Setyembre 2008

A small square of dark chocolate daily protects the heart from inflammation and subsequent heart disease, a new study of Italians suggests. Milk chocolate might not do the job.

However, this guilty pleasure has a limit.

Specifically, only 6.7 grams of chocolate per day (or 0.23 ounces) represents the ideal amount, according to results from the Moli-sani Project, one of the largest health studies ever conducted in Europe. For comparison, a standard-sized Hershey’s kiss is about 4.5 grams (though they are not made of dark chocolate) and one Hershey’s dark chocolate bar is about 41 grams (so a recommendation might be one of those weekly).

Chronic inflammation of tissues in the circulatory system is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as myocardial infarction or stroke. So doctors strive to keep patients’ inflammation under control. One marker for inflammation in the blood is called C-reactive protein.

The researchers found a relationship between dark chocolate intake and levels of this protein in the blood of 4,849 subjects in good health and free of risk factors (such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, and other parameters). The findings are detailed in the latest issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

“We started from the hypothesis that high amounts of antioxidants contained in the cocoa seeds, in particular flavonoids and other kinds of polyphenols, might have beneficial effects on the inflammatory state,” said Romina di Giuseppe, lead author of the study. “Our results have been absolutely encouraging: People having moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly have significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood. In other words, their inflammatory state is considerably reduced.”
The inflammation reduction that the researchers observed controlled for other confounding variables such as wine or produce intake.

Previous studies have found that chocolate might be good for you, though doctors usually warn that it is more important to focus on one’s overall diet when it comes to health. One health study found that blood platelets among chocolate-lovers were less likely to clot together in dangerous clumps.

Other studies have found a host of diet and exercise changes that can help a person beat the odds of death. Clearly, no single change is a guarantee of long life.

With chocolate, moderation is key, the new study found.

“The best effect is obtained by consuming an average amount of 6.7 grams of chocolate per day, corresponding to a small square of chocolate twice or three times a week. Beyond these amounts the beneficial effect tends to disappear,” di Giuseppe said.

The milk in milk chocolate interferes with polyphenols, so the team kept that out of the study.

“We consider this outcome as the beginning of a large series of data which will give us an innovative view on how [to achieve] prevention in everyday life, both against cardiovascular disease and tumors,” said Licia Iacoviello, head of the Laboratory of Genetic and Environmental Epidemiology at the Catholic University of Campobasso and responsible for the Moli-sani Project.

The Moli-sani Project is funded by the Pfizer Foundation.;_ylt=AvrHupBVyQwSF8Mi660P7ekPLBIF


LONDON (AFP) – Gem Diamonds, a London-listed mining firm, said on Sunday it had recovered a 478 carat diamond from its mine in Lesotho: the 20th-largest rough diamond ever found.

The discovery of the gem, which the company said had the potential to become one of the largest round-cut diamonds in the world, was made on September 8 at the Letseng mine in Lesotho.

“Preliminary examination of this remarkable diamond indicates that it will yield a record-breaking polished stone of the very best colour and clarity,” the company’s Chief Executive Clifford Elphick said in a statement.

The diamond, which has not yet been named, has the potential to yield a 150 carat polished stone, a company spokesman said.

That would be far bigger than the 105 carat round-cut Koh-i-Noor diamond seized by Britain from India in the 19th century and now part of the Crown Jewels.

It would still only be a fraction of the size, however, of the Cullinan diamond discovered in 1905, which was 3,106 carats when recovered and yielded a teardrop shaped diamond of 530 carats: the Great Star of Africa.

The Letseng mine is owned by a mining company that is 70 percent owned by Gem Diamonds, with the remaining 30 percent held by the Lesotho government.

Gem Diamonds’s share price on the London Stock Exchange was 741.50 pence at the close of trading on Friday.

MANILA, Philippines—A person who is genetically female but has a rare and permanent medical condition that allows the development of both male and female sex organs is now legally and officially a man.

The Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Regional Trial Court in Siniloan, Laguna, that allowed the person—to be identified in this report as Jeff—to alter his birth certificate and change his name from Jennifer to Jeff and his gender from female to male.

It denied the plea of the Office of the Solicitor General stating that the lower court’s ruling should be reversed because the person had failed to follow proper procedures.

