Study Questions Ability of Garlic to Lower LDL Cholesterol

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine this week concluded that garlic supplementation does not improve cholesterol profiles in people with moderately high levels of LDL cholesterol (defined here as a fasting plasma LDL cholesterol concentration of 130 to 190 mg/dL, a triglyceride level less than 250 mg/dL and body mass index, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, of 19 to 30). The study is the first independent, long-term assessment of raw garlic and two popular garlic supplements. Raw garlic (4g/day for 6 months), powdered garlic and aged garlic extract supplement were tested on 192 adults with moderately high levels of LDL cholesterol. None of the garlic forms studied had statistically or clinically significant effects on LDL cholesterol or other plasmid lipid concentrations. The results contradict other recent findings suggesting that garlic may be beneficial in heart health by reducing moderately high levels of LDL cholesterol in adults [1-2].

Caffeine May Prevent Heart Disease in the Elderly

Habitual intake of caffeinated beverages provides protection against the risk of heart disease mortality among the elderly. The study, published in this months issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that participants 65 years of age or older with higher caffeinated beverage intake exhibited lower relative risk of cardiovascular disease and heart disease mortality than did participants with lower caffeinated beverage intake [1].

Updated Rates of the Most Common Neurological Disorders

An up-to-date review of the most common neurological disorders in the United States was published in the January 30th issue of Neurology [1]. Researchers reviewed nearly 500 articles published between 1990 and 2005 to determine the rates of prevalence (meaning the total number of cases of a disease in a given population at a specific time; does not convey information about risk) or incidence (meaning the rate of occurrence of new cases of a particular disease in a given population; measures the risk of a disease) for 12 neurological disorders.

Decrease in US Cancer Deaths

In 2003, cancer deaths in the United States decreased by 369 deaths compared to 2002, the first drop seen since 1930. In 2004, the decrease in cancer deaths was eight times greater – 3,014 deaths – than in 2003, according to a report published in the latest issue of the American Cancer Society (ACS) journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians [1].

Experts are attributing the decreases to declines in smoking, earlier detection and more effective treatment of tumors. The three most common cancers — breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer – show a decrease in death rates, with the largest change from colorectal cancer. Experts attribute much of the credit for the reduction in colorectal cancer to screening exams and the early detection of polyps that can be removed before they become cancerous.

Amniotic Stem Cell Lines May Hold a Potential for Therapy

Scientists at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Harvard School of Medicine report in the Journal of Nature Biotechnology that they have isolated stem cells from amniotic fluid [1]. Further, by introducing growth factors, they were able to get the anmiotic fluid-derived stem cells to differentiate (a concept from developmental biology describing the process by which cells acquire a “type”) into muscle, fat, bone, blood vessel, liver and nerve cells.