Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ancient knowledge to future medicines

Mining Of Ancient Herbal Text Leads To Potential New Anti-bacterial Drug ScienceDaily 12/29/06 "A unique Mayo Clinic collaboration has revived the healing wisdom of Pacific Island cultures by testing a therapeutic plant extract described in a 17th century Dutch herbal text for its anti-bacterial properties. Early results show that extracts from the Atun tree effectively control bacteria that can cause diarrhea, as claimed by naturalist Georg Eberhard Rumpf, circa 1650. He documented his traditional healing methods in the book Ambonese Herbal...Mayo Clinic researchers demonstrate the feasibility of using sophisticated data mining techniques on historical texts to identify new drugs...The study provides a creative new model for drug discovery. It integrates nontraditional, ancient medical information with advanced technologies to identify promising natural products to investigate as drugs for new and better therapies..."Natural products are invaluable sources of healing agents -- consider, for example, that aspirin derived originally from willow bark, and the molecular basis of the anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent TaxolTM was derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree. So it's not so far-fetched to think that the contributions of an ancient text and insights from traditional medicine really may impact modern public health," explains Brent Bauer, M.D., "

This is one of those articles where you think that the research is so obvious why have they not been doing this for decades. Actually in some limited ways researchers have, but lets hope for a more substantial operation.

The recent research on turmeric and rheumatoid arthritis was in part a result of looking at what has been used in history by various cultures to deal with this condition. For reference the researchers think you would need 1.5gms of high quality curcuminoids a day to be effective. Human trials will have results in a few years.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

vaccine to prevent all strains of influenza

The vaccine to prevent every strain of flu The Daily Mail 12/29/06 "Described as the 'holy grail' of flu vaccines, it would protect against all strains of influenza A - the virus behind both bird flu and the nastiest outbreaks of winter flu...A similar universal flu vaccine, being developed by Swiss vaccine firm Cytos Biotechnology, could also be tested on people in 2007 - and the vaccines on the market in around five years... the vaccines would also be quicker and easier to make than the traditional jabs, meaning vast quantities could be stockpiled against a global outbreak of bird flu...Current flu vaccines focus on two proteins on the surface of the virus. However, these constantly mutate in a bid to fool the immune system, making it impossible for vaccine manufacturers to keep up with the creation of each new strain. The universal vaccines focus on a different protein called M2, which has barely changed during the last 100 years...initial course of two or three shots could provide long-lasting immunity, topped up with booster shots given every five to ten years..."

Here's hoping it works in people. The development will take 5yrs, but like the article mentions, if we need it sooner - bird flu - they'll release it sooner. This is unbelievably important. Regular flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 world wide annually. Recent estimates show that bird flu might kill as many as 62 million worldwide.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Immune boosting supplements... maybe

For what it's worth...

Supplements the Experts Recommend 11/05 "Andrographis - researchers in Thailand reviewed four studies that included 433 patients and found that andrographis reduced cold symptoms more effectively than placebos did...Astragalus - Researchers at the University of Texas and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have turned up convincing evidence that astragalus boosts immune responses in lab animals, and in human cells in lab dishes. ...Elderberry - A study conducted by Israeli scientists showed that a commercially available elderberry extract, called Sambucol, can suppress the growth of influenza viruses in lab dishes. The same research team reported that patients given the extract recovered faster. Though no one knows exactly how elderberry works, its potent antioxidants may enhance immune function... Honeysuckle and forsythia - A variety of lab studies show both contain substances that act against viruses...Pelargonium sidoides - Tests in Europe show it may be especially useful against sore throats and bronchitis...Probiotics - German researchers gave 479 volunteers vitamin supplements either with or without probiotics. Those who took the probiotics for at least 3 months reduced the duration of their colds by almost 2 days and the severity of symptoms by about 20 percent..Vitamin C, Zinc”"

If you dig a little into the research for most of these you'll find that it isn't exactly first rate. My experience has been that astragalus and andrographis did not help me. I've never tried honeysuckle or forsythia, or pelargonium sidoides (what a mouthful). I have had luck with probiotics - I think... hard to tell if it is helping or not but I think it is - less colds this year and last and shorter duration. Or could it also be Elderberry? I swig Sambucol like a drunken sailor whenever it seems I have a virus. I think this shortens the duration, or possibly prevents some viruses cold. But I'll never know for sure. I also use Cold FX and I think that helps... maybe. There, that's some mushy science and mushy personal experience that might, or might not help you in this cold and flu season.

I bet good sleep and plenty of vitamin D probably has more positive effect than all the above.

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Phytochemicals might be beneficial as low dose toxins that stimulate antioxidant enzymes like SOD, GPX and CAT

phytochemicals findings from National Institute on Aging NewsRX via LEF 12/22/06 ""Neurohormetic phytochemicals: Low-dose toxins that induce adaptive neuronal stress responses"..."Although some beneficial phytochemicals might function solely as antioxidants, it is becoming clear that many of the beneficial chemicals in vegetables and fruits evolved as toxins (to dissuade insects and other predators) that, at subtoxic doses, activate adaptive cellular stress-response pathways in a variety of cells including neurons."..."Examples of such 'preconditioning' or 'neurohormesis' pathways include those involving cell-survival signaling kinases, the transcription factors NRF2 and CREB, and histone deacetylases of the sirtuin family. In these ways, neurohormetic phytochemicals such as resveratrol, sulforaphanes and curcumin might protect neurons against injury and disease by stimulating the production of antioxidant enzymes, neurotrophic factors, protein chaperones and other proteins that help cells to withstand stress," wrote M.P. Mattson..."

Not news to us... much of our antioxidant formula for dogs is designed to stimulate antioxidant enzymes in dogs. Works in us as well.

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Diet during pregnancy can change genes for generations

Maternal Diet During Pregnancy Can Impact Offspring For Generations, Study Shows ScienceDaily 12/28/06 "A new study by scientists at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) is the first to show that a mother's diet during pregnancy influences the health of her grandchildren by changing the behavior of a specific gene...In their experiments, the scientists fed some Avy mice a standard lab diet based on common foods consumed by humans. Other mice were fed this same diet supplemented with common nutritional supplements including folate, choline, betaine, vitamin B12, zinc and methionine...The results showed that the supplements changed the behavior of the agouti gene in the first generation of pups, shifting their coats towards a brown color, and had the same effect on pups born in the next generation to mice that were not exposed to the supplemented diet..."Although researchers have long known that there is a connection between a mother's diet and her children's health this is the first case in which the relationship between a mother's diet and the biology of her grandchildren has been mapped to a single gene and a defined diet," said David Martin, M.D., Scientist at CHORI. "Our work provides convincing evidence of complex transgenerational effects of nutrition on health, and provides an experimental model for exploring these relationships in detail."..." it is possible that the maternal diet could have implications that stretch over decades, perhaps even centuries.""

