November 14, 2018

Health Roundup: Exercise Edition

New HHS Guideline on Physical Activity for Americans

Inactivity causes 10% of the premature mortality in the United States, Assistant Health Secretary Brett Giroir said. "That means if we can just get 25% of inactive people to be active and meet the recommendations, almost 75,000 deaths would be prevented in the United States."  ...Physical activity has immediate benefits, Giroir said. "A single episode of physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity," he said.

"We now know about even more long-term health benefits from physical activity, including improved brain health, reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, reduced risk for fall-related injuries in older adults, and reduced risk for eight types of cancer," he noted, now including, besides breast and colon malignancies, bladder, endometrial, esophageal, kidney, stomach, and lung cancers....Multiple studies show the steepest reduction in disease risk, such as for coronary heart disease, occurs at the lowest levels of physical activity, they note. "Patients need to understand that even small amounts of physical activity are beneficial and that reductions in the risk of disease and disability occur by simply getting moving."

A Single Workout Protects Your Heart Immediately.

A single bout of exercise can reduce the size of a heart attack....These remarkable benefits occur in the absence of changes in cardiovascular risk factors (such as blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight) or adaptive responses (improved heart function). When you regularly perform exercise, it seems that the immediate protection is constantly present. Unfortunately, but also somewhat expected, the immediate benefits of exercise last for four to five days.

Even a 10-Minute Walk May Be Good for the Brain

Ten minutes of mild exercise can immediately alter how certain parts of the brain communicate and coordinate with one another and improve memory function.

Fewer than one in three Americans and and only one in five teenagers meet standards new physical fitness guidelines

They call on adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activity each week. Children ages 6 through 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per day and three sessions of muscle-strengthening per week.

Moderate-intensity activity includes walking briskly, riding a bike on level ground with few hills and playing doubles tennis. Muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights, "heavy gardening," such as shoveling, and yoga...Parking farther from entrances and taking the stairs count as exercise.

How Muscles Age, and How Exercise Can Slow It.

The good news is that exercise can stave off and even reverse muscle loss and weakness. Recent research has demonstrated that physical activity can promote mitochondrial health, increase protein turnover, and restore levels of signaling molecules involved in muscle function....There is now copious evidence to suggest that exercise may prevent or reverse many of these age-related changes, whereas inactivity will accelerate muscle aging.

How Exercise Reprograms the Brain  As researchers unravel the molecular machinery that links exercise and cognition, working out is emerging as a promising neurotherapy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:09 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2018

Health Roundup: Diabetes, aspirin, antlers, marijuana, young blood, appendix, TB and statins

'Spectacular' diabetes treatment could end daily insulin injections

Hour-long procedure that stabilizes blood sugar levels of sufferers of type 2 diabetes is still effective one year on, study shows.  By destroying the mucous membrane in the small intestine and causing a new one to develop, scientists stabilized the blood sugar levels of people with type 2 diabetes. The results have been described as “spectacular” – albeit unexpected – by the chief researchers involved.

Should healthy older people take low-dose aspirin daily? No, says a new study

According to a study of more than 19,000 people, including whites 70 and older, and blacks and Hispanics 65 and older who took low-dose aspirin — 100 milligrams — or a placebo every day for a median of 4.7 years. Aspirin did not help them — and may have done harm. Taking it did not lower their risks of cardiovascular disease, dementia or disability. And it increased the risk of significant bleeding in the digestive tract, brain or other sites that required transfusions or admission to the hospital.....The researchers had expected that aspirin would help prevent heart attacks and strokes in the study participants, so the results came as a surprise — “the ugly facts which slay a beautiful theory,” the leader of the study, Dr. John McNeil, of the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia...

'No evidence' having high levels of bad cholesterol causes heart disease,

So claim 17 cardiologists as they call on doctors to 'abandon' statins. Researchers have warned statins - cholesterol-busting drugs - offer no protection to millions of people and doctors should 'abandon' them. The findings add fuel to the ever-growing, controversial row over statins, as cardiologists continue to disagree on whether the cheap pills have any benefit. Experts do agree that for people who already have a high heart risk - particularly those who have already had a heart attack or a stroke - statins are proven lifesavers, slashing the chance of a second attack.
High levels of LDL-C, known as bad cholesterol, has been considered a major cause of heart disease - the world's leading killer - for at least 50 years. But the new study, based on data of around 1.3 million patients, suggests doling out statins as a main form of treatment for heart disease is of 'doubtful benefit'.  This also remained true for patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), a genetic condition that causes them to have abnormal levels of LDL-C. The study, published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, also found no link between high levels of LDL-C and atherosclerosis.....Professor Sherif Sultan, one of the authors, told The Irish Times the 'strongest finding' was elderly people with high levels of LDL-C live the longest.

PET scans show fibromyalgia patients have inflammation in the brain

"Finding an objective neurochemical change in the brains of people who are used to being told that their problems are imaginary is pretty important," said researcher Marco Loggia.

Blood pressure pills taken by MILLIONS worldwide 'raise your risk of lung cancer', scientists warn

Patients taking ACE inhibitors were 14% more likely to develop the cancer. Those taking them for five years were 22% more likely to get lung cancer rising to 31% per cent if they were on them for ten years. Scientists believe the drugs cause the accumulation of chemicals called bradykinin on the lung which in turn leads to cancer.  Ramipril, Altace, captopril, cilazapril and enalapri are all ACE inhibitors.  In the U.S. figures show there are around 163 million prescriptions for ACE inhibitors each year.

Your Appendix Might Have a "Use" After All, as The Starting Place of Parkinson's Disease

An analysis of around 1.7 million people has revealed a curious link between the appendix and Parkinson's disease. The study found that people who'd had the little nub of tissue removed were up to 25 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, depending on where they lived... There's a growing pool of evidence suggesting for many people, Parkinson's disease starts down below in the gut and travels up the vagus nerve into the brain.

Peanut allergies have become 'almost epidemic'

Dr Scott Sicherer, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at New York's Mount Sinai hospital, said the rise in cases is impossible to deny.  Peanut allergies tripled from affecting one in 250 children to just one in 70 between 1997 and 2008.  An obsession with cleanliness, where youngsters are not allowed to play in the dirt, is thought to have weakened their immune systems and driven the rise in allergy cases. Last year, the National Institutes of Health stated early exposure to peanut allergies may help to prevent the reaction. Under new guidelines, parents are advised to introduce peanuts into a baby's diet 'as early as four to six months'.

Doctors hail ‘game changer' drug after it ‘CURES 90% of patients battling tuberculosis’ in breakthrough trial

The new treatment, which uses the drug bedaquiline alongside a cocktail of other antibiotics, totally cured 93 per cent of patients in a breakthrough trial.  has been branded a 'game changer'.  Currently, just 55% of those with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis are successfully treated. The world's deadliest infectious disease killed at least 1.7 million people in 2017

Antlers may hold the cure for millions battling osteoporosis

The two genes discovered in stags which allow them to regrow their antlers every year could be used to treat human bone conditions, researchers hope.  Scientists from Stanford University discovered these genes work to create new bone cells and harden existing bone tissue.

Young blood an elixir that prevents age-related diseases, study reveals

Blood factors obtained from young beings can improve late-life health in mice and put an end to age-related diseases say the scientists at University College London.

Teenagers who stopped regularly smoking marijuana saw a huge boost to their memories within a month.

Marijuana really does dull the brain.  The teenage years are a critical time for brain maturation, specifically for regions that are most susceptible to the effects of cannabis.

Male fertility crisis: Obesity, smoking and exposure to plastics are to blame for huge drop in sperm quality,

Researchers in the US and Spain analyzed semen samples from two major fertility centers between 2002 and 2017. The number of men in their cohort went up seven-fold, from 8,000 to 60,000 in that time, with an increasing number diagnosed with oligospermia, a type of male infertility. The study comes a year after experts in Israel and the US sparked alarm with shocking data that sperm counts among men living in Western countries had fallen by 59.3 percent in the last 40 years.

Venezuela’s Health Crisis Is Crossing the Border.

“The collapse of Venezuela’s health system has turned what was once Latin America’s richest nation into an incubator for malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, dengue and tuberculosis, as well as the virus that causes AIDS.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:14 PM | Permalink

October 31, 2018

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's Edition

Lowering blood pressure could prevent Alzheimer's

Combining hypertension medication with healthy lifestyle changes reduces at-risk people's likelihood of developing cognitive decline and dementia by 15 percent, according to a landmark study from the Wake Forest School of Medicine, North Carolina, involving  9,361 adults with high blood pressure but not a diagnosis for diabetes, dementia or stroke.

Mounting Evidence Links Sleep Disturbance To Alzheimer's Disease 

Multiple studies link poor sleep to cognitive impairment and decline, and more recent studies link sleep disturbance to biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease....Now investigators from the National Institute on Aging are saying that feeling excessively sleepy during the day could be a sign of increased risk for the brain pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.  Those people were nearly three times more likely to have deposits of beta-amyloid, the protein that clumps in the brain as part of Alzheimer’s disease pathology... Napping habits were not significantly connected to beta-amyloid deposits, the team reported.

Sleeping too much is just as bad for cognition as not getting enough rest, world's largest sleep study finds

The University of Western Ontario is undertaking the largest sleep study to-date. Researchers gave 40,000 people an online cognition test and asked about their sleep habits. People that slept more than eight hours performed just as badly as those that slept less than seven. But between seven and eight hours was the 'sweet spot' for everyone

Ultrasound could cure dementia without any side effects: Waves activate blood vessel and nerve cell growth in the brain, study finds

Nerve cell death and damage is one of the main causes of dementia as they reduce blood flow to the brain.Ultrasound, when given to mice with the condition, activates genes linked to blood vessel formation and nerve cell growth, a study found. Reduced blood flow is thought to trigger diseases like Alzheimer's due to brain cells not receiving the oxygen and nutrients they need for thinking, learning and memory. Lead author Dr Hiroaki Shimokawa, from Tohoku University, Japan, said: 'The therapy is a non-invasive physiotherapy that could apply to high-risk elderly patients without the need for surgery or anaesthesia and could be used repeatedly.'

Herpes could be a cause of Alzheimer's disease  by Ruth Itzhaki, professor emeritus of molecular neurobiology at the University of Manchester.

The virus implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), is better known for causing cold sores. It infects most people in infancy and then remains dormant in the peripheral nervous system (the part of the nervous system that isn’t the brain and the spinal cord). Occasionally, if a person is stressed, the virus becomes activated and, in some people, it causes cold sores....Later, we and others found that HSV1 infection of cell cultures causes beta-amyloid and abnormal tau proteins to accumulate. An accumulation of these proteins in the brain is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease....The data suggests that antiviral agents might be used for treating Alzheimer’s disease. The main antiviral agents, which are safe, prevent new viruses from forming, thereby limiting viral damage. In an earlier study, we found that the anti-herpes antiviral drug, acyclovir, blocks HSV1 DNA replication, and reduces levels of beta-amyloid and tau caused by HSV1 infection of cell cultures.

Infectious Theory Of Alzheimer's Disease Draws Fresh Interest

This "germ theory" of Alzheimer's, as Dr. Norins calls it, has been fermenting in the literature for decades.  If the germ theory gets traction, even in some Alzheimer's patients, it could trigger a seismic shift in how doctors understand and treat the disease...."It appeared that many of the reported characteristics of Alzheimer's disease were compatible with an infectious process," Norins tells NPR. "I thought for sure this must have already been investigated, because millions and millions of dollars have been spent on Alzheimer's research."  But aside from scattered interest through the decades, this wasn't the case....In 2016, 32 researchers from universities around the world signed an editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease calling for "further research on the role of infectious agents in [Alzheimer's] causation.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2018

Health Roundup - Food Edition

Eating Cheese and Butter Every Day Linked to Living Longer

Eating three servings of dairy products a day could lower the risk of heart disease, a study suggests After analyzing the diets of more than 130,000 people in almost two dozen countries, scientists found that eating the equivalent of one serving (244 grams, or 8.6 ounces) of full-fat milk or yogurt, a 15 gram (0.6 ounce) slice of cheese or a teaspoon of butter could benefit health. The findings, published in The Lancet, contradict dietary recommendations that advise against consuming full-fat dairy products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s dietary guidelines for 2015 to 2020, for instance, suggest eating fat-free or low-fat dairy in its key recommendations.

 Dairy Food

New Research Confirms We Got Cholesterol All Wrong

A comprehensive new study on cholesterol, based on results from more than a million patients.  The study, published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, centers on statins, a class of drugs used to lower levels of LDL-C, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, in the human body. According to the study, statins are pointless for most people....."No evidence exists to prove that having high levels of bad cholesterol causes heart disease, leading physicians have claimed" in the study....  The study also reports that "heart attack patients were shown to have lower than normal cholesterol levels of LDL-C" and that older people with higher levels of bad cholesterol tend to live longer than those with lower levels.

Eating fatty cheese, yogurt and butter could LOWER your risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Those who ate the most servings had a 30 percent lowered risk compared to those who ate the fewest servings... The research team, led by the University of Cambridge in the UK, tracked more than 63,600 adults over the course of 20 years from 16 different studies.

Three patients REVERSE their type 2 diabetes by fasting for 24 hours three times a week

One of the patients even ditched insulin for good five days into the fasting plan. All three of the men lost 10-to-18% of their body weight after 10 months. Perhaps surprisingly, they all claimed to find it relatively easy to stick to.  Doctors at Scarborough Hospital, Ontario, dished out the radical diet plan to the three patients, aged between 40 and 67. They were all taking insulin and various other drugs to control their condition. And they also all had high blood pressure and cholesterol.  On fast days, the men were allowed to have water and very low calorie drinks, such as tea, coffee or broth; they only ate a very low-calorie meal in the evening.

'The food supplement that ruined my liver'  Fortunately, he was able to get a liver transplant. You can drink green tea, but don't take green tea capsules.

The top 18 nutrition myths of 2018 - an evidence-based analysis

  1. Carbs are bad for you
  2. Fats are bad for you
  3. Protein is bad for you
  4. Egg yolks are bad for you
  5. Red meat is bad for you
  6. Salt is bad for you
  7. Bread is bad for you
  8. HFCS is far worse than sugar
  9. Fresh is more nutritious than frozen
  10. Foods are always superior to supplements
  11. Dietary supplements are necessary
  12. You should eat “clean”
  13. You should “detox” regularly
  14. Eat more often to boost your metabolism
  15. You need to eat breakfast
  16. To lose fat, don’t eat before bed
  17. To lose fat, do your cardio on an empty stomach
  18. You need protein right after your workout
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

September 25, 2018

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Steak and cheese are back on the menu! Eating unprocessed meat and dairy reduces the risk of a heart attack, stroke or early death, major study finds

Meat and dairy products like steak and cheese have health benefits and should be introduced into people’s diets, new research suggests. When eaten alongside fruit, vegetables and fish, unprocessed animal products significantly lower a person's risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack or premature death, according to a study review of more than 218,000 people. The researchers claim previous studies linking the fat-rich diets of the US and western Europe to heart disease were flawed, with more recent findings suggesting saturated fats may not be as harmful as once thought.  The researchers analyzed five studies with a total of more than 218,000 participants from over 50 countries across five continents.... Study author Professor Salim Yusuf, from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, said: "Our results show that dairy products and meat are beneficial for heart health and longevity. This differs from current dietary advice.'

A bowl of porridge or slice of rye bread can help stave off diabetes

Researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Germany, analyzed 55,465 people aged between 50 and 65 over 15 years to find: Whole grains could reduce a male's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 34% and a female's risk by 22%.

People shocked to discover red, green and yellow peppers are the SAME vegetable at different stages of ripeness

The red bell pepper is the mature version of a green bell, and orange and yellow versions fall in between. One tweeted, 'First I find out that baby carrots don't grow organically, they are just big carrots cut down and shaped to look like baby carrots. Now this.'  One distressed user tweeted their 'whole life had been a lie'

Ranking Every Kind of Cooking Oil by How (Un)healthy They Are

The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's  A high-carb diet, and the attendant high blood sugar, are associated with cognitive decline.

65-year-olds who switch to the Mediterranean diet are 25% less likely to die early

It is never too late to start following a Mediterranean diet, new research suggests. Adopting the Mediterranean way of eating, which includes plenty of vegetables, fish and olive oil, after 65 years old reduces a person's risk of dying too soon by 25 per cent, a study found today. And the more strictly a pensioner follows the Mediterranean diet, which also includes a glass of wine with meals, the less likely they are to die prematurely, the research adds. The researchers analyzed more than 5,000 over 65-year-olds who were taking part in the Moli-sani Study. They were followed for eight years. They also assessed a total of 12,000 people from other studies conducted in six countries. Lead author Marialaura Bonaccio said: 'The novelty of our research is to have focused our attention on a population over 65 years old.

Eating a Mediterranean diet cuts the risk of impotence by 40 per cent and boosts men's chances of a drug-free sex life into their seventies

Researchers from the University of Athens studied 670 men with an average age of 67 from the Greek island of Ikaria. As well as nine tablespoons of olive oil, they found men tended to be protected if their diet also contained about 13 portions of veg a week, six pieces of fruit, three servings of fish and two portions of beans. The scientists believe this diet helps men maintain a healthy heart and clear blood vessels, which results in a good flow of blood to the groin. The cardiologists also found men who followed this diet had higher testosterone levels because they had lower levels of body fat – which can interfere with hormones. Study leader Dr Christina Chrysohoou said: 'Viagra does not improve something long-term, it can only give some short effect in order to have sexual capacity. 'This is a drug-free solution that allows men to keep their sexual function.'

Eating a Mediterranean diet with plenty of fish, fruit, vegetables and nuts slashes the risk of depression by a THIRD

A review of dozens of studies found pescatarians who eat lots of plant-based foods are a third less likely to develop the mental-health condition.  The University College London researchers analyzed 41 studies that investigated the link between a person's diet and their risk of depression.  They described the evidence to show there is a relationship between the quality of diet and mental health as 'compelling'. 
'This relationship goes beyond the effect of diet on your body size or other aspects of health that can in turn affect your mood.' Mediterranean diets, also rich in olive oil, lentils and even red wine, are thought to lower inflammation, which may benefit a person's mental health....

The scientists also believe their findings support depression sufferers making changes to their diets, rather than immediately opting for antidepressants....This comes after research released earlier this year suggested stopping exercise can worsen depression in as little as three days. Six studies found patients' symptoms reappear almost immediately after they stop being active, according to a review by the University of Adelaide.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink

September 12, 2018

Health Roundup - Cancer Edition

Cancer patients who choose alternative medicine over standard, proven cancer treatments are more likely to die,

Complementary medicine did no apparent harm if people used it alongside conventional surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the researchers found. But when people opted out of proven treatments to choose herbs, homeopathy or other alternative treatments, they were twice as likely to die of their cancer.

Life-saving 'urine-stick' test for early ovarian cancer could boost survival rates to 90 per cent

A urine test that could detect ovarian cancer and boost survival rates from 20 per cent up to 90 per cent is being developed. Ovarian cancer is often known as a 'silent killer' - because it is most often detected after it has spread around the body and it is most difficult to treat. But now researchers have discovered a previously unknown biomarker - a protein molecule that is produced when ovarian cancer is in its early stages.

It is hoped the test, being created by a team at the University of Hull, could be used on urine - like pregnancy tests. If the cancer can be detected at 'stage one', while it is confined to the ovary, survival rates are vastly improved - and close around 90 per cent. But most ovarian cancer is detected much later - at stage three - when cancer has begun to spread to surrounding tissues. Just one in five survive the disease when it has spread to the fallopian tubes and the womb, or other areas of the body.

Study: Cancer cells weakened when they're less acidic

Researchers have found that cancer cells are weakened when they become less acidic, which they say shows promise for developing new ways to treat the disease....If the cells' internal pH is lowered, they proliferate less and in a less robust manner....This work is still very academic, but we believe that some of the targets identified are ready to be tested in animals, thus allowing us to move into more advanced pre-clinical trial stages."

Arsenic - one of the most deadly poisons - has been found to have a new use as a drug to kill cancer.

The discovery has been prompted by studies that find that in places where arsenic is found in public drinking water, breast cancer rates are lower. Arsenic has been used to treat cancer for hundreds of years in traditional Chinese medicine. In recent years, it has become used in chemotherapy - although its use is associated with significant risks because of its poisonous nature....Now the researchers believe that they have found that used in combination with another drug that it is effective at knocking out a 'master' enzyme in cancer cells.  A team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that a type of arsenic known as trioxide works with another drug - trans retinoic acid and the combination, they said, makes chemotherapy more effective.

Could matcha green tea be used to treat cancer? ‘Striking’ results show it kills cancer cells by stopping them from refuelling

Laboratory trials have revealed the bitter tasting tea can keep cancer cells dormant, by knocking out their energy supply, stopping them from 'refueling'. University of Salford researchers have branded their results ‘striking’, as scientists continue to hunt down cures for cancer. They assessed the effects of a matcha extract on breast cancer stem cells – which can transform into any tumor cell, divide and renew themselves.

The team delved into its effects by using metabolic phenotyping, a scientific process that examines how compounds directly impact cells. Through that, they found matcha tea extract suppresses the metabolism of mitochondria, considered the powerhouse of each cell. Professor Michael Lisanti, who led the study, revealed the extract had shifted the cancer cells towards a ‘quiescent metabolic state’.  He added: ‘In other words, it [matcha] is preventing the cells from “refueling” and therefore they [cancer cells] become inactive and die.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 AM | Permalink

September 11, 2018

Health Roundup

Gut enzyme could help solve U.S. blood shortages

An enzyme found in gut bacteria could convert type A blood into universal type O blood, a scientific feat that would significantly boost blood supplies, a new study suggests. This enzyme converts A blood into O blood approximately 30 times faster than any enzyme on record, and it appears to do it in a safe and effective manner, said lead researcher Stephen Withers, a professor of biochemistry with the University of British Columbia. People with A, B and AB blood should receive donations that match their blood type, lest they suffer a severe and potentially fatal immune reaction. However, any of them can receive type O blood.

The rare blue clay that kills MRSA

The clay is found only in Oregon and has strong antibacterial properties.  Scientists say the unusual soil can kill bacteria which are difficult to destroy using drugs, and could help fight infections in humans. Diarrhea bug E.coli and hospital superbug MRSA could both be in the firing line as scientists managed to kill them with the clay in a lab. Blue clay can kill hard-to-get sticky bacteria. As well as killing individual bacteria the clay could also destroy bacteria which become biofilms, which are created when bacteria stick together such as in dental plaque. These can be especially difficult to get rid of because they create a protective coating, according to the researchers, but are found in two thirds of infections.  The researchers say their findings are an 'important advance' in exploring new ways to fight infections as increasing numbers become resistant to medicine.

Research suggests contraceptive pill changes women's brains

There are nine different kinds of hormones in the contraceptive pill - some of which have subtle 'masculinizing' effects...When athletes take steroids we call it 'doping' - it's considered abuse and strongly condemned by society. But we are happy for millions of women to take these hormones every day, sometimes from puberty to menopause.

Breakthrough study finds Parkinson's patients have thinner retinas

Outermost layer averages at 0.035mm compared to 0.037mm in non patients. Retinas thin alongside the loss of dopamine in Parkinson's patients' brains. Dopamine coordinates movement; brain cells that produce it die in patients. Scientists hope research will lead to an eye test that can detect disease before problems with movement begin.

Osteoporosis sufferers are up to 30% more likely to develop dementia

Women with the bone-weakening disorder are 30 per cent more at risk of developing the memory-loss condition, while males with osteoporosis are 20 per more likely to develop dementia, according to the first study of its kind.
Study author Dr Louis Jacob, from Paris University, said: 'The major hypothesis to explain the association between osteoporosis and dementia is that these two conditions have similar risk factors.' Such risks factors include certain genetic mutations, as well as vitamin and hormone deficiencies.  ....The researchers, which were led by scientists from IQVIA, The Human Data Science Company, Frankfurt, analysed 29,983 osteoporosis patients from 1,215 German GP surgeries for up to 20 years. These dementia cases were compared against rates of the cognitive condition in 29,983 healthy people....Speaking of the risks for both osteoporosis and dementia, Dr Jacob said: 'These factors include APOE4 allele of the apolipoprotein E, a major cholesterol carrier, lower vitamin K levels, vitamin D deficiency, but also androgens and estrogens.'

MS drug could offer hope to thousands as it reduces nerve damage by nearly halving the speed of brain shrinkage

Ibudilast works by reducing inflammation in the brain and slowing cell death. This could control nerve damage caused by progressive multiple sclerosis. Ibudilast is aimed at people with the less common primary or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), for whom the condition is constant and hard to control. Researchers are not certain how the drug works but said that after almost two years people had 'more brain' remaining than those who didn't take the drug.

Brain implant could stop epileptic seizures

An electronic chip implanted in the brain has been used successfully to prevent epileptic fits. The device can detect the 'electric storm' in the brain when a seizure starts and release a natural chemical to stop it. Researchers led by the University of Cambridge were able to prevent seizures in mice, providing hope for the 600,000 people in Britain and 3.4 million in the US with epilepsy. The electronic chip, made from plastic and twice as thick as a human hair, could be scaled up and trialled in humans within two years. Currently three in ten people with epilepsy are not able to control their seizures as anti-epileptic drugs do not work for them.

An end to risky skin grafts? New technique heals wounds by reprogramming skin cells to do the job themselves

People with severe burns, bedsores or chronic diseases such as diabetes are at risk for developing wounds known as cutaneous ulcers, which can extend through multiple layers of the skin. Apart from being extremely painful, these wounds can lead to serious, sometimes deadly, infections or amputations. Skin grafts are risky in an increasing number of patients, partly due to rising rates of diabetes. This method by the Salk Institute could avoid dangerous outcomes....
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Exercise Edition

Why a day in the office wears you out

Work fatigue, research has shown, really isn't about physical activity at all - but scientists still don't know exactly why it is that our minds can make us so tired.  One expert, George Washington University psychologist Dr Daniel Lieberman claims that sitting for hours using only our brains 'creates a chemical imbalance'.  Dr Lieberman says, 'We evolved to strike a balance and for our brains and bodies to work together. At a desk job, we are utterly sedentary and only using our brains. This creates a chemical imbalance that makes us less efficient at processing energy, making us drained and tired.'  The environment of the office itself can contribute. 

A Single Workout Could Save Your Life

You don't have to wait weeks to see the benefits.  Our latest review provides strong evidence that a single workout protects your heart immediately.

Daily exercise REVERSED Alzheimer's symptoms in mice

The revolutionary therapy generated new neurons, improving the lab animals' thinking skills by destroying rogue proteins that cause the devastating illness. Even one 30 minute brisk walk, jog or bike ride pumps extra blood to the brain, delivering the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform to its best. This improves mental functions by promoting the birth of neural progenitor cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls memory.Senior author Professor Rudolph Tanzi, director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: 'In our study we showed exercise is one of the best ways to turn on neurogenesis.

Want to live longer? Take up tennis: Scientists say the social sport could add nearly 10 YEARS onto your life

The popular racket sport could be better for you than cycling, jogging or swimming – and experts think the social aspect of it plays a big part. It's well-known that people who exercise are likely to live longer, and a study of nearly 8,600 people in Copenhagen found social sports may have extra benefits. Tennis players could live an average of 9.7 years longer than someone who does not exercise, badminton players 6.2 years and footballers almost five years. But more solitary sports had less of an impact on people's life expectancy – cyclists live an average of 3.7 years longer, swimmers 3.4 years and joggers just 3.2 years.  The researchers said that while raising the heart rate through exercise is important for longevity, connecting with other people is also vital.  The study led by Saint Luke's Health Center in Kansas City looked at the health and lifestyles of 8,577 people.  All the chosen participants had been part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study – which began in 1975 with adults aged between 20 and 93 – for around 25 years.

Walking 20 minutes a day cuts women's heart failure risk by 25%, first ever study on the topic reveals

Scores of studies have looked at how exercise affects risk of heart attacks and high blood pressure.  But none had addressed heart failure, and very few had addressed women. This US study did, and found clear benefits that could be just as beneficial as drugs. The study at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions found that walking more - not faster - can significantly lower the risk of heart failure in older women. The study, involving more than 137,000 women aged 50 to 79, confirmed that exercise lowers the overall risk of heart failure by 25 percent.

Older adults who practice tai chi are less likely to fall, a small new study suggests.

Developed in China in the 1670s, tai chi was first formed as a self-defense technique but has since evolved into a form of exercise. It combines slow, flowing movements along with deep breathing to keep the body moving and to practice balance.....Tai chi is often recommended for older adults because it is a low impact exercise that puts little to no stress on the joints or muscles.  Researchers said that elderly people who practiced the martial art were more than 50 percent less likely to suffer a fall than those who just performed stretching exercises. A 2012 study from the Oregon Research Institute found that tai chi was the best exercise in treating balance issues in adults with Parkinson's disease. And a 2012 review of 159 trials found that the martial art was the most successful exercise in reducing the risk of falling.  Additionally, a 2014 review also found that tai chi reduced the fear of falling in adults living in retirement communities.

If you listen to music when you exercise, you'll feel less fatigue

A study by Brunel University London found that hearing Marvin Gaye's 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' while being active stimulates the region of the brain associated with easing fatigue. The study's participants, who only heard that one tune, claimed listening to the 11-minute song made it feel like their exercise routine was over in just 60 seconds, with many adding they found it easier and less boring when the song was being played. Study author Dr Marcelo Bigliassi said: 'Music is a very powerful stimulus and can be used to assuage negative bodily sensations that usually arise during exercise.'

Yoga eases blood pressure as well as some drugs

15-minute sessions of yoga five times a week for three months cut blood pressure by an average 10 per cent - - a similar effect seen for diuretics, a widely used class of blood pressure drug. A Canadian high school pupil, Ashok Pandey, the son of a cardiologist, demonstrated at his high school science fair the results of his trial of 60 people that showed that yoga and breathing exercises can be as effective as some drugs at reducing blood pressure.The findings were so convincing that this week he presented them at the world’s largest meeting of heart experts, the European Society of Cardiology congress in Munich, attended by 30,000 doctors and he is now working on a 500-person trial to confirm his findings with Laval University in Quebec.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2018

Doctors on EMR: we didn’t train to become data entry specialists

Doctor Shortages Explode Thanks To ObamaCare

A recent report from the Association of Medical Colleges projects doctor shortages of up to 121,300 within the next 12 years. That's a 16% increase from their forecast just last year. Not only are medical schools having trouble attracting doctors, but current physicians are cutting back on patient visits, retiring early or switching careers. An article in a recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that nearly one in five doctors plan to switch to part-time clinical hours, 27% plan to leave their current practice, and 9% plan to get an administrative job or switch careers entirely.  Another survey found that nearly two-thirds of doctors feel burned out, depressed or both.

Eight years ago, IBD/TIPP surveyed 1,376 practicing physicians across the country, asking them what they thought about the health reform bill Democrats had been putting together. The survey found that a surprisingly large share of doctors, 45%, "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" if Congress passed what ended up as ObamaCare.

One of the big drivers of doctor exits, by the way, is the Obama administration's "electronic health records" mandate, which was supposed to vastly improve the quality and efficiency of care. It's had the opposite effect. A Mayo Clinic survey found that the EHR mandate is reducing efficiency, increasing costs and paperwork hassles, and pushing more doctors to quit or retire early. A Harris Poll found that 59% of doctors say the current EHR system foisted on them by the Obama administration needs "a complete overhaul," and 40% say it imposes more challenges than benefits.    How Electronic Medical Records Exploded In Doctors’ Faces And Politicians Got Off Scot-Free

Physicians must reclaim the medical record

However, what was missing in the entire document was the actual “story” of the patient — who he is, the medical burden he suffers and its impact on his life, how he became sick, what we thought was wrong with him, how that understanding and what we did for him evolved over the course of his admission, and perhaps most importantly, what needs to happen next to help return him to his best quality of life. The thought struck me that with the increasing access that patients have to their own medical records, would he even recognize himself in this documentation of his hospitalization?

The nature of how we record our interactions with patients has profoundly changed in recent years, and not necessarily in positive ways. Most attribute this change to introduction of the electronic health record (EHR) which initially promised improved efficiency, legibility, and ability to transfer clinical information effectively across care settings. And while perhaps some of those advantages have come to pass, accompanying the expanded use of the EHR has been an marked shift away from medical documentation’s primary use as a patient care tool to one used for recording information for non-clinical purposes (such as for coding and billing).

Even those aspects of the EHR intended to make our jobs easier, such as templates, check boxes, and the cut-and-paste function, have also caused major changes in the quality and meaningfulness of our medical documentation, often making it discontinuous and less coherent by breaking any narrative into small, discrete, and often repetitive pieces. ... And perhaps most destructively, many are spending multiple hours of their own time daily completing documentation, which certainly doesn’t lend itself to physician well-being and is a huge contributing factor to physician burnout.

.... writing about our patients has always been a key clinical skill and one that remains important regardless of the evolution of the platform on which it occurs.... Writing about patients requires directed questioning and focused listening to capture the key components needed to develop a deeper and compelling understanding of who they are as a person. When coupled with the physical examination, the resulting narrative weaves together the physical and biographical aspects of the patient and provides the invaluable context in which medical care is being provided. Although patient management may ultimately be driven by data, it is often the story more than anything else that determines how well a patient is cared for. ... we didn’t train to become data entry specialists – we trained to take care of the medical needs of our fellow human beings, and that this requires more than what our current documentation systems allow.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:52 PM | Permalink

August 25, 2018

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Scurvy, A Deadly 18th Century Disease Is Making a Comeback -

This disease we now know is caused by the simple lack of vitamin C and its deficiency causes symptoms like bleeding gums, decaying teeth, thinning hair and overwhelming fatigue.  Such a deficiency can be cured by an orange a day. People with Scurvy are not eating any fruits and vegetables or overcooking them which destroys the vitamin C.

Eat your apple peels

Nutrition scientist Dr Joanna McMillan said there are wide-ranging health benefits of natural plant chemical polyphenols - and a large proportion of them are found in apple skins. The latest science has found apple polyphenols may have a role to play in weight loss and stopping the growth of cancer cells. Emerging research also shows they may even slow the progression of osteoarthritis.'

Want to Live Longer? Don't Cut Out That Bread and Pasta

From a recent study published in The Lancet. Researchers found that people whose carb intake made up less than 40 percent or more than 70 percent of their daily calories had a higher risk of mortality than people who consumed a moderate amount of carbohydrates. Those who got approximately 50-55 percent of their energy (from calories) in carbohydrates had the lowest risk of an early death.

You have to TRAIN your mouth to enjoy Brussels sprouts

When exposed to bitter foods, saliva makes proteins that bind to these flavors. The more binding that occurs, the less a person can taste bitter or sharpness. In the study, participants' saliva adapted to bitterness within a week. Researchers hope their findings will help people get used to a healthy diet.

A daily dose of Brussels sprouts could prevent everything from arthritis to heart disease by keeping your gut healthy, research suggested in October 2017: Mice fed a diet supplemented with Cruciferous vegetables, which also include broccoli and cabbage, are better able to tolerate digestive issues.  Researchers say such produce contains a substance that promotes gut health and barrier function. Maintaining a healthy intestinal lining could prevent so-called leaky gut syndrome, which exposes the body to toxins and pathogens.

Most Vitamin Pills Are Useless, But Here Are The Ones You Should Take

Multivitamins: Skip them - you can get everything you need with a balanced diet.  Vitamin D: Take it - it helps keep your bones strong and it's hard to get from food.  Antioxidants: Skip them - an excess of these has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, and you can eat berries instead. Vitamin C: Skip it - it probably won't help you get over your cold, and you can eat citrus fruits instead.  Vitamin B3: Skip it and eat salmon, tuna, or beets instead. Probiotics: Skip them - the science isn't advanced enough yet for them to have a significant benefit, and you can eat yogurt instead. Zinc: Take it - it's one of the only ingredients linked to shortening a cold. Vitamin E: Skip it - an excess has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, and you can eat spinach instead. Folic acid: Take it if you're pregnant, or if you might want to get pregnant.

The 4 vitamin hacks everyone needs to know

The time of day you take various supplements can be almost as important as what you take. In the morning after breakfast, take your B vitamins and co-enzyme Q10, both of which provide energy and your probiotic. After your evening meal, take your multivitamin, calcium, vitamin D and fish oil since  your body’s repair and regeneration processes are more active at night and your body can use the nutrients in the tablet much more efficiently at this time of day and you’ll get maximum benefit from them.

Snacking on almonds is the best way to compensate for skipping breakfast, study of students reveals

Results, published in the journal Nutrients, suggest students who munch on almonds have lower blood sugar levels two hours later, as well as 34 per cent less insulin resistance, than those who eat crackers.

Oxford professor of evolutionary psychology argues alcohol has been key to mankind's survival and success

Friendships protect us against outside threats and internal stresses. For humans this is where shared bottle of red wine plays powerful role. Alcohol causes us to lose social inhibitions and triggers brain mechanism intimately involved in building friendships.

The pill that stops you getting fat:

New drug 'forces the body to burn fat and keep slim even on an unhealthy diet'
Scientists at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia have invented a drug which stops the fat-creating process in the body, which they say could help tackle heart disease, cancer and dementia. In a study on mice, the animals given the drug managed to stay slim even when they ate high-fat foods. The pill – named PO53 – causes fats like cholesterol to be burned up by muscles instead of building up in the body, and experts hope it will also work in humans.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink

August 21, 2018

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Decades of Warnings About Our Salt Intake Might Have Been Wrong

"There is no convincing evidence that people with moderate or average sodium intake need to reduce their sodium intake for prevention of heart disease and stroke."...According to a study of more than 95,000 people, the vast majority of us aren't being harmed by our level of salt intake, with the tipping point two-and-a-half teaspoons a day, the equivalent of 5 grams (0.18 ounces) of sodium a day.

Here's What You Should Actually Take For a Cold, According to Science

Vitamin C helps prevent colds if you are a marathoner or otherwise very, physically active though it might shorten your cold by half a day....Zinc supplements may shorten the duration of a cold by a third or 2 days.  Less frequent and less severe occur to those who regularly take probiotics says a somewhat chancy study.  Echinacea provides no benefits.

 Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is the best thing for you...sipping chicken soup worked the best. The researchers attributed this to the chicken soup stimulating smell and/or taste receptors, which then increased nasal mucus flow. Another study on chicken soup found it can help fight infection and recovery from respiratory tract infections.

Ginger tea could banish bad breath

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich in Germany found that Gingerol, the chemical which gives ginger its spicy flavor, stimulates an enzyme in the mouth which breaks down the substances which make breath smell bad. Sulfur-containing compounds from food can create an unpleasant smell in people's mouth, contributing to halitosis – the medical name for bad breath. But gingerol, which can get into the body from eating or drinking the root, boosts the level of the enzymes needed to get rid of the smell by 16 times in just seconds.


Ginger also reduces vomiting in sick children A study by the University of Naples revealed if children with gastroenteritis are given drops of ginger, they are likely to have less severe vomiting and less likely to need time off school.

The power of berries


Eating a handful every day reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 40%, reveals a study by researchers from the University of East Anglia who analyzed 25 studies that investigated the link between anthocyanin intake and heart disease risk. Antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which give the fruit their color, lower the risk of the condition by improving artery stiffness, lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. 

Strawberries could treat bowel disease in people with Crohn's disease or colitis

These long-term conditions cause inflammation in the gut, but a handful of these berries reduces the harmful bacteria level in the colon and restores a healthy balance say researchers at the University of Massachusetts 

Berries are good for your brain and may help prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer's

Drinking milk with your breakfast every day could make you less likely to be obese or diabetic

A small study by Canadian scientists found that milk in the morning  could lower blood sugar throughout the day, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.  It is thought to be the protein in the milk which causes this effect by releasing hormones which slow down digestion, and also making people less hungry later on.

Scientists discover a way to reduce sugar content in cakes by 40% - WITHOUT affecting the taste

Israeli food technology firm DouxMatok has discovered how to get all of the sugar in confectionery products to land on the taste buds. Sugar molecules must land on taste buds in the mouth - most of which are found on the tongue - for people to enjoy the sweetness. However, only a fifth of sugar used to make cakes, biscuits and chocolate hits the receptors. The rest bypasses them and lands straight in the stomach. 

Südzucker, Europe’s biggest sugar producer, has now signed a deal with the Tel Aviv- based firm to make adjustments to its sugar production. Eran Baniel, chief executive of DouxMatok, told the Times: 'The deal for Europe includes the UK. 'We are working [with British companies] at making the adjustments to their recipes for a 40 per cent sugar reduction... I’d say we will see it on UK shelves by 2020.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:06 PM | Permalink

August 15, 2018

You're sitting wrong

To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit

Jenn Sherer in Palo Alto, Calif. She is part of a growing movement on the West Coast to teach people to move and sit and stand as they did in the past — and as they still do in other parts of the world.....Over the past century or so, many Americans have lost the art of sitting. Orthopedic surgeon Nomi Khan  says. Most people in the U.S. — even children — are sitting in one particular way that's stressing their backs. You might not realize you're doing it. But it's super easy to see in other people.

Here's how: Take a look at people who are sitting down – not face-on but rather from the side, in profile, so you can see the shape of their spine. There's a high probability their back is curving like the letter C — or some version of C. Or it might make you think of a cashew nut, sitting in the chair...Their shoulders curve over and their butts curve under.....

Back problems crop up because sitting like a C — or a cashew nut — can damage the little shock absorbers in the spine, called the intervertebral disks. "You can think of a disk as a jelly doughnut," Khan says. "Sitting like a C puts a lot more pressure on the front of the doughnut than on the back." And what happens when you press down on one side of a jelly doughnut but not the other side? Jelly can squirt out.
Sherer says, "The most important thing to change to reduce back pain is your pelvis position....Imagine for a minute you have a tail. If we were designed like dogs, the tail would be right at the base of your spine. When you sit with a C shape in your spine, you're sitting on this tail," Sherer says. "It's kind of like a dog with its tail between its legs, who is scared and frightened." To straighten out the C shape, Sherer says, "we need to position the pelvis in a way that this tail could wag."

In other words, we need to untuck our tails. To do that, Sherer says, you need to bend over properly when you go to sit down. If you bend at the waist, which many Americans do, then you will likely sit with a C or cashew shape. If you bend at the hips, you're more likely to sit correctly with your tail untucked.  "Bending at the hips can be hard for many people to figure out.  It's a bit counterintuitive."

But she has a trick to help people learn. "Stand up and spread your heels about 12 inches apart," she says. Now, put your hand on your pubic bone — like a fig leaf covering up Adam in the Bible, she explains. When you bend over, you want to let this fig leaf — your pubic bone — move through your legs," she says. "This creates a crease between your pelvis and legs. This action also pretty much pokes your butt out, behind your spine. "Now go ahead, sit down," Sherer says. Now my butt — or my imaginary tail — is behind my spine.  The next step is to relax the muscles in your back and chest. "Stop sticking your chest," Sherer says. Then the rest of the spinal vertebrae can stack up in one straight line, like an I instead of a C...."If you untuck your pelvis while you sit, your quadriceps muscles can relax, and then your hamstrings can stretch,"

I could definitely feel my quads relax. The muscles felt like butter set on a warm pan: They softened and seemed to melt.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2018

Some recent articles on Aging

Aging process REVERSED in human cells for first time

Lorna Harries, Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics and Matt Whiteman, Professor of Experimental Therapeutics, both at University of Exeter, wrote for the Conversation: “In our new work, we showed that by treating old cells with a chemical that releases small amounts of hydrogen sulphide, we were able to increase levels of some splicing factors, and to rejuvenate old human cells. Hydrogen sulphide is a molecule that is found naturally in our bodies and has been shown to improve several features of age-related disease in animals.  But it can be toxic in large amounts, so we needed to find a way to deliver it directly to the part of the cell where it is needed. By using a ‘molecular postcode’ we have been able to deliver the molecule directly to the mitochondria, the structures that produce energy in cells, where we think it acts, allowing us to use tiny doses, which are less likely to cause side effects.”

Two existing drugs may boost lifespan

Senescent cells increase as we age, releasing toxic chemicals into the body which kill healthy cells and cause age-related diseases
But a class of drugs called senolytics specifically target and destroy senescent cells. A ckill those cells. When giving these drugs (a ommon chemotherapy drug and a plant supplement) to mice, researchers found that physical endurance, muscle strength and food intake all increased.

The research team from the Mayo Clinic and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), hopes that by this treatment could help combat a number of age-related diseases simultaneously rather than conventional treatment which takes care of each one individually. ...Previous research from the Mayo Clinic led to the development of a class of drugs called senolytics, which specifically target and destroy senescent cells.  Senescent cells are cells that no longer divide, don't die and emit toxic chemicals into the body, which destroy other cells. The number of senescent cells increase as we age and are associated with causing tissue damage, inflammation and age-related diseases such as dementia and arthritis. The team hopes that by treating aging, they can also eradicate a number of age-related diseases and enhance our physical function including increasing our physical endurance, boosting our walking speeds and upping our food intake.

Spending time outside IS good for you

University of East Anglia scientists studied data from 20 countries, including the UK, the US, Australia, Europe and Japan, data from almost 300 million people to conclude that getting out the house can slash your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even stress.

People's brains age slower if they see themselves as youthful

People who feel younger than their years have greater volumes of grey matter in their brains, which is involved in hearing, emotions, decision making and self control. They also have better memories, consider themselves healthier and are less likely to be depressed. Study author Dr Jeanyung Chey, from Seoul National University, said: 'We found that people who feel younger have the structural characteristics of a younger brain.' Feeling old before your time may be due to a loss of grey matter making everyday tasks more challenging, according to the researchers who analyzed the MRI brain scans of 68 healthy people aged between 59 and 84.  You are as young as you feel:
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:19 PM | Permalink

August 11, 2018

Health Roundup: Vision, Viagra, exercise, 6 external signs of heart trouble and the new science of psychedelics

People who wear glasses really ARE smarter:

University of Edinburgh researchers found significant links between intelligence and poor eyesight while conducting the world's largest genetic study of cognitive function. The study analyzed genetic data from 300,486 people aged between 16 and 102 who had taken part in 57 studies in Australia, Europe and North America. Those who scored the highest in the cognitive tests were 30 per cent more likely to need glasses, compared to those who scored poorly.

Blue Light Is Causing The Human Eye to Attack Itself

Excessive exposure to blue light isn't great for our eyes, contributing to a slow loss of vision over the course of a lifetime...."It's no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye's retina." ...  Scientists from the University of Toledo in the US now understand precisely how this toxic effect works, which could be good news for anybody at risk of degenerative eye conditions.

Viagra could restore sight to the blind.

Tests show the anti-impotence drug may stop further loss of vision for patients being robbed of their sight – and could even repair damage that’s already been done. A two-year trial led by scientists at Columbia University in New York suggests the little blue pills could stop age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, in its tracks.
Dry AMD usually develops after the age of 50 and is caused by the growth of new blood vessels over the macula, a small oval-shaped area at the back of the eye that helps us pick out visual details clearly. These blood vessels leak fluid, causing scar tissue to form and destroying vision in the centre of the eye – making it difficult to recognise faces, read or watch television. Recent research has found the condition is partly caused by reduced blood flow to the choroid, a vital layer of tissue that sits in front of the retina – and some small earlier studies had suggested Viagra can improve blood flow to this tissue.

Neuroscientists pinpoint the region of the brain responsible for negative decision-making, depression and anxiety

In tests on animals, researchers at MIT managed to stimulate this region of the brain, known as the caudate nucleus, which is linked to emotional decision-making and pessimism. By doing this, scientists were able to induce animals to make negative decisions. The findings could help scientists better understand the crippling effects of depression and also guide them in developing new treatments. Researchers are currently working with psychiatrists to see if the brains of people who suffer from depression and anxiety show abnormal activity in the caudate nucleus.

MidLife Exercise Significantly Reduces Late-Life Depression

Data from a longitudinal study of 17,989 generally healthy men and women. 

Walking 10,000 steps a day is NOT enough

Adults also need to do activities which make them stronger and improve their balance.  Public Health England (PHE)  teamed with the Centre for Ageing Better for a joint review of existing research and they found that muscle and bone strength – and having good balance – greatly reduce the risk of falls, fractures, back pain and early death. One study found that having a poor muscle strength increases the risk of a fall by as much as 76 per cent. The review also found that strength and balance exercises could greatly reduce musculoskeletal health conditions including back pain. New government guidelines state that men and women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week as well as two sessions of strength training. Moderate activity counts as any exercise that significantly raises the heart rate including brisk walking, cycling or swimming laps.  Strength training is anything that works the main muscle groups such as weights training or heavy gardening.  They found that the best exercises for improving muscle and bone strength and balance were Nordic walking, racquet sports, ball games and dancing.

6 Unexpected Warning Signs That Could Indicate Your Heart Is in Trouble

1. Creased earlobes
2. Fatty bumps - Another external indicator of heart issues is yellow, fatty bumps – known clinically as "xanthomas" – that can appear on the elbows, knees, buttocks or eyelids. The bumps themselves are harmless, but they can be a sign of bigger problems....
3. Clubbed fingernails
4. Halo around the iris- Fat deposits may also be seen in the eye, as a grey ring around the outside of the iris, the colored part of the eye. This so-called "arcus senilis", starts at the top and bottom of the iris before progressing to form a complete ring. It doesn't interfere with vision. About 45% of people over the age of 40 have this fatty halo around their iris, rising to about 70% of people over the age of 60. The presence of this fatty ring has been shown to be associated with some of the risk factors for coronary heart disease.
5. Rotten gums and loose teeth
6. Blue lips

The New Science of Psychedelics by Micheal Pollan in the Wall Street Journal

Recent studies at New York University, Johns Hopkins, UCLA and Imperial College in London, are finding that drugs such as LSD and psilocybin can help to alleviate depression, anxiety and addiction—and may have profound things to teach us about how the mind works

Recent trials of psilocybin, a close pharmacological cousin to LSD, have demonstrated that a single guided psychedelic session can alleviate depression when drugs like Prozac have failed; can help alcoholics and smokers to break the grip of a lifelong habit; and can help cancer patients deal with their “existential distress” at the prospect of dying. ...Few people in Alcoholics Anonymous realize that Bill Wilson, the founder, first got sober after a mystical experience he had on a psychedelic administered to him in 1934, or that, in the 1950s, he sought, unsuccessfully, to introduce LSD therapy to AA....

When scientists at Imperial College began imaging the brains of people on psilocybin, they were surprised to find that the chemical, which they assumed would boost brain activity, actually reduced it, but in a specific area: the default mode network....The default mode network is most active when our minds are least engaged in a task—hence “default mode.” It is where our minds go when they wander or ruminate.....That power to disrupt mental habits and “lubricate cognition” is what Robin Carhart-Harris, the neuroscientist at Imperial College who scanned the brains of volunteers on psychedelics, sees as the key therapeutic value of the drugs. ...Dr. Carhart-Harris suggests that, by taking the default mode network offline for a period of time, psychedelics can, in effect, “reboot” the brain, jog it out of its accustomed grooves and open a space for new pathways to arise.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:21 PM | Permalink

August 3, 2018

Health Roundup - Food Edition

Red meat halves risk of depression

Experts admitted surprise at the findings because so many other studies have linked red meat to physical health risks.The team made the link after a study of 1000 Australian women. Professor Felice Jacka, who led the research by Deakin University, Victoria, said: "We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health but it turns out that it actually may be quite important. When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount."

Fashionable vegetarian diets are making women fat and miserable, says exasperated nutritionist

I always advise people not to consider avoiding meat. I just don’t see a vegetarian diet as a healthy choice — let alone veganism, which means eschewing all meat, fish, eggs, dairy and even honey. ...Over the past decade I have worked with more than 2,000 women and the truth is, I have seen only a tiny percentage of them enjoy good long-term health while they were on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Time and again, they feel great for the first year or two but then find themselves sliding into fatigue, depression and frequent colds. Many experience hair loss and weight gain. Often they develop problems with low thyroid function. ...

Over and over again, I have seen vegan and vegetarian clients experience significant health improvement after adding even small amounts of animal proteins back into their diets.

Nuts boost sperm

Eating a handful of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts every day increases production by nearly 20%

Chocolate milk boosts exercise recovery MORE THAN sports drinks

The researchers analyzed 12 studies with a total of around 150 participants.  'Plain water would not be as effective at promoting fuel replenishment (due to lack of carbohydrates), muscle repair (due to lack of protein), or fluid retention/rehydration (due to low electrolyte content) in comparison to chocolate milk (which has all three). 'Traditional sports drinks have the carbohydrates and electrolytes, but usually no protein.'

Middle-aged people who drink the equivalent of 175ml of wine a day are half as likely to develop dementia as those who abstain from alcohol reports a study in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers tracked more than 9,000 UK civil servants over 23 years to examine how alcohol intake during adulthood related to dementia
The UK uses a standard "unit" to measure the actual alcoholic content within a given volume of an alcoholic beverage.  A medium glass of wine contains about 2 units or about about 3/4 cup.  Consistently drinking more than that or more than 14 units a week increases the risk of dementia, the more so, the more a person drinks.

Beer is officially good for you because it reduces heart risk and improves brain health, reveal scientists. 

They claim beer boasts more protein and B vitamins than wine, is high in antioxidants and can reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. Beer also includes a range of polyphenols such as flavonoids and phenolic acids that contribute directly to flavor, haze, body and fullness.' When ingested, these help to reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes, and heart disease, while also protecting cognitive function. Drinking beer can also lead to greater levels of high-density lipoprotein - AKA good cholesterol. This helps to thin the blood and remove plaque in the arteries. That's according to scientists who've published research in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences. However, there's a snag: these benefits are only enjoyed when beer is consumed in moderation, not in vast quantities. 

Turns Out Cooking Oil Is Ridiculously Good at Repelling Bacteria, Resulting in a 1,000x Reduction

Mass production of food requires raw ingredients being handled in large stainless steel machines that are notoriously difficult to clean, with bacteria thriving in the small nicks and indentations that build up on these kind of surfaces over time. But simply adding a thin layer of cooking oil on the metal surface can repel bacteria and prevent contamination from microorganisms like Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli, an international team of scientists has now shown.
"Coating a stainless steel surface with an everyday cooking oil has proven remarkably effective in repelling bacteria," says one of the team, Ben Hatton from the University of Toronto in Canada. "The oil fills in the cracks, creates a hydrophobic layer and acts as a barrier to contaminants on the surface."  A simple, drug-free way to fight bacteria.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

July 25, 2018

Health Roundup - Aging, MS vaccine, sepsis and UV robots

An end to wrinkles? Genetic researchers reverse signs of aging in mice as they make hair grow back less grey and smooth skin in 'unprecedented' study

Researchers at the University of Alabama in Birmingham used an antibiotic to cause aging by making the mitochondria within cells dysfunction.  Mitochondrial dysfunction caused skin wrinkles and grey hair to appear. As we age mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, begin to dysfunction. As mitochondria produce 90 per cent of the energy cells need to survive, the dysfunction can drive age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.  After reversing mitochondrial depletion, the signs of aging in skin disappeared

Scientists claim they can turn back time by removing wrinkles from INSIDE our cells

A team from the University of Virginia made the discovery during a study investigating fatty liver disease, and linked the disease with cell membrane wrinkles that appear in the nucleus, where DNA is made. These wrinkles multiply as we get older due to a protein deficiency, and cause fatty liver disease by preventing the cells from synthesizing protein properly, turning ordinary liver cells into fat. But now scientists think we have a way of smoothing out these wrinkles by adding the protein back. This may even help fight the effects of aging on the body.

Two existing drugs may boost lifespan

Senescent cells increase as we age, releasing toxic chemicals into the body which kill healthy cells and cause age-related diseases
But a class of drugs called senolytics specifically target and destroy senescent cells. A ckill those cells. When giving these drugs (a ommon chemotherapy drug and a plant supplement) to mice, researchers found that physical endurance, muscle strength and food intake all increased.

The research team from the Mayo Clinic and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), hopes that by this treatment could help combat a number of age-related diseases simultaneously rather than conventional treatment which takes care of each one individually. ...Previous research from the Mayo Clinic led to the development of a class of drugs called senolytics, which specifically target and destroy senescent cells.  Senescent cells are cells that no longer divide, don't die and emit toxic chemicals into the body, which destroy other cells. The number of senescent cells increase as we age and are associated with causing tissue damage, inflammation and age-related diseases such as dementia and arthritis. The team hopes that by treating aging, they can also eradicate a number of age-related diseases and enhance our physical function including increasing our physical endurance, boosting our walking speeds and upping our food intake.

Spending time outside IS good for you

University of East Anglia scientists studied data from 20 countries, including the UK, the US, Australia, Europe and Japan, data from almost 300 million people to conclude that getting out the house can slash your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even stress.

People's brains age slower if they see themselves as youthful

You are as young as you feel. People who feel younger than their years have greater volumes of grey matter in their brains, which is involved in hearing, emotions, decision making and self control. They also have better memories, consider themselves healthier and are less likely to be depressed. Study author Dr Jeanyung Chey, from Seoul National University, said: 'We found that people who feel younger have the structural characteristics of a younger brain.' Feeling old before your time may be due to a loss of grey matter making everyday tasks more challenging, according to the researchers who analyzed the MRI brain scans of 68 healthy people aged between 59 and 84. 

Could vaccine for a common virus stop multiple sclerosis? Doctors think they have discovered the cause of disease

MS develops following two separate common infections which cause the body to attack itself, British research has found. And
The neurological condition known as MS is triggered when the immune system attacks the nerves, causing pain, fatigue, vision problems and spasms.  What causes the body to begin attacking itself has never been identified.  But scientists at the University of Glasgow and Harvard University in the US suggest exposure to two common infections – threadworms followed by the Epstein-Barr virus – may be the trigger. Doctors now believe the development of a vaccine against one of the viruses may hold the key to future MS prevention.

Vitamin Cocktail for Sepsis Getting Wider Test

A simple vitamin cocktail to treat sepsis has shaken up the medical world, raising hopes of a more effective treatment for one of history’s great killers. But will it stand up to tougher tests? Researchers at several hospitals around the world are trying to reproduce the success reported by a critical-care doctor in Virginia in beating back sepsis, one of the leading causes of hospital deaths.

Paul Marik, MD, chief of pulomonary and criitical care medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, reported in 2017 that he gave a mix of vitamin C, vitamin B1, and a steroid to nearly four dozen patients who had sepsis in his Norfolk intensive care unit. In the 7 months before he started using the treatment, 19 of 47 sepsis patients died. Of the 47 who got the treatment, all but four survived.

UV Bacteria-Killing Robot Cleans Hospital Rooms far Better than Humans

Healthcare facilities are havens for recovery and rehabilitation and reservoirs of unwanted, or potentially harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. Maintaining a clean and safe healthcare environment is a top priority. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), even with modern sanitization protocols, on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients will acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection.

.... Infection prevention technologies are giving rise to a new era of ultra-clean hospital’s and emergency care facilities with the implementation of highly-efficient UV-disinfection robots. Ultraviolet (UV) light does not kill microorganisms in the same way chemicals like chlorine does. The light damages DNA inside the cells of an organism, eventually deactivating the function of each cell. Evidently, genetic material readily absorbs UV rays at a specific wavelength of 254 nm.....The rays are detrimental to microorganisms but are relatively harmless to humans in low exposures.

The technology is not limited strictly to hospitals and doctors' offices. The UV-Disinfectant robots can also be used to sanitize EMS vehicles and medicopters, as well as in assisted living and extended care facilities. UV disinfection robots offer hospital grade full-room sterilization. Nursing homes, field hospitals, and biohazard zones could all be sanitized in a matter of minutes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:07 PM | Permalink

July 19, 2018

Health Roundup: Cancer Edition

Woman's Late-Stage Breast Cancer Cured By Breakthrough Treatment

A woman with advanced breast cancer and given only months to live has been cured after taking part in an experimental injection, using her body's own immune system to wipe out the tumors. The approach used was presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Judy Perkins, 52, had late-stage breast cancer which had stopped responding to chemotherapy and other treatments. She had tumors the size of plums in her liver after the cancer had spread through her body.She was told she had months to live and made a bucket list of places to visit before she died.

But thanks to a revolutionary immunotherapy treatment administered by the National Institutes of Health, the mother of two has now been cancer free for two years. "It feels miraculous and I am beyond amazed that I have now been free of cancer for two years," Perkins said.

Researchers took a small sample of Perkins' tumor and studied the DNA mutations in it. Then they extracted immune cells from the tumor and grew billions of them, finding those which would be the most effective to kill her cancer. Perkins was injected with 80 billion selected immune cells, as well as being given a drug called pembrolizumab, which can help the immune system to attack cancer. After the treatment, all of Perkin's cancer disappeared and has not returned more than 22 months later.

Chemotherapy breakthrough

'Microbubbles' loaded with immune-stimulating drugs destroy 60 percent of hard-to-treat cancers, such as lung and breast, in mice, a US study found today. Lung and breast cancers are typically difficult to treat due to them being solid, which prevents them from reacting to immune-stimulating drugs as well as blood tumors such as lymphoma or leukemia. The researchers, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were able to give the rodents around eight times as much immune-stimulating drug, known as IL-15, without side effects compared to injecting a drug that targets all of the animals' immune cells.  The therapy only targets immune cells that work to fight off tumors and therefore avoids the side effects of treating all cells. This lack of adverse events could allow drugs to be administered at around 100 times higher doses than they are currently given.

DNA 'barcode' delivering personalized breast cancer care

Scientists at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute say advances in genetics are set to transform the treatment of breast cancer, making it more personalized to each patient. All women there diagnosed with breast cancer have their entire genetic code mapped. Doctors say it is helping them chose the right treatment and predict whether patients are likely to experience side effects. It can also reveal whether their cancer is becoming resistant to treatment.

Vitamin D can prevent BREAST CANCER: Women with high levels are a FIFTH less likely to develop the disease

Researchers including scientists from University of California, analyzed three studies with a total of 5,038 female participants who were over 55.  They found that women with 60ng/ml are a fifth less at risk than women with just 20ng/ml. Past research suggests vitamin D reduces inflammation and boosts immunity. Further studies are required to determine if the effects occur pre menopause.

Fish oil supplements may soothe the pain of some grueling treatments for breast and bowel cancer patients

Two separate studies showed patients taking fish oil supplements reduced discomfort caused by certain therapies, probably because of reduced inflammation. The findings were presented at the American Society of Oncology meeting.

New treatment can cure HALF of patients with untreatable skin cancer

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer in the US. It is easily treatable in the early stages but, when left undetected, can be deadly. Researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have developed a drug that blocks a receptor which shuts down the immune system's response to cancer.  In patients with stage IV cancer, tumors shrank by at least 30 percent
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 PM | Permalink

June 22, 2018

Health Roundup: Alzheimers & Parkinson's news

Heavy boozing may lead to Alzheimer's

Alcohol stops the brain from clearing away toxic clumps that lead to the memory-robbing disease. Protein clumps could build up more in drinkers' brains, leading to Alzheimer's. Large quantities of alcohol could make the brain less able to repair itself. Heavy drinking damages genes which help clear the rogue proteins that form plaques in the brains of patients.  These plaques destroy nerve cells and trigger memory loss and confusion, say scientists. They are usually broken down by cells called microglia, which engulf and destroy the proteins in a process called phagocytosis. Microglia have been described as the brain's 'gardeners' as they weed out infections and damage. However, researchers found they do not work as well when cells become inflamed, which can be caused by heavy alcohol consumption. 

Aspirin could protect you from dementia

For years, scientists have tried to work out how to activate cleaning cells to remove waste and slow the disease.  Aspirin, the wonder painkiller, triggers 'clean-up cells' to remove toxic proteins from the brain, a study by scientists at Rush University Medical Center finds . The painkiller activates a chemical called PPARA, which switches on a protein called TFEB, which triggers a cascade of 'cleaning' chemicals called lysosomes.

Sleep, exercise and 25ml of wine each day can help the brain to 'wash' itself and wipe away toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer's, scientists claim

The brain is thought to be more able to rid itself of toxic proteins during sleep. It is only at night when our brain switches off that it has the chance to switch on our glymphatic system and get rid of all these waste products.’  Raising the heart rate by exercising, and a small amount of wine, may also help. Dr Ian Harrison from University College London revealed the findings at Cheltenham Science Festival after testing on mice.

Could an ASTHMA drug cure Alzheimer's?

An asthma drug can reverse memory loss caused by Alzheimer's and remove toxic build-ups of a protein in the brain, a study suggests.  Researchers claimed their findings open up a potential new route to stop the aggressive progression of the disease.  Dr Domenico Praticò, senior author, said: 'This is an old drug for a new disease'

Temple University scientists gave zileuton to a group of mice with Alzheimer's.  They discovered the asthma drug helped them perform better on memory tests. It also removed build-ups of tau protein in their brain - a hallmark of the disease.

'Clever genes' may lead to autism, anorexia and bipolar - but protect against Alzheimer's,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard researchers were surprised at what they uncovered from their 'unprecedented' effort.  In the largest study ever into the genetic links between 25 brain disorders, researchers delved into the genomes of around one million volunteers.

Herpes virus strains that 90 percent of us have are ‘abundant’ in brains of Alzheimer's sufferers,

Herpes viruses may raise the risk Alzheimer's by moving into the brain and disrupting human genes involved in the disease, new research at Mount Sinai suggests. The researchers went looking for treatment targets, but instead found - much to their alarm - an uncanny link between Alzheimer's and certain herpes viruses. ...The two strains of the herpes virus - HHV-6A and 7 - are not sexually transmitted....and are extremely common viruses that 90 percent of children pick up in their first few years of life and they often remain asymptomatic.

This link to herpes virus offers hope for new treatment strategies to cure Alzheimer's disease

The scientific discovery could open a door a new treatment strategy to attack the most common form of dementia that affects more than 5 million people in the U.S. today, a number is expected to balloon to 14 million by 2050. “This work resurrects and points out an older concept that was not proven: that viruses cause Alzheimer’s disease,” said Miroslaw Mackiewicz, a program director of the Division of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Hope for Parkinson's patients as scientists discover taking vitamin B3 can stop nerve cells from dying off in what could be a 'starting point' for treatment

In a study at the new University of Tübingen and Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, skin cell samples were taken from Parkinson's disease patients and turned into nerve cells for the experiment. The cells contained the GBA gene, a risk gene frequently found in people with the disease, which causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability. As expected, the mitochondria – described as the powerhouses of cells - in these nerve cells did not function properly.

....The researchers, led by Dr Michela Deleidi, 'fed' the cells nicotinamide riboside, a form of the vitamin B3. It is important in the formation of new mitochondria. Giving the nerve cells doses of the vitamin allowed new mitochondria to form and energy production increased."These new findings build upon previous experiments which show how important niacin – a form of vitamin B3 – may be for keeping brain cells healthy and working properly. However, as with previous studies, this research was carried out in the lab using skin cells and fruit flies so we now really need to understand whether these encouraging findings hold true in people.....'There is currently a clinical trial underway in the US investigating the effect of treatment with niacin in people with Parkinson's and results are expected in late 2019."

Common Parkinson’s drugs taken by thousands 'may turn patients into compulsive gamblers or shoppers'

Experts have found a link between dopamine agonists and impulse disorders. The drugs may potentially cause gambling, binge eating, frequent shopping and compulsive sexual behavior.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Eating a balanced diet could cut risk of cancer death by 65%

University of Florida researchers admit they were 'shocked' to find huge benefits of simply However, their  study - the first of its kind - has found remarkable benefits to something much more general: simply to eat a healthy balanced diet. Following a so-called 'total diet' - nutrient-rich with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins and dairy - reduces the risk of death by 65 percent, the study found. 

Remember when caffeine was supposed to be bad for you? Drinking four cups of coffee a day could help the heart grow stronger and repair itself from damage, a new study suggests

Research by Heinrich-Heine-University and the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany, discovered the health-boosting effects of caffeine on heart cells.  Caffeine improves the function of cells lining the heart and blood vessels by encouraging the movement of a vital protein – called p27 – into the cells. Caffeine also strengthens mitochondria, which give cells their energy, so they are more able to keep cells healthy and protect them, the study says.  As caffeine protects the hearts of aging, pre-diabetic and obese mice, the researchers suggest it could offer the same benefits to elderly people, whose hearts are more at risk of damage and may have weaker cells.     

Eating a daily handful of almonds, cashews, and walnuts stabilises the blood sugar levels of type 2 diabetics, study finds

Just 75g (about 2 ½ ounces) of mixed nuts significantly improves patients' blood sugar control.  The snack also reduces 'bad' cholesterol and may lower the risk of heart disease.  The results show the importance of unsaturated fat in type 2 diabetes patients' diets.

