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Red Bull Energy Drinks
» posted by alternative1 on Sep. 26, 2004 at 6:37 am
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Sept. 14, 2004 -- Think Red Bull will let you party longer? That's just an urban myth, according to a new Brazilian study.

Energy drinks like Red Bull -- which contain caffeine and other stimulants -- have gained popularity in recent years. A handful of studies have fueled a theory that energy drinks can delay the depressive effects of alcohol.

But the drinks don't contain enough caffeine to do that, writes researcher Maria Lucia O. Souza Formigoni, PhD, a psychobiologist with the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Her report, which appears in the latest issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, set out to dispel that urban myth.

"In Brazil, as in other countries, the use of 'energy drinks' such as Red Bull is relatively common in bars and night clubs," says Formigoni in a news release. "Many young people use them mixed with vodka, whisky, and other spirits." The combination may give people the sensation of less alcohol effects. But their driving judgment will be comprised.

In fact, Formigoni has surveyed people in nightclubs -- asking whether they mixed energy drinks with alcohol, why, and what effects they noticed. Three-quarters of the clubbers cited "increasing the alcohol stimulant effects" as their reason. The main effects were happiness, euphoria, extroversion, and increased vigor.

In her current study, Formigoni tested 14 healthy male volunteers; in four sessions, each one week apart, they got a different drink -- either water, an alcoholic drink, an energy drink, or alcohol plus an energy drink. Then, they jumped on a bicycle to test their performance. Their blood was also tested for mood hormones and other changes.

When all this was factored together, it was curtains for the Red Bull-and-alcohol myth. At various points in the test, heart rate was significantly faster and adrenaline levels were higher, she notes. However, researchers found no performance or mood-boosting effects.

There is some evidence that energy drinks can reduce anxiety or tremors before competition, she notes. However, the effect on performance and delay in recovery work against that positive effect.

The boost that partiers feel may simply be wishful thinking -- a placebo effect, she writes.

"Young people should ... be careful when using these drinks together until more evidence is available," she writes.

Formigoni, M. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Sept. 2004: vol




Soy Protein May Have Effect on Colon Cancer
» posted by alternative1 on Jul. 25, 2004 at 12:58 pm
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A University of Missouri-Columbia researcher has shown that estrogen may protect against colon cancer. In addition, the researcher also found that soy protein may help minimize the number and size of tumors that do occur.

"This study suggests that colon cancer may be a hormone-responsive cancer which may provide new ways to treat and or prevent this disease," said Ruth MacDonald, professor of food science.

"In addition, we discovered that soy protein could have a very positive effect on the number and size of tumors that do occur."

In her study, which was published in the January 2004 edition of the Journal of Nutrition, MacDonald fed female mice five different diets, and then followed their progress for a year. The five diets were designed to compare the effects of specific ingredients.

(Editor's Note: Keep in mind that this study has not been replicated in humans to date.)

Diet one was made with milk protein, and diet two contained soy protein. Both diets were lacking any kind of estrogen. The other three diets contained soy protein with the addition of an estrogen component.

Diet three contained soy protein and genistein, an estrogen-like compound found in soy. Diet four contained Novasoy, a commercial product containing a mixture of soy-derived compounds including genistein, and diet five contained estrone, a naturally occurring human estrogen.

Somewhat to her surprise, MacDonald found that while all the soy/estrogen diets gave some protection, the diet containing estrone was the most effective in preventing colon cancer. This is the first time such a finding has been documented.

The dose of estrone the mice received was similar to levels used in hormone replacement therapy. The researcher also discovered that those mice that ate soy protein and did develop colon cancer had fewer and smaller tumors than those mice that did not eat soy protein.

"This data goes against the silver-bullet theory and tells us that it is more beneficial to eat the food and not the supplement," MacDonald said.

"We know that soy protein may be helpful in the prevention of heart disease, but this work suggests it may also be beneficial in the prevention and control of colon cancer. The good news is that there are many ways to add soy to your diet now and we know of no harmful side-effects to eating soy protein."

MacDonald, who is a faculty member in the MU Center for Phytonutrient and Phytochemical Studies (www.phyto-research.org), is continuing her study to determine how the compounds work to provide protection of colon cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research funded the study. February 9, 2004





Regular exercise reduces high blood pressure
» posted by alternative1 on Jul. 23, 2004 at 6:42 pm
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Regular exercise is recognised for having a beneficial effect on health and lifestyle and is especially recommended for those suffering with high blood pressure.

A study carried out by the Canadian Hypertension Society aimed to find out if regular physical activity could prevent and control high blood pressure in healthy adults.

Current articles and studies on the benefits of carrying out a regular exercise programme suggest a physical activity of moderate intensity involving rhythmic movements of the limbs for 50-60 minutes, 3 –4 times per week would reduce blood pressure better than more vigorous exercise.

Although there is no direct evidence that exercise will prevent high blood pressure, people who do not have high blood pressure should participate in regular exercises as it will decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. All the following bodies and reports all agree with the above recommendations : World Hypertension League, the American College of Sports Medicine, the report of the US Surgeon General on physical activity and health, and the US National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health.

Therefore, the most useful option for sedentary people with high blood pressure is to undertake or maintain some form of regular physical activity and to avoid or moderate using drug therapy.

Reference : Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 4. Recommendations on physical exercise training. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Cl΄eroux J; Feldman RD; Petrella RJ MAJ, 160:S21-8, 1999 May 4





Drug users curb cravings with yoga
» posted by alternative1 on Jun. 27, 2004 at 10:48 pm
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Drug users who have served prison sentences in Leicestershire and Rutland are being taught yoga as part of an innovative programme to help them kick the habit.

