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Researchers Discover How Noroviruses Cause Repeated Outbreaks Of "Stomach Flu"
Night-Time Acid Reflux
Can Impact Sleep, New Studies Reveal

Why Persistent Acid Reflux Sometimes Turns Into Cancer
Food Safety Begins As Vegetables Grow

A Stomach Microbe Linked To Asthma Prevention

Smoking Influences Crohn's Disease - Effect Seen On Location, Severity Of The Disease In The Gastrointestinal Trac
Pain Affecting Older People Being Researched By The University Of Nottingham
American College Of Gastroenterology Offers Esophageal Reflux Testing Recommendations
Limits Of The Reflux Disease Questionnaire In General Practice

Rice Bran Could Reduce Risk Of Intestinal Cancer University Of Leicester Research
Heartburn, Angina Or Heart Attack? If In Doubt, Check It Out!

Proteases Cause Pain In Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Stomach Ulcers' Prehistoric Origins Uncovered
Microwave Kills Kitchen Germs
Periodontal Disease and Pancreatic Cancer Linked

News Archive


Rice Bran Could Reduce Risk Of Intestinal Cancer University Of Leicester Research


A study by biomedical scientists at the University of Leicester has revealed for the first time that rice bran could reduce the risk of intestinal cancer.

The research in the University's Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine has not been tested on humans, but research in the laboratory has produced promising results.

The research has been published in the British Journal of Cancer.

The results of a controlled laboratory study in a preclinical model of gastrointestinal adenoma demonstrated that consumption of a high daily dose of stabilized rice bran caused an average 51% reduction in the number of precancerous adenomas in the intestinal tract.

Professor Andreas Gescher of the University of Leicester in the UK, the principal investigator, said:

"We compared the cancer-preventive efficacy of rice bran with respect to prostate, breast and intestinal cancers. Whilst there was no effect of rice bran on the development of prostate or breast cancer, rice bran significantly retarded the development of intestinal adenomas. The effect was dependent on the fibre content of the bran. The dose we used translates into approximately 200g rice bran per day in humans. We believe a promising area of future research would be to study the potential colorectal cancer-preventing properties of stabilized rice bran.

"It is known that bran from wheat and rye have anti-cancer properties but this is the first time that this has been shown for rice bran. It appears that rice bran may have a role to play in reducing the development of adenomas, which can be a pre-cursor to cancer. No one has compared the efficacy of the different brans, such as rice, wheat, rye or oat and this may be an interesting future direction for researchers."


Heartburn, Angina Or Heart Attack? If In Doubt, Check It Out!


It's your birthday and you've just enjoyed your favorite dinner (with an extra large helping of mashed potatoes and gravy) and finished off the celebration with a super-sized piece of cake - ala mode, of course! What comes next on the menu is something you didn't order the worst case of heartburn and indigestion you've ever experienced. Or could it be something more serious?

"Sometimes it's impossible to tell the difference between the symptoms of heartburn, angina and heart attack," cautioned Prediman K. (P.K.) Shah, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiology and the Atherosclerosis Research Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "There are some useful pointers that might help a person know whether they're having a heart attack or not, but when in doubt, check it out."

Knowing if you have any risk factors that might predispose you to a heart attack is the first important factor to keep in mind, said Shah. "If you smoke, have diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, are overweight or have a strong family history of heart disease and have any symptom related to the chest or heart, you should be suspicious." Heart attack symptoms include the sudden onset of tightness, pressure, squeezing, burning, or discomfort in the chest, throat, neck or either arm. You should be especially suspicious if these symptoms are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sweating, shortness of breath or a fainting sensation, Shah warned. "That's when a bell should ring telling you that these symptoms may be indicating a heart attack."

Angina, the most common symptom of coronary heart disease, is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart muscle doesn't get enough blood. The pain, which can also occur in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back, may also feel like indigestion. Confused?

"Generally we recommend that if you think you're having a heart attack, call 9-1-1," said Shah. "It's the safest thing to do. We tell people to err on the side of caution and overreact instead of underreact."

When a heart attack occurs, the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is severely reduced or stopped when one or more of the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart is blocked. Death or disability can result, depending on how much of the heart muscle is damaged.

Unfortunately, there's no "rhyme or reason" when it comes to predicting the time of the day or circumstances when a heart attack might occur. It could strike in the middle of the night, after a heavy meal, during or immediately after sexual activity or after moderate or heavy physical activity. "Obviously, if you've been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, then any of these symptoms should ring a loud bell," said Shah.

Sometimes the symptoms of reflux or common heartburn related to indigestion can look like a heart attack. If you've had heartburn all your life and the symptoms you're experiencing are identical to those you've had before - and nothing different has occurred - chances are you're experiencing heartburn and not a heart attack. But if the symptoms are something you've never had before and are accompanied by feeling light-headed or sweaty, "then that type of heartburn should be taken more seriously," Shah said. "It could signal that you've having a heart attack."

