Think Vitamin Supplements Improve Your Heart Health? Think Again!

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Pills Vitamins Macro April 22, 2012 4” by Steven Depolo is licensed under CC BY 2.0David J.A. Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism
Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of Toronto 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The study was requested by the editor of JACC (Dr. Valentin Fuster) due to the widespread use of vitamin and mineral supplementation by the public and the requirement to know if there were any benefits or harms for cardiovascular disease.

Our study was a follow-up to the US Preventive Services Task Force 2013 recommendations.

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Could Some Iron Supplements Raise Your Risk of Colon Cancer?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nathalie Scheers PhD Asst. Professor Chalmers University of Technology Dept of Biology and Biological Engineering Food and Nutrition Science Göteborg, Sweden 

Dr. Scheers

Nathalie Scheers PhD
Asst. Professor
Chalmers University of Technology
Dept of Biology and Biological Engineering
Food and Nutrition Science
Göteborg, Sweden 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many different forms of iron supplements are used to treat iron deficiency symptoms or as phosphate binders in patients with renal disease. two of these iron supplements, the chelates ferric citrate and ferric EDTA have been observed to drive colon cancer in mice. In the newly published study in Oncotarget, we are reporting our work on how these iron compounds differ compared to the simple salt ferrous sulphate, which is another common iron supplement.

The main finding of this study was that ferric citrate and ferric EDTA promoted the cancer biomarker amphiregulin which in turn activated the MAP kinase ERK in gut epithelial cancer cells. There were no such effects in ferrous sulphate-treated cells.  Continue reading

Review Finds Antioxidant Supplements of Little to No Benefit in Exercise Recovery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Pills Vitamins Macro April 22, 2012 4” by Steven Depolo is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Dr Mayur Ranchordas, SFHEA
Senior Lecturer in Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
Sport Nutrition Consultant
Chair of the Sport and Exercise Research Ethics Group
Sheffield Hallam University
Academy of Sport and Physical Activity
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing
Sheffield

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: People engaging in intense exercise often take antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C and/or E or antioxidant-enriched foods, before and after exercise in the anticipation that these will help reduce muscle soreness. In a new review published in the Cochrane Library we looked at the evidence from 50 studies. These all compared high-dose antioxidant supplementation with a placebo and their participants all engaged in strenuous exercise that was sufficient to cause muscle soreness. Of the 1089 participants included in the review, nearly nine out of ten of these were male and most participants were recreationally active or moderately trained.

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Prebiotin™ Fiber Supplement Tested in NIH/NIDDK Pilot Study In End-Stage Kidney Disease Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ron Walborn Jr. Prebiotin CEO

Ron Walborn Jr.

Ron Walborn Jr.
Prebiotin CEO 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The product Prebiotin™ Prebiotic Fiber was brought to market in 2007 by Dr. Frank Jackson, a gastroenterologist out of Harrisburg, PA. He found through 40 years of experience with his patients that a variety of digestive issues benefitted from daily supplementation with a soluble prebiotic fiber, specifically, oligofructose-enriched inulin (OEI) derived from chicory root.

In the late summer of 2012, Prebiotin caught the attention of Dr. Dominic Raj at the Internal Medicine Department of George Washington University. Dr. Raj’s laboratory showed that patients with kidney disease may have a higher level of release of endotoxins like p-Cresol sulfate and indole from the bacteria in the gut, which can move into the bloodstream and promote inflammation.

This early work was the basis of a successful grant application. Researchers were interested in investigating the therapeutic potential of altering the composition and/or function of the gut microbiome in this patient population, based on the understanding that by building up the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut, undesirable bacteria is eventually crowded out, thereby reducing the release of harmful endotoxins into the system.

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Neither Vitamin E or Selenium Found To Prevent Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard J. Kryscio, Ph.D. Statistics and Chair, Biostatistics and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Sanders-Brown Center on Aging University of Kentucky

Dr. Richard Kryscio

Richard J. Kryscio, Ph.D.
Statistics and Chair, Biostatistics and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
University of Kentucky 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: At the time the trial was initiated (2002), there was ample evidence that oxidative stress is an important mechanism in brain aging. Research showed that protein oxidation is linked to the brain’s response to the abnormal proteins seen in Alzheimer disease (amyloid beta plaques in particular) leading to inflammation, DNA repair problems, reduced energy production, and other cellular changes that are identified mechanisms in the Alzheimer brain.

