November 10, 2017

Health Roundup: Colon cancer, chronic fatigue, Tylenol, gut bacteria Vit D, magnesium cream

New System for Treating Colorectal Cancer Can Lead to Complete Cure

Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston have developed a new, three-step system that uses nuclear medicine to target and eliminate colorectal cancer. In this study with a mouse model, researchers achieved a 100-percent cure rate—without any treatment-related toxic effects. The study is reported in the November featured article in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Until now, radioimmunotherapy (targeted therapy) of solid tumors using antibody-targeted radionuclides has had limited therapeutic success. “This research is novel because of the benchmarks reached by the treatment regimen, in terms of curative tumor doses, with non-toxic secondary radiation to the body’s normal tissues,” explains Steven M. Larson, MD, and Sarah Cheal, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “The success in murine tumor models comes from the unique quality of the reagents developed by our group, and the reduction to practice methodology, including a theranostic approach that can be readily transferred, we believe, to patients.”  Theranostics, a term derived from therapy and diagnostics, is the use of a single agent to both diagnose and treat disease. The theranostic agent first finds the cancer cells, then destroys them, leaving healthy cells unharmed—minimizing side effects and improving quality of life for patients.

People With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Are Exhausted at a Cellular Level, Study Shows

If you're one of the millions of people worldwide who deals with the symptoms of CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes also called myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME), it can often feel like your entire body is drained of energy.  New research has found immune cells taken from the blood of volunteers diagnosed with the condition show clear signs of low energy production, not only adding details to a complex and confusing condition....Scientists have begun to identify stark distinctions in immune cells, gut bacteria, and blood biomarkers among those diagnosed with the disease. Now it seems as if there is a clear metabolic difference between the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in individuals with CFS and healthy controls.

Tylenol is as effective as addictive opioids, study claims

Researchers at Northwestern University gave 411 patients either a drugstore painkiller or a prescription opioid to treat broken bones and sprains. All groups reported the same pain levels after two months. Though the study only assessed short-term pain relief, experts say the paper is crucial as more than two million Americans are hooked on opioids.

Healthy gut bacteria could help protect you from almost EVERY age-related disease, study finds

Changing your diet to maintain healthy gut bacteria could help to protect you from nearly all age-related diseases, new research suggests. Imbalanced gut bacteria may to blame for many age-related diseases, according to the new study from University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands. The researchers found that the poorly balanced gut bacteria in older mice could induce ‘inflammaging’ in younger mice when it was transplanted to them. Inflammaging is a chronic inflammation condition associated with aging, which is linked to most serious age-related health conditions, like stroke, dementia and cardiovascular disease.

Do you know where your adrenal glands are?  Only 15% of adults know the right answer

When it comes to knowledge of the human body, many of us do not know our adrenal glands from our elbows. In a survey that asked people to mark on a diagram of the body where various organs were, the only part of body 100 per cent of participants got right was the brain. The organ we get wrong most is the adrenal glands – only 15 per cent of us know where these are. Many people wrongly thought they were in the neck. ‘We also thought everybody knows where the heart is. But that wasn’t the case.’

Women with low levels of vitamin D are nearly 50 per cent more likely to develop multiple sclerosis

The findings could help to explain why there are higher rates of the disease among those in the North who get less sunlight, which helps the body make vitamin D.  It is believed the 'sunshine vitamin', also found in eggs, red meat and oily fish, may help to suppress immune cells that attack the body to cause MS. The disease can leave people wheelchair-bound by severely damaging their muscles.

Magnesium cream could combat high blood pressure without the need to take pills

People with higher than average blood pressure can be deficient in magnesium which is thought to help the body to regulate blood flow.  However some people do not like taking pills or have difficulty ingesting them.    A new study has found that topical application of magnesium lotion absorbed through skin significantly boosts levels of the mineral in the blood.  Magnesium cream could be used as an alternative or in addition to medication to combat high blood pressure.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Food and Drink Edition

In a Major Warning, Top US Cancer Doctors Are Asking People to Drink Less Alcohol

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) outlined research tying alcohol to two types of cancer and told Americans to drink less....This summer, two major research groups found strong evidence that drinking alcohol - as little as one glass of wine or beer a day - increases the risk of developing both pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer.....Research highlighted by the National Cancer Institute suggests that the more alcohol you drink - particularly the more you drink regularly - the higher your risk of developing cancer.

Cancer Doctors Cite Risks of Drinking Alcohol

Heavy drinkers face much higher risks of mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the voice box, liver cancer and, to a lesser extent, colorectal cancers, the group cautions. “The message is not, ‘Don’t drink.’ It’s, ‘If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less. And if you don’t drink, don’t start.”...Heavy drinkers face roughly five times the risk of mouth and throat cancers and squamous cell esophageal cancers than nondrinkers, nearly three times the risk of cancers of the voice box or larynx, double the risk of liver cancer, as well as increased risks for female breast cancer and colorectal cancer. One way alcohol may lead to cancer is because the body metabolizes it into acetaldehyde, which causes changes and mutations in DNA, Dr. Gapstur said. The formation of acetaldehyde starts when alcohol comes in contact with bacteria in the mouth, which may explain the link between alcohol and cancers of the throat, voice box and esophagus, she suggested.

Italian researchers have created a pasta that could help us survive heart attacks

In a newly published study, medical researchers at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s Institute of Life Sciences in Pisa developed a special kind of pasta enriched with barley flour. The barley contains a substance called beta-glucan that is known to help the body form new blood vessels – which could serve as a “natural bypass” in the event of a heart attack, the researchers said.

Study: Coffee may help kidney disease patients avoid early death

A new study that found that among more than 2,300 Americans with chronic kidney disease, those who drank the most caffeinated drinks reduced their risk of premature death by 24 percent.

The 10 reasons why everyone should drink coffee:

Expert nutritionist Fiona Hunter reveals how how coffee can add years to your life, slash the risk of cancer and help you lose weight. She also busts common myths surrounding coffee: It doesn't dehydrate you or cause heart palpitations/irregular heartbeats nor does it trigger high blood pressure.

