Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Could watermelon reduce high blood pressure? Fruit could slash the risk of heart attacks in obese people
A very small experiment of unknown generalizability
Watermelon reduces high blood pressure in overweight people and could slash the risk of a heart attack, new research shows.
Scientists found that the fruit significantly reduces blood pressure in overweight people, even when they are exposed to cold weather.
More people die of heart attacks in cold conditions because the stress put on the body by trying to keep warm causes blood pressure to increase.
This forces the heart to work harder, meaning people face a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, revealed that eating watermelon is good for heart health and can reduce the risk of heart problems in cold conditions.
Professor Arturo Figueroa, from Florida State University, said: ‘The pressure on the aorta and on the heart decreased after consuming watermelon extract.’
Scientists looked at 13 middle-aged obese men and women who suffered from high blood pressure over a 12 week period.
Test participants’ hands were dipped into cold water to simulate cold weather conditions, while scientists took their blood pressure.
Then, every day half of the participants took watermelon extracts - four grams of amino acid L-citrulline and two grams of L-arginine per day.
The other half were given a placebo, and after six weeks the participants switched roles.
It was revealed that watermelon lowered blood pressure and reduced cardiac stress, even in cold conditions.
‘That means less overload to the heart, so the heart is going to work easily during a stressful situation such as cold exposure,’ said Professor Figueroa.
L-citrulline and L-arginine supplements are available from some health food shops but would have to be taken in high doses to reduce blood pressure.
The news comes just after it was revealed that working out in warm water can reduce blood pressure.
Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, found aquarobics in warm water can lower blood pressure even in people for whom medication has not worked.
It's not clear why warm water has this effect. One theory is that heat dilates blood vessels, improving the flow of blood through the body.
A daily aspirin may help beat bowel cancer: Patients who take painkiller were 50% less at risk from dying of the disease
Correlational evidence only
People treated for bowel cancer may have better survival prospects if they take aspirin, say researchers.
A new study found patients taking aspirin regularly after surgery were 50 per cent less at risk from dying of colon cancer, because it was less likely to have spread.
The study adds to mounting evidence of aspirin's anti-cancer properties, both in prevention of the disease and promoting survival in patients.
Aspirin blocks the effects of COX enzymes, proteins that help trigger inflammation and are associated with a number of different types of cancer.
The latest study examined tissue from tumours from 999 patients with colon cancer who underwent surgery between 2002 and 2008.
Most patients had colon cancer diagnosed at stage III or lower, when it might be expected to spread, and they were all registered on a Dutch cancer database.
Of the 999 patients, 182 (18.2 percent) were aspirin users and among them there were 69 deaths, around 38 per cent.
There were 396 deaths among 817 nonusers of aspirin, amounting to 48.5 per cent.
Patients taking aspirin use after colon cancer diagnosis had improved overall survival compared with non users, by around 53 per cent.
The potential survival benefit of aspirin was strongest among patients whose tumours expressed human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I genes.
It is thought that aspirin helps stop circulating tumour cells from developing into cancers elsewhere in the body in these particular patients.
However, aspirin had no effect in patients whose tumours had lost their HLA class I antigen expression, says a report in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Study leader Dr Gerrit Jan Liefers, of the department of surgery, Leiden University Medical Centre, the Netherlands, said: 'Our data may have important clinical implications for both the dose and timing of aspirin as an anti-cancer agent.'
He said low dose daily aspirin may help prevent spread in patients with early-stage cancer.
'Because circulating tumour cells are found in the perioperative (pre-surgery) period, it could be argued that aspirin therapy should be initiated as soon as considered clinically appropriate after diagnosis,' he added.
Each year around 38,600 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer and the disease causes 16,000 deaths.
Dr Alfred Neugut, of Columbia University, New York, in a related commentary, said newly diagnosed patients often ask what more they can do besides medical treatment.
In future, he would be recommending aspirin as well because it's what he would take. 'When a patient or a patient's spouse asks, "What else should he be doing, Doctor?" - I will have a ready response,' he added.
A British-led study in 2011 found daily aspirin can cut the risk of developing cancer by as much as 60 per cent in a study of people with a family istory of the disease.
It suggested aspirin treatment could prevent up to 10,000 cancers over the next 30 years and possibly save 1,000 lives if taken by those with a genetic susceptibility to the disease.
Researchers say the biggest evidence for aspirin is in preventing bowel cancer, although it may lower the risk of other solid cancers.
Experts say healthy middle aged people who start taking aspirin around the age of 45 or 50 for 20-30 years could expect to reap the most benefit because cancer rates rise with age.
But there has been widespread concern that side effects such as stomach bleeding and haemorrhagic stroke would outweigh any advantage among healthy people.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:26 AM