December 6, 2011
By Dr. Josh Axe
“Finally some good news. Mmm, chocolate!” –KTRN
If you’re like me, you love to eat chocolate! Chocolate lovers rejoiced when the benefits of anti-oxidants found in chocolate and other foods began to be marketed. But in reality, the potential benefits of anti-oxidants in processed chocolate are slim to none.
But unprocessed, dark chocolate is actually great for you. It’s very high in anti-oxidants and flavanols.
Let’s take a look at how anti-oxidants and flavanols work in our bodies.
Free radicals are unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body, especially those that combat environmental toxins. These compounds can run wild, creating damage in the body and interrupting normal physiological functioning.
Anti-oxidants are compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from such damage. Anti-oxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals—helpful plant compounds.
Flavonols are one of these antioxidant phytochemicals that may protect us from damage caused by aging and environmental toxins.Flavonols are a type of flavonoid found in chocolate and cocoa.
Dark chocolate Flavonols are said to promote heart health and reduce the risk of cancer. Flavonols may also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart.They may reduce cholesterol levels and arterial plaque. Some studies suggest that flavonols may reduce stickiness in blood platelets, reducing the risk of stroke, say Cleveland Clinic and University of Alabama doctors.
Chocolate manufacturers have gone hog-wild marketing these health claims for their products, but these assertions warrant another look. Sometimes things that seem too good to be true really are.
Studies on Chocolate
These studies have been conducted with chocolate that contains high levels of flavonols. Unfortunately, the chocolate that most of us eat has been processed in ways that destroys flavonols.
Cocoa is naturally bitter and very strong-tasting (as anyone who’s tried a taste of baker’s chocolate knows!) Chocolate-makers mellow this flavor by processes such as alkalizing, fermenting, roasting and adding milk and/or sugar, all of which can destroy flavonols, alter our ability to use them or negate their health effects with unhealthy additives.
Most studies of the beneficial effects of chocolate are simply observational: they’re not clinical trials.They’ve looked at people who eat chocolate and measure health effects without accounting for other dietary aspects or lifestyle habits. So a person that eats a bit of chocolate every week and is healthy might also be the person that works out three times a day or avoids other processed foods like the plague.
June 7th, 2011
By: S.L. Baker
Big Pharma’s drugs have failed miserably in helping female cancer survivors deal with quality of life problems that can linger for years after chemo and radiation treatments are finished. But now there’s help on the horizon — and it’s all natural and appears to be free of side effects. Study results just presented at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago revealed a natural combination of nutrients and phytochemicals were healthy for female cancer survivors across the board with a wide variety of problems.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center scientists were looking for a way to help women cancer survivors who often suffer from sexual problems following their chemo and other mainstream medical therapies. So the researchers tested a natural nutritional supplement (which has been marketed for the last decade to boost all around well-being and balance hormones); the supplement had already been shown in a small study conducted at Stanford University to improve sexual function.
The Wake Forest research team conducted a double-blind, placebo controlled study and found the all-natural supplement didn’t measurably improve sexual function in the cancer patients. But imagine the scientists’ surprise when the results of the study were analyzed. They found the herbal/vitamin blend produced incredible results in other areas of the women’s lives — reducing pain, relieving insomnia, stopping nausea and boosting energy.
The Wake Forest research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, used a supplement sold as ArginMax for Women which is made from a proprietary blend of L-arginine, ginseng, ginkgo, and 14 vitamins and minerals. Many of these natural ingredients have long been used in traditional medicine to boost energy and circulation and optimize hormonal balance.
For the study, scientists at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist, the Derrick L. Davis Forsyth Regional Cancer Center, and multiple other cancer centers across the country recruited 186 female cancer survivors who were at least six months past their last treatment for any type of malignancy. The trial was strictly controlled so that neither the research subjects nor the investigators knew who was receiving the supplement and who was being given a placebo pill.
At the start of the study and again at four weeks, eight weeks and 12 weeks after taking the supplement or placebo, all the women completed two standardized questionnaires that measured sexual function and quality of life. Dubbed the FACT-G questionnaire, it measures overall quality of life and has been used in research of all cancer types to evaluate physical, emotional, social and functional well-being.
Amazingly, every single cancer survivor who took the herbal/vitamin supplement was found to have a dramatic boost in measures of overall quality of life.
“The group taking the supplements experienced significant improvement in overall quality of life, particularly physical well-being,” Kathryn M. Greven, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Wake Forest Baptist and the lead investigator on the study, said in a statement to the media.