Certain foods can prevent inflammation that can lead to gut diseases like colon cancer and Crohn's disease.

Researchers at the University of Warwick published a study  in Nature Communications that demonstrated a new link between inflammation and a natural cellular process known as autophagy, an essential process where cells break down and recycle damaged elements to keep the body healthy.  They discovered that autophagy can lead to inflammation, which increases a person's risk of developing certain diseases of the gut, including colon cancer, Crohn's disease and other gut-related diseases....The team identified a protein which is regulated by autophagy called Kenny, which contains amino acids that causes it to be broken down by autophagy.  They identified fruits and vegetables such as pomegranates, red grapes, pears, mushrooms, lentils, soybeans and green peas that contain natural compounds that can activate autophagy to prevent inflammation and disease of the gut.

Eating Brussels sprouts and drinking green tea could make aggressive breast cancers treatable by 'turning off' tumor genes

Vegetables and green tea make breast cancer treatable. Results reveal feeding mice compounds found in cruciferous vegetables and green tea converts aggressive breast cancers into more treatable tumors. Compounds in cruciferous vegetables influence tumor response to treatment. Such compounds can 'turn off' cancerous genes, changing therapy outcomes.

Study author Professor Trygve Tollefsbol from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said: 'Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and science now tells us she was right.  'Unfortunately, there are few options for women who develop ER-negative breast cancer.'  Study author Yuanyuan Li added: 'The results of this research provide a novel approach to preventing and treating ER-negative breast cancer, which currently takes hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.'

The Icelandic-inspired three-ingredient breakfast a Harvard physician says you should eat EVERY day for optimum health

Monique Tello revealed that having a bowl of cereal, a bagel or a piece of toast first thing is no different to having dessert for breakfast. Instead, she opts for an Icelandic-esque breakfast of three nutrient-dense ingredients: berries, high protein yogurt, and oats.  Tello says this meal is perfect to kick off the day because it's packed with two key ingredients: protein and fibre. These nourishing ingredients fuel our muscles, keep us full and regulate digestion.  Berries: Packed with fibre, as well as Vitamins A, C, and K. Plain yoghurt: Packed with protein but low sugar. Oats or nuts and seeds: High in fibre and protein.

 Icedlandic Breakfast

Eating spicy foods can make your low-salt food taste saltier

Actually, just about any spicy food will likely impact the amount of salt a person eats, according to new research published this week in Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association. That’s because salt and spice appear to activate brain activity in overlapping parts of the brain, enhancing sensitivity to either taste.
Researchers at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China asked 606 local adults about their taste preferences, and then tested participants’ blood pressure. They found that people with a high preference for spicy foods had lower blood pressure numbers and consumed less salt, in general.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:33 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2017

Miscellany #88

There’s so much going on in this breathtaking new Hubble photo you could stare at it for years

The photo, which NASA says is of “a random patch of sky” is absolutely stunning, and it’s packed with lots of different objects in all different shapes and sizes. You’ve got bright blue spiral galaxies, bold orange clusters of galaxies, and smudges of deep red which indicate galaxies that are so far away the expansion of the universe itself has warped their color. Oh, and then there’s the bright white “worms,” which have an entirely different explanation.  Original resolution here

 Random Hubble-2

The 12-year-old prodigy whose "first language" is Mozart on 60 Minutes with Scott Pelley

Alma Deutscher was playing piano and violin by the time she was 3 years old and wrote her first opera at 10. For her, making music seems as natural as breathing.

 Alma Deutscher

‘Old fashioned’ nursery rhymes are no longer being sung to children – leaving them badly prepared for school,

Humpty Dumpty may seem old-fashioned, but children who can sing a song and know a story off by heart aged four are better prepared for school. 'Nursery rhymes provide a collective experience and teach a little bit of social history to boot,’ she says. Literacy consultant Sue Palmer, author of the book Toxic Childhood, said nursing rhymes were vital for a young child’s 'language development’. But she said many children were simply being played the classic songs by tape or video, when the secret to their success was in the interaction between the singer and child. She said: ‘These old rhymes have hung round, mothers have sung them through the ages. It is ancient women’s wisdom that is getting lost now. ‘They have been sung throughout the ages because the child responds well to them, and the reason the child responds well to them is that the child can imitate that song and…. develop their language ability.’

Incredible restoration removes 200 years of grime from oil painting in seconds

“A remarkable Jacobean re-emergence after 200 years of yellowing varnish … after Restorer Philip Mould  tested a special mixture of gel and solvent on an ‘oil on panel’ surface before carefully applying it to the picture of the Jacobean lady.  Watch the  mesmerizing 20 second video.

 Restoration Art Varnish

Scottish Jews Have Their Own Official Tartan

 Kosher Tartan

The central colors are blue and white, both of which decorate the Israeli and Scottish flags; they are complemented by lines of gold (representative of the Ark of the Covenant), red (Kiddush wine), and silver (the ornamentation on the scrolls of the Torah).

A Hard Day's Night: Solving a Beatles mystery with mathematics

The opening chord of A Hard Day's Night is probably the most recognizable sound in popular music.  Yet for decades, no-one could figure out exactly how those two seconds of music were made.

The lava lamps keeping you safe online

With 10% of all web data passes through its servers, the internet firm Cloudflare uses lava lamps to create truly random numbers  to create encryption keys for its data.  The lava lamps are constantly recorded and their movements used to create the truly random numbers.

 Cloudflare's Lava Lamps
Cloudflare's 'wall of entropy at its San Francisco headquarters.

Satellite images show ancient mysterious city in the middle of the Pacific ocean

 Mysterious Island-Ocean1

The virtually uninhabitable Nan Madol, located just off the main island of Pohnpei in Micronesia in the Pacific, is reportedly thought to have been built in the first or second century. Nan Madol, which means “the space inbetween”, is 1,600 miles from Australia and 2,500 miles from Los Angeles.  It was described as the Eighth Wonder of the World by early European explorers, with 97 individual geometrically-shaped blocks, separated by narrow channels of water. The city appears to be sit on top of a lagoon and consists of a series of canals and large stone walls. No records exist to explain its foundations or structure.

Gallery of Accidental Camouflage

 Camoflage Beach Woman

Artist Preserves Childhood Memories In Jars

There are some places in the world that you would just love to put in your bag and carry around wherever you go. That is pretty much what the photographer Christoffer Relander did when visiting his childhood environments in Southern Finland and “capturing” them into glass jars with the help of double exposure.

 Artist's Childhood In Jar

4.5 megabytes of data in 1955 on 62,500 punched cards.  That's not enough for a one minute high-quality YouTube video.

 4.5 Megabytes 1955

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

November 7, 2017

Roundup on Aging: The Bright Side and the Dark

Americans are retiring later at closer to 67 and dying sooner,

Data released by the Society of Actuaries found that health in the United States is declining and more people are forced to endure shorter retirements.  From 2014 to 2015, mortality rates rose 1.2 per cent marking the first year-over-year increase in the number since 2005. According to a study by journal Health Affairs, people in their late 50s are having the same if not worse ailments than people at those ages a decade ago  At the same time, Americans in the workforce are having much longer careers, forcing the age of retirement to rise. Result: more people are forced to endure shorter, less active retirements.

An 82-year-old man hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. Then he danced a jig
Dale Sanders, 82, stopped to kiss his last trail marker before becoming the oldest person to hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail within a year

 Dale Sanders 82 Appalachian Trail

He is, incidentally, two years older than the Appalachian Trail, which was officially “connected” in 1937, meaning people could hike it in its entirety from Georgia to Maine. Sanders hiked it in a “flip-flop” sequence, meaning he did a Georgia-to-Harpers Ferry leg, followed by a Maine-to-Harpers Ferry leg. A naturally gregarious person, Sanders had periods of depression while alone on the trail. He was helped by what he calls “trail angels,” people who recognized him from seeing him on the Internet, who called out his trail name — “Grey Beard” — and hiked alongside him for a stretch. ...His next move?  “I’m done and I’m tired,” he said. “And I can go home."

Dancing Has Greater Anti-Aging Effects On Brain Than Exercising

A new study finds that while regular exercise helps keep us strong physically and mentally, dancing may be the most valuable form of physical activity — so much so that it actually has certain anti-aging effects more substantial than the benefits of general fitness.  ....“In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that led to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance,” says the study author at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg.

People Over 60 More Content In Life Than All Other Adults, AARP Survey of 2600  Finds.

80-Year-Olds As Street Smart As 20-Year-Olds, Study Finds

The elderly are just as keen at identifying shady figures or situations as young adults, it turns out. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth recruited 126 individuals — about a third of whom were aged 59 to 91, and the rest of whom were 20 to 28 — for a study on whether one’s age can reliably determine their street smarts — that is, their ability to accurately assess dangerous situations. “The results could encourage older people to recognize they are street smart, that their gut instincts are spot on.”

The Financial Abuse is a different story.

Survey: Nearly 7 In 10 Seniors Targeted By Fraud Campaigns

About two-thirds of elderly Americans have been targeted by a fraud campaign, and more than a quarter have actually fallen victim to such efforts, reports a new survey by at the Cooperative Credit Union Association (CCUA), a trade group that represents credit unions, polled nearly 1,200 Americans, all of whom were caretakers of senior citizens, hoping to learn more about the scams that prey on unsuspecting baby boomers.Correspondence via email was found to be the most common (53 percent) attempt at fraud, followed by telephone (49 percent), text message (16 percent), and postal mail (also 16 percent).

How senior citizens can be victims of elder financial abuse

“Each year, elder financial abuse costs Americans more than $36 billion, and 1 in every 5 seniors — age 65 or older — has been abused financially,” Abuses are often committed by people the elderly person knows, and the abuses are often never investigated. Such abuses include theft of valuables, credit card scams and false shipment, as well as home repair and moving scams. “Just 1 in 44 financial elder abuse cases are ever reported,” according to the National Adult Protective Services Association.

In the New Yorker, a bombshell report.  How the Elderly Lose Their Rights by Rachel Aviv
The stories are horrifying. Strangers get appointed guardians and proceed to sell their assets and control the lives of seniors without their consent and without notifying their families, all to reap profits.

In the United States, a million and a half adults are under the care of guardians, either family members or professionals, who control some two hundred and seventy-three billion dollars in assets, according to an auditor for the guardianship fraud program in Palm Beach County. Little is known about the outcome of these arrangements, because states do not keep complete figures on guardianship cases—statutes vary widely—and, in most jurisdictions, the court records are sealed. A Government Accountability report from 2010 said, “We could not locate a single Web site, federal agency, state or local entity, or any other organization that compiles comprehensive information on this issue.” A study published this year by the American Bar Association found that “an unknown number of adults languish under guardianship” when they no longer need it, or never did. The authors wrote that “guardianship is generally “permanent, leaving no way out—‘until death do us part.’ ”
April Parks Parks drove a Pontiac G-6 convertible with a license plate that read “crtgrdn,” for “court guardian.” In the past twelve years, she had been a guardian for some four hundred wards of the court. Owing to age or disability, they had been deemed incompetent, a legal term that describes those who are unable to make reasoned choices about their lives or their property. As their guardian, Parks had the authority to manage their assets, and to choose where they lived, whom they associated with, and what medical treatment they received. They lost nearly all their civil rights.
in a detailed summary of the investigation, Jaclyn O’Malley, who led the probe for the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, made passing references to the “collusion of hospital social workers and medical staff” who profited from their connection to Parks. At Parks’s grand-jury trial, her assistant testified that she and Parks went to hospitals and attorneys’ offices for the purpose of “building relationships to generate more client leads.” Parks secured a contract with six medical facilities whose staff agreed to refer patients to her—an arrangement that benefitted the facilities, since Parks controlled the decisions of a large pool of their potential consumers. Parks often gave doctors blank certificates and told them exactly what to write in order for their patients to become her wards.

