Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pre-pregnancy weight linked with child's weight

Pre-pregnancy weight linked with child's weight - Yahoo! News
"The amount of body fat a child accumulates over time may be related to their mother's body mass index prior to and during pregnancy..."

More epigenetics?

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Folic Acid Warning - cancer tie?

Folic acid fortification warning - BBC News
"...The latest study follows a letter to the Food Standards Agency from Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer of England, requesting further expert consideration of two recent studies linking folic acid to bowel cancer ...Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin found in a wide variety of foods including liver and green leafy vegetables...But while folates are broken down in the gut, the latest research shows that folic acid is metabolised in the liver... "With doses of half the amount being proposed for fortification in the UK, the liver becomes saturated and unmetabolised folic acid floats around the blood stream..."This can cause problems for people being treated for leukaemia and arthritis, women being treated for ectopic pregnancies, men with a family history of bowel cancer, people with blocked arteries being treated with a stent and elderly people with poor vitamin B status...

It has already been shown that folic acid fortification can cause harm to some people.

For example, studies have confirmed that unmetabolised folic acid accelerates cognitive decline in the elderly with low levels of vitamin B12.

Similarly, dietary folates have a protective effect against cancer, but folic acid supplementation may increase the incidence of bowel cancer.

It may also increase the incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

However, since the 1980s a consensus formed that folic acid is metabolised in the small intestine in a similar way to naturally-occuring folates.

Dr Astley said: "We challenge the underlying scientific premise behind this consensus.

"This has important implications for the use of folic acid in fortification, because even at low doses it could lead to over consumption of folic acid with its inherent risks.""

Well, this isn't the usual Folic hip hip hooray crowd is it. Time to find out whether folic acid is metabolized in the small intestine or not. More research now please.

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Extra Weight = Extra Cancer Risk

Extra Weight = Extra Cancer Risk - WebMD
"..."The message is absolutely clear as a bell: The relation of cancer to obesity is so robust, it is going to rank close to the smoking problem in America pretty soon."...researchers working on the project reviewed every published study on weight and cancer to come up with the 7,000 studies on which they base their conclusions and recommendations...the panel came up with 10 recommendations for cutting cancer risk:
  1. Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight. Not everyone can become lean, but everyone can stop gaining weight. "Don't put an inch on your waistline or a pound on the scale," James says.
  2. Be physically active as part of everyday life. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, every day. And cut back on couch-potato activities such as watching television.
  3. Eat fewer energy-dense foods. Avoid sugary drinks. Cut way back on fast food -- avoid it if possible.
  4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin -- at least five portions (14 ounces) of various nonstarchy vegetables and fruits every day. Eat unprocessed grains and/or legumes (beans) with every meal. Limit refined starchy foods.
  5. Limit intake of red meat -- beef, lamb, and pork -- to less than 18 ounces a week. Avoid smoked, cured, or salted meats.
  6. Limit alcoholic drinks. Zero alcohol is best for cancer prevention. But as moderate alcohol has heart benefits, limit intake to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
  7. Limit sodium consumption to 2.4 grams per day. Avoid salty foods. And watch out for imported foods that may be made from moldy grains -- they contain cancer-causing aflatoxins.
  8. Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention. "We looked at this issue in great detail," James says. "The current evidence that the use of supplements can lower cancer rates is explicitly not there."
  9. Breastfeeding protects both the mother and the child against cancer. Aim to breastfeed infants exclusively up to age 6 months, and supplement baby food with breastfeeding thereafter.
  10. Cancer survivors should receive nutritional care from a qualified professional. The recommendations for diet, healthy weight, and physical activity are particularly important for cancer survivors."
At Least Half Of Population Will Be Obese By 2032, Report Predicts

Genetics Has Key Role In Obesity

Common Virus May Contribute To Obesity In Some People

Viral Infections May Be Linked To Obesity

Red Pepper: Hot Stuff For Fighting Fat?

