Friday, September 09, 2005


It's all B.S. because what is supposedly good and bad for you keep swapping places. There is certainly no data to justify the sort of food dictatorship many schools want to enforce

A diet recommending you eat 100g of chocolate a day and drink red wine, which will add six years to your life - is this for real? Scientists in Australia and The Netherlands have come up with a diet they claim will cut a person's risk of heart disease by 78 per cent. And the good news is, you'll want to be on it.

The diet focuses on seven foods that have been proven to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. It involves daily consumption of 150ml of red wine, which has been found to cut heart disease risk by 32 per cent. Chocaholics line up, because you have to consume 100g of dark chocolate per day, an amount the scientists calculate will reduce blood pressure.

You have to eat four meals of fish each week (each 114g), which is said to reduce your heart disease risk by 14 per cent. The diet also includes a daily total of 400g of fruit and vegetables, also proven to cut blood pressure, and 68g of almonds to cut cholesterol. You also have to consume 2.7g of garlic per day to reduce your cholesterol levels.

In a paper published in the British Medical Journal, scientists claim that if all these foods are combined in a diet they will lower the risk of heart disease by 78 per cent. The research shows men who stuck to this diet would gain an extra .6 years of life and have an extra nine years free from heart disease. Women would gain an extra 4.8 years of life and have an extra eight years without heart disease.

The proponents, including Anna Peeters from Monash University, claim the only adverse effects from the diet would be body odour from the garlic and raised mercury levels if more than the recommended amount of fish was eaten each week. But they don't calculate whether it will help you lose weight. And they warn that extra alcohol above that prescribed by the diet could reduce the effectiveness of the diet. They say you can add extra ingredients to the diet to boost its effectiveness, including olive oil, soy beans, tomatoes, oat bran, cereals, nuts, tea and chickpeas.



Once again it's genes that make the difference

People who don't smoke, overeat or fail their blood cholesterol tests may be at just as great a risk for heart attacks as those who do, a San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology company is finding. Celera Diagnostics of Alameda, Calif., has uncovered four genetic variations that appear to boost the likelihood of a heart attack as much as those familiar risk factors. The company is working on a test to alert patients and their doctors to the hidden dangers. Celera's Genetic Risk Score may some day help doctors head off the heart attacks that now occur in many people who had no prior symptoms of coronary disease. The weapons could range from diet and exercise to drugs.

The problematic genetic differences were discovered through sweeping scans of DNA from people who'd had unexpected heart attacks. The scans were compared with DNA from control groups free of heart disease. The work is part of the growing enterprise of molecular diagnostics -- the use of gene or protein markers to predict disease risks. The research can have a double payoff. Troublesome variations can signal bad news about individual risk, but they can also point the way toward the development of medicines. Drugs could be designed to block the cellular processes of the risky genes. "This information might not only be useful in diagnostics, but it may also explain the underlying basis of disease," said Dr. Tom White, Celera Diagnostics' chief scientific officer.

At this point, physicians can get some inkling of a patient's inherited vulnerability to heart disease or other ailments by taking a family history. But since the sequencing of the human genome and the revolution in research automation that made it possible, drug and biotechnology companies have been trying to pinpoint those genetic factors in a way that can be tested objectively. They envision a future in which people who apparently have the same disease may receive widely varied treatments depending on the molecular mechanisms behind each individual's illness.

For some patients, that future is now. A molecular test can determine which breast cancer patients could benefit from Genentech Inc.'s drug Herceptin and which should receive other treatments because Herceptin will not help them.

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