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October 2005

Green Tea Extract Helps Prevent Prostate Cancer

Compounds in green tea help prevent progression to prostate cancer in men at high risk for the disease, according to recent research findings.* Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among American men.

In their study, Italian re-searchers enrolled 62 men with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, a pre-cancerous condition. Thirty-two of the men were given 200 mg of green tea catechins three times daily for one year, while 30 men received a placebo. Repeat prostate biopsies were performed on all participants six and 12 months after beginning the study.

Approximately one third of men with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia can be expected to progress to cancer over the course of one year. This statistic corresponds with results seen in the placebo group, in which nine men (30%) developed prostate cancer during the one-year study period. However, only one (3%) of the men receiving green tea catechins developed prostate cancer—a 90% reduction in the risk of progressing to prostate cancer over one year.*

The supplemented group consumed 600 mg of green tea catechins daily, with the polyphenol epigallocatechin-3 gallate, or EGCG, accounting for approximately one half of the catechins. Previous studies have shown that green tea catechins and other polyphenols inhibit certain cancer cell lines, while epidemiological studies suggest that men who consume high levels of dietary polyphenols experience a decreased risk of prostate cancer.

This study is the first to demonstrate in-vivo protection by green tea catechins against prostate cancer. While additional studies are needed, the researchers recommend considering green tea for the prevention of prostate cancer, especially in high-risk populations such as the elderly, African-Americans, and men with a family history of the disease. Green tea catechins are inexpensive, well-tolerated, and non-toxic to normal cells.

—Linda M. Smith, RN


* Bettuzzi S, Brausi M, Rizzi F, Castagnetti G, Peracchia G, Corti A. Chemoprevention of human prostate cancer by oral administration of green tea catechins (GTCs) in high grade PIN subjects: a preliminary report from a 1 year proof of principle study. Presented at: 96th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; April 19, 2005; Anaheim, CA.

Melatonin May Protect Against Cell Phone Radiation

Brief exposure to radiation emitted by cell phones in-duces pathological changes in the skin and kidneys that may be attenuated by melatonin, report Turkish researchers.1,2

Cell phones emit and receive radio frequency radiation in the ultra-high frequency range (824-894 megahertz, or MHz). The biological impact of exposure to this radiation is a function of the time exposed and the power of the cell phone signal. Increased oxidative stress induced by radio frequency radiation may contribute to DNA changes and increased risk of certain cancers.

The Turkish researchers investigated the effects of cell phone radiation on the skin and kidneys. The skin, they theorized, serves as the body’s protective layer and may be more vulnerable to radiation damage than internal organs. The kidneys may also be vulnerable to radiation damage from cell phones, which are frequently worn on belts.

Thirty laboratory rats were equally divided into three groups. Group 1 rats served as non-treated controls, Group 2 rats received 30 minutes of 900-MHz whole-body irradiation daily for 10 days, and Group 3 rats received melatonin at a dose of 10 mg/kg of body weight each day for 10 days before receiving 30 minutes of 900-MHz whole-body irradiation.1,2 The scientists then examined skin sections for radiation injury and analyzed blood and urine markers of lipid peroxidation, kidney damage, and oxidative stress.

The skin of Group 2 rats exhibited diverse signs consistent with acute injury, and the rats also demonstrated increased lipid peroxidation, kidney impairment, and oxidative stress. As expected, no such changes occurred in the Group 1 controls. In the Group 3 rats, melatonin prevented nearly all skin changes and other signs of radiation-induced damage.1,2

The study authors concluded that the antioxidant and free radical-scavenging properties of melatonin offer significant protection from the damaging effects of routine cell phone use, particularly on the skin and kidneys.

—Linda M. Smith, RN


1. Ozguner F, Aydin G, Mollaoglu H, Gokalp O, Koyu A, Cesur G. Prevention of mobile phone induced skin tissue changes by melatonin in rat: an experimental study. Toxicol Ind Health. 2004 Sep;20(6-10):133-9.
2. Oktem F, Ozguner F, Mollaoglu H, Koyu A, Uz E. Oxidative damage in the kidney induced by 900-MHz-emitted mobile phone: protection by melatonin. Arch Med Res. 2005 Jul-Aug;36(4):350-5.

Bromelain Reduces Bowel Inflammation

Oral supplementation with bromelain decreases inflammation of the colon in animals with active inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) while reducing the incidence and severity of spontaneous colitis, report researchers at Duke University Medical Center.*

Earlier anecdotal reports indicated that the protein-digesting activity of bromelain, an enzyme fraction derived from pineapple stem, may have contributed to the remission of ulcerative colitis in two patients who had been unsuccessfully treated with conventional medicine.

Treatment with up to 1000 mg a day of high-quality bromelain led to a decreased incidence and severity of spontaneous colitis in genetically susceptible mice after 18 weeks. Bromelain supplementation also significantly reduced inflammation in test animals with established IBD.

IBD comprises two conditions: ulcerative colitis, characterized by inflammation of the lining of the large bowel or rectum, and Crohn’s disease, an inflammation affecting the full thickness of the bowel that may involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammation of these areas may hamper nutrient and water absorption, and lead to blood loss from the inflamed bowel walls. IBD can cause significant pain and diminished quality of life, while contributing to nutritional deficiencies and additional health problems.

The encouraging results of this study may lead to additional clinical trials to confirm the anti-inflammatory benefits of supplemental bromelain.

—Christie C. Yerby, ND


* Hale LP, Greer PK, Trinh CT, Gottfried MR. Treatment with oral bromelain decreases colonic inflammation in the IL-10-deficient murine model of inflammatory bowel disease. Clin Immunol. 2005 Aug;116(2):135-42.

Fish Oil Enhances Heart Rate Variability

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may help protect the cardiovascular system by promoting heart rate variability, according to researchers from Mexico and the United States.*

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help prevent heart disease and decrease the risk of sudden death in those with established heart disease. This recent finding demonstrates a new physiological basis for the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

Heart rate is a function of the autonomic nervous system, and variation in heart rate from beat to beat and minute to minute is a sign of good health. Clinically, a decrease in heart rate variability is associated with arrhythmias and portends poor survival after myocardial infarction.

In this study, 52 nursing home patients were randomly assigned to receive either 2 grams a day of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil or alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid from soy oil capsules. Heart rate variability was measured for six minutes every other day over a six-month period using standardized, non-invasive methods. After just one month, those supplementing with fish oil exhibited significant improvements in various measures of heart rate variability. The soy oil recipients saw lesser but still significant increases in heart rate variability.

The researchers concluded that omega-3 fatty acids—particularly those from fish oil—appear to exert their lifesaving effects in part by promoting heart rate variability. Until now, omega-3 fatty acids’ anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic properties have been thought to account for their protective effects. This study links omega-3 fatty acids to a measurable effect on cardiovascular physiology. Regular exercise, weight loss, stress reduction, and restoration of normal sleep have also been shown to improve heart rate variability.

—Linda M. Smith, RN


* Holguin F, Tellez-Rojo MM, Lazo M, et al. Cardiac autonomic changes associated with fish oil vs soy oil supplementation in the elderly. Chest. 2005 Apr;127(4):1102-7.