Epigenetics like this makes you wonder if whole sections of a country had their diet changed for a time in the past and their children changed a bit, would anyone notice? With modern industrialized food, fast food, crap snacks etc, and exposure to all sorts of man made chemicals that sometimes have an effect on hormones and maybe genes... would we know if we were changing? These might not be such crazy questions.

The benefits to the mice getting the supplements is that they get less diabetes and cancer. So that's a plus (like folate, B-12 and choline for pregnant moms) but for humanity we have only begun to scratch the surface of what foods do what to genes and what chemicals in our environment might methylate certain genes. Like I said before in a previous post, is there any scientific field as hot as epigenetics?

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

B vitamin deficiency linked with poor athletic performance

Poor Athletic Performance Linked To Vitamin Deficiency ScienceDaily 12/27/06 "The B-vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, B-12 and folate. These micronutrients are necessary during the body's process for converting proteins and sugars into energy, and are used during the production and repair of cells, including red blood cells...For active individuals a marginal deficiency in the nutrients may impact the body's ability to repair itself, operate efficiently and fight disease, said Melinda Manore...The stress on the body's energy producing pathways during exercise, the changes in the body's tissues resulting from training, an increase in the loss of nutrients in sweat, urine and feces during and after strenuous activity and the additional nutrients needed to repair and maintain higher levels of lean tissue mass present in some athletes and individuals may all affect an individuals B-vitamin requirements, said Manore..."

What's refreshing about this is that Manore, unlike many researchers, recommends supplements. It isn't realistic to expect most athletes to get enough B vitamins through their diet. There's been a bias in the research community when talking about vitamins and minerals - they almost never recommend supplements even though a change in diet would be highly unlikely and supplements would fix the health problem quickly. This is changing and Dr. Bruce Ames might be partly responsible. There's more to this article on Ames and I'll try and unpack it in a later entry. A bit more here, on Ames and supplements and health.

"The number-one prescription given by Ames' current blueprint is absurdly simple: Take your vitamins! Standard one-a-day multivitamin capsules contain the FDA's recommended daily allowance (RDA) of several vitamins and minerals whose deficiency in rats, Ames and co-workers have shown, induces breaks in DNA by oxygen free-radicals and other mechanisms; causes mitochondrial damage, slowing oxygen metabolism; and inactivates genes that protect against cancer, including p53 and zinc-superoxide dismutase. Particuarly important in these regards are the nutrients B-12, folic acid, B-6, niacin, C, E, iron, and zinc. Ames has proposed that up to half of Americans fail to consume the RDA for at least one of these nutrients"

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probiotics help with stomach pain

Yoghurt improves gut instincts NewScientist 12/17/06 "Lactobacillus acidophilus, a "friendly" bacterium often found in yogurt and "probiotic" drinks, boosts the synthesis of receptors for opioids and cannabinoids, our natural painkillers, in gut cells...Rats had a 20 per cent increase in their abdominal pain threshold - or twice that if they had irritable bowel syndrome. The team believes the bacteria could be a cheap, safe treatment for the 20 per cent of people who get serious abdominal pain"

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dark chocolate helps fight fatigue

Dark chocolate beats fatigue, study NutraIngredients 12/20/06 "Eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day can help combat the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), according to UK researchers...In the study, the results of which are available on the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust website, researchers fed a group of adults 45g of specially formulated dark chocolate – containing 85 per cent cocoa and rich in polyphenols – every day for eight weeks.
The participants reported feeling less fatigued after eating the chocolate and complained of greater tiredness when fed a placebo...Researchers believe chocolate enhances the action of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, responsible for regulating mood and sleep, which could explain why the product can alleviate CFS "

For reference 45g is about half the average size chocolate bar.

A PDF brief of the study can be found here.

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Polyphenols in tea might aid intestinal health

Tea polyphenols - antioxidants or prebiotics? NutraIngredients 12/20/06 "“Our data demonstrate that phenolic compounds have general inhibitory effects on intestinal bacteria. The level of inhibition varies depending on the bacterial species and chemical structure of the compound,”...lead author Hui Cheng Lee...growth of the pathogenic E. coli and Salmonella typhimurium were most strongly inhibited by the tea polyphenols and their metabolites, as were strains belonging to the Bacteroides and Clostridium genera. However, the researchers report that the growth of the probiotic Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains were less affected by the tea compounds...“Since probiotic growth was relatively unaffected by most of the aromatic compounds tested, probiotic colonization in the intestine should continue in the presence of phenolics so as to improve the intestinal microbial balance and inhibit pathogen growth,”"

Curious that lead researcher Lee calls into question the antioxidant benefits of tea. It isn't clear why he holds this view. It seems, on the surface that the benefits of tea could be both from its antioxidants and from its prebiotic role. Hopefully in other interviews he'll clarify this point.

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Big bellies and heart disease

Big bellies tied to greater heart disease risk Reuters/Yahoo!News "the more your belly sticks out, the greater your risk of developing heart disease..."The message is really obesity in the abdomen matters even more than obesity overall," Dr. Carlos Iribarren..."

In the article they take a shot at BMI (Body Mass Index) as being an imprecise measurement to gauge health. Second shot this week and justified.

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Optimism and longevity

Optimists may have longer lives Reuters via Yahoo!News 12/22/06 "Researchers found that of nearly 7,000 adults followed since their college days in the 1960s, those who were optimistic in their youth had a lower risk of dying over the next 40 years than their more pessimistic peers...the most pessimistic study participants were 42 percent more likely to die of any cause than the most positive participants..."

Stat science here, with little insight into what is going on physiologically. However, the likely explanation for this is mentioned in the article - that optimist probably suffer less depression, pay more attention to exercise and diet and so on. In 1998 research at Ohio State found that optimism did not necessarily help with health on average, but negative thoughts associated with pessimism did hurt health. It might be impossible to become an optimist if you are a pessimist, but maybe all you have to do is minimize the pessimism. Other than cognitive therapy the best way to achieve that is through exercise and possibly basic forms of relaxation techniques. The last two alone might just offset health impact of pessimism even if you can't change your mindset. But of course if you are a pessimist you're probably sure nothing will help your pessimism.

