Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eating out 'raises risk for high blood pressure'

 The first ever study to show a link between eating meals away from home and high blood pressure has been published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

diners in Singapore
The researchers believe that their findings are particularly applicable to young adults of Asian descent.
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is the main risk factor for cardiovascular disease-associated death.
In hypertension, the greater the force of blood pushing up against the walls of the blood vessels, the harder the heart has to pump, which can lead to heart failure and heart attack. People with hypertension are also at increased risk for kidney failure, aneurysm and stroke.
About 70 million adults and 2 million children in the US are affected by hypertension.
Previous studies have found that eating meals away from home is associated with a higher intake of calories, saturated fat and salt - eating behaviors believed to be linked with high blood pressure.
To investigate whether eating out could therefore be associated with hypertension, the researchers behind the new study surveyed 501 young adults aged 18-40 who attended university in Singapore. The surveys collected information on the students' blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), lifestyle, physical activity levels and how often they eat out.
Statistical analysis of the data showed that:
  • 27.4% of the students had pre-hypertension
  • 49% of the male participants and 9% of the female participants had pre-hypertension
  • 38% of the students ate more than 12 meals away from home per week.
The researchers found that students with hypertension or pre-hypertension were more likely than participants without hypertension or pre-hypertension to eat out more often, have a higher BMI, have lower levels of physical activity and be current smokers.
Significantly, the study also found that eating just one extra meal out per week is associated with a 6% increase in risk for pre-hypertension.

Study is first to show association between dining out and increased hypertension risk

Study author Prof. Tazeen Jafar, from the Health Services and Systems Program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, says that the study is the first to show a link between eating out and pre-hypertension and hypertension:
"While there have been studies conducted in the United States and Japan to find behaviors associated with hypertension, very few have surveyed a Southeast Asian population. Our research plugs that gap and highlights lifestyle factors associated with pre-hypertension and hypertension that are potentially modifiable, and would be applicable to young adults globally, especially those of Asian descent."
Based on the study's results, the authors suggest that clinicians should advise young adults - particularly younger male patients - to modify their eating behaviors and make them more aware of their risk for pre-hypertension. The findings should also inform policy changes, such as regulating salt and fat in eateries, the researchers say.
Next, the team will embark on a related study examining potential interventions that may prevent hypertension among young adults in Singapore.
Elsewhere on Medical News Today, we report on a series of studies by researchers at the University of Illinois that investigate the benefits of making food more porous at a microstructural level to protect against hypertension.
The Illinois team believes that making food more porous will allow more salt to be released during chewing, which should allow manufacturers to lower the overall level of salt content in their foods.
MNT also recently looked at research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that found Asian-Americans are at increased risk for hypertensive heart disease, ischemic heart disease and hemorrhagic stroke than non-Hispanic white Americans.
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Alcohol: does it really offer health benefits?

Many of us like the odd drink or two, particularly after a hard day at work. In fact, some studies have suggested moderate alcohol consumption is good for our health. On the other hand, some studies claim this may not be the case. Such conflicting findings beg the question: should we succumb to the occasional glass of wine?

A group of friends drinking
More than 70% of Americans aged 18 and older report having drank in the past year and 56% have consumed alcohol in the past month.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), moderate drinking is defined as consuming up to one alcohol drink a day for women and up to two alcohol drinks a day for men.
The definition of a "standard" alcoholic drink depends on the alcohol content of the beverage. In the US, the NIAAA consider one alcoholic drink to be 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer or 1.5 oz of spirits.
Most of us have had a taste of at least one alcoholic drink at some point in our lives. According to the NIAAA, more than 70% of Americans aged 18 and older report having drank in the past year and 56% have consumed alcohol in the past month.
It is well established that drinking too much alcohol - either at once or over a long period of time - is detrimental to health. It can cause heart problems, liver disease and even cancer. In fact, 88,000 deaths in the US each year are alcohol-related, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the country.
But many studies suggest that, if consumed moderately, alcohol may actually be beneficial for health, protecting against some of the problems drinking too much of it can cause.

