June 2007


Risk of stroke doubles with type 2 diabetes

Extracted from the following the University of Alberta’s new research that recently appeared in the American Heart Association’s Stroke journal :-

1. Individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are at double the risk of having a stroke compared to those without diabetes

2. Compared to persons from the general population of a similar age, the relative risk for stroke was much greater in younger persons with diabetes than for older persons.

3. it is possible that physicians are under-treating stroke risks because of a prevailing attitude among physicians and patients that the cardiovascular complications of diabetes occur long after diagnosis rather than in the first five years.

Coffee Drinking Increases Cholesterol

Cafestol, a compound found in coffee, elevates cholesterol by hijacking a receptor in an intestinal pathway critical to its regulation, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears in the July issue of the journal Molecular Endocrinology. 

In fact, cafestol is the most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent known, said Dr. David Moore, professor of molecular and cellular biology at BCM, and Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts, a postdoctoral student and first author of the report. Cafetiere, or French press coffee, boiled Scandinavian brew and espresso contain the highest levels of the compound, which is removed by paper filters used in most other brewing processes. Removing caffeine does not remove cafestol, however.

Studies by a co-author – Dr. Martijn B. Katan of Vriye Univeriteit Amsterdam, Institute for Health Sciences, The Netherlands – indicate that consuming five cups of French press coffee per day (30 milligrams of cafestol) for four weeks raises cholesterol in the blood 6 to 8 percent.  

However, while the cholesterol increase associated with cafestol had been identified previously, mainly through the work of Katan and his colleagues, the mechanism by which it acted remained a mystery. It was a mystery that Moore and Ricketts decided to address in the laboratory.

For a long time, Ricketts said she was stymied because of paradoxical effects of cafestol in the liver.

However, the discovery of a gene called fibroblast growth factor 15 or FGF 15 opened the door to understanding how cafestol affects farsenoid receptor X or FXR in the intestine. FXR was first identified as a bile acid receptor in studies in several laboratories, including Moore’s.  

“It is part of the body’s own way of regulating levels of cholesterol,” said Ricketts.

Through research in the test tube and in mice, she and Moore found that in the intestine, cafestol activates FXR and induces FGF15, which reduces the effects of three liver genes that regulate cholesterol levels.

While it is still unclear whether cafestol itself reaches the liver, the finding does confirm that the effect of the compound is in the intestine, which is directly involved in the transport of bile acids. 

Moore’s interest in cafestol began several years ago when his wife read an article on coffee’s effect on cholesterol. She suggested that he might change his brewing method, which involved a permanent coffee filter. The paper filters, the article suggested, removed the coffee oils, which contain cafestol.

Moore researched the problem, and found papers by co-author Katan. He was already working on FXR, and began to think about whether cafestol might be affecting that signal in the cholesterol pathway.  

Others who took part in the work include: Mark V. Boekschoten, Guido J.E.J. Hooiveld and Michael Müller of Wageningen University, Division of Human Nutrition, The Netherlands; Arja J. Kreeft, Corina J.A. Moen, Rune R. Frants of Center for Human and Clinical Genetics, LUMC, Leiden, The Netherlands; Soemini Kasanmoentalib of the Department of Medical Statistics, LUMC, Leiden, The Netherlands; Sabine M. Post and Hans MG Princen of TNO Pharma in Leiden, The Netherlands; J. Gordon Porter of Incyte Corporation, Palo Alto, CA.; and Marten H. Hofker of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands.

Funding for this study came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences, the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research and the Netherlands Heart Foundation.

Note: This story was extracted from Science Daily and  adapted from a news release issued by Baylor College of Medicine.

Increase in obesity and diabetes but decrease in deaths from Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) 

Epidemiologists at the University of Liverpool and the Heart of Mersey have found that approximately half the recent fall in coronary heart disease deaths in the US is due to positive life style changes and a further half to medical therapies.

The team found that a decrease in smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure and physical inactivity contributed to the fall in deaths from coronary heart disease, yet this decrease could have been substantially more had it not been for the increases in obesity and diabetes cases.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) death rates in the US almost halved between 1980 and 2000. To understand how this fall occurred scientists combined information on medical treatments with national changes in the levels of major risk factors, such as smoking and high cholesterol. The UK has seen similar falls in heart disease, but this fall is mainly attributed to healthier diets rather than medication.

From 1980 to 2000, the US death rates for CHD fell from 543 to 267 per 100,000 population among men and from 263 to 134 per 100,000 population among women. Overall there were 341, 745 fewer CHD deaths in 2000 than in 1980.

The team found that this decrease was attributed to reductions in risk factors such as total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, smoking and physical inactivity. However, they found that this reduction could have been 15% more had it not been for an increase in obesity and diabetes. Approximately half the fall in CHD deaths was also attributed to medical treatments, including medications for heart failure and emergency treatments for heart attacks and angina.

Professor Simon Capewell, from the University of Liverpool’s Division of Public Health and Trustee at CHD prevention charity, Heart of Mersey, said: “Using a sophisticated computer model called IMPACT we were able to combine and analyse data on the uptake and effectiveness of specific cardiac treatments and changes in risk factors among adults aged 25 to 84 years in the US. Data included results from trials, official statistics and national surveys.

We found that CHD death rates halved, and 47% of the fall was attributed to medical treatments and approximately 44% to changes in risk factors. Prevalence of smoking, for example had fallen by 12%. Decreases in physical inactivity however, were offset by increases in body mass index and diabetes.

Robin Ireland, Chief Executive at Heart of Mersey, added: “We have recently seen similar falls in heart disease here in the UK. These changes mainly reflect healthier diets, not tablets. However the increase in obesity and diabetes are a wakeup call. They reflect the increasing consumption of large helpings of junk food. We need legislation to encourage food manufacturers and supermarkets to provide healthier food options.

Source:  News release issued by University of Liverpool.

Erectile dysfunction has gone nutty !

During the Canton Fair 2007 in Guangzhou in April, I first saw the new wonder-pill that is supposed to help erectile dysfunction and “enhance sexual ability”, just like what Viagra or Cialis has been doing for the hundred of thousands of men around the world.

This pill is not created from drug but from walnut kernel extract.

Today, in our local newspapers,The Straits Times, it printed a report by The Star newspapers of Malaysia that a team of Malaysian researchers has just developed a similar tablet name N-Hanz which is comparable to Viagra. Like the one I saw in China, this N-Hanz has to be taken 1 hour prior to sexual performance and will last for about four hours. This looks like going to outshine Tongkat Ali, the potent herb of Malaysia that was supposedly a safe alternative to Viagra.

The active ingredients they found inside the walnut which will cause the enlargement of the blood vessels and enhances blood flow in the male sexual organ is “arginine, an amino acid that is absorbed into the body and converted into nitric acid”

It was also said that “because it is not a drug, it is safe for those with hypertension or diabetes or (those) who have recently had heart bypasses”.My salute to those who recently had heart bypasses and still wanting to go for such sexual thrill! They can sure shout “I’m coming” because Heaven’s waiting.

What is amazing is that it said that “a person would need to eat about 3.3kg of walnuts for the same effect as one tablet”. I wonder if the Romans and French had been eating so much regularly to achieve such effect since one of the researchers said that he read about them which led him to conduct the research.

Did the Malaysian researchers know that the Chinese had launched the products 2 months before?