Research Roundup

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Losing weight may protect the heart by reducing blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation that is a proven risk factor for heart disease. At the University of Vermont in Burlington, researchers found that high CRP levels were linked to greater abdominal fat and total body fat in 61 postmenopausal, obese, middle-aged women. When 25 of the women then lost an average of 32 pounds over 14 months, CRP levels dropped by about one-third. The researchers surmise that weight loss may decrease levels of interleukin-6, which largely controls the formation of CRP in the liver.

Circulation, February 5, 2002.

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Coffee is not a significant contributor to chronic high blood pressure, according to a Johns Hopkins University study of 1,017 male students who were followed for an average of 33 years. Although drinking one cup of coffee a day raised blood pressure slightly in the short term, long-term consumption was not associated with chronic high blood pressure after adjusting for other factors. The researchers note that the body’s cardiovascular system is able to adapt after a few days of increased caffeine intake.

Archives of Internal Medicine, March 25, 2002.

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Calcium may reduce the risk of cancer in the distal colon (closer to the rectum), the most common type of colon cancer. Harvard researchersy analyzed 16 years of dietary and supplemental calcium intake of more than 100,000 participants in the Nurses? Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Men and women with calcium intakes of 700 to 800 milligrams a day or more were 40% to 50% less likely to develop distal colon cancer than those getting 500 milligrams a day or less. Even a modest increase in calcium may provide some protection, say the researchers, by binding with bile acids and fatty acids that can trigger abnormal cell growth.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute, March 20, 2002.
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