Thursday, March 31, 2005

Dairy helps you look good, claims new campaign

The British dairy industry is appealing to the vanity of teenage girls in a bid to get them to drink more milk.

A £3 million marketing campaign launched by the Milk Development Council (MDC) this week will promote the beauty benefits offered by nutrients in dairy products, including the link between B vitamins and healthy skin, calcium’s role in toothcare and the use of protein and amino acids in healthy hair.

Calcium intake is important during adolescence as this is considered a key period for the formation of bones and protection against osteoporosis later in life. However research by the industry body suggests that only one out of four girls is eating at least three portions of dairy products daily.

“What’s important to teenage girls is looking good," said Vicky Hathaway, marketing manager at the MDC, a government-appointed marketing body for the UK milk sector.

“There is no point talking to them about osteoporosis, which they view as a long-term condition that is not life-threatening. We have to give them other reasons for eating more calcium.”

The campaign, backed by a €2.1 million grant from the European Commission, uses a range of media including cinema, radio and press, to carry the ‘Naturally Beautiful’ message.

Steve - This is amazing. It sounds like the British and US Dairy Council are "in cahoots." Appealing to the vanity of teenage girls to drink milk? How much lower can you go? The fact that this campaign is backed by a European government body makes it that much scarier.

Over 62% of the world are lactose intolerant, and many more are sensitive or allergic. A recent review study in Journal Pediatrics showed that milk had little or no benefit in building strong bones ijn children and teens. In fact, heavy milk drinking countries have the highest bone fracture and osteoporosis risk. Milk has never been clinically shown to promote weight loss. Based upon the proven fact that our genes have changed very little over the last 10,000 years, milk and dairy products (unless breast milk) are genetically incompatible. Many researchers believe high milk and dairy product consumption is one of the main reasons why obesity is a worldwide epidemic.

'Sesame Street' will begin to focus on nutrition, exercise

When "Sesame Street" begins its 36th season next week, it will be tackling a new subject: healthy habits.

In response to the growing crisis of childhood obesity, the children's show will spend much of the coming season teaching kids how to get more exercise and enjoy healthier foods.

No, Cookie Monster isn't being turned into a "Carrot-Stick Monster." But he will learn that, as one of the show's new nutrition-oriented songs puts it, "A cookie is a sometime food."

About half of the 26 episodes this season will focus largely on healthy choices, and most episodes will include that subject as at least a partial component of the show.

Episodes will stress the importance of nutrition, physical activity, size acceptance and other issues, including the question of how to get a reluctant child to try a new food.

Courtesy of Evansville Courier Press 3/30/2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Government Recommends Eating Whole Grains

The United States Agriculture Department says that three servings of whole grains each day, even if it is bread, will reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Bonnie - Looks like they are prepping us for the updated Food Pyramid.

For one, most of us do not know what a whole grain is.

Second, whole grain breads are rarely just whole grain. They are usually accompanied with refined grains. Some large food processors advertise their products as whole grains, yet when you scrutenize the labels, you find that they contain refined grains and added sugars.

When eating whole grains, try to avoid bread products and concentrate on consuming one whole grain at a time, such as oatmeal, wild rice or quinoa. Pick one whole grain for a day, and rotate to another grain for the next day. This way, you minimize your chances for allergy or sensitivity, which is common in individuals who consume a lot of grain.

Raw Food Vegans Have Thin But Healthy Bones

A team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found raw food vegans had many of the signs of strong bones.

Dr. Luigi Fontana, who led the study, said they had thin bones but none of the other signs of osteoporosis.

"We think it's possible these people don't have increased risk of fracture but that their low bone mass is related to the fact that they are lighter because they take in fewer calories," Fontana said in a statement.

He said he would continue to follow them to see if they develop osteoporosis later.

"Raw food vegetarians believe in eating only plant-derived foods that have not been cooked, processed, or otherwise altered from their natural state," Fontana's team wrote in this week's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Fontana's team studied 18 strict raw food vegans aged 33 to 85. All ate a diet that included unprepared foods such vegetables, fruits, nuts, and sprouted grains. They had been on this diet for an average of 3.6 years.

The team compared them to 18 more average Americans.

Fontana expected the vegans to have low vitamin D levels because they avoid dairy products, which are fortified with the vitamin. But in fact their vitamin D levels were "markedly higher" than average.

Vitamin D is made by the skin when the body is exposed to sunlight and is key to keeping strong bones.

"These people are clever enough to expose themselves to sunlight to increase their concentrations of vitamin D," Fontana said.

Fontana does not advocate a raw food diet. But he said that to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease people should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Steve - This was a very small study, so one must be cautious.

Although, as we say to our clients often, and mention in our Healthy Bones Protocol, it is not about quantity, but quality of bone. This is why I say that most of the bone-enhancing medications are ineffective because they concentrate only on increasing bone mass, not quality. One could have immense, but unhealthy bones, while the next person may have thin, but healthy bones.

We do not adovcate raw food diets, because for those who have done well, we have seen more who have done poorly. Although, it makes sense that those on raw food diets have bones that are thin but healthy. Raw food dieters do not consume dairy, but eat plenty of nuts, seeds, and vegetables, which are high in calcium. They also consume a diet that is low acid, one of the major factors in protecting bone quality. What it does show yet again is that one does not need to consume milk to have healthy bones.

Acupunture Lowers Blood Pressure

"Electroacupuncture," a form of acupuncture that incorporates low levels of electrical stimulation, has been found to reduce elevations in blood pressure by as much as 50 percent, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Applied Pscychology.

In tests on rats, researchers at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California Irvine found that electroacupuncture treatments provided temporary relief from the conditions that raise blood pressure during hypertensive states.

Such treatments may be effective as part of a therapeutic regimen for long-term care of hypertension and other cardiovascular ailments, say the researchers.

"This study suggests that acupuncture can be an excellent complement to other medical treatments, especially for those treating the cardiac system," said Dr. John C. Longhurst, director of the Samueli Center and study leader. "The Western world is waiting for a clear scientific basis for using acupuncture, and we hope that this research ultimately will lead to the integration of ancient healing practices into modern medical treatment."