Two documents that can help keep you safe from such financial abuse

A bombshell report in the New Yorker detailed how one woman allegedly took control of strangers' financial and health decisions in Nevada.  Simple documents — like a power of attorney form and healthcare directive — can help you retain control, even if you are no longer able to care for yourself.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:29 PM | Permalink

November 5, 2017

Some recent articles on medical research and technology

Nintendo Wii-inspired microchip turns 2D ultrasound machines into 3D imaging devices

A Nintendo Wii controller has inspired scientists to convert a portable ultrasound into a cheap 3D scanner. Scientists used a common microchip costing just £7 ($10) that tracks how your smartphone or controller is oriented to convert current hospital ultrasound machines. It produced an instant 3D model similar in quality to a CT scan or MRI that are five times more expensive. It is also portable enough to be used in casualty to let doctors instantly know if a patient suffers internal bleeding or provide pregnant women with cheaper 3D scans of their babies.

The fingernail sized chip mounts onto a traditional plastic ultrasound probe that slides over a patient's skin, relaying two dimensional pictures of internal organs or unborn babies. Just like the Wii video game controller, the chip registers the probe's orientation and ten uses software to seamlessly stitch hundreds of individual slices of the anatomy together in 3D.

Professor Joshua Broder, lead researcher from of Duke University, North Carolina, explained: 'With 2D technology you see a visual slice of an organ, but without any context, you can make mistakes.'These are problems that can be solved with the added orientation and holistic context of 3D technology. Professor Broder said the idea came to him while playing with a Nintendo Wii gaming system with his son. With the game console's ability to accurately track the exact position of the controller, he wondered about just sticking the controller to an ultrasound probe with duct tape.  The technology is now being tested in clinical trials to determine how it fits in the flow of patient care.

Doctors replace boy’s skin using breakthrough gene therapy, stem cells

In a breakthrough treatment, researchers at a burn unit in Europe found a way to replace 80 percent of a boy’s skin using a combination of gene therapy and stem cells. The grafted skin attached to his body has continued to replace itself, even months later.  The patient –- a boy who was 7 years old at the time of the treatment –- was born with a rare skin condition called junctional epidermolysis bullosa. The condition causes the outer layer of the skin to peel away easily from the lower skin layers, making it incredibly fragile and prone to injury....In this case, the treatment may have been lifesaving. The patient arrived at the hospital with a life-threatening bacterial skin infection spread over much of his body. Over the following weeks, his doctors tried everything they could to treat him without success.  Out of options, his treatment team was preparing to start end-of-life care when his parents pleaded with them to try an experimental therapy.

Single injection of stem cells could banish back pain for up to three years

Stem cell injections into the spine ease the discomfort of around half of chronic lower back pain sufferers for two years, with some even being symptom-free three years later, a study found. Researchers believe injected stem cells re-inflate vertebrae that have dried and cracked by causing water to trap between discs. Such treatments could resolve the opioid endemic that killed 33,000 people in the US in 2015 alone, with half of such painkiller prescriptions being due to chronic lower back pain.

Researchers from the drug manufacturer Mesoblast in Melbourne injected stem cells into 100 people with degenerative disc disease, which accounts for around 22 percent of cases of chronic lower back pain. The stem cells were extracted from the bone marrow of donors and grown in a lab to create large quantities. Results reveal one stem cell injection helped around half of the study's participants to experience no back pain for two years. Some of the participants have been pain-free for three years. Almost half of those treated became mobile and dropped 15 points on a 100-scale disability score versus just 13 percent receiving a placebo.

Feeling hungry or full is down to our BONES

We've long been told that a part of our brain controls our appetite – but a new study suggests that our bones also play a key role. A hormone they produce, called osteocalcin, has been shown to affect how we metabolize sugar and fat. It has also been associated with insulin sensitivity, which is linked to developing type 2 diabetes.

Professor Mathieu Ferron, of the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM), spent the last decade studying osteocalcin. ... He says osteocalcin is produced by osteoblasts, the same cells responsible for making our bones. The hormone builds up in bone, and then, through a series of chemical reactions, is released into the blood.  'When it is first produced in osteoblasts, osteocalcin is in an inactive form,' he explained. 'What interested us was understanding how osteocalcin becomes active so as to be able to play its role when released into the blood.' His lab demonstrated that an enzyme, which acts like molecular scissors, is required
Professor Ferron's team succeeded in identifying the protein furin which causes osteocalcin to become active and the hormone is then released into the blood. He said: 'We demonstrated that when there was no furin in bone cells, inactive osteocalcin built up and was still released, but this led to an increase in blood glucose levels and a reduction in energy expenditure and insulin production.' Professor Ferron explained that deleting these 'scissors' also had an unexpected effect: it reduced the mice's appetite.

The iPhone ultrasound device that can spot CANCER

Dr John Martin diagnosed his own stage four cancer last summer - using only his iPhone. The 59-year-old doctor is a vascular surgeon and the chief medical officer at Butterfly Network, a company that has invented a handheld ultrasound machine that can connect to an iPhone called the Butterfly iQ.  While the product was being tested for FDA clearance in July, Dr Martin decided to scan his own neck using the device because he felt a mass in his throat. The results that popped up on his phone screen revealed he had metastatic cancer. It had started in his tongue and throat and spread to his neck. After surgery, it was downgraded to stage three and now, coming to the end of six weeks of radiation, doctors say he looks set to be cured.

A new blood test could predict from the earliest stage of pregnancy whether a woman will go on to suffer a miscarriage.

The test, carried out in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, can also predict if a woman is at risk of giving birth prematurely or developing pre-eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition causing high blood pressure. Researchers from the Laboratory for Reproductive Medicine and Immunology in San Francisco discovered molecules in the blood that predict these birth complications with up to 98 per cent accuracy.  More research is needed before the test could be rolled out – but the findings have been hailed as 'very promising'.

