Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[reblog]The World of Phytochemicals – FOOD, FACTS and FADS


From the article at The World of Phytochemicals | FOOD, FACTS and FADS

VegetablesVegetables (Photo credit: neonbubble)

Phytochemicals serve a wide variety of functions in plants to provide flavor, color but also to protect the plant from insects and microbes.  More than 2000 of these chemicals have been identified.   It has been known for 30 years that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are protective against some cancers and heart disease and for years vitamins and minerals were given the credit; now we know that more than likely it was the presence of the phytochemicals.  Now there is evidence that these compounds may protect against macular degeneration, cataracts, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and hypertension.

Most phytonutrients work together, so it is nearly impossible to put them together in a pill; therefore, it is obviously recommended that foods rather than supplements provide them.

How do phytochemicals work?  In general, they:

  • Act as hormone-inhibiting substances that prevent the initiation of cancer.
  • Serve as antioxidants that prevent and repair damage to cells due to oxidation.
  • Block or neutralize enzymes that promote the development of cancer and other diseases.
  • Decreases plague formation and formation of blood clots.

So what are some of them and where are they found?

  • Indoles, isothiocyanates:  Contain sulfur and may be protective against breast cancer.   Found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower.
  • Terpenes: Limonene is from the same family of compounds as taxmoxifen (an anti- breast cancer drug).  Found in oranges, lemons, grapefruit.
  • Flavonoids (Include tannins, phenols):  There are over 4000 of these.  Gives red wines and dark teas their bitter taste.  Found in apples, strawberries, grapes, green and black teas, red wine, purple grape juice, dark chololate.
  • Carotenoids (alpha, beta carotenes, lutein, zeathanin, lycopene).  There are more than 600 types that act as pigments in plants.  Fat intake increases absorption.  Found in dark green vegetables, orange, yellow and red vegetables and fruits.
  • Capsasin: Affects blood clotting and clots; found in hot peppers.
  • Curcumin: May inhibit enzymes that activate carcinogens.  Found in turmeric, a yellow-colored spice.
  • Resveratrol: Offsets artery-damage due to inflammation. Found in red wine, peanuts.
  • Organosulfur compounds: May speed production of carcinogen-destroying enzymes or slow proliferation of carcinogen-activating enzymes.  Found in chives, leeks, garlic, and onion.
  • Protease inhibitors: May suppress enzyme production in cancer cells, slowing tumor growth; inhibit hormone binding; inhibit malignant changes in cells.  Found in broccoli sprouts, potatoes, soybeans and other legumes.
  • Tannins: May inhibit carcinogen activation and cancer promotion; act as antioxidants.  Found in black-eyed peas, grapes, lentils, red and white wine, tea.

BOTTOM LINE:  Until more research is done, eat real whole fruits and vegetables, NOT supplementary pills or extracts.  By the way, taking antioxidant supplements have not been shown to be very effective if at all in disease prevention.  These phytochemicals work together to protect us from disease, so taking one alone will probably have no effect on health or longevity.



September 11, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | 1 Comment

Favorite TV reruns may have restorative powers, says UB researcher


From the 9 September 2012 article at EurekAlert

 IMAGE: Derrick’s findings may dispel some notions that watching TV is bad for us.Click here for more information.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — We hear all the time that we need to get off the couch, stop watching TV and get moving.

But what if watching TV under specific conditions could actually provide the mental boost you need to tackle a difficult task?

A new paper that describes two studies by Jaye Derrick, PhD, research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, found that watching a rerun of a favorite TV show may help restore the drive to get things done in people who have used up their reserves of willpower or self-control.

“People have a limited pool of these valuable mental resources,” explains Derrick. “When they use them on a task, they use up some of this limited resource. Therefore, they have less willpower and self-control for the next task.

“With enough time, these mental resources will return. However, there may be ways to more quickly restore them.”

One of these ways is to re-watch your favorite TV show, Derrick’s research found. Doing so, she says, taps into the surrogate relationship people form with the characters in their favorite shows. We find it comforting, mainly because we already know what the characters are going to say and do. All we have to do is sit back and enjoy it.

