Women's health * 50+ health * Healthy living

Chocoholics required for scientific study

calling all chocaholics! Belgian chocolate an added incentive!

Ever considered taking part in a scientific experiment? Of course you haven't! What sane person would?

But scientists at the University of East Anglia might just change your mind. They're looking for volunteers to take part in a study investigating whether certain compounds in chocolate can help in reducing heart disease.

About the study

Armed with super-strength chocolate specially formulated by Belgian chocolatiers, researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and diabetes specialists at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) have been testing whether chocolate’s flavonoid compounds help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Their work could help people at a higher risk of heart disease, such as post-menopausal women with type 2 diabetes.

The study, funded by Diabetes UK, is now entering its final stages. The research team will soon be collecting results from the first group of lucky volunteers, who have been eating chocolate every day for a year. The scientists are now appealing for eligible women to come forward to fill the final 40 places on the study.

Who is eligible?

Before we cause a meltdown in the UEA computer servers, there are a few requirements which need to be met.

New volunteers must be under 76 years old and have type 2 diabetes. They must not have had a period for at least one year and must not be taking HRT. Volunteers must also be non-smokers and must have been taking cholesterol lowering drugs such as statins for at least a year.

What is involved?

As part of the study, participants will be required to eat a small amount of chocolate every day (two 13.5g pieces) for one year and have their risk of heart disease tested on five occasions to see whether changes occurs. This will involve giving blood and urine samples, having an ultrasound scan of their arteries (absolutely painless!) and completing lifestyle questionnaires. These tests will take place in Norwich, at either UEA or NNUH, and travel expenses will be reimbursed up to a distance of 60 miles round-trip.

How to apply

To find out more or to volunteer, please email FLAVO@uea.ac.uk. Or watch this YouTube video.

"We are now approaching a really exciting phase of the study" said study co-ordinator Dr Peter Curtis, of UEA’s School of Medicine.

"Our first volunteers are about to return for their final visit to see if the markers of heart health – such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels - have changed. A successful outcome could be the first step in developing new ways to improve the lives of people at increased risk of heart disease."

And don't forget that Belgian chocolate.

This article was published on Fri 24 July 2009

Image © Leah-Anne Thompson - Fotolia.com

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