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
National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Local

Earth Day New York food toolkits to help…

Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn. But Earth Day…

Local

NYPD announces street closures for United Nations General…

The United Nations representatives are in town, and multiple city streets will be closed to traffic through Saturday, Sept. 26. The NYPD is urging those…

Television

10 Facts you won’t learn about Frankie Grande…

Frankie Grande is the worst and/or the best. Whether or not you're a fan, you'll want to know these facts about the polarizing player from "Big Brother 16."

Movies

Antoine Fuqua can kill someone with just a…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

Books

Does Lena Dunham have any secrets left?

Get a sneak peek at her new book to determine if it’s worth the read.

NFL

3 things that went wrong in Jets loss…

The Jets have very little room for error with a far-from-explosive offense.

NFL

Eli Manning finally feeling good in West Coast…

The Giants have very little time before their next game, but they still took a moment to relish the team’s biggest offensive outburst since Week 1 of 2013.

College

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close…

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close in on FSU

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

Wellbeing

5 gadgets to protect you from sharks, concussions,…

The medical industry is inundated with devices looking after all aspects of your wellbeing, from monitoring your sleep patterns to warding off shark attacks. We…

Wellbeing

Narcissism and the ugly side of vanity

I have a friend who constantly talks about herself and rarely asks any questions about my life. She is constantly preening, obsessed with her body,…

Wellbeing

Lacking new ideas, Apple Watch disappoints health experts

Technology pundits were quick to predict the demise of most fitness wristbands and smartwatches when the Apple Watch was announced. But health care professionals and…

Style

Sarah Doukas on social media, models and diversity

The maker of Kate Moss tells Metro how social media can drive the diversity change in the fashion industry.