News from the latest research

TOMATO-RICH DIET May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Postmenopausal women who are at risk for breast cancer may benefit from a tomato-rich diet, according to a study recently published in theJournal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Breast cancer risk rises with BMI in postmenopausal women, and tomatoes have been shown to have a positive effect on adiponectin, which regulates blood sugar and fat levels.

Researchers led by Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH, of Rutgers University, examined the effects of a tomato-rich diet versus a soy-rich diet in 70 postmenopausal women. For 10 weeks, the women ate a tomatorich diet (at least 25mg of lycopene each day); and then for another 10 weeks, the participants at a soy-rich diet of ate least 40g daily.

“The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were clearly evident in our findings,” Llanos said.

After the tomato-rich diet, the women’s levels of adiponcetin rose 9%, while after the soy-rich diet, the participants adiponcetin levels actually fell. The scientists noted that the effects of tomatoes on adiponcetin were even stronger in healthy-weight women and concluded that their findings demonstrate even further the importance of obesity prevention.

Obese Children Have HIGHER STRESS HORMONE LEVELS

Obese children naturally produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than children who are a normal weight, according to a paper published in theJournal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Stress causes the body to produce cortisol, and if a person experiences prolonged or frequent stress, the cortisol can build up in the blood and cause adverse effects and health problems.

Cortisol found in scalp hair reflects long-term exposure. The researchers, led by Erica van den Akker, MD, PhD, of Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, studied hair samples from 20 obese children and 20 normal-weight children, measuring long-term cortisol levels.

The obese children exhibited an average cortisol level concentration of 25pg/mg, while the normal-weight cohort showed an average cortisol concentration of 17pg/mg.

“We were surprised to find obese children, as young as age 8, already had elevated cortisol levels,” van den Akker said. “By analyzing children’s scalp hair, we were able to confirm high cortisol levels persisted over time.”

However, the authors concluded, more research is needed to determine the cause of these findings, as they were not able to tell whether the obese children “actually experience more psychological stress” or whether their bodies handle stress differently than their normal-weight counterparts.

OTC THYROID MEDICATIONS Can Lead to HYPERTHYROIDISM

People taking over-the-counter (OTC) thyroid supplements may not be getting exactly what they paid for, new research presented at the Endocrine Society’s Hormone & Health Science Writers Conference suggests.

“It’s time to separate fact from fantasy,” says Stephanie Lee, PhD, MD, of the Boston Medical Center. Lee points out that patients often come in with “too much information” because of what they read online about what they perceive to be their own thyroid disorder and the OTC thyroid supplements that they take.

In fact, Lee says, only about 6% to 8% of women actually have hypothyroidism, but many others have been convinced they do as well by the media telling them that feeling tired and gaining weight means they have a thyroid condition – when those “symptoms” are more often just natural signs of getting older.

Now, patients are turning to supplements and complementary alternative medicines (CAM) for symptoms they think are related to hypothyroidism. Th is can be very dangerous, as these supplements contain active thyroid hormones such as T3 and T4, which can make these patients develop hyperthyroidism.

“Just because you’re feeling ‘fat and foggy’ [referencing an old magazine advertisement], doesn’t mean it’s your thyroid,” Lee says.

Oral Anti-Diabetic Drugs May LOWER RISK OF CANCER in Women with T2D

Certain commonly prescribed diabetes drugs can significantly lower the risk of cancer in women with type 2 diabetes, a recent paper published in the journalDiabetes, Obesity and Metabolism has shown.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, led by Sangeeta R. Kashyap, MD, wrote that “Type 2 diabetes mellitus conveys increased cancer risk compared with the non-diabetes population,” and so conducted a retrospective analysis of the electronic health record– based Cleveland Clinic Diabetes Registry (25,613 patients), cross-indexed it with the histology-based tumor registry (48,051 cancer occurrences), over an eight-year period (1998–2006). They identified 892 cancer cases, with prostate and breast cancers most prevalent.

