Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Horny Goat Weed May Live Up To Its Name

Scientists in Milan have found that an herb long used by traditional practitioners for sexual potency may indeed lead to a new drug for erectile dysfunction. I think it is great when natural products like this are proven in the laboratory -- this has happened with Rhodiola rosea in the past, and now "Horny Goat Weed."

Horny goat weed may end up helping the 50% of men worldwide (aged over 40) who suffer from erectile dysfunction at some point. These plants, also known as Barrenwort, Bishop's Hat, or Fairy Wings have been used as sexual dysfunction treatments for years, and scientists have now inched a little closer to discovering exactly how it works.

Blood needs to flow into – and stay in the penis in order to get and maintain an erection. Viagra and its many copies work by inhibiting PDE-5, an enzyme that helps keep blood flowing to the penis.

Now University of Milan researchers have discovered that icariin, the main compound in horny goat weed, acts the same way Viagra does.The scientists examined icariin alongside other plant compounds by adding an enzyme that regulates penile blood flow, and found that icariin was the most potent out of all the plants tested. When they chemically modified the icariin they found its effect mimicked that of Viagra, noting that this is “a promising candidate for further development."

The University of Milan study will be published in the October issue of the Journal of Natural Products.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Pistachio's Looking Good for Heart Health

Researchers at Penn State who conducted the first study to investigate the way pistachios lower cholesterol have determined that the delicious snack, like so many other nuts, has a positive effect on the heart.

"We investigated mechanisms of action to explain the cholesterol-lowering effects of the pistachio diets," says Dr. Sarah K. Gebauer, a research associate at the USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center who did much of this work in her PhD program at Pennsylvania State University.

The researchers conducted a randomized, crossover design, controlled feeding experiment to test the effects of pistachios added to a heart healthy moderate-fat diet on cardiovascular disease risk factors. Controlled feeding experiments provide all the food eaten by study subjects for the duration of the study segment.

The participants began the study by eating a typical American diet consisting of 35 percent total fat and 11 percent saturated fat for two weeks. They then tested three diets for four weeks each with about a two-week break between each diet. All three diets were variations on the Step I Diet, a cholesterol-lowering diet in general use. The diets included, as a control, a Step I Diet with no pistachios and about 25 percent total fat and 8 percent saturated fat. The pistachio enhanced diets were Step I Diets with 10 and 20 percent of the energy supplied by pistachio nuts, respectively. The 10 percent pistachio diet had 30 percent total fat and 8 percent saturated fat and the 20 percent pistachio diet had 34 percent total fat and 8 percent saturated fat.

The participants ate half their pistachios as a snack and the rest incorporated into meals. Personally, I don't know how they ate only a controlled amount of pistachios . . . once I start, I can not stop. That appears to be the major problem with the nut, plus the sodium content in salted pistachios.

They found the pistachio eaters had significantly lower cholesterol, suggesting that pistachios have a terrific lipid-lowering effect. This study begins to unravel the way in which pistachios improve cardiovascular health.

Compared to the control diet, the 20 percent pistachio diet lowered LDL cholesterol -- bad cholesterol -- about 12 percent and the 10 percent energy pistachio diet lowered LDL cholesterol by 9 percent that suggests a 9 to 12 percent decrease in coronary heart disease risk. The relationships of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol may be more powerful predictors of cardiovascular risk.

However, the researchers note that the reduction in LDL cholesterol observed was seven times greater than would be expected from only the fatty acid profile of pistachios. They suggest that the lipid lowering effects not only reflect the fatty acid profile of the diet, but also are the result of other bioactive substances in pistachios, perhaps phytosterols and fiber.

"Our study has shown that pistachios, eaten with a heart healthy diet, may decrease a person's CVD risk profile," says Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition and who is listed as the primary investigator of the study.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Small Trial with Low-Salt vs. High-Salt Diet

Those with high blood pressure should read the information below describing a small trial that was conducted at the University of Alabama. The study clearly show what the results can be for those who are able to eliminate or dramatically scale back on their ingestion of salt, just as their doctors have often recommended.

Sodium is one of the most difficult substances to eliminate from the dinner table. I recently visited a Trader Joe's store -- shame on them. Their prepared sandwiches, salads and frozen foods are a nightmare for those concerned with sodium. A small package of BBQ ribs had over 2300 mgs of sodium; a salad with nothing but lettuce and some chicken with dressing had over 900 mg. Stores like this, particularly chains that have the ability (as Trader Joe's does) to negotiate with suppliers on their food ingredients, really need to get in line with the fact that high blood pressure is a major problem worldwide. They are not doing their customer base any favors by selling such products.

In the Alabama study, a team of researchers enrolled 13 patients with resistant high blood pressure who were taking at least three blood-pressure-lowing medications. The participants were randomly assigned to a high- or low-salt diet and then monitored using a recorder worn continuously for 24 hours. Researchers found that those on the low-salt diet saw a 22.6 mmHg drop in the systolic (top number representing pressure while the heart contracts) blood pressure, along with a 9.2 mmHg drop in their diastolic blood pressure (bottom number representing the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats), as compared to patients on the high-salt diet. The amount of sodium excreted in their urine was also markedly reduced. Overall, the patients on the low-salt diet reported a better health state than the others, with appropriate body weight and levels of thoracic fluid and brain natriuretic peptide, which are two parameters that indicate fluid retention in the body.

“The blood pressure reduction achieved with a low-salt diet was higher than some antihypertensive drugs,” said lead researcher Dr. Eduardo Pimenta. "We were expecting blood pressure reduction with low-salt diet but the reduction was larger than we expected.”


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Developing a Simple Blood Test for Alzheimers

In England, researchers from two universities are joining forces to develop a simple blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. How would this change our world if anyone could be tested, easily and inexpensively, to determine if they were in the very early stages of this devastating disease?

This is a good day to ask that question, as today (September 21st) is World Alzheimers Day, which aims to raise awareness about the reality of living with dementia.

This study, funded by the leading UK charity (Alzheimer’s Research Trust), will aim to find out whether ‘biomarkers’ in blood could be used to identify someone with Alzheimer’s.

A biomarker is a term for something present in the body which can indicate disease, such as a certain protein or molecule. The team of researchers from two universities in the Nottingham area will be identifying biomarkers by looking at proteins in the blood of Alzheimer’s patients compared to a control group of healthy older people.

As you probably know, identification of Alzheimer’s disease is difficult in its early stage. Unfortunately, delays in diagnosis can mean that irreversible damage to the brain has already occurred before treatment can be given. Most doctors believe that catching the disease in its early stages and beginning treatment at that time could be a much more effective approach. It would also give people with dementia and their families more time to prepare and plan for the future.

Researchers at The University of Nottingham hit upon the idea of using biomarkers as a means of diagnosis and will be involved in collecting the samples in conjunction with collaborators in the UK and EU, while the samples will be tested using technology based at Nottingham Trent University.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vitamin C and Lowered Blood Pressure?

New research coming out of Italy suggests that there may be a role for Vitamin C in lowering blood pressure.

Dr. Rosa Maria Bruno from the University of Pisa has indicated that the work done by her group, using intravenously delivered mega-doses of Vitamin C, reduced sympathetic nervous system overactivity, and consequently blood pressure, by targeting oxidative stress.

The sympathetic nervous system is part of the body's central nervous system that controls non-voluntary activities, such as blood pressure, and over-activation of the system has been identified as an underlying foundation for the onset of elevated blood pressure and resulting organ damage. The Italian team reported its findings yesterday in Atlanta at the American Heart Association's Conference of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research.

Recent research has made it appear that there is a big role for antioxidants in the cardiovascular health arena. This past January, British researchers presented evidence in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that suggested high levels of vitamin C in the blood might even help reduce stroke risk.