Preschoolers Short on Key Vitamins

A study of preschool-age children living in Lincoln, Neb., found two-thirds of them deficient in vitamin E. Surprisingly, one-third of the children also weren't getting enough vitamin C, commonly found in such kid-friendly foods as orange juice.

Nutrition scientist Judy Driskell and her Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources colleagues tested 2- to 5-year-olds at four Lincoln day care centers. They drew blood samples from 22 ethnically diverse boys and girls to determine their vitamin E and C levels. Their parents also were interviewed to obtain dietary intakes for their children on two non-consecutive days.

The study found that the children deficient in either vitamin came equally from all ethnicities, genders and ages.

"I personally would recommend that young children receive a daily multivitamin-multimineral supplement that contains the recommended daily values," Driskell said. She recommends parents talk with their physician about whether their young children should take such a supplement.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln 3/28/2005

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Atkins to revamp model

Due to waning consumer demand for low carb products, Atkins Nutritionals is scrambling to change it's "net carb" model and switch to a "glycemic index" model. Glycemic index refers to a person's blood sugar response to carbohydrates. Food analysts say that consumers may be confused by the change, but that Atkins must try something.

Steve - We have seen it for decades. Fad diets come and go. Atkins is the latest casualty. There is no miracle diet! Eat real foods, never eat a carbohydrate alone unless accompanied with a healthy fat or lean protein, implement normal portion sizes, in other words, follow Bonnie's Circle of Health!

Delaying Food Introduction Won't Prevent Allergies

According to a study presented at the 61st annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, delaying introduction of highly allergenic foods in high risk infants showed no benefit compared with children who had not avoided the allergenic foods.

Bonnie - First, the fact that they could make news out of a study of 90 children is ridiculous. One would need to do a very large population study. Second, if the mother is eating these trigger foods while breastfeeding, than the child will react strongly. The study did not compensate for that. Third, I have seen the benefits of allergenic food avoidance throughout the twenty years of clinical practice. Although, each of us have a specific genetic disposition with regard to food allergies, and even with avoidance in the early years, we may still exhibit allergic symptoms.

Yogurt May Help Dieters Shed More Body Fat

Replacing other foods with a few daily servings of yogurt may help obese adults trim their waistlines better than calorie-cutting alone, a new study suggests.

Among 34 obese men and women who went on a 12-week, reduced-calorie diet, those who ate three daily servings of yogurt shed more fat around the middle compared with dieters who got little to no dairy and low amounts of calcium.

The findings add to recent evidence linking calcium and dairy foods to slimmer waistlines, including research showing that children and teens who get the recommended amounts of milk, yogurt and cheese tend to be leaner than their peers who shun dairy.

SOURCE: International Journal of Obesity, April 2005.

Bonnie - This is the most recent spin on a study the Dairy Council has been squeezing every ounce out of lately. The study is the lynchpin of the "dairy creates weight-loss" and "3-a-day"campaigns. The real reason people lost weight in this study has nothing to do with has to do with the participants receiving a reduced-calorie diet!

Sports drinks do more harm to teeth than sodas

Sports and energy drinks caused more damage to tooth enamel than colas, report researchers on a new study.

The findings support recent studies from the UK showing that sports drinks can cause serious damage to teeth. It underlines the need for manufacturers to look at new formulas that are less damaging.

“This study revealed that the enamel damage caused by non-cola and sports beverages was three to 11 times greater than cola-based drinks, with energy drinks and bottled lemonades causing the most harm to dental enamel,” said lead author J. Anthony von Fraunhofer, from the University of Maryland Dental School.

A previous study in the July/August issue of General Dentistry demonstrated that non-cola and canned iced teas can more aggressively harm dental enamel than cola.

The study continuously exposed enamel from cavity-free molars and premolars to a variety of popular sports beverages, including energy drinks, fitness water and sports drinks, as well as non-cola beverages such as lemonade and ice tea for a period of 14 days (336 hours).

The exposure time was comparable to approximately 13 years of normal beverage consumption.

There was significant enamel damage associated with all beverages tested, report authors in the January/February issue of General Dentistry.

Lemonade, energy drinks and sports drinks caused the most damage with fitness water, ice tea and cola coming some way after. Most cola-based drinks may contain one or more acids, commonly phosphoric and citric acids but sports beverages contain other additives and organic acids that can advance dental erosion, said the authors.

DHA may help prevent Alzheimer's, further evidence

People who eat significant amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexanoic acid (DHA) may be less likely to get Alzheimer's disease, suggests an animal study.

The study, to be reported in the 30 March issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, found that mice fed a diet rich in DHA had less beta-amyloid, a protein that causes plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, than mice on a normal diet.

Total amyloid was cut by 70 per cent in mice on the DHA-rich diet compared with those on another diet, said the researchers, while brain plaques were reduced by 40.3 per cent.

"These results suggest that dietary DHA could be protective against beta-amyloid production, accumulation, and potential downstream toxicity," write the researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles.

People with a high intake of the fatty acid have been found to be at lower risk but there is as yet little evidence to support a direct benefit of consuming DHA on Alzheimer's prevention.

The findings support previous research into DHA's effect on this disease.

Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of dementia in the elderly, afflicts an estimated 4.5 million people in the US alone.

Too little sun also harmful, say experts

Too little sun may be just as harmful as too much of it, warn Australian cancer specialists.

Australia is revising its warnings about the risks of sun exposure because of fears about vitamin D deficiency, Britain's Independent reported Tuesday.

Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of a range of diseases from cancer to osteoporosis, the newspaper said.

The Australians issued their warning on the same day Britain's Cancer Research UK launched its annual SunSmart campaign, highlighting the dangers of too much sun.

In a statement, the Cancer Council of Australia said: "A balance is required between avoiding an increase in the risk of skin cancer and achieving enough ultraviolet radiation exposure to achieve adequate vitamin D levels."

Brian Wharton, chairman of the British Nutrition Foundation, said: "We do need some sensible use of the sun and we have been swinging too strongly against it."