How party dips can give you Norovirus and even Herpes

Double-dipping - after taking a bite, putting the same cracker or celery stick back into the dip - can spread bacteria very quickly.  Even a small amount of someone's saliva in a dip will allow germs to multiply.  Norovirus, streptococcus - which gives you a sore throat - and herpes simplex - the cold sore virus - could all be lurking in your party dip. .  Bacteria will  multiply by up to 100 times in runny dips containing sour cream, but it won't grow very quickly in thicker dips such as hummus. 

Don't go Dairy-free unless you have to. Dairy-free drinks can contain more than double the number of calories, 30 times the fat and more sugar than cow's milk, research finds.

Often dairy-free drinks are touted as a healthy substitute for regular milk, yet they can contain more than double the number of calories and up to 30 times the fat and more sugar than cow’s milk.

This Simple "Cracker Test" Could Tell You How Many Carbs You Should Be Eating

It's all down to your personal genetics.  "The truth is that some of you can eat as many carbs as you like, while others have to watch it," Dr. Xand van Tulleken.  In a new BBC documentary titled The Truth About: Carbs,  the professor  put the test into practice with a group of students.  Each student was instructed to chew an unsalted cracker for 30 seconds and raise their hand when the flavor began to change - if, say, it started to taste sweeter.  The student who noticed a change in the shortest time raised their hand after 17 seconds, while another did not do so until after 35 seconds. Some said they did not notice any change in flavor.

"Seventeen seconds is quite fast," van Tulleken said, adding that, according to Moalem's research, "this suggests you have a high concentration of amylase enzymes in your mouth which are chopping up the big starch molecules into smaller molecules of sugar or sugar-like molecules that you can taste. That means that you should be able to eat a lot of carbs without having any problems."

But for the students who noticed a change later, van Tulleken explained that it might mean they should watch their carb intake more so than those who observed a change earlier. Finally, for those who didn't notice a change, the theory suggests it's because they have a low concentration of these enzymes in their mouths and "might struggle eating carbs," van Tulleken said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:05 PM | Permalink

June 8, 2018

Health Roundup: Food Edition

"Go to work on an egg"  How eating an egg a day reduces the risk of a stroke and heart disease

Research from Peking University Health Science Centre and Oxford University looked at the dietary habits of more than 400,000 healthy people in China, aged 30 to 79. At the start of the study, 13.1 per cent of participants reported eating an egg every day while 9.1 per cent said they rarely or never did.  When they were followed up around nine years later, researchers found there had been 83,977 cases of cardiovascular disease and 9,985 deaths, as well as 5,103 major coronary events such as heart attacks. Those who ate an egg a day were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease overall. But they also had a 26 per cent lower risk of stroke, a 28 per cent lower risk of stroke death and an 18 per cent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Eggs are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, as well as low in saturated fat.

Eat a pot of yoghurt every day

This latest in a slew of studies showing how a simple pot of yoghurt can boost health in surprising ways, from easing hayfever, to keeping bones strong and even reducing the risk of heart disease. It may also help with weight loss and prevent infections. And perhaps even more surprising is that it seems the more fat in the yoghurt, the better.....Natural yoghurt is ‘my idea of a superfood’, says Dr Adam Cunliffe, an associate professor in human nutrition at London South Bank University — he has one or two 150g pots of it a day and believes ‘everyone should eat it at least once daily’.  Other experts agree: ‘Yoghurt has more to offer than just nutrition and everyone should be eating it in one form or another daily,’ adds Peter Whorwell, a professor in medicine and gastroenterology at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Trust. ‘Consuming a natural yoghurt regularly will gradually restore normality to stop a disrupted microbiome affecting our health. You could just give people a probiotic capsule but yoghurt has added protein and calcium, amongst other things — and it comes with the pleasure of eating.....He has a small pot of natural yoghurt every day because of its beneficial effects on gut bacteria — emerging evidence shows the state of our gut bacteria (or microbiome) can affect our immunity, mood, stress levels and metabolism.

Black tea, without sugar or milk, can help to boost gut health and weight loss

Research from UCLA found that black tea may promote weight loss and boost metabolism by changing bacteria in the gut.

What is the Nordic diet?

The Nordic diet, endorsed by the World Health Organization, consists of fish, berries, herbs, root vegetables and whole grains. The diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet but it uses canola oil not olive oil. The key that most excites nutritionists, though, is its emphasis on planning all your meals around what vegetables it consists of, rather than adding vegetables to meat. You can eat meat and sweet things, but you first fill up your plate with veg, and meat can take whatever space is left.

Eat oily fish twice a week to cut the risk of clogged arteries, heart attacks and stroke, reveal experts

Previous research has shown those with high levels of omega-3 live longer, due to reduced inflammation in the brain, cardiovascular system and other cells. Earlier this month, the American Heart Association published advice that people swap meat, which is high in saturated fats, for oily fish which provides essential omega-3 fatty acids. Recent research by the University of North Dakota suggests that eating oily fish could slash the risk of a premature death by up to a third.  A study of 2,500 older people found those who had the highest amounts of omega-3 were 34 per cent less likely to die within the next seven years. They were also 39 per cent less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Eating oily fish  could help stop arteries clogging and so reduce the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest and stroke.....The fatty acids – found in oily seafood such as salmon, mackerel and sardines – were a better predictor of good health than cholesterol levels. Oily fish is believed to be good for human health in a number of ways, with possible benefits for the heart, eyes and brain, and for those with arthritis or dementia.

A mango a day could help relieve digestive problems

Mangoes are better at relieving digestive problems than many high-fibre foods, a study has found. The fruit, which contains both fibre and nutrients called polyphenols, is said to treat constipation and gut inflammation more effectively than an equivalent amount of fibre powder.

Eating meals alone is the biggest cause of unhappiness after mental illness and financial problems

Heart failure patients who eat 70 grams of protein a day boost their chances of avoiding death by almost 50 per cent  The hearts of elderly people weaken with age and are inefficient at getting blood around the body, but eating more protein helps build up muscle mass.

On the other hand, Atkins diet may cause heart failure, major new protein study finds

The Atkins diet is the best known of a range of popular commercial regimes claiming to help people lose weight by embracing low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating.  But an analysis of more than 2,440 men found that those with a high protein intake faced a 33 per cent increased risk of developing heart failure, where the organ is unable to pump sufficient blood and oxygen around the body.

For the new research, scientists examined 2,441 men, age 42 to 60, at the study's start and followed them for an average 22 years.  Professor Jyrki Virtanen, who worked on the study at the University of Eastern Finland, said: “As many people seem to take the health benefits of high-protein diets for granted, it is important to make clear the possible risks and benefits of these diets.”  Those who ate the most protein from animal sources had a 43 per cent higher risk of heart failure compare to those in the study who ate the least. The study showed that the only proteins not associated with heart failure were those derived from fish and eggs.

Your diet, not your genes, control how your body stores fat:

Scientists at King's College London studied how fat is stored by the body.  The study was conducted by analyzing the feces of 500 pairs of twins to look at changes in their gut bacteria based on what they eat.  They found that food and drink consumed alters chemicals in the gut and influences weight gain.  More than two thirds of the processes that make people gain weight are controlled by their diet, while less than one in five is hereditary.  They say understanding how different chemical reactions in the gut change the way the body handles fat means people could change their diet or medication to control their body weight.

Autism may be linked to food allergies

A study of almost 200,000 children found that those on the disorder's spectrum were over two and a half times more likely than others to suffer a food intolerance. The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that a dysfunctioning immune system raises the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Based on his new findings, lead study author Dr Wei Bao, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa, said: 'It is possible the immunologic disruptions may have processes beginning early in life, which then influence brain development and social functioning, leading to the development of ASD.'

Most popular vitamin and mineral supplements provide no health benefits and could even be increasing your risk of death, study finds

Most multivitamins showed no harm nor advantage in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes or premature death. But niacin and antioxidants showed signs of an increased risk of death from any cause. Multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C showed no harm, but also no advantage in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes or premature death. Folic acid was the only supplement proven to reduce the risk of heart disease or a stroke

For the study, the a research team from St Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto reviewed the most common supplements taken by the general population including A, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folic acid), C, D and E. Also studied were the minerals β-carotene, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium. The researchers advise that people are better off getting their nutrients from eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables.

Nearly 80% of meal-replacement weight-loss shakes sold in the U.K.make health claims that are ‘clearly exaggerated or simply untrue’.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:17 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2018

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Dementia

Study Links Antidepressants, Bipolar Medications, Parkinson’s Drugs To Dementia

Researchers at the University of East Anglia poured over 300,000 medical records with millions of prescriptions, and then performed a sophisticated statistical analysis.  The British team found the long-term use of these drugs is linked to dementia, even when the medications are taken up to 20 years before a diagnosis.

Yellow spots and thicker blood vessels underneath the retina could be early warning signs of dementia.

Hard drusen – fat and calcium buildups in the eye – could be a sign of dementia. The tiny yellow spots in the back of the eyespots are a common symptom of aging and often seen in people over 40, and they have long been thought to be harmless.  But new research from Queen's University in Belfast, shows how Alzheimer's sufferers have many more of the yellow or white hard dots than healthy people. Scientists found them in 25% of Alzheimer's patients, but 4% of healthy people. Thickened blood vessels could point to a poor blood supply to the brain. Experts hope eye scans could offer a window into brain disease

Scientists transform Alzheimer's genes into healthy ones using revolutionary technique that 'cuts out' the DNA that doubles the risk of the disease

Scientists have discovered that a gene that causes the build-up of amyloid beta proteins that clog the brain can be rendered harmless by a genetic 'snipping'. In experiments using a dementia patient's own cells, the defective gene variant APOE4 was turned into the healthy APOE3 version using the technique, known as gene editing, by the team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gene breakthrough in Alzheimer's battle as scientists find it is possible to change the faulty DNA

About 14 per cent of people carry a gene called APOE4, which doubles the risk of getting Alzheimer’s. But a study by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows it is possible to change the faulty gene into a less harmful variant with a lower chance of leading to Alzheimer’s. The researchers took stem cells from a human donor and modified them to change the faulty gene to the lower-risk variant.

The woman who can smell Parkinson's disease

Joy Milne...noticed something had changed with her husband long before he was diagnosed - six years before.
She says: "His smell changed and it seemed difficult to describe. It wasn't all of a sudden. It was very subtle - a musky smell.....By complete chance she mentioned this to scientists at a talk. They were intrigued.
Edinburgh University decided to test her - and she was very accurate. "The first time we tested Joy we recruited six people with Parkinson's and six without. Her accuracy was 11 out of 12. We were quite impressed."
Dr Kunath adds: "She got the six Parkinson's but then she was adamant one of the 'control' subjects had Parkinson's.  ...But eight months later he informed me that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Scientists believe that changes in the skin of people with early Parkinson's produces a particular odor linked to the condition. They hope to find the molecular signature responsible for the odor and then develop a simple test such as wiping a person's forehead with a swab...."Parkinson's is an incredibly difficult disease to diagnose.....We still effectively diagnose it today the way that Dr James Parkinson diagnosed it in 1817, which is by observing people and their symptoms. A diagnostic test like this could cut through so much of that, enable people to go in and see a consultant, have a simple swab test and come out with a clear diagnosis of Parkinson's.

Cocktail of drugs that replaces lost brain cells could restore memories in Alzheimer’s patients and reduce tremors in Parkinson’s sufferers, study finds for the first time

Just eight weeks after being injected into the brains of mice, the medication mixture causes up to 90 per cent of 'support cells' to turn into neurons without any side effects, a Chinese study found. Neurons are nerve cells that carry information as electrical signals. They are the main cell type broken down in Alzheimer's, which causes memory loss, and Parkinson's disease, which leads to tremors.
Although exciting, some experts doubt whether the drug cocktail will be able to replace the hundreds of thousands of brain cells lost as a result of Parkinson's. Excessive neurone production may also trigger conditions such as epilepsy, they warn.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:38 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Cancer edition

New blood test that can detect 10 different types of cancer YEARS before someone gets ill

Dr Eric Klein, lead author of the research from Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute, said: 'This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are currently hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure, and we hope this test could save many lives. Dr Klein, whose research team also involved Stanford University, said: 'Potentially this test could be used for everybody, regardless of their family history.

This 'liquid biopsy' is a simple test can pick up early signs of cancers including breast, ovarian, bowel and lung cancer. It works by picking up fragments of DNA released into the blood by fast-growing cancer cells. In a study of more than 1,400 people, the triple test achieved up to 90 per cent accuracy. Among four cancer-free people who tested positive, the US authors say two women were diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer just months later. It was less able to pick up stomach, uterine and early-stage low-grade prostate cancer.

A pill commonly used to treat fungal nail infections could cure bowel cancer, research suggests

Itraconazole, known as Sporanox, could kill off dormant bowel cancer cells..In experiments on mice the drug caused bowel tumors to collapse.Scientists at Cancer Research UK made the promising discovery in lab experiments on mice, and now hope to start human trials. They found the drug destroys cancer cells which are resistant to chemotherapy, and wipes out 'sleeping' cells which make the disease return after treatment.

Nanoparticles derived from tea leaves inhibit the growth of lung cancer cells, destroying up to 80% of them, new research by a joint Swansea University and Indian team has shown.

The discovery was made by accident as the scientists were looking for a cheaper way to produce 'quantum drops', a nanoparticle which measures less than 10 nanometers.  A human hair is 40,000 nanometres thick. "Our research confirmed previous evidence that tea leaf extract can be a non-toxic alternative to making quantum dots using chemicals. The real surprise, however, was that the dots actively inhibited the growth of the lung cancer cells. We hadn't been expecting this."

Woman's late-stage breast cancer cured by immunotherapy treatment that supercharged her own cells to fight the disease in a world first.

Immunotherapy enhances a patient's own T cells to make them fight cancer better  Doctors at the National Institutes of Health have cured a woman of her breast cancer using the experimental new treatment with the technique called T cell immunotherapy. ...Breast cancer has posed some unique challenges to the use of immunotherapy, but, surprisingly, these kinds of treatments have worked best against triple negative breast cancer, one of the worst forms of the disease. ...The patient's metastatic tumors had scattered throughout the woman's body; but after Dr Rosenberg and his colleagues reactivated her immunity T-cells and returned them to her body, her enhanced immune system went right to work against the cancer and two years after the treatment, the woman is still, incredibly cancer free. 

A new ultrasound process offering more successful diagnosis and management of prostate cancer has been identified by Dundee University researchers.

The university said non-invasive shear wave elastography (SWE) offers "much greater accuracy and reliability" than current testing and is less expensive.  Cancerous tissue is stiffer than normal tissue, so the shear waves are slowed as they pass through it. The technology was able to detect 89 per cent of prostate cancers and could identify more aggressive cancers and those beginning to spread outside the prostate.

Drinking baking soda could help cure cancer:

Researchers at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research made the discovery that baking soda could reduce acidity in tumors, making cancer cells more active and thus  easier to target with chemotherapy and immunotherapy.  'The concept is so easy,' the author says. 'It's literally just baking soda.'

Antibiotics may significantly shorten the lives of cancer patients receiving immunotherapy treatment, a UK study has shown.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:33 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2018

Health Roundup: Exercise

Walking, running and squatting may help to keep the aging brain healthy

Weight-bearing exercise boosts the production of vital brain cells. Walking, running, squatting may be better for brains than cycling or swimming. The study involved restricting mice from using their hind legs.  Even though they exercised, ate and groomed as normal, their restricted physical activity decreased the number of neural stem cells  produced by 70 percent suggesting that leg exercises boost the production of grey matter cells.

There is growing evidence of the link between leg and brain power. Dr Adami said: 'Our study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises - such as patients who are bed-ridden or even astronauts on extended travel - not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system is adversely impacted. An earlier study in 2015  of more than 300 healthy female twins  found leg power was a better predictor of cognitive change than any other lifestyle factor.

Study finds a weaker grip is linked to an early death from cancer, lung disease, or a heart attack

Researchers studied over 500,000 people over 10 years and their study was published in the British Medical Journal. Senior author Stuart Gray of the University of Glasgow, said, "Grip strength showed a stronger association with cardiovascular disease than blood pressure and physical activity, which was a bit of a surprise....Grip strength is easy to measure and may be useful in helping to predict future disease."

Lifelong exercise can slow aging of heart, blood vessels

Those who had exercised two to three times a week for at least a half-hour a day for many years had more "youthful" -- that is, less stiff -- middle-sized arteries, the researchers found. Middle-sized arteries supply oxygen to the head and the neck. But study participants who had routinely exercised four to five times per week had more youthful large, central arteries, ones critical to providing blood to the chest and abdomen.  Study author Dr. Benjamin Levine,  director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas said, "This work is really exciting because it enables us to develop exercise programs to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels."

Strength training doesn't just build muscle — it also helps fight depression, a new study found

Resistance training, often called strength training, includes weight lifting and body-weight exercises such as push-ups and makes people stronger, builds muscle, and can improve endurance and power.  There's also good evidence that strengthening exercises can reduce anxiety.  A meta-analysis of 33 clinical trials including 1877 participants, showed that  resistance exercise training was associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms and seems to work just as well as aerobic exercise in reducing depression.

Working out as a teenager may keep women from shrinking later in life, study reveals

Shrinking happens as the vertebrae of the spine get dehydrated and the cartilage between them wears down. Some shrinking is a normal part of aging, but women can lose up to two inches of height between the ages of 30 and 70. More importantly, the more someone shrinks, the higher their risks of breaking bones are and that, in turn, is linked to an earlier death which is particularly worrisome for women, who are more prone than their male counterparts to osteoporosis, or weak bones.  Exercise - especially resistance and weight training - improves overall bone health. Putting strain on a bone through weight acts as a signal to the body to send more cells there to build more bone. During this process, the cells also release proteins, including collagen, which acts like a glue between bone cells, giving them strength and rigidity.

Exercise leads to generation of new heart cells in study with mice

Exercise can even deliver the benefit after a heart attack, according to researchers from the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. The researchers, who published their findings Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, noted that public health, physical education and the rehabilitation of cardiac patients can help prevent heart failure...."Our study shows that you might be able to make your heart younger by exercising more every day," said Dr. Richard Lee, a Harvard professor of stem cell and regenerative biology.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2018

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation

Data represent first human trials examining the impact of dark chocolate consumption on cognition and other brain functions.  Findings from two new studies show dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation, while improving memory, immunity and mood.  This is first time that cocoa alone has been studied in human subjects to determine how it can support cognitive, endocrine and cardiovascular health....The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, with known mechanisms beneficial for brain and cardiovascular health.

Coffee and caffeine not only give us an 'energy boost'  they also benefit our health.

The British Medical Journal published an umbrella review that showed the health benefits of caffeine and coffee far outweighed the risks.  Caffeine is the world’s most consumed brain altering drug. Found naturally in coffee beans, tea leaves, cacao seeds and cola nut seeds, by the time it gets to us, natural caffeine comes in coffee (green and black beans), tea (black, green and white) along with dark chocolate. 

Drinking several cups of coffee daily appears to reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by a staggering 50 percent, according to a large-scale study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The authors reviewed data from three large U.S. studies and found that the risk of suicide for adults who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee per day was about half that of those who drank decaffeinated coffee or very little or no coffee.

Caffeine not only stimulates the central nervous system but may act as a mild antidepressant by boosting production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. This could explain the lower risk of depression among coffee drinkers that had been found in past epidemiological studies, the researchers said.

But watch out for energy drinks.  They use synthetic caffeine can mean a quicker lift than natural, but also a quicker crash and do not contain the accompanying phytonutrients and antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that coffee and tea provide.

Eating cod, herring and red snapper may ward off Parkinson's disease

These fish contain high levels of the protein parvalbumin, which prevents the formation of protein structures associated with the tremor disorder, a study found.  Parvalbumin, which is also abundant in red snapper, carp and sockeye salmon, uses up the 'Parkinson's protein' alpha-synuclein, preventing it from being used to form harmful protein plaques in the brain, the research adds.

Study links vitamin D deficiency, higher diabetes risk

People deficient in vitamin D might have a greater risk of developing diabetes, report researchers
at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Seoul National University who studied 903 healthy adults without pre-diabetes or diabetes during clinic visits from 1997 to 1999, and followed up with them for 10 years, to study their levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin and their medical condition..... Good food sources for vitamin D include salmon, sardines, egg yolk, shrimp, and fortified milk, cereal, yogurt and orange juice.

Eating vegetables, fruit and fish may keep people sharp by preventing their brains from shrinking,

Danish researchers analyzed the diets of 4,213 adults with an average age of 66 who did not have dementia.  The participants' diets were ranked from zero to 14 in terms of quality. Diets scoring 14 included plenty of vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains, dairy and fish, with minimal sugary drinks.
Then the participants had scans to determine their brain volumes. They found that 'People with greater brain volume have better cognitive abilities'.  Healthy diet overall is critical, with no one food group halting cognitive decline. People with healthy diets have brain volumes that are on average 2ml greater. A brain volume reduction of 3.6ml is equivalent to one year of aging.

A TV doctor reveals why broccoli is the vegetable is the ONLY one you need to eat to boost your health

Dr Rangan Chatterjee claims vegetables play a critical role in people's immunity and 70% of people's immunity starts in their guts. The bugs in your gut weigh roughly the same amount as your brain
Broccoli does a number of things.  As it goes through the small intestine it helps to balance your immune system. And then the fibre from the broccoli that can't be digested goes along to the colon, which is the last part of the bowel, where most of the gut bugs reside and they start feasting on the fibre and making short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are important for colon health. 
Seventy per cent or so of your immune-system activity occurs in your gut. There is a three way interaction, your food choices, your gut bugs and your immune system....Broccoli is a life saver.

While another nutritionist says peas are a superfood and the only green vegetable you have to eat.

Peas contain vitamin K, an overlooked vitamin which is vital for bone health while its high levels of protein and fibre means peas can boost your energy levels.  Boiled, fried or added to a smoothie, peas are amazingly nutritious, full of vitamins, iron, fibre, antioxidants and protein.

Don't choose.  Eat both.

Consider an occasional fast. Fasting boosts stem cells' regenerative capacity

As people age, their intestinal stem cells begin to lose their ability to regenerate. These stem cells are the source for all new intestinal cells, so this decline can make it more difficult to recover from gastrointestinal infections or other conditions that affect the intestine.  This age-related loss of stem cell function can be reversed by a 24-hour fast, according to a new study from MIT biologists....A drug treatment that mimics fasting can also provide the same benefit, study finds.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2018

Health Roundup: Obesity edition

Muscle Mass May Reduce Risk of Death and Explain the Obesity Paradox

The Obesity Paradox. Nearly twenty years ago, researchers began noticing a curious paradox in health-focused studies: despite common wisdom that being overweight or obese is unhealthy, a significant number of analyses showed that in a variety of circumstances additional weight is actually associated with a lower risk of death!  There are a few key takeaways from the study. One, it provides another example of how BMI is flawed for estimating health. Two, it shows that the obesity paradox is likely a statistical artifact of utilizing BMI in research, not an indication that additional body fat benefits a generally healthy adult. And three, it suggests that adding muscle mass may promote health and longevity.

High dairy fat intake related to less central obesity:

In Sweden, A study of 1589 males, 40-60 with a follow-up study 12 years later found: A high intake of dairy fat was associated with a lower risk of central obesity and a low dairy fat intake was associated with a higher risk of central obesity.

Whole-fat dairy food intake is inversely associated with obesity prevalence found another study in Luxembourg.

Calories from sugar-sweetened drinks cause more weight gain and increase your risk of disease than bread or potatoes

Not all fats and sugars are the same and the different types found in various foods can either benefit or harm your health, report a team of 22 nutrition researchers from the University of California, Davis; Touro University and Stanford University School of Medicine. Some calories, especially those from sugar-sweetened beverages, could be more harmful to our health than others, researchers advise. The same amount of calories are found in one 12-ounce can of soda as in a medium-size potato full of starch, but the latter provides you with fiber, vitamins and potassium.

Injection developed by British scientists is hailed as 'most exciting' obesity treatment yet

A jab that aids weight loss of more than a stone in a month has been developed. The hormone injection will act similarly to a gastric band and help tackle obesity. Scientists at Imperial College London say it's the 'most exciting treatment yet'

Jet-lag supplement may combat obesity: Melatonin burns calories and reduces fat storage around the midriff

'Sleep hormone' causes rats to produce more heat, leading to calories burnt. Melatonin also increases the amount of fat rats use as energy rather than storing dangerous fat deposits around the animals' abdomens. Past research suggests excessive torso fat is linked to heart disease and stroke. Melatonin's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties may cause weight loss;

Lead author Professor Ahmad Agil Abdalla, from the University of Grenada, recommends people needing to lose weight take melatonin supplements alongside healthy diet and exercise regimens.
Dieters should take melatonin, expert says. Results further suggest melatonin turns dangerous 'brown' fat into 'white', which allows it to be used for energy.

A blackcurrant supplement, backed by science, can burn as much fat as FOUR WEEKS of regular exercise.

The supplement, known as CurraNZ, costs just £21.75 for a pack of 30 tablets. When taken twice a day for a week, the supplement raises fat burning by up to 55%.  Previous research suggests vitamin increases fat burning in active men by 21%. The black currant berries contain nutrients, called polyphenols, which are thought to encourage fat burning during exercise by increasing blood flow, according to the researchers.  Experts believe their results may also benefit obesity or type 2 diabetes sufferers

Study author Dr Sam Shepherd, from Liverpool John Moores University, said, "Seven days is not a very long time to see such big changes. Anything above 20 per cent is typically what we expect to see with three-to-four weeks of regular endurance exercise training. Unhealthy people have a reduced capacity for fat burning compared to healthy people and therefore, in theory, the supplement could potentially exert at least a similar or greater effect in unhealthy individuals."

According to WebMD, while the research is limited, black currant supplements might help a number of different conditions such a lowering cholesterol, improving circulation and relieving symptoms of arthritis.  However, there are risks of interaction with certain medications and over-the-counter aspirin or ibuprofen. Looking at the black currant supplements on Amazon,  it appears that the main reason people take it is to fight hair loss.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:34 PM | Permalink

May 8, 2018

Health Roundup - Stroke Edition

Folic-acid supplements can slash the risk of those with high blood pressure having a stroke by almost 75%

Adults with hypertension who take folic acid, alongside blood-pressure medication, every day for four years are 73 per cent less at risk of the life-threatening condition, a study found today....The researchers analyzed 10,789 adults aged between 45 and 75 with high blood pressure.

Quick treatment of mini-stroke may cut risk for future stroke by as much as 80%

Prompt treatment of a mini-stroke could reduce the likelihood of having a full-blown stroke by roughly 80 percent, according to a new report. People who have a mini-stroke -- officially called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA -- typically recover from symptoms, such as trouble speaking or paralysis, within minutes. But a trio of neurologists from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., warn that these seemingly fleeting events are often followed by a more severe stroke.

For Many Strokes, There’s an Effective Treatment. Why Aren’t Some Doctors Offering It?

Stroke treatment guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association strongly endorse T.P.A. for patients after they’ve been properly evaluated. But treatment must start within three hours (in some cases, four-and-a-half hours) of the stroke’s onset, and the sooner, the better.........The drug can cause or exacerbate cerebral hemorrhage, or bleeding in the brain — a real risk. But in most stroke patients it prevents brain injury, and in any event, rates of cerebral hemorrhage have declined as doctors have gained experience over the years.  Without treatment, “many patients end up permanently disabled,” said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a cardiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “The stroke neurologists who are involved in chronic care see the devastating consequences. For some reason, the emergency medicine doctors are not factoring this in.”

Study: Drug reduces inflammation in early stroke symptoms

An anti-inflammatory drug licensed to treat rheumatoid arthritis helped reduce inflammation in people in the early stages of stroke, according to research in Britain....The drug anakinra, marketed as Kineret and also known as IL-1Ra, blocks Interleukin-1 and prevents complications that make a stroke even more dangerous....The quick administration is an asset, she said, with the research suggesting the drug can be delivered in an ambulance on the way to the hospital -- potentially saving millions of brain cells, two million of which die every minute during a stroke, and increasing chances for recovery. The researchers say further research is needed to see whether Kineret is an effective treatment for ischemic stroke and whether it can be given with current treatments that include clot-busting drugs.  The researchers are planning a national trial of Kineret users with 1,000 patients to start later this year.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:55 AM | Permalink

April 23, 2018

Health Roundup: Huntington's Disease

Huge Breakthrough as Experimental Drug Is First-Ever to Suppress Huntington's Protein

Results from a clinical trial involving 46 patients with early Huntington's shows that an injectable drug called IONIS-HTTRx successfully lowered levels of the harmful huntingtin protein in the participants' nervous system.

"The results of this trial are of ground-breaking importance for Huntington's disease patients and families," says neurologist Sarah Tabrizi from University College London's Huntington's Disease Centre, which led the trial."For the first time a drug has lowered the level of the toxic disease-causing protein in the nervous system, and the drug was safe and well-tolerated."

Could fasting be a cure for Huntington's?

Scientists reveal it can clear away proteins responsible for the devastating disease in the brain. In a new study ..., researchers from the University of British Columbia established that mouse cells can be manipulated into 'eating' the excess proteins that cause the devastating disease's symptoms. A co-author on the study, Dale Martin, was optimistic about the implications of the study. 'More studies are needed, but perhaps something as simple as a modified dietary schedule could provide some benefit for patients and could be complementary to some treatments currently in clinical trials."

Exercise slows Huntington's symptoms

Scientists at Melbourne’s Howard Florey Institute have discovered that mental and physical stimulation delays the onset of dementia in the fatal genetic disease, Huntington's disease....“This discovery is quite remarkable because we have shown that an enriched environment not only delayed the onset of dementia, but it also slowed the progression of memory loss in these mice."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Quitting anti-depressants, hand dryers, where body fat goes, psoriasis, maggot therapy, sepsis from paper cuts

Long-term use of antidepressants is surging in the US.  Many people who try to quit them can not.

Long-term use of antidepressants is surging in the United States, according to a new analysis of federal data by The New York Times. Some 15.5 million Americans have been taking the medications for at least five years. The rate has almost doubled since 2010, and more than tripled since 2000.
The drugs initially were approved for short-term use, following studies typically lasting about two months. Even today, there is little data about their effects on people taking them for years, although there are now millions of such users....Antidepressants are not harmless; they commonly cause emotional numbing, sexual problems like a lack of desire or erectile dysfunction and weight gain. Long-term users report in interviews a creeping unease that is hard to measure: Daily pill-popping leaves them doubting their own resilience, they say.

Many, perhaps most, people stop the medications without significant trouble. But the rise in longtime use is also the result of an unanticipated and growing problem: Many who try to quit say they cannot because of withdrawal symptoms they were never warned about....Patients who try to stop taking the drugs often say they cannot. In a recent survey of 250 long-term users of psychiatric drugs — most commonly antidepressants — about half who wound down their prescriptions rated the withdrawal as severe. Nearly half who tried to quit could not do so because of these symptoms....

Brands with a relatively short half-life, like Effexor and Paxil, appear to cause more withdrawal symptoms more quickly than those that stay in the system longer, like Prozac....For now, people who haven’t been able to quit just by following a doctor’s advice are turning to a method called microtapering: making tiny reductions over a long period of time, nine months, a year, two years — whatever it takes.

“It took me a year to come completely off — a year,” said Dr. Tom Stockmann, 34, a psychiatrist in East London, who experienced lightheadedness, confusion, vertigo and brain zaps, when he stopped taking Cymbalta after 18 months. To wind the prescription down safely, he began opening the capsules, removing a few beads of the drug each day in order to taper off — the only way out, he decided. “I knew some people experienced withdrawal reactions,” Stockmann said, “but I had no idea how hard it would be.”

The curse of hand dryers.  Hand dryers in public bathrooms 'suck in' bacteria from flushing toilets and may spread deadly MRSA

Poorly powered dryers may bathe hands in bacteria circulating in bathrooms. In rooms without dryers, just six bacterial colonies grow within 18 hours. When dishes are blasted for 30 seconds with dryer air, up to 254 colonies appear. Bacteria can include Staphylococcus aureus, which can lead to sepsis. Dryers' abilities to transmit spores suggest they could spread C.difficile. The researchers, from the University of Connecticut, analyzed hot-air hand dryers in multiple men's and women's public bathrooms in an academic health centre.

Where Body Fat Actually Goes When You Lose Weight

Research conducted by a team at UNSW Science in Sydney back in 2014 calculated exactly what happens to our fat when we shed kilos, and revealed that doctor's leading theories are wrong - we don't convert our missing mass into heat or energy. We actually breathe it out.  Their results, published in the British Medical Journal, reveal that 22 pounds (10 kg) of fat turns into 18.5 pounds (8.4 kg) of carbon dioxide, which is exhaled when we breathe, and 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) of water, which we then excrete through our urine, tears, sweat and other bodily fluids.  "The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. It goes into thin air," said lead author of the paper Ruben Meerman, a physicist and TV presenter.

Psoriasis sufferer who battled painful skin condition for years claims her symptoms disappeared in 24 HOURS

A mother claims her psoriasis disappeared after using a cream for children that has been branded a 'miracle moisturiser'. Laura Gray, from the North East, suffered from the incurable skin condition for years. Only 'harsh' creams from pharmacists offered her any sort of relief. But her patches were gone within a day after her mother's suggestion to try Childs Farm Baby Moisturiser, which you can get on Amazon.  'I get it all up my arms, neck and chest and up until yesterday only hydrocortisone cream would get rid of it, but it’s really harsh and only pharmacists can give it you. 'Yesterday my Mam told me try this baby moisturiser, I’m not joking 24 hours later my psoriasis is gone. Anyone suffering with psoriasis or eczema you need to try this.'

Maggot Therapy Is The Disgusting Medical Practice That Will Save Your Life

It might make you sick in the stomach, but it will heal your infected wound.  In this bizarre medical treatment, hungry disinfected maggots remove dead and infected tissue. After being placed on the infected area, the maggots go to town eating and cleaning, as they only have a taste for rotting flesh.... The direct killing of bacteria by maggots has shown to be most beneficial in lacerations or surgical wounds that haven’t healed properly, as well as severe ulcers.

Using maggots for medical purposes isn’t a new thing. Forms of maggot therapy were used for hundreds of years. For example, William Baer was an orthopedic surgeon during World War I. He noticed that when hurt soldiers came to the hospital after being left out on the battlefield for days, thus attracting maggots to their flesh wounds, the soldiers tended to survive injuries that usually caused death or worse diseases.

Woman’s Paper Cut Leads To Quadruple Amputation

Marguerite Henderson had a paper cut so minuscule, she didn’t even remember how she got it. A few days later, Henderson’s family was told she was going to die because of it.  Henderson is a 54-year-old woman from Crosshill, Scotland. When she noticed the next day that a paper cut on her finger looked infected, she went to a pharmacist to see if they had anything for it. The pharmacist told Henderson she should get it checked out by a doctor....Henderson’s daughters rushed her to the intensive care unit at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, where doctors informed them that she had contracted sepsis through the infected paper cut.
Sepsis is a complication of an infection where harmful bacteria and their toxins trigger inflammation throughout the body, damaging multiple organ systems.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 AM | Permalink

The cost and the treatment for opioid addiction

Andrew Sullivan wrote a devastating piece on opioid addiction The Poison We Pick 

This nation pioneered modern life. Now epic numbers of Americans are killing themselves with opioids to escape it.....The poppy’s paradox is a profoundly human one: If you want to bring Heaven to Earth, you must also bring Hell. In the words of Lenny Bruce, “I’ll die young, but it’s like kissing God.”
We have seen this story before — in America and elsewhere. The allure of opiates’ joys are filling a hole in the human heart and soul today as they have since the dawn of civilization. But this time, the drugs are not merely laced with danger and addiction. In a way never experienced by humanity before, the pharmaceutically sophisticated and ever more intense bastard children of the sturdy little flower bring mass death in their wake. This time, they are agents of an eternal and enveloping darkness. And there is a long, long path ahead, and many more bodies to count, before we will see any light.

Yet, There's a Great Treatment For Drug Addiction - But It's Nearly Impossible to Get

The death toll from the opioids epidemic continues to soar – nearly 64,000 people died in 2016 alone....Several large studies suggest that as access to MAT rises, drug overdose deaths fall. A growing cadre of health professionals say we already have a science-backed treatment that works. It's called medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, and it involves administering FDA-approved medications that help curb cravings and reduce the excruciating symptoms of withdrawal.

"Medications are an effective treatment for opioid addiction," Kelly J. Clark, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, told Business Insider. The problem is that very few people can get those medications. Only about half of private-sector treatment programs for opioid use disorder currently offer access to MAT, and of those that offer it, only one third of patients actually receive the medication, according to a study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
"People ask me all the time, 'well, aren't they just substituting one drug for another?' The answer is no. These are evidence-based treatments and they work," Patrice A. Harris, the former president of the American Medical Association and a board certified psychiatrist, told Business Insider.

On Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a new set of guidelines aimed at underlining the important role MAT should play treating opioid use disorder. "Unfortunately, far too few people who suffer from opioid use disorder are offered an adequate chance for treatment that uses safe and effective medications,"commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

April 17, 2018

Health Roundup - Cancer Edition: Lung, breast, prostate, colorectal and pediatric cancer

Dual attack with two existing drugs destroys lung cancer

Breaking research concludes that the use of two existing drugs could successfully treat certain lung cancers. The study delves deep into the molecular survival kit of lung tumors.  Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, responsible for almost 160,000 deaths each year.  ......Using their new model, the scientists demonstrated that by suppressing the two adaptor proteins, insulin/IGF-1 signaling is blocked and lung tumors are significantly suppressed.  Senior study author Nada Kalaany, Ph.D, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School said,"Almost all animals in this lung cancer model typically die within 15 weeks of KRAS activation.  But the ones that lost both Irs1 and Irs2 were completely fine — we saw almost no tumors at 10 to 15 weeks." This finding is important because drugs that block insulin/IGF-1 signaling are already in use and freely available.

New immunotherapy drug becomes first ever to DOUBLE survival in lung cancer patients

Merck's Keytruda, offered with chemo, cut lung cancer patients' risk of dying in half compared to just chemotherapy. It is the first time an immunotherapy treatment has had such stark results. The treatment only worked for half the patients, but that is better than chemo's results with this type of cancer.

New cancer drug 93 percent effective with pediatric patients

The results of a clinical trial of the drug larotrectinib, which had a 75 percent success rate in a previous clinical trial with adults, have been called "unprecedented" by researchers. Larotrectinib is the first cancer drug to receive Food and Drug Administration breakthrough therapy designation for patients with a specific fusion of two genes in the cancer cell regardless of the type of cancer.

Dr. Ted Laetsch, an assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study, said,
"In some cancers, a part of the TRK gene has become attached to another gene, which is called a fusion. "When this occurs, it leads to the TRK gene being turned on when it's not supposed to be and that causes the cells to grow uncontrollably. What's unique about the drug is it is very selective; it only blocks TRK receptors."  These TRK fusions occur in a few common adult cancers, but they appear frequently in rare pediatric cancers, including infantile fibrosarcoma, cellular congenital mesoblastic nephroma and papillary thyroid cancer.

Breast cancer removal surgery could cause tumors to SPREAD - but it could be prevented with aspirin, study finds

An MIT study of mice has found a link between the healing process after breast cancer tumor removal and the spread of cancer cells. One in four women who have a lumpectomy or mastectomy will experience a cancer relapse. Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin were found to stop the spread of cancer cells during recovery

Prostate cancer breakthrough: Patients could be treated with drugs currently used for breast, ovarian and skin cancer, study reveals

A study led by the Institute of Cancer Research in London have discovered 80 proteins which trigger prostate cancer and cause it to spread which could be stopped by a single daily pill....An international team of scientists analyzed the DNA of 930 men with prostate cancer, and examined the tumors of 112 British cancer patients. The proteins discovered are produced by 73 genetic mutations.  ...Genetic mutations create faulty proteins which cause cancer in different ways. These proteins trigger cancer by forcing cells to divide too fast, making mistakes as they are copied which lead to tumors. They can also prevent the body's natural DNA repair which is vital to stop cancer spreading through the body. Currently there are just seven drugs available to block two proteins which cause prostate cancer.
Simon Grieveson, head of research funding at Prostate Cancer UK, said: 'We currently have a one-size-fits-all approach to treating prostate cancer even though every man's cancer is unique. "By better understanding the genetic make-up of an individual's cancer, it may be possible to more accurately predict how it will behave and the best way to treat it, creating a more precise approach to treating that man's prostate cancer."

Viagra as a Preventative Against  Colorectal Cancer

Researchers studying the effects of Viagra (aka sildenafil) on mice have discovered a small, daily dose of the medication in the animals' drinking water significantly reduces their risk of developing colorectal cancer.  That dose halved the formation of polyps in mouse tissue: abnormal clumps of cells that form on intestinal lining, which have a tendency to become tumors.  The next step the team  wants to pursue is  a clinical trial with patients considered at high risk of colorectal cancer or with a family history of the disease.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup - Food Edition: Coffee, bread, low-fat dairy, cheese and pizza, and peanut allergies

Three cups of coffee a day lowers heart attack and stroke risk

A study of more than 340,000 people found evidence that both tea and coffee may  protect against common heart rhythm disturbances.  The new American College of Cardiology review of studies debunks long-held beliefs that the stimulant effects of caffeine are dangerous to heart health.. Caffeine counteracts a key chemical to the most common type of heart arrhythmia.  Healthy antioxidants in caffeine are probably behind the phenomenon, said cardiologist Dr Peter Kistler, who led the new study and is director of the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. His team showed caffeine protected against both atrial fibrillation (AF) and ventricular arrhythmia (VA).

Frozen Yogurt, Low-Fat Dairy Products Linked To Parkinson’s, Study Finds

Researchers from Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health say that having three or more servings of low-fat dairy products a day boosts Parkinson’s risk more than a daily single serving. Similarly, a person who consumes one serving of low-fat dairy daily is more likely to develop the disease than someone who consumes one serving in a week....The authors reached their conclusion after examining a massive amount of data from a span of about 25 years. Dietary surveys and health information from more than 80,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 48,000 men from the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study were used....

Of course, the authors point out that while frequent consumption of low-fair dairy might boost the odds of Parkinson’s, the overall chances of a person developing the disease were still tremendously low. Just 1 percent of the nearly 6,000 people in the study who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy products daily wound up developing Parkinson’s, compared to 0.6 percent of the nearly 78,000 who reported having less than one serving a day.

Cheese, pizza and lasagne protect MEN from brittle bones as they age - but not women

A Harvard study of 2,600 people found men over 50 who consumed the most cheese, milk and yogurt had stronger spines and hips. Cheese had the strongest effect of all dairy products - whether eaten on its own or as part of a dish like pizza or lasagne. Women did not get a boost from dairy, apart from a small benefit if they ate lots of cream.

Whole-Grain Isn’t Better Than White, and More Bread Myths Busted By Science

Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO, food scientist and founder of The Cooking Lab, was so curious about the foodstuff that he co-authored “Modernist Bread,” a five-volume, more than 2,000-page mini-encyclopedia on the craft and science of making bread.  It turns out that we can’t absorb all of the nutrients touted in whole grains. “The primary difference between whole and refined grains is wheat bran, which mostly consists of fiber that largely passes undigested through the intestines,” says Myhrvold. “In particular, a set of compounds in bran called phytates have a strong ability to block nutrients like iron from being absorbed.”

Other findings:

  • Kneading Isn’t Necessary
  • Rye Bread in the U.S. Isn't True Rye Bread -  it's just wheat bread flavored with a little rye
  • Bread Should NEVER Go in the Fridge - low temps in the fridge can actually make bread go stale faster
  • Bread Doesn’t Have to Be Baked - “Almost any kind of dough can be cooked in a steamer [or any device that traps steam around the bread, like a dutch oven or pressure cooker], and the results are surprisingly delicious.”

Melt-Resistant Ice Cream Is Here

Using Banana Extract, Scientists Concoct Breakthrough Recipe.  Not only are researchers saying their new concoction will last longer, but it’s creamier and potentially even healthier than your typical frozen treat.  “Our findings suggest that cellulose nanofibers extracted from banana waste could help improve ice cream in several ways,” explains Gallego in an American Chemical Society media release. “In particular, the fibers could lead to the development of a thicker and more palatable dessert, which would take longer to melt. As a result, this would allow for a more relaxing and enjoyable experience with the food, especially in warm weather.”

Well-done meat may be bad for your blood pressure

People who like their steak well-done instead of rare might face a slightly increased risk of high blood pressure, a preliminary study suggests. The study, of more than 100,000 U.S. adults, found the odds of high blood pressure were a bit higher among people who liked their meat grilled, broiled or roasted, versus those who favored more temperate cooking methods. The same was true of people who were partial to well-done meat. Compared with fans of rarer meat, they were 15 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure over 12 to 16 years.  Research suggests that cooking to the point of "charring" is the main issue, said Linda Van Horn, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association who was not involved in the study. The process produces chemicals that are not normally present in the body.  The findings do not prove cause and effect, researchers said.

Baby wet wipes 'cause food allergy', new study warns

They suggest that an increasing failure by parents to rinse away soap after washing their babies is contributing to the rise in childhood food allergies. The top layer of skin is made of lipids, types of fat, which can be disrupted by soap and soapy chemicals in wipes, the team at Northwestern University found. If a child already carries genes which predisposes them to altered skin absorbency, contact with these chemicals can then heighten risk that comes with exposure to food allergens.

A cure for peanut allergies?

New powder capsules protected 67% of children from reactions - paving the way to FDA approval. New research suggests daily doses of peanut powder could prevent the allergy. Aimmune Therapeutics' treatment could soon hit the market. They collected data from nearly 500 children with severe allergic reactions. They found 67 percent of kids who consumed the peanut powder were able to tolerate roughly 2 peanuts after a year.

In the pipeline. Scientists create a vaccine that can protect against peanut allergies

Trials on mice have proven that it works - as researchers found the rodents given it were protected from an allergic reaction.  The experiment, led by researchers at the University of Michigan, could lead to investigations conducted on humans with peanut allergies.  Dr O'Konek, from the university's Food Allergy Center, said: 'We're changing the way the immune cells respond upon exposure to allergens. Importantly, we can do this after allergy is established, which provides for potential therapy of allergies in humans.

Peanut allergies have surged by 445 per cent in the last 10 years, according to an analysis of private health insurance claims by FAIRHealth.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:55 AM | Permalink

April 10, 2018

Health Roundup - Alzheimer's Edition

US doctors to be given new definition of Alzheimer's based on biology - not symptoms - which could help spot the disease years earlier

The new framework was released today by the National Institute on Aging that focuses on measurable changes in the brain that set Alzheimer's apart from dementia. Under the proposed research framework, Alzheimer's would be characterized by three factors: evidence of two abnormal proteins associated with Alzheimer's - beta amyloid and tau - and evidence of neurodegeneration or nerve cell death, all of which can be seen through brain imaging or tests of cerebral spinal fluid. It also incorporates measures of severity using biomarkers and a grading system for cognitive impairment. The move will allow doctors to test drugs on people before symptoms show.

Alzheimer's gene has been neutralized in human brain cells for the first time, paving the way for a new treatment

Scientists 'turned off' protein associated with the dementia apoE4 gene. That gene damages nerve cells, with one copy doubling a person's Alzheimer's risk and having two apoE4 copies raises an individual's risk of the disease by 12 times. Researchers warn therapies that are successful in the lab may fail in patients.

This comes after award-winning scientists predicted Alzheimer's will be as manageable as HIV within 10 years. Future dementia treatments will be taken before the condition develops to prevent symptoms rather than attempting to reverse them, according to Professor Michel Goedert, who was involved in discovering the importance of protein plaques in Alzheimer's onset. Professor Goedert, from the University of Cambridge, added: 'Alzheimer's will become something like HIV. 'It's still there but it has been contained or whittled down by drug treatments. It will disappear as a major problem from society.'

Professor Goedert believes drugs under investigation for Alzheimer's often fail due to them being taken too late into the disease's progression. His colleague Professor Bart De Strooper of University College London, with whom he shares the four-million euro Brain Prize money, added: 'The mistakes we have made is the trials is that treatment has been given too late. It's like popping a statin to stop a heart attack."

Absence of a key chemical in the brain, responsible for feeding memory, could be used as an early test for Alzheimer's

The absence of a certain chemical in the brain could be used as an early Alzheimer's test, new research suggests. Dopamine, which regulates movement, 'feeds' a region of the brain responsible for storing memories, known as the hippocampus. When the number of cells producing dopamine reduce, people's memories and abilities to learn new information suffers, which may put them at risk of dementia, according to researchers.  Critics argue further research is required to determine such a test's potential.

Scientists successfully remove Alzheimer's from mice

Certain antibodies may be able to remove Alzheimer’s plaques from the brain, according to new research carried about in mice. As much as 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s set in, people with the disease begin to develop amyloid beta plaques that build up in the brain and, scientists believe, interfere with neural signals to cause cognitive and memory losses. But researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have developed an antibody that can remove the proteins these plaques are made of altogether, according to their new research. ...The new study experimented with an antibody that matches not the amyloid beta proteins themselves, but a smaller protein contained within them, called APOE. Certain variations of the gene for APOE are the single greatest genetic predictor for Alzheimer as well
We now know some of the key genetics behind the disease, as well as the key biological marker of it in the brain: the amyloid beta protein plaques. These plaques are composed of pieces of protein that come from the fatty membranes that coat neuron cells. Normally, if these fragments break off, naturally occurring enzymes can break them so that they do not have a chance to turn into a clump. For whatever reason, this natural waste removal does not seem to happen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Scientists suspect that as these proteins build up and stick together – either wrapped around neurons or roaming freely through the brain – they block the electrical signals fired across the synapses different parts of the brain try to communicate with one another.

Poor sleep habits create a risk for Alzheimer's disease.'

Poor rest raises the levels of toxic proteins in the brain that can cause memory-robbing disease. A small study, only 20 people,  found a night without sleep increased levels of beta-amyloid in the brain. People with mild memory loss have 21% more beta-amyloid than healthy people while those with Alzheimer's disease have 43% more beta-amyloid. Sleep is vital in clearing away beta-amyloid, which can form clumps in the brain.

The study's lead author, Dr Ehsan Shokri-Kojori, from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, said: 'Often brain changes seen in animals are not replicated in humans, so this is interesting.'The increase in beta-amyloid we saw in the brains of people who were sleep-deprived is likely to be a harmful process. 'A reasonable prediction based on these results would be that poorer sleep habits create a risk for Alzheimer's disease.'

Prosthetics to Help Memory Loss in Alzheimer's

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California (USC) have managed to create and implant a prosthetic system that uses a person’s own memory patterns to facilitate the brain’s ability to create and recall memories. In the pilot study, published in today’s Journal of Neural Engineering, participants’ short-term memory performance showed a 35 to 37 percent improvement over baseline measurements. The research was funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

April 6, 2018

Good news about Aging

The Good News - Older Americans are experiencing ‘delayed aging’ — and better health

Americans may be aging more slowly than they were two decades ago. Using health and nutrition data from more than 21,500 Americans,  researchers from the schools of gerontology at University of Southern California and Yale University found that  Biological aging slowing, but not for all.  Older adults experienced the greatest decreases in biological age, and men experienced greater declines in biological age than females. The study confirms that modifying health behaviors and using prescription medications significantly impact the health of the population. Researchers believe that decelerating the biological aging process would push the timing of aging-related disease and disability incidence closer to the end of life, so that people can live more of their years in good health.

Elderly adults grow just as many new brain cells as 20-year-olds, study claims

Researchers at Columbia University have shown for the first time that healthy men and women as old as 79 can generate just as many new brain cells as someone aged 14 can. Lead author Dr Maura Boldrini, associate professor of neurobiology at Columbia University says the findings may suggest that many senior citizens remain more cognitively and emotionally intact than commonly believed.
Nevertheless, older individuals had less vascularization and maybe less ability of new neurons to make connections,' Dr Boldrini explained.  Dr Boldrini surmised that reduced cognitive-emotional resilience in old age may be caused by this smaller pool of neural stem cells, the decline in vascularisation, and reduced cell-to-cell connectivity within the hippocampus.

Reframing Aging

Aging advocacy groups aim to change the public's image of getting older.  It’s a scary and depressing image of aging: If you are sick or poor and over 65, it’s your own fault because you didn’t do the right things when you were younger. This is a commonly held view of old age in the United States, and the nation’s leading aging organizations are now on a fierce mission to change it through a project known as Reframing Aging.  Most older people are healthy and independent, but this reality often is “under-appreciated and unrecognized by the vast majority of the public,” said James Appleby, executive director and chief executive officer of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). FrameWorks found many Americans started by talking about an “ideal” image of aging but reverted to their “real” image of deterioration and helplessness.

If you want to counter the physical costs of getting old, regular exercise might be your best option.  That and just getting out of the house.

Exercise best option to ward off costs of getting old

Unlike a "control group" of adults who did not get regular exercise, the cyclists did not have loss of muscle mass or strength, did not have age-related increases in body fat or cholesterol levels, and their immune systems were as robust as much younger people....
Researcher Niharika Arora Duggal, also from the University of Birmingham, said, "We hope these findings prevent the danger that, as a society, we accept that old age and disease are normal bedfellows, and that the third age of man is something to be endured and not enjoyed."

Study finds 30 minutes of daily chores prolongs life expectancy

Older women who did 30 minutes 'light' activities daily had 12% reduced chance, Washing up,  folding laundry, sweeping the floor cuts the risk of an early death for women by 12%. Those who did 30 minutes of 'moderate to vigorous' activity saw a 39% drop. These included brisk walking or bicycling at a leisurely pace, say researchers 'Doing something is better than nothing' even below recommended levels.

Leaving the house linked to longevity in older adults

For older people, getting out of the house regularly may contribute to a longer life - and the effect is independent of medical problems or mobility issues, according to new research from Israel. For study participants in their 70s, 80s and 90s, the frequency with which they left the house predicted how likely they were to make it to the next age milestone, researchers report in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. “The simple act of getting out of the house every day propels people into engagement with the world,”  “We saw similar benefits that you’d expect from treating blood pressure or cholesterol with medicine,” said lead author Dr. Jeremy Jacobs of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Social connectedness and meaningful activities are crucial for well-being. The more varied your social network, the happier and healthier you will be.
Socializing key to 'successful aging'.  Seniors who frequently socialized reported better health

"Social engagement — involvement in meaningful activities and maintaining close relationships — is a component of successful aging," wrote Heather Gilmour of Statistics Canada's health analysis division.  "The results of this analysis highlight the importance of frequent social participation to maintaining quality of life...."The greater the number of frequent social activities, the higher the odds of positive self-perceived health, and the lower the odds of loneliness and life dissatisfaction," Gilmour said.

Japan’s Prisons Are a Haven for Elderly Women   Lonely seniors are shoplifting in search of the community and stability of jail.

Almost 1 in 5 women in Japanese prisons is a senior. Their crimes are usually minor—9 in 10 senior women who’ve been convicted were found guilty of shoplifting.  Why have so many otherwise law-abiding elderly women resorted to petty theft? Caring for Japanese seniors once fell to families and communities, but that’s changing. From 1980 to 2015, the number of seniors living alone increased more than sixfold, to almost 6 million. And a 2017 survey by Tokyo’s government found that more than half of seniors caught shoplifting live alone; 40 percent either don’t have family or rarely speak with relatives. These people often say they have no one to turn to when they need help.

Medical research: Reversing Aging: Scientists Make Old Human Cells Look and Act Younger

A groundbreaking discovery in cellular biology could help humans age without as much deterioration in their bodies. A research team experimenting on a class of genes called "splicing factors" was able to take older human cells and physically rejuvenate them, turning back the clock to make them appear and behave young again....Splicing factors help your genes operate smoothly, making sure that instructions like when to grow new blood vessels get to where they need to go. Over the course of the aging process, they become less efficient, and eventually break down entirely, leaving our bodies with less and less ability to regenerate. ..."When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn't believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic," said Eva Latorre, the research associate at the University of Exeter who conducted the experiments.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:16 PM | Permalink

April 3, 2018

Health Roundup - Cancer Edition

Cancer vaccine that cured 97% of mice with blood tumors, has no painful side effects and eliminates the need for chemotherapy, may be available in just one year

A cancer vaccine that cured 97 percent of blood tumors in mice will be tested on humans with low-grade lymphoma later this year.  Patients receiving the vaccine, which contains two drugs proven for their safety, will not require any chemotherapy, with the jab's side effects expected to be just fever and injection-site soreness.  If approved, researchers do not expect the treatment to be available for another year or two.  Rather than creating lasting immunity, the jab works by activating the immune system to attack tumors.  This is expected to be effective in low-grade lymphoma, which affects certain white blood cells and generally responds to treatment, due to it often being detected by the immune system, unlike other forms of the disease, such as bowel cancer.

More Chemotherapy-free ‘cancer vaccine’ moves from mice to human trials at Stanford

A recent Stanford cancer study that cured 97 percent of mice from tumors has now moved on to soliciting human volunteers for a new cutting-edge medical trial. The trial is part of a gathering wave of research into immunotherapy, a type of treatment that fights cancer by using the body's immune system to attack tumors.

"Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer," Dr. Ronald Levy, a Stanford oncology professor who is leading the study, told SFGATE. "People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be."

DNA Robots Target Cancer

Researchers use DNA origami to generate tiny mechanical devices that deliver a drug that cuts off the blood supply to tumors in mice. DNA nanorobots that travel the bloodstream, find tumors, and dispense a protein that causes blood clotting trigger the death of cancer cells in mice, according to a study published in Nature Biotechnology.

Jelly made of alcohol could help kill off cancer:

An implant injected into the middle of a tumor where it releases ethanol to destroy tumor cells.  Ethanol destroys tumor cells by poisoning vital proteins they need to replicate.  Doctors have long known ‘drowning’ cancer cells in pure alcohol can be an effective way of killing them. The problem is the alcohol also destroys healthy surrounding tissue, and it takes relatively large amounts of alcohol to completely eradicate tumor cells, exposing normal cells to its toxic effects. As a result, its use has been confined to cancers where the tumor is contained within a fibrous capsule that prevents the alcohol leaking out, such as small liver tumors.

The revolutionary implant, developed at Duke University, in North Carolina, has so far only been tested on animals, but could mean alcohol could be used more widely to wipe out most tumors.  The firm, jelly-like substance, which, once it comes into contact with the moist conditions inside the body, gradually starts to dissolve over the space of a week or so, releasing its alcoholic cargo. The key is that it dissolves slowly, so small amounts of alcohol are released into the area of the tumor — rather than ‘flooding’ the area and neighboring healthy cells with injected alcohol.

Doctors say 'superblood' may work against deadly malignancies

New therapy seen as possible treatment for pancreatic cancer and triple-negative breast cancer, among others.  “Superblood” — red blood cells that have been chemically modified to deliver cancer-killing drugs like L-asparaginase, an enzyme that blocks the nutrients cancer cells use to grow and multiply.

Hijacked sperm delivered chemotherapy to cervical cancer tumors in exciting new study

German researchers used sperm to deliver chemotherapy directly to tumor cells.  They filled the microorganisms with chemo, and strapped a magnetic harness to them in order to steer them to tumor cells.  Chemo treats cancer well, but it also kills healthy cells. Sperm are a promising vehicle for transporting chemo - and perhaps other drugs - directly to diseases of the female reproductive system

Electric device slows growth of deadly brain tumors

"With TTFields therapy combined with radiation and temozolomide chemotherapy, up to 43 percent of glioblastoma patients will survive longer than two years," neurologist Dr. Roger Stupp said.

Why Is This Bacterium Hiding in Human Tumors?

A mysterious bacterium found in up to half of all colon tumors also travels with the cancer as it spreads, researchers reported on Thursday.Whether the bacterium, called Fusobacterium nucleatum, actually plays a role in causing or spurring the growth of cancer is not known. But the new study, published in the journal Science, also shows that an antibiotic that squelches this organism slows the growth of cancer cells in mice.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2018

Hiding in plain sight, a 'highway of moving fluid' in the human body

Scientists discover new organ spanning the ENTIRE human body that acts as a built-in 'shock absorber'
Researchers at NYU have identified a new organ they've dubbed the 'interstitium'.  The  interconnected compartments act like a ‘highway of moving fluid’ that sits beneath the top layer of the skin, lines the digestive tract, lungs and urinary systems, and surrounds the arteries, veins, and the fascia between muscle. And, they found it exists all throughout the body, acting like a shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.


The interstitium is made up of both strong (collagen) and flexible (elastin) connective tissue proteins, with interstitial fluid moving throughout. The system drains into the lymphatic system, and is said to be the source of lymph, which is vital to the functioning of inflammation-causing immune cells. According to the team, the discovery of the fluid ‘highway’ could help to explain how cancer spreads in the body, and pave the way for new ways to detect and treat the disease.

So how did they find it?

It’s long remained undetected due to dependence the field’s dependence on the examination of fixed tissue on microscopic slides, according to the researchers.  In this process, the tissue is sliced into thin strips and dyed to highlight certain features. While this may make certain structures more apparent, it drains away any existing fluid.  The new study also found that doing this causes the walls of the interstitium to collapse, dramatically changing its appearance and apparent function.

‘This fixation artifact of collapse has made a fluid-filled tissue type throughout the body appear solid in biopsy slides for decades, and our results correct for this to expand the anatomy of most tissues,’ says co-senior author Neil Theise, MD, professor in the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Health.

Using a newer technology called probe-based confocal laser encomicroscopy, the researchers were able to view living tissues instead of fixed ones. The instrument uses a camera probe to light up tissues, while sensors analyze the reflected patterns. While studying a patient’s bile duct to examine the spread of cancer, endoscopists and study co-authors Dr David Carr-Locke and Dr Petros Benias noticed a series of unusual interconnective cavities.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:03 AM | Permalink

March 20, 2018

Health Roundup - Cancer Edition

Cancer 'vaccine' eliminates tumors in mice, researchers find

Injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found. The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive cancer therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.

One agent is currently already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.

Levy, who holds the Robert K. and Helen K. Summy Professorship in the School of Medicine, is the senior author of the study, which will be published Jan. 31 in Science Translational Medicine. Instructor of medicine Idit Sagiv-Barfi, PhD, is the lead author.  Levy is a pioneer in the field of cancer immunotherapy, in which researchers try to harness the immune system to combat cancer. Research in his laboratory led to the development of rituximab, one of the first monoclonal antibodies approved for use as an anticancer treatment in humans.

"All of these immunotherapy advances are changing medical practice," Levy said. "Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself. In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal."

Ovarian cancer doesn't start in the ovaries: 'Silent killer' begins in the fallopian tubes, study reveals

Two studies published last fall have confirmed that ovarian cancer actually starts in the fallopian tubes. Ovarian cancer, dubbed a 'silent killer', kills 14,000 women in the US each year. Lead researcher Dr Ron Drapkin says the recent findings will likely lead to advancements in prevention, detection and treatment of the disease.

Chlamydia DOUBLES ovarian cancer risk, major study finds

Chlamydia is incredibly common across the world, including the United States, where 1.5 million adults currently have the infection, according to the latest CDC data. Though it can be cured with just one pill, or one course of antibiotics, it can be hard to spot. Often, it shows no symptoms and is only spotted from an STD test.  Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths for women; 55 percent of the women who get it die within five years of diagnosis. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:10 PM | Permalink

Why Vitamin D is so important

Most people don't get enough Vitamin D, so supplements are in order.  Have your Vitamin D levels checked when you next have your yearly physical.

How Vitamin D can repair and prevent the damage caused by diabetes and high blood pressure

Heart disease is defined as any disorder affecting the organ or blood vessels and is the leading cause of death in adults in the US; resulting in one in four fatalities.  Vitamin D, also called the sunshine supplement, stimulates the production of nitric acid, which is involved in regulating blood flow and preventing the formation of blood clots, according to the first study of its kind. It also reduces 'internal stress' in the cardiovascular system, which could avoid heart-related incidents, the research adds.

The findings were published in the journal Nanomedicine.  Study author Dr Tadeusz Malinski from Ohio University, said: 'There are not many, if any, known systems which can be used to restore cardiovascular cells which are already damaged, and vitamin D can do it.

Vitamin D is an 'inexpensive solution' to drugs as scientists discover the sunshine supplement repairs and prevents damage to the heart caused by diabetes and high blood pressure.  This is a very inexpensive solution to repair the cardiovascular system. We don't have to develop a new drug. We already have it.'

Vitamin D could help millions of people with irritable bowel syndrome

A new study from the University of Sheffield found high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in IBS patients – regardless of their ethnicity.  Their findings suggest supplements may help to ease symptoms which can include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. Vitamin D was shown to have the most benefit on quality of life in IBS. Low vitamin D status has already been associated with the risk of colorectal cancer and has been implicated in inflammatory bowel disease.

Vitamin D helps body get benefits of calcium

Your need for calcium gets a lot of attention, but your body can't use it without its partner, vitamin D, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Most adults need 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. Recommendations for vitamin D range from the current recommended daily allowance of 600 International Units (IUs), all the way up to 4,000 IUs to best support bone health.  Vitamin D is added to milk, but it isn't found naturally in many foods other than egg yolks and shiitake mushrooms.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup - Alzheimer's Edition and breakthrough for Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and the surprising effect of an Alzheimer's drug

Revolutionary Treatment? Scientists Successfully Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease In Mice

A major breakthrough in the war against Alzheimer’s disease may pave the way for one of the most effective treatments to date. A team of scientists say they have successfully reversed the disease in mice. Many more trials, tests, and hours of research remain before their method can be tried on humans, but it’s an historic step in the right direction. The researchers, based at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, found that by gradually reducing an enzyme in the brain called BACE1, they reversed the formation of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease, improving their cognitive function. The scientists hope that this research will eventually produce drugs aimed at this enzyme in human brains.

“To our knowledge, this is the first observation of such a dramatic reversal of amyloid deposition in any study of Alzheimer’s disease mouse models,” says researcher Riqiang Yan in a news release by the Rockefeller University press.

More Alzheimer's Has Been Reversed in Mice With This Single Enzyme Treatment

Researchers were able to reverse the formation of amyloid plaques, which gradually kill neurons in patients with Alzheimer's disease, in the brains of mice - essentially reversing the condition.  Alongside the reduction of plaques that impair communication between brain cells, the mice also experienced cognitive improvement. The team from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute in the US detailed the findings in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The authors achieved the promising set of results by gradually depleting an enzyme that plays a part in the formation of the plaques, known as BACE1.  One of the most concrete ways in which Alzheimer's is identified in a patient is through an abnormal buildup of beta-amyloid peptide, a protein that can build into the large amyloid plaques in the brain that are a telltale sign of the deadly, and to date incurable disease.  BACE1 helps to produce beta-amyloid peptide, and so inhibiting the enzyme with drugs could ultimately open the door to effective Alzheimer's treatments by halting the buildup.

 Bace1 Effect On Mice
Left: A mouse with Alzheimer's disease shows red amyloid plaques and green activated microglial cells.
Right: The brain that has gradually lost BACE1. (Hu et al., 2018)

Still more Scientists Make Major Breakthrough In Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists at the the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have successfully reversed Alzheimer's disease in mice, a major breakthrough researchers are hopeful will translate into treatment for humans in the near future. The study was first published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine on February 14.Researchers found that the deletion of BACE1 in adult mice reversed amyloid deposition and improved cognitive functions.

"One of the earliest events in Alzheimer’s disease is an abnormal buildup of beta-amyloid peptide, which can form large, amyloid plaques in the brain and disrupt the function of neuronal synapses. Also known as beta-secretase, BACE1 helps produce beta-amyloid peptide by cleaving amyloid precursor protein (APP)," explains the Rockefeller University Press release.

The scientists successfully "generated mice that gradually lose this enzyme as they grow older. These mice developed normally and appeared to remain perfectly healthy over time," notes the release.
“Our study provides genetic evidence that preformed amyloid deposition can be completely reversed after sequential and increased deletion of BACE1 in the adult,” said Yan. “Our data show that BACE1 inhibitors have the potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease patients without unwanted toxicity. Future studies should develop strategies to minimize the synaptic impairments arising from significant inhibition of BACE1 to achieve maximal and optimal benefits for Alzheimer’s patients.”

As noted by Study Finds, there are still many more trials and test that must be completed before there can be testing on humans, but this latest discovery is "an historic step in the right direction."

Breakthrough for Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), the type Robin Williams suffered before committing suicide. 

