15 October 2014 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: There is growing evidence of the increased cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption, but this is not well understood by the general public. This study investigated the acceptability among drinkers of cancer warning statements for alcoholic beverages.

METHODS: Six focus groups were conducted with Australian drinkers to develop a series of cancer-related warning statements for alcohol products. Eleven cancer warning statements and one general health warning statement were subsequently tested on 2,168 drinkers via an online survey. The statements varied by message frame (positive vs negative), cancer reference (general vs specific), and the way causality was communicated ('increases risk of cancer' vs 'can cause cancer').

RESULTS: Overall, responses to the cancer statements were neutral to favorable, indicating that they are unlikely to encounter high levels of negative reaction from the community if introduced on alcoholic beverages. Females, younger respondents, and those with higher levels of education generally found the statements to be more believable, convincing, and personally relevant. Positively framed messages, those referring to specific forms of cancer, and those using 'increases risk of cancer' performed better than negatively framed messages, those referring to cancer in general, and those using the term 'can cause cancer'.

CONCLUSION: Cancer warning statements on alcoholic beverages constitute a potential means of increasing awareness about the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer risk.

06 May 2014 In Phenolic compounds

Several beneficial effects of resveratrol (RES), a natural antioxidant present in red wine have already been described. The aim of our study was to investigate if RES had a clinically measurable cardioprotective effect in patients after myocardial infarction. In this double-blind, placebo controlled trial 40 post-infarction Caucasian patients were randomized into two groups. One group received 10 mg RES capsule daily for 3 months. Systolic and diastolic left ventricular function, flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), several laboratory and hemorheological parameters were measured before and after the treatment. Left ventricular ejection fraction showed an increasing tendency (ns) by RES treatment. However, left ventricular diastolic function was improved significantly (p < 0.01) by RES. A significant improvement in endothelial function measured by FMD was also observed (p < 0.05). Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level significantly decreased (p < 0.05) in the RES treated group. Red blood cell deformability decreased and platelet aggregation increased significantly in the placebo group (p < 0.05), while resveratrol treatment has prevented these unfavourable changes. Concerning other measured parameters no significant changes were observed neither in placebo nor in RES group. Our results show that resveratrol improved left ventricle diastolic function, endothelial function, lowered LDL-cholesterol level and protected against unfavourable hemorheological changes measured in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD).

06 May 2014 In Phenolic compounds

BACKGROUND: A greater reduction in cardiovascular risk and vascular protection associated with diet rich in polyphenols are generally accepted; however, the molecular targets for polyphenols effects remain unknown. Meanwhile evidences in the literature have enlightened, not only structural similarities between estrogens and polyphenols known as phytoestrogens, but also in their vascular effects. We hypothesized that alpha isoform of estrogen receptor (ERalpha) could be involved in the transduction of the vascular benefits of polyphenols.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here, we used ERalpha deficient mice to show that endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation induced either by red wine polyphenol extract, Provinols, or delphinidin, an anthocyanin that possesses similar pharmacological profile, is mediated by ERalpha. Indeed, Provinols, delphinidin and ERalpha agonists, 17-beta-estradiol and PPT, are able to induce endothelial vasodilatation in aorta from ERalpha Wild-Type but not from Knock-Out mice, by activation of nitric oxide (NO) pathway in endothelial cells. Besides, silencing the effects of ERalpha completely prevented the effects of Provinols and delphinidin to activate NO pathway (Src, ERK 1/2, eNOS, caveolin-1) leading to NO production. Furthermore, direct interaction between delphinidin and ERalpha activator site is demonstrated using both binding assay and docking. Most interestingly, the ability of short term oral administration of Provinols to decrease response to serotonin and to enhance sensitivity of the endothelium-dependent relaxation to acetylcholine, associated with concomitant increased NO production and decreased superoxide anions, was completely blunted in ERalpha deficient mice.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study provides evidence that red wine polyphenols, especially delphinidin, exert their endothelial benefits via ERalpha activation. It is a major breakthrough bringing new insights of the potential therapeutic of polyphenols against cardiovascular pathologies.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is currently recognized as the most common known cause of mental retardation, affecting from 1 to 7 per 1000 live-born infants. Individuals with FAS suffer from changes in brain structure, cognitive impairments, and behavior problems. Researchers investigating neuropsychological functioning have identified deficits in learning, memory, executive functioning, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and poor communication and social skills in individuals with FAS and fetal alcohol effects (FAE). Investigators using autopsy and brain imaging methods have identified microcephaly and structural abnormalities in various regions of the brain (including the basal ganglia, corpus callosum, cerebellum, and hippocampus) that may account for the neuropsychological deficits. Results of studies using newer brain imaging and analytic techniques have indicated specific alterations (i.e., displacements in the corpus callosum, increased gray matter density in the perisylvian regions, altered gray matter asymmetry, and disproportionate reductions in the frontal lobes) in the brains of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol, and their relations with brain function. Future research, including using animal models, could help inform our knowledge of brain-behavior relations in the context of prenatal alcohol exposure, and assist with early identification and intervention.

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