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Archive for October 11, 2012

Potential new option for Alzheimer’s patients

Monday, October 08, 2012

October 8, 2012 (WLS) — Two large studies show patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease taking an experimental drug had 34 percent less decline in memory over 18 months compared with those taking placebos.


The drug is called solanezumab. The analysis of data from two large studies were presented Monday at a medical meeting in Boston. But this closely watched drug did not significantly protect against loss of physical functions.

Scientists say the latest data lend further credence to the theory that Alzheimer’s must be attacked early in the disease for drugs to have a clinically meaningful impact.

The drug works by blocking a protein called beta amyloid that forms plaque deposits on the brain.


(Copyright ©2012 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper vending machines to list calories

Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper vending machines to list calories

A new soda vending machine that will be used by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper will list calorie counts and urge consumers to choose less sugary alternatives with messages such as “Try a Low-Calorie Beverage.” (American Beverage Association, Associated Press /October 8, 2012)


By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles TimesOctober 9, 2012

With cities pressing to limit the intake of fattening foods and drinks, the nation’s major soda makers will start listing calorie counts on vending machines next year, a move critics said was aimed at averting calls for special taxes and other regulations.

Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. unveiled the initiative Monday in conjunction with a competition between Chicago and San Antonio municipal employees for a $5-million grant from the American Beverage Assn., an industry trade group.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday in a news conference with soda makers that he doesn’t want to impose serving-size limits as New York has and he doesn’t want his city to follow through on a proposed tax on such drinks.

New York took action after studies linked large portions of sugary sodas to obesity.

Instead, Chicago city workers will compete with San Antonio’s municipal workforce to determine which is healthier. The trade group also will award $1,000 to individual workers who meet healthcare goals. Emanuel said the criteria are still being worked out, but losing weight and quitting smoking are likely benchmarks that could earn a worker money.

Others, though, were critical of the idea.

The competition is “virtually a bribe to get two large cities not to do anything stronger to reduce soda consumption,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“The industry knows that taxes would certainly raise prices and reduce consumption,” Jacobson said. “They’re willing to put in tens of millions of dollars to stop such efforts. They’re worried about dominoes falling.”

Like McDonald’s, which last month said it would list calorie counts on all of its menu boards and drive-throughs nationwide, the soda industry’s move addresses growing criticism that its products lead to obesity and other health problems.

“The industry needs to be proactive on this issue to deter critics,” said John Sicher, editor and publisher of trade publication Beverage Digest.

Emanuel said the program isn’t a payoff from the soda industry to avoid more punitive measures.

“I believe firmly in personal responsibility,” the mayor said at a City Hall news conference with executives from Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper.

Focus began to tighten on soda and its health effects after New York City Mayor Michael Bloombergrecently pushed through a ban on the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander is pitching a plan to prohibit soda sales in some city libraries and parks. Residents in Richmond, Calif., will vote next month on a tax on soft drinks.

Soda sales have suffered in the U.S. in recent years, particularly on a per capita basis. The average American drank 44.6 gallons of soda last year, compared with 54 gallons in 1998, Sicher said.

Soda companies are adjusting to newly body-conscious customers by offering beverages in smaller portions and with alternative sweeteners. Diet soda brands now make up 29.1% of the industry, up from less than a quarter in 1999, Sicher said.

“The reality is that, over time, diet brands probably need to increase to about 50% of the business,” he said.

A 20-ounce bottle of regular Coca-Cola has 240 calories. A comparable container of Pepsi has 250 calories — about as much as a standard McDonald’s hamburger. A same-size bottle of Coca-Cola Zero has no calories.

Chicago and San Antonio will challenge employees “to take control of their wellness and make healthy lifestyle choices,” Emanuel said.

Machines in government buildings in the two cities will feature a Calories Count display, the soda makers’ trade group said. Other messages on the machines will include “Check Then Choose” and “Try a Low-Calorie Beverage.”

The machines will feature a wider selection of lower-calorie drinks, according to the trade group.

The calorie-conscious vending program will expand nationwide after the initial rollout in Chicago and San Antonio, the group said, but it didn’t provide a timetable.

Tribune staff writers John Byrne and Wailin Wong contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

Antioxidant-rich diet offers most benefits to breast cancer survivors

Antioxidants that protect against or repair cell damage are found in colorful fruits and vegetables such as broccoli and red peppers (Jupiter Images)
By Barbara Sadick
Chicago Tribune
POSTED:   10/09/2012 12:01:00 AM MDT

Cheryl McGee has battled breast cancer. Twice. She’s undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and treatments for infection, but dietary management was never part of her treatment protocol.

