Health Tips ... from UPI

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer  |  Feb. 2, 2004 at 9:00 AM
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Smoking is bad for everyone's health, but new research suggests it can prove especially dangerous for blacks, scientists say. Doctors studying racial differences in smoking patterns and their effects on the lungs in patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease found black patients who started smoking later in life and smoked fewer cigarettes suffered consequences as severe as those experienced by whites who had smoked more and longer. The study, published in the journal Chest, is the first to look at racial differences in the ramifications of smoking. Lead author Dr. Wissam Chatila, a pulmonologist at Temple University Hospital, cautions more research is needed to confirm the results. "(However) this study raises the possibility that some African-Americans are highly susceptible to cigarette smoking and acquire severe obstructive lung disease despite less exposure to smoking than susceptible whites," he said.


Specialists have devised new guidelines for which patients should participate in trials testing drugs against prostate cancer and which drugs should be tested. An abnormal or rising prostate specific antigen blood test is often the first sign of prostate cancer. After diagnosis, the test is used to monitor the progression of the disease and assess the value of the treatment. After treatment, however, there is uncertainty about what the PSA measurement means because the relationship of the mass of the tumor and the value of the PSA is not as well established at this phase. To clarify the matter for the approximately 50,000 prostate cancer patients who suffer a relapse each year, investigators from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute and the Prostate Cancer Foundation developed new guidelines. They recommend limiting treatment to patients at risk for developing disease that spreads beyond the original cancer site. In addition, the group recommends such trials should test only those drugs that have shown measurable effect on a sufficient number of patients in a specified time. The recommendations are published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.


Preliminary results indicate eating grapefruit may help people lose weight and perhaps even stave off diabetes. The pilot study, described in Chemistry and Industry Magazine, involved 100 obese patients at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego. The researchers found a link between grapefruit consumption and insulin level reduction. The study volunteers who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost an average of 3.6 pounds over 12 weeks; those who did not lost an average half-pound. Some patients lost as much as 10 pounds, the authors said. After the meal, the grapefruit groups also had reduced levels of insulin, the hormone that enables the body to metabolize sugars, they said. Glucose levels were also lower, suggesting a more efficient sugar metabolism. Group leader Ken Fujioka says the weight loss is likely due to the lower insulin level.


An international team of chemists reports developing antioxidants that are 100 times more effective than vitamin E. "Vitamin E is nature's antioxidant, and people have been trying to improve upon it for more than 20 years with only marginal success. We have taken a very big step in the right direction," says Ned Porter, the Stevenson Chair of Chemistry at Vanderbilt University who supervised the project. The university has a patent pending on the new compounds. Studies indicate antioxidant molecules may counteract the damaging effects of oxygen in tissues and other materials. Studies with biological molecules, such as cholesterol, suggest the new compounds have properties that could make them suitable for dietary supplements, the authors said. They now will test the compounds on animals.

(EDITORS: For more information about SMOKING, contact Jordan Reese at (215) 707-5083 or For CANCER, Joanne Nicholas at (212) 639-3573. For GRAPEFRUIT, Lizzy Ray 020-7598-1573. For ANTIOXIDANTS, David Salisbury at (615) 343-6803 or

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