Studies have determined the causes of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), he third most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's and vascular dementias. The discovery was made with extremely powerful scanning devices used in DLB for the first time.  The drugs could stop it 'in its tracks' by targeting a key chemical called alpha-synuclein, according to researchers.  The rogue protein is one of four types believed to be behind the devastating neurological disorder.  It disrupts brain cells in dementia with Lewy bodies - also known as DLB that is progressive and gets worse over time. Brain tissue from people who died from it showed the protein builds up in vital parts of neurons that connect cells. These may jump from one cell to another through these connections, say the international team led by Edinburgh University.

The findings shed light on the causes of DLB and will help to speed up the search for a treatment, they say.
Symptoms include problems with memory and judgment, feeling faint and developing tremors.  'These discoveries should invigorate the search for therapies aimed at reducing synaptic damage and open the possibility of targeting the spread of alpha-synuclein through the brain - which could stop disease progression in its tracks.'

An Alzheimer's Drug Has Been Shown to Help Teeth Repair Cavities Naturally  No fillings, no drills.

Dental fillings may soon be left in the ash heap of history, thanks to a recent discovery about a drug called Tideglusib.
Developed for and trialled to treat Alzheimer's disease, last year scientists found the drug also happens to promote the natural tooth regrowth mechanism in mice, allowing the tooth to repair cavities.

Tideglusib works by stimulating stem cells in the pulp of teeth, the source of new dentine. Dentine is the mineralized substance beneath tooth enamel that gets eaten away by tooth decay. Teeth can naturally regenerate dentine without assistance, but only under certain circumstances. The pulp must be exposed through infection (such as decay) or trauma to prompt the manufacture of dentine.
But even then, the tooth can only regrow a very thin layer naturally - not enough to repair cavities caused by decay, which are generally deep. Tideglusib changes this outcome because it turns off the GSK-3 enzyme, which stops dentine from forming.

In the 2017 research, the team inserted small, biodegradable sponges made of collagen soaked in Tideglusib into cavities. The sponges triggered dentine growth and within six weeks, the damage was repaired. The collagen structure of the sponges melted away, leaving only the intact tooth. Thus far, the procedure has only been used in mouse teeth.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup - Diabetes Edition

Type 2 Diabetes Was Misdiagnosed All Along, It Could Actually Be Several Diseases

That's the conclusion of new research, and it could revolutionize the way we detect and treat diabetes in the future.  Analyzing past studies covering a total of 14,775 type 1 and type 2 adult-onset diabetes patients across Sweden and Finland, scientists have found five different and distinct disease profiles, including three severe and two mild forms of the condition.
Instead of splitting diabetes simply into type 1 and type 2, the researchers came up with five different disease profiles - one autoimmune type of diabetes and four other distinct subtypes. All five types were found to be genetically distinct, with no shared mutations. One of the three more serious forms was a group of people with severe insulin resistance and a significantly higher risk of kidney disease. Another more mild type was seen mostly in elderly people.

You can see how those distinctions could improve the way we tackle diabetes – by identifying the types of patients involved and the complications they're at risk from, doctors could work out more personalized courses of treatment. Indeed, the researchers found that many in the study weren't being given the right treatment for the particular characteristics of the diabetes they had.

Could diabetes be triggered by a virus? Alert as scientists identify pathogens that could derail insulin in the body

The exact cause of types 1 and 2 diabetes is not known. Proteins in viruses that mimic insulin may trigger type 1 by tricking the body into thinking the hormone is an invader. Tissues may become resistant to insulin due to the similar viral proteins, causing type 2 diabetes. The Harvard researchers found the insulin-like proteins in four viruses, but think their research could be 'the tip of the iceberg'....Viruses could cause this phenomenon in one of two ways: 'It could cause abnormalities in metabolism itself because they have insulin-like effects, but they are weak, and not fully active,' offers Dr Kahn. 'Or, it could affect the ability of our own cells to respond to our own insulin, a form of insulin resistance,' he says.

This Common Medication Can Actually Prevent Type 1 Diabetes

There's new hope for stopping Type 1 diabetes in its tracks after researchers discovered an existing drug can prevent the condition from developing – and the same techniques used here could also be applied to other diseases.  The drug in question is methyldopa, currently on the World Health Organization's list of essential drugs having been used for more than 50 years to treat high blood pressure in pregnant women and children.
"We can now predict with almost 100 percent accuracy who is likely to get Type 1 diabetes," says Michels. "The goal with this drug is to delay or prevent the onset of the disease among those at risk." That 100 percent prediction rate is made possible by looking at a variety of genetic and biological markers, including autoantibodies in the blood. Those at risk could now be put on a course of treatment to ward of the development of diabetes.

Poor oral health may increase your risk of diabetes, study warns

It's well-known that people with poorly controlled diabetes have a greater risk of developing dental problems like gum disease and decaying teeth, but new research suggests that poor oral health could also signify an onset of the disease. The current study, done by researchers at City of Hope National Medical Center, suggests dental exams may be a tool for diagnosing a person's risk for developing diabetes.  Researchers found oral health may indicate a person's diabetes risk.  A relationship was found between the number of missing teeth and glucose intolerance
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

March 2, 2018

How to prepare for your hospital stay

This is just too funny. How to prepare for your hospital stay

 Prepare For Hospital Stay Exercises

These guidelines were created in the 1980s by Dr. Barbara Phillips, Professor of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:26 PM | Permalink

February 27, 2018

Health Roundup: Cancer Edition

'Unheard of' responses to bluebird CAR-T therapy seen in myeloma study

More than half of patients with advanced multiple myeloma who had run out of therapeutic options remained in complete remission after receiving bluebird bio Inc's experimental gene-modifying immunotherapy in a small, early stage study, according to updated data released in December.

Of 18 patients who received a therapeutic dose of bb2121, all but one responded to the treatment, a 94 percent response rate, while 56 percent remained in remission with a median follow-up of 40 weeks after treatment. Researchers, who reported the data at the American Society of Hematology meeting in Atlanta, said the initial response to the treatment was very quick and that many of the patients continued to improve over time.

bb2121 belongs to a potentially revolutionary new type of one-time treatment called CAR-T therapy that involves genetic manipulation of a patient's immune system. A patient's own disease-fighting T-cells are harvested and genetically reengineered to target specific proteins on cancer cells before being replaced so they can circulate seeking out and attacking the cancer, possibly for years. The first two CAR-T therapies from Novartis and Gilead Sciences, through its acquisition of Kite Pharma, were approved earlier this year for other blood cancers.

Cancer “Vaccine” That Wipes out Tumors Ready for Human Trial

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a compound that when injected into a tumor destroys it along with all the other cancerous masses present in the body.  The combination of two agents that stimulate the immune system sparked a body-wide reaction in mice, destroying cancer cells both near and very far from the initial injection point. The success of the treatment, which worked for different types of cancer, means that human trials will be starting soon.
This surprisingly effective treatment works using the patient’s own immune cells.  The drugs “turn on” immune cells within the tumor that had previously been put to sleep by the cancer. The drugs then amplify the ability of these immune cells so they can be much more effective in targeting and destroying the invader.

The 'breakthrough' fast-track operation to save patients with deadly pancreatic cancer

The pancreas, which forms part of the digestive system and is critical to the control of blood sugar levels, is located deep inside the body — so cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms in the early stages and prompt diagnosis is difficult.  Even as the cancer grows, the symptoms — which can include tiredness, abdominal and back pain, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, changes to bowel habits and, later, jaundice — can be vague. Jaundice can occur if the pancreatic tumor presses on the bile duct, stopping the bile — a substance that helps break down fat — from passing through.
Jaundice complicates treatment, because traditionally medics have believed that operating on patients while they have it can trigger kidney failure, so patients have to wait an average of 65 days while the jaundice is treated with surgery.This is dealt with normally before cancer surgery. Experts believe this delay could be a factor in pancreatic cancer’s low survival rates....In the trial, instead of first having an operation to fit a stent, patients were sent straight into main pancreatic surgery to remove the tumor.

Cancer immunotherapy uses melanin against melanoma

Researchers have developed a melanin-enhanced cancer immunotherapy technique that can also serve as a vaccine, based on early experiments done in a mouse model. The technique is applied via a transdermal patch  and is made more effective by applying near infrared light.

"Melanin is a natural pigment that can efficiently transform absorbed sunlight energy into heat," says Zhen Gu, corresponding author of a paper on the work and an associate professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "We demonstrated that melanin, which is found at high levels in melanoma, can actually be used to help treat melanoma. We do this by shining near infrared (IR) light on a therapeutic skin patch, which promotes the systemic immune response that fights cancer."

Ovarian cancer doesn't start in the ovaries: 'Silent killer' begins in the fallopian tubes,

Two studies published last fall have confirmed that ovarian cancer actually starts in the fallopian tubes
Ovarian cancer, dubbed a 'silent killer', kills 14,000 women in the US each year.  Lead researcher Dr Ron Drapkin says the recent findings will likely lead to advancements in prevention, detection and treatment of the disease

Over-the-counter supplement reduces breast cancer aggressiveness by up to 80%,

Breakthrough study finds NAC, approved for colds, lowers levels of cancer aggressiveness marker by 80%, while the aggressive marker Ki67 decreases by 25%.  N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), which is sold as a supplement in Holland & Barrett in the UK and is approved as a cold and flu remedy in the US, and is available from Walgreens, Walmart and CVS and is priced from as little as $4.79 for a bottle of 30 600mg capsules.  The drug contains antioxidants that make tumors release nutrients, stopping growth. 

Researchers from the University of Salford analyzed 12 breast cancer patients.  Professor Lisanti said: 'High levels of 'MCT4 are extremely worrying as they are linked to aggressive cancer behavior and poor overall survival, so this is [a] very encouraging result....To be able to inhibit MCT4 protein expression, in a non-toxic way, is huge step forward'

Woman, 67, who battled blood cancer for five years 'recovers after treating it with TURMERIC'

A woman who battled blood cancer for years without success finally halted the disease with turmeric, it has been reported. Dieneke Ferguson, 67,  is now leading a normal life after giving up on grueling treatments that failed to stop it.  Doctors say her case is the first recorded instance in which a patient has recovered by using the spice after stopping conventional medical treatments.  With her myeloma spreading rapidly after three rounds of chemotherapy and four stem cell transplants, the 67-year-old began taking 8g of curcumin a day – one of the main compounds in turmeric.

HPV vaccine IS safe and effective, confirms longest-ever study into the shot which prevents cancer of the cervix, head, neck throat and penis

HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection.  The human papilloma virus can cause genital warts and a host of cancers, even if it is dormant.  The HPV vaccine is safe and effective at preventing human papilloma virus,  A 10-year study by Augusta University in Georgia found the shot protected all 1,661 participants from HPV for a decade. According to the longest investigation ever conducted on the relatively new shot, the vaccine protects against HPV and therefore HPV-linked cancers such as throat, head, neck, penis, and cervical cancer.

The vaccine is commonly used in children aged 9-12 in the US and the UK; it is offered as a three-shot in the US, and a two-shot in the UK. Those who received the shot earlier had a stronger immune response. Experts say they hope these findings will help drive up coverage rates.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup - Food edition

'Settled Science' Behind Dietary Guidelines Just Got Blown Up

For decades, the federal government's official dietary guidelines told people to cut fats and increase carbs in their diet, relying on supposedly settled nutrition science. A new study shows that the advice has been completely wrong.  That was the conclusion of a massive new study published in Lancet that followed 135,335 people in 18 countries on five continents.

The study found that consumption of fat was associated with a lower risk of mortality, while consumption of carbohydrates was associated with a higher risk. It found that the kind of fat didn't matter when it came to heart disease, and that saturated fat consumption was inversely related to strokes.....

The government's push for a low-fat, high-carb diets has contributed to the explosion in obesity in the U.S. The national obesity rate had been relatively flat between 1960 and 1980 — the first year the USDA issued its dietary guidelines. But less than a decade after 1980, obesity rates shot up from 15% to 23%.

Full-fat milk is better for the heart because it increases levels of good cholesterol, finds study

Participants' 'bad' cholesterol levels did not differ between the two types of milk. But whole milk raised HDL cholesterol which lowers heart attack and stroke risk. HDL transports bad cholesterol out of your arteries to your liver to be excreted. Experts have long recommended switching to skimmed or semi-skimmed milk. While this study is small, it adds weight to growing evidence full fat is healthier.  Past studies show full fat dairy is linked with lower risks of type 2 diabetes

How Killer Rice Crippled Tokyo and the Japanese Navy

Gleaming white rice was a status symbol—it was expensive and laborious to husk, hull, polish, and wash. In Japan, the poor ate brown rice, or other carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or barley. The rich ate polished white rice, often to the exclusion of other foods.

This was a problem. Removing the outer layers of a grain of rice also removes one vital nutrient: thiamine, or vitamin B-1. Without thiamine, animals and humans develop kakke, now known in English as beriberi. But for too long, the cause of the condition remained unknown.

Whiskey may be better for you than wine

In a speech at the EuroMedLab conference in 2005, Dr. Jim Swan, who, granted, is a consultant to the drinks industry, reported that whiskey contains more ellagic acid (a free-radical fighting antioxidant) than red wine. “There has been much in the news about the health benefits of antioxidants in red wine. By contrast, very little has been said about malt whisky distillery science,” he said.  “However, research has shown that there are even greater health benefits to people who drink single malt whiskies. Why? Single malt whiskies have more ellagic acid than red wine.”

6 Ways Whiskey Is Actually Good for You

So long as your imbibe in moderation, here are five ways whiskey is actually good for your health.
1. Much like Champagne, whiskey can help lower your risk of dementia....
2. It serves as a digestion aid.  Drinking a whiskey after a large meal can help ease an upset stomach. Whiskey's high proof makes it an excellent digestif, stimulating the stomach's enzymes, which help break down food.
3. Single malt whiskies contain more ellagic acid  than red wine.  Ellagic acid is a free-radical fighting antioxidant.
4. There's a connection between moderate consumption and a lowered risk of stroke.  A study out from Harvard University reports that moderate alcohol consumption corresponds with a 25 to 40 percent reduction in risk of heart disease and ischemic (or clot-caused) stroke. "It's safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison,
5. Drinking in moderation benefits the heart and blood vessels.
6. It can help cure the common cold. In moderation, whiskey can dilate or widen your blood vessels. This helps with cold symptoms like congestion, by allowing more movement of the mucus membrane in your sinuses, or flushing out an infection.  Which explains why Hot Toddies have been a historical home remedy for cold and flu symptoms.

Drinking wine may protect teeth by destroying bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease, new research suggests.

Despite many dentists warning booze's acidic content can damage teeth, a study released today suggests antioxidants in wine significantly prevent bacteria that cause plaque, cavities and periodontal disease from sticking to gums.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 AM | Permalink

February 15, 2018

What happens to your body when you start exercising regularly?

What happens to your body when you start exercising regularly?

During that first workout, you might feel more alert and energized because ramping up your heart rate means a boost in overall blood flow and oxygen to the brain.....Over the next few weeks, you'll slowly start to ramp up production of mitochondria via a process called mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitochondria are the parts of your cells that convert carbs, fat, and protein into fuel that your muscles use to do their job, like flex and contract. After six to eight weeks, studies have shown that people can increase their mitochondria by up to 50%. With more mitochondria in your cells, you'll start to feel more fit, and your endurance will increase. So running three miles will no longer feel as difficult as it did during that first week.
Once you're six months in, all that hard work should finally start to show. If your workouts focus on strength training, you'll notice your muscles begin to take shape. You're also less likely to fall off the workout wagon at this point. Exercise programs often see a 50% dropout rate within the first six months, but after that more people stick with it.

Now, if you're more focused on cardio, then by nine months of regular exercise you should see about a 25% increase in your VO2 max. VO2 max is often used as a measure of fitness and refers to the rate your body can transport oxygen to your muscles for fuel. Basically, higher VO2 max means you can run faster for longer. So a 25% increase in VO2 max, for example, means you can run about 20% farther in the same amount of time.

After one year of regular exercise, your bones will be denser, which reduces your risk of osteoporosis. In fact, researchers have found that regular resistance training, when combined with aerobic exercise, can actually reverse the effects of osteoporosis after 12 months.

Now, if you maintain your exercise program long term, your body might not be the only thing to benefit. Your bank account may also beef up a bit. One study revealed that older people who exercised five days a week for at least 30 minutes saved, on average, $2,500 a year in medical costs for heart-related health problems alone.

You'll also be at a lower risk of developing arthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and certain types of cancer like breast and colon.

In all probability, you're going to live longer than you otherwise would. And that longer life, it will likely feel more fulfilling, because exercise lowers the risk of anxiety and depression by reducing levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink

January 17, 2018

Health roundup: Alzheimer's edition

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Scientists discover the disease's 'ground zero' in a vulnerable set of immune cells

Alzheimer's disease is caused by immune cells in the brain triggered by inflammation, according to a breakthrough discovery. Experiments found destroying specific cells - known as microglia - reduced the formation of clumps of amyloid beta that form in Alzheimer's and destroy memory. These are the rogue proteins believed to lie at the root of the devastating neurological illness.  The researchers found the microglia release specks of a protein called ASC in response to it. They stick to the amyloid beta protein - boosting its production.

Prof Heneka, of the University of Bonn, Germany, said this may even occur in the very early stages of Alzheimer's. In tests an antibody that blocked ASC from binding to amyloid beta stopped it from forming into damaging clumps. The study published in Nature found this worked in live mice as well as cells grown in the laboratory.

Speaking from Germany, Prof Heneka said: 'The hope would be to interfere with disease progression and spreading of pathology by counteracting or interfering with the NLRP3 inflammasome or ASC specks. 'I would hope - given it is possible to develop a safe and brain penetrant NLRP3 inhibitor - this could be tested in the next five to 10 years from now.'

A Diabetes Drug Has 'Significantly Reversed Memory Loss' in Mice With Alzheimer's

A drug developed for type 2 diabetes has "significantly reversed memory loss" in mice with Alzheimer's disease, and researchers now want to test it on humans. The treatment is exciting for scientists because it works by protecting the brain cells attacked by Alzheimer's disease in three separate ways, rather than relying on a single approach. The drug, which is referred to only as 'triple receptor agonist', or TA, in the paper, acts in multiple ways to protect the brain from degeneration, by activating GIP-1, GIP, and glucagon receptors at the same time.  And seeing as the drug has already been tested and approved for use in humans, it's something that could hit the market a lot faster than other experimental treatment options.....

Alzheimer’s drug turns back clock in powerhouse of cell

Researchers identify molecular target of J147, which is nearing clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s disease.  The experimental drug J147 is something of a modern elixir of life; it's been shown to treat Alzheimer's disease and reverse aging in mice and is almost ready for clinical trials in humans. Now scientists have solved the puzzle of what, exactly, J147 does. They report that the drug binds to a protein found in mitochondria, the energy-generating powerhouses of cells. In turn, they showed, it makes aging cells, mice and flies appear more youthful.

Cannabinoids remove plaque-forming Alzheimer's proteins from brain cells

Salk Institute scientists have found preliminary evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana can promote the cellular removal of amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer's disease.  While these exploratory studies were conducted in neurons grown in the laboratory, they may offer insight into the role of inflammation in Alzheimer's disease and could provide clues to developing novel therapeutics for the disorder....Schubert emphasized that his team's findings were conducted in exploratory laboratory models, and that the use of THC-like compounds as a therapy would need to be tested in clinical trials.

In separate but related research, his lab found an Alzheimer's drug candidate called J147 that also removes amyloid beta from nerve cells and reduces the inflammatory response in both nerve cells and the brain. It was the study of J147 that led the scientists to discover that endocannabinoids are involved in the removal of amyloid beta and the reduction of inflammation.

Alzheimer's-causing proteins can spread through blood, alarming new study shows

For the first time ever, scientists have shown that healthy mice who shared blood with Alzheimer's-suffering mice also developed the disease. It showed that dangerous beta-amyloid proteins could travel through blood. The team in Canada surgically attached the two mice - one healthy, one suffering - found that the healthy mouse who shared blood with a mouse with Alzheimer's plaques did indeed develop plaques of beta-amyloid protein in their blood. The finding emerged from their study which also showed that Alzheimer's could start in other parts of the body - like the liver or kidney - before traveling up to the brain like cancer.  However, lead author Professor Weihong Song said people should not be alarmed about Alzheimer’s being ‘caught’ by people who have had blood transfusions.

'Rusty' Brains Linked to Alzheimer's

Cleaning out ‘rust’ from the brain could be a way to slow and even prevent the degenerative disease Alzheimer’s, according to new research that pinpoints iron as its so-far elusive potential driver.  Previous research has long linked Alzheimer’s to a build-up in amyloid protein fragments in the brain that are normally broken down in healthy brains. But efforts to treat Alzheimer’s by using drugs that reduce amyloid levels have so far failed, leading to speculation that something else is driving the disease.

New research from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and the University of Melbourne has found that iron might be the culprit. Iron has a special property that allows it to exchange electrons, which is crucial in allowing our bodies to generate energy from oxygen and fuels such as sugars. But it can also damage neurons in the same way that iron metal rusts in the presence of oxygen.
The researchers used cutting edge magnetic resonance imaging techniques to measure iron levels in the brain. They found that people with high levels of iron in combination with high levels of amyloid were suffering rapid cognitive decline, but that people with high levels of amyloid but low levels of iron in the brain, were stable. They are now going to carry out a five year trial to test whether an anti-iron drug can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, in what would be a major breakthrough in finding a treatment.

Dr Ayton cautions that the amount of iron in a person’s brain appears unrelated to their iron intake or iron levels in the blood. People therefore shouldn’t be cutting down on iron in response to these results. It also means that levels of iron in the blood aren’t an indicator of Alzheimer’s risk.

Healthy brain structures may prevent development of Alzheimer's disease

Researchers analyzed brain samples from patients at memory clinics and found that the presence of healthy dendritic spines -- connections between neurons -- provide protection against Alzheimer's in people whose brains have proteins associated with the disease.  The study's lead author, Jeremy Herskowitz, an assistant professor with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine's department of neurology said, "One of the precursors of Alzheimer's is the development in the brain of proteins called amyloid and tau, which we refer to as the pathology of Alzheimer's. "However, about 30 percent of the aging population have amyloid and tau buildup but never develop dementia. Our study showed that these individuals had larger, more numerous dendritic spines than those with dementia, indicating that spine health plays a major role in the onset of disease.....The new findings provide "a target for drugs that would be designed to support and maintain dendritic spine health in an effort to rebuild neurons or prevent their loss."

Neurons, which are brain cells, are constantly sending out dendritic spines in search of other neurons. When they connect, a synapse -- an exchange of information -- occurs between neurons. This is the basis for memory and learning, the researchers explained. Healthy dendritic spines could be genetic, or the result of beneficial lifestyle habits -- such as good diet and exercise -- which are known to reduce the risk of dementia.

Lupus increases risk of dementia by more than 50%:

In a study of more than 7,000 people, researchers from Israel found that dementia was 51 percent more common among people with lupus and that lupus patients of ALL ages are more likely to suffer crippling memory loss. The autoimmune disease is hard to diagnose, because it comes with so many symptoms, sometimes including a 'brain fog'. Corticosteroids are used to treat lupus, but can also cause memory problems.

Loud Snorers face a higher risk of Alzheimer's - but treatments for sleep apnea could lower risk of the disease

A two-year study study by New York University researchers of 208 people between ages 55 and 90  found that those with sleep apnea  are at higher risk of  developing Alzheimer's disease. The link was found in 104 people.  This is due to a build up of a toxic protein in their brain called beta-amyloid which triggers Alzheimer's, the progressive brain disease known for slowly causing impairment in memory and cognitive function.

But experts say there is a silver lining: the study showed treatments used to calm the snoring and increase oxygen flow may be able to prevent Alzheimer's disease.  If left untreated, the oxygen deprivation from sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes and heart attacks.

The over 50s can significantly lower their risk of dementia by exercising regularly

Staying active in later life could protect against dementia, as frail older people more than triple their risk of the disease.  A study has found people classed as frail in middle and old age are 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia a decade later.  This may come from insulin resistance, which makes people frail by speeding up the natural loss of muscle mass which happens in older age.  People with muscle weakness are more likely to have high blood sugar levels, caused by their resistance to insulin, which is also a cause of dementia.  Frail people also suffer from inflammation, which is a reaction of the immune system believed to lead to the brain changes seen in dementia.

Bill Gates is now tackling Alzheimer’s with a huge investment in dementia research

The billionaire is investing $50 million of his personal money in the London-based Dementia Discovery Fund, which is a private-public collaboration that invests in innovative dementia research. He plans to invest at least another $50 million into other startups that are working on “less mainstream” approaches, but these have not yet been identified.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

Gum Disease increases Cancer Risk

Severe gum disease could lead to pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest and most vicious forms of cancer, two major new studies conclude.

Severe gum disease could lead to one of the deadliest types of cancer, two major studies have concluded. The bacteria responsible for periodontitis, which can be killed through brushing teeth, play a role in pancreatic cancer. Scientists claim it is the first evidence that the bacteria can spread from the mouth to other parts of the body and cause tumors.

Helsinki University researchers used data from 70,000 adults to make their findings - considered to be the first of their kind. They found a clear link between periodontitis and cancer mortality, with the biggest association recorded for the pancreatic form. The findings, made by Finnish researchers, adds to the ever-growing list of cancers that are now linked to gum disease. It offers hope of a cheap way of screening for pancreatic cancer, which is known for being vicious and having low survival rates.  Severe gum disease, known as periodontitis, can affect the bones in people's jaws and cause teeth to fall out. Previous research reveals up to 54 per cent of adults in the UK have gum disease to some extent. Several other scientific trials have shown gum disease can increase the risk of lung, gallbladder and throat cancers, as well as melanoma.

A recent, small study in Brazil finds that Gum disease increases women's risk of breast cancer up to three times

This is thought to be due to the bacteria that causes inflammation in the mouth entering the circulation via the gums and going into breast tissue, which can result in cancer. Speaking of the study's findings, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: 'Interestingly, this research shows that there is evidence to support the theory that gum disease can have a much larger impact on the health of our whole body.'

Mayo Clinic on Prevention
The best way to prevent periodontitis is to follow a program of good oral hygiene, one that you begin early and practice consistently throughout life.

Good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily — in the morning and before going to bed — and flossing at least once a day. Flossing before you brush allows you to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria.
Regular dental visits. See your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for cleanings, usually every six to 12 months. If you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing periodontitis — such as having dry mouth, taking certain medications or smoking — you may need professional cleaning more often.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink

January 3, 2018

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Scientists warn against using Canola oil after study reveals it is detrimental to brain health

Canola oil has been heavily marketed as a healthy choice because it is low in saturated fat. But a new study suggests the trendy kitchen staple could worsen memory loss and learning ability in Alzheimer's patients. It may also increase the build-up of plaques in the brain, a hallmark of the degenerative disease. And despite its seemingly wholesome profile, researchers discovered it caused weight gain. The findings suggest for the first time that long-term consumption of canola oil is not beneficial to brain health.

A very low-calorie diet can rapidly REVERSE type 2 diabetes, a new study finds

A very low-calorie diet could rapidly reverse type 2 diabetes, new research suggests....At the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale, a study conducted on mice showed that cutting daily calorie intake by 75 percent lowered blood sugar levels and decreased fat content.  In humans, that would mean turning to a diet of 500 to 800 calories opposed to the average 1,600 to 3,000 calorie intake.

Vitamin C for for Better Bones and Memory

Drinking a couple of glasses of orange juice every day could nearly halve the risk of hip fractures, new research shows. A study of more than 10,000 people has found bones are strengthened by vitamin C, found in oranges, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi fruit and broccoli...Vitamin C is thought to protect against fragile bones by stimulating cells called osteoblasts to become mature bone cells. Earlier this year a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found eating oranges, grapefruits or lemons packed with citric acid also cut the risk of dementia by almost a quarter. Citric acid contains a chemical called nobiletin which, during animal tests, has been shown to slow or reverse impairment of memory.

The Sugar Industry Conspiracy

In 1965, research funded by the Sugar Research Foundation found sucrose was linked to heart disease. That research was never published.

Eating a handful of nuts twice a week can slash the risk of heart disease

A study of over 200,000 people found those who ate walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans and peanuts two or more times a week were 23 per cent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 15 per cent less likely cardiovascular disease.  The same amount of peanuts - which strictly speaking are a legume - also reduced the risk of the conditions by 15 and 13 per cent respectively.

A type of vitamin E found in nuts may prevent asthma attacks by reducing airway inflammation

The form of vitamin E that brought these beneficial effects is gamma-tocopherol, which is abundant in nuts such as walnuts and pecans and in the legume peanut, as well as seed oils such as corn, soybean and sesame. This type has drawn little attention compared with alpha-tocopherol, the form most commonly found in vitamin E supplements. A type of vitamin E found in nuts may prevent asthma attacks by reducing airway inflammation.

The super-fuel designed for the US military that allows you to eat carbs, burn fat and supercharges your brain

Oxford University experts created the supplement based on a decade of $60 million-worth of scientific research.  Now, a San Francisco-based start-up has launched the first commercial version of the drink – dubbed 'keto in a bottle' – made of pure ketone ester... A 2.2-oz shot of Ketone contains 120 calories – roughly the same as a large banana – yet it has no fat, no protein, and no carbohydrates.  Ketones are the tiny, but powerful sources of energy our bodies make naturally when we start using up our fat stores for energy because there are no carbs around. If your diet is low in carbohydrates your body is shifted into 'ketosis', which is when fat stores in the body are broken down into ketones, which fuel the muscles and the brain.....Kieran Clarke, University of Oxford professor of physiological biochemistry, suggests that drinking ketones alongside a carb-rich meal like a piece of pizza provides a performance boost that's 'unlike anything we've ever seen before'.

Gobbling down food increases risk of obesity, heart attack and stroke,

A new study suggests that taking the time to stop and enjoy each mouthful could be the secret of a healthy heart, and a slimmer waistline.  Research by Japanese scientists has found that people who eat slowly and mindfully are less likely to pile on the pounds or develop metabolic syndrome - the name for a cluster of dangerous health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity which can damage the heart......Fast eaters who gobbled down their food were five times more likely to develop symptoms which raised their risk of a heart attack, diabetes and stroke. The faster eaters were also more than three times more likely to have gained three stone in weight

Scientific breakthrough cuts cancer risk from bacon

The World Health Organization (WHO) currently warns that bacon cured with nitrites is as dangerous as asbestos and smoking, because the chemicals produce carcinogenic nitrosamines when ingested.  They have estimated that around 34,000 bowel and colon cancer deaths each year are directly attributable to diets which are high in processed meat. The new natural flavoring being used is produced from natural Mediterranean fruit and spice extracts, following ten years of research and development. And crucially, in independent blind taste tests, consumers said it was as good or better than traditionally cured meat. “Our Naked Bacon is not only safer than any other bacon on the market, it also tops the charts in blind taste tests.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 AM | Permalink

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 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

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 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

October 30, 2017

Health Roundup: Lungs

'My mysterious, incurable lung condition was mistaken for asthma'

All the while, Phillips’s breathing inhibited his lifestyle more and more. Doctors had their theories, but eventually a CT scan revealed the true cause: Phillips had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a vicious and terminal condition in which the lungs build up scar tissue, restricting a person’s breathing as lung capacity shrinks. Anybody, asthma sufferer or not, can get it, and there is no known cure, explanation, nor many effective treatments. Its existence baffles doctors.

Toby Maher, Professor of Respiratory Research at Imperial College.  "For sufferers of IPF, the scar tissue builds up and refuses to heal, so become constantly, progressively injured. It is almost a premature aging of the lungs, and we believe analogous to Alzheimer’s. With IPF, your lungs are dying and your breath is lost. But we don’t know why.”

Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a respiratory disease characterized by the presence of scarred tissue in the lungs. The disease starts to cause the thickening and stiffening of the tissue, which ends up turning into fibrosis and causing difficulties in the lungs to properly transport the oxygen into the bloodstream. The lack of oxygen is responsible for symptoms like shortness of breath, a persistent dry and hacking cough, fatigue and weakness, discomfort in the chest, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and clubbing of the fingers.

Pulmonary Fibrosis Prognosis

According to the study “Clinical Course and Prediction of Survival in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis,” median survival of patients who suffer from pulmonary fibrosis is 2.5 years, but some patients live much longer than that. The most common cause of death among patients is respiratory failure.

Breathlessness and Cough Signal Pulmonary Fibrosis Years Before Diagnosis, Study Reports

University of Nottingham researchers analyzed symptoms in the medical charts of newly diagnosed patients.  A key underpinning of the study is that by the time a lot of people with IPF are diagnosed, the disease has already reached an advanced stage.  The team tracked all doctor consultations that the patient and control groups had for The team tracked all doctor consultations that the patient and control groups had for breathlessness, cough, fatigue, and weight loss. They also noted which patients had consultations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure — because IPF is often mistaken for these conditions. They also noted which patients had consultations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure — because IPF is often mistaken for these conditions...Early diagnosis of IPF can improve patients’ survival by allowing them to start treatment early.

Agonizing mystery lung disease twice more widespread than previously thought

The number of people suffering from an agonising mystery lung disease responsible for 1 per cent of all UK deaths is more than double what was previously feared, new research reveals....While some clinicians speculate that the debilitating disease may be down to a combination of genetic predisposition and exposure to pollution such as dust, no causal link has been definitively proved. The average life expectancy following a diagnosis is three years, although two drugs, each with significant side-effects, have recently come on the market which extend patients' post-diagnosis life-span by an average of two years compared to no treatment. Currently the only way of surviving an IPF diagnosis is a lung transplant.

People with arthritis are nearly 50% more likely to develop a deadly lung disease,

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term illness in which the immune system causes the body to attack itself, causing painful, swollen and stiff joints. The 400,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis in Britain, and 50 million in the US, are almost 50 per cent more likely to end up with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the results of a new study.  COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs and is the umbrella term for diseases from emphysema to acute bronchitis.  These are the findings of a study of almost 25,000 people with arthritis, monitored over a decade by Canadian researchers.

Taking a vitamin D supplement 'can halve the risk' of an asthma sufferer having a severe attack

The British study, funded by the research arm of the NHS, found people who took the daily tablets alongside their normal asthma treatment were 50 per cent less likely to suffer attacks so severe that they had to be taken to A&E. And they saw a 30 per cent reduction in attacks requiring treatment with steroids. Lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau of Queen Mary University London, said: ‘These results add to the ever growing body of evidence that vitamin D can support immune function as well as bone health.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Cancer Edition

A Nine-Year Collaboration Has Just Shown How Sugar Influences Cancer Cell Growth

We know that almost all the cells in the human body require energy, and they derive this energy from the sugars in the food we eat. Cancer cells also require sugars to grow. But their glucose intake is a lot higher than that of healthy cells, as is the rate at which they ferment that glucose into lactic acid. This is known as the Warburg effect, and it may, scientists have hypothesized, have something to do with cancer's rapid growth rate. Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth," said researcher Johan Thevelein from KU Leuven in Belgium. "Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness. This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences."

Aspirin 'cuts risk of several types of cancer by up to half':

A trial involving more than half a million people found long-term aspirin users cut their risk of liver and esophageal cancer by almost half, while their odds of getting bowel cancer fell by a quarter. Aspirin, already known to protect against heart attacks and strokes, is thought to block enzymes which help cancer tumous to grow.

The study, which followed patients for 14 years, was led by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Lead author Professor Kelvin Tsoi said: ‘The findings demonstrate that the long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing many major cancers."

Aspirin may reduce risk for liver cancer in hepatitis B patients, study says

Immunotherapy Treatments for Cancer Gain Momentum (WSJ)

The National Cancer Institute's prominent cancer researcher and chief of surgery, Steven A. Rosenberg, detailed for the first time an immunotherapy success against metastatic breast cancer, in a talk earlier this month. In the lecture at a Boston meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, Dr. Rosenberg reported on the first patient with metastatic breast cancer who is disease-free nearly two years after her first immunotherapy treatment. In the therapy, a person’s own cells are multiplied billions of times and reinfused into the patient. Dr. Rosenberg’s lab has already reported successes in treatment of melanoma, lymphoma, colorectal cancer and bile-duct cancer....“Our hypothesis,” says Dr. Rosenberg, “is that immunotherapies work because they target unique mutations in that person’s cancer.”

Immunotherapy, or immune-cell therapy, describes a range of treatments that harness a patient’s own immune system to target cancer. The approach doesn’t work in all patients, but its success against some hard-to-treat cancers makes it the most closely watched area in cancer pharmaceuticals. Underscoring the rapid advances, the National Institutes of Health and the NCI Thursday announced a $215 million medical collaboration with 11 medical companies, including AbbVie , Novartis AG and Johnson & Johnson . The NIH will contribute $160 million over five years to the research, and the companies will contribute $55 million.

Treatment causes cancer to self-destruct without affecting healthy cells

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have discovered a compound that makes cancer cells self-destruct while sparing healthy cells. Acute myeloid leukemia accounts for nearly one-third of all new leukemia cases and kills more than 10,000 Americans each year.

The new compound fights cancer by triggering apoptosis, the process that rids the body of unwanted or malfunctioning cells. Some chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells by indirectly inducing apoptosis by damaging DNA. Apoptosis happens when BAX, the "executioner protein" in cells, is activated by pro-apoptotic proteins. BAX molecules punch lethal holes in mitochondria once activated, but cancer cells produce anti-apoptotic proteins that prevent BAX from killing them.

"Our novel compound revives suppressed BAX molecules in cancer cells by binding with high affinity to BAX's activation site," Gavathiotis said. "BAX can then swing into action, killing cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed."

FDA approves second ever gene therapy to fight aggressive form of blood cancer

The new therapy, called Yescarta uses the same CAR-T technology as the first to fight an non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The therapy uses a patient's own immune system cells and reprograms them to find and fight aggressive cancers. Yescarta was approved on Wednesday and will cost $373,000 per patient In tests, Yescarta shrunk cancer for 72 percent of patients, and about half of those treated were disease-free eight months later. This approval comes two years after the FDA approved the first gene therapy to fight leukemia.

Both gene therapies are approved to treat cancers that have been virtually unresponsive to all other treatments.  CAR-T treatment uses gene therapy techniques not to fix disease-causing genes but to turbocharge T cells, immune system soldiers that cancer can often evade. The T cells are filtered from a patient's blood, reprogrammed to target and kill cancer cells, and then hundreds of millions of copies are grown. Returned to the patient, all the revved-up cells can continue multiplying to fight disease for months or years. That's why these immunotherapy treatments are called 'living drugs.'

An Unprecedented Study Has Revealed 72 New Breast Cancer Gene Variants

Two genes already commonly associated with breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2.  Mutations in these genes prevent them from repairing changes in other sections of DNA in breast tissue, raising the risk of further mutation. In what's being billed as the world's largest collective study on the genetics of breast cancer, researchers have discovered 72 new gene variants that appear to be responsible for increasing the risk of developing the disease.

The additions nearly double the number of genetic markers known to scientists, providing a trove of data for future studies to investigate in search of better understanding, new detection methods, and potentially more effective treatments.  More than 300 research groups were involved in the analysis, which pooled the genetic data of over 275,000 women from all around the globe. By comparing the genes of those diagnosed with the condition with those who had no history of breast cancer, the researchers were able to identify 65 variations of genes that contributed to the disease's development.

Ovarian cancer starts developing in the fallopian tubes 6 YEARS before it becomes deadly,

A new study from Johns Hopkins Medicine has found that ovarian cancers begin in the fallopian tubes and take 6.5 years to develop. This could change the way the disease, which is the fifth deadliest cancer among women, is diagnosed. It could also lead to more women getting their fallopian tubes rather than their ovaries removed to prevent the illness.  But once the cancers reached their ovaries the progression of the disease was estimated to have occurred within two years.

Dr Velculescu said: 'This aligns with what we see in the clinic, that newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer patients most often already have widespread disease.'  He said bigger studies are required to validate the new findings before there can be a change in clinical practice. There are already ongoing trials involving the removal of fallopian tubes instead of ovaries in women with the cancer-causing BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

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

Eating sprouts and drinking green tea could make aggressive breast cancers treatable, new research suggests. Compounds in cruciferous vegetables, such as sprouts, and the traditional herbal drink 'turn off' genes for ER-negative forms of the disease, which is notoriously unresponsive to therapy, a study found. 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.'

New lung cancer cure fixes patients in just four days

Advanced technique to remove tumors via a matchstick-sized incision in the chest is hailed by NHS surgeons as an effective alternative to risky open surgery. A small tube – known as a port – is inserted to allow access to the lungs, through a gap in the rib cage. Surgeons are then able to carefully remove the part of the lung containing the tumor without causing damage to surrounding tissue. The procedure replaces older methods which involve a large incision in the chest, or a keyhole operation that uses three separate incisions, and the advance has slashed time spent in hospital from two weeks to as little as four days for some, as patients recover faster and are in less pain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

October 28, 2017

Health Roundup: Aussie flu and more

No border can protect against viruses.  Australia is in the grip of its worst season on record with more than 70,000 cases of flu and standing room only in some emergency departments.  Great Britain and North America likely to be hit by the Aussie flu.

What Australia's bad flu season might mean for us and other flu facts you need to know

The culprit in Australia is the H3N2 strain of flu, which is included in this year’s vaccine and dates back to Hong Kong in 2014,  H3N2 strains are the hardest ones for the flu vaccine to combat. All flu viruses make frequent genetic changes that help them slip around a vaccine. Influenza H3N2 viruses are particularly adept at changing as the vaccine is being made, rendering the vaccine less effective against them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You should get the flu shot—even if it won’t keep you from getting sick 

Get it for all the people who can’t. Even if you are healthy, you can still become ill. And if you do become ill and are around someone who is at higher risk — such as a baby too young for vaccination or a person with a compromised immune system — you could put them at risk.  Vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months.

Cheap yoghurt drinks can make the flu jab work better:

Taking probiotic supplements when you get home from having your flu jab could make it work better, research suggests. University of Melbourne researchers reviewed 26 trials to make the conclusion. The review, which involved 3,812 participants, highlighted benefits of probiotics in around half of the studies. Scientists claim the yoghurt drinks offer a cheap boost, as the dreaded Aussie flu begins its journey in time for Britain's winter.

Advice to patients to fast before surgery may be scrapped after pilot scheme finds drinking tea, coffee or juice helps recovery

Current guidelines were developed by the Royal College of Nursing in conjunction with the Royal College of Anesthetists in 2005 after a major review examined evidence from 22 studies and found that healthy patients fasting for shorter periods and given drinks just a few hours before surgery were at no greater risk.Official guidance states that healthy adults having elective surgery can drink water up to two hours before anesthesia, and should not have food, including solids, milk and milk-containing drinks for at least six hours before.

Staff at Nottingham University NHS Trust began pioneering a new approach in 2014 after a survey revealed patients fasted for an average of nine hours, and overwhelmingly disliked the experience which left them anxious and thirsty.Patients on the pilot scheme were allowed liquids – including tea and coffee with no more than a fifth milk, diluted squash and still energy drinks – until up to two hours before surgery. Solid food could be eaten up to six hours before, and if patients had an afternoon operation this meant they were allowed a light breakfast.

Dr Arani Pillai, consultant anesthetist at Nottingham who is involved in the pilot, said: 'Fasting really was a belt and braces approach. If there were delays with an operation, it could mean patients went for hours without a drink.This can leave them dehydrated, nauseous and anxious, and with low blood sugar and increases the risk of electrolyte imbalance and kidney injury."

Antihistamine shown to improve function in MS patients

Taking statins raises the risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly a third

A decade-long study of more than 3,200 patients found those who took statins were 30 per cent more likely to develop the condition...The researchers, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, think this may be because statins impair insulin production. These findings reopens the debate about the benefits and side effects of statins.

One in nine American men has oral HPV

Researchers from the University of Florida analyzed data of people who contracted HPV in the United States. They found an estimated 11.5 million men had oral HPV compared to 3.2 million women. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Washington D.C. ranked at the top of the list for the highest rate of STDs based on population according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

'Never thought a stupid lil wrist computer would save my life':

Apple Watch notification spots 28-year-old’s life-threatening blood clot.

Men are at-risk of an early death if they receive blood from mothers - but experts are clueless as to why

The most common cause of such death is transfusion-related acute lung injury. Women are unaffected by receiving blood from females who have been pregnant. Researchers are unsure why such blood donations solely cause male mortality
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink

New Med research and Tech: Pasta, diabetes Type 3c, blindness breakthrough, new pneumonia vaccine, OCD genes and more

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.

Wanted: 1 million people to study genes, habits and health

U.S. researchers are getting ready to recruit more than 1 million people for an unprecedented study to learn how our genes, environments and lifestyles interact — and to finally customize ways to prevent and treat disease....The NIH's massive "All Of Us" project will push what's called precision medicine, using traits that make us unique in learning to forecast health and treat disease. Partly it's genetics. What genes do you harbor that raise your risk of, say, heart disease or Type 2 diabetes or various cancers? But other factors affect that genetic risk: what you eat, how you sleep, if you grew up in smog or fresh air, if you sit at a desk all day or bike around town, if your blood pressure is fine at a check-up but soars on the job, what medications you take.

Pilot testing is under way and if it  goes well, NIH plans to open the study next spring to just about any U.S. adult who's interested, with sign-up as easy as going online. It's a commitment. The study aims to run for at least 10 years.
The goal is to enroll a highly diverse population, people from all walks of life — specifically recruiting minorities who have been under-represented in scientific research. And unusual for observational research, volunteers will get receive results of their genetic and other tests, information they can share with their own doctors.

There's a Totally New Type of Diabetes And It's Being Misdiagnosed as Type 2

Type 3c diabetes might be surprisingly widespread.  Researchers from the University of Surrey studied medical records on people diagnosed with pancreatic diseases.  They found that most were misdiagnosed and actually had type 3c diabetes. The records used were taken from the Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Database (RCGP RSC). This database, mainly used for flu surveillance, contains the anonymized healthcare records of people of all ages for a sample of GP practices spread out across England..... In adults, type 3c diabetes was more common than type 1 diabetes. We found that 1 percent of new cases of diabetes in adults were type 1 diabetes compared with 1.6 percent for type 3c diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is where the body's immune system destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. It usually starts in childhood or early adulthood and almost always needs insulin treatment.  Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas can't keep up with the insulin demand of the body. It is often associated with being overweight or obese and usually starts in middle or old age, although the age of onset is decreasing. Type 3c diabetes is caused by damage to the pancreas from inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), tumors of the pancreas, or pancreatic surgery. The onset of type 3c diabetes could occur long after the onset of pancreas injury. In many cases more than a decade later. This type of damage to the pancreas not only impairs the organ's ability to produce insulin but also to produce the proteins needed to digest food (digestive enzymes) and other hormones.  However, our latest study has revealed that most cases of type 3c diabetes are being wrongly diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Only 3 percent of the people in our sample – of more than 2 million – were correctly identified as having type 3c diabetes.

FDA approves first blood sugar monitor for diabetics that DOESN'T need a finger prick

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Abbott Laboratories' glucose monitoring device for adults with diabetes, allowing millions of people to track their blood sugar levels without having to prick their fingers. The Abbott's FreeStyle Libre Flash uses small sensor wire inserted below the skin that continuously measures and monitors glucose levels throughout the day.  The device can be worn for up to 10 days before being replaced

Blindness breakthrough: Single gene injected into the back of the eye reverses retinitis pigmentosa

Scientists have used gene therapy to reverse one of the most common causes of blindness. A single gene injected into the back of the eye restores vision, by fixing a problem which stops the retina detecting light. The breakthrough, in mice experiments, saw the animals' blindness cured so that they again responded to beams of light and could see objects placed in their cage. Crucially, the eye continued to make a vital protein which restores sight for 15 months after the initial injection. Researchers at the University of Oxford says the gene therapy goes further than other work on retinitis pigmentosa. It could be available for patients in five to 10 years. The results lasted into old age, although trials on humans are needed to ensure the results are permanent, and are hoped to go ahead within five years.

Scientists may have found a cause of dyslexia

A duo of French scientists said Wednesday they may have found a physiological, and seemingly treatable, cause for dyslexia hidden in tiny light-receptor cells in the human eye.  In non-dyslexic people, the cells are arranged asymmetrically, allowing signals from the one eye to be overridden by the other to create a single image in the brain.  In non-dyslexic people, the blue cone-free spot in one eye -- the dominant one, was round and in the other eye unevenly shaped.In dyslexic people, both eyes have the same, round spot, which translates into neither eye being dominant, they found.

"The lack of asymmetry might be the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities," said the study authors. Dyslexic people make so-called "mirror errors" in reading, for example confusing the letters "b" and "d". The team used an LED lamp, flashing so fast that it is invisible to the naked eye, to "cancel" one of the images in the brains of dyslexic trial participants while reading. In initial experiments, dyslexic study participants called it the "magic lamp," said Ropars, but further tests are required to confirm the technique really works.

In development - New Vaccine promises to wipe out pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis

The current pneumonia vaccine targets only 32 forms of bacteria, with others causing death.  The new jab destroys 72 of the 90 known strains, including the 32 most deadly. In many instances, the vaccine in development outperformed existing injections. Yet, the new vaccine does not target all of the gut's bacteria; therefore keeps healthy strains.  By targeting pneumonia bacteria, it protects against septicemia and meningitis. Study author Dr Blaine Pfeifer from the University at Buffalo, said: 'We can potentially provide universal coverage against bacteria that cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other types of pneumococcal disease. It holds the promise of saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year."

Researchers Have Finally Discovered Genes That Are Linked to OCD

We were seeking ways to take advantage of information from other species in order to inform and focus the study in humans," says computational biologist Hyun Ji Noh from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Noh's team compiled a list of genetic associations observed in previous studies of human OCD, and also analyzed the results of research into compulsive behavior in mice, and in dogs, where it's called canine compulsive disorder (CCD).

They ended up with an array of around 600 genes that looked to be tied to OCD or its variants, which can urge people to do things like obsessively check or clean items around the house, or wash their hands – and, in animals like dogs, it provokes similarly compulsive acts.  "Dogs, it turns out, are surprisingly similar to people," one of the researchers, geneticist Elinor Karlsson told NPR.  This helped them to cull the list down to just four genes expressed in the brain – called NRXN1, HTR2A, CTTNBP2, and REEP3 – which, when they undergo mutations, are significantly associated with human OCD.

Teens who suffer concussions are 22% more likely to develop multiple sclerosis,

Scientists at Orebro University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied every person in the country who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) between 1964 to 2012.  They found 7,292 patients in the national database who were diagnosed with the autoimmune disease.  The findings showed that adolescents increased their risk of having multiple sclerosis as adults and adds to the growing evidence about the dangers of high-impact sports.

Evidence Is Mounting That The Drug Ketamine Can Actually Treat Chronic Migraines

The latest study focussed on 61 patients, all male, who had been suffering chronic migraines that did not respond to any of the treatments available. This type of migraine is known as a refractory headache or intractable migraine. Even though it only affects less than 1 percent of all migraine sufferers, this version tends to be an especially severe form, causing debilitating episodes that last for days at a time or even longer.  Using an intravenous ketamine infusion for stubborn migraines is not an entirely new concept, but it's considered to be a "last resort" treatment and is not widely available. It does make sense, though, because research has indicated that ketamine infusions can help with other stubborn pain conditions that don't respond to more conventional treatments.  Patients in this study all received ketamine infusions at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, a hospital that not only offers this option to patients, but also works to investigate its clinical benefits.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

October 24, 2017

Health Roundup: Obesity consequences, belly fat and 'magic' pills

40 percent of US cancers linked to excess weight

The findings by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "are a cause for concern," said the agency's director Brenda Fitzgerald....Carrying excess weight has been shown to boost the risk of 13 types of tumors, including cancers of the esophagus, thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus, colon and rectum.

Being overweight makes your heart larger and heavier

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London and the University of Oxford examined MRI scans for 4,561 people from the UK Biobank database.  They found an increase of 4.3 in BMI, which could take someone from a healthy weight to the brink of obesity, made their heart substantially heavier, raising the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.  A bigger, heavier heart raises the risk of conditions from an irregular heartbeat to a heart attack, and the organ should in fact grow smaller with age. A larger heart stretches its upper chambers, disrupting the electrical signal needed to keep it beating regularly.

Experts Raise Red Flag over Fatty Liver Disease

An increasing epidemic of fatty liver disease in the U.S. is likely to ruin the health of millions and cost billions of dollars a year, experts said here. Some 65 million Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and that number will reach 100 million by 2030,.  Rising rates of obesity are the force behind the epidemic of NAFLD, an umbrella term covering a spectrum that begins with accumulation of fat in the liver, followed by ballooning, scarring, cirrhosis, and eventually liver failure, cancer, and death.

Yale University researchers have found that belly fat is linked to inflammation

They discovered a new type of macrophage that resides on the nerves in belly fat, which becomes inflamed with age. These inflamed cells do not allow signals to be sent to fat cells telling them to burn their stored energy. The report's researchers concluded that drugs that target this inflammation could spike their metabolism and help them burn more fat, which decreases their risk of chronic illnesses.  Study author Christina Camell said: 'The purpose of our research is to achieve greater understanding of immune cell interactions with nerves and fat cells to potentially reduce belly fat, enhance metabolism and improve performance in the elderly.'

This Needle-Covered Patch Dissolves Excess Body Fat Wherever You Stick It

Developed by researchers at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina, the medicated patch uses an array of skin-piercing microneedles to deliver nanoparticles of drugs to the body, and while it hasn't yet been tested on humans, trials with mice show it reduces fat by as much as 20 percent in treated areas by converting energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat.

Is this exercise pill the real deal?

Biologist claims he has found the only formula to burn fat and grow muscle with one tablet.  Ronald Evans developed a drug to stimulate what the body feels during aerobic endurance. The chemical PPARD is released during aerobic exercise. Sedentary mice were injected with the chemical and 70 percent experienced a decrease in fat and an increase in stamina. Athletes have previously abused earlier forms of this drug to boost their endurance levels

Too much exercise can kill you - especially if you're a white man

Researchers in Chicago assessed exercise patterns over the course of 25 years. They found that very active white men are 86 percent more likely to experience a buildup of plaque in the heart arteries by middle age. This was not the case in black men, based on 3,175 participants. They found that  7.5 hours a week of fitness DOUBLES your risk of heart disease.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Health roundup of the latest news for expectant and new mothers UPDATED

Take vitamins to cut autism risk, mothers-to-be are told

Supplements could halve chance of children developing the condition.  Scientists from Philadelphia, Stockholm and Bristol, examined data for 273,107 mothers. But the team cautioned that although they had found a possible association, more research was needed.

Pregnant vegetarians are three times more likely to have kids who abuse drugs and alcohol, study finds

A new study has found that the children of pregnant women who are vegetarian have a higher risk of struggling with addiction....A study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism For the study researchers analyzed the habits of 5,109 women and their offspring. The report's researchers observed 15-year-old children whose mothers did not eat meat during their pregnancies and found those children were twice as likely to engage in underage drinking and smoking.  Most vegetarians have a B12 deficiency while pregnant. Vitamin B12 is essential for the body to metabolize folic acid, a nutrient vital for the development of a healthy fetus. The vitamin is mainly available from meats and shellfish.

Paracetamol in pregnancy could DOUBLE a child's risk of ADHD, major study finds

Norwegian researchers analyzed data on 113,000 child and parent pairs.  Mothers who took paracetamol for 29 days had a 220% increased risk of having a child with ADHD, the study found.  One limitation of the study is that long-term use of acetaminophen during pregnancy might indicate a more serious illness or injury.

Using the drug during just one trimester was associated with 7 percent higher odds of having a child with ADHD, while the increased risk was 22 percent for women who used acetaminophen in two trimesters and 27 percent with use in all three trimesters, the study found.  Short-term use didn't appear to increase the risk for ADHD. In fact, when women took acetaminophen for less than eight days, they were 10 percent less likely to have kids with ADHD than mothers who didn't use the drug at all during pregnancy, the study found.
Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen is used to mild to moderate pain and is the most commonly used medication for pain and fever in both the United States and Europe. Paracetamol is available as a generic medication with trade names including Tylenol and Panadol among others.  Paracetamol is classified as a mild analgesic. It does not have significant anti-inflammatory activity and how it works is not entirely clear.

Mother shares astonishing photo showing how her body turned her breast milk YELLOW in order to protect her baby as she battled a fever

Ashlee Chase, from the US, posted a photo of a pouch containing her milk three days before baby Elliot became ill next to an image of her milk the day after she had 'comfort nursed' all night. Her pediatrician says baby's fever prompted an immune response from mother as her body made milk with 'more fat and antibodies' to help infant fight infection. Says she's asked why she's still nursing seven-month-old and says '100% why'...'It is medicine at its finest'

 Breast Milk-Color Change

The benefits of breast feeding

Breastfeeding has long-term benefits for your baby, lasting right into adulthood. Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits. Breastfeeding reduces your baby's risk of:
  • Infections, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
  • Diarrhea and vomiting, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease in adulthood
Breastfeeding and making breast milk also has health benefits for you. The more you breastfeed, the greater the benefits. Breastfeeding lowers your risk of:
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Osteoporosis (weak bones)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity

BPA, a chemical found in everyday products from baby bottles to banknotes could increase children's risk of obesity,

BPA exposure also raises fat levels in the blood, the research adds -  previous studies have found this increases the risk of heart disease. These results occur even when BPA exposure occurs in amounts below the recommended levels. Known as the gender-bending chemical for its effects on male breast growth, the researchers believe BPA may cause obesity by altering the hormones responsible for fat metabolism.  Researchers from Brunel University London, New York University and Vrije University in Amsterdam analyzed 61 studies investigating the link between BPA exposure and weight, fat deposition and circulating lipid levels in mice and rats.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of endometriosis by up to 40%:

Natural feeding alters hormones associated with the painful gynecological disorder that affects 10% of women in the US.  Breastfeeding for three years across a woman's life reduces risk by nearly 40%. Every three additional months of natural feeding lowers the risk by 8% and exclusive breastfeeding reduces a diagnosis risk by 14% per pregnancy. The hormonal changes that occur during breastfeeding as women temporarily stop having periods are likely responsible.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink

October 11, 2017

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Low-Carbohydrate Diet Superior to Antipsychotic Medications - Two remarkable personal stories, as told by their Harvard psychiatrist.

Ketogenic diets are special low-carbohydrate diets that have been used to treat epilepsy for almost 100 years and show great promise in the management of a wide variety of other brain disorders.

Want to make your salad healthier? Add FAT! Just a drizzle of oil could DOUBLE the absorption of 8 nutrients

Adding fat to your salad makes it healthier, new research reveals.Tucking into a plate of lettuce and cucumber with a drizzle of oil could increase the absorption of eight nutrients that are linked to human health, a study found. Such nutrients include vitamins A, E and K, which have previously been associated with cancer prevention and improved vision, the research adds.
Lead author Professor Wendy White from Iowa State University, said: 'The best way to explain it would be to say that adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption.'  Maximum absorption occurs when around two tablespoons of oil is added.  Previous research reveals oil boosts the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients

It really IS the most important meal of the day!

Skipping breakfast 'leads to increased risk of heart attacks', study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds. Those skipping breakfast were 25.7 times more likely to have atherosclerosis, or stiff and narrow arteries and were more likely to be obese and to suffer high blood pressure and cholesterol.  Participants who skipped breakfast were also more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking.  The study by researchers from Tufts University was carried out on a group of 4000 people in Spain free from cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease.

Saving carbs for last at mealtime may help control blood sugar levels for diabetics  Don't eat the bread first.

Diabetics should save bread for last at mealtime to keep their blood sugar under control, new research suggests. Weill Cornell Medicine researchers said adopting this technique and saving carbs for last is comparable to the effects of insulin.  Carbohydrates trigger a surge in blood sugar levels in sufferers - hence many avoid such foods completely. But scientists have found that leaving bread, potatoes and pasta til the end helps to control these spikes after eating. The carbohydrate-last meal was also associated with lower insulin secretion and higher levels of a gut hormone that helps regulate glucose and satiety.

Just ONE extra banana or avocado a day could prevent heart attacks and stroke

It's all down to one key nutrient - potassium -  reveals study author Dr Paul Sanders from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Potassium-rich foods may stop fatal blockages from occurring by preventing arteries from hardening and maintains artery flexibility.  Previous research reveals stiff, inflexible arteries increase a person's risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.  The researchers studied mice and found the animals given high potassium had substantially less artery hardening and reduced stiffness in their aorta, the body's main artery.  This is thought to be due to low-potassium levels in the blood preventing the expression of genes that maintain artery flexibility.

English breakfast tea may aid weight loss by boosting metabolism - so long as it's drunk without milk.

Black tea molecules are larger and therefore less well absorbed by the intestine.  This encourages the growth of metabolism-boosting bacteria in mice studies. They reduce intestinal bacteria associated with obesity and boost lean mass. Black and green tea extracts cause weight loss similar to following a low-fat diet. Experts believe both teas are prebiotics that feed wellbeing-related organisms.

Boy, 11, is left blind after following a strict diet of potato, meat, apples, cucumber and Cheerios due to his allergies and eczema

The Canadian child, who remains anonymous, suffered irreversible damage to his vision from a lack of vitamin A. Alongside his progressive vision loss, the boy also suffered from dry eyes and night blindness - both hallmarks of a vitamin A deficiency.  By the time the boy was taken to hospital, eight months after his eye sight began to falter, he was only able to see 30cm from his face. Doctors gave the patient three super-strength doses of the vitamin over the course of two weeks, they wrote in the journal JAMA Pediatrics Clinical Challenge. The boy's vision improved to 20/800 within six weeks, but it means he is still legally blind.

Do YOU need more zinc? From brittle nails to dry skin - this body map shows the warning signs and how you can fix it.

 Bodymap Zinc Deficiency

‘Signs of low zinc status include a weakened immune system, more colds and poor wound healing, tiredness, and low sex drive’. Zinc deficiency could be the reason your hair isn’t as thick as it used to be.  Zinc is not called the beauty vitamin for nothing. It’s second only to iron as the most abundantly found mineral in the human body and among its key functions are keeping skin, hair, teeth and nails healthy, not to mention the functioning of our libidos and immune systems. ‘Zinc is required for the activity of over 300 body enzymes, and these enzymes help to bring about biochemical reactions in the body that are essential to protein synthesis, hormone production, as well overall radiance and wellbeing,’ says public health nutritionist Emma Derbyshire. Most at risk: ‘Strict vegetarians and vegans, Other people at risk could be those who drink lots of alcohol.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2017

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's edition

FIVE key smells? It could mean you have dementia

Scientists at the University of Chicago develop a new diagnosis test to spot symptoms before they develop.  Those who can't identify 4 out of 5 common odors are twice at risk of dementia. The worse someone's sense of smell, the greater their risk of being diagnosed. The aromas in order of increasing difficulty were: peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather.  .....'Loss of the sense of smell is a strong signal that something has gone wrong and significant damage has been done."

A good night's rest is your best defense against dementia

All this week, a pair of Alzheimer’s researchers have been sharing their expertise with Mail readers and revealing how simple lifestyle tweaks can help fend off the disease.  We have seen hundreds of patients use our simple plan of lifestyle changes to reverse what seemed to be an imminent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and our findings have formed the basis of our life-changing new book, The Alzheimer’s Solution. .. This is when the brain undergoes its routine repairs, and the regeneration of neurons and their supporting cells can occur. The cocktail of chemicals released during sleep calm inflammation and bolster immunity — better sleep leads to fewer colds and immune-related disorders, and even a lower risk of cancer.  The ‘brain fog’ you might get after a really bad night’s sleep is the same in early Alzheimer’s. Lack of sleep impairs your ability to function during the day, slowing your focus, your processing speed and your short-term memory.

Women in their 40s with high blood pressure face dementia danger

The risk of dementia increased 73 per cent among women who started having blood pressure problems in their 40s . There was no evidence that having high blood pressure in one’s 30s or 40s increased the risk of dementia for men. The findings, based on a study of more than 7,200 people in the US by Kaiser Permanente research institute in California, reinforces growing evidence that lifestyle in middle age has a marked impact on health in retirement.  The study involved 7,238 people, tracked from the mid-1960s...They found women who already had high blood pressure in their 30s were at 31 per cent increased risk of dementia, when compared to women with stable, normal blood pressure. But among those who developed it in their 40s, the increased risk soared to 73 per cent.  The results were the same when researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect risk of dementia, such as smoking, diabetes and body mass index.

Alzheimer's sufferer, 55, describes agony of becoming violent and losing his memories because of the disease

Greg O'Brien is a former newspaper editor who has early-onset Alzheimer's. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife and three children. O'Brien wrote an essay in Psychology Today that details what it is like to live with a disease that hijacks his emotions and induces fits of rage. He describes the heartbreak that comes with this, as, at times, this anger is unintentionally directed at his family members.

A List of The Most Hopeful Alzheimer's Treatments Currently in The Works  After many failures, there's still hope.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

September 28, 2017

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Eat SALMON for good gut health:

Omega-3 boosts the diversity of the microbiome to ward off diabetes, obesity and Crohn's disease. For years, scientists have touted the fish as a potential way to boost gut health. The largest study to date, by British experts, has now confirmed their suspicions. Salmon can boost the diversity of bacteria in the stomach.

Type 2 diabetes IS reversible

Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by going on a low calorie diet, new research shows. Consuming just 600 calories a day for eight weeks can save the lives of millions of sufferers of the preventable condition.  Newcastle University scientists said that excess calories lead to a fatty liver, which causes the liver to produce too much glucose. The excess fat is then passed to the pancreas, which causes the insulin-producing cells to fail and thus causing diabetes. Losing less than one gram of fat from the pancreas can re-start insulin production, reversing type 2 diabetes, the researchers found.  This reversal of diabetes remains possible for at least ten years after the onset of the condition, lead author Professor Roy Taylor said.

Sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel and avocados make people feel fuller and could help dieting.

Scientists at the University of Warwick have identified cells in the brain - called tanycytes - which detect nutrients in food and help trigger feelings of satiety. ..Crucially some foods contain types of amino acids which stimulate the tanycytes more than others.  Pork shoulder, beef sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocados, lentils and almonds were all found to contain amino acids that activate tanycytes and therefore make people feel fuller quicker.

Proof that red wine IS good for you?

One expert says red wine can improve memory, decrease your chance of stroke and reduce risk of heart disease.Creina Stockley, from the Australian Wine Research Institute, has shared that drinking wine with a meal could decrease your chance of having a stroke, heart attack and could increase brain longevity."People that drink a moderate amount of wine regularly, particularly with food, have a 30 percent reduced risk of heart diseases," she said. "Red wine is good for you in moderation – with one to two glasses a day there is a reduced risk of heart disease."

Red wine can also reduce the risk of a multitude of cancers. "Alcohol is a risk factor for certain cancers, but we also know wine reduces the risk of other cancers like bowel and lung cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma."  She also said that studies have revealed that red wine can also reduce the risk of aero-digestive tract, lung cancers and non-Hodgkin's

Porridge or Oatmeal is Better than Statins say experts


Eating a simple bowl of porridge every day could transform the health of the nation, in one single step, says Chris Seal, professor of food and human nutrition at Newcastle University....A bowl provides more fibre than a slice of wholemeal bread, is low in fat, virtually sugar-free and provides a wealth of minerals such as manganese, copper and iron, as well as the B vitamins.

However, the real benefit of porridge comes from the soluble fibre in the oats. The fibre, a form known as beta glucan, is present in other grains such as barley and rye, but is found in highest quantities in oats. It forms a thick gel in the gut, which is what gives you that full, satisfied feeling. But as well as helping switch off appetite, it has many other specific health benefits, including feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut, so helping your immune system, lowering cholesterol, and even potentially protecting against cancer....

‘That’s similar to the results you might get from taking a statin,’ says Dr George Grimble, principal research fellow in the division of medicine at University College London. Yet unlike a statin it has no potential side-effects. ‘Beta glucan forms acids, including butyric acid which works on the DNA of cells in the colon and has an anti-cancer effect.’

HIV patients who drink 3 cups of coffee a day DOUBLED their survival chances

Patients living with both HIV and hepatitis C who drank three or more daily cups of coffee were twice as likely to survive than those that drank less coffee, a new study found. About one quarter of HIV patients also have hepatitis C (HCV), which attacks the liver. Coffee is known to help protect the liver, and to act as an anti-inflammatory.  The French National Institute of Health and National Agency for AIDS and Hepatitis Research studied 1028 patients.