Red pepper capsaicin fights cancer

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Lithium Dramatically Increases Lifespan In Worms

Drug Commonly Used To Treat Bipolar Disorder Dramatically Increases Lifespan In Worms - ScienceDaily
Via QualityCounts
"Nematode worms treated with lithium show a 46 percent increase in lifespan, raising the tantalizing question of whether humans taking the mood affecting drug are also taking an anti-aging medication...In the study, scientists discovered that longevity was increased in the worms when the lithium "turned down" the activity of a gene that modulates the basic structure of chromosomes. Results of the Buck Institute study, led by faculty member Gordon J. Lithgow, PhD..."

Lithium Builds Gray Matter In Bipolar Brains

Lithium And Bone Healing

High Doses Of Lithium-like Drugs May Impair Neuronal Function

Lithium Shows Promise Against Alzheimer’s In Mouse Model

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boiled Peanuts Pack Big Antioxidant Punch

Boiled Peanuts Pack Big Antioxidant Punch - ScienceDaily
"...Studies have shown that peanuts contain powerful antioxidants called isoflavones which may reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and coronary heart diseases. Although the effect of processing on the isoflavone content of legumes has been extensively studied, there has never been such a study on peanuts...Lloyd Walker and colleagues evaluated the effect of boiling and oil- and dry-roasting on peanuts. They found that boiled peanuts - South Carolina's official snack food - contained up to four times more isoflavones than raw peanuts or oil- and dry-roasted ones..."

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Chemical In Red Wine, Fruits And Vegetables May Stop Cancer, Heart Disease, Depending On The Dose

Chemical In Red Wine, Fruits And Vegetables May Stop Cancer, Heart Disease, Depending On The Dose - ScienceDaily
"In the study, French scientists describe how high and low doses of polyphenols have different effects. Most notably, they found that very high doses of antioxidant polyphenols shut down and prevent cancerous tumors by cutting off the formation of new blood vessels needed for tumor growth...At relatively low doses, the French researchers found that the same polyphenols play a beneficial role for those with diseased hearts and circulatory systems by facilitating blood vessel growth. The amount of polyphenols necessary for this effect was found to be the equivalent of only one glass of red wine per day or simply sticking to a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables containing polyphenols. This diet is known as the "Mediterranean Diet."..."

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Rosemary Chicken Protects Your Brain From Free Radicals

Rosemary Chicken Protects Your Brain From Free Radicals - ScienceDaily
"...The active ingredient in rosemary, known as carnosic acid (CA), can protect the brain from stroke and neurodegeneration that is due to injurious chemical free radicals. These radicals are thought to contribute not only to stroke and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, but also to the ill effects of normal aging on the brain...CA activates a novel signaling pathway that protects brain cells from the ravages of free radicals. In animal models, the scientific group, led by Drs. Takumi Satoh (Iwate University, Japan) and Stuart Lipton (Burnham Institute), found that CA becomes activated by the free radical damage itself, remaining innocuous unless needed, exactly what is wanted in a drug...The scientists call this type of action a “pathological-activated therapeutic” or PAT drug. A “pat” represents a gentle tap and not the heavy sledge hammer that some drugs produce, including significant side effects in areas of the body where their effects are not needed and not wanted...“This new type of drug works through a mechanism known as redox chemistry in which electrons are transferred from one molecule to another in order to activate the body’s own defense system,” said Stuart A. Lipton, MD, means that we can do even better in protecting the brain from terrible disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, perhaps even slowing down the effects of normal aging, by developing new and improved cousins to the active ingredient in rosemary.” The authors hope that such drugs can be developed for people over the next few years..."

