Natural Foods Merchandiser

Science Beat

Vitamin E Lessens Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Vitamin E supplementation may help relieve some of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hayfever), reports a study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis is an inflammatory condition of the nose, throat, sinuses and eyes. It is caused by the body?s abnormal response to allergens commonly found in the environment such as molds and pollen.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, meaning that it has the ability to render free radicals less damaging to the body. Preliminary studies have shown that vitamin E can calm portions of the immune system that are involved in allergic reactions. The new study investigated the effect of vitamin E on the symptoms of allergic rhinitis in 112 men and women. The participants were assigned to receive either 800 IU of vitamin E per day or placebo for 10 weeks, in addition to continuing on their current anti-allergy medications as needed to control symptoms. The amount of medication used to alleviate symptoms and the occurrence of nasal symptoms and eye symptoms were recorded.

Nasal symptoms were significantly less in the group receiving vitamin E than in the placebo group. In particular, the vitamin E group experienced much less nasal stuffiness than the placebo group. Eye symptoms were not changed by treatment with vitamin E, and the use of anti-allergy medications did not differ between the two groups. In conclusion, Vitamin E appears to be a useful adjunct to medical treatment for allergic rhinitis.

Kimberly Beauchamp, N.D., is a co-founder and practicing physician at South County Naturopaths Inc., in Wakefield, R.I.

Calcium May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Calcium supplements prevent the most serious types of colon polyps, and therefore colon cancer, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Colon polyps are growths that form inside the colon. Most have the potential to become cancer, with large polyps or those that show a high degree of cancerous change the most likely to progress. People with family members who have had colon cancer, and people with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn?s disease and ulcerative colitis, are at high risk for colon cancer.

A number of dietary factors might contribute to colon cancer risk. A diet that is rich in vegetables appears to be the most protective. But eating fried or darkly browned meat frequently more than doubles the risk of colon cancer. Some studies have found that increasing dietary fiber can reduce the risk of colon cancer, but other studies have failed to confirm those reports. Some studies, but not all, have found that taking calcium supplements can lower the risk of developing colon cancer and precancerous polyps.

In the current study, 913 people who participated had at least one colon polyp surgically removed. They had all had the surgery within three months prior to entering the study, and were polyp-free upon entry. Dietary intake of calcium, fat and fiber was assessed through the use of a food questionnaire, and each person was then randomly assigned to receive either 1,200 mg of calcium carbonate per day or placebo. Colonoscopic exams to look for new polyps were performed one and four years after the start of the study, and polyps that were found were analyzed to determine their type, size and degree of cancerous change. At the end of the study, the risk of developing colon polyps was found to be 14 percent lower in people taking calcium than in those taking placebo. Moreover, calcium supplementation reduced the risk of the most serious forms of colon polyps by 35 percent.

The results of this study suggest that supplementing with calcium might provide some protection against precancerous colon polyps in people at high risk because of a previous history of polyps. They further show that polyps that form while taking calcium might be less likely to be the most serious type. Future studies are needed to confirm these results.

Maureen Williams, N.D., has a private practice in Quechee, Vt.

Copyright ? 2004 Healthnotes Inc.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 12/p. 44

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