Courtesy of UPI 3/23/2005

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Natrecor Impairs Kidney Action, Study Says

According to an article in the journal Circulation, researchers claim that the drug Natrecor, Johnson & Johnson's popular treatment for congestive heart failure, had reduced kidney function.

An accompanying editorial in the journal, published by the American Heart Association, questioned why the Food and Drug Administration had failed to follow up on concerns about Natrecor's impact on the kidneys and suggested that the drug should have received stronger labeling when it was approved in 2001.

A cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic said he had had concerns about the drug's safety since he cast the only vote against it while serving on an F.D.A. advisory panel. The cardiologist, Dr. Steven Nissen, said his concerns were based on data showing excessive renal problems.

The analysis, by Dr. Jonathan D. Sackner-Bernstein and Dr. Hal A. Skopicki of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., and Dr. Keith D. Aaronson of the University of Michigan, was based on a review of clinical trial data submitted to the F.D.A. before the drug's approval.

The article concluded that Natrecor caused a 40 percent to 50 percent greater risk of reduced kidney function when compared with more conventional therapies for heart patients. Reduced renal function is linked to a higher death rate for patients with congestive heart failure.

The F.D.A. said that it could not comment because it had not seen the article.

Courtesy of the NY TImes 3/22/2005

Exercise May Help in Treating Depression

Though there's no definitive research showing exercise by itself can cure depression, many mental health experts agree that it has positive mental benefits and can be a useful tool in overall therapy.

Depression is a serious illness thought to be related to chemical imbalances in the brain, much more severe than an occasional case of "the blues." Depression affects the whole body: energy level, appetite and concentration.

"What we're really finding is that people that are depressed are quite inactive, both in kind of expending energy and in getting things done, working toward goals, taking care of personal business," said Matt Kushner, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota.

He recommends exercise for his patients as part of therapy that emphasizes routines, habits and goals. In addition, he said, patients who start exercising find they feel better and are less inclined to overeat or abuse drugs and alcohol.

Courtesy of AP 3/22/2005

Low Carb Diet Results in Greater Weight Loss

Obese women who follow low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet, may lose more weight in a four-month period than those who go on low-fat diets, new study findings show.

Some advocates of low-carbohydrate diets say that such diets promote increased energy expenditure, but this claim has not been formally tested, until now.

To investigate, University of Cinncinnati researchers randomly assigned 50 moderately obese women to a low-carbohydrate diet group or a low-fat diet group. Only the low-fat group was told to restrict their caloric intake. Forty women completed the study.

By the end of the four-month study, women in both groups had lost weight and body fat, the researchers report in this month's issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. However, the low-carbohydrate group lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, while the low-fat group lost about 7 percent.

Specifically, the low-carbohydrate group lost 9.8 kilograms (21.6 pounds) of weight and 6.2 kilograms (13.7 pounds) of body fat, while the low-fat group lost about 6.1 kilograms (13 pounds) of weight and 3.2 kilograms (7 pounds) of body fat, the report indicates.

"These results confirm that short-term weight loss is greater in obese women on a low-carbohydrate diet than in those on a low-fat diet even when reported food intake is similar," according to researchers.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, March 2005

Monday, March 21, 2005

Reduced Sugar Cereals a Sham?

Experts who reviewed the lower-sugar versions of six major brands of sweetened cereals at the request of The Associated Press found they have no significant nutritional advantages over their full-sugar counterparts.

Nutrition scientists at five universities found that while the new cereals do have less sugar, the calories, carbohydrates, fat, fiber and other nutrients are almost identical to the full-sugar cereals. That's because the cereal makers have replaced sugar with refined carbohydrates to preserve the crunch.

Officials at General Mills, Kellogg's and Post were unable to explain why the new cereals are a better choice, but noted they give consumers more options about how much sugar they eat.

Blame the calorie woes on crunch. To preserve cereals' taste and texture, sugar is replaced with other carbs that have the same calories as sugar and are no better for you.

That's also why not even diabetics benefit from these cereals. The body treats all refined carbohydrates the same, whether they are sugars or grains, said Dr. Lilian Cheung of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Courtesy of Associated Press 3/21/2005

Friday, March 18, 2005

Acupuncture Shown to Relieve Pelvic Pregnancy Pain

Acupuncture and exercise can help relieve pelvic pain during pregnancy, Swedish researchers said on Friday.

Researchers compared standard treatment, stabilizing exercises and acupuncture on 386 pregnant women. Those who received acupuncture and did the exercises for six weeks reported less pain than the others.

The pain scale was also assessed by an independent examiner.

The researchers said acupuncture and stabilizing exercises are effective complements to standard treatment for pelvic pain during pregnancy.

"The findings are of particular importance because no previous study has shown such marked treatment effects among pregnant women with well defined pelvic girdle pain," the researchers said in a report published online by the British Medical Journal.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bonnie's Comments on Vitamin E, Part II

As in last year’s case, I must defend vitamin E once again.

At least this time, it was a study, not a meta-analysis. The study appeared in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

The authors from the HOPE TOO trial conclude that 400IU of vitamin E showed no heart or cancer protective benefits, and actually may increase heart attack risk in women over age 55, compared to the placebo. While the authors admit that there was not a definitive conclusion to this study, except to state that more studies were needed, and the supposed observation of an adverse event in this trial cannot be confirmed by any other trials, the result may still be a shock to you.

Let’s look at the details of the study:

1) It is important to note that those participating in the study suffered from a range of degenerative diseases including vascular disease or diabetes mellitus, and at least one other significant cardiovascular risk factor. A 400IU dose of vitamin E is too small to show any reversal of serious conditions such as these.

2) Furthermore, subjects in this study were typically taking five different medications in addition to the 400IU of vitamin E, including beta-blockers, anti-platelet agents, statins, diuretics, calcium channel blockers, and ACE inhibitors – yet, the heart failure was attributed exclusively to vitamin E, with no adjustment for pharmacotherapy.

If I attempted to construct a study like this when I was in the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Public Health Masters program, I would have been flunked. The medications are considered confounding variables and must be adjusted for. All the medications used by people in the study list heart failure as a side effect.

There are three studies in Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Association, that contradict this recent discovery.

