Tag Archives: prevention

Medicinal Dietary Plants Used by the Naxi People of Northwest Yunnan

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Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal dietary plants used by the Naxi People in Lijiang Area, Northwest Yunnan, China

Zhang L, Zhang Y, Pei S, et al
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 May 12;11:40
PubMed Central: PMC4449607

Investigators from the Kunming Institute of Botany, South China Botanical Garden, and University of Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted the first ethnobotanical survey to document species used as medicinal dietary plants by the Naxi people in northwest Yunnan.

The Naxi are indigenous people of the Lijiang region who have a long-standing knowledge of diet therapy:

The Tea Horse Road
The Tea Horse Road [Map: Yerius J, Wikimedia Commons]
“The Naxi are a Burmo-Naxi-Lolo sociolinguistic sub-group of the Tibeto-Burman group within the Sino-Tibetan family. The Naxi population was formed during the southward migration of the ancient Qiang people during the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC), who had originally inhabited the Hehuang area of Northwest China. The Naxi are indigenous residents of the Ancient Tea Horse Road, a trade link documented since the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE) which lasted until the 1960s, and stretched across Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibetan provinces. The road promoted exchanges in culture, religion and ethnic migration, resembling the Silk Road. Given this history, the medicine of the Naxi integrates traditional Chinese, Tibetan, and Shamanic medicinal systems. Prior research indicates that the Naxi culture promotes diet therapy, and documentation of many of their traditional medicines and diet remedies exists through the world’s only remaining pictographic writing system. Despite the renewed interest in medicinal diets by scientists, consumers, and industry, not much is known about the medicinal dietary plants used by the Naxi, or their associated ethnobotanical knowledge.”

Pinus armandii with Deer and Red-Crested Crane
Pinus armandii with Deer and Red-Crested Crane [Photo: Philg88, Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 89 local participants from three Naxi villages, the team identified 55 botanical taxa (species, varieties, or subspecies) used as medicinal dietary plants to treat health conditions including fatigue; lung ailments; eye diseases; insomnia; cold; stomachache; abdominal pain; bruises; constipation; postpartum blood stasis; postpartum weakness; nervousness; and poor lactation. Aconitum stapfianum, several Cirsium species, Ligusticum chuanxiong, Pinus armandii, Polygonatum cirrhifolium, and Zanthoxylum bungeanum were among the plants most widely used for medicinal dietary purposes.

The authors recommend a rigorous scientific approach to any extrapolation of Naxi dietary plant therapy to broader populations:

“The medicinal dietary plants used by the Naxi people are diverse. The lives of the Naxi people are closely related with the use of medicinal dietary plants and their associated knowledge of these plants is extensive. These plants are easy to collect and prepare, and are widely used when needed by the Naxi people. The main theory behind the traditional medicinal diet of the Naxi people is to prevent disease by strengthening the body. A wide spectrum of disorders can be treated by medicinal diets. Most plants have a high fidelity level and are widely used. However, the safety of some medicinal dietary plants is not well understood, and the nutritional elements are unclear. Scientific evidence on the safety, detoxification, and nutrition of medicinal dietary plants of the Naxi people must be established before these medicinal dietary plants can be adopted by modern society to improve health and prevent diseases.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Meta-Analysis: Coffee Consumption and Cancer Risk

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Yu X, Bao Z, Zou J, Dong J.
Coffee consumption and risk of cancers: a meta-analysis of cohort studies.
BMC Cancer. 2011 Mar 15;11:96.
PubMed PMID: 21406107

Investigators at Fudan University, Shanghai, undertook a meta-analysis of 59 studies of relative risk of various cancers among coffee drinkers. Cohorts included in the meta-analysis were from Europe (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, France, Finland, and Netherlands), North America (Canada and the United States), and Asia (Japan and Singapore).

Noting that coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and that roasted coffee is a complex mixture of more than a thousand chemicals, the authors limited their meta-analysis to studies of coffee instead of all sources of caffeine.

From the conclusion:

“All in all, our meta-analysis including 40 prospective cohort studies confirmed that coffee drinking have no harmful effect. Instead, coffee consumption is inversely associated with the risk of bladder, breast, buccal cavity and pharynx, colorectum, endometrium, esophagus, hepatocellular, leukemia, pancreas, and prostate cancers.”

Full free text is available via PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Anticancer Activity and Nutritional Value of Glinus lotoides

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Mengesha AE, Youan BB. Anticancer activity and nutritional value of extracts of the seed of Glinus lotoides. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2010;56(5):311-8. PubMed PMID: 21228502. [Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City studied the anticancer activity and nutritional values of the seeds of Glinus lotoides, used as a dietary vegetable and medicinal plant in Asia and Africa.

They found that the seeds of G. lotoides contain protein, carbohydrate, fat, ash, moisture, sugar profile and fatty acids, supporting the nutritional value of the seeds. They also found nutritional compounds of well-established chemopreventive activity, including vitamin E, folic acid, selenium and calcium, and evidence of antioxidant activity, suggesting that the seeds could potentially be used in the diet for prevention of cancer and warranting further confirmatory studies.

