information in this column is intended for informational
purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or
recommendations by the author. Please consult with your
physician before making any lifestyle or medication changes, or if you
have any other concerns regarding your health.
ABDOMINAL OBESITY & RISK
OF DEATH IN WOMEN
is increasing evidence that
“abdominal obesity” (also referred to as “central obesity” or “truncal
is a particularly dangerous form of obesity in terms of risk for
disease and cancer. However,
impact of abdominal obesity on death rates has not been well studied
before. A new study
in the journal Circulation provides
clues about the magnitude of risk associated with abdominal obesity.
data from this report was
culled from the huge Nurses’ Health Study, which prospectively enrolled
45,000 nurses in the 1980s. During
average of 16 years of follow-up, 3,507 study participants died,
1,748 deaths due to cancer and 751 deaths due to cardiovascular disease. The authors of this study
evaluated the body
weight and waist circumferences of the women who died during the course
study, and then statistically analyzed the results.
the women were divided into
four separate groups, according to their waist circumferences, the data
revealed the cost, in terms of risk of death, of increasing abdominal
circumference was significantly associated with an increasing risk of
to both cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Specifically, women with the greatest waist circumference
were, relative the women with the smallest waists, 79% more likely to
relative increase in the
risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases (principally heart attack
stroke) among women with the largest waists was 99% higher when
compared to the
women with the smallest waists.
Likewise, a 63% increase in the relative risk of death due
to cancer was
observed in the women with the largest waist circumferences.
among women who were still
within recommended weight levels (adjusted for height), increased
abdominal fat appeared to place them at a greater risk of premature
being of normal weight, women with
the greatest ratio of waist-to-hip circumference (> 0.88) were
at a whopping
three-and-a-half times greater relative risk of dying from
diseases when compared to women of normal weight and
with normal waist-to-hip ratios.
large scale prospective study
of generally healthy American women is a real eye-opener, because it
confirms previous (and smaller) studies suggesting that obesity
the abdomen is a particularly dangerous form of obesity, but it also
strong evidence that an increased amount of abdominal fat, even in women who are within current
recommendations for normal body
weight, is a potent risk factor for premature death. Although men were not
included in this study,
the results of this study have important implications for men too, as
to deposit excess weight around the abdomen to a much greater extent
ACID & HEART ATTACKS
coronary arteries become
severely narrowed by plaques and blood clots, the heart’s muscle
starved for oxygen. The
(angina) experienced by many patients with severe narrowing of the
arteries is a sign that the heart muscle has become ischemic, or
adequate oxygen-carrying blood flow.
When the coronary arteries become completely blocked,
vital heart muscle
may then begin to die, causing a heart attack, or myocardial infarction.
acid, one of the B
vitamins, plays many critical roles in cell metabolism, and is
important in the function of the “power plants” of our cells, the
acid also appears to
have important antioxidant effects that decrease the production of
harmful metabolic byproducts known as free radicals.
new animal study, just reported
in the journal Circulation, looked
the effects of high-dose supplements of folic acid in rats that were
subjected to an experimental temporary blockage of one of their
group of rats also
underwent the same ischemia-inducing surgery, but did not receive folic
supplements before undergoing temporary coronary artery occlusion. When multiple measures of
heart dysfunction, extent of cardiac muscle death, and free radical
were measured in the two groups of rats, the researchers found that the
that had received 1 week of folic acid supplementation (prior to
artery occlusion) suffered less severe signs of ischemia-induced heart
dysfunction, less extensive heart muscle death, and had lower
potentially toxic free radicals in their blood when compared to the
did not receive folic acid supplements.
it is too soon, yet, to
recommend high-dose folic acid supplementation for humans with coronary
disease, based upon this study alone, the results of this study are
very intriguing. Large
prospective, randomized, double-blinded studies with human volunteers
required to validate the encouraging findings of this animal study.
CANCER REGRESSION AFTER INJECTIONS OF
of the pancreas continues
to exact a terrible toll on patients, and is currently the 4th most
common cause of cancer death, even though pancreatic cancer is only the
most common cancer. Despite
research, costing many millions of dollars, we still have not found an
effective treatment for this dreaded disease.
Only a minority of patients with pancreatic cancer will
candidates for radical surgery, which offers the only known hope of
cure. Even among
the fortunate few
patients who are even candidates for radical surgery, the majority will
succumb to this terrible disease.
new study, published in the
journal Gut, evaluates a truly
treatment for pancreatic cancer, using mice implanted with human
cancer tumors. The
mice were divided
into 2 groups. In
group, Streptococcus bacteria, similar to those that cause “strep
humans, were injected directly into the implanted pancreatic cancer
tumors. In the
control group of mice,
the same fluid that was used to suspend the bacteria used in the
group was injected into the tumors, but without the Streptococcus
authors of this study found
that a single injection of bacteria into the tumors resulted in
regression, or death, of the pancreatic cancer tumors.
Not only did the injected bacteria appear to
directly attack the pancreatic cancer cells, but the presence of the
also appeared to stimulate a massive immune response against the
tumors as well. Of
course, as many
previous animal studies have shown, what works in laboratory mice does
unfortunately, always work in human beings as well.
Therefore, additional study in humans with pancreatic
cancer will be necessary before anyone can say that the injection of
Streptococcus bacteria directly into pancreatic tumors in humans will
same effect, or that it is even safe to do so (one obvious concern
this treatment approach is that it also might cause life-threatening
this is a
fascinating study, and in light of the fact that we simply do not have
highly effective treatments for this awful disease, I suspect that a
of consideration will be given to creating an early phase clinical
humans, based upon the results of this study.
As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician
before making any significant changes in
medications, diet, or level of physical activity.