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Past News Items - April 2010

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In the News

McCain Backs Off Key Points of Dietary Supplement Safety Act

US Pharmacopeia Champions New Codex

Acupuncture Alleviates Treatment-related Joint Pain in Breast Cancer Patients

Antiinflammatory Supplement Modulates Inflammation in Overweight Men

Other Research

Released: 04/01/10

McCain Backs Off Key Points of Dietary Supplement Safety Act

Senator John McCain (R, Arizona), who cosponsored The Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (s3002) last month, has backed off the initial aims of the bill and will instead push the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce the regulatory power it already has. In a letter released on March 10, McCain and bill cosponsor Senator Byron Dorgan (D, North Dakota) announced an agreement with longtime pro–dietary supplements campaigner, Senator Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) to not revisit or revise the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), which s3002 would have done.

Initially, s3002 was designed to crack down on companies selling illegal steroids as “dietary supplements” to professional athletes. Although organizations such as the US Anti-Doping Agency and members of the Supplement Safety Now coalition backed the plan, the natural products industry and consumer groups like the Council for Responsible Nutrition criticized the bill because it proposed greater power to FDA to regulate all dietary supplements, not just those sold illegally. Critics contended that the bill gave the FDA arbitrary new powers to remove natural products from the marketplace and to instead boost products manufactured by powerful pharmaceutical companies.

At present, McCain and Dorgan call for full enforcement of existing laws, including DSHEA, to control abuses in the supplement industry.

US Pharmacopeia Champions New Codex

The US Pharmacopeia (USP), the nongovernmental, nonprofit authority responsible for setting ingredient quality assurance standards for the food industry, has just published the 7th edition of the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC). The updated compendium includes about 170 new and updated ingredient monographs to ensure the quality, purity, and safety of more than 1100 food ingredients.

Every edition of the FCC is a collaboration that involves food manufacturers, the government, academia, and consumer organizations to ensure consistent quality standards between suppliers and manufacturers as new ingredients come onto the market. The revised FCC reflects advances in analytical technology, as well as innovation in functional foods and new standards for ingredients like tropical fruit extracts and stevia. As an interesting note, in the United States, stevia was allowed only to be used as a dietary supplement until, in December 2008, FDA gave it approval for use as a food ingredient. At that time, a purified extract of stevia, rebaudioside A (trade name Rebiana), was approved as a general purpose sweetener for use in foods. Many say the former ban was primarily due to pressure from companies such as the NutraSweet Company (makers of aspartame)--Arizona congressman Jon Kyl, for example, called the FDA’s ban against stevia as a food ingredient “a restraint of trade to benefit the artificial sweetener industry.”

In regard to the FCC, it is USP’s position that, especially since the melamine contamination of Chinese milk powder in 2008, the standards are as much about ethical food production as they are about quality. The organization urges consumers and manufacturers alike to become more engaged with ethical issues beyond food safety to consider carbon footprints and fair trade sourcing as well.

Acupuncture Alleviates Treatment-related Joint Pain in Breast Cancer Patients

Acupuncture may be an effective therapy for joint pain and stiffness in breast cancer patients being treated with commonly used hormonal therapies, according to a new study published in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Previous studies have shown that joint pain and stiffness are common side effects of aromatase inhibitor therapy, in which the synthesis of estrogen is blocked. Thus, researchers at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center looked for a nondrug option like acupuncture to mitigate the joint issues.

The research team randomly assigned 43 women to receive either true acupuncture or sham acupuncture (placebo) twice a week for 6 weeks. All participants were receiving an aromatase inhibitor for early breast cancer, and all had reported musculoskeletal pain.

The women treated with true acupuncture experienced significant improvement in joint pain and stiffness over the course of the study. Additionally, 20% of the patients who had reported taking pain relief medications reported that they no longer needed to take these medications following acupuncture treatment. The women who were treated with the sham acupuncture reported no such improvement.

On a related note, the most recent issue of Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal (Apr-May 2010) has a review article entitled "Acupuncture and the Treatment of Cancer Pain," by Harrie Anne Kessler, MS, MAc, LAc, that discusses 8 English-language clinical studies of acupuncture as a treatment for cancer-related pain (go to www.imjournal.com).

Antiinflammatory Supplement Modulates Inflammation in Overweight Men

In a nutrigenomic study published in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a supplement containing nutrients selected for their antiinflammatory action led to significant metabolic changes in healthy overweight men. A combination of fish oil, green tea extract, resveratrol, vitamins C and E, and a lycopene-rich tomato extract produced changes to genes associated with inflammation, blood vessel health, and oxidation of fat in the liver tissue of 36 overweight men with mildly elevated levels of inflammatory compounds in the blood.

The 5-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study used a supplement containing resveratrol (6.3 mg), green tea extract (94.5 mg containing 40% epigallocatechin gallate), alpha-tocopherol (90.7 mg), vitamin C (125 mg), omega-3 fatty acids (1200 mg [380 mg eicosapentaenoic acid, 260 mg docosahexaenoic acid]), and tomato extract (3.75 mg of lycopene). Although the principal inflammation marker (C-reactive protein) was unchanged at the end of the study, plasma adiponectin concentrations increased by 7%. A multitude of subtle changes were detected, including modulated inflammation of adipose tissue, improved endothelial function, affected oxidative stress, and increased liver fatty acid oxidation.

Researchers cite the changes in concentrations of genes, proteins, and metabolites induced by the antiinflammatory supplement as proof of additional advantages of nutrigenomics in human intervention studies. Nutrigenomics is defined as how food and ingested nutrients influence the genome.

The researchers noted that the compounds were chosen in order to reproduce real-life situations and that levels were determined by data for their individual antiinflammatory action. Further studies on men and women are warranted.

Other Research

Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps

Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter

Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk

NASA Examines Omega-3 for Bone Health During Space Flight

Selenium May Decrease Diabetes Risk

Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does

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