Today’s Headlines: Red Wine, Melatonin and Sunlight

Compounds found in chocolate, red wine may lower Type 2 diabetes risk: Berries, dark chocolate, red wine and tea may all help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, a new study shows. The study, which tracked 2,000 health women’s eating habits, found “that people who eat items that contain certain groups of flavonoids, called flavones and anthocyanins, have lower insulin resistance and can regulate their blood sugar better.” Herbs and vegetables like parsley, thyme and celery are high in flavones and berries, red grapes and red or blue-colored fruits and vegetables tend to contain anthocyanins. The benefits didn’t stop there. “In addition, those who ate the most anthocyanins were the least likely to have chronic inflammation” and flavones appeared to help regulate metabolism. (CBS News)  

Melatonin may lower prostate cancer risk: “Higher levels of melatonin, a hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle, may suggest decreased risk for developing advanced prostate cancer,” according to a new study. Melatonin is produced in response to dark conditions and is an important regulator of circadian rhythms. It may also “play a role in regulating a range of other hormones that influence certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancers.” Researchers found that “men who had higher levels of melatonin had a 75 percent reduced risk for developing advanced prostate cancer compared with men who had lower levels of melatonin.” Sleep loss, in addition to other factors, may decrease melatonin secretion. (EurekAlert!) 

Ahhh. Sunlight may lower your blood pressure: A little sunshine could be good for your heart, a small study suggests. Researchers tested the effects of 20 minutes of UVA exposure on 24 volunteers and found that “it lowered blood pressure by about five points, and the effects lasted half an hour.” Researchers think that light may stimulate skin to produce a compound called nitric oxide, which can cause dilation of blood vessels and lead to a decrease in blood pressure. However, the benefit of decreased blood pressure must be weighed against the increased risk of skin cancer that comes with increased UV ray exposure. (NBC News)