• Blueberries Good, L-arginine Better

    Rochele Lawson on LinkedIn’s “Health, Fitness, Nutrition Anti-aging Tools and Secrets” writes, “Blueberries are known to lower cholesterol and help protect against colon and ovarian cancer.

    Research has shown that oxidation/free radicals are the underlying initiator of over 70 chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease (Davies, “Oxidative stress: The paradox of aerobic life,” Biochem Soc Symp, 61 (1995), 1-31).   I agree that blueberries are likely to help the body resist cancer: apart from the established impact of vitamin C on cancer blueberries rank high on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Table.   

    I do, however, respectfully differ from Rochele in the implication that cholesterol is something that needs to be reduced.  This smacks of the cholesterol myth.   Even the USA has recently reversed the warning against ‘cholesterol laden foods’ (   A recent study (published BMJ’s Open Heart journal by the University of the West of Scotland - Zoë Harcombe et al), concludes that dietary guidelines relating to saturated fat/cholesterol adopted by British authorities in the early 1980s and still in use today are based on “very limited evidence”.   The study states, “It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens given the contrary results from a small number of unhealthy men” and “Dietary advice does not merely need a review; it should not have been introduced.”   Professor John P. Cooke says, “Cholesterol itself is not bad.  In fact, it is essential for life.   Cholesterol is a building block for all cell membranes.  It is also the precursor for sex hormones and other steroids that our bodies manufacture.   It is only when cholesterol becomes oxidized that trouble begins.” (“The Cardiovascular Cure”, page 38).   The cholesterol myth is especially pernicious, because it is well established that low cholesterol relates to lower life expectancy (e.g. Hacobs et al “Circulation” 1992; 86:1046-1060).

     Antioxidants are the key.  Blueberries and many      other foods are good antioxidant foods and the  more diet includes ORAC foods the better.    However, these days antioxidant supplements  should be considered, including vitamins A, C and E, coenzyme Q10 and L-arginine.   I am a disciple of L-arginine, which is for instance shown to increase in the ability of lymphocyte cells to neutralize target cells (Park et al, “Stimulation of Lymphocyte Natural Cytotoxity by L-Arginine,” The Lancet, 337 (1991), 645-646) reduce tumours reduction (Takeda et al, “Inhibitory Effect of L-Arginine on Growth of Rat Mammary Tumors …” Cancer Research, 35 (1975), 2390-2393, Feinman et al, “Tumor Necrosis Factor Is an Important Mediator of Tumor Cell Killing by Human Monocytes,” Journal of Immunology, 138 (1987), 635-640, Hibbs et al, “L-Arginine is Required for Expression of Activated Macrophage effector Mechanism…,”The Journal of Immunology, 138 (1987), 550-565, Kwon et al, “Inhibition of Tumor Cell…by Macrophage Derived Nitric Oxide,” Journal of Experimental Medicine 174 (1991), 761-767) and inhibit the progression of colon cancer (Yeh et al., “Effect of arginine on angiogenesis induced by human colon cancer: in vitro and in vivo studies”, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 21(6), 538-543).

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