Can cocoa flavanols prevent disease?


Can cocoa flavanols prevent disease?
  1. Can cocoa flavanols prevent disease?
    thebeaconnewspapers.com
    Chocolate lovers may be on to something. A new long-term study is trying to find out if taking daily, dietary supplements of cocoa extract containing cocoa flavanols and theobromine from the cocoa bean, and/or a standard multivitamin reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer. The study is being conducted in a partnership by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., and volunteers are being recruited…
    Washington (WA)

Chocolate lovers may be on to something. A new long-term study is trying to find out if taking daily, dietary supplements of cocoa extract containing cocoa flavanols and theobromine from the cocoa bean, and/or a standard multivitamin reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The study is being conducted in a partnership by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., and volunteers are being recruited nationwide.

The study, called COSMOS, “is the largest and longest duration dietary intervention trial to date that will investigate the impact of cocoa flavanols on risk of heart attack, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease,” explained lead investigator Dr. JoAnn Manson, who is also chief of the division of preventative medicine at the hospital. They will also be testing multivitamins to see if they have similar effects.

This national trial is conducted primarily by mail and can be done remotely. They plan to enroll 18,000 participants nationwide to participate in the study for four years.

Studies indicate benefit

Cocoa is a fermented product made from the bean of the cocoa tree, and preliminary research suggests it can have a powerful impact on your health.

Small randomized trials have demonstrated promising benefits for cocoa flavanols, including improving blood pressure, lipid (cholesterol) levels, and the body’s insulin sensitivity, which decreases the chance of getting Type 2 Diabetes.

For multivitamins, a prior large-scale randomized trial in middle-aged and older men showed a significant reduction in cancer, but comparable trial data in women are lacking.

For both products, a large-scale clinical trial such as COSMOS could have major clinical and public health implications.

Additionally, COSMOS will examine how cocoa flavanols affect brain health. Smaller studies from Columbia University Medical Center and the University of L’Aquila in Italy “indicate that cocoa flavanols may help with multiple aspects of cognitive health and function, including slowing the rate of age-related memory loss in healthy individuals,” Manson said.

Over the course of the trial, approximately 4,000 participants will be asked to complete four web-based assessments of their cognitive functioning, which each take about 25 minutes to complete.

Getting involved

Interested individuals first complete questionnaires that will determine if they are eligible to participate, together with an informed consent form. The questionnaires ask about health, lifestyle habits (such as exercise, diet, smoking), use of medications and dietary supplements, and family history of illness.

Those individuals invited to participate in the study will be randomly assigned to one of four groups: (1) daily cocoa extract and multivitamin; (2) daily cocoa extract and multivitamin placebo; (3) daily cocoa extract placebo and multivitamin; or (4) daily cocoa extract placebo and multivitamin placebo. A placebo looks exactly like the study supplement, but it contains no active ingredients.

No matter which group a participant is assigned to, she or he will take three pills each day — two capsules that contain either cocoa extract or cocoa extract placebo, and one tablet that contains either a multivitamin…

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