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Sep 11, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TEA LOTION TO PROTECT AGAINST SKIN CANCER

Green tea, prized for its anti-oxidant benefits, is the key ingredient in a new lotion to fight skin cancer. The lotion does not block ultraviolet rays but could minimize their effect. Researchers at the University of Minnesota in Austin have found chemicals in green tea called polyphenols appear to block the formation of nonmelanoma skin tumors. Specifically, they demonstrated polyphenols act by lowering levels of a cancer-facilitating enzyme -- JNK-2 -- that appears after skin is exposed to UV light. "Topical application of certain tea polyphenols appears to block a key process that leads to skin cancer," said study leader Dr. Zigang Dong. "Drinking tea may help, but you'd have to drink a large amount to accumulate in the skin, perhaps as many as 10 cups a day. It's easier to concentrate it in a cream form, and it's probably more effective."


New research helps explain why red wine, in moderation, is healthy for the heart. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have identified a new class of compounds in red wine that -- along with the previously identified antioxidant resveratrolin -- helps lower cholesterol levels. Called saponins, these glucose-based plant compounds are found in other foods, including olive oil, soybeans and desert plants, such as the Yucca and Quillaja. Saponins work by binding to cholesterol and preventing its absorption, as well as by affecting inflammation pathways, said enology Professor Andrew Waterhouse. One glass of red wine provides 3 to 10 times as many saponins as white wine -- half the average daily intake -- making it a significant dietary source. Of the wines tested, red Zinfandel contained the highest levels, followed by Syrah, Pinot noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.


A new study cautions that asthmatics should limit their use of the over-the-counter sleep aid melatonin. The latest in a series of studies at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center links higher levels of melatonin with overnight loss of lung function. "Those findings, on top of previous ones linking melatonin to inflammation, suggest that all patients with asthma should avoid using melatonin supplements until more is known about their safety," said pulmonologist Dr. Rand Sutherland. Melatonin, a hormone secreted during the night by the pineal gland in the brain, is an important regulator of circadian rhythms in the body, especially sleep.


Research provides new evidence that smoking impairs physical and mental health. Using novel radiotracing technology, researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory determined smoking lowers levels of monoamine oxidase B in peripheral organs, including the kidneys, heart, lungs and spleen. The enzyme MAO B is critical in regulating the amount of neurotransmitters and dietary amines in the body so appropriate MAO levels are strongly linked to physical and mental wellbeing. "When we think about smoking and smoking toxicity, we usually think of the lungs," said Brookhaven chemist Joanna Fowler. "Here we see a very marked effect of smoking on one of the major enzymes in the body, and we see that this effect extends far beyond the lungs." Previous studies show smoking lowers MOA B levels in the brain.


(EDITORS: For more information about TEA contact Michael Bernstein at (202) 872-6042. For WINE Contact: Michael Bernstein at (202) 872-6042. For ASTHMA contact William Allstetter at or (303) 398-1002. For SMOKING contact Karen McNulty Walsh at or (631) 344-8350.)


Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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