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Archive for July 21st, 2008

Zinc, an essential nutrient found in every cell in the human body, may also be a key component to fighting prostate cancer.

A recent study by Oregon State University Researchers shows that zinc deficiency in the prostate leads to DNA damage as well as inhibition of the cell’s ability to repair itself.

Emily Ho, a Researcher with the Linus Pauling Institute and an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences at OSU, is the Principal Investigator of the study, published recently in The Journal of Nutrition. A team of graduate students, led by recent OSU Alum Michelle Yan, conducted the research.

Ho’s main area of research is on the dietary prevention of prostate cancer. Her lab is conducting human trials on the effects of broccoli sprouts as a cancer-fighter.

The prostate has the highest levels of zinc of any soft-tissue organ in the body, Ho said.

“Increased DNA damage increases your cancer risk,” Ho said. “When we took zinc out of the cells, there was twice as much DNA damage as in normal cells. It’s a double whammy because we also saw that the zinc deficiency impairs the mechanism that helps repairs that damage.”

Ho said about 10 percent of Americans do not get enough zinc in their diets. In the elderly, she said that number shoots up to about 50 percent that are at risk for zinc deficiency.

“Many elderly people tend to eat less lean protein and zinc-rich foods, and the absorption of zinc decreases as we age, as well,” she said.

She said most people should get about 11 milligrams of zinc in their diet daily. Ho is an advocate for getting vitamins through dietary means whenever possible. Zinc is found mainly in unprocessed lean meats and shellfish. Oysters have some of the highest amount of zinc. Many vegetables contain zinc; unfortunately a compound called phytate binds zinc in the stomach so that the body doesn’t absorb the zinc as well and instead excretes it.

“Vegetarians are at more risk of being zinc deficient,” Ho said. “It wouldn’t hurt for vegetarians to take a good daily multivitamin to make sure they are getting those 11 milligrams per day.”

Ho cautioned against consumers rushing out to buy zinc supplements. Like any supplement, too much can also be a bad thing. Ho said more than 40 milligrams of zinc daily can be dangerous, and some studies point to high levels of zinc intake causing cancer instead of preventing it.

“There is no magic bullet,” Ho said. “A good balanced diet is always a starting point.”

About the OSU College of Health and Human Sciences: Emphasizing a holistic approach to optimal health and disease prevention, researchers focus on nutrition, physical activity, the psychology of aging improving the health of children and older adults, public policy, access to health care, and maximizing environmentally friendly materials and structures.

(Source:  www.HealthNewsDigest.com)

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Worries over skin cancer mean that some people are shunning the sun altogether – which could endanger their health, a poll has found.

The National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) says lack of vitamin D – part-made by being in the sun – could raise the chances of brittle bone disease.

It advised having lunch outside, gardening or hanging out the washing.

A Cancer Research UK Spokesman agreed, but said enough vitamin D could be made long before the first signs of sunburn.

Skin cancer rates have soared in recent years, and health campaigners increasingly urge people to limit the amount of time they spend in direct sunlight without the protection of sunscreen or clothing.

However, the NOS said its survey of more than 2,600 people in June revealed that many believe there is no such thing as safe sun exposure.

Three-quarters of those questioned said that sunscreen should always be applied before going out in the sun.

However, the NOS said that not getting at least 15 to 20 minutes of sunlight on the skin every day could be harmful.

Light falling on the skin produces vitamin D, which is important for bone strength, and studies suggest that low levels of this could raise the risk of osteoporosis, which affects half of all women and a fifth of men over the age of 50.

Outdoors only

Professor Roger Francis, from the NOS Medical Board, said its finding showed the success of public health messages on skin cancer.

“We are not advocating spending lengthy periods in the sun, as too much sun causes skin ageing and melanoma.

“Furthermore, staying in the sun too long means that the body breaks down surplus vitamin D shortly after it is produced.

“Lying on the beach for two weeks will not top up levels for the rest of the year.”

He urged people to get out into the light every day – even during cloudy days – to get enough vitamin D to last through the winter.

Simply sitting by a closed window or in a conservatory was not enough, he said, as this did not produce vitamin D.

Caroline Cerny, from Cancer Research UK, which runs its SunSmart campaign to warn people about skin cancer, said the key was a sensible approach.

“The amount of time in the sun required to make enough vitamin D changes from person to person and depends on things like skin type, time of day, time of year, and where you are in the world.

“We all need a bit of sunshine in our lives, but it’s important to remember that the amount of sun needed to make enough vitamin D is always less than the amounts that cause reddening of the skin or sunburn.”

(Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/7514197.stm – 20 July 2008)

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