Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dose of vitamin C could help A&E patients to feel happier

Dose of vitamin C could help A&E patients to feel happier

By Claire Bates
Last updated at 3:12 PM on 24th September 2010

Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits, was found to improve the state of mind of A&E patients in a new study

Doctors could improve the emotional state of their Accident and Emergency patients simply by giving them a dose of vitamin C.

Canadian researchers randomly assigned acute hospital patients to receive either vitamin C or vitamin D supplements for seven to 10 days.

They found that those who were administered with vitamin C showed a rapid and clinically significant improvement in their state of mood. However, no such change was reported in the vitamin D patients.

The double-blind clinical trial took place at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada and the results were published in the journal Nutrition.

Team member Dr L John Hoffer, of the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, said: 'The lack of any effect of vitamin D on mood is good evidence we are not dealing with a placebo response.

'This looks like a true biological effect. Our finding definitely requires follow up in larger studies in other centres,' he said.

'The treatment is safe, simple and cheap, and could have major clinical practice implications.'

Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and broccoli.

Earlier studies revealed that the majority of A&E patients have below average levels of vitamins C and D in their blood.

'About one in five acute-care patients in our hospital have vitamin C levels so low as to be compatible with scurvy,' said Dr Hoffer.

'But patients are rarely given vitamin supplements. Most physicians are simply unaware of the problem. Subclinical deficiencies of vitamin C and D have each been linked to psychological abnormalities, so we examined that aspect in our clinical trial.'

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Rigorous exercise can sabotage cancer therapy

'Sabotage': Rigorous exercise one or two days before having chemotherapy or radiation could undermine the treatment (file picture)

Rigorous exercise before cancer therapy 'highly risky' and can sabotage treatment

By Jenny Hope
Last updated at 8:54 AM on 22nd September 2010

Rigorous exercise can sabotage cancer therapy, a new study has found.

Psychological or physical stress one or two days before having chemotherapy or radiation could undermine the treatment.

Scientists found that cancer cells are more likely to resist treatment because the body’s stress responses had been primed for survival.

They suggest people about to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment should try to relax and avoid intense activity for around 48 hours.
A woman exercising at the gym

Lead researcher Dr Govindasamy Ilangovan, from Ohio State University, said: ‘I am not against exercise, but the timing is critical.

'It looks like any intense or prolonged physical activity a couple of days before the start of cancer therapy is highly risky and has potential to reduce the benefits of the treatment.’

The research team carried out a series of experiments in the laboratory, but say the findings are a clear indication that a stress-sensitive protein can aid the survival of cancer cells.

The protein called heat shock factor-1 normally helps tissues and cells cope with stress, and previous research shows it enables heart tissue to survive when threatened by toxic agents.

But this led researchers to suspect it may perform the same function when breast cancer cells are threatened with extinction by treatment.


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Experiments show that heat shock factor-1 activated another protein, known as Hsp27, that kept the tumour cells alive even after they were exposed to radiation and chemotherapy.

Hsp27, which helps to block cell death, interacts with a third protein, p21, which allows cells to repair themselves and keep dividing.

‘We are doing something to kill the cell, but cells have their own compensatory action to oppose that,’ said Dr Ilangovan.

One of the known inducers of heat shock factor-1 is exercise, says a report published in the journal Molecular Cancer Research.

When the cells were put under stress, levels of Hsp27 reached their height within 48 hours, suggesting the protein is highly active in the two days following any stressful event that activates heat shock factor-1.

Dr Ilangovan said ‘The process that sets these activities in motion takes a couple of days.

‘It is not proven in a clinical setting but our hypothesis leads us to strongly caution cancer patients about avoiding stress because that stress might trigger recurrence of cancer cell growth.’

He suspects the wide distribution of heat shock factor-1 in the body means the protein could have an impact on many different cancers.

The research points to possible ways of preventing stress making cancer harder to treat.

A ‘gene-silencing’ molecule called siRNA restored the process of programmed cell death that kills cancer, the scientists found.

However, siRNA is not suitable for patients and no drug currently exists that mirrors its effects.

Arlene Wilkie, director of research and policy, Breast Cancer Campaign said ‘This early research should be treated with caution as it has only been tested on cells in a laboratory and not on cancer patients.

‘It is unrealistic that people who are about to undergo cancer treatment will be able to avoid stress. If you have any concerns talk to your doctor or nurse.’

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