July 22, 2010
By: S. L. Baker
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when the body breaks down food or is exposed to environmental toxins and radiation. Free radicals are believed to play a role in heart disease, cancer and other disorders. So it makes sense that antioxidants could help protect or even treat many health problems.
However, some poorly designed studies have given antioxidants mixed results (http://www.naturalnews.com/023357_p…) and resulted in the mainstream media reporting that antioxidants are virtually worthless. But new research provides hard evidence that taking antioxidant supplements long-term produces dramatic benefits in people with multiple cardiovascular risk factors.
That’s the conclusion of a randomized, controlled trial of vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenium capsules. The research results, just reported in BioMed Central’s journal Nutrition and Metabolism, show these dietary antioxidants produce multiple positive effects on sugar and fat metabolism, blood pressure and arterial flexibility (which allows blood to move freely through the body).
The study was conducted by scientist Reuven Zimlichman and his research team at Wolfson Medical Center in Israel. They randomly divided 70 high blood pressure patients into two groups. One group was given antioxidants supplements and the other took placebo capsules for six months. Those taking the antioxidants received vitamin C (1000 mg/day), vitamin E (400 i.u/day), coenzyme Q10 (120 mg/day) and selenium (200 mcg/day).
Tests at the beginning of the trial, after three months, and again after six months documented that patients in the antioxidant group had marked improvements in their cardiovascular health. They had more elastic arteries and better blood sugar levels. In addition, their cholesterol profiles were healthier with a significant increase in HDL, the so-called “good”, heart-protective cholesterol. In fact, the researchers concluded “antioxidant supplements have the potential to alleviate atherosclerotic damage..”
“Antioxidant supplementation significantly increased large and small artery elasticity in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. This beneficial vascular effect was associated with an improvement in glucose and lipid metabolism as well as significant decrease in blood pressure,” Dr. Zimlichman said in a statement to the media. “The findings of the present study justify investigating the overall clinical impact of antioxidant treatment in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors.”
More hopeful news for heart patients: another study by Dr. Zimlichman and colleagues published in the June issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, found that taking the amino acid L-arginine long-term also helped people with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. In this randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 90 patients were assigned to receive either oral L-arginine capsules or placebo capsules. After six months, tests indicated those taking L-arginine had improved vascular health — including a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure.
March 24, 2010
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
The eye condition glaucoma, which afflicts some 67 million people and is second only to cataracts as the world’s leading cause of blindness, is often treated with eye drops that relieve the unusually high pressure inside the eye.
Contact lenses with vitamin E, however, just might deliver more medication to treat glaucoma almost 100 times longer than current lenses, says Anuj Chauhan, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville who helmed the research team investigating this new treatment:
“The problem is within about 2 to 5 minutes of putting drops in the eye, tears carry the drug away and it doesn’t reach the targeted tissue,” said Chauhan. “Much of the medicine gets absorbed into the bloodstream, which carries it throughout the body where it could cause side effects. Only about 1 to 5 percent of drugs in eye drops actually reach the cornea of the eye,” Chauhan explained.
The team’s new, medicated contact lenses are loaded with vitamin E, which is proving to be far more successful at keeping the glaucoma medicine near the eye, the research team announced at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco this week.
The tiny aggregates of vitamin E molecules form what the researchers call “transport barriers,” thereby slowing the transfer of medication from the contact lens to the eye. This extended-release delivery causes the drug to have eye contact for far longer than the 2-5 minutes typical with the more standard eye drop method.
“These vitamin structures are like ‘nanobricks,’” Chauhan said in the news release. “The drug molecules can’t go through the vitamin E–they must go around it. Because the nanobricks are so much bigger than the drug molecules–we believe about a few hundred times bigger–the molecules get diverted and must travel a longer path. This increases the duration of the drug release from the lenses.”
In the team’s animal testing, the drug was administered up to 100 times longer than is typical with current commercial lenses. Chauhan says the lenses might be able to be worn nonstop for up to a month, and could even treat cataracts and dry eyes.
The team expects to initiate human clinical trials in the next year or two.
March 24, 2010
The 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” virus shares remarkable similarities with strains that were rampant early in the 20th century, two teams of scientists report.
These structural similarities help explain why older people seemed to be less affected by H1N1 during the latest pandemic, researchers say, and they also point the way to better vaccines against the strain.
In one report, published in the March 25 online edition of Science, a team at The Scripps Research Institute and elsewhere say that the structure of the hemagglutinin (the influenza virus envelope protein) found on H1N1 is very similar to that of strains seen almost 100 years ago.
