Red wine is a potent source of antidiabetic compounds – but they might not get past your gut. The finding is sure to enliven the ongoing debate over the drink's health benefits.
Alois Jungbauer and colleagues at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, tested 10 reds and two whites to find out how strongly the wines bound to a protein called PPAR-gamma, which is targeted by the antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone. (This drug is marketed under the brand name Avandia and, while still available in the US, has been withdrawn in Europe because of fears over side effects.)
PPAR-gamma is a type of protein called a receptor. Among other things, it regulates the uptake of glucose in fat cells. Rosiglitazone targets PPAR-gamma in fat cells to make them more sensitive to insulin and improve the uptake of glucose. It is used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, a condition where people either do not make enough insulin to keep their body's glucose levels down, or become resistant to normal insulin levels.
Several studies have shown that moderate consumption of red wine can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. So Jungbauer and colleagues determined the wines' binding affinity for PPAR-gamma and compared the results with the effects of rosiglitazone. They found that the white wines had low binding affinities, but all the reds bound readily: the tendency of 100 millilitres of red wine – about half a glass – to bind to PPAR-gamma is up to four times as strong as the same tendency in the daily dose of rosiglitazone.
"It's incredible. It's a really high activity," says Jungbauer. "At first we were worried it was an artefact, but then we identified the compounds responsible in the wine."
The flavonoid epicatechin gallate – which is also present in green tea – had the highest binding affinity, followed by the polyphenol ellagic acid, which comes from the oak barrels the wine is kept in. The researchers think that some of the antidiabetic activity of red wine could be due to these compounds activating PPAR-gamma.
But Jungbauer warns that these compounds don't make red wine a magic bullet. The compounds in a glass of wine may have other antidiabetic effects and in any case, not all of the compounds will be absorbed and available to the body to use. "Wine also contains ethanol, which will add to your calories," he says.
Véronique Cheynier, research director at the department of oenology at the University of Montpellier 1, France, says that most polyphenols do not pass through the digestive tract unchanged and may not be absorbed at all.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
From New Scientist:
From Yahoo! News:
LISBON, Portugal – President Barack Obama appealed Saturday to Republicans in the U.S. Senate to stop blocking a nuclear arms pact with Moscow, saying failure to soon ratify it could jeopardize improving relations with Russia and send a mixed signal to Iran about the strength of the international front against its nuclear program.
He blamed the supercharged partisan climate in Washington for the delay and said inaction on the pact would leave "a partner hanging" at a time of better cooperation among the United States, its NATO partners and Russia.
Obama said European allies at the NATO summit told him that the stalled treaty is critical to U.S.-European security. He talked with reporters after the 28-nation alliance met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to press his case, noting that Russia had voted with the U.S. and other allies to impose the latest round of U.N. penalties against Iran over its nuclear program. Russia is a partner with Iran in a civilian nuclear power project and generally has been less concerned than the U.S. that Iran may be hiding a bomb program.
Obama suggested Republican senators standing in the way of the pact with Russia were abandoning Ronald Reagan's lesson of nuclear diplomacy: "Trust but verify."
The treaty would limit each country's stockpile of nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from the current level of 2,200, bringing the arsenals to a level last seen in the 1950s. It would replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, which expired last December.
Republicans led by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona say they won't consider it until the Obama administration budgets adequate money for the nation's nuclear arsenal and the laboratories that oversee them. Kyl says he needs assurances that the remaining nuclear arsenal is modernized and effective.
The administration has pledged $85 billion to maintain the nuclear arsenal over the next 10 years, in an attempt to address Kyl's concerns. But Democrats might be less willing to go along with that plan if Republicans stall the treaty.
From Raw Story:
Pope Benedict XVI says in a new book that condoms can be justified for male prostitutes seeking to stop the spread of HIV, a stunning comment for a church criticized for its opposition to condoms and for a pontiff who has blamed them for making the AIDS crisis worse.
The pope made the comments in a book-length interview with a German journalist, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," which is being released Tuesday. The Vaticannewspaper ran excerpts on Saturday.
Church teaching has long opposed condoms because they are a form of artificial contraception, although it has never released an explicit policy about condoms and HIV. The Vatican has been harshly criticized for its opposition.
Benedict said that condoms are not a moral solution. But he said in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, they could be justified "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."
Benedict called it "a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way of living sexuality."
He used as an example male prostitutes, for whom contraception is not an issue, as opposed to married couples where one spouse is infected. The Vatican has come under pressure from even some church officials in Africa to condone condom use for monogamous married couples to protect the uninfected spouse from getting infected.
From Daily Mail:
A reveller dressed as Larry the Lamb suffered these horrific burns after a prankster set fire to his outfit - and he turned into a human fireball.
Peter Buck, 35, spent four hours painstakingly gluing four bags of cotton wool to his torso to look like the famous cartoon character.
He went on a boozy night out with a group of mates - also in fancy dress - before ducking out of a pub for a cigarette.
With Peter's permission, a tipsy friend set fire to a loose strand of his costume 'to see what would happen'.
But the joke went horribly wrong and Peter's lamb costume burst into flames.
He ran screaming in agony into a busy main road before a driver swerved, narrowly avoiding mowing him down.
Then his friend Paul Bisson - an off-duty firefighter dressed as Jesus - bear-hugged him in a bid to douse the flames.
The cotton wool had melted and stuck to his body, causing a string of horrendous injuries to his body, legs, hands and torso.
Peter, an office administrator of Saint Peter Port, Guernsey, lost consciousness after the incident and woke up in hospital - eight hours later.
He said: 'It caught fire and burnt so fast, igniting my whole outfit almost instantly.
'I ran into the road trying to pat the flames out with my hands forcing a car to swerve, avoiding knocking me over by inches.
'Half the skin on my hands had burnt off as well as having numerous other burns on my legs, stomach, chest and arms.
'I burnt my face a little and had small burns to my lips and nose. I'm not a religious man, but the Lord saved me that day.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Indiana Jones & the Temple of Womb. From BBC:
Thai police say they have found the remains of more than 2,000 foetuses, thought to be from illegal abortions, hidden at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok.
The remains were discovered in the temple's mortuary in containers usually used for bodies awaiting cremation.
Police were alerted by a terrible smell after the temple's furnace broke down.
Two temple workers and a woman believed to have been paid to collect and dispose of foetuses from illegal abortion clinics have been arrested.
The bodies, wrapped in plastic bags, were discovered in a newly opened area of the mortuary, days after authorities found 348 in another room.
A 33-year-old woman has admitted taking money to collect foetuses from several clinics.
She earned just over $16 (£10) for each foetus she delivered to the temple.
Police said two temple workers had been charged with hiding the bodies.
Abortion is illegal in Thailand unless pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or a mother's health is at risk.
Police say they have begun raiding some of the 4,000 clinics in Bangkok they suspect are used to perform illegal abortions.
The case has also focused attention on the abortion business in Thailand, says the BBC's Vaudine England, in Bangkok.
Wealthy women can get abortions in safe facilities but the vast majority of Thai women wanting an abortion use clinics which could put their health and safety at great risk, our correspondent says.