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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment

By Randy Dotinga, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay News) -- New research with mice suggests that intravenous doses of vitamin C could one day reduce the size of cancerous tumors in people.

The findings are preliminary and still must be confirmed in humans. And even if the treatment works, it's not a cure but would likely be used in combination with other drugs, the researchers said.

Still, the research does show an unexpected use for vitamin C, which has previously been thought of as a nutrient, not a drug, said study co-author Dr. Mark Levine, chief of the U.S. National Institutes of Health's Molecular and Clinical Nutrition Section.

"There's potential promise that [vitamin C] is part of the armamentarium for treating some cancers," he said. "Which ones? We've got to do more and find out."

Vitamin C has long been one of the most respected of all vitamins, lauded for its supposed powers to treat many ills, from colds to heart disease. The late scientist Dr. Linus Pauling increased the vitamin's profile by touting it as a cancer treatment.

But getting heavy doses of vitamin C into the body is a challenge. Unlike some other vitamins, it's virtually impossible for people to overdose on vitamin C since the body only ingests a certain amount through the mouth and then stops allowing it to build up, Levine said. "The body wants to get to a certain place and no more," he said.

Researchers have found that they can disrupt the body's "tight control" over vitamin C levels by giving the nutrient intravenously and bypassing the digestive system, Levine said. The intravenous approach involves "short-circuiting the body's normal control mechanisms and finding there's an unexpected surprise that may be beneficial," he said.

In the new study, published in the Aug. 4-8 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Levine and his colleagues found that intravenous vitamin C produced hydrogen peroxide, which proceeded to reduce cancerous tumors in the mice by 43 percent to 51 percent. The mice had ovarian, pancreatic and brain cancer.

It's not clear why some tumors are immune to the treatment and others are not, Levine said, although normal cells are unharmed by the therapy.

According to the researchers, it's possible to intravenously boost levels of vitamin C in humans to the levels used in the mice.

But Levine cautioned that the treatment isn't ready for prime time with humans. "Should patients with any kind of tumor go out and get IV ascorbate [vitamin C]? That's not the message here," he said.

Instead, he said, the study shows the need for more research.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said the research is interesting but not yet proven.

"Like so many things that are intriguing or appear to be promising, there appears to be a long way to go from the theory in the lab to the practical application in the clinic."

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MF uncovers the 12 worst fitness inventions of all time

By Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S.

Lame fitness gadgets didn't begin and end with Suzanne Somers' Buttmaster. From the day man first strived to become pec-tacular, businessmen dreamed up ineffective gizmos with one simple goal: separating a dumbbell from his money. So we combed through the dusty Men's Fitness attic and found what we believe are the 12 worst fitness inventions of all time.

"SANITIZED" TAPE WORMS
What the hell was it? Parasites. After swallowing them, they'd nest in your gut and feed off digesting food.
Debut: 100-some-odd years ago
The promise: You'll lose weight! These crawlers, bragged an old-timey ad, were "Friends for a fair form. Jar packed and easy to swallow."
Our verdict: "You also would have lost vitamins, minerals, and intestinal tissue," says fitness expert Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., author of Mind/Body Fitness. Plus, had you ingested these mail-order monstrosities, you surely would've become the object of such groaners as, "Hey, what's eating you?"

THE DUMBBELL CANE
What the hell was it? A cane with, well, a metal dumbbell attached.
Debut: 1910
The promise: "It can be swung in various ways as you walk, with apparent unconsciousness," boasted the not-quite-grammatically-correct advertisement, allowing for a seemingly effortless workout. Sure, it made swingers look like dandies, but at least they were diesel.
Our verdict: A glorified bludgeon (which would never clear today's airport security). "A waif may have found the weight enough to increase muscle," notes Seabourne, "but the average male needs a few more pounds to feel the burn."

THE PROSTATE-GLAND WARMER
What the hell was it? A nine-foot-long electric cord with a 4 1/4-inch butt plug on one end and a blue light bulb on the other . . . just use your imagination.
Debut: 1918
The promise: Upon insertion, the plug will somehow stimulate "the abdominal brain." It's working when the light bulb lights up.
Our verdict: Made your ass look like a blue-light special. This is one invention you'd hate to have been caught road-testing. Besides, adds Seabourne, "Your prostate is plenty warm to begin with."