Shah emphasized that there are many other types of heart disease - he describes them as different "flavors" - that do not produce chest pain yet can be just as life-threatening as a heart attack. Having a regular check-up by a physician when you reach middle age (between 45 and 50) or before beginning a heavy exercise program is essential, he said. "Certain heart conditions can remain hidden and put persons at risk for sudden death. It's important to point out that heart disease isn't just one flavor - there are many different flavors."

The first of seven hospitals in California whose nurses have been honored with the prestigious Magnet designation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is one of the largest nonprofit academic medical centers in the Western United States. For 18 consecutive years, it has been named Los Angeles' most preferred hospital for all health needs in an independent survey of area residents. Cedars-Sinai is internationally renowned for its diagnostic and treatment capabilities and its broad spectrum of programs and services, as well as breakthroughs in biomedical research and superlative medical education. It ranks among the top 10 non-university hospitals in the nation for its research activities and is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP). Additional information is available at

Proteases Cause Pain In Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder in the developed world. It is characterized by altered bowel function, abdominal discomfort, and pain. However, there are few effective treatments for IBS, in part because the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease symptoms have not been well defined. But now, researchers from the University of Calgary have provided evidence that serine proteases and PAR2 might provide new therapeutic targets for the treatment of IBS.

In the study, which appears online in advance of publication in the March print issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Nathalie Vergnolle and colleagues show that colonic biopsies from individuals with IBS release increased amounts of serine proteases when cultured in vitro, compared with colonic biopsies from healthy individuals. Likewise, colonic washes from individuals with IBS contained higher levels of serine proteases than did colonic washes from healthy individuals. The supernatant from cultured colonic biopsies from individuals with IBS activated mouse sensory neurons in vitro and caused mice to exhibit increased responsiveness to pain when it was administered into the colon. Both these effects were dependent on serine proteases in the supernatant and were mediated by activation of a protein known as PAR2, leading the authors to suggest that targeting serine proteases and/or PAR2 might provide sufferers of IBS with relief from their intense abdominal pain.


Stomach Ulcers' Prehistoric Origins Uncovered


An international team of scientists has discovered that the ubiquitous bacteria that causes most painful stomach ulcers has been present in the human digestive system since modern man migrated from Africa over 60,000 years ago. The research, published online by the journal Nature, not only furthers our understanding of a disease causing bacteria but also offers a new way to study the migration and diversification of early humans.

The international research collaboration was led by scientists from the University of Cambridge, the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, and the Hanover Medical School. The researchers compared DNA sequence patterns of humans and the Helicobacter pylori bacteria now known to cause most stomach ulcers. They found that the genetic differences between human populations that arose as they dispersed from Eastern Africa over thousands of years are mirrored in H. pylori.

Human DNA analysis has shown that along the major land routes out of Africa human populations become genetically isolated - the further from Eastern Africa a population is the more different genetically it is compared to other human populations. Other research has shown gradual differences in European populations, presumed to be the result of Neolithic farmers moving northwards. The international H. pylori research team found almost exactly the same genetic distribution patterns in their results.

The scientists combined their genetic analysis with a computer simulation the modeled the spread of the bacteria across the globe. This showed that it migrated from Eastern Africa at almost exactly the same time as early humans, approximately 60,000 years ago.

The UK research effort was led by Dr Francois Balloux, a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council-funded scientist at the University of Cambridge. He said: "Humans and this ulcer-causing bacterium have been intimately linked for the last 60,000 years. The research not only shows the likelihood that for tens of thousands of years our ancestors have been suffering the effects of this bacteria but it also opens up new possibilities for understanding early human migration. By showing that Helicobacter pylori emerged from Africa at the same time as early humans it makes it easier to examine some of the controversial questions about human migration. For example we could use our understanding of the bacteria's spread to gauge poorly understood human population shifts in Europe, Africa and Asia."


Microwave Kills Kitchen Germs


US scientists have discovered that microwaving kitchen sponges, cloths and plastic pan scrubbers kills 99 per cent of kitchen germs.

The results of the study are reported in the Journal of Environmental Health.

Gabriel Bitton, Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Florida where the tests were conducted said that "Basically what we find is that we could knock out most bacteria in two minutes." He added that people often put their sponges and pan scrubbers in the dishwasher. This cleans them, but it does not decontaminate them, he said.

Kitchen sponges and dishcloths are a breeding ground for germs such as Salmonella, E. Coli, pseudomonas, staphylococcus and other germs, increasing the risk of potentially fatal foodborne diseases.

Professor Bitton, who is an expert on wastewater microbiology, and his team used a regular off-the-shelf microwave oven to "zap" sponges and plastic pan scrubbers. They microwaved them for different lengths of time, squeezing out the water in between and measuring the microbial load in the water for each duration. These measurements were compared to those taken of water from pads and sponges that had not been microwaved or sterilized in any way.

