CHINA – Here’s another reason why you should take your vitamins: A new research report suggests that retinoic acid could be a beneficial treatment for people suffering from ulcerative colitis and other irritable bowel diseases.
Researchers found that retinoic acid, he oxidized form of vitamin A, helps suppress out-of-control inflammation, which is a hallmark of active ulcerative colitis.
“Pharmaceutical strategies based on this research may offer a promising alternative to our current approaches of managing immune diseases including, IBD, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and so on,” said AipingBai, a researcher involved in the work at Nanchang University in Nanchang City, China.
To make this discovery, reported in the October print issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, Bai and colleagues conducted in-vitro studies with human tissue and in vivo studies in mice.
Both studies ultimately found that treatment with retinoic acid reduced the inflammation in the colon by increasing the _expression of FOXP3, a gene involved with immune system responses, as well as decreasing the _expression of IL-17, a cytokine believed to cause inflammation. Because many experts believe that IL-17 relates directly to the uncontrolled inflammation seen in ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel disease, the discovery that retinoic acid reduces IL-17’s ability to cause inflammation could accelerate the development of treatments for these chronic diseases.
“Runaway inflammation is serious problem, no matter where it occurs in the body, but in many instances, the root cause is a mystery,” said JohnWherry, deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “This research helps scientists better understand what causes and controls inflammation in the colon, which in turn, helps lay the groundwork for new classes of drugs to treat this devastating condition.”
LONDON – New research shows higher levels of vitamin D may help improve survival for both bowel and skin cancer patients*.
The results of two studies published in the British Journal of Cancer and Journal of Clinical Oncology found people with higher levels of vitamin D – at the time they were diagnosed – were more likely to survive.
In the first study researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston followed 1017 bowel cancer patients for around nine years.
Using information about UV-B and sunlight exposure, skin type, body-mass index, and vitamin D intake from food and supplements they estimated the amount of vitamin D in patients’ blood at the time of diagnosis.
The results showed that those with higher vitamin D scores after being diagnosed with cancer were 50 per cent less likely to die from the disease – compared to those with lower vitamin D scores.
ProfessorKimmieNg, study author, said: “Our study shows that levels of vitamin D after colorectal cancer diagnosis may be important for survival. We are now planning further research in patients with bowel cancer to see if vitamin D has the same effect, and to investigate how vitamin D works with molecular and genetic pathways in the cell to fight cancer.”
The second study – funded by Cancer Research UK and the National Institutes of Health – found that malignant melanoma patients** with the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood at the time they were diagnosed were 30 per cent more likely to relapse from the disease than those with the highest levels.
The researchers from Leeds also found that patients who have higher levels of vitamin D at diagnosis have thinner tumours at diagnosis.
ProfessorJuliaNewton Bishop, study author at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, said: “It’s common for the general public to have low levels of vitamin D in many countries. Melanoma patients tend to avoid the sun as sunburn is known to increase the risk of melanoma. We use sunshine to make vitamin D in the skin, so melanoma patients’ levels of vitamin D may be especially low.
“Our results suggest that melanoma patients may need to get vitamin D by eating fatty fish or by taking supplements to ensure they have normal levels. But we are continuing to carry out research to find out the optimum level of vitamin D. There’s some evidence from other health studies that high levels of vitamin D are also harmful – so we should aim for a normal level rather than a very high one.”
SaraHiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Both these studies support the theory that higher levels of vitamin D can improve the chance of surviving cancer. The key is to get the right balance between the amount of time spent in the sun and the levels of vitamin D needed for good health.
“But protection from burning in the sun is still vital. Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign advises that people with lots of moles, red hair fair skin and a family history of the disease should take extra care in the sun as they are more at risk of the most dangerous form of skin cancer Anyone who is worried about changes in their moles should go to their GP.”
Chicago(AP) — At least 1 in 5 U.S. children ages 1 to 11 doesn’t get enough vitamin D and could be at risk for a variety of health problems including weak bones, the most recent national analysis suggests.
By a looser measure, almost 90 percent of black children that age and 80 percent of Latino kids could be vitamin D deficient – “astounding numbers” that should serve as a call to action, said Dr.JonathanMansbach, lead author of the new analysis and a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston.
The deficiency is a concern because recent studies suggest the vitamin might help prevent infections, diabetes and some cancers.
The new analysis, released online today by the journal Pediatrics, is the first assessment of varying vitamin D levels in children ages 1 through 11. The study used data from a 2001-06 government health survey of almost 3,000 children who had blood tests measuring vitamin D.
Chinese Herbal Medicines For Preventing Diabetes In High Risk People
More research is required to establish whether Chinese herbal medicines can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes, according to Cochrane Researchers. Although herbal medicines are widely used in Asian countries to treat pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance or IGT), the precursor of the disease, researchers say there is still not enough hard scientific evidence to confidently recommend their use.
“People with impaired glucose tolerance are more likely to develop full blown diabetes and it may be possible to prevent or delay the onset of the disease through lifestyle changes and medication. Chinese herbal medicines have been used for this purpose for a long time, so there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for their safety and effectiveness, but we were interested to find out whether scientific research could provide a basis for recommending these alternative treatments,” says lead researcher, Suzanne Grant of the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney in Australia.
Pre-diabetes is recognised by higher than normal blood sugar levels. People with pre-diabetes are advised to change their diets to control their blood glucose levels and prevent progress to diabetes. In China, Korea and Japan herbal pills, teas and powders have been used for a long time to treat pre-diabetes and diabetes. They are thought to work in a number of different ways to help normalise blood sugar levels, including by improving pancreatic function and increasing the availability of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
The researchers considered data from 16 clinical trials including 1,391 people who received 15 different herbal formulations. According to their findings, combining herbal medicines with lifestyle changes is twice as effective as lifestyle changes alone at normalising patients’ blood sugar levels. Those given the herbal formulations were less likely to develop full blown diabetes during the study period. Trials included in the review lasted from one month to two years. No adverse effects were reported in any of the trials.
“Our results suggest that some Chinese herbal medicines can help to prevent diabetes, but we really need more research before we can confidently say that these treatments work,” says Grant. “The real value of the study is as guidance for further trials. We need to see more trials that make comparisons with placebos and other types of drugs, and better reporting on the outcomes of these trials.”
People still don’t get it: Vitamin D is the “miracle nutrient” that activates your immune system to defend you against invading microorganisms — including seasonal flu and swine flu. Continue reading →