Both vitamin E and selenium are antioxidants. Antioxidants, either through food or supplements, are believed to reduce oxidative stress throughout the body. In the brain, they may reduce the formation of amyloid beta plaques, reduce brain inflammation, and improve other brain processes. Studies in humans support these hypotheses. The Rotterdam study in the Netherlands, as an example, showed that initial blood levels of vitamin E could predict dementia risk. Those people with higher vitamin E levels were 25% less likely to develop dementia. Also, selenium deficiency results in cognitive difficulties and several population-based studies have shown an association between selenium level and cognitive decline (lower selenium levels are linked to thinking changes in the elderly).
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Use of Health Supplements Varies By Age Group

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Elizabeth D. Kantor, PhD MPH Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center NY, NY

Dr. Elizabeth D. Kantor

Elizabeth D. Kantor, PhD MPH
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
NY, NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Prior studies show that use of supplements increased between the 1980s and mid-2000s, and despite much research conducted on the health effects of supplements, we know little about recent trends in use.

Given this gap, we decided to create an up-to-date, comprehensive resource on the prevalence and trends of supplement use among US adults using nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Data were collected over seven continuous cycles (from 1999-2000 to 2011-2012).

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Complex Dietary Supplement Abolishes Brain Cell Loss in Mice

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jennifer Lemon, PhD Research Associate Medical Radiation Sciences McMaster University

Dr. Jennifer Lemon

Jennifer Lemon, PhD
Research Associate
Medical Radiation Sciences
McMaster University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Lemon: Research with the supplement began in 2000, as part of my doctoral degree; we developed the supplement to try to offset the severe cognitive deterioration and accelerated aging in a mouse model we were working with in the lab. Based on aging research, five mechanisms appeared to be key contributors to the process of aging; those include oxidative stress, inflammation, mitochondrial deterioration, membrane dysfunction and impaired glucose metabolism. The criteria we used for including components in the supplement were as follows: each one of the 30 components had scientific evidence to show they acted on one or more of the above mechanisms were able to be taken orally, and were available to humans over-the-counter. Even then the hope was that if the formulation was successful, this would make it more available to the general public.

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Many Patients Do Not Tell Their Primary Care Physician About Alternative Medicine Use

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Judy Jou, MA PhD Candidate PhD Candidate in Health Services Research, Policy, & Administration Division of Health Policy and Management University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN

Judy Jou

Judy Jou, MA PhD Candidate
PhD Candidate in Health Services Research, Policy, & Administration
Division of Health Policy and Management
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Minneapolis, MN 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is rising among U.S. adults, but CAM is often poorly integrated into patients’ treatment and self-care routines. We analyzed nearly 7,500 responses from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and found that over two-fifths of U.S. adults who used CAM during the past year did not disclose their complementary and alternative medicine use to their primary health care providers, with rates of disclosure varying by the type of CAM used. We also examined reasons for non-disclosure and found that, in contrast to prior studies, lack of provider-initiated conversation about  complementary and alternative medicine was the most commonly cited reason, rather than patients’ concerns about negative reactions from their providers regarding their complementary and alternative medicine use.

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Study Finds No Evidence of Benefit from Chromium Supplements

Prof. Peter Lay PhD Professor of Inorganic Chemistry School of Chemistry | Faculty of Science Director, Vibrational Spectroscopy Core Facility Research Portfolio The University of Sydney

Prof. Peter Lay

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Peter Lay PhD

Professor of Inorganic Chemistry
School of Chemistry | Faculty of Science
Director, Vibrational Spectroscopy Core Facility
Research Portfolio
The University of Sydney

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: My group has been studying the molecular mechanisms of chromium(VI)-induced cancers and the biochemistry of vanadium over the last three decades. Vanadium drugs have been in clinical trials for their anti-diabetic effects that occur via species with very similar chemistry to chromium(VI).  The more we understood the biochemistry of each, the more we questioned whether the efficacies of anti-diabetic chromium(III) supplements were associated with the generation of carcinogenic chromium(VI) and chromium(V). To test this, we conducted experiments to either provide evidence for our hypothesis or disprove it.  This work commenced some 15 years ago with studies on the changes in the nature of chromium(III) supplements exposed to simulated gastrointestinal juices, as well as in human and animal blood serum over times that mimicked the residence time of the supplements in the human body.

