- American Society of Hematology holds annual meeting
- GSK announces long-term ITP study to evaluate eltrombopag
- Special journal issue on autoimmune diseases
- Dengue fever strikes the U.S.
- Grapeseed extract is another flavonoid source
- Genetic information for consumers from NIH
- Aerobic exercise keeps the brain fit
- No more mold
- Honey may have wound healing properties
- Pass the celery
- Cranberry juice can cause problems for warfarin users
- Dark chocolate may slow blood clotting
- Vitamin D in the spotlight
- Add to Your Library of ITP Resources (advertisement)
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF HEMATOLOGY HOLDS ANNUAL MEETING
The 48th Annual Meeting and Exposition the American Society of Hematology was held in Orlando, Florida from December 8 through December 13, 2006. Over 20,000 hematologists from around the world gathered to learn the latest about the diagnosis and treatment of hematologic disorders. Thrombocytopenia, low platelets, and ITP were center stage. Data about the new treatments that Amgen (AMG 531) and GSK (eltrombopag) have in clinical trials was presented in a number of sessions during the meetings. You can search and read the abstracts at: http://meeting.bloodjournal.org/content/vol108/issue11/. You can read the papers included in the ASH Education Program Book at: http://www.asheducationbook.org/current.shtml
GSK ANNOUNCES LONG-TERM ITP STUDY TO EVALUATE ELTROMBOPAG
GlaxoSmithKline has announced the initiation of a Phase III clinical trial that will assess the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of eltrombopag in a long-term treatment setting in previously treated patients with chronic idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP). Eltrombopag is a novel oral platelet growth factor. The trial, called RAISE, will involve 189 patients who will be treated at 135 centers in 26 countries. The announcement of this trial follows completion of earlier trials of eltrombopag in which the treatment was well tolerated with a dose dependant increase in the platelet count. For more information, go to www.itpstudy.com or www.clinicaltrials.gov
SPECIAL JOURNAL ISSUE ON AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
The National Women’s Health Report published a special issue in September on women and autoimmune diseases. It contains articles on common autoimmune diseases, a resources list, and a feature on the need for a low-stress lifestyle when an autoimmune disease is part of life. Practical tips include taking a walk, resting an hour every day, learning techniques to reduce stress hormone levels, and finding a support system.
DENGUE FEVER STRIKES THE U.S.
Sixteen people in Brownsville, Texas, have contracted Dengue hemorrhagic fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease causes high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint aches, and rashes. It also causes small blood vessel leakage, which can lead to shock, internal bleeding, and death; however, none of the U.S. patients died. Dengue, common in tropical regions, is caused by a virus that is carried by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes breed in open water containers and pools.
Science News, October 28, 2006, page 286.
GRAPESEED EXTRACT IS ANOTHER FLAVONOID SOURCE
British authors published a review of research looking at the antioxidant role of grapeseed extract, a dietary supplement rich in flavonoids. Oxidative stress and inflammation have both been implicated in recent years in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids have been found to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit platelet aggregation. Grape seed extracts may be source.
Kar P, Laight D, Shaw KM, Cummings MH. Flavonoid-Rich Grapeseed Extracts: A New Approach in High Cardiovascular Risk Patients? Int J Clin Pract. 2006;60(11):1484-1492. The article was reprinted on Medscape www.medscape.com/viewarticle/546099.
GENETIC INFORMATION FOR CONSUMERS FROM NIH
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a patient friendly website called Genetics Home Reference. It provides helpful information on topics such as newborn screening, plus consumer-friendly descriptions of genetic disorders, including definitions of terms.
AEROBIC EXERCISE THE KEEPS BRAIN FIT
Brisk walking may be more important than crossword puzzles for boosting brain power in older adults, according to a study from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Three hours a week of brisk walking (about 3 miles an hour) increases blood flow to the brain and increases production of new brain neurons. Fifty nine adults ages 60 to 79 got either aerobic training, stretching-and-toning training, or nothing. Only the group that did aerobic exercise for one hour three times a week showed an increase in brain volume. Earlier studies had shown that people who do aerobic exercise have a better working memory and are nimbler at switching between mental tasks, but this new study suggests what changes in the brain enable this improved mental capacity. The findings were published in the November 2006 issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.
Sharon Begley, How to Keep Your Aging Brain Fit. Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2006, page D1.
