Sunday, July 06, 2008

Red wine may mitigate red meat's dangers

Antioxidants do actually SHORTEN lifespan in at least some cases so even if these findings do generalize to humans, the stuff may have other effects that are damaging. You've got to look at the big picture or the bottom line or whatever metaphor suits

What happens when red wine meets red meat? If that happens in the stomach, wine's healthful chemicals may thwart formation of harmful substances released during digestion of fat in the meat, scientists report.

Researchers attribute the documented benefits of moderate wine consumption -- including protection against cancer and heart disease -- to its high levels of polyphenols, compounds also found in fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants, substances that suppress destructive chemical reactions promoted by oxygen.

But the body doesn't absorb polyphenols easily; scientists have puzzled over how and where they exert their benefits. The researchers found an answer in tests with laboratory rats fed either red meat or red meat with red wine concentrate. Wine concentrate substantially reduced formation of two byproducts of fat digestion, malondialdehyde and hydroperoxide, which are toxic to cells, the investigators said. The stomach acts as a "bioreactor" that facilitates the beneficial effects, the researchers wrote. The polyphenols work not only to prevent generation of toxic compounds, but also to inhibit their entry to the blood stream, they added.

The study, by scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and The Volcani Center in Bet Dagain, Israel, appears in the June 11 issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Molecule discovery gives hope to allergy sufferers

Still in vitro. A long journey ahead to reach therapeutic use

Putting an end to extreme allergic reactions could be as simple as turning off a molecule, Sydney researchers have found, giving new hope to thousands of people suffering debilitating asthma, eczema and rhinitis. In a world first, scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in Darlinghurst, have identified two molecules which combine to create an allergic reaction 10 times more powerful than any molecule can create in isolation. If one of the molecules, known as IL-4 and IL-21, could be switched off, extreme allergic reactions could be avoided, a biologist, Stuart Tangye, said yesterday.

The findings, published in the latest edition of the international journal, Blood, are good news for allergy sufferers, but Dr Tangye warns that it could be years before a treatment is developed. "So far this work has only been done in cultures and it will be some time before it can be achieved in humans - but it is very exciting," he said.

"People with allergies tend to have high levels of an antibody called IgE in their blood and it has been known for many years that IL-4 can drive IgE production in humans and mice. But we now know that IL-21 also stimulates IgE by using an entirely different pathway," Dr Tangye said. "When the two combine, the response is very robust . and we now know that any sort of therapy or treatment for allergies would be best served by neutralising one or both of those molecules, rather than just going after one, which has been a strategy for many drugs in the past," he said.

An allergy specialist at The Children's Hospital Westmead, Dr Andrew Kemp, said the results were encouraging at a time when allergy rates were rising steadily. International studies show rates of asthma, eczema and hay fever have increased dramatically in the past 15 years but specialists are unsure what is responsible. "What they're showing here is just in the test tube at this stage and in theory it's exciting," Dr Kemp said. "But we've had molecular targets in the past that we thought would be very beneficial - one in particular for asthma - that haven't turned out to work that well as a drug."


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