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Health Tips ... from UPI

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer   |   Aug. 20, 2002 at 4:45 AM   |   Comments

HONEY MAY FIGHT CHOLESTEROL

Researchers have some honeyed words for spinach-haters who want to take advantage of the leafy green vegetable's health benefits without paying the price of eating it. Honey, it turns out, contains about the same level of plaque-fighting antioxidants as spinach, researchers reported at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. In fact, the five-week study of 25 men between 18 and 68 indicates the range of antioxidants in honey is comparable to that in apples, bananas, oranges and strawberries. An analysis of the volunteers' blood suggests drinking a mixture of water and honey, about four tablespoons per 16-ounce glass, can improve the antioxidant levels in the blood, said Nicki Engeseth of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who conducted the study. That means the sticky sweet stuff may have the potential to protect against heart disease, she said. "It looks like honey is having a mild protective effect," Engeseth said. However, this should not be taken as an excuse to avoid fruits and vegetables, she cautioned. Antioxidants, organic substances such as vitamin E or beta carotene, are thought to counteract the damaging effects of oxidation in animal tissues that have been implicated in a variety of diseases and aging.


BROCCOLI COMPOUND MAY FIGHT BREAST CANCER

Broccoli contains an anticancer agent, researchers have found. Using the agent, they devised a compound that is apparently less toxic than its natural counterpart and that shows promise as a means of preventing breast cancer, they said at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Animal tests have shown encouraging results. If human tests confirm the results, the compound could be developed into a once-a-day pill or vitamin component for cancer prevention, the researchers said. "It may be easier to take a cancer-prevention pill once a day rather than rely on massive quantities of fruits and vegetables," said Jerry Kosmeder of the University of Illinois in Chicago. Called oxomate, the synthetic compound works like its natural counterpart, sulforaphane, which was recently identified as a cancer-preventive agent in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Both compounds boost the body's production of proteins that can detoxify cancer-causing chemicals and reduce cancer risk, Kosmeder said.


SMOKING DURING PREGNANCY TIED TO ASTHMA

In a study of 2,950 Southern California 4th, 7th and 10th graders, researchers found fetal exposure to the mother's smoking can have long-term harmful effects. Children exposed to smoke before birth had increased rates of early onset asthma, asthma without current symptoms, persistent asthma, lifetime history of wheezing, wheezing with exercise, wheezing requiring medication and emergency rooms visits for the problems during the past year, the investigators found. The research appears in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


MALARIA PARASITES LIKE IT HOT

Treating fever may not only ease discomfort but also help antimalarial drugs rid the body of the malaria parasite and shorten recovery time, researchers report in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The parasites infect red blood cells, triggering changes in their surface that makes them stick to blood vessel walls, leading to potentially fatal complications. Fever is a hallmark of malaria, but it has been unclear whether in the end antifever treatments benefit or harm the patient. Nicholas White of Mehidol University in Thailand and England and colleagues looked at how fever affects falciparum malaria, one of the deadliest forms of the disease. When they raised the heat on infected cells -- to levels equivalent to the high fever of malaria -- they found the cells quickly stuck to the vessel walls. The results suggest treating fever may prevent progression of malaria, White said.


(EDITORS: For more information about HONEY, contact Charmayne Marsh at 202-872-4445 or American Chemical Society; about BROCCOLI, contact Charmayne Marsh at 202-872-4445 or American Chemical Society; about SMOKING, contact: Cathy Carlomagno at 212-315-6442 or ccarlomagno@thoracic.org; about malaria, contact Nicholas White at 66-2-246-0832 or fnnjw@diamond.mahidol.ac.th.)

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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