How soya and almond milk may put health at risk

Trendy dairy alternatives such as soya and almond milk may be putting people’s health at risk, researchers say. Consumption of milk-alternative drinks is soaring as part of a ‘clean-eating’ fad. But scientists at the University of Surrey warn that these products do not contain nearly enough iodine – a crucial mineral. Dairy milk is the main source of iodine in our diet, providing 40 per cent of the average daily intake, so switching to plant-based alternatives may impact health...

An estimated 70 per cent of teenage girls in Britain are iodine-deficient, and doctors are also concerned that pregnant women are not consuming enough of it. Iodine is required to make thyroid hormones, which help keep cells and the metabolic rate healthy. It is especially important for the brain development of babies, particularly while they are in the womb.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

September 14, 2017

Roundup: Medical Research and Technology

A 25-year-old student has come up with a way to fight drug-resistant superbugs without antibiotics.

The new approach has so far only been tested in the lab and on mice, but it could offer a potential solution to antibiotic resistance, which is now getting so bad that the United Nations recently declared it a "fundamental threat" to global health.  Antibiotic-resistant bacteria already kill around 700,000 people each year, but a recent study suggests that number could rise to around 10 million by 2050.

But Shu Lam, a 25-year-old PhD student at the University of Melbourne in Australia, has developed a star-shaped polymer that can kill six different superbug strains without antibiotics, simply by ripping apart their cell walls.  Before we get too carried away, it's still very early days. So far, Lam has only tested her star-shaped polymers on six strains of drug-resistant bacteria in the lab, and on one superbug in live mice. But in all experiments, they've been able to kill their targeted bacteria - and generation after generation don't seem to develop resistance to the polymers.  The polymers - which they call SNAPPs, or structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers - work by directly attacking, penetrating, and then destabilizing the cell membrane of bacteria.

Scientists honor Chad Carr, 5, who died of incurable brain tumor as tests on his donated tissue lead to major cancer research breakthrough

Chad died in 2015 aged 5, just 14 months after he was diagnosed with DIPG. Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a lethal and untreatable brain tumor which predominantly affects children under the age of nine.  An analysis of his brain has led to a major breakthrough in understanding the genetic mutations that drive DIPG. Experts say the unprecedented finding is the first concrete result of any study into the little-understood disease. 

Zika virus used to treat aggressive brain cancer

Using viruses to fight cancer is not a new idea, but using Zika as the weapon of choice is. But the latest research shows the virus can selectively infect and kill hard-to-treat cancerous cells in adult brains. Zika injections shrank aggressive tumors in fully grown mice, yet left other brain cells unscathed.  While human trials are still a way off, experts believe Zika virus could potentially be injected into the brain at the same time as surgery to remove life-threatening tumors.  The Zika treatment appears to work on human cell samples in the lab.

New device accurately identifies cancer in seconds

A team of scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has invented a powerful tool that rapidly and accurately identifies cancerous tissue during surgery, delivering results in about 10 seconds— more than 150 times as fast as existing technology. The MasSpec Pen is an innovative handheld instrument that gives surgeons precise diagnostic information about what tissue to cut or preserve, helping improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence.

New class of drugs targets aging to help keep you healthy

The researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, are calling for senolytic drugs to make the leap from animal research to human clinical trials.  As we age, we accumulate senescent cells, which are damaged cells that resist dying off but stay in our bodies. They can affect other cells in our various organs and tissues. Senolytic drugs are agents capable of killing problem-causing senescent cells in your body without harming your normal, healthy cells. Senescent cells play a role in many age-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, most cancers, dementia, arthritis, osteoporosis and blindness.

Gut germs play role in multiple sclerosis, studies show

Two teams of scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that intestinal bacteria play a role in multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin coating on neurons, causing tremors, fatigue, cognitive problems, and more.

Gut germs that were unusually abundant in people with MS changed white blood cells in a way that made them more likely to attack the body’s own cells, including neurons, one study reported on Monday; the other experiment found that gut germs from people with MS made mice more likely to develop the disease than did gut germs from their identical but healthy twins.
Together, the two studies advance the idea that gut microbes play a role in turning the immune system against nerve cells, causing MS. It will take a lot more work to develop cures or preventive strategies based on that, but the research raises the intriguing possibility of treating an often-devastating disease with something as low-tech as fecal transplants or probiotics.

How infection can trigger autoimmune disease

Australian scientists have confirmed a ‘weak link’ in the immune system – identifying the exact conditions under which an infection can trigger an autoantibody response, a process not clearly understood until now.

We May Have Finally Discovered The Trigger That Starts Autoimmune Diseases

The chain reaction, discovered after four years of research in mice, has been described as a "runaway train" where one error leads the body to develop a very efficient way of attacking itself.  The study focused on B cells gone rogue. Ordinarily these cells produce antibodies and program the immune cells to attack unwanted antigens (or foreign substances), but scientists found an 'override switch' in mouse B cells that distorted this behavior and caused autoimmune attacks.

"Once your body's tolerance for its own tissues is lost, the chain reaction is like a runaway train," says one of the team, Michael Carroll from Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS). "The immune response against your own body's proteins, or antigens, looks exactly like it's responding to a foreign pathogen."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's Edition

A healthy lifestyle builds brain resilience and really WILL keep dementia at bay

Alzheimer's disease really can be avoided by following a healthy lifestyle - even if you're predisposed to get it, the largest study of its kind has revealed. Exercising, monitoring blood pressure and watching less TV are the three key factors that will help build brain resilience and keep the disease at bay.  

Researchers at the University of California in Irvine began the '90+ Study' in 2003. Tests were carried out on the 1,700 participants every six months to monitor their cognitive ability. Post-mortems were conducted upon their death. Astonishingly half of the dementia-free patients had the hallmark brain plaques - which lead to memory loss and dementia - when they died.  Meanwhile half of the dementia patients did develop symptoms of memory loss - even without having these build-ups in their brain.

Professor Claudia Kawas, lead researcher, suggested the reason for such 'cognitive resilience' in those who should have developed dementia but remained free of it was down to a healthy lifestyle. It follows Cambridge University research three years ago which found just one hour's exercise a week cuts the chance of Alzheimer's by almost half.  And earlier this year a study suggested more than a third of dementia cases could be avoided by exercising more and controlling blood pressure.

Those with a higher level of education were found to have greater protection even if OET scans revealed plaque in the brain typical of Alzheimer's. People with a low level of education had quadruple the risk of contracting dementia, the researchers said. But among those without plaque in the brain, the educational difference was irrelevant....There's currently no evidence of the efficacy of commercial computer-based brain training exercises.

An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis—Before Any Symptoms in the WSJ

An effort is under way that could redefine the way Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, putting the focus on biological changes in the brain rather than on symptoms such as confusion and forgetfulness. Supporters say if their plan moves forward, it could help ensure that experimental therapies are tested on the correct population, accelerating research. Earlier detection also one day could make it easier to target people with more effective therapies.

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has long hinged on a doctor’s assessment of a person’s cognitive skills and symptoms. But in a recent report, a committee convened by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association recommended that researchers instead use tests of the biological markers of disease, such as brain imaging and the measurement of substances in cerebrospinal fluid, when seeking to study participants.

A Case of Rapidly Progressive Dementia--and the Surprisingly Easy Fix

The daughter went into the hall closet and brought out this bag of medicines. There were 21 different bottles of 14 different medications, including multiple antipsychotics and anticholinergics, as can be seen in the handwritten list shown above. I had been unaware that she had been taking any of these. For reference, in the right-hand column, I have included the list that was in her electronic medical record the day I last saw her in clinic. I performed a full medication reconciliation and left her with only three medications, plus insulin, at her home. I took all of the others back to the hospital, called her pharmacy, and stopped those prescriptions.

Three months later, Ms R followed up with me in clinic and reported that she was feeling great. Her daughter said that she is doing wonderfully at home and has returned to her baseline. Both of them felt that she was back to her normal self. We repeated the MoCA, which was a 17 out of 30. She had increased from a 6 to a 17 over the course of 3 months, with the only intervention being a home visit with the removal of medications from her house.

The cost of this? The base Medicare reimbursement for her multiple hospital admissions was more than $30,000. The cost of the home visits, including billing for the visit, gas to and from, and a couple of lattes for my mentor and me: $127. Patient-centered care? Priceless.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink

September 13, 2017

The cognitive differences between men and women

From Stanford Medicine Two minds,  The cognitive differences between men and women

Over the past 15 years or so, there’s been a sea change as new technologies have generated a growing pile of evidence that there are inherent differences in how men’s and women’s brains are wired and how they work.....Not how well they work

There was too much data pointing to the biological basis of sex-based cognitive differences to ignore.  For one thing, the animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people. These findings continue to accrue. In a study of 34 rhesus monkeys, for example, males strongly preferred toys with wheels over plush toys, whereas females found plush toys likable......

Women excel in several measures of verbal ability — pretty much all of them, except for verbal analogies. Women’s reading comprehension and writing ability consistently exceed that of men, on average. They out­perform men in tests of fine-motor coordination and perceptual speed. They’re more adept at retrieving information from long-term memory.

Men, on average, can more easily juggle items in working memory. They have superior visuospatial skills: They’re better at visualizing what happens when a complicated two- or three-dimensional shape is rotated in space, at correctly determining angles from the horizontal, at tracking moving objects and at aiming projectiles.

Navigation studies in both humans and rats show that females of both species tend to rely on landmarks, while males more typically rely on “dead reckoning”: calculating one’s position by estimating the direction and distance traveled rather than using landmarks. Many of these cognitive differences appear quite early in life.

Why our brains differ

1. The sex-steroid hormones. In female mammals, ...estrogens, along with ... progesterone; and in males, testosterone and ...androgens. Importantly, males developing normally in utero get hit with a big mid-gestation surge of testosterone...
2. The sex chromosomes, which form one of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes in each cell. Generally, females have two X chromosomes in their pair, while males have one X and one Y chromosome.  Every cell in a man’s body (including his brain) has a slightly different set of functioning ​sex-​chromosome genes from those operating in a woman’s.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink

September 12, 2017

Health Roundup: Vaccines, heart disease, stroke victims, melanoma, hormone therapy, osteoarthritis, COPD, Suramin + autism

Vaccines Have Saved Nearly 20 Million Children's Lives in Poor Countries Since 2001

Researchers investigated the impact of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance - a global organization whose explicit goal is to improve access to vaccination in world's poorest countries. By 2020, vaccines for just 10 diseases will have saved 20 million lives, prevented 500 million cases of illness, and 9 million cases of long-term disability.  The researchers even put a dollar figure on that value  - for all the countries in the study, by 2020 vaccination will have brought a benefit that can be equated to US $820 billion.

Rivaroxaban, when taken with aspirin slashes the risk of death from heart disease by 22%

The 'ground-breaking' trial, based on 27,000 patients from 33 countries, has since been halted - 12 months ahead of schedule....In clinical experiments, the tablet, which is already used for other cardiovascular problems, also reduced strokes by 42 per cent.

Stroke survivors are at DOUBLE the risk of cancer:

Doctors say patients should be closely monitored for 18 months after having a blood clot.

Immune-focused drug may be new weapon against advanced melanoma

New research suggests that Opdivo -- a drug that works with the immune system to fight melanoma -- is more effective than the current standard of care for patients who've had surgery to remove advanced tumors.  The international study was funded by Opdivo's maker, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and included more than 900 patients with stage III and stage IV melanoma.

Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City,  said any advance in the care of aggressive melanomas is welcome news for patients."It is amazing that there is now an alternative that is superior to conventional chemotherapy for advanced metastatic disease," Green said after reviewing the new study findings. "With these advanced melanomas -- that have high risks of recurrences and have poor outcomes -- it is vital to look at alternative treatments. The future in cancer treatments lies in immunotherapy and other targeted options."

Hormone therapy does NOT increase risk of cancer, heart disease or premature death in menopausal women

A study in the 90s showed women having an increase in diseases after taking hormonal therapy drugs for five to seven years.  Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston analyzed mortality rates for more than 27,000 women aged 50 to 79 in the United States who were part of the original research in the 1990s.  That research showed that women are at equal risk to develop these disease as those who don't take the hormones -  close to 27 percent died in the group that took the dummy pills and those who took the hormones.  Experts say hormones are safe to take to relieve symptoms of menopause.

Australian scientists discover new drug to help cure osteoarthritis

The medication, called Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium, is being hailed as a breakthrough to those suffering from the degenerative disorder of osteoarthritis, an illness that causes a person pain when the cartilage in bones begins to wear thin and the leading cause of hip and knee replacement surgery.  A new study, to be published in the BioMed Central's Journal of Musculoskeletal Disorders shows a 70 per cent reduction in pain using the new medication. Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium has been prescribed by doctors for years, however it is usually used to treat blood clots and urinary tract infections.  Australian scientist Dr Jegan Krishnan helped discover the new use for the drug and said it could work by looking at the cause of osteoarthritis. "'It may have anti-inflammatory activities, it seems addressing the bone marrow lesions gives symptomatic relief."

Relief for victims of lung disease is found in a ketchup bottle

Breathlessness caused by long-term lung disease can be crippling, leaving patients housebound and unable to take even a few steps without gasping for air.  But now those blighted by the distressing condition could see their lives transformed – thanks to a tiny valve implant which works in a similar way to easy-squeeze ketchup bottle tops. The alloy and silicone device is being offered to NHS patients with emphysema and other incurable respiratory problems, collectively known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.  In these patients, deformity and loss of elasticity in lung tissue means that air enters the lung but cannot be pushed back out.

The valve, placed deep in the tiny branches within the lungs known as bronchioles, allows air to flow but in one direction only. The concept is similar to the way rubber tops of ketchup bottles work.  This effectively cuts off the diseased areas of the lungs. Despite the volume of the lungs being smaller, the valve actually improves breathing because air flows through the healthy areas of the organ only.  The new procedure allows surgeons to close off damaged sections of lung without removing or causing further harm to tissue.

The Zephyr valves consist of a collapsible nickel and titanium alloy wire outer 'basket' – not unlike a stent used in heart surgery – which surrounds the silicone inner valve.  The flexible material is constructed in such a way as to form a one-way valve. The implantation takes about 45 minutes and the procedure may be done under sedation or general anesthetic.

A 100-Year-Old Drug Shows Extremely Promising Results For Treating Autism Symptoms

Suramin has been around since 1916, and is used in the treatment of the parasitic disease African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).  The first promising results came in pre-clinical mouse studies, when the researchers successfully reversed autism-like symptoms with a single dose of the drug. These studies paved the way to the first human trial, and the results are now in.

This pilot study was double-blinded and placebo-controlled, and involved 10 boys with diagnosed ASD aged 5-14 years, each of whom received a single dose of either suramin or a placebo.  All five boys who received the drug showed a steady improvement of symptoms within just seven days, while the placebo group showed no change at all.  "The 6- and 14-year-old who received suramin said their first sentence of their lives about one week after the single suramin infusion," says Naviaux. "This did not happen in any of the children given placebo."

"We have plans for five additional studies over the next five years to collect all the data the FDA will need to decide about the approval of suramin for autism," says Naviaux. Unfortunately, these improvements were only temporary - as the drug gradually left their systems over the course of six weeks, the severity of the symptoms returned, which the participating families had been warned about. But apart from the dramatic improvement of symptoms, what's most important to the researchers is that the positive results further bolster the hypothesis that metabolic dysfunction contributes to autism, and that this dysfunction is treatable.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:54 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 1, 2017

Roundup of Medical Research and Technology: Restoring nerve cells in Parkinson's, nanomachines, reversing memory loss, AAV2 and Blat

Scientists devise 'promising' new stem cell treatment that has the 'potential to cure Parkinson's disease' and stop tremors

In trials on laboratory monkeys, researchers were able to restore nerve cells. In humans, Parkinson's causes a loss of neurons, which affects movement. Experts hailed the findings of the Japanese study to be 'extremely promising'  It is believed that the team of scientists are just a short step away from testing the stem cell treatment in clinical trials.  Lead author Professor Jun Takahashi said that they are hoping to start looking for suitable patients within the next 15 months.

Dr Tilo Kunath, a Parkinson’s UK-funded researcher at the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine, saying, 'This is extremely promising research demonstrating that a safe and highly effective cell therapy for Parkinson’s can be produced in the lab...Such a therapy has the potential to reverse the symptoms of Parkinson’s in patients by restoring their dopamine-producing neurons."

Nanomachines which drill into cancer cells killing them in just 60 seconds, developed by scientists

The tiny spinning molecules are driven by light, and spin so quickly that they can burrow their way through cell linings when activated. In one test conducted at Durham University the nanomachines took between one and three minutes to break through the outer membrane of prostate cancer cell, killing it instantly.

A daily jab of a bone hormone could reverse age-related memory loss, study finds

Scientists restored a hormone produced by bone cells back to youthful levels. This reversed memory loss in mice, which are biologically similar to humans.  Researchers say injecting osteocalcin has no toxic side effects as it's natural. This finding paves the way for a novel approach to treating age-related cognitive decline in a safe way, say the scientists.

Professor Gerard Karsenty from Columbia University Medical Center in New York said: "In previous studies, we found that osteocalcin plays multiple roles in the body, including a role in memory. We also observed that the hormone declines precipitously in humans during early adulthood. 'That raised an important question: Could memory loss be reversed by restoring this hormone back to youthful levels? The answer, at least in mice, is yes."

Scientists may have stumbled across a cure for cancer

Craig M. Meyers, a distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology at Penn State, has made a career out of studying the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). In 2008, he was conducting an experiment to see the effect another virus, called adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), would have on HPV. The team introduced AAV2 into the cell lines of a cancerous HPV specimen and left them to incubate for a week.

BYU Magazine reports, the results of this test left the team convinced they had made a mistake. All the cancerous cells had died.  The success of AAV2 against cancerous HPV cells led the team to begin testing on other forms of cancer. They found that AAV2 worked on breast cancer, prostate cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and mesothelioma.

It has been a long road since 2008, but Meyers still has further to go. The research still has more trials to run before the FDA will allow it to go to human testing. It is possible we might see this new treatment in hospitals within the next 5 years.

Cholesterol Crystals Are A Sign Heart Attack Is Imminent according to new study

After examining materials that were blocking the coronary arteries of a number of patients, a team of scientists and medical experts at Michigan State University confirmed that it was cholesterol - in the form of crystals. They found that this particular type of hardened cholesterol was found in over 89 per cent of emergency room cases.

Dr George Abela, professor of medicine at Michigan State University, said “In previous studies, we showed that when cholesterol goes from a liquid to a solid, or crystal state, it expands in volume like ice and water. This expansion inside the wall of the artery can tear it and block blood flow causing a heart attack or stroke.”

Meet Blat: The Barcelona dog that can detect lung cancer from sniffing a person’s breath


Blat, a labrador retreiver mixed with an American Staffordshire pit bull, had a success rate of 95 percent in detecting cases of lung cancer and was even able to do so in very early stages – identifying cancer when the tumor was a mere four millimeters in diameter.  His owner and trainer, Ingrid Ramón, runs Barcelona-based Argus Detection Dogs, which trains dogs to specifically identify types of illness.

”Blat's 'spectacular' results indicate that there are molecules that are specific to lung cancers and that some of these molecules are detectable in the exhaled air," explained Laureano Molins, a thoracic surgeon at Hospital Clinic and co-author of trial.  "At the moment the olfactory skills of a dog are superior to any technology we have today," said Molins. "Our goal now is to identify the molecules (detected by Blat) and develop a diagnostic test that acts as an electronic nose."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 AM | Permalink

August 31, 2017

Health Roundup: Fat and low fat, pacemaker cyberflaw, ecstasy + PTSD, cocoa +diabetes

Low-fat diet could kill you, major study shows

Low-fat diets could raise the risk of early death by almost one quarter, a major study has found.  Published in The Lancet, the Canadian study of 135,000 adults found those who cut back on fats had far shorter lives than those enjoying plenty of butter, cheese and meats.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said it was time “for a complete U-turn” in Britain’s approach to diet, and demonization of fat. “The sooner we do that the sooner we reverse the epidemic in obesity and diabetes and the sooner start improving health.”

Fat has a PROTECTIVE effect:

Major Canadian study challenges decades of advice focused on cutting fat.  It showed that people who eat the least fat have the highest mortality rates and were 23% more likely to die young.  The latest Canadian findings were based on a huge study of 135,000 people aged 35 to 70, from 18 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.

Dr Mahshid Dehghan of McMaster University, speaking at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona, said: 'For decades, dietary guidelines have focused on reducing total fat and saturated fatty acid.'
But she added: 'The body needs fat. It carries vitamins, it provides essential acids, it has a role in the body. When you reduce fat to very low levels, you're affecting these important minerals.'

She stressed that people should not eat unlimited fat – and if people actually hit the British guidance of getting 35 per cent of energy from fat, they will give themselves the best health.  But she said the focus on 'low-fat' dieting – a drive supported by UK authorities - means people often go below this level. And when people try to cut fat they replace it in the diet with carbohydrates and sugar, increasing their heart risk.

Cyber-flaw affects 745,000 pacemakers

A total of 745,000 pacemakers in the U.S. and elsewhere have been confirmed as having cyber-security issues that could let them be hacked. The flaws could theoretically be used to cause the devices to pace too quickly or run down their batteries....Patients are being advised to ask their doctors about an available firmware update at their next scheduled appointment. The pacemakers can receive the revised code by being placed close to a radio wave-emitting wand in a process that lasts about three minutes.

Ecstasy Was Just Labelled a 'Breakthrough Therapy' For PTSD by The FDA

Men who get fit in middle age can halve their risk of strokes

Chocolate could PREVENT diabetes: Cocoa stimulates the release of insulin

A compound in cocoa, known as epicatechin monomers, enhances the secretion of insulin from specific cells, a study found. It also reduces obesity and increases animals' ability to cope with high blood glucose levels.

Although the study was only conducted in animals, the researchers add humans may require large quantities of the compound in order to benefit.  Study author Professor Jeffery Tessem from Brigham Young University (BYU), said 'You probably have to eat a lot of cocoa, and you probably don't want it to have a lot of sugar in it. It's the compound in cocoa you're after.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:03 PM | Permalink

"We've never seen anything like this before" about the "living drug" , tailor-made to each patient

Historic 'living drug' gets go-ahead

The US has approved the first treatment to redesign a patient's own immune system so it attacks cancer.
The regulator - the US Food and Drug Administration - said its decision was a "historic" moment and medicine was now "entering a new frontier".

The "living drug" is tailor-made to each patient, unlike conventional therapies such as surgery or chemotherapy.
It is called CAR-T and is made by extracting white blood cells from the patient's blood. The cells are then genetically reprogrammed to seek out and kill cancer. The cancer-killers are then put back inside the patient and once they find their target they multiply.

Dr Stephan Grupp, who treated the first child with CAR-T at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said the new approach was "enormously exciting" --"We've never seen anything like this before."

That first patient had been near to death, but has now been cancer-free for more than five years. Out of 63 patients treated with CAR-T therapy, 83% were in complete remission within three months and long-term data is still being collected. However, the therapy is not without risks....

US clears breakthrough gene therapy for childhood leukemia

Made from scratch for every patient, it's one of a wave of "living drugs" under development to fight additional blood cancers and other tumors, too. Novartis Pharmaceuticals set the price for its one-time infusion of so-called "CAR-T cells" at $475,000, but said there would be no charge for patients who didn't show a response within a month.

"This is a brand new way of treating cancer," said Dr. Stephan Grupp of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who treated the first child with CAR-T cell therapy — a girl who'd been near death but now is cancer-free for five years and counting. "That's enormously exciting."

CAR-T treatment uses gene therapy techniques not to fix disease-causing genes but to turbocharge T cells, immune system soldiers that cancer too often can evade. Researchers filter those cells from a patient's blood, reprogram them to harbor a "chimeric antigen receptor" or CAR that zeroes in on cancer, and grow hundreds of millions of copies. Returned to the patient, the revved-up cells can continue multiplying to fight disease for months or years.

It's a completely different way to harness the immune system than popular immunotherapy drugs called "checkpoint inhibitors" that treat a variety of cancers by helping the body's natural T cells better spot tumors. CAR-T cell therapy gives patients stronger T cells to do that job.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:49 PM | Permalink

August 30, 2017

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's edition

Huge increase in Alzheimer's-related deaths in the first few months of 2017, CDC report reveals  In the first quarter of 2017 there were 1.13 as many deaths from the disease as in the first quarter of 2016.

'Ground zero' of Alzheimer's 

Researchers from the UNC Medical School may have discovered how brain cells go bad in Alzheimer's patients. They found bead-like structures that form and indicate the disease are caused by two proteins -MMP-9 and HDAC6.

Alzheimer's disease causes abnormal deposits of amyloid beta protein and tau protein in the brain, as well as swarms of activated immune cells. The team of researchers used different experiments to look at how the proteins and activated immune cells attack the brain and cause Alzheimer's-related symptoms. They also found that one medicine currently in development that blocks a specific protein - HDAC6, which originates from within neurons - show progress in preventing the damage that causes those symptoms.  The drug, called tubastatin A, is currently undergoing late stage clinical trials at a number of hospitals around the United States. 

Led by Dr Todd Cohen, assistant professor of neurology, UNC scientists used human cell cultures to show how amyloid beta can trigger a dramatic inflammatory response in immune cells and how that interaction damages neurons. The team then showed how that kind of neuron damage leads to the formation of bead-like structures filled with abnormal tau protein.  Similar bead-like structures are known to form in the brain cells of people with Alzheimer's disease.

The UNC researchers also identified two proteins - MMP-9 and HDAC6 - that help promote this harmful, amyloid-to-inflammation-to-tau cascade. These proteins and others associated with them could become drug targets to treat or prevent Alzheimer's.'It's exciting that we were able to observe tau - the major Alzheimer's protein - inside these beaded structures,' said Dr Cohen, who is also a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center. 'We think that preventing these structures from forming would leave people with healthier neurons that are more resistant to Alzheimer's.'

Higher risk of Alzheimer's associated with:

1. Bad sleep could raise the risk of dementia by 10%

Deep sleep - also called rapid eye movement sleep - could fight off dementia Scientists believe that the dreaming stage of sleep boosts connections in the brain, helping to protect it against the onset of the disease... The authors of the study said it did not show cause and effect – so it was not possible to confirm whether a lack of REM sleep was causing dementia or whether it was simply an early predictor of the disease.

2. Adults with bad eyesight have higher risk of dementia

A significant link between vision loss and a decline in cognitive function has been uncovered by researchers at Stanford University.  The team of researchers analyzed two sets of data covering about 33,000 people to connect the dots between poor sight and dementia risks. The link wasn't weakened even after scientists adjusted for demographics, health and other factors....The researchers said their study was observational and could not establish exactly why vision loss is linked to cognitive decline. However, both symptoms are known to occur as people become older - suggesting they may both go hand-in-hand.

3. Lower serotonin levels are linked to dementia according to brain scan study.

Results suggest serotonin loss may be a key player in cognitive decline, not just a side-effect of Alzheimer's disease.  In a study looking at brain scans of people with mild loss of thought and memory ability, Johns Hopkins researchers report evidence of lower levels of the serotonin transporter -- a natural brain chemical that regulates mood, sleep and appetite....."Now that we have more evidence that serotonin is a chemical that appears affected early in cognitive decline, we suspect that increasing serotonin function in the brain could prevent memory loss from getting worse and slow disease progression," says Gwenn Smith, Ph.D., director of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

4. Spinach may cause Alzheimer's disease in at-risk people, research suggests.

The salad leaf's iron-rich content may damage the brain similar to how the compound causes metal to rust, according to new research. People with high levels of iron alongside the protein amyloid, which has previously been associated with Alzheimer's, are more likely to experience rapid cognitive decline, a study found while those with high amyloid but low iron levels are less at-risk of the disease.

Removing such 'rust' from the brain could prevent or delay the degenerative condition, the researchers add. Although iron is important for energy, it can cause cellular stress and their subsequent death. The researchers plan to conduct a five-year trial investigating whether an anti-iron drug could treat Alzheimer's.  Do not cut back on dietary iron. The researchers do not recommend people cut back on their dietary iron intake to reduce their Alzheimer's risk. This is because the amount of the iron in the brain appears unrelated to levels in the blood or a person's food intake.

5. Women face a greater risk of developing dementia during a crucial 10-year span, between 65 and 75

The team of researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, analyzed 27 independent studies, featuring data on a total of 57,979 individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's from North America and Europe. They found women are more at risk during the crucial 10-year span from 65-75. But contrary to past studies, there is no difference between the sexes from 55-85...Study co-author Dr Judy Pa,  said: 'The bottom line is women are not little men. A lot more research needs to target women because gender-specific variations can be so subtle that scientists often miss them. Most research today is ignoring a big part of the equation.'

Draper develops technique to predict cognitive decline in Alzheimer's

When patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it is often difficult to know how rapidly the disease will progress. But researchers at Cambridge-based Draper say that they can help researchers answer that very question, using artificial intelligence to study MRI data from Alzheimer’s patients....“This is one step forward to making better use of the biological data we have in order to obtain more informed insights into the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.” ....The technique is intended for researchers more than clinicians, and likely won’t be available to patients anytime soon

New eye test could spot Alzheimer's disease 20 YEARS before symptoms emerge  Retinal scan

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai developed an eye test as a non-invasive method. Comparing their results to brain scans, the eye test was just as successful at spotting those with twice the amount of plaque build-up in their brains....

For the study, the researchers conducted a clinical trial on 16 AD patients who drank a solution that includes curcumin, a natural component of the spice turmeric. The curcumin causes amyloid plaque in the retina to "light up" and be detected by the scan. The patients were then compared to a group of younger, cognitively healthy individuals.

The researchers found their results were as accurate as those found via standard invasive methods.  Until about a decade ago, the only way to officially diagnose someone with Alzheimer's disease was to analyze their brain posthumously. In recent years, physicians have been able to use positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brains of living people, to identify markers of the disease. However, the technology is expensive, and the test is invasive, since the patient needs to be injected with radioactive tracers. Experts say the finding is one of the biggest breakthroughs in Alzheimer's research to date, offering the first sign of a cost-effective and non-invasive test.
'This study adds to existing evidence pointing to the possibility of detecting this feature of Alzheimer's in the retina, by using equipment that already helps ophthalmologists diagnose problems like glaucoma or macular degeneration.

Blocking enzyme HDAC2, which is linked to Alzheimer's may reverse memory loss

In the brains of Alzheimer's patients, many of the genes required to form new memories are shut down by a genetic blockade, contributing to the cognitive decline seen in those patients.  MIT researchers have now shown that they can reverse that memory loss in mice by interfering with the enzyme that forms the blockade. The enzyme, known as HDAC2, turns genes off by condensing them so tightly that they can't be expressed.

Scientists believe they have found a drug that could treat childhood Alzheimer's

The disease is called Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) and causes enlarged organs, dementia and difficulty speaking. The study shows that a sugar molecule called cyclodextrin slows progression and can return some brain function in NPC patients.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:48 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2017

Health Roundup: Opioids, wonder drug for hearts, loneliness, chronic fatigue, peanut allergy and coffee

More than a third of US adults prescribed opioids in 2015.

That's 92 million people.  ....Opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, claiming more than 60,000 lives per year.

New wonder drug hailed as biggest breakthrough in fight against heart attacks and cancer

Cholesterol-busting statins are given to millions of adults deemed to be at risk of heart disease. But half of heart attacks occur in people who do not have high cholesterol at all. Now scientists have found that reducing inflammation in the body can protect against a host of conditions - with a “really dramatic effect” on cancer deaths. The drug canakinumab, given by injection every three months - cut repeat heart attacks by one quarter. Statins cut the risk by around 15 per cent.

Professor Paul Ridker of Harvard Medical School,  said it opens up a “third front” in the war on heart disease.  The landmark study tracked 10,000 heart attack victims who were given canakinumab, a drug which targets inflammation. The four-year study found those given the new treatment saw a 24 per cent reduction in heart attacks and 17 per cent fall in angina, while those on the highest dose saw cancer deaths fall by 51 per cent.

Loneliness, Social Isolation Greater Health Problem In US Than Obesity

Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University conducted two meta-analyses of previous studies to determine how social isolation, loneliness, and living alone plays a role in a person’s risk of dying. In an analysis of 148 studies that included more than 300,000 people total, her research team found that “a greater social connection” cuts a person’s risk of early death by 50 percent.

“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need — crucial to both well-being and survival. Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment...There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” says Holt-Lunstad.

Caregiving Is Hard Enough. Isolation Can Make It Unbearable.

“Don’t invite me for lunch — you know I can’t go,” Ms. Sherman-Lewis said. “Just bring a pizza and a bottle of wine and come by.”....Though tangible help counts do regular texts, calls or visits. They help keep caregivers from feeling invisible and forgotten. Counselors in the NYU program once had the friendly inspiration, since they kept caregivers’ information in their database, to send clients a card on their birthdays.  It sounds sweet, if trivial. But often, Dr. Mittelman said, “they’d call up, so grateful, and say, ‘You’re the only one who remembered.’”

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Appears to Leave a 'Chemical Signature' in The Blood

And it's similar to that of hibernating species.... Senior researcher Mark Davis from Stanford University said, "Our findings show clearly that it's an inflammatory disease and provide a solid basis for a diagnostic blood test."  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Linked to 7 Specific Gut Bacteria.  The study adds to research from last year, which showed that up to 80 percent of patients with ME/CFS could be accurately diagnosed by looking at their gut bacteria. And it's also known that up to 90 percent of ME/CFS patients have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Peanut allergy treatment 'lasts up to four years'

An oral treatment for peanut allergy is still effective four years after it was administered, a study conducted at the Murdoch Childrens' Research Institute in Melbourne has found. Children were given a probiotic, with a peanut protein, daily for 18 months. When tested one month later, 80% could tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms and after four years, 70% of them were still able to eat peanuts without suffering any side-effects.

Researchers say you might as well be your own therapist

A meta-analyses of 15 studies found no significant difference in the treatment outcomes for patients who saw a therapist and those who followed a self-help book or online program. The findings  suggest, as the researchers write, that self-help “has considerable potential as a first-line intervention.” For those who can’t get a therapy appointment right away, self-help CBT exercises can still have a powerful effect.

Four cups of coffee a day could slash chance of early death

Research on 20,000 middle-aged men and women found that those who drank it regularly had mortality rates almost two thirds lower. Previous studies have found that coffee can improve liver function, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:10 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2017

Alzheimer's Roundup: Singing and Dancing edition

“Most people associate music with important events and a wide array of emotions.
The connection can be so strong that hearing a tune long after the occurrence evokes a memory of it.”
— Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Line-dancing is better than a walk to fight Alzheimer's:

Pensioners who learn to line dance, take up jazz or square dancing are better protected from memory loss and dementia than those who walk or cycle, a study shows. Dancing can help fight off the loss of brainpower as we age and brain scans show that it works better over a period of 18 months than spells of cycling or Nordic walking.

....The study’s lead author, Dr Kathrin Rehfeld from the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, said: ‘Everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible.  I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.’

Singing and Music have Benefits to those with Alzheimer's

A growing body of research suggests that music — like art and other creative forms of therapy — can stir emotions and memories, enhance enjoyment and self-esteem, and enrich the lives of people with dementia....Music may even play a role in helping to ward off Alzheimer’s. Researchers from Loyola University in Chicago found that retired orchestra musicians who had spent a lifetime of playing musical instruments were less likely to develop dementia in old age.

....Singing as part of a group led to improvements in the thinking and memory skills and boost mood in those with dementia....“These data show that participation in an active singing program for an extended period of time can improve cognition in patients with moderate to severe dementia,” the researchers wrote.

Alzheimer's patients' brains boosted by belting out Sound of Music

The sessions appeared to have the most striking effect on people with moderate to severe dementia, with patients scoring higher on cognitive and drawing tests, and also on a satisfaction-with-life questionnaire at the end of the study....Jane Flinn, a neuroscientist at George Mason University in Virginia, said care homes that did not hold group singing sessions should consider them, because they were cheap, entertaining and beneficial for patients with Alzheimer's.

Choir of Alzheimer's patients sings tunes from memory

They're the songs that get stuck in our heads – and not nearly so annoying when placed in the context of a choir made up of Alzheimer's patients.  "That's where the magic comes in." ...Suddenly patients who entered the room having difficulty holding a thought or stringing even a few words together, belt out tunes from Rodgers and Hammerstein and the Beatles...."We know that music is stored in a part of the brain that's last affected by Alzheimer's disease."

Alzheimer's Disease: Music Brings Patients 'Back to Life'

"When I end up in a nursing home, I'll want to have my music with me," said Dan Cohen, executive director of Music & Memory. ...Personalized playlists, chosen by loved ones, make patients light up. "They're more alert, more attentive, more cooperative, more engaged," he said. "Even if they can't recognize loved ones and they've stopped speaking, they hear music and they come alive."

Remind music app helps Alzheimer's patients bring back memories

After being inspired by the documentary Alive Inside, a group of student designers in Sweden created Remind which allows families to curate playlists that help people with Alzheimer's remember parts of their lives through music .

The design team created a simplified MP3 player that feels like a smooth stone to make it easier for patients with any form of dementia to use.  A smartphone application allows the patient's family to personalize playlists.  Unfortunately, this award-winning design has yet to be produced.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

August 23, 2017

Health Roundup, Cancer Edition: Blood cancer, alternative medicine, Vit C, HIV as cancer cure, gum disease, clinical trials

New treatment approved for deadly blood cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration on Thursday approved the anti-cancer drug Besponsa, or inotuzumab ozogamicin, to treat B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL...Besponsa was evaluated in clinical studies involving 326 people with relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL who had received one or two prior treatments with other medication. More than 35 percent of people evaluated achieved complete remission for about eight months after taking Besponsa, compared with about 17 percent of those who took a different chemotherapy drug.

Treating Cancer With Alternative Medicine More Than Doubles Your Risk of Dying

Choosing alternative medicine to treat curable cancer instead of conventional cancer treatments more than doubles your risk of dying in five years, according to researchers from Yale University who analyzed 10 years of records in the National Cancer Database from 2004 to 2013 and identified 281 patients who had presented with early-stage breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer – but decided to forgo conventional treatments in favor of alternative approaches.

Cancer survivors share incredible pictures of themselves before and after they beat the disease

 Cancer Survivors Before After

'I survived': This woman faced 4 surgeries, 55 chemos and 28 radiation treatments and has come through to live a happy, healthy life

Vitamin C May Encourage Blood Cancer Stem Cells to Die

Vitamin C may “tell” faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health.  The scientists warned it is impossible to get the required amount through fruit, and that such high quantities would be given intravenously. By injecting patients with it, sufferers can get up to 500 times the amount than they would through eating fruit and vegetables. Super-strength vitamin C doses could be a way to fight leukemia, 'exciting' early trials suggest.

How HIV Became a Cancer Cure
The immunologist behind the revolutionary new treatment set to win approval from the FDA.

In 2011, a team of researchers led by immunologist Carl June, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, reported stunning results after genetically altering the T-cells of three patients with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a cancer that affects white blood cells. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August 2011, opened the field of cancer immunotherapy.
About 15 years ago June first considered using HIV to kill cancer cells. It turns out the HIV works better with human T-cells than the mouse virus does.”  A CAR T-cell is a “chimera”—Greek for a fusion of two animals. It combines the “killing machinery” of T-cells with the precise antibody targeting of B-cells. A CAR T-cell is designed to bind to a particular site on the cancer cell. That means, unlike with chemotherapy and radiation, other cells in the body aren’t damaged when patients receive CAR T-cell infusions. The result is fewer unpleasant long-term side effects.

The characteristic that makes HIV so deadly—it incorporates its DNA directly into host cells’—also makes it pliable for gene therapy. In the 1990s, Dr. June’s lab at Penn experimentally treated HIV patients using a re-engineered form of the virus. The researchers used modified HIV cells as a tool to alter the DNA of T-cells, which prevented the virus from replicating. Dr. June calls the cut-and-paste job “an anti-HIV molecular scissors.”“When we started in 2010, there were only three groups in the world trying to treat cancer with CAR T-cells,” he says. “Now there are over 200 trials.”

A Cancer Conundrum: Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients

With the arrival of two revolutionary treatment strategies, immunotherapy and personalized medicine, cancer researchers have found new hope — and a problem that is perhaps unprecedented in medical research. There are too many experimental cancer drugs in too many clinical trials, and not enough patients to test them on. The logjam is caused partly by companies hoping to rush profitable new cancer drugs to market, and partly by the nature of these therapies, which can be spectacularly effective but only in select patients.

Gum disease raises a woman's risk of cancer by up to 14% as oral inflammation promotes tumor development

Researchers from the University of Buffalo analyzed 65,869 postmenopausal women with an average age of 68.  They found that periodontal disease is associated with both esophageal and gallbladder cancer. Pathogens from the mouth are thought to easily infect the nearby esophagus. Inflammation has previously been linked to both gum disease and cancer onset.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

August 20, 2017

New Medical Research and Tech: Vaccine breakthroughs, Watson, probiotics, type 1 diabetes and balding

New treatment cures, vaccinates mice against cancer

Researchers at Duke University have successfully cured and vaccinated mice against cancer in a recent small study using nanotechnology and immunotherapy. The study combined a Food and Drug Administration-approved cancer immunotherapy treatment with a new tumor-killing nanotechnology to improve the effectiveness of both therapies. Researchers developed the photothermal immunotherapy using lasers and gold nanostars to heat and destroy tumors in combination with an immunotherapy drug.

Plants 'hijacked' to make polio vaccine

Plants have been "hijacked" to make polio vaccine in a breakthrough with the potential to transform vaccine manufacture, say scientists. The team at the John Innes Centre, in Norfolk,U.K., says the process is cheap, easy and quick.  As well as helping eliminate polio, the scientists believe their approach could help the world react to unexpected threats such as Zika virus or Ebola.

Experts said the achievement was both impressive and important. The vaccine is an "authentic mimic" of poliovirus called a virus-like particle. Outwardly it looks almost identical to poliovirus but - like the difference between a mannequin and person - it is empty on the inside. It has all the features needed to train the immune system, but none of the weapons to cause an infection.

IBM Watson Makes a Treatment Plan for Brain-Cancer Patient in 10 Minutes; Doctors Take 160 Hours

In treating brain cancer, time is of the essence....IBM Watson’s key feature is its natural-language-processing abilities. This means Watson for Genomics can go through the 23 million journal articles currently in the medical literature, government listings of clinical trials, and other existing data sources without requiring someone to reformat the information and make it digestible. Other Watson initiatives have also given the system access to patients’ electronic health records, but those records weren’t included in this study.

At Last, a Big, Successful Trial of Probiotics

A large Indian study of 4,500 newborn babies found that the right microbes can prevent a life-threatening condition called sepsis.  Sepsis is one of the biggest killers of newborn babies, ending around 600,000 lives every year when they’ve barely begun. Panigrahi’s trial, just 5.4 percent of the infants who took the synbiotic developed sepsis in their first two months of life, compared to 9 percent of those who received a placebo. That’s a reduction of 40 percent....The effect was twice as large as what the team expected, especially since the infants took daily doses of the synbiotic for just one week. And given the clear evidence of benefits, independent experts who were monitoring the study decided to stop the trial early: It would have been unethical to continue depriving half the newborns of the treatment...

The treatment also reduced the risk of infections by both the major groups of bacteria: the Gram-positives, by 82 percent; and the Gram-negatives, which are harder to treat with antibiotics, by 75 percent. It even reduced the risk of pneumonia and other infections of the airways by 34 percent. That was “completely unexpected,” says Panigrahi, and it’s the result he’s especially excited about. It suggests that the synbiotic isn’t just acting within the gut, but also giving the infants’ immune systems a body-wide boost.

Immune systems of type 1 diabetics can be ‘retrained’ to stop destroying insulin, scientists show

Researchers at King’s College London and Cardiff University showed that injecting patients with tiny protein fragments prevented immune cells from targeting vital insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops when a patient's immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. Without treatment the number of beta cells will slowly decrease and the body will no longer be able to maintain normal blood sugar (blood glucose) levels, leading to patients needing daily injections. But a trial involving 27 people showed it was possible to halt the loss of  beta cells with fortnightly or monthly injections for six months. There were also no toxic side-effects.

A cure for balding could be on the horizon after scientists have found a new way to make hair grow.

Increasing lactate production genetically accelerates the stem cells in dormant hair follicles to get them growing again, a study on mice showed. Researchers believe the discovery may lead to new drugs to help people who suffer from alopecia, the medical term for hair loss. Receding hairlines and thinning crowns can be caused by aging, genetics, hormone imbalance, stress, illness and medications.

'Before this, no one knew that increasing or decreasing the lactate would have an effect on hair follicle stem cells,' said William Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The researchers - whose work was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology - stress that these medications were used in preclinical tests only.  They have not been tested on humans or approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:55 PM | Permalink

August 18, 2017

Health Roundup: Food edition: Watercress, Vit B3, wine, walnuts, peanut allergy, probiotics and magnesium

You are what your grandmother ate

Parents' own prenatal environment has a detectable impact on their children's weight, new research indicates.

Watercress can boost sperm count and reduce stress.

Watercress can dampen the body's response to stress and help fight obesity. Both these are factors blamed for declining sperm count levels, studies show. The superfood has been found to reduce stress-related damage to DNA. The vegetable also has vitamins C and E shown to maintain sperm count levels.

Landmark Vitamin Discovery Could Prevent Miscarriages And Birth Defects

Vitamin B3 could have the potential to prevent miscarriages and birth defects, according to a 12-year study by scientists in Australia....It's the first time that NAD (aka nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) has been linked to congenital abnormalities, identifying a previously unknown cause of birth defects – along with the supplement that might treat the problem... research has shown that up to one third of women in the US have low levels of vitamin B3 during their pregnancy. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is usually found in meats and green vegetables, along with condiments such as Vegemite and Marmite....."The most important discovery for pregnant women since folate."

A daily glass of wine helps to protect the heart and can cut the risk of an early death by up to a fifth.

Drinking a glass of wine or a bottle of beer a night could slash your risk of an early death by a fifth.
Moderate drinking – defined as up to seven drinks a week for women and 14 for men – significantly cuts the risk of dying from heart disease and other problems, a study has found. Scientists from the University of Texas and Shandong University in China tracked 333,247 Americans for an average of 8.2 years. Researchers stressed there was a ‘delicate balance’ between the benefits and dangers of alcohol.

Walnuts boost the willpower of dieters

Walnuts reduce food cravings and promote a feeling of fullness, new research from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston suggests. Eating the healthy snack boosts brain activity in the region associated with control which suggests people will have more discipline when faced with unhealthy food.  Study author Dr Christos Mantzoros said, "When participants eat walnuts, [a] part of their brain lights up, and we know that's connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full.'

Cure to deadly peanut allergy?

Peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, a deadly allergic reaction, and one of the most common causes of food allergy deaths.  Immunologist and allergist Professor Tang from Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia has pioneered a new form of treatment that combines a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy, known as PPOIT.  Instead of avoiding the allergen, the treatment is designed to reprogram the immune system response to peanuts and over the longer term develop tolerance. It's thought combining probiotics with the immunotherapy gives the immune system the 'nudge' it needs.

A small clinical trial found two-thirds of children were rid of their allergy after undergoing an experimental immunotherapy treatment. The kids were given a probiotic treatment called lactobacillus rhamnosus, with a peanut protein, once daily for 18 months. Professor Tang said they found 70 per cent of children were able to stomach peanuts without suffering any reactions.  Astonishingly, their desensitisation to peanuts persisted for up to four years after treatment.

Will popping magnesium pills cure your aches and pains?  Are you getting enough Magnesium?

Guidelines suggest we should consume 375mg per day of magnesium, primarily from nuts and seeds, pulses, whole grains and leafy vegetables. Men take in 283mg a day on average, while women get just 226mg, says a UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey, published in February...‘After 40 ‘You are more likely to be overweight, and muscle mass starts to deteriorate. You are also more likely to have other conditions which affect the uptake of magnesium by the body."
U.S. researchers said the tablets improved mood in depressed patients. Bristol University experts found  that middle-aged people with low levels of magnesium in their blood had an increased risk of bone fractures.... Many clinical studies have shown magnesium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis.

Migraine sufferers get relief from daily magnesium supplements, says Dr Andrew Dowson, a headache specialist and chairman of the Migraine Action Medical Advisory Board. ‘There is definitely evidence that it works as a preventative,’ he said....In a large study published in 2013, researchers found that magnesium intake protected people against the Type 2 diabetes. And magnesium deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance and poor glucose regulation.

A study published in the journal Stroke said it had been found men and women reduced their stroke risk with a higher intake of magnesium. ‘We don’t know exactly why this happens, but one theory is magnesium reduces inflammation in the body,’ says Professor Welch.  Studies also show higher levels of dietary magnesium can help to reduce hypertension and cholesterol levels — both risk factors for stroke....

Eating foods rich in magnesium is linked with a positive impact on heart disease risk factors such as lowering blood pressure.’ Magnesium also plays a role in the heart’s electrical functioning by which it beats, and studies show it can relieve atrial fibrillation, or unusual heart rhythms.

Several studies also suggest the supplements can help you sleep better....‘Magnesium is a relaxer of muscles, so this can help to calm the body,’.... Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to restless leg syndrome,
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 PM | Permalink

August 13, 2017

Health Roundup: Breakthrough in CF, recovery from vegetative stroke, oxygen therapy and counter-productive drugs

'Breakthrough in treating cystic fibrosis

Vertex Pharmaceuticals scored a major win Tuesday with the release of data from three clinical trials testing three different triple combinations of cystic fibrosis drugs. Patients genetically resistant to all treatments now on the market showed unprecedented gains in lung function on all three experimental therapies - a 10 percentage point improvement, adjusted for placebo, in FEV1, an important measure of lung capacity. ....To put the 10 percentage point improvement in lung function in perspective, Vertex CEO Jeff Leiden points to the company’s first approved cystic fibrosis drug, Kalydeco, which demonstrates similar efficacy. “We have Kalydeco patients that call to tell us that they used to only be able to walk one block, but now they can run several miles, or they couldn’t walk up the stairs to their apartment and now they just run up and down those stairs every day,” he said. “This is life-changing for these patients.”

Vegetative stroke patient, 36, was able to speak and move just 16 DAYS after being given a Parkinson's disease drug

A vegetative stroke patient who was completely unresponsive to what was going on around her, regained complete consciousness just 16 days after being given a Parkinson's disease drug, a case report reveals. The unnamed woman, 36, who was only being kept alive by medical intervention, was able to speak in short sentences after being given the dopamine-boosting drug, known as amantadine. Unable to move, doctors thought her only option was to be admitted to a nursing home, yet the woman, believed to be from Berlin, can now eat and stand.

Experts believe the drug may have pushed the woman, who was diagnosed with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, 'above the threshold' for recovery. Amantadine is used to treat Parkinson's disease and 'flu. It is thought to increase levels of the 'feel-good' hormone dopamine in the brain which is involved in regulating movement.

Oxygen therapy revives brain of toddler who nearly drowned

In one of the first such confirmed cases, an Arkansas toddler who suffered severe brain injury after nearly drowning has had that brain damage reversed, using a new treatment. The treatment is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT. It exposes a patient to pure oxygen within the confines of a carefully controlled pressurized chamber. During the therapy, the body gets three times the normal amount of oxygen, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The saga began with every parent's nightmare. Just one day shy of her 2nd birthday, Eden Carlson nearly drowned in the family pool. The little girl was found floating face down, unresponsive. Alive, but just barely.  The initial prognosis, noted Dr. Paul Harch, wasn't good. The little girl's heart had stopped beating.  "It took 100 minutes of CPR at both the house and the emergency room to get a return of circulation," he said. "And when they did, she had lab values that you rarely see in a living human being."  MRI scans revealed significant brain injury. Her brain had started to shrink. She was losing both gray matter -- critical to muscle control, sensory perception and speech -- and white matter, the network of central nervous system wiring that makes up the lion's share of the brain.Over the next two months, Eden progressively lost muscle control as well as her ability to speak, walk and respond properly to commands.

The tide only started to turn at the two-month mark, when under the guidance of Harch, Eden started undergoing HBOT, the therapy that he describes as the "most misunderstood therapy in the history of science."  One reason hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been met with skepticism is that it's been difficult to explain how this treatment works, he said. But several recent studies involving adult acute injury patients have indicated that even a single session of HBOT can have an immediate impact on the activity of thousands of genes critical to the promotion of tissue recovery, Harch explained. What that means, he said, is that "every time you [have HBOT], we are manipulating gene expression in a beneficial way, inhibiting cell death and inflammation while promoting tissue growth and repair."

And Eden's experience perfectly drives home that point.  He said Eden's mother reported that by the 10th round, her child appeared to be "near normal." "She was able to walk again," said Harch. "Her language development accelerated and ended up improving to the point that it was better than it had been before the accident." And subsequent MRI scans confirmed what Harch suspected: "The shrinkage of her brain had almost completely re-grown," he said.

Chemotherapy could cause cancer to SPREAD and grow back even more aggressive,

The drug is often regarded as the first option for breast cancer patients. But scientists at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found evidence that this is only a short-term solution - and can be dangerous. While shrinking the tumors, it opens a gateway for tumors to spread.  Cancer becomes almost impossible treat once it spreads to other organs

Lead author Dr George Karagiannis says the findings, should not deter patients from seeking treatment, but suggests we could create a way to better monitor tumor movement in patients undergoing chemotherapy. 'One approach would be to obtain a small amount of tumor tissue after a few doses of preoperative chemotherapy.'

Drugs used to treat osteoporosis could have the opposite effect and make you more prone to fractures

US health officials recommend that patients use bisphosphonates for no more than three to five years.  The study of 50 women aged 65 to 93 found using the drugs long-term can make bones more mineralized and harder. Older women were found to be most at risk of taking the cheap pills, which include Fosamax, Boniva and Reclast. Such pills protect millions of osteoporosis patients from potentially fatal fractures if they are taken daily.  The findings have potential implications for the treatment of osteoporosis which affects some 44 million in the US.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

August 9, 2017

Astonishing advances in medical technology

Groundbreaking skin patch the size of a penny can regrow organs, restore brain function, and heal wounds by injecting genetic code into the damaged area

 Tissue Nanotransfection

The technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), uses a nanochip the size of a penny, which is placed on the skin for a second and then removed. In that time, the chip injects genetic code into skin cells, turning them into any type of cell needed to restore wounded blood vessels. And a new study reveals its effects can be seen within days. The researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center restored brain function to mice after strokes and rescued badly injured legs on mice in just three weeks with a single touch of this device. ...
'What's even more exciting is that it not only works on the skin, but on any type of tissue,' Sen said. In fact, researchers were able to grow brain cells on the skin surface of a mouse, harvest them, then inject them into the mouse's injured brain.  Just a few weeks after having a stroke, brain function in the mouse was restored, and it was healed. Because the technique uses a patient's own cells and does not rely on medication, researchers expect it to be approved for human trials within a year.

This miracle medical chip could one day heal almost anything

The future implications for such a device are limitless, though some examples include reprogramming brain cells in Alzheimer’s or stroke patients, regenerating limbs or helping injured soldiers or car crash victims at the scene.

“This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital and can actually be executed in the field,” said Chandan Sen, the director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies. “It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.” The technology is currently waiting for FDA approval, but Sen expects the device to enter human trial within the year.

Cutting edge procedure uses your own cells to repair cartilage

It's called MACI, which is a procedure that repairs damaged cartilage using a person’s own cartilage cells. Doctors say cartilage is harvested from the patient and sent to a lab in Massachusetts. It's then soaked into a patch and applied to the damaged area.

"You stimulate the cells in the right environment and they make cartilage around themselves. It's kind of like they make a cushion around themselves,” Dr. Zak Knutson said. "The cells start to stick 24 hours to the bone. Once they stick, then we're good because then we start motion and a little bit of weight-bearing to stimulate them to grow and make cartilage around them.”

Mind-controlled hearing aids filter out background noise by tracking the wearer's brain activity

Scientists have created a hearing aid that is controlled by the mind, new research reveals. The technology filters out background noise, allowing the wearer to focus on just one conversation, a study found. Such a hearing aid works by monitoring the user's brain activity to determine who they are conversing with and amplifying that voice, the research adds. Current hearing aids can filter out background noise but are unable to determine specifically who the wearer is listening to.

Researchers from Columbia University in New York are behind the technology, which picks up several speakers before separating them into individual voices thus combining speech engineering and auditory decoding.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2017

Antiibiotics: Closthioamide, superbugs, and vaccines

Vaccines are part of the solution to the emerging crisis of antibiotic resistance

Preventing infections in the first place will also reduce the need for antibiotics. That’s where vaccines come in as an important part of the solution.  Vaccines have a unique quality among health interventions by benefiting both the individuals who are vaccinated and the larger community.

Vaccines that prevent bacterial diseases such as pneumococcal infections, bacterial meningitis, or pneumonia reduce antibiotic use by directly preventing these types of bacterial infections, for which antibiotics are the recommended treatment. Vaccines against viral diseases can reduce antibiotic use by preventing the occurrence of influenza and other viral infections that are commonly lumped together as “the flu,” which are often mistreated with antibiotics.

New antibiotic has potential to transform 'arms race' against resistant diseases - including super-gonorrhea

A new antibiotic has been found in the ‘arms race’ against incurable superbugs. While still at least five years away from being available to patients, closthioamide cured 98 per cent of gonorrhea samples taken from British patients.  The antibiotic, only discovered seven years ago, has also been found to tackle hospital superbug MRSA and deadly E.coli and could go on to be tested against other bacteria, including drug-resistant TB.
Closthioamide was a lucky discovery by researchers trying to stimulate harmless bacteria to provide useful treatments. When they added ordinary soil to the bacteria, they came up with the antibiotic – a type of drug never seen before. It is thought to work by blocking the action of certain enzymes that maintain DNA inside bacterial cells.

You SHOULDN'T always take full course of antibiotics: Experts now say taking drugs after you feel well may encourage risk of superbugs

The report from ten specialists in infectious diseases from Oxford University and Brighton and Sussex Medical School said the current advice is not backed up by evidence. Instead, they say there is evidence that stopping antibiotics sooner is a safe and effective way to reduce overuse of the drugs....In hospitals, patients are often treated with antibiotics only until tests show they have recovered from infection. The authors said more trials were needed to establish what advice should be given to patients about how long to take the drugs.

Professor Martin Llewelyn, the report’s lead author, said: ‘Historically, antibiotic courses were set by precedent, driven by fear of under-treatment, with less concern about overuse… Completing the course goes against one of the most fundamental and widespread medication beliefs people have, which is that we should take as little medication as necessary.’

But Professor Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Recommended courses of antibiotics are not random – they are tailored to individual conditions and, in many cases, courses are quite short. ‘We are concerned about the concept of patients stopping taking their medication midway through a course once they “feel better”, because improvement in symptoms does not necessarily mean the infection has been completely eradicated.’

Don't jump the gun.  Why You Probably Should Still Take Your Full Course of Antibiotics

The advice needs to be clear. No one wants to take medication unnecessarily, but sometimes feeling better doesn't mean you are better....More research and clinical trials (as also noted in the BMJ article) are required in order to fully understand and adjust the lengths of antibiotic courses, but, in my opinion as a microbiologist, the risks of taking an insufficient course significantly outweigh the benefits.

You Still Have to Finish Your Antibiotics, But Ask These Questions First

  1. Do I really need antibiotics for this? I always ask this question, and you’d be surprised how often the answer is something like “This could you either way, actually. Would you like a paper prescription that you can get filled in a few days if you’re not feeling better?”
  2. Could we do a short course of antibiotics? Sometimes this is an option.
  3. It’s been a few days and I’m feeling better. Could I stop taking the antibiotics? Again, it depends on the specifics, but sometimes the answer will be yes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:14 PM | Permalink

August 4, 2017

Health Roundup: Alcohol & Food

Moderate to heavy drinkers are more likely to live to 85 without developing dementia

A 30-year study by the University of California, San Diego has concluded that over-65s who indulge in up to three alcoholic drinks a day can look forward to a happy and healthy retirement. In fact, they said, moderate to heavy drinkers (1-3 drinks a day) are more likely to live to the age of 85 without dementia or other cognitive impairments than non-drinkers. The study, which tracked more than 1,000 middle class white men and women in California, builds on a swell of recent research linking alcohol intake to longevity.  Ninety-nine percent of them were white with at least some college education....

The researchers warned that the study does not suggest drinking is responsible for increased longevity and cognitive health. They make the point that people who drink moderate amounts of wine on a regular basis tend to have higher incomes and education levels. They also tend to smoke less and have better access to health care....However, the researchers warned excessive alcohol intake is known to cause alcohol-related dementia.

Queen Elizabeth, 91, knocks back four drinks a day

In the morning, when she downs a gin and Dubonnet cocktail with lemon and ice...Next, the queen enjoys a glass of wine or champagne with her lunch... she unwinds in the evening with a dry martini and a glass of champagne....The four drinks technically add up to six units of alcohol, which makes the queen a binge drinker by British “government standards.”

Regular Alcohol Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Diabetes

According to a new study that looked at more than 70,000 Danish people, those who drink small to moderate amounts of alcohol on a frequent basis are less likely to develop diabetes than people who don't drink at all.

Alcohol Helps You Remember What You Learned Earlier, a small study shows.

Drinking booze after learning new information can help our brains store away what we took in when we were still sober, according to new research, even though alcohol is traditionally linked to problems forming memories.... it seems that when alcohol intake blocks the short-term memory circuits in the brain, long-term memories can then be consolidated. So after a few drinks, you stop taking in any new information, which means anything you learned earlier in the day has more chance to take root.

Alcohol increases the risk of skin cancer by up to 11% by causing irreparable DNA damage

For every 10g of alcohol a day, the risk of a form of skin cancer increases by 11%. Basal cell carcinoma increases by 7% and the risk of cutaneous squamous by 11%.  It is unclear if alcohol is linked to melanoma; the most deadly form of skin cancer. Past research suggests the ethanol in alcohol metabolizes into acetaldehyde, a chemical compound that damages DNA and prevents repair.

Reach for tea, red wine and blueberries to prevent flu taking hold.

Natural compounds found in berries, tea and red wine are known to have protective properties that help regulate the immune system to fight infections. Now, a new study shows that the flavonoids in these products works with a particular gut microbe to prevent severe flu infections. In their tests on mice, scientists explained that this did not stop the highly contagious infection being contracted. But the mechanism boosted the immune system and prevented the flu from harming the lung tissue.The new research, carried out at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, aimed to identify the exact gut microbes that might provide that protection.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:53 PM | Permalink

Medical research and technology roundup: Lung fibrosis, cancer, depression gene, MS, aging cells, bio-glue

Stem cell therapy for lung fibrosis conditions

A team of scientists from the UNC School of Medicine and North Carolina State University (NCSU) has developed promising research towards a possible stem cell treatment for several lung conditions, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis -- often-fatal conditions that affect tens of millions of Americans.

Discovery points to drugs that would 'short-circuit' deadly leukemia

Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered that survival of a particularly aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) depends on production of a small molecule called heme that is a kind of molecular "battery." The researchers said discovery of this vulnerability points the way to new targeted drug therapies that block heme synthesis, killing the leukemic cells.

Nearly 25% of people carry a gene that makes it more likely they will develop depression as they age, a new study claims

The study, conducted at the University of Central Florida, found that a gene variant called apolipoprotein-E4 (ApoE4), makes it 20 percent more likely that people will develop depression later in life than people without it. The study was conducted on a pool of 3,203 participants, following them as they aged from 53 to 71 years old.

New blood test can check for 13 types of cancers

A research team led by the Tokyo-based National Cancer Center Japan has developed a new test to diagnose 13 kinds of cancers from a single drop of blood, including relatively early stage 1 cancers, with more than 95 percent accuracy. Breast cancer was diagnosed with 97 percent accuracy....The new test utilizes microRNA (miRNA), a substance that is secreted from cells into the blood and regulates the movements of genes and which differ between cancer cells and normal cells.

Pioneering test can predict whether breast cancer will return

Patients with clustered immune cells, known as 'hotspots', were 25 per cent more likely to relapse within 10 years. The likelihood of cancer returning within five years was 23 per cent higher in women with the hotspots, a study found. The new method gives doctors the opportunity to dish out better preventative drugs to help keep the disease at bay. An automated computer tool on tissue samples searches for 'hotspots' by assessing how cells are organized spatially.

Small green sponge found in the icy waters off Alaska could CURE pancreatic and ovarian cancer

Scientists say a molecule from the sponge selectively killed malignant cells in both types of diseases in laboratory tests....The molecule in the sponge is structurally and chemically unique, said researchers...The discovery came after researchers spent the last two decades researching natural products that could be used for drugs....Any clinical trials would likely be about six years away

Resistance training SLOWS the progression of multiple sclerosis and even REVERSES brain shrinkage

Specifically, resistance exercise - also known as strength or weight training - has been shown to result in less brain shrinkage in patients. Furthermore, brain atrophy - classically considered as a measure of the disease's progression - appeared to be reversed in small areas....The team say they are unable to explain why training had a positive effect on the brain in people with MS. Previous research suggests exercise boosts two proteins - brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) - which help repair neurons in MS.  Study author associate professor Ulrik Dalgas at Aarhus University in Denmark, said, "The fact that physical training also seems to have a protective effect on the brain in people with multiple sclerosis is new and important knowledge.'  Dr Dalgas said further - and larger - research was necessary.  He stressed that the aim is not to replace medication with physical training.

Harvard develops medical bio glue based on slug secretions

As any gardener who has observed the revolting pests scaling a wet flowerpot will know, the sticky mucus exuded by the revolting pests has the power to stick to wet surfaces....[while]  most glues invented by humans require nice dry surfaces to stick, or are often too toxic to use on a human wound......The bio-glue was developed by experts at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. The researchers say that in laboratory tests they successfully repaired a hole in a pig heart that was slick with blood.  The sealant did not leak when the pig's heart beat, highlighting how the glue was flexible enough to cope with stretching. Tests revealed it bound together skin, cartilage, heart, artery, and liver with significantly greater strength than other medical adhesives. It is also non-toxic and does not cause tissue damage or adhesions. Professor Donald Ingber, who worked on the project, said: "Nature has frequently already found elegant solutions to common problems...'We are excited to see how this technology, inspired by a humble slug, might develop into a new technology for surgical repair and wound healing."

Brain cells found to control aging

Scientists have found that stem cells in the brain's hypothalamus govern how fast aging occurs in the body. In mice, when adult stem cells were injected, the signs of aging were reversed. The crucial hypothalamus stem cells are 'mother cells' that mature to produce new neurons. Researchers  believe that humans are likely to respond to the influence of hypothalamus stem cells in just the same way. The finding could lead to new strategies for warding off age-related diseases and extending lifespan.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 AM | Permalink

July 31, 2017

Alzheimer's Roundup: Ninja drug, losartan, risks start in childhood, brain diet, and care using virtual realty

‘Ninja drug’ prevents Alzheimer’s by destroying harmful cells in the brain

The drug, known as PMN310 antibody, is effective as the brain can regenerate. Experiments reveal the treatment stops the process that kills brain cells in dementia patients, while also protecting against short-term memory loss, a study found. Developed by Toronto-based ProMIS Neurosciences, the treatment is thought to neutralize harmful cells in the brain, which can then be cleared out. Unlike other medications, the drug is cell-specific and does not have side effects.  If successful in future trials, the medication could be available in 2025

Common blood pressure drug could halt progression of Alzheimer's

British researchers believe losartan – which has been available for more than two decades – could reduce the rate of brain shrinkage that normally occurs with the incurable condition. We already know people with high blood pressure have raised risk of Alzheimer's, but some are protected by the blood pressure drugs they take. The group of inhibitors losartan belongs to cuts disease risk by up to 50%.  Earlier research suggests losartan may improve blood flow and stop the chain reactions that cause brain cell damage and memory problems.

A ground-breaking £2 million trial is underway to test whether a common blood pressure drug could halt or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The study, known as RADAR, is being led by the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Queen's University Belfast and University College, London.

Is it Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia? New test differentiates between the two with up to 90% accuracy

The test  distinguishes between Alzheimer's and frontotemporal dementia and can tell between Alzheimer's and a healthy brain with 87% reliability. The analysis involved placing an electro-magnetic coil, known as transcranial magnetic stimulation, against the study's participants' scalps.
Researchers hope this will avoid expensive brain scans and spinal fluid samples. Early detection helps to treat patients quickly and greatly improves the management of the disease.