1) The same HOPE TOO study concluded in 2002 that while vitamin E did not improve the outcomes of the participants in the trial, it did not worsen their outcomes.

2) A 11/2004 study that appeared in Diabetes Care showed that 40% of diabetic patients (with no other conditions) can reduce their risk of heart attacks (by 43%) and of dying from heart disease (by 55%) by taking vitamin E supplements at a 400IU dose.

3) A 12/2004 study that appeared in Diabetes Care followed overweight adults given 800IU of vitamin E for 90 days and increasing to 1200IU for another 90 days. Their blood markers of oxidative stress (which contributes to insulin resistance) fell by 27 at three months and 29 percent at six months.

Another study that appeared in the March 2nd, 2005 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that prostate cancer risk may be cut significantly when alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, the two most prominent components of vitamin E, are present in high levels in the blood.

According to an analysis of 100 patients with prostate cancer and 200 who were cancer-free, among 30,000 Finnish men, those with the highest levels of alpha-tocopherol in their blood at baseline were 51 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer. Those who had the same high levels of gamma-tocopherol were 43 percent less likely to be stricken with the disease. The link between high tocopherol levels and the reduced prostate cancer risk was stronger among patients using alpha-tocopherol supplements than among non-users.

As in last year’s Hopkins meta-analysis study, we are unaware if the JAMA study used one particular form of Vitamin E, namely alpha-tocopherol, which is only one part of the vitamin E picture. A convincing body of evidence now points to the fact that alpha-tocopherol in supplements, particularly at high doses, might reduce the body's uptake of vital components of Vitamin E which are much more effective antioxidants than alpha-tocopherol, such as, gamma- and beta-tocopherols, and tocotrienols (e.g. Handelman GJ et al,J Nutr 115; 807-13,1985; Burton GH et al,Am J Clin Nutr67; 669-84, 1998; Huang HY, Appel LJ.J Nutr 133; 3137-40, 2003.). This is why we always recommend a mixed tocopherol when taking supplemental vitamin E.

Years of clinical research show that Vitamin E supplementation is safe. This has been clearly documented in recent clinical trials including:

-Morris CD, Carson S. Routine vitamin supplementation to prevent
cardiovascular disease: a summary of the evidence for the U.S.
Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2003;139:56-70.

-Vivekananthan DP, Penn MS, Sapp SK, Hsu A, Topel EJ. Use of
antioxidant vitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease:
meta-analysis of randomized trials. Lancet. 2003;361:2017-23.

-Shekelle PG, Morton SC, Jungvig LK, Udani J, Spar M, Tu W, et al.
Effect of supplemental vitamin E for the prevention and treatment of
cardiovascular disease. J Gen Intern Med. 2004;19:380-9.

The highly respected, independent organization Institute of Medicine finds, "Vitamin E mixed tocopherol supplements are safe at levels of at least up to 1,000 mg (1,600 IU) for normal, healthy adults."

I echo this statement.

Have a happy, healthy day.

Bonnie Minsky, MA, MPH, LDN, CNS
Nutritional Concepts

© Copyright 2005

Some Herbs Help Children

Certain herbal supplements show promise for treating children's colds, skin allergies and sleep problems, according to a new research review.

On the other hand, the study found, some of the most popular botanical products, including echinacea, garlic and cranberry supplements, do not have the evidence to back them up.

But even with herbs that have some supporting evidence, parents should be careful about giving the products to their children, cautioned Dr. Gail Mahady, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the study's lead author.

"They need to recognize that treatment of any disease with an herbal medicine is really drug therapy, not dietary supplementation."

Among the herbs that Mahady and her co-investigators found promising was Andrographis paniculata, a plant long used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for treating the common cold, flu and other infections. In one clinical trial, children given the herb daily for three months had roughly half as many colds during the third month as children given a placebo.

Other herbs with at least some research evidence to support them included evening primrose oil, valerian root and ivy leaf, according to findings published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Many herbal products have not been well studied, particularly for use among children. But the new review shows there are botanicals on the market that may well aid in childhood illness, according to Mahady.

Those are the products that researchers should be "actively investigating," she said.

Evening primrose oil is derived from an American wildflower and is rich in essential fatty acids. Three clinical trials have looked at the botanical's effectiveness for children's atopic eczema, an allergic condition that causes patches of skin to become inflamed, dry and extremely itchy. Overall, according to Mahady and her colleagues, the research suggests evening primrose oil may help with the condition.

Valerian is an herbal sedative, and only one clinical trial has assessed the effects of the extract in children, according to the review. But that small study found that the herb improved sleep patterns among boys with learning deficits and hyperactivity.

Extracts of ivy leaf are used to treat upper respiratory problems, and Mahady and her colleagues found some evidence that the herb may help improve breathing difficulties in children with asthma or chronic bronchitis.

Like drugs, herbal products come with safety concerns, Mahady pointed out. Echinacea, for example, can trigger allergic reactions in children who already have allergies. Mahady said that, in general, parents of children with asthma or other allergies should be particularly careful about giving them herbal supplements, as plants are a common allergy trigger.

Getting the advice of a doctor, pharmacist or other health professional before using an herb, Mahady said, "will only be beneficial to the child."

Courtesy of Reuters; SOURCE: Journal of Pediatrics, March 2005.

Steve - As with dietary supplements, herbs should only be administered under the guidance of a licensed health professional, especially in children. This should be done for safety reasons as well as for individualizing what sources would most benefit a child.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Test Could Be Predictor of Heart Disease

A simple and inexpensive test for elevated white blood cell counts could be used to predict heart disease, a study of more than 66,000 women suggests.

The study adds to the growing body of evidence that inflammation plays a role in strokes and heart attacks, perhaps by weakening blood vessels and causing fatty buildups inside them to break loose and create a blockage.

Women with the highest levels of white blood cells were found to be twice as likely to die from heart disease as women with the lowest levels. High white blood cell counts also were associated with a 40 percent higher risk for nonfatal heart attack and a 46 percent higher risk for stroke.

White blood cells are the body's germ fighters. Their levels rise when the body is fighting infection from viruses and bacteria, and doctors routinely take a white blood cell count to diagnose various illnesses.