I wonder what percentage of pessimists have depression or dysthymia?

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Gene linked to longevity and preservation of brain

How to live to a ripe old age without losing your marbles TimesOnline 12/26/06 "An Israeli study involving 158 people who lived to 95 or beyond has found that those who inherit a particular version of the gene CETP are twice as likely to have a sharp and alert brain when they are elderly...They are also five times less likely than people with a different version of CETP to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to the study by a team at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University...If drugs could be developed which mimic the protective function of the CETP VV variant they could transform the quality of life of the ageing population...Nir Barzilai, director of the college’s Institute for Ageing Research... “We’ve shown that the same gene variant that helps people live to exceptional ages has the added benefit of helping them think clearly...CETP is a gene that makes the cholesterol ester protein, which in turn influences the size of the particles in which both “good” (high-density lipoprotein) and “bad” (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol appear in the blood"

More evidence that if you want to live to 100, lifestyle might not be enough. CETP vv is present in 25% of centenarians. Also here again, with CETP, is a connection between forms of cholesterol production and maintenance and longevity.

A curious thing would be to find what genes associated with longevity are found in supercentenarians (those living to 110 and over). Studying supercentenarians might offer more insight into the aging process and longevity genes in particular than in centenarians.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Are you thin on the outside but fat on the inside? Tofi

Are you a Tofi? (That's thin on the outside, fat inside) Guardian/The Observer 12/10/2006 "many people who have normal body weight are carrying around hidden layers of fat. Stored up around vital organs, they can put outwardly healthy people at risk...Tofis probably need to worry more about their health than others, because the fat deposits they carry are hidden in the white fat that lies around their vital organs, streaked through their underused muscles, and wrapped around the heart. It is this fat that sends out the chemical signals which eventually lead to insulin resistance, diabetes and heart conditions, rather than the fat lying in dimples underneath the skin...Genes also play an enormous role. 'Our work so far has shown that you can take two men of the same age, with the same BMI [body mass index], and find one with five litres of fat within him and another with two litres,' said Professor Jimmy Bell, who works at Hammersmith Hospital, west London. 'We've even scanned people who are underweight and found up to seven litres of fat inside them...But is it possible that doctors and the public have become sidetracked by BMI, a method of measuring fat developed 150 years ago in Belgium? BMI is worked out under the metric system by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared... The problem with BMI is that most rugby players, sporting heavy muscles, would come out with a high BMI when in fact they have low levels of visceral fat..."

Interesting that researchers are beginning to view fat as an organ which secretes chemicals and hormones that can change the way we feel, the way we think and can control the fertility level of a woman. There's more information at the Guardian. And who knew the BMI was 150 yrs old? About time for something more sophisticated and accurate.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

DNA damage major cause of aging

Buildup of damaged DNA in cells drives aging EurekAlert! 12/20/06 "The accumulation of genetic damage in our cells is a major contributor to how we age...Findings from this study help to reconcile two conflicting hypotheses currently favored in the field of aging research about why we get old, according to the authors. The first is that our lifespan and how well we age is determined by the genes inherited from our parents. The second is that lifespan and fitness in old age is determined by how much damage we incur over our lifetime...."Our study suggests that both of these hypotheses are correct. Damage, including DNA damage, drives the functional decline we all experience as we age. But how we respond to that damage is determined genetically, in particular by genes that regulate the growth hormone and insulin pathways," said Laura Niedernhofer, M.D., Ph.D. ... "

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Fish Oil for Moms May Benefit Babies

Fish Oil Supplements During Pregnancy Improved Babies’ Hand-Eye Coordination WebMD 12/21/06 "Mothers who take fish oil supplements during pregnancypregnancy may improve their baby's hand-eye coordination and boost brain development..."These preliminary data indicate that supplementation with a relatively high-dose fish oil during the last 20 weeks of pregnancy is not only safe, but also seems to have potential beneficial effects that need to be explored further," write researcher J. A. Dunstan, of the University of Western Australia...results showed children of mothers who took fish oil supplements scored significantly higher on tests of hand-eye coordination than those who took olive oil supplements, even after taking other factors, such as the mother’s age and duration of breastfeedingbreastfeeding, into account."

So for all those parents wanting a sports prodigy, or even a video gaming champ (what a dream), maybe 4gms a day of fish oil can help. Not the most compelling reason to take omega 3 supplements. A better reason is here. It's tough to knock the overall record of fish oil - aiding in a variety of neurological functions for babies and the health of mothers. Currently most prenatal DHA supplements are around 200mg to 500mg. Too low. 1200mg is the amount used in the Norwegian study that showed increases in intelligence.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Anti-cancer effects of tea

More evidence for tea’s anticancer potential NutraIngredients 12/21/06 "Teas, both green and black, have potent anti-cancer effects against a wide range of tumours, says a new study led by the US Department of Agriculture that adds to an ever growing body of science behind the compounds...The researchers report that the majority of the catechins, theaflavins, theanine, and all the general tea extracts decreased the numbers of human breast (MCF-7), colon (HT-29), hepatoma (liver) (HepG2), and prostate (PC-3) cell lines, with the ethanol/water extracts found to contain higher levels of flavonoids and to have a higher activity" The lead author was Mendel Friedman from USDA.

Promising in vitro study but we need many more in vivo studies.

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Exercise improves cognition

Exercise Appears To Improve Brain Function Among Younger People ScienceDaily 12/20/06 ""Physical activity may be beneficial to cognition during early and middle periods of the human lifespan and may continue to protect against age-related loss of cognitive function during older adulthood," said Charles H. Hillman, a U. of I. professor of kinesiology and of community health and the lead author of the study...After controlling for gender and IQ -- factors related to physical activity participation or cognitive function -- the researchers documented slower reaction time among older compared with younger subjects, and improved (faster) reaction time with increased physical-activity participation. Among older participants, those who indicated they were physically active demonstrated improved task performance -- in reaction time and response accuracy....Physical activity is related to better cognitive health and effective functioning across the lifespan"

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More on inflammation and cancer

What Cures Your Aches Might Prevent Cancer ScienceDaily 12/21/06 ""We have observed that some of the same biological processes that cause inflammation may also be involved in developing cancer, so the next step was to see if drugs that prevent inflammation also serve to lessen the risk of cancer."..."There is evidence to support the idea that taking an NSAID will slow or reverse precancerous conditions such as Barrett's esophagus," ...Mayo Clinic Cancer Center has begun three clinical studies looking at the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to prevent cancer -- colon, esophageal or lung"

More on how NSAIDS help prevent and fight cancer here.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bacteria in your gut making you fat?

