Birth control, nicotine, and greens

Memory and the Pill

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) report that while birth control pills don’t damage memory, they can alter it. Women that were not taking birth control pills were better at remembering details than their peers on the pill. The difference makes sense, says UCI graduate researcher Shawn Nielsen, because contraceptives suppress sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy. These hormones were previously linked to women’s strong left-brain memory by a UCI research group led by Ph.D. Neurobiologist Larry Cahill.

Source: Natural Awakenings magazine, May 2012 issue

Nicotine: Mothers Just Say No

Expectant moms using nicotine patches and gum to help kick a smoking habit are putting their unborn babies at risk, say researchers at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, in California. In a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, they note that the fetus absorbs the addictive substance, which can damage the baby’s blood vessels and may lead to high blood pressure and heart problems later in life.

Source: Natural Awakenings magazine, May 2012 issue

Eating Greens Can Change Genes

An international team of scientists led by researchers at McMaster and McGill universities, in Canada, were surprised to find that consuming generous amounts of fruit and raw vegetables modified a gene designated 9p21, the strongest marker for heart disease. In one of the largest gene-diet interaction studies ever conducted related to cardiovascular disease, the researchers analyzed more than 27,000 individuals from five ethnicities – Latin American, European, Chinese, South Asian and Arab – and the effect their diets had on the target gene. They discovered that men and women with the high-risk genotype that consumed a healthy diet with plenty of raw vegetables and fruits had a risk of heart attack similar to individuals carrying the low-risk genotype.

“We know that 9p21 genetic variants increase the risk of heart disease for those that carry it,” says Genetic Epidemiologist Jamie Engert, joint principal investigator of the study, “but it was a surprise to find that a healthy diet could significantly weaken its effect.” [Are YOU having your daily LeafGreens?]

Source: Natural Awakenings magazine, May 2012 issue

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