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Oct 25, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- ONIONS AS CANCER-FIGHTERS

Cornell University scientists say flavorful onions, such as New York Bold or Western Yellow, and shallots can stop the growth of liver and colon cancer cells. "No one knows yet how many daily servings of onions you'd have to eat to maximize protection against cancer, but our study suggests that people who are more health-conscious might want to go with the stronger onions rather than the mild ones," says study leader Dr. Rui Hai Liu. Researchers have known onions may help fight cancer, but the new preliminary study, reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, goes a step beyond, comparing cancer-fighting abilities among 10 commonly consumed varieties and shallots, which resemble onions but, in fact, are a separate species. The types with the strongest flavor had the highest antioxidant activity, an indication they may be better able to destroy charged molecules called free radicals, an excess of which is thought to increase the risk of disease, particularly cancer, the researcher says.

SPINE TWISTS MAY TWIST CHILDREN'S HEALTH

Canadian chiropractors say a study of 650 children shows spinal deformations may be at the root of bed-wetting and other health complaints. The study, published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, shows a connection between such ailments and spinal lesions called vertebral subluxations, including scoliosis, or spinal curvature, and spinal degeneration that leads to arthritis. Study authors Dr. Ogi Ressel and Dr. Robert Rudy, who compiled five years' of data from the Patient First Chiropractic and Wellness Centre in Burlington, Ontario, found the spinal abnormalities can interfere with the proper functioning of the nervous system. Vertebral subluxations can occur early in life, even during birth, Ressel says. The body adapts to the subluxations, leading to spinal distortions and degeneration and a general state of unwellness, he says.

DEALING WITH FAT PROBLEMS IN AIDS PATIENTS

A new Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine clinic focuses on treating body fat and metabolic changes affecting patients undergoing HIV/AIDS therapy. Up to 50 percent of patients on so-called drug cocktails experience lipodystrophy, conditions that include increased rates of diabetes and pre-diabetes, fat inside the abdomen, fat loss and wasting in the buttocks, face, limbs and skin, elevated blood cholesterol and osteoporosis. "As the death and hospitalization rates from AIDS have rapidly declined over the past decade, due to advanced medications, more people are living with HIV as a chronic illness," says Dr. Joseph Cofrancesco, clinic director. "Now the long-term effects of this are becoming clear, and the problems with lipodystrophy and body metabolism can be severe." He says HIV treatment is complicated. For example, AIDS drugs cannot be mixed with some common cholesterol treatments. Clinic doctors also are working to find out whether lipodystrophies are long-term complications of HIV medications or physiological effects of the virus over time.

BRAIN PROS AND CONS OF CUTTING CALORIES

St. Louis scientists say severe calorie cuts may prevent certain age-related brain changes, like strength impairment, but not others, like memory decline. The researchers at Washington University School of Medicine say their mouse studies show cutting calories way down prevented such brain alterations associated with growing old as the accumulation of free radicals and impairments in coordination but did not prevent failing memory and some other cognitive deficits. The findings, reported at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, shed light on the processes of aging and the benefits of calorie restriction, says principal investigator Dr. Laura Dugan. "If some aspects of aging are influenced by free radical damage, we may be able to prevent or reverse these impairments," she says. Scientists caution against using starvation diets in an attempt to stave off aging. "The bottom line is that you don't get uniformly positive results from calorie restriction," says David Wozniak, research associate professor of psychiatry.

(EDITORS: For more information about ONION, contact Michael Bernstein at (202) 872-6042 or m_bernstein@acs.org. For SPINE, Matthew McCoy at editor@jvsr.com. For AIDS, call (410) 955-6680. For BRAIN, call (314) 286-0100)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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