Personalized Medicine Approach Provides More Benefit for Patients with High Cholesterol than Current Guidelines

Statins are a class of drugs that lower cholesterol and thereby reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. They work by preventing the synthesis of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”) in the liver and promoting its clearance from the blood. They are the most effective cholesterol-lowering drugs currently available and are the cornerstone of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) treatment guidelines.

The NCEP recommends a “treat-to-target” strategy, in which patients are given specific statin doses to achieve a desired level of LDL cholesterol in the blood. In this case, low LDL cholesterol is the “target.” Yet some physicians are questioning whether treating to any target is the best approach to fighting disease. A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that “tailored treatment”, an approach attempts to practice personalized medicine by estimating three factors, is more effective than a treat-to-target strategy [1].

Cancer Research Blog Carnival #13 – Stand Up To Cancer

Welcome to the 13th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival, the blog carnival devoted to cancer research.

There’s a revolution occurring on the Web: those “authoritative” articles written on traditional, static websites are being replaced with blogs, wikis and online social networks. In the sphere of health, medicine and information technology, this “real-time Web” consists of many who are professionals in the field; their posts are listed below.
In the digital age, these are the characteristics of new media: recent, relevant, reachable and reliable.

Everyone knows that cancer is a devastating disease. What many people don’t know is that cancer kills more than 1,500 people a day; that’s one person every minute. Tonight, Stand Up To Cancer, a one-hour fundraising event, will be simulcast on all three major U.S. networks. The goal of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is to enable cutting-edge research aimed at finding a cure to all types of cancer and making cancer part of the national debate.

Since 2001, federal deficits resulting from a number of fiscal pressures, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, increased national defense spending and hurricane Katrina, have together placed significant stress on the resources available for U.S. biomedical research. Between the fiscal years 2004 and 2007, the National Cancer Institute’s budget remained relatively flat. However, factoring in inflation (i.e. a Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI) of ~3.8% per year) reveals a 12% loss of purchasing power [1].

This decrease in resources comes as patient demand is growing. There was an estimated 1.5 million new cancer cases in 2007, an increase of 14% since 2001 [2]. The U.S. spends roughly $12 billion dollars every month fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s 33 times more than what is spent on cancer research annually. Imagine what we could do if just a fraction of those resources was dedicated to cancer research.

Overeating Fast Food Carbs Causes Signs of Liver Damage

A recent study evaluating the effects of fast-food-based overeating on liver enzymes and liver triglyceride content has been making the news this week. However, most media sources have been incorrectly interpreting the results. The Swedish study, published in the British Medical Association journal Gut, suggests that eating too much fast food can cause liver damage [1].

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].

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is used in many tissues throughout the body. The adrenal gland contains the highest concentration of vitamin C, and the vitamin plays a crucial role in both the adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla [1]. Humans are one of the few species that cannot manufacture the vitamin in the body and must depend on diet or nutritional supplementation as a source of vitamin C. The best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruit (especially in the citrus family, including oranges, lemons, limes and tangerines), strawberries, cantaloupe and currants. Green leafy vegetables, including Brussel sprouts, collard greens, lettuce, cabbage, peas and asparagus, are also good sources.