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Gum Disease Can Be a Sign of Heart Disease

10 Oct

Some studies have suggested that periodontal disease may cause heart disease. So far, however, the research is inconclusive, but there is some evidence that gum disease is a sign of heart risk.    Studies are under way now to try to determine  increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Until the results are in, it makes sense; 

brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste)

floss every day

visit the dentist for a check-up and professonal cleaning

             eat a well balanced diet  

  D   don’t use tobacco products

Conflicting Research on Alcohol

29 Sep

Up until now research showed that a drink of a glass of wine a day was beneficial to health and posed no risk. News coming out of Barcelona Spain today said that any amount of alcohol is detrimental to a woman’s health and raises her risk of breast cancer.  It is believed that alcohol raised hormone levels in the blood to levels that could cause cancer.   Researchers analyzed 70,033 women of various races from 1978 to 1985.  By 2004, 2,829 had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers did not see any difference in women developing cancer and the type of alcohol consumed. Dr. Arthur Klatsky of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, Calif., revealed their findings at a conference in Barcelona  

Link between hypertension and dementia

16 Aug

According to the encyclopedia, atherosclerosis is a condition in which fatty material collects along the walls of arteries. This fatty material thickens, hardens, and may eventually block blood vessels.  When this is combined with hypertension the condition produced can block blood supplies to certain areas of the brain. This then produces dead tissues called small infarcts. This can lead to many small strokes which may cause memory loss and has been documented as a cause of memory loss in older people.  The symptoms are sometimes difficult to detect because these strokes are so small they can go unnoticed until there is a cumulative effect of many such strokes and a large amount of tissue destroyed. Researchers concur that this link was missed because people who suffered from dementia had normal to low blood pressure. However a long term study of  a group of oriental men and women between the ages of 53 and 78 conducted over decades produced findings show that blood pressure in midlife may predict brain function years later.   There was a link between poor mental function late in life and high systolic pressure 25 years earlier. There was no link between mental function and diastolic pressure, a finding that underscores the importance of treating isolated systolic hypertension.

Study Finds Dietary Link to Risk of Eye Disorder

23 Jul

July 17, 2007

Certain kinds of carbohydrates may play a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration, an incurable degenerative eye disease that is a leading cause of blindness in older adults. A new study has found that eating carbohydrate-rich food with a high glycemic index — a measure of a food’s potential to raise blood glucose levels — is associated with the development of the disorder.

The glycemic index is a measure of how fast carbohydrates are metabolized — the faster they are broken down into glucose, the higher the glycemic index. Simple carbohydrates, like those in cakes and cookies, cheese pizza, white bread or other foods sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, are quickly metabolized by the cells, while the complex carbohydrates in brown rice, barley and many other vegetables are broken down more slowly.

Heavy consumption of foods with a high glycemic index has been implicated in the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, according to background information in the paper, which appears in the July issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The researchers examined 4,099 people ages 55 to 80 enrolled in a larger long-term study of eye health. Each participant had 20/32 vision in at least one eye, and the lens of the eye had to be clear enough to allow good photographs that could be used to diagnose macular degeneration.

None of the participants had diabetes. Using these criteria, the scientists had 8,125 eyes to analyze. They graded the severity of macular degeneration on a scale of one to five, administered food frequency questionnaires and calculated the dietary glycemic index, a number indicating the quantity of high-glycemic foods consumed, for each participant.

After controlling for age, sex, education level, body mass index, alcohol consumption and other variables, they found that the higher the dietary glycemic index, the more likely a person was to have macular degeneration. Those in the highest one-fifth of the dietary glycemic index had more than a 40 percent increased risk of significant macular degeneration than those in the lowest one-fifth. The amount of carbohydrate consumed was not correlated with disease, suggesting that it is only carbohydrates with a high glycemic index that cause the effect.

“Sugar is fuel for the cells, but too much is destructive,” said Allen Taylor, the senior author of the paper and chief of the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at Tufts University. “It is known from laboratory and animal studies that carbohydrates can damage the proteins in cells and affect their function. The sugars actually modify things, modify the proteins, and it’s the accumulation of this modified stuff that is poisonous to cells.”

While the exact mechanism is unknown, the authors suggest that high glucose concentrations are harmful to the retina and the capillaries that supply the eyes, and that a diet of high glycemic index foods causes oxidative stress that increases inflammation.

It may also be that the sharp temporary increase in blood lipid levels that can follow consumption of simple carbohydrates plays a role in damaging the blood vessels.

Still, the researchers say, older age, lower education level and smoking are all more significant risk factors for age-related macular degeneration than diet. They also say that the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between a high glycemic diet and macular degeneration, that the study is based on observations made at a single point in time, and that long-term prospective studies will be needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn about the precise relationship between diet and macular degeneration.

Dr. Taylor does not advocate a carbohydrate-free diet.

“I’m not an advocate of any extreme diet,” he said. “But self-control and limiting exposure to simple sugars is not a bad idea.”

He added: “People are eating more simple sugar than they used to, and reverting to a diet that is more fruits and vegetables and less sweetened food would help. It doesn’t take a lot of change.”

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