In its decision, the high court initially referred to the person, now 27, as “she” and later as “he.”

“We respect respondent’s congenital condition and his mature decision to be a male. Life is already difficult for the ordinary person. We cannot but respect how respondent deals with his unordinary state and thus help make his life easier, considering the unique circumstances in this case,” it said in the decision written by Justice Leonardo Quisumbing and dated Sept. 12.

Mind and emotions

Jeff’s petition to be allowed to make changes in his birth certificate states that in his mind and emotions, he is male.

The petition also says that:
• He was diagnosed to have congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which gives a person both male and female characteristics.

• He was registered as female in his birth certificate but subsequently developed secondary male characteristics.

• At 6, he was found to have small ovaries; at 13, his ovarian structure was minimized and he had no breasts and did not menstruate.

To support Jeff’s petition, psychiatrist Michael Sionzon testified that he was genetically female, but that since his body secreted male hormones, his female organs did not develop normally.

Jeff has both male and female sex organs, Sionzon said.

The psychiatrist also said Jeff’s condition was very rare and permanent, and recommended that since he had made up his mind to live as a man, the gender change would be to his benefit.

No ‘unnatural steps’

In affirming the sex change, the Supreme Court observed that under the medical condition, Jeff had ambiguous genitalia and the features of a male.

The tribunal said that in cases like this, the determining factor was what the person had determined his/her gender to be.

It also said Jeff had let nature take its course and did not take “unnatural steps” to interfere with what he was born with.

“In the absence of a law on the matter, the court will not dictate on respondent concerning a matter so innately private as one’s sexuality and lifestyle preferences, much less on whether or not to undergo medical treatment to reverse the male tendency due to congenital adrenal hyperplasia,” the high court said.

It said it would neither consider Jeff to have erred in not choosing to take steps to become female nor force him to undergo treatment.

Since Jeff would be the one to live with his “intersex anatomy,” he should be able to choose what to do regarding his sexual development and maturation, the high court said.

“In the absence of evidence that respondent is an ‘incompetent’ and in the absence of evidence to show that classifying respondent as a male will harm other members of society … the court affirms as valid and justified the respondent’s position and his personal judgment of being a male,” it said.

Diversity of nature

The Supreme Court said that in issuing its decision, it was merely respecting the diversity of nature and how an individual dealt with what nature had given him/her.

It also said that though a person was required under Philippine laws to be classified as male or female, it was “not controlled by mere appearances when nature itself fundamentally negates such rigid classification.”

The high court found no merit in the Office of the Solicitor General’s arguments that Jeff had failed to include the local civil registrar in his petition, that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court does not allow the change of gender in a birth certificate, and that his condition did not make him male.

According to the high court, Rule 108 applies to substantial changes and corrections in the civil register.

It also said Jeff was deemed to have substantially complied with the rules when he gave the local civil registrar a copy of his petition for changes in his birth certificate.

PHNOM PENH – A condom lubricant designed for sex workers and gay men has become a popular acne cure among female Cambodians, women in the capital and local media said Thursday.

Number One Plus, a water-based lubricant produced by health organisation Population Services International (PSI), is an excellent cure for acne, 29-year-old vendor Tep Kemyoeurn told AFP.

“After I used it for three days, all of my acne dried up and went away,” she said. “Many people believe in it,” she added.

Khen Vanny, 29, from Phnom Penh, told AFP that women of all ages have taken to using the lubricant to get rid of spots.

“It is very effective. Some people don’t believe in it but people who do really get a good result,” she said, adding: “My youngest sister and my aunt use it too.”

nother woman told Khmer-language Kampuchea Thmey newspaper that she had used many kinds of medicine to treat acne but none had worked.

“After that my friends, who work at garment factories in Phnom Penh, advised me to apply the lubricant from Number One Plus condoms on my face every night,” she told the paper.

“And just within three to four nights, the acne on my face gradually and then totally disappeared,” she added.

A vendor near a factory in the coastal city of Sihanoukville told the newspaper that she sold packets of Number One Plus lubricant for 500 riels (12 cents) to many women every day.

The paper urged experts to conduct research about the phenomenon.

PSI were not immediately available for comment on the apparent cosmetic benefits of their product.