Medi watch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 August, 2007, 12:00am

Reaping the fruits of cancer battlers

Pigments that give some fruit and vegetables their dark colour may contain powerful cancer-fighting properties, slowing and even killing unhealthy cells in Ohio State University studies. Anthocyanins, found in the likes of radishes, black carrots and bilberries, slowed the growth of human and rat cancer cells by up to 80 per cent and killed as many as one out of every five. 'These foods contain many compounds, and we're just starting to figure out which ones provide the most health benefits,' says team leader Monica Giusti. The anthocyanin pigments seem to be particularly effective in slowing colon cancer cells, BBCi reports.

Green tea boosts detox defence

People given daily caffeine-free green tea extract boosted their production of detoxification enzymes that may help fight cancer, researchers at the University of Arizona, Tuscon, have found. Levels of glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes, which appear to help ward off toxic and cancer-causing compounds, vary depending on genetic and environmental factors, Reuters reports. The study tested the effect on healthy adults of drinking the equivalent of eight to 16 cups of green tea a day for four weeks. GST enzymes in those with the lowest levels before the study were boosted by as much as 80 per cent. 'More clinical testing is under way to confirm the cancer-preventive activities of green tea,' says team leader Sherry Chow.

The skinny on cuppa care

And researchers at the Medical College of Georgia say green tea may help treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions, including dandruff and lupus-related lesions. Green tea slowed the growth of skin cells in rats genetically predisposed to psoriasis, an autoimmune disease in which skin gets thicker because cells grow out of control, reports. Team leader Stephen Hsu says green tea may help affect a protein called Caspase-14, which helps regulate skin cells.

Asthma sufferers win exhaust payout

Japanese asthma sufferers have agreed to a multibillion-yen deal to settle an 11-year legal battle with car makers and the government over air pollution that's alleged to have killed at least 110 people in Tokyo. The car companies will pay 3.3 billion yen (HK$225 million) into a five-year health programme for more than 520 asthma patients, as well as make a one-off 1.2 billion yen payment to the plaintiffs, AFP reports. The claims date from before 2003, when strict regulations on diesel-engine exhaust were introduced in Tokyo.

Minutes matter with umbilical cord

Leaving the umbilical cord for at least three minutes before cutting reduces the risk of anaemia in babies, especially those born prematurely, University of Liverpool studies have found. Leaving the cord intact allows oxygen-rich blood to reach the baby's lungs until its breathing is fully established and increases iron levels, says team leader Andrew Weeks. He estimates that about half of British maternity units cut the cord as soon as the baby is born.

Lovers adjust well to single status

Breaking up may not be so hard to do, after all, say psychologists at Northwestern University, who spent nine months studying ardent young lovers to see if their predictions of devastation matched reality when their relationships ended. 'People overestimate how distressed they'll be following a breakup,' says study co-author Eli Finkel. The study found the more in love you feel, the harder it is, Reuters reports. 'But their perceptions about how distraught they'll be are dramatically overstated. At the end of the day, it's just less bad than you thought.'

Jason Sankey is a tennis professional