Islamabad - According to a study, consuming soy may be beneficial to improve metabolic and cardiovascular health in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome.

The study - conducted by the Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center, Arak University of Medical Sciences, and Research Centre for Biochemistry and Nutrition in Metabolic Diseases, Kashan University of Medical Sciences in Iran - examined how a diet containing soy isoflavones could benefit women with PCOS.

Soy isoflavones are naturally occurring, plant-based estrogens found in the soybean plant. They are often found in foods such as soymilk, as well as supplements.  There is growing interest in using soy isoflavones in diseases related to metabolic syndrome. Surveys and nutritional intervention studies have suggested that dietary isoflavones have protective effects against menopausal symptoms, coronary heart disease , cancer, hyperlipidemia, osteoporosis, and various forms of chronic renal disease.

The trial, led by Mehri Jamilian and Zatollah Asemi, Ph.D., was performed on Participants, who were allocated into two groups taking either 50 milligrams of soy isoflavones or placebo every day for 12 weeks.  Metabolic, endocrine, inflammation, and oxidative stress biomarkers were observed in blood samples at the beginning of the study and after the 12-week intervention. The women were instructed to maintain current levels of exercise and to avoid taking other nutritional supplements for the duration of the research. 

Compared with the placebo group, soy isoflavone administration significantly decreased circulating levels of insulin and other biological markers associated with insulin resistance - a condition whereby the body’s tissues are resistant to the effects of insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.  Supplementation with soy isoflavones also resulted in significant reductions in testosterone, harmful cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides - or fats in the blood - than their counterparts who received the placebo.

Acupuncture can improve pre-dementia memory loss: Research

Acupuncture appears to be effective for the mild cognitive impairment that is a precursor for dementia, when used as an alternative or in combination with other treatment, a new study finds.

Min Deng, from the Department of Neurology at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China, and Xu-Feng Wang, from the Department of General Surgery at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, conducted the study.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the most severe decline of dementia.

MCI may increase the risk of later progressing to dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions. Some people with MCI do not experience a decline in the condition, but few get better. MCI may be detected if a person experiences a “slip” in memory or mental function.

The results from all pooled data showed that participants receiving acupuncture had better outcomes than those receiving nimodipine. They achieved better scores on two of the principal tests used to assess AMCI and dementia: the mini-mental state exam and picture recognition.  Acupuncture in conjunction with nimodipine significantly improved mini-mental state exam scores when compared with nimodipine alone.

Three of the trials reported adverse effects, which included fainting during treatment and slow bleeding (errhysis) at needle sites for acupuncture, and gut symptoms and mild headache for nimodipine.

The authors write:

“In conclusion, the results of this meta-analysis suggest that acupuncture therapy has a significant positive effective on cognitive and memory function in patients with AMCI compared with nimodipine alone. The results also show that acupuncture is effective as an adjunctive treatment to nimodipine for AMCI.”

The authors note that with the methodological quality of the included research judged to be generally poor, and the current small number of available studies, further thorough studies with more people involved are needed to assess the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for AMCI patients.

Other limitations pointed out by the team were that the trial design did not take account of potential placebo effects, and most of the trials were carried out in China, where patients may favor acupuncture to medical treatment.

Sleep disorders increase

stroke risk

According to research, sleep disorders increase the risk of stroke and hinder recovery from the condition. Study co-author Dr Dirk M Hermann, of University Hospital Essen, Germany, and colleagues note that previous research has suggested a link between sleep disorders and stroke risk and recovery.

In order to gain a better understanding of this association, the team conducted a meta-analysis of 29 studies that assessed how sleep disorders, such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), may be associated with stroke and stroke recovery.

Dr Hermann and colleagues note that sleep disorders can usually be categorized in one of two groups: sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) - such as OSA, where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep - and sleep-wake disorders (SWD), such as insomnia, which reduces sleep duration.

SDB was most severe for patients with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, and these disorders persisted during stroke recovery. However, the team notes that such problems improved with treatment, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which provides the patient with a constant flow of air through the nasal passages during sleep.

Overall, the researchers conclude that the evidence to date strongly suggests that SDB increases the likelihood of stroke and, without treatment, can hamper stroke recovery.

The authors found evidence that SWDs was weaker for insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and hypersomnia - increase stroke risk and harm stroke recovery.

While the study does not pinpoint the exact mechanisms by which sleep disorders may lead to stroke and hinder recovery, Dr. Hermann said about one possible pathway.

“Sleep has important restorative functions in the brain,” he explained. “Sleep enables neuronal plasticity processes, which are required for stroke recovery.”

Based on the evidence, the researchers believe individuals who have had a stroke should be monitored for sleep disorders.

Dr Dirk M Hermann mentioned that “Although sleep disorders are common after a stroke, very few stroke patients are tested for them. The results of our review show that should change, as people with sleep disorders may be more likely to have another stroke or other negative outcomes than people without sleep problems, such as having to go to a nursing home after leaving the hospital.”

While there are a number of drugs that are available for sleep disorders, the research team is cautious to recommend them for stroke patients, due to insufficient evidence of their safety in this population.