High dietary fiber intake is associated with lower levels of the cardiovascular risk factor C-reactive protein (CRP), according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).1
CRP is an inflammatory marker associated with elevated risk for heart attack, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and sudden cardiac death.2 Elevated CRP levels have also been noted in people with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and chronic kidney failure.3
Using NHANES data on 3,920 subjects, investigators noted that those with the highest dietary fiber intake had a 51% lower risk of having an elevated CRP level.1 This relationship was slightly weaker after adjusting for age, smoking, physical activity, body mass index, total energy intake, and fat intake.1
Numerous studies have found that dietary fiber may protect against coronary heart disease through various mechanisms such as lowering blood cholesterol and triglycerides, improving high blood pressure, and normalizing postprandial (after-meal) blood glucose levels.4 The finding that dietary fiber helps promote healthy CRP levels suggests that fiber may also protect cardiovascular health through an anti-inflammatory effect.1
—Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw
1. Ajani UA, Ford ES, Mokdad AH. Dietary fiber and C-reactive protein: findings from national health and nutrition examination survey data. J Nutr. 2004 May;134(5):1181-5.
2. Bassuk SS, Rifai N, Ridker PM. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein: clinical importance. Curr Prob Cardiol. 2004 Aug;29(8):439-93.
3. Available at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2001/mar2001_report_estrogen.html. Accessed May 9, 2005.
4. Lupton JR, Turner ND. Dietary fiber and coronary disease: does the evidence support an association? Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2003 Nov;5(6):500-5
Biochemicals found in broccoli and chili peppers may slow the growth of cancer cells, according to a recent presentation by University of Pittsburgh researchers.* Compounds found in these plants may be particularly useful in helping to fight pancreatic and ovarian cancers, two difficult-to-treat cancers with high mortality rates.
Sanjay Srivastava, PhD, presented his team’s findings to the American Association for Cancer Research in Anaheim, CA, last spring. The researchers applied the chili pepper compound capsaicin, which is best known for making chili peppers hot, to a laboratory culture of pancreatic cancer cells. The capsaicin promoted apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in pancreatic cancer cells, but did not affect normal pancreatic cells.
The researchers also examined the effects of phenethyl isothiocyanate—a compound in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli—on ovarian cancer cells. They found that phenethyl isothiocyanate interfered with epidermal growth factor receptor, a protein involved in the growth of ovarian and other cancers.
Compounds from chili pepper and broccoli may be useful as novel cancer-preventive agents. These findings may help explain the reduced risk of cancer in people who consume an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
—Elizabeth Wagner, ND
* Available at: http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=healthNews&storyID=2005-04-19T202217Z_01_N19109132_
Researchers are currently investigating whether pomegranate juice may help delay or prevent the reoccurrence of prostate cancer in men treated with radiation or surgery for prostate adenoma.1
Recent studies suggest that juice from the pomegranate, a tropical fruit long prized for its health-promoting effects, possesses antioxidant and antihypertensive properties, and may protect against heart disease and certain cancers.2 Scientists at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles are conducting a trial to evaluate whether pomegranate juice can decrease or slow rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men who have undergone radical prostatectomy or radiotherapy for prostate adenocarcinoma. PSA is a marker of prostate inflammation, enlargement, or cancer, and can help track the progression of prostate conditions.
Study participants will consume pomegranate juice daily for 18 months or until disease progression or side effects necessitate ending the trial. The researchers hope to discover whether pomegranate juice contains substances that may delay or prevent the reoccurrence of prostate cancer.
For more information, contact Dr. Allan Pantuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Elizabeth Wagner, ND
1. Available at: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct/show/NCT00060086?order=1. Accessed March 30, 2005.
2. Laifer S. Pomegranate: ancient fruit of life yields modern promise. Life Extension. January, 2005:87-91.