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Increased confusion on the role of antioxidants in cancer prevention.

On the January 29th an animal study from University of Gothenburg showing increased cancer growth in mice supplemented with Vitamin E and N-acetylcystein, was published in Science Translational Medicine1. The study shows that tumour progression is markedly increased and survival time decreased in mice which were given the antioxidants after initiation of tumour development. These results are in accordance with earlier human studies, showing that smokers taking -carotene supplements had higher lung cancer incidence than smokers not taking any supplementation2. Data from the recent study indicate that the anti-oxidants protects the cancer-cells from the normal, reactive-oxygen species based defence system, that are used by the body to kill cancer cells. It does however not say anything on whether anti-oxidant supplements can increase protection of cancer formation, only that already established cancer-cells have increased survival and drive increased tumour progression.
1. Sayin, V. I. et al. Sci. Transl. Med. 6, 221ra15 (2014).4
2. The Alpha-Tocopherol Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group N. Engl. J. Med. 330, 1029–1035 (1994).

The brain directly senses the presence of triacylglycerols.

In a recently published study, Cansell and co-workers show very clearly that the presence of triglycerides in the blood affects dopamine-signalling from the brain. This is part of the so called “reward-system”, which is very important in controlling preferences for palatable food. In the study, they show that infusing small amounts of triglycerides in the brain, this reduced the preference for palatable (sweet and fat) food and reduced their feed-seeking behaviour. This is might be an important finding, since it indicates that the triglyceride-peaks in the blood occurring after a meal is important in regulating appetite and preferences for energy-dense foodstuffs, and that increased strive after sugar and fat might be due to dysfunctions in this system.

Reference: Cansell C, Castel J, Denis RG, Rouch C, Delbes AS, Martinez S, Mestivier D, et al. Dietary triglycerides act on mesolimbic structures to regulate the rewarding and motivational aspects of feeding. Mol Psychiatry 2014.