In This Issue:
Your feedback is most welcome. Healing Points is here to serve your
needs. Please Click
Here to give your comments, suggestions, requests, questions, etc.
To Speak with
Share Healing Points with Family and Friends
FRANKFURT (Reuters Health) - Nearly 9 out of 10 people who had
acupuncture for physical ailments say the treatment relieved their pain,
according to preliminary results of a large German study.
The study, involving some 40,000 patients, is the largest acupuncture
study ever undertaken, according to the researchers. The aim is to study
the therapy scientifically and reach a conclusion that can be accepted by
the medical community.
Study coordinator Dr. Hans-Joachim Trampisch from the Ruhr-University
of Bochum said that in his opinion, previous studies on acupuncture did
not involve enough patients or were not conducted scientifically.
"I am a medical statistician,'' he said. "I am not an
advocate of acupuncture.''
Of the patients in the study, almost 90% claimed that acupuncture
treatments had resulted in relief from pain, according to a press release.
Of those patients, around half suffered from back pain, some 26% from
headaches, and 10% from knee or hip arthrosis, which is a degenerative
disease of the joint.
Of the patients who experienced relief from the treatments, some 51%
did so within 2 weeks, usually after four treatments. Some 2% of patients
needed more than 10 treatments before feeling relief.
Severe side effects, such as local infection, occurred ''very seldom,''
at a rate of "much less than 1%.'' The average age of study
participants was around 58 years.
Trampisch stressed that the results from the study, dubbed gerac--for
German acupuncture--were preliminary, and would not reach a conclusion
concerning acupuncture versus traditional medical treatments until the
full study is completed. The study did not include a comparison
group--such as those given "sham'' acupuncture--to rule out the
"placebo'' effect in terms of pain relief. In sham acupuncture,
needles are inserted in parts of the body not believed to have any effect
The next phase of the research will be a randomized study, which will
begin in July this year and last into the middle of 2003. Some 400 doctors
will participate, with patients suffering from chronic pain receiving
either acupuncture treatments or standard medical treatments. That data
will be processed with a final report expected in 2004. The full study is
being funded with 7.7 million euros from some of Germany's largest public
health insurance companies.
According to gerac, about 40,000 physicians in Germany use acupuncture
for treatment. Of those, 15,000 have had basic training in acupuncture
techniques, while 1,500 have undergone full training programs.
Acupuncture was first practiced in China more than 2,000 years ago.
According to traditional theory, the human body has thousands of
acupuncture points along pathways called meridians, and these pathways
conduct energy throughout the body. Acupuncture is believed to keep this
energy flow moving smoothly.
Alternatively, some Western scientists speculate that the needle
therapy helps release certain pain-killing chemicals from the central
COMMENT: The pain killing theory of acupuncture, while
correct, only gives a partial explanation in that endorphins only last a
few hours in the blood stream. There is, so far, no explanation
other than the traditional theories as to why a person with a long term
illness can receive permanent or long term relief from a series of
treatments. This study is a good start, though.
Return to Top
By Merritt McKinney
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In findings certain to add to the
controversy over the health risks of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted
by power lines and electrical appliances, two new studies suggest that
women briefly exposed to very high-intensity EMFs have an increased risk
The findings are preliminary, but one of the investigators told Reuters
Health that women concerned about the risk may want to stand at arm's
length from electrical appliances at home and work to minimize the
potentially harmful effects of EMFs.
Despite the new research, however, the evidence that EMFs increase the
risk of miscarriage is far from conclusive, according to a North Carolina
A variety of sources can produce EMFs, including power lines, computer
monitors, microwave ovens and photocopying machines. Their relationship to
health problems has been uncertain and controversial.
For example, some research has linked EMFs from power lines to a
slightly increased risk of childhood leukemia, but other studies have
failed to show this connection.
Only a handful of studies have examined the possible link between EMF
exposure and miscarriage risk. Two reports in the 1980s found that using
an electric blanket could increase the risk of miscarriage, but the
results of more recent studies have been mixed.
