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September 2007

Drug Combination Cures Hepatitis C

Alone or in combination with ribavirin, the drug peginterferon can cure some cases of hepatitis C, according to scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University.* The drugs, which have been in use for about a decade, do not work in everyone; rather, their efficacy depends on the genetic makeup of the particular hepatitis C virus infecting an individual.

According to the recent study, most individuals for whom the combination of peginterferon and ribavirin successfully cleared the virus remained virus-free up to seven years later. Peginterferon alone was similarly effective for those who responded to the drug.

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer, and the need for liver transplant, and there is currently no vaccine. “This shows for the first time very clearly… that we can cure hepatitis C,” noted the lead researcher.

—Elizabeth Wagner, ND


* Available at: Accessed June 12, 2007.

Fruits, Vegetables Prevent Premature Death

Men and women who consume abundant fruits, vegetables, and antioxidants are protected against premature death, according to a large study conducted in Spain.*

Scientists evaluated dietary intake data—including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin C, and vitamin E levels—in 41,358 participants. Over the 6.5-year follow-up, 562 deaths occurred.

Participants who consumed the most fresh fruit had a 25% decreased risk of dying, while those who consumed the most root vegetables had a 28% lower mortality risk. Consuming abundant seed-containing vegetables lowered risk by 23%. Lycopene intake was especially protective, reducing mortality risk by up to 35%.

“A high intake of fresh fruit, root vegetables, and fruiting vegetables is associated with reduced mortality, probably as a result of their high content of vitamin C, provitamin A carotenoids, and lycopene,” the authors conclude.

—Dayna Dye


* Agudo A, Cabrera L, Amiano P, et al. Fruit and vegetable intakes, dietary antioxidant nutrients, and total mortality in Spanish adults: findings from the Spanish cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Spain). Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1634-42.

Adults Need More Choline

The recommended adequate intake for the B vitamin choline may be insufficient to prevent liver or muscle damage, according to a recent report.*Scientists gave men and women a diet providing the adequate daily intake of choline (550 mg) for ten days, followed by up to 42 days when the participants received less than 50 mg of choline per day.

Eighty percent of postmenopausal women, 44% of premenopausal women, and 77% of men developed fatty liver or muscle damage during the choline-deficient phase. Choline deficiency was also associated with elevated blood homocysteine levels. Up to 825 mg choline per day was required to reverse organ dysfunction caused by the choline-deficient diet.

Men and post-menopausal women may need more choline than is recommended by current guidelines in order to ensure good health.

—Dayna Dye


* Fischer LM, daCosta KA, Kwock L, et al. Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1275-85.

Consuming Apples, Fish in Pregnancy Reduces Childhood Asthma

Women who eat more fish and apples during pregnancy are less likely to have children who develop asthma or eczema, an allergic skin disease, according to a recent study.*

Scientists evaluated data on 1,212 mothers and their children. Children of mothers who consumed the most apples during pregnancy experienced a lower risk of wheezing or asthma, compared to those of mothers whose intake was lowest. Maternal consumption of fish at least once per week appeared to protect children from developing eczema.

If the newest findings are confirmed, “recommendations on dietary modification during pregnancy may help to prevent childhood asthma and allergy.”

—Dayna Dye


* Willers S, Devereux G, Craig L, et al. Maternal food consumption during pregnancy and asthma, respiratory and atopic symptoms in 5-year-old children. Thorax. 2007 Mar 27; [Epub ahead of print].

Vitamin E Protects Against Chemotherapy Side Effects

Vitamin E supplementation may prevent some of the serious side effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, according to an ongoing Italian study.1 Interim results of the multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study indicate that 400 mg alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) per day significantly protects patients from cisplatin-induced nerve damage. The findings echo those reported last year by Greek oncology researchers.2

Cisplatin is routinely used to treat ovarian, testicular, bladder, and other cancers, and can produce adverse effects such as hearing loss, disturbances in balance, kidney damage, and tingling or loss of feeling in the extremities. Vitamin E’s protective effect may arise from its antioxidant activity.

—Dale Kiefer


1. Pace A, Carpano S, Galie E, et al. Vitamin E in the neuroprotection of cisplatin induced peripheral neurotoxicity and ototoxicity. J Clinical Oncol. 2007 (ASCO Annual Meeting Proceedings). Jun 20;25(18S):9114.
2. Argyriou AA, Chroni E, Koutras A, et al. A randomized controlled trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of vitamin E supplementation for protection against cisplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy: final results. Support Care Cancer. 2006 Nov;14(11):1134-40.

Fiber and Magnesium Independently Reduce Diabetes Risk

A higher intake of cereal fiber and magnesium could separately reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study and meta-analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.*

In the first arm of the study, investigators analyzed data obtained from 9,702 men and 15,365 women. Those who consumed the most cereal fiber had a 28% lower risk of developing diabetes during seven years of follow-up.

A meta-analysis of 17 studies showed that high cereal fiber intake reduced diabetes risk by 33%, while high magnesium intake reduced risk by 23%. “Higher cereal fiber and magnesium intake may decrease diabetes risk,” the authors wrote. “Whole-grain foods are therefore important in diabetes prevention.”

—Dayna Dye


* Schulze MB, Schulz M, Heidemann C, Schienkiewitz A, Hoffmann K, Boeing H. Fiber and magnesium intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes: a prospective study and meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2007 May 14;167(9):956-65.

Vitamin D, Calcium Reduce Premenopausal Breast Cancer Risk

Already considered essential for bone health, vitamin D and calcium may be crucial for breast cancer prevention, according to a report from the Archives of Internal Medicine.*

Noting that an apparent protective effect of vitamin D and calcium has previously been demonstrated in animal models, Harvard Medical School researchers sought to confirm the effect among human subjects. The investigators consulted a database of more than 30,000 pre- and post-menopausal women who are participants in a long-term study of women’s health issues.

“Higher intakes of total calcium and vitamin D were moderately associated with a lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer,” noted the researchers. The nutrients’ anti-cancer effect appears to be especially robust against the most aggressive breast tumors.

—Dale Kiefer


* Lin J, Manson JE, Lee IM, Cook NR, Buring JE, Zhang SM. Intakes of calcium and vitamin d and breast cancer risk in women. Arch Intern Med. 2007 May 28;167(10):1050-9.

Fish Oil Preserves Cognitive Function

According to two studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may help preserve cognitive function in older adults.1,2

In one study, the diets of 210 healthy men ranging in age from 70 to 89 years with normal cognitive function were assessed and then reassessed five years later. Subjects who regularly ate fish demonstrated a slower decline in thinking ability than those who did not eat fish. A daily consumption of approximately 400 mg of EPA and DHA was recommended for maintaining healthy cognitive function.1

In the second study in 2,251 older adults, those with higher blood levels of EPA and DHA displayed less decline in verbal ability than those with lower levels. The effects were most pronounced in adults with high blood pressure and elevated lipid levels.2

—Robert Gaston


1. van Gelder BM, Tijhuis M, Kalmijn S, Kromhout D. Fish consumption, n-3 fatty acids, and subsequent 5-y cognitive decline in elderly men: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1142-7.
2. Beydoun MA, Kaufman JS, Satia JA, Rosamond W, Folsom AR. Plasma n-3 fatty acids and the risk of cognitive decline in older adults: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1103-11.