Got milk? If so, you may be getting something you didn't bargain for. True, its calcium helps build strong bones, but according to a British researcher, it may also contain an organism linked to Crohn's disease.
Herds of cattle infected with Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) are passing the nasty bug into milk, and current pasteurization methods are not enough to kill off this bacterium, says Dr. John Hermon-Taylor. The chairman of the surgery department at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London, he has been studying Crohn's disease for over 20 years.
The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America says that as many as 1 million Americans may have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which encompasses both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Most patients are diagnosed before their 30s. Crohn's disease, also known as ileitis or enteritis, is a chronic illness, marked by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It usually causes diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and sometimes rectal bleeding. Patients often lose weight.
Hermon-Taylor's tests show that two-thirds of patients with Crohn's diseases have MAP in their inflamed intestines, while about 12 percent of the healthy control patients also have the bacterium.
"Everybody is exposed to MAP one way or another in North America and Western Europe," says Hermon-Taylor, but only small percentages develop the ailment. That would explain why all milk drinkers don't have Crohn's disease.
But Hermon-Taylor's most disturbing suggestion is that milk in stores may carry the organism -- even after pasteurization. In a study of milk cartons and bottles sold in England and Wales between 1990 and 1994, he found that 7 percent were contaminated with MAP.
Heating milk to 161°F (72°C) for 15 seconds is the minimum national requirement for pasteurization in the United States, although some companies increase either the time, the temperature or both, to prolong the shelf life of milk.
Byrne says that while MAP is known to cause Johne's disease (an inflammatory gut disease) in cattle, there are no plans to change pasteurization methods in the United States because of MAP.
DID YOU KNOW?
Do you know about the latest power food to prevent osteoporosis? It's the lowly banana. Researchers at Tufts University conducted a four-year study to test the effects of various dietary components on bone mineral density in elderly people. They found that greater potassium intake was associated with the highest boe mineral density. It is thought that potassium plays a role in inhibiting the loss of calcium from bones.
THE BENEFITS OF OLIVE OIL
Spanish scientists added further weight to the growing body of evidence about the benefits of olive oil today with new research showing it may help to prevent colon cancer.
Researchers in Barcelona compared the benefits of olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet, with safflower and fish oil on rats to determine if the type, and not just the amount, of fat in the diet had an impact on tumor growth.
This study provides evidence that a five percent fat diet containing olive oil as compared with a five percent safflower oil diet prevents colonic carcinogenesis in rats.
The researchers divided 100 rats into three groups and fed them a diet rich in olive, safflower or fish oil. Each group was divided into two, and half of the animals received a cancer-causing agent. Nineteen weeks after the start of the experiment, the researchers examined the animals for early signs of cancer. They found that the rats on the olive oil diet had less pre-cancerous tissue and fewer tumors than the animals fed the other oils.
Gassull and his team said both the olive and fish oil diets reduced the amount of a chemical called arachidonate, which when combined with a substance called prostaglandin E can promote cancer.
The researchers believe constituents of olive oil such as flavonoids, squalene and polyphenols may help to protect against cancer. Flavonoids and polyphenols are antioxidants that help prevent cell damage from oxygen-containing chemicals called free radicals.
The scientists called for further studies to substantiate their findings.
Copyright 2000 Reuters
EASING THE ACHE
If you seek relief from migraine headaches, you may want to try riboflavin. Researchers in France studied the effect of high doses of riboflavin (400 milligrams/day) on migraines. Over half of the participants taking the mega doses of riboflavin experienced at least a 50% percent reduction the number of headaches. Only 15% of those taking the placebo experienced a similar reduction. Although the recommended daily allowance for riboflavin is only about 1.5 milligrams, past studies have shown that high doses of riboflavin are not harmful.
WOMEN WHO PLAY SPORTS LESS PRONE TO BREAST CANCER
Sporty women are 30 percent less likely to get breast cancer than women who have never exercised, Dutch researchers said Thursday.
"It appears women who play sports have a 30 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who have never played sports. "The protective effects of body movement become clearer as women become slimmer," said the report by researchers of the Dutch Cancer Institute and the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital.
The report also concluded that the age at which woman took up sport or exercise did not seem to matter.
Researchers interviewed 918 breast cancer patients aged between 20 and 54, and the same number without the disease about their lifestyles.
The study, the first in the Netherlands in this field, adds to previous evidence that exercise lessons the chance of developing breast cancer, the Cancer Institute said.
SOURCE: AMSTERDAM NEWS SERVICE
BOOSTING OXYGEN HELPS IN POST-OP
Talk about an ounce of prevention: A study found that a few pennies' worth of oxygen can cut the risk of surgical infections in half. That can mean thousands and thousands of dollars less in medical bills.
Air is about 21 percent oxygen. But patients routinely get 30 percent oxygen during and after surgery, because the lungs do not work well under anesthesia. The study tested whether a richer mixture would improve the outcome. Boosting the oxygen level to 80 percent made a big difference.
Twenty-eight of 250 patients on the standard mix developed infections, compared with only 13 out of 250 who got extra oxygen.
The study was published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine and was led by Dr. Daniel I. Sessler of the University of California at San Francisco.
According to another study, postoperative infections add an average of $12,500 to the cost of cancer surgery. The only cost to the richer-oxygen treatment is about three cents' worth of oxygen.
Doctors have worried that extra oxygen might make the lungs more likely to collapse. However, he said, a study last year in the Journal Anesthesiology found no difference in the percentage of such collapses on high and normal doses of oxygen.
There was also an unexpected benefit; patients who got extra oxygen were half as likely to be nauseated after surgery.
Scientists already knew that the white blood cells known as neutrophils use oxygen to kill germs. And they knew that high levels of oxygen in body tissues help prevent infection and that breathing higher levels of oxygen put more oxygen into the tissues. What they did not know was whether it made a difference in atients' healing. "This shows it's not just a theoretical benefit but a real benefit, and that it's much greater than you might have expected," Sessler said. "It's an enormous benefit for no cost and effort and risk."
The study looked at bowel surgery patients because they have the highest risk of infection. The findings might have even greater implications for burn units, since infections cause most deaths there, said Tung, head of his hospital's burn unit.
SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine