This Week in Health: watermelon lowers blood pressure in study

Watermelon slices
High blood pressure? Watermelon might do the trick.
Credit: Thinkstock

Watermelon lowers blood pressure in study

Location of study: United States

Study subjects: 13 middle-aged men and women with obesity and high blood pressure

Results: People with high blood pressure may want to perk up. New research out of Florida State University found watermelon to significantly cut blood pressure in overweight people. More specifically, patients taking amino acids present in watermelon extract experienced a noticeable decrease in blood pressure. The effects occurred during times of rest, as well as while under stress. The amino acids work by relaxing the smooth muscle of the arteries, bringing down blood pressure in the process.

Significance: The study was prompted by the fact that more people die of heart attacks when exposed to cold weather (the stress of cold temperatures leads to narrowed blood vessels in the heart, which increases blood pressure). To simulate the effects of cold weather conditions, participants placed their hands in 39-degree water while researchers measured their blood pressure. Researchers say that people with obesity and high blood pressure are at an increased risk for stroke and heart attack when exposed to cold temperatures.

Scientists discover gene that plays key role in breast cancer progression

Location of study: United States

Study subjects: Animal models

Results: For women with triple negative breast cancer, the outlook is often grim. Scientists have recently discovered that a gene previously thought to be unassociated with the disease may actually be a key player in the progression of triple negative breast cancer. When the gene (known as XBP1) was silenced in lab cultures and in animal models, it blocked tumor progression and relapse.

Significance: The findings represent a viable new research focus. “It’s one of the most aggressive types of breast cancers,” said Dr. Xi Chen, lead researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College. “So far, there are very few treatment options.”

Beer marinade may cut cancer-causing compounds in grilled meat

Location of study: Portugal

Results: As barbeque season approaches, many are eager to fire up the grill. New research now suggests that beer marinade may reduce the levels of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats. In a recent study, researchers grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner or black beer ale. All meat samples were cooked to well done on a charcoal grill. Of all the marinades observed, black beer was the most effective in lowering the levels of harmful substances. In fact, it cut them by more than 50 percent when compared to the unmarinated pork.

Significance: Previous studies have linked colorectal cancer to the consumption of grilled meats. When meats are cooked at extremely high temperatures, like on a backyard grill, food borne cooking carcinogens can form. It appears that antioxidants from beer counteract these formations.

More health concerns related to e-cigarettes

Location of study: U.S.

Results: Electronic cigarette use is on the rise in the United States. In fact, sales are expected to hit $1.5 billion this year. But as e-cigarettes pick up more and more steam, many wonder about the potential health concerns. Researchers at the American Chemical Society report that a recent study detected small amounts of six toxic substances in the vapor of several different e-cigarette brands. Researchers also found low levels of cadmium, nickel and lead in the vapor.

Significance: E-cigarettes fall into a gray area when it comes to potential health risks. At this point in time, there simply isn’t a substantial amount of data about the safety of these devices when used over long periods of time. They’re also currently unregulated by the FDA. Even so, they may represent the lesser of two evils. “If every smoker switched from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes, 90 percent or more of smoking-related health problems would go away, which would be a huge public health benefit,” said Dr. Neil L. Benowitz, chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of California San Francisco.

Gratitude might be the key to happiness

Location of study: United States

Study subjects: 246 people with an average age of 21

Results: New research is echoing what some have been saying for years – money doesn’t buy happiness. According to researchers, people who are materialistic are less likely to be satisfied with their lives. Experts partially attribute this to the fact that materialists have a harder time being grateful for what they already have. People who are material-focused are also more likely to have low self-esteem and to be less satisfied in their relationships. Conversely, those who are grateful are more likely to be happy and to find meaning in life.

Significance: Researchers say their findings reinforce the “treadmill of consumption” theory. “That new 2,500-square-foot house becomes the baseline for your desires for an even bigger house,” study co-author Dr. James Roberts of Baylor University said in a statement. “We continue to purchase more and more stuff, but we don’t get any closer to happiness. We simply speed up the treadmill.”

Content provided by ZipTrials, a trusted source for the most up-to-date medical news and trending health stories.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

City Council to vote on bill banning anonymous…

One of the two bills would make it so any type of communication paid for or okayed by a campaign disclose that they are involved in any way.

National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Local

VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.

Movies

Review: 'To Be Takei' has George Takei's charm…

Actor, activist and Internet star George Takei gets a life-spanning documentary in "To Be Takei," which captures his charm and passion.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, Aug. 20: 'Extant,' 'Legends'…

See a two hour block of Halle Berry's scifi show, "Extant."

The Word

The Word: Mischa Barton in trouble, not that…

  People are really, really worried about Mischa Barton. Again. The former "O.C." star is reportedly in deep financial trouble and can't seem to get…

Movies

Review: 'The One I Love' has a top…

Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass play a frayed couple who happen on something mysterious in "The One I Love," which we can't spoil.

NFL

Jace Amaro continues to deal with issue dropping…

Jets second-round pick Jace Amaro has been plagued by drops since minicamp in June.

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

Parenting

Fun family activity: Off-Broadway show for pre-teens

"The Love Note" is an off-Broadway musical your pre-teen won't roll his or her eyes at.

Parenting

Barnes & Noble partners with Samsung to release…

Barnes & Noble releases the first full android tablet optimized for reading.

Style

11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.

Food

The Chic Wife tells us how to use…

Kris Schoels, aka The Chic Wife, grew up on a farm with peach trees. August is National Peach Month, but Kris Schoels doesn’t need a reason…