Algorithm can identify suicidal people using brain scans

Scientists have trained a computer program to identify people with suicidal thoughts based on their brain scans. The study is small, but the method could one day be used for diagnosing mental health conditions, researchers say....The algorithm isn't perfect — and a medical test would have to be. It may also not become widely used since brain scans are expensive. But “it’d be nice to have this additional method,” says study author Marcel Just, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University.

Thirty-four volunteers participated in the study: 17 with suicidal thoughts and 17 without. The volunteers read 30 words that were either positive (“bliss”), negative (“cruelty”), or related to death (“suicide”) and thought about the meanings while undergoing a type of brain scan called fMRI.  Researchers found that the responses to six words — “death,” “trouble,” “carefree,” “good,” “praise,” and “cruelty” — showed the biggest differences between the two groups of participants. So, they gave a machine-learning algorithm these results for every person except one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 PM | Permalink

November 4, 2017

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's Edition

New 'plaque destroying' light therapy could prevent Alzheimer's disease by blitzing dangerous proteins

Researchers from Rice University in Houston, Texas, developed a probe to target proteins in the brain that cause Alzheimer's disease. An optic probe has been developed by scientists that glows over 100 times more brightly when it identifies the fine fibers, or fibrils, of amyloid beta that kill neurons. The light then oxidizes the fibers to prevent them from clumping together in patients' brains, which inhibits memory and makes them confused.

Bizarre Cucumber-based vaccine to treat Alzheimer's  Works on mice.

A cucumber-based vaccine that protects against Alzheimer's disease, cat allergies and psoriasis could be in the pipeline, researchers claim. Scientists believe they have created a 'magic bullet' by using a virus that normally affects the vegetable in their quest for a cure against several conditions. They hailed the results of their trial as a breakthrough which could lead to 'hundreds of thousands of people being spared the ravages of chronic diseases'.

The bizarre technique, proven to work on mice, is also expected to protect against many common allergies and even types of chronic pain. Scientists at Dundee and Oxford universities used the protein coat of the cucumber mosaic virus - which can cause lumps to appear on the vegetable - for their vaccine. It was then combined with a protein structure from the tetanus vaccine - which is already known to stimulate the immune system.The British research team, who published their work in Nature Vaccine, say more trials are required to properly test the vaccines.

Alzheimer's Patients Have Altered Gut Bacteria

Overall, Alzheimer's patients had reduced microbial diversity, as well as a few noteworthy differences in bacterial abundance.  ....The current study is only correlational, so the differences in gut bacteria may result from Alzheimer's disease rather than contribute to it. However, research published earlier this year showed that transferring the intestinal bacteria of mice afflicted with Alzheimer's into the guts of germ-free mice caused the germ-free mice to develop more beta-amyloid plaques in the brain compared to if they had received bacteria from healthy mice. Beta-amyloid plaques are a hallmark sign of Alzheimer's, accruing on the neurons of people afflicted with the disease.

Alzheimer's could begin outside the brain:

Toxic proteins behind the disease can develop anywhere in the body before invading grey matter like cancer, reveals study. Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada found the toxic proteins that lead to the neurodegenerative illness can develop in the liver or even kidneys before invading grey matter. The discovery could lead to drugs that target dementia in organs that are much easier to treat - years before the onset of symptoms.  Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, has long been assumed to originate in the brain. But this new research indicates it could be started by breakdowns elsewhere.

Doctors Have Trouble Diagnosing Alzheimer's. AI Doesn't

Algorithms can look at brain scans of people exhibiting memory loss and tell who will develop Alzheimer's disease and who won't Separate teams of scientists at the University of Bari in Italy and McGill University in Canada have created artificial intelligence algorithms that can look at brain scans of people who are exhibiting memory loss and tell who will go on to develop full-blown Alzheimer's disease and who won't.  The difference in amyloid between the two groups is too subtle for humans to detect, but the AI system, called AIDDementia (short for Artificial Intelligence for Diagnosing Dementia), had no problem. When it analyzed a new set of 82 brain scans, it identified who would develop Alzheimer’s in the next two years with 84 percent accuracy.

Alzheimer’s Risk Determined By Spit? New Test Shows Promise, Study Finds

The study, conducted by the Beaumont Research Institute, hopes to be among the first that could spot the potential for Alzheimer’s early on, allowing for increased prevention methods among patients. Treatment for the disease is far more effective when started earlier in a patient’s life. The study finds that a person’s risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may be accurately detected from their spit. Researchers examined 29 people — eight of whom had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), nine who suffered from Alzheimer’s, and 12 who were considered healthy — and collected saliva samples from each. Using what’s called “metabolomics,” a new process that probes molecules involved in metabolism, the researchers were able to find and identify 57 metabolites. Twenty-two of those biomarkers from the participants with either MCI or Alzheimer’s showed significant differences from those examined in the control group. The team believes those biomarkers could signal a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Forget  Young People's Blood as Dementia Treatment

Despite the hype, giving dementia patients the blood of young donors hasn't turned out to be the silver bullet in the heart of Alzheimer's - not yet, at any rate.The small, controversial and much hailed human clinical trial that began in 2014 has concluded - and found that the rich, juicy blood of the young makes no changes to the cognitive state of dementia patients.

"The scientific basis for the trial is simply not there," said neurologist Irina Conboy of the University of California, Berkeley, who has performed parabiosis experiments. The effects of young blood on cognition have not been replicated by an independent group, and there has never been a test with a mouse model of Alzheimer's."

