Abstracts & Commentary
This large-scale, population-based prospective cohort study in Japan, along with 2 other Japanese cohort studies, refutes the results of several prospective trials that have previously shown a statistically significant reduction in the risk of breast cancer in women consuming large quantities of green tea. The results of this study are also at odds with smaller prospective trials that demonstrate statistically significant increases in disease-free survival in heavy green tea consumers previously treated for early stage breast cancer. Additionally, a prospective trial out of China demonstrated statistically significant reduction in premenopausal breast cancer risk in women who consumed large amounts of green tea beginning in their 20s.
Although therapeutic riding in general, and hippotherapy in particular, do not have the plethora of rigorous research evidence of more conventional therapies, a multitude of centers have been treating tens of thousands of patients for decades with very conclusively positive observational findings. Risk to the patient is very low, and there are no documented side effects of these interventions other than the occasional allergy to horses or other environmental sources such as hay. Given the paucity of beneficial therapies and lack of any known cures, referral to a therapeutic riding center should be made to patients afflicted with these severe neurological disabilities.
The use of vitamin/mineral supplementation in healthy adults is growing in popularity. Whether this is beneficial in populations assumed to be nutrient-replete and without any pathology is not known. This study, while small, suggests that cognitive and mood improvements may be seen as soon as 1 month after beginning a B complex with vitamin C and calcium/magnesium/zinc. As with any nutrient intervention study, the question of nutrient deficiency in participants prior to the intervention must be asked. This Swiss study is notable for its recruitment of healthy, fully employed males, a population presumed to be adequately nourished.
These new data are consistent with a number of earlier publications that suggest both a strong protective effect and possibly a useful therapeutic effect from coffee or caffeine against glioma. Members of the public frequently view coffee in a negative light and will often "give it up" after a cancer diagnosis. At least in the case of glioma, coffee may have benefit, and these patients should be discouraged from discontinuing their coffee consumption.
A number of studies have previously established that maternal stress has a negative impact on infant temperament and cognitive development; however this is the first study to explore the effect of prenatal maternal stress on the incidence of infant illness. Evidence from both this and previous studies suggests that it is during the third trimester that the effects of elevated cortisol and maternal stress and anxiety are most influential on postnatal outcomes.
There is general agreement within the nutrition science and practitioner communities that ones diet, nutritional status, and lifestyle can substantially predispose one to (or protect against) many chronic diseases and other conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For decades, the US government has invested, and continues to invest, enormous resources to support programs such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Institute of Medicines (IOM) Dietary Reference Intakes to develop recommendations for diet and nutrient intake levels that will, among other things, reduce chronic disease risk within the population. The nutrient-chronic disease relationship is also addressed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it reviews Health Claim and Qualified Health Claim petitions, both of which are viewed as broad public health statements. But many questions unique to nutrition still remain when it comes to evaluating the evidence on which these and other recommendations are based.
Interviews with Experts
Tieraona Low Dog, MD, is the Fellowship Director at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center. With more than 30 years in the field, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy.
Mark Schulman, PhD, currently serves as president of Saybrook University, a premier graduate institution for humanistic studies in psychology, mind-body medicine, organizational systems, leadership, and human science.