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March 2009

Eighty Percent of Medical Professionals Recommend Supplements

Eighty Percent of Medical Professionals Recommend Supplements

Most health care professionals—79% of physicians and 82% of nurses—recommend supplement use for their patients, according to a survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a dietary supplement trade association.1,2 The survey, called the Life…supplemented Medical Professionals Impact Study, was conducted among 1,177 physicians and nurses in October 2007 as part of a consumer wellness campaign that advocates a healthful diet, exercise, and supplement use.

Respondents were most likely to mention supplement use for five health categories: bone health (33%), overall health and wellness (32%), joint health (29%), heart health (26%), and healthy cholesterol level (22%).

When asked whether they use supplements themselves, 72% of physicians and 89% of nurses said yes. Physicians most commonly used multivitamins (87%), vitamin C (78%), B vitamins (63%), vitamin D (59%), vitamin E (58%), and calcium (58%). Both physicians (72%) and nurses (88%) commonly recommend multivitamins for their patients.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS


1. Available at: Accessed October 10, 2008.
2. Available at: Accessed October 10, 2008.

Common Chemical, Bisphenol A, May Increase Risk of Disease

Elevated levels of bisphenol A (BPA) have recently been associated with certain illnesses in adults.* BPA is a chemical compound used in manufacturing food containers and other plastic items.

The data were derived from a large nationwide US study, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, during 2003-2004. BPA levels were analyzed in urine samples taken from 1,455 adults, and participants self-reported any subsequent diagnoses.

Increasing BPA concentrations were associated with a significantly elevated risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, angina, and diabetes, even after adjusting for age, sex, and other relevant patient characteristics. Blood concentrations of liver enzymes were also abnormally elevated at higher BPA levels.

BPA is detectable in more than 90% of US adults. This study adds to previous concerns about the deleterious effects of BPA as demonstrated in animal studies; however, a cause-and-effect association between BPA exposure and subsequent disease remains to be proven. The FDA, however, insists that BPA is safe.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS


* Lang IA, Galloway TS, Scarlett A, et al. Association of urinary bisphenol A concentration with medical disorders and laboratory abnormalities in adults. JAMA. 2008 Sep 17;300(11):1303-10.

Lifestyle Improvements Enhance Telomerase

Lancet Oncology reports new findings that adopting positive lifestyle changes increases the activity of telomerase, the enzyme responsible for maintaining telomeres.*

Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that cap the ends of chromosomes, aiding in their stabilization. Adequate telomere length is vital to maintaining cells, including immune system cells.

Men with low-risk prostate cancer were asked to adopt diets that limited fat and refined carbohydrates, and contained abundant grains, fruits and vegetables, and supplemental soy, fish oil, vitamins C and E, and selenium. The subjects were also asked to engage in exercise and stress management.

By the end of the study, telomerase levels had increased, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), psychological distress, body mass index, waist circumference, and blood pressure were reduced.

“The implications of this study are not limited to men with prostate cancer,” the authors write. “Comprehensive lifestyle changes may cause improvements in telomerase and telomeres that may be beneficial to the general population as well.”

—Dayna Dye


* Ornish D, Lin J, Daubenmier J, et al. Increased telomerase activity and comprehensive lifestyle changes: a pilot study. Lancet Oncol. 2008 Nov;9(11):1048-57.

Red Wine Polyphenols Protect Against UVB Damage

Red Wine Polyphenols Protect Against UVB Damage

Drinking red wine protects against the harmful effects of ultraviolet B (UVB) light, according to a recent German study.* Red wine contains high levels of antioxidant polyphenols.

In this study, 15 healthy men underwent irradiation with UVB light and then drank a fixed volume of one of three red wines over 40 minutes. Results were expressed as the minimum dose of UVB that produced skin erythema (redness), an indicator of skin damage that may precede cancer.