Cup Of Tea A Day Keeps Dementia Away,

Drinking tea as a senior citizen — especially those at higher risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s — could help prevent serious mental decline, concludes a new study from the National University of Singapore after looking at 957 Chinese individuals who were 55 years of age or older in a longitudinal study.  The study’s findings were rather promising: those who drank tea daily reduced their risk of cognitive decline by 50 percent. Participants who carried the gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease saw a diminished risk of cognitive impairment by up to 86 percent. This finding held regardless of the type of tea that one drank— e.g. black, green, oolong. As long as the tea leaves had been freshly brewed, consuming tea was found to help protect the brain. Despite “tea [being] one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world,” its tremendous health benefits are often overlooked, argues lead researcher Feng Lei.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink

November 3, 2017

Miscellany #87

When life imitates art - literally!
Austrian photographer Stefan Draschan observes people in galleries and museums in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna and captures people who inadvertently match the pieces they're looking at.

 Life Imitates Art Museaum

The First Recorded Pizza Delivery Was To A Catholic Bishop… In the 10th Century!

The first ever usage of the word “pizza” was found recorded in a document stored in the archives of the Cathedral of Saints Erasmus and Marciano and Santa Maria Assunta in Gaeta, Italy. The document, entitled codex diplomaticus cajtanus, was a rental agreement over the usage of a mill and its associated land that the Church owned at the time. ...
“Every year on Christmas Day of the Lord, you and your heirs must be paid to us and our successors, by way of rent for the overwritten bishop and without recrimination twelve pizzas, shoulder pork and kidney, and similarly twelve pizzas, and a couple of chickens in the day of Holy Easter of Resurrection.”


Secret of gold finally found: precious metals are forged in cataclysmic collision of neutron stars

Gold has fascinated alchemists for thousands of years, but now scientists have finally solved the mystery. Precious metals are forged in the cataclysmic collision of neutron stars and then flung out into the universe where they eventually aggregate with other stardust into larger bodies, like planets or comets. Previously scientists had theorized that such cosmic smashes could create the vast amount of energy needed to create gold, platinum and silver, but for the first time, they have actually recorded it happening....Researchers say this is the first time a cosmic event has been seen both with gravitational waves and with the full electromagnetic spectrum

 Artist Gold From Stars

Artist's concept of the explosive collision of two neutron stars by Robin Dienel at Carnegie Institution for Science.

I have a message for you…“I put up my hands to protect my head and I jumped from the train.”
Gerard Vanderleun calls it the "most extraordinary tale of loss, survival and regeneration I have heard in many a year."

Butterfly Specimen Boxes Painted as Multi-Story Murals
France-based street artist Mantra has been unveiling a series of trompe l’oeil murals that convert the facades of commercial and residential buildings into larger-than-life butterfly display cases in Spain, Austria, France, and Bogota.

 Martabutterfly-3 Mariposas De Aragon

"Dave The Period Fairy" -  A Viral Sensation After A Woman Shared A Nightmare Hiking Experience On Reddit

Blue Hole discovered in the Great Barrier Reef that is home to incredible, healthy coral colonies

Divers discovered the Blue Hole over 125 miles from Daydream Island. Blue Holes are marine sinkholes that formed during previous ice ages. The discovery of healthy coral in the Blue Hole may come as a surprise to experts, following extensive coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

 Blue Hole+Great Barrier Reef

Red Rainbow over Sulov, Slovakia

 Red Rainbow Over Sulov Slovakia

World's largest cashew tree

 World's Largest Cashew Tree

Strolling inside the sprawling canopy, you may think you are walking in an entire lush, green forest of cashew trees, but you are actually walking within one single tree. The tree covers about two acres, which approximates to the size of five football fields, or about 70 normal-size cashew trees.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:22 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Heart Edition

‘Unbelievable’: Heart Stents Fail to Ease Chest Pain

Heart disease is still the leading killer of Americans — 790,000 people have heart attacks each year — and stenting is a mainstay treatment in virtually every hospital. More than 500,000 heart patients worldwide have stents inserted each year to relieve chest pain, according to the researchers. Other estimates are far higher. The new study, published in the Lancet, stunned leading cardiologists by countering decades of clinical experience. The findings raise questions about whether stents should be used so often — or at all — to treat chest pain.

For the study, Dr. Justin E. Davies, a cardiologist at Imperial College London, and his colleagues recruited 200 patients with a profoundly blocked coronary artery and chest pain severe enough to limit physical activity, common reasons for inserting a stent. All were treated for six weeks with drugs to reduce the risk of a heart attack, like aspirin, a statin and a blood pressure drug, as well as medications that relieve chest pain by slowing the heart or opening blood vessels. Then the subjects had a procedure: a real or fake insertion of a stent.

The stents did what they were supposed to do in patients who received them. Blood flow through the previously blocked artery was greatly improved.When the researchers tested the patients six weeks later, both groups said they had less chest pain, and they did better than before on treadmill tests. But there was no real difference between the patients, the researchers found. Those who got the sham procedure did just as well as those who got stents. ...“It was impressive how negative it was,” Dr. Redberg said of the new study. Since the procedure carries some risks, including death, stents should be used only for people who are having heart attacks, she added.

Afternoon heart surgery 'is 50% more successful'

Heart surgery is 50 per cent more successful if done in the afternoon, a major study has found conducted by study leader Professor David Montaigne, of the University of Lille in France found. Experts believe this is because the heart is better at repairing itself later in the day. Researchers tracked 596 people who had undergone heart valve replacement surgery – half of them who had surgery in the morning, half in the afternoon

Research on mice. Just ONE dose of new wonder drug can 'melt away' the fat inside arteries that causes heart attacks

Trodusquemine shows promising results for treating breast cancer and diabetes. Now researchers have found it reverses the effects of atherosclerosis where arteries become clogged with fat, causing heart disease. Researchers believe the drug 'mimics' the effects of exercise and activates a protective enzyme while inhibiting another enzyme that causes prolonged inflammation and hardens arteries.

Professor Mirela Delibegovic from the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Medical Sciences, who led the study, said ‘We know this drug has been shown to have beneficial effects on reducing prolonged inflammation in type 2 diabetes and because this is also a factor in atherosclerosis we wanted to know if it had cardiovascular benefits too. And our initial tests on mice show that it does, so this is potentially a big breakthrough....‘Essentially, when it comes to the key enzymes in play here, trodusquemine is stopping the bad guy and helping the good guy. We will now need to carry out further research to see if the same effect is replicated in humans and it can be proven to be safe.’

