day. If you have more sun exposure, there is less need for the nutritional or pill form of this vitamin. Both the pigmentation of your skin and the quality of sunlight make a difference in your needs.

For a more detailed summary of this study, go to - Study shines more light on benefit of vitamin D in fighting cancer

Obesity in Postmenopausal Women

The American Chemical Society has released a bulletin, “Revealing Estrogen's Secret Role in Obesity”. The paper was presented on August 20, 2007 by Dr. Deborah J. Clegg, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati, Academic Health Center.

Through the use of a technique using RNA interference, the ventromedial nuclei of the hypothalamus of rodents’ brains were altered so that the estrogen receptors would not be affected by circulating estrogen. Compared to unaltered animals, the experimentals quickly gained abdominal fat and lost some glycemic control, even though they had the same intake of calories.

This study increased evidence that lack of estrogen leads to weight gain in postmenopausal women.

This photograph, Courtesy of Min Liu, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, shows two almost identical appearing rats except for differing weights. Both mice had their ovaries removed. Only the slim one received replacement estrogen. The second one appears to have almost twice the girth of the first.

Human studies of this type are not possible, but inferences are that lack of estrogen may lead to weight gain in postmenopausal women who are not on a system of hormone replacement.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Astroglia Can Act as Stem Cells for Other Neurons in the Brain

The most numerous cells in the brain are supporting cells named astroglia. Dr. Benedikt Berninger and colleagues from Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany have now been able to show how these astroglia can act as stem cells for functional nerve cells of the brain.

The identification of the chemical pathways necessary for this change could lead to help for those with brain injuries or diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Keep tuned for the next exciting chapter!

A larger summary of this article can be found at - Milestone in the regeneration of brain cells: Supportive cells generate new nerve cells

Pectin: Lowers cholesterol and glucose levels and kills lung, colon and prostate cancers

This latest study which added prostate cancer cells to the list of cancers killed by pectin has at this point, only been studied in the laboratory and has not yet been tested in vivo (in living animals).

Pectin is a fiber which is found in fruits and vegetables and is on the grocery shelf for you to use to help jams and jellies to jell. Some fruits, such as apples, may have enough natural pectin so that you can make apple jelly without adding a packaged variety, such as the liquid Certo or the powdered Sure-Jell.

This gives new meaning to the saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

This latest research on the effects of pectin on prostate cancer cells was published in the journal, Glycobiology. The researchers, headed by Debra Mohnen, were from the University of GA and the VA Medical center in Augusta, GA.

A longer summary of this article can be found at

Tel Aviv University Professor Reports on New Treatment for Alzheimer’s at Meetings of the American Society for Microbiology.

Friends, it makes good sense. Why didn’t I put the information together myself?

What have we known about Alzheimer’s before this?
An early symptom is loss of the sense of smell.
Antibodies can treat the disease.
Some antibodies as well as many other proteins are too large to penetrate the blood/brain barrier.
Bacteriophages are viruses known to attack bacteria and not human cells.
Viruses can be genetically modified.

So why should we be surprised when Prof. Beka Solomon of Tel Aviv University either comes up with a phage that can dissolve amyloid plaque, or maybe the idea of genetically modifying one to carry something probably like the active site of an antibody which can latch onto and cause the destruction of the brain plaques of Alzheimer’s? And her approach is through the nose which is attached to nerves of the olfactory bulb of the brain where the sense of smell abides.

Brilliant!! And even better, it works!

This was done on mice. (They have all the luck!) The mice which had showed signs of Alzheimer’s regained their sense of smell, had better memory and at the end of one year of treatment, had 80% fewer amyloid plaques than the controls. (Hmm. How did they find that out? Ulps! Guess the mice weren’t so lucky after all.)

I’m about ready to get in line! And certainly would like to be at the head of a line to congratulate and thank Dr. Solomon for her awesome work.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fruits and Vegetables Containing Anthocyanins (purple and red pigments) Slow the Growth of Colon Cancers

This study was conducted by Dr. Monica Giusti and associates at Ohio State University and reported in a paper given by her at the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston on August 19, 2007.

