Friday, November 12, 2010

Two glasses of orange juice a day 'doubles gout risk in women'

Less than 1% of people get gout so the absolute numbers here are small. The overwhelming number of people who drink lots of orange juice will NOT get gout.

Insofar as the numbers below mean anything at all, I doubt the explanation in terms of fructose. Fructose is just a simple sugar -- albeit one that is often demonized. Gout is caused by underexcretion of uric acid. As well as orange juice, many softdrinks -- e.g. Coke -- are also acidic. I see general acid overload as the most likely problem among people prone to gout

Women who drink just two glasses of orange juice a day are twice as likely to get gout, scientists claim. Women who drank two glasses a day were two and a half times more at risk of the painful condition – the same as if they drank two cans of sugary soft drink. Even one glass of juice raised their risk by 40 per cent.

Gout, a form of arthritis, affects 1.5 per cent of Britons, with men four times more likely to suffer from the condition. But the number of female cases has doubled in the last 20 years.

Experts believe the high fruit sugar, or fructose, content of juice causes uric acid – a waste product in the blood – to leach into joints, causing them to become swollen and very painful.

The University of Boston study followed the diet habits of 80,000 women over 22 years. Those who drank a daily glass of orange juice were 41 per cent more at risk of gout. Those who had two or more were 2.4 times at risk.

Women who had a daily can of a soft drink were 70 per cent more likely to get gout. Those who had two were 2.4 times more at risk – the same as juice. The results ‘support the importance of reducing fructose intake’, the experts said.

Gout is often linked to an overindulgent diet which includes too much alcohol or red meat. It was common among wealthy, portly gentlemen in the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras.

Last year the same team of scientists found that gout affected 3.5 per cent of women aged 60 to 69, 4.6 per cent of those aged 70 to 79 age group, and 5.6 per cent of those over 80.


An instant test at 40 to predict Alzheimer's?

There is a considerable element of speculation here

A 30-second test to spot the signs of Alzheimer’s in those in their 40s is being developed by scientists. The simple procedure, which warns of the debilitating disease decades before symptoms show, brings the hope of routine screening for dementia in as little as two years.

Carried out on a computer in a GP’s surgery, the test could become as widely used as blood pressure checks. Those found to have a tiny piece of tell-tale damage to their brains could take preventative measures such as changing their diet and taking more exercise. Quicker detection would allow earlier treatment and, with the help of new drugs, some who test positive might never develop the disease.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect more than 800,000 Britons, with the number expected to double in a generation.

Professor David Bunce, who led the research, said: ‘The study lays open the possibilities for screening, early detection and intervention. The earlier we can intervene with people vulnerable to eventual dementia, the greater the chances of preventing or delaying the disease onset.’

However, not everyone will want to be told their fate so far in advance. And there are fears that insurance companies could increase premiums for those who test positive.

Experts say that delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years could halve the number of people who die with the condition, currently a third of over-65s.

At the moment, diagnosis is based on memory tests or expensive brain scans. Proof of the disease often comes only from examination of the patient’s brain after death. By contrast, the computer procedure, based on a simple test of reaction times, would be quick and easy.

Professor Bunce, of Brunel University, London, used brain scans to find tiny lesions, each smaller than a grain of rice, in the white matter of apparently healthy men and women aged 44 to 48. Around 15 per cent of the 428 tested had the abnormalities, which occurred in the brain’s memory hub.

Although the research did not show that these people went on to develop dementia, the lesions were similar to those discovered in post-mortem examinations of Alzheimer’s patients – and were found in the same part of the brain.

The professor saw that those with the brain lesions performed more erratically in a test of reaction times, which involved watching for one of two lights on a screen and hitting a corresponding button.

Those with lesions had a mixture of slow and fast reaction times, whereas those with healthy brains had either consistently fast or slow responses, the journal PLoS ONE reports.

The study was funded by research foundation the Leverhulme Trust. Although more research – and funding – is needed, it is hoped the test could be in doctors’ surgeries in two to five years.

It is thought that drugs already on the market would be of little use to combat the disease at such an early stage. However, laboratories around the world are trying to develop pills and jabs that halt Alzheimer’s earlier in their tracks.

In the meantime, Alzheimer’s charities recommend eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly to stave off the disease. Ruth Sutherland, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘We know that changes in the brain begin many years before the first symptoms of dementia become evident. It is therefore vital to invest in research into the early signs of dementia in the brain.’


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