“Bothersome symptoms such as lack of energy, pain, nausea, and sleeplessness were all improved, as were measures of functional well-being, for example the ability to perform normal activities at home or work. Simply, they reported a greater enjoyment of life, without any additional side effects from the supplement.”
Edward G. Shaw, M.D., M.A., an oncologist as well as counselor and principal investigator for Wake Forest Baptist’s Community Clinical Oncology Program Research Base, was a co-researcher on the study. In the press statement, he noted that cancer survivors can suffer from persistent inflammation (also called chronic oxidative stress) for years after chemo, radiation and other mainstream medical cancer treatments. The result can be lingering fatigue that greatly reduces the quality of life. Dr. Shaw hypothesized that the herbal and vitamin ingredients in the supplement used for the study counteract this process.
“Beyond managing individual symptoms as they appear, the medical community has not been able to offer cancer patients more global symptom relief. This research is empowering for the community of cancer survivors,” he noted. “It is very exciting that we’ve found something that has the potential to affect and improve quality of life for female cancer survivors.”
April 26, 2010
By Richard Alleyne
The fruit lowered blood pressure, improved heart function and reduced other risk factors for heart disease and metabolic syndrome, it was claimed.
American researchers found this could be due to phytochemicals – naturally occurring antioxidants – that grapes contain.
Following animal tests, the research revealed a grape-enriched diet preventing risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a condition which is often a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Mixing a blend of green, red and black grapes into the diets of laboratory rats as part of a high-fat, American style diet, they were compared with a test group fed with a similar diet full of fat and sugars.
After three months, the rats that received the grape-enriched diet had lower blood pressure, better heart function, and reduced indicators of inflammation in the heart and the blood than rats who received no grape powder.
Rats also had lower triglycerides and improved glucose tolerance.
Heart surgeon Dr Steven Bolling said: “The possible reasoning behind the lessening of metabolic syndrome is that the phytochemicals were active in protecting the heart cells from the damaging effects of metabolic syndrome.
“In the rats, inflammation of the heart and heart function was maintained far better.
“Although there’s not a particular direct correlation between this study and what humans should do, it’s very interesting to postulate that a diet higher in phytochemical-rich fruits, such as grapes, may benefit humans.”
Although he added those wanting to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes should follow some tried-and-true advice such as eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, maintain a desirable weight and exercise more.
March 30, 2010
By S. L. Baker
Originally native to southern Mexico and now cultivated in many tropical countries (including Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam and Sri Lanka), the papaya plant has been touted by traditional healers for centuries as a source of powerful medicine. Not only is papaya fruit delicious and loaded with vitamins and phytochemicals, but other parts of the plant have been used historically to treat health problems, too. Now University of Florida (UF) researcher Dr. Nam Dang and his colleagues in Japan have announced new evidence that the papaya fights cancer cells. In fact, they discovered that an extract made from dried papaya leaves produced a dramatic anti-cancer effect against a broad range of tumors grown in the laboratory — including cancers of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, not only showed that papaya has a direct anti-tumor effect on a variety of malignancies, but it also documented for the first time that papaya leaf extract increases the production of key signaling molecules called Th1-type cytokines. That’s important because this regulation of the immune system raises the strong possibility that the use of papaya could help the body’s own immune system to overcome cancers. In addition, it suggests papaya could be helpful in treating or preventing other health problems such as inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
The research team found that papaya’s anti-cancer effects were strongest when cancer cells received larger doses of the papaya leaf extract — yet, unlike many mainstream cancer therapies, there were no toxic effects at all on normal cells. In a statement to the media, Dr. Dang pointed out that the ability of papaya extract to stop cancer without toxicity is consistent with reports from indigenous populations in Australia and in his native Vietnam.
“Based on what I have seen and heard in a clinical setting, nobody who takes this extract experiences demonstrable toxicity; it seems like you could take it for a long time — as long as it is effective,” stated Dr. Dang, who is a professor of medicine and the medical director of the UF Shands Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office.
In all, the UF scientists exposed 10 different types of cancer cell cultures to four strengths of papaya leaf extract. When they measured the effect of the extract after 24 hours, the papaya had slowed the growth of tumors in all the cultures.
What exactly does papaya do to halt malignancies? To find out, the researchers focused on a T-lymphoma cancer cell line. They discovered that at least one of the mechanisms that makes papaya extract a potent anti-cancer weapon is the natural compound’s ability to cause malignant cells — but not normal ones — to die.
The researchers hope to follow up these experiments by eventually testing the papaya cancer treatment in animal and human studies. Up next for Dr. Dang and his colleagues: they’ve applied to patent a process to distill the papaya extract through the University of Tokyo and they are working to identify all the specific compounds in the papaya extract that are active against cancer cells. To this end, Dr. Dang has partnered with Hendrik Luesch, a UF Shands Cancer Center professor of medicinal chemistry who is an expert in the identification and use of natural products for medical purposes. Dr. Luesch recently discovered yet another natural cancer fighter — a coral reef compound that blocks cancer cell growth in cell lines.