Reduced risk of heart problems

In January, Medical News Today reported on a study published in the European Heart Journal, in which researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, found consuming up to seven alcoholic drinks a week could protect against heart failure.
In this study, the researchers defined one alcoholic beverage as 14 g of alcohol - equivalent to a 125 ml glass of wine or just under one shot of liquor.
From an analysis of almost 15,000 participants, the team found that - compared with participants who consumed no alcohol - men who drank up to seven alcoholic drinks a week had a 20% reduced risk of heart failure, while women who consumed up to seven drinks weekly were at 16% lower risk of heart failure.
And this is not the only study to associate moderate alcohol consumption with improved heart health. According to the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA, more than 100 prospective studies have suggested moderate alcohol use may protect against stroke, heart attack, heart disease, sudden cardiovascular death and other cardiovascular conditions, as well as improve overall mortality.
But what are the mechanisms underlying the link between moderate alcohol use and good heart health?
According to Prakash Deedwania, chief of the cardiology division at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, drinking a glass of wine - and possibly other alcoholic beverages - can benefit the heart by increasing our levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol.
"The grape skin provides flavonoids and other antioxidant substances that protect the heart and vessels from the damaging effects of free oxygen radicals produced by our body," she explains.
"The strongest evidence is in favor of wine, but some evidence recently showed beer and other types of alcohol may provide the same benefits related to increasing good cholesterol."
The Harvard School of Public Health note that moderate alcohol consumption may also prevent the formation small blood clots that block arteries in the heart, neck and brain - a common cause of heart attack and stroke.

Lower risk of diabetes

Numerous studies have associated heavy or binge drinking with increased risk of diabetes. But others have found that a moderate intake could reduce the likelihood of developing the condition.
Diabetes risk
One study associated moderate alcohol consumption with a 30% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
In 2005, a study published in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association, found participants who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol - around 6-48 g a day - were 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared with heavy drinkers and nondrinkers.
These findings were supported by a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Nutrition. Researchers from the Netherlands found that, not only does moderate alcohol consumption lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, the association is independent of other factors that may contribute to reduced diabetes risk.
But what is behind this association? Researchers have linked moderate alcohol consumption with increased insulin sensitivity, which may lower diabetes risk. The researchers from the Netherlands, for example, point to studies indicating that moderate alcohol use increases circulating concentrations of adiponectin - a protein involved in regulating glucose levels.
The aforementioned suggestion that moderate alcohol consumption can increase levels of HDL cholesterol may also explain its association with reduced diabetes risk.

Improved memory

While many of you may be testament to the fact that a few too many drinks can play havoc with memory, some studies have associated light or moderate alcohol consumption with improved memory.
In June 2014, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that moderate alcohol consumption improved participants' memory and thinking skills, particularly for women and those aged 70 and older.
And in October 2014, MNT reported on a study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias finding that older individuals who engaged in light or moderate drinking had higher episodic memory - the ability to remember events. They also had a larger volume in the hippocampus - a brain region that plays an important role in memory.
These findings, the researchers say, support animal studies indicating that moderate alcohol consumption plays a role in protecting hippocampal volume through boosting the growth of new nerve cells in that region of the brain.

Data 'not sufficient to recommend drinking to anyone'

While an array of studies have hailed moderate alcohol use for its health benefits, Dr. Geoff Kane, chair of the Medical-Scientific Committee at the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), told MNT he believes there is not enough evidence to suggest that nondrinkers should up their alcohol intake:
"The main way modest drinking is thought to benefit health is by increasing HDL; there are other means to do that, such as diet and exercise, that do not carry the dangers of drinking.
If someone does not have a drinking problem already and is not at high risk, and if they choose to drink, then they may take satisfaction in the possibility they derive health benefits. My opinion - and so far as I know that of other authorities - is that the data are not at all sufficient to recommend drinking to anyone."
Dr. Kane cautioned that individuals with alcohol addiction or a less severe alcohol use disorder should not be swayed to engage in alcohol use based on studies documenting its health benefits. "Any small benefits are extremely likely to be overpowered by the many adverse health risks of heavy drinking," he added.
What is more, in January, MNT reported on a study claiming the health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption may be "overestimated."
From a study of more than 18,000 adults, the team found that mortality benefits were only identified in men aged 50-64 who consumed 15-20 units of alcohol a week, and women aged 65 and over who drank up to 10 units of alcohol a week.
The researchers say their findings indicate that past studies demonstrating health benefits from moderate alcohol use "may, in part, be attributable to an inappropriate selection of a referent group and weak adjustment for confounders."
"The effect of such biases should therefore be borne in mind when evaluating findings from alcohol health studies - particularly when seeking to extrapolate results to the population level," they added.