Battling bacteria in gut may influence weight gain Reuters via Yahoo!News 12/20/06 "Body weight and obesity could be affected not only by what we eat but also by how it is digested in the gut...two types of good microbes or bacteria in the gut that help to break down foods are different in obese and lean people and mice..."Our gut microbial structure should be considered when understanding the elements that might regulate our energy balance and may predispose us to obesity," Jeffrey Gordon, of the Washington University of Medicine ...There are trillions of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, but two groups called the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes are the most dominant and their proportion varies in lean and obese mice and humans...proportion of Bacteroidetes bacteria is lower in obese mice and people than in lean people...when Gordon and his team studied 12 obese people who followed low-calorie diets for a year, they found their levels of Bacteroidetes rose as their weight decreased. ...scientists do not yet know if people start out with lower levels of Bacteroidetes or Firmicutes, which may make them prone to obesity..."

It's apparent that we have only a basic understanding of what causes obesity. And it will be interesting to see if further studies show that merely by increasing bacteroidetes there can be weight loss. Let's hope it can be that simple.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Resveratrol might help with diabetes and obesity

Resveratrol could counter metabolic diseases, animal study NutraIngredients 12/15/06 "The resveratrol was seen to activate a protein in the Sirtuin family, which in turn stimulated the activity of another protein involved in mitochondrial function. Thus, by enhancing energy expenditure, the researchers surmised that resveratrol led to a reduction in weight gain. ...What is more, since the study found a link between sirtuins and energy expenditure, the researchers say there is a possibility that they may prove useful in the prevention or treatment of metabolic disorders – in particular certain pathologies related to mitochondrial dysfunction, as is often the case with obesity, type 2 diabetes and other ageing-related disorders. "

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Exercise the mind to keep a fit brain

Limber brain keeps seniors sharp Reuters via Yahoo!news 12/19/06 "He said one of the study's surprises was that the impact of formal training in memory, reasoning and speed of thinking could still be traced five years later in a group of people who's average age was 73 when the research began. And since the training lasted only 10 to 18 hours in all, "imagine if you could do something like Sudoko where people practice these skills every day,"... Sherry Willis of Pennsylvania State University, lead author of the study, said "Older adults really can continue to exercise mentally and to improve their cognitive abilities ... It's just like physical exercise ... Always challenge oneself. Don't do the same activity over and over in a routinized manner."

One answer is found here. Brain Age game on the little Nintendo DS "Brain Age is inspired by the research of Professor Ryuta Kawashima, a prominent Japanese neuroscientist. His studies evaluated the impact of performing certain reading and mathematic exercises to help stimulate the brain. Brain Age presents quick mental activities that help keep your DS brain in shape. Activities include quickly solving simple math problems, counting people going in and out of a house simultaneously, drawing pictures on the Touch Screen, reading classic literature out loud" and so on. I heard this in a story on NPR and got it. Now I just need a game that helps me remember to play a game that helps me to work out my brain...

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Vitamin D may lower multiple sclerosis risk

Vitamin D may cut multiple sclerosis risk, study finds Reuters via Yahoo!News 12/19/06 "Among the white people studied, the chances of developing MS fell as vitamin D levels in the body rose...The researchers said this suggested that many cases of MS could be prevented if people raised their vitamin D intake...This converges with a body of experimental evidence and other studies that strongly suggest that vitamin D could be truly protective," Alberto Ascherio, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and the lead researcher..."

More at BBC and WebMD.

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Effective ways to reduce stress - exercise, sleep

Stress? Run It Off, Cry It Out, Sleep It Away The Miami Herald via LEF 12/18/06 "Exercise: It helps the body process and excrete adrenaline and cortisol, two chemicals the adrenal gland creates when the body is under stress. And it stimulates the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to create those feel-good peptides we fondly call endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and induce a sense of well-being...Sleep: It also reboots the brain. A good eight hours is essential, according to studies comparing the performance of rested people to that of tired people pumped up on coffee. Tired folks have less intellectual ability, more irritability, even depression. Doctors are so impressed they're even (occasionally) cutting the 36-hour-shifts they used to demand of interns...-Crying: Tears of sadness or frustration contain-and thus excrete-toxic chemicals that do not occur in the tears from, say, chopping an onion, Bishopric says. "Laughing is still better than crying - unless you really need a good cry."...Laughter: It's more than distraction; it has an almost instantaneous effect of relaxing the brain that can be measured by EEGs, Bishopric says. "A good laugh literally affects the entire brain; very little else does that," she says "

All seemingly obvious, but it is surprising how few people know how effective they are and put them to use during stressful periods of their life.

To find out more about stress there's quite a bit at Medline Plus at this link.

Research has shown that vigorous exercise seems to offer very good relief from stress with many other health benefits like lowering bad cholesterol LDL, and raising the good HDL, lowering blood pressure, lessening chances of diabetes and generally keeping blood sugar at healthy levels, lowering the chances of getting most cancers, increases bone density, improves the immune system and can help with depression... and many other things.

Also the Mayo Clinic has some deep relaxation techniques that have proven useful. The benefits are :

"Fewer symptoms of illness, such as headaches, nausea, diarrhea and pain
Few emotional responses such as anger, crying, anxiety, apprehension and frustration
More energy
Improved concentration
Greater ability to handle problems
More efficiency in daily activities "

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Surburbs encourage obesity in kids

Suburban sprawl may create heavier kids 12/18/06 "Using data from a national health survey, researchers found that teenagers living in sprawling suburbs were more than twice as likely to be overweight as teens in more compact urban areas..."In a sprawling suburb, you can do very little on foot," said lead study author Dr. Reid Ewing of the University of Maryland's National Center for Smart Growth Education and Research.
By contrast, he noted in an interview, people in cities are often forced to be active in their daily lives -- walking to stores and public transportation, carrying groceries up the stairs to their fifth-floor walk-up apartment..."

The answer has been around for a while and it's in the various forms of new urbanism.

