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Health Tips ... from UPI

Posted - May 12, 2004 at 8:20 a.m.



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May 12, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TOBACCO CONTROL GOES GLOBAL

The United States Monday became the 108th nation to sign a global public health treaty recommending stricter tobacco control standards. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, signed by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson at the United Nations in New York, encourages countries to establish tobacco standards similar to those set domestically in the United States. Treaty partners are required to promote awareness of smoking risks and the benefits of quitting and prevention, add accurate health warnings to tobacco labels, restrict tobacco advertising and sponsorship, prevent smuggling and prohibit sales to minors. The treaty, initiated May 3, is open for signing until June 29. The United States has not ratified the FCTC, however. Nine of the minimum 40 countries required have ratified the treaty.

ORANGE, TANGERINE PEEL MAY CUT CHOLESTEROL

A compound found in citrus fruit peels may be more effective than some prescription drugs at lowering cholesterol, researchers say. The compounds, called polymethoxylated flavones, can reduce low density lipoprotein cholesterol without side effects such as liver disease and muscle weakness, said researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Canadian food supplement company KGK Synergize. The most common citrus PMFs, tangeretin and nobiletin, are found in tangerine and orange peels, the researchers said. They also are found in smaller amounts in the juices of these fruits. Using hamster models with diet-induced high cholesterol, the researchers showed that feeding them food containing 1 percent PMFs lowered levels of LDL cholesterol by 32 percent to 40 percent. The compound appears to work by inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol and triglycerides inside the liver. A long-term human study of the effect of PMFs on high LDL cholesterol is in progress.

EARLY HEART DISEASE MIRRORED OFFSPRING

New data show early cardiovascular disease in parents is a major predictor of middle-age heart attack or stroke in their children. Researchers from Northwestern University and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found a doubling of cardiovascular risk in men and a 70 percent increased risk in women who had at least one parent with early onset cardiovascular disease -- younger than 55 in the father and younger than 65 in the mother. These increased risks were found after accounting for other risk factors, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, cigarette smoking and diabetes. When both parents had early onset cardiovascular disease, children were at even greater risk for a heart attack or stroke as adults. The parent group in the Framingham Heart Study has been followed up for over 50 years, and their 2,300 children -- now an average age 44 years -- for more than 30 years.

CAFFEINE MOST EFFECTIVE IN SMALL DOSES

Frequent, low doses of caffeine may be the best way to stay awake, U.S. researchers have found. Large doses of caffeine wear off as the day progresses so researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School tested the idea of using small doses of caffeine regularly to build up levels in the system. They sequestered male subjects to isolated suites, free of time cues, for 42-hour days to throw off the body's homeostatic push to sleep -- simulating the extended wakefulness encountered by doctors and the military. The subjects who took low-dose caffeine pills hourly outperformed subjects taking placebo pills on cognitive tests and did not fall asleep accidentally as often. The caffeine-taking subjects said they felt sleepier than their counterparts, however, suggesting caffeine is not a replacement for sleep.

(EDITORS: For more information about TOBACCO, contact HHS Press Office at (202) 690-6343. For ORANGE, Michael Bernstein at (202) 872-6042 or m_bernstein@acs.org. For HEART, Elizabeth Crown at (312) 503-8928 or e-crown@northwestern.edu. For CAFFEINE, Judith Montminy or Misia Landau at (617) 432-0442 or public_affairs@hms.harvard.edu.)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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