Weekly Health Update:
Blueberries, Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
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”
BLUBERRIES, OBESITY, DIABETES AND METABOLIC SYNDROME
Metabolic syndrome includes a constellation of health disorders that are associated with a high risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Specific disorders that are associated with metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, obesity, and diabetes (or “pre-diabetes”). In the United States, where obesity has become an epidemic, public health experts estimate that as much as 25 percent of the population currently meets the criteria for metabolic syndrome.
Excessive calorie intake, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity in the abdominal and waist areas (central, or visceral, obesity), genetic factors, and other adverse health risks are known to contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome. Therefore, both the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome are based upon exercise, a healthy low-fat and low-sugar/low-carb diet, and weight loss. A new prospective, randomized clinical research study suggests that consuming blueberries may also help to reduce some of the adverse health risks associated with metabolic syndrome.
In this study, which appears in the current issue of The Journal of Nutrition, 48 adults (44 females and 4 males) with metabolic syndrome were divided into two groups. One group, the “experimental group,” consumed 50 grams of freeze-dried blueberries per day (equivalent to 350 grams of fresh blueberries per day), in the form of a beverage, for a period of 8 weeks. The other group, the “control group,” consumed a “placebo” beverage that did not contain any blueberries (also for 8 weeks). Blood pressure checks and multiple blood tests were performed at both 4 weeks and 8 weeks into the study.
When comparing the two groups of patient volunteers, the patients in the “blueberry group” were found to have significantly greater decreases in their high blood pressure when compared to the control group. The level of oxidized LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is a form of the “bad” LDL cholesterol that can directly damage the lining of arteries throughout the body (atherosclerosis), was also significantly decreased in the “blueberry group” of patient volunteers. At the same time, there were no significant differences between the two groups of patient volunteers with respect to blood glucose (sugar) levels, triglyceride levels, or the levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) or LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) in the blood .
Therefore, while a brief period of a diet supplemented with blueberries did not reverse all of the abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome, the consumption of the equivalent of about 350 grams of blueberries each day did appear to significantly improve at least two of the adverse health factors associated with this syndrome (i.e., high blood pressure and blood levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol). Based upon the intriguing findings of this small and short-duration study, patients with one or more health factors associated with metabolic syndrome might consider adding some blueberries to their daily diet, in addition to the standard treatment for this life-threatening disorder!
For more information on blueberries, and other sources of dietary polyphenols, as part of a cancer prevention lifestyle, watch for the publication of my new landmark evidence-based book, “ A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in September of this year.
I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit our premier global health information website every month. As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.
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: September 2010)
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Copyright 2007 - 2010
Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
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Dr. Wascher's Archives:
8-1-2010: Physician Error
7-25-2010: Obesity and Cancer Risk
6-27-2010: Soy, Curcumin & Prostate Cancer Risk
5-30-2010: Medical Research Studies & “Spin”
5-9-2010: Soy Foods & Stomach Cancer Risk
4-18-2010: Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels
3-28-2010: Aspirin & Breast Cancer Survival
3-21-2010: Obesity, Alcohol & Liver Disease
3-14-2010: Nuts, Diet & Obesity
2-28-2010: Soy Isoflavones & Recurrent Prostate Cancer
2-14-2010: Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Sodas & Juice
1-31-2010: Concord Grape Juice Improves Memory
1-24-2010: Mozart, Music, Babies & Health
1-17-2010: Breast Cancer, Physical Therapy & Lymphedema
1-3-2010: Ginkgo Biloba, Memory & Cognitive Health
12-20-2009: 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 & Lifespan
8-30-2009: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber
8-23-2009: Update on Prostate Cancer and Cryotherapy
8-2-2009: Honesty, Dishonesty & Brain Function
7-26-2009: Coronary Artery CT Scans & Cancer Risk
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 & Death
5-10-2009: Hemorrhoids & 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 Disease
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?
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)
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 & Mortality