“I don’t know why nobody ever told me to go to a nutritionist or how important diet is to recurrence,” McGee said. “A nurse once told me in passing to try to stay away from too much sugar,” but that was it.

On her own initiative, she started to eat a healthier diet, loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables. “I’m feeling better than I have in a long time.”

Scientists continue to learn more about the effects dietary changes can have on people with breast cancer, and this year, for the first time, the American Cancer Society is confident enough in the research to issue guidelines encouraging more attention to exercise and diet to help maximize health and reduce breast cancer recurrence.

Past studies have indicated that overweight and obese women have a higher risk of recurrence from breast cancer than women who are slimmer. That’s because carrying around so much extra weight can compromise the immune system, leading to chronic inflammation. This increases levels of estrogen that contribute to cancer formation, said Joseph Sparano, associate chairman of the Department of Oncology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Sparano and Jennifer Ligibel, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, have recently conducted trials showing that the relationship between obesity and increased risk of breast cancer recurrence and death is true for patients treated with the most current chemotherapy regimens.

With this in mind, breast cancer survivors can be proactive with their weight and diet. “When women are diagnosed with breast cancer and are scared, they usually will do anything, such as change diet, to prevent another ‘bullet,’ ” said Lillie Shockney, administrative director of Johns Hopkins Breast Center and its Cancer Survivorship Programs. “But the problem is sustaining the changes, which usually last about six months and then wane as the fear subsides.”

Shockney said people are more likely to stick with dietary changes if they make them a little at a time. Looking at labels to determine nutritional content and becoming more informed about what you’re eating is a good start.

What to eat: The American Cancer Society advises survivors to reach a healthy body weight, to exercise and to limit high-calorie foods.

Portion control can help you reach those goals, but what foods, specifically, should you be shunning or embracing?

Doctors and nutritionists versed in the latest research recommend a plant-based diet rich in natural compounds known as phytochemicals, said Amanda Bontempo, oncology dietitian at Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care.

Phytochemicals have health-promoting properties that work together with vitamins and nutrients to prevent, halt and lessen diseases. They act as antioxidants to protect against or repair damage to cells and are found mostly in colorful fruits and vegetables but also often found in beans, grains, onions, garlic and corn.

Breast cancer survivors “should eat a variety of antioxidant-rich foods every day,” Bontempo said. Her dietary advice follows:

Less of: Red meat, processed meat, trans fats, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, refined sugars and other “white” foods. The American Cancer Society warns that alcohol could increase the risk of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer recurrence and recommends no more than one drink a day. Soda should also be avoided because it interferes with calcium absorption and has absolutely no nutritional value.

More of: Whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, olive oil and lean protein such as fish, poultry and beans. Include semolina pasta, whole-grain breads and whole grains themselves like bulgur, barley and quinoa, but do keep portion size in mind. Turmeric, ginger and other healthy herbs and spices contain potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may inhibit tumor cell growth and suppress enzymes that activate carcinogens.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, also rich in phytochemicals, help fight breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective hormone. They’re also a good source of vitamin C and soluble fiber, which helps control weight by slowing down digestion and making you feel full.

Omega 3, the fatty acid found in flaxseed and oily fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring, may benefit the immune system by reducing inflammation and the risk of metastatic cancer.

Allium vegetables that include garlic and onion are known to be protective and can be added to almost any dish. Tomatoes, berries, whole grains, apples, legumes and green peas are also rich in anti-cancerous properties.

White and green teas are recommended because they contain antioxidants that may stave off breast-cancer recurrence.

Whole soy, which mimics estrogen, can be eaten in moderation, Bontempo said, but processed soy is high in estrogen and should be avoided. For those being treated with tamoxifen, any soy can interfere with therapy, so consult with your doctor.

Vitamin D can directly or indirectly control carcinogenic genes in the body, studies show. Sun-dried tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, egg yolk, fortified cow’s milk, fortified soy milk and other foods contain high levels of vitamin D.

“Supplements and sunlight are also sources of vitamin D,” said Bontempo, “but every breast-cancer survivor should consult a physician before taking any supplement, because supplements are not FDA regulated and could contain harmful chemicals.” Vitamin D, required for optimal calcium absorption, can also be found in spinach and white beans.

Water should be a survivor’s go-to drink. It flushes toxins out of vital organs and carries nutrients to cells.

Read more:Antioxidant-rich diet offers most benefits to breast cancer survivors – The Denver Post
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