“Parts of the 2009 virus are remarkably similar to human H1N1 viruses circulating in the early 20th century,” study senior author and Scripps professor Ian Wilson said in an institute news release. “Our findings provide strong evidence that exposure to earlier viruses has helped to provide some people with immunity to the recent influenza pandemic.”
One area of hemagglutinin, especially, known as antigenic site Sa, appears highly similar between the 2009 and 1918 strains of influenza. The 1918 flu pandemic killed millions worldwide.
In a separate report, scientists have discovered that the 1918 and 2009 pandemic influenza viruses share a key structural detail — both lack a cap of sugar molecules in a certain area — that makes them susceptible to the same antibodies.
It may be possible to exploit this vulnerability to design new vaccines, according to a team led by Dr. Gary J. Nabel of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The discovery was made in a series of experiments with mice and computer modeling studies.
“This study defines an unexpected similarity between two pandemic-causing strains of influenza. It gives us a new understanding of how pandemic viruses evolve into seasonal strains and, importantly, provides direction for developing vaccines to slow or prevent that transformation,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of NIAID, said in an agency news release.
Great things are expected of terahertz waves, the radiation that fills the slot in the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and the infrared. Terahertz waves pass through non-conducting materials such as clothes , paper, wood and brick and so cameras sensitive to them can peer inside envelopes, into living rooms and “frisk” people at distance.
The way terahertz waves are absorbed and emitted can also be used to determine the chemical composition of a material. And even though they don’t travel far inside the body, there is great hope that the waves can be used to spot tumours near the surface of the skin.
With all that potential, it’s no wonder that research on terahertz waves has exploded in the last ten years or so.
But what of the health effects of terahertz waves? At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss any notion that they can be damaging. Terahertz photons are not energetic enough to break chemical bonds or ionise atoms or molecules, the chief reasons why higher energy photons such as x-rays and UV rays are so bad for us. But could there be another mechanism at work?
The evidence that terahertz radiation damages biological systems is mixed. “Some studies reported significant genetic damage while others, although similar, showed none,” say Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a few buddies. Now these guys think they know why.
Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they’ve found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That’s a jaw dropping conclusion.
And it also explains why the evidence has been so hard to garner. Ordinary resonant effects are not powerful enough to do do this kind of damage but nonlinear resonances can. These nonlinear instabilities are much less likely to form which explains why the character of THz genotoxic effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic, say the team.
This should set the cat among the pigeons. Of course, terahertz waves are a natural part of environment, just like visible and infrared light. But a new generation of cameras are set to appear that not only record terahertz waves but also bombard us with them. And if our exposure is set to increase, the question that urgently needs answering is what level of terahertz exposure is safe.
December 18, 2009
By David Gutierrez
Research is emerging that casts serious doubt on the major hypothesis as to the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, raising questions as to whether scientists really understand the disease at all.
The most effective drug currently in use for the treatment of Alzheimer’s is not any of the complex drugs developed or used in the United States or in Western Europe, which slow cognitive decline for only about six to nine months. That honor goes to a Russian antihistamine named dimebolin, which reverses the symptoms of Alzheimer’s for a full year. Although not currently approved for U.S. use by the FDA, dimebolin is shaking up the Alzheimer’s research world.
In a study conducted by researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Vienna, dimebolin was found to drastically improve symptoms at the same time that it led to a drastic increase in the levels of the beta amyloid protein in brain cells, both in cell-based experiments and in the brains of mice. Yet beta amyloids are the very molecules that most Western researchers have, until recently, believed to be the cause of the disease, by forming sticky plaques in the brain that interfere with neural functioning.
“I would say that conventional wisdom in the field … is that an amyloid benefit would mean amyloid-lowering,” researcher Sam Gandy said. “Certainly, up until now, no one has been looking (intentionally) to treat Alzheimer’s by raising amyloid levels. [So] it was startling to observe that a compound with an apparently beneficial clinical effect on cognition caused acute elevation of amyloid beta levels in three out of three systems, in two labs.”
The pharmaceutical industry has been pouring massive amounts of time and money into drugs capable of lowering amyloid levels directly – efforts that it now seems may do more harm than good. In light of recent findings, some researchers are now suggesting that amyloid plaques might actually function as a toxic waste dump of sorts, sequestering dangerous compounds to defend the brain from further damage. If so, eliminating them might drastically accelerate the progress of dementia.