Health benefits of citrus topic at American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia

08/17/04

PAPERS LISTED BELOW EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, Aug. 24, 9:00 a.m., Eastern Time

Weight loss, cancer prevention and "super pills" among research highlighted during two-day symposium on health benefits of citrus, Aug. 24-25

PHILADELPHIA — Negative reports about the interaction of grapefruit and prescription drugs and the current push for low-carb diets has caused citrus consumption to decline, experts say. But new evidence for the potential health benefits of citrus fruits — including grapefruits, oranges and tangerines — continues to emerge as researchers discover compounds in the fruits that fight cancer, obesity and cholesterol. More than a dozen research studies on these and other related topics — including a potential “super pill” that could cut drug costs — will be presented during a two-day symposium at the 228th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

The symposium, “Potential Health Benefits of Citrus,” begins at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at the Courtyard by Marriott, Ballroom Salon III and IV. Highlights include the following:

Citrus compounds may prevent colon cancer — Animal studies provide new evidence that citrus fruits contain compounds that may help prevent colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Researchers at Texas A&M University showed that freeze-dried grapefruit pulp, similar to whole grapefruit, reduced the incidence of early colon cancer lesions in an animal model of the disease. A researcher at Kanazawa Medical University in Japan showed that nobiletin, a compound found in tangerines, also shows promise in animal studies for preventing colon cancer. (AGFD 129, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 1:05 p.m., and AGFD 130, Tuesday, Aug. 24,1:35 p.m.)

Orange, tangerine peels contain compounds that may lower cholesterol — Compounds found in the peels of oranges and tangerines have the potential to lower cholesterol, according to a joint study by the USDA and KGK Synergize, a Canadian nutraceutical company. The compounds are called polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs). Using animal models for high cholesterol, the researchers showed that feeding them food containing 1 percent PMFs lowered levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol by 32 percent to 40 percent. (AGFD 140, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 8:35 a.m.)

Grapefruit promotes weight loss, human study confirms — Fans of the once trendy grapefruit diet may now have reason to celebrate again. Researchers at Scripps Clinic in San Diego say that grapefruit may work by lowering insulin levels, an excess of which is linked to weight gain. Earlier this year, these same researchers announced that they had confirmed for the first time in controlled human studies that grapefruit actually does promote weight loss. Their study, which involved 100 men and women, showed that participants who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 3.6 pounds, while those who drank the juice three times a day lost 3.3 pounds, with some losing more than 10 pounds. (AGFD 141, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 9:05 a.m.)

Compounds in grapefruit may yield “super-pill” that cuts cost of prescription drugs — Researchers have known for some time that grapefruit contains compounds that can cause interactions with certain prescription drugs, particularly heart and blood pressure medications, by increasing their levels in the blood. Now, scientists at Texas A&M Citrus Center are aiming to turn this interaction into an advantage. They have identified three compounds belonging to a class called furocoumarins that are responsible for inhibiting a key enzyme, CYP3A4, that metabolizes and regulates certain drugs involved in the grapefruit-drug interaction. The researchers hope that these enzyme-blockers can eventually be developed into a “super-pill” or specialty grapefruit juice that can be co-administered with prescription drugs to increase their bioavailability, thus reducing dose and cost. (AGFD 144, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 10:45 a.m.)

Grapefruit juice may help reduce the risk of cancer in smokers — While the best and most obvious way to prevent cancer associated with smoking is to avoid smoking, researchers have found that drinking grapefruit juice may help reduce the risk. In a controlled study involving 49 smokers, researchers at the University of Hawaii found that drinking three 6-ounce glasses of grapefruit juice a day reduced the activity of a liver enzyme called CYP1A2 that is thought to activate cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. (AGFD 145, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 11:15 a.m.)

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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