Problems with the way previous studies have been conducted may help
explain the conflicting results, Dr. De-Kun Li of the Kaiser Foundation
Research Institute in Oakland, California, told Reuters Health in an
interview. Li is the author of one of two studies on the association
between EMFs and miscarriage that are published in the January issue of
the journal Epidemiology.
In that study, Li and his colleagues tried to address some of the flaws
of previous research. Instead of looking back at a woman's exposure to
EMFs after she had had a miscarriage, the researchers followed nearly
1,000 women beginning in early pregnancy.
Li said he and his colleagues used a better method of measuring EMFs--a
tracking device worn on the body for 24 hours--than previous studies.
"Our measurement more accurately reflected the true exposure women
get in real life,'' he said.
In Li's study, a woman's average level of EMF exposure did not seem to
have an effect on her risk of miscarriage.
But the researchers did detect a connection when they looked at the
highest level of EMFs that women were exposed to during the day. Women
with a peak EMF exposure of 16 milligauss--much more intense than what
most electrical appliances emit--were 80% more likely to have a
miscarriage than women with lower peak exposures. This risk "barely
changed'' after the researchers accounted for about 30 known miscarriage
This risk was highest during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and it was
more pronounced in women with a history of miscarriage or problems
The investigators also found that the link between peak EMF exposure
and the risk of miscarriage was stronger in women who engaged in their
typical daily activities on the day they wore the EMF monitor, meaning the
measurements were more likely to reflect their actual exposure.
Once Li and his colleagues arrived at their findings, another set of
researchers led by Dr. Raymond R. Neutra of the California Department of
Health Services in Oakland re-analyzed data they had collected previously.
Their analysis also determined that women with high peak EMF exposures had
an increased risk of miscarriage.
Li cautioned that the results of the studies are preliminary, and need
to be confirmed. In the meantime, he said, "It would be prudent for
pregnant women or women who are planning to get pregnant to take some
simple steps to avoid unnecessary exposure to magnetic fields.''
Common household sources of EMFs include microwave ovens, electric can
openers, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, electric fans, washing machines and
dishwashers. Fluorescent desk lamps, electric office equipment and
electrically powered public transit systems also may emit EMFs.
Completely avoiding all EMF sources is impossible, but Li said,
"The intensity of magnetic fields drops dramatically with increasing
distance from the source.'' For instance, people can drastically reduce
EMF exposure by standing 4 or 5 feet away from a microwave while it is on,
But in an editorial that accompanies the studies, Dr. David A. Savitz
of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health in Chapel Hill
writes that the studies add "only slightly'' to the evidence
supporting a link between EMF exposure and an increased risk of
The findings may stem in part from "behavioral differences between
women with healthy pregnancies and women who either experienced a
miscarriage or were destined to have one,'' according to Savitz.
He notes that in Neutra's study, women's exposure was measured at 30
weeks' gestation--or several months after miscarriage for the women who
had lost their pregnancies. Women this far along in pregnancy tend to be
less mobile than non-pregnant women. So the women who had already
miscarried would probably be more mobile, and thus more likely to be
exposed to EMFs at home, work and other places, Savitz suggests.
In Li's study, the North Carolina researcher points out that women's
mobility may also play a role. He notes that women who miscarry are less
likely to experience frequent nausea during early pregnancy.
"All other things being equal, a woman experiencing nausea will be
less likely to move around her home or workplace or community, and
therefore less likely to experience the diverse magnetic field sources in
those places,'' Savitz writes.
So women who have less nausea, who are predisposed to have a
miscarriage, might be exposed to higher peaks in EMFs in their daily life,
But according to Li, his colleagues accounted for nausea, and it did
not have an effect on the relationship between EMF exposure and the risk
And Neutra told Reuters Health that women in his study were just as
likely to experience bursts of high magnetic fields at 12 weeks of
pregnancy as at 30 weeks.
However, Savitz believes the evidence is too slim to warrant any change
in women's behavior or public policy. "In my view, the evidence
linking magnetic fields to miscarriage is very weak, below the level at
which any sort of policy or behavior change would be well justified,'' he
told Reuters Health.
