Posts Tagged “Heart Disease”


GMO Tomato

Yes, according to a new study.

For the first time, genetically engineered tomato plants produced a peptide that mimics the actions of good cholesterol when eaten, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.

In the study, mice that ate the freeze-dried, ground tomatoes had less inflammation and reduced atherosclerosis External link (plaque build-up in the arteries).

“We have found a new and practical way to make a peptide that acts like the main protein in good cholesterol, but is many times more effective and can be delivered by eating the plant,” said Alan M. Fogelman, M.D., senior author of the study and executive chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Researchers genetically engineered the tomatoes to produce 6F, a small peptide that mimics the action of ApoA-1, the chief protein in high density lipoprotein External link (HDL or “good” cholesterol). They fed the tomatoes to mice that lack the ability to remove low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) from their blood and readily develop inflammation and atherosclerosis when consuming a high-fat diet.

After the mice ate the tomatoes as 2.2 percent of their Western-style high-fat, calorie-packed diet, those given the peptide-enhanced tomatoes had significantly:

  • lower blood levels of inflammation;
  • higher paraoxonase activity, an anti-oxidant enzyme associated with good cholesterol and related to a lower risk of heart disease;
  • higher levels of good cholesterol;
  • decreased lysophosphatidic acid, a tumor promoter that accelerates plaque build-up in arteries in animal models; and
  • less atherosclerotic plaque.

Great news and with voters deciding California Proposition 37 (GMO food labeling initiative), it paints a more positive light on the idea of science improving the foods that we eat.

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According to a new study.

The harmful effects of tobacco smoke on atherosclerosis, one of the driving forces of cardiovascular disease, are greater in women than in men.

This result emerges from the large European epidemiological study (Carotid Intima Media thickness and IMT-PROgression as predictors of Vascular Events: the IMPROVE study), funded by EU (Vth Framework Program — Contract n. QLG1-CT-2002-00896). In the IMPROVE study, authors examined 1694 men and 1893 women from Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, France and Italy, and used ultrasound technology to assess the presence of wall thickening and plaques in the carotids, the arteries that bring blood to the brain.

The research shows that the amount tobacco exposure during the entire life significantly correlates with the thickness of carotid arterial walls (an index of atherosclerosis) in both genders. However, the impact is more than doubled in women than in men. Similarly, the effect of the number of cigarettes smoked per day on the progression of the disease over time is more than five-fold in women than in men. These associations are independent from other factors that may affect atherosclerosis, such as age, blood pressure, cholesterol level, obesity and social class.

Elena Tremoli, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Milan, Italy, and scientific director of the Monzino Cardiology Centre in Milan who led the study, says: “This is a particular relevant finding, especially in view of the fact that educational campaigns carried out in the last years have been less successful in reducing the number of smokers in women than in men.”

According to WHO, while in most European countries a significant proportion of men has quit smoking, in many countries (e.g. Italy and Finland) the percentage of women smokers remained roughly constant in the last three decades, whereas in others (France, Spain) it even increased.

“The reasons for the stronger effect of tobacco smoke on women’s arteries are still unknown, but some hints may come from the complex interplay between smoke, inflammation and atherosclerosis,” says Prof. Tremoli.

Researchers found that other factors, besides smoking, have a differential effect on the arteries of men and women. One of these is education, a well known index of social class: while men who have studied less showed a greater thickening of arterial walls than those who have studied more, the same was not true for women. Similarly, women, in contrast with men, seem to be protected against the harmful effects of systemic inflammation. Indeed, in the IMPROVE study, the relation between arterial wall thickening and the levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and white blood cells (WBC) counts, two indexes of inflammation, is very strong in men, but absent in women.

“It is important to mention, however, that, when women smoke they lose their protection against the harmful effect of inflammation. In particular, if we stratify the female population according to smoking habits, we see that in the group of women who smoke, especially in heavy smokers, the relationship between CRP and arterial wall thickening becomes similar to that observed in men,” says Prof. Tremoli.

“We all know that women are ‘naturally’ protected against cardiovascular disease, particularly before menopause, and this has led to less attention of health professionals and researchers in regard to this disease in women.

Women, who for some reason appear to be less vigilant about heart disease, should take this study to their own heart. If you smoke, you have an increased risk of heart disease – more than the men.

So, stop smoking!

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