Current guidelines for predicting heart disease already direct doctors to test for another marker of inflammation, C-reactive protein, in some patients. But the white blood cell test is cheaper and more widely available. And it is as strong a predictor as C-reactive protein, the researchers said.

"It's really a wake-up call for the profession," he said. "Heart disease was not created by cholesterol alone."

The study is part of the Women's Health Initiative, a research project of the National Institutes of Health that involves thousands of postmenopausal women across the country. Other WHI studies have uncovered the risks of taking hormones.

Archives of Internal Medicine March 2005

Steve - High WBC is an indicator of inflammation and should be taken seriously, especially if conjunction with a high CRP. It is wonderful to see the medical community starting to focus their attention on inflammation, which makes up at least 50% of the cardiac risk. Cholesterol is only a piece of the cardiac puzzle.

Anti-Cancer Compound in Green Tea Identified

Researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain (UMU) and the John Innes Center (JIC) in Norwich, England have shown that a compound called EGCG in green tea prevents cancer cells from growing by binding to a specific enzyme.

"We have shown for the first time that EGCG, which is present in green tea at relatively high concentrations, inhibits the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), which is a recognized, established target for anti-cancer drugs, " Professor Roger Thorneley, of JIC, told Reuters.

EGCG binds strongly to DHFR, which is essential in both healthy and cancerous cells. But it does not bind as tightly as methotrexate, so its side effects on healthy cells could be less severe than those of the drug.

The findings could also explain why women who drink large amounts of green tea around the time they conceive and early in their pregnancy may have an increased risk of having a child with spina bifida or other neural tube disorders.

Women are advised to take supplements of folic acid because it protects against spina bifida. But large amounts of green tea could decrease the effectiveness of folic acid.

"This enzyme, (DHFR), is the one folic acid supplements are given for. Folic acid deficiency leads to neural tube development defects," Thorneley added.

Steve - Fascinating stuff. More research must to be done, but it seems that in this case "too much of a good thing" can be a bad thing.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Drug complaints reach record high

Drug side-effects reached an all-time high in 2004, according to the FDA. Roughly 422,500 adverse-event were reported by pharmaceutical companies, health professionals and patients, up nearly 14% from the 370,887 reports filed in 2003.

The bulk of the reports comes from drug manufacturers, which the FDA requires to file details of all known adverse events involving their products. Doctors, nurses and patients also file, but their reports are voluntary. As a result, the annual totals are believed to cover only a percentage of the actual number of serious drug reactions and problems.

Courtesy of Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY 3/14/2005

UK to focus more on prevention

Plans to encourage Britons to eat healthier foods, published by the UK government last week, mark a paradigm shift in the public policy approach to health, believes a food industry consultant.

The increasing numbers of obese in the UK and growing pressure on the health service, unable to cope with the costs of chronic disease, has forced the UK government to recognize the potential of preventative measures such as a good diet.

According to the "white paper" bill, there will be clear targets set and monitored every six months, we will see new legislation, new regulation, new mobilisation of resources, and real results. For the first time the NHS will become a national health service instead of a national sickness service.

The guidelines are set to have a major impact on the food industry, increasingly being held responsible for obesity and obesity-related disease.

The bill includes plans to introduce a ban on all television advertising for 'junk foods' targeted at children and changes to the way food products are labelled. It proposes for example a 'traffic light' labelling system that identifies unhealthy foods with a red label, nutritious but high-fat foods, such as cheese, with an orange label and healthy choices with green.

The bill also aims to increase the average fruit and vegetable consumption to five portions a day, from the current 2.8 portions, and up fibre intake to 18 grams per day. Salt, saturated fat and added sugar must in turn be reduced.

Bonnie - Our government just nixed the idea of banning junk food advertising to children. This should be one of the pillars to change the paradigm in this country.

In New Book, Professor Sees 'Mania' in U.S.

Courtesy of Irene Lacher of the New York Times 3/14/2005

Dr. Peter C. Whybrow, the director of the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, has seen the future.

In his new book, "American Mania: When More Is Not Enough" (W. W. Norton & Company), Dr. Whybrow argues that in the age of globalization, Americans are addictively driven by the brain's pleasure centers to live turbocharged lives in pursuit of status and possessions at the expense of the only things that can truly make us happy: relationships with other people.

"In our compulsive drive for more," writes Dr. Whybrow, 64, a professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral science, "we are making ourselves sick."

In "American Mania," he argues that the country is on the downswing of a manic episode set off by the Internet bubble of the 1990's.

"It's a metaphor that helps guide us," he said, perched on a chair in the study of his rambling high-rise apartment near U.C.L.A. "I think we've shot through happiness as one does in hypomania and come out the other end, and we're not quite sure where we are.

"In fact, I think happiness lies somewhere behind us. This frenzy we've adopted in search of what we hope is happiness and perfection is in fact a distraction, like mania is a distraction."

People are biologically wired to want it, he contends. We seek more than we need because consumption activates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which rewards us with pleasure, traveling along the same brain pathways as do drugs like caffeine and cocaine.

But the paradox of prosperity is that we are too busy to enjoy it. And the competitiveness that gooses the economy, coupled with the decline of social constraints, has conspired to make the rich much richer, he asserts, leaving most of the country behind while government safety nets get skimpier.

Dr. Whybrow cites United States government statistics that are sobering. Thirty percent of the population is anxious, double the percentage of a decade ago. Depression is rising too, especially among people born after 1966, with 10 percent more reporting depression than did people born before that year.

"Neurobiology teaches us that we're reward-driven creatures on the one side, which is great," he said. "It's a fun part of life. But we also love each other and we want to be tied together in a social context. So if you know that, why aren't we thinking about a civil society that looks at both sides of the balance rather than just fostering individualism? Because fostering individualism will be great for us and it will last a little bit longer, but I believe it's a powerful negative influence upon this country and it's not what was originally intended. Should we be thinking about whether this is the society we had in mind when we started this experiment 200 years ago or are we perhaps moving too fast for our own good?"