Alcohol 'may not benefit everyone who drinks moderately'

From the studies mentioned in this Spotlight, one thing is clear: it is quite possible that alcohol poses potential health benefits if consumed in moderation. But don't go reaching for the wine just yet - it may not benefit all of us.
As the NIAAA state:
"Expanding our understanding of the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and potential health benefits remains a challenge, and although there are positive effects, alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks moderately."
April is Alcohol Awareness Month - an annual campaign launched in 1987 and sponsored by the NCADD that aims to increase public awareness of alcoholism and its related issues.
Visit the NCADD website to find out more about the campaign. Our Knowledge Center article - "What is alcoholism?" - provides further information on the complications of alcohol abuse.
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Plucking hairs could help treat baldness, study finds

 In a new study, researchers may have uncovered a promising - yet surprising - treatment for hair loss: plucking the remaining hairs.

Hair regeneration using quorum sensing
Researchers found plucking 200 hairs from a 3-5 mm region of a mouse's back led to the growth of 450-1,300 new hairs.
Image credit: Cheng-Ming Chuong
Led by Prof. Cheng-Ming Chuong, of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, the study reveals how individually plucking 200 hairs from the back of a mouse in a specific pattern led to the regeneration of up to 1,300 hairs.
Prof. Chuong and his team publish their findings in the journal Cell.
Male pattern baldness accounts for around 95% of hair loss in men, according to the American Hair Loss Association. By the age of 35, around two thirds of men in the US will have experienced some level of hair loss.
Common causes of hair loss in women - who account for 40% of all hair loss sufferers - include female pattern baldness and traction alopecia, which is hair loss caused by trauma to the hair follicles - skin organs that grow hair.
According to Prof. Chuong and colleagues, it is well established that damage to hair follicles can influence hair regeneration in the surrounding areas. As such, they hypothesized that hair follicle stimulation through hair plucking may lead to new hair growth, and they set out to test this theory.
One by one, the team plucked 200 hairs from the back of a mouse in a number of different patterns.
They found that plucking the hairs from an area more than 6 mm in diameter failed to regenerate new hairs. Plucking hairs from a region 3-5 mm in diameter, however, led to the regeneration of 450-1,300 new hairs, and these new hairs even grew outside of the plucked area.
Commenting on their findings, Prof. Chuong says:
"It is a good example of how basic research can lead to work with potential translational value. The work leads to potential new targets for treating alopecia, a form of hair loss."

Hair plucking triggers 'distress signals' to encourage new hair growth

Through conducting molecular studies, the researchers found that plucking hairs from the back of the mouse generated new hair growth through a process called "quorum sensing."
Put simply, the damage to the hair follicles caused by hair plucking triggered the release of inflammatory proteins. These proteins send a "distress signal" to immune cells, calling them to the injury site.
Next, the team explains, the immune cells express signaling molecules - such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). At certain concentrations, these signaling molecules encourage both damaged and undamaged hair follicles to grow new hair.
Prof. Chuong says these findings may have wider implications; it is possible that minor damage to other organs could stimulate some form of regeneration. "The implication of the work is that parallel processes may also exist in the physiological or pathogenic processes of other organs," he adds, "although they are not as easily observed as hair regeneration."
Talking to BBC News, Prof. Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative medicine at University College London in the UK, said the idea of quorum sensing for hair regeneration is "smart," but it is unclear as to whether it could be an effective treatment for human hair loss.
"That's the million-dollar question. I'm not sure. As it stands here, you've got to have some hair to pluck." he said. "Could you tap into the pathway with a cream or injection? That could well be possible - or maybe don't wait until you're totally bald?"
In January, Medical News Today reported on a study by researchers from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, revealing a potential way to generate new hair using human pluripotent stem cells.
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Scientists reveal genetic root of prostate cancer

An international team of scientists have revealed the genetic root of prostate cancers in individual men, demonstrating that tumors share common gene faults which could potentially offer new targets for treatment.

Image of the prostate gland.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer death in men.
The research, published in Nature, is part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium - a global project committed to revealing genetic changes driving prostate cancer, using the most up-to-date gene-sequencing technology available.
Tumor samples from 10 men with prostate cancer were analyzed, allowing the researchers to map a "family tree" of changes occurring at a genetic level as the cancer develops.
The researchers also learned more about how the disease spreads through the body and forms new tumors. They discovered that the first group of cells that spread from the prostate continues to travel throughout the body, developing new tumors as it goes.
"We gained a much broader view of prostate cancer by studying both the original cancer and the cells that had spread to other parts of the body in these men," says study author Prof. Ros Eeles from the Institute of Cancer Reseach in London, UK. "And we found that all of the cells that had broken free shared a common ancestor cell in the prostate."
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men behind skin cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death behind lung cancer. Around 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
According to American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates, in 2015, around 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed, and 27,540 deaths will occur attributable to the disease.
The researchers have already discovered that cancer cells taken from different sites within a man's prostate can be very diverse genetically. Despite this, the new study found that cancer cells moving away from the prostate share genetic faults that are unique to the man whose cancer it is.
"The common faults we found in each man could potentially offer new targets for treatment," states Prof. Eeles. "But we found that, once cancer cells have spread, they continue to evolve genetically, so choosing the most effective treatments will remain a key challenge."