Free full text is available via PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Autophagy as a therapeutic target in cancer

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Chen N, Karantza V. Autophagy as a therapeutic target in cancer.
Cancer Biol Ther. 2011 Jan 15;11(2):157-68. PubMed PMID: 21228626.

Autophagy (“self-eating”), a process that maintains intracellular homeostasis and prolongs cell survival through recycling of amino acids and energy, is involved in many aspects of human health and disease, including cancer. The authors summarize current knowledge on the regulation and dual function of autophagy in the origin of tumors, as well as ongoing efforts in modulating autophagy for cancer treatment and prevention.

Free full text via PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Calling for a Global Ban on Asbestos

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LaDou J, Castleman B, Frank A, et al. The case for a global ban on asbestos. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Jul;118(7):897-901. PubMed PMID: 20601329

Although asbestos is banned in 52 countries, many countries still use, import, and export asbestos, often in the form of chrysotile asbestos, which is often exempted from the ban. Investigators from The Collegium Ramazzini examine and evaluate the literature used to support the exemption of chrysotile asbestos from the ban, review the evidence regarding asbestos as a carcinogen, and renew their call for all countries to ban the mining, manufacture, and use of all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile.

Read the full text via PubMed.

Green Tea and Prostate Cancer

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Pandey M, Gupta S. Green tea and prostate cancer: from bench to clinic. Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2009 Jun 1;1:13-25. PubMed PMID: 19482620; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2728057.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University review the evidence for green tea in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. Their setup is irresistible:

“Green tea, the most popular beverage next to water, is a rich source of tea catechins and has potential to be developed as a chemopreventive agent for prostate cancer. For centuries it has been used in traditional medicine in Far-East countries. Male populations in these countries where large quantities of green tea are consumed on regular basis have the lowest incidence of prostate cancer.”

Panday and Gupta provide a comprehensive introduction to the disease and green tea as a preventive and therapeutic agent in prostate cancer and make a clear case for the need to study biomarkers of the various pathways that are influenced by green tea polyphenols in this indication.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Breast Cancer as an Infectious Disease?

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Lawson JS, Glenn WK, Whitaker NJ. Breast cancer as an infectious disease. Womens Health (Lond Engl). 2010 Jan;6(1):5-8. PubMed PMID: 20088725 [free full text]

Researchers at the University of New South Wales review evidence for a role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the etiology of at least some forms of breast cancer, complemented by their laboratory work to identify HPV sequences from breast tumors.

Identifying low viral load as a possible explanation for failure to detect HPV in previous studies of breast tumors, the authors employed repeated PCR analyses using SYBR Green for greater sensitivity, and were able to detect HPV in nearly half the tumors tested.

From the conclusion:

“When considered in the context of previously published evidence related to HPV and breast cancer, these recent findings strongly suggest a causal role for HPVs in some breast cancers. However, we must wait for the development of further evidence before this relationship can be stated definitively.

“The immediate importance of this work is that it brings with it the possibility, for the first time, that primary preventative measures for some breast cancers are likely to be immediately available. This is because the high-risk HPV types that we and many others have identified in breast tumors (principally HPV types 16 and 18) are the same types for which the new HPV vaccines are most effective. These vaccines are already available and are being used on a worldwide basis.”

Important note: The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Hot chilis to cool cancer

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Oyagbemi AA, Saba AB, Azeez OI. Capsaicin: a novel chemopreventive molecule and its underlying molecular mechanisms of action. Indian J Cancer. 2010 Jan-Mar;47(1):53-8 [open access]

Researchers at the University of Ibadan undertook a review of the literature on the plant genus Capsicum (Solanaceae), a principal ingredient of hot red and chili peppers, as a cancer-suppressing agent.

From the conclusion:

“The use of phytochemicals present in fruits and vegetable has gained worldwide acceptance as a novel source of chemopreventive agents against cancer cells. These non-nutrient phytochemicals either block or reverse multistage carcinogenesis. Capsaicin, a pungent ingredient present in chili pepper has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiproliferative and anti-cancer potentials. Capsaicin has chemopreventive effect against a wide of chronic inflammatory diseases, including cancer. Other potential benefits of capsaicin should be explored with the aim of brightening our understanding of the molecular mechanism associated with its anti-cancer activities.”

Chilis!

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Global cancer burden to double, prevention urged

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Thun MJ, DeLancey JO, Center MM, et al. The global burden of cancer: priorities for prevention. Carcinogenesis. 2010 Jan;31(1):100-10. [open access]

Researchers from the American Cancer Society project that cancer deaths will more than double worldwide over the next 20-40 years, with the increase driven largely by growth and aging of populations in economically developing countries, in combination with tobacco use, an increase in obesity and physical inactivity, and prevalent chronic infections.

The authors recommend a number of preventive measures, including strengthened efforts in international
tobacco control and increased availability of vaccines against hepatitis B virus and human papilloma virus, along with “action-oriented translational research to adapt programs that have proven to be effective in high-income countries to every setting in which they are needed.”