Alzheimer's might not destroy memories completely

It has long been thought that Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia, completely erases a sufferer's memories over time. However, according to a new study conducted on a group of mice at Columbia University, memories might not be completely wiped out by the disease, but instead made harder to access. The new data, also from tests on mice, suggests these 'lost' memories can be reawakened by artificially activating the neurons with lasers where the memories are stored.

About one-third of dementia cases could be prevented by actions that begin in childhood.

More than 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be traced to factors — such as inadequate education, obesity, hearing loss and smoking....The commission found that stunted educational attainment — specifically, the failure to complete more than eight years of school — is childhood’s most potent risk factor for developing dementia. This alone is responsible for 8% of one’s lifetime risk for the disease. That makes lack of education a more powerful driver than the ApoE-e4 gene variant, which predisposes carriers to dementia and is estimated to be responsible for 7% of its incidence....Stresses that begin in early childhood severely impair brain health in later life. Those stresses — including poverty, family fractures, and poor prenatal healthcare — and their cognitive effects are disproportionately seen in African Americans, the studies found.  In midlife, the commission found that one of the most powerful — and fixable — drivers of dementia risk is hearing loss. In fact, as much as 9% of lifetime risk for dementia lies with hearing loss during midlife.

Stroke risk increases dementia risk

Dementia is far more common in the 'stroke belt' of America's Deep South, where rates of high blood pressure and diabetes are far above the national average. The nine states considered high stroke mortality states in the study are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina and West Virginia. Experts warn it is no coincidence that these states also have a high proportion of black residents, significant levels of poverty, and poor access to healthcare.

The MIND diet is designed to prevent dementia and loss of brain function as you age.

It combines the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to create a dietary pattern that focuses specifically on brain health.

Virtual reality tried to treat dementia effects

Three or four decades ago, when nursing homes tied unruly patients to chairs or their beds to keep them from hurting themselves or others...Later, drugs took the place of restraints...Now virtual reality can be a novel diversion for patients and even can evoke nostalgia, serenity and wonder...

Black-and-white-striped angelfish glide past Mary Spencer as she scuba dives for the first time in her 84 years. Above, the sun glows white at the top of the Thai sea. Below, a school of bright orange fish darts by. “Oh, it’s a beautiful blue ocean,” the Orlando native said. “There goes a diver. He’s floating by.”....The retired Walt Disney World worker’s next adventure could take her to the Grand Canyon or on a safari without ever leaving her home in an east Orange County assisted-living facility.

How Virtual Reality Is Brightening up Dementia Patients’ Lives with video

The footage shows three dementia patients using a virtual reality headset that surrounds them with peaceful settings like beaches and forests. The experience helps to instantly calm the patients and significantly improves their mood.  Feeling as if they are actually in the surrounding they’re being shown, the patients all remark on how pleasing the experience is and how happy it’s made them feel. They also report feeling calm and relaxed hours after using the virtual reality headsets.

How virtual reality is transforming dementia care in Australia

For people living with dementia, VR can offer relief by triggering memories and positive emotions, even for those in the later stages who are often responsive to very little.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:40 PM | Permalink

July 28, 2017

Health: Degenerative CTE linked to playing football

Biggest ever NFL brain study diagnoses CTE in 99% of deceased players' brains

Boston University is leading the groundbreaking and ambitious research project to identify whether there is a direct link between concussions on the field and neurodegenerative diseases in players - including the late Aaron Hernandez.  They are focusing on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a little-understood condition a progressive neurodegeneration associated with repetitive head trauma. It has been linked to ALS (also called 'locked-in syndrome') and Alzheimer's.

Now, the team has released their first major findings from post-mortem examinations on 202 deceased players' brains, which were donated to research. The players, who lived to an average of 66 years old, had all played for a median of 15 years - from high school to professional leagues.  Overall, 177 of the brains they analyzed (87 percent) had CTE.  It was by far the most prevalent among NFL players: they found 110 of the 111 NFL players in the study (99 percent) had the hallmarks of CTE.

Ravens star, 26, who is also pursuing a PhD in math at MIT, RETIRES abruptly after shock study shows 99% of NFL players' brains are affected by degenerative disease CTE

Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel has quit the NFL just days after the world's biggest study into a degenerative brain disease showed that it affects 99 per cent of players. That news so shook Urschel - who is studying for a mathematics PhD at MIT in the off-season - that he quit on Thursday

Stunning CTE study message clear — play football at your own risk

87 percent of all players, 99 percent of NFL players, 91 percent of college players studied all came away with their brains dented.  You like those odds? Then send little Johnny on out there.

 Brain Scans Normal Encephalopathy
Normal brain on top, stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy on bottom

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: coffee, walnuts, Ketamine, Tai Chi, green tea, tumeric and prayer

Drinking More Coffee Is Associated With a Longer Life

Two major studies that involved more than 700,000 people and found that the more coffee individuals consumed, the less likely they were to die an early death from a number of diseases including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.  Decaf seems to offer the same health benefits.

Caffeine IS harmless: It's safe to take and even boosts mental performance

A review of 44 trials dispelled the widespread myth that caffeine, found in tea, coffee and fizzy drinks, is bad for the body. It found that sticking to the recommended daily amount of 400mg - the equivalent four cups of coffee or eight cups of tea - has no lasting damage on the body.

Eat WALNUTS to avoid heart disease, cancer and dementia

While walnuts have been hailed a 'superfood' for years, just why they are so good for us has been a mystery. Now an industry-funded experiment on rats has shed light on the reason why – they promote the growth of good bacteria which have anti-inflammatory properties.  Chronic inflammation is now considered to be central – among other factors – to many illnesses including heart disease, cancer and dementia.

Just two ounces – about 28 walnut halves, or a small bag – improve digestive health by nourishing friendly bacteria in the gut, helping them multiply. Walnuts are the only nut that contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acid as well as protein and fibre.
Our microflora has also increasingly been linked to many aspects of health including aging, arthritis, depression, cancer and heart conditions. Physiologist Professor Lauri Byerley, of Louisiana State University, said: 'The health of the gut is related to overall health in the rest of the body.

Ketamine has 'truly remarkable' effect on depression and is effective in elderly patients, scientists say

After six months, 43% of the subjects said they had no significant symptoms of depression....Colleen Loo, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, led the world’s first randomised control trial into the drug’s effect on people over 60 with treatment-resistant depression....Ketamine was discovered in 1962 and is licensed for medical use in the UK as an anesthetic, but is also used illegally as a recreational drug.

Tai Chi reduces the risk of deadly falls by 43%

'Falls are the primary cause of traumatic death in older adults...Taking up Tai Chi can prevent falls that lead to fractures and broken bones in the elderly, new research suggests. The ancient Chinese practice slashes the risk of pensioners having a tumble by 43 per cent, compared to other interventions. Used for more than 1,000 years, it combines deep breathing and slow and gentle movements to boost muscle health.

The Athletes Turning to Prayer for a Performance Boost

Skeptics might dismiss it as religious posturing, but science is revealing that prayer works. When believers pray, something happens in their brains that actually makes them better athletes.  Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, direc­tor of research at Thomas Jefferson Univer­sity Hospital’s Marcus Institute of Integrative Health, has spent a large portion of his career studying the effects of religious faith on our mental hardware. “When you pray, it changes your brain,” he says. “The mindfulness movement is really more of a secular approach.  We sort of cleaned it up and secularized it so that it’s more available to everyone, which is good. But in many ways it isn’t as good or as power­ful as prayer.”

10 science-based benefits of Green Tea extract

Like green tea, green tea extract is a great source of antioxidants. These have been credited with a range of health benefits, from promoting heart, liver and brain health to improving your skin and even reducing the risk of cancer. ...What’s more, many studies have looked at green tea extract’s ability to aid weight loss. In fact, many weight loss products list it as a key ingredient.

Tumeric, a curry spice, helped a dying woman beat cancer

After five years of living with cancer and the ravages of side-effects from repeated unsuccessful treatment, Dieneke Ferguson thought she was finally losing the battle. She had a serious relapse and there seemed little hope. She had been diagnosed with the blood cancer myeloma in 2007 and had undergone three rounds of chemotherapy as well as four stem cell transplants.  ‘I have been on all sorts of toxic drugs and the side-effects were terrifying,’ she says. ‘At one point I lost my memory for three days, and in 2008 two of the vertebrae in my spine collapsed so I couldn’t walk. They injected some kind of concrete into my spine to keep it stable.’
She tried Curcumin, a component of turmeric, and five years on, her cancer cell count is negligible, with her recovery featuring in the British Medical Journal. Curcumin has been linked to a host of benefits, including for heart disease. Dieneke is still taking 8g of curcumin in tablet form daily — the equivalent of about two teaspoonfuls of pure powdered curcumin. As kitchen turmeric contains 2 per cent curcumin, it would be physically impossible to eat enough of the curry spice to get the same dose of curcumin.

For although it is widely used in Eastern medicine, and has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects, for curcumin to be widely prescribed it must be tested in large-scale trials.  These cost millions, and the investment could never be repaid as there is no money to be made from sales of a natural compound that cannot be patented.

Doctors Found 27 Contact Lenses Lost in a Woman's Eye

The lenses were clumped together in a "blueish mass" and were "bound together by mucus," according to the journal. "She was quite shocked," Morjaria, who worked on the patient, told Optometry Today. "When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

The 16 Positive Emotions That Boost Health

Positive thinking could extend your lifespan:

Stanford University researchers tracked data on more than 60,000 Americans. Those who saw themselves as less active were 71% more likely to die years later. According to Stanford University, people who view themselves as less healthy than others are at risk of suffering a premature death - no matter how active they actually are.  The study is the latest of many to show how our thoughts, feelings and beliefs have a direct impact on our health.

Lead author Professor Anthony Ong from Weill Cornell Medicine, said: "There are many kinds of happiness, and experiencing a diversity of emotional states might reduce a person's vulnerability to psychopathology  by preventing any one emotion from dominating their emotional life.....The simple daily practice of labeling and categorizing good feelings in specific terms may help us experience more differentiated emotions in different contexts." 

Experiencing a wide range of positive emotions significantly reduces a person's inflammation level.  Inflammation has previously been linked to premature death and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and osteoporosis. A person's experience of negative emotions has no effect on their inflammation.

The 16 Positive Emotions That Boost Health Are:
Being at ease
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

July 24, 2017

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's Edition

Bacteria Found in Alzheimer’s Brains

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK have used DNA sequencing to examine bacteria in post-mortem brains from patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Unexpectedly, Alzheimer’s brains gave on average an apparent 7-fold increase in bacterial sequences above that seen in the healthy brain. Their findings suggest increased bacterial populations and different proportions of specific bacteria in Alzheimer’s, compared with healthy brains. The findings may support evidence that bacterial infection and inflammation in the brain could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alzheimer’s brains usually contain evidence of neuroinflammation, and researchers increasingly think that this could be a possible driver of the disease, by causing neurons in the brain to degenerate,” says David Emery, a researcher from the University of Bristol, and an author on the study.

Snoring linked to Alzheimer's:

Difficulty breathing while asleep accelerates memory decline in people at-risk of the condition, a study found. Daytime sleepiness and sleep apnea is also linked to impaired attention, memory and thinking in people who are genetically susceptible to the degenerative condition, the research adds.  Researchers hope the findings will support sleep-based treatments in people at-risk of developing Alzheimer's.

The researchers from Harvard University analyzed 1,752 people with an average age of 68. People were identified as being at-risk of Alzheimer's if they carried a certain variation of a gene known as APOE, which carries cholesterol and supports brain injury repair in healthy people. Previous studies have demonstrated one-fifth of the population who carry the APOE genetic variation are at an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Many people being treated for Alzheimer's may not actually have it

The Washington Post reports doctors tested 4,000 Medicare patients with mild cognitive impairment or dementia and discovered many of them definitively do not have Alzheimer's. Using PET scans, the study revealed only 54.3 percent of mild cognitive impairment patients and 70.5 percent of dementia patients had brains containing amyloid plaques. These plaques can be a sign of Alzheimer's.
The findings show many people are potentially taking unnecessary Alzheimer's medication, and doctors may want to change their treatment to something cheaper or more effective. Unfortunately, the only ways to test for amyloid plaques while a patient is alive are expensive PET scans, which aren't usually covered by insurance, or invasive spinal taps.

This new blood test could potentially reveal the plaques. 

Blood test detects Alzheimer’s plaques building up in brain

A blood test can detect whether plaques of beta-amyloid are building up in a person’s brain – a sign that they may develop Alzheimer’s disease. ...Now a team has developed a simple blood test that may make it possible for family doctors to screen for Alzheimer’s risk during health check-ups. “This kind of test could be used to screen many thousands of patients to identify those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and to start treatments before memory loss and brain damage,” says Randall Bateman, of Washington University in St Louis, who unveiled the test at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London today.
Bateman says the test could be used in a similar way to annual checks on cholesterol. The test works by measuring the relative amounts of different forms of beta-amyloid, a sign of whether plaques are likely to be building in a person’s brain. They developed the test by comparing ratios of beta-amyloid types in 41 people’s blood with PET scans showing how much beta-amyloid had aggregated in their brains.

“I’m very positive about the test, but would like to see it validated,” says Dean Hartley of the Alzheimer’s Association. “It was a very small sample, and they’re trying to confirm it in an additional 180 people. But in time, if we can get a blood test, it will take us further, just as cholesterol tests did in the cardiovascular field.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:49 PM | Permalink

July 21, 2017

Waste, Fraud & Abuse in Medicaid

The Facts about Medicaid Fraud

In September, the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a warning that improper payments under Medicaid have become so common that they will account this year for almost 12 percent of total Medicaid spending — just shy of $140 billion
As the Wall Street Journal has reported, we don’t even verify that doctors billing Medicaid for services rendered are actually doctors. In many cases, we do not do much to verify that their patients actually, you know, exist. We’ve paid untold billions of dollars to “clinics” that turn out to be little more — or nothing more — than post-office boxes and prepaid cell phones. And as bad as that 12 percent rate is, some policy scholars believe that it is in fact probably worse.
...the real problem with the welfare state is not the poor people receiving checks — it’s everybody in the middle, the vast array of government employees, their union allies, contractors, and third parties who earn six-, seven-, eight-, or nine-figure paydays taking their cuts of money we think we’re spending on the poor. This is an enormous criminal conspiracy against the American people and the public fisc.

The Great American Rip-Off

According to The Economist: Some criminals are switching from cocaine trafficking to prescription-drug fraud because the risk-adjusted rewards are higher: the money is still good, the work safer and the penalties lighter.
Without indulging in black-helicopter stuff, we should squarely face the fact that organized-crime syndicates are being permitted to use our medical entitlements to loot the Treasury, and that not very much is being done about that, which suggests the possibility — only a possibility — that there is political collusion in this at some level.

U.S. Charges 412, Including Doctors, in $1.3 Billion Health Fraud

Nearly one-third of the 412 charged were accused of opioid-related crimes. The health care providers, about 50 of them doctors, billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never purchased; collected money for false rehabilitation treatments and tests; and gave out prescriptions for cash, according to prosecutors.

Some of the doctors wrote more prescriptions for controlled substances in a single month than entire hospitals wrote in that time...“This event again highlights the enormity of the fraud challenge we face,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:38 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2017

Health Roundup: Cancer + immunology

Cancer vaccines help patients get tumor-free in 2 studies

Cancer vaccines — which are intended to help patients fight cancer by enlisting the individuals' own immune systems to attack cancer cells —showed promise in two small new studies.  In both studies, researchers used experimental cancer vaccines to treat patients who had the deadly skin cancer melanoma . And in both studies, tumors completely disappeared in more than half of the patients after they were given their cancer vaccines.
Both studies were phase I clinical trials, meaning they were carried out with a small number of patients to test the safety of the treatment, and find the best dose of a new treatment with the fewest side effects. "These are small-scale studies that need to be confirmed with larger numbers of patients."

Researchers are developing similar vaccines against other cancers as well, including a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, kidney cancer, blood cell cancers and ovarian cancer, said Dr. Catherine Wu, a physician-scientist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who led one of the new studies. "Many other cancers might benefit from this approach," Wu said. ...

More detail Custom cancer vaccines safely fight and kill tumors in early human trials

It’s early and there are many hurdles, but data so far suggests safety, efficacy.

A cancer treatment that one expert called the 'most exciting thing I’ve seen in my lifetime' just got closer to approval.

A  US Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) advisory committee just gave a critical recommendation for a cutting-edge cancer therapy...Novartis...  CTL019, a treatment for pediatric acute lymphoblastic lymphoblastic leukemia. The panel voted unanimously 10-0 in favor of recommending the treatment.

The highly personalized treatment is called CAR T-cell therapy. It's a type of cancer immunotherapy — or a therapy that harnesses the body's immune system to take on cancer cells.  Short for chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, CAR-T treatment takes a person's own cells, removes them from the body, re-engineers them, and then puts the cells back in the body where they can attack cancer cells. Novartis' therapy is one of two cutting-edge treatments for blood cancers are poised to get approved by the end of the year.

More detail
Why CAR T-cell immunotherapy is such a big deal for cancer treatment

The FDA will likely approve the gene-altering therapy.

Scientists Find New Biomarker to Guide Cancer Immunotherapy

Scientists said on Monday they had pinpointed a particular type of immune system cell that could predict more precisely if cancer patients are likely to respond to modern immunotherapy medicines. The discovery, reported in the journal Nature Immunology, suggests doctors and drug developers will need to get smarter in zeroing in on those people who stand to benefit from the expensive new drugs, which are revolutionizing cancer care.  Drugs such as Merck's Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo, Roche's Tecentriq and AstraZeneca's Imfinzi can boost the immune system's ability to fight tumors, but they only work for some patients.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Oral sex, omega 3, Mediterranean diet, artificial sweeteners, toxic sunscreen, Vit D heals sunburnt skin and medical marijuana

Oral sex is causing the spread of untreatable 'SUPER gonorrhea',

Oral sex is causing the spread of a dangerous gonorrhea superbug, experts have warned. The untreatable strain of gonorrhea is rapidly spreading across the world putting millions of lives at risk, the World Health Organization has warned.

Experts said that incurable gonorrhea has started to spread after becoming resistant to antibiotics, which has been partly caused by oral sex and a decline in condom use.The sexually transmitted bacteria can live at the back of the throat and, because of this, has been evolve immunity to antibiotics used to treat common throat infections.

An omega-3 rich diet really can fight bowel cancer:

Eating salmon, walnuts and chia seeds boosts the body's ability to stop deadly tumors, reveals first study of its kind. Omega-3 fatty acids prevent deadly tumors from spreading across the body. When broken down, these then go onto release cancer-fighting molecules.

Diet rich in oily fish, fresh vegetables and nuts cuts the risk of dementia by 35%

Is there anything a Mediterranean diet can't do?

Powerful compounds in tomatoes  HALVE skin tumors in male mice but not female  mice.

Compounds responsible for the fruit's red color may protect against UV rays. A trial showed mice fed a daily diet of tomato powder had their tumors shrink. Lead author Professor Tatiana Oberyszyn said: 'The study showed us that we do need to consider sex when exploring different preventative strategies.  'What works in men may not always work equally well in women and vice versa.'

Medical Marijuana Is Preferred by 93% of Patients for Pain Management

Patients managing pain vastly prefer using medical marijuana to opioid-based medications. They reported fewer side effects, and the majority found cannabis more effective.

Long-term use of artificial sweeteners increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

A wide-ranging review has found that long term use of the sweeteners – including aspartame, sucralose and stevia – may have negative effects on our metabolism and appetite, as well as our gut bacteria.  And contrary to expectation based on the belief cutting out sugar would prevent weight gain, evidence that taking artificial sweeteners reduces weight was mixed. Researchers at the University of Manitoba's George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation reviewed 37 studies that followed over 400,000 people for an average of 10 years.  The researchers said there was no consistent weight loss seen in people who took artificial sweeteners.

Swimming can turn your sunscreen toxic!

The compound used in the protective lotions becomes deadly when it reacts with chlorine and the sun, increasing risk of cancer. Avobenzone is widely considered to be the most popular sunscreen in the world. The compound works by making UV rays safer so that they don't damage the skin. But scientists say it becomes poisonous when exposed to both sun and chlorine

High doses of vitamin D help heal sun-burnt skin

Vitamin D 'significantly' reduces skin redness and swelling, a new study has found. And not only did it suppress inflammation, the 'sunshine vitamin' was also discovered to activate skin repair genes.
With participants who took a supplement an hour after a burn, the higher their vitamin d levels, the more the burn had healed 48 hours later. The findings of the trial – the first of its kind – suggest vitamin D increases levels of an anti-inflammatory enzyme in skin.

Study author Professor Kurt Lu from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center said 'We hypothesize that vitamin D helps promote protective barriers in the skin by rapidly reducing inflammation.'What we did not expect was that at a certain dose, vitamin D not only was capable of suppressing inflammation, it was also activating skin repair genes.'

Common disinfectant found in soap and toothpaste could be causing antibiotic resistance

Researchers found that triclosan, a chemical found in soap, toothpaste and cleaning products, could be making bacteria more immune to antibiotics. A new British study found that bacteria exposed to triclosan could become more resistant to a group of antibiotics known as quinolones. Quinolones are a common antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections, sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia. The warning comes just a year after the use of triclosan in antibacterial soap was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:54 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Statins, prostate surgery, OTC for MS and 'dry AMD'

Statins have 'no consistent evidence' of improving heart attack patients' survival:

Statins have 'no consistent evidence' of improving heart attack patients' survival, researchers from around the world conclude after analyzing dozens of studies over two decades. Taking a daily statin for five years after a heart attack extends your life by just four days, new research reveals. The researchers add that statins' supposed benefits are based on 'cherry-picked science' and are unjustly promoted by pharmaceutical giants. Heart attack survivors should instead aim to improve their health through diet and exercise, according to the researchers.

Prostate removal in cancer sufferers does not increase a patient's survival prospects,

Some 7.4 percent of prostate cancer sufferers who have the gland removed die as a result of their disease versus 11.4 per cent who leave it intact, which is not a significant difference, a study found. Men who have the surgery report greater urinary incontinence, greater erectile and sexual dysfunction and greater limitations in their daily activities. Lead author Dr Timothy Wilt from the Minneapolis VA Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, said: 'Men currently diagnosed with prostate cancer will have even better long-term overall and prostate cancer survival with observation.'

Over-the-counter lipoic acid may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, study finds

Also known as thioctic acid, it is a naturally occurring compound that is synthesised in small amounts by humans, which is available in supplement form.  The effects were seen on patients with the secondary progressive form (SPMS) of the common neurological disease.  In a pilot study, researchers found that taking a high dose of lipoic acid every day for two years reduced whole brain atrophy by 68 percent compared with a placebo.

The research, published in the journal Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, noted that the reduction of brain atrophy by 68 percent with lipoic acid was greater than the reported impact of the drug ocrelizumab. Known as brand name Ocrevus, the medication was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of primary progressive MS – improving whole brain atrophy by 18 percent in clinical trials.  Furthermore, the new study revealed participants treated with lipoic acid had fewer falls and better walking times, compared with those who were given the placebo.
However, the researchers caution that further trials involving a larger number of patients is necessary before lipoic acid can be recommended as a safe and effective treatment for the disease.

Drug May Help with Common Form of Vision Loss

An experimental drug reduces eye damage in people with a common form of vision loss for which there is currently no available treatment, a new study finds. The new study included 129 participants ages 60 to 89 in the United States and Germany. All of the participants had a particular type of AMD called geographic atrophyAMD, or "dry AMD." In the 18-month trial, the participants who were given monthly injections of a drug called lampalizumab had a 20 percent reduction, on average, in the size of the area of the retina that is affected by the disease.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 PM | Permalink

Good news in the Alzheimer's roundup UPDATED

Sharp focus on Alzheimer's may help target drugs

Abnormal deposits that build up in the brain during Alzheimer's have been pictured in unprecedented detail by UK scientists at The Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), a research institute in Cambridge, England.

The researchers used brain tissue from a 74-year-old woman who died after having Alzheimer's disease. The form of dementia leads to tangles of a protein called tau spreading throughout the brain. The more tau tangles there are, the worse the symptoms tend to be. Doctors have known this has happened for decades but what has been missing is a detailed understanding of what the tangles look like.

The team took advantage of the "resolution revolution" in microscopy to take thousands of highly detailed images of the tau inside the woman's brain tissues. Using computer software, they figured out the tangles look like this:

 Tau Tangles Pictured

It is pretty meaningless to an untrained eye, but to scientists this could be one of the most important recent discoveries in tackling dementia. Attempts to develop a drug to slow the pace of dementia have been met by repeated failure. But it is hard to come up with a drug when you do not know the precise chemical structure of what you are targeting.

Dr Sjors Scheres, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website: "It's like shooting in the dark - you can still hit something but you are much more likely to hit if you know what the structure is."We are excited - it opens up a whole new era in this field, it really does."

A Common Epilepsy Drug Can Fix Abnormal Brain Activity in Alzheimer's Disease

A team from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) at Harvard Medical School turned to an anti-seizure medication to see whether it might have any effect on the brain activity of patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. The drug in question was levetiracetam (LEV for short), commonly used for treating seizures in epilepsy patients. It's been tested before in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, showing benefits for normalizing brain activity and even reversing some cognitive deficits. Even though this was just a small feasibility study, the results look promising indeed.

New Alzheimer's Drug Trial Clears Toxic Brain Proteins And Slows Memory Loss

The drug targets amyloid deposits - toxic proteins linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s - and after just 12 months, patients on the highest dose had no detectable signs of these deposits. Not only that, but for the 20 early-stage Alzheimer’s patients who took the highest dose of the drug for more than six months, there were indications that their cognitive decline and memory loss had been slowed down.

Nothing is confirmed until the results are replicated in a much longer trial with a larger and more diverse sample set, so while we can be excited about the incredible potential of this drug, we need to wait for follow-up trials. So with that in mind, here’s what happened. The team recruited 165 participants who had been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease to test the efficacy of a drug based on an antibody called aducanumab.Aducanumab has been shown to naturally occur in people who age without experiencing significant cognitive decline, so the researchers decided to see what would happen if they injected high doses of the antibody into people with early-stage Alzheimer’s.

"This is the best news we’ve had in my 25 years of doing Alzheimer’s research, and it brings hope to patients and families affected by the disease," one of the researchers, neurologist Stephen Salloway from Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

Experts excited by brain 'wonder-drug'

In 2013, a UK Medical Research Council team stopped brain cells dying in an animal for the first time, creating headline news around the world. But the compound used was unsuitable for people, as it caused organ damage.  Now two drugs have been found that should have the same protective effect on the brain and are already safely used in people. These two drugs were shown to prevent both a form of dementia and prion disease by stopping brain cells dying.

"It's really exciting," said Prof Giovanna Mallucci, from the MRC Toxicology Unit in Leicester.  "Both were very highly protective and prevented memory deficits, paralysis and dysfunction of brain cells." She wants to start human clinical trials on dementia patients soon and expects to know whether the drugs work within two to three years.

Adults with ADHD are more than THREE TIMES as likely to develop dementia

Researchers studied 600 adults from Taiwan with ADHD over a 10-year period.They found adults with ADHD are 3.4 times more likely to develop dementia.  While it is unclear why, studies suggest both disorders are caused by problems with brain messengers.

Pauses in speech may indicate Alzheimer's disease: Taking longer to talk is an early sign of mental decline

Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that people with a family history of Alzheimer's disease who are at-risk of developing the condition are less able to express their ideas and have reduced 'fluency' when speaking, a study found. They also use words such as 'it' or 'they' rather than specific names for things and speak in shorter sentences, the research adds.

Orange a day cuts the risk of dementia by a quarter:

Daily intake of citrus fruits can cut chances of developing dementia by almost a quarter, according to a study by scientists at Tohuku University in Japan. Citric acid contains nobiletin, shown to slow or reverse impairment of memory. It's the first major study to investigate the effects citrus fruit consumption might have on large numbers of those most at risk.

People who complete daily crosswords have sharper brains as they grow older

Doing the tricky word puzzles helps boost attention, reasoning and memory. The 'exciting' findings were based on data from more than 17,000 participants in research led by Exeter University and Kings College London.

UPDATE: Two new genes which could be linked to Alzheimer's found in ground-breaking study
Until now, these genes were seen as protectors, since they are part of the brain's immune system.  However, scientists at Cardiff University have demonstrated that they can also create fertile ground for the neurodegenerative disease. Crucially, they said there are clear ways to target these genes - potentially blocking them from triggering dangerous activity. 

The study compared the DNA of tens of thousands of individuals with Alzheimer's with aged-matched people who are free from the disease, building on their previous work of identifying 24 susceptibility genes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:21 PM | Permalink

Roundup of exciting medical research and new medical technologies

Scientists stumble across a solution to deadly antibiotic resistance by CHANCE

Deemed to be one of the biggest threats to humanity, antibiotic resistance has previously been cited as severe as terrorism and global warming. It is causing usually harmless infections to turn into deadly superbugs that don't respond to a range of medications.  But Salford University scientists claim they may have stumbled across a very simple way forward – even though they weren't looking for antibiotics. And they have created several of the drugs already – many of which are as potent, or more so, than amoxicillin.

Study author Professor Michael Lisanti told MailOnline they were looking into ways of inhibiting mitochondria, the 'powerhouse' of cells which fuel fatal tumors, when they made the discovery. 'These broad-spectrum antibiotics were discovered, by simply screening candidates first on mitochondria in cancer cells.
'Mitochondria and bacteria have a lot in common. We began thinking that if what we found inhibited mitochondria, it would also kill bacteria.' 'So, these new anti-cancer agents should also be potential antibiotics.'

Their results showed that these synthetic compounds - without any additional chemical engineering - inhibited a broad spectrum of five types of common bacteria. This included Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, E. coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). They also killed the pathogenic yeast, Candida albicans.
Dubbed as 'mito-riboscins', they are equally, if not more, potent than standard antibiotics, the researchers said.

Johns Hopkins researchers say they've unlocked key to cancer metastasis and how to slow it

Hasini Jayatilaka was a sophomore at the Johns Hopkins University working in a lab studying cancer cells when she noticed that when the cells become too densely packed, some would break off and start spreading....Seven years later, the theory Jayatilaka developed early in college is now a bona fide discovery that offers significant promise for cancer treatment.

Jayatilaka and a team at Johns Hopkins discovered the biochemical mechanism that tells cancer cells to break off from the primary tumor and spread throughout the body, a process called metastasis. Some 90 percent of cancer deaths are caused when cancer metastasizes. The team also found that two existing, FDA-approved drugs can slow metastasis significantly....The drugs the team used were Tocilizumab, a rheumatoid arthritis treatment, and Reparixin, which is being evaluated for cancer treatment. The drugs bind to the Interleukin receptors and block their signals, slowing metastasis.  The next step for the team is to test the effectiveness of the drugs in human subjects.

New vaccine providing '100% protection' against life-wrecking Lyme disease is in the pipeline

Experts at UMass Medical School in Boston have prevented mice getting Lyme disease.  A single jab injects an antibody that targets bacteria inside the tick's gut as soon as the tick bites, thus preventing the illness from being transmitted to the body.

The seasonal injection of the single antibody could be given in the spring, and could last through the fall, when ticks are most active. The developers say it has shown virtually no adverse side effects, but more testing needs to be done. And this means that it could take another two-to-three years before it is available and it has passed the clinic trials required for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Until then, the sweetener Stevia might work even better than antibiotics to treat Lyme disease

A professor who has battled with the illness for 15 years, believes to have found a solution.  Dr Eva Sapi, an academic and researcher at the University of New Haven, conducted tests on the sweetener Stevia and found that it combats the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme disease.  "We did some research, and found out it's been used in Japan for centuries as a microbiotic agent."  The sugary substance has proven much more effective in killing the bacteria than antibiotics. Clinical trials are being conducted in Hyde Park, New York, by Dr Richard Horowitz, a doctor specializing in Lyme disease and curing patients with the illness. 

Geko 'wristwatch' may help speed up healing of leg injuries and aid patients who have surgery for broken bones

The neuromuscular electro-stimulation device reduces swelling in broken limbs.  Around 75 per cent of patients using Geko were treated successfully and went home in one or two days.

Rapidly expanding biofoam will save soldiers' lives.

Bleeding to death is the leading cause of fatalities on the battlefield.  Dubbed ResQ Foam, this remarkable biofoam rapidly expands inside the body (up to 35 times the original volume) and seals off the wound.  The foam which must be injected doesn’t repair the injury, but stabilizes the wounded, buying the patient about three more hours to get to a surgeon which can be the critical difference between life and death.

Silk patch that heals a burst eardrum

Called ClearDrum, the contact lens-sized implant is stitched over the hole in the eardrum and acts as a ‘scaffold’ on to which the patient’s own healthy new tissue can grow. It can also transmit sound just as a healthy eardrum would do. Trials on patients are due to begin in Australia within the next year and if these prove successful, ClearDrum could be widely available in three to five years.

The titanium 'butterfly' device which can cut the risk of a stroke after being placed in your neck

A tiny titanium ‘butterfly’ implanted in the neck could give hope to half a million British patients blighted by drug-resistant high blood pressure, dramatically reducing their risk of stroke, heart attacks and dementia.
In American trials, the baked-bean-size device – a featherlight, four-sided wire cage – has been able to improve patients’ prospects where medication had failed to do so.  Some, who still suffered high blood pressure despite being on the highest doses of medication, saw their readings drop to normal levels within months..... 

Dutch cardiologist Dr Jan van der Heyden, who has been using the device on patients, said: ‘We’ve been following patients for more than two years and have seen dramatic improvements....The implant remains in place permanently and the patient is unable to feel it.  Studies suggest that there is an initial effect within 24 hours, and that blood pressure continues to fall over three months and then remain stable.

Given European approval last year, the device, called MobiusHD, is now set to be offered to a select group of patients as part of a trial led by British experts. The procedure is set to go on trial at University College London Hospitals in a study expected to gain approval and begin recruiting later this year.

'Microneedle' Patch Promises Painless Flu Vaccine

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

June 22, 2017

Health Roundup: Anesthesia, white teeth, sleeping pills, cancer clinical trials, oral sunscreens and BPA

Anesthesia: what we still don't know about the 'gift of oblivion'

Halting, almost apologetic, I explained to the receptionist that I had spent some years researching the process known as anesthesia, and that I was now rather nervous about what was going to happen to me. "I think I know too much," I said.

"Oh dear," they said. "That's not good."

Some Americans spend billions to get their teeth whiter.  Some wait in line to get them pulled.

Teeth generally are treated separately from the rest of the body, a tradition that dates to dentistry’s origins as a specialty of barbers, who performed oral surgery and pulled teeth. Today, many public health officials view that division as a mistake. Poor oral health can lead to heart disease and other serious medical problems, and tooth loss can lead to depression and difficulty eating and speaking.

Sleeping pills are as dangerous as smoking a packet of cigarettes a day, expert claims

Recent studies have seen them linked to cancer, falls and even heart attacks.  Over recent years, scientists have conducted various studies to assess the true side-effects and risks of taking sleeping pills.  They have found an increased risk of: heart attacks, broken bones, dementia and infections. 

Why cancer patients must look for their own clinical trials

"Oncologists can barely keep up. My sister found a trial I was a perfect candidate for, and my doctors didn’t even know it existed.”...She was referring to the rapidly changing landscape of clinical trials for immunotherapy drugs. These medicines are not working for all advanced cancer patients but they are proving effective for some like her – even if sometimes only briefly. Researchers are racing to figure out for whom they work and why.

‘This is not the end’: Using immunotherapy and a genetic glitch to give cancer patients hope

The oncologist was blunt: Stefanie Joho’s colon cancer was raging out of control and there was nothing more she could do....But her sister couldn’t accept that... Jess opened her laptop and began searching frantically for clinical trials, using medical words she’d heard but not fully understood. An hour later, she came into her sister’s room and showed her what she’d found. “I’m not letting you give up,” she told Stefanie. “This is not the end.”

That search led to a contact at Johns Hopkins University, and a few days later, Joho got a call from a cancer geneticist co-leading a study there. “Get down here as fast as you can!” Luis Diaz said. “We are having tremendous success with patients like you.”

What followed is an illuminating tale of how one woman’s intersection with experimental research helped open a new frontier in cancer treatment — with approval of a drug that, for the first time, capitalizes on a genetic feature in a tumor rather than on the disease’s location in the body.
The breakthrough, made official last week by the Food and Drug Administration, immediately could benefit some patients with certain kinds of advanced cancer that aren’t responding to chemotherapy. Each should be tested for that genetic signature, scientists stress....In August 2014, Joho stumbled into Hopkins for her first infusion of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda.

The new pills that promise protection from UV rays

Heliocare and Sunsafe Rx offer 'sun protection' in the form of oral capsules. Heliocare claims to 'maintain skin's ability to protect against sun-related effects'. Sunsafe Rx, on the other hand, promises to 'defend against UVA and UVB rays'. Neither of these products have been approved by the FDA.

BPA, the'gender bending' chemical used in a wide range of plastics is finally named as a 'substance of very high concern' by European health officials

BPA is used to make plastics, including materials that come into contact with food, toys and cosmetics. It is most widely found in refillable drinks bottles and food storage containers, as well as the protective coatings and linings for food and drinks cans. Bisphenol A has been widely linked to cancer, birth defects and male infertility.

The new ruling on the chemical was made by the European Chemicals Agency based on 'its endocrine disrupting properties' that harm human health. Experts warn the chemical must now be phased out across the continent. However, the Food Standards Agency and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have said the chemical is not a safety concern.  The most recent statement from EFSA, in January 2015, said there is no risk posed to human health at current exposure levels. It said the highest estimates for exposure in the diet and from other sources are three to five times lower than the maximum recommended level.  In the US, the Food and Drug Administration's most recent ruling on the chemical was that it was 'safe at current levels'.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:23 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Olive oil good, lack of sleep bad for brain, Parkinson's, exercising spiritual muscles good

Extra-virgin olive oil prevents dementia by prompting the brain to clear out harmful debris, reveal scientists

Lead researcher Professor Domenico Pratico, from Temple University in Pennsylvania, said: 'We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy.' Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out unwanted debris left in the body. Mice with induced Alzheimer's who were fed a diet of olive oil had higher levels of autophagy in the brain, according to researchers.  Professor Pratico said: 'One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity - the integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet.

Your brain may eat itself when you’re overtired: study

Sleep deprivation actually causes the brain to feed off of neurons and synaptic connections, a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience says.  In other words, when you don’t get enough sleep, your brain starts to eat itself.

Neuroscientist Michele Bellesi, from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, led a study examining the brain’s response to poor sleep habits using well-rested and overtired mice....“We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” ... “But it may cause harm in the long term, and could explain why a chronic lack of sleep puts people at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.”
During sleep, glial cells, or astrocytes, clear the brain of  synapses to rejuvenate the brain while  the microglial cell destroys “old and worn out cells via a process called phagocytosis — meaning ‘to devour’ in Greek,”...These processes have a positive effect while you sleep, rewiring and replenishing the brain for the next day. Essentially, the brain is eliminating what’s irrelevant, holding onto what’s vital, and making room for new memories....However, when you stay awake, the cells actually go into overdrive and start hurting the brain instead.

Fat-soluble statins may increase risk of Parkinson's disease

The team examined medical insurance claim data from 50 million people. Of these, they selected 22,000 people living with Parkinson's disease, 2,322 of whom were newly diagnosed with the disease....

"Statin use was associated with higher, not lower, Parkinson's disease risk, and the association was more noticeable for lipophilic statins, an observation inconsistent with the current hypothesis that these statins protect nerve cells," she says. Although more studies are needed to better understand these results, Prof. Huang advocates for a cautious use of statins, particularly for those patients at higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's is partly an autoimmune disease, study finds

Researchers have found the first direct evidence that autoimmunity—in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues—plays a role in Parkinson's disease, the neurodegenerative movement disorder. The findings raise the possibility that the death of neurons in Parkinson's could be prevented by therapies that dampen the immune response.

The study, led by scientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, was published in Nature.  Study co-leader David Sulzer, PhD, professor of neurobiology (in psychiatry, neurology and pharmacology) at CUMC said. "The idea that a malfunctioning immune system contributes to Parkinson's dates back almost 100 years.. "But until now, no one has been able to connect the dots. Our findings show that two fragments of alpha-synuclein, a protein that accumulates in the brain cells of people with Parkinson's, can activate the T cells involved in autoimmune attacks."

Can church services extend your lifespan? 

Behavioral scientists at Vanderbilt University studied 5,500 people of all races and both genders. Two-thirds of them (64 percent) regularly attended worship sessions. The team found the religious participants scored better in terms of heart health, nutrition, and metabolic health. The effects of attendance at worship services remained after education, poverty, health insurance, and social support status were all taken into consideration.

The study was led by Marino Bruce, a behavioral scientist and ordained Baptist Minister, who worked with nine co-authors on the study, including Keith Norris, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 'We've found that being in a place where you can flex those spiritual muscles is actually beneficial for your health.' ....'We found that they go to church for factors beyond social support,' Bruce said. 'That's where we begin to think about this idea of compassionate thinking, that we're trying to improve the lives of others as well as being connected to a body larger than ourselves.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:06 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2017

Roundup of latest med research and tech: Pond-scum, science of diarrhea, real tans without sun, health-monitoring tattoos and more

How oxygen-producing pond scum could save your life after a heart attack

That’s because thee lowly bacteria in pond scum are capable of producing something a stricken heart desperately needs --- oxygen.  In fact, when Stanford scientists injected massive doses of cyanobacteria into the hearts of rats who suffered the equivalent of a “widow-maker” heart attack, oxygen levels ballooned by a factor of 25.

The results, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, suggest a truly original approach to reducing the damage done to heart muscle when it is suddenly deprived of oxygen.....Woo sees the new research as a “proof of principle” that photosynthesis, in some form, might someday be used as a bridge treatment for patients who have had blood flow cut off to any organ.

New study finds that diarrhea serves a purpose and flushes the body of certain infections

The study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), looked at the immune mechanisms that drive diarrhea.  They conducted a study in mice to find out if diarrhea serves a purpose by  infecting mice with the human equivalent of E.coli and analyzing their stools.  They found the infected mice produced proteins that caused tiny leaks in their intestinal wall which allowed more water to enter the intestines, making the mouse poop looser and limiting disease severity.

MIT Has Developed Color-Changing Tattoo Ink That Monitors Your Health in Real Time

Using a liquid with biosensors instead of traditional ink, scientists want to turn the surface of the human skin into an "interactive display, say for diabetics.  "The Dermal Abyss creates a direct access to the compartments in the body and reflects inner metabolic processes in a shape of a tattoo," the team writes on the project website

Scientists Have Discovered a Chemical That Causes Any Skin Type to Tan

It's the complete package: a chemical that can trigger the release of dark pigment in any type of skin tone - even in redheads - while also boosting the body's natural defenses against skin cancer.The new compound, which would work in conjunction with sunscreen, offers a temporary boost in melanin production - the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. If it proves effective in human trials, it could see the end of bad fake tans, and give fair-skinned people better protection when out in the elements.

"It would not actually be a fake tan, it would be the real thing," one of the team, David Fisher from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, told The Guardian. "It would just be sunless."

New discovery could get everyone a tan without the sun damage

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered a compound that can darken the skin without the sun’s damaging UV rays, according to a new study published in Cell Reports. “Our real goal is a novel strategy for protecting skin from UV radiation and cancer,” David Fisher, lead author of the study, told the BBC. “Dark pigment is associated with a lower risk of all forms of skin cancer – that would be really huge.”

The study notes that more safety testing is needed, especially when it comes to the MITF gene, which regulates skin pigment and could possibly cause cancer on its own if it’s messed around with. Fisher told Smithsonian magazine that it could be another three to five years before the product is close to hitting shelves. .... Fisher stressed that whatever form the eventual product takes, it wouldn’t be a replacement for sunscreen, merely an extra layer of protection.

The one drop flu blood test that could save your life 

The patented test, called The High-risk Influenza Screen Test (HIST), requires a drop of blood and a few hours to predict, with 91 per cent accuracy, which influenza patients are most as risk of deadly secondary infections such as pneumonia. The test was developed by Dr Bejamin Tang and his team, based at Australia's Westmead Institute for Medical Research, and runs on equipment available in most pathology laboratories.

'By using the High-risk Influenza Screen Test we're eavesdropping on the immune system to pick up when the body first mounts a defense against a serious, life-threatening, infection....'The early warning means we have a greater chance to treat the patient's infection before it overwhelms them and potentially kills them.'

A new drug that 'switches off' food cravings is on the horizon

Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard University used a tiny periscope to access part of brain not accessed before which allowed them to gain deeper understanding of how we react to food cues.

Certain hunger-promoting neurons can be artificially turned on even when full.  If these same neurons can be turned off to reduce food cravings, it could help obese people with a 'faulty' hard wiring that causes overeating.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 AM | Permalink

June 14, 2017

Medical Research and Technology: Ipsiihand, weak bladder, allergies, ovarian cancer, endometriosis and PTSD

"Ipsihand" lets 10 stroke patients regain control of their paralyzed hands


The technology called Ipsihand comprises a cap that contains electrodes to detect electrical signals in the brain, a computer that amplifies them and a movable brace that fits over the hand. The device detects the wearer's intention to open or close the paralyzed hand moving it in a pincer-like grip, with the second and third fingers bending to meet the thumb....The machine, developed by the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, targets a small part of the brain that is needed to send the first 'movement signal' to our fingers.

After 12 weeks of using the device, 10 patients increased their grasp ability by 6.2 on the 57-point scale.  While it may sound like a small number, experts insist it was a huge step in stroke research. For some, it even provided enough strength to put on a pair of pants.  Neuroscientist Professor Eric Leuthardt said: 'An increase of six points represents a meaningful improvement in quality of life.

Found, the gene that causes a weak bladder:

One in four women suffer ‘stress incontinence’ associated with laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising or movements that put pressure on the bladder.  In more than half of all cases, the problem appears to be inherited. This discovery leads to hope that existing drugs can be adapted to treat condition that affects millions.

Researchers studied 9,000 women from three groups in Finland and the UK. They found that the genes affecting incontinence were in a similar area to those connected with pulmonary hypertension and Raynaud’s syndrome – where spasms of the arteries reduce blood flow. Dr Cartwright said: ‘Previous studies had failed to confirm any genetic causes for incontinence.

Scientists make breakthrough that could lead to cure for ALL allergies with a single treatment

Researchers say a single treatment giving life-long protection from severe allergies such as asthma could be made possible by immunology research.  A team led by Associate Professor Ray Steptoe, at The University of Queensland in Australia, has been able to 'turn-off' the immune response which causes allergic reaction in animals.

'The challenge in asthma and allergies is that these immune cells, known as T-cells, develop a form of immune 'memory' and become very resistant to treatments. 'We have now been able to 'wipe' the memory of these T-cells in animals with gene therapy, desensitizing the immune system so that it tolerates the protein. Dr Steptoe said the findings would be subject to further pre-clinical investigation, with the next step being to replicate results using human cells in the laboratory. 

In ‘Enormous Success,’ Scientists Tie 52 Genes to Human Intelligence

A team of European and American scientists announced on Monday that they had identified 52 genes linked to intelligence in nearly 80,000 people. These genes do not determine intelligence, however. Their combined influence is minuscule, the researchers said, suggesting that thousands more are likely to be involved and still await discovery. Just as important, intelligence is profoundly shaped by the environment.

Hope for thousands of women with ovarian cancer:

The first results from a landmark trial have found that the treatment dramatically shrank tumors in seven out of 15 women patients in the terminal stages of the illness, extending their lives by 6 months or more.  The team of doctors and scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research in London have described the results as ‘rare’ and ‘very promising’.

The drug BTG945 is given intravenously – as a drip – and patients have 12 doses every two weeks. It is able to penetrate tumors by disguising itself as folic acid – a naturally occurring vitamin that is particularly beneficial to pregnant women. Ovarian cancer tumors are particularly receptive to folic acid and the disguise enables the treatment to enter the cells and attack. This means the surrounding healthy cells are left alone, which is why the treatment causes so few side effects.

Cancer drugs that could help end the monthly agony of women with endometriosis:

Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that normally forms the lining of the womb each month occurs elsewhere in the body. This can cause extreme pain, as every month the tissue is expelled at the time of menstruation, but has nowhere to go. It also triggers inflammation, which can lead to the development of scar tissue that sticks to internal organs, causing even more pain. If endometriosis forms around the reproductive organs, it can affect fertility.  The discovery that endometriosis cells behave in the same way could lead to new way to treat the condition

Can a Single Injection Conquer PTSD?

The U.S. Army has commissioned a study to determine whether an anesthetic injection to the neck alleviates symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder—a treatment that, if proven effective, could be a big step toward easing an affliction affecting hundreds of thousands of troops who have returned from combat.

The $2 million Army study constitutes the first large-scale randomized control research into use of the shots—called stellate ganglion blocks—to treat PTSD. The injections have been used for decades for arm pain and shingles.  Early clinical experience has produced promising results, with troops experiencing near-immediate relief of anxiety, hyper-vigilance, social withdrawal and other symptoms, said military doctors who have administered the treatment.
“Once people have the shot, they get dramatically better immediately,” Dr. Lynch said. The shot isn’t a cure, he said, but eases symptoms enough to allow talk therapy, pharmaceuticals and other approaches to achieve long-term improvements.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:34 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup - Food Edition: Salt, fatty fish, broccoli and gelatin

Top scientist says all you've been told about salt is WRONG:

By Dr James Dinicolantonio -a leading cardiovascular research scientist — based at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, Missouri — I’ve contributed extensively to health policy and medical literature. I am associate editor of the British Medical Journal’s Open Heart, published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society, and I sit on the editorial advisory board of several other medical journals.
The dangerous myth that salt raises blood pressure began more than 100 years ago, with French scientists Ambard and Beauchard. They based their findings on studies of just six patients. Successive researchers misinterpreted and misused their data, building on a theory that earned media attention without any solid foundation in fact.
In my work, I’ve examined data from more than 500 medical papers and studies about salt. And this is what I’ve learned: there was never any sound scientific evidence to support this low salt idea. What’s more, as I explain in my new book, eating too little of it can cause insulin resistance, increased fat storage and may even increase the risk of diabetes — not to mention decreasing our sex drive.

Yet salt is an essential nutrient that our bodies depend on to live. And those limits go against all our natural instincts. When people are allowed as much salt as they fancy, they tend to settle at about a teaspoon-and-a-half a day. This is true all over the world, across all cultures, climates and social backgrounds.
Current daily guidelines limit you to 2.4g of sodium yet the average Korean, for instance, eats over 4g of sodium a day and they have some of world’s lowest rates for hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Brain scans reveal for the first time that eating plenty of salmon, mackerel and sardines protects against Alzheimer's by boosting blood flow and memory

Eating oily fish boosts our overall mental and emotional health, study reveals.  Omega-3 makes people better at acquiring and understanding new information. Simple dietary changes could prevent our risk of developing the condition.Past research suggests dementia could even be treated via high omega-3 intake

Lead study author Professor Daniel Amen, of Amen Clinics in Costa Mesa, California, said: 'This is very important research because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia.'

Broccoli could be key to treating diabetes

A compound - sulforaphane -  in the broccoli helps to lower blood sugar levels.  Research has found that eating or drinking broccoli in the form of juice could help stop type 2 diabetes.

The Benefits of Gelatin 

Gelatin is a protein product derived from collagen with important health benefits due to its unique combination of amino acids. There is evidence that gelatin may reduce joint and bone pain, increase brain function and help reduce the signs of skin aging. Because gelatin is colorless and flavorless, it’s super easy to include in your diet. 

Who can resist a delicious panna cotta?    Especially after all that fish and broccoli/


Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:24 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2017

Health Roundup: Anabolic steroids, ALS, Vit D, arthritis, cancer drug, dietary fat, and walking

Long-term use of anabolic steroids damages the heart

Anabolic steroids are manufactured drugs that mimic the effects of the male hormone testosterone. There are an estimated 2.9 million to 4 million steroid users in Americans, the researchers said. 'Most people relate anabolic steroids to cheating among athletes and fail to realize that there is a large population of men who have developed dependence upon these drugs, but who are not readily visible,' Dr Pope said. 'The oldest members of this population are only now reaching middle age.'

Use of anabolic steroids appears to contribute to artery-clogging, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a team of US scientists have discovered. ...According to NHS Choices, effects of anabolic steroids in men can include reduced sperm count, infertility, shrunken testicles, erectile dysfunction and breast development. They also also risking baldness, increased risk of developing prostate cancer, severe acne and stomach pain.

The FDA just approved the first new drug to treat ALS in 22 years

The drug, known chemically as edaravone, is already sold by Japanese pharmaceutical company Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp (MTPC) in Japan and South Korea....After six months of treatment with edaravone on top of standard-of-care, data showed the intravenous drug reduced the rate of functional decline in patients by about a third.

FDA approves first cancer drug to target a tumor's genetic traits, rather than body parts

Until now, cancer care in the US has been categorized by body part, but in many cases that treatment is not specific enough and does not target a patient's tumor as it should. The new wave in treatment targets specific biomarkers of tumors. Keytruda is the first such drug approved by the FDA.

High fiber diets reduces risk of developing arthritis by up to 61%

Researchers from Tuft University, Boston and the University of Manchester conducted a review of two studies.  Their findings may debunk the theory that arthritis occurs due to 'wear and tear' as damaged cartilage is unable to properly repair itself. The findings also showed that consuming more fibre, particularly from cereals, reduced the risk of knee pain worsening.

This comes after researchers from the University of Surrey found a good diet and regular exercise can prevent arthritis. Eating poorly and being inactive reprograms cells in the joints, leading to an overproduction of glucose that causes inflammation and immobility, they found.

Walking linked to improved brain function

A moderate-intensity walking regimen may reduce symptoms of mild cognitive impairment that are linked to poor blood vessel health in the brain, a small study suggests.....Vascular cognitive impairment, or VCI, refers to mildly impaired thinking or more advanced dementia that’s due to the same kinds of blood vessel damage seen with heart disease elsewhere in the body. It is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin D in pregnancy may protect babies from asthma

'Sunshine supplements' boost infants' immune response

Government’s “Dietary fat guidelines have no evidence base”

Publishing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Dr Zoë Harcombe of the Institute of Clinical Exercise and Health Science of the University of the West of Scotland researched both the origins and the results of following the dietary fat guidelines that have prevailed in the US and the United Kingdom for almost 40 years. The evidence provides no support for the assertion that low-fat diets are healthier, especially as the incidences of obesity and diabetes have escalated dramatically during the same four decades of the guidelines’ implementation.

....First, the case against eggs was cracked. Recently, salt has been shown to lower blood pressure. Based on the new report, I am having steak and eggs for breakfast tomorrow!
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:09 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2017

Health Roundup: Pain relievers + heart, ice packs, skin patch for stroke, navigating the ER

Pain Relievers Tied to Immediate Heart Risks

Researchers did a systematic review of studies involving more than 446,000 people ages 40 to 79, of whom more than 61,000 had heart attacks. In those who used Nsaids one to seven days, the risk of heart attack increased 24 percent for celecoxib (Celebrex), 48 percent for ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), 50 percent for diclofenac (Voltaren), and 53 percent for naproxen (Aleve).

The study, in BMJ, found that the risk increases with higher doses and duration of treatment, but there was no significant increase in risk after one month of taking the drugs.  The lead author, Michèle Bally, an epidemiologist at the University of Montreal Hospital, said that the absolute increase in risk is quite small, since the risk of heart attack for most people is small to begin with.

Insty comments As a population, though, Americans are taking these at much higher rates than a few decades ago, yet heart attacks aren’t more common, in fact they’re less so. So what gives?

Wrap your loved ones in ICE PACKS to save their brain after cardiac arrest, new guidelines advise

Body cooling is now advised by medical professionals for cardiac arrest patients. Experts say it will limit brain injury from those who suffered a heart arrest. Cooling is done by placing packs and blankets on the body or through devices.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. They will lose consciousness and will stop breathing normally. More than 400,000 Americans experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year.  The survival statistics are bleak: approximately 50 percent of people who arrest are revived and only about 10 percent of these people leave the hospital.  Of those who do survive, around half suffer some level of brain impairment from the brain not getting enough oxygen.

Skin patch can halve the risk of death of stroke

A small skin patch costing only 39p (about 50 cents) 'can halve the risk of death after a stroke' by lowering blood pressure and relaxing veins and arteries to improve circulation to the brain.  The patch which delivers glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) usually used to treat high blood pressure, must be applied to the shoulder or arm of the patient within hours of the stroke. Experts believe it can improve survival rates and reduce the effects of a stroke dramatically if administered quickly. In a pilot study by the University of Nottingham, patients who were given the patch by paramedics had a 16 per cent risk of dying – less than half the 38 per cent mortality rate among those not given the patch.

Strategies to Navigate the Emergency Room

The most important fact every E.R. visitor should know can be that will true medical emergencies —-patients which has a potentially life-threatening problem like a heart attack, stroke, respiratory distress or uncontrolled bleeding —- take precedence over a broken bone, headache or stomach pain.

Also important to know: If faced which has a true emergency, call 911. The responding ambulance will take you to the nearest hospital equipped to deal with your problem. Don’t follow the example of two friends of mine who walked themselves to the hospital while inside throes of a heart attack. in addition to don’t drive or have someone drive you. If you come by ambulance, you will be evaluated in addition to given emergency treatment immediately, even before reaching the hospital. however if your problem turns out to be less than urgent, once there you’ll be sent to the back of the line.

Assuming that will an emergency room can be your best option, there are many things you can do to make the visit more efficient in addition to less anxiety-provoking. Along with your insurance card, keep a card in your wallet or a list on your phone with all the medications in addition to supplements you take in addition to any allergies or chronic health problems you have. If available, also take copies of recent laboratory or diagnostic test results.

Try to have someone come with you or meet you at the E.R. who can serve as your advocate in addition to helpmate. A friend who recently spent many hours inside E.R. with an elderly woman who had fallen in addition to broken her nose was able to get her a needed drink, refill her ice pack, find out when she might be admitted in addition to offer moral support.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink

May 15, 2017

Health Roundup: Sleep skills, kiwis, nod to beat dizziness, too much exercise, gardening for fat kids, octopus toys for premies

Sleep Is the New Status Symbol

If sleep used to be the new sex, as Marian Salzman, a trend spotter and chief executive of Havas PR North America, proclaimed 10 years ago, today it is a measure of success — a skill to be cultivated and nourished — as a “human potential enhancer,” ....“Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body,” Dr. Walker of U.C. Berkeley said.

Kiwi fruit, the surprise secret to nodding off:

Eating two of them one hour before bedtime 'helps people sleep more soundly'.  It is not understood why, but it could be linked to high antioxidant and serotonin levels in the fruit.

Do you want to beat dizziness? Nod your head:

One in three pensioners suffer from dizziness caused by inner ear problems. Researchers at Southampton University found five minutes of simple head movements a day can solve problem. The home remedy was found to be twice as effective as seeing a family doctor.  After only six weeks, 40 per cent of dizziness sufferers felt much better or completely well. The exercises were twice as effective as conventional care for adults aged 50 and older. They showed significantly lower levels of dizziness symptoms after three and six months.

The researchers say the exercises must be followed precisely as directed through a freely available internet program called Balance Retraining.  Paul Little, a GP and professor of primary care research at the University of Southampton, said: ‘Balance Retraining intervention has huge potential to provide effective and easily accessible treatment for a really under-served patient group.’

Volunteering more than doubles your protection against dementia by keeping your brain engaged

Researchers from the University of Calgary analyzed 1,001 retired Swedish citizens over five years....Results revealed those who never volunteered were around 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia than those who consistently did so for at least an hour a week....

Study author Yannick Griep, from the University of Calgary, said, '[Volunteering] brings a structure to the day. It offers social contact with people outside of our family. It makes us feel like we're making a meaningful contribution to society.'

TOO much exercise causes a leaky gut and increases health risks

The first study to investigate gut bacteria during military training found that intense physiological stress can change the composition of our gut microbiota.  Imbalances in the gut are linked to diabetes, obesity and some cancers. Findings raise concerns for endurance athletes and military personnel

Gardening helps reduce childhood obesity

Researchers from the University of California studied the impact of gardening lessons to children aged nine to 10-years-old at four schools in California. The results, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, revealed that the gardening classes dramatically improved student's health.

Octopus toys improves health of premature babies

Hospital sees an improvement in health of premature babies in intensive care after using knitted octopus toys with woolly tentacles that feel like an umbilical cord which appear to replicate the feeling of being inside the womb.  The fluffy sea creatures - which each take two hours to make - calm the agitated newborns by making it feel like they are attached to an umbilical cord.

According to medical staff in Curitiba Maternity Hospital in Brazil, where the initiative has been launched, the donated toys are working wonders and nurses have seen an improvement in the infants.  Each baby receives two octopuses which are sterilized at temperatures of 375ºF which they can take home when they are discharged from hospital. A team of 50 knitting volunteers has produced nearly 150 octopuses in a month
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:46 PM | Permalink

New medical research and technology: Cure for baldness and greying, breast milk substance, anorexia partially genetic, UpnRide vertical wheelchair and more

Skin cell discovery could spell cure for baldness and grey hair:

Researchers were investigating how certain tumors form when they discovered the identity of the cells that produce hair and turn it grey.  The study found the protein called KROX20, more commonly associated with nerve development, turned on in skin cells that become the hair shaft. These hair precursor, or progenitor, cells then produce a protein called stem cell factor (SCF) which is essential for hair pigmentation.

Dr Lu Le, professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Centre in Texas, said the chance discovery could lead to an effective treatment to cure baldness and stop greying.

Swedish scientists discover that breast milk contains a substance that kills cancer cells

Breast milk is being used to fight cancer after scientists accidentally discovered it contains a substance that kills tumor cells.Trials in patients with bladder cancer have already yielded promising results and researchers believe the compound breast milk contains – nicknamed Hamlet – will also help tackle bowel cancer and cervical cancer. They also say it homes in on cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed – so it has none of the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.

The substance attacks cancer cells in numerous ways – first evading the cell’s outer defenses, then targeting the ‘power station’ mitochondria and the ‘instruction manual’ nucleus. These actions cut off the cell’s energy source and ‘program’ it to commit suicide, in a process called apoptosis.

Professor Catharina Svanborg, who made the initial discovery, said last night: ‘There’s something magical about Hamlet’s ability to target tumor cells and kill them.’ She said human breast milk contained a protein called alpha-lactalbumin, which is transformed into a cancer-fighting agent when in the gut. An immunologist at Lund University in Sweden, she made the chance discovery that the substance kills tumor cells when working on antibiotics.

Early trials in patients with bladder cancer show those injected with Hamlet start shedding dead tumour cells in their urine within days. A full-scale trial pitting Hamlet against a placebo ‘dummy drug’ is now planned.

Anorexia is partly genetic and eating disorder risk could be passed on to children, study finds

An international collaboration of scientists found that many people who suffer from anorexia nervosa have mutated DNA on a particular chromosome.

Apple's watch really can save your live: Study finds its sensors can spot signs of a stroke with 97% accuracy

The Apple Watch has been found to detect a heart condition that affects some 2.7 million people in the US, a new study has revealed. By pairing the smartwatch's heart rate sensors with artificial intelligence, researchers developed an algorithm capable of distinguishing an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation, from a normal heart rhythm - and with 97 percent accuracy. Atrial fibrillation, although easily treatable, has been difficult to diagnose.

CCM disease, a common hard-to-treat brain disease starts in the GUT, study reveals

Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are clusters of dilated, thin-walled blood vessels in the brain that can cause stroke and seizures.  Tests on mice showed certain gut bacteria triggered the formation of clusters that cause these seizures. Looking at human models it seems the same is true for people. Currently there is not drug available to treat CCM. The only treatment option is surgical removal.

In 2016, Dr Mark Kahn, a professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, discovered the molecular mechanism in cells that underlies CCM formation. These studies identify an unexpected, direct link between the microbiome and a common cerebrovascular disease.'This suggests that treatments designed to block TLR4 signaling or alter the microbiome may be used to treat this disease,' Dr Kahn said.

Looks like a Segway, acts like a wheelchair

Introducing the UPnRIDE convertible wheelchair from the Israeli makers of the ReWalk robotic exoskeleton....UPnRIDE will enable many wheelchair users to be fully mobile in standing position anywhere, including in an urban environment.

As a category, the standing wheelchair is not a new product. These devices have been shown to improve circulation, elimination and bone density, and could also improve overall quality of life and independence among wheelchair users.  What’s different about the UPnRIDE?“The twist we bring here is the stabilization,” said says Oren Tamari, CEO of RehaMed Technologies.

A new laser imaging technique now allows for a real time look inside the the body of a small animal.

The technique, which uses light and ultrasound, provides enough resolution to see active organs, flowing blood, circulating melanoma cells and firing neural networks.  The researchers, based at the Duke University and The California Institute of Technology (Caltech), used a technique called 'single-impulse photoacoustic computed tomography (SIP-PACT)' to produce the images.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:40 PM | Permalink

May 10, 2017

Medical research and technology: Skin gun for burns, 'capsule robot', depression gene, tequila study and MRIs from newborns

Remarkable advance in treating burns with the 'magic' skin gun

Burns victims are making incredible recoveries thanks to a revolutionary ‘gun’ that sprays stem cells on to their wounds, enabling them to rapidly grow new skin. People who suffer extensive burns usually have to endure weeks or even months of treatment, with surgeons taking large sheets of skin from elsewhere on the body and grafting them. The process is painful, and patients are often left with permanent, unsightly scars.

Now, US doctors are using a new technique that allows patients to regrow a new layer of healthy skin in as little as four days. One man,  45, with horrific hot-water burns was sprayed with 17 million cells and within six days new skin had formed over whole wound and he was discharged;

 Skin Gun Before After-1

Patients who have benefited say their new skin is virtually indistinguishable from that on the rest of the body. Thomas Bold, chief executive of RenovaCare, the company behind SkinGun, said: ‘The procedure is gentler – and the skin that regrows looks, feels and functions like the original skin.’

Colonoscopy 'capsule robot' could make the diagnosis of bowel conditions more comfortable

Despite its potential to save lives, many people fear the discomfort of having a colonoscopy. But in the future, tiny robots could be deployed to search for pre-cancerous lesions and tumors in the bowel, resulting in less discomfort for patients. Researchers have shown an 18mm magnetized capsule colonoscope can perform intricate and sometimes autonomous movements inside the colon for the first time. The 'capsule robot' was guided by an external magnet attached to a robotic arm.

'Not only is the capsule robot able to actively maneuver  through the GI tract [digestive tract] to perform diagnostics, it is also able to perform therapeutic maneuvers, such as biopsies of tissue or polyp removal, due to the tether - something that other capsule devices are unable to do,' said Keith Obstein, the study's corresponding author and associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Scientists discover 'depression gene' that takes effect in childhood

Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center found a gene linked to childhood depression that appears to be linked to variations that have long been linked to bipolar disorder. Studying children that had the gene, researchers found they were more prone to depression and had severe reactions to stressful situations.

Tequila study: Drinking tequila could be good for your bones and help fight osteoporosis:

At the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico, researchers conducted experiments with mice and found that substances from the tequila plant may help boost levels of calcium and magnesium, minerals that help keep your bones strong.  Dr Mercedes López, leader of the project, said 'The consumption of fructans contained in the agave, in collaboration with adequate intestinal micriobiota, promotes the formation of new bone, even with the presence of osteoporosis.'  ...Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to replace old bone with new. As a result, the skeleton becomes porous and weak.
The researchers hope to perform clinical studies on humans to prove that agave sugars can be used as a treatment.

Newborn MRI scans reveal the growth of TRILLIONS of neural connections

A ground-breaking project  has released its first images which researchers from around the world can download to study how the brain develops its wiring. The images could help scientists understand how conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and attention deficit disorders arise.

The Developing Human Connectome Project is a collaboration between researchers from King's College London, Imperial College London and the University of Oxford. It aims to make major scientific progress by creating the first 4-dimensional brain map of early life.  The goal of the project is to create a dynamic map of human brain connectivity from 20 to 44 weeks post-conceptional age, which will link together imaging, clinical, behavioral, and genetic information.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2017

Health Roundup: Pot for elderly, salt to lower blood pressure, coffee for pain, cheese and dairy good

Could marijuana hold a key to keeping our brains forever young? .

There are many indications that weed can impair the developing adolescent brain....But what does cannabis do to the elderly brain?  A coalition of researchers from Germany and Israel published a study in Nature Medicine that examined the different effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in weed that's also known as THC, on young and old mice.

