July Issue Contents:
Thank You, Mom!
Raising a Healthy Heart
High Cholesterol and
Young People are Not Off the
Weight Control More Seriously
Women and Heart Disease
The French Paradox
Your Brain: Use or Lose
Thank You, Mom!
Experiments on rats by Canadian researchers suggest that nurturing stimulates
neural connections in their babies' brains and enhances learning, which
appear in the August issue of Nature Neuroscience. The researchers
said the results are broadly applicable to humans, too. Michael Meaney,
a neuroendocrinologist at McGill University who led the study says that
it is never nature vs. nurture. The influences are inseparable. The
environment always influences activity of the genes. The most important
feature of the environment for an infant is mother. Mother's influence
begins in the womb. No wonder, Indians and otehr ancient civilizations
personified the female principle, Shakti (The Energy), as the Absolute!
Another sudy in rats suggests that the effects of that pain may last a
lifetime. In a study appearing Friday in the journal Science, researchers
at the National Institutes of Health found that painful trauma, like that
caused by medical procedures on premature infants, caused newborn rats
to become much more sensitive to pain as they grew older. The reason,
said NIH researcher M.A. Ruda, is that pain causes the developing nervous
system of the very young to grow more of the nerve cells that carry the
sensation of pain to the brain.
Raising a Healthy Heart
It is never too early to start reducung your baby's risk of heart attack
later in life: Feed a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and introduce
prudent diet habits early in your baby's life. Feed a diet low in salt
from infancy. Keep consumption of sugar low. Don't smoke or permit smoking
in your home. Educate your child from infancy about the dangers and unpleasantness
of tobacco. Teach your child early on the value of exercise.
Vegetable oils are hydrogenated in order to harden them. Their chemical
structure is changed to form trans-fatty acids. These ``trans-fats'' are
unsaturated. But, they act like the saturated fats and raise blood cholesterol.
These are also linked to some cancers. These dangerous trans-fats
are in deep-fried foods like French fries and high-fat commercial baked
goods like doughnuts, cookies and crackers. Tub margarine maybe used in
moderation for table use. Use olive or canola oil sparingly for cooking
whenever possible. According to a recent report in the Journal of
the American Dietetic Association, consumption of saturated fat found mainly
in meat and high-fat dairy products is much more of a problem than consumption
High Cholesterol and Youth
We have a myth that when young we can eat what ever we want and cholesterol
is not an issue for youth to worry. A study led by Dr. Jeremiah Stamler,
emeritus professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Medical
School indicates that younger men with high cholesterol face a greater
long-term risk than men diagnosed with the condition in middle age, in
part because the longer high levels exist, the more damage they can cause.
The study was conducted on nearly 82,000 men ages 18 to 39 that were followed
for up to 34 years, and was reported in the latest issue of Journal of
the American Medical Association. This study indicates that we should change
our diet and life style at an early age, rather than wait until middle
age. Dr. Scott M. Grundy of the University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center in Dallas said in the editorial that the findings support
existing guidelines that recommend cholesterol tests at least every five
years for adults starting at age 20.
Young People are Not Off the Hook
Boys as young as 15 can begin to experience clogged arteries, according
to a new study that says long-range prevention of heart disease must begin
in adolescence. Researchers found that about 2 percent of the 15- to 19-year-old
men and 20 percent of 30- to 34-year-old men in the study had advanced
plaques. Researchers did not find advanced plaques in women aged 15 to
19, but they did find such plaques in 8 percent of 30- to 34-year-old women,
according to a study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
"The major strategy to prevent heart disease has been controlling risk
factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol," says
the study's lead author Henry C. McGill, Jr., M.D., of the Southwest Foundation
for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, Texas.
Take Weight Control More
Nagi B. Kumar, Ph.D., and colleagues from H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center in
Tampa, Fla., say that because abdominal obesity is a result of adult weight
gain, guidelines from the American Institute of Cancer Research recommending
adult weight gain not exceed 11 pounds should be taken more seriously.