DR. LAWTON'S GUARANTEED FAT REDUCER
What the hell was it? A round slab of soft rubber with a metal handle.
Debut: Early 1920s
The promise: You can rub body fat off and into the bloodstream (thereby "improving circulation") with this oversize eraser tip.
Our verdict: Useless. Of course, rubbers supposedly got their money back if it didn't work as promised in 11 days (assuming Dr. Lawton wasn't down in Rio with their cash). If any fat actually was burned by this, it was due solely to the caloric expenditure of rubbing with the thing. "A better idea," says Seabourne, "would have been to walk around the block."

THE TWISTER
What the hell was it? A disc with wheels designed to capitalize on "The Twist" dance craze.
Debut: 1960s
The promise: Twisting like Chubby Checker while on this particleboard disc (sold by Jack LaLanne in his catalog) will burn more calories than sitting down to watch the Chubster do it on Ed Sullivan.
Our verdict: We're stunned that a man named Chubby could even have inadvertently spawned an exercise craze. The Twister was "basically a bathroom scale on ball bearings," confides good sport Dan LaLanne, ol' Jack's son.

ACU-DOTS
What the hell was it? Magnets stuck on thick gauze that would be wrapped around limbs.
Debut: 1979
The promise: Pain relief and increased blood circulation will occur as the magnets "attract" the iron in your blood.
Our verdict: Even the most iron-rich blood doesn't budge-all that these magnets would have attracted was laughter. Amazingly, "These suckers made a comeback in 2001 to 'cure' joint and muscular ailments," says Seabourne. "But most proved to have little benefit beyond the placebo effect."

THE RELAXACIZOR
What the hell was it? A gizmo that, via its "contact pads," electrically shocked the body.
Debut: 1949
The promise: Sore muscles will be soothed by surges of electricity. Because, you know, nothing says "relaxation" like high voltage.
Our verdict: Shockingly, more than 400,000 Relaxacizors were sold before they were banned for aggravating such preexisting medical conditions as hernias, ulcers, and epilepsy. "Legitimate electronic muscle stimulators are great for rehabbing injured muscles," says Seabourne, "but only a trained physical therapist should administer them." As for relaxation, geez, just jump into a hot tub. (Without any electric appliances, mind you.)

THE AUTOMATIC EXERCISER
What the hell was it? A collection of pulleys, ropes, and chains attached by handles and straps to a bowling-ball-size weight-the WWI-era predecessor to Bowflex. The weight lifted the user while he sat there, relaxed (probably because he was finally separated from his dumbbell cane).
Debut: Late 1910s
The promise: "Double your strength, improve your health, and lengthen your life."
Our verdict: Production ended in the '20s, probably because no one bought any, and the few that were sold didn't work. "Any device that can be used to provide resistance to muscles at different angles without injuring the participant has merit," says Seabourne. "But if the muscles themselves aren't doing the work, it doesn't belong in the same class as the Bowflex."

THE BATTLE CREEK VIBRATORY CHAIR
What the hell was it? A spasmodic seat that shook the sitter violently-until he relented and stood up. Conceived by Corn Flakes creator and bowel redeemer John Harvey Kellogg, this one was featured at his Michigan sanitarium.
Debut: Circa 1900
The promise: Being shaken, not stirred, will stimulate intestinal contractions and, therefore, leave you with a cleaner colon.
Our verdict: Sitters surely felt like Wile E. Coyote on "ACME Earthquake Pills." Reminds us of English nannies and baby-shaking scandals. "You might as well have sat on a hansom cab over a back-country road," says Seabourne.

THE SLIM SLIDE FITNESS QUEST
What the hell was it? This "quest" involved, essentially, wearing booties and sliding back and forth on a piece of plastic.
Debut: Totally '80s
The promise: Lunging and slipping like a drunken sorority girl on a freshly waxed floor will build a heroic body.
Our verdict: You would have looked hopelessly foolish, and had the instructional video to prove it. "It trained a bunch of lower-body muscles," says Seabourne, "but it was so boring, it just never caught on." Seabourne does note, however, that this device actually had merit-if you wanted to be a sprint skater: "Used in a cross-training format, it's awesome."

THE IMPERIAL BELT MASSAGER EXERCISE MACHINE
What the hell was it? A motorized belt that fit around the waist, vibrating the midsection.
Debut: 1950s
The promise: Having your booty shaken for you at G-force speeds will literally flap the fat away.
Our verdict: Seems like many a comic device on I Love Lucy. "Any machine that does the work for you won't work," says Seabourne. "It's like people who let motorized exercise bikes pedal them."

THE MOLBY REVOLVING HAMMOCK
What the hell was it? A hammock that bore no small resemblance to the rack, complete with chin strap and leg shackles. (Think Pulp Fiction's The Gimp getting medieval on your ass.)
Debut: 1920s
The promise: "Make your spine young!" ads exclaimed. Yes, you too can have "all the keen relish of a healthful existence" when you tangle yourself in a net like a mackerel. The apparatus rolls you from side to side, supposedly straightening your back and improving circulation.
Our verdict: If that is the case, Seabourne wonders, "Why don't the people who ride those 'spinning teacups' at Disney World look like Arnold?"

NOTE: Fitness editor Sean Hyson never tried any of these inventions, including the Prostate-Gland Warmer. (Or so he claims.)

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Marry Me at 8 on the 8th, O.K.?


AFTER becoming engaged last year in Paris, Grace Fung and Victor Chiu returned to New York to discover that event spaces for their wedding on the second Friday of August were already booked. The logjam was unusual for a Friday, but the date in question is this Friday — 08/08/08.

“As a homonym, the number 8 sounds like ‘good fortune’ in Mandarin and Cantonese,” said Ms. Fung, who, like her fiancé, is of Chinese descent.

So, this fortuitous Friday is not only the chosen date of the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics; it has also been circled in red by many couples. (Ms. Fung and Mr. Chiu finally secured a booking for their lucky day at the New York Botanical Garden.)

Chinese people find the 8’s highly desirable for cellphone numbers, license plates, prices (and this reporter’s byline).

In Beijing, officials expect more weddings than usual on Aug. 8, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau has provided an online booking service since June 20 for couples wanting to marry on Friday, giving them until Tuesday to sign up.

But this bump extends beyond China. The Knot, a wedding media and service company, says the number of weddings registered on its Web sites (theknot.com and weddingchannel.com) for 08/08/08 are four times that of other Fridays in August — 22,000 vs. 5,000.

Rob Johnsen and Polly Cohen have planned a Chinese-theme wedding in the Seattle area.

“We’re both really superstitious, and I’m a big gambler and 8 has always been my lucky number since I was born,” said Mr. Johnsen, a founder of MyWedding.com. “We’re both 37 years old, and we figure that this point in our life we need all the luck we can get.”

But so far the 8’s are far behind the lucky 7’s. On July 7, 2007, a Saturday, the Knot counted 70,000 online-registered weddings.

Businesses saw opportunity in the numbers. Joseph Kohn, a photographer in San Francisco, said he is juggling five bookings that day. And when Elite Island Resorts, an umbrella group of Caribbean properties, observed many customer inquiries about that date, it designed an 08/08/08 wedding deal.

Steven Heydt, the president of Elite, said the eighth would be graced by 12 weddings at six of its resorts, an unusual proliferation.

Las Vegas hotels are advertising $888 and $1,888 wedding packages, or deals for the first 88 couples. “Obviously numbers are very important to Las Vegas,” said Lisa Roughley, a spokeswoman for the J W Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa, which is offering a free spa deal for bridal parties with the big 8 date.

Mr. Johnsen said, luck aside, 8 appeals for another aesthetic and symbolic reason.

“Our logo on invitations is 8 turned sideways — infinity,” Mr. Johnsen said.

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