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Policosanol fails to lower LDL cholesterol

Policosanol is ineffective in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia: a randomized controlled American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 6, 1543-1548, December 2006 "No significant differences in the change in LDL cholesterol were observed between the placebo (n = 20) and policosanol (n = 20) groups. Also, no significant changes in secondary outcome measures, including total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triacylglycerol, C-reactive protein, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy–determined profiles were observed. Policosanol was well tolerated, and no significant adverse events were noted"

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Friday, December 15, 2006

How NSAIDs Like Aspirin Halt Cancer Growth

Study Explains How NSAIDs Halt Cancer Growth ScienceDaily 12/15/06 "induction of a gene known as MDA-7/IL-24 is the molecular mechanism that enables nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to halt the growth of cancer cells, a finding that could eventually lead to the development of targeted cancer treatments..."Although observational studies had previously demonstrated that NSAIDs [such as aspirin, ibuprofen and sulindac] might be effective in the prevention and treatment of several common cancers, it wasn't at all clear how this was happening," explains the study's senior author Towia Libermann, PhD, Director of the BIDMC Genomics Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). "Now, after treating a number of different types of cancer cells in culture with a whole set of NSAIDs, we can point to this single gene which, when upregulated, kills cancer cells while sparing normal, healthy cells." recent years, a great deal of attention has focused on the link between inflammation and cancer. As the body's immune response to tissue damage, acute inflammation serves as a natural defense to guard against injury or infection.
However, in cases of chronic inflammation -- for example, inflammatory bowel disease -- certain signaling pathways that modulate the inflammatory processes become "stuck" in an activated state. Among other outcomes, this course of events leads to the release of molecules that enhance carcinogenesis and tumor progression at the site of the damage."

As one gets older the chances of getting chronic inflammation increases and aspirin clearly modulates this process and in doing so apparently modulates the process whereby some cancers grow. This makes a more compelling case for those that are older to take a baby aspirin on a regular basis unless they have bleeding problems. This research shows the mechanism that inhibits certain cancers so that later they might be able to target and upregulate the MDA-7/IL-24 gene more effectively. Read the full story to get an idea of the amazing research that went into this.

This really is an important story, lets see if the Sat. popular press picks up on it.

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Antioxidants Decrease Disease In Fruit Fly Model Of Alzheimer's Disease

Antioxidants Decrease Disease In Fruit Fly Model Of Alzheimer's Disease ScienceDaily 12/15/06 "Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of a number of neurodegenerative disorders in which brain cells damaged by naturally occurring chemicals known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been observed. However, whether this oxidative damage causes neurodegeneration or is a consequence of it has not been previously determined...A study appearing online on December 14, in advance of publication in the January print issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, indicates that oxidative damage is a factor contributing to neurodegeneration in a Drosophila model of neurodegenerative disorders such as AD. - Mel Feany and colleagues from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School"

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Synthetic marijuana helps cancer patients - also helps symptoms of pain, anxiety and depression

Synthetic marijuana helps cancer patients Reuters via Yahoo!News 12/15/06 "The drug is part of a class known as cannabinoids that are similar to the active ingredient found in naturally occurring cannabis, or marijuana...those treated with the drug experienced significantly more pain reduction than patients treated with standard therapy. Scores for drowsiness, tiredness, appetite and well-being were stable in the Cesamet group, but deteriorated in the non-Cesamet group.
Depression and anxiety were also reduced significantly in the nabilone group, but increased in the non-cannabinoid group..."The findings show how great the potential is to improve the quality of life for cancer patients," said lead investigator Dr. Vincent Maida of the University of Toronto"

The broad spectrum benefits makes you wonder what off prescription uses this medication might find. This was a small study and we'll see in the future if under more rigorous studies it offers such great utility.

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reversing diabetes

Researchers reverse diabetes in mice Reuters via Yahoo!News 12/15/06 "Defective nerve endings may attract immune system proteins that mistakenly attack the pancreas, destroying its ability to make insulin, the researchers said. This destruction is what causes diabetes...Injecting a piece of protein, or peptide, to repair the defect cured diabetic mice "overnight," Dr. Hans Michael Dosch of the University of Toronto said... The team will soon begin clinical studies on people whose family history suggests they are at risk of developing type-1 diabetes to see if their sensory nerves work well...If they do not, Dosch said, that would suggest the bad nerve endings were a cause of diabetes, not only an effect as has been widely assumed...Trials could then begin injecting peptides into patients with diabetes or those at high risk. It could take a number of years, Dosch said.
He said the findings might also hold promise for type-2 diabetes -- which affects about 10 times as many people as type-1 -- though the results were not as strong"

Very encouraging news for type-1 diabetes and possibly for type-2. There's more in the article about implications of the research for type-2 diabetes.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Breast Cancer Rates Fall Sharply

7% Decline Attributed to Drop in Hormone Replacement Therapy WebMD 12/14/06 "That means as many as 14,000 fewer women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 than in 2002, a year in which the American Cancer Society estimates there were 203,500 new cases, says researcher Donald Berry, PhD, a biostatistician at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston...."

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World's oldest person dies at 116

Elizabeth "Lizzy" Bolden died at a nursing home in Memphis, Tennessee. BBC News 12/12/06 "Mrs Bolden had 40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, 150 great-great-grandchildren, 220 great-great-great grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great grandchildren. She assumed the title of world's oldest person following the death of Esther de Capovilla of Ecuador in August - also at the age of 116. Her successor looks set to be Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico, who is 115, according to Robert Young, adviser to Guinness World Records. "

There's no first person advice on how to live to a "ripe old age" that you usually find in such articles. It's usually amusing to get health bromides as hard work, spirituality and a good attitude. And hey they might help... a bit. More likely it was great genes and lots of luck.

I included the above quote because holy moses... if you live enough and breed a bit you get a small country's worth of descendants.