"Given the unusual measures of magnetic fields of concern here,
brief exposure to high fields or variability in fields over time, it's
very unclear what someone could do to reduce exposure even if they were
motivated,'' Savitz added.
SOURCE: Epidemiology 2002;13:1-3, 9-20, 21-31.
COMMENT: Given the potential negative effects of Electro
Magnetic Radiaition, I recommend to create, at the very least, a safe area
in which to sleep. This means as few electronic devices as possible
in sleeping areas, including televisions, cell phones, computers, and
especially electric blankets kept on all night. We spend a third of
our lives in bed!
Return to Top
By Jo Robinson
In my on-going research into the health benefits of grassfed products,
I have been particularly impressed by the differences between the milk of
grassfed and grainfed cows. Approximately 85 to 95 percent of the cows in
American dairies are raised in confinement and fed a grain-based diet. New
research shows that a cow raised on her natural diet of pasture has five
times more of a cancer-fighting fat called “conjugated linoleic acid”
or CLA than milk from confinement dairies. CLA research is still in its
infancy, but a host of new studies suggest that CLA may be the most potent
cancer fighter in our diet. The human population studies are especially
intriguing. Recently, French researchers compared CLA levels in the breast
tissues of 360 women. The women with the most CLA in their tissues (and
thus the most CLA in their diets) had a 74 percent lower risk of breast
cancer than the women with the least CLA. If an American woman were to
switch from grainfed to grassfed dairy products, she would have levels of
CLA similar to this lowest risk group. Unlike other cancer prevention
strategies, switching to grassfed dairy products requires no self-denial
and no change in eating or cooking habits. In my opinion, the fact
that our American milk supply is so deficient in CLA is a national
With all the excitement being generated by CLA, however, other benefits
of grassfed dairy products can be overlooked. Milk from grassfed cows also
has an ideal ratio of essential fatty acids or EFAs. Bear with me for a
moment, because although this science is rather complicated, it is very
important for human health. There are two types of fat that are essential
for your health and cannot be made in your body---omega-6 fatty acids and
omega-3 fatty acids. A growing body of research suggests that a diet with
roughly equal amounts of these two fats is ideal. Such a diet is linked
with a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders,
allergies, diabetes, obesity, dementia, and various other mental
disorders. Whether a cow is on an all-grass diet or a
typical grain-based dairy diet greatly influences the fatty acid balance
of her milk. The reason is simple: grass has far more omega-3s and fewer
omega-6s than grain. If you take away some of the grass and replace it
with grain, you greatly alter the EFA ratio of the milk. Take a few
moments to study the chart below showing the omega-3 and omega-6 content
of milk from cows fed varying amounts of pasture. The green bars
represent omega-3 fatty acids and the yellow bars represent omega-6 fatty
acids. As you can see, when a cow gets all her nutrients from pasture
(represented by the two bars on the far left) her milk has an equal ratio
of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, the ratio that is believed to be ideal
for human health. Take away one third of the pasture and replace it with
grain or other supplements (represented by the two bars in the middle) and
the omega-3 fatty acid content of the milk goes down while the omega-6
fatty acid content goes up. Continue with this process and replace
two-thirds of the pasture with a grain-based diet (illustrated by the two
bars on the far right) and the milk will have a top-heavy ratio of omega-6
to omega-3 fatty acids. The milk that you buy in the supermarket has this
unbalanced ratio of EFAs because it comes from cows given liberal amounts
buying organic milk will not alter this picture because most of the large
organic dairies also use a grain-based dairy ration. Milk from a cow fed
large amounts of organically certified grain will have the same fatty acid
imbalance as milk from a cow fed a similar amount of ordinary grain. For
an ideal ratio of EFAs, cows need to be raised on fresh pasture.
Milk from grass-based dairies offers you yet more nutritional benefits.