The effect on UVB-induced skin damage differed by the polyphenol content of the wines. The wine with the lowest polyphenol concentration afforded no skin protection, the wine with an intermediate level gave a small amount of protection, and the wine with the highest amount of polyphenols significantly raised the level of UVB that would be required to damage the skin.

Although the effect was modest (sun protection factor of 0.97 to 1.19), the benefit is consistent with previous study findings.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS


* Moehrle M, Dietrich H, Patz CD, Hafner HM. Sun protection by red wine?J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2008 Jul 31.

Higher Aspirin Dose May be Better at Preventing Deaths

Higher Aspirin Dose May be Better at Preventing Deaths

Physicians have long recommended that their at-risk patients take low-dose aspirin, such as one baby aspirin daily, to help reduce cardiovascular risk. But a new study from the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that higher doses of aspirin may be more effective at preventing premature death in patients with a recent history of cardiovascular events.*

More than 4,500 patients with a recent history of cerebrovascular or coronary ischemic events (such as unstable angina, heart attack, or stroke) were prescribed aspirin in doses ranging from 75-325 mg, depending on the investigator’s discretion. An adult-strength aspirin contains 325 mg, while a baby aspirin contains 81 mg.

After an average follow-up of one year, higher doses of daily aspirin were associated with lower all-cause mortality, despite encouraging an increased tendency toward bleeding events.

“Our findings suggest that aspirin doses of [greater than, or equal to] 162 mg/day may be more beneficial than those [less than] 162 mg/day at preventing death,” researchers concluded.

—Dale Kiefer


* Aronow HD, Califf RM, Harrington RA, et al. Relation between aspirin dose, all-cause mortality, and bleeding in patients with recent cerebrovascular or coronary ischemic events (from the BRAVO Trial). Am J Cardiol. 2008 Nov 15;102(10):1285-90.

Fruit, Vegetable Intake Prevents Colorectal Cancer in Men

Fruit and vegetable consumption may protect against colorectal cancer in men, according to a study conducted in Hawaii and California.*

A total of 85,903 men and 105,108 women aged 45 to 75 years completed detailed questionnaires on health characteristics and dietary habits, especially fruit, vegetable, and grain intake, and were then monitored for colorectal cancer occurrence. After an average of seven years, 2,110 participants developed colorectal cancer.

Among men, high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption were associated with significantly lower colorectal cancer risk. For women, fruit and vegetable intake achieved a small reduction in cancer risk that was not statistically meaningful. Intake of grains also had no significant effect in either sex.

The results in men were consistent across all five ethnic groups studied (whites, blacks, Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and Japanese Americans). The cancer risk reduction was higher for colon cancer than for rectal cancer.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS


* Nomura AM, Wilkens LR, Murphy SP, et al. Association of vegetable, fruit, and grain intakes with colorectal cancer: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):730-7.

Vitamin B Deficiency Associated With Cognitive Impairment

Vitamin B deficiency is associated with cognitive impairment in mice, as well as elevated homocysteine and microvascular changes in the brain.* High levels of homocysteine predispose to cerebrovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

Mice were fed one of two diets designed to increase homocysteine, or a control diet, for 10 weeks. One diet was deficient in folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6; the other was enriched in methionine (an amino acid). B vitamins are necessary to break down homocysteine, while methionine-rich diets increase homocysteine production.

Spatial learning and memory were evaluated with a water maze test. Mice given the vitamin B-deficient diet had impaired test performance compared with the other groups. Brain examination revealed that both diets, and especially the vitamin B-deficient diet, reduced brain capillary length and density, and these changes correlated with both elevated homocysteine and slower performance on the water maze test.

The findings suggest that microvascular changes may underlie neurodegeneration associated with hyperhomocysteinemia, and offer hope that B vitamins could be protective.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS


* Troen AM, Shea-Budgell M, Shukitt-Hale B, Smith DE, Selhub J, Rosenberg IH. B-vitamin deficiency causes hyperhomocysteinemia and vascular cognitive impairment in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 Aug 26;105(34):12474-9.