Their findings were provocative: A low dose of THC... "reversed the age-related decline in cognitive performance of mice aged 12 and 18 months." ...The experiment focused on learning, spatial skills and memory. While older mice typically did not perform as well as young ones in mazes or with location-recognition tasks — an outcome consistent with the decline of brain function in aged individuals — they performed just as well as their younger cohort under the influence of THC. Meanwhile, younger mice given doses of THC demonstrated worse performance, more in line with that of average old mice

Clinical trials on humans will start later this year.

'A toke a day keeps the dementia away.'

Marijuana could help reverse brain aging in senior citizens, especially Alzheimer’s patients, according to a new study....“We repeated these experiments many times,” Andreas Zimmer, head author of the study, told The New Scientist. “It’s a very robust and profound effect.” The findings were published May 8 in Nature Medicine.

“If we can rejuvenate the brain so that everybody gets five to 10 more years without needing extra care then that is more than we could have imagined,” said Andras Bilkei-Gorzo, one of the study’s co-authors. "The treatment made the young brain old and the old brain young," he said. "So that was something that was above our imagination."  If it is shown to help the memories of aging adults, Bilkei-Gorzo says the psychoactive ingredient could be taken in the form of an herbal tea.

Higher sodium, lower blood pressure. You read that right.

In another blow against decades of accepted medical wisdom, one of the most prestigious, long-running studies reports that lowering sodium intake doesn’t reduce blood pressure.

The study also implies that most Americans are consuming a perfectly healthy amount of salt, the main source of sodium. But those who are salt-sensitive, about 20 to 25 percent of the population, still need to restrict salt intake. Consuming fewer than 2,500 milligrams of sodium daily is actually associated with higher blood pressure, according to the Framingham Offspring Study report, given today. The study is an offshoot of the groundbreaking Framingham Heart Study. Both are projects of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and Boston University.
The report directly contradicts advice from the American Heart Association, which recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day to reduce blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

Why Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong  New York Times

Forget ibuprofen - grab a coffee:

Coffee is far better treatment for chronic pain than over-the-counter pills, new research shows. Feeling tired drastically increases pain sensitivity, the study found. To counteract that, scientists from Boston Children's Hospital gave exhausted lab mice either painkillers, coffee or more time asleep. They found the most wide-awake mice - after a jolt of caffeine or a long sleep - were more impervious to pain than those on painkillers.In the caffeine-drinking mice, they saw a rush of dopamine to the brain's pleasure center, which alleviated their feelings of pain.  Sleep also abated pain sensitivity better than over-the-counter pills

Why eating cheese will not harm your health:

Eating dairy does not raise the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, a team of international experts have found. Scientists analyzed 29 previous studies to find a link between dairy and disease. They found foods containing milk had a 'neutral' impact on human health. Even full-fat cheese, milk and yoghurt do not increase the danger, the meta-analysis of 29 studies found. The findings contradict warnings that dairy can be harmful because of its high saturated fat content.

Eat your butter, it’s good for you!

According to a new editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the belief that saturated fat in foods such as butter, cheese and meat clogs arteries is “just plain wrong.” Instead, the focus should be on eating a Mediterranean-style diet, taking a brisk walk daily and minimizing stress.

The editorial identifies coronary heart disease as a “chronic inflammatory condition.” Malhotra explains that eating too much white bread, pasta, and potatoes — carbohydrates, essentially — raises blood glucose rapidly, and the body responds by creating too much insulin.When the body is constantly flooded with insulin, it can’t do its job of getting glucose into cells for energy. This initiates an inflammatory response, which in turn begins to harden your arteries.
Not since doctors touted smoking as a digestive aid has there been such a medically sanctioned public health debacle. The rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease have skyrocketed since low-fat diets were universally recommended, while those suffering from diet-induced ill health have been blamed and shamed. It’s about time doctors spoke up and put the blame where it belongs, on processed and refined “low-fat” foods.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:27 PM | Permalink

May 4, 2017

New Medical research and technology: Exercise in a pill, brain in a dish, robotic brain surgeon and more

Artificial 'brain in a dish'

Scientists have grown the first working 'mini-brains' in a dish which could provide future treatments for autism and epilepsy. The lab-grown organs have their own brain cells, formed into circuits similar to those of a two-month-old baby in the womb. Described as 'thrilling science', it is the first time a human forebrain has been seen in action outside the body. Scientists hope to use the mini-brains to watch in real time the triggers for epilepsy, when brain cells become hyperactive, and autism, where they are thought to form bad connections.

An artificial womb successfully grew baby sheep — and humans could be next

The lambs spent four weeks in the external wombs and seemed to develop normally
Alan Flake, fetal surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of today’s study, said the point of developing an external womb — which his team calls the Biobag — is to give infants born months too early a more natural, uterus-like environment to continue developing in.

The robotic brain surgeon will see you now: drill can perform complex procedures 50 times faster

Scientists have revealed a robotic drill that can cut the most sensitive brain surgery down from two hours to two and a half minutes. The machine, developed at the University of Utah, is being hailed as a potential breakthrough in survival for brain patients as the reduced time they spend in surgery will drastically cut the chances of infection....It has so far not been tested on a human patient.

One Day, a Machine Will Smell Whether You’re Sick

Each of us has a unique “odorprint” made up of thousands of organic compounds. These molecules offer a whiff of who we are, revealing age, genetics, lifestyle, hometown — even metabolic processes that underlie our health....
Researchers have been trying for decades to figure out how to build an inexpensive odor sensor for quick, reliable and noninvasive diagnoses. The field finally seems on the cusp of succeeding.  “You’re seeing a convergence of technology now, so we can actually run large-scale clinical studies to get the data to prove odor analysis has real utility,” ...

Scientists discover key genes that control our immune response to chlamydia

Scientists may be one step closer to discovering a cure for the silent but devastating sexually transmitted infection (STI) chlamydia...Often called the 'silent disease', as it rarely produces symptoms early on, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility if untreated. ...

Switching off' two key genes makes immune cells more susceptible to infection. The genes could be a useful target for new chlamydia therapies, helping to combat antibiotic resistance that increasingly limits STI treatment options. The researcher's model demonstrates how chlamydia interacts with our immune system, which could also have important implications for other infections

Muscle-building 'exercise pill' one step closer, scientists say

A muscle-building “exercise pill” that could reduce visits to the gym has come a step closer with the publication of a new study focusing on a protein that keeps us weak. Scientists found that suppressing production of the protein myostatin increased muscle mass and led to significant improvements in markers of heart and kidney health. Although the research was conducted in mice, the team hopes that further down the road it will lead to human treatments.
“A pill that inhibits myostatin could also have applications for muscle-wasting diseases, such as cancer, muscle dystrophy and Aids.”  Myostatin is known to be a powerful “brake” that holds back skeletal muscle growth.

“Exercise-in-a-pill” boosts athletic endurance by 70 percent

Salk Institute scientists, building on earlier work that identified a gene pathway triggered by running, have discovered how to fully activate that pathway in sedentary mice with a chemical compound, mimicking the beneficial effects of exercise, including increased fat burning and stamina. The study, which appears in Cell Metabolism on May 2, 2017, not only deepens our understanding of aerobic endurance, but also offers people with heart conditions, pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes or other health limitations the hope of achieving its benefits pharmacologically.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2017

Health roundup: Older sleep, dementia, hepatitis, chronic fatigue linked to gut, colon, stomach and bladder cancers

Older people need as much sleep as those who are younger - but don't get it due to brain deterioration

A scientific review has concluded that we cannot get away with less sleep as we age, as many experts believe.  Older people appear to need less sleep because they are less exhausted after missing out on it, seeing less of a drop in their ability to carry out normal tasks than the young. But a review by US scientists has found they may simply have just adjusted to a life without proper rest. But this has a mental and physical price too, increasing the risk of dementia and other illnesses.

Study author Professor Matthew Walker, of the University of California, Berkeley, said ... as the brain ages, neurons and circuits in the areas that regulate sleep slowly degrade, resulting in a decreased amount of non-REM sleep.  Writing in the journal Neuron, Professor Walker said: 'Sleep changes with aging, but it doesn't just change with aging, it can also start to explain aging itself.

Drugs already in medicine cabinets may fight dementia, early data suggests

In mouse and cell studies, two drugs shut down damaging stress response, protected brain....The two drugs—trazodone hydrochloride, used to treat depression and anxiety, and dibenzoylmethane (DBM), effective against prostate and breast tumors—could shut down a devastating stress response in brain cells, known to be critical for the progression of brain diseases. The drugs both protected brain cells and restored memory in mice suffering from brain diseases.

More people are dying from hepatitis than AIDS and tuberculosis, warns World Health Organization

In its first global report on hepatitis, WHO found deaths from the infection, often caused by alcohol and drug abuse, is rising. Viral hepatitis is believed to have killed 1.34 million people in 2015, it warned. This is a similar amount to those who have died from HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis; but while those are both falling, hepatitis deaths continue to rise globally

The two most common forms, which are responsible for 96 per cent of deaths from the disease, are hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV). HBV can be passed on through unprotected sex and bodily fluids. It requires life-long treatment with a drug commonly used to battle HIV. New infections of this type of the disease are falling, thanks to a vaccine given to 84 per cent of newborns across the world....HCV, usually spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person, can be cured relatively swiftly. But four fifths of those infected with this type of the disease are unaware they are suffering.

Another Study Just Linked Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to Gut Bacteria

It was only in 2015 that the US Institute of Medicine detailed a comprehensive way to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), and earlier this year, scientists linked the condition to faulty cell receptors in immune cells for the first time - which explains why the side effects can be so varied and hard to pin down.

But there are still no effective treatments for the disease, and no cure - some commonly prescribed treatments for the condition have been cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise, neither of which have any evidence to support they work, and could actually be doing more harm than good. Now, new research has shown that patients with ME/CFS have abnormal levels of specific gut bacteria - and those levels change depending on the severity and type of symptoms they have.

Scientists Halt Growth of Colon, Stomach Cancers

Protein-inhibiting drug possible within 3 years say Australian researchers.  "Our discovery could potentially offer a new and complementary approach to chemotherapy and immunotherapy as options for treating gastrointestinal cancers."

The FDA just approved a new drug that uses the body's immune system to treat bladder cancer

AstraZeneca Plc's immuno-oncology drug treats a type of bladder cancer in patients whose disease progressed despite chemotherapy. The drug, called Imfinzi, works by helping the body's immune cells kill cancer, offering an alternative to toxic chemotherapy.  While not without side effects, immuno-oncology is a kinder option that also promises longer-lasting efficacy, although it costs more.  Imfinzi, chemically known as durvalumab, belongs to a new class of oncology drugs called PD-L1 inhibitors that block a mechanism tumors use to evade detection from the immune system.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:14 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Food Edition: Gluten-free, cauliflower, sparkling water, broccoli, espresso, beer and snot

Gluten-free is not so great: People who avoid grains increase the risk of developing heart disease

The Harvard researchers, whose work was published last night in the British Medical Journal, tracked more than 110,000 people for 26 years, found  slightly more heart problems in the fifth that ate least gluten compared with those who ate most. Looking only at the difference in gluten intake resulting from whole grains, those who ate most had a 15 per cent lower risk of heart attacks.  ‘The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without coeliac disease should not be encouraged.’ ‘

Separate research, also by experts at Harvard, concluded in March that people with a low-gluten intake were also at greater risk of developing type two diabetes.They found that people with the highest 20 per cent of gluten consumption had a 13 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes than those with the lowest 20 per cent. Researcher Dr Geng Zong, who led that study, said: ‘Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more.

The Gas in Sparkling Water is Acidic,

Adam Thorne, a dentist in Harley Street, warns fizzy water is extremely acidic, more than wine, fruit juice and even vinegar. 'The bubbles erode your tooth enamel – and over time this causes painful, yellow cracked teeth.'

Cauliflower is the new kale:


'It is replacing kale as the "new" sweetheart vegetable because of its ability to substitute for rice and potatoes in recipes,' ...'Its texture is so versatile that you could puree it and add it to any soup or casserole.... The cruciferous vegetable is also packed with nutrients that keep you full, help digestion, strengthen your body against cancer, and strengthen your bones

How broccoli helps beat strokes:

A powerful daily pill that harnesses a potent chemical in broccoli could soon be given to patients to protect against the most damaging effects of a stroke. British researchers have proved that a molecule called sulforaphane, which occurs naturally in the vegetable, turns on a protective enzyme in the brain. Scientists at King’s College London found this ‘scavenger’ enzyme then removes dangerous free radical cells that damage and kill other cells in a process known as oxidative stress.

Three espressos a day cuts prostate cancer risk by 50%, study claims

The study, conducted by the Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed (IRCCS) in Pozzilli, Italy, looked at about 7,000 men residing in central Italy and found that drinking three espressos daily can cut your risk of prostate cancer by 53% The drink was also found to suppress the growth of tumor cells.  Caffeine has been linked to a decreased risk of disease, suicide and depression. Espresso was also shown to improve exercise performance. A 2014 study from the University of California found that drinking two espressos a day enhanced the process of memory consolidation. This process, in turn, improved long-term memory among the participants.

Energy drinks ARE more dangerous than other caffeine-laden options and raise blood pressure in just 2 hours

Researchers found drinking 32 fluid ounces - just under a litre - of an unnamed but commercially-available energy drink resulted in profound changes to the heart's electrical activity and blood pressure. The drink was packed with 108g of sugar - roughly 27 teaspoons - and 320mg of caffeine, close to the daily recommended daily limit, along with other 'natural' substances such as taurine, ginseng and carnitine.

Two pints of beer are better than paracetamol (Tylenol) for pain relief

The analysis, published in The Journal of Pain, observed 18 studies involving 404 participants who were experiencing chronic pain. The studies provided alcohol versus no-alcohol comparisons for 13 tests of pain threshold...
Dr Trevor Thompson, who headed the study at London's Greenwich University, told The Sun: '[Alcohol] can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than paracetamol.' Now the experts are planning to find out if alcohol either lowers anxiety of pain, which then reduces the perception of discomfort, or if it numbs the sensation of pain by affecting the brain receptors.

Why picking your nose and eating it may be good for you!

Austrian lung specialist Professor Friedrich Bischinger, said: 'Eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system. Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. 'In terms of the immune system, the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.' 

Scientists from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that nasal mucus' rich reservoir of 'good' bacteria prevents cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth. Published in the American Society for Microbiology, their findings also suggest snot could defend against respiratory infections, stomach ulcers and even HIV.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 AM | Permalink

April 25, 2017

New medical research and technology: malaria vaccine, at home DNA tests, smart gut pills and more

After Decades of Work, a Malaria Vaccine Is Here

Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will begin piloting the injectable vaccine next year with young children. The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures. The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, will be tested on children five to 17 months old to see whether protective effects shown in clinical trials can hold up under real-life conditions. The vaccine has taken decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi were chosen for the vaccine pilot because all have strong prevention and vaccination programs but continue to have high numbers of malaria cases, WHO said.

Scientists uncover the possible cause of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Scientists may be one step closer to discovering a cure for the debilitating lifelong condition multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers have shown MS sufferers have high levels of a certain protein in their brain cells, which is virtually nonexistent in healthy people. This protein alters the cells' energy supply, triggering the disabling symptoms.The finding may enable scientists to create protein-targeting treatments for the incurable disease.

Scientists at the Universities of Exeter and Alberta analysed human brain tissue samples.  They discovered high levels of a protein, known as Rab32, in MS patients. Rab32 is thought to cause the part of the brain cell that stores calcium to get too close to the cell's so-called energy supplier. This causes miscommunication within the cell, leading to brain cell damage. Although it is established that MS occurs due to nervous system damage, the cause of this was less clear. 

FDA Approves At-Home DNA Tests For Ten Diseases

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first home DNA tests Thursday that let people find out if they have a genetic risk for certain diseases. The FDA decision allows home DNA test company 23andMe to directly market its gene tests for 10 diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, celiac disease and some rare blood diseases. “It is important that people understand that genetic risk is just one piece of the bigger puzzle”

Harvard study breakthrough on genetics of parenting behavior across species

Why is it that some species seem to be particularly attentive parents while others leave their young to fend for themselves? For years, scientists have believed one of the major drivers is experience — an animal raised by an attentive parent, the argument goes, is likely to be an attentive parent itself.

A Harvard study is challenging that idea, and breaking new ground by uncovering links between the activity of specific genes and parenting differences across species...the study found not only that different genes may influence behaviors in males and females, but also that the gene for the hormone vasopressin appears to be closely tied to nest-building behavior in parenting mice.

Guts and glory for RMIT smart pills

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have successfully completed phase one human trials of ingestible capsules that have the potential to revolutionize the prevention and diagnosis of gut disorders and diseases. The ingestible smart capsules (the size of a vitamin pill)  journey through and measure gas levels in the gastrointestinal tract. The ingestible technology has demonstrated several thousand -times more sensitivity to gut gases than alternative techniques.

"Currently, one of the only methods for diagnosing gut disorders, such as mal-absorption of carbohydrates, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammable bowel disease, is to measure hydrogen concentrations in the breath," Kalantar-zadeh said. "However, breath tests are mired by a lack of sensitivity and specificity and are unable to provide the necessary gold standard for diagnosis."

Co-inventor Dr Kyle Berean said: "Ingestible sensors also offer a reliable diagnostic tool for colon cancer, meaning that people won't have to undergo colonoscopies in future."  Smart pills are harmless and there is no risk of capsule retention," Berean said. An added advantage is that the capsules can be synched with smartphones, meaning results are easily accessible by users and doctors online.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:40 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup - Food Edition

Is your diet good for your gut bacteria?  Probably not as Adam Rutherford found when he had his tested

...the results? To be honest, pretty crap....“You are near bottom of the class. You’re in the lowest 10% of the population for diversity,”....How many of these beneficial bacteria did I have? Zero.

Diversity is one of the keys to a healthy gut, he explained, the idea being that different microbes perform different tasks, and a diverse workforce brings more skills to the table. We contain, on average, around one thousand different species of bacteria inside our guts. And in total: well, it’s difficult to count, but there are trillions. And they are almost all doing useful work for us.
Fermented foods are especially good for encouraging a healthy microbiome. “People know about live yoghurts, but the next stage up which has five times as many microbes is kefir, a Persian soured milk,” Spector told me. Other fermented foods like miso soup and kimchi (pickled cabbage) are a delicious feast for your internal lodgers.
If that all sounds a bit rich, then garlic, artichokes, bananas and whole grains are also good fibrous fodder.

Drinking beetroot juice has important brain benefits.

Drinking beetroot juice before working out makes older adults’ brains perform more efficiently, a new study by Wake Forest University has found. “It resembles more of a brain of a younger adult than it does an older adult,"
Beets have a high level of dietary nitrate, which is converted to nitrite and then nitric oxide when consumed, Rejeski said. Nitric oxide increases blood flow in the body, and previous studies have shown it can improve exercise performance in people of varying ages. The study found that combining beetroot juice with exercise delivers more oxygen to the brain and strengthens the somatomotor cortex, which processes information from the muscles.

Gluten-free diets may cause serious health problems

including CANCER due to the high levels of toxic metals found in gluten-free foods. Two major studies from the US reveal that those choosing gluten-free foods have twice as much arsenic in their urine as those who eat gluten. They also have 70 per cent more mercury in their blood and worryingly high levels of other metals such as lead and cadmium. Contamination comes mainly from rice flour, which is used as a substitute in products such as bread, spaghetti and cereals.

Why pasta and bread lower the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. How carbs are good for your brain.

The NBA’s Secret Obsession with Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

With little fanfare, PB&Js have become a locker room staple for multiple teams in the league for over a decade. ...
One reason for the PB&Js popularity is that calorie-dense foods that are high in fats, sugars, starches, proteins, and salts trigger both dopamine and serotonin releases in humans. Any food that gives rushes of energy and happiness is an obvious boon to professional athletes, and those same foods also lower the body’s heart rate. In other words, PB&Js a unique combination of performance enhancer and comfort food.

Sneaky mind tricks that make us splash out on more food

From scrunchy crisp packets to heavy cutlery in restaurants and French music in the wine aisle, an Oxford psychologist reveals how you're manipulated every time you leave home

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2017

Roundup of medical research and technology:

Restoring the sense of touchSolar-Powered Graphene Skin Enables Prosthetics to Feel

Several products are in development, including this haptic system at Case Western Reserve University, which would enable upper-limb prosthetic users to, say, pluck a grape off a stem or pull a potato chip out of a bag. It sounds simple, but such tasks are virtually impossible without a sense of touch and pressure.

Now, a team at the University of Glasgow that previously developed a flexible ‘electronic skin’ capable of making sensitive pressure measurements, has figured out how to power their skin with sunlight. That renewable energy could be used to power an array of sensors to add feeling to an artificial limb, the authors describe this month in Advanced Functional Materials.

Organs on chips technology
The FDA just struck a deal that could replace animal testing with a tiny chip

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration inked a collaborative research and development agreement with Emulate, a company that makes "organs-on-chips" technology.  The hope is that instead of testing new drugs or supplements on animals, researchers can use Emulate's chips. Each chip is about the size of a human thumb, and contains tiny channels filled with living human cells that imitate the functions of different organs.
To start, the collaboration between the FDA and Emulate will focus on the company's Liver-Chips, which are meant to show how an animal's liver might react to a certain drug. The liver is where most drugs get broken down on their way out of the body.

Cancer-detecting CHEWING GUM to replace blood tests:

A biotech company has created a chewing gum that detects cancer. Volatile organic compounds, unique to each type of cancer, are produced in the body. The gum traps the compounds, which will then be analyzed for different cancers. It could mean the end of blood tests, urine samples and biopsies. The gum absorbs what are called 'volatiles' in a person's saliva as they chew it - chemical compounds which are released by certain forms of cancer.  After it has been chewed for 15 minutes, the product is then analyzed to determine whether or not it contains these specific chemicals. So far, scientists at the Alabama-based firm Volatile Analysis have developed different types of gum can detect pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer

Synthetic Blood Is About To Go Through Human Trials

There have been decades of failure in making a usable blood substitute but now, scientists from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, and Oxford have isolated and manipulated stem cells in labs to produce red blood cells.

Their goal is to make red cells for patients with complex blood types because it can be hard for them to find donors. In the future, lab-grown blood could revolutionize medical care by providing a far reaching solution to keeping people in need supplied with blood regardless of type or donor.

Paralyzed man moves his legs and STANDS for the first time

A man paralyzed from the waist down has moved his legs for the first time after doctors inserted an electrode sending an electrical current to the spinal cord. The electrode is connected to a computer-controlled device under the skin in the 28-year-old patient's abdomen. The electrical stimulation on his spinal cord, along with intense physical therapy, enabled him to move his legs, stand and make step-like motions for the first time in three years.....Mayo Clinic researchers, who tested the pioneering treatment, say these results offer further evidence that a combination of this technology and rehabilitation may help patients with spinal cord injuries regain control. 'We're really excited, because our results went beyond our expectations,' says neurosurgeon Kendall Lee, principal investigator and director of Mayo Clinic's Neural Engineering Laboratory.

A blind man sobs as he sees his wife for the first time in decades - after having his TOOTH inserted into his eye

A blind man who had his sight restored earlier this year in an incredible procedure using one of his own teeth said the best part was being able to see his wife again, "Gorgeous"

The amazing procedure saw a lens inserted into one of his teeth, which was extracted and then placed into his cheek so tissue would grow around it, enabling its own blood supply...After three months surgeons removed the tooth and inserted it into Mr Ings' old cornea. Skin was then removed from his mouth and placed over the new cornea to seal it. An opening was made to allow the new lens to work. It was the first time the surgery, called osteo-odonto kerato-prosthesis, has been performed in Australia. Mr Ing damaged his right eye in a childhood accident, and gradually lost vision in the other over the past 16 years because of the herpes simplex virus.

Chinese doctors grow a new ear on a man's ARM and transplant it to his head

Mr Ji, whose age is unknown, lost his right ear in a traffic accident in 2015.  He yearned to have the organ back because he no longer 'felt complete'. A plastic surgeon took cartilage from the patient's ribs to build an artificial ear that was modeled with the help of 3D-printing technology. It was then attached to his forearm under a piece of expanded skin. There it was allowed to grow for several months until experts deemed it ready for the transplant.  Once fully grown, it was finally transplanted from his arm to his head.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 AM | Permalink

April 5, 2017

"Americans must be suffering from an awful lot of pain."

Existing political proposals, Republican or Democratic, for solving the problem are based in economics.  The problem runs much deeper Damon Linker writes in The spiritual agony behind America's opioid crisis

One might even call them spiritual.  Imagine, for a moment, that addiction is a response to spiritual agony. Then consider the role of substance abuse in our lives.

A 2015 study showed that 32 million Americans (one out of every seven adults) struggled with a serious alcohol problem during the previous year — and that nearly a third of all Americans will exhibit signs of an alcohol-use disorder at some point in their lives. That's an astonishingly high rate of alcohol abuse....As of the end of 2015, the rate of fatal opioid overdoses was more than five times higher than [the crack epidemic] — 10.3 per 100,000. ...

Then there are prescription medications for depression and anxiety. The United States leads the world in per capita consumption of these drugs, with roughly 11 percent of the population over the age of 12 using them.....

What is clear is that the United States is filled with people pursuing various forms of relief from various forms of profound unhappiness, discontent, malaise, agitation, and emotional and/or physical pain....

Americans must be suffering from an awful lot of pain.

"The more often we’ve heard in this century about white privilege, the more often white people have dropped dead in despair, writes Steve Sailer in White Privilege, White Death.

The charts below shows how bad it is.

From Death Rates Rise for Wide Swath of White Adults, Study Finds in the WSJ

Increases in ‘deaths of despair’—from drugs, alcohol-related liver diseases and suicide

 White Deaths

 Death Rates Despair Comparison

 Death Opiods2000-2016

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:33 PM | Permalink

What do cucumbers and olives have in common with blueberries?

Tomatoes, winter squash, avocados, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, corn, olives, pumpkins, pea pods and zucchini are ALL FRUITS. 

What’s the Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables?

Botanically, fruits and vegetables are classified depending on which part of the plant they come from. A fruit develops from the flower of a plant, while the other parts of the plant are categorized as vegetables.  Fruits contain seeds, while vegetables can consist of roots, stems and leaves.

From a culinary perspective, fruits and vegetables are classified based on taste. Fruits generally have a sweet or tart flavor and can be used in desserts, snacks or juices.Vegetables have a more mild or savory taste and are usually eaten as part of a side dish or main course.

Than again, you can classify them by color


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:08 AM | Permalink

April 1, 2017

Preparing for Ticks

Prepare for a Bad Summer for Ticks (WSJ)
Mild winters and big deer and mice populations mean more ticks and higher rates of Lyme disease diagnoses

Symptoms can include a ring-like rash, along with flulike symptoms, muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes. It is usually diagnosed based on symptoms or a blood test. It is treated with antibiotics. Longer-term infections can cause more serious symptoms, including arthritis, severe muscle pain and headaches, heart palpitations, brain inflammation and nerve pain. Diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease is controversial with many differences of opinion between patient groups and doctors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease a year, about triple the rate from two decades ago. Most cases are centered in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic region and Upper Midwest states, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin.

On average 10 to 30% of deer nymphal ticks are infected with Lyme disease...Ticks typically feed on humans for three to five days, said Jorge Parada, a medical director of infection prevention and control at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. A tick that latches on for only a few hours is unlikely to transmit infection. For Lyme disease to be transmitted, a tick usually has to be attached for 24 to 48 hours, said Dr. Parada, though for some other diseases it is less time. Thus, “the importance of doing tick checks.”

Best Advice You're Probably Going to Get a Tick This Summer. Good Luck.

Try to grab the tick near the skin and pull it out from there. Don’t have the fortitude to execute such a precise maneuver with tweezers? The Tick Twister and Tick Key make the job almost foolproof....

You certainly can pick up a tick from the woods, but you’re also likely to find them in parks and backyards. Ticks bury themselves in damp soil or leaf litter, and climb up on grass or brush to wait for their prey. You can make your yard less of a tick haven by keeping your grass short, removing any rotten leaves or similar debris, and get rid of brush piles where mice like to live. 

When you go to tick-prone areas, wear shoes that you’ve thoroughly sprayed with permethrin. This is an insecticide that is very safe for humans but stops ticks from crawling up your legs. Treat your favorite hiking boots, socks, and pants with the stuff; consider it for the shoes you use for yard work, too. To finish the job, spritz on a DEET-based spray whenever you head out to the backyard or park. It’s also safe when used properly, even for kids, and it will repel mosquitoes as well as ticks.

When you plan to work outside or walk in the wood, you're best of wearing long sleeves and long pants.  Since the little buggers like to climb up your leg, tuck your pants inside your socks.  When you're done shower well.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:47 PM | Permalink

March 31, 2017

Roundup of new research and medical tech

Unprecedented HIV vaccine breakthrough as researchers discover 'on-off switch'

Scientists say they've engineered an 'on-off switch' into a weakened form of HIV, enhancing the safety and effectiveness of a potential vaccine for the virus. HIV needs a specific amino acid to replicate so researchers replaced the code that does this with a 'nonsense' version that halts amino acid production.  When the supply of amino acids stopped, so did the replication....HIV has killed 35 million people since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s.

A wheelchair that can climb STAIRS could hit the market by the end of next year Video at the link.

Scewo is the brainchild of a group of masters students from Switzerland. Rigid rubber tracks allow the chair to safely travel up and down staircases. Self-balancing technology also enables the chair to turn on the spot, as well as to mount curbs without getting stuck. Users will be able to control the chair with a joystick orsimply by shifting their body weight. The team hopes to launch a mass market version be the end of 2018

The 'triple threat' cancer capsule that can navigate itself towards tumors before exploding and releasing drugs

Researchers have designed tiny cancer-fighting microcapsules that can navigate themselves towards cancerous tumors in the body. The multilayer capsule contains an anti-cancer drug which can be released via an ultrasound trigger, working as a guided drug delivery system....The capsule, designed by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has three traits that have been difficult to achieve all together in a single cancer drug. They're easily detectable via low-power ultrasound, they can safely and efficiently encapsulate the cancer drug doxorubicin, and a dose of ultrasound can trigger the release of the drug. Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug that's used to treat several types of cancer. 

The new technology could offer a noninvasive alternative to cancer surgeries or chemotherapy. Next step - animal testing.

Speaking of animal testing - Tiny human liver-on-a-chip could help put an end to animal drug testing

Sleek microchip uses real organ tissue to mimic a liver in the human body that could be used to test drugs, eliminating the need for animal testingResearcher Dr Lawrence Vernetti, from the University of Pittsburgh developed the miniature human liver using  human liver cells that were taken from patients during medical procedures, or livers intended for organ donation that weren't used.....Missing however is a vital part of the organ - the bile duct. Bile is a fluid made in the liver that facilitates the digestion of fats in the small intestine.
Mark Donowitz, a scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is working on an intestinal chip using human stem cells....One group, based at Harvard University's Wyss Institute in Boston, is adapting 'bone marrow on a chip' to study the effects of radiation....Researchers at Harvard University have been able to create kidneys, gut, bone marrow and lungs on a chip.

Dr Donald Ingber, a bioengineer at Harvard University's Wyss Institute who has been leading much of the work, said the idea was to mimic the chemical and mechanical function of the organs with little micro-engineered devices that are lined with human cells and reconstitute organ level functions.' 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup Birth control app, life-saving virus, new cholesterol drug, most cancer random, depression and pine tree bark

Female Physicist Creates World’s First Government-Approved Birth Control App

If approved in the United States, Natural Cycles would provide Americans a drug-free alternative in a market saturated with hormonal and abortive birth control....In typical use, a peer-reviewed study of 4,000 women found Natural Cycles was 93 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, meaning of 100 women using the app to prevent pregnancy, 7 got pregnant in a given year of use and 93 did not. For comparison, the pill is 91 percent effective, injectable birth control is 94 percent effective, and IUDs are 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy in typical use, according to the CDC.  Another well-established non-hormonal NFP method called Creighton has been rated in a federal study as 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.

A virus, fished out of a lake, may have saved a man’s life — and advanced science

Earlier this year, in an experimental treatment, doctors put 100 million OMKO1 viruses into a man’s chest to save his life...Dr. Ali Khodadoust, an ophthalmologist in New Haven, is 80 years old  had spent the past four years fighting a devastating infection.

Khodadoust ended up having a coronary artery bypass; his cardiologist patched a section of his aorta with a piece of plastic mesh. The whole procedure went off without a hitch, after which Khodadoust went home to recover. But things quickly went south. Within 48 hours, he had developed a raging fever and had to be rushed back to the hospital. When surgeons opened his chest, they discovered that an infection had destroyed his sternum, and his chest cavity was filled with blood and pus.... There was a moss-green patch on his aorta. It had to be an infection with a common species of bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa...

Before the  doctors could even think about treating the infection, they had to save Khodadoust’s life.  “He was beyond ill — his heart actually burst on the table,”....When Khodadoust thinks back to that time, he remembers being in absolute darkness. “A tiny string was stretching from me to infinity,” he said.....

[After phage therapy} Khodadoust showed up at Narayan’s office over the summer, without an IV port in his chest and off antibiotics. He had recovered completely from his four-year infection. “I couldn’t believe it,” Narayan said. “He looked like a million bucks.”

Cholesterol-Slashing Drug Can Protect High-Risk Heart Patients, Study Finds

The drug, Repatha, is called a PCSK9 inhibitor and can make cholesterol tumble to levels almost never seen naturally in adults, or even in people taking cholesterol-lowering statins. The Amgen drug and a similar one, sold by Sanofi and Regeneron, were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2015 with the hope — and expectation — that they would lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and not just reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, the dangerous kind.
That hope has now been realized for the Amgen drug.

“This is like the era of the statins coming in,” said Dr. Eugene Braunwald, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School . ... Like statins, which were introduced in the 1980s, the new class of drugs has the potential to improve the health and longevity of millions of Americans with heart disease, the nation’s leading killer, accounting for one in four deaths.“It’s a new ballgame,” he said.....But cost will be an issue. Statins are available as cheap generics. The new drugs have a list price of $14,523 a year. “The next big challenge is financial: how to pay for it.”

Most cancer mutations arise from ‘bad luck,’ but many cases still preventable, researchers say

Using health records from 69 countries, they conclude that 66 percent of cancer-causing genetic mutations arise from the “bad luck” of a healthy, dividing cell making a random mistake when it copies its DNA.

AI that detects cancer in blood and pinpoints its location before symptoms appear 'could be ready in one year'

Scientists from the University of California developed the new software that works by looking for specific molecular patterns in cancer DNA. The algorithm was able to correctly detect cancer in 80 per cent of cases

Depression Is Now the Leading Cause of Illness and Disability Worldwide

Depression has become the leading cause of ill health and disability across the world, now affecting more than 300 million people globally, the World Health Organization said Thursday. However, half of people suffering from depression don’t get treatments they need to live healthy, productive lives.

How pine tree bark could revolutionize your trip to the dentist:

Resin fillings typically last for seven to ten years at most before they crack and fall out. Scientists have discovered that an extract from the bark of pine tree roots alters the chemical structure of teeth to make them stronger and allow fillings to bind to them better. Dr Guido Pauli, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, said compounds in the pine tree extract work by strengthening dentine – the tissue layer beneath the enamel in teeth. Tests show the tree extracts can increase the strength of dentine by up to ten times.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:05 AM | Permalink

March 29, 2017

Roundup of Medical Technology: Robots in surgery, diagnosis and active aging companion, 'body on a chip' and heart tissue from a spinach leaf

Robot-assisted surgery is reaching an incredible level of precision!

Watch the video at the link and see for yourself how it peels a grape and then sews it back on!  It's astounding.

Robot Worm could be miniaturized to help doctors spot digestive issues

The robot that can move forwards or backwards in a wave-like motion is known as the single actuator wave-like robot (SAW) and was developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel.

Artificial Intelligence Will Help the Elderly  Watch the video at the link to see how ElliQ works

For the past month or so, a small group of older adults in San Francisco has been learning to engage with a talking device named ElliQ. It’s more desk lamp than archetypal robot—think of the hopping light at the beginning of Pixar movies. But while ElliQ is meant to sit on a table or nightstand, it’s all about movement, or more accurately, body language.

 Elio Robot For Elderly

ElliQ talks. But it also moves, leaning toward the person with whom it’s speaking. It lights up, too, as another means of engagement, and uses volume and sound effects to distinguish its messages. “If ElliQ is shy, she will look down and talk softly, and her lights will be soft,” explains Dor Skuler, CEO and founder of Intuition Robotics, the Israeli company behind the device. “If she tries to get you to go for a walk, she will lean forward and take a more aggressive tone, and her lights will be bright....

ElliQ keeps learning...One of the first steps in establishing a relationship with this particular robot is to set some goals, such as how many times a week a person wants to go out for a walk or be reminded to see friends. Then, it’s up to ElliQ to determine the most effective way to do its job. In other words, it will learn that one person responds better to “It’s nice out, why don’t you go for a walk,” while another needs to be prodded more aggressively with “You’ve been on the couch watching TV for four hours. Time to get up and take a walk.”  “That’s where the emotive side kicks in,” he says. “ElliQ can set a whole different tone, and use different body language and gestures based on what works and what doesn’t work. The machine fine-tunes itself.”

“Mass-Produced” Blood Now Possible,

Researchers at the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant....developed a method to freeze stem cells in their early development — while they are still replicating — which has the effect of “immortalizing” them such that scientists can produce infinitely more stem cells. They will harvest the excess stem cells to produce blood.  Right now the new method is cost-prohibitive. For the foreseeable future, it will mostly be used to provide hard-to-source blood for patients with rare blood types.

Spinach Leaf Transformed Into Beating Human Heart Tissue

Using the plant like scaffolding, scientists built a mini version of a working heart, which may one day aid in tissue regeneration.

Menstrual cycle recreated 'in a dish'

US scientists say they have made a mini working replica of the female reproductive tract using human and mouse construct a palm-sized device that ooks nothing like a womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries.  Researchers say it should help with understanding diseases of these organs and tissues and a novel way  to test new treatments.

The work is part of a project to create the entire human "body on a chip". The ultimate goal would be to take cells from any given individual in order to create a personalized model of their body to test drugs and treatments on.

We Were Wrong - the Testes Are Connected to the Immune System

Some parts of the body – including the tissues of the brain and testes – have long been considered to be completely hidden from our immune system....Last year scientists made the amazing discovery that a set of previously unseen channels connected the brain to our immune system; now, it appears we might also need to rethink the immune system's relationship with the testes...potentially explaining why some men are infertile and how some cancer vaccines fail to provide immunity.

An Unexpected New Lung Function Has Been Found - They Make Blood!  Video at the link shows how

In experiments involving mice, the team found that they produce more than 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour, equating to the majority of platelets in the animals' circulation. This goes against the decades-long assumption that bone marrow produces all of our blood components.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco also discovered a previously unknown pool of blood stem cells that makes this happen inside the lung tissue - cells that were incorrectly assumed to mainly reside in bone marrow....Scientists have now watched megakaryocytes functioning from within the lung tissue to produce not a few, but most of the body's platelets. So how did we miss such a crucial biological process this whole time?  The discovery was made possible by a new type of technology based on two-photon intravital imaging - a similar technique to one used by a separate team this week to discover a previously unidentified function of the brain's cerebellum.

10 Human Body Modifications You Can Expect in the next Decade

1. RFID Chips implanted in the body
2. Exoskeletons
3. Real-time Language Translation
4. Augmented Vision
5. Smart Contact Lenses
6. 3D Printed Body Parts
7. Smarter Drugs
8. Brain-computer Interfaces
9. Designer Babies
10. Enhanced Sexual Organs

UPDATE:  Paralyzed man moves his arm and hand with the power of his mind and a microchip

A cycling accident left Bill Kochevar unable to move from the shoulders down, but  he can now feed himself in his wheelchair, using a microchip in his brain. He is the first quadriplegic to have his movement restored by the system...
‘For somebody who’s been injured eight years and couldn’t move, being able to move just that little bit is awesome’...Researcher Dr Bob Kirsch said: ‘He’s really breaking ground for the spinal cord injury community. This is a major step toward restoring some independence.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

March 20, 2017

Health round-up: Exercise and cancer, cystic fibrosis, statins, tea, coffee and vitamins

Cystic fibrosis patients living 10 years longer in Canada than U.S. thanks to a high fat diet

Researchers identify differences in diet, health insurance and access to lung transplants...A spike in Canadian survival rates noted in 1995 may be due to a high fat diet, emphasizing cheeses, fish and nuts, recommended for Canadians with cystic fibrosis since the 1970s.  "The Canadians tried high fat diets, more calories, more palatable, and this really had an impact on the nutritional status, particularly with children, and that seems to set the trajectory for the disease."

Antidepressants can stop prostate cancer from spreading to the bones where it kills 90% of patients

Prostate cancer metastasises, or spreads, to the bones in 9 out of 10 fatal cases.  Scientists found a reducing a protein in the brain stopped the cancer spreading.  Discovery could pave the way to a treatment for advanced forms of the disease

How exercise reduces the risk of cancer.

Exercising is known to reduce the risk of breast, bowel, colon and womb cancer.  But how?  Scientists say active people are better at removing a by-product - lactate -  that fuels tumors. Lactate – which makes muscles stiffen after exercise – is a key driver of cancer growth and spread, experts claim.

Dr Inigo San Millan, of the University of California, Berkeley, said: 'With this paper, we open a whole new door for understanding cancer, showing for the first time that lactate is not only present, but mandatory for every step in its development. 'We hope to sound the alarm for the research community that to stop cancer you have to stop lactate.'

Gene in some people which makes their brains 12 YEARS older than they should be

Researchers at Columbia University found a certain gene is present in people with prematurely aged brains
Just as some people physically age faster than others, the same goes for brains. The study examined autopsy data from almost 2,000 people without diseases.  They found those with older-looking brains had two copies of a certain gene - TMEM106B.  The common genetic variant greatly impacts normal brain aging from around the age of 65.  It may also increase one's risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease or dementia.

Just ONE cup of tea a day lowers the risk of toxic clumps forming in the brain

Researchers found that drinking tea reduces the risk of dementia by some 50% while those who carry a 'dementia gene' can slash their chances by around 86%.  Tea leaves are considered to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. And it doesn't matter whether you prefer green tea or black.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore assessed the tea consumption of 957 adults over the age of 55 over a period of 12 years.  Every two years, the participants were assessed on their cognitive function using standardized tools.  "A simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life," said Dr Feng Lei and help  protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration.

Coffee 'stops vitamin pills working'

Scientists claim swallowing tablets with your morning cup of caffeine wipes out all of the good they do because the heat in the drinks can dramatically reduce the effects of tablets. It can even kill the ‘friendly’ bacteria in probiotic foods such as yoghurts..Now experts suggest waiting at least an hour before consuming hot food or drink after taking tablets.

City-dwellers should stock up on B vitamins, experts claim.

A new study suggests that the supplements may play a critical role in reducing the devastating impact of air pollution. In a trial on humans, scientists found just small doses could offset the deadly damage caused by tiny, toxic particles. Experts believe the findings could have a significant public health benefit in heavily polluted cities across the world.

Mediterranean diet 'as effective as statins' in reducing heart attack risk

“For most middle-aged people wishing to avoid heart disease, a healthy diet offers a far more powerful, sustainable and enjoyable plan than lifelong statin tablets,” said Prof Simon Capewell, vice-president of the UK Faculty of Public Health.

Taking high dosages of statins raises the risk of developing diabetes in older women by 50%

Australian scientists have carried out one of the first studies of its kind focusing on the effects of statins on more than 8,000 female pensioners....The team found over-75s face a 33 per cent higher chance of getting diabetes if they are taking them.  But the risk rose to more than 50 per cent for those on higher doses. It follows research last year which showed people with naturally higher levels of cholesterol, paradoxically, are less likely to suffer diabetes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2017

Ambient music in the ICU ' to induce calm and a space to think'

Tripping in the ICU  For those suffering the trauma of intensive care, the soothing swoosh of otherworldly ambient music can be a welcome gift.

The noise of life-support machines and vital-sign monitors is a constant background. Phones ring, bin lids bang, staff call for help and doctors are constantly being paged to the next emergency. The racket frequently exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for safe noise levels......In patients who are heavily sedated and on ventilators, rates of ICU delirium are as high as 80 per cent. ...An intensive-care stay can be a psychological and physical trauma; invaded on all sides, the body feels like it is being murdered....

A recent study showed that a quarter of ICU patients with a particular life-threatening respiratory condition had signs of PTSD six months after discharge...The evidence points to sedation as the culprit....Good reason, then, for reversing the policy of heavy sedation. But, for all the worthy intentions, critically ill patients were now coming to their senses in a suburb of hell. The former patient Taylor noted the horrible irony that her hearing was pretty much the only one of her senses that was preserved.
Music has begun to emerge as a specifically powerful therapeutic medium. ...A problem is that one person’s easy listening is another’s aural poison. ....

Ambient music. Instead of distinctive rhythms, it gives us shifting periodicities. The melodies of pop command the attention, and we want our ambient performance to be there and yet not there at the same time. In the words of its greatest modern pioneer, Brian Eno, ‘ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.’ This is music aimed simultaneously at both the centre and the periphery of experience. It’s about what you don’t play as much as what you do.

Brian Eno wrote that ambient music ‘is intended to induce calm and a space to think’. It is not music for tapping your foot to. It’s music designed to take you into another mental space....

Rhythmic unpredictability is only one of the things going on. By not commanding the listener’s attention, ambient music frees the mind to wander.  It’s that potential to set minds wandering that lies behind our art project. Behind the chilled-out purveyor of ambient sounds, there’s an inquiring researcher looking for what might just lead to a clinical development. In my part-time academic post, I research inner experience: everyday phenomena such as mind-wandering, and more unusual mental happenings such as hallucinations. Both of these extremes can be encompassed in the experience of ICU patients, whose bodies can appear to be doing not very much at all, but whose minds are often far from restful.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:07 PM | Permalink

March 14, 2017

Health Roundup: Dizzy spells, CML, artificial retina, cannabis, second-hand smoke and bad news for bald men

From Authority Nutrition 13 Simple and Natural Ways to Lower Your Triglycerides

Cancer Pill Gleevec Keeps Patients Alive and Well for a Decade

The once-a-day pill turned chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML, from a certain death sentence into a manageable disease. Now data shows it's helped 83 percent of patients live 10 years or longer...."It's the first targeted personalized medicine that had ever been used. It was also the most successful," ...Gleevec is targeted to a mutation specific to CML...."It's a 10-year survival of 83 percent, which is extraordinary," Silver said. "It has led to what we call biologic cures." Patients still have leukemia, but it's not affecting their blood cell counts.

Dizzy spells in middle age may be a warning sign of dementia 20 years before symptoms appear

Scientists think sudden drops in blood pressure - often signaled by dizziness when standing up - could cause lasting damage to the brain that raises the risk of dementia. A study of 11,000 middle-aged people found that those who suffered this problem, known as orthostatic hypotension, were 40 per cent more likely to develop dementia later in life.

Study leader Dr Andreea Rawlings, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, said: 'Even though these episodes are fleeting, they may have impacts that are long lasting. 'We found that those people who suffered from orthostatic hypotension in middle age were 40 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not. 'It's a significant finding and we need to better understand just what is happening.'

Scientists Have Created an Artificial Retina Implant That Could Restore Vision to Millions

Scientists have developed a retinal implant that can restore lost vision in rats, and are planning to trial the procedure in humans later this year.  The implant, which converts light into an electrical signal that stimulates retinal neurons, could give hope to millions who experience retinal degeneration – including retinitis pigmentosa – in which photoreceptor cells in the eye begin to break down, leading to blindness.

For the Blind, an Actual-Reality Headset  Not just Star Trek fiction, a new visor from eSight is a lightweight, high-contrast vision system for legally blind people.

Artist Yvonne Felix recalls the first time she saw “Starry Night” with her eSight visor on, it made her cry. “I saw every little stroke. When I saw the color mixtures and how thick the paint was, it was the most overwhelming moment of my life,” she says. “I thought that never in my life would I be able to see something so beautiful.”

Secondhand smoke isn’t as bad as we thought. The relevant question, however, should not be merely whether there are any dangers from secondhand smoke but also how big they are.

If the alarmist claims made by anti-smoking groups were true, we’d be justified in avoiding secondhand smoke as if it were the plague. But we know now that those claims were exaggerated, so it’s worth asking whether contemporary bans have gone too far.... Now that’s not nothing, but other recent research may be even more surprising. “No clear link between passive smoking and lung cancer,” read a 2013 headline in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, hardly a pro-tobacco publication. That was a report on a cohort study tracking 76,000 women that failed to detect a link between the disease and secondhand smoke. The finding comports with existing literature suggesting that the effect is borderline and concentrated on long-term, high levels of exposure.

Cannabis boosts risk of stroke and heart attack, independent of tobacco, new study finds

Data taken from more than 1,000 US hospitals found that people who used the drug had a 26 per cent higher chance of suffering a stroke than those who did not, and a 10 per cent higher chance of having a heart attack....They indicate there is something intrinsic about cannabis which can damage the proper functioning of the human heart.  The research was published Wednesday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Washington DC.

Bad news for bald men: Hair loss drugs cause erectile dysfunction that lasts for years

Those taking a popular growth stimulant were left impotent for an average of four years after finishing the medication, a study found.  Sufferers were left unable to maintain an erection despite being given Viagra to try and solve their problem.  Experts now say that taking finasteride is a bigger risk factor for the condition than diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.  The drug, sold as Propecia, lowers prostate specific antigen levels and is used for treating male-pattern hair loss.

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine assessed the effects of the hair growth stimulant. Of the 11,909 men who were studied, 1.4 per cent went on to develop persistent erectile dysfunction. This continued for an average of 1,348 days.  But the researchers found men under the age of 42 who used either drug for seven months had a 4.9-fold higher risk.

This comes after Turkish scientists last week found blood type could influence a man's performance under the sheets. Those with blood types A, B or AB are up to four times more likely to suffer from impotence than men who have blood type O.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:13 PM | Permalink

March 10, 2017

Two powerful articles on Opiod Addiiction

American Carnage: The New Landscape of Opiod Addiction by Christopher Caldwell

The best way for a society to avoid the dangers of addictive and dangerous drugs is to severely restrict access to them. That is why, in the twentieth century, powerful opiates and opioids (an opioid is a synthetic drug that mimics opium) were largely taboo—confined to patients with serious cancers, and often to end-of-life care. But two decades ago, a combination of libertarian attitudes about drugs and a massive corporate marketing effort combined to instruct millions of vulnerable people about the blessed relief opioids could bring, if only mulish oldsters in the medical profession could get over their hang-ups and be convinced to prescribe them.
OxyContin was only the most commercially successful of many new opioids. ...The American Pain Foundation, which presented itself as an advocate for patients suffering chronic conditions, was revealed by the Washington Post in 2011 to have received 90 percent of its funding from medical companies.
The calamity of the 1990s opioid revolution is not so much that it turned real pain patients into junkies—although that did happen. The calamity is that a broad regulatory and cultural shift released a massive quantity of addictive drugs into the public at large. Once widely available, the supply “found” people susceptible to addiction. ...Relaxed taboos and ready supply created a much wider appetite for opioids. Once that happened, heroin turned out to be very competitively priced.
In state after state, voters have chosen to liberalize drug laws regarding marijuana. If you want an example of mass media–induced groupthink, Google the phrase “We cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem” and count the number of politicians who parrot it. It is true that we cannot arrest our way out of a drug problem. But we cannot medicate and counsel our way out of it, either, and that is what we have been trying to do for almost a decade.
Calling addiction a disease usefully describes certain measurable aspects of the problem—particularly tolerance and withdrawal...Addiction is different. Addicts resist known cures—even to the point of death
In 1993, Francis F. Seeburger, a professor of philosophy at the University of Denver, wrote a profound book on the thought processes of addicts called Addiction and Responsibility. We tend to focus on the damage addiction does. A cliché among empathetic therapists, eager to describe addiction as a standard-issue disease, is that “no one ever decides to become an addict.” ....“Addiction itself . . . is tempting; it has many attractive features.” In an empty world, people have a need to need. Addiction supplies it. “Addiction involves the addict. It does not present itself as some externally imposed condition. Instead, it comes toward the addict as the addict’s very self.” Addiction plays on our strengths, not just our failings. It simplifies things. It relieves us of certain responsibilities. It gives life a meaning. It is a “perversely clever copy of that transcendent peace of God.”

The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous thought there was something satanic about addiction. The mightiest sentence in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous is this: “Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful!” The addict is, in his own, life-damaged way, rational. He’s too rational. He is a dedicated person—an oblate of sorts, as Seeburger puts it. He has commitments in another, nether world.
The deeper problem, however, is at once metaphysical and practical, and we’re going to have a very hard time confronting it. We in the sober world have, for about half a century, been renouncing our allegiance to anything that forbids or commands. Perhaps this is why, as this drug epidemic has spread, our efforts have been so unavailing and we have struggled even to describe it. Addicts, in their own short-circuited, reductive, and destructive way, are armed with a sense of purpose. We aren’t. It is not a coincidence that the claims of political correctness have found their way into the culture of addiction treatment just now. This sometimes appears to be the only grounds for compulsion that the non-addicted part of our culture has left.

Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In, Die Off: Medicaid Funds the White Death

In a massive and extensively researched article for Commentary, Nicholas Eberstadt shows how Medicaid is funding the gateway drugs — opioid prescription painkillers — which lead people towards deadly heroin and early death.
Eberstadt’s citation of 2013 Census Bureau data is sobering: 21 percent of all civilian men between 25 and 55 years of age are now Medicaid beneficiaries.....Further, a jaw-dropping 57 percent of non-working white males in the same age bracket are now collecting disability benefits. Some of them are receiving benefits from multiple government programs.
Princeton economics professors Angus Deaton and Anne Case “calculate that if the death rate among middle-aged whites had continued to decline at the rate it fell between 1979 and 1998, half a million deaths would have been avoided over the years from 1999 through 2013. That, they note, is about the same number of deaths as those caused by AIDS through 2015,”
Eberstadt also briefly touches on the hollowing out of the civil society resources which normally cope with stress and loss:... the overwhelming majority of the prime-age men in this un-working army generally don’t “do civil society” (charitable work, religious activities, volunteering), or for that matter much in the way of child care or help for others in the home either, despite the abundance of time on their hands. Their routine, instead, typically centers on watching—watching TV, DVDs, Internet, hand-held devices, etc.—and indeed watching for an average of 2,000 hours a year, as if it were a full-time job.

The Left has largely accomplished its grand 50-year mission, destroying the nuclear family, organized religion, and masculine values such as self-reliance, leaving many dependent on government functionaries for sustenance and hope. We aren’t supposed to be competitive anymore, and we aren’t meant to feel even a twinge of shame about long-term dependency on welfare programs or about dropping by the local Medicaid clinic for more pain pills. We have been strictly instructed to place no particular value on traditional marriage — not for its role in healthy child-rearing, or for the vital and different benefits it brings to men and women.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2017

"The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea," Isak Dinesen


Can Salted Doorknobs Prevent Superbug Infections?

It was a casual conversation with a former butcher that led Brayden Whitlock, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, to design a pilot study that put salt and copper head to head. Coupon-sized strips of pure, compressed sodium chloride were covered in an MRSA culture, alongside similar strips of antimicrobial copper and stainless steel. Whitlock found that salt killed off the bug 20 to 30 times faster than the copper did, reducing MRSA levels by 85 percent after 20 seconds, and by 94 percent after a minute.
The salt-covered doorknobs, meanwhile, are already in the market. Doug Olson, the former butcher who first told Whitlock about the idea, has already received a patent for the technology in nine different countries, and registered the trade name Outbreaker. Prototypes have been built by local salt companies—the compression process is identical to how salt licks for livestock are made—and discreetly installed in a handful of settings around Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, over the past few years. Compressed and smooth, with a feel akin to ceramics, Whitlock says most users have no idea that what they’re really grabbing is a fistful of table salt.

From the website for Outbreaker

OUTBREAKER is a patented, self-sanitizing, antimicrobial surface made of compressed sodium chloride (CSC). This solid, durable, versatile surface can be installed on anything frequently touched by hands. The technology is simple, all natural, and completely safe and non-toxic, while remaining very cost effective.

OUTBREAKER  recently had a pilot study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection (October, 2016). In a parallel bacterial elimination study between OUTBREAKER and antimicrobial copper, OUTBREAKER eliminated the drug-resistant superbug MRSA 20-30 times faster.

OUTBREAKER is made by a specialized compression process that turns simple, safe and non-toxic salts into a versatile surface, using over 250 tons of pressure. The resulting product is strong and durable, and can take any shape.  This simple new product is amazingly effective.  Independent laboratory tests have shown that OUTBREAKER kills between 95% and 99.9% of common germs like E. coli and Salmonella in just one minute. It has recently been shown to be extremely effective against drug resistant superbugs like MRSA and VRE.

Salt kills microorganisms in three main ways: Recrystallization, dehydration and denaturation.

“Salt of the Earth”: Is science picking up on what the Church has long believed?

The ancient world used salt much as butchers today do, as a disinfectant, purifier, and preservative. These physical uses became ritualized in many early religions. In the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha uses salt to purify a polluted spring, both materially and spiritually. The ritual use of salt has been part of Catholic tradition since the earliest days.
Blessed salt is a sacramental. It is used in the blessing of holy water and in the exorcism of evil spirits. (The folk custom of tossing spilled salt over one’s left shoulder to drive away the Devil is a popular superstition derived from the Rite of Exorcism.) A mixture of blessed salt, holy water, and wine is used to reconsecrate an altar that has been desecrated. Placing salt on the tongue of those to be baptized was a frequent part of the catechumenate at the time of St. Augustine, and it is still an optional part of the Rite of Baptism today.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:25 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2017

Digital brain disorders and tips for easy stress-relief

5 new brain disorders that were born out of the digital age

1. Nomophobia - the feeling of panic one has upon being separated from one's phone or tablet. In one U.K. survey, 73 percent of respondents felt panic when they misplaced their phone. And for another 14 percent, that panic spiraled into pure desperation.
2. Technoference - It could also be dragging down our relationships. In one 2014 study, more than half of the 143 participants said that tech devices interrupt their leisure time, conversations, and meals with their significant other. The researchers gave these interruptions a name: "technoference." Not surprisingly, higher technoference correlated directly with lower relationship and life satisfaction.
3. The phantom ring - Fauxcellarm, phantom ringing, and ringxiety are new to our lexicon, thanks to the universal presence of our buzzing, pinging smartphones. These terms refer to the perception that one's mobile device is ringing (or, more precisely, vibrating) when, in fact, it is not.
4. Cyberchondria - Hypochondria is not a new disorder, but the internet has taken it to the next level. In the broadest definition, cyberchondria refers to people who research and diagnose their own illnesses online. Sure, we've probably all done that — in fact, one in three American adults say they have used the internet to self-diagnose. But for some people who might already be prone to hypochondria, this can be detrimental.
5. Truman Show Delusion. Do you ever have that spooky feeling that someone's watching you? In the 1998 film The Truman Show, Truman Burbank had that feeling too, only his turned out to be true.---while it isn't directly caused by our digital devices, Truman Show Delusion is a product of our overly connected, reality-TV obsessed, social media–driven lifestyles that nurture our most narcissistic qualities.

The last one, #5, may not be a delusion at all given the latest Wikileaks drop, Vault #7, which show the CIA tapping just about everyone through our phones, smart TVs, and deliberately insecure software.                                                 

New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Easy Rituals That Will Make You Stress-Free

1. Clench your facial muscles and relax them: (If you use Botox, just skip to the next tip.)

2. Take slow, deep breaths: If it gets Navy SEALs through Hell Week, it’ll get you through tax season.

3. Splash your face with cold water: Wakes you up, calms you down and cleans your mug. Now that’s efficiency.

4. Play some music and do a little dance: Add a “neuroscience” playlist to Spotify.

Even easier ways to  kill stress and be happier with almost no effort whatsoever.

Research shows that owning a dog reduces stress. In fact, the effect is so powerful that just watching a video of a cute animal reduces heart rate and blood pressure in under a minute.

Watch nature documentaries to instantly boost your mood

A new study has found even watching small clips of shows such as Planet Earth II boosts people's emotions of awe, contentedness, joy and amusement.  It also can instantly help reduce anxiety, fear and tiredness.

Findings come from the BBC research, in collaboration with University of California, Berkeley.
Reviewing 150 further studies as part of the project, Berkeley's Professor Dacher Keltner found that our connection to nature enhanced our attention, cognitive performance and sense of calm. This made us more social and effective teamworkers and could even improve our physical health.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

Heath Roundup: Hairspray, coffee, vegetables and Millennial problems

Pregnant women warned against using hairspray

New evidence suggests that chemicals they contain may be linked to an increasingly common birth defect in boys called hypospadias which  disrupt male hormones and interfere with the developed of the male genitalia in the crucial first three months of the pregnancy.
The study at Amiens University Hospital in France involved comparing the use of hair cosmetics, chemicals and pesticides in 250 women who had given birth to boys with and without hypospadias. No association was found between hypospadias and the use of chemicals such as paint, solvents, gasoline, ink, glue and household products, but the use of hair cosmetic was found to raise the risk by 80 per cent.

How coffee could protect you from dementia: Caffeine helps to boost enzyme that shields you from the disease

Scientists say the drug boosts the power of an enzyme in the brain that protects neurons and fights misfolded proteins.  They found that the enzyme, called NMNAT2, plays two roles in the brain. The first is a protective function to guard neurons from stress and the second is a 'chaperone function' to combat misfolded proteins called tau, which accumulate in the brain as 'plaques' due to aging.  Plaque build-up in the brain is a known precursor to serious neurodegenerative diseases.

The study, conducted by Indiana University Bloomington, screened over 1,280 compounds, including existing drugs, and tested them on mice.  The team identified 24 compounds - and caffeine in particular - to have an increase on the production of NMNAT2 in the brain.  Caffeine had previously been shown to improve memory function in mice with high levels of misfolded tau proteins.

More vegetables, less stress! Study reveals every extra veggie you add to your plate lowers your stress levels by 5%

The study, conducted at the University of Sydney in Australia, looked at 60,000 Australians who were age 45 or older. Researchers measured the participants' fruit and vegetable consumption, lifestyle factors and psychological distress at two time points: 2006-08 and 2010.

The benefits were even more pronounced when it came to women. Women eating three to four daily servings of vegetables had an 18 percent lower risk of stress. But women who ate five to seven servings had a 23 percent lower risk of stress than women who ate one or less servings a day.

Millennial bowel cancer crisis:

Unprecedented numbers of young people are being diagnosed with bowel cancer - due to poor diets and lack of exercise, a study warns.  Millennials - those born between 1980 and 1995 - are four times more likely to develop rectal tumors stemming from the large intestine compared to those born around 1950.

Epidemiologist Dr Rebecca Siegel, of the American Cancer Society, said: 'Trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden. 'Our finding that colorectal (bowel) cancer risk for millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s is very sobering.

Social Justice Syndrome: ‘Rising Tide of Personality Disorders Among Millennials’

A 2016 UK survey found that, since 1990, rates of depression and anxiety among the young have increased by 70%, while the American Counseling Association has reported a “rising tide of personality disorders among millennials.”....In 2014, a survey of 100,000 college students at 53 U.S. campuses by the American College Health Association found that 84% of U.S. students feel unable to cope, while more than half experience overwhelming anxiety.  That such disorders appear to be an acute problem with this generation may be an unintended outcome of the unprecedented experiment conducted in the 1990s and 2000s by progressive parents.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

March 6, 2017

Health Roundup - Food

WALNUTS make men more fertile:

Scientists claim the crunchy snack is essential for boosting sperm quality. In about 40% of cases, the male is the sole or contributing cause of infertility. Eating 2.5 ounces of walnuts a day could improve fertility in males, study claims.  Walnuts reduce lipid peroxidation - a process that damages sperm cells and they are the only tree nut made up of fats that are destroyed by the damage

Eating foods rich in omega-3 can reduce harm caused by air pollution by up to half.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that toxic particles can penetrate through the lungs into other organs, including the brain and testicles.  Poor air quality is a major cause of disease and death – increasing the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. But the study found omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish, soy beans and spinach can be used to prevent and treat the damage caused by polluted air.

Grab a MOCHA! Caffeine combined with cocoa can enhance your brain function

Researchers studied participants who drank coffee and hot chocolate for a year.  They found that while coffee boosts energy levels, hot chocolate relieves anxiety. Combining the two drinks is the best way to improve your attention span

Could fruit and steak cure epilepsy?
Study claims that a low-carb, high-fat diet is the key to controlling seizures as it alters the activity of brain cells.

Super-refractory status epilepticus (SRSE) is the most severe classification of the brain condition, killing 60 per cent of sufferers....  new research [from John Hopkins University] suggests that a ketogenic diet, high in fruit and steak,  could be used in future as a life-saving treatment for patients.  High in fats and low in carbohydrates, the diet alters the activity of brain cells to prevent deadly fits, scientists claim.

Study author Mackenzie Cervenka said: 'We can only state that it appears to work in some patients to halt status epilepticus and reduces the frequency of their seizures... What we can say is that the ketogenic diet is promising for at least a subset of patients... Any safe means we have of getting patients off of anesthesia and out of a coma quickly will be welcome."

9 Reasons You Should Eat Dark Chocolate Every Single Day

1. Dark chocolate just makes you happy.  It contains tryptophan, an amino acid that’s used by the brain to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happiness.

2. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content contains a solid amount of soluble fiber. A 100-gram bar of 70-85 percent chocolate has 11 grams of fiber. Soluble fiber helps keep cholesterol down, keeps you feeling fuller longer, and is good for your digestive health.

3. Eating dark chocolate might be good for your brain. That’s right, eating chocolate may keep your brain sharp and help you ward off dementia. A four-decade long study found that people with frequent chocolate consumption preformed better on brain-powered tests.

4. It’s good for your heart, too. Eating dark chocolate may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. One study showed that eating chocolate five or more times a week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57 percent.

5. Dark chocolate makes for happier babies. And who doesn’t want a happy baby? A Finnish study found that mothers who ate more chocolate during pregnancy had happier, less fussy babies. This is great news for pregnant women everywhere.

6. It’s got the flavonoids we all want and need. Flavonoids are a plant-based antioxidant found in cocoa, and are one of the main reasons that dark chocolate is so good for you. These antioxidants may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and also maintain the health of your blood vessels.

7. Dark chocolate is also good for your skin. Eating it can actually help protect you from sunburn thanks to two antioxidants, phenols and catechins, found in dark chocolate.

8. It’s a natural stress reliever ― Dark chocolate is found to lower the levels of stress hormones, which could very well be part of the reason you crave the stuff when feeling stressed out.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 PM | Permalink

Round-up of new technologies in the field of medicine

Computers Turn Medical Sleuths and Identify Skin Cancer, Wall St Journal

When it comes to melanoma, early detection is a matter of life and death. But it takes a trained eye to distinguish a harmless blemish from cancer, and many people around the world lack ready access to a dermatologist...Researchers at Stanford University have found a way to get a computer, using its algorithm, to identify skin cancer as reliably as board-certified dermatologists can. The hope is that, eventually, scientists can get this to happen on a smartphone anywhere in the world.

Google's artificial intelligence can diagnose cancer faster than human doctors

The system is able to scan samples to determine whether or not tissues are's unlikely to replace human pathologists just yet. The software only looks for one thing - cancerous tissue - and is not able to pick up any irregularities that a human doctor could spot.

Scientists Have Stored a Movie, a Computer OS, and an Amazon Gift Card in a Single Speck of DNA
    "The highest-density data-storage device ever created."

Israeli technology revolutionizes heart attack detection with one drop of blood

Israeli technology has changed the face of heart attack detection with a kit so small it fits in the palm of your hand...

A health professional needs only one drop of blood to let a patient know if a heart attack has occurred. If two stripes appear on the kit, the result is positive and the patient must immediately receive additional care. The test is easy, noninvasive and takes less than 15 minutes to perform.

Many people believe they can identify classic heart attack symptoms, which include chest pain, dizziness, nausea, pain traveling particularly to the left arm, wheezing and extreme anxiety similar to a panic attack. In reality, these can be symptoms of heartburn, but until now, in order to find out, a patient would have to wait in an emergency room and undergo at least six hours of testing, including blood tests and an EKG.

