Wellness chart

Fruit-eaters ‘better protected against cancers’

LONDON: Scientists have found a possible explanation for why fruit-eaters and vegans may gain protection against the spread of cancers. They have shown that a fragment released from pectin, found in all fruits and vegetables, binds to and is believed to inhibit galectin 3 (Gal3), a protein that plays a role in cancer progression.

“Most claims for the anti-cancer effects of foods are based on population studies,” said Vic Morris from the Institute of Food Research. “For this research, we tested a molecular mechanism and showed it is viable.”

Population studies such as EPIC, the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer, identified a strong link between eating lots of fibre and a lower risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. But exactly how fibre exerts a protective effect is unknown.

Pectin is better known for its jam-setting qualities and as being a component of dietary fibre. The present study supports a more exciting and subtle role, according to a release of Norwich BioScience Institutes. Interaction between dietary carbohydrates and mammalian proteins, of which this research is an example, may provide an explanation. “For a whole combination of different effects, it is best to consistently eat a range of fruits, vegetables and high-fibre foods,” said Morris. “You don’t necessarily have to eat a superfood.” The research was published in The Faseb Journal. — HNS

Avoid alcohol if you don’t want your brain to shrink

WASHINGTON: The more you drink, the smaller the size of your total brain volume, according to latest research. This is particularly true of women.

Although men were more likely to drink alcohol, the linkage between drinking and brain volume was found to be stronger in women. This could be due to biological factors — women’s smaller size and greater susceptibility to the effects of alcohol.

Carol Ann Paul of Wellesley College and her colleagues studied 1,839 adults (average age 60), who were part of the Framingham Offspring Study which began in 1971, according to an American Medical Assocation release. Between 1999 and 2001, participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging and a health examination. They reported the number of alcoholic

drinks they consumed per week, along with their age, sex, education, height, body mass index and Framingham Stroke Risk Profile (which calculates stroke risk based on age, sex, blood pressure and other factors).

“There was a significant negative linear relationship between alcohol consumption and total cerebral brain volume,” Paul said.

“The public health effect of this study gives a clear message about the possible dangers of drinking alcohol... This study suggests that, unlike the associations with cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption does not have any protective effect on brain volume,” the authors of the study wrote.

Brain volume decreases with age at 1.9 per cent per decade, accompanied by an increase in white matter lesions.

These findings have been reported in the October issue of Archives of Neurology. — HNS

Do away with fattening of liver with red wine

WASHINGTON: Red wine compound resveratrol prevents fat accumulation in the liver as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, according to a new study with mice. Resveratrol, present in grapes, peanuts and berries besides red wine, not only cut down the fat produced in alcohol-fed mice liver but also broke down the same fat much faster. Chronic alcohol consumption causes fat to accumulate and can lead to liver diseases, including cirrhosis and fibrosis of the liver, besides causing liver failure.

The study points to resveratrol as a possible treatment for alcoholic fatty liver disease, and as a way to prevent the disease in those who are at risk, but have not developed it, according to a release of University of South Florida.

Other research with mice has suggested resveratrol may have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. There is also evidence that it has cardiovascular benefits. The study was conducted by Joanne M Ajmo, Xiaomei Liang, Christopher Q Rogers, Brandi Pennock and Min You, of the University of South Florida Health Sciences Centre, Tampa. It appeared in the Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology journal. — HNS