NO MORE MOLD
The Wall Street Journal carried tips from an environmental engineer for reducing mold at home:
- Use plastic boxes instead of cardboard for storage.
- Use a humidity gauge ($10 to $50) to measure humidity. A humidity greater than 70% can be trouble.
- To reduce humidity, install a drain system around the perimeter of the house to send water into a pump that removes water from the house. Seal a basement’s dirt floor with a water-proof concrete, which is different from traditional concrete that soaks up moisture.
Tricks of the Trade, Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2006, page D7.
HONEY MAY HAVE WOUND HEALING POWERS
In the November 2006 issue of Self Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil’s newsletter, honey is endorsed for its wound healing properties when applied topically to a wound. One review of 22 clinical trials concluded that honey shortens healing time on wounds and provided better pain relief than antifungal creams or antibiotics (International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds, March 2006). In a separate study, one specific honey product, called Medihoney, healed wounds faster than most antibiotics (Supportive Care in Cancer, January 2006). Medihoney is awaiting FDA approval in the United States. The article notes that there is no evidence that honey helps heal wounds when eaten as a sweetener.
PASS THE CELERY
Celery is rich in vitamin K and phytonutrients, such as phthalides, quercetin, apigenin, and luteolin. It’s high in water, but not the high-sodium food that some may call it. Taiwanese researchers found that liver cells treated with celery extract produced more of a liver enzyme that helps remove toxins and drugs from the body.
Environmental Nutrition, December 2006, page 8.
CRANBERRY JUICE CAN CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR WARFARIN USERS
Warfarin is the most commonly used anticoagulant drug, or “blood thinner”. It is prescribed to treat or prevent clots associated with heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, prosthetic valve replacement, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism. Cranberry juice has gained popularity as a beverage that can prevent urinary tract infections. A literature review indicates that drinking large amounts of cranberry juice can destabilize warfarin therapy. Although the authors note that small amounts of cranberry juice are not likely to cause problems, they suggest that doctors warn their patients of the potential interactions.
Aston JL, Lodolce AE, Shapiro NL. Interaction between warfarin and cranberry juice. Pharmacotherapy. 2006;26(9):1314-1319. Medscape reprinted the article (www.medscape.com/viewarticle/545631).
DARK CHOCOLATE MAY SLOW BLOOD CLOTTING
Dark chocolate may delay blood clotting, which may be helpful for patients with blood vessels narrowed by cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study by scientists at Johns Hopkins. The study, however, wasn’t designed to evaluate chocolate’s effect. It was designed to look for genetic factors that identify which patients respond best to aspirin therapy to reduce blood clotting. All 1,200 volunteers had slightly elevated risk of heart disease. Two weeks before the study, they were asked to avoid foods rich in flavonols, including chocolate, coffee, red wine, and strawberries. When some participants confessed to eating chocolate anyway, the Hopkins researchers decided to study its effect on platelet activity. They found slower clotting time and actual platelet suppression in the people who admitted to eating chocolate. The study was presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association. Other researchers are calling for larger, randomized trials to see if the effect is real, and warn about overindulging in chocolate, especially higher fat milk chocolate.
VITAMIN D IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Low levels of vitamin D are being linked to muscle pain and weakness, to infection, and to disability in the elderly
Researchers at the University of Minnesota decided to test the vitamin D levels in 150 patients ages 10 to 65 who complained of nonspecific muscle pain and weakness. They were stunned to find that nearly everyone—93 percent—had too low levels. Vitamin D is made by the body when sunlight hits the skin, but many people are minimizing sun exposure to avoid skin cancer. Salmon is a good dietary source of vitamin D, as are fortified milk products.
Self Healing, December 2006, page 2.
Vitamin D boosts production in white blood cells of one of the antimicrobial compounds that defends the body against germs. A review of 100 articles has led a California researcher to propose that vitamin D deficiency may underlie a vulnerability to infections caused by a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Vitamin D may do so by boosting an antimicrobial called cathelicidin.
Science News, November 11, 2006, page 312.
Finally, a Dutch study found that people over age 65 with low blood levels of vitamin D were three times more likely to end up in a nursing home than those with high levels. The difference appeared to be due to bone and muscle strength related to falls in older people. The government recommendation for people ages 50 to 70 is 400 IU a day; for those over 70, it is 600 IU a day.
Berkeley Wellness Letter, December 2006, page 1.