Because the Vitamin C in the Italian study was injected intravenously, we can't necessarily draw the conclusion that typical Vitamin C supplements will work the same way. But it is interesting to see how antioxidants like Vitamin C keep coming back through research as strong potentials for overall health. At various times, antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E have been completely written off by many in the press.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tylenol (Acetometaphen) Appears Linked to Asthma Risk

Adults who take acetometaphen products like Tylenol on a weekly basis (also known as paracetamol in Europe) were nearly three times more likely to have asthma than those taking paracetamol less often, according to a study organized by the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network. The study found that use of other painkillers was not linked to asthma as paracetamol was.

In this study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, researchers across Europe compared the frequency of analgesic use in over 500 adults with asthma and over 500 controls. Their results suggest that the risk of asthma symptoms is increased by frequent paracetamol (acetometaphen) use. This may be the consequence of the action of paracetamol that reduces levels of ‘glutathione’ in the lungs, an antioxidant substance needed to defend the airways against damage from air pollution and tobacco smoke.

Dr. Seif Shaheen from Imperial College London, one of the authors of the study, says “Epidemiological evidence is growing that shows a link between paracetamol and asthma. Since 2000, several publications have reported this association for instance in the UK and the USA. We have also shown that asthma prevalence is higher in children and adults in countries with higher paracetamol sales.”

“Considering asthma is a common disease and paracetamol use is frequent, it is now important to find out whether this association is really a causal one. A clinical trial may be the only way to answer this question conclusively.”


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I did it! My Weight Loss Routine

When I got married 31 years ago, I weighed 188 lbs. But gradually over the years, my weight crept up to an average of about 218. (Hey, I'm 6' 3" tall, so I carry it well. No one ever called me hefty.) I think it is probably normal for men to gradually gain weight as they assume desk jobs and go home at night to have a big supper. At least that's my justification for having gained thirty pounds over the course of my marriage.

It didn't help that my wife has always told me that I look good, and that she likes "men with some meat on their bones." So, I guess my attention was elsewhere for the last decade or two, and as long as I was healthy and getting good physical checkups every year, the extra weight didn't bother me.

But in my recent physical, the doctor suggested that my borderline high-normal blood pressure might go away if I could lose a few pounds. I've never had to take regular pharmaceutical medicines so that was strong motivation -- the last thing I wanted in my life was blood pressure medication.

Six or seven weeks ago, I took a close look at my habits and found that there were indeed some things I did to excess, and I began to cut back on those. I read as much as I could about diets that work, and those that don't, and opted to go with my own program. In one publication, I read that the people who live on the Japanese island of Okinawa practice a type of eating they call hara hachi bu, which means "eat till you are 80% full." I instantly liked the sound of that and I put it into practice right away. I also added an Adapt 232 tablet to my daily supplement regimen to provide energy due to my missing intake of calories.

The other advice I took to heart was to get up from the desk and start walking. And you know what? Between the "80% full" and the appx. 30-45 minutes I walk each day, something worked. This morning I dropped below 200 for the first time in 31 years. I'm now on my way to matching my "fighting weight" of 188 lbs.

Of course, I'm not there yet. I'll let you know when I make it!


Monday, September 15, 2008

British Researchers Dispute Coffee/Tea Dehydration Claims

The BBC is reporting on research today that shows drinking tea is as healthy as drinking water - perhaps even healthier. This research was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and it dispels the long-term belief that tea dehydrates the body of fluids.

My doctor, and probably yours as well, has always advised me to avoid caffeinated beverages because they are dehydrating; they drain the body of necessary fluids. This research, however, shows that tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers.

As we've written here previously, experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health. That part of the research may not be new. . . these polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage.

British public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, and her colleagues at Kings College London, looked at published studies on the health effects of tea consumption and found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack. They also broke up that urban legend that caffeine beverages dehydrate the body.

The authors stated, "Studies on caffeine have found that very high doses dehydrate, and so it is that everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid."


Saturday, September 13, 2008

No Such Thing as a Safe Suntan

According to a series of papers published in the October issue of Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, the official journal of the Society for Melanoma Research, there is no such thing as a safe suntan.