Fruits and vegetable anthocyanins were extracted from such fruits and vegetables as purple corn, chokeberries, bilberries, purple carrots, elderberries, grapes and radishes. The first three of the list showed the greatest potency and the least potent of this selection was that of radishes.

Dr. Giusti suggests that making some small changes in the chemical structures of these pigments could improve these results. She is a proponent of using such natural food coloring agents by the food industry.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hyperthyroidism: Cats Are Canaries for PBDE Exposure

A study showing a possible link of hyperthyroidism in cats (FH) to polybromated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) was released by the American Chemical Society on August 15, 2007. Some of the sources for contamination by this chemical are from fire retardants used in fabrics such as those on mattresses, carpets and furniture. Canned cat foods are another source.

I presume, though it was not stated, that the route of it into the cat food is mainly from fish, as other information has shown that fish off the coast of CA have higher than average levels of PBDEs. Other animals also have this chemical, though not at comparable levels.

Humans are also being exposed to some of these same sources for PBDEs. Some well known examples are former President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush, who developed this disorder. Their dog, Millie, also was affected.

And as the article stated, “…hyperthyroid cats could serve as modern-day versions of the canaries in the cage that alerted coal miners to poisonous gas.”

Dr. Janice A. Dye and colleagues from Indiana University and the University of Georgia conducted this research.

The article can be found at

Monday, August 13, 2007

A New Way to Inherit Diabetes 2

A study by Pravenec, et al has shown that there can be a variation in mitochondrial genes which codes for metabolic changes resulting in Diabetes 2. Virtually always, you receive your mitochondria only from you mother. Thus, if your mother has the mitochondrial gene for Diabetes 2, you will inherit the tendency to have it. This means that in at least some cases, you may inherit the tendency to develop Diabetes 2 from your mother – not your father.

Please note that this new information does not indicate that there are no nuclear genes that code for Diabetes 2, but that there is a separate genetic component for inheriting this, and other disorders.

This article was released on August 10, 2007 by the online journal, Genome Research (, a division of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

A fuller summary of this study can be found at < - Scientists show that mitochondrial DNA variants are linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes>.

My thought on this matter; I need to follow my doctor’s advice: increase my exercise and keep my weight under control. Not the easiest advice to follow, is it? But it decreases the likelihood of getting Diabetes 2 as well as other degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis and Alzheimer’s.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Nile Tilapia Reduce Malaria Vectors by Over 94 Percent

By stocking abandoned fish ponds in western Kenya with Nile tilapia fish (Oreochromis niloticus) the Anopheles mosquito larvae (main carriers of malaria) in those ponds were reduced by upwards of 94%. In addition to the reduced mosquito population, these fish provide an important protein source for the endemic people.

Though malaria is not a widespread threat in the United States, there are some of us who nevertheless are not fond of mosquito bites. One way of reducing mosquito larvae would be to stock ponds with minnows such as Gambusia. If interested, you should be able to check your computer search engine to locate a stock near you.

The reference for the article on the Kenyan fish ponds stocked with tilapia fish can be found after August 8, 2007 in BMC Public Health, an online public access journal.

A fuller summary of the article can be found at .

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Intact DNA in Dieing Cells Leads to Autoimmune Disorder, Lupus

A mutation in a gene discovered in 1998 by Dr. Fred Perrino at Wake Forest University, has now been characterized as a cause of the serious autoimmune disorder, systemic lupus erythematosus.

This gene, called TREX1, forms the pattern for a protein, called TREX1 protein, which is involved in the disassembly of DNA in dieing cells. If a mutation in this gene causes it to form an incorrect TREX1 protein unable to degrade the DNA, the immune system of the body treats this DNA as foreign to itself and makes antibodies which attack it and also other undamaged cells in its own body.

Having the gene and its protein characterized will enable researchers to search more effectively for a treatment for this disorder.