They also suggest using a simple waist-to-hip circumference measurement
in breast cancer screening centers and in family practitioners’ and gynecologists’
offices could help identify women affected by abdominal obesity. Once breast
cancer is diagnosed, helping patients control and reduce weight gain may
influence survival. Interventions directed at weight control may have a
substantial effect not only on breast [cancer] mortality but may have a
substantial effect on mortality associated with other chronic illnesses
such as heart disease and diabetes. Dr. Kumar and colleagues looked
at 166 patients with primary breast cancer who were followed for at least
10 years. Eighty-three (or 50 percent) of the patients died within the
follow-up period. The researchers found two factors – abdominal body fat
distribution and increased weight at age 30 – were as important to survival
as to risk of developing breast cancer in the first place. Their findings
were published in a recent issue of the journal Cancer (Vol. 88, No. 12).
Combining weight loss and exercise lowers blood pressure more effectively
than exercise alone. A healthy diet and exercise generally are recommended
for the estimated 50 million Americans with hypertension. A study of 133
overweight men and women with untreated hypertension found that about an
hour of exercise three to four times weekly for six months reduced blood
pressure, and weight loss lowered it even more. The findings appeared in
Archives of Internal Medicine. Dr. James Blumenthal of Duke University
Medical Center led the study.
Women and Heart Disease
According to the American Heart Association Women's Heart Disease and Stroke
Campaign Task Force. Although heart disease is the leading cause of disability
and death among men and women in the United States, most women do not think
of this as a major health concern, according to a recent report.
Informed decisions to prevent heart disease and stroke depend on awareness
of risk factors and knowledge of behaviors to prevent these diseases.
For the first time, researchers have proved that a blood-fat chemical known
as triglycerides can raise risks of dying from a heart attack. The chemical
sharply increases a person's risk of dying, even if blood cholesterol levels
are normal. Triglyceride levels above 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood
are considered to be a risk. Dr. Melissa Austin professor of epidemiology
at the University of Washington is the lead researcher of the study published
in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Austin says
that the best thing for people to do is exercise and maintain a proper
The French Paradox
A study conducted by Minnie Holmes-McNary, a nutritional biologist at the
University of North Carolina's medical school in Chapel Hill concludes
that the compound resveratrol, which acts like an antibiotic to protect
grapes from fungus, may turn off a protein that guards cancer cells from
cancer-fighting therapies such as chemotherapy. The study was published
in the July issue of the Journal Cancer Research. The benefits of drinking
a glass of red wine have been touted over the past decade after the discovery
that the French had low rates of heart disease despite high-cholesterol
diets (The French Paradox). A few years ago, researchers found that resveratrol
kept cells from turning cancerous and stopped the spread of malignancies.
Resveratrol also blocked cell inflammation, which is linked to arthritis
and other diseases. This compound can be found not only in grapes,
but also in lot of other foods like mulberries and peanuts.
According to The American Institute for Cancer Research red meat, poultry
and seafood all contain a substance that reacts under intense heat, like
grilling or frying, to form carcinogens called "heterocyclic amines." Those
carcinogens, which seem to increase the risk of colon and stomach cancers,
only occur with animal or fish tissue. Grilling vegetables does not pose
a health concern as long as char doesn't form. Regardless of the food involved,
char should be avoided because it contains a high concentration of cancer-causing
substances. Most vegetables can be cooked very quickly on a grill before
charring can occur. And they're so delicious grilled that they make it
easy to eat the abundant servings recommended to lower cancer risk and
improve overall health.
Your Brain: Use or Lose
According to Dr. Amir Soas of Case Western Reserve University Medical School
in Cleveland, the brain is like a muscle: Use it or lose it. There are
steps people can take to protect their brains. 1) Mental exercise seems
crucial. Benefits start when parents read to tots and depend heavily on
education, but scientists say it's never too late to start jogging the
gray matter, for example, learn a new language, 2) People have to get physical
exercise too. Bad memory is linked to heart disease, diabetes and a high-fat
diet, all risks people can counter by living healthier lives. 3) Case Western
researchers found that high-fat (animal based) diets increased the risk
seven times. That means in addition to mental exercise, physical
exercise and healthy vegetarian diet - the very things that prevent heart
disease and diabetes - help the brain, too.
If you cannot avoid meat, poultry, seafood and
dairy products, at least limit them to moderate servings and
plant-based foods the largest proportion of your meals.
If you prefer a vegetarian diet, include several servings each day of foods
like beans, nuts and seeds, which supply the protein and minerals you need
for good health.
Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, July 2000
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