PORTLAND, Ore. - Many of the world's leading experts on the relationship between diet and health problems such as cancer, heart disease, neurodegeneration and aging will present the latest findings in this field at a conference in Portland on May 16-19.

Titled "Diet and Optimum Health," the symposium is sponsored by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and designed primarily for health professionals and scientists. The final day offers a group of lectures for the general public. Information about registration, fees and attendance can be obtained by calling (541) 737-5075 or (503) 252-5458, or on the web.

The event is one part of OSU's year-long celebration of the Linus Pauling Centenary, the 100th anniversary of the birth of this two-time Nobel laureate and OSU alumnus.

"We can take what we already know about diet, lifestyle and health to help prevent and treat disease, reduce the cost and suffering from chronic illness, and enhance both the length and quality of life," said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute. "About one-third of all the cancers in the United States could be prevented by a healthy diet and another third by abstinence from tobacco use. Now we're even exploring the role of nutrition in Alzheimer's disease and the aging process."

However, there is a great deal of conflicting information about the role of dietary constituents, Frei said, such as antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, dietary fiber, and the value of nutritional supplements. This complicates decision-making by policy makers, health care providers and individuals.

A goal of the upcoming conference, Frei said, is to sort through many of those conflicts and have leading experts in a wide range of issues explain the latest studies, present findings from their own research and provide information on some of the remarkable advances made in recent years. Another highlight of the symposium will be the inauguration of the Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research, consisting of a medal and a $50,000 honorarium. The purpose of the prize is to encourage and recognize excellence in research on the role of micronutrients, vitamins and phytochemicals in optimum health.

Among the topics to be discussed at the conference are:

  • An overview of diet and cancer epidemiology;
  • Dietary causes and prevention of colorectal cancer;
  • ea, chlorophyll and cancer chemoprevention;
  • Antioxidants as an adjunct to standard therapy in treatment of human cancer;
  • Causes and risk factors in cardiovascular disease;
  • Dietary antioxidants and cardiovascular disease data;
  • Antioxidant treatment of patients with vascular dysfunction;
  • Caloric intake and aging;
  • Effect of fruit and vegetable intake on brain aging;
  • Alternative therapies for dementia;
  • Diet, oxidative stress and Alzheimer's disease;
  • New dietary treatment for obesity;
  • Questions about low-fat, high carbohydrate diets;
  • Changing vitamin requirements in the elderly.

The conference will include many speakers who are internationally recognized experts in nutrition and disease. There will be participants from OSU's Linus Pauling Institute, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University of California at Berkeley, Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin, Oregon Health Sciences University, Boston University, and others.

Some of the speakers include:

  • Bruce Ames, professor and director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, who will discuss "Preventing Cancer and Delaying Aging with Micronutrients"; 
  • Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University and a professor at Harvard Medical School, who will discuss "Trans and Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease Risk"; 
  • Dr. Gerald Reaven, professor emeritus of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, who will discuss "Why Low-Fat, High Carbohydrate Diets Are Not Good for Everyone"; 
  • Dr. Joseph Vita, associate professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, who will discuss "Antioxidant Treatment of Patients with Vascular Dysfunction."

At OSU, the Linus Pauling Institute does cutting-edge research on health and nutrition. It was co-founded in Menlo Park, Calif., in 1973 by the late Linus Pauling and moved to OSU in 1996. Major areas of research at the institute include the role of micronutrients, vitamins and phytochemicals in the prevention of heart disease, cancer, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.

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Balz Frei, 541-737-5078