Vitamin C may help in the fight against cancer

Promising new research has shown that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be used to target and kill cancer stem cells (CSCs), the cells responsible for feeding the growth of fatal tumours.

Dr Michael P. Lisanti, Professor of Translational Medicine at the University of Salford, said: “We have been looking at how to target cancer stem cells with a range of natural substances including silibinin (milk thistle) and CAPE, a honey-bee derivative, but by far the most exciting are the results with vitamin C. Vitamin C is cheap, natural, non-toxic and readily available so to have it as a potential weapon in the fight against cancer would be a significant step.”

Cancer stem-like cells are thought to be the root cause of chemotherapy resistance, leading to treatment failure in patients with advanced disease and the triggers of tumour recurrence and metastasis (regrowth).

Vitamin C has previously been shown to be effective as a non-toxic anti-cancer agent in studies by Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling and was recently shown to reduce mortality by 25 per cent on breast cancer patients in Japan. However, its effects on CSC activity have not been previously evaluated and in this context, it behaves as an inhibitor of glycolysis, which fuels energy production in mitochondria, the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell.

Dr Gloria Bonuccelli, lead author and another member of the Salford team added: “This is further evidence that vitamin C and other non-toxic compounds may have a role to play in the fight against cancer. Our results indicate it is a promising agent for clinical trials, and as an add-on to more conventional therapies, to prevent tumour recurrence, further disease progression and metastasis.” The results were published in the journal Oncotarget.

Sitting too comfortably?

New research has revealed that Brits will spend more than 18 years of their adult lifetime sitting down.

The average person leads a very sedentary lifestyle, spending 51 hours and 44 minutes sitting during a typical week, according to the findings from vitamin experts Solgar UK. The study also found that many people sit watching television for 13.5 hours a week, and more than 2.5 hours while they commute. Furthermore, Brits spend only four hours a week exercising, and four hours a day on their feet – just over half the time they spend sitting down.

Solgar UK’s head of nutrition and education, Paul Chamberlain, said: “Our survey found that many Brits experience joint pain (particularly knee and back pain) that impacts their ability to stay active and exercise. Ironically inactivity is one of the major causative factors of joint pain. Sitting for long periods places pressure on the spine and joints. For some people years of inactivity can also lead to weight gain which increases stress on the joints, along with increasing inflammation which again can impact joint health.”

Author and TV Doctor Dr Ellie Cannon added: “I’ve noticed that stiffness, neck pain and general inflexibility are real issues so making sure you’re standing up and going for a walk around the office rather than being still all the time will help. The new Solgar 7 ‘your body is designed to move’ campaign is about encouraging Brits to be more active and offering extra daily joint support to help keep people moving.”

Vitamin D found to help prevent autism

New Zealand researchers have discovered that vitamin D plays an important role in the development – and prevention – of autism.

Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of New Zealand found that giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy completely prevented autism traits in their offspring. Autism — or autism spectrum disorder — describes lifelong developmental disabilities including difficulty or inability to communicate with others and interact socially. Sun exposure is the major source of vitamin D – which skin cells manufacture in response to UV rays – but it is also found in some foods.

Dr Wei Luan, a postdoctoral researcher involved in the study, said vitamin D was crucial for maintaining healthy bones, but the active hormonal form of vitamin D cannot be given to pregnant women because it may affect the skeleton of the developing foetus. “Recent funding will now allow us to determine how much cholecalciferol – the supplement form that is safe for pregnant women – is needed to achieve the same levels of active hormonal vitamin D in the bloodstream,” said Dr Luan. “This new information will allow us to further investigate the ideal dose and timing of vitamin D supplementation for pregnant women. The findings were published in Molecular Autism.

Blueberry concentrate aids brain function in older people

New research from the University of Exeter has shown that drinking concentrated blueberry juice can improve brain function in older people.

The researchers found that a group of healthy people aged between 65 and 77, who drank concentrated blueberry juice every day, demonstrated improvements in brain function, blood flow to the brain and activation of the brain while carrying out cognitive tests. Evidence also suggested an improvement in working memory. Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr Joanna Bowtell, head of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, said: “Our cognitive function tends to decline as we get older, but previous research has shown that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods. In this study we have shown that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, brain blood flow, brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults.”

The findings were published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

To find out more information on Blueberry concentrate, visit

Mediterranean diet could lower breast cancer risk

A major new study has found that the Mediterranean diet could help to lower the risk of one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer by 40 per cent.

The study, which was published in the International Journal of Cancer, and funded by the World Cancer Research Fund, monitored over 62,000 women during a 20-year period. The researchers found that those who adhered more closely to the Mediterranean diet had a 40 per cent reduced risk of oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer – which usually has a worse outcome than other types of the disease.

The Mediterranean diet includes a high intake of plant-based proteins, such as nuts, lentils and beans, whole grains, fish and monounsaturated fats – also known as ‘good fats’ – such as olive oil. This diet also has a low intake of refined grains such as white bread or white rice, red meat and sweets. Although the traditional Mediterranean diet involves moderate consumption of alcohol, in this study alcohol was excluded from the criteria, as this is a known risk factor for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK with over 53,000 new cases each year. Dr Panagiota Mitrou, director of research funding at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This important study showed that following a dietary pattern like the Mediterranean diet could help reduce breast cancer risk – particularly the subtype with a poorer prognosis. With breast cancer being so common in the UK, prevention is key if we want to see a decrease in the number of women developing the disease.”

Love your heart

Taking steps to keep your heart healthy is vital in order to prevent heart disease and starting this at a young age will lower risk later in life. Doctor, fitness blogger and personal trainer, Dr Hazel Wallace, has teamed up with Linwoods, producers of healthy milled super foods, to come up with five ways to help the health of your heart.

1. Eat more flaxseed
Flaxseed is a heart health superfood, full of fibre, which helps lower cholesterol, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve your good cholesterol.

2. Enjoy some chocolate
Cacao is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world because of its rich source of nutrients known as polyphenols. Cacao has also been shown to reduce the amount of both LDL (bad) and total cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

3. A sprinkle a day keeps the doctor away
Pack every meal full of heart-loving nutrition by adding a sprinkle of flaxseed and goji berries to your porridge which more than doubles your daily intake of omega-3.

4. Don’t miss out on magnesium
In a recent study, consuming the RDI (200mg) of dietary magnesium has been associated with a 22 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease. Just one sprinkle (30g) of shelled hemp provides 50 per cent of your recommended daily allowance (RDI).

5. Get moving
Just 30 minutes of moderate activity a day can reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure as well as reducing stress, tension, depression and anxiety.

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