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Height loss link to heart disease

Losing 3cm or more might equal heart disease BBC News 12/12/06 "those who lost 3cm in height were 64% more likely to die than those who lost less than 1cm...Height loss was associated with a 42% increased risk of coronary events such as heart attacks, even in men who had no history of cardiovascular leader Dr Goya Wannamethee, reader in epidemiology at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, said osteoporosis was associated with more severe height loss - generally 6cm. "It's been well established that shortness is associated with cardiovascular disease, so we were interested to see whether height loss itself could influence mortality," she said. "It's another indicator of poor health," she concluded. "Even fairly benign height loss." "

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Male circumcision 'cuts' HIV risk

Circumcision can cut the rate of HIV infection in heterosexual men by 50% BBC News 12/13/06 "The trial in Kenya found a 53% reduction in new HIV infections in heterosexual men who were circumcised while the Ugandan study reported a drop of 48%. Results last year from a study in 3,280 heterosexual men in South Africa, which was also stopped early, showed a 60% drop in the incidence of new infections in men who had been circumcised... Specific cells in the foreskin may be potential targets for HIV infection and also the skin under the foreskin becomes less sensitive and is less likely to bleed reducing risk of infection following circumcision..."

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Possible preventitive agent for bird flu

Novel Peptide Targets Viral Cells And May Inhibit Influenza Virus Infection ScienceDaily 12/13/06 "In the study researchers tested the newly identified peptide, EB (entry blocker), for antiviral activity against influenza viruses including the H5N1 strain in mice. Results showed the peptide capable of inhibiting viral attachment to the cellular receptor ultimately preventing infection...(J.C. Jones, E.A. Turpin, H. Bultmann, C.R. Brandt, S. Schultz-Cherry. 2006. Inhibition of influenza virus infection by a novel antiviral peptide that targets viral attachment to cells. Journal of Virology, 80. 24: 11960-11967.)"

Now will it work for humans? Is it safe? Can we mass produce it and how much will it cost? Lots of questions. I hope they get the funding to quickly answer all of these.

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Future cure for alcoholics?

Research Offers Hope For Alcoholics ScienceDaily 12/13/06 "In studies conducted with rats, Dr Andrew Lawrence and his Florey colleagues used a drug that blocked Orexin's euphoric effects in the brain and the results were remarkable. "In one experiment, rats that had alcohol freely available to them stopped drinking it after receiving the Orexin blocker."... "Orexin reinforces the euphoria felt when drinking alcohol, so if a drug can be developed to block the Orexin system in humans, we should be able to stop an alcoholic's craving for alcohol, as well as preventing relapse once the alcoholic has recovered," he said.
Dr Lawrence said that this research could also lead to treatments for eating disorders, such chronic over-eating, which leads to obesity..."Before a therapeutic Orexin-blocking drug can be developed, we need to ensure that it will be safe to use in the long-term and that issues surrounding a person's compliance in taking the drug are considered,""

Obviously the cure will not be around in the next 5 years due to future research and then trials. But maybe within 10yrs. I see research like this and I wonder why we waste money in other areas of government. A few decades ago it used to be that money wasn't necessarily a research accelerator. I don't think that can be said now. Too bad most in the public do not understand this... otherwise reallocation of funds toward research on various diseases might occur and faster progress towards cures.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

infections related to brain cancer

Number Of Siblings Predicts Risk Of Brain Tumors ScienceDaily 12/12/06 "The population-based study, the largest of its kind, analyzed 13,613 brain tumor cases in Sweden. It found people with four or more siblings were twice as likely to develop a brain tumor as people with no siblings..."Since the size of a family and the number of younger siblings correlate with the incidence of brain tumors, this suggests infectious agents may be causing the disease," said study author Andrea Altieri, DSc, with the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany...the finding that brain tumor rates were higher among people with younger siblings, and not older siblings, suggests infections or re-infections in late childhood may play an important role in causing the disease, while exposure to infections in infancy, birth to five months old, may be beneficial"

Could this be more evidence for the viruses help cause some cancers theory? Interesting that they mention that infections from birth to 5 months seem beneficial but those after not so much - possibly harmful.

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Folic acid won't cut heart, stroke risk

Folic acid will not cut heart and stroke risk. Reuters via Yahoo!News 12/12/06 ""We found that there was no benefit to using folic acid supplements in terms of cardiovascular disease risk or stroke risk," ...Researchers led by Dr. Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans analyzed the results of 12 trials conducted since 2002 involving nearly 17,000 people..."Really, what you should be doing are things like quitting smoking, increasing your exercise if you can, lowering your blood pressure, lowering your cholesterol."

Besides exercise and a change in diet, aspirin can help lower the heart, stroke risk.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Exercise and breast cancer and bone loss

may help prevent breast cancer and can be a safer way to lose weight Reuters/Yahoo!News 12/11/06 "One report from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, said a study of women aged 55 to 69 found that those with the highest physical activity levels when the study began had a 14 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who got low levels of exercise...In another study published in the same journal, doctors at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that people who slim down by cutting calories may also be losing bone density -- something that does not happen if weight loss comes through exercise"

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Moderate alcohol use extends life

Those 2 glasses a day that lengthen your life EurekAlert! 12/11/06 "A study performed by the Research Laboratories of the Catholic University of Campobasso (Italy) con-firms the beneficial effects that moderate consumption of alcohol has on our health...drinking in moderation reduces all-cause mortality..."Our data- says Augusto Di Castelnuovo, lead author of the study - show that consumption of little amounts of alcohol leads to a reduction of mortality up to 18%. But after a certain number of glasses things radically change: who drinks too much not only looses this advantage, but increases his own risk of death in relation to the amount of alcohol consumed"...Whereas men report a beneficial effect after consuming 2-4 doses maximum (a dose refers to one glass of wine or beer), women should be aware: for them, the protection guaranteed from alcohol consumption disappears just after two glasses a day"

What's the risk of drinking too much? Well there's always a risk that you will wake up after a bender with your eyebrows shaved off... . Actually you'll be more likely to get liver disease and a variety of cancers. So 2-4 drinks for a man and 2 drinks for a woman is the general rule that this study encourages.

The study indicates that Europeans seem to gain more health benefits from moderate drinking than Americans and that might be because they drink more red wine - although that was not in the purview of the study.

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More on health benefits of Vitamin D

Almost everyone needs more of the sunshine vitamin USNews&WR 12/18/06 "A single nutrient that keeps bones strong, wards off diabetes, and protects against tuberculosis, cancer, colds, and the flu. Sound too good to be true? There's more: It's free. But you're almost certainly not getting enough...Prior to the industrial revolution, humans had no trouble getting an abundance of the sunshine vitamin; a mere 10 to 15 minutes outdoors at midday gives the average fair-skinned person 10,000 international units. That's far above the government's dietary recommendations of 200 IUs a day up to age 50, 400 IUs to age 70, and 600 IUs over 70... A review of more than 100 studies on vitamin D and respiratory diseases, published in the current Epidemiology and Infection, found that low levels probably allow the viruses to penetrate the immune system...With cancer, it's thought that vitamin D might prevent tumors from rapidly growing by controlling the expression of certain genes that regulate cell division"

This is a vitamin D renaissance. More on Vit D later.

