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Long-term multivitamin use cuts cataract risk

Researchers have suggested that long-term daily multivitamin supplement use may lower cataract risk in men.

Researchers based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School – as part of the Physicians’ Health Study II (PHS II) – conducted a randomised, double-blind study from 1997 to 2011 of 14,641 US male doctors aged 50 and older.

Half took a common daily multivitamin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene supplements. The other half took a placebo. The researchers followed the participants to identify how many participants in each group developed new cases of two common eye diseases: cataract, which is a clouding of the eye’s lens, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the deterioration of the eye’s macula that is responsible for the ability to see fine details clearly.

The researchers found that in the placebo group 945 cases of cataract developed, which were self-reported and confirmed by medical records, while only 872 cases of cataract developed in the multivitamin group, representing a 9 percent decrease in risk. This risk was even lower, at 13 percent, for nuclear cataract, which occurs at the center of the lens and is the most common variety of cataract associated with the aging process.

William Christen, ScD, the study’s lead author and researcher from Harvard Medical School, said that if multivitamins really do reduce the risk of cataract, even by a modest 10 percent, this rather small reduction would nonetheless have a large public health impact.
Eleven new genes behind high BP identified

Researchers have discovered 11 new DNA sequence variants in genes that are capable of influencing high blood pressure and heart disease.Identifying the new genes contributes to our growing understanding of the biology of blood pressure and, researchers believe, will eventually influence the development of new treatments. More immediately the study highlights opportunities to investigate the use of existing drugs for cardiovascular diseases.

The study examined the DNA of 87,736 individuals to discover genetic variants associated with blood pressure traits. Validation of these sequence variants was performed in a further 68,368 individuals. This analysis led to the identification of 11 new genes.

Patricia Munroe, Professor of Molecular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said that discovering these new genetic variants provides vital insight into how the body regulates blood pressure.

She said that with further research, they are hopeful it could lead to the development of new treatments for treating blood pressure and heart disease – a leading cause of death worldwide.

Now, super-charged broccoli with more anti-cancer benefits

Researchers have found a way to produce broccoli that has more anti-cancer benefits and won’t spoil quickly in refrigerator.

Jack Juvik, a University of Illinois crop sciences researcher, explained that the combined application of two compounds, both are natural products extracted from plants, increased the presence of cancer-fighting agents in broccoli while prolonging the post-harvest storage period.

The researchers used methyl jasmonate (MeJA), a non-toxic plant-signal compound (produced naturally in plants) to increase the broccoli’s anti-cancer potential, which they sprayed on the broccoli about four days before harvest. When applied, MeJA initiates a process of gene activity affiliated with the biosynthesis of glucosinolates (GS), which are compounds found in the tissue of broccoli and other brassica vegetables (such as cauliflower, cabbage, and kale).

However, during this process, MeJA also signals a network of genes that lead to plant decay by inducing the release of ethylene, Juvik explained.

“While we can use MeJA to turn on phytochemicals like the glucosinolates and dramatically increase the abundance of those helpful anti-cancer compounds, MeJA also reduces the shelf life after harvest,” he said.

So the researchers tried using the recently developed compound 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), which has been shown to interfere with receptor proteins in the plant that are receptor-sensitive to ethylene. They applied the compound after harvesting the same broccoli that had already been treated with MeJA before harvest.

Juvik added that ethylene will move and bind to ethylene receptors and that binding process initiates decay, which basically stops or dramatically slows down the decay associated with ethylene.

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