These leading researchers in the fields of cell biology, dermatology and epidemiology have examined the effects on skin of UV radiation, including the radiation received from indoor tanning beds, and they've called for the use of such beds by under 18-year olds to be banned, along with any publicity that claims that tanning beds are safe. It appears they are not - at all- safe.

Sunbathing or using an indoor tanning bed affects the skin negatively in a number of ways, including DNA damage, photoaging (damage to the skin from chronic exposure to sunlight) and skin cancer. UV radiation is the most widely present carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) for humans; in fact, skin is the organ most commonly affected by cancer in the human body.

Although more research is required, published data suggests that indoor tanning beds, which are frequently used by young women, are linked to an increased risk of melanoma (the most dangerous form of skin cancer), and do not support the idea that tanning beds are safe. This "perfectly safe" mantra is used by the tanning bed industry and has been for decades.

In one of three papers in the series published in the mentioned journal, Dr David E Fisher, dermatologist, and his colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston) have explored the social issues and molecular mechanisms related to tanning caused by UV exposure. Reviewing published data in the field, the authors report that both tanning and skin cancer seem to begin with the same event – DNA damage caused by UV exposure. This leads them to suggest that a ‘safe’ tan with UV may be a physical impossibility.

The authors conclude: "[This] exposure represents one of the most avoidable causes of cancer risk and mortality in man. Whereas genetic and other factors undoubtedly contribute importantly to skin cancer risk, the role of UV is incontrovertible, and efforts to confuse the public, particularly for purposes of economic gain by the indoor tanning industry, should be vigorously combated for the public health.” The WHO estimated that, in the year 2000, up to 71,000 deaths worldwide were attributed to excessive UV exposure.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Dental Problems and Bleeding Gums Can Lead to Heart Disease

Scientists meeting in Ireland on September 11th (Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting) have been discussing how bad teeth, bleeding gums and poor dental hygiene can end up causing heart disease. This is a link that many of us may not be aware of.

If you don't care for your teeth properly, you will end up with bleeding gums, which provides an entry to the bloodstream for up to 700 different types of bacteria found in our mouths. This increases the risk of having a heart attack, according to microbiologists from the University of Bristol and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Dr Steve Kerrigan from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland, is one of the authors of this work. He says, "The mouth is probably the dirtiest place in the human body," said . "If you have an open blood vessel from bleeding gums, bacteria will gain entry to your bloodstream. When bacteria get into the bloodstream they encounter tiny fragments called platelets that clot blood when you get a cut. By sticking to these platelets, bacteria cause them to clot inside the blood vessel, partially blocking it. This prevents the blood flow back to the heart and we run the risk of suffering a heart attack."

The only treatment for this type of disease is aggressive antibiotic therapy, but this is a short-lived solution, due to the increasing numbers of multiple drug resistant bacteria.

"Cardiovascular disease is currently the biggest killer in the western world. Oral bacteria such as Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus sanguinis are common infecting agents, and we now recognise that bacterial infections are an independent risk factor for heart diseases," said Professor Howard Jenkinson from the University of Bristol. "In other words it doesn't matter how fit, slim or healthy you are, you're adding to your chances of getting heart disease by having bad teeth."


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wham: Vitamin B12 Appears Vital for Brain Health In Aging

A new study published in the September 9, 2008, issue of Neurology® shows that vitamin B12, a nutrient found in meat, fish and milk, may protect against brain volume loss in older people.

For the study, 107 people between the ages of 61 and 87 underwent brain scans, memory testing and physical exams. Researchers also collected blood samples to check vitamin B12 levels. Brain scans and memory tests were also performed again five years later.

While none of the people in this study had vitamin B12 deficiency, the study did find that people who had the higher vitamin B12 levels were six times less likely to experience brain shrinkage compared with those who had lower levels of the vitamin in their blood.