Bonnie - Boy, is this true. Ameliorating the zest for things and focusing more on family and relationships will make our society healthier.

FDA Warns AstraZeneca On Crestor Marketing

For the second time in four months, the Food and Drug Administration's Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC) has warned AstraZeneca on advertisements promoting its cholesterol drug Crestor.

This time the FDA's complaints focus on claims in television and print ads that Crestor is the most effective statin. In a letter sent to AstraZeneca, an officer at DDMAC noted that the efficacy of Crestor's top 40-milligram dose was similar to that of 80 milligrams of Lipitor in the study referenced by AstraZeneca.

"The TV and print ads make false or misleading claims regarding the superiority of Crestor," Christine Smith, a regulatory review officer at DDMAC wrote in the letter.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Almonds, good source of vitamin E

Eating almonds significantly increases vitamin E levels in the plasma and red blood cells and simultaneously lowers cholesterol levels, finds a small study.

It is claiming to be the first to demonstrate almonds’ effect on raising vitamin E levels.

Adding almonds to the diet could help people meet the RDA for vitamin E without having to resort to supplements, say the researchers from Loma Linda University in the US.

They compared the effects of three different diets consumed for four weeks each by 16 healthy adults. The different diets included a control that did not include almonds, a low-almond diet (replacing 10 per cent of calories with almonds) and a high-almond diet (20 per cent of calories made up by almonds).

Study participants did not take multivitamins, vitamin E supplements, or other dietary supplements before or during the study.

People that gained 10 per cent of their calories from almonds increased their vitamin E levels by 13.7 per cent, write the authors in this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association (vol 105, no 3, pp449-454).

When participants consumed 20 per cent of their calories from almonds, the effect was greater, increasing their vitamin E levels by 18.7 per cent.

Participants also reduced their total cholesterol by 5 per cent and lowered their LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol by nearly 7 per cent as a result of consuming a high-almond diet.

Exercise, Learning May Fight Off Alzheimer's

Exercise and curiosity could help keep Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative brain diseases at bay.

"It's really common sense that exercise and improved behaviors are going to be important," says Sangram Sisodia, PhD, who worked on a new mouse study.

That means staying fit and taking "opportunities to learn, be inquisitive, and explore the world,"says Sisodia.

"It appears that exercise and physical activity are very important for brain function," agrees Karoly Mirnics, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

In fact, activity could help avoid other brain diseases, too, says Mirnics, who also worked on the mouse study. "What we tapped into is not a very disease-specific process, but a universal process, I think," he tells WebMD.

Many people could stand to be a little more active. Learn a language, do the crossword puzzle, take a walk… the possibilities are endless, even if no one knows which activities are most helpful.

Lazarov, O. Cell, March 11, 2005; vol 120: pp 701-713

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Magnesium may protect against colorectal cancer

Magnesium may protect against colorectal cancer, according to a study of more than 61,000 Swedish women.

Those who consumed at least 255 milligrams of magnesium a day (from food and supplements) had about a 40 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who consumed less than 209 mg a day. Magnesium had protected against colorectal cancer in earlier animal studies.

J. Amer. Med. Assoc. 293: 86, 3/1/2005

Times says girl scout cookies under fire

With the annual sale in full swing in much of the United States, scout leaders are facing critics who think selling $400 million worth of cookies might not be the smartest move in a country where childhood obesity is considered an epidemic.

If that wasn't enough, the Girl Scouts are fending off concerns that the cookies have high levels of unhealthy trans fats.

In reply the national office of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. has an official statement. "We look at cookies as a treat," said Marion Swan, the communications director. "They shouldn't be a big part of somebody's diet." Besides, the cookies aren't really the point. Their sale helps troops raise money and teaches girls life skills like goal setting and entrepreneurship, Ms. Swan said.

With almost four million girls and adults, the Girl Scouts can be a powerful player in issues of nutrition. To that end, the research arm of the organization last year issued a 35-page health report, "Weighing In: Helping Girls Be Healthy Today, Healthy Tomorrow." Cookies were not mentioned.

The study is part of a "healthy living" initiative the organization plans to roll out later this year. To develop ideas for it, Judy Shoenberg, a Girl Scout researcher, recently met with Ann Cooper, a New York chef and food activist who is leading a national effort to reform school lunches.

"The first thing I said was: "What about the cookies?' " Ms. Cooper said. "You can't have a lifestyle initiative without changing the cookie because you look like a bunch of idiots."

Courtesy of the New York Times 3/10.2005

Bonnie - Agreed. They have a perfect forum to help change convential dietary thinking for girls.

Canadian pediatricians suggest new breastfeeding guidelines

Women should feed their newborns only through breastfeeding for the first six months, then start adding solids and other liquids, according to a new recommendation by the Canadian Pediatric Society.

The new guideline brings the society in line with the World Health Organization, which came to the same conclusion in 2001. The society had previously advised moms that solid food or formula could be fed to babies after they are four months old.

The pediatric society also said that breastfeeding can continue for up to two years as other foods are added.

It also says young babies in Canada should be given supplements of Vitamin D to prevent rickets, a condition that softens the bones. Babies in warmer climates get the so-called "sunshine vitamin" naturally.

Dr. Margaret Boland, an Ottawa-based pediatrician who chairs the society's nutrition committee, says studies have shown that consuming nothing but breast milk in an infant's first half-year of life increases health benefits for the child.

That's partly because breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight disease and infections.

Boland warns cereals marketed for babies are not sterile and may introduce micro-organisms into the infant's system before it's equipped to handle them.

Canadian pediatricians suggest new breastfeeding guidelines

Women should feed their newborns only through breastfeeding for the first six months, then start adding solids and other liquids, according to a new recommendation by the Canadian Pediatric Society.

The new guideline brings the society in line with the World Health Organization, which came to the same conclusion in 2001. The society had previously advised moms that solid food or formula could be fed to babies after they are four months old.

The pediatric society also said that breastfeeding can continue for up to two years as other foods are added.

It also says young babies in Canada should be given supplements of Vitamin D to prevent rickets, a condition that softens the bones. Babies in warmer climates get the so-called "sunshine vitamin" naturally.

