Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Taking vitamin E supplements may actually WEAKEN bones, study shows

Note that vitamin E is a prime "antioxidant" -- LOL

It is dubbed the anti-ageing vitamin. But vitamin E may make bones old and frail before their time. Animals fed on a diet supplemented with the vitamin had bones 20 per cent weaker than those that ate normally, a preliminary study found. Worryingly, the effect was seen after just eight weeks.

The scientists behind the research said that given the popularity of vitamin E supplements, a larger study on people is now warranted.

The vitamin, which occurs naturally in cereals, nuts, olive oil and egg yolks, is credited with helping hold back the hands of time by 'fighting ageing from within'.

Benefits are said to include cutting the risk of heart disease, cancers and cataracts, as well as helping keep the mind sharp into old age and the skin supple.

One of the world's most popular supplements, it is taken daily by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Britons. In the US, more than one in ten adults take vitamin E tablets.

The latest study, detailed in the journal Nature Medicine, looked at the effect of alpha-tocopherol, the most common form of the vitamin, on bone strength.

Bone is constantly changing, with old bone broken down and new bone being built. Osteoporosis occurs when old bone is broken down by the body far more quickly than it is replaced.

In the Japanese study, mice genetically modified to have low levels of the vitamin in their blood, grew bones that were extra-thick. This was found to be due to them being poor at breaking down old bone, rather than good at making new stuff. When vitamin E was added to the animals' diet, their bone density returned to normal.

In another experiment, giving normal mice alpha-tocopherol vitamin E supplements at doses equivalent to those taken by people, led to their bones thinning by a fifth in just two months. The same result was seen in rats.

Researcher Dr Shu Takeda, of Keio University in Tokyo, called for a larger study on the vitamin's effect on human bones.

Professor Helen MacDonald, an advisor to the National Osteoporosis Society, said: 'There is nothing to worry about if you are getting plenty of vitamin E from your diet but those taking high doses of the nutrient in supplements need to be wary.

'You have to remember this research was carried out on animals and findings in humans can be very different. But more research is needed.'

An estimated three million Britons have osteoporosis, with 230,000 breaking weakened bones each year and 1,150 dying each month after fractured a hip.


Colon cancer drug hope through research into inflammatory bowel disease

A TEAM of Queensland researchers has developed a world-first treatment for the leading cause of colon cancer.

The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience has been working for more than a decade on a medication for inflammatory bowel disease, a condition that is estimated to affect 30 million people worldwide.

"We thought that certain enzymes involved in digesting food in the gut may, if uncontrolled, cause inflammatory bowel disease, so we developed a drug that blocks the effects of these enzymes on colon cells," one of the research team leaders, Dr Rink-Jan Lohman, said.

"Not only were we able to treat and prevent the symptoms, our drug was effective at 10 per cent of the dose of current treatments and it can be given in tablet form rather than injected."

The researchers believe that the drug might show similar benefits in treating other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, and could prevent a variety of cancers from developing.

"If we can treat diseases like inflammatory bowel disease adequately we can likely reduce the risk of colon cancer in the population in the future," he said.

To move a drug to human trials costs millions of dollars, so the IMB team must get further funding to advance their research.

"The process of taking a drug from a promising molecule to a product on the shelves takes years, but discoveries such as these should give sufferers hope that better treatments will one day be available," Dr Lohman said.

The study has been published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.


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