(I'm beginning to sound like a TV infomercial: “But wait! Don’t
buy yet! There’s more!”) In addition to giving you five times
more CLA and an ideal balance of EFAs, grassfed milk is also higher in
beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E. This vitamin bonus comes, in
part, from the fact that fresh pasture has more of these nutrients than
grain or hay. (When grass is dried and turned into hay, it loses a
significant amount of its vitamin content.) But there’s another factor
involved as well. A cow produces considerably less milk on a grass diet
than she will on a grain-based diet. (Which, of course, is why the
vast majority of our dairy cows are supplemented with grain.) A cow that
yields only modest amounts of milk may be a problem for the producer, but
she’s a blessing for the consumer. Why? Because, as a general rule, the
less milk a cow produces, the more concentrated the vitamin content of
that milk. A cow has a set amount of vitamins to transfer to her milk,
and if she’s bred, fed, and injected to be a Super Producer, her milk
contains relatively fewer vitamins per glass. In other words, her milk is
a watered down version of the real thing. A purely grassfed cow will yield
a lower volume of milk, but every glassful of that milk will be enriched
with extra vitamins.
When you add up all the nutritional benefits of the milk from grassfed
cows you can understand why I am such an advocate of grass-based dairying.
In addition to lecturing and writing about grassfed products, I have also
taken steps to ensure that my family and friends have access to the real
thing. Most of the cheese my family eats is either imported from Ireland
or New Zealand (countries where most dairy cows are still raised on
pasture) or produced by American grass-based dairies. (Many of these US
producers are listed on http://eatwild.com) Regrettably,
I have been unable to locate an American supplier of butter from pastured
cows, so have had to rely on Kerrygold butter imported from Ireland. (The
Irish butter costs twice as much as ordinary butter, but slightly less
than Horizon or Organic Valley organic butter.) Recently, I was
interviewed on National Public Radio about grass-based farming and
happened to mention the Kerrygold butter. As soon as the interview was
over, the radio station received numerous calls from listeners wanting to
know where they could get some of this Irish butter. (Go to
www.kerrygold.ie) I regret that I wasn’t able to refer them to an
American supplier. As soon as there is a “www.grassfedbutterUSA.com,”
I’ll let the world know.
Oh, I forgot to mention the most important thing. Grassfed dairy
products taste delicious and the butter and cheese have a deeper yellow
color than ordinary products. (The yellow comes from the added amount of
beta carotene.) Slice some homestead cheese from a grass-based dairy or
place a cube of Kerrygold butter on the table and everyone will notice the
difference. Also, all your cookies and cakes will have that rich buttery
color that hasn't been seen since Grandma's day. (You do bake, don't
you?) Jo Robinson is a New York Times bestselling
author. To learn more about the health benefits of grassfed products and
to purchase her books, Why Grassfed Is Best! or The Omega Diet, go to
eatwild.com or call 206-463-4156 during West Coast business hours.
COMMENT: This is important information for milk
drinkers. Another factor that is very important is the
administration of Bovine Growth Factor to dairy cows. You can be
assured that if you buy any dairy product in or from the United States
that is not organic, R-BGF has been given to the cows.
Return to Top
Lipoprotein (a) May Explain Cardiac Events In Apparently Healthy
hidden cardiac risk factor that's passed down through family lines may do
its primary damage by "gunking up the works" inside our blood
Lipoprotein (a) is risk factor for heart disease and heart
attack, one that is strongly determined by one's genetic background. A
lipid complex formed when apo(a) binds to LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein)
cholesterol, Lp(a) has also been independently associated with advanced
stages of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
How might elevated levels of this lipoprotein trigger a
"cardiac crisis" inside the human body? Scientists have
discovered new experimental evidence linking Lp(a) with the disruption of
important blood clotting (thrombotic) mechanisms.
Investigators from the Mayo Clinic, Washington University
in St. Louis, and University of Graz in Austria recently examined Lp(a)'s
role in thrombosis, using cells from human umbilical veins, as well as
other, noncellular in vitro environments. They found that Lp(a)
binds strongly to an important regulator of blood coagulation called
Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor (TFPI).