On the other hand, less than 50 percent of heart attack victims experience classic symptoms. Many people have atypical symptoms such as shoulder or stomach pain or exhaustion. By the time they  have finished with the classic tests, precious hours will have passed, which can lead to unnecessary heart damage and even heart failure

A blood test for cancer? Simple liquid biopsy could identify where in the body a tumor exists

'Liquid biopsies' are hoped to revolutionize cancer treatment, by identifying people with slow-growing tumors and those most in danger. They work by detecting the DNA released by dying tumor cells. Now, for the first time, US scientists can also pinpoint the part of the body affected. That is because the normal cells killed off by cancer also release DNA into the bloodstream, which has its own unique signature. A team from the University of California San Diego have found the DNA patterns for 10 different types of tissue, including from the liver, lung and kidneys.  Next step is a clinical trial.

Scientists Reverse Sickle Cell Disease for the First Time Using Gene Therapy

While this is just one case study involving a single French teenager, the early signs are encouraging, and the therapy could eventually lead to an effective treatment for the millions of people with this crippling disease worldwide. Sickle-cell disease occurs when one of the proteins making up a type of hemoglobin we use to carry oxygen through our body takes a slightly different form. This small change is enough to make the red blood cells they occupy lose elasticity, deforming them into a curved 'sickle' shape and risking clumps of cells piling up as they struggle to slip through blood vessels.

But by using a virus to insert genes for the correct form of this protein into the bone marrow of a French teenager, researchers have been able to restore the elasticity to the patient's blood cells.  After 15 months of therapy, the patient is off medication, and while it's far too early to say he's been functionally cured, it's a case of 'so far so good' for this pioneering kind of treatment.

In this case scientists removed bone marrow stem cells from the teen's body and added a specially made virus, designed to recode the cells to produce normal hemoglobin again. The cells were then transfused back into the patient. Doctors are reporting that half the patient's red blood cells are now regular and healthy, and he hasn't needed any blood transfusions since three months after his first treatment.

Heart failure Breakthrough: Stem cells trial offers hope to millions.

A method of repairing damaged heart muscles that have been scarred as a result of disease or earlier heart attacks has been called the “biggest breakthrough since transplants”. British scientists have found a way to use stem cells to repair damaged tissue which could help millions living with heart failure. The data, presented at the European Society of Cell and Gene Therapy in Florence, showed an average of 40 per cent reduction in heart damage in those on the treatment.  Next year global trials involving 500 people will begin.

New 'silver bullet' pill powered by your own stomach acid sends data straight to your phone while it works

A 'silver bullet' pill powered by your own stomach acid will send health data from inside your body to your phone.  It is believed the tiny pill could revolutionize medicine by constantly monitoring your health and administering medicine.  The pill powers up when a zinc electrode interacts with stomach acid.  Small sensors continually monitor temperature and heart rate and it administers medicine. The creation was unveiled at the world's biggest science conference in Boston

Scientists at the University of Ottawa have developed a way of growing human cells and tissue on apples
    Video at the link shows how the biohacking was done and the new possibilities it opens.

Bad Hospital Design Is Making Us Sicker  Evidence-based medical care will require evidence-based hospital design.

It’s no secret that hospital-acquired infections are an enormous contributor to illness and death, affecting up to 30 percent of intensive care unit patients. But housing patients together very likely exacerbates the problem. Research suggests that private rooms can reduce the risk of both airborne infections and those transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces. One study reported that transitioning from shared to private rooms decreased bacterial infections by half and reduced how long patients were hospitalized by 10 percent. Other work suggests that the increased cost of single-occupancy rooms is more than offset by the money saved because of fewer infections.  Installing easier-to-clean surfaces, well-positioned sinks and high-quality air filters can further reduce infection rates.

Falls in the hospital are another major problem, leading to serious injuries, longer hospital stays and significant costs. Trying to navigate the unfamiliar space of a hospital room, often while disoriented by pain and medications, makes many patients susceptible to falling. A number of design factors contribute: poorly lit areas, slippery floors, toilets that are too high or too low......And then there’s the problem of noise. The average noise level in hospitals far exceeds guideline-based recommendations, making it hard for patients to sleep. ....when it comes to recovering from illness, the more nature the better. But too often patients and physicians find themselves cooped up in dim rooms and sterile hallways with little access to natural light or views of nature: too much concrete, not enough jungle.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

March 2, 2017

Sounds that make us happy

Sounds that make the nation happy.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 360 million people living with disabling hearing loss worldwide.
Hearing loss is a major public health issue and its impact is set to increase. 'In adulthood hearing loss is associated with greater unemployment, increased risk of poor health, depression and increased risk of other conditions including dementia.'

March 3 is designated World Hearing Day.  To mark the occasion, Cochlear commissioned a poll of 1000 people in the UK to reveal the top 5 happy sounds:

1. Children laughing
2. Birds singing
3. Being told 'I love you'
4. Waves crashing
5. Music

Others which missed the top five included the revving of a car engine, walking on gravel and the sound of skis on fresh snow as well as the grind of a coffee machine and rain on a tin roof.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 PM | Permalink

February 28, 2017

Health Roundup: Simple new ways to detect ovarian and lung cancers, treat common vertigo, prevent stroke and prevent serious migraines

Blood test spots ovarian cancer in nine of ten cases.

Women at high genetic risk should have a blood check every four months.  A mutated BRCA1 gene raises the risk of ovarian cancer from 1.3 per cent to 39 per cent. Women with such gene, like Angelia Jolie, are advised to have their ovaries removed. A number of other genes, if mutated, also increase the risk.

A simple and cheap nose swab could soon detect lung cancer in smokers, scientists claim.

Detecting these changes can accurately predict whether the patients have tumors without having to perform a biopsy.
Smoking damages the cells in the lining of the nostrils involved in smell, research shows.  A persistent cough, coughing up blood, persistent breathlessness and unexplained tiredness are symptoms of what may be lung cancer. Those suspected of having it are given a chest x-ray and then scans - but these are unable to differentiate between benign and malignant lesions.

Those believed to be at risk then have to undergo an invasive bronchoscopy to take a tissue sample. Boston University School of Medicine researchers found a biomarker in the nasal passages can determine the likelihood of a lung lesion being malignant. The simple swab of their nose can determine if they have the disease sparing them from costly and risky procedures.

Colorado Doctor Finds Way To Treat Common Vertigo

Dr. Carol Foster, Director of the Balance Laboratory at the University of Colorado School of Medicine has experienced vertigo, the most common form called positional vertigo. It happens when particles in the ear that sense gravity get dislodged and end up in spinning sensors....vertigo.  She describes it thus, “You’re rolling over in bed and suddenly you’re hit with this incredible spinning and you see the room going around like you’re in the inside of a washing machine.”

One morning, in treating herself, she came up with her own spin on how to fix vertigo at home. It’s called the “Half Somersault Maneuver.” Patients put their head upside down like they are going to do a somersault. They wait for dizziness to end then raise their head to back level. They then wait again for dizziness to end and then sit back quickly “And that causes the particles to leave the semicircular canal,” Foster said.

A six-month study showed patents preferred the exercise over the one commonly used by doctors. Foster’s recently published research is a breakthrough in the treatment of vertigo and could be life-changing for people who are disabled at times by extreme dizzy spells. “I was surprised at how well it worked,” Foster said.

Hope for migraine sufferers? Epilepsy drug relieves seizure-like symptoms that cause blinding headaches

Lyrica relieves a seizure-like phenomenon believed to be the cause of migraines.  It works by stopping a wave of brain cells, preventing symptoms and was found to boost calcium levels, with low amounts causing headaches.  The findings by a team at the British Columbia University, Canada, were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More evidence ties gum health to stroke risk 

Adults with gum disease may be twice as likely as people with healthy gums to suffer a stroke, new research suggests...."The higher the level of gum disease, the worse the risk."  Floss your teeth and use a water pic.  Regular dental check-ups can spot and treat early gum disease.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2017

Health Roundup: Chronic fatigue syndrome, gene therapy for blood cancer and Alzheimer's

One of the Biggest Myths About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Just Got Debunked. Chronic fatigue IS a real disease.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is one of the most perplexing conditions out there. It affects up to 1 million Americans and as much as 2.6 percent of the global population, often triggering exhaustion so severe that patients can't work or study.

But for decades, researchers have struggled to find an underlying cause, leading to an assumption by many doctors that it's 'not a real disease'. Now, Australian researchers have blown that myth wide open, showing for the first time that CFS is linked to a faulty cell receptor in immune cells. Not only is this the first research to show how the faulty cell receptor causes the immune system changes seen in CFS/ME, it also offers researchers a long-sought-after target for future treatments and tests.

It was two years ago that the US officially listed CFS/ME as a disease, [renaming it  ‘systemic exertion intolerance disease’, or SEID for short....There's still no way to test for the disease, and no effective treatment.  In fact, the two most commonly prescribed treatments for the condition are cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise, neither of which have any evidence to support they work - and many feel could actually be doing more harm than good.
The new research suggests that all of the common CFS/ME symptoms can be explained by these faulty calcium ion channels.

"We now know that this is a dysfunction of a very critical receptor and the critical role that this has, which causes severe problems to cells in the body," said Don Staines, co-director of Griffith University's National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases.  Already, Staines and his team are working to figure out the best markers that can be used to test for these faulty receptors, so they can begin to create a CFS/ME test. They're also looking for medications that act on these specific calcium ion channels in the hopes of finding potential treatments for the disease.

Gene therapy 'seems extraordinary' at fighting blood cancer, US drug firm study claims

An experimental gene therapy that turns a patient's own blood cells into cancer killers has worked with 'extraordinary' results in a major study.  More than one-third of very sick lymphoma patients showing no sign of disease six months after a single treatment, its maker said on Tuesday.  In all, 82 percent of patients had their cancer shrink at least by half at some point in the study.
The therapy is not without risk. Three of the 101 patients in the study died of causes unrelated to worsening of their cancer, and two of those deaths were deemed due to the treatment. ...The treatment involves filtering a patient's blood to remove key immune system soldiers called T-cells, altering them in the lab to contain a gene that targets cancer, and giving them back intravenously.

Doctors call it a 'living drug' - permanently altered cells that multiply in the body into an army to fight the disease...Its sponsor, California-based Kite Pharma, is racing Novartis AG to become the first to win approval of the treatment, called CAR-T cell therapy, in the U.S. It could become the nation's first approved gene therapy.  It was developed at the government's National Cancer Institute and then licensed to Kite. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society helped sponsor the study.

Is the Leading Theory About Alzheimer's Wrong?  Yet another failed drug trial has prompted soul-searching about the “amyloid hypothesis.”

The “amyloid hypothesis” began with a simple observation: Alzheimer’s patients have an unusual buildup of the protein amyloid in their brains. Thus, drugs that prevent or remove the amyloid should slow the onset of dementia. Yet all drugs targeting amyloid—including solanezumab from Eli Lilly and bapineuzumab from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, to add a few more high-profile flameouts to the fail pile—have not worked so far.
Other skeptics of the amyloid hypothesis are coming back to tau, the protein Selkoe left decades ago to focus on amyloid. In the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, tau gets twisted into tangles that block the internal transport system of neurons. A recent failed trial aside, several drugs targeting tau are in early phases of clinical trials.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's, MS, Parkinsons, cooling caps and holding hearts

Too much sugar causes Alzheimer's: Study reveals 'tipping point' link between blood glucose and brain disease.

The study by the University of Bath and King's College London builds on previous research showing diabetes appears to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.  They found a 'tipping point' when glucose levels start to inhibit a protein that fights the early stages of Alzheimer's.  Once levels pass the threshold, they restrict the performance of a vital protein, which normally fights the brain inflammation associated with dementia.  This is the first evidence showing link between sugar and the brain disease.

Radical stem cell treatment for MS could stop the disease in its tracks for 5 years and even allow some sufferers to walk again

Imperial College London experts used chemotherapy to kill faulty immune cells. They then replaced them with stem cells in a bid to 'reset' the body's defenses. They found that Nearly half of patients saw the disease stop progressing for 5 years. Some patients went for as long as ten years with no worsening in their condition. Experts say the findings offer hope of the first lasting treatment for MS patients.

Doctors, however, stressed the treatment is more likely to 'stabilize' rather than 'reverse' the disease - and has better outcomes for patients whose disabilities are not severe. The Imperial study is the largest trial to date of autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation - or AHSCT - widely considered the most promising treatment for MS.

Is this the 'master switch' that prevents Parkinson's disease? Scientists discover key gene that stops brain cells from dying

Researchers from the University of Leicester found that a gene known as ATF4 plays a key role in the onset of Parkinson's in fruit flies. Acting as a switch, ATF4 helps to control the energy stations of cells - known as mitochondria - including neurons. The discovered gene boosts the energy of neurons, preventing their destruction.  This groundbreaking discovery could help to prevent or delay Parkinson symptoms.  Dr Martins said: 'Studying the roles of genes such as ATF4 in human neurons could lead to tailored interventions that could one day prevent or delay the neuronal loss seen in Parkinson's.' 

This comes after groundbreaking research in December found that Parkinson's disease may start in the stomach. Scientists from California Institute of Technology found the first ever conclusive link between gut microbes and the development of Parkinson's-like movement disorders in mice.

Studies: Cooling Caps Help Chemo Patients Keep Hair Up to two-thirds of breast cancer patients kept more than half their hair.

Cooling caps are affixed to patients' heads before, during, and after chemo; a machine cycles cooling liquid through the caps. While researchers aren't exactly sure how the caps prevent hair loss, one theory is they restrict blood vessels in the scalp, reducing the amount of chemo that reaches the hair follicles. About half of breast cancer patients say hair loss is the most daunting part of chemo, and 8% say they would turn down chemo in order to keep their hair. One breast cancer survivor who used a cooling cap says it has psychological benefits. She tells the Times that losing their hair makes people "think they're sicker than they actually are.

Would YOU want to hold your heart? Texas hospital lets transplant patients clutch their removed organs after surgery

Normally, hospitals dispose of surgically-removed organs after testing them and taking records. However, Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, has launched an unusual scheme called the 'Heart-to-Heart' program. It has offered more than 70 people the virtually unheard-of opportunity to see their ailing body part, and to hold it, before it is stored for further study. It all started with Dr William C Roberts, a cardiac pathologist at Baylor, who has been storing every removed heart to study for further study since he joined the institution in 1993.  The patients are overcome with emotion when they hold their own hearts in their hands.

 Holding Hearts

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2017

"With enough butter, anything is good," Julia Child

 Barbra Buttah Meme Large

"The difference between a good cook and a great cook is a quarter pound of butter," said my mother who cooked and baked
simple and utterly delicious meals for her seven children.  The vegetables served with every meal with plenty of butter were so tasty, we gobbled them up.  When recalling to one another any of a number of dishes she made, our mouths water.  I never even heard of margarine until I went to college and when I tasted it, I knew it was an abomination.  My mother never said, “As for butter or margarine, I trust cows more than chemists,” but it sounds like her.  Despite decades of people saying it was bad for you, I never gave up on butter.

I feel vindicated now the pendulum has swung the other way.

Cooking with butter may be more heart-healthy than vegetable oil: Study.

Data from a 1970s survey of mental hospital patients had never been analyzed until researchers from the University of North Carolina published published their findings in the British Medical Journal.  The findings come from subjects who had a carefully regimented and documented diet, if not altogether of their own will.  The research team analyzed unpublished nutritional data gathered between 1968 and 1973 in a controlled study of more than 9,400 men and women in one nursing home and six state mental hospitals in Minnesota that concluded that there was 22 percent greater risk of death for those on the vegetable oil diet.

Authority Nutrition: Why Grass-Fed Butter is Good For You

1. The saturated fat in butter can actually improve the blood lipid profile by raising the levels in HDL (the good) cholesterol which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and changing the LDL rom small, dense (bad) to Large LDL – which is benign and not associated with heart disease. 
2. Grass-Fed Butter is Loaded With Vitamin-K2, The Missing Nutrient That De-Calcifies Your Arteries.  High-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows are among the best sources of Vitamin K2 in the diet.  Studies consistently show that Vitamin K2 dramatically reduces the risk of both osteoporosis and heart disease.
3. Butter is Loaded With an Anti-Inflammatory Fatty Acid Called Butyrate. 
4. In Countries Where Cows Are Grass-Fed, Butter Consumption is Associated With a Dramatic Reduction in Heart Disease Risk. ...According to one study from Australia, where cows are grass-fed, individuals who ate the most high-fat dairy products had a 69% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who ate the least.

I swear by Kerrygold grass-fed butter, made in Ireland where as its website says:
The winds, rain and warming influence of the Gulf Stream all contribute to the lush grass our cows feed on year-round. They produce the sweetest, richest milk in the world, which makes our grass-fed cow’s milk Irish butter taste silky and creamy and glow a healthy, golden yellow.

 Kerrygold Salted Butter

Kerrygold butter is sold in every state, except for Wisconsin which is cracking down on 'Illegal butter'.

Butter protectionism in the Dairy State has made this foreign butter illegal.  An obscure regulation turns “ungraded butter” into contraband. Since Kerrygold isn’t produced in the good ole U.S. of A., it’s not graded and hence, illegal. Selling illicit butter bears a fine up to $1,000 and a possible six-month stint in the slammer.

Wisconsinites who enjoy Kellygold Irish butter have been forced to venture across state lines to buy the gold foil packaged dairy goodness....If you haven’t tasted Kerrygold, I can assure you it is definitely worth the drive...... It’s pricey, but worth every penny. [Editor's note: Buy it at Costco for best value].

Colcannon or Champ
Colcannon is Irish mashed potatoes with cooked kale or cabbage, milk and plenty of butter.  Recipe here.  Irish Champ is mashed potatoes with scallions and plenty of butter.  Here's a good recipe.  I most often combine both.  With a sprinkle of parsley on the top, the greens add a lovely Springtime taste. 

 Irish Champ Potatoe

While your unpeeled potatoes are boiling until tender, finely chop scallions (white and green parts) and mix with cold milk.  Then heat them gently.  When the potatoes are done, peel, then mash, and while still hot mix with the boiled milk and scallions. Then add some of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a knob of butter on the top.  Eat from the outside in, dipping each forkful into the melted butter.

"With enough butter, anything is good," Julia Child.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 PM | Permalink

February 22, 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

February 2, 2017

Health roundup: Eczema, chilies, back pain and "breathprints"

Petroleum Jelly May Reduce Risk of Eczema

Applying inexpensive petroleum jelly to a new baby daily for the first six months of life may reduce the risk that the infant will develop eczema, which can be a lifelong torment, according to a new analysis....The theory is that moisturizers “seal” a baby’s skin against some invader that triggers inflammation.

Chillies could help beat cancer as research finds capsaicin destroys diseased cells

Capsaicin, the active component that gives chillies their trademark kick, can switch on specialized channels surrounding cancer cells causing them to die....However, capsaicin isn't effective if it's eaten, inhaled or injected, and researchers think it will only be effective as a pill attached to another drug that targets cancer cells.

Back pain? Only exercise will give you long-lasting relief..Ibuprofen DOESN'T work for back pain: Only 1 in 6 feel any benefit from taking the drug (and exercise is the only effective treatment)

Scientists from the George Institute for Global Health in Australia examined 35 trials involved more than 6,000 patients taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. They found its benefits were minimal and were as ineffective as paracetamol (Tylenol). In fact, the cheap pills made adults 3 times more likely to have stomach ulcers
Yoga can help relieve the agony of back pain, a major review of medical evidence last month found.The practice, which includes stretching and breathing exercises, is an effective way to improve mobility and ease the chronic discomfort, experts said.  Researchers at the University of Maryland found yoga was twice as likely to improve the condition than simply doing back exercises.

Researchers Can Now Diagnose Parkinson’s, Cancer Via Patient’s ‘Breathprints’    The breath test could be the next blood test.

A promising new technique allows scientists to identify the presence of 17 different diseases based on the smell of somebody’s breath. While groundbreaking, the concept of studying the chemical makeup of human byproducts like sweat, urine, tears, and breath has been around since Hippocrates hypothesized about it in 400 B.C

Exhaled breathe contains oxygen, carbon dioxide, and a small amount of over 100 different chemical compounds that, when analyzed in relation to one another, can reveal a lot about the state of someone’s health.

In the hopes of advancing this prospect, scientists have created “breathprints,” distinct patterns found in one’s breath, for illnesses. “Just as each of us has a unique fingerprint that distinguishes us from others, each disease has a chemical signature that distinguishes it from other diseases and from a normal state of health,” Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who led the research group, said. “

The “breathprints” were created based on samples collected from 1,404 subjects diagnosed with one of 17 different diseases. Using artificial intelligence to analyze the results, scientists learned that each disease had a unique chemical marker based on the various amounts of 13 chemical compounds.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 PM | Permalink

January 30, 2017

Health roundup: Growing back teeth, appendix, stem cells, cats + Alzheimers, marijuana studies

End of fillings in sight as scientists find Alzheimer's drug makes teeth grow back

Researchers at King's College London found that the drug Tideglusib stimulates the stem cells contained in the pulp of teeth so that they generate new dentine – the mineralized material under the enamel.....Scientists showed it is possible to soak a small biodegradable sponge with the drug and insert it into a cavity, where it triggers the growth of dentine and repairs the damage within six weeks. The tiny sponges are made out of collagen so they melt away over time, leaving only the repaired tooth.

Appendix Isn't Useless At All: It's A Safe House For Good Bacteria

Long denigrated as vestigial or useless, the appendix now appears to have a reason to be – as a "safe house" for the beneficial bacteria living in the human gut.

Drawing upon a series of observations and experiments, Duke University Medical Center investigators postulate that the beneficial bacteria in the appendix that aid digestion can ride out a bout of diarrhea that completely evacuates the intestines and emerge afterwards to repopulate the gut

Scientists can now grow a beating human heart from stem cells

A team of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have used adult skin cells to regenerate functional human heart tissue. The study, published in the journal Circulation Research, detailed that the team took adult skin cells, using a technique called messenger RNA to turn them into pluripotent stem cells, before inducing them to become two different types of cardiac cells.  Then for two weeks they infused the hearts with a nutrient solution, allowing them to develop under the same circumstances a heart would grow inside a human body. After the two week period, the hearts contained well-structured tissue, which appeared similar to that contained in developing human hearts. When shocked with electricity, they started beating.

Could your CAT give you Alzheimer's? Parasite found in feline feces 'increases risk of developing the crippling brain disease'

Scientists claims cats are putting their owners at risk of Alzheimer's.  The focus of investigation is Toxoplasma gondii, a single-cell parasite in cat feces. The parasite has been linked to brain cancer, anxiety and schizophrenia. Now researchers have found the parasite can lead to Alzheimer's disease

About one-third of people worldwide are suspected of having a T. gondii infection, and many more are at risk.  This includes cat owners, who don't wash their hands thoroughly after handling contaminated litter, and pregnant women, who can pass the infection to a child in the womb.  Once infection occurs, the parasite moves to the brain.

When Kale, coconuts, and avocados could be bad for you.

Experts say there’s something metallic lurking in those foods, in our water, and elsewhere that could be making us feel miserable. Anxiety, trouble focusing, exhaustion, and an all around mental funk are familiar symptoms for a lot of people....After some investigation Dr. Kogan — an internist — said she found that copper is increasingly the culprit. “These are wonderful things to have as part of our diet, but if somebody is consuming excess they could certainly be at risk,” she said.  At risk for a condition known as ‘copper toxicity.’  “If you had six cups of coffee and you’re feeling jittery, that’s the feeling to describe copper toxicity,” she explained.

Marijuana DOES cause schizophrenia and triggers heart attacks, experts say in landmark study that slams most of the drug's medical benefits as 'unproven'

In fact, the current lack of scientific information 'poses a public health risk,' said the report, released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.  The report lists nearly 100 conclusions about marijuana and its similarly acting chemical cousins, drawing on studies published since 1999.

It found strong evidence, for example, that marijuana can treat chronic pain in adults and that similar compounds ease nausea from chemotherapy, with varying degrees of evidence for treating muscle stiffness and spasms in multiple sclerosis.  Limited evidence says marijuana or the other compounds can boost appetite in people with HIV or AIDS, and ease symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the report concluded.

Turning to potential harms, the committee concluded:  Strong evidence links marijuana use to the risk of developing schizophrenia and other causes of psychosis, with the highest risk among the most frequent users.  Some evidence suggests a small increased risk for developing depressive disorders, but there's no evidence either way on whether it affects the course or symptoms of such disorders, or the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder....Substantial evidence links pot smoking to worse respiratory symptoms and more frequent episodes of chronic bronchitis.

Marijuana is far more damaging to young teenage brains than we thought, a new study claims.

They found adolescents who smoked pot as early as 14 fared far in cognitive tests when they reached 20 - and dropped out of school at a much higher rate than non-smokers.  There has been a surge in teen cannabis smokers in the last few years, with a 2014 report saying about a third of teenagers try the drug before they reach 15.  But scientists warn new research shows that it is far better for their brains if they wait until after they turn 17.

Planned Parenthood Caught Denying Women Prenatal Care: 92 of 97 Abortion Clinics Turned Them Away

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:46 PM | Permalink

Health roundup: Incremental care, healing wounds without scars and burns without skin grafts

The Heroism of Incremental Care by Atul Gawande in The New Yorker

We devote vast resources to intensive, one-off procedures, while starving the kind of steady, intimate care that often helps people more.....

Surgery was a definitive intervention at a critical moment in a person’s life, with a clear, calculable, frequently transformative outcome. Fields like primary-care medicine seemed, by comparison, squishy and uncertain. ...

Observing the care, I began to grasp how the commitment to seeing people over time leads primary-care clinicians to take an approach to problem-solving that is very different from that of doctors, like me, who provide mainly episodic care....  "It's the relationship."
We’d begun collecting the data, developing the computational capacity to decode the patterns, and discovering the treatments that could change them. Seemingly random events were becoming open to prediction and alteration. Our frame of medical consideration could widen to encompass our entire life spans.

There is a lot about the future that remains unpredictable. Nonetheless, the patterns are becoming more susceptible to empiricism—to a science of surveillance, analysis, and iterative correction. The incrementalists are overtaking the rescuers. But the transformation has itself been incremental. So we’re only just starting to notice.

Scientists have figured out how to make wounds heal without scars

"Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring," said one of the team, "The secret is to regenerate hair follicles first. After that, the fat will regenerate in response to the signals from those follicles."

If you've ever wondered why scar tissue looks so different from regular skin, it's because scar tissue doesn't contain any fat cells or hair follicles. ...If hair follicles were induced to grow where a wound was healing, the resulting skin was found to be indistinguishable from pre-existing skin.

On the horizon.  Revolutionary burn treatment uses stem cell spray  Spray heals with little to no scarring

“Burns are absolutely one of the most devastating diseases known to man," said Dr. David N. Herndon, chief of staff and director of research at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston. When they're over 30 percent of the body they can be lethal. The list of physical and emotional complications from burn wounds goes on and on, and Herndon said with standard care (mesh skin grafting), the pain can last for weeks or even months.
The SkinGun claims to take a postage-size sample of skin and extract the patient's own stem cells, then spray them onto the wound, avoiding skin grafts entirely. Plus, RenovaCare said, this does not have any legal limitations because the stem cells are not manipulated.  “I think this should work, in my mind, without exposing the patients to risk," Herndon said. "(There's) nothing but benefit, so I feel strongly this will be approved."

The company that makes the product is based in Berlin. By Skype, the CEO and president of RenovaCare, Thomas Bold, said the treatment is not yet available in the United States, but it should be.  “Normally, a wound heals from the edges to the middle, and the larger the wound and the longer the process takes, the higher is the risk for inflammation and scarring," Bold said. "What we are doing with our system, we are placing thousands and thousands of little regenerative islands throughout the wound. Those islands, those stem cells, connect to each other and close the wound really faster."

Next steps “Our next steps will be figuring out the efficiency and safety of the product and with the relevant clinical studies, but this we need to discuss and negotiate with the FDA, but these will be our next steps,” Bold said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:38 PM | Permalink

January 4, 2017

The Mesentery or the human organ you never heard of

It's official: A brand-new human organ has been classified

Researchers have classified a brand-new organ inside our bodies, one that's been hiding in plain sight in our digestive system this whole time. Although we now know about the structure of this new organ, its function is still poorly understood, and studying it could be the key to better understanding and treatment of abdominal and digestive disease.

Known as the mesentery, the new organ is found in our digestive systems, and was long thought to be made up of fragmented, separate structures. But recent research has shown that it's actually one, continuous organ. The evidence for the organ's reclassification is now published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

So what is the mesentery? It's a double fold of peritoneum — the lining of the abdominal cavity — that attaches our intestine to the wall of our abdomen, and keeps everything locked in place.

One of the earliest descriptions of the mesentery was made by Leonardo da Vinci, and for centuries it was generally ignored as a type of insignificant attachment. Over the past century, doctors who studied the mesentery assumed it was a fragmented structure made of separate sections, which made it pretty unimportant.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

December 30, 2016

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's, man flu, autism+Vitamin D

Statins link to reduced chance of Alzheimer's - major new study

A review of 400,000 patients established that those who took the tablets regularly slashed their chances of succumbing to the condition by between 12 and 15 per cent. Scientists behind the study say the link may be explained by an interplay between cholesterol, which is regulated by the drug, and beta-amyloid, which plays a role in dementia, or that an anti-inflammatory property of statins themselves could be protecting against the disease.

Man flu DOES exist! Viruses want to kill men more than women, study finds

Viruses such as HPV and TB are more likely to kill men than women, study shows. Researchers at Royal Holloway University found the pathogens had adapted to target men and cause less-severe disease in women. They believe it is because women are 'more valuable hosts' to pathogens. Women are more likely to pass the virus on to others such as babies by nursing

Could autism be linked to a lack of vitamin D?

Research reveals women who are deficient in it during pregnancy are more likely to have children who display 'autistic traits'
Lead researcher Professor John McGrath, from the University of Queensland, said this suggested vitamin D supplements could reduce the incidence of autism.  The study, led by researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute, looked at blood samples from more than 4,000 pregnant women and their children.

Women who had low vitamin D levels at 20 weeks' pregnant were more likely to have children displaying autistic traits by the age of six, the study found.  Professor McGrath said: 'This study provides further evidence that low vitamin D is associated with neuro-developmental disorders. 'Just as taking folate in pregnancy has reduced the incidence of spina bifida, the result of this study suggests that prenatal vitamin D supplements may reduce the incidence of autism.'

Homeopathy effective for 0 out of 68 illnesses, study finds

Treatment has 'no discernible convincing effects beyond placebo'

Though placebos can have an astonishing effect.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:15 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Beer edition

Don't want to go deaf? Have a pint of Guinness each day: High levels of iron helps to prevent hearing loss, study finds

Around 30 per cent of the world's population are believed to be anaemic - leaving them at risk of losing their ability to hear
A study of more than 300,000 people found a link between iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) and hearing loss. Pennsylvania State University researchers found a lack of the mineral can cause sensorinerual hearing loss - damage to the cochlea or nerve pathways. They also discovered it could also cause conductive hearing loss - problems with the bones in the middle of the ear.

A pint of Guinness each day may help to prevent you from going deaf, new research suggests. The popular beverage contains high levels of iron, which scientists believe helps to ward off hearing loss. In England, post operative patients used to be given Guinness because of its high iron content.  Although Guinness and its parent company, Diageo, make no such claims today, its advertising slogan from the 1920's was 'Guinness is good for you!' But nutritionists warn a pint contains less than three per cent of the iron needed daily.

Previous research suggested it may work as well as a low dose aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks. It is believed antioxidant compounds in the drink, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.

How to cook healthy with BEER: Replace oil with ale when cooking it has nearly HALF the calories

Beer has around 75 calories per tablespoon while oil has up to 120 calories. Food fans suggest braising your meat in dark beer or add it to chili, stew or even your homemade burgers to give it a rich, dark flavor.

Toby Amidor, a registered dietician and author, says that beer can be considered a healthier alternative. She goes on to explain that beer can actually boost your health because it is packed with B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium.  As well as claims from the University of Pennsylvania that with moderation dark ale or stout can protect you from heart attacks, beer can also strengthen your bones because it contains silicon which can help promote growth.

Don’t want a hangover on New Year’s Day? Then you should avoid spirits and just stick to beer, study finds

Hops in beer can lessen the harm done to the liver after a night of heavy drinking. They reduce the production of toxins that occur from alcohol such as spirits. Some of these molecules are believed to cause a headache the following day

Can music change the flavor of beer? Different sounds can transform your tastebuds.

High pitch notes from piano or flute and harmonies enhance the sweetness. Lower pitch tones made by brass instruments makes beer taste more bitter. The highest pitch notes along with some percussion like chimes or clapping can add a hint of sourness to an ale while dissonant notes can make it seem stronger.

Have some nuts with your beer.  Snacking On Nuts Can Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease, Cancer

A new study from European researchers in the journal BMC Medicine says eating a handful of nuts a day can cut down on several health risks. Data from more than 800,000 people who ate all kinds of nuts, including hazelnuts, walnuts and peanuts, shows they cut their risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 30 percent and cancer by 15 percent. The risk of premature death was also 22 percent lower for people who ate nuts. “It’s quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food,” study co-author Dagfinn Aune said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 PM | Permalink

Easy-peasy resolutions for a healthier New Year

Don't eat too much kale or spinach.  How one woman's obsession with spinach and kale smoothies almost caused her to go BLIND after a build-up of a healthy compound clouded her vision

An Asian woman in her 60s was found to have high levels of lutein in her eye. She was taking supplements with her daily smoothies of leafy green vegetables. It caused her to develop crystalised deposits in her eyes - affecting her vision which can trigger age-related macular degeneration - a cause of blindness.  After stopping taking her supplements, her vision improved straight away

The advice to eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables certainly still stands, but this study serves as an indicator that there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to eye-healthy foods. People should only be taking large doses of added supplements if their eye doctor has detected signs of age-related macular degeneration. Taking more than your body needs can potentially cause more harm than good.'

Don't obsess over a few extra pounds.  Why being chubby could help you live longer...and other fascinating reasons why fat isn't always your enemy, from a book by a top biochemist 

Obesity warnings are well-founded but we should not treat fat like the enemy. Having extremely low body fat can lead to deficiencies in vital vitamins. Researchers found that low body mass index (less than 20) in middle-age is linked to a 34 per cent higher risk for dementia later in life. ... Plump patients may live longer....Embrace extra fat after the menopause.

Take a quick break every hour or so to move around.  Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work.

Stuck at your work desk? Standing up and walking around for five minutes every hour during the workday could lift your mood, combat lethargy without reducing focus and attention, and even dull hunger pangs, according to an instructive new study. Frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before work.

Time your showers.  Shower in the morning to boost creativity and at night if you want to fall asleep:

Morning showers can help those who are feeling stressed due to work or under pressure to be creative.  Showering helps you relax but also makes you alert, so washing in the morning can stimulate creativity.  Night-time showers are helpful because they regulate body temperature which can help you fall asleep more easily.

Swim in the ocean. 
From soothing your skin to clearing up sinuses, expert reveals the benefits of swimming in the ocean

Historically, doctors would recommend their patients go to the seaside to improve various ills.  Using seawater for medical purposes even has a name: thalassotherapy.

Take care of someone elseGrandparents can enjoy 5 extra years of life if they occasionally care for their grandchildren

Experts assessed survival rates of more than 500 people between 70 and 103. They were split into 2 groups based on if they cared for their grandchildren. Half of those who cared for their young family members were alive 10 years later while around the same amount of those who didn't died within just 5 years.  Providing care to anyone was associated with 3 years of extra life.

Get more sleep.  You'll be happier, healthier and slimmer too.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

Health roundup: heartburn, 'sugar-free' and Parkinson's

Popular heartburn medications linked to higher risk of stroke

Millions of Americans take proton pump inhibitors to treat acid reflux and heartburn. Known as PPIs, they are among the most prescribed drugs in the United States and are widely available over the counter. The research was conducted in Denmark among a quarter-million patients who suffered from stomach pain and indigestion, and were taking one of four PPIs: Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid or Nexium.  Overall stroke risk increased 21% among patients who were taking a PPI, according to the study. At the lowest doses, the authors found either no or minimal increased risk of stroke. At the highest doses, they found that stroke risk increased 33% for Prilosec and Prevacid patients, 50% for Nexium patients and 79% for Protonix patients.

Parkinson's could start in the GUT not the brain:

Scientists at California Institute of Technology find first ever link between the disease and gut microbes.  Studying mice, they managed to treat their symptoms with antibiotics.  The discovery, published today in the journal Cell, could overhaul medical research and treatment of Parkinson's.

Sugar-free products stop us getting slimmer

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital said,"We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP)," and its beneficial aspects.  IAP is produced in the small intestine. "We previously showed [this enzyme] can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

DNA linked to sugar cravings also leads to binge drinking, study finds. Is THIS the booze gene?

Beta-Klotho is activated in the brain by a hormone produced in the liver.  Around 60% of the population carry a variation, researchers found. Having the variant made adults drink an extra 0.97g of alcohol each day.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink

December 29, 2016

Health Roundup - Good news

MS breakthrough: Doctors hail the discovery of a 'landmark' drug that alters the immune system

Ocrelizumab reported positive results in the treatment of one form of MS, primary progressive. It works by preventing the body's immune system from malfunctioning.  It was found only 33% of primary progressive patients deteriorated over time. However, 39% suffered from worsening symptoms after taking a placebo drug
The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved testing on more than 700 patients across Europe and the US.

New antibiotic mined from human gut reverses drug resistance in superbugs

Using DNA sequences, scientists decode new antibiotics used in gut warfare.....The microbes bustling in our bellies may be gold mines for new antibiotic drugs, researchers report this week in Nature Chemical Biology. As proof of gut-bugs’ potential, the authors dug up a new bacteria-busting drug that can reverse resistance in pathogens and help kill off methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. In mice with lethal MRSA infections, the drug helped cure 100 percent of infections.

Scientists have figured out how to help nerve fibers repair themselves

A team of scientist from the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) began their research with the hypothesis that such a molecular brake naturally exists - something that stops neurons growing when we become adults and our bodies are fully formed.  But finding such a mechanism was like "looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack", according to lead researcher Frank Bradke.  By using a data-crunching approach called bioinformatics - where computers analyze and interpret biological information - the team eventually zeroed in on the gene they were looking for.

They have identified a gene that inhibits fibre regrowth when nerve connections become damaged. This gene, called Cacna2d2, acts as 'molecular brake', but now that we know how to turn the brake off, it could help us to develop treatments for conditions like paralysis and other spinal cord injuries.

Over 60,000 People Every Year Get Adult Stem Cell Treatments, Embryonic Cells Help No One

To date there is no proven success with human embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are the least likely type of stem cell to help any patients. Their very nature—a tendency to incessant growth—means that they are much more likely to form a tumor than to form healthy tissue, and so embryonic stem cells risk the life and health of those who are injected with them.

Even some embryonic stem cell advocates are beginning to admit failure. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, charged with spending $3 billion of state taxpayer dollars primarily for embryonic stem cell and human cloning research, has lately been funding mostly grants for non-embryonic stem cell research, hoping that they will have something to show for their expenditures which so far have yielded nothing from embryonic stem cells.
Adult stem cells remain the gold standard among stem cells when it comes to helping patients. For the latest facts on adult stem cell transplants see

In the last year, adult stem cells have been shown the potential to re-grow damaged heart muscle and reduce scars in the heart tissue.  They have been used to regrow new windpipes in patients with cancer or other tracheal problems. French scientists showed for the first time that a few adult stem cells from a patient could be used to grow enough red blood cells in the lab for a transfusion. The adult stem cells efficiently produced new cells that survived transfusion back into the patient’s body and functioned normally.

Ebola breakthrough as vaccine trial shows 'historic' 100% success rate

11,300 people died in West Africa's 2013-2016 epidemic of the virus.  New vaccine was found to be 100% successful in 2015 Guinea trial 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:51 PM | Permalink

December 22, 2016

Health Roundup - sniff test Alzheimer's, aluminum, saunas, aging

A simple 'sniff test' is accurate in diagnosing Alzheimer's early on

The sense of smell is known to decline sharply in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.  Experts believe this is because the build-up of toxic clumps in the brain - the signature hallmark of dementia - affects the memory region. Asking people at risk to try and identify a range of odors could provide an accurate early diagnosis, a new study found.  The 5-minute test could also be used to detect mild cognitive impairment - the pre-cursor to the debilitating disease, it suggested.

The 5-minute test could also be used to detect mild cognitive impairment - the pre-cursor to the debilitating disease, it suggested. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania asked 728 elderly people to detect 16 different odors using the Sniffin' Sticks test - which was developed in Germany and available to buy online.

Saunas Help Your Brain, Says Deeply Finnish Study

Published in Age and Ageing and highlighted by the New York Times’ Well blog, the study tracked 2,315 healthy guys between the ages of 42 and 60 over the course of about 20 years.

After controlling for lots of things — age, alcohol, smoking, diabetes, resting heart rate, body mass index, and the like — the analysis found that the dudes who bathed in saunas four to seven times a week had a 65 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s and a 66 percent lower risk of dementia compared to those who went just once a week.

Aluminum DOES cause Alzheimer's: Expert says new findings confirm the metal plays a role in the devastating brain disease

A link between aluminium and Alzheimer's disease has long existed.But many scientists says there is not enough evidence to blame the metal, used by thousands for everyday purposes to cook and store food.

However, Professor Chris Exley, from Keele University, says his latest research confirms it does indeed play a role in cognitive decline.  Alzheimer’s disease has a much earlier age of onset, for example, fifties or early sixties, in individuals who have been exposed to unusually high levels of aluminium in their everyday lives. We now show that some of the highest levels of aluminium ever measured in human brain tissue are found in individuals who have died with a diagnosis of familial Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists reverse aging in mammals and predict human trials within 10 years

Using a new technique which takes adult cells back to their embryonic form, US researchers at the Salk Institute in California, showed it was possible to reverse aging in mice, allowing the animals to not only look younger, but live for 30 per cent longer.
Dr Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory. “With careful modulation, aging might be reversed. Obviously, mice are not humans and we know it will be much more complex to rejuvenate a person. But this study shows that aging is a very dynamic and plastic process, and therefore will be more amenable to therapeutic interventions than what we previously thought."
The breakthrough could also help people stay healthier for longer.  The aging population means that the risk of developing age-related diseases, such as dementia, cancer and heart disease also rises. But if the body could be kept younger for longer then it could prevent many deadly diseases for decades.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

December 10, 2016

Health Roundup - Good News

U.S. Dementia Rates Are Dropping Even as Population Ages

Dementia is actually on the wane. And when people do get dementia, they get it at older and older ages....The new study found that the dementia rate in Americans 65 and older fell by 24 percent over 12 years, to 8.8 percent in 2012 from 11.6 percent in 2000. That trend is “statistically significant and impressive.”

Playing harmonicas helps people with limited lung capacity breathe easier

The COPD Foundation helped 25 treatment centers offer weekly classes as part of its new Harmonicas for Health initiative? All that breathing in and out strengthens the diaphragm, allowing the patients in the program to breathe deeper. The harmonica players also say they experience reduced anxiety, a renewed sense of purpose, a decrease in social isolation and just plain old fun .

The Many Benefits of Choir Singing When You’re Older  It's a way to improve memory, reduce stress and make breathing easier

Using Ecstasy to treat PTSD: ‘I felt like my soul snapped back into place’ said Jessi Appleton after three sessions. 

Appleton, 32, was treated in Boulder, Colorado, in a study arranged and funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), an organization that has long pursued a strategy of supporting rigorous scientific research into otherwise illegal drugs. On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the treatment an important boost, when agency officials met with officials from MAPS to start clearing the way for one or more large-scale research studies.

Man 'cured' of prostate cancer after doctors shock tumor to death with testosterone

Professor Sam Denmeade, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, US, who led the study, said: ""Our goal is to shock the cancer cells by exposing them rapidly to very high followed by very low levels of testosterone in the blood. The results are unexpected and exciting. ...The treatment is revolutionary because testosterone is generally assumed to fuel prostate cancer.

Tasmanian devil's milk can KILL the most deadly drug-resistant bacteria known - including golden staph

The Tasmanian devil, the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world is the size of a small dog and can be found only on the Australian island state of Tasmania.  Biologist Emma Peel was inspired by the fact that under-developed Tasmanian Devils don't get sick in the pouch.

Sydney University researchers found that the milk of the Tasmanian Devil has been shown to kill some of the most deadly bacterial and fungal infections, including golden staph.  This is due to the peptides contained in the milk having six naturally occurring anti-microbes which researches have set about replicating.  'We showed that these devil peptides kill multi-drug resistant bacteria, which is really cool,' Ms Peel told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:29 PM | Permalink

September 22, 2016

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Researchers just linked chronic fatigue to changes in gut bacteria

Researchers have identified biological markers in both gut bacteria and blood that can be used to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome - also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME/CFS - in more than 80 percent of patients tested.  ME/CFS is currently difficult to diagnose – it was only last year that it was properly classified as a real disease, and the existing treatment options are limited and controversial... the researchers found that ME/CFS patients had less diversity in their gut bacteria than the control group - specifically, fewer bacterial species that were anti-inflammatory and more which were pro-inflammatory....

The CDC reports that  one million Americans have CFS. This illness strikes more people in the United States than multiple sclerosis, lupus, and many forms of cancer....CFS occurs four times more frequently in women than in men;... The illness occurs most often in people in their 40s and 50s...CFS occurs in all ethnic and racial groups and in countries around the world....People of all income levels can develop CFS.  With his son terribly ill, a top scientist takes on chronic fatigue syndrome

The Implosion of a Breakthrough Study on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

In 2011, a study published in The Lancet claimed that it had done exactly that: The data, the authors declared, showed that a combination of exercise and talk therapy could significantly alleviate the symptoms of the disease, and even cure it fully in up to 20 percent of cases. Immediately, the study (also called the PACE trial) was both hailed as a great leap forward and criticized as bad science.

And now, definitive proof has emerged that the latter camp was correct. In a column published in Stat today, writer Julie Rehmeyer — herself a CFS patient — explained how a supposed breakthrough blew up so spectacularly. Soon after the study was published, Rehmeyer wrote, she and other CFS patients, skeptical of the study’s claims, began to examine it more closely. What they found looked a lot like manipulated data:

Bad science misled millions with chronic fatigue syndrome. Here’s how we fought back by Julie Rehmeyer

But patients like me were immediately skeptical, because the results contradicted the fundamental experience of our illness: The hallmark of ME/CFS is that even mild exertion can increase all the other symptoms of the disease, including not just profound fatigue but also cognitive deficits, difficulties with blood pressure regulation, unrestorative sleep, and neurological and immune dysfunction, among others.

Soon after I was diagnosed in 2006, I figured out that I had to rest the moment I thought, “I’m a little tired.” Otherwise, I would likely be semi-paralyzed and barely able to walk the next day.

Research published the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest Chronic fatigue syndrome may be a human version of 'hibernation'

After looking at the 612 different metabolites...They found that 80 percent of the metabolites were lower in those with CFS. They also found what they described as “abnormalities” in 20 of the metabolic pathways. All this suggests that the metabolism of people with CFS is markedly slowed down.....although humans do not, in fact, hibernate, he said the “metabolic signature” is similar to that of animals in hibernation.... If that were the case, he explained, curing people of CFS may be akin to waking the body up. Davis said it’s possible that the treatment may not be anything radical; it might involve putting the body back in balance with the right mix of diet and supplements.

But even Davis cautioned that however alluring the paper’s implications are, “it is only a hypothesis.”  The scientists are now trying to replicate the PNAS study with a larger sample size.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:08 PM | Permalink

September 18, 2016

Let them eat dirt

In the Wall Street Journal, more evidence on the importance of the microbes in our gut to our health.

Get Your Children Good and Dirty

Most human communities have experienced the benefits of medical advances like antibiotics, vaccines and sterilization, which have radically reduced the number and severity of infections that we suffer throughout life. Dying from a microbial infection is now a very rare event in the Western world, and, in the U.S., lifespans have increased by some 30 years since 1915—in large part because of success against infectious diseases.

Our anti-microbe mission has been accompanied, in industrialized countries, by an explosion in the prevalence of chronic noninfectious diseases and disorders. Diabetes, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases, autoimmune diseases, autism, obesity and certain types of cancer are at an all-time high. The incidence of some of these disorders is doubling every 10 years, and they are starting to appear sooner in life, often in childhood.

The practical upshot of all this research is clear: Our health depends to a large degree on maintaining a robust and diverse community of microorganisms in our bodies—and establishing good gut-health as children is especially important.

Inflammatory diseases (such as asthma, allergies and inflammatory bowel disease) and metabolic diseases (such as obesity and diabetes) are characterized by alterations in our immune system and our metabolic regulation. Knowing what we do now about the role of the microbiota, it is not surprising that these diseases are being diagnosed in more children. They are, to a great extent, a consequence of relatively recent changes in our lifestyle—modern diet, oversanitization, excessive use of antibiotics—that have altered the specific microbes that affect our metabolism early on.

Never before in human history have babies and children grown up so cleanly, and our diets have lost many of the elements most crucial to the health of our guts. We have become very bad hosts to our microbes.  By preventing babies and children from following their innate impulse to get dirty, we shield them from the microbial exposure that is essential for the development of a healthy immune system.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 PM | Permalink

September 17, 2016

Health Roundup: HRT triples breast cancer risk, new lung cancer drug and new CLL cancer drug,

HRT triples the risk of breast cancer, longest ever study shows

Now new findings by the Institute of Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Now suggest the original risk had actually been underestimated.  A study of 100,000 women over 40 years found those who took the combined estrogen and progestogen pill for around five years were 2.7 times more likely to develop cancer compared to women who took nothing, or only the estrogen pill. The risk rose to 3.3 times for women who took the drugs for 15 years or more. “We found that current use of combined HRT increases the risk of breast cancer by up to threefold, depending on how long HRT has been used.

Breakthrough lung cancer drug could detect it early and stop the deadly disease from spreading around the body

Melbourne researchers discovers new drug that could stop lung cancer. They identified an inflammation-causing molecule (Interleukin 6 or Il-6) that triggers the lung disease.  Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lung grow in an uncontrolled way. It often spreads (metastasizes) to other parts of the body before the cancer can be detected in the lungs.

The drug, which is currently undergoing clinical human trials to fight inflammatory bowel disease in Europe, appears to shut the signaling system down that is responsible for developing lung cells.  The drug contains a naturally occurring receptor that could potentially block the molecule from attaching itself to lung cells - the most aggressive form of the disease - and stop tumor growth.

German collaborators at the University of Kiel have developed a radical new drug sgp130Fc in a bid to target a similar signaling process in inflammatory bowel disease. The drug contains a naturally occurring receptor that could potentially block the molecule from attaching itself to lung cells - the most aggressive form of the disease - and stop tumor growth.

Prof Jenkins, who is monitoring the European trials, said the existing drug has been effective in halting the disease that could help the tens of thousands of lung-cancer patients. "You see a dramatic reduction in the amount of tumors forming - they just don't seem to grow anywhere near as well as the tumors would if sgp130Fc was not there. It is very effective at blocking and retarding the growth of these tumors."

The US has given fast-track approval to a surprising new cancer drug for CLL  "Even when it's killing cells, you feel great."

A new cancer drug called Venetoclax is causing quite a stir in the medical community, with the announcement that the US FDA has given it fast-track approval for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).  CLL is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults, and during a recent clinical trial, 80 percent of patients treated with Venetoclax experienced complete or partial remission of their cancer. Developed in Australia over several decades, Venetoclax is taken in pill-form, and of the small sample of patients who have been treated with it so far, some reported no adverse side-effects at all.
So, how does the drug work? Venetoclax is one of a new generation of immunotherapy cancer drugs that are designed to address certain failings of a person’s own immune system - such as missing portions of chromosomes that inhibit the cells’ ability to fight the spread of cancer...."Venetoclax works by specifically blocking the action of that BCL2, and allows the cells to die in the way that they were destined to." So rather than killing off the cancer cells - and a bunch of healthy cells in the vicinity - like current treatments like chemo and radiotherapy do, the drug reestablishes the balance of the body’s immune system, and effectively allows the cancer cells to die on their own.

Cancer 'smoke detector' test can spot the disease 10 years before symptoms appear

A revolutionary blood test, which acts like a smoke detector to spot cancer up to 10 years before symptoms appear, could be available within five years. Scientists at Swansea University have discovered that mutations occur in red blood cells way before any signs of cancer are evident. They have devised a simple test which hunts for the mutations and can indicate if cancer is present in just a couple of hours.
The scientists look for mutated blood cells that have lost sticky Velcro-like proteins, which help other proteins attach to the cell. In healthy people only a few mutated cells are found per million. But in people with cancer the figure jumps by more than ten fold.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 PM | Permalink

The Fight Against Superbugs

The breath test that proves which patients really DO need antibiotics - and could help slow the drug resistance crisis

A simple breath test could soon help doctors in the war against superbugs.  Scientists have worked out how to instantly tell whether someone needs antibiotics for a chest complaint. Compounds were found in patients' breath who have respiratory infections; those who exhaled certain compounds also had specific bug in their lungs  The research, which experts hope will eventually be used to build a licensed breath test, could slash the rate of antibiotics prescribed for coughs and colds.  Experts fear that the overuse of antibiotics is driving a superbug epidemic that will kill more people than cancer by 2050.

Scientists just found a compound that kills 98% of a drug-resistant bacteria

Researchers have discovered a compound in an Antarctic sea sponge that's capable of killing 98 percent of the drug-resistant superbug, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus - better known as MRSA - which is rapidly spreading throughout the US.

The discovery of this new compound, which has been named 'darwinolide', is so exciting. Researchers found it inside an Antarctic sponge, Dendrilla membranosa, and initial lab tests have shown that it's able to kill 98.4 percent of MRSA cells.

Could this be the end of SUPERBUGS? Scientists create a protein which 'rips apart' and destroys antibiotic-resistant bacteria

The star-shaped 'peptide polymers' - dubbed SNAPPs - tear down cell walls in their attempts to defeat mutated bugs, experts claim.  They aren't toxic to the body and pose no risk to patients.  Genetically engineered, the molecules kill bacteria in different ways than most antibiotics which are designed to halt growth. Images appear to show bacteria exploding when attacked by the proteins.  Lead researcher Shu Lam said: 'This discovery could potentially be developed as an antibiotic replacement for treating bacterial infections that do not respond to currently available antibiotics anymore.We are still at a preliminary stage and need to perform more detailed assessments on the star peptide polymers."

Your Next Antibiotic Might Be a Virus

When a 43-year-old Chicago woman caught a sinus infection in 2009, she never imagined it could kill her. But five years later, after multiple antibiotics had failed to work, her body began to shut down: She could barely eat, her vision suffered, her head spun, and her joints ached. She had contracted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), one of about 20 multidrug-resistant superbugs that together infect about two million people in the United States every year, killing 23,000 of them. 

Desperate, the woman turned to the internet, where she discovered a treatment called phage therapy, an alternative to antibiotics that is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration but is attracting excitement as our national stockpile of antibiotics grows increasingly less potent. In July of last year, the world's first scientific trial of the therapy began in Europe. In January, the National Institutes of Health dedicated funds to studying it here. And this month, a startup called AmpliPhi Biosciences, in partnership with the U.S. Army, released the results of the first major FDA study of the treatment's safety. 

This is a coup for a medical technique that was popular before the discovery of penicillin and which has for years only been available in countries like Russia, Georgia, and Poland. It's a lot like returning to old warplanes from modern fighter jets and realizing that the original planes had certain advantages all along.

The "phage" in phage therapy is short for bacteriophage, which is a type of virus that infects bacteria rather than people.  "Phages are extremely specific for the bacteria we want to kill," says Robert Ramig, a microbiologist at Baylor College of Medicine. Each virus prefers a single species, so doctors can target bad bacteria and spare beneficial strains. In cases where bacteria develop resistance to the phages, doctors just create a new cocktail. Or they can give patients phages and antibiotics at the same time. "For some reason, when bacteria become resistant to phages, they lose their resistance to antibiotics, which often become effective again," says Ramig. "The bacteria lose either way.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:55 PM | Permalink

Revolutionary Alzheimer's Drug

Alzheimer's: New drug that halts mental decline is 'best news for dementia in 25 years'

The first drug that can prevent Alzheimer’s disease is finally on the horizon after scientists proved they can clear the sticky plaques from the brain which cause dementia and halt mental decline.  Hailed as the "best news" in dementia research for 25 years, the breakthrough is said to be a potential "game changer" for people with Alzheimer’s.

Scientists said they were amazed to find that patients treated with the highest dose of the antibody drug aducanumab experienced an almost complete clearance of the amyloid plaques that prevent brain cells communicating, leading to irreversible memory loss and cognitive decline.

Crucially they also found that after six months of the treatment, patients stopped deteriorating compared with those taking a placebo, suggesting that their dementia had been halted. "The results of this clinical study make us optimistic that we can potentially make a great step forward in treating Alzheimer's disease," said Prof Roger Nitsch, at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Zurich.“In the high dose group the amyloid has almost completely disappeared. The effect size of this drug is unprecedented.

Could this be the end of Alzheimer's? Revolutionary drug 'may stop the disease from ever developing'

While current therapies ease the symptoms, aducanumab tackles the underlying damage in the brain, raising hopes it will be the first to alter the course of the disease.  It contains an antibody that homes in on amyloid, the protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimer's, poisoning and killing the cells. In future, healthy pensioners could be prescribed the drug to ward off dementia, in much the same way as statins are given today to those at risk of heart attacks.

FDA fast-tracks Biogen drug, Aducanumab

The Massachusetts-based biotech company Biogen will bring the product  to market.  The drug which targets brain plaque in Alzheimer’s has been granted a speedier process based on its success, and is now undergoing phase III trials, which doctors say will determine how effective the drug is in large populations.  If successful, it would be the first Alzheimer’s treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration in over a decade.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:22 PM | Permalink

August 15, 2016

Health Roundup Alzheimer's

Marijuana compound removes toxic Alzheimer's protein from the brain

An active compound in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been found to promote the removal of toxic clumps of amyloid beta protein in the brain, which are thought to kickstart the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The finding supports the results of previous studies that found evidence of the protective effects of cannabinoids, including THC, on patients with neurodegenerative disease.

David Schubert from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California and his colleagues  tested the effects of THC on human neurons grown in the lab that mimic the effects of Alzheimer's disease.  He said, "Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuro-protective against the symptoms of Alzheimer's, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells."

Decrease in blood flow to the brain is 'earliest sign of Alzheimer's'

A landmark study has identified the first physiological sign of late-onset Alzheimer's.  Contrary to previous understanding, brain scans show a decrease in blood flow through the brain is the earliest indicator that a patient has the disease. An increase in amyloid protein was thought to be the number one sign. But while amyloid plays a role, experts at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital have determined that blood flow decreases first in the most thorough study ever published on Alzheimer's. They also found that changes in cognition begin earlier than previously thought.

Scientists REVERSE memory loss 'for the first time' in Alzheimer's patients with changes to sleep, diet, medication and exercise

The new research was a collaboration between the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the UCLA Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research.  A study of 10 patients found they all showed memory improvements; all have since been able to return to their jobs or continue working.

Study leader Dr Dale Bredesen hopes it could pave the way for the first effective treatment for the disease since it was first described more than 100 years ago.  He said his approach is personalized, tailored to each individual patient - and is based on extensive testing to help determine the best therapies for each patient's brain.

'Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well,' he said. 'The drug may have worked, and a single hole may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.' He went on: 'All of these patients had either well-defined mild cognitive impairment (MCI), subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) or had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's before beginning the regimen. 'But follow up testing showed some of the patients going from abnormal to normal.'

Vaccine to halt dementia in its tracks 'is five years away': Treatment will target problem that triggers condition and one that causes it to worsen

A vaccine which protects against dementia could be available within five years.  Scientists believe they have made a breakthrough development which could stop Alzheimer’s disease in its tracks when given to people diagnosed in the early stages. They hope it will allow patients to carry on their lives much as normal while the progression of the condition is delayed by years – and perhaps for good.
As a preventative measure, the drug could even be given like a flu jab to over-50s or at risk groups. Experts believe delaying the development of Alzheimer’s by just five years could halve the number of people dying with the condition. The vaccine formula, worked on by researchers in the US and Australia, is the first to target both the protein believed to trigger Alzheimer’s and one which causes it to worsen.  These proteins tend to become misshapen and group together to form ‘clumps’ in the brain.

The vaccine is designed to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies which dissolve the clumps, latch on to the proteins and take them out of the brain and into the blood stream, where they can be broken down. Researchers said the formula is boosted by a ‘turbo charger’ which makes it between 100 and 1,000 times more effective than previously tested vaccines.  Their work showed the vaccine was successful on mice. It will now be tested in humans in the US and, if trials go well, it could be available in five to six years.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:05 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2016

"47% of Americans have had their medical record hacked in the past 12 months."

On The Dark Web, Medical Records Are A Hot Commodity

More than 113 million medical records were hacked in 2015 alone, according to data compiled by the Health and Human Services. A newly released report from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank, found that some 47% of Americans have had their medical record hacked in the past 12 months. As cardiologist and author Eric Topol points out, the majority of patients haven't ever accessed their medical record before that happens.
On the dark web, medical records draw a far higher price than credit cards. Hackers are well aware that it's simple enough to cancel a credit card, but to change a social security number is no easy feat. Banks have taken some major steps to crack down on identity theft. But hospitals, which have only transitioned en masse from paper-based to digital systems in the past decade, have far fewer security protections in place.
On the dark web, complete medical records typically contain an individual's name, birthdate, social security number, and medical information. These records can sell for as much as (the bitcoin equivalent) of $60 apiece, whereas social security numbers are a mere $15. Stolen credit cards sell for just $1 to $3. During the tour, we spotted one hacker who claimed to have a treasure trove of just shy of 1 million full health records up for grabs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink

June 11, 2016

Health Roundup: Missing Y chromosome, Alzheimer's, Migraines

Revealed, why women live longer: Male genes that may protect against dementia and cancer 'often go missing with age'

Researchers say that the Y chromosome, or more specifically, the loss of it, may be to blame for men’s shorter lifespans. Only found in men, the Y chromosome contains the DNA that makes males male and is present in almost every cell in the body. But, in some men, it starts to disappear from some of their blood cells as they get older. Previous research has shown these men are more likely to die young and to suffer from a range of cancers.

Now, scientists have also linked loss of the Y chromosome to Alzheimer’s disease. And they say that while the missing DNA has no effect on a man’s manliness, it may help explain why males, as a whole, tend to die younger. The researchers, from Uppsala University in Sweden, came up with the theory after studying more than 3,200 men aged between 37 and 96. Tests showed the Y chromosome to be missing from white blood cells in roughly one in five men. And the older they were, the more common it was....Health records showed Alzheimer’s disease to be almost three times as common in men affected by the phenomenon.

Rowan Led Research Team Develops Highly Accurate Blood Test For Alzheimer’s Disease

Early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease may be more possible than ever thanks to a group of researchers from Rowan University.  The group announced that they have developed a blood test that uses the immune system to find early stage Alzheimer’s in patients. The study included 236 subjects.  In terms of identifying early Alzheimer’s in patients with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, the overall accuracy rate was 100 percent, according to the researchers.

Cassandra DeMarshall, the lead author of the study, said that 60 percent of patients with MCI, have it due to an early stage of Alzheimer’s. “Our results show that it is possible to use a small number of blood-borne autoantibodies to accurately diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s. These findings could eventually lead to the development of a simple, inexpensive and relatively noninvasive way to diagnose this devastating disease in its earliest stages.”

What's the best thing you can do to avoid dementia? EXERCISE!

Regular exercise from the age of 40 can help prevent Alzheimer's disease.  Researchers at the University of Melbourne, tracked 387 women aged 45 to 55 over 20 years.  They assessed a range of lifestyle factors over the course of 20 years including exercise, diet, education, smoking, height, weight and BMI.  They found  exercise was the most important factor in preventing dementia. Any intensity from walking the dog to mountain climbing has benefits. Experts say every year counts, so the sooner a person exercises the better.

New drug for migraines.  injection 'halves' the number of attacks by blocking chemical to blame

Trials of the new drug, which is delivered via a monthly injection, suggests it could halve the number of attacks for at least 53 per cent of people. ..Study author Dr Marcelo Bigal, of American firm Teva Pharmaceuticals which developed the TEV-48125 drug, said: ‘Most people who receive preventive medication for chronic migraine stop using them, and one reason for that is the drugs can take a long time to become effective.

Described as one of the few true ‘holy grails’ of medical research, an injection to truly tackle migraines is being pursued by drugs giants Amgen, Eli Lilly and Alder, who are each competing with Teva to get the first license for the medication.  The four companies are each developing variants of a drug which tackles a protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which triggers the pain and nausea associated with a migraine....

CGRP causes the swelling of blood vessels intertwined with nerve endings on both sides of the head. Researchers have found that monoclonal blood proteins – antibodies specifically engineered to bind to CGRP – were able to ‘mop up’ the chemical, meaning it did not trigger a migraine.

Are migraines triggered by a lack of sunshine? Those who suffer attacks are 'often lacking vitamin D'

A lack of the sunshine could be triggering migraine attacks in children, teenagers and young adults, a study has found. Migraine attacks cause dizziness, nausea and headaches - and although painkillers and other drugs can ease the symptoms, they only work for some patients. Now a study has found a lack of vitamin D, vitamin B2 or riboflavin and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - an enzyme the body produces to help energy for cell growth and maintenance - in a high percentage of migraine sufferers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:32 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Cannabis, autism and depression

Smoking cannabis ALTERS your DNA 'causing mutations that can trigger serious illness, including cancer'

Dr Stuart Reece, and Professor Gary Hulse from the University of Western Australia's School of Psychiatry, analyzed literary and research material to understand the likely causes.  Dr Reece said: 'Through our research we found that cancers and illnesses were likely caused by cell mutations resulting from cannabis properties having a chemical interaction with a person's DNA. With cannabis use increasing globally in recent years, this has a concerning impact for the population.'

While a person may appear healthy and lead a normal life, the unseen damage to their DNA could also be passed on to their children, and cause illness for several generations to come.'Even if a mother has never used cannabis in her life, the mutations passed on by a father's sperm can cause serious and fatal illnesses in their children,' Dr Reece said. 'The parents may not realize that they are carrying these mutations, which can lie dormant and may only affect generations down the track, which is the most alarming aspect.'

Smoking pot 'increases baby's risk of asthma, premature birth and mother's risk of high blood pressure'

Smoking both cannabis and tobacco during pregnancy creates a greater health risk to your unborn baby, than cigarettes alone, experts have warned. Though the statement may sound obvious, more women are using cannabis while they are expecting, as it becomes legal in more places.    Between 2 and 11% of pregnant American women smoke pot, experts say.

Cannabis IS addictive - and smoking it harms the brain permanently research suggests

Researchers showed long term marijuana users pictures of the drug or fruit. Brain circuit controlling pleasure was more active when they saw drug. This suggests using cannabis regularly over years changes the brain.

Now, scientists have discovered why: smoking cannabis long term disrupts certain brain circuits, leading to cravings and dependency. These changes mark the difference between occasional users and people who have become dependent, researchers said. Despite the drug causing problems in people's lives - such as family and relationship issues - they carried on using it, a sign of psychological dependence, researchers said.

Autism is NOT just a disease of the brain: Sensitivity to touch, anxiety and difficulty socializing 'may be caused by nerve problems in the legs, arms and hands'

Until now, it was believed autism was cause by abnormal brain development.  Now, scientists believe some aspects of the disorder may occur as a result of problems with nerves found in the arms, legs, hands, fingers and skin that send sensory information to the brain.

Symptoms including being sensitive to touch, having difficulties with social interaction and anxiety might be caused by defects in the sensory nerves that run through the body.  Harvard Medical School experts believe that in people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), these sensory nerves are defective due to gene mutations.  This means the 'volume' is turned up all the way in these nerve cells, meaning touch is felt at an exaggerated, heightened level - and this can lead to anxiety and behavioral problems. Defects in touch processing may help to explain some of the behaviors observed in patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Blood test to personalize depression treatment for the first time

Scientists at King's College London have developed a blood test that accurately and reliably predicts whether depressed patients will respond to common antidepressants, which could herald a new era of personalized treatment for people with depression. Guided by this test, patients with blood inflammation above a certain threshold could be directed towards earlier access to more assertive antidepressant strategies, such as a combination of antidepressants, before their condition worsens.

Approximately half of all depressed patients do not respond to first-line antidepressants and a third of patients are resistant to all available pharmacological treatments. Until now, it has been impossible to establish if individual patients will respond to common antidepressants or if they need a more assertive antidepressant treatment plan, which may include a combination of more than one medication.

