Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The secret to why the French live longer - Roquefort cheese?

This is all theory.  Not even a white rat in sight.  The journal article is "Could cheese be the missing piece in the French paradox puzzle?".

Let's have an alternative theory:  Australians live even longer than the French.  Could that be due to the high consumption of  Vegemite in Australia?   Vegemite is a complex product and we sure don't eat much Roquefort.   Unlike Americans, we don't even use it as a salad dressing.  Judging by the supermarket aisles, 90% of Australian cheese consumption is of a variety simply called "Tasty".   Very crass, I am sure.

Australia's national sandwich spread.  Loathed by almost all non-Australians.  The Brits understand it, however.  It is similar to their Marmite, which is also widely loathed outside Britain, but seen as essential by many Brits.  New Zealanders are generally in the Marmite camp (They have their own version) -- and their lifespan IS shorter than Australia's

Eating Roquefort cheese could help guard against cardiovascular disease despite its high fat and salt content, according to new research that suggests why the French enjoy good health.

Scientists discovered the French cheese, known for its mould and green veins, has specific anti-inflammatory properties.   It could provide clues to the "French paradox" and explain why people who live in the country enjoy good health despite favouring a diet high in saturated fat.

Using new technology, the researchers found the properties worked their best when the cheese, one of the world's oldest, ripened.

The properties of the blue cheese, which is aged in caves in the south of France, near Toulouse, were found to work best in acidic environments of the body, such as the lining of the stomach or the skin surface.   Acidification is also a common process accompanying inflammation such as in joints affected by arthritis or special plaque on an artery wall.

French women enjoy the joint-longest life expectancy in Europe, at 85.3 years, against 82.3 years for British women.

The group of doctors at a Cambridge-based biotech company developed the technology, which helps to identify the new anti-inflammatory factors.

The team from Lycotec, led by Dr Ivan Petyaev and Dr Yuriy Bashmakov, suggested the new properties could be extracted to help the fight against cardiovascular disease or in anti-ageing creams.

They detailed their work in a study, published in the Medical Hypotheses journal, titled: "Could cheese be the missing piece in the French paradox puzzle?"

"The anti-inflammatory factors found in these cheeses could be extracted and used independently or as a part of today's pharmaceutical or beauty products," they wrote.

"Observations indicate that consumption of red wine alone cannot explain the paradox and perhaps some other constituents of the typical French diet could be responsible for reduced cardiovascular mortality.  "We hypothesise that cheese consumption, especially of moulded varieties, may contribute to the occurrence of the `French paradox'."  They added: "Moulded cheeses, including Roquefort, may be even more favourable to cardiovascular health."

Roquefort, which is thought to have been first eaten in about 79AD, is noted for its sharp, tangy, salty flavour and its rich, creamy texture.


Squeezing breasts 'could stop growth of cancer cells'

Laboratory glassware study only

A little squeeze may be all that it takes to prevent malignant breast cells triggering cancer, research has shown.

Laboratory experiments showed that applying physical pressure to the cells guided them back to a normal growth pattern.

Scientists believe the research provides clues that could lead to new treatments.

'People have known for centuries that physical force can influence our bodies,' said Gautham Venugopalan, a leading member of the research team at the University of California in Berkeley, US.

'When we lift weights our muscles get bigger. The force of gravity is essential to keeping our bones strong. Here we show that physical force can play a role in the growth - and reversion - of cancer cells.'

The study involved growing malignant breast epithelial cells within a gel injected into flexible silicone chambers.

This allowed the scientists to apply compression during the first stages of cell growth, effectively squashing the cells.  Over time, the squeezed malignant cells began to grow in a more normal and organised way.

Once the breast tissue structure was formed the cells stopped growing, even when the compressive force was removed. Non-compressed cells continued to display the haphazard and uncontrolled growth that leads to cancer.

'Malignant cells have not completely forgotten how to be healthy; they just need the right cues to guide them back to a healthy growth pattern,' said Mr Venugopalan, a doctoral student.

The results were presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco.

Professor Daniel Fletcher, who runs the Berkeley laboratory, said: 'We are showing that tissue organisation is sensitive to mechanical inputs from the environment at the beginning stages of growth and development.

'An early signal, in the form of compression, appears to get these malignant cells back on the right track.'

However, the team do not envisage fighting breast cancer with a new range of compression bras.

Prof Fletcher said: 'Compression, in and of itself, is not likely to be a therapy. But this does give us new clues to track down the molecules and structures that could eventually be targeted for therapies.'

Adding a drug that helps to prevent cells adhering to their neighbours reversed the effects of compression, the scientists found. The cells returned to a disorganised, cancerous state despite being compressed.


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