By binding with TFPI, Lp(a) appears to interfere with the
normal ability of TFPI to prevent blood clots from forming. In fact, the
researchers discovered that Lp(a) deactivated TFPI in a dose-dependent
fashion: The higher the amount of Lp(a) they used in the sample, the more
that TFPI's anticoagulant activity was stymied. Evidence of this binding
was also found inside fatty plaque deposits, the hallmarks of
"Taken together, these data suggest a biologic
interaction between Lp(a) and TFPI, which may have implications for TFPI
activity and hence thrombotic events," the researchers concluded.
The study, funded in part by the National Institutes of
Health and the American Heart Association, adds to the body of evidence
linking Lp(a) with the "clumping" of fatty substances inside
blood vessels. These mechanisms include increased build-up of fibrous
substances (like fibrin) and an impaired breakdown of blood clots (clot
NOTE: You can find out what your Lp(a) marker is
by taking the comprehensive cardiac profile from Great Smokies Diagnostic
Laboratory, available through my office. Lp(a) has been cited frequently
in the literature as an important inheritable cardiac risk factor for
individuals with normal cholesterol levels and normal body weight who may
not show any apparent signs of heart disease risk. Although Lp(a) levels
are influenced by heredity, this marker can often be modified by targeted
Return to Top
Research findings suggests that we need to consider not just what we
eat, but how often we eat. A high level of cholesterol in the blood
is one of the major causes of heart disease. The fatty substance can clog
up the arteries, placing more strain on the heart.
The researchers quizzed over 14,000 men and women aged 45-75 years
about their eating habits. They separated each person into one of five
groups depending on how often they ate. A blood sample from each person
was then tested for fat levels.
Cholesterol concentrations were approximately 5% lower in men and women
who ate six or more times a day compared with those who ate once or twice
a day. This was despite higher intakes of energy - including fat - in
people who reported eating more frequently. The effect held good when
other possible factors, such as alcohol consumption and physical activity,
were taken into consideration.
Although not large, this difference in cholesterol concentration is
comparable to that achieved in studies involving alteration of intake of
dietary fat or cholesterol. It is also associated with reductions in
coronary heart disease ranging from 10% to 21%. The researchers say that
such reductions could have a substantial impact, particularly in older
people, who have higher rates of heart disease.
The reason why regular eating reduces cholesterol levels is not known.
One theory is that the body responds to relatively long gaps between meals
by becoming highly efficient at storing up energy whereas a routine of
regular meals encourages a more steady metabolism.
Lead researcher Professor Kay-Tee Khaw, of the Institute of Public
Health at Cambridge University, told BBC News Online that there were
animal studies showing those that ate infrequently were able to absorb
sugars more readily into their blood. They also showed a greater activity
of the enzymes used to manufacture cholesterol.
She said: "The number one thing to say is that all the advice
about healthy eating holds good. "People should eat more fruit and
vegetables, and moderate their intake of saturated fat. "But it seems
that it might be more healthy to split up meals into smaller amounts and
eat them more frequently."
The research is published in the British Medical Journal.
Return to Top
By Melissa Schorr
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Health) - Acupuncture helped relieve symptoms
such as pain and depression in women with the chronic pain disorder
fibromyalgia, according to research presented here Monday at the annual
meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.
"Patients not getting enough results from drug therapy should try
honest acupuncture,'' said lead author Dr. Daniel Feldman, head of
rheumatology at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. "It
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain, stiffness and
fatigue for unknown reasons. It affects about 2% of Americans, mainly
In the study, the researchers randomly assigned 60 women who suffered
from fibromyalgia into three groups. All patients received amitriptyline,
a standard pain modifier used for fibromyalgia, at bedtime for 16 weeks.
In addition, 20 of the women received a once-a-week, 30-minute
acupuncture session while a second group of 20 underwent a once-a-week,
30-minute sham-acupuncture session where they were punctured in areas not
believed to have any effect on pain.
The patients were evaluated every month for pain, depression and
quality of life measures by healthcare workers who were unaware which
treatment they were receiving.
