Vitamin D levels could halve diabetes risk

Adequate levels of vitamin D during young adulthood may halve the risk of adult-onset type 1 diabetes, according to a new research.

The findings by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) could lead to a role for vitamin D supplementation in preventing this serious auto-immune disease in adults, when the immune system starts damaging tissues.

"It is surprising that a serious disease such as type 1 diabetes could perhaps be prevented by a simple and safe intervention," said Kassandra Munger, research associate at HSPH, who led the study, the American Journal of Epidemiology reports.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and permanently disables the insulin-making cells in the pancreas. About five percent of the estimated 25.8 million people in the US suffer from this condition, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Although it often starts in childhood, about 60 percent of type 1 diabetes cases occur after age 20, according to an Harvard statement.

Identifying 310 individuals diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1997 and 2009, the team examined blood samples taken before onset of the disease, and compared the samples with those of 613 people in a control group, not having the disease.

Source: American Diabetes association                 

B.N

Health Benefits of Quiet

Numerous studies have linked unwanted sound to increased levels of stress. Even low-level noise has been associated with increased aggression and other mental health problems, as well as poor sleep, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Janet Luhrs, pioneer of the Simplicity Movement, offers the following tips for increasing moments of silence in your daily life so that you will feel better and be healthier:

Start your day with silence. Before running headlong into another day, do something relaxing for twelve minutes when you wake up. That could be stretching, reading something inspirational, or meditating. Hormone levels are highest when you first get out of bed. Most people have coffee and turn on CNN. That’s the worst thing you can do.

Eat at a table, without TV or reading. Mindful eating helps you enjoy your food more, prevents overeating because you are tuned in to your body’s satiety signals, and allows your body to metabolize food more efficiently.

Try driving in silence. The car is a wonderful place to get in touch with your thoughts and be with yourself. Silence is rejuvenating.

Create a silence retreat at home. Set aside an evening at home when you will not talk. Turn the ringer off the phone and don’t answer it; turn off the TV. Don’t run any extra machines. If you have a cooperative family, try to do it together, or trade nights with your spouse taking the kids out to dinner and a movie.

Practice silent exercise. When you exercise, try it without the iPod and magazines. If possible, exercise outdoors. Silence helps you pay attention to everything your body is doing—your breathing, your muscles, your posture. Silence helps you listen to the healthy signals your body is giving you—to slow down, to go faster, to straighten up.

Raghda Sawas

The 6 Healthiest Berries for Women’s Hearts

Berries are bright, flavorful and sweet superfruits that have a long list of health benefits.

These colorful fruits are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which help fight chronic disease and cancer. And their health benefits just keep getting sweeter!

A recent study in the journal Circulation suggests that sprinkling just a few more blueberries in your yogurt or blending strawberries into your morning smoothie may help reduce heart attack risk.

Here are the top six berries for women's health.

Blackberries

These tasty berries are rich in polyphenols, which may help prevent cardiovascular disease and even cancer. They contain high amounts of fiber compared to other types of fruit: One cup has about 7 grams of fiber. (The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 to 35 grams.) What's more, they're rich in vitamin C and contain a bit of iron, calcium and vitamin A, too. Bake them in a pie, spread them in a jam on whole-grain toast, or just eat them by the handful!

Blueberries

Eating blueberries may help your memory, and they have high levels of compounds that help widen arteries, which helps blood to flow smoothly. Rich in antioxidants, blueberries are also low fat, free of saturated fat, and a good source of fiber and vitamin C. No wonder they're linked to a lower risk of heart attack!

Strawberries

Strawberries are heart-healthy and packed with vitamin C. They are also an excellent source of folate, which is a nutrient that's suspected (but not proven) to help protect your heart. Like blueberries, they contain compounds that help widen the arteries, which may prevent plaque buildup. Another benefit? They whiten your teeth naturally!

Raspberries

These sweet berries are rich in heart healthy fiber; just half a cup delivers 4 grams. You also get 25% of your recommended intake for vitamin C and manganese too. Raspberries are low in fat and have high levels of polyphenols, which help reduce heart disease risk. Try to sneak these into your diet whenever you can.