March 2, 2010
By S. L. Baker
Stroke takes an enormous toll on health. In fact, it’s the third leading cause of death in the US, according to the American Stroke Association. So imagine how much money Big Pharma could rake in if drug manufacturers came up with a medication that not only reduced the risk of having a stroke but slashed the risk of dying from a stroke in half. It turns out there’s a substance already on the market that does just that. Only, it isn’t an expensive prescription drug but a delicious, natural food — chocolate.
A report just released by Canadian scientists from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and the University of Toronto provides evidence that consuming chocolate regularly significantly reduces the odds of having a stroke. What’s more, if a person who eats chocolate does suffer a stroke, their risk of dying afterwards is almost half that of non-chocolate eaters.
The research team reached these conclusions after analyzing three studies for any links between chocolate intake and strokes. Although one study didn’t reveal any risk or benefit, two others did. A large study of 44,489 people showed that those who ate at least one serving of chocolate each week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than the research participants who didn’t indulge in chocolate.
Another study of 1,169 people found that when someone did experience a stroke, if they ate 50 grams of chocolate each week they were about 50 percent less likely to die afterwards than those who had strokes but didn’t eat chocolate. The researchers stated that chocolate’s abundant antioxidant content could be the key to its apparent stroke-protective effect.
“More research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk, or whether healthier people are simply more likely to eat chocolate than others,” study author Sarah Sahib, BScCA, of McMaster University, said in a statement to the media.
Historically, traditional healers have long contended that chocolate is good for body and spirit. For example, the ancient Aztecs and Mayans are believed to be the first people who drank a chocolate drink to help matters of the heart. And in recent years, scientists have found that some phytochemicals in chocolate can alter a person’s sense of well being, producing a lift similar to the feeling of being in love. As NaturalNews has previously reported (http://www.naturalnews.com/023499_c…), Harvard Medical School scientists have discovered that cocoa, which is the main component of chocolate, may literally be good for the heart — their research shows it could reduce the risk of heart disease and also cancer.
February 12, 2010
By Mike Adams
Although several studies involving laboratory animals have provided tantalizing clues that eating blueberries improves memory, could the delicious fruit actually help people retain their mental sharpness as they age? The good new appears to be “yes”. In fact, blueberries might even boost brain power. For the very first time, a study has found evidence that blueberry juice improves memory in humans.
For the research project, a team of scientists from the University of Cincinnati, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Canadian Department of Agriculture worked with a group of volunteers in their 70s who suffered from early memory decline. Half the group drank the equivalent of two to two and 1/2 cups of blueberry juice every day for two months. As a control, a second group drank a different beverage that did not contain any blueberry juice.
After about eight weeks, the scientists conducted learning and memory tests to see if the research participants’ cognitive abilities had undergone any measurable changes. The results, which were recently published in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, showed that the elders who had been regularly drinking blueberry juice demonstrated significant improvement in their mental faculties.
Lead researcher Robert Krikorian and colleagues concluded that eating blueberries, which are a rich source of antioxidants and phytochemicals, may help boost memory in the aged. Bottom line: the study establishes a basis for larger, comprehensive human clinical trials to further document how blueberries can be a powerful aid for keeping brains and thinking abilities healthy and strong into old age.
“These preliminary memory findings are encouraging and suggest that consistent supplementation with blueberries may offer an approach to forestall or mitigate neurodegeneration,” the researchers stated.
As NaturalNews has previously reported, blueberries have gained the attention of researchers studying a whole range of ways this remarkable fruit can protect and heal the body. For example, scientists at Rutgers University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found in animal studies that a compound in blueberries called pterostilbene could prevent colon cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/021951_b…).
In addition, another animal study revealed that blueberries can lower the levels of artery-clogging LDL (known as the “bad” cholesterol) as effectively as statin drugs, but without negative side effects.
January 25, 2010
By S.L. Baker
When scientists gathered in Houston recently for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, they heard groundbreaking evidence about how colon cancer can be prevented. The new data wasn’t about drugs or surgery, either. Instead, two separate research groups concluded natural substances appear to protect from often deadly colon malignancies.
Colon cancer, which the American Cancer Society estimates is diagnosed in over 108,000 Americans each year, is intricately linked to adenomas, also called polyps. These lesions grow in the large bowel and start off as benign. However, they can turn into cancerous tumors and 70 to 80% of all cancers of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine) and rectum result from adenomas-turned-malignant.
