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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
Study Focuses On Functional Food Functions

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, August 2, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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       Study focuses on functional food functions

CHICAGO,-- The annual meeting of the Institute of Food Tech-
nologists in Chicago is focusing on such concerns as funct-
ional foods that address disease prevention. Functional food
research is led by Japan, which boasts the most developed 
functional food market in the world, the global research 
firm EuroMonitor said Tuesday. Japan has the world's first 
policy of legally permitting the commercialization of num-
erous functional food and health claims. And now the Asian 
country is looking toward functional foods as a way to bet-
ter address maladies specific to its culture -- specifically
allergies and fatigue, said Makoto Shimizu, a professor at 
the University of Tokyo. One focus of research has been to 
find a food to fight fatigue among Japan's population suff-
ering from chronic tiredness. Shimizu said as much as 59 
percent of Japan's population feels fatigued, while 37 per-
cent describe themselves as "chronically fatigued." Each 
year, Japanese consumers spend more than $168 on energy 
drinks despite a lack of significant evidence of the drinks'
efficacy, he said. The IFT meeting runs through Wednesday at
Chicago's McCormick Place Exposition Center.
  

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                 Diet soda a heart risk?

LE BUGUE, France, -- It could be that if you drink one or 
more diet sodas a day you share the same risk of heart dis-
ease as a person drinking one or more regular sodas a day. 
These are the tentative findings of a large but inconclu-
sive study just published online in Circulation: Journal 
of the American Heart Association. Nine thousand middle-
aged men and women in Framingham, a town near Boston, were 
studied at four different times over the course of four 
years by researchers from Boston University School of Med-
icine.  Those who drank one or more diet sodas a day had 
the same increased risk of metabolic syndrome as those who 
drank one or more regular sodas.
  
         
         New Hodgkin's disease discovery reported

BOSTON,-- U.S. medical scientists have identified a protein 
that prevents the body's immune system from attacking Hod-
gkin's lymphoma cells. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute resear-
chers in Boston said their discovery could result in devel-
opment of targeted therapies that can disable such molecular
"bodyguards" and boost a patient's ability to fight the 
blood cancer. Dr. Margaret Shipp, who led the research, said
if the strategy proves successful, patients might escape 
some complications -- such as heart damage and the threat of
a second cancer -- caused by standard treatments that inc-
lude radiation. The study is available online in the Pro-
ceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is to app-
ear in an upcoming print issue of the journal.

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          The FDA starts new food safety program

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has 
launched a national program aimed at strengthening food saf-
ety projects maintained by the states. FDA officials said 
the program is designed to bring about the adoption of more 
uniform, equivalent and high-quality regulatory programs by 
state agencies responsible for regulating the facilities 
that manufacture, process, pack or hold food under FDA's 
jurisdiction. "This risk-based program represents a signif-
icant step in further integrating our food safety system," 
said Margaret Glavin, FDA's associate commissioner for reg-
ulatory affairs. "We realize it will be several years before
it's fully implemented but we're confident this program will
bring great benefits to the public health." Programmatic 
activities can vary from state to state and such variations 
can lead to inconsistencies in oversight of food safety, the
FDA said. The governmental agency said adoption of voluntary
standards for state regulatory programs will establish a un-
iform basis for regulating manufactured food and help state 
and federal authorities reduce food-borne illness hazards.
The FDA regulates about 80 percent of the nation's food su-
pply, with the exception of meat, poultry and egg products 
which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  
  
          Potential cancer treatment is discovered

STANFORD, Calif., -- U.S. cancer researchers have discovered
a potential new genetic treatment that causes tumors in mice
to self-destruct. The researchers, led by Stanford Univers-
ity Associate Professor Dean Felsher, discovered switching 
off a single malfunctioning gene can halt the limitless div-
ision of tumor cells. Felsher said the possibility a cell's 
natural mechanism for ensuring its mortality could be used 
to vanquish tumors opens the door to a new approach for dev-
eloping anti-cancer drugs. The gene Felsher's team studied 
produces a protein called Myc, which promotes cell division.
A mutation of the gene causes cells to overproduce the pro-
tein, prompting perpetual cell division and tumor growth. By
turning off the mutated gene, the researchers found not only
did uncontrolled cell division cease but the cells also re-
activated a normal physiological mechanism, called senes-
cence, which makes it possible for a cell to eventually die.
"What was unexpected was just the fact that cancer cells had
retained the ability to undergo senescence at all," said 
Felsher. Cancer researchers had long thought senescence had 
to be irreversibly disrupted for a tumor to develop. The 
study appears in the advance online edition of the Proceed-
ings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  
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        Mouse model of schizophrenia is developed

BALTIMORE, -- U.S. scientists have genetically engineered 
the first mouse model of both the anatomical and behavioral 
defects involved in schizophrenia. Johns Hopkins University 
researchers said their new mouse model is based on a genetic
change relevant to the disease. Dr. Akira Sawa, an associate
professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, and his colleagues
said they took advantage of the recent discovery of a major 
risk factor for the disease -- the DISC1 gene -- that makes 
a protein that helps nerve cells assume their proper posit-
ions in the brain. The researchers generated mice that make 
an incomplete, shortened form of the DISC1 protein in addit-
ion to the regular type. That short form of the protein att-
aches to the full-length one, disrupting its normal duties.
As the mice mature, they display behaviors that parallel 
those observed in schizophrenic patients. Sawa said the new 
mouse model will help in exploring how external factors, 
such as stress or viruses, might worsen symptoms. "The ani-
mals can also be bred with other strains of genetically eng-
ineered mice to try to pinpoint additional schizophrenia 
genes," he said. The study is reported online in the Pro-
ceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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