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What's NEXT in the Nutra Industry?

By Erik Goldman

Leaders in the nutrition and natural products industry are set to gather next week in Anaheim, CA, for the NEXT Innovation Summit--a gathering focused on development of new products for healthier living. Co-located with the massive Natural Products Expo West, the summit has emerged as a top think-tank for the industry.

NEXTImageThe market for healthier foods, dietary supplements, herbal medicines, "green" household products and the like has continued to grow rapidly, despite the protracted economic recession. Last year's ExpoWest drew roughly 60,000 people from all over the world. the NEXT Summit--produced by New Hope Natural Media--is focused on translating clincal science and new technology into new products that can potentially improve millions of lives.

Featured speakers inlcude: Daniel Kraft, MD, a Stanford University physician and health technologist who lives at the leading edge of the mobile health revolution; Jeff Bland, PhD, the "father of functional medicine," and founder of the new Personalized Medicine Institute; Mark Blumenthal, director of the American Botanical Council, and many many others.

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To Prevent Prostate Cancer, SELECT Something Besides Selenium

By Erik Goldman, Editor

A new analysis of data from the federally-funded SELECT (Selenium & Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial) study appears to deliver the death-blow to the idea that supplementation with selenium and vitamin E can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

The study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute as been the subject of considerable debate. It began in 2001, and enrolled more than 35,000 men over age 50 at 400 sites in the US, Puerto Rico and Canada. The objective was to assess whether the trace mineral, selenium, at a daily dose of 200 mcg alone or in combination with d-alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) in dose ranges of 400-660 IU.

In 2008, the NCI opted to stop the study after preliminary analysis showed no cancer-sparing benefit from either of the supplements compared with placebo, but a statistically significant 17% increase in risk of prostate cancer among the men taking the vitamin E. The men taking selenium alone also showed a slight increase in cancer risk, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Critics of the trial--and its cessation--held that by using d-alpha-tocopherol alone, SELECT unfairly vilifies "vitamin E" which in nature represents a composite of 8 different tocopherols and tocotrienols. For some, the initial data set also left open questions about the impact of selenium: was it truly contributing to a rise in cancer, or was this a statistical artifact.

A new analysis by Dr. Alan Kristal and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, indicates that--unfortunately--it's the former scenario.

Dr. Kristal and his team looked at the impact of selenium supplementation stratified by baseline selenium levels. In other words, they were looking to see if men with the lowest baseline levels showed a decreased cancer risk after years of supplementation. This would corroborate the initial rationale for selenium supplementation based on earlier population-based studies indicating an association between seleniumd eficiency and higher prostate cancer risk.

The data showed no benefit in terms of reducing cancer risk in deficient men, and it actually increased the risk in men with the highest baseline selenium levels.

The researchers used toenail selenium content in clippings taken prior to starting the trial as the basic indicator of selenium levels. Selenium supplementation alone or in combination with vitamin E had no effect on prostate cancer rates in thise under the 60th percentile for baseline selenium, but provoked a 91% increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer in those in the highest baseline selinium quintile. The data were just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Older men with high baseline selenium levels were particularly susceptible to the amplyfing effect of the supplementation.

The SELECT data also seem to put to rest the notion that low selenium is a risk factor for prostate cancer. Dr. Kristal's team found no difference in prostate cancer risk between men in the lowest versus highest quintiles.

Based on these findings, Dr. Kristal concludes that "Men should avoid selenium or vitamin E at doses that exxceed recommended dietary intakes."

The US Preventive Services Task Force is expected to make a final statement about the new SELECT findings shortly.

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Smart (Head)Phones

By August West, Contributing Writer

First, they invented smartphones. Now, those wizards at Apple are working on world's first Smart Headphones.

Earlier this month, Apple announced that the company received a US Patent & Trade Office patent on a set of headphones containing embedded sensors  that can detect a variety of bio-signals including heart rate, temperature, and perspiration. The company plans to produce smart over-ear 'phones as well as earbuds that consumers can use in conjunction with self-monitoring apps on their iPhones. '

Apple-patented-smart-earphonesThe idea for smart headphones is not new. Apparently, the patent application was filed in 2008. Nor is Apple the only company exploring the use of headphones as fitness monitoring devices. According to an article on the TechCrunch blog, a company called The Dash started a Kickstarter fundraising project to crowd-source capital for a headphone-based fitness device the company hopes to market later this year.

But Apple is clearly positioning for a serious foray into the health and fitness space. The company has created a new app tentatively called Healthbook, which will allow iPhone users to track their steps taken, miles walked/run, caloric burn, blood pressure, hydration levels, and other biometrics.

People will also be able to use the app--which will be a standard component in Apple's new iOS 8 operating system--to record and schedule their meds.

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Yoga Recess Day Brings Age-Old Practices to Bright Young Spirits

By Erik Goldman, Editor

The Yoga Health Foundation, a volunteer-based consortium of yoga enthusiasts, has declared February 28th as "Yoga Recess Day,"  the Yoga-and-Speechculmination of a nationwide effort to bring yoga out of the studios and into the nation's schools.

The organization, which promotes the health benefits of yoga by providing one week of free classes in more than 1500 studios around the country, has already had success in getting the Department of Health & Human Services to declare September to be National Yoga Month. The latest objective is to engage children by helping school teachers bring yoga-style movement and breathing exercises into their classrooms.

The Foundation is providing free online resources like instructional videos and lesson plans will make it easy and fun for school teachers to integrate movement, stretching and breathing into their teaching schedules. This allows children to benefit from balancing their body and mind through breathing and stretching exercises.

"Although Kids Yoga has experienced unprecedented growth in the last few years and is now seen popping up around the globe, yoga and its many benefits are NOT financially accessible for ALL children and families," the founders write on the organization's website. With YogaRecess, they hope to bring the many benefits of yoga--enhanced ability to focus, reduced anxiety, greater flexibiltiy and muscle strength, improved self confidence and enhanced overall health--to all children and schools around the nation, regardless of their financial status.

The Foundation is partnering with a number of chidren's yoga programs including Yoginos, Whale Yoga, Playful Planet, and Yoga4Classrooms to make Yoga Recess Day a reality. Hudreds of schools natiownde have committed to participating.

In addition to providing free educational resources, the Yoga Health Foundation has also created an online fundraising platform enabling parents and teachers may raise their own funds for ongoing yoga programs. 90% of donations made to Yoga Recess go as a grant directly to benefiting schools and classrooms to be used for yoga related programs or expenses. The remaining 10% is used to “power” the national Yoga Recess campaign.

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Preventing Diabetes with Food: Flavonoid-Rich Fruits Cut Risk

By Janet Gulland, Contributing Writer

A new UK study underscores the power of plant-based foods and nutrients to minimize the risk of type-2 diabetes.

High Omega-3 Intake Cuts Diabetes Risk By One-Third

By August West, Contributing Writer

A large, long-term study from Finland shows that men who get more than 5 grams of marine omega-3 fatty acids per day have 33% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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