Friday, August 12, 2011

Eating meals laced with paprika and cinnamon 'protects your body from effects of fatty foods'

This is a ludicrous study: N = 6?? That must be the smallest sample size I have seen. Additionally, it looked only at a few biomarkers, not any health outcome and the long term effects are unknown, including side-effects. Many things look good in the isolation but may not increase longevity overall

Eating a diet rich in spices such as turmeric and cinnamon can protect you from the physical damage caused by fatty meals, say scientists. A team from Penn State University has found a blend of antioxidant spices can reduce the stress that high-fat foods can place on the heart.

When we eat, our bodies use carbohydrate calories for energy and turn leftover calories into triglycerides that are stored in fat cells for later use.

Study leader, Sheila West, said: 'Normally, when you eat a high-fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood. 'If this happens too frequently, or if triglyceride levels are raised too much, your risk of heart disease is increased. 'We found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30 per cent, compared to a similar meal with no spices added.'

Professor West and her colleagues prepared meals on two separate days for six men between the ages of 30 and 65 who were overweight, but otherwise healthy. The researchers added two tablespoons of culinary spices to each serving of the test meal, which consisted of chicken curry, Italian herb bread, and a cinnamon biscuit.

The control meal was identical, except that spices were not included. The team drew blood from the participants every 30 minutes for three hours.

'In the spiced meal, we used rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika,' said fellow researcher Ann Skulas-Ray. 'We selected these spices because they had potent antioxidant activity previously under controlled conditions in the lab.' The spice dose provided the equivalent amount of antioxidants contained in 1.4oz of dark chocolate.

When the meal contained a blend of antioxidant spices, antioxidant activity in the blood was increased by 13 per cent and insulin response decreased by about 20 per cent.

High insulin levels can be toxic over time and cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries. 'Antioxidants, like spices, may be important in reducing oxidative stress and thus reducing the risk of chronic disease,' Prof West said. Many scientists think that oxidative stress contributes to heart disease, arthritis and diabetes.

Ms Skulas-Ray noted that adding two tablespoons of spices to meals did not cause stomach upset in the participants. 'They enjoyed the food and had no gastrointestinal problems,' she said.

In the future, Prof West plans to investigate whether she can get the same results by adding smaller doses of spices to meals.

The findings were reported in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition.


Surging Retractions in Scientific Publishing

The Wall Street Journal reports that retractions of scientific papers have surged in recent years, with the top 3 journals issuing retractions being PNAS, Science and Nature. The graph above shows the increase in the rate of retracted papers.

Pharmalot provides a summary:
[T]here were just 22 retraction notices that appeared in journals 10 years ago, but 139 were published in 2006 and by last year, the number reached 339. Through July of this year, there were a total 210 retractions, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science, which maintains an index of 11,600 peer-reviewed journals.
Meanwhile, retractions related to fraud rose more than sevenfold between 2004 and 2009, exceeding a twofold rise traced to mistakes, according to an analysis published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. After studying 742 papers that were withdrawn from 2000 to 2010, the analysis found that 73.5 percent were retracted simply for error, but 26.6 percent were retracted for fraud. Ominously, 31.8 percent of retracted papers were not noted as retracted (read the abstract).

The conclusion? Either there is more fraud or more policing? Ivan Oransky, the executive editor of Reuters Health and a co-founder of the Retraction Watch blog that began recently in response to the spate of retractions, writes us that the simple use of eyeballs and software that can detect plagiarism has made it possible to root out bad papers.

He also notes, however, that there are more journals, which explains why there are more papers, in general, being published. “So the question is whether there have been more retractions per paper published,” Oransky writes, and then points to this chart to note that were, indeed, many more.

“That’s really no surprise, given the increasing numbers of eyeballs on studies, and the introduction of plagiarism detection software. It’s unclear whether the actual amount of misconduct and legitimate error has grown; it may just be that we’re picking up on more of it,” he continues. “What makes it difficult to tell is a problem we often see at Retraction Watch: Opaque and unhelpful retraction notices saying only ‘this study was withdrawn by the authors.’ How does that make for transparent science? We think journals can do a lot better, by demanding that authors and institutions come clean about what went wrong.”

And why is there more fraud? As the Wall Street Journal notes, there is a lot to be gained - by both researchers and journal editors - to publish influential papers. “The stakes are so high,” The Lancet editor Richard Horton tells the Journal. “A single paper in Lancet and you get your chair and you get your money. It’s your passport to success.”

The Retraction Watch website has recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. One thing you'll notice is that most of the attention to retractions occurs in the medical sciences. Here is a leading question -- is that because that area of research is more subject to error or fraud?


1 comment:

John A said...

Spices -

"The spice dose provided the equivalent amount of antioxidants contained in 1.4oz of dark chocolate." Ooh, chocalate cake!

"When the meal contained a blend of antioxidant spices, antioxidant activity in the blood was increased by 13 per cent"

Adding antioxidants increases antioxidation? Amazing!

"... and insulin response decreased by about 20 per cent."

Oh-oh, diabetics beware?