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09-17-2004, 06:28 PM
More news on Atkins diet

The Atkins diet is one of the most popular diets ever, with more than 45 million copies of the book sold around the world. Three trials have examined the long-term effects of low carbohydrate diets such as Atkins. Two of the studies found after six months, weight loss on a low-carb diet was greater than that of a traditional calorie-restricted diet. But after a year of following either dietary regime, no difference was noted between the two groups. Contrary to expectations of critics, studies have shown some cardiovascular risk factors actually improved when people followed a low-carb regime. Is the diet safe? A review article in the latest Lancet concludes there is a need for longer (up to two years) studies to assess the weight loss efficacy and safety of low carbohydrate diets. (Lancet)

Risk factors for heart attack

A large international study involving 52 countries has examined the major risk factors for heart disease and looked for regional differences around the world. The study showed throughout the world, the main risk factors for coronary heart disease (the major cause of heart attacks) are smoking, high lipid concentrations (cholesterol and triglycerides) and stress. The study also found that stress is responsible for almost a fifth of all heart attacks worldwide. Those practices found to be protective against heart disease included daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, regular physical exercise and moderate alcohol consumption (defined as moderate alcohol intake three times a week). (Lancet)

Alcohol reduces damage after heart attack

For a few years now, red wine has been touted as a healthy tipple for the heart and cardiovascular system. A new study from the University of Missouri has found moderate amounts of any type of alcohol not only maintain a healthy heart but can reduce the degree of damage to affected tissues following a heart attack. During a heart attack, blood flow is reduced to several areas of the body. When the blood flow is restored, damaged tissues begin releasing molecules that attract white blood cells to the area. Unfortunately, this actually causes further damage to the walls of the arteries. This new study (using animals) found when alcohol was introduced into the system at the rate of one drink every 48 hours, the alcohol triggered a chemical reaction in the body that made the artery walls slick, stopping the white blood cells from attaching to damaged tissues. In subjects treated with alcohol, the tissue affected by the low blood flow was much healthier and stronger than the untreated tissue.

(Yet to be published in Microcirculation)

More on alcohol ...
A study in the latest British Medical Journal has found a link between frequent alcohol consumption in middle age and the subsequent risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia in old age. The risk of dementia was also found to be higher with heavier drinking but only among those carrying a particular gene. The study, involving over a thousand men and women, found that participants who drank no alcohol and those who drank alcohol frequently (several times a month) were both twice as likely to have mild cognitive impairment in old age than those who drank less than once a month. The study results agree with previous claims that light to moderate drinking might have a protective effect on the brain compared with total abstention and heavy drinking. The study authors stress that an explanation for this is still not clear. (British Medical Journal)

Coffee healthy in moderation

Should you avoid caffeinated coffee altogether? Not according to the September issue of Harvard Woman's Health Watch. Recent research shows that caffeinated coffee in moderation not only does not cause health problems but it actually benefits health. The risk of type 2 diabetes is actually lower among regular coffee drinkers. Other benefits of coffee drinking include a reduced risk of gallstones, colon cancer and liver damage and an improvement in cognitive function. If you use coffee to stay alert through the day, it is more effective to consume two to three ounces of coffee every hour rather than having a huge caffeine hit at one time. But too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Excessive coffee consumption can increase the heart rate and blood pressure and cause irregular heart beat.

(Harvard Women's Health Watch)

Another healthy drink

Green tea is rich in antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. Recent studies have found these polyphenols may offer protection against certain cancers and may aid in the destruction of cancer cells. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have discovered a new compound in green tea that helps kill one of the most common forms of leukaemia.

(Mayo Clinic Women's
Health Source)

Nutritional supplements can slow mid-life weight gain

From the age of 25 to 55 women on average gain 7kg and men gain 4.5kg of weight. A recent study has found nutritional supplements may slow the march of weight gain that commonly precedes middle age. The study surveyed 15,000 people with an average age of 55, specifically looking at weight change, energy consumption and the use of nutritional supplements. Fourteen supplements were selected for review by the researchers. These included multivitamins, fibre pills, soy, gingko, St Johns wort, vitamin b6, vitamin B12, chromium and omega-3 fatty acids. Results showed that participants using multivitamins, B6, B12 and chromium had less weight gain than others. However, the positive effect of less weight gain was found to be most prevalent among those who were already overweight or obese.