Kazari Maki Sushi
Men who take supplements containing vitamin E and a nutrient called selenium may be increasing their chance of prostate cancer, according to a large study from the US.
What do we know already?
Prostate cancer usually affects older men. The prostate makes the fluid that carries sperm out of a man’s penis when he has an orgasm. Prostate cancer can happen when cells in the prostate gland grow out of control and invade healthy cells.
Selenium is important in keeping the thyroid gland working properly. Previous research has shown that men with low levels of selenium are more likely to get prostate cancer. Scientists also think that the levels of vitamin E in the body might play a part in how selenium works. So it seemed logical to try to find out if giving supplements of these nutrients to men might reduce their chance of getting prostate cancer.
However, research hasn’t so far provided many clear answers. One large study suggested that vitamin E supplements might have actually slightly increased the chance of someone getting prostate cancer.
To get a clearer picture, researchers in the US carried out a study in more than 35,000 men who were aged at least 50 and did not have signs of prostate cancer. Some men took selenium, some took vitamin E, some took both supplements, and some took a dummy (placebo) for comparison. All men had their selenium levels measured, and researchers compared how many men in each group got prostate cancer.
What does the new study say?
The researchers planned to follow up the men for longer than they actually did. But the study was stopped early, after about six years, when it became clear that more men taking supplements were getting prostate cancer than men taking placebos.
The researchers had expected the men taking supplements to have a smaller chance of getting prostate cancer than the men taking a placebo. But this didn’t happen. The disease was more likely in the group of men taking the supplements that were supposed to reduce the chance of prostate cancer.
Overall, the study found:
About 5 in 100 men in the study got prostate cancer.
Men who had low levels of selenium at the start of the study got no benefit from selenium supplements. It didn’t reduce their chance of getting prostate cancer.
Men who had high levels of selenium at the start of the study who took selenium supplements increased their chance of prostate cancer by 91%.
Men with low selenium at the start of the study who took vitamin E increased their chance of prostate cancer by 63%.
How reliable is the research?
This was a large study with good methods but, as with most research, we can point to a few reasons to be cautious about its findings. However, when a study is stopped early, as this one was, because of real concerns that people are being harmed, that’s probably a good indication that we should take notice of what it says.
What does this mean for me?
All men want to avoid prostate cancer. But it looks like selenium and vitamin E supplements are not the way to do it. If you are worried about prostate cancer, talk to your doctor. The symptoms can include problems urinating, pain in the back and hip, and painful orgasms. But it’s important to remember that many men with prostate cancer don’t get any symptoms, and that symptoms like pain and problems urinating are common in older men, and they usually don’t mean that you have prostate cancer.
Source: Best Health
2¼ lb loin of lamb, boned
1½ tbsp soft margarine
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1½ tbsp chopped parsley
1½ cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
8 oz sweet plums, stoned and chopped
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp orange juice
2 plums and parsley sprigs to garnish
1 tbsp flour
1¼ cups chicken stock
2 tbsp port
2 tbsp red currant jelly
Source: Cooking Naturally
We all know we should eat healthier, exercise more and sometimes take medicines to stave off heart disease. Some researchers think putting an age on our hearts will do a better job of motivating us to do all that.
In a recent study involving 3,000 patients, researchers in Spain compared a relatively new tool to measure heart-disease risk, called Heart Age, against a commonly used risk-assessment tool. Participants who were told their heart age was greater than their chronological age showed bigger health improvements a year later than those in the comparison group. Both groups were healthier after a year than a control group that received conventional advice about nutrition and exercise.
A checkup at the doctor, of course, may alert patients when blood pressure and cholesterol levels, among other risk factors, are too high. And a number of statistical tools let patients know when they are at moderate-to-high risk of an adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack. Having risk information, however, often has little effect on patients’ behavior, according to a 2010 review published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a journal now named JAMA Internal Medicine.
More than 700,000 Americans have heart attacks each year and a quarter of all people in the U.S. die from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Heart Age, a free Web-based tool owned by consumer-goods maker Unilever, ULVR.LN -0.97% combines various risk factors, such as body weight, cholesterol and smoking habits, to estimate a biological age for the heart. The result is framed relative to a person’s chronological age. The researchers on the Spanish study, published in the February issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, aren’t affiliated with Unilever.
Andy Skinner, a building-restoration expert who lives near Bridgnorth in central England, took the Heart Age quiz at a health-screening day at his local soccer club in October. He says he is active, rarely drinks and has no family history of heart disease. Yet Mr. Skinner, who is 52 years old, was told that his heart age was 58.
“That’s two years away from 60 and that’s scary,” says Mr. Skinner. “You actually start to think what I am doing wrong?”
Mr. Skinner says he found the concept of age easier to grasp than, for instance, his blood-pressure readings. He knew he could improve his diet so, among other changes, he stopped bringing white bread-and-cheese sandwiches for lunch and instead brings flasks of soup. Mr. Skinner has since been recruited to serve as an unpaid advocate for the program. He plans to retake the test in April to see if his score has changed.
Other online tools also measure heart age. The thinking is that people will try to narrow any difference between their heart age and their real age.
Mark Cobain, the London-based chief scientific officer of Heart Age, in 2003 began working on a Unilever program on healthy aging. He went to Massachusetts to learn from researchers with the Framingham Heart Study, one of the largest and longest-running heart-health studies.
Framingham scientists have been working for decades to figure out the most accurate way of predicting future cardiovascular problems. The scientists continually update their widely used measure that assesses an individual’s risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. The score reflects a type of risk called absolute risk, which is the overall chance an individual has of developing a disease.
With Framingham’s tool, someone with a score of 20% or greater is considered high risk and should consider taking medication and making lifestyle changes. Some doctors say it is the most useful tool for making treatment decisions. The problem: The number often sounds small, even for high-risk patients. Because it is designed to assess risk over 10 years, people may not understand their longer-term risks.
Dr. Cobain, who is trained as a psychologist, wanted to make the Framingham score more easily understood. Most people don’t understand risk, he says, but one number they do understand: their age.
Hearing the age of your heart is older than your real age “prods people to take action,” Dr. Cobain says. On the first page of the Heart Age tool, for instance, a man who is 45 years old will learn that, on average, men his age have a heart age six years older than their real age, based on the tool’s database of users.
Dr. Cobain cautions that the Heart Age score shouldn’t be used as a basis for treatment decisions because there haven’t been any studies looking at how big an age discrepancy should be to be considered high risk or warrant action. He says patients should talk with their doctor about any need for treatment. In the future, the Unilever-owned tool may offer products for purchase at the end of the test, but Heart Age itself will remain free, Dr. Cobain says.
Pedro Tauler, lead researcher in the recent Spanish study, says he and his team chose to study the Heart Age tool because they thought the idea held promise. They compared it against the Framingham score, which is well known and has been translated into Spanish, says Dr. Tauler, a professor in the department of fundamental biology and health sciences at the University of the Balearic Islands in Mallorca, Spain.
After a year, the health of the control group’s participants, who only got advice on a healthy lifestyle, didn’t improve. Subjects who received their Framingham risk score showed some improvement in blood-pressure and cholesterol control. The biggest improvements were among the participants who had been presented with a Heart Age score.
The main difference between the risk-assessment tools is in their expression of cardiovascular risk, Dr. Tauler says. Although the researchers expected participants to be able to understand more easily the concept of the age of the heart, they were surprised by the relative strength of the findings, he says. Dr. Tauler plans to run another study comparing the risk-assessment tools while adding a more intensive intervention to improve the health results even more.
Source: Wall Street Journal