This week in health: Turmeric as effective as Prozac

Credit: Getty Images
More countries need to implement tobacco control measures, the WHO says. Credit: Getty Images

Substance in turmeric as effective as Prozac

Location of study: India
Study subjects: 60 adults with major depressive disorder.
Results: A substance derived from plants was found to be as effective as Prozac in treating depression, according to a new study published in the international journal Phytotherapy Research. The substance, BCM-95 Curcumin, was also found to have no adverse effects. Curcumin is the major curcuminoid found in the spice turmeric, which is thought to lower inflammation, among other things. People with depression have higher levels of inflammation in the brain and don’t make as many new brain cells (neurogenesis). The study authors claim BCM-95 Curcumin is absorbed 7 to 10 times better than ordinary curcumin.
Significance: “Curcumin is both a potent anti-inflammatory agent and a powerful stimulator for neurogenesis,” says study co-author Dr. Ajay Goel, director of the Department of Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

Risk of additional, different cancers for colorectal cancer survivors

Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: Data study
Results: Colorectal cancer survivors face an increased risk of developing subsequent cancers, according to a new study published online in CANCER, the journal of the American Cancer Society. Researchers from the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and Harvard University in Boston defined a 15 percent higher risk of developing a second cancer of any type compared to the general population. They found an even greater risk depending on where the past cancer was located within the colon or rectum.
Significance: “In the long term, these findings may be useful in guiding strategies for cancer screening and surveillance after a first colorectal cancer diagnosis,” says study author Dr. Amanda Phipps.

Tobacco control increases worldwide, but not by enough

Location of study: worldwide
Study subjects: data study
Results: The increase in bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship increased to affect almost 400 million people worldwide and has more than doubled in the last five years, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). The report estimates that three billion people are now covered by national anti-tobacco campaigns, but in order to achieve the goal of a 30 percent reduction of tobacco use by 2025, more countries have to implement comprehensive tobacco control programs.
Significance: Tobacco is the leading global cause of preventable death and kills 6 million people every year. “If we do not close ranks and ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, adolescents and young adults will continue to be lured into tobacco consumption by an ever-more aggressive tobacco industry,” says WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. “Every country has the responsibility to protect its population from tobacco-related illness, disability and death.”

Being overweight may increases risk of gallstones, especially in women

Location of study: Denmark
Study subjects: 77,679 adults
Results: A link between a high body mass index and an increased risk of gallstone disease has been found, according to a report published in Hepatology, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases journal, The researchers from Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital also stated that overweight women are at greater risk of developing gallstones than men. Though prior studies have also shown that a higher BMI is associated with increased risk of gallstone disease, it is unclear if it is the cause of the disease.
Significance: “Obesity is a known risk factor for gallstone disease and our study suggests that elevated BMI likely contributes to the development of this disease,” says Dr. Anne Tybjærg-Hansen, who led the study.


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