Friday, November 15, 2013

Women who eat nuts 'less likely to develop pancreatic cancer'

The usual rubbish.  Middle class people are more likely to eat a "correct" diet  -- in which nuts are praised  -- and they are healthier anyway

Women who snack on brazil nuts, cashews, pecans and other popular varieties are less likely to develop pancreatic cancer, a study has suggested.  Researchers found a handful of nuts twice a week is enough to significantly reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer in western countries, with smoking and obesity thought to be the two leading causes.

But the disease is also associated with a form of diabetes known as diabetes mellitus, which can be inhibited by tree nuts – the family that also includes almonds, pistachios and walnuts.

Tree nuts contain a range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, the compounds which give plants their colour, smell and other physical qualities.

The results, published by the British Journal of Cancer, come from a detailed study of more than 75,000 women in the US, none of whom had any history of the disease.

Researcher Dr Ying Bao of Harvard Medical School and Utah's Brigham and Women's Hospital, looked at the connection between pancreatic cancer and nut consumption.

Nuts can be fattening, which is a factor in many forms of cancer, but the study showed women who consumed the most nuts tended to be slimmer than average.

The report does not say if this is down to other factors of their lifestyle – such as exercise – or eating nuts instead of less healthy, calorie-laden snacks such as chocolate.

But Dr Bao said: "Women who consumed a one-ounce serving of nuts two or more times per week had a significantly reduced risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who largely abstained from nuts.

"This reduction in risk was independent of established or suspected risk factors for pancreatic cancer including age, height, obesity, physical activity, smoking, diabetes and dietary factors."

He added: "In our cohort women who consumed the most nuts tended to weigh less."

Nuts have been shown to have several health benefits in recent years.

Almonds, walnuts, cashews and were found to reduce to risk of heart attacks by more than 10 per cent following a large European study looking into the links between diet and cancer and heart disease.

Only two servings a week of eight grams of nuts, enough to cover a small plate, is enough to decrease the risk, according to the study presented to the World Congress of Cardiology.

Moreover, a 2012 study found pregnant woman who eat nuts are less likely to have children who developed allergies.

Researchers at the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen discovered children of women who eat peanuts and other nuts during pregnancy are a third less likely to suffer from asthma by the age of seven, compared to those whose mothers avoid them.

The report contradicted a series of studies in the 1980s, that purported to find evidence of a link between nut-eating during pregnancy and allergic response.

Colin Michie, chairman of nutrition at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the results revealed previous studies to be weak.


Damp, mouldy rooms increase risk of Parkinson's

If you are a fruit fly.  Mould can be  quite harmful to people so a study of the theory in a human sample should be done without delay

A damp, mouldy house has long been known to trigger asthma and allergies - and new research has now linked it to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease.

Scientists found a compound emitted by mould can be linked to the development of the neurological condition.

The U.S. researchers found a connection between the compound given off by mould and mildew - a vapour known as 'mushroom alcohol'  – and the malfunctioning of two genes associated with the brain chemical dopamine.

This is lost in patients with Parkinson's disease.

While the condition has previously been linked to exposure to toxins, these were man-made rather than natural chemicals, said researcher Dr Arati Inamdar, from Rutgers University.

The idea for the research came from the study's co-author Dr Joan Bennett, also from Rutgers University, who became interested in the health effects of living in a damp building after her house was flooded when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.

After her house flooded it became riddled with moulds and Dr Bennett started to collect samples wearing protective clothing.

She said: ‘I felt horrible – headaches, dizziness, nausea. I knew something about “sick building syndrome” but until then I didn’t believe in it.

‘I didn’t think it would be possible to breathe in enough mould spores to get sick.’

As a result of this experience, Dr Bennett decided to investigate the connection between moulds and the symptoms she had experienced.

She and Dr Inamdar discovered that the volatile organic compound 1-octen-3-ol, otherwise known as mushroom alcohol, can cause movement disorders in fruit flies.

They also found that it attacks the two genes that deal with dopamine, degenerating the neurones and causing Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

Parkinson's disease occurs when the nerve cells in the brain that make dopamine are slowly destroyed. Without dopamine, the nerve cells in that part of the brain cannot properly send messages.

Studies indicate that the condition - a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity and slow, imprecise movement - is increasing in rural areas, where it’s usually attributed to pesticide exposure.

But rural environments also have a lot of mould and mushroom exposure.

‘Our work suggests that 1-octen-3-ol might also be connected to the disease, particularly for people with a genetic susceptibility to it,’ Dr Inamdar said. ‘We’ve given the epidemiologists some new avenues to explore.’

Claire Bale, Research Communications Manager at Parkinson’s UK, said: ‘Understanding what causes Parkinson’s remains one of the big unanswered questions for researchers today.

‘We already know that exposure to some chemicals can slightly increase the risk of Parkinson's, and this is the first study to suggest that chemicals produced by fungi may play a part in what causes the condition to develop.

‘It is important to remember this study was conducted using tiny fruit flies, so before we can really be confident about this new connection we need to see evidence from studies in people.

‘Whilst exposure to chemicals produced by fungi – and possibly other chemicals – may play a role in Parkinson's in some people, it's likely just a small part of a much bigger puzzle and we wouldn’t want people to worry unnecessarily about developing the condition if they found mold or fungi in their homes.

‘We still don't know exactly what causes Parkinson's – for most people it's likely to be a combination of natural ageing, genetic susceptibility, lifestyle and environmental factors.’

The findings, which were produced with help from researchers at Emory University, were published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the study was funded by Rutgers University and the National Institutes of Health.


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