Natural Foods Merchandiser

Science Beat

Hip Fractures Cut By D, Not Calcium
Vitamin D, not calcium, may be the most important factor protecting postmenopausal women from hip fracture, according to a study by Diane Feskanich of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Feskanich analyzed the dietary habits of the 72,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study. During the 14-year study, 603 women broke their hips, presumably from osteoporosis, at an average age of 60. After adjustment for other factors, researchers found calcium did not protect against hip fracture. On the other hand, after adjustment for all potential confounding factors, vitamin D intake dramatically reduced hip-fracture risk. Women with the highest intakes reduced their risk by two-thirds. Women with low calcium but high vitamin D intake cut their risk by 50 percent, but those with high calcium and low vitamin D intakes had no risk reduction. Drinking milk had no effect, even though it contributed 42 percent of total vitamin D intake. Because vitamin D intake from food and supplements was equally effective at preventing hip fracture, Feskanich suggests women take either supplements or eat fatty fish such as salmon.

Black Tea and Soy a Winning Combo
Prostate cancer rates are 15 times higher in the United States than in Asia. To determine if a combination of Asian dietary anticarcinogens accounts for the difference, Jin-Rong Zhou of Harvard University studied whether a soy-tea combination offered more potent prostate cancer protection than either substance alone. For 10 weeks, six groups of mice were fed different diets: basic formula or formula supplemented with soy, black tea, green tea, soy plus black tea, or soy plus green tea. After two weeks, all mice were inoculated with prostate cancer cells. At the experiment's end, 87.5 percent of mice on the control diet had prostate tumors. All of the groups receiving either soy or tea supplements had a lower tumor rate. For example, only 48 percent given the soy supplement and 43 percent given black tea developed tumors. The combination of black tea and soy, however, dramatically reduced the cancer odds. A mere 18 percent of mice taking black tea plus soy developed tumors. Rates of cancer spreading to the lymph nodes were also slashed by the soy-tea combination, from 50 percent to 6 percent. Zhou concludes infused black tea and soy may be a promising cancer-fighting combination for humans.

C, E Help Slash High Cholesterol
A combination of vitamins E and C compares favorably with cholesterol-lowering medication, according to the Antioxidant Supplementation in Atherosclerosis Prevention Study, which shows the combination slows the arterial clogging rate. In the study of 440 men and women aged 45 to 69 with cholesterol levels higher than 193 mg/dL, Riitta Salonen of the University of Kuopio in Finland randomly assigned participants to take a placebo, vitamin E supplement (136 IU), vitamin C supplement (250 mg slow release) or a combination of both supplements. Arterial clogging was assessed during the next six years, and after year one, clogging rates were slower in those taking supplements. The arterial thickening rate was 33 percent lower for men and 14 percent lower for women who took both supplements. The difference was highest (54 percent) in people who began the study with arterial plaques and low vitamin C levels. Men who took vitamin C increased beneficial high-density lipo-proteins levels; there was no change among those taking only vitamin E. The authors found the effects to be comparable with those of the most effective cholesterol-lowering medications, but with fewer adverse effects and lower cost.

Circulation 2003
Feb 25;107(7):947-53

Marilyn Sterling, R.D., is an industry consultant and a freelance health writer in Trinidad, Calif.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 5/p. 41

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