Sulforaphane from Broccoli may Prevent Blindness Caused by Macular Degeneration

July 14, 2004

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers have discovered that Sulforaphane, a naturally occurring antioxidant and detoxification stimulant in broccoli protects the eye from damage caused by the sun's ultraviolet light. Cells in the retina of the eye are extremely sensitive to damage caused by oxidants generated by sunlight. Protective mechanisms in the eye help minimize this damage, but the eye losses these protective mechanisms as we age. According to molecular scientist Xiangqun Gao at Johns Hopkins, this is the major cause of age related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in America. In this experiment the researchers exposed human retina cells to various doses of Sulforaphane. The more Sulforaphane the retinal cells got the more protected they were form oxidative damage and free radicals. The study appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Previous Johns Hopkins research has shown that Sulforaphane prevents tumor growth and that it kills the H. Pylori bacteria, the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

High Doses of Vioxx Prescribed Despite Heart Risk

There is mounting and strong evidence that the Cox-2 specific arthritis pain reliever Vioxx if given at a high dose over a matter of time, can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of dangerous heart problems. Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers culled the records of patients given prescriptions for NSAIDs drugs in Tennessee's Medicaid program. All told, 40,000 people over the age of 49 were given NSAIDs. Of these, almost 10,000 were taking Vioxx, and almost 1,000 were prescribed high doses of Vioxx at 50mg for 30 days. Half that dose, or 25mg is recommended for long-term use. The 50mg dose has been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks. A study in the Lancet shows that high dose users had nearly twice the rate of serious heart problems, including heart attacks ands heart-related deaths. Other studies have shown an increased risk of edema (swelling) of the arms and legs, a rise in blood pressure, and an increased risk of congestive heart failure with the higher dosage of Vioxx. In the Tennessee Medicare patients on higher doses of Vioxx, 15 percent had been treated for congestive heart failure and 22 percent had been treated for other forms of heart disease over the previous 12 months. The study appears in the June issue of the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety.

The Asthma-Childhood Obesity Connection

Researchers tracked almost 800 children and found that 60% of the children continued to have asthma after puberty. It was long thought that asthma incidence decreased in children after puberty. The children who were obese or overweight at puberty had a 300% increased risk of remaining asthmatic into their teenage years. The study appears in the July issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Asthma may Raise the Risk of Developing COPD and Emphysema

Adults with asthma have a tremendous increased risk of developing deadly lung conditions later in life. Researchers found that asthmatics were 12 and a half times more likely to develop COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - a hybrid of bronchitis and emphysema). COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. Asthmatics were 10 times more likely to develop bronchitis and 17 times more likely to be diagnosed with emphysema. The study appears in the July issue of the journal Chest.