Acai Berries

When it comes to antioxidants, this Brazilian fruit smashes rivals like blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. The berries are a good source of fiber, but are tart. Mixing them in smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt helps temper the bitterness.

Cranberries

These tart little berries are popular around the holidays, but given the health benefits (especially for women), you should try to eat them year-round. Among other benefits, cranberries may increase HDL, or good cholesterol, and may also help prevent urinary tract infections, so they are a win-win!

R.Sawas

Studies Link Daily Doses of Aspirin to Reduced Risk of Cancer

Taking aspirin every day may significantly reduce the risk of many cancers and prevent tumors from spreading, according to two new studies published on Tuesday.

Drawbacks of daily doses of aspirin include a risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

The findings add to a body of evidence suggesting that cheap and widely available aspirin may be a powerful if overlooked weapon in the battle against cancer. But the research also poses difficult questions for doctors and public health officials, as regular doses of aspirin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and other side effects. Past studies have suggested that the drawbacks of daily use may outweigh the benefits, particularly in healthy patients.

One of the new studies examined patient data from dozens of large, long-term randomized controlled trials involving tens of thousands of men and women. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that after three years of daily aspirin use, the risk of developing cancer was reduced by almost 25 percent when compared with a control group not taking aspirin. After five years, the risk of dying of cancer was reduced by 37 percent among those taking aspirin.

A second paper that analyzed five large randomized controlled studies in Britain found that over six and a half years on average, daily aspirin use reduced the risk of metastatic cancer by 36 percent and the risk of adenocarcinomas — common solid cancers including colon, lung and prostate cancer — by 46 percent.

Daily aspirin use also reduced the risk of progressing to metastatic disease, particularly in patients with colorectal cancer, the studies reported.

The studies, led by Dr. Peter M. Rothwell, a professor of clinical neurology at the University of Oxford, were published in the medical journal The Lancet. A third paper by Dr. Rothwell and his colleagues, published in The Lancet Oncology, compared the findings of observational studies and randomized trials of aspirin.

There is an urgent need for clinical trials of treatment regimens incorporating aspirin, Dr. Rothwell said.

“What really jumps out at you in terms of prevention is the striking 75 percent reduction in esophageal cancer and a 40 to 50 percent reduction in colorectal cancer, which is the most common cancer right now,” Dr. Rothwell said. “In terms of prevention, anyone with a family history would be sensible to take aspirin,” he added.

But while some experts called the new findings “provocative” and “encouraging,” mounting evidence about the preventive promise of aspirin puts health providers in a quandary. Aspirin increases the risk of not just of gastrointestinal bleeding, but of hemorrhagic strokes.

The new studies, however, also found that the risk of bleeding in aspirin users diminished over time, and that the risk of death from brain bleeds was actually lower in the aspirin users than in the comparison group.

“I think he’s on to something. I just want to be cautious, and I don’t want to exaggerate,” said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society. “I’m not ready to say that everybody ought to take a baby aspirin a day to prevent cancer.”

Dr. Andrew T. Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-author of a comment published with the articles in The Lancet, said the studies, despite their limitations, “raise the level of excitement about using aspirin as a chemopreventive agent.”

“If you start to include the possibility that aspirin reduces the cancer risk beyond colon cancer, then the risk-benefit ratio shifts quite a bit, especially for those cancers where we have little to offer in the way of screening and early diagnosis,” Dr. Chan said.

The randomized clinical trials the Oxford investigators examined were not focused on cancer prevention; they were originally intended to study the effects of aspirin on preventing heart disease. The application of the findings to cancer prevention may be flawed, some experts said.

In the United States, two major studies of low-dose aspirin to prevent cancer did not find reductions in cancer with aspirin use. Those findings were excluded from analysis by the Oxford researchers because they involved use of aspirin every other day, rather than daily use.