Dr. Margaret Boland, an Ottawa-based pediatrician who chairs the society's nutrition committee, says studies have shown that consuming nothing but breast milk in an infant's first half-year of life increases health benefits for the child.

That's partly because breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight disease and infections.

Boland warns cereals marketed for babies are not sterile and may introduce micro-organisms into the infant's system before it's equipped to handle them.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Genetic flaw may lead to preterm delivery

Pregnant women with a genetic polymorphism (flaw) that impedes their ability to absorb folate (folic acid), had a significantly greater risk of preterm delivery than did those without the polymorphism.

Women with both the polymorphism and low folate intake (<400> significantly greater risk of preterm delivery and a significantly greater risk of having an infant with a low birth weight than did women without a polymorphism and with a folate intake ≥400 µg/d.

Researchers postulate that up to 20% of the human population may carry this polymorphism and at some point should be added to the list of required tests early in a pregnancy.

American Journal Clinical Nutrition, March 2005

Dark chocolate may improve glucose metabolism and decreases blood pressure

An editorial in the March issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends further study into the health benefits of dark chocolate (milk-free, low sugar).

They studied 15 healthy young adults with typical Italian diets that were supplemented daily with 100 g dark chocolate or 90 g white chocolate, each of which provided 480 kcal. The polyphenol contents of the dark and white chocolate were assumed to be 500 and 0 mg, respectively. The subjects were divided into 2 groups, each of which ingested one of the types of chocolate for 15 days, ingested no chocolate for a subsequent 7 days, and then ingested the other chocolate for an additional 15 days. The authors found that the dark chocolate supplement was associated with improved insulin resistance and sensitivity and decreased systolic blood pressure, whereas white chocolate had no effect. The findings of this study are of particular interest in terms of identifying potentially healthy foods.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Study: A happy marriage can help mend physical wounds

A happy marriage apparently is good medicine, but hostile spouses may be harmful to one another's health.

Couples in conflict-ridden marriages take longer than the happily married to heal from all kinds of wounds, from minor scrapes or athletic injuries to major surgery.

And the health toll taken by a stressful job seems to be eased when the worker has a pleasurable home life.

This new research, reported at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting, adds to growing evidence that marriage has an impact on health.

In the wound healing study, 42 couples agreed to let researchers use a suction device to create several minor blister wounds on their skin in two sessions about two months apart. The first time, couples were told to discuss a neutral topic; the next time they were given half an hour to resolve an issue or two on which they disagreed. Their discussions were monitored.

Researchers also checked participants' wounds over the next few weeks and their production of three proteins created in wound healing.

The outcome: "Even a simple discussion of a disagreement slows wound healing," says psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, who did the study with co-author Ronald Glaser of Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Overall, couples took longer to heal when asked to thrash out points of conflict than neutral issues. Hostile couples — peppering both discussions with criticism, sarcasm and put-downs — healed the slowest. It took them 40% longer, or two more days, to heal, and they also produced less of the proteins linked to healing.

On the upside, good marriages may buffer couples against the stress of demanding jobs in which the worker has little control. In a study with 201 married adults, those in high-strain jobs had higher blood pressure at the start, says University of Toronto psychiatrist Brian Baker.

Eating oily fish may reduce inflammation

A new study explains how a diet high in oily fish like salmon and mackerel improves inflammatory conditions. In a study in the March 7 issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers an anti-inflammatory lipid in humans that is derived from an essential fatty acid in fish oil.

Fatty fish contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids--diet-derived essential fatty acids known to benefit patients with cardiovascular disease and arthritis. This research group recently identified a new class of aspirin-triggered bioactive lipids, called resolvins, the activity of which may in part explain the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Resolvins are made from the omega-3 fatty acids by cellular enzymes and can reduce inflammation in mice. The main bioactive component of this class of lipids was identified in mice and named resolvin E1.

The researchers have now identified this lipid in plasma taken from volunteers given omega-3 fatty acids and aspirin. Human resolvin E1, the authors show, inhibits both the migration of inflammatory cells to sites of inflammation and the turning on of other inflammatory cells.

This study also reveals a potential pitfall of COX-2 inhibitors, drugs designed to block inflammation, which have been shown to have negative cardiovascular side effects. COX-2 is involved in making resolvin E1 and the authors suggest that inhibition of vascular COX-2 by these inhibitors might block the synthesis of resolvin E1, which would eliminate an important anti-inflammatory pathway. The experiment to prove this idea, however, has yet to be done.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Milk Does your Body Good?

According to a review study published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics, scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk or other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralization. Of the 37 studies of dairy or unsupplemented dietary calcium intake, 27 studies found no relationship between dairy or dietary calcium intake and measures of bone health. In the remaining 9 reports, the effects on bone health are small and 3 were confounded by vitamin D intake from milk fortified with vitamin D. Therefore, in clinical, longitudinal, retrospective, and cross-sectional studies, neither increased consumption of dairy products, specifically, nor total dietary calcium consumption has shown even a modestly consistent benefit for child or young adult bone health.

Bonnie - Eureka! Music to our ears! Just in time to debunk the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which increased the amount of daily dairy servings! Let's wait for the Dairy Council's response.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Major studies on echinacea for the common cold flawed

Most of the major studies on the effectiveness of echinacea for treatment of the common cold contain major flaws, suggesting that research has not yet established that this herbal medicine is effective, according to a new report.

Of nine studies evaluated, only two were well designed, and both showed that echinacea was not effective, study author Dr. Jack M. Gwaltney, Jr., told Reuters Health.

For Gwaltney, this suggests that researchers should consider spending their research dollars investigating other treatments that hold more promise. "If you ask me if I would study some more, I would say no," he said.

Americans currently spend more than $300 million per year on echinacea.

Gwaltney explained that of the nine studies they looked at, only two did not contain serious flaws. And the results of those two studies suggested that echinacea doesn't treat colds, he said.

Gwaltney added that nothing is ever 100-percent certain in science, and more well-conducted studies are needed before people can be confident that echinacea doesn't work.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Vernon Knight, of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, notes that these findings suggest that people who buy echinacea are simply wasting their money. Echinacea appears to be a "major unjustifiable cost of health care at a time when legitimate health care costs are escalating," he writes.

