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Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(7):1087

Broccoli has a cousin that’s “dyeing” to fight breast cancer. A study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture suggests that woad, a dye plant used by the ancient Celts to paint their faces before going to battle, may help fight breast cancer. Woad comes from the same family as broccoli and cauliflower but contains 20 times more of the cancer-fighting compound, glucobrassicin, than its relatives. Extracting enough glucobrassicin from broccoli for research studies has been difficult. However, the authors found that wounding the leaves of the woad plant can increase the levels of glucobrassicin by 30 percent, making it an abundant and inexpensive source of the compound. (J Sci Food Agric, [published online] August 14, 2006)

If you like the way you look, you may be more inclined to eat intuitively, says a report from Reuters Health. An assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University found that, among nearly 600 college women, those who accepted their bodies were more likely to eat intuitively than women with negative views of their bodies. Intuitive eating involves giving oneself permission to eat when hungry and to eat whatever food is desired, eating for physical rather than emotional reasons, and relying on internal hunger and fullness cues. The researcher also found that women who were happy with their appearance received more positive reinforcement from their parents and peers than women with low self-esteem. (Reuters Health, August 30, 2006)

Patients who tend to worry about their overall health are likely to attribute symptoms such as a headache to unlikely medical causes, reports a study in Public Library of Science Medicine. Thirty-three patients with medically unexplained symptoms, 22 with major depression, and 30 healthy controls listened to three taped conversations. One involved a physician giving test results to a patient with abdominal pain, and the other two were nonmedical conversations used as controls. Each tape contained several possible explanations for the problem presented in the scenario, including two rejected reasons. When asked what they remembered from the tapes, the participants with unexplained symptoms were more likely to believe that the patient’s symptoms in the medical scenario were caused by what the physician on the tape had discounted. When asked to imagine themselves as the patient in the scenario, participants with unexplained symptoms were more likely than other participants to report additional concerns about their health. (PLoS Med, August 2006)

Family physicians working in hospitals affiliated with a religious organization are less likely to prescribe the morning-after pill than family physicians from institutions with no religious ties, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The researchers surveyed residents, nurse practitioners, and faculty in six different residency programs to determine if an institution’s religious affiliation affected a family physician’s decision to prescribe emergency contraception. During a routine examination, 41.7 percent of family physicians who did not work in a religion-affiliated institution said they would prescribe emergency contraception “all or some of the time” to women not using a continuous method of birth control. However, in the same clinical situation, only 10.4 percent of physicians associated with religious institutions would prescribe emergency contraception. (Am J Public Health, August 2006)

Washing down a double bacon cheeseburger with a chocolate milk shake probably won’t kill you, but it won’t make your arteries healthier, either. According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, consuming a single meal high in saturated fat prevents high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol from protecting the body against clogged arteries. Fourteen participants were given two meals one month apart—one high in saturated fat and another high in poly-unsaturated fat. Three hours after eating the meal high in saturated fat, the lining of the participants’ arteries was hindered from expanding to increase blood flow; at six hours after the meal, the anti-inflammatory qualities of HDL cholesterol were reduced. Even beyond the levels measured before the meal, the anti-inflammatory qualities of HDL cholesterol were improved after participants ate the meal high in poly-unsaturated fat. (J Am Coll Cardiol, August 15, 2006)

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Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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