Shared mutations represent 'a potential Achilles heel' for prostate cancer

Prof. Steven Bova from the University of Tampere in Finland believes that in order to find these shared genetic faults, multiple biopsies may be needed. "We must also study more patients to learn how to apply these findings to develop more personalized treatments for people with the disease," he adds.
Learning how cancer cells change and evolve as they metastasize (spread to other parts of the body) and thus become resistant to certain forms of treatment is crucial to developing future treatments for all forms of cancer.
Senior author Dr. Ultan McDermott says that while the shared tumor-causing genetic faults mapped by their "family tree" represent a potential Achilles heel for prostate cancer, "many of these shared mutations are in tumor suppressor genes and our approach to therapeutically targeting these needs to be prioritized."
"We have to zoom in on this crucial junction and gather more data on the impact different therapies have on prostate cancer's evolution and spread," he adds.
The study authors conclude that these findings "elucidate in detail the complex patterns of metastatic spread and further our understanding of the development of resistance to androgen-deprivation therapy in prostate cancer."
Recently, Medical News Today reported on new research suggesting that taking vitamin D supplements could slow or reverse the progression of low-grade prostate tumors, reducing the need for surgery or radiation therapy.
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Very few commercial weight-loss programs are effective, study finds

Many of us have turned to commercial weight-loss programs in a bid to shed the pounds. But do they really work? According to a comprehensive review of such programs conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers, very few are effective.

Measuring tape wrapped around a set of scales
Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig were found to be the best programs for long-term weight loss, according to the review.
Dr. Kimberly Gudzune, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues publish the findings of their review in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
More than a third of adults in the US are obese. According to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF), clinicians should recommend overweight or obese patients to engage in weight-loss interventions, which may include commercial weight-loss programs.
But according to Dr. Gudzune and colleagues, clinicians have limited reliable evidence as to which commercial weight-loss programs they should recommend.
"Primary care doctors need to know what programs have rigorous trials showing that they work, but they haven't had much evidence to rely on," says Dr. Gudzune. "Our review should give clinicians a better idea of what programs they might consider for their patients."
To reach their findings, the team reviewed more than 4,200 trials of 32 of the major commercial weight-loss programs, data on which was gathered from two popular medical literature databases and the weight-loss programs themselves.
For their final review, the researchers only included randomized controlled trials - in which participants were assigned to either a commercial weight-loss program or a less comprehensive intervention - and studies that lasted for a minimum of 12 weeks.
The team found that they were left with only 39 trials assessing 11 weight-loss programs. Included were three high-intensity programs - Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and NutriSystem. These programs include self-monitoring, goal setting, nutritional information and counseling.
Five self-directed programs met the gold standard of medical research - Atkins, SlimFast, the Biggest Loser Club, eDiets and Lost It! - as did three low-calorie meal replacement programs, HMR, Medifast and OPTIFAST.

Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig 'most effective for long-term weight loss'

From analyzing the trials of these programs, the researchers found that Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig were the most effective programs for long-term weight loss.
Studies of these programs lasted at least 12 months, and they showed that participants lost more weight when following the programs than those who dieted alone or who received printed health information or weight-loss counseling.
"Given these findings," say the researchers, "it may be reasonable for clinicians to refer patients to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig."
NutriSystem also demonstrated higher weight loss after 3 months, compared with less intensive interventions. However, the researchers note that no long-term studies on this program could be identified, and knowing the long-term results of a weight-loss program is key for determining its health benefits.
Study co-author Dr. Jeanne Clark, of the Division of Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins, explains:
"We want people to experience the health benefits of weight loss - lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, and lower risk of developing diseases like diabetes.
Those benefits are long-term goals; losing weight for 3 months, then regaining it, has limited health benefits. That's why it's important to have studies that look at weight loss at 12 months and beyond."
Studies of all three low-calorie meal replacement programs showed that participants who followed the programs lost more weight than control participants after 4-6 months. The one long-term study of these programs, however, showed no weight loss benefit at 12 months.
Results from trials assessing the Atkins diet "appear promising," according to the team, which showed that people who followed this program lost more weight at 6 and 12 months than those who had weight-loss counseling alone.
When it came to SlimFast, the Biggest Loser Club, eDiets and Lost It!, the researchers say they could reach no firm conclusions as to whether these programs are effective for weight loss.
The team cautions that although Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig were found to be the most effective commercial weight-loss programs, the weight loss was still "modest," with participants losing around 3-5% more than control participants.
In addition, they point out that very few studies they analyzed lasted 12 months or more, so they were unable to accurately determine the long-term benefits of the commercial weight-loss programs.
As a result, Dr. Gudzune and colleagues say more rigorous studies of such programs over longer periods are needed.
In February, Medical News Today reported on another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, in which researchers claim increasing fiber intake can boost weight loss.
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CDC: drug-resistant intestinal bug spreading in US