The study examined the differences between insulin sensitizers (biguanides and thiazolidinediones) and insulin secretagogues (sulphonylurea and meglitinide). The scientists found that in women, thiazolidinedione was associated with a 32% decreased cancer risk, compared with sulphonylurea use (hazard ratio (HR) 0.68; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.48–0.97, in the adjusted analysis). “Comparison of insulin secretagogues versus insulin sensitizers demonstrated a 21% decreased cancer risk in insulin sensitizers [HR 0.79 (95% CI 0.64–0.98) in the adjusted analysis],” they wrote. The men in the study exhibited no differences in their risk of cancer after oral diabetes treatment. The researchers noted that “startling differences demonstrated between men and women needs to be re-examined in future research.”

“The results of this study highlight the gender-specific impact of oral diabetes therapy on cancer risk,” the authors concluded. “We demonstrate a significantly lower cancer risk in women taking oral hypoglycaemic agents that mitigate insulin resistance, compared with agents that augment endogenous insulin levels.”

Sleep Deprivation INCREASES FOOD PURCHASING in Men

Men who have lost an entire night of sleep may find themselves purchasing more food the next day, according to a recent article published in the journalObesity.

Colin C. Chapman, of Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues kept 14 normal-weight men awake through the night — total sleep deprivation (TSD) — then gave them a fixed budget of 300SEK (about US $50). The researchers told the men to purchase “as much as they could” out of a possible 40 items, including 20 highcaloric foods (>2 kcal/g) and 20 low-caloric foods (

The participants purchased significantly 9% more calories and 18% more grams of food than they did after a night of sleep
(both P < 0.05), independent of the food that was offered and the price of the food. The scientists also noted that morning plasma ghrelin concentrations were also higher after TSD (P < 0.05), but the increase did not correlate with the effects of TSD on food purchasing.

The authors concluded that TSD does in fact alter food purchasing behavior in men and went on to say that they “chose TSD to investigate the influence of sleep loss on food purchasing behavior in humans, [and their] findings are broadly significant for people working in a variety of professions, including shift workers, cab drivers, nurses, doctors, and other jobs requiring work at night.”

The Endocrine Society Releases SCIENTIFIC STATEMENT ON PEDs

The Endocrine Society recently released its Scientific Statement on the health consequences of using and abusing performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), representing a comprehensive evaluation of available information.

PEDs are most often associated with elite athletes, but, according to Shalender Bhasin, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and chair of the expert panel who developed the statement, that is a “widespread misconception, and the vast majority of PED users are not athletes at all, “just recreational weightlifters.”

These non-athletes are more concerned with physical appearance and use PEDs to look leaner and more muscular. Bhasin says that users’ focus stems from “our societal views of what a perfect human body should look like.”

The Society’s statement, published inEndocrine Reviews, details the
adverse effects and the dangerous toll these drugs can have on the body, especially after long-term use by those who develop a dependence to the PEDs and accumulate many years of abuse. PED use can cause infertility, gynecomastia, sexual dysfunction, hair loss, acne, and testicular atrophy. PED users are more susceptible to rage and are at a higher risk for violent acts, including homicide and suicide.

PED abuse is an “important public health concern that has largely remained subterranean so far,” Bhasin says. “Punishing elite athletes has had an adverse effect because it neglects the real health problems [abuse by non-athletes].”

The statement goes on to list some unmet needs and opportunities for dealing with this public health concern:
• The majority of PED users are under the age of 50, as widespread illicit use of
PEDs did not appear until the late 1980s and early 1990s.
• PED use is usually covert. People are less apt to disclose PED use than other drugs.
• Randomized trials of PED use are not possible because of ethical concerns. Most evidence of medical consequences of PED use come from animal models, case-control studies, case reports, and retrospective surveys.
• Observation studies, implemented by establishing a registry, are needed to monitor long-term health consequences of PEDs. This may be the only feasible method of collecting scientifically meaningful outcome data.

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