“Many factors that affect brain health are thought to be out of our control, but this study suggests that simply adjusting our diets to consume more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk may be something we can easily adjust to prevent brain shrinkage and so perhaps save our memory,” said study author Anna Vogiatzoglou, MSc, with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Research shows that vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this problem. Without carrying out a clinical trial on Vitamin B12 supplementation, these researchers can not say with certainty that B12 supplements would make the same difference in elderly persons at risk for brain shrinkage. Still, it seems logical to me to include plenty of B12 foods (as listed above) in the diet as well as Vitamin B as a daily supplement.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wham: Women Wine Drinkers Less Likely to Suffer Dementia

I pulled this interesting health clip out of Wine Spectator, a different kind of journal for health news. In this case, the magazine was reporting upon research that took place earlier in 2008 in Sweden. The American Journal of Epidemiology reported the study initially.

Swedish researchers followed 1,458 women between the ages of 38 and 60 for a full thirty years. (This is possible because Sweden not only has an excellent healthcare system, they also were one of the first countries in the world to develop a fully electronic medical records system. Any doctor, in any location, can find the medical history of any patient simply and easily by logging into this system). In this case, the study examined female patients for their lifestyle and its effect on health.

During the 34 years, 162 of the women developed dementia. By eliminating mitigating factors (such as smoking, socioeconomic status,etc) and then examining lifestyles, they found that women who drank wine every week were a full 70 percent less likely to get dementia. Women who drank beer or spirits were 15 to 20 percent MORE likely to get dementia.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Drugs Under Investigation

The Associated Press has released this list of drugs which are currently under FDA investigation for a number of issues. Check it out to see if you may be on one of these possibly dangerous medications:

_R-Gene 10, a growth hormone, pediatric overdose due to labeling/packaging confusion.
_Suprane, an anesthetic, cardiac arrest.
_Cymbalta, for depression and other conditions, urinary retention.
_Intelence, an HIV medication, bleeding into joints.
_Carac and Kuric, creams for skin conditions and fungal infections, name confusion.
_Heparin, a blood-thinner, serious allergic reactions.
_Extraneal, used in kidney dialysis, low blood sugars.
_Humulin R (U-500), insulin for diabetes, dosing confusion.
_Stromectol and Warfarin, an anti-parasite drug and a blood thinner, drug interaction.
_Tykerb, for advanced breast cancer, liver damage.
_Revlimid, for multiple myeloma, severe skin blistering and bleeding.
_Tysabri, for multiple sclerosis, skin melanomas.
_Nitrostat, for angina, overdose due to labeling confusion.
_Sandostatin LAR, for abnormal bone growth, bowel obstruction.
_Oxycontin, a pain killer, drug misuse, abuse and overdose.
_Definity, used in cardiac imaging, cardiopulmonary reactions.
_Dilantin injection, for epileptic seizures, serious skin reaction.
_Seroquel, for bipolar disorder, overdose due to sample pack labeling confusion.
_Tyzeka, for chronic hepatitis B, nerve damage.
_Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) Blockers, for juvenile arthritis, cancers in children and young adults.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Fish Consumption and Decreased Macular Degeneration

Perhaps you know someone with macular degeneration. This occurs where there is damage or breakdown of the macula, that area in the back of the eye that controls vision in the center of your field of vision. Macular degeneration may be caused by injury or aging; and while it does not always progress to total blindness, patients with macular degeneration require special optical aids to enlarge distant and near objects. In the elderly, this is known as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

AMD has become the major cause of blindness and poor vision in adults in western countries and the third cause of global blindness, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

There are two types of AMD, wet and dry. Of the two, wet AMD is the main cause of vision loss. A team of researchers across seven European countries and co-ordinated by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine sought to investigate the association between fish intake and omega 3 fatty acids with wet AMD. Participants were interviewed about their dietary habits including how much fish they ate and what type. Information on the main omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA was obtained by linking dietary data with food composition tables.

The findings show that people who habitually consume oily fish at least once a week compared with less than once a week are 50% less likely to have wet AMD. There was no benefit from consumption of non-oily white fish. There was a strong inverse association between levels of DHA and EPA and wet AMD. People in the top 25% of DHA and EPA levels (300 mg per day and above) were 70% less likely to have wet AMD.

