Weekly Health Update:
By, Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
The information in this column is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or recommendations by the author. Please consult with your physician before making any lifestyle or medication changes, or if you have any other concerns regarding your health.
Welcome to Weekly Health Update
“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”
CONCORD GRAPE JUICE IMPROVES MEMORY
Polyphenols are plant-based dietary compounds with known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These biological properties of polyphenols reduce the ongoing damage to the DNA in our cells that results from the toxic byproducts of metabolism, including free radicals. Polyphenols have, therefore, been the subject of intense research as potential prevention agents for a variety of human ailments, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, and cancer. (The evidence-based role of dietary polyphenols in cancer prevention is discussed in great detail in my soon-to-be-published book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.”)
Foods that are naturally rich in polyphenols include most blue and red berries, grapes (including red wine), pomegranates, walnuts, peanuts, olive oil, green tea, dark chocolate and cocoa, coffee, and beer (as well as other fruits and vegetables).
Recent animal research has suggested that polyphenols derived from grape seeds can reduce the development of plaques in the brain (at least in mice) that are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, a newly published prospective, randomized, double-blind clinical research study suggests that Concord grape juice, which is rich in polyphenols, may be able to improve early memory decline in older adults.
In this small study, which has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition, 12 elderly adults with declining memory were divided into two groups. The “experimental group” received daily Concord grape juice supplements for a period of 12 weeks. The second group, the “control group,” received placebo supplements that were identical in appearance to Concord grape juice, but which contained no juice. Neither the 12 patient volunteers nor the research assistants were aware of which patients received grape juice and which patients received the placebo while the study was being conducted.
Standardized, validated tests of memory, and other aspects of cognitive function, were administered to all 12 patient volunteers participating in this study. These cognitive function tests revealed statistically significant improvements in verbal learning skills among the patients who received 12 weeks of Concord grape juice (when compared to the placebo group). Although not statistically significant, improvements were also noted in both verbal and spatial recall among the patient volunteers who received the grape juice supplements in this small clinical study with a brief duration of patient follow-up.
While larger studies, with a longer duration of follow-up, will be required to confirm the findings of this small pilot study, the prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind nature of this small study does give it considerably more predictive power than the much larger dietary survey-based epidemiological studies that are more commonly used in disease prevention research.
Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physicianbeforemaking any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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(Anticipated Publication Date: May 2010)
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Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
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Dr. Wascher's Archives:
1-24-2010: Mozart, Music, Babies & Health
1-17-2010: Breast Cancer, Physical Therapy & Lymphedema
1-3-2010: Ginkgo Biloba, Memory & Cognitive Health12-20-2009: CT Scans & Cancer Risk
11-29-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
11-22-2009: Genistein (Soy Isoflavone) & Prostate Cancer
11-15-2009: Breast Cancer Treatment & Chronic Pain
1-8-2009: Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk
11-1-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
10-25-2009: HPV Virus & Risk of Breast Cancer
10-11-2009: Vitamin D & Falls in the Elderly
10-4-2009: Surgery, NSQIP, Complications & Death
9-27-2009 Stress, Heart Disease, Exercise & Death
9-20-2009: Vitamin D & Colorectal Cancer Survival
9-13-2009: H1N1 Swine Flu Update
9-7-2009: Green Tea, Aging & Lifespan8-30-2009: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber
8-23-2009: Update on Prostate Cancer and Cryotherapy8-16-2009: Exercise Improves Lymphedema Symptoms in Breast Cancer Survivors
8-2-2009: Honesty, Dishonesty & Brain Function
7-26-2009: Coronary Artery CT Scans & Cancer Risk7-19-2009: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & Ovarian Cancer
7-12-2009: Breast Cancer & Metformin (Glucophage)7-5-2009: Prostate Cancer & Green Tea
6-21-2009: Red Yeast Rice, Statins & Cholesterol
6-7-2009: Diet, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk
5-31-2009: Diet and Prostate Cancer Risk
5-24-2009: Diabetes, Glucose Control & DeathHemorrhoids & Surgery
4-26-2009: Are We Really Losing the War on Cancer?
4-19-2009: Exercise in Middle Age & Risk of Death
4-12-2009: Can Chronic Stress Harm Your Heart?
3-15-2009: Depression, Stress, Anger & Heart DiseaseObesity and the Complications of Diverticulosis (Diverticulitis & Bleeding); Obesity, Weight Loss & Urinary Incontinence Cancer and Vitamins; Teenagers, MySpace and Risky Behaviors
10-26-2008: Smoking & Quality of Life
10-19-2008: Agent Orange & Prostate Cancer
10-12-2008: Pomegranate Juice & Prostate Cancer
9-21-2008: Does Tylenol® (Acetaminophen) Cause Asthma?Exercise & Weight Loss; Green Tea, Folic Acid & Breast Cancer Risk; Foreign Language Interpreters & ICU Patients
4-27-2008: Stents vs. Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease; The “DASH” Hypertension Diet & Cardiovascular Disease Prevention; Testosterone Therapy for Women with Decreased Sexual Desire & Function
4-6-2008: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Pap Smear Results & Cervical Cancer; Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection & Oral Cancer; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & the Risk of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)Is Coffee Safe After a Heart Attack?; Impact of Divorce on the Environment; Hypertension & the Risk of Dementia; Emotional Vitality & the Risk of Heart Disease
12-16-2007: Honey vs. Dextromethorphan vs. No Treatment for Kids with Night-Time Cough, Acupuncture & Hot Flashes in Women with Breast Cancer, Physical Activity & the Risk of Death, Mediterranean Diet & Mortality12-11-2007: Bias in Medical Research; Carbon Nanotubes & Radiofrequency: A New Weapon Against Cancer?; Childhood Obesity & Risk of Adult Heart Disease