We discovered that all supplements were changed to a range of different Cr(III) species in both the GI tract and the blood.1,2  Common species were observed, but the rates at which they formed were dependent on the nature of the chromium(III) supplement.  Both the supplements themselves and the chromium(III) species that formed in blood serum were partially oxidised to Cr(VI) at concentrations of the oxidant, hydrogen peroxide (a type of bleach), found in the blood of people with type II diabetes.1,2 One of the clinical features of patients with type II diabetes is increased levels of oxidants, such as hydrogen peroxide, in their blood and cells. These oxidants are associated with many of the side-effects of type II diabetes that are associated with reduced life expectancy.

These transformed chromium(III) species bound to blood proteins were more easily oxidised to chromium(VI) than the administered Cr(III) supplements.  The faster a particular chromium(III) supplement reacted with blood proteins to form these easily oxidised chromium(III)-protein species, the more active was the Cr(III) supplement in its anti-diabetic activity in animal and human studies reported by other groups.1-5  According to many health and regulatory bodies, chromium(III) has minimal or no efficacy in glucose metabolism and no other beneficial effects, such as weight loss or muscle building, in well conducted human and animal trials with non-diabetic subjects. This is consistent with our proposed mechanism of action. It is only under oxidising physiological conditions associated with type II diabetes that chromium(III) can be partially transformed to sufficient concentrations of carcinogenic chromium(VI) to enable significant biological activity.  In a large clinical trial where diabetic patients were treated with high doses of chromium(III) picolinate (one of the least efficacious supplements in animal studies), there was no efficacy in patients with controlled type II diabetes. Only those patients with uncontrolled type II diabetes exhibited improved glucose metabolism.  These patients, who have the highest concentrations of oxidants with the ability to transform chromium(III) to chromium(VI) in blood, are therefore at the greatest risk of developing Cr-induced cancers. Even where efficacy was observed, glucose metabolism was only reduced to the levels in patients with controlled type II diabetes; i.e., no patients exhibited a return to normal glucose metabolism.4,5

Coupled with all of this information our separate studies showed that chromium(VI) and chromium(V), but not chromium(III), are strong inhibitors of protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) enzymes.  The relevance of this is that drugs that inhibit PTPs activate circulating insulin in people with type II diabetes.  That is, it causes insulin to bind more strongly to cells involved in glucose metabolism (such as fat cells) to bring about the cascade of biochemical reactions that import glucose into cells and metabolise it.1-5

Thus we were able to link all of the animal, human and in vitro studies to show that physiological conditions under which chromium(III) had the highest probability of being transformed to chromium(VI) were also those in which chromium(III) supplements were most active.1-5 Moreover, we were able to provide a mechanism of activity that required chromium(VI) and chromium(V) to be generated for insulin enhancing activity.1-5  What remained was to establish whether we could observe Cr(VI) and Cr(V) in cells treated with chromium(III) supplements. This has now been established in our most recent study6 that have just been published. Contrary to the press releases of the dietary supplement industry, the published paper was carefully planned to mimic those conditions found in vivo.  The chromium(III) supplement chosen was that which had a chemical structure most closely resembling those generated in blood plasma. Thus we were able to complete the circle in linking our extensive studies on the biochemistry of chromium(III) species generated from chromium(III) supplements in the blood and show that such species were absorbed by the relevant cells and partially oxidised to chromium(VI) and chromium(V).

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Men’s Supplements Never Tested Despite Marketed as “Clinically Proven”

Dr. Nicholas G. Zaorsky MD Resident Physician, Radiation Oncology Fox Chase Cancer Center

Dr. Nicholas Zaorsky

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Nicholas G. Zaorsky MD
Resident Physician, Radiation Oncology
Fox Chase Cancer Center

Medical Research: What was the motivation for your studies?

Dr. Zaorsky: Men often walk down grocery store aisles and see bottles of pills labeled “men’s health” or “prostate health.” We call these pills “men’s health supplements.” Our goal is to determine what effect (if any) these pills have on the cancer that men are most commonly diagnosed with – that is, prostate cancer.

Medical Research: What is the significance of these findings in simple terms? What are the implications for human health? What would you hope a general audience might take away from these findings?

Dr. Zaorsky:  Men with prostate cancer commonly use these pills because of the high incidence of prostate cancer (about 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with the disease), the stress associated with the diagnosis, the desire to benefit from all potential treatments, and the limited regulation on marketing and sale of the supplements.  Many men believe the supplements will help their cancer or (at worst) do nothing – so what’s the harm?  We found that men’s health supplements have no effect on curing prostate cancer treated with radiation therapy (a common treatment option). Men who took these pills also had no difference in their side effects during or after treatment.  Although we did not see a change in side effects, there have been thousands of cases in the US where supplements have harmed patients.

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