So, in hopes of preventing future cancerous growths, polyps found during colonoscopies are snipped off and biopsied. Unfortunately though, pre-cancerous polyps often return. But scientists at the National Institute for Cancer Research in Genoa, Italy, conducted a long term study that shows the risk of pre-cancerous polyps (dubbed colorectal metachronous adenomas) coming back after they’ve been removed can be greatly reduced. The key? Taking specific antioxidants, including a selenium-based compound.
“Our study is the first intervention trial specifically designed to evaluate the efficacy of the selenium-based antioxidant compound on the risk of developing metachronous adenomas,” said Luigina Bonelli, M.D., head of the unit of secondary prevention and screening at the National Institute for Cancer Research, in a statement to the media.
40% reduced risk
The research team studied volunteers between the ages of 25 and 75 who had already had one or more colorectal adenomas removed. None of the participants were diagnosed with any additional colorectal disease, cancer or other life-threatening illness and none were taking vitamins or mineral supplements when the study began. The scientists randomly divided the 411 participants into two groups: those in one group received an inactive placebo and those in the second group took a daily antioxidant supplement containing a selenium compound (selenomethionnine 200 ug), zinc 30 mg, vitamin A 6,000 IU, vitamin C 180 mg and vitamin E 30 mg.
“Our results indicated that individuals who consumed antioxidants had a 40% reduction in the incidence of metachronous adenomas of the large bowel,” Bonelli said. “It is noteworthy that the benefit observed after the conclusion of the trial persisted through 13 years of follow up.”
Omega-3s help prevent colorectal cancer
Another study just released at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference — this one from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina — found that omega-3 fatty acids, which are primarily found in cold water fish such as salmon, may be able to prevent colorectal cancer.
The scientists recruited 1,509 Caucasian participants (716 cancer cases and 787 controls) and 369 African-American participants (213 cancer cases and 156 controls). A validated food questionnaire was used to collect information on the frequency and amount of foods typically consumed by the research subjects in the past 12 months. Those who ate more long-chain omega-3 fatty acids had a significantly reduced risk of large bowel cancer. In fact, the highest intake was linked to an almost 40% decreased cancer risk. Unfortunately, the greatly reduced risk was only seen in white research subjects and the scientists are trying to figure out what might account for the racial disparity.
“Experimental data have shown benefits of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in colorectal carcinogenesis, ranging from reduced tumor growth, suppression of angiogenesis and inhibition of metastasis,” research leader Sangmi Kim, Ph.D., said in a statement to the press. “Our finding of inverse association between dietary intakes of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and distal large bowel cancer in white participants adds additional support to the hypothesis.”
These new studies linking natural substances to colon cancer prevention are part of a growing body of evidence indicating dietary measures can fight this kind of cancer successfully. For example, as NaturalNews has previously reported, the disease is primarily linked to the typical Western diet so avoiding processed food and trans fats can go far to prevent it. What’s more, blueberries have been shown to slash the risk of colon cancer by 57% and apples contain natural phytochemicals that have a protective effect against colon cancer too.
By S. L. Baker
Take a bite of a juicy, sweet mango and you are experiencing a delicious taste enjoyed by countless people from ancient times until today. According to the Orlando-based National Mango Board (NMG), a mango industry-sponsored research, promotion and consumer information program, mangos are known to be rich in vitamins C and A, as well as fiber. However, because little has been documented about any specific health benefits of eating the fruit, NMB has commissioned a variety of scientific studies to investigate these issues.
So far, this research initiative has turned up an unexpected and groundbreaking discovery: in laboratory experiments in Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Research department mango fruit prevented or stopped cancer growth in certain breast and colon cell lines.
Food scientists Dr. Susanne Talcott and her co-researcher husband, Dr. Steve Talcott, used the five varieties of mangos (Kent, Francine, Ataulfo, Tommy/Atkins and Haden) most common in the US and specifically tested polyphenol extracts from the fruit on colon, breast, lung, leukemia and prostate cancer cells. Polyphenols are natural substances in plants that are antioxidants with the potential to protect the body from disease. The Talcotts zeroed in on evaluating polyphenolic compounds in mangos known as gallotannins, a class of natural bioactive compounds believed to help prevent or block the growth of cancer cells.
The results? The Talcotts’ experiments showed that the mango extract demonstrated some cancer fighting ability when tested on lung, leukemia and prostate cancer cells. But when tested on the most common breast and colon cancers, mango compounds were found to have even stronger anticancer abilities. In fact, the mango extract caused the breast and colon cancer cells to undergo apoptosis — programmed cell death.
