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Past News Items - June 2011

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In the News

Legislative Efforts Renewed to Allow Substantiation of Science-based Health Claims

Soy Isoflavones Characterized as Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors

Short-Term Fat Binge May Protect Heart

Skepticism of Natural Products’ Claims Rising

CALL TO ACTION: Support Economic Recovery by Supporting Organic Agriculture


Released: 06/15/11

Legislative Efforts Renewed to Allow Substantiation of Science-based Health Claims

Legislation that allows the use of credible scientific research to substantiate health claims in the labeling and promotion of foods and supplements (HR 1364) was reintroduced to the US House of Representatives on April 5.

A similar bill was introduced in March of 2010 but failed to make it out of committee. As before, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R, Utah) sponsored the bill, which does not include any substantial changes from the previous version. While overall membership of the committee has not changed significantly since last year’s unsuccessful introduction, the change in committee chairmanship to Frederick Upton (R, Michigan) could have a positive effect on the bill’s future.

The bill cites the plethora of marketing messages received by consumers regarding drugs that target illnesses and their symptoms, stating that many such illnesses can be prevented or reversed through diet and lifestyle changes. HR 1364 seeks to level the playing field in that regard. According to the bill’s language, by allowing food and supplement producers to cite “legitimate scientific studies” published in peer-reviewed media, consumers will receive the information they need to make informed choices and take steps that “ultimately lower health care costs and improve the quality of life.”

Specifically, the bill

• allows producers of foods and supplements to cite legitimate scientific research,
• clearly defines allowable research that may be related to claims,
• prevents the FDA from reclassifying food or supplements as “unapproved drugs” because of the citations used, and
• prohibits the use of fraudulent or misleading claims and affirms the authority of the US Food and Drug Administration  and the Federal Trade Commission in these cases.

In commentary, John Gay, chief executive of the Natural Products Association, has publicly stated his concern that passage of the bill would generate debate and amendments to the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which could result in unexpected outcomes. The position of other major trade associations on the bill has been reported as neutral, often with focus redirected toward promoting enforcement of DSHEA as the crucial issue at hand.

View the language and track the progress of HR 1364 at

Soy Isoflavones Characterized as Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors

Soy food consumption did not increase the risk of cancer recurrence or death among a chosen population of breast cancer survivors, according to the results of a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held April 2 to 6.

Researchers investigated the association between soy-food intake and breast cancer outcomes among survivors, using data from a multiinstitution collaborative study, the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project.

“There has been widespread concern about the safety of soy food for women with breast cancer,” said lead researcher Xiao Ou Shu, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Soy foods contain large amounts of isoflavones that are known to bind to estrogen receptors and have both estrogen-like and antiestrogenic effects. There are concerns that isoflavones may increase the risk of cancer recurrence among breast cancer patients because they have low estrogen levels due to cancer treatment. We’re particularly concerned that isoflavones may compromise the effect of tamoxifen on breast cancer treatment because both tamoxifen and isoflavones bind to estrogen receptors.”

This research was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which combines the resources of 4 National Cancer Institute–funded studies: the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, the Life After Cancer Epidemiology Study, the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study, and the Nurses’ Health Study. Together these cohorts included 18 312 women between the ages of 20 and 83 years who had invasive primary breast cancer.

Soy isoflavone intake was assessed for 16 048 of these women an average of 13 months after breast cancer diagnosis. Methodology included using food frequency questionnaires for a group of soy isoflavones in 3 cohorts and for tofu and soy milk consumption in 1 cohort. Breast cancer outcomes were assessed, on average, 9 years after cancer diagnosis.

Outcomes among the survivors who consumed the highest amounts of soy isoflavones (>23 mg/day) were compared with the outcomes of those whose intake was lowest (?0.48 mg/day). The average daily soy isoflavone intake among US women was 3.2 mg; however, in the Shanghai group, the amount was significantly higher at 45.9 mg/day.

Women in the highest intake category of more than 23 mg/day had a 9% reduced risk of mortality and a 15% reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence, compared to those who had the lowest intake level. However, these results did not reach what the scientists call statistical significance, suggesting the findings could be due to chance.

“Our results indicate it may be beneficial for women to include soy food as part of a healthy diet, even if they have had breast cancer,” said Shu. “This can’t be directly generalized to soy supplements, however, as supplements may differ from soy foods in both the type and amount of isoflavones.”

Further analysis of the data from this study, elucidating the interaction of soy isoflavones and tamoxifen, will be presented at the AACR Annual Meeting.