The researchers reported that patients who received the real
acupuncture were the only ones who showed statistically significant
improvement on measures of pain, depression and mental health after the
"The intriguing thing is this is not a placebo effect,'' Feldman
The results lasted for up to 16 weeks, at which time the patients began
regressing slightly and would need reinforcement acupuncture sessions,
Feldman said. "It's not a one-time treatment,'' he added.
Return to Top
By DENISE GRADY (New York Times)
new study adds to the increasing evidence that women who take hormone
therapy for five years or more after menopause have an increased risk of
breast cancer, especially a type known as lobular tumors, which account
for 5 percent to 10 percent of all breast cancers.
Other studies have had similar findings, showing modest increases in
risk that drop back to average within about five years after a woman stops
taking the hormones.
The latest report, in today's Journal of the American Medical
Association, shows that women who took hormones for five years or more
during the last six years had an increase in risk of 60 percent to 85
percent, or 1.6 to 1.85 times the risk of a woman who never took hormones.
The increase in risk for lobular tumors was greater, about three times
that of a woman who did not take hormones. The findings applied equally to
women taking estrogen alone, or in combination with another hormone,
Translated into cases, the risk figures mean that over all, in women
who do not take hormones, 253 in 100,000 will get breast cancer in a given
year, including 23 lobular tumors. In those taking hormones for five years
or more, 419 will develop breast cancer, including 70 lobular cases. The
excess cancers, presumably due to hormone therapy, number 166, including
70 lobular tumors.
Dr. Emily White, the senior author of the study and an epidemiologist
at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said the
accumulated evidence was "quite strong" that hormone replacement
increased the risk of breast cancer. Dr. White also said the idea that
hormone replacement prevented heart disease, once taken for granted and
used as a prime reason for recommending the therapy, had been challenged
by recent studies.
"So I think the research community needs to re-evaluate the risks
and benefits and come up with some suggestions and consensus," she
Dr. Clifford Hudis, chief of the breast medicine service at Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, who was not involved with the
Seattle research, called the study well done and provocative. Dr. Hudis
described hormone replacement as a "disappointment over all."
"It's just becoming clearer that the benefits are much more subtle
than we might have hoped, and the risks are appreciable," he said.
Nonetheless, he added, "before anybody should panic, one might
look broadly at the societal impact."
"Even if this raises the risk of one rare breast cancer, over all
the picture is improving," he said. "Death rates from breast
cancer in the United States are falling."
Lobular tumors form in clusters of milk-producing cells, unlike most
breast cancers, which grow in the ducts that carry milk. The two types are
treated in the same way, but lobular tumors are harder to detect. Some
studies have suggested that the incidence of lobular breast cancer is
increasing in the United States, and some researchers say the increase is
most likely due to hormone replacement.
Dr. White's study included nearly 1,400 women, ages 50 to 74. Half the
women had breast cancer. The researchers identified the two groups of
women and then looked back at whether they had taken hormone replacement.
All the women were enrolled in a health plan that kept records of their
prescriptions, which the researchers used to determine what drugs they
took. In the women who developed breast cancer, the researchers studied
prescription records during the five years that ended a year before the
cancer was diagnosed.
"A unique aspect here is that we didn't rely on the women to
remember," Dr. White said. "We used a computerized pharmacy
database, so we have accurate information."
Nonetheless, a weakness of this study and previous ones is that the
women themselves decided whether to take hormones, rather than being
assigned at random to take either drugs or placebos. Studies in which the
patients pick their own treatment are not considered definitive, because
they are not as reliable scientifically as experiments in which the
treatment group and the controls are picked at random.
A rigorous, nationwide study of hormone replacement, the Women's Health
Initiative, in which women have been assigned at random to take the
hormones or not, is under way, but results will not be available until
2004 or 2005.
In the meantime, women and their doctors have to make educated guesses,
based on incomplete information. Hormone replacement can prevent bone
thinning, and it clearly relieves hot flashes and other unpleasant
symptoms that many women experience at menopause.
"We can't be dogmatic about this right now," Dr. Hudis said.