“Additionally, we found that when we tested normal colon cells side by side with the colon cancer cells, the mango polyphenolics did not harm the normal cells,” Dr. Susanne Talcott said in a statement to the press. “That is a general observation for any natural agent, that they target cancer cells and leave the healthy cells alone, in reasonable concentrations at least.”
The researchers documented that the cancer cell cycle (the division process cells go through) was interrupted by mango extract. This is crucial information, Suzanne Talcott said in a press statement, because it could explain a possible mechanism for how the cancer cells are prevented or stopped by phytochemicals in mangos. “For cells that may be on the verge of mutating or being damaged, mango polyphenolics prevent this kind of damage,” she explained.
The scientists have conducted additional research on the colon cancer cell lines because mangos contain small molecules that are readily absorbed in the colon as well as larger molecules that are not absorbed and remain present longer in the colon. Those facts could potentially make eating mangos a potent way to help prevent colon cancer. In fact, the Talcotts are hoping to next conduct a small clinical trial to see if mangos can prevent colon cancer in people at high risk for a malignancy because they have increased inflammation in their intestines.
January 06, 2010
By Xavier Briand
An acid found in pomegranates appears to block aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen to estrogen, a hormone that plays a role in the development of breast cancer, the researchers wrote in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
“We identified some of these chemicals in pomegranates that actually have properties that can suppress aromatase,” researcher Shiuan Chen, of the City of Hope cancer research and treatment center in Duarte, California, said in a telephone interview.
Many women who have had breast cancer take medicines called aromatase inhibitors — such as Pfizer’s Aromasin, Novartis’ Femara and AstraZeneca Plc’s Arimidex — to keep estrogen from feeding tumors.
Chen and colleagues studied whether compounds, or phytochemicals, in pomegranates can suppress aromatase and ultimately block cancer growth. They found that 10 natural compounds in the fruit may potentially prevent estrogen-related breast cancer.
Chen said the compounds would not be a replacement for aromatase inhibitors.
“We do not recommend people start taking this as a replacement for the AI’s,” Chen said. “They (pomegranate compounds) are not as potent as the real drugs so we think that the interest probably is more on the prevention end rather than in a therapeutic purpose.”
Other researchers not associated with the study told the journal that the results are promising, and suggested more studies involving animals and humans were needed to confirm the findings.
“It’s not clear that these levels could be achieved in animals or in humans because the (compounds) are not well absorbed into blood when provided in the diet,” said Gary Stoner of Ohio State University.
Dr. Powel Brown, an oncologist at the University of Texas, said in a statement that future studies should focus on testing pomegranate juice for its effect on estrogen levels, menopausal symptoms, breast density or even as a cancer preventive agent.
More than 400,000 women die from breast cancer globally every year. About 75 percent of breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive, meaning they are fed by estrogen.
Previous research has shown that pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants — vitamins and other substances — that may help prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
November 06, 2009
By S. L. Baker
Phenolics. Flavonoids. Carotenoids. Quercetin. Phloridzin. What do these scientific names have in common? They are all types of phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals, found in fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and teas. And they may decrease the risk of not only minor illnesses like colds but also many of the major killers on the planet — including cancer and heart disease. Scientists have only identified a few of the suspected vast number of these natural compounds in foods that protect and build health. But two facts are clear. First, most Americans don’t get enough phytonutrients in their daily diet for optimum health and, second, there’s an easy strategy to boost your phytonutrient intake — simply eat a mix of more naturally colorful foods.
The recently released Phytonutrient Report, sponsored by the supplement company Nutrilite, used National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) and USDA data to analyze what people in the U.S. typically eat each day. Because the same compounds that give plant foods various colors are related to phytonutrient content, the report divided consumption into five categories of colors — green, red, blue/purple, yellow/orange and white.
For example, the phytonutrients, isothiocyanate, lutein and isoflavones are known to be abundant in green foods such as spinach and broccoli and lycopene and ellagic acid are found in red fruits and vegetables like watermelon and tomatoes. White plant foods like onions and garlic are rich in allicin and quercetin. Anthocyanidins and resveratrol are found in purple and blue foods like grapes and blueberries while alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, hesperitin and beta-cryptoxanthin are most often in yellow/orange foods such as carrots and oranges.
The Phytonutrient Report concludes there is a phytonutrient gap in every color classification. Specifically, 88% of Americans are eating too few foods in the blue/purple category, 79% are missing out on an adequate intake of yellow and orange foods, and 78% don’t have enough red veggies and fruits in their diets. In addition, 69% lack enough daily green plant foods and 86% lack enough white plant foods.