Broc­coli sprout ex­tract eases pain of sun­burn

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Com­piled by Dr Chris­tine White

BROC­COLI sprouts may not be ev­ery­one’s favourite, but they could pro­tect skin from the dam­ag­ing ef­fects of the sun — and you wouldn’t even have to eat them. Sci­en­tists have found that ap­ply­ing broc­coli sprout ex­tract to the skin can re­duce the red­ness of sun­burn caused by ul­tra­vi­o­let (UV) ra­di­a­tion. Their find­ings were pub­lished this week in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences. The ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in the broc­coli sprout ex­tract is a chem­i­cal called sul­foraphane. Af­ter con­firm­ing that sul­foraphane can pro­tect mice from skin can­cer, the au­thors then tested the ex­tract on six healthy hu­man vol­un­teers. Each per­son was ex­posed to UV ra­di­a­tion on small patches of skin (less than 3cm in di­am­e­ter) that were ei­ther treated or un­treated with dif­fer­ent doses of broc­coli sprout ex­tract. At the high­est doses, red­ness — a sign of in­flam­ma­tion and cell dam­age— was re­duced by an av­er­age of 38 per cent. The au­thors sug­gest that re­duc­ing sun­burn red­ness with broc­coli sprout ex­tract could lower the long-term risk of skin can­cer.

ProcNatlA­cadS­ciUSA 2007;doi:10.1073/pnas.0708710104 (Talalay P, et al)

CANNABIS is thought to be an ef­fec­tive painkiller, but new re­search in Anes­the­si­ol­ogy has shown that its ef­fects de­pend on dose. Smok­ing mod­er­ate amounts of cannabis (mar­i­juana) can re­duce pain, while low doses have no ef­fect and high doses ac­tu­ally in­crease pain, say the au­thors. The study in­volved 15 vol­un­teers who smoked low, medium, or high doses of cannabis — based on the con­tent of THC (9-deltate­trahy­dro­cannabi­nol), the main ac­tive chem­i­cal — or an in­ac­tive placebo. Pain was in­duced by in­ject­ing cap­saicin, the ‘‘ hot’’ chem­i­cal found in chill­ies, into the skin. Five min­utes af­ter smok­ing, none of the three doses of cannabis had any ef­fect on pain lev­els. But 45 min­utes af­ter smok­ing the mod­er­ate dose of cannabis, pain was sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced — ap­prox­i­mately six points lower on a 100-point scale — com­pared to the placebo. In con­trast, 45 min­utes af­ter smok­ing the high dose of cannabis, pain scores were in­creased by eight points com­pared to placebo. The find­ings show that more re­search is needed on the ef­fects of cannabis be­fore it is used widely for pain re­lief.

Anes­the­si­ol­ogy 2007;4 (Wal­lace MS, et al)

MEN who eat more whole-grain break­fast ce­re­als have a much lower risk of de­vel­op­ing heart fail­ure, ac­cord­ing to re­search in the ArchivesofIn­ter­nalMedicine this week. A to­tal of 21,376 mid­dle-aged male doc­tors were sur­veyed about their break­fast ce­real in­take, and then tracked for nearly 20 years. Dur­ing this time, 1018 of the men ex­pe­ri­enced heart fail­ure. Com­pared to men who never ate whole-grain break­fast ce­re­als, those who ate an av­er­age of seven or more serv­ings per week were 29 per cent less likely to suf­fer from heart fail­ure. Eat­ing two to six serv­ings of ce­real per week re­duced the risk by 21 per cent. Whole grains are thought to pro­tect against heart fail­ure by low­er­ing blood pres­sure and pre­vent­ing obe­sity and di­a­betes.

ArchIn­ternMed 2007;167:2080-2085 (Djousse L, et al)

DRUGS com­monly used to lower blood pres­sure may also pre­vent Alzheimer’s dis­ease, claims a study in the cur­rent is­sue of the Jour­nalofClin­i­calIn­ves­ti­ga­tion . One of the causes of me­mory loss and de­men­tia in Alzheimer’s pa­tients is the build-up of a pro­tein called beta-amy­loid in the brain. Re­searchers stud­ied mice that are prone to de­vel­op­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease, and found that a drug called val­sar­tan can pre­vent the pro­duc­tion of beta-amy­loid and pro­tect the mice from brain dam­age. The ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects of the drug were seen even when it was given to mice at a much lower dose per kilo­gram of body weight than what is pre­scribed for low­er­ing blood pres­sure in hu­mans. A num­ber of other drugs that are nor­mally used to lower blood pres­sure also pro­tected against brain dam­age at very low doses. If the find­ings hold true in peo­ple, say the au­thors, th­ese drugs could be given to any­one at high risk of Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

JClinIn­vest 2007;117 (Pasinetti MG, et al)

WEIGHT gain dur­ing adult­hood may in­crease the risk of breast can­cer in women, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port in the Archivesof In­ter­nalMedicine . Obe­sity is known to be a risk fac­tor for de­vel­op­ing breast can­cer af­ter menopause, as oe­stro­gen pro­duced by fat tis­sue can pro­mote can­cer growth. The study in­volved 99,039 post­menopausal women aged 50 to 71. In 1996, they re­ported their cur­rent height and weight, plus their height and weight at ages 18, 35 and 50. Body mass in­dex (BMI) was used to clas­sify the women as un­der­weight, nor­mal weight, over­weight or obese. Over the next four years, 2111 of the women de­vel­oped breast can­cer. In women who did not take hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy af­ter menopause, go­ing from a nor­mal weight at age 18 to over­weight or obese at age 35 and 50 in­creased the risk of de­vel­op­ing breast can­cer by 40 per cent com­pared to those who re­mained at a nor­mal weight. The find­ings en­cour­age women to main­tain a healthy lifestyle to re­duce breast can­cer risk.

ArchIn­ternMed 2007;167:2091-2100 (Ahn J, et al)

AS­PIRIN is thought to im­prove a wo­man’s chances of con­ceiv­ing a child by IVF (in vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion), but a new re­view of the ex­ist­ing re­search con­cludes that it prob­a­bly has no ef­fect. The re­view ap­pears in the cur­rent is­sue of the Cochrane Data­base of Sys­tem­atic Re­views, and com­bines in­for­ma­tion from nine sep­a­rate stud­ies in­volv­ing 1449 cou­ples un­der­go­ing IVF or in­tra-cy­to­plas­mic sperm in­jec­tion (ICSI) for the treat­ment of in­fer­til­ity. As­pirin is best known as a pain reliever, but low doses can also im­prove blood flow for the pre­ven­tion of blood clots and heart at­tacks. Im­prov­ing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus could in­crease the chances of preg­nancy, but the re­view found that women tak­ing as­pirin (150mg or less daily) were no more likely to be­come preg­nant than women tak­ing a placebo or no treat­ment.

Cochrane Data­base Syst Rev 2007 (Poustie VJ, et al)

Want to know more? Items are ref­er­enced where pos­si­ble. A ref­er­ence such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on pages 18-25 in vol­ume num­ber 35 of the pub­li­ca­tion, in 2007. A doi num­ber or web­site ad­dress is used for re­search pub­lished on a jour­nal’s web­site.

Wholegrain ce­real: Cuts heart risks

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