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].

Peanut Butter Recalled Due to Salmonella Outbreak

Nearly 300 people in 39 states have fallen ill since August 2006, linked to a Salmonella outbreak from peanut butter. It is believed to be the first Salmonella outbreak in U.S. history associated with peanut butter. Just two or fewer cases have been reported each day since August, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said, and it was only in the past few days that investigators were able to focus in on the particular food responsible. The highest number of Salmonella cases reported were in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri. According to the CDC, about 20% of the 288 infected people were hospitalized but no one has died.

The Best Way to Stay Healthy and Avoid Getting Sick

The best way to stay healthy and avoid getting sick is to wash your hands. Some of the most recent scientific evidence comes from a study of hospital-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA or “staph”) is a bacteria that can enter the body through breaks in the skin and cause severe infections and even death, especially in people who are already sick. MRSA represents a major control problem in hospitals as it has developed a resistance to all penicillins, including methicillin and other narrow-spectrum beta-lactamase-resistant penicillin antibiotics [1]. Researchers concluded at the end of the study that hospitals could greatly limit the spread of MRSA through the use of increased barrier protection (gloves) by workers and more frequent hand washing [2].

Dichloroacetate Not Ready for Therapeutic Use

Dichloroacetate has been in the headlines recently, reported to be a cheap, effective cancer cure. The article was published in both print and on the website NewScientist.com, and ran with the headline “Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers”, implying incorrectly that it can kill tumor cells in humans.

Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, recently reported that they found a cheap and easy drug to produce that is able to cause tumor regression in lung, breast and brain tumor cells grown in culture and lung tumors grown in immunocompromised rats. The drug, Dichloroacetate (DCA), targets mitochondria (meaning an organelle in the cell that produces energy) and induces apoptosis (meaning cell death), decreases proliferation and selectively inhibits cancer cell growth. It did not have any effects on normal, non-cancerous tissue. The findings were published in the January edition of the journal Cancer Cell.

Cancer cells don’t use mitochondria for energy, instead using glycolysis (meaning the initial process of most of carbohydrate metabolism), which is less effective and more wasteful. Researchers have long believed this occurred because mitochondria in cancer cells were damaged. However, this new data suggests that the mitochondria in cancer cells are dormant and DCA reactivates them.

Sinus Congestion

The sinuses are hollow spaces located inside the bones in the skull to either side of the nose, behind and in between the eyes, in the forehead and at the back of the nasal cavity. The sinuses are lined with a moist, thin layer of tissue called a mucous membrane, which not only humidifies the air as you breathe it in, but also produces mucus to trap irritants such as dust, pollen and bacteria. The sinuses are lined with microscopic hairs called cilia. The function of cilia is to move mucus to flush the sinuses and nasal passageways of trapped irritants.

Sinus congestion is the blockage of one or more of the nasal passageways as a result of inflammation and swelling of the sinus tissues, secretion of mucus or a deviated septum (meaning obstruction of the nasal passage by the membranous ridge of cartilage in the nose that separates the nasal cavity into the two nostrils). Sinus congestion leads to impaired flow of mucus out of the sinuses. The build up of mucus in the sinuses causes increased pressure. Also, bacteria can become trapped and infect the mucous membrane, a condition termed sinusitis.