Cocoa polyphenols may help prevent cardiovascular damage through a very important mechanism

January 17, 2006

LDL-cholesterol becomes rancid through a reaction with peroxides in the blood stream. When LDL-cholesterol becomes rancid it damages the lining of blood vessel walls and causes or contributes to hardening of the arteries (coronary artery/cardiovascular disease). In this study scientists at the University of D?sseldorf, Germany are interested in the effects of an enzyme released from particular white blood cells and its impact on cardiovascular health. In a particular white blood cell known as a neutrophil, there is an enzyme called myeloperoxidase (abbreviated MPO). It is normally the job of this enzyme to destroy yeast and bacteria by using its chemical arsenal of hydrogen peroxide. Unfortunately MPO is also active in inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or in inflamed blood vessels. When arteries are inflamed they release MPO from neutrophils and the MPO in turn releases nitrite. Nitrite causes oxidation of LDL and LDL in turn contributes to damage in/on the blood vessel wall. As it turns out, a particular polyphenol known as a flavan-3-ol in cocoa (and also to a degree in red grapes) even at low concentrations potently inhibits the peroxidation of LDL-cholesterol and potently inhibits the effect of nitrite on LDL-cholesterol and help counteract dysfunction of the endothelial lining of the blood vessel walls helping restore and maintain proper blood vessel function and protecting circulation. The study is published in the December 2005 issue of the journal BioFactors (Oxford, England).

MPO may be the most promising marker for cardiovascular health because it is elevated before there is obvious damage to the heart and it may be able to predict a heart attack or even cardiac related death six months before an event according to some experts where as other factors such as CRP or troponin are elevated after damage is already occurring or has been done..

Melatonin may help hair growth in women with male pattern baldness

The hair goes through a cycle of growth and replacement. The male hormone DHT has a well known influence on the hair cycle; melatonin has been reported to have a beneficial effect on hair growth in animals. These researchers examined the effects of melatonin on the hair growth cycle of women with androgenetic alopecia (genetic male pattern baldness due to an oversensitivity of the follicle to the male hormone DHT) or diffuse (spread out) hair loss. 40 women suffering from either form of hair loss were given a 0.1% melatonin solution or placebo to apply to their scalp once a day for 6 months in a randomized, double-blinded manner. Melatonin led to a significantly increased anagen hair rate for hair on the head in women with male pattern baldness (anagen is the start of the hair cycle where hair grows in and this part of the cycle generally lasts for about four to seven years). In women with diffuse alopecia, melatonin gave a significant increase to the frontal hair. The study was published in the February 2004 issue of The British Journal of Dermatology.