Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Nicotine can boost blood vessel growth

Nicotine may not be all bad: A study found it stimulated new blood vessel growth in mice by actively signaling their bone marrow to release vessel-forming adult stem cells.

The finding might translate to the use someday of nicotine as a means of helping wound healing and other conditions where new blood vessel growth is key, experts say. It also gives insight into unwanted vessel growth, such as that which happens during tumor formation.

The findings, based on animal and test-tube research, are reported in the Dec. 19 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Cooke's team's prior research had already demonstrated nicotine's ability to promote blood vessel growth, known as the "angiogenic effect." In this new study, they set out to uncover the mechanism driving this process.

Nicotine improves cognitive processes including learning and memory

"It is known that nicotine improves cognitive processes including learning and memory, but this is the first time that an identified nerve cell population is linked to the effects of nicotine", says Professor Klas Kullander at Uppsala University.

Humans think, learn and memorize with the help of nerve cells sending signals between each other. Some nerve cells send signals far away to other areas of the brain, while other neurons send signals within the same area. Local nerve circuits in the hippocampus process impressions and turn some of them into memories. But how does this work? And how can nicotine improve this mechanism?

The new research study literally sheds new light on this intriguing mechanism.

"We have used a new technology called optogenetics, in which light is used to stimulate selected nerve cells. We were amazed when we discovered that light activation of the gatekeeper cells alters the flow of information in the hippocampus in the same way as nicotine does", explains co-author Richardson Leão.

The 11 scariest ingredients in your food

Acesulfame Potassium (Acesulfame-K)

What It Is
A calorie-free artificial sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is often used with other artificial sweeteners to mask a bitter aftertaste.

Where You'll Find It
More than 5,000 food products worldwide, including diet soft drinks and no-sugar-added ice cream. Click here to discover The Strange Reason Diet Soda Makes You Fat.

What You Need to Know
Although the FDA has approved it for use in most foods, many health and industry insiders claim that the decision was based on flawed tests. Animal studies have linked the chemical to lung and breast tumors and thyroid problems.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Daily Dried Apples Improve Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Women

Study assesses the cardiovascular impact of consuming a daily apple versus dried plums

Chai SC, Hooshmand S, Saadat RL, Payton ME, Brummel-Smith K, Arjmandi BH. Daily apple versus dried plum: impact on cardiovascular disease risk factors in postmenopausal women. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(8):1158-1168.

Participants were randomly assigned to eat a portion of dried fruit each day for 12 months. Fasting blood samples were collected at baseline, and at 3, 6, and 12 months to measure various biomarkers.

One-hundred sixty postmenopausal women were recruited from 2007 through 2009. They were not receiving hormone therapy or other agents, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, for at least 3 months prior to the start of the study. They were free from bone disease, renal disease, urolithiasis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, respiratory disease, and liver disease. Heavy smokers were excluded. Approximately 82% of the participants in each group completed the study.