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Friday, December 8, 2006

Body temperature and life extension

Reducing body temperature extends life span of mice Reuters via ABCNews 11/2/06 "Lowering the body temperature of mice extended their life span by up to 20 percent..."We are showing that there is a way to obtain the benefit on life span and aging that are known to be conferred by calorie restrictions without necessarily undergoing calorie restrictions," lead researcher Bruno Conti of the Scripps Research Institute... Median life span in females was extended by about 20 percent and in males by about 12 percent"

If this proves true for us then it appears we have two ways to dramatically extend life, eat hardly a thing, or live cold. Very appealing.

Of course there might be other ways and my hope is that a synthetic version of resveratrol will do the trick and then we get to eat what we like and wear sweaters.

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Eat slow to eat less

Eating slowly really does make people eat less Reuters via SciAm 12/1/06 "Women consumed about 70 fewer calories when they were told to take their time eating a meal of pasta and sauce, compared to when they were instructed to eat it as quickly as possible. They also rated the meal as more pleasant when they ate slowly.
"They got more pleasure for (fewer) calories, and more satiety for (fewer) calories," Dr. Kathleen Melanson of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston...When eating quickly, the women took in an average of 646 calories in nine minutes. But when they slowed down, they consumed 579 calories in 29 minutes"

It's a very small study, but doesn't it makes sense in your own experience? Eating slowly usually means you eat less. And what it does is to allow for gut hormones leptin, cholecystokinin PYY3-36, etc. to begin signalling a sense of fullness in the brain. Of course try to eat good fresh pizza slow. I challenge you.

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Thursday, December 7, 2006

Protein and cancer

Does Too Much Protein In The Diet Increase Cancer Risk? ScienceDaily 12/7/06 "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that lean people on a long-term, low-protein, low-calorie diet or participating in regular endurance exercise training have lower levels of plasma growth factors and certain hormones linked to cancer risk... people on a low-protein, low-calorie diet had considerably lower levels of a particular plasma growth factor called IGF-1 than equally lean endurance runners," says the study's first author Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Washington University and an investigator at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome, Italy. "That suggests to us that a diet lower in protein may have a greater protective effect against cancer than endurance exercise, independently of body fat mass...Data from animal studies also suggest that lower IGF-1 levels are associated with maximal lifespan..."Many people are eating too many animal products — such as meat, cheese, eggs and butter — as well as refined grains and free sugars," he says. "Our intake of vegetables and fruits is low, and beans are vastly underconsumed in the U.S. and Europe these days."

Another argument for a vegetarian, or low meat diet.

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Sea Urchin May Hold Key To Cures

Sea Urchin Genome Suprisingly Similar To Man And May Hold Key To Cures ScienceDaily 12/7/06 " shares a common ancestor with humans. Sea urchins are closer to human and vertebrates from an evolutionary perspective than other more widely studied animal models, such as fruit fly or worms. The purple sea urchin, in fact, has 7,000 genes in common with humans,...Of particular interest to Calestani is the way the sea urchin's immune system works. The human immune system has two components: innate immunity, with which we are born, and acquired immunity, which is the ability to produce antibodies in response to an infection. Sea urchins only have innate immunity, and it is greatly expanded with 10 to 20 times as many genes as in human.
"Considering that sea urchins have a long life span -- some can live up to 100 years -- their immune system must be powerful," Calestani said. "Sea urchins could very well provide a new set of antibiotic and antiviral compounds to fight various infectious diseases.""

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FDA Weighs Risks, Benefits of Drug-Coated Stents

FDA Weighs Risks, Benefits of Drug-Coated Stents NPR 12/7/06 "No one knows for sure why the coated stents cause these blood clots. But doctors are once again looking for a solution. One clue comes from a study at Duke University. Researchers reviewed the medical records of hundreds of people who got drug-coated stents at the medical center there.
All the patients took a drug called Plavix to reduce the chance that clots would form. That's standard practice. But patients who kept taking Plavix longer than six months were far less likely to die or have a heart attack. David Kong, a cardiologist at Duke, says that suggests that long-term use of Plavix could offset the risk of blood clots from coated stents. "

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

What form of Vitamin D is best? D3

The debate over whether vitamin d is best for us in D2 (ergocalciferol) or D3 (cholecalciferol) appears to be settled with D3 appearing to be significantly more potent for us. Most supplements are D2. So if you're buying vitamin D for anti-cancer purposes, make sure it's D3 you are getting. In the abstract below you'll see that the researchers come down hard on D2 and say it isn't "suitable for supplementation or fortification."
I hope milk makers are taking note. Almost all milk is fortified with D2.

The case against ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) as a vitamin supplement Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):694-7 "vitamin D3 has proven to be the more potent form of vitamin D in all primate species, including humans...Despite an emerging body of evidence suggesting several plausible explanations for the greater bioefficacy of vitamin D3, the form of vitamin D used in major preparations of prescriptions in North America is vitamin D2. The case that vitamin D2 should no longer be considered equivalent to vitamin D3 is based on differences in their efficacy at raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, diminished binding of vitamin D2 metabolites to vitamin D binding protein in plasma, and a nonphysiologic metabolism and shorter shelf life of vitamin D2. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification"

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fruits, chocolate and multivitamin lowers risk of miscarriage

Fruit And Veg 'Can Halve Miscarriage Risk' Daily Mail via LEF 12/5/06 "A study of thousands of pregnant women revealed those who included fruit and veg regularly in their diet were 46 per cent less likely to miscarry...Chocolate, vitamin tablets, dairy products, fish and white meat also increased the odds of a successful pregnancy...Each year, around a quarter of a million British women face the heartache of miscarriage, with most losing their babies during the first three months of pregnancy-Researcher Dr Maureen Maconochie said: 'An estimated one in five pregnancies in the UK will end in miscarriage"

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Vitamin D fights cancer

Continuing the thread of vitamin D and cancer...