Researchers Call Herbs Rich Source Of Healthy Antioxidants; Oregano Ranks Highest

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Grapefruit juice and anti-cancer properties

Grapefruit juice gets anti-cancer fillip -
"Grapefruit juice and its active components, furocoumarins, may inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes involved in the activation of compounds into cancer-causing compounds...Recently, American and Chinese researchers reported that one specific flavonoid, naringenin, has anti-cancer effects beyond that of an antioxidant (Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Vol. 17, pp. 89-95)..Another study from Israeli scientists reported that eating a red grapefruit daily could lower blood cholesterol by 15 per cent (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, doi:10.1021/jf058171g)...enzyme inhibiting effects of seven different grapefruit and pummelo juices, in addition to five furocoumarins isolated from grapefruit juice - paradisin A, dihydroxybergamottin, bergamottin, bergaptol, and geranylcoumarin...paradisin A was reported to be the most active inhibitor amongst the furocoumarins. This was followed by dihydroxybergamottin, bergamottin, bergaptol, and geranylcoumarin, respectively. "Inhibition of cytochrome P450 enzymes by grapefruit juices and its furocoumarins offers some clinical advantages in improving bioavailability of poorly absorbed drugs and reduce the dose requirements and ultimately reducing the cost and harnessing the health benefits of consuming grapefruit juice,"... "

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A Longer-living, Healthier Mouse That Could Hold Clues To Human Aging

A Longer-living, Healthier Mouse That Could Hold Clues To Human Aging - ScienceDaily
"...mice lacking the insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 are more resistant to ageing than normal mice. The research adds to a growing body of work showing the importance of insulin signalling pathways as an ageing mechanism in mammals – and potentially humans...mice lacking IRS-1 had an average lifespan increase of 20 per cent when compared to normal mice. In female mice lacking IRS-1 this figure was even higher, averaging 30 per cent. While the expected life-span for a mouse is about 25 months, one of the IRS-1deficient mice in this research lived for 38 months – 66 per cent longer than a normal mouse...As well as living longer, the mice without IRS-1 also experienced better health than the normal mice as they aged – they had brighter eyes, were more alert and were much healthier overall. In comparison, the mice that lacked IRS-2 were shorter-lived than the normal mice and displayed signs of obesity and type 2 diabetes...“We do not yet fully understand why lacking IRS-1 leads to longer life in mice. One possible explanation is that it makes them only mildly insulin resistant and that this, rather than having a negative effect on health, increases stress resistance, protects from damage and generally triggers other reactions in the body which extend life without compromising health.”..."

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Severely Restricted Diet Linked To Physical Fitness Into Old Age

Severely Restricted Diet Linked To Physical Fitness Into Old Age - ScienceDaily
"Severely restricting calories leads to a longer life, scientists have proved. New research now has shown for the first time that such a diet also can maintain physical fitness into advanced age, slowing the seemingly inevitable progression to physical disability and loss of independence...The study, using a rat model of life-time caloric restriction, showed that the diet reduces the amount of visceral fat, which expresses inflammatory factors that in humans cause chronic disease and a decline in physical performance and vitality across the lifespan..."This is the first study to report that caloric restriction reduced production in visceral fat of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and enhanced performance on overall physical function assessments," said Tongjian You...animals on the restricted calorie diet had significantly higher physical performance scores than animals fed a normal diet. They also had less fat, a lower fat-to-lean ratio, and lower adipose tissue secretion of IL-6 and circulating levels of C-reactive protein... (for humans it) would mean surviving on 1,200 and 1,500 calories per day (woman/man)..."It's very difficult for people to maintain that type of diet for short periods of time, and it would be nearly impossible over a lifetime, while staying healthy. Starting on a diet like that in the senior years would be harmful."..."

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cannabis: Potent Anti-depressant In Low Doses, Worsens Depression At High Doses

Cannabis: Potent Anti-depressant In Low Doses, Worsens Depression At High Doses - ScienceDaily
"...a synthetic form of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, is an effective anti-depressant at low doses. However, at higher doses, the effect reverses itself and can actually worsen depression and other psychiatric conditions like psychosis...this study offers the first evidence that cannabis can also increase serotonin, at least at lower doