Antioxidants may help improve the results of coronary bypass surgery

Antioxidant vitamins, particularly vitamin E could help improve the outcome in patients who have had coronary bypass surgery and treatment with clot dissolving drugs during surgery.

In a study reported in the journal, Circulation, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania measured the urine levels of a compound that results from free radical attack on fatty acids in cell membranes. The levels of this compound were found to rise after heart bypass surgery and after treatment with clot dissolving drugs.

In cases of arterial blockage or heart surgery the blood supply to the heart is cut off. When the blood flow reaches the heart again there is an increase in free radical formation which is thought to be associated with tissue injury. This may explain the serious heart trouble that often happens during this period of increased blood supply. As an antioxidant vitamin E may help prevent this free radical damage.

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High doses of vitamin E boost the immune system in elderly people

In a recent study of 88 healthy people, aged 65 or older those who took 200 milligrams of vitamin E each day for about four months showed an improvement in immune response compared to people who took a placebo or other amounts of the vitamin.

The study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association provides new support for vitamin E supplementation in older people. In this and other studies, positive effects of the supplement were seen at doses much greater than the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of 10 milligrams for men and 7 milligrams for women.

In the study, people who took 200 mg a day had a 65 per cent increase in a measure of immune system strength known as delayed hypersensitivity skin response. In addition those who took the supplements produced six times more antibodies to hepatitis B after being given the vaccine than those who took placebo. They also produced more antibodies against tetanus infection. Those taking 60 mg or 800 mg of vitamin E also showed some improvements in immune function but the ideal response was seen in those taking 200 mg.

It is possible that vitamin E boost immune response by acting against prostaglandin E2 which impairs immunity.

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Antioxidants may help asthmatics

According to a new study from the University of Washington antioxidant vitamin supplements may help relieve the symptoms of asthma.

The researchers measured the amount of breath expelled by the lungs in 17 asthma sufferers. The subjects took peak flow lung function tests while running on a treadmill and breathing in high levels of polluted air.

In those asthmatics whose diets were supplemented with daily doses of 400 IU of vitamin E and 500 mg of vitamin C an 18 per cent increase in peak flow capacity was seen.

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High doses of vitamin E boost the immune system in elderly people

In a recent study of 88 healthy people, aged 65 or older those who took 200 milligrams of vitamin E each day for about four months showed an improvement in immune response compared to people who took a placebo or other amounts of the vitamin.

The study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association provides new support for vitamin E supplementation in older people. In this and other studies, positive effects of the supplement were seen at doses much greater than the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of 10 milligrams for men and 7 milligrams for women.

In the study, people who took 200 mg a day had a 65 per cent increase in a measure of immune system strength known as delayed hypersensitivity skin response. In addition those who took the supplements produced six times more antibodies to hepatitis B after being given the vaccine than those who took placebo. They also produced more antibodies against tetanus infection. Those taking 60 mg or 800 mg of vitamin E also showed some improvements in immune function but the ideal response was seen in those taking 200 mg.

It is possible that vitamin E boost immune response by acting against prostaglandin E2 which impairs immunity.

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More evidence for the role of homocysteine in heart disease

Two more studies add to the growing weight of evidence that high levels of an amino acid called homocysteine increase the risk of heart disease. Increasing levels of B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 in the diet can lower levels of homocysteine and may reduce the risk of heart disease.

According to a report in the American Heart Association’s journal, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, for every 10 per cent increase in the blood level of homocysteine, heart disease risk goes up by 10 per cent.

In another study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association researchers at the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin, Ireland compared 750 people with narrowing of the arteries, with 800 healthy people. They measured homocysteine, folic acid, vitamin B 12 and vitamin B6 levels.

They found that those in the top 20 per cent for homocysteine level had over twice the risk of atherosclerosis than the other 80 per cent. A small group of people who took vitamins had a lower risk of disease compared to those who didn't.

The authors recommend undertaking randomized controlled clinical trials of folic acid and vitamin B6 in the prevention of heart disease.

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Antioxidant supplements may help fight cardiovascular disease

Researchers at the University of Michigan looking at the effect of antioxidants on cardiovascular disease have concluded that supplements may have a role to play in secondary prevention.

In a study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers examined the effect of 400 IU ofvitamin E, 500 mg of vitamin C and 12 mg of beta carotene on the susceptibility of low density lipoprotein to oxidation in patients with cardiovascular disease. Another group received double doses of the nutrients.

Results showed a significant reduction in oxidation rates in both groups, with more significant reductions seen in the high dose group. These results support findings from previous studies and further suggest the possibility of using antioxidants to fight cardiovascular disease.

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Diets rich in vitamin E may help protect against Parkinson's Disease

Researchers at Erasmus University Medical School looking at the relationship between dietary intake of antioxidants and Parkinson's Disease have found a reduction in risk associated with high vitamin E intake.

The study which was reported in the Archives of Neurology, involved over 5300 men and women living independently and without dementia. Included were 31 people with Parkinson's Disease. No association was found with beta carotene or vitamin C intake.

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Fish oils may lower the risk of breast cancer

Eating a low fat diet and taking a supplement rich in omega-3 fatty acidsmay reduce the risk of breast cancer in women, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In the study, 25 women diagnosed with breast cancer ate a low fat diet and took a daily fish oil supplement for three months. Researchers analyzed their breast fat at the end of the study and found an increase in the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. This may help to inhibit breast cancer, both by preventing it and reducing the risk of tumor size when cancer already exists.

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Dietary antioxidants protect against lung cancer

Results from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow up Study have shown a relationship between dietary of antioxidant intake and the risk of lung cancer.

The study which was reported in The American Journal of Epidemiology involved 3968 men and 6100 women, aged 25 to 74 years, originally assessed from 1971 to 1975. During the 19 year follow up period 248 people developed lung cancer. Reduced risk was found in those with high intakes of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene. No additional protective effects were seen with supplements. These results further emphasise the importance of daily consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables may provide to protect against lung cancer.

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Vitamins slow the progression of osteoarthritis

Results from the Framingham Knee Osteoarthritis Cohort Study suggest that high dietary intakes of vitamins C, E, and D are associated with a reduction in the risk of progression of the disease.

The researchers did not find any effects on the development of new disease but those subjects who suffered from osteoarthritis at the beginning of the study appeared to be at less risk of progression if they consumed higher amounts of vitamin C. Similar protection was seen with vitamin D. Vitamin E appeared to protect against progression in men.

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Vitamin C fights ulcer causing bacteria

A report in the journal Cancer suggests that vitamin C may inhibit the growth Helicobacter pylori, a stomach bacterium that increases the risk of ulcers and stomach cancer.

High concentrations of vitamin C inhibited the growth of bacteria in culture dishes and also in the stomachs of Mongolian gerbils, according to researchers at the International Medical Center of Japan in Tokyo.

Vitamin C rich diets have been found to decrease the risk of stomach cancer. This has been attributed to the antioxidant ability of vitamin C. However, vitamin E, which is also an antioxidant does not inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori. This suggests that vitamin C may exert its protective effects through a biochemical mechanism.

This research suggest the possibility of a safe, side-effect free alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of ulcers.

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Vitamin A helps to prevent skin cancer

Experiments done on mice suggest that high doses of vitamin A may help prevent an aggressive type of skin cancer known as malignant melanoma.

In a study reported at a meeting of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, researchers compared the effects of injecting melanoma cells on three groups of mice: one fed a normal diet, one fed a high vitamin A diet after injection and one fed a high vitamin A diet 10 days before injection.

The mice whose diets were high in vitamin A were less likely to develop tumors and die, with the greatest protection seen in those who received high vitamin A diets before injection.

The vitamin A appeared to slow the growth of tumor cells, possibly by forming a capsule around the tumor and causing it to progress less rapidly. This study suggests that adequate intake of vitamin A protects against skin cancer.

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Chromium supplements may help to control diabetes

According to the results of a Chinese study published in the journal Diabetes, daily chromium supplements may help control blood sugar levels and insulin activity in Type 2 diabetics.

The study, conducted by researchers at the US Dept of Agriculture and Beijing Medical University, involved 180 Type 2 diabetics. Chinese subjects were chosen because of the likelihood that they had not previously used supplements.

The subjects were divided into three groups: one group was given 1000 mcg of chromium picolinate, the second was given 200 mcg and the third group was given a placebo. After 2 months the researchers assessed blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In the 1000 mcg group levels were significantly reduced. In the 200 mcg group it took 4 months to see a reduction in blood sugar levels and this was not as significant as that seen in the first group.

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Vitamin supplements help to lower colon cancer risk

According to a new study from the University of Washington, vitamin and mineral supplements help to lower the risk of colon cancer.

Researchers looked at nutritional supplement use over a 10 year period in 444 colon cancer patients and 427 people free of the disease. They assessed intake of multivitamins, vitamins A, E, C, folic acid and calcium.

Results showed a reduced risk associated with all the supplements but the strongest links were with vitamin E and multivitamin supplements. For those who took multivitamins the risk of colon cancer was reduced by 51 per cent and for those taking an average of 200 IU vitamin E per day the risk was reduced by 57 per cent

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Nutrition organization recommends selenium, vitamin E and folic acid supplements

Scientists at the meeting of the Council for Responsible Nutrition said that there is enough evidence to support the recommendation of daily selenium, vitamin E, and Folic acid supplements.

Scientists from a number of institutions presented findings and discussed research studies which provide support for the use of selenium supplements to reduce cancer deaths and for the use of folic acid and vitamin E to reduce heart disease

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Vitamin and mineral supplements lower stroke risk

Results of a large study in China suggest that taking vitamin and mineral supplements can reduce the risk of stroke.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute looked at the link between vitamin and mineral intake and stroke in over 29 000 people in Linxian county in north central China.

The results showed that various vitamins and minerals, were linked to a lower risk of stroke, but only in those at high risk. The largest drop in risk (29 per cent) was seen in a group who took vitamin A, beta Carotene, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium.

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Vitamin E gives some relief from hot flashes

According to a report in the Journal of Clinical Oncolog vitamin E may help to relieve hot flashes in breast cancer survivors.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota looked at the effect of vitamin E on hot flashes in 104 women who had survived breast cancer. The women were experiencing at least two hot flashes per day.

The study took nine weeks. In weeks 2 to 5 the women took either vitamin E or a placebo and in weeks 6 to 9 they took the alternative pill. The results showed that in general women taking vitamin E experienced approximately one less hot flash per day than women taking the placebo.

The researchers felt that this difference was not large enough to be clinically important.

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Antioxidants block damage to arteries caused by high fat meals

High fat meals cause damage to artery linings, which may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. New research suggests that taking the antioxidant vitamins C and E before a meal may help to prevent this damage.

The study which was carried out at the University of Maryland School of Medicine involved 13 women and 7 men with normal blood cholesterol levels. Once a week for three weeks, the subjects ate either a high fat meal, a low fat meal, a high fat meal after taking 1000 mg of vitamin C and 800 IU of vitamin E or a low fat meal after taking the antioxidants.

Before and after the meals the researchers measured blood fat and cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart rate in the subjects. They also used ultrasound to measure the dilation of the brachial artery (in the arm) after release of a tourniquet which had been applied for five minutes. If the artery lining is functioning normally it releases nitric oxide which causes dilation.

The results showed that the high fat meal decreased artery lining function for up to four hours afterwards whereas the low fat meal did not. This is probably due to oxidative stress caused by an accumulation of triglyceride rich lipoproteins (blood fats). The antioxidant vitamins prevented this decrease in artery lining function.

The authors of the study, which was published in Journal of the American Medical Association feel that it supports the use of a low fat diet with appropriate vitamin administration to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

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More evidence that B vitamins reduce heart disease risk

Data from the ongoing Nurses Health Study provide further evidence that consuming high levels of Folic acid and vitamin B6 can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in women.

In a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health looked at the links between these B vitamins and heart disease. The study involved over 80 000 female nurses who responded to a diet questionnaire which was mailed in 1980. As an outcome, the researchers included fatal and non-fatal heart attacks which occurred after 1980 and before 1994.

The results of the study showed a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in women who regularly used multivitamins (the major source of folic acid and vitamin B6) and also in those with high dietary intakes of vitamin B6 and folic acid. Reduced risk was seen at intakes well above the folic acid RDA of 180 mcg per day.

The results also showed that the link between high folic acid intake and lower risk of cardiovascular disease was strongest in women who drank at least one alcoholic drink a day. The authors of the study conclude that "the cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption may be partially offset unless women have high folate intake."

This study supports others which have found a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in those with higher folic acid and vitamin B6 intakes. The researchers state that the current RDA for folate may not be adequate to minimize the risk of coronary disease. In an accompanying editorial Dr Kilmer S McCully of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Providence, RI says that the findings encourage the view that intervention through supplementation, fortification and improved dietary intakes of folic acid and vitamin B6 should help to reduce the rate of cardiovascular disease.

In another study, reported in the journal circulation, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, found that low blood levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid were associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. The researchers measured levels of homocysteine, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 in 750 men with blood vessel disease and compared these to levels in 800 healthy people.

Results showed that those with the lowest levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid had a one and a half to two times greater risk of blood vessel disease than those with the highest levels.

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Vitamin C may help to prevent lung disease

The results of a large study in China suggest that Vitamin C may help to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Researchers studied over 3000 people living in several different locations in China. They measured vitamin C levels in blood, tested and assessed lung function and assessed the diets of some of the participants.

The results showed that those who ate high levels of vitamin C containing foods had better lung function and a lower risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The results also showed that higher levels of vitamin C were associated with improved lung function.

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More evidence that vitamin B6 reduces heart disease risk

Researchers involved in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study have found that high blood levels of Vitamin B6 protects against Heart Disease. The researchers measured levels of homocysteine and vitamin B6 in 769 people, aged from 45 to 64. Follow-up took place an average of 3.3 years later, when the researchers recorded new diagnoses of heart disease and stroke.

The results showed that the risk of heart disease was 70 per cent lower in those with the highest blood levels of vitamin B6 compared to those with the lowest levels. However, homocysteine levels were not associated with the risk of heart disease.

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Selenium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer

Results from the Harvard-based Health Professionals Follow-Up Study suggest that higher selenium intake reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

Researchers investigated the association between risk of prostate cancer and prediagnostic level of selenium in toenails, a measure of long-term selenium intake. In 1986, 51,529 male health professionals aged 40 to 75 years responded to a mailed questionnaire and in 1987, 33,737 participants provided toenail clippings. From 1989 through 1994, 181 new cases of prostate cancer were reported. Case and control subjects were matched by age, smoking status, and month of toenail return. Selenium levels were also measured.

The results showed that higher selenium levels were associated with a 65 per cent reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer.

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More evidence that vitamin B6 reduces heart disease risk

Researchers involved in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study have found that high blood levels of Vitamin B6 protects against Heart Disease. The researchers measured levels of homocysteine and vitamin B6 in 769 people, aged from 45 to 64. Follow-up took place an average of 3.3 years later, when the researchers recorded new diagnoses of heart disease and stroke.

The results showed that the risk of heart disease was 70 per cent lower in those with the highest blood levels of vitamin B6 compared to those with the lowest levels. However, homocysteine levels were not associated with the risk of heart disease.

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Vitamin C may help to prevent lung disease

The results of a large study in China suggest that Vitamin C may help to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Researchers studied over 3000 people living in several different locations in China. They measured vitamin C levels in blood, tested and assessed lung function and assessed the diets of some of the participants.

The results showed that those who ate high levels of vitamin C containing foods had better lung function and a lower risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The results also showed that higher levels of vitamin C were associated with improved lung function.

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