“When you watch a favorite re-run, you typically don’t have to use any effort to control what you are thinking, saying or doing. You are not exerting the mental energy required for self-control or willpower,” Derrick explains. “At the same time, you are enjoying your ‘interaction,’ with the TV show’s characters, and this


September 11, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Not enough Americans have access to addiction treatment

From the summary at The Nation’s Health [September 2012]

More than 40 million Americans suffer from the disease of addiction, but their treatment needs are largely overlooked by a U.S. medical care system that continues to be influenced by unscientific misperceptions about addiction, a recent report finds.

Released in June by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the report found that 16 percent of Americans ages 12 and older have addictions involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs, and another 80 million people are abusing substances in ways that threaten their health and safety. And while more people suffer from the disease of addiction than heart conditions, diabetes or cancer, only about one in 10 addiction sufferers receives treatment. By comparison, seven out of 10 people with diseases such as high blood pressure, major depression and diabetes receive treatment.

The consequences of the medical system’s inattention to the disease of addiction are profound, the report said. As the nation’s largest preventable and most costly health problems, addictions are responsible for more than 20 percent of deaths in the United States. Moreover, addictions cause or contribute to at least 70 other conditions that require medical care, have a wide range of costly social consequences and account for one-third of all hospital in-patient costs.

Contributing to the medical system’s inattention to addiction treatment is a lack of knowledge about the science of addiction, the report said.

“Right now there are no accepted national standards for providers of addiction treatment,” said Susan Foster, CASA Columbia’s Vice President and Director of Policy Research and Analysis, who was the principal investigator for the report.  “There simply is no other disease where appropriate medical treatment is not provided by the health care system and where patients instead must turn to a broad range of practitioners largely exempt from medical standards.  Neglect by the medical profession has resulted in a separate and unrelated system of care that struggles to treat the disease without the resources or knowledge base to keep pace with science and medicine.”


The full report is available at

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , | 2 Comments

Learn to understand and interpret your body’s language (holiday stress example included)


From article  by SUSAN BIALI, MD on September 9th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was brought in to speak to the staff of a local university. I gave a two hour workshop, which is even more fun for me than giving a keynote as I get to interact personally with the audience and draw their stories out. One of the sections of the workshop was about listening to your body. Every person’s body “speaks” to them in a different way; it’s important to pay attention to and learn to understand and interpret your body’s language.


When your life is off track, your body will let you know. It starts small, whispering to you through minor ailments such as suddenly developing a rash like eczema, or getting mild tension headaches. If you don’t pay attention and make adjustments it will get louder. You might start catching every cold that’s around, or end up with pneumonia.

This isn’t to say that you necessarily caused any and every medical condition you might end up with; there will always be some health situations that we have no explanation for. Yet there’s no question that when you’re out of balance in your life it’s perceived by your body as a stressor, and that can lead to all kinds of secondary consequences (and physical alarm bells). It’s essential to pay attention to this.

While speaking at that university, I asked the audience members if they had any examples of a time their body let them know that something in their life had to change. A small, pleasant-faced woman raised her hand.

“I got diabetes,” she told us. “There’s absolutely no history of it in our family. It was purely due to stress.”

Chronic excess stress could trigger diabetes in a variety of ways: reaching for sugary snacks or other poor food choices to temporarily calm and comfort; lack of time to exercise and maintain a healthy weight; being chronically sleep-deprived (even brief sleep deprivation triggers a pre-diabetic state); or having constantly elevated stress hormones that raise blood sugar.

I asked her what the circumstances were that had made her life so stressful.

“I’m a victim of the sandwich generation,” she said. “I was taking care of my kids, my parents, and everybody else. When I got diagnosed with diabetes, I knew something had to change. I was the person who everyone else came to for Thanksgiving, Christmas, everything. The year I got my diagnosis I told them that if they wanted to eat turkey they could make it themselves, I wasn’t lifting a finger. They didn’t like it at first, but I had no choice. Everything’s so much better now. I made lots of positive changes that were way overdue, and my blood sugar has gone back to normal.”




September 11, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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