Friday, August 27, 2010
LOL! Now it's black rice
Just the antioxidant religion again. Good to see some realism in the last paragraph below
Black rice - revered in ancient China but overlooked in the West - could be the greatest 'superfoods', scientists revealed today. The cereal is low in sugar but packed with healthy fibre and plant compounds that combat heart disease and cancer, say experts.
Scientists from Louisiana State University analysed samples of bran from black rice grown in the southern U.S. They found boosted levels of water-soluble anthocyanin antioxidants.
Anthocyanins provide the dark colours of many fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries and red peppers. They are what makes black rice 'black'. Research suggests that the dark plant antioxidants, which mop up harmful molecules, can help protect arteries and prevent the DNA damage that leads to cancer.
Food scientist Dr Zhimin Xu said: 'Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar, and more fibre and vitamin E antioxidants. 'If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran? Especially, black rice bran would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health-promoting antioxidants.'
Centuries ago black rice was known as 'Forbidden Rice' in ancient China because only nobles were allowed to eat it. Today black rice is mainly used in Asia for food decoration, noodles, sushi and desserts.
But food manufacturers could potentially use black rice bran or bran extracts to make breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, biscuits and other foods healthier, said Dr Xu.
When rice is processed, millers remove the outer layers of the grains to produce brown rice or more refined white rice - the kind most widely consumed in the West.
Brown rice is said to be more nutritious because it has higher levels of healthy vitamin E compounds and antioxidants. But according to Dr Xu's team, varieties of rice that are black or purple in colour are healthier still. They added that black rice could also be used to provide healthier, natural colourants. Studies linked some artificial colourants to cancer and behavioural problems in children.
The scientists presented their findings today at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.
Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'In reality, it's unlikely there's a single food out there that will have a great impact on lowering your risk of heart disease. Healthy eating is about a balanced diet overall. 'It's great if you can eat more of some groups of healthy foods, like having five portions of fruit and veg a day, but there is still no conclusive evidence that 'super foods' alone make a real difference to your heart health.'
New drug shrinks 80 per cent of melanomas
But maybe only temporarily
AN experimental therapy that targets the protein that feeds certain types of advanced melanomas has successfully shrunk tumours in up to 80 per cent of test patients, a study said on Wednesday. The orally-administered medication, called PLX4032, "shuts off" tumours by neutralising a mutated gene called "BRAF" that feeds the cancerous growths.
"We have never seen an 80 per cent response rate in melanoma, or in any other solid tumour for that matter, so this is remarkable," said Paul Chapman, senior author of the study and a doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre.
"Metastatic melanoma has a devastating prognosis and is one of the top causes of cancer death in young patients," said Keith Flaherty of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Centre and a lead author. "Until now, available therapies were few and unreliable, so these findings can really change the outlook for patients whose tumours are fuelled by this mutation."
The study, published in the August 26 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, grew out of the discovery that BRAF mutations, which occur in roughly half of patients with melanomas, effectively feed and grow the tumours. PLX4032 blocks the BRAF protein at the cellular level, allowing researchers to test whether starving the melanomas of the gene would shrink patients' tumours.
The research is potentially exciting news for the treatment of patients with advanced skin cancer. Early-stage melanomas can usually be successfully removed surgically, but few treatment options currently exist once the cancer has spread.
The only two drugs currently available on the US market help only between 10 to 20 per cent of patients, and for those with advanced melanomas, the prognosis for survival is usually nine months or less.
The study released this week documents the results of two phases of tests involving PLX4032, the first to determine the optimum dose and the second to examine the drug's effectiveness. During the first phase, 55 patients received gradually escalating doses that allowed scientists to determine that a twice-daily dose of 960 milligrams would be optimal.
The second stage involved 32 patients with BRAF-mutated melanomas, 26 of whom saw their tumours shrink more than 30 per cent, including two whose tumours disappeared altogether.
The drug proved capable of shrinking metastatic tumours in the liver, small bowel, bone and thyroid and produced minor side-effects, the researchers said.
"One of the things that make these results truly remarkable is that this drug works so reliably," Mr Flaherty said. "And patients who have been experiencing symptoms like pain and fatigue begin to feel better within a week of starting treatment, giving them a much better quality of life."
The study acknowledged that many patients eventually developed a resistance to the therapy, with tumour suppression lasting anywhere from three months to two years.
They said they would examine long-term prospects for the therapy, including how it might be combined with other drugs to extend its capabilities against tumours, during a final, phase III trial. "We don't know if treatment really improves overall survival of melanoma patients," Mr Chapman said.
"That is what we are trying to find out in the ongoing phase III trial. In the future, we hope to combine PLX4032 with other anti-melanoma drugs currently being developed."
Posted by jonjayray at 7:20 PM