"For some women, the quality of life enhancements on hormone
replacement clearly make it worthwhile. But the quantifiable health
benefits are much more in question than they used to be, and the risks are
Return to Top
By Suzanne Rostler
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Drinking more than two cups of coffee daily
may boost estrogen levels in women and could exacerbate conditions such as
endometriosis and breast pain, study findings suggest.
According to the researchers, women who drank the most coffee had
higher levels of estradiol, a naturally occurring form of estrogen, during
the early follicular phase, or days 1 to 5 of the menstrual cycle.
"Higher estrogen levels would not be beneficial for women who for
example have endometriosis, breast pain and family histories of breast or
ovarian cancer, especially arising premenopausally,'' the study's lead
author, Dr. Daniel W. Cramer from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston,
Massachusetts, told Reuters Health.
"It is my personal advice that such women should be discouraged
from consuming more than two cups of coffee per day,'' Cramer said.
The study included nearly 500 women aged 36 to 45 who were not
pregnant, breast-feeding or taking hormones. All women answered questions
about their diets, smoking habits, height and weight. Researchers measured
the women's hormone levels during days 1 to 5 of their menstrual cycle.
Women who consumed the most cholesterol and alcohol, and those who
consumed more than one cup of coffee a day had significantly higher levels
of estrogen during the early follicular phase of their menstrual cycle,
according to the report in the October issue of Fertility and Sterility.
In fact, caffeine intake from all sources was linked with higher
estrogen levels regardless of age, body mass index (BMI), caloric intake,
smoking, and alcohol and cholesterol intake. Women who consumed at least
500 milligrams of caffeine daily, the equivalent of four or five cups of
coffee, had nearly 70% more estrogen during the early follicular phase
than women consuming no more than 100 mg of caffeine daily, or less than
one cup of coffee.
Women aged 40 and older and those who smoked had higher levels of
follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which reflects the number of eggs
remaining in a woman's ovaries. FSH tends to increase with age, and high
levels of the hormone correspond with fewer eggs. Therefore, the
observation that smokers have higher FSH levels suggests that their
ovaries are "older'' than their chronological age, Cramer explained.
"Our study provides a basis for believing that coffee consumption
increases estradiol levels,'' Cramer said. "While these effects are
modest with one or two cups, they are more evident at higher levels of
SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility 2001;76:723-729.
Return to Top
NEW YORK, Jan 09 (Reuters Health) - While following a low-fat diet can
have significant health benefits over the long term, it may also result in
lower levels of HDL, or "good," cholesterol. Now, a new study
has found a possible culprit: simple sugars.
According to the report, individuals who adopt a low-fat diet tend to
replace fats with simple sugars in non-fat baked goods and processed
foods. Simple sugars can reduce HDL levels, and low HDL levels are known
to be a major heart disease risk factor for women.
"The current American food supply offers an abundance of low-fat
and fat-free foods that depend on simple carbohydrates or added sugars to
improve their flavor," Linda B. Bunyard and colleagues from the
University of Maryland at Baltimore write. "Whether the recent trend
toward fat-modified foods provides an overall benefit to this population
In the study, 55 overweight and obese postmenopausal white women
followed the American Heart Association's Step 1 diet, in which no more
than 30% of total calories come from fat. The women were mostly inactive
and their average body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight in relation
to height, was 33. People with a BMI of at least 25 are considered
overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 or above are obese.
After 10 weeks, the women lost an average of 2% of their body weight,
reduced total cholesterol by 8% and cut LDL ("bad") cholesterol
6%. HDL cholesterol, however, declined 16%, the researchers report in
the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
During the same period, the women's average intakes of total fat,
saturated fat and cholesterol fell, while the percent of calories from
carbohydrates--both complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and simple
sugars--rose. According to the analysis, a higher average intake of simple
sugars was the only dietary change associated with lower HDL.
"Women who achieve a low-fat diet by substitution of simple sugar
for dietary fat may be at risk of lowering their HDL cholesterol on such a
diet," Bunyard and colleagues conclude.
The researchers stress that the findings do not suggest that
individuals avoid fruits and vegetables and note that more research is
needed to determine which simple sugars contribute to reductions in
SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2002;102:52-57.
Return to Top