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The East African : Nov 24th 2014
32 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK NOVEMBER 22-28,2014 S CI E N C E to inhibit amylase, the enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar. The scientists recognised from these findings that coffee’s chlorogenic acids represented a potential breakthrough against the negative side effects of obesity. These compounds may be helping coffee drinkers to prevent diabetes by inhibiting weight gain. Over the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity worldwide with more than onethird of adults and approximately 17 per cent of children affected. Aside from weight gain, two Extensive research evidence has shown that a high intake of coffee lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 67 per cent. Pic: File Obese? Why that cup of coffee may be good for you A chemical compound found in the beve≥age could lowe≥ the ≥isk of ch≥onic disease By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent A chemical compound commonly found in coffee may help pre- vent some of the damaging effects of obesity, according to a new study published in the Pharmaceutical Research Journal. Researchers at the University of Georgia in the US have discovered that chlorogenic acid (CGA), significantly reduced insulin resistance and accumulation of fat in the livers of mice that were fed a high fat diet. The scientists indicate that some- thing as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee every once in a while could help overweight and obese individuals keep healthy. “Previous studies have shown that coffee consumption may lower the risk for chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Yongjie Ma, a researcher at the university’s College of Pharmacy and lead author of the paper. “Our study expands on this research by looking at the benefits associated with this specific compound, which is found in great abundance not only in coffee, but also in vegetables and fruits including apples, pears, tomatoes and blueberries.” Extensive research evidence had previously shown that a high intake of coffee lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 67 per cent. This antidiabetic positive side effect appeared to result from reduced levels of blood glucose, increased insulin sensitivity and decreased storage of both fat and carbohydrates. To the University of Georgia sci- entists, this suggested that compounds in the coffee bean can somehow modify digestion or metabolism. Further research, including a meta-analysis that combined data on over 450,000 people, discovered that decaffeinated coffee provided the same protective effects as caffeinated. This proved to them that coffee’s ability to affect digestion or metabolism stemmed from noncaffeine compounds in the coffee bean, most likely chlorogenic acid, possibly enhanced by the positive side effects of other coffee bean compounds. Another study also found that caffeine stimulates glucose absorption, whereas chlorogenic acid in coffee antagonises glucose uptake by shifting it to more distal regions of the small intestines. It also seems “Compounds in the coffee bean can somehow modify digestion or metabolism.” University of Georgia scientists common side effects of obesity are increased insulin resistance and the accumulation of fat in the liver. Left untreated, these disorders can lead to diabetes and poor liver function. To test the therapeutic effects of CGA, researchers fed a group of mice a high-fat diet for 15 weeks while also injecting them with a CGA solution twice per week. They found that CGA was not only effective in preventing weight gain, but it also helped maintain normal blood sugar levels and healthy liver composition. “CGA is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation,” said Prof Ma. “A lot of evidence suggests that obesity-related diseases are caused by chronic inflammation, so if we can control that, we can hopefully offset some of the negative effects of excessive weight gain.” But the authors are quick to point out that CGA is not a cure. Proper diet and regular exercise are still the best methods to reduce the risks associated with obesity. The researchers, however, say that this compound can help pave the way for the development of a new drug designed to fight obesity. “We’re not suggesting that peo- ple start drinking a lot of coffee to protect themselves from an unhealthy lifestyle,” said Prof Ma. “But we do think that we may be able to create a useful therapeutic remedy using CGA that will help those at risk for obesity-related disease as they make positive lifestyle changes.” Aids ≥isk highest in fishing villages due to poo≥ ≥esponse By DICTA ASIIMWE Special Correspondent AN UN-CO-ORDINATED response to HIV/Aids and lack of sustained care are the reasons the prevalence rates remain high among fishing communities in Uganda. At a recent consultative meeting, experts said these communities remain among the most at risk of contracting HIV because funds allocated to fighting the disease continue to be wasted in fragmented, short-term programmes. Monica Kuteesa, a programme officer at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, said that it is common for different projects in a fishing village to provide condoms for a week or two then disappear. “Another group will show up, offer counsel- ling and testing services for a week or two and disappear as well,” said Dr Kuteesa. She said that this approach is ineffective as the prevention of HIV/Aids can only work if services like testing and counselling, circumci- access to condoms, circumcision and anti-retroviral therapy are limited. But Dr Kuteesa argued that those involved in the treatment of HIV/Aids should have by now realised that it is unlikely that governments will invest in health facilities that cover all fishing communities. Uganda Fisheries and Fish Conservation As- A fishing community on the shores of Lake Victoria. Picture: File sion, provision of condoms and anti-retroviral therapy are delivered together. Uganda Aids Commission director general Dr Christine Ondoa blamed the high HIV/ Aids incidence among these communities on their migratory nature, made worse by the fact that they live on islands that are isolated from health facilities, meaning that services such as sociation executive director Seremos Kamuturaki concurred, saying that this would have otherwise led to a reduction in the HIV/Aids prevalence rates in Uganda, since fisher folk are the single largest at risk population in the country when compared with commercial sex workers, truck drivers and the uniformed forces. He said that part of the problem is that those who provide care prefer to stay on the shores and fail to address the communities that live on the islands. The HIV/Aids prevalence rate among fishing communities in Uganda stands at between 22 and 30 per cent, which is about three to four times the national figure of 7.2 per cent. BRIEFS New Ebola research projects get $1.6m boost The UK government and Wellcome Trust will provide over £1 million ($1.6 million) for new Ebola research projects. A portable device that can test bodily fluids for Ebola and anthropological training for health workers to help them work more effectively with local communities are among the five research programmes. The projects cover areas that are key to a more effective response to the disease in West Africa, from the development of improved diagnostic tools to strengthening surveillance and protecting health workers. Uganda is Marburg-free, says health ministry Uganda’s Health Ministry has declared the country free of the Marburg virus. The declaration comes after the completion of 42 days of the Post-Marburg Surveillance Countdown period which was a prerequisite of the World Health Organisation. “The Ministry of Health informs the general public that since October 4, there have been no Marburg cases reported in the country. This implies that the outbreak in the country has been controlled completely,” read a statement from the ministry. Pre-term babies exposed to ‘bad’ plastics - study An incubation room at a Nairobi hospital. Pic: File US researchers have warned that premature babies are being exposed to high levels of a potentially dangerous chemical in plastics. A study suggests babies may be exposed to high levels of a phthalate (DEHP) in medical equipment including breathing tubes, intravenous lines and blood bags. It notes that such equipment meant vulnerable babies may be in contact with levels of DEHP far higher than are deemed safe. Genetic faults may cut risk of heart attacks People who carry errors in a single gene could be protected against heart attacks and high cholesterol, American research suggests. The New England Journal of Medicine study reveals one in every 650 people could have genetic faults that halve the chance of suffering heart attacks. Drugs that work on this gene pathway already exist and researchers hope this sheds light on their effectiveness. Scientists say their findings may pave the way for improved therapies.
Nov 17th 2014
Dec 1st 2014