SOURCE: Clinical Infectious Diseases, March 15, 2005.

Steve - What we have seen in our practice is that Echinacea works for some, but not others. The properties of the herb work differently depending on ones genetic makeup. I agree they should stop putting a bunch of money into researching. It is not "the miracle cure" for the common cold. Although, it is effective in some.

Carnitine Supplement Helps Sperm Swim

Taking carnitine supplements seems to improve sperm mobility in men with poorly active sperm, a problem known as asthenozoospermia, Italian researchers report.

However, for carnitine to work, tiny structures within the cell called mitochondria must function properly. Mitochondria are important because they provide the energy needed for sperm to move their tail and "swim."

Senior investigator Dr. Carlo Foresta told Reuters Health that "it is well known that in some asthenozoospermic subjects an improvement of sperm (motion occurs) after carnitine administration...However in other asthenozoospermic patients this effect is not present."

To investigate further, Foresta of the University of Padua and colleagues studied 30 asthenozoospermic men divided into two groups depending on whether they had normal or abnormal mitochondria function. The researchers' findings appear in the medical journal Fertility & Sterility.

In patients with normal mitochondria function, movement rose from 29.3 percent before treatment to 41.1 percent after 3 months of carnitine. However, in those with abnormal function, movement held steady at about 24 percent.

Thus, Foresta concluded that carnitine treatment is useful "in ameliorating sperm motility only when optimal...mitochondrial function ... is conserved."

Steve - The nutrient we know of that has the most positive effect on mitochondria is Co-Enzyme Q10. Taken along with carnitine, this would seem to be a viable option to boost male sperm viability.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Vitamin Shown to Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk

Prostate cancer risk may be cut significantly when alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, the two most promiment compononets of vitamin E, are present in high levels in the blood.

According to an analysis of 100 patients with prostate cancer and 200 who were cancer-free, among 30,000 Finnish men, those with the highest levels of alpha-tocopherol in their blood at baseline were 51 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer. Those who had the same high levels of gamma-tocopherol were 43 percent less likely to be stricken with the disease. The link between high tocopherol levels and the reduced prostate cancer risk was stronger among patients using alpha-tocopherol supplements than among non-users.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 97, No. 5, 396-399, March 2, 2005

Bonnie - Another study in the hundreds that show the power of vitamin E. I have prescribed it for years and will continue to do so.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Folate/B12 Reduce Risk of Hip Fracture

Dietary supplements of folate and vitamin B12 can reduce the risk of hip fracture in elderly patients following a stroke, according to a new Japanese study.

The risk of hip fracture is significantly higher in stroke patients than in other individuals of the same age, and is thought to be associated with increased blood levels of a substance called homocysteine, Dr. Yoshihiro Sato and others note in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Because folate and mecobalamin (vitamin B12) reduce homocysteine levels, the team thought that supplements of these nutrients could reduce fracture risk.

Sato, at Mitate Hospital in Tagawa, and colleagues studied 628 patients aged 65 years or more who had residual paralysis on one side of the body a year or more after having a stroke. The participants were randomly assigned to take folate and mecobalamin daily, or inactive placebos.

During 2 years of follow-up, the number of falls in each group was virtually the same, but there were only six hip fractures in the supplement group compared with 27 in the placebo group.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Mediterranean diet improves cholesterol levels

Adopting a Mediterranean-type diet can have significant benefits on cholesterol levels, report Canadian researchers.

The Mediterranean diet has been shown in epidemiological trials to be associated with reduced risk of heart disease but there is less evidence to support the merits of the diet outside of the Mediterannean region.

A team from the Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods at Laval University in Québec tested the typical Mediterranean diet on a group of 71 healthy women under free-living conditions.

The 12-week intervention involved two courses on nutrition and 7 individual sessions with a dietitian. A score based on the 11 components of the Mediterranean pyramid was established to determine the women’s adherence to the Mediterranean food pattern.

Among all women, levels of oxidized LDL particles circulating in the blood decreased by 11.3 per cent after 12 weeks of nutritional intervention despite a lack of change in plasma LDL cholesterol, report the researchers in the March issue of the Journal of Nutrition (135:410-415).

More specifically, increases in servings of fruits and vegetables were associated with decreased in LDL concentrations.

Zinc Deficiency Linked to Esophageal Cancer

People with low levels of zinc in their tissues may be at increased risk for developing cancer of the esophagus, according to research reported in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In the study, investigators determined zinc levels in esophageal biopsy samples obtained from 132 residents of Linzhou, China in 1985. Of these subjects, 60 subsequently developed esophageal cancer and 72 did not.

People in the highest quartile of zinc levels were 79 percent less likely to develop esophageal cancer than those in the lowest quartile, Dr. Christian C. Abnet, from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues report.

This finding supports studies conducted in animals showing that zinc deficiency enhances the effects of certain nitrosamines, which act as esophageal carcinogens in rodents.

Study Links Osteoporosis, Gluten Intolerance

Some people develop osteoporosis, the mineral loss disease that leads to brittle bones, because their bodies cannot tolerate wheat flour, a study said on Monday.

Gluten intolerance, called celiac disease, can be treated, so the damage done by osteoporosis can be reversed in such patients, added the report published in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Our results suggest that as many as three to four percent of patients who have osteoporosis have the bone disease as a consequence of having celiac disease, which makes them unable to absorb normal amounts of calcium and vitamin D," said William Stenson, a Washington University physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

He and colleagues recommended blood tests be used to screen osteoporosis patients for celiac disease.

The report was based on a look at 840 patients, some of whom had osteoporosis. It found a much higher prevalence of celiac disease among those with osteoporosis than in those without it.

In the study, patients with celiac disease and osteoporosis who went on a gluten-free diet for one year were able to improve both gastrointestinal symptoms and bone density, the report said.

"Bone density ... improved dramatically on a gluten-free diet," Stenson said. "We believe the diet allowed their intestines to heal, and that allowed them to absorb normal amounts of calcium and vitamin D to reverse bone loss."