A group of bacteria called Shigella is responsible for 500,000 cases of diarrhea in the US every year. Now a new report says a multi-drug resistant strain of the bug is entering the country in infected travelers and causing a series of outbreaks.

washing hands
The CDC recommend people wash their hands often with soap and water to prevent spread of the diarrhea illness shigellosis.
Shigella causes shigellosis - an intestinal illness that is accompanied by watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and malaise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say a strain of Shigella sonnei - the most common species of Shigella in the US - that is resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin (Cipro) infected 243 people in 32 states and Puerto Rico between May 2014 and February 2015.
Shigella is one of the types of bacteria that cause intestinal illness in travelers going from developed countries to under-developed countries. This "traveler's diarrhea," is variously referred to as "Montezuma's revenge," or "Delhi belly," or the "Turkey trots."
The bacteria are found in water used for drinking, to wash food or to irrigate crops, that has been contaminated by human or animal stools.
Cipro is a first choice drug for treating shigellosis among adults in the US. Until recently, Cipro resistance was only found in around 2% of Shigella infections tested in the US.
In the new report - which describes investigations into recent clusters of Shigella infection in Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania - the CDC say Cipro resistance was found in 90% of the samples tested.
Some people infected with Shigella only have mild symptoms, but this does not stop the bug from spreading. The report says that in these outbreaks, the bacteria spread easily in childcare facilities and among homeless people and gay and bisexual men.

Investigators found unique strain of Cipro-resistant Shigella

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says the outbreaks they investigated are a troubling trend:
"Drug-resistant infections are harder to treat and because Shigella spreads so easily between people, the potential for more - and larger - outbreaks is a real concern."
Dr. Frieden states the US is moving quickly to put in place a national plan to curb antibiotic resistance, because "we can't take for granted that we'll always have the drugs we need to fight common infections."
In the US, most strains of Shigella are already resistant to the antibiotics ampicillin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. Around the world, Shigella is becoming more resistant to Cipro, which is often prescribed to people traveling out of the US in case they develop diarrhea while abroad.
The report describes how through the CDC's PulseNet lab network, it was possible to identify an increase in shigellosis cases caused by a unique strain of Cipro-resistant Shigella. About half of the cases were people known to have returned from the Dominican Republic, India and other places outside the US.
The CDC recommend good hygiene habits to prevent the spread of Shigella, including:
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water
  • Always wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet, and before preparing food and eating
  • If your child is sick with diarrhea, keep them home and away from childcare and group activities
  • Don't prepare food for others if you have diarrhea
  • Avoid swimming pools and other public water places for a few weeks as you recover from a diarrhea illness.
Dr. Anna Bowen, a medical officer in CDC's Waterborne Diseases Prevention Branch, and lead author of the report, says:
"Washing your hands with soap and water is important for everyone. Also, international travelers can protect themselves by choosing hot foods and drinking only from sealed containers."
Scientists are starting to discover that antibiotic use - and overuse especially - is linked to a range of problems that affect, among other things, the immune system, glucose metabolism, food digestion, gut health and behavior.
For instance, in February 2015, Medical News Today reported another study that showed antibiotic use has more more unwanted side effects on the gut than previously thought. In that study, led by the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, Corville, researchers tested the effect of four antibiotics commonly given to lab animals.
Previously, it was thought the drugs only killed bacteria and blocked some immune functions in the gut. However, the study found they also destroy cells in the lining of the gut.
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Amphetamine-like stimulant remains in dietary supplements 2 years after FDA discovery

 In January 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration published a study in which they identified an amphetamine-like stimulant in a number of commonly used dietary supplements. More than 2 years later, a new study led by a researcher from Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, MA, finds that, not only are products containing the supplement still on the market, their abundance has increased.