Heart Attacks More Likely When It’s Cold Out, Study Finds

Researchers in Sweden examined a study of 280.873 heart attack patients from the country between January 1998 and December 2013. The team checked the weather conditions for the area where each attack was suffered...Specifically, the likelihood of a heart attack was higher when temperatures were below 0°C (32°F). About four more heart attacks per day are suffered under those conditions compared to days when the average minimum temperature was above 10°C (50°F).

The FDA Warns That Black Licorice Can Cause Heart Problems in Adults

In a report released Monday, the FDA warns, "if you're 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia." Two ounces is only about five Twizzler-sized ropes of licorice, or nine Red-Vine-sized pieces. The sweetening compound in licorice root, glycyrrhizin, is the danger: Glycyrrhetic acid can elevate sodium levels and reduce potassium in the body. That temporary potassium drop can cause some people to experience abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy, and congestive heart failure. According to the FDA's Linda Katz, potassium levels in licorice-eaters are usually restored with no permanent health problems once people stop eating the black stuff.

Tai Chi helps heart attack patients to recover:

Tai Chi should be recommended to heart attack patients to help them recover, new research suggests. The ancient Chinese martial art may provide a more enjoyable option to traditional rehab, which three fifths refuse to take part in because they deem it unpleasant. But deciding against taking part in rehabilitation can be fatal, increasing the risk of dying from a subsequent heart attack by 18 per cent. Used for more than 1,000 years, it could help to form part of the essential care that all heart attack patients require, Brown University experts believe.

Dr Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, lead author, said: 'We thought that tai chi might be a good option for these people because you can start very slowly and simply. 'As their confidence increases, the pace and movements can be modified to increase intensity. Tai Chi exercise can reach low-to-moderate intensity levels. 'The emphasis on breathing and relaxation can also help with stress reduction and psychological distress.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:04 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Psoriasis Edition

Psoriasis sufferers are up to TWICE as likely to die early

Psoriasis affects around two percent of people in the US and UK. Severe psoriasis is defined as red, scaly patches that cover 10% of the body. Patients with severe psoriasis have nearly double the risk of dying prematurely as they are at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  Since the affected body surface area can be easily evaluated during patient's doctor visits, doctors are able to determine the patients most at risk of medical problems.

Our Skin Can 'Remember' Inflammation, And It Could Help Us Understand Psoriasis

Wounds, and even other harmful attacks that cause inflammation, are 'remembered' by stem cells in the skin, according to new research, and those 'memories' are used to heal our bodies faster the next time around. While stem cells don't suddenly have brain-like memory-forming capabilities, this research has shown these amazing cells log past experiences to improve their wound-healing capabilities in the future. And at times this ability could actually have a negative result.

"By enhancing responsiveness to inflammation, these memories help the skin maintain its integrity, a feature that is beneficial in healing wounds after an injury," says one of the team, Elaine Fuchs. "This memory may also have detrimental effects, however, such as contributing to the relapse of certain inflammatory disorders such as psoriasis."

New steroid-free cream clears up the scaly skin of psoriasis within weeks without any of the side effects

More than two million people in Britain suffer from psoriasis. Skin condition sees cells replaced every few days, instead of three to four weeks. It can form raised silvery scales which can become inflamed and painful. The new treatment, Soratinex, can reduce redness and scaling skin within weeks.

Scientists reveal there is an at-home device to tackle psoriasis that does work

Blue-light therapy reduces symptoms of the scaly skin condition in 84% of sufferers. The chronic, itchy condition is caused by too many skin cells being made. Philips BlueControl shown to decrease thickness of plaques, redness and scaling. The blue LED light works by slowing down the accelerated production of cells and it also educes the inflammation that causes the red plaques on sufferers. Sold in the UK and Germany, the device was given FDA approval in July.

Diet cure for Psoriasis and Eczema Sufferers Helps Thousands

A woman whose 20-year battle with psoriasis and eczema was so severe she was told her only treatment option was chemotherapy has found a 'cure' through diet. Hanna Sillitoe was in such agony she even had to resort to going out with her red-raw skin wrapped in clingfilm to stop her clothes rubbing against it. Having tried 'every cream under the sun' and at her wits end, the 38-year-old, from Manchester, began researching about anti-inflammatory foods and devised her own diet. She cut out caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy and wheat. The interior designer then found her heavily scaly and crusted skin cleared up completely and as a 'bonus' lost five stone (31kg). She also says her 'whole health has been boosted'.

She published a blog and book to help others and has shared their astounding before and after pictures. One US mother of a psoriasis-covered toddler used Hanna's diet plan and revealed her daughter 'has her life back'

 Before After Diet Cure Psorasis

Ashley – who said some people have accused her of being 'a bad parent' when they've mistaken
her daughter's psoriasis for severe sunburn – reports Charlie has found relief

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:15 AM | Permalink

November 2, 2017

Health roundup - Depression Edition

Warning for those on antidepressants

The commonly prescribed drugs raise the risk of an early death by 33%, a controversial study at McMaster University in Canada found after analyzing the impact on nearly 380,000 people.  The drugs do more harm than good, researchers say, and their use should be cut.  Psychiatrists disputed this and argued that they have been safely used for years.

Rigorous Study Finds Antidepressants Worsen Long-Term Outcomes

Even after controlling for depression severity, participants who took medication had significantly more severe symptoms at the nine-year follow-up than participants who did not. In fact, even people who received no treatment at all did better than those who received medication. “Adequacy” of treatment did not appear to make much of a difference. These results add to a body of research that indicates that antidepressants worsen long-term outcomes....Previous research has also found that antidepressants are no more effective than placebo for mild-to-moderate depression, and other studies have questioned whether such medications are effective even for severe depression. Concerns have also been raised about the health risks of taking antidepressants—such as a recent study which found that taking antidepressants increases one’s risk of death by 33% (see MIA report).