There were no doubts about the results of the tests. Two minutes in the microwave on full power was enough to kill or neutralize more than 99 per cent of the pathogens that had been living on the sponges and pan scrubbers. The only pathogen that needed longer (about four minutes in the microwave) were spores of Bacillus cereus which causes diarrhea, stomach ache and sometimes vomiting too, with symptoms lingering for about 24 hours.

Professor Bitton said that "the microwave is a very powerful and inexpensive tool for sterilization." Approximately 90 per cent of American homes have a microwave, making this simple but effective technology within the reach of the vast majority of the population.

In a survey conducted in June last year, the UK's Food and Drink Federation found that only 12 per cent of people changed or disinfected their kitchen sponge or cloth once a month, and only 6 per cent did it more often.

Food-borne illnesses affect at least 6 million Americans every year, and are responsible for at least 9,000 deaths.

WARNING: To avoid starting a fire if you do this at home, make sure the cloth or sponge is soaked with water, that the water does not boil away (don't keep microwaving until all the steam has gone), and do it for no more than 2 minutes. And never put metal in the microwave (some cloths and sponges and pan scrubbers, even plastic ones, have metal filaments, don't put those in the microwave). And finally, use tongs to remove the hot cloth or wait until it has cooled before you remove it or you will scald yourself.


Periodontal Disease and Pancreatic Cancer Linked


Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.; more than 30,000 Americans are expected to die from the disease this year. It is an extremely difficult cancer to treat and little is known about what causes it. One established risk factor in pancreatic cancer is cigarette smoking; other links have been made to obesity, diabetes type 2 and insulin resistance. In a new study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that periodontal disease was associated with an increased risk of cancer of the pancreas. The study will appear in the January 17, 2007 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"Our study provides the first strong evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. This finding is of significance as it may provide some new insights into the mechanism of this highly fatal disease," said lead author Dominique Michaud, assistant professor of epidemiology at HSPH.

Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial infection and inflammation of the gums that over time causes loss of bone that supports the teeth; tooth loss is a consequence of severe periodontal disease. Two previous studies had found a link between tooth loss or periodontitis and pancreatic cancer, but one consisted of all smokers and the other did not control for smoking in the analysis, and therefore no firm conclusions could be drawn from these studies.

Data for the new study came from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986 and includes 51,529 U.S. men working in the health professions. Participants respond to questionnaires about their health every two years. After analyzing the data, the researchers confirmed 216 cases of pancreatic cancer between 1986 and 2002; of those, 67 reported periodontal disease.

The results showed that, after adjusting for age, smoking, diabetes, body mass index and a number of other factors, men with periodontal disease had a 63% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those reporting no periodontal disease. "Most convincing was our finding that never-smokers had a two-fold increase in risk of pancreatic cancer," said Michaud.

One possible explanation for the results is that inflammation from periodontal disease may promote cancer of the pancreas. "Individuals with periodontal disease have elevated serum biomarkers of systemic inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, and these may somehow contribute to the promotion of cancer cells," she said.

Another explanation, according to Michaud, is that periodontal disease could lead to increased pancreatic carcinogenesis because individuals with periodontal disease have higher levels of oral bacteria and higher levels of nitrosamines, which are carcinogens, in their oral cavity. Prior studies have shown that nitrosamines and gastric acidity may play a role in pancreatic cancer.

Michaud, senior author Charles Fuchs, a gastrointestinal oncologist at Dana-Farber, and their colleagues believe that further studies should be done to investigate the role of inflammation from periodontal disease in pancreatic cancer. However, Michaud notes that the underlying mechanisms for this association are speculative at this point. "More research is needed both to confirm this finding in other populations and also to explore the role of inflammation in this particular cancer," she said.

This study was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute.


Los Angeles Times

Older people who take heartburn drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid and Protonix for long periods have a significantly increased risk of hip fractures, possibly because the drugs block calcium absorption, Pennsylvania researchers reported Wednesday.

The drugs, which block production of acid in the stomach, are among the most widely used in the United States with combined annual sales of more than $10 billion.

"The perception is that the drugs are completely safe, and doctors dispense them without thinking too much about the risks and the benefits," said Dr. Yu-Xiao Yang of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who led the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Now, he said, physicians should be aware of the potential risk, prescribe the lowest possible dose and use the drug only on patients who really need it.

Men using heartburn drugs ran twice risk of women, study says

An estimated 300,000 Americans older than 65 sustain hip fractures each year, according to the National Institutes of Health, and recovery is difficult.  About 20 percent die of complications and another 20 percent are consigned permanently to nursing homes.

The findings are interesting, said Dr. Alan Buchman of Northwestern University, but the results do not prove that the drugs caused the increased risk.