Short-Term Fat Binge May Protect Heart

A new study using an animal model found that a high-fat diet consumed for a very short period can protect the heart from heart attacks and result in less tissue damage when heart attacks do occur. The information was presented at the Experimental Biology 2011 conference in Washington, DC, April 9 to 13.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati established test groups comprised of 7 male mice. Female mice were not included in order to eliminate the effects of estrogen and metabolism of fat. Each group was fed a high-fat diet (lard-based, with 60% of the calories coming from saturated fat) for 1 of the following 4 feeding periods: 24 hours or 1, 2, or 6 weeks. The control group received a standard grain and vegetable-based diet.

After the feeding periods, researchers induced ischemic injury in the hearts of the mice, similar to what humans experience during a heart attack. The animal hearts were subsequently examined for cardiac function and tissue damage.

The researchers found that injury to heart tissue among mice that received the high-fat diet in the short term (24 hours, 1 and 2 weeks) was reduced by 70% compared to the group that was fed the high-fat diet for 6 weeks. The 6-week group was shown to have a larger injury to the heart like the effect seen in the control fed animals, indicating that short-term “splurges” were crucial to the impact.

Further, mice fed a high-fat diet for 24 hours and then returned to a control diet for 24 hours prior to heart attack experienced a prolonged or “late phase” protection against injury, indicating that short-term high-fat feeding in animal models could preserve cardiac function.

Follow-up studies are currently underway seeking to address why the cardiac protection goes away over time and whether a genetic component might be involved.

Skepticism of Natural Products’ Claims Rising

Trust in claims made by manufacturers of vitamins, herbal supplements, and nonprescription drugs dropped between 2005 and 2010, according to a recent Ipsos Reid study commissioned by Health Canada.

Compared to a baseline survey performed in 2005, the new information shows a 10% drop in the confidence of consumers that natural products are safe (52% then to 42% now), and a 3% increase (to 49% in 2010) in the number of consumers who say that these products’ health claims are unproven. “There is a significant proportion of Canadians who seriously question the safety and quality of natural health products,” according to the report.

"The strongest benefits associated with natural health products continue to be that [they] can be used to maintain and promote health and that they can be used to treat illness. However, these positive perceptions of natural health products have declined significantly compared to 2005," the survey revealed.

Overall, findings indicate that Canadians are split over the quality issue, with 42% questioning their quality compared to 45% who have faith in them. However, the specific data shows the supporters in decline, as the 2005 survey found that 77% agreed that natural products can be used to maintain and promote health (39% agreeing “completely”), while only 71% (28% completely) agreed in the 2010 survey. Similar declines were also reported in the numbers of consumers who believed that natural products could be used to treat illness.


CALL TO ACTION: Support Economic Recovery by Supporting Organic Agriculture

An effort to call US Congressional Representatives and Senators and tell them to protect funding for organic agriculture programs is currently underway. The message that organic agriculture supports jobs in rural communities and provides tremendous economic opportunities is the primary focus.

Both the Senate and the House have proposed varying levels of cuts to agricultural programs. Congress must hear from their constituents regarding the importance of protecting organic agriculture programs and farmers throughout America.

The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202-224-3121. Ask to be directly connected to your Congressperson’s and Senator’s offices. You can also go to and enter your zip code to find your elected officials’ direct office contact info.

Call for Papers

For complete submission guidelines, please visit and look under the header “Submissions.”

The editors of Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal (IMCJ) invite researchers and authors to submit original papers for consideration. Papers most likely to be accepted for consideration are those that present authoritative information on the integration of alternative therapies with conventional medical practices in preventing and treating disease, healing illness, and promoting health. We are particularly interested in articles that focus on the use of nutritional supplements, botanicals, diet, and lifestyle. All submissions are subject to peer review.

Manuscripts should contain between 2500 and 5000 words and are accepted for review with the understanding that they are not available anywhere online and have not been published or submitted elsewhere. Presentation of data at scientific meetings such as the North American Research Conference on Complementary and Alternative Medicine does not preclude submission. Publishable topics include, but are not limited to, those listed below.

Publishable Subject Matter

  • Acupuncture/Acupressure
  • Anthroposophy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Bioelectromagnetic therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Botanical medicine
  • Chiropractic
  • Craniosacral therapies
  • Creative therapies (including art, dance, drama, and music)
  • Diet/Nutrition/Nutritional supplements
  • Environmental medicine
  • Five Element Chinese Medicine
  • Health promotion
  • Homeopathy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Imagery
  • Indigenous medical practices
  • Literature reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Medical Acupuncture
  • Mind-body therapies (including behavioral and educational aspects)
  • Naturopathy
  • Nonlocal therapies
  • Osteopathic medicine
  • Qi gong
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Psychotherapy
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Relaxation/stress reduction
  • Spiritual/transpersonal healing/prayer
  • Tibetan medicine
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Yoga

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