Vitamin D status and cancer: new insights. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2007 Jan;10(1):6-11 VIA "SUMMARY: Studies over the past year indicate potentially important roles for vitamin D in cancer prevention, survival and treatment....Studies showing risk reduction by vitamin D in prostate, colon and breast cancers were joined by new analyses of endometrial, skin, and pancreatic cancers. Interest in vitamin D has extended to examinations of its influence on premalignant conditions such as adenomatous polyps and breast density. Studies of vitamin D and cancer survival have featured prominently in the recent literature. Sun exposure and indicators of high vitamin D status were found to be associated with improved survival for cutaneous melanoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and cancers of the lung, breast, prostate and colon. Therapeutic trials of vitamin D are especially prominent in the treatment of prostate cancer."

Vitamin D making a strong case for more sunshine in your life, or supplements.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Can We Slow Aging?

A compound found in red wine may extend the human life span Newsweek 12/11/06 "Some people shudder at the thought of a treatment to extend human life, imagining that the added years would be ones of frailty and of failing intellect and strength. However, the animals that get added time from resveratrol treatment are, by all measures, remarkably vital until the end. It has been estimated that drugs that maintain health and vitality could save the U.S. economy tens of trillions of dollars. For example, a permanent 1 percent reduction in mortality from cancer would have a value to current and future generations of Americans of nearly $500 billion. Many scientists are encouraging Congress to increase funding for aging research, to launch the equivalent of the Apollo program. Only a few humans made it to the moon. In the future, millions may live a century or more, and remain vital and productive during those added years."

David Sinclair of resveratrol fame, writing in this weeks Newsweek.

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Dogs May Protect Kids From Allergies

Infants in Homes With 2 or More Dogs May Be Less Likely to Wheeze WebMD 12/5/06 "Infants who live in a house with multiple dogs may be less likely to develop allergies later in life, according to a new study..."Our bodies are programmed to produce allergic responses early in life," says David Bernstein, MD, professor of immunology at the University of Cincinnati, in a news release. "But there are environmental factors like bacterial endotoxins that may modify the immune system and block development of allergies early in life."

Very encouraging to us dog owners who are expecting.

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No Cancer Risk Seen With Cell Phones

Study Shows No Spike in Cancer Among Long-Term Cell Phone Users WebMD 12/5/06 "The study included more than 420,000 Danes who got their first cell phone between 1982 and 1995. Some of those people kept their phones as long as 21 years. But, on average, they had cell phone service for 8.5 years. The study's researchers included Joachim Schuz, PhD, of the Danish Cancer Society"

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Minnesota deemed healthiest state, Louisiana worst

Minnesota was deemed the healthiest U.S. state for the fourth year in a row Reuters/Yahoo!News 12/5/06 "The report weighed a series of factors in determining rankings, such as prevalence of obesity, smoking, infectious disease, cardiovascular deaths, infant mortality, child poverty, immunization rates, workplace deaths and auto deaths...Southern states performed particularly poorly while those in New England and some in the Upper Midwest fared well."

Very interesting report. The full version can be found here. Fish around on that page and you'll find the PDF link.

Some highlights: The good news is most causes of death are down significantly since 1990, although obesity has gotten 110% worse. Jeez louis. And a 19% increase in the uninsured population. Not good. And in the last year violent crime rose 1%.

USA is one of the worst developed countries for infant mortality - 2004 (Iceland is best). Shameful. And we're near the bottom of the list for life expectancy - 2002 - at birth - 71F 67M (Japan is best 78F 72M). Interesting to note that many of the top countries in the life expectancy category employ around 80% of medical records in an electronic format. USA is at 17%. Correlation, you bet.

Also I wonder how many people have noticed that in this study the states with the most sunny days have some of the lowest cancer rates - like Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado Hawaii. States that have less days of sunshine seem to have higher cancer rates, on average - though it's a bit uneven here. Vitamin D again?

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Monday, December 4, 2006

Poll Shows America's Elders Aging Well

Life After 80 May Be Better Than You Think, Survey Suggests WebMD 12/1/06 "half (47%) of those elders were in excellent or good physical and mental healthmental health...The poll comes when America's life expectancy is at an all-time high: nearly 78 years, according to the CDC...The 85-and-older group is expected to double from nearly 5 million in 2003 to almost 10 million in 2030 as baby boomers age, states a 2005 U.S. Census Bureau report"

Just a Gallop poll, but it is encouraging. Although the 90 and older quality of life numbers are fairly depressing. After 90 it appears that most people fall off a health cliff.

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Cutting Calories May Aid Immune System

Immune System Less Affected by Age in Calorie-Restricted Monkeys WebMD 12/4/06 "The study was done by Janko Nikolich-Zugich, MD, PhD, of Oregon Health & Science University, and colleagues. Nikolich-Zugich's group studied 42 monkeys ranging in age from 19 to 23. That's roughly the same as 60 to 70 in humans...The blood tests showed the T-cells of the calorie-restricted monkeys were less affected by age than those of the monkeys on a normal diet...if calorie restriction aids the immune system's T-cells, that might lead to better resistance to infection and, ultimately, to longer life, the researchers note"

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Most Chicken Harbors Harmful Bacteria

83% of Chickens Tested for Consumer Reports Had 1 of 2 Sickening Bacteria WebMD - 12/4/06 "A startling 83% of the chickens tested in a recent Consumer Reports investigation were contaminated with one or both of the leading bacterial causes of food-borne disease -- salmonella and campylobacter...That is up from 49% in 2003, when the group last reported on contamination in chickens...That means always cooking chicken thoroughly, to the point where there are no red juices.
"Chicken needs to be cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit," Halloran says. "The best thing to do is test it with a meat thermometer. And if you are in a restaurant and you cut into chicken that doesn't look done, send it back.""

If it's not birdflu its bacteria in birds... they have it in for us. But talk about a slide in quality control. Judging by the comments that the industry made, where they are super defensive, could they look any more guilty?

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Friday, December 1, 2006

The Value of a second opinion in medicine

Second Opinion Yields Treatment Changes For Half Of Patients ScienceDaily 12/1/06 "More than half of breast cancer patients who sought a second opinion from a multidisciplinary tumor board received a change in their recommended treatment plan, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center...The changes were a result of breast imaging specialists reading a mammogram differently or breast pathologists interpreting biopsy results differently. In some cases, the initial recommendation was changed after the case was reviewed by medical oncologists and radiation oncologists prior to author Michael Sabel, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School"

So the key is to find a multidisciplinary tumor board and definitely get a second opinion.

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