Though many people use baby aspirin daily to reduce their risk of heart disease, patients are generally advised to do so only when their cardiac risk is presumed to outweigh the risks of taking aspirin. Physicians remain extremely reluctant to recommend long-term use of aspirin in a healthy population.

Some cancer doctors commended the new research, saying that despite the limitations of the analyses, no other long-term clinical trials of aspirin and cancer are likely to be done because of the enormous expense involved and the fact that aspirin is a cheap generic drug.

Source:The Newyork Times

B.N

Daily aspirin 'prevents and possibly treats cancer'

The three new studies published by The Lancet add to mounting evidence of the drug's anti-cancer effects.

Many people already take daily aspirin as a heart drug.

But experts warn that there is still not enough proof to recommend it to prevent cancer cases and deaths and warn that the drug can cause dangerous side effects like stomach bleeds.

Prof Peter Rothwell, from Oxford University, and colleagues, who carried out the latest work, had already linked aspirin with a lower risk of certain cancers, particularly bowel cancer.

But their previous work suggested people needed to take the drug for about 10 years to get any protection ,according to BBC.

Now the same experts believe the protective effect occurs much sooner - within three to five years - based on a new analysis of data from 51 trials involving more than 77,000 patients.

•           Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) has been used for many years as a painkiller. It has an anti-inflammatory action

•           Low-dose (75mg) aspirin is already recommended for people with known cardiovascular disease to prevent stroke and heart attack

•           The benefits for healthy people are still unclear

•           Aspirin can cause fatal internal bleeding, although this is relatively rare

And aspirin appears not only to reduce the risk of developing many different cancers in the first place, but may also stop cancers spreading around the body.

The trials were designed to compare aspirin with no treatment for the prevention of heart disease.

But when Prof Rothwell's team examined how many of the participants developed and died from cancer, they found this was also related to aspirin use.

Halting cancer spread

Taking a low (75-300mg) daily dose of the drug appeared to cut the total number of cancer cases by about a quarter after only three years - there were nine cancer cases per 1,000 each year in the aspirin-taking group, compared with 12 per 1,000 for those taking dummy pills.

It also reduced the risk of a cancer death by 15% within five years (and sooner if the dose was higher than 300mg)

And if patients stayed on aspirin for longer, their cancer death risk went down even further - by 37% after five years.

Low-dose aspirin also appeared to reduce the likelihood that cancers, particularly bowel, would spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body, and by as much as half in some instances.

In absolute numbers, this could mean for every five patients treated with aspirin one metastatic cancer would be prevented, the researchers estimate.

At the same time, aspirin cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but it also increased the risk of a major bleed.

However this elevated bleeding risk was only seen in the first few years of aspirin therapy and decreased after that.

Critics point out that some of the doses given in the study were much higher than the 75mg dose typically given in the UK. Also, some very large US studies looking at aspirin use were not included in the analysis. The researchers acknowledge both of these points in their published papers.

Prof Rothwell says for most fit and healthy people, the most important things they can do to reduce their lifetime cancer risk is to give up smoking, take exercise and have a healthy diet.

After that aspirin does seem to reduce the risk further - only by a small amount if there is no risk factor, but if there is a family history for something like colorectal cancer, it tips the balance in favour of aspirin, he said.

Prof Peter Johnson, of Cancer Research UK, said it was still a good idea for people thinking of taking aspirin to discuss it with their GP because of the possible side effects.

But he said the work was exciting and suggested aspirin might be beneficial for treating and preventing cancer, which is something the charity is exploring in its own research.

"We now need some definitive advice from the government as to whether aspirin should be recommended more widely," he said.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which issues treatment guidelines for the NHS, has not yet been asked by the government to look at the topic but a spokesman for the Department of Health said they were considering how best to advise the public about the benefits and risks of aspirin.

Meanwhile, the leader of an ongoing UK trial looking at cancers of the gastrointestinal tract said their results - as yet unpublished - suggested no preventative effect of aspirin after following patients for several years.

Professor Janusz Jankowski of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry said: "So far aspirin cancer prevention effects have not been seen in this major UK study after > 4.5 years.

M.W