December 20, 2013

Health roundup: Vitamins, MS, chicken, frankincense, dogs, and diet cola belly

The biggest health news of the week is the ineffectiveness of multivitamins.  Multivitamin researchers say "case is closed" after studies find no health benefits 

“Enough” with the multivitamins already.  That’s the message from doctors behind three new studies and an editorial that tackled an oft-debated question in medicine: Do daily multivitamins make you healthier?  After reviewing the available evidence and conducting new trials, the authors have come to a conclusion of “no.”

“We believe that the case is closed -- supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful,” concluded the authors of the editorial summarizing the new research papers, published Dec. 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”

“The ‘stop wasting your money’ means that perhaps you're spending money on things that won't protect you long term,” editorial co-author Dr. Edgar Miller, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told CBS News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. “What will protect you is if you spend the money on fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, low fat dairy, things like that ..exercising would probably be a better use of the money.”

This finding does not speak to the importance of vitamin D in northern countries and the omega3 fatty acids in fish oil and flaxseed.

Vitamin D 'can fight MS' by blocking path of destructive cells to the brain

Vitamin D may be able to combat multiple sclerosis, researchers said yesterday.  They discovered that it can block the migration of destructive cells to the brain, which causes the condition. This could help explain anecdotal reports that the ‘sunshine vitamin’ prevents or eases symptoms.

MS is most commonly found far from the equator, where there is less sunshine to trigger production of vitamin D in the skin.
The disease is caused by the body’s own immune defenses damaging myelin, a fatty insulating sheath that surrounds nerve fibers and is vital to the proper transmission of nerve signals.  Destruction of myelin leads to symptoms ranging from numbness to blurred vision and paralysis.

Researchers simultaneously gave mice the rodent form of MS and a high dose of vitamin D.  They found symptoms of the disease were suppressed.

‘Vitamin D might be working not by altering the function of damaging immune cells but by preventing their journey into the brain,’ said lead scientist Anne Gocke, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Be careful when you handle raw chicken and always wash your hands, cutting board and knife immediately after.  Consumer Reports finds Report finds 97% of chicken breasts sold at grocery stores across the US are contaminated with 'potentially harmful bacteria'.    Admittedly, it's a fairly small sample.

A recent study conducted by Consumer Reports magazine found that 97 per cent of raw chicken breasts sold at grocery stores nationwide contained potentially harmful bacteria.  - the magazine sampled 316 raw chicken breasts in 26 different states for the article. 
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About half of the raw chicken breasts in a nationwide sampling carried antibiotic-resistant "superbug" bacteria, a U.S. consumer group said on Thursday, calling for stricter limits on use of the medicines on livestock.

Frankincense, the aromatic resin and one of the gifts borne the Wise Men when they visited the baby Jesus, could be used to treat ovarian cancer.

Leicester University researchers found that a chemical in frankincense killed cells from hard-to-treat tumors. Ovarian cancer is symptomless in the earliest stages and usually not diagnosed until it is too late, making it the deadliest gynecological cancer.  Frankincense, the resin of the Boswellia sacra – a small tree found in Oman, Yemen and Somalia – is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has long been used in folk medicine, along with resin from other types of Boswellia.
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The Leicester University researchers said: ‘Frankincense is taken by many people with no known side-effects.  'This finding has enormous potential to be taken to clinical trial in the future and developed into an additional treatment for ovarian cancer.’

How Dogs Might Protect Kids Against Asthma: Gut Bacteria

Exposing Mice to Dust From Households With Dogs Allowed Outside Changed Mouse Gut Microbes, Study Finds.

No evidence antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps actually prevent spread of germs… and they could even damage health, watchdog finds

The Food and Drug Administration said today there is no evidence that antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and there is some evidence they may pose health risks.  The agency said it is revisiting the safety of chemicals like triclosan in light of recent studies suggesting they can interfere with hormone levels and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

The government's preliminary ruling lends new credence to longstanding warnings from researchers who say the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health.  Under its proposed rule released Monday, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that their antibacterial soaps and body washes are safe and more effective than plain soap and water.

Diet cola belly.  Why diet cola could be making you FATTER and WRINKLIER: Low-calorie drink could be to blame for spare tyre and withered skin

Some health experts now believe the chemicals in the drink could actually be causing your body to lay down fat deposits around your middle - dubbed 'diet cola belly' … And that's not all: some experts also believe diet cola’s mix of carbonated water, colorings and sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame K could also speed up the aging process, and have disastrous health consequences.
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The fructose, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) present in diet colas can all interfere with natural gut bacteria, according to Amanda Payne of Switzerland’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health which published a paper in the journal Obesity Reviews.

This messes up your metabolism and disrupts the body’s way of signaling to you that you’re full and satisfied.   As a consequence, the body pumps out insulin, the hormone that controls sugar levels and fat storage, so that you lay down what Toribio-Mateas calls 'diet cola belly in the form of more fat around the midriff' - just where you wanted to shed fat.
Posted by Jill Fallon at December 20, 2013 3:25 PM | Permalink