Prof. Astrid Fletcher, Professor of Epidemiology (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) led the study. She commented: "This is the first study in Europeans to show a beneficial association on wet AMD from the consumption of oily fish and is consistent with results from studies in the USA and Australia. Two 3oz servings a week of oily fish, such as salmon, tuna or mackerel, provides about 500 mg of DHA and EPA per day."

The research team did not investigate whether supplements would have the same benefit as dietary sources.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quercetin Shown to Reduce Flu Occurrence In Research Study

Mice given quercetin, a naturally occurring substance found in fruits and vegetables, were less likely to contract the flu, according to a study published by The American Physiological Society. The study also found that stressful exercise increased the susceptibility of mice to the flu, but quercetin canceled out that negative effect.

Quercetin, a close chemical relative of resveratrol, is present in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including red onions, grapes, blueberries, tea, broccoli and red wine. It has been shown to have anti-viral properties in cell culture experiments and some animal studies, but none of these studies has looked specifically at the flu.

I find it fascinating how many scientific studies confirm that old advice, generally given by Mom, to "eat your fruits and vegetables because they are good for you."

This particular study, “Quercetin reduces susceptibility to influenza infection following stressful exercise,” was carried out by J. Mark Davis, E.A. Murphy, J.L. McClellan, and M.D. Carmichael, of the University of South Carolina and J.D. Gangemi of Clemson University and it appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

The study was conducted using mice, but if quercetin provides a similar benefit for humans, it could help endurance athletes, soldiers and others undergoing difficult training regimens, as well as people under psychological stress, according to the authors. Quercetin was used because of its documented widespread health benefits, which include antiviral activity, abundance in the diet and reported lack of side effects when used as a dietary supplement or food additive.

I won't go into all the details about how they stressed out these poor mice, but the experiments conducted did show a substantial benefit to the quercetin. Not only did it protect the mice who were stressing, but it also had protective effects for the mice that did not exercise.

It pays to eat your veggies.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our Love for Bagged, Pre-Washed Veggies Leads to Increasing Threats from Salmonella and E. coli

New research on food pathogens is being presented this week at the 21st International ICFMH Symposium ‘Food Micro 2008’ Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Professor Gadi Frankel (Imperial College London) says that even though a small minority of salmonella and E. coli poisoning cases are currently linked to salads, the numbers are increasing. “In their efforts to eat healthy, people are eating more salad products, choosing to buy organic brands, and preferring ‘pre-washed’ bagged salads from supermarkets. All of these factors, together with the globalization of food markets, mean that cases of Salmonella and E. coli poisoning caused by salads are likely to rise in the future. This is why it’s important to get a head start with understanding how contamination occurs now,” he said.

It has long been a mystery as to how these bacteria cling so well to the leaves in these popular bagged salads. Frankel's new study, carried out with Dr Rob Shaw and colleagues at the University of Birmingham, shows how some Salmonella bacteria use the long stringy appendages they normally use to help them ‘swim’ and move about to attach themselves to salad leaves and other vegetables, causing contamination and a health risk. For example, in 2007 a Salmonella outbreak in the UK was traced back to imported basil, and an E. coli outbreak in the USA in 2006 was traced to contaminated pre-packed baby spinach.

Understanding the mechanism that pathogens such as salmonella use to bind themselves to salad leaves is important if scientists are to develop new methods of preventing this kind of contamination and the sickness it causes.

Scientists know that Salmonella and E. coli O157 – a strain of E. coli that can cause serious sickness in humans - can spread to salads and vegetables if they are fertilized with contaminated manure, irrigated with contaminated water, or if they come into contact with fecal matter during the cutting, washing, packing and preparation processes. Professor Frankel's research now shows that some bacteria have developed a new use for their flagella - the long stringy ‘propellers’ they use to move around. The flagella flatten out beneath the bacteria and cling onto salad leaves and vegetables like long, thin fingers.

Unfortunately, our love for bagged salads appears to be setting us on course for new and more challenging microbial illnesses in the future, until science can find a way to remove those sticky "fingers" holding onto the veggie's surface.