In fact, studies have demonstrated that as many as 85% of people recover spontaneously from depression. In a recent example, researchers found that only 35% of people who experienced depression had a second episode within 15 years. That means that 65% of people who have a bout of depression are likely never to experience it again.

One hour of exercise a week cuts your risk of depression thanks to 'feel-good' endorphins in the brain

Researchers from the Black Dog Institute in Randwick, Australia, analyzed 33,808 Norwegian adults on their levels of exercise and symptoms of depression. These adults were monitored over 11 years to see how exercising had an impact on their mental health. They found 12% of cases of depression could've been prevented by exercise.  Exercising helps to release endorphins and natural chemicals in the brain to promote relaxation and lessen negative emotions.  "This is the first time we have been able to quantify the preventative potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression,' said Samuel Harvey, lead author from the Black Dog Institute.

Can staying awake beat depression?

Making people stay awake for hours in a hospital may seem an odd way to battle depression – but for some people it is proving a promising therapy.In the UK, the USA, Denmark and Sweden, psychiatrists are investigating chronotherapy as a treatment for general depression
San Raffaele Hospital first introduced triple chronotherapy in 1996. Since then, it has treated close to a thousand patients with bipolar depression – many of whom had failed to respond to antidepressant drugs. The results speak for themselves: according to the most recent data, 70% of people with drug-resistant bipolar depression responded to triple chronotherapy within the first week, and 55% had a sustained improvement in their depression one month later.

Book up! How reading crime novels could help ease the symptoms of depression

Many a bookworm will tell you that curling up with a paperback is a salve for the mind. And it seems scientists agree — with research suggesting reading can ease depression.  While it is not a cure, experts believe it is effective and could reduce the reliance on antidepressants in some cases.

'Bibliotherapy' claims to cause behavioral changes via emotional responses. The results showed improved mood, plus a decline in anxiety and aggression. In September 2017, researchers at the University of Turin in Italy published an analysis of ten studies of bibliotherapy. Their findings, published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review, showed that participants in at least six studies  saw significant improvements in their depression scores for up to three years after taking part in a course of reading therapy.

‘Many people with depression feel isolated, but reading about other people’s experiences — even if they are fictional — can give them hope,...Dr Brewster says: ‘My research shows some patients like the comfort and safety of a crime drama, where they know the crime will be solved.’

The idea is that reading causes behavioral changes through emotional responses to the written word, rather than a chemical shift in the brain as medication might. Of course reading is by no means a cure, Dr Brewster adds: ‘Patients using bibliotherapy also need to make other changes that will improve mental and physical health — such as increased exercise and a healthier diet.’ Professor Pariante agrees: ‘Reading is not a substitute for antidepressants in patients who really need them.

Ketamine may represent a 'paradigm shift' for depression treatment

Ketamine and related drugs may represent a "paradigm shift" as an antidepressant to rapidly treat major depressive disorder and bipolar depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
In two reviews published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, researchers explained the benefits of ketamine, an anesthetic drug that also has a history of recreational use....Research led by Dr. Carlos A. Zarate, Jr. lays out the fundamental change in patients undergoing treatment who don't respond to other treatments -- symptoms subside in hours instead of weeks, researchers wrote in the papers....
Dr. Cristina Cusin, of Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues explores evidence on the mechanisms behind ketamine's rapid antidepressant effects....Cusin reviewed 47 neuroimaging studies that evaluated ketamine's effects in the brain. Ketamine might "acutely disable" emotion resources that give depression symptoms, Cusin and her research team write, adding that the drug also increases emotional blunting and activity in reward processing. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:37 PM | Permalink

November 1, 2017

Health Roundup: Parkinson's edition

Diabetes drug cuts Parkinson's risk by helping the body to self-clean damaged or aging brain cells

A drug prescribed for diabetes patients reduces the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by more than a quarter, a major study has found.  Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway discovered glitazones (GTZs) had a protective effect against the degenerative neurological disease.  GTZs users saw a 28 percent drop in their chances of developing it compared with people on metformin, which is the most common medication for type 2 diabetes.  GTZs – also known as thiazolidinediones – are approved in the US and the UK for the metabolic disorder, but are not the primary treatment. They are thought to work by helping the body to self-clean damaged or aging brain cells....The study by a team from the University of Bergen in Norway analyzed data from the Norwegian Prescription Database, which holds data on all medications dispensed in pharmacies across Norway, and found more that 100,00 that met the study criteria but there were a number of limitations to their study so the findings cannot be generalized to the population as a whole.

Is a CURE for Parkinson's disease in the pipeline?

Scientists crack the secret behind the enzyme thought to be responsible for the condition.  In early-onset Parkinson’s, a PINK1 mutation causes it to lose its protective function, leading to the degeneration of cells in the brain that control movement.  PINK1 encodes a special class of enzyme, known as a kinase, that plays a critical role in protecting brain cells against stress. Previous research has shown that the main role of the PINK1 enzyme is to sense damage to the energy centers, or mitochondria, of cells.  This then switches on a protective pathway involving two key proteins, known as ubiquitin and Parkin, to reduce the damage. Scottish experts have now worked out the 3D structure of the PINK1 enzyme.  Their findings have been dubbed 'vital' and 'fantastic' by the medical community.

Using asthma inhalers HALVES the risk of developing Parkinson's disease in old age,

Asthma inhalers may protect patients from Parkinson's disease, a major new study suggests. Full of salbutamol, researchers found the medication halves the risk of developing the devastating neurological condition.  It is believed the drug, used in blue inhalers, stops abnormal clumps of a protein from accumulating in the brain - a hallmark of Parkinson's.  The 'landmark' findings, made by Norwegian and US scientists, could open up new avenues for potential new treatments for the incurable disease. Study author Professor Trond Riise said: 'These medicines have never been studied in relation to Parkinson's disease.  'Our discoveries may be the start of a totally new possible treatment for this serious disease. We expect that clinical studies will follow these discoveries.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:31 PM | Permalink