"Maybe they have some other problem that increases the risk for fractures," he said.

Even if the drugs are at fault, the solution may be simply to consume more calcium, either in the form of dairy products or as supplements, said Buchman, who was not involved in the study.  "The average North American doesn't get enough calcium anyway," he said.

Drug manufacturers noted that the products have been used for more than 10 years and have been through many clinical trials without evidence of risk.

Amy Allen, a spokeswoman for TAP Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill., which manufactures Prevacid, said the company has an extensive post-marketing surveillance system and "has not identified a safety signal for bone fractures related to Prevacid."

Heartburn typically occurs when acid from the stomach bubbles up into the esophagus, a condition called acid reflux.  It is very painful and can cause ulcers on the lining of the esophagus.  Some researchers believe it also can lead to cancer.

Yang and his colleagues used a large British database to identify 13,566 hip fracture patients over age 50 and a matched group of 135,386 healthy people.

They found that one year of using the drugs increased risk of hip fractures by 44 percent.  Long-term users who received high doses of the drugs had as much as 2.6 times the normal risk.

Men using the drugs had about twice the risk of hip fractures as did women, perhaps because the women were more likely to be consuming calcium supplements as post-menopausal therapy.

Patients taking a different class of acid inhibitors that includes Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid and Axid had a 21 percent increased risk of fractures after one year.

The results are similar to those obtained in a smaller Danish study reported this year, Yang said.

Yang, who has received funding from several manufacturers, pointed out that adequate levels of acid are required in the duodenum to dissolve calcium salts so they can be absorbed by the body.  Studies in animals have suggested that the acid blockers can interfere with this process, producing a calcium deficiency that, in turn, leads to a thinning of bones.

What's needed now, Buchman said, is a study that looks directly at bone-mineral density to determine whether it decreases in patients receiving the drugs.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Gastroenterological Association/GlaxoSmithKline Institute for Digestive Health.


Heartburn typically occurs when acid from the stomach bubbles up into the esophagus, a condition called acid reflux.  It is very painful and can cause ulcers on the lining of the esophagus.  Some researchers believe it also can lead to cancer.


Serum Tests As Precursor To Invasive Scope - Enabling Early Gastric Cancer Detection


Research has shown that serum tests work effectively as a pre-screening method for atrophic gastritis and gastric cancer. These tests will foster the detection rate of early cancer in patients - providing not only a far less invasive examination as compared to the conventional scope method, but also give patients a cheap, convenient and safe alternative.

Published by Blackwell Publishing, this study appears in the February 2007 issue of the newly re-named Journal of Digestive Diseases - the official journal of the Chinese Society of Gastroenterology.

As the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, endoscopy and biopsy have been the conventional methods employed for the screening and diagnosis of gastric cancer and atrophic gastritis. After evaluating the risk of atrophic gastritis and gastric cancer with serological tests, researchers have concluded that serum pepsinogen, gastrin-17 and Helicobacter pylori IgG antibodies can be employed effectually to screen for atrophic gastritis and gastric cancer.

Leading author Dr. Cao Qin, Instructor of Medicine at the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine affiliated Renji Hospital, said "In Shanghai the age-standardized incidence of gastric cancer in men has been halved over the last 30 years, from 62 in every 100,000 in 1972, to just 29 out of every 100,000 in 2002. While the incidence and mortality rates have fallen dramatically in many regions - including countries like the United States, France, and Switzerland - other regions such as Shanghai remain a high risk area. With serum tests now enabling an even earlier detection of atrophic gastritis and gastric cancer, we hope this positive trend can be further improved on."

Dr. Cao added, "Serological tests are an extremely efficient method of detecting the risk of atrophic gastritis and gastric cancer - our evaluations indicate that these serum tests can be used in large scale populations because of its obvious cost and saving advantages."

About Journal of Digestive Diseases

Journal of Digestive Diseases serves the dual purpose of allowing Chinese researchers to communicate their results to their international colleagues, and allowing non-Chinese speaking researchers to access the vital work being undertaken in China which contributes to clinical advancements throughout the region. It is the official English-language journal of the Chinese Society of Gastroenterology. The Journal is published four times per year and includes peer-reviewed original papers, review articles and commentaries concerned with research relating to the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, biliary tract and pancreas. The Journal also occasionally republishes, with permission, peer-reviewed articles of scientific or clinical excellence that have appeared in Chinese-language journals.

About Blackwell Publishing

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 medical, academic, and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and has over 6,000 books in print. The company employs over 1,000 staff members in offices in the US, UK, Australia, China, Singapore, Denmark, Germany, and Japan. Blackwell's mission as an expert publisher is to create long-term partnerships with our clients that enhance learning, disseminate research, and improve the quality of professional practice. For more information on Blackwell Publishing, please visit or


Provided by MedicineNet

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