Dietary supplements
"Since the FDA discovered BMPEA in supplements, the percentage of brands of Acacia rigidula supplements that contain BMPEA has appeared to increase, from 42.9% in 2012 to 52.4% in 2014," note the researchers.
The 2014 study from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, revealed that nine of the tested 21 dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, improved cognitive function or enhanced athletic performance containing a plant extract called Acacia rigidula also contained beta-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA).
BMPEA is a synthetic compound closely related to amphetamine. Though the safety of the substance has not been tested in humans, studies in cats and dogs have shown it to increase blood pressure and heart rate - conditions known to raise the risk of heart attack and stroke in humans.
But despite the FDA's findings, it seems the organization has taken no action to enforce the removal of BMPEA from dietary supplements or warn consumers about the potential risks.

Findings represent a 'profound leadership failure at the FDA'

On Tuesday, Dr. Pieter A. Cohen, of the Cambridge Health Alliance at Harvard, and colleagues published a study in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis, revealing that BMPEA was identified in 11 of the 21 Acacia rigidula dietary supplements they purchased 1 year after the FDA's findings.
"Since the FDA discovered BMPEA in supplements, the percentage of brands of Acacia rigidula supplements that contain BMPEA has appeared to increase, from 42.9% in 2012 to 52.4% in 2014," note the researchers.
"Whether this represents a true increase in the prevalence of BMPEA or is due to differences in sampling methods or other factors is not known," they add. "Regardless, the continued presence of BMPEA in mainstream supplements continues to expose consumers to potential risks."
Dr. Cohen told Medical News Today that he was "shocked" by their findings. "I had assumed that the FDA's original research would have led manufacturers to quietly withdraw this stimulant since the FDA had discovered it," he said.
He told us that the results represent a "profound leadership failure" at the FDA. "The problem starts with the commissioner ignoring supplements and continues all the way down to the supplement division, which is intertwined with the supplement industry," he added.
The team says immediate action needs to be taken to remove BMPEA from all supplements and ensure consumers avoid such products:
"We recommend that supplement manufacturers immediately recall all supplements containing BMPEA, and that the FDA use all its enforcement powers to eliminate BMPEA as an ingredient in dietary supplements.
Consumers should be advised to avoid all supplements labeled as containing Acacia rigidula. Physicians should remain alert to the possibility that patients may be inadvertently exposed to synthetic stimulants when consuming weight-loss and sports supplements."

FDA: 'no specific safety concern identified at this time'

The FDA, however, have taken a different view on the issue. In a statement released yesterday, the organization said their review of products containing BMPEA "does not identify a specific safety concern at this time," though they say they "will consider taking regulatory action, as appropriate, to protect consumers."
Talking to MNT, Dr. Cohen said he was left "speechless" by the FDA's statement. "This statement is ludicrous," he added. "How could they try to spin this as if there is no safety concern? That is flying in the face of what we've heard from the Canadian and European health authorities, not to mention many independent experts."
The UK's Food Standard Agency, for example, say they have seen no evidence that Acacia rigidula is not a "novel food." As such, they say - under European Union (EU) regulations - it needs to undergo testing to ensure it is safe for human consumption.
Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), agrees with Dr. Cohen, and says he sees no reason why the FDA cannot take the appropriate action against supplement manufacturers adding BMPEA to their products.
"BMPEA does not appear to be a legitimate dietary ingredient, and therefore, its inclusion in a product labeled as a dietary supplement makes the product adulterated under the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act (DSHEA)," Mister explained in a statement.
"Although Acacia rigidula supplements represent a very small portion of the dietary supplement industry - so small that we are not aware of specific sales data - FDA has the tools it needs under the law to take action before there are serious health consequences, and CRN is asking the agency to do just that."
It seems the findings from Dr. Cohen and colleagues have triggered some positive action, however. E-commerce company Vitacost - who markets a BMPEA-containing dietary supplement called ARO-Vitacost Black Series BURN - say they are halting all online sales of the product.
"They will not be available for purchase until we can investigate further, and again have full confidence that these products are safe and effective for our customers," the company said in a statement.
But talking to CBS This Morning, Dr. Cohen said such a move is simply not enough. "This is way too little too late. We need all these products off store shelves. More importantly, we need the FDA to be enforcing the law."
Last month, Medical News Today reported on a study published in Nature Communications, in which researchers claim a popular anti-aging supplement - ubiquinone - is unlikely to have any benefits.
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