Friday, July 20, 2007

Miracle of Ginger... Part I

Ginger rhizomes owe their popularity as much to their medicinal virtues as their food uses. For more than 5,000 years people have valued their 'hot' and 'warming' qualities. Today the rhizomes are commonly used in Asian medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, sore throats, to improve circulation and reduce fat deposits in the arteries. Ayurvedic practitioners, use ginger rhizomes as a cure for cholera, anorexia and 'inflamed liver'. Many of these traditional medicinal properties are supported by recent scientific research.

Medicines containing ginger come in a variety of forms. The fresh or dried rhizome can be made into teas and tinctures, or powdered and put into capsules. Pastoral communities in the southern India state of Tamil Nadu use ginger as a folk medicine to treat cattle suffering from gastric upset. They feed the ginger rhizome to cattle in the form of a herbal paste mixed with black pepper, asafoetida (Ferula species) and sweet flag (Acorus calamus).

Cancer... Part I : What is cancer?

Cancer develops when cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a person's life, normal cells divide more rapidly until the person becomes an adult. After that, cells in most parts of the body divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells and to repair injuries.

Because cancer cells continue to grow and divide, they are different from normal cells. Instead of dying, they outlive normal cells and continue to form new abnormal cells. Cancer cells develop because of damage to DNA. This substance is in every cell and directs all activities. Most of the time when DNA becomes damaged the body is able to repair it. In cancer cells, the damaged DNA is not repaired. People can inherit damaged DNA, which accounts for inherited cancers. More often, though, a person's DNA becomes damaged by exposure to something in the environment, like smoking.

Cancer usually forms as a tumor. Some cancers, like leukemia, do not form tumors. Instead, these cancer cells involve the blood and blood-forming organs and circulate through other tissues where they grow.

Often, cancer cells travel to other parts of the body where they begin to grow and replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis. Regardless of where a cancer may spread, however, it is always named for the place it began. For instance, breast cancer that spreads to the liver is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer.

Not all tumors are cancerous. Benign (noncancerous) tumors do not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body and, with very rare exceptions, are not life threatening. Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For example, lung cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. That is why people with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their particular kind of cancer.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Half of all men and one third of all women in the United States will develop cancer during their lifetimes. Today, millions of people are living with cancer or have had cancer. The risk of developing most types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a person's lifestyle, for example, by quitting smoking and eating a better diet. The sooner a cancer is found and treatment begins, the better are the chances for living for many years.

High Dose Combination Therapy Better Than Monotherapy For Lowering Hypertension

Patients with hypertension who receive aliskiren in combination with valsartan at the highest recommended doses experience much greater reductions in blood pressure, compared to monotherapy with either drug. The combined therapy's tolerability profile is similar to the monotherapy's with either drug.

You can read about this in The Lancet, this week's issue. A comment which accompanies the article says that it is doubtful this will ever make it into general practice or primary prevention in specialist care because of the potentially fatal side-effects of high blood potassium.

Scientists Lift Lid On Genetics Of Coronary Artery Disease

Science Daily — Scientists have moved a step closer to understanding how our genetic make-up can lead us to develop heart disease and to predicting who is most at risk. In a study published today, they have confirmed six new genetic variants that increase the likelihood of developing coronary artery disease. Heart disease is the UK's largest killer, accounting for 105,000 deaths annually.

The researchers found that changes in our DNA on chromosomes 2, 6, 10 and 15 and two on chromosome 1 were associated with increased risk of developing coronary artery disease and heart attacks The study also confirmed the importance of a variant on chromosome 9, previous identified in an independent study.

"We are not talking about rare genetic variants here, but rather variants that are very common in our population," says Professor Nilesh Samani, British Heart Foundation Chair of Cardiology at the University of Leicester, and lead author on the paper. "Many of these genetic variants are carried by between a quarter and three-quarters of white Europeans. They are clearly very important and explain a significant proportion of the heart attacks that occur."

Today, the Wellcome Trust has announced a further £7.7 million for the study to continue and analyse in more depth the initial findings. The Trust, the UK's largest medical research charity, has also called for proposals from scientists to study other common diseases.

"This is an exciting step forward," says Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust. "We now need to understand how these common genetic variants cause increased risk of heart disease. From this understanding, we may be able to develop new preventative strategies and new treatments."

75 percent of Americans overweight by 2015

WASHINGTON - If people keep gaining weight at the current rate, fat will be the norm by 2015, with 75 percent of U.S. adults overweight and 41 percent obese, U.S. researchers predicted on Wednesday.

A team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore examined 20 studies published in journals and looked at national surveys of weight and behavior for their analysis, published in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews.

“Obesity is a public health crisis. If the rate of obesity and overweight continues at this pace, by 2015, 75 percent of adults and nearly 24 percent of U.S. children and adolescents will be overweight or obese,” Dr. Youfa Wang, who led the study, said in a statement.

Ginger Kills Ovarian Cancer Cells

Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that ginger not only kills cancer cells, it also prevents them from building up resistance to cancer treatment. Ginger is already used as an effective remedy for nausea and inflammation.

The scientists are presenting their results in a poster session at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting.

In this study, scientists applied a solution of ginger powder and water to ovarian cancer cells (similar ginger powder to what is sold at grocery stores, only a standardized research grade). In every single one of their tests they found that the cancer cells died as a result of being in contact with the ginger solution - they either committed suicide (apoptosis) or they digested/attacked themselves (autophagy).

If ginger can cause autophagy as well as apoptosis, it can prevent resistance to chemotherapy - something that is a common development with ovarian cancer patients.

Whether or not this brings the same encouraging results in animal studies remains to be seen, say the researchers. Another great advantage of ginger is that there are hardly any reports of side effects. It is also an easy product to present in capsule form. The researchers stressed that this is a preliminary study and further research is needed.

Over 20,000 American women are expected to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. 15,000 women are expected to die from ovarian cancer this year (in the USA).