Former inmates who committed crimes are seen five times a week and given regular tests for drugs in the first few weeks of the programme.

Each person's lifestyle is assessed and an individual treatment programme developed which could include work to help with cravings, psychotherapy, acupuncture or yoga.

Leicester Criminal Justice Drug Team, which deals with the programme, also helps criminals find employment and accommodation after leaving prison.

'Relaxation technique'

The team says the holistic approach is proving more successful than simply putting people on medication.

Re-offending among drug users on the new scheme is said to have dropped dramatically.


I wanted to be helped so I grasped it with both hands
Kevin, a former drug-user

Assistant chief officer of Leicestershire and Rutland probation service Paul Hindson said: "I have not come across any other schemes in the country that have the range of interventions we have.

"A drug user comes with a multitude of problems and we have a multitude of ways to deal with those problems.

"Some of the things we do are standard practice across the country, but we also have a number of alternative methods like yoga and acupuncture."

Kevin, a former drug-user and prisoner who has been taking part in a programme to learn yoga, says it helped to put him back on the straight and narrow.

He told BBC Radio Leicester: "Both of them combined together (yoga and acupuncture) is a great relaxation technique and helps me through the week.

"To me, I never thought it would work but I went with an open mind. I wanted to be helped so I grasped it with both hands. I'm making progress."

Mr Hindson said the scheme tries to ensure that there is continuity for prisoners when they come out of jail.

"When they come out they are not just cast adrift.

"If they have been off drugs by prison enforcement, we make sure they don't go straight back on to them outside," he said.

 





Americans Turning to Alternative Medicine
» posted by alternative1 on Jun. 27, 2004 at 10:46 pm
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By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter


THURSDAY, May 27 (HealthDayNews) -- More than one-third of American adults now use some form of alternative medicine, according to the most comprehensive look yet at non-traditional therapies in the United States.

A new government survey of 31,000 U.S. adults found that 36 percent of respondents said they generally used some sort of alternative medicine, including yoga, natural products or massage. But the percentage almost doubled when prayer was added to the list: 62 percent used "prayer for health reasons." Prayer was not defined beyond being split into two categories: for one's own health and by other people on your behalf.

The findings appear in a report released Thursday and prepared jointly by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With worldwide estimates of alternative-medicine usage hovering at about 80 percent, however, the United States still lags behind, Dr. Stephen E. Straus, director of NCCAM, said at a teleconference Thursday.

And because the current U.S. survey was much larger than previous studies, it is difficult to know whether the use of alternative medicine is growing or shrinking in the country. Richard L. Nahin, NCCAM's senior advisor for scientific coordination and outreach, said "there probably has been an increase."

The research, which was part of the CDC's 2002 National Health Interview Survey, gathered information from adults considered representative of the population. Participants answered questions on 27 types of alternative therapies, including acupuncture and chiropractic, both of which require a provider, as well as natural products, special diets and other therapies that do not require a provider. The questions were both more numerous and broader in scope than on previous surveys.

"[The survey] does not look at safety or effectiveness," Strauss pointed out. "It really looks at usage, why people are using CAM, why they choose it, what practices they're using and for what health conditions."

Women, people with higher education levels, people who had been hospitalized and former smokers tended to use alternative medicine more. Black adults were also more likely than whites or Asians to use alternatives, particularly including megavitamin therapy and prayer.

More than one-quarter (28 percent) of those surveyed said they used alternatives because they thought conventional medicine would not help them, while 13 percent said they used alternatives because conventional medicine was too expensive.

More than half (55 percent) said they were most likely to use an alternative therapy when they thought it would complement conventional treatments.

The alternative therapies were used most often to treat chronic conditions such as back, neck and joint pain, anxiety and depression, as well as the common cold.

The survey found the top 10 most commonly used therapies were:

  • Prayer (for one's own health), 43 percent
  • Prayer (by others for your health), 24 percent
  • Natural products, 19 percent
  • Deep breathing exercises, 12 percent
  • Participation in prayer group for own health, 10 percent
  • Meditation, 8 percent
  • Chiropractic care, 8 percent
  • Yoga, 5 percent
  • Massage, 5 percent
  • Diet-based therapies (such as Atkins, Pritikin), 4 percent.

The low number of people using a diet-based therapy may reflect the fact that the survey was conducted in 2002, before the intensive media coverage of the diets, Nahin said.

The use of natural products, including herbal remedies, appeared to be an increase from previous surveys, Nahin said. Echinacea use was particularly high -- higher than in previous surveys and topping the list of natural products. Also widely used were gingko biloba (to ward off dementia) and glucosamine (to prevent osteoarthritis).

The survey also uncovered continued use of the herbal remedy kava kava, a potentially troubling finding.

"It is sometimes associated with liver disease, and several countries have removed it from the shelf and the FDA has issued an advisory warning," Nahin said. "The public makes the assumption that because something is natural that it is safe. A number of studies have shown that natural products can be unsafe when used inappropriately or when used with pharmaceutical drugs."

Although this particular study did not look at the effectiveness of alternative therapies, officials at NCCAM and the CDC are hoping the survey results will help guide future research efforts.

"This is a very important public health issue," Strauss said. "We have conventional treatments that are proven to be safe and effective and people are making individual decisions to neglect those therapies at some point. And there are concerns that we have about those choices. Our goal is to provide better evidence as to whether products are safe and effective as claimed."

More information

Visit the NCCAM for the survey results and for general health information on alternative therapies.






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