As a result, patients are treated with a trial-and-error approach whereby one antidepressant is tried after another, often for 12 or more weeks for every type of antidepressant. This can result in long periods of ineffective antidepressant treatment for individuals who may not show an improvement in symptoms anyway.

Giving young people antidepressants 'may do more harm than good' and increase the risk of suicide

Most available antidepressants do not help children and teenagers with serious mental health problems and some may be unsafe, experts have warned.  A review of clinical trial evidence found that of 14 antidepressant drugs only one, fluoxetine - marketed as Prozac - was better than a 'dummy' placebo at relieving the symptoms of young people with major depression.
Another drug, venlafaxine, was associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

Researchers recommended close monitoring of young people on antidepressants, regardless of what drugs they were prescribed, especially at the start of treatment.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:14 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Stem cell breakthroughs in treating stroke, MS and Bubble Baby disease

Major breakthrough as doctors REVERSE symptoms of a stroke- up to 3 YEARS later

Doctors have reversed the symptoms of stroke in a major medical breakthrough. Patients regained the ability to walk, speak and have a normal family life, thanks to a procedure requiring only local anesthetic and a single night in hospital.  Remarkably, the stem cell treatment was shown to work even three years after someone had suffered a stroke - meaning that millions of people could potentially benefit from the treatment.

Eighteen patients underwent the procedure in an initial trial - with stunning results. Despite the long gap between stroke and treatment, all 18 patients in the pilot showed increasing improvement for the 12 months they were tracked after the operation. Nearly half showed ‘clinically meaningful’ results - which meant the procedure had a significant impact on their lifestyle.
One patient who relied on a wheelchair, unable to properly use her legs, has since taken up jogging. Another woman, who could barely get to her feet before the operation, has since walked down the aisle and is now expecting a baby with her new husband.  And another, completely paralyzed apart from the use of her left thumb, has regained the ability to walk.

The treatment, carried out by scientists at Stanford University in California, is thought to be so effective because it triggers the rapid regeneration of brain circuits damaged during a stroke. But the team has already started on work to replicate their results on a larger scale, and if that is successful the technique has great potential to revolutionize life for stroke patients.

Hope for multiple sclerosis cure as 23 seriously ill patients recover after 'breakthrough' stem cell treatment

Multiple sclerosis patients who were severely disabled are walking, working and even downhill skiing again following a breakthrough therapy which completely destroys, then rebuilds, the immune system.  The trial, which is the first in the world to show complete long-term remission from the debilitating disease has been hailed by experts as ‘exciting’ ‘unprecedented,’ and ‘close to curative.’

Although it is unclear what causes MS it is thought that the immune system attacks the protective coating which surrounds nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord leading to inflammation, pain, disability and in severe cases, early death.

The new technique, which is a treatment usually used to fight leukemia, involves using chemotherapy to entirely eradicate the damaged immune system, before rebooting it with a transfusion of bone marrow cells.

Out of the 24 patients who were given the treatment at least seven years ago, the majority have seen significant improvements . 70 per cent of patients saw a complete stop to the progression of the disease, while 40 per cent saw a reversal in symptoms such as vision loss, muscle weakness and balance loss.

Dr Mark Freedman, of the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital, where the trials were carried out, said: “Jennifer, she freaked me out one day when she came to the clinic wearing high heels. This was a girl who could barely walk.”

Stem Cell Breakthrough: UCLA Researcher Pioneers Gene Therapy Cure for Children with “Bubble Baby” Disease

UCLA stem cell researchers cured 18 children born without a working immune system due to life-threatening ADA-deficient Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) Breakthrough stem cell gene therapy developed by Dr. Donald Kohn and team identifies and corrects faulty gene in children with ADA-deficient SCID using child’s own cells

Children born with adenosine deaminase (ADA)-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), often called “Bubble Baby” disease, a life-threatening condition that if left untreated can be fatal within the first year of life. To date, 18 children with SCID have been cured of the disease after receiving the stem cell gene therapy in clinical trials at UCLA and the National Institutes of Health.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:47 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Health Roundup: Arthritis and Cataracts

Could tiny worm hold the key to treating arthritis?

A tiny worm could help bring relief to millions of chronic arthritis sufferers, scientists claim.A study has found that the immune response triggered by infection with a parasite called N. brasiliensis eases rheumatoid arthritis.  Experiments with the parasite could bring hope of new treatments for people with the debilitating condition, and cut the need for expensive hip and knee replacements.
One of the most common forms of the disease, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints by mistake. The wrists, fingers, toes, ankles and knees are particularly susceptible.  Current drugs do not work for everyone, and one in three sufferers give up work within ten years of diagnosis. Those whose joints have been very badly damaged can undergo hip or knee replacements. However this involves a major operation, as well as months of rehabilitation, and the new joints have a limited lifespan.

When the German researchers infected arthritis-stricken mice with the worm, the creatures’ health improved. Inflammation was cut and damage to cartilage reduced, the journal Nature Communications reports.  It is thought that the immune response triggered by the worm – which normally lives in rats’ stomachs – counteracts the rogue immune response behind the disease. Parasitic worms have already been used to successfully treat other illnesses in which the immune system turns on the body, including Crohn’s disease.

Researchers Develop ‘Holy Grail’ Eye Drop to Prevent, Treat Cataracts Without Surgery

Researchers at Louisiana State University have formulated drops made of nanoparticles that are able to efficiently deliver into the eye lens the natural substance called lutein–which is plentiful in youthful eyes, but diminishes in old age....  Cataracts are a common condition in older adults that causes the lens of the eye to become cloudy and block light from the retina. There were more than 24 million cases of cataracts in the U.S. in 2010.

Professor Cristina Sabliov and assistant professor Carlos Astete in the LSU AgCenter Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering found a way to use nanoparticles to make the plant-based anti-oxidant more absorbent for humans. “The nanoparticle matrix can deliver lutein to the eye efficiently, which improves its effect against cataracts,” Sabliov said. This new product would have the unique advantage of both being able to prevent cataracts before they start or to treat cataracts after they form,” she said.

Tests on rats have been successful in reducing the size of cataracts in just one week, but the team expects further animal tests and human tests to take years before the eye drops can hit the market
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:56 PM | Permalink

May 27, 2016

Health Roundup: Superbug, antibiotics, fecal transplant, natural killer immune cells, adult ADHD

Superbug resistant to ALL drugs reaches the US

A woman in Pennsylvania has become the first American to test positive for a strain of bacteria that is resistant to all antibiotics, even those used as the last line of defense....

CDC director, Dr Tom Frieden, said: 'It basically shows us that the end of the road isn't very far away for antibiotics, that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, or patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics.
Dr Gerry Wright, director of the Michael G.DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University said while serious, the discovery of the strain in the US was to be expected. 'The mcr-1 gene has been reported across the globe since it was first reported in November of last year. The US was actually not an anomaly in not finding it until now. I expect it's been around for some time, just not detected.  Because the patient has no reported travel history, you can predict with certainty that mcr-1 is established in the USA.'

Antibiotics that kill gut bacteria also stop growth of new brain cells

"We found prolonged antibiotic treatment might impact brain function," says senior author Susanne Asu Wolf of the Max-Delbrueck-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. "But probiotics and exercise can balance brain plasticity and should be considered as a real treatment option."

Fecal transplant found to wipe out symptoms of ulcerative colitis

Scientists have found fecal microbiota transplantation is an effective approach to helping individuals who suffer from ulcerative colitis. The condition is an inflammatory bowel disease, which causes long-term inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. It affects the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum, which can lead to rectal bleeding, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.

After carrying out the transplants on a group of patients, researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia, found marked improvement in their symptoms. One in four patients who were resistant or intolerant to conventional treatment - steroid or anti-inflammatories - reported their symptoms had disappeared and showed signs that their digestive tracts improved. Furthermore, more than half of patients reported an improvement in their symptoms after undergoing fecal transplant.

Researchers in Australia identified a mechanism that causes natural killer (NK) immune cells to show mercy to cancer.

Switching it off had a dramatic effect on mice with normally lethal skin, prostate and breast cancers.  NK action against the tumors was stepped up, preventing deadly metastasis, the spread of cancer to vital organs in the body. In the case of breast cancer, tumor growth in the mammary glands was significantly reduced.

Natural killer cells are specialized white blood cells that act as the immune system's assassins. Like murderous agents working for a totalitarian state, their job is to locate and eradicate 'deviant' cells in the body that may pose a threat.

Ground-breaking new study finds a poor immune system can lead to 'serious mental illness'

The study, from the University of Sydney and Perth-based charity Meeting for Minds, found immune treatment had already worked for a large number of mental health sufferers.

One person’s cancer can be fought using someone else’s immune cells, study finds

For the first time, scientists have shown that even if a patient’s own immune cells are incapable of recognizing and attacking tumors, someone else’s immune cells might be able to.  In a new study, scientists have shown that by inserting certain components of healthy donor immune cells (or T cells) into the malfunctioning immune cells of a cancer patient, they can 'teach' these cells how to recognize cancer cells and attack them.
While this is just a proof-of-concept study with only three participants, the results are promising enough that the treatment will hopefully be tested in a much wider clinical study in the future.

ADHD May Not Show Up Until Adulthood

It’s not just for schoolkids. A new U.K. study may uproot everything researchers believed they knew about when attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder presents itself.
“Although ADHD occurs in approximately 4 percent of adults, relatively few adults receive a diagnosis or treatment for the disorder,” Agnew-Blais said. “It is crucial that we take a developmental approach to understanding ADHD, and that the absence of a childhood diagnosis should not prevent adults with ADHD from receiving clinical attention.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2016

Health Roundup: Cheese, potatoes, church, belonging, 'hidden killers', long life personality traits and Oct4, the 'fountain of youth' gene

Cheese triggers the same part of the brain as hard drugs, say scientists

Researchers from the University of Michigan have revealed that cheese contains a chemical found in addictive drugs. Casein, a chemical, which is found in all dairy products, can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, producing a feeling of euphoria linked to those of hard drug addiction.

Scientists studying dairy products found that in milk, casein has a minuscule dosage. But producing a pound of cheese requires about 10 pounds of milk — with addictive casein coagulating the solid milk fats and separating them from the liquids.  As a result the super-strength chemical becomes concentrated when in solid dairy form, so you’ll get a higher hit of addictive casein by tucking into a cheese sandwich than you will in your morning bowl of cereal.

Eating potatoes four times a week raises risk of high blood pressure: Baked are as bad as fries - but chips  have no effect

Baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes raises the risk of high blood pressure.  Researchers, from Harvard Medical School, think eating any form of potato too often can cause blood pressure problems. They suspect the starch in potatoes is to blame. Because potatoes have a high glycaemic index, these starchy carbohydrates rapidly transform into sugars in the body, triggering a sharp rise in blood sugar levels.  Over time, this may cause blood sugar problems, the researchers said.

The experts, whose work was published in the British Medical Journal, analyzed data from 187,000 men and women tracked in three large US projects for 20 years.  The results suggest women who eat regularly eat potatoes may be at slightly higher risk of suffering high blood pressure than men. Overall, however, they found men or women who ate four or more servings a week of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes had an 11 per cent increased risk of high blood pressure compared to those who ate potatoes less than once a month.

New Harvard Study: Women Live Longer if They Go to Church

A new Harvard study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that women who regularly attend church services live longer. In the study, titled “Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women,” researchers found that women who attended church more than once per week had a 33% lower mortality rate, compared with women who never attended church.  The self-reported research took place over a 20-year period and investigated the church-going habits of 74,534 women who participated in the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study. The average baseline age of the women studied was 60 and most were Catholic or Protestant.

Tyler VanderWeele, Harvard professor and author of the study, said church attendance was an under-appreciated health resource. “Religious attendance is a relatively good determinant of health,” he said. Women who attended church regularly were more optimistic, had greater social support, lower rates of depression, were less likely to smoke and suffered less from anxiety.

A sense of belonging makes you happier:

If you feel you belong with your social group, chances are you are likely to be a happy soul.  Psychologists have found that people the more people feel connected to a group and connect with others, the more satisfied they were with their lives.  The findings show that identifying as part of a group may give people a stronger sense of purpose and security, as well as providing support them when times are tough.

Researchers from Nottingham Trent University focused on how connected people felt to certain groups, measuring the impact this had on their happiness and life satisfaction. They looked at almost 4,000 people, and focused on how much they identified with their family and local community. Additionally, participants added a group of their choice, such as a sports team, or a hobby group.

Managing your emotions can save your heart    The negative impact of emotions when your heart is already vulnerable

There are two kinds of stress that impact your brain. Helpful stress (also known as eustress) can assist you with getting things done by helping you focus your attention. Unhelpful stress (distress), on the other hand, can be so severe that it can lead to fatigue and heart disease.

If you have coronary artery disease (CAD), your heart may be deprived of oxygen. This deprivation of oxygen, called myocardial ischemia, can occur in as many as 30% to 50% of all patients with CAD.  It can be further exacerbated by emotional stress. In fact, if you have any type of heart disease, any strong emotion such as anger may also cause severe and fatal irregular heart rhythms. Expressions like “died from fright” and “worried to death” are not just hyperbole — they are physiologic possibilities. Furthermore, when patients with newly diagnosed heart disease become depressed, that depression increases the risk that a harmful heart-related event will occur within that year.

Revealed, the five 'hidden killers' that could send you to an early grave

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Chicago University researchers said we must look at a person as a whole if we are to accurately judge their health. Lead author Martha McClintock said: ‘The new comprehensive model of health identifies constellations of health completely hidden by the medical model.’
The team, which included psychologists, sociologists and doctors specializing in the care of the elderly, analyzed a mountain of data on the health and habits of 3,000 men and women aged between 57 and 85 and discovered the 'hidden killers':

Losing your sense of smell
Broken sleep
Breaking a bone in middle age
Difficulty in walking

The researchers say these factors are just as important as obvious medical conditions such as weight, blood pressure and heart disease.  In fact, being obese won’t necessarily send people to an early grave. And age, it seems, really is just a number. These contained some surprises.  For instance, the members of the healthiest group were all overweight. And despite them having only a 6 per cent chance of dying or becoming very unwell, high blood pressure was also common.However, psychological health, mobility and the sense of smell were all good and the researchers said that if an older adult is otherwise healthy, obesity ‘seems to pose very little risk’.

Scientists have discovered 5 personality traits linked with a long life

For their 75-year study of 300 engaged couples who enrolled in the study in their mid-20s, researchers found that men who were seen by their friends as more conscientious, meaning they were less likely to take risks but also tended to be more thorough and efficient, lived longer.  In sum, the five traits are:

Emotional stability
The ability to express feelings

'Fountain of youth' gene prevents heart attacks, stroke - and could lead to drugs that DELAY aging

A single gene is thought to protect against heart attacks and stroke as well as delay aging, scientists have discovered. The strand of DNA responsible - dubbed the 'fountain of youth' gene - had previously been thought to be inactive in adults.
Scientists believed the gene, named Oct4, was active in embryos but silenced as a person reached adulthood.

However, the new discovery is now hoped to open a new avenue for those battling deadly conditions, and raises the tantalizing prospect that doctors could one day use the gene to protect or delay the effects of aging. Dr Owens and his colleagues have determined the gene plays a crucial protective role in the formation of key plaques inside the blood vessels. The rupturing of these plaques is the underlying cause of many heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers found Oct4 controls the creation of protective fibrous 'caps' inside the plaques - caps that make the plaques less likely to rupture. In addition to this finding, the scientists believe the gene promotes a number of changes in gene expression that help to stabilize these plaques
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2016

Health roundup: Risks of tylenol and heartburn drugs, daily beer good, so are gardens, advances in breast cancer, Alzheimers and depression

Acetaminophen doesn't just kill pain - it makes us less CARING

Acetaminophen may be a more powerful painkiller than we realize.  Research shows that the popular pills don’t just ease our pain, they also stop us from feeling others’ pain.  It is thought by dulling the part of the brain that feels pain, we also find it harder to imagine what others are going through.

With previous research crediting acetaminophen with blunting joy, the researchers say we have a lot to learn about the drug....Previous research has found it to take some of the pain out of making difficult choices.  The team is now starting to study ibuprofen, to see if it produces similar results.

Popular heartburn tablets 'may increase risk of dementia, heart attacks and kidney problems'

Indigestion pills taken daily by millions of people around the globe may increase the risk of dementia, heart attacks and kidney problems, research suggests. Scientists found proton pump inhibitors - available in supermarkets and pharmacies without a prescription – accelerate the aging of cells which line blood vessels. Researchers said that the discovery was a ‘smoking gun’ which backs up previous reports linking long-term use of PPI medicines to several serious illnesses. Sold in bottles and packets, the drugs are used to treat gastroesophageal reflux, a severe form of heartburn.
In the new study, lab tests at Houston Methodist Research Institute found long-term exposure to PPIs accelerated the aging of the human endothelial cells which line the inside of blood vessels.  Writing in the journal Circulation Research, they said: ‘When healthy, these cells create a Teflon-like coating that prevents blood from sticking. ‘But older and diseased, the endothelium becomes more like Velcro, with blood elements sticking to the vessel to form blockages.’
But the findings are supported by a German study of 74,000 people, published in the journal JAMA Neurology in February, which suggested that elderly people who used PPIs at least once every three months had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those who did not take the drugs.  And a Stanford study of 3million people, published last July, suggested that people who took PPIs were 16 to 21 per cent more likely to have a heart attack.

FORTY mutated genes are to blame for the 10 different forms of breast cancer, experts at the University of Cambridge discover

Only a fraction of these genes were previously known to be involved in the development of the disease....The information could, in the future, help design clinical trials for breast cancer patients, or give researchers more flags to look out for in liquid biopsies, a type of test used to detect genetic material in the blood that is released by dying cancer cells.

Brain scan spots Alzheimer's 15 YEARS before symptoms appear: Early detection will help delay onset of disease

Scientists are using positive emission tomography (PET) scans that can identify clumps of destructive proteins that form in the brain. These clumps build up for years  before symptoms of Alzheimer's appear.

A beer a day keeps a heart attack at bay: Even one can reduces risk of disease by a quarter

A review of 150 studies found that drinking 1.4 pints a day  reduces risk of heart problems and does not increase risk of dementia or cancers.
Alcohol and other chemicals in the drink protects heart and blood vessels.  But researchers warned binge drinking is known to harm our health

Green thumb?  Expect to see a ripe old age: Having access to a garden or living near the countryside 'helps people live longer'

Research conducted by Harvard University explored the link between higher amounts of vegetation and mortality rates. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, it studied the well-being of 108,630 women and adds further weight to the suggestion urban living takes a greater physical toll.  Specifically, researchers found those who live in the urban jungle had a 12 per cent higher death rate than those with access to green spaces. In addition, they also had higher chances of developing cancer or respiratory illnesses.

Those in the greenest areas had a 34 per cent lower rate of respiratory disease-related mortality and a 13 per cent lower rate of cancer mortality. The increased opportunity to get out and be active, along with breathing in less air pollution or suffering noise pollution were factors in reducing death rates.

Scientists think they've found the key to ketamine's unprecedented anti-depressant effects

Back in February, we reported how patients with severe depression have been reporting "unbelievable" relief from taking the psychedelic party drug, ketamine, with symptoms being treated within hours, and doctors reporting response rates of 75 percent.
Now a new study, published in Nature, brings us closer to an answer. Researchers in the US report that a breakdown product of ketamine - not the drug itself - appears to be responsible for the anti-depressant effects seen in a mouse study....One of these breakdown molecules, a chemical called (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine, appears to be behind the benefits. 

Fountain of Youth? Drug Trial Has Seniors Scrambling to Prove They’re Worthy

What if there were a way to stave off the creaks and calamities of old age? Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is working on it. With word leaking out, seniors from all over the globe have been hounding Dr. Barzilai and his colleagues to get in on the action—with many writing to prove their worthiness. Never mind that formal patient recruitment is still perhaps a year away.
Behind the mania is a widely used, inexpensive generic pill for Type 2 diabetes called metformin. Scientists are planning a clinical trial to see if the drug can delay or prevent some of the most devastating diseases of advanced age, from heart ailments to cognitive decline to cancer. To test the pill, gerontologists at 14 aging centers around the U.S. will follow 3,000 seniors for six years. Half the seniors involved would get the drug, while the others would receive a placebo.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink

May 7, 2016

Health Roundup: Cancer Cure 'on the brink', Alzheimers stopped in its tracks, heartburn drugs, light therapy, reversing tooth decay and chocolate for your brain

Cancer Cure 'on the brink'  Starving Cancer Cells by cutting off key supply routes  'eradicates tumors'

To arrive at their findings, a team from The Australian National University, blocked gateways through which the cancer cell was obtaining the amino acid glutamine.  They found the cells almost completely stopped growing.

Professor Stefan Bröer, who led the study, said: 'This is likely to work in a wide range of cancers, because it is a very common mechanism in cancer cells.'  'Better still, this should lead to chemotherapy with much less serious side-effects, as normal cells do not use glutamine as a building material. ...Crucial white blood cells, which current treatments damage, could be spared, and it could cut out the hair loss that chemotherapy causes.'
Lead author Angelika Bröer spearheaded the effort to identify and genetically knock out glutamine transporters.'It is an exciting time to do cancer research,' she said. ...Now the importance of glutamine gateways have been identified in cancer, the hunt is on to find drug treatments that will lock them down and kill the disease....: 'we have developed a set of tests, which make it very easy to determine if a drug is targeting glutamine transporters.This means we can set robots to work that will test tens of thousands of drugs for us over the next year or two.'  The results are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

First drug that can stop Alzheimer's in its tracks 

A new breakthrough study shows a drug can stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease - and it could be available within five years.  Tests have shown that a cheap drug commonly used to treat diabetes called Liraglutide stopped the brain disease from advancing and in some cases even gave sufferers a cognitive boost.  No study has ever before shows such dramatic results, and it could mean those who detect the disease at an early stage could live a lifetime of normal brain function.

The breakthrough was made a Denmark's Aarthus University and trials have now begun at Imperial College London, with neuroscientists said to be 'really excited', reports The Express.  Professor Jorgen Rungby, who led the study in Denmark, said: 'This is a significant step. We now have a drug that appears to have some kind of effect on how the brain works in Alzheimer’s.

The drug is commonly used to treat diabetes and scientists recognize a link between type 2 of the disease and Alzheimer's, as the brain being unable to utilize sugar is a symptom of dementia.  A 26-week test on 38 patients resulted in 'proof in principle' that the drug halted the progression of the disease, with patients maintaining their brain metabolism.  It is now being tested on 206 people in 20 hospitals around the UK, who will be given the drug via insulin pen, then have their memory and thinking assessed by doctors.

Dr Paul Edison, consultant physician at Imperial College, London, is leading the UK trials and expects the results by 2018.  He said: 'If effective, there could be a potential new and safe treatment for Alzheimer’s in the next five years.'

WSJ A Simple Tool to Ease Cancer’s Side Effects

In a test, researchers at Mount Sinai try light therapy to help the fatigue and depression that many cancer patients feel...“We know that cancer patients are light-deprived,” says William Redd, a Mount Sinai psychologist and professor of medicine and another of the lead researchers in the trial. “You feel lousy, you stay at home, you feel even worse.” Light therapy “has had a major impact on cancer patients with fatigue and depression,”

WSJ Simple Dental Treatments May Reverse Decay

Some fillings may not be necessary.  A recent study led by Wendell Evans at the University of Sydney supports growing evidence that early tooth decay, before a cavity forms, can often be arrested and reversed with simple treatments that restore minerals in the teeth, rather than the more typical drill-and-fill approach.

The randomized, controlled trial followed 19 dental practices in Australia for three years, then researchers checked up on the patients again four years later. The result: After seven years, patients receiving remineralization treatment needed on average 30% fewer fillings.  In the study, patients in the experimental group with early decay received a fluoride varnish to the site. Dentists also gave those patients fluoride varnish preventively two to four times a year, and encouraged them to brush well and avoid sugary snacks between meals.

Commonly used heartburn drugs may lead to kidney damage

Long-term use of a common type of medication used to treat heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers may lead to an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney failure, new research shows. The study, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, adds to prior research that suggests proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), a group of drugs which reduces gastric acid production, can lead to serious kidney damage.

The paper notes that an estimated 15 million Americans were prescribed PPIs in 2013, though the authors point out that the number is likely higher as many, including Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, are available over the counter. ....After controlling for other factors, including age and other diseases, this translated to a 28 percent increased risk of developing kidney disease for PPI users.

Could PROBIOTICS ward off cancer? Increasing levels of 'good' bacteria in the intestines 'slows and stops the disease developing'

New study found anti-inflammatory bacteria lowers risk of cancer.  Experts at UCLA found the bacteria, used to make yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut 'slows and stops the development of lymphoma'

Eating chocolate regularly ‘improves brain function’ according to new study

Researchers used data collected from a Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS), in which 968 people aged between 23 and 98 were measured for dietary intake and cardiovascular risk factors, as well as cognitive function.  They found that regularly eating chocolate was significantly associated with cognitive function “irrespective of other dietary habits”.  More frequent chocolate consumption was “significantly associated with better performance on [cognitive tests including] visual-spatial memory and organization, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination”.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:52 PM | Permalink

Art is Good for your Heart

A scientific study confirms the obvious, Art is Good for your Heart.

Experts recently studied 100 people during a visit to the monumental Basilica of Vicoforte in northern Italy's Cuneo - with surprising results.
Prior to entering the 18th century church, participants had their saliva tested for presence of the stress hormone cortisol.  The volunteers - men and women of different ages and with varying IQ levels - climbed 200 ft to the apex of the building as part of their two-hour experience. Then, following their tour of the building - which is famed for its elliptical cupola, the world's largest - the test was performed again.

 Oval-Cupola Basilica-Vicoforte

Professor Enzo Grossi, who studies the relationship between culture and physical health, told La Repubblica newspaper: 'On average, we found that cortisol levels dropped by 60 per cent. More than 90 per cent of the participants said they felt much better at the end of the experience.

'The idea of art as therapy is not new. But this is the first time that the beneficial effect of art on health has been measured.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

May 6, 2016

"Every industry gets worse when government gets involved"

The cost of federal regulations each year for each household is about $15,000.     Economy Hit With Hidden $1.9 Trillion Tax From Federal Regulations.

More than 3,400 rules were issued by agencies, while Congress only enacted 114 laws in 2015, the report said. That means there were about 30 regulations for every law passed

No one can keep up, no matter how many administrators are hired.

 Growth Drs Admin

"I am a general surgeon with more than three decades in private clinical practice. And I am fed up," wrote Jeffrey Singer in How Government Killed the Medical Profession  in Reason, 2013

Government interventions over the past four decades have yielded a cascade of perverse incentives, bureaucratic diktats, and economic pressures that together are forcing doctors to sacrifice their independent professional medical judgment, and their integrity. The consequence is clear: Many doctors from my generation are exiting the field. Others are seeing their private practices threatened with bankruptcy, or are giving up their autonomy for the life of a shift-working hospital employee. Governments and hospital administrators hold all the power, while doctors—and worse still, patients—hold none.
Once free to be creative and innovative in their own practices, doctors are becoming more like assembly-line workers, constrained by rules and regulations aimed to systemize their craft. It’s no surprise that retirement is starting to look more attractive. The advent of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which put the medical profession’s already bad trajectory on steroids, has for many doctors become the straw that broke the camel’s back.
A June 2012 survey of 36,000 doctors in active clinical practice by the Doctors and Patients Medical Association found 90 percent of doctors believe the medical system is “on the wrong track” and 83 percent are thinking about quitting. Another 85 percent said “the medical profession is in a tailspin.” 65 percent say that “government involvement is most to blame for current problems.” In addition, 2 out of 3 physicians surveyed in private clinical practice stated they were “just squeaking by or in the red financially.”
As old-school independent-thinking doctors leave, they are replaced by protocol-followers. Medicine in just one generation is transforming from a craft to just another rote occupation.

Every Industry Gets Worse When Government Gets Involved

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 PM | Permalink

April 20, 2016

Health Roundup: Migraines, Parkinson's, prostrate cancer and the dangers of common medicines including cold and flu tablets

The cholesterol drug 'that kills prostate cancer':

An experimental drug designed to lower cholesterol may turn out to be an effective weapon against prostate cancer, research has shown.
Tumors need cholesterol to build their cell walls. By cutting their cholesterol production a chemical compound known as RO 48-8071 causes the cancerous cells to fall apart and die. 

Professor Salman Hyder, from the University of Missouri in the US, who led the research said: 'Often, cancer patients are treated with toxic chemotherapies.  The study, to appear in the journal OncoTargets and Therapy, tells how Professor Hyder's team found that the drug killed cancer cells in the laboratory.  The compound was originally developed by the drug company Roche for the treatment of high cholesterol.

Common medicines including cold and flu tablets, heartburn drugs and sleeping pills 'SHRINK the brain and slow down thinking'

Common over-the-counter medicines should be avoided by older people as they have been linked to memory loss and problems in thinking, scientists have discovered.  Treatments for colds and flu, hay fever, allergy and heartburn tablets containing anti-cholinergic drugs had the effect for one month after treatment, a study found.  Effects associated with taking the drugs included having slower brain processing times and smaller brains overall.  Well known treatments including the heartburn medicine Zantac, Night Nurse Liquid containing Promethazine and the sleeping tablet Nytol, containing diphenhydramine, are included among drugs that may result in the effects, the research said.

The drugs block the chemical acetylcholine, which is involved in the transmission of electrical impulses between nerve cells.  The treatments are prescribed for a wide range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, overactive bladder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nausea and vomiting, sleeping problems, high blood pressure, depression and psychosis.  But the authors warn: ‘Use of AC [anti-cholinergic] medication among older adults should likely be discouraged if alternative therapies are available.’

Previous studies have linked the drugs with cognitive impairment, increased risk of dementia and falls. However, the new study by Indiana University School of Medicine, is the first to explore their impact on brain metabolism and atrophy through brain scans.

Parkinson's disease drugs 'are likely to turn more sufferers into sex and gambling addicts than previously feared'

Parkinson's disease drugs are more likely to turn patients into sex and gambling addicts than was previously thought, according to new research.
Scientists at Loyola University found the pills can also increase the risk of compulsive shopping and binge eating leading to disastrous consequences.
Previous research has suggested up to one in seven people taking the medications develop these impulse control disorders (ICDs) - but the problem is 'probably more prevalent', according to a review.

The jab that could end the misery of migraines  New 'holy grail' drug slashes the number of attacks by up to 75%

Millions of people who suffer migraines have finally been offered hope of an effective treatment, after trials showed that a new injection could prevent attacks.  In a trial of 600 people, the drug, code-named ALD403, significantly slashed attacks in a third of patients, Alder BioPharmaceuticals  claims

Described as one of the few true ‘holy grails’ of medical research, an injection to truly tackle migraines is the being pursued by drugs giants Amgen, Eli Lilly and Teva, who are each competing with Alder BioPharmaceuticals to get the first license for the medication.  Each of the four companies are developing variants of a drug which tackles a protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which triggers the pain and nausea associated with a migraine.  CGRP causes the swelling of blood vessels intertwined with nerve endings on both sides of the head.

Researchers have found that monoclonal blood proteins – antibodies specifically engineered to bind to CGRP – were able to ‘mop up’ the chemical, meaning it did not trigger a migraine.The research has now come to a point where we understand the condition enough that we have worked out how to treat it.

‘All the studies that have been done are positive, and there has been an almost-embarrassing lack of side effects.For a group of people who have never had a proper treatment, this is fantastic news.’

On the horizon.  Flexible spinal cord implants will let paralyzed people walk

Doctors dream of helping the paralzyed walk through implants that stimulate their spinal cords, but current technology makes that impossible; these stiff, unnatural gadgets usually end up damaging or inflaming nervous tissue over time. Swiss researchers may have just solved this problem once and for all, though. Their bendy e-Dura implant combines flexible electrodes (made of platinum and silicon microbeads), cracked gold electronic tracks and fluidic microchannels to deliver both electrical impulses and chemicals while mimicking the spine's movements and avoiding friction. Paralyzed rats in lab tests could both walk again after a few weeks and keep wearing their implants after two months.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup with news you can use

Chocolate, cheese and red wine: Key to weight loss is the bugs in YOUR gut rather than counting calories

Professor Tim Spector, of King’s College London, said that everything we think we know about diets is wrong.  He says bacteria in the stomach is more important than calorie counting.  By eating the right foods we can cultivate more good bacteria to stay slim. ‘The more diverse foods we eat, the more varieties of microbes in our bodies, which makes us healthier.’  That includes cheese, chocolate, dairy, nuts and red wine are all on the menu.  But avoid processed foods and they are limited in microbe levels because they are mainly made up of chemicals.

A handful of walnuts a day keeps heart disease at bay:

Doctors from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University in Barcelona tracked cholesterol levels in more than 700 elderly men and women. Half added around 2oz of walnuts – roughly a handful - to their daily diet while the others ate as normal. After a year, levels of LDL cholesterol, the harmful form blamed for clogging arteries had fallen in the walnut-eaters. Those given the nuts as part of their diet did not experience weight gain.

How brushing your teeth can ward off Pancreatic Cancer. Bacteria found in the mouth 'linked to deadly strains of the disease'

Since childhood we are told to brush our teeth twice a day, or risk painful cavities and rotting teeth.  But new research suggests that properly cleaning our teeth may also help ward off a pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of all 22 common cancers - at just 3 per cent.  Scientists have discovered that pancreatic cancer is linked to two types of bacteria that also cause gum disease.  A team in the US found that people who had these two bugs in their mouths were up to twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer over the next decade.

Why being in a choir could help the body fight cancer:

Singing in a choir boosts the immune system and even helps the body fight cancer, according to research.  Scientists found that just one hour of singing significantly increased levels of the immune proteins that the body uses to battle serious illnesses including cancer.

The new research, conducted by scientists at Imperial College London, University College London and the Royal College of Music, found that it also has a profound impact on the immune system.  The team found that singing for an hour resulted in significant reductions in stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increases in cytokines, immune proteins that boost the body’s ability to fight serious illness.  Doctors suspect that reducing stress and anxiety takes strain off the immune system, allowing it to better use its resources at fighting disease.

Never get blisters again! Scientists spend two years studying runners to discover a single strip of surgical tape is all you need

Researchers studied 128 runners participating in an 155-mile ultramarathon.. They applied paper tape to just one of each of the runners' feet and the untaped areas of the same foot served as a control.  For 98 of the runners, no blisters formed where the tape had been applied

Watercress could be an unlikely weapon in the fight against smoking, experts have revealed.

Taking the plant extract several times a day significantly inhibits the activation of a tobacco-derived carcinogen in smokers, a new study suggests.
The findings also show how the extract detoxifies environmental carcinogens and toxicants found in cigarette smoke.  Furthermore, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh say the effect is stronger in people who lack certain genes involved in processing carcinogens.....Dr Yuan warned that while eating cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress and broccoli, is good for people, they are unlikely to have the same profound effect as the extract.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:20 AM | Permalink

April 7, 2016

Good and Rogue Immune Cells Affect the Brain

From the MIT Technology Review, The Rogue Immune Cells That Wreck the Brain

Beth Stevens thinks she has solved a mystery behind brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

Microglia are part of a larger class of cells—known collectively as glia—that carry out an array of functions in the brain, guiding its development and serving as its immune system by gobbling up diseased or damaged cells and carting away debris.
In one groundbreaking paper, in January, Stevens and researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard showed that aberrant microglia might play a role in schizophrenia—causing or at least contributing to the massive cell loss that can leave people with devastating cognitive defects. Crucially, the researchers pointed to a chemical pathway that might be targeted to slow or stop the disease. Last week, Stevens and other researchers published a similar finding for Alzheimer’s.

This might be just the beginning. Stevens is also exploring the connection between these tiny structures and other neurological diseases—work that earned her a $625,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant last September.  All of this raises intriguing questions. Is it possible that many common brain disorders, despite their wide-ranging symptoms, are caused or at least worsened by the same culprit, a component of the immune system? If so, could many of these disorders be treated in a similar way—by stopping these rogue cells?

Not so long ago, it was accepted that the immune system had little effect on the brain.  But in the past two years, that assumption has blown up. 

Already this year, a coalition of Alzheimer's researchers have urged scientists to reassess the evidence that Alzheimer's could be spread by microbes.  The herpes virus - the kind that causes cold sores - and two types of bacteria, all of which have already been linked to Alzheimer's disease. ..."We are saying there is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s Disease has a dormant microbial component," said Douglas Kell, a chemist from the University of Manchester in the UK, who was one of the editorial's authors. "We can’t keep ignoring all of the evidence."

A new study at the University of California, Irvine, new study revealed key immune cells located outside of the brain actually help rid the brain of the plaques that build up and trigger the disease.  Study co-author Dr Mathew Blurton-Jones said: ‘We were very surprised by the magnitude of this effect.

A study last year  shows that our immune system,… plays a part in the debilitating disease.  The Duke University study in mice found that in Alzheimer's disease, certain immune cells that normally protect the brain begin to abnormally consume an important nutrient: arginine.  Blocking this process with a small-molecule drug prevented the characteristic brain plaques and memory loss in a mouse model of the disease.

Alzheimer's could be prevented and even cured by boosting the brain's own immune response, scientists at Stanford University believe.  Researchers discovered that nerve cells die because cells which are supposed to clear the brain of bacteria, viruses and dangerous deposits, stop working.  These cells, called 'microglia' function well when people are young, but when they age, a single protein called EP2 stops them operating efficiently.  Now scientists have shown that blocking the protein allows the microglia to function normally again so they can hoover up the dangerous sticky amyloid-beta plaques which damage nerve cells in Alzheimer's disease.  The researchers found that, in mice, blocking EP2 with a drug reversed memory loss and myriad other Alzheimer’s-like features in the animals.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 AM | Permalink

April 6, 2016

What an untreated strep infection could lead to

Catching’ a mental illness: one family’s story 

Connor was in the midst of full-blown obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Bewildered by the dramatic change, his parents were trying desperately to help him, and to figure out what had happened to their son.
OCD is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to complete over and over. .....Connor had been exhibiting increasing and multiplying signs of the disorder, launched by an overwhelming fear of germs. He developed rituals to rid himself of perceived contaminants by taking multiple, lengthy showers a day, and washing his hands until “they looked like he was wearing red gloves,” Lucia recalls. He began avoiding conversations, fearful that traces of spittle might fall on him from the other person. At times, he would only touch light switches and other objects around the house with his shirtsleeves wrapped over his hands, so some family members wore rubber gloves to help buffer Connor’s fears. Midnight runs to the grocery store for special soaps and scrubbing utensils that Connor needed became frequent.
Saving Sammy: A Mother’s Fight to Cure Her Son’s OCD by Beth Alison Maloney is the story of a mother who fought to find a cure for her son, who had inexplicably been afflicted with OCD and Tourette’s syndrome. In her mission to heal her child, Maloney uncovered research that linked his mental illnesses to a previously unknown strep infection. Despite ignorance and some opposition from parts of the medical community, Maloney found doctors who were willing to help treat Sammy with the crucial assistance of prolonged antibiotics to rid his system of the strep virus.

As soon as Lucia cracked open the pages of Saving Sammy, she felt like she’d found the missing puzzle piece that had been eluding her for so long: Connor’s OCD might be rooted in a simple strep infection....Controversy or not, when Lucia Odom stumbled upon Beth Maloney and her book, it unlocked a once impenetrable door. With antibiotic treatment and behavioral therapies, Connor has emerged, saying he feels like a new person.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:36 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2016

Health Roundup: Breast cancer, melanoma patch, gut bacteria, sugar, chocolate and exercise

Bombshell Study Finds 58-108% Increased Breast Cancer Risk for Women Having Abortions

The most recent study is yet another one from India, making the total number of South Asian studies (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) 15, all since 2008. Every one of them reports increased breast cancer risk with abortion, with risk increases as high as almost 2,000 percent (20-fold)

On the horizon.  A skin patch to treat melanoma..

Scientists developed a revolutionary skin patch with microneedles, filled with antibodies to help T cells attack cancer cells and delivering slow-releasing cancer immunotherapy directly to the site of melanoma.  Scientists say patch is more effective than injections or drug cocktails.

Tweaking our gut bacteria could help protect our brain from strokes   Experiments with animals saw 60% less brain damage.

Recent research has shown how fundamentally important the bacteria in our gut are to the rest of our mental and physical health, affecting everything from our appetite to our state of mind.  Now a new study suggests that our gut bacteria could even play a role in protecting us from brain damage, with an experiment involving mice showing that certain types of stomach microbes can actually help reduce the severity of strokes.
The findings, reported in Nature Medicine, suggest that the microbiota do not interact with the brain chemically, but somehow influence immune cells to promote neural survival. These immune cells end up making their way to the meninges – the outer covering of the brain – where they organize a response to mitigate the stroke.

Revealed, your body on sugar:

From weakening the immune system to triggering thrush, this terrifying tool reveals exactly how the white stuff harms our health.  Beneden, a healthcare insurance provider, has created an online tool showing how sugar affects the body which shows the differing effects of too much sugar on men, women and children.  The sugar bowl tells you everything you need to know about sugar from how much sugar is in our grocery carts, how sugar affects our mental performance to breaking the sugar addiction and healthy alternatives

Chocolate Can Boost Your Workout. Really.

Adding a little dark chocolate to a training diet may effortlessly improve endurance performance, according to a new study of sports nutrition  by researchers at Kingston University in England.
For some time, dark chocolate has been touted as a relatively healthy treat, with studies showing that small amounts may have benefits for the heart and brain. Most of this research has focused on the role of a substance called epicatechin, a plant nutrient found in cocoa. Dark chocolate is generally rich in epicatechin, though levels vary, depending on how the sweet was produced. Levels of epicatechin tend to be much lower in milk chocolate, which contains little cocoa.

Statin intolerance is real, researchers find. Another (more costly) drug may get around the problem.

The Food and Drug Administration approved PCSK9 inhibitors last year, but only for small groups of people, including those with an inherited disease that dramatically elevates their LDL cholesterol levels.
The PCSK9 inhibitor works by blocking a substance that hinders the liver’s ability to remove cholesterol from the blood. Ezetemibe, by contrast, decreases cholesterol absorption in the small intestine.  The monthly injections of the PCSK9 inhibitor proved far more effective after 24 weeks, cutting patients’ LDL cholesterol by an average of 52.8 percent, compared with 16.7 percent for the other drug.
PCSK9 inhibitors, she added, are “going to be, possibly, an option for patients who are statin-intolerant.” But that may not happen for a while. In addition to requiring FDA approval, the drugs are much more expensive — from $10,000 to $15,000 a year. And because evidence of statin intolerance is largely subjective, insurance companies may balk until there are ways to more conclusively prove that patients are unable to take the cheaper drugs.

EXERCISE is the fountain of youth: Secret to feeling young is 'superb fitness and young muscles'

The true secret to remaining youthful has been right under our nose the whole time - exercise. Scientists say it is 'superb' fitness that keeps people young. Experts from University of Guelph, in Canada, revealed elderly people who were elite athletes in their youth – or later in life – have much ‘younger muscles.’ ...Their legs were 25% stronger and had 14% more muscle mass

The Amazing Links Between Exercise & Anti-Aging from Yahoo Beauty

Aside from the obvious perks (better mood, weight loss, toned muscles), recent studies indicate a direct link between your skin’s ability to stay young-looking and your exercise schedule. Here, we pulled together five ways your skin’s health is linked to exercise....
1. Sweat Is Antibacterial....recent studies have shown that perspiration contains a natural antibiotic known as Dermcidin, which kills E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:06 PM | Permalink

March 30, 2016

Impact of Vaccines

I've yet to see a more startling and convincing set of graphs than those published in the Wall St Journal showing  The Impact of Vaccines in Battling Infectious Diseases in the 20th century

 Impact Of Vaccines-2

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

March 24, 2016

“We’re attacked about every 7 seconds, 24 hours a day,” CIO Beth Israel Deaconess hospital

5 Major Hospital Hacks: Horror Stories from the Cybersecurity Frontlines

In real-world war, combatants typically don’t attack hospitals. In the cyber realm, hackers have no such scruples. “We’re attacked about every 7 seconds, 24 hours a day,” says John Halamka, CIO of the Boston hospital Beth Israel Deaconess. And the strikes come from everywhere: “It’s hacktivists, organized crime, cyberterrorists, MIT students,” he says.
These attacks may all sound like nightmare scenarios, but the experts say they’re becoming almost routine. And hospitals have not made cybersecurity a priority in their budgets, Halamka says: “In healthcare, we spent about 2 percent on IT, and security might be 10 percent of that.” Compare that percentage to the security spending by financial firms: “Fidelity spends 35 percent of its budget on IT,” he says. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:23 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2016

Health roundup: Switching off Cancer, Reversing Osteoporosis, Reversing Diabetes and Hope for Stroke Victims

Cancer breakthrough as scientists uncover HOW diseased cells take first steps away from their tumor to spread through the body

Cancer cells remodel their environment in order to reach nearby blood vessels, scientists have revealed. Doing so allows them to more easily spread – or metastasize – throughout the body. Cancer metastasis is responsible for 90 per cent of cancer deaths, according to experts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And, scientists have found that high levels of a certain protein – called MenaINV - are linked to metastasis and earlier death among breast cancer patients, in particular. Thus, finding a way to block that protein could help prevent metastasis, experts revealed.

Scientists discover how to 'switch off' cancer: Remarkable breakthrough means diseased cells can be made healthy again

Scientists have found a code for turning off cancer, it was announced today. In exciting experiments, they made cancerous breast and bladder cells benign again. And they believe many other types of cancer should be in their grasp. They said that their work reveals ‘an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer’. Most importantly, it uncovers ‘a new strategy for cancer therapy’.

The work is still at an early stage but brings with it hope that cancer will take fewer lives in the future. Unlike conventional cancer drugs, which work by killing cancer, the US work aims to disarm it and render them harmless. The breakthrough focuses on a protein called PLEKHA7 that helps healthy cells clump together.

The research, from the Mayo Clinic in Florida, showed it to be missing or faulty in a range of cancers. When this happens, key genetic instructions to the cells are scrambled and they turn cancerous. A research team, led by Panos Anastasiadis, was able to reset the instructions – turning off the cancer. Experiments in a dish showed that human cells from highly dangerous bladder cancers can be made normal again.
Dr Anastasiadis said: ‘Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising.’ He thinks the approach, detailed in the journal Nature Cell Biology, would apply to most cancers, other than brain and blood cancers.

However, much more research is needed before the technique is tried out on people for the first time. And even if the therapy did help patients, it is likely they would still need chemotherapy. British experts described the research as ‘beautiful’ and ‘absolutely fascinating’. But they cautioned that it is still a long way from helping people.

Henry Scowcroft, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said: ‘This important study solves a long-standing biological mystery, but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. 'There’s a long way to go before we know whether these findings, in cells grown in a laboratory, will help treat people with cancer.’ He added that such work is ‘crucial’ if ‘the encouraging progress against cancer we’ve seen in recent years’ is to continue.

Hope for stroke victims: Zapping the brains of patients with electricity can restore strength and grip after just nine treatments

Zapping the brains of stroke patients with electricity could greatly improve their recovery, Oxford University research suggests.
Men and women whose arms and hands had been weakened by a stroke found it easier to reach, lift and grasp after nine short sessions of electrical brain stimulation.  One was able to peel a banana and another could cut a steak for the first time in years.

While such improvements may seem small to the able-bodied, they could have a big impact on quality of life.
Even small changes strength or dexterity that allow people to do up their buttons or brush their teeth could boost independence.
The technique trialled in Oxford involved a technique called transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS.  It involves passing a gentle 'tingling' current through the damaged part of the brain, in the hope of increasing the number of messages passed between brain cells.....
Tests showed the improvements lasted for three months and the patients say they are still feeling the benefit today, four years on.

Osteoporosis in mice reversed with single injection of stem cells

Age-related osteoporosis, where the bone structure deteriorates and becomes more vulnerable to fracture, is said to affect more than 200 million people worldwide. Drugs are available to treat or delay the condition, but a cure has remained elusive. Much-needed help may now be on the way, however, with scientists discovering healthy bone structure can be restored in mice with a single injection of stem cells.

Researchers at the University of Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital had previously found a causal effect between mice developing age-related osteoporosis and a deficiency in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). One of the promising attributes of MSCs is that, while they can grow into different cells in the body just like other stem cells, they can be transplanted without the need for a match.  "We reasoned that if defective MSCs are responsible for osteoporosis, transplantation of healthy MSCs should be able to prevent or treat osteoporosis," says William Stanford, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and Professor at the University of Ottawa.

To put this reasoning to the test, the scientists injected MSCs into mice with the condition. Six months later, which is one quarter of the life span of the animal, they observed a healthy functional bone in place of the damaged one. "We had hoped for a general increase in bone health," says John E. Davies, co-author of the study. "But the huge surprise was to find that the exquisite inner 'coral-like' architecture of the bone structure of the injected animals – which is severely compromised in osteoporosis – was restored to normal."

According to the scientists, these results could form the basis for new ways of treating or indefinitely postponing the onset of osteoporosis. The team is currently waiting on the results of trials where elderly patients were injected with MSCs to investigate various outcomes. If these show improvements to bone health, the team hopes dedicated trials will commence in the next five years.

Dieting for just eight weeks can reverse your diabetes: Experts say restricting food for two months could eradicate the disease

A crash diet lasting just eight weeks can reverse type 2 diabetes, experts have found.  Even people who had suffered with diabetes for a decade saw their condition eradicated after they restricted their eating for two months.  And six months after stopping the diet, participants in the Newcastle University trial were still free of the disease, suggesting that the condition had effectively been reversed.

Type 2 diabetes occurs either when the body does not produce enough insulin to control the blood sugar – or the cells don’t react to it. The condition is often linked to obesity and usually occurs in middle age, coming with a risk of limb amputations, heart attacks and vision loss.
Experts used to think that once the disease had taken hold, it was incurable. But a growing body of evidence suggests that losing weight could reverse the condition. Scientists think that this is because removing fat from the pancreas allows insulin production to return to normal, eradicating the problem at the root of the disease.  Now, a British trial has suggested that the condition could not only be reversible – but that the reverse could come in a matter of weeks.
‘Type 2 diabetes can now be understood to be a metabolic syndrome potentially reversible by substantial weight loss, and this is an important paradigm shift.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's

Breakthrough MIT study: Memories lost to Alzheimer’s may be recovered

An MIT neuroscientist has made a breakthrough discovery that researchers say will open countless doors for future treatments: memories obscured by the devastating illness have the potential to be restored.  “The big message is that there is a way to strengthen these memory cells,” said Dheeraj Roy, doctoral student at MIT and lead author on the study. “If we had a way of restoring the memory of patients, we think this could have a huge impact on society.”

A paper published today online in the science journal “Nature” outlines the study by Roy and his colleagues, which found genetically engineered mice with early-stage Alzheimer’s could recall seemingly “lost” events when memory cells in the brain were stimulated. The study involved both healthy and memory-impaired mice that were put in boxes and given a shock. Those that did not suffer from memory-loss froze out of fear when placed back in the box. The Alzheimer’s mice were not afraid. The researchers used a technique known as optogenetics on the mice with memory loss: They injected the memory cells, called “engram cells,” with a light-sensitive protein and activated them using blue light. The mice immediately showed fear.

The MIT researchers noted that the engram cells of Alzheimer’s mice were missing tiny buds called dendritic spines, which allow neurons to communicate with each other. The study’s revelations have sent a ripple through the Alzheimer’s research community, and have effectively “shattered a 20-year paradigm of how we’re thinking about the disease,” said Rudy Tanzi, a Harvard neurology professor, who is not involved in the research.  “Since the mid-’80s, it’s been thought that these memories just weren’t getting stored,” Tanzi said. “This paper shows that the information is getting stored — we just can’t access it.”

Another reason to floss.  Gum disease may signal faster Alzheimer’s decline

For people with Alzheimer’s disease, having gum disease is tied to faster cognitive decline, according to a new study. “What we have shown is that regardless of the severity of dementia (within this mild to moderate impaired group) that patients with more severe gum disease are declining more rapidly,” said senior author Clive Holmes of the University of Southampton in the UK.

Could this implant PREVENT Alzheimer's? Capsule under the skin 'releases antibodies to fight the disease'

Scientists develop an implantable capsule that can prevent Alzheimer's.  The capsule is implanted in tissue under the skin before cognitive symptoms appear and releases a steady flow of antibodies into the bloodstream that target Alzheimer's plaque in the brain. Tests on mice found that the antibodies prevent the plaques from forming.
A team of experts at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland developed the implantable bioactive capsule to deliver a steady and safe flow of antibodies to clear the brain of amyloid plaques. The capsule  is made of two permeable membranes that are sealed together with a polypropoylene frame – and contains a hydrogel that facilitates cell growth. The capsule’s cells must be compatible with the patient, so that the immune system isn’t triggered against them – just like a transplant. The capsule’s membranes shield the cells from being identified and attacked by the immune system.

The cells are taken from muscle tissues – and permeable membranes allow them to interact with surrounding cells, so that they are able to get the necessary nutrients and molecules. The team of scientists tested the device on mice genetically modified with Alzheimer’s disease. The results showed a ‘dramatic reduction’ of the plaque load. Furthermore, the constant flow of antibodies produced by the capsule over 239 weeks prevented the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. The team found that the capsule also reduced the altering of a protein called tau – which is another hallmark of Alzheimer’s. The study was published in the journal Brain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 PM | Permalink

March 16, 2016

Health Roundup: Astonishing breast cancer treatment, Talc, Viagra, Chronic stress, Antibiotic fail, Happy gardeners, Curing blindness with stem cells and more

Terminal breast cancer could be wiped out by tweaking an EXISTING treatment, 'astonishing' study declares

Terminal breast cancer has been wiped out, in ‘astounding’ research that raises hope of a cure for thousands of women with the disease.
In tests on mice, their cancer vanished completely for at least eight months.  This is the equivalent of 24 years for a woman and would be judged a lasting cure.  In contrast, current treatments extend life by as little as six months.....Mauro Ferrari, president of the Houston Methodist Research Institute, said: ‘I would never want to over-promise to the thousands of patients looking for a cure but the data is astounding.’
While the initial tumor that appears on a woman’s breast rarely kills, once the disease starts to eat away at other parts of the body it becomes incurable. Drugs struggle to get to tumors hidden deep in the lungs or liver and once there, they risk being pumped out by cells that have become resistant to treatment.

Dr Ferrari, of the Houston Medical Research Institute, has found an ingenious way of getting round these defenses - and so of potentially curing metastatic cancer. He has taken a widely-used cancer drug called doxorubicin and packed it in microscopic discs made of silicon. The silicon packaging hides the drug from the cancer, allowing it to sneak into its cells. Once inside, the silicon is broken down, releasing the drug, which is in an inactive form. The drug then moves out of reach of the pumps that are poised to eject it and towards the very heart of cell. Once there, the drug is activated and the cell is killed. In tests on mice with terminal disease, all the animals given conventional treatment died. In contrast, half of the creatures given the new treatment were still cancer-free after eight months – roughly 24 years in human terms.

Dr Ferrari says that in future, women with metastatic breast cancer could be given a jab of billions of drug-filled silicon discs into their arm.
This would home in on the tumors riddling their lungs or liver and destroy them.  He hopes to test the treatment on women for the first time next year and says that some of the early drug trials could be in the UK.

Talc 'IS linked to ovarian cancer': Risk of disease is ONE THIRD higher for women who use talcum powder on their genitals.

Women who regularly powder their genitals with talc have a one-third higher risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, scientists have warned. A new study asked 2,041 women with ovarian cancer - and 2,100 free of the disease - about their talcum powder use. Those who routinely apply talc to their genitals, sanitary napkins, tampons and underwear were found to have a 33 per cent higher risk of ovarian cancer.

Lead study author Dr Daniel Cramer, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told Reuters that there must be warning labels on talcum powder. He said: 'This is an easily modified risk factor."  The study comes a week after a St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman who allegedly died of the disease after using their baby powder.

Chronic stress turns cancer deadly by opening up new routes for the disease to spread quickly through the bloodstream' 

Chronic stress accelerates the spread of cancer, scientists have revealed. A new study found that stress builds lymphatic ‘highways’ that allow cancer cells to move around the body faster. The lymphatic system normally transports immune cells throughout the body to fight illness.

A global wake-up call: common antibiotics are failing in up to half of all children

The most common antibiotics are failing in up to half of children, a study published in the British Medical Journal has found.  The researchers, from Bristol University and Imperial College London, reviewed 58 studies from 26 countries involving 78,000 E.coli patients — in particular those with urinary tract infections, which are common in children. In half of the children the bacteria were resistant to ampicillin. In a quarter of the children the bacteria were resistant to trimethoprim, while co-trimoxazole failed in a third of the children.  The figures were higher still in developing countries. The researchers say that if the trend continues, future treatments could be rendered ineffective.

Viagra promotes the growth of aggressive skin cancer

The drug, sildenafil which is marketed as Viagra and Revatio, is commonly prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction,  A long-term study, published in 2014, of nearly 15,000 men in the US suggested that sildenafil increased the risk of malignant melanoma.
The correlation was confirmed in 2015 in a study of nearly 24,000 men in Sweden.

A new study by researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany found that sildenafil  has a stimulating effect on the messenger molecule cyclic guanosine monophosphate - or cGMP, cGMP, in turn, promotes the growth of existing malignant melanomas. The scientists reached this conclusion through animal experiments and human cell cultures.

Obese women on the Pill are '30 times more likely to suffer a rare type of stroke

Obese women taking oral contraceptives are up to 30 times more at risk of suffering a rare type of stroke, a new study warned.
Dutch researchers found women with a body mass index is above 30 were at a greater risk of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) - a blood clot on the brain.  Although the risk is still low, scientists said women should be informed of the risk and offered alternative contraceptives that are not linked to thrombosis.

How Dirt Makes You Happy: Antidepressant Microbes In Soil

Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier. Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress.

Lack of serotonin has been linked to depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar problems. The bacterium appears to be a natural antidepressant in soil and has no adverse health effects. These antidepressant microbes in soil may be as easy to use as just playing in the dirt.

Is Your Medicine Right for Your Metabolism?

People can respond to drugs very differently. A medication that brings relief for some patients might show no benefit at all in others, or even cause harmful side effects.  A growing array of genetic tests is designed to help predict how people are likely to respond to many common medications, from antidepressants and antihistamines to pain relievers and blood thinners. The tests, which are controversial, look for tiny variations in genes that determine how fast or slow we metabolize medications.

Because of such gene variations, codeine, frequently prescribed to relieve pain, has little effect on as much as 20% of the population, while 2% of people have such a strong reaction that a normal dose can be life-threatening. About 25% of people can’t effectively absorb Plavix, a clot-busting drug, putting them at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. Even everyday drugs such as Advil and Motrin, for pain relief, and Zocor, to lower cholesterol, can have widely varying effects.
How people’s genes affect their response to medications is called pharmacogenetics. One of the first such drug-gene interactions was identified at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in the 1970s. Researchers discovered that about 1 in 300 children being treated for childhood leukemia had a gene variation that made the drug thiopurine destroy their bone marrow. Now, children are routinely tested before undergoing treatment with the drug.

Scientists have since discovered that about 75% of prescription and over-the-counter drugs depend on a handful of liver enzymes to be absorbed and eliminated from the body. Minor variations in the genes that regulate those enzymes are very common—95% of people have at least one.

On the horizon. New technique to detect cancer and HIV 'could prove 10,000 TIMES more effective, and lead to earlier diagnosis', experts claim

Early detection of most diseases significantly increases the chance of successful treatment.  While one aspect of early diagnosis is luck - whether a patient is screened at the right time, another important aspect is that tests are sensitive enough to pick up on the minuscule changes that diseases leave in the blood stream.  Now scientists at Stanford University have developed a new technique, which they hope will prove thousands of times more sensitive than those currently used in lab experiments.

When a disease, whether it is cancer or a virus like HIV, begins growing in the body, the immune system responds by producing antibodies.
Fishing these antibodies or related biomarkers out of the blood is one way that scientists can discover the presence of a disease.  The new technique looks for a short strand of DNA.  Experts say the new technique is much more sensitive and is better at picking up subtle changes in the blood stream. These changes indicate the presence of disease, they say. Noticing small changes earlier 'increases the chances treatment will work'

The researchers tested their technique, with its signature DNA flag, against four commercially available, FDA-approved tests for a biomarker for thyroid cancer. The new technique outperformed the sensitivity of all of them, by at least 800 times, and as much as 10,000 times.
By detecting the biomarkers of disease at lower concentrations, doctors could theoretically catch diseases far earlier in their progression, the chemists noted.

On the horizon Pioneering stem cell op 'could bring back sight for millions'

A revolutionary technique that harnesses the power of stem cell therapy promises to restore the sight of millions.
Taking as little as 45 minutes, the procedure offers hope to those with age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults globally.  In the breakthrough developed at University College London, doctors inserted a patch of stem cells into the retina of a woman who has lost her central vision.

The procedure, which has attracted the support of medical giant Pfizer, is carried out under local anaesthetic. It involves taking a single embryonic stem cell and growing it into a 6mm patch of 100,000 retinal pigment cells. That patch is then rolled into a thin tube, which is injected through a tiny slit in the eye. Once unfurled, it is placed behind the retina where scientists hope it will replace the faulty cells.

Retinal surgeon Professor Lyndon Da Cruz, who conducted the operation, said at the time: ‘There is real potential that people with wet age-related macular degeneration will benefit in the future from transplantation of these cells.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:29 PM | Permalink

Children need lots of 'free play' to ward off anxiety and depression

There's a reason kids are more anxious and depressed than ever.  They don't play enough.  In 2010,  Lenore Skenazy wrote Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) and started a movement which she documents on her blog. Free Range Kids.  In 2014 The Atlantic examined The Overprotected Kid and the preoccupation with safety that has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer

Now psychologist Peter Gray looks at the statistics and the studies.  The Decline of Play and Rise in Children's Mental Disorders

Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today... five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago. ...
The increased psychopathology seems to have nothing to do with realistic dangers and uncertainties in the larger world. The changes do not correlate with economic cycles, wars, or any of the other kinds of world events that people often talk about as affecting children's mental states. Rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents were far lower during the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, and the turbulent 1960s and early ‘70s than they are today. The changes seem to have much more to do with the way young people view the world than with the way the world actually is.
One thing we know about anxiety and depression is that they correlate significantly with people's sense of control or lack of control over their own lives. People who believe that they are in charge of their own fate are less likely to become anxious or depressed than those who believe that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control. ---- Yet the data indicate that young people's belief that they have control over their own destinies has declined sharply over the decades.

The standard measure of sense of control is the Internal-External Locus of Control Scale developed by Juien Rotter.  Modified for use with children 9-14 is the Nowicki-Strickland Scale. 

Many studies over the years have shown that people who score toward the Internal end of Rotter's scale fare better in life than do those who score toward the External end. They are more likely to get good jobs that they enjoy, take care of their health, and play active roles in their communities—and they are less likely to become anxious or depressed.
Julien Twenge analyzed many previous studies from 1960-2002 and the dramatic shift from the Internal to the External end of the scale...the same linear trend as did the rise in depression and anxiety.  The average young person in 2002 was more External than were 80% of young people in the 1960s....

Twenge's own theory is that the generational increases in anxiety and depression are related to a shift from "intrinsic" to "extrinsic" goals. Intrinsic goals are those that have to do with one's own development as a person—such as becoming competent in endeavors of one's choosing and developing a meaningful philosophy of life. Extrinsic goals, on the other hand, are those that have to do with material rewards and other people's judgments. They include goals of high income, status, and good looks. ...

We have much less personal control over achievement of extrinsic goals than intrinsic goals. I can, through personal effort, quite definitely improve my competence, but that doesn't guarantee that I'll get rich. I can, through spiritual practices or philosophical delving, find my own sense of meaning in life, but that doesn't guarantee that people will find me more attractive or lavish praise on me. To the extent that my emotional sense of satisfaction comes from progress toward intrinsic goals I can control my emotional wellbeing. To the extent that my satisfaction comes from others' judgments and rewards, I have much less control over my emotional state.

Of course this shift from intrinsic to extrinsic goals reflects our increasing materialistic culture.  How could it not with constant ads and shows delivering the message that happiness depends on good looks, popularity and material goods.  The author suggests another: Play.

As I pointed out ....children's freedom to play and explore on their own, independent of direct adult guidance and direction, has declined greatly in recent decades. Free play and exploration are, historically, the means by which children learn to solve their own problems, control their own lives, develop their own interests, and become competent in pursuit of their own interests.

By depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, we are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives. We may think we are protecting them, but in fact we are diminishing their joy, diminishing their sense of self-control, preventing them from discovering and exploring the endeavors they would most love, and increasing the odds that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 AM | Permalink

Alzheimer's Roundup : Herpes virus a cause? Strong immune system, blueberries, maple syrup and exercise wards off

Scientists identify a virus and two bacteria that could be causing Alzheimer's

An international group of 31 Alzheimer's researchers has published an editorial urging the science world to change its focus when it comes to Alzheimer's disease. The message is clear - after a decade of failed attempts to treat and prevent the disease, it's time to reassess the evidence that Alzheimer's could be spread by microbes. The editorial specifically implicates the herpes virus - the kind that causes cold sores - and two types of bacteria, all of which have already been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
Right now, the leading hypothesis is that Alzheimer's is caused by the build-up of sticky amyloid plaques and mis-folded tau proteins in the brain, which break down communication between neurons and lead to memory loss, cognitive decline, and eventually death.

Now the editorial claims it's time to consider the idea that certain viruses or bacteria are triggering this plaque build-up in the first place, and investigate whether antimicrobial drugs could help stop it. They say that the first microbes we should investigate are the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), the chlamydia bacteria, and a type of spiral-shaped bacteria called spirochaetes. ....

"We are saying there is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s Disease has a dormant microbial component," said Douglas Kell, a chemist from the University of Manchester in the UK, who was one of the editorial's authors. "We can’t keep ignoring all of the evidence."

Remember when stomach ulcers were thought to be caused by spicy food?    Well, in 2005, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to 2 Australian scientists who showed that  inflammation of the stomach and stomach ulcers result from an infection of the stomach caused by H. pylori bacteria. 

Immune cells found to be vital in protecting against Alzheimer's

It was long thought that the immune system does not have much of an effect on Alzheimer’s disease. However, a new study revealed key immune cells located outside of the brain actually help rid the brain of the plaques that build up and trigger the disease.   A team of scientists from the University of California, Irvine genetically modified a group of mice with Alzheimer's to lack those immune cells - B-cells, T-cells and NK-cells.  They were found to have a far larger accumulation of Alzheimer's plaque than mice whose immune systems were intact.
Study co-author Dr Mathew Blurton-Jones said: ‘We were very surprised by the magnitude of this effect.  We expected the influence of the deficient immune system on Alzheimer’s pathology to be much more subtle.’

Brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer's disease developed by US scientists

Alzheimer’s disease could be definitively diagnosed for the first time after scientists proved brain scans can pick up the condition in its earliest stages.  Currently the only way to determine whether Alzheimer’s is present is to look at the brain of a patient after death.
Researchers at the University of California have proven that it is possible to spot the sticky amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles which cause the disease and pinpoint the moment that they trigger Alzheimer’s disease.
The US scientists were able to track the progressive stages of Alzheimer’s disease, even in adults who showed no symptoms. It means that people at risk from the condition – such as one in five of the population who carry the APOE gene variant – could be regularly screened.

What you can do.  Eat more blueberries

Snacking on blueberries from middle age could prevent dementia developing decades later, scientists say.
Experts told a major US conference that a compound in the berries may strengthen the brain’s defenses against Alzheimer’s....
....The  benefits are due to anthocyanins, the plant chemicals that give the berries their deep blue/purple color.  They are thought to act on the brain in various ways, including boosting blood flow, cutting inflammation, and enhancing the passage of information between cells. The chemicals may also boost cells’ defenses, an American Chemical Society conference heard. In a second study of people who hadn’t been diagnosed with any memory problems, but simply felt they were becoming more forgetful, the berries also helped boost cognition, although to a lesser extent.

Maple Syrup is another food that could ward off Alzheimer's by protecting the brain against rogue proteins which destroy memory'

Just like blueberries, broccoli and fish, maple syrup  is rich in antioxidants that boost immunity.  Already linked with reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes, maple syrup has been included at the annual American Chemical Society meeting in a list of healthy natural produ