-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Eating bright orange, red
or yellow fruits and dark-green vegetables rich in antioxidants may
help prevent or delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, according to a new
Researchers found that increasing consumption of carotenoids,
particularly beta-carotene and lutein, might reduce the risk for
this progressive neurological disease, which attacks nerve cells in
the brain and spinal cord.
Carrots, yams and mangoes are rich in beta-carotenes, and
spinach, collard greens and egg yolks are good sources of
The study found, however, that diets rich in the antioxidants
lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin and vitamin C do not apparently reduce
the risk for ALS, which causes the muscles to waste away and
eventually results in paralysis.
The study was published online Jan. 29 in the journal
Annals of Neurology.
"ALS is a devastating degenerative disease that generally develops between the ages of 40 and 70, and affects more men than women," senior study author Dr. Alberto Ascherio, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, said in a journal news release. "Understanding the impact of food consumption on ALS development is important."
Analyzing information on more than 1 million people, the
researchers identified nearly 1,100 cases of ALS. The researchers
found that increased overall carotenoid intake -- especially among
those who ate diets rich in beta-carotene and lutein -- seemed to
be linked to a lower risk for the devastating condition.
Those who ate more carotenoids daily also were more likely to
exercise, have an advanced degree, have increased vitamin C intake
and take vitamin C and E supplements.
The researchers pointed out, however, that long-term vitamin C
supplements did not lower people's risk for this degenerative
"Our findings suggest that consuming carotenoid-rich foods may help prevent or delay the onset of ALS," Ascherio concluded. "Further food-based analyses are needed to examine the impact of dietary nutrients on ALS."
The findings, which used data from five previous studies, do not
establish a cause-and-effect protective relationship between
carotenoid consumption and ALS risk.
About 20,000 to 30,000 Americans have ALS, and 5,000 more are
diagnosed with the disease every year, according to the U.S.
National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about
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