Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 21st 2016 Contents B26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, January 21, 2016
People who eat more
green leafy vegetables, a
good source of nitrate,
may significantly decrease
their risk of developing
glaucoma, according to a large study.
Based on long-term data for more than 100,000
US adults, those who consumed the most nitrate---
mostly from green vegetables like kale and spinach
---were 21 per cent less likely than those who ate the
least nitrate to develop open-angle glaucoma by the
time they were in their 60s and 70s.
Open-angle glaucoma, which affects about one
per cent of the US population, usually starts with
loss of vision at the periphery due to fluid build-up
and optic nerve damage.
Impaired blood flow is implicated in the condition,
the study team points out in JAMA Ophthalmology,
and nitrates can be converted in the body to nitric
oxide, which improves blood flow.
"Nitric oxide signaling is important for maintaining
optimal blood flow, and some evidence suggests that
it may also be important for keeping eye pressure
low," said lead author Jae H Kang of Brigham and
Women s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in
The researchers used data on more than 63,000
women followed from 1984 to 2012 in the Nurses
Health Study, and more than 41,000 men in the
Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986 to
The participants were over age 40 at the beginning
of the study period, had no open-angle glaucoma to
start with, reported regular eye exams and completed
dietary questionnaires including how often they ate
green leafy vegetables like iceberg and romaine let-
tuces, kale, mustard greens, chard or spinach.
Based on these questionnaires, researchers calcu-
lated intakes of nitrate and of various groups of foods.
They found that dark leafy greens were the biggest
source of the nutrient, contributing 57 per cent of
the nitrate in the participants diets.
The men and women were divided into five groups
by their intake of greens and of nitrate, ranging from
an average of one-third serving of leafy greens (80
milligrammes nitrate) per day for the lowest-level
consumers to an average one and a half servings of
greens (240 milligrammes nitrate) per day on the
By 2012, there were a total of 1,483 cases of open-
angle glaucoma diagnosed.
Risk differences based on nitrate consumption
were very similar to those based on leafy-vegetable
People who ate the most leafy greens were 18 per
cent less likely than those who consumed the least
greens to develop any form of open-angle glaucoma,
and 48 per cent less likely to develop the so-called
paracentral form of the disease, which is particularly
associated with blood flow, the authors note.
In the study, people who consumed more nitrate
also had higher consumption of other nutrients, exer-
cised more, smoked less and were leaner, but the
authors adjusted for these factors when calculating
the risk differences linked to nitrate and greens.
"The pro of increasing one s dietary nitrate intake
is that, by far, vegetables are the biggest source of
dietary nitrate, and vegetables are part of a healthy
diet," Kang told Reuters Health by email.
"Higher dietary nitrate intake has been linked to
lower blood pressure, better blood circulation and
better athletic performance."
But some people, like those with kidney stones or
Melanoma may be even more dan-
gerous when it s diagnosed in women
during pregnancy or within a year
of giving birth, a US study suggests.
Among women under 50 with
malignant melanoma, those diagnosed
during or soon after pregnancy were
significantly more likely to have
tumours spread to other organs and
tissues, and were also much more
likely to have the cancer recur after
treatment, the study found.
Women diagnosed around the time
of pregnancy were also more likely to
die, though the risk increase wasn t
big enough to rule out the possibility
it was due to chance.
"This study demonstrated that
women who are diagnosed with
melanoma during pregnancy or in the
post-gestation period have higher risk
melanomas," said Dr Jeffrey Farma,
co-director of the cutaneous oncology
and melanoma program at Fox Chase
Cancer Center in Philadelphia, of the
study, which was based on review of
medical records for 462 women.
While the study doesn t examine
why pregnancy might influence
melanoma outcomes, it s possible that
hormone fluctuations or suppressed
immune system activity during this
time help tumours flourish, said senior
author Dr Brian Gastman, director of
melanoma surgery at the Cleveland
Clinic in Ohio.
On average, the women were
around 35 years old at the start of the
study, and they were typically followed
for at least seven years. Because the
study was based on patients at one
medical centre that tends to see more
complex cases, it s possible the results
are not representative of what all
women with melanoma might expe-
rience, the authors note.
But the findings still suggest that
doctors should advise pregnant
women with melanoma to be hyper-
vigilant about examining their skin
for any changes or abnormalities and
seek medical attention promptly if
they see anything amiss, the
researchers conclude. (Reuters)
Skin cancer more deadly when
caught during pregnancy
those taking warfarin to
prevent blood clots, need
to avoid foods like spinach,
kale and collard greens,
Glaucoma is a "silent" disease and usually does
not cause symptoms or visual complaints until late
in its development. African Americans and the elderly
are at increased risk of glaucoma.
"This is the first study to evaluate dietary nitrate
in relation to glaucoma, so this study does not establish
cause and effect relations," Kang said.
"However, for overall health, increased consumption
of vegetables, including green leafy vegetables, is
important---only about 20 to 30 per cent of adults
meet the daily recommendation put forth in the US
dietary guidelines of two to 3.5 cups of vegetables
Eating green leafy
lower glaucoma risk
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
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