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Tomato juice may stave off heart troubles { August 22 2004 }

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Health News in Brief
Tomato juice may aid type 2 diabetes patients

August 22, 2004

For patients with type 2 diabetes, tomato juice may help stave off the heart troubles that often complicate the disease.

Researchers have found that drinking tomato juice for three weeks had a blood-thinning effect in people with the disease. The juice reduced "platelet aggregation" -- the blood's ability to clot.

The finding about tomato juice -- invented in 1917 at a French Lick, Ind., resort when a chef ran out of oranges for breakfast -- appears in a research letter in Thursday's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

If corroborated by larger studies, the finding may one day also help "individuals with increased clotting tendency such as smokers, long-distance air travelers (deep vein thrombosis), etc.," said Manohar L. Garg, of the University of Newcastle in Australia and one of the authors of the letter detailing the results.

Genetic factors may have effect on alcohol addiction

Some people can drink a lot of alcohol without becoming addicted, and specific genes may help explain why, researchers say.

In a new study of Australian twins, scientists found that separate genes appear to be responsible, to some degree, for dependence on alcohol -- addiction -- and how much people drink. Understanding how these genetic factors work together should give researchers more insight into treatment of alcoholism in its various forms, said study co-author John B. Whitfield, a researcher at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia.

Whitfield and his colleagues examined statistics about alcohol use from three studies of Australian twins completed from 1980 to 1995. The number of twins in the studies declined from 8,184 in 1980 to 3,378 in 1995.

The findings appear in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Study: Gene variation contributes to cleft lip

A variation in a gene plays a significant role in the development of a cleft lip or cleft palate, says a major international study involving almost 2,000 families.

The discovery -- the first of its kind -- should improve genetic counseling for families at increased risk for these types of birth defects. It also could speed research into preventing cleft deformities before they start.

"Because we now know that this gene is involved in clefting, it gives us some insights into the other kinds of genes or environmental factors that we might want to look at," said lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey C. Murray, of the University of Iowa.

His team's findings appear in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Bland diet may not help travelers with diarrhea

If you're hit with traveler's diarrhea on your next vacation, you might still be able to enjoy tasty foods while you recover.

Traditionally, people hit with traveler's diarrhea have been advised to restrict themselves to clear liquids and bland food such as crackers, toast, rice and Jell-O while avoiding spicy and fatty foods and dairy products.

But a University of Texas study of two groups of college students taking antibiotics to treat traveler's diarrhea found those who ate a diet limited to bland foods and broth didn't recover any sooner than people who ate any kind of food. The study appears in the Aug. 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Study links mutations in babies' genes to SIDS

Gene mutations found in babies who died of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, could help explain why certain infants are at increased risk, according to a study in the September issue of Pediatric Research.

The 11 protein-changing mutations were found in genes linked to the autonomic nervous system, which regulates breathing, heartbeat and other functions.

Researchers led by Dr. Debra E. Weese-Mayer of Rush University Medical Center compared genetic material from 92 babies who died from SIDS and 92 healthy babies. They identified the gene mutations in 14 of the 92 SIDS cases but found only one such mutation in two of the 92 healthy babies.

Of the 14 SIDS babies with these mutations, 71 percent were black. This finding may help explain the ethnic disparity in SIDS cases, the researchers said.

-- From Star news services

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