How belly fat, high salt intake cause cancer, heart failure
Higher coffee consumption associated with lower risk of early death, researchers find
*New wonder drug hailed as biggest breakthrough in fight against cardiac arrest, tumour
A new Michigan State University, United States (US), study now offers new details showing that a certain protein released from fat in the body can cause a non-cancerous cell to turn into a cancerous one. The federally funded research also found that a lower layer of abdominal fat, when compared to fat just under the skin, is the more likely culprit, releasing even more of this protein and encouraging tumor growth.
The study published in the journal Oncogene was funded by the US National Institutes of Health.”While there have been several advances in treating cancer and improving the quality of life of patients, the number of new cases continues to surge,” said Jamie Bernard, lead author and an assistant professor in pharmacology and toxicology.
“It’s important to understand the cause so we can do a better job at reducing the number of cancer cases using dietary modifications or therapeutic interventions.”It is estimated that more than one-third of the population is obese. Obesity has been linked to several types of cancers including breast, colon, prostate, uterine and kidney, but Bernard indicated that just being overweight isn’t necessarily the best way to determine risk.
“Our study suggests that body mass index, or BMI, may not be the best indicator,” Bernard said. “It’s abdominal obesity, and even more specifically, levels of a protein called fibroblast growth factor-2 that may be a better indicator of the risk of cells becoming cancerous.” There are two layers of belly fat. The top layer, known as subcutaneous fat, lies right under the skin. The layer under that, called visceral fat, is the one she found to be more harmful.
Bernard and her co-author Debrup Chakraborty, a postdoctoral student in her lab, studied mice that were fed a high-fat diet and discovered that this higher-risk layer of fat produced larger amounts of the fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2, protein when compared to the subcutaneous fat. They found that FGF2 stimulated certain cells that were already vulnerable to the protein and caused them to grow into tumors.
She also collected visceral fat tissue from women undergoing hysterectomies and found that when the fat secretions had more of the FGF2 protein, more of the cells formed cancerous tumors when transferred into mice.
Also, high salt intake is associated with a doubled risk of heart failure, according to a 12-year study in more than 4,000 people presented at ESC Congress.
“High salt (sodium chloride) intake is one of the major causes of high blood pressure and an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke,” said Prof Pekka Jousilahti, research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland. “In addition to CHD and stroke, heart failure is one of the major cardiovascular diseases in Europe and globally but the role of high salt intake in its development is unknown.”
Jousilahti said: “The heart does not like salt. High salt intake markedly increases the risk of heart failure. This salt-related increase in heart failure risk was independent of blood pressure.”
Meanwhile, higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of death, according to research presented at ESC Congress. The observational study in nearly 20,000 participants suggests that coffee can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.
“Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world,” said Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. “Previous studies have suggested that drinking coffee might be inversely associated with all-cause mortality but this has not been investigated in a Mediterranean country.”
Navarro said: “In the SUN project we found an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people aged 45 years and above. This may be due to a stronger protective association among older participants.”She concluded: “Our findings suggest that drinking four cups of coffee each day can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.”
Also, a new class of drugs which could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths from cancer has been hailed as the biggest breakthrough since statins.
Scientists said the discovery ushered in “a new era of therapeutics” which work in an entirely different way to conventional treatment.As well as cutting the risk of a heart attack by one quarter, the drugs halved the chances of dying from cancer and protected against gout and arthritis.
Cholesterol-busting statins are given to millions of adults deemed to be at risk of heart disease. But half of heart attacks occur in people who do not have high cholesterol at all.
Now scientists have found that reducing inflammation in the body can protect against a host of conditions – with a “really dramatic effect” on cancer deaths.The drug canakinumab, given by injection every three months – cut repeat heart attacks by one quarter. Statins cut the risk by around 15 per cent.
Professor Paul Ridker of Harvard Medical School, presenting his findings at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona, said it opens up a “third front” in the war on heart disease.
The landmark study tracked 10,000 heart attack victims who were given canakinumab, a drug, which targets inflammation.Typically, around a quarter of survivors will go on to have another event within five years, despite taking statins.
The four-year study found those given the new treatment saw a 24 per cent reduction in heart attacks and 17 per cent fall in angina, while those on the highest dose saw cancer deaths fall by 51 per cent.
Speaking at the world’s biggest gathering of heart experts, Harvard scientists said the approach promises to “usher in a new era” of treatment.The findings were presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Inflammation is one of the body’s natural responses to infection or injury. But it also plays a major role in causing heart attacks and strokes.
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