A fuller summary of this information can be found at - Research links genetic mutations to lupus

You can find the article in: Nature Genetics. Current issue.
Another article with additional data is found in: Journal of Biological Chemistry. April 2007 issue

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Reversing Heart Failure

Stiffening of the wall of the heart (fibrosis) can cause damage to its pumping ability and may lead to heart failure as the heart becomes unable to supply enough blood to the tissues of the body.

A team of scientists from Harvard Medical School and the Division of Matrix Biology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has completed a study in genetically modified mice, where an ongoing process in fibrosis of their hearts was not only halted, but was reversed so that their hearts could better pump blood. The miracle agent was a bone morphogenic molecule known as rhBMP7.

These researchers have halted fibrosis in several other organs such as the kidneys, lungs and livers by this same pathway, but this research confirms its usefulness in cases of heart failure.

This study was published on July 29, 2007 in the Advance Online Publication of Nature Medicine.

A more detailed summary can be found at – Study helps explain origins of cardiac fibrosis in patients with heart disease

Restoration of Vision to Rats with Glaucoma

There are estimated to be three million people in the United States with glaucoma. Without consistent good treatment, many of these people will become blind.

A research team at Iowa State University led by Dr. Sinisa Grozdanic has successfully completed a study of a treatment for glaucoma in rats.

Bone marrow stem cells from these rats had been treated so that they produced nerve protective proteins. When these stem cells were injected into the rats' eyes they continued to make this healing protein, vastly improved vision and prevented further deterioration.

The team of researchers plans to begin a similar study next year on dogs suffering from glaucoma. If successful, it will be followed by human clinical trials.

A more detailed summary of this article can be found at: – New treatment for glaucoma shows promise in laboratory, say Iowa State researchers

This work was originally presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Conference.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Comparison of Oral Diabetic Drugs

Of the ten oral diabetic drugs compared in this John Hopkins study, metformin (Glucophage, Riomet or Fortamet) was the over all winner in almost all areas except the digestive category. However for those who suffer from kidney or heart problems this drug (metformin) is contraindicated.

This study is in the July 16th on line edition of the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.
A summary of this study can be found at Eureka Alert at:

Some of the areas showing a favorable comparison were:
Ability to lower blood glucose
Less likely to cause weight gain
Ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol)
Cost (some of the other drugs were as much as 4 times more expensive.)

Thiazolidimediones did show an advantage over metformin in causing a small increase in the good cholesterol (HDL) and also in its ability to keep the blood level from getting too low.

Diabetic Mice Cured of Diabetes I by Insulin in Bioengineered Tobacco Leaves

Professor Henry Daniell, who previously showed that anthrax vaccine can be grown in tobacco plants, has now produced insulin in tobacco plants. He made capsules of these powdered leaves, gave the powdered cells to five week old mice for eight weeks and essentially cured the mice of diabetes.

He plans to bioengineer lettuce to contain insulin and then dry and powder the leaves, put them in capsules and feed them to humans. This packaging should delay digestion or denaturation of the contents until the contents are broken down and released by bacteria in the intestines. This insulin should be picked up by the blood stream.

It needs to be said that this would probably need to be administered to infants or very young children who would be inoculated by the insulin. This should change their immune systems so that there would be no attack on their own insulin producing cells, thus preventing Diabetes I.

Professor Daniell is the University of Central Florida, Trustee Chair in Life Sciences.

A more detailed summary of this information can be found at - Insulin grown in plants relieves diabetes in mice; UCF study holds promise for humans

The original article is printed in the July issue of Plant Biotechnology Journal.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Improving Memory

According to the summary of an article from the July 25 edition of Cognition, the use of gestures as part of study techniques, dramatically improves recall of information or concepts.

A couple of years ago, after seeing a similar study, I led one of my granddaughters through a wild, stomping, jumping study of social studies. I don’t know how much it helped, but she did well on the test and it definitely made studying more fun.

The URL for this summary article is

This technique brings new meaning to the term, memory exercise.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

North to Alaska

Just returned from a wonderful cruise up to Juneau and then through the inside passage up to Skagway. In addition to the beauty and educational opportunities of the trip itself was that of being in a special Christian Writing Clinic put on by John Olson and Randy Ingermanson.

The trip went much better than I had anticipated. Really enjoyed it. The scenery was gorgeous and so different from anything I'd ever experienced. We had a short rail trip up into the zone above the tree line. We saw 'bonsaied' evergreens that my husband said were probably hundreds of years old and burdened up to nine months of each year with maybe thirty feet of snow. John said this side-trip was the best part to him.

Tracy Arm was the other most interesting part of the trip. This was a fjord which, a couple of thousand years ago, was filled with several thousand feet of glacial ice. Now this channel has two thousand feet of sea water in it and has high steep slopes on both sides. We were a few miles away from the southern end of the Sawyer Glacier which rose maybe another 800 to 1200 feet above us, and pushed 45(?) miles into Canada. Wished we could have gotten closer to the edge of that one. As it were, the Golden Princess was the record-(sized) ship to ever go down the Tracy Arm. And as I'm not into dog-paddling in ice water...

There were a couple of other smaller glaciers closer to us. I was disappointed not to see chunks calving off, but there were plenty of icebergs all around us that testified to it really happening.

Even the part I was most worried about (a certain awkwardness in social situations) was another best part of the trip. Only one really memorable faux pas in almost a week of interactions is almost a record pour moi. Having a core group of forgiving Christians makes such a difference. Such lovely people in this group. Fun loving but serious about things that matter most.

Oh. Would you believe that I met two different families on our way home who had been on a Holland cruise ship dogging our paths? They had been with a special group having Michael Card as their center piece. I was sitting on the floor; supporting my sleep-deprived head; waiting for our retarded plane. A young blond stranger touched my shoulder and asked if I needed help. If I had a headache or something...

Again I talked to her in Charlotte as we waited at the carrousel. “You’re returning from Alaska?”

“Un huh. It’s funny I don’t remember seeing you on the ship.”

“I don’t think I saw you, either... I was with the Michael Card group...”

My husband’s educational opportunity was different from mine. He attended lots of lectures by a man who had spent lonely winters in the Alaskan wilderness. I’d have to look up his complicated name, but as my husband, who had all the contact with him, called him Ski, I’ll just go with that. So I did have hubby’s long honed expertise plus his recently acquired knowledge to help me enjoy the scenery.

I’d have been happy to have given him some of the guidance in writing I’d gotten from my classes, too, but he’s not interested in writing. He’s quite content to continue filling the seemingly interminable vacuum of his brain. Thankfully he always seems happy to refill the short term memory of mine.

John and Randy did a great job of teaching writing techniques. A difficult challenge for teaching the class was our range in experience – from some expert polished-level published authors down to us beginning, unpublished – ulps, sorry, Randy, I mean prepublished writers. We had large group alternating lectures by John and Randy, and also separate critique group sessions where we were blessed with individualized help by our leaders and as well as our classmates. Even had an hour appointment with one of our teachers.

So now back to the realities of life. Without Nick to put a napkin in my lap and June’s beautiful smile and melodic voice and inborn talent of putting us at ease while swathing us with luxury.

How can I ever cope with making my own bed and falling to sleep with no heart-shaped chocolate on my pillow? Ahhh. I get the warm fuzzies just remembering it.

I’ve waxed eloquent quite long enough. OK. I’m back to reality. Back to the beautiful Carolinas and back to writing the next best-selling novel.

Well I can still dream, can’t I?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Restless Legs Syndrome

We have recently been bombarded with so many TV ads for treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) that I was beginning to wonder if it were real or a disorder created by drug makers.

The finding by researchers at Emory University and deCode Genetics of a gene linked to RLS has satisfied my mind on this matter.

The article is in New England Journal of Medicine published on line on July 18. There is also a summary of the article at

They also mention that sometimes a low level of iron can be part of the problem.

Personally my legs seem to get the fidgets when it's past my bedtime.