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Healthy Hearts Don’t Need “Preventive” Aspirin, & Other News of Note

Posted Jan 18 2012 9:25am

Healthy people shouldn’t be taking aspirin to prevent heart disease, researchers say in a new report that casts doubt on recommendations from U.S. health officials.

* * *

[Dr. Kausik] Ray and his colleagues took a fresh look at nine previous trials of aspirin use in people who had never had chest pain or other symptoms of an ailing heart. They also looked for signs that the medication might stave off cancer, which some research has suggested.

Based on more than 100,000 men and women followed for an average of six years, there was no sign aspirin prevented fatal heart attacks. But it did cause a tiny drop in non-fatal heart attacks… MORE

“It’s time to end the low-fat myth,” said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at HSPH. “Unfortunately, many well-motivated people have been led to believe that all fats are bad and that foods loaded with white flour and sugar are healthy choices. This has clearly contributed to the epidemic of diabetes we are experiencing and premature death for many. The lesson contained in these healthy muffins — that foods can be both tasty and good for you — can literally be life-saving”… MORE

A diet rich in slowly digested carbohydrates – whole grains, legumes, high-fiber foods – reduces inflammation in chronic disease, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Marian Neuhouser, a member of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center in Seattle, said such a “low-glycemic-load” diet, which does not cause blood-glucose levels to spike, increases a hormone that helps regulate the metabolism of fat and sugar.

The controlled, randomized feeding study, which involved 80 healthy Seattle-area men and women — half of normal weight and half overweight or obese — found that among overweight and obese study participants, a low-glycemic-load diet reduced a biomarker of inflammation called C-reactive protein by about 22 percent, Neuhouser said… MORE

Chinese researchers have found small pieces of rice ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice. The Nanjing University-based team showed that this genetic material will bind to receptors in human liver cells and influence the uptake of cholesterol from the blood.

The type of RNA in question is called microRNA (abbreviated to miRNA) due to its small size. MiRNAs have been studied extensively since their discovery ten years ago, and have been implicated as players in several human diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. They usually function by turning down or shutting down certain genes. The Chinese research provides the first in vivo example of ingested plant miRNA surviving digestion and influencing human cell function in this way.

Should the research survive scientific scrutiny – a serious hurdle – it could prove a game changer in many fields. It would mean that we’re eating not just vitamins, protein, and fuel, but gene regulators as well… MORE

Iron deficiency is a well-known cause of impaired cognitive, language, and motor development, but a report out today (January 9) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that even in apparently healthy young adults, variations in iron levels correlate with variations in brain structure integrity.

“[The researchers] make a very interesting connection between the issue of iron metabolism and the integrity of white matter, more specifically myelin”—the cellular sheath that enwraps and insulates neuronal axons—said George Bartzokis of the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. “This would have been predicted by what is known about myelin, because it actually contains a lot of iron, so it is important that [they have] directly demonstrated this in humans with imaging”… MORE

Simply feeling stressed-out was not linked to gray matter shrinkage. But feeling stressed-out combined with a history of stressful life events was. In particular, stress was linked to markedly less gray matter than expected in a part of the prefrontal cortex that regulates emotion and self-control, not to mention blood pressure and blood sugar.

That shrinkage might serve as a red flag about a greater risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure as well as psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers. And maybe it’s already affecting brain function in the healthy individuals she studied, Sinha [the Yale neurobiologist Rajita Sinha, senior author of the new report] says… MORE

New research at Oregon State University provides evidence for the first time that disruption of circadian rhythms — the biological “clocks” found in many animals — can clearly cause accelerated neurodegeneration, loss of motor function and premature death.

The study was published in Neurobiology of Disease and done by researchers at OSU and Oregon Health and Science University. Prior to this, it wasn’t clear which came first – whether the disruption of biological clock mechanisms was the cause or the result of neurodegeneration… MORE

Scientific proof mounts: Be happy and live longer.

That’s what British researchers found when they asked nearly 4,000 people, aged 52 to 79, to spend a typical weekday recording their emotions and then checked back an average of five years later to find how many study participants were still alive. Those who had scored the highest “positive attitude” (PA) had a substantially longer survival rate.

Only 3.6 percent of the high-PA group had died, compared to 4.6 percent of the medium-PA and 7.3 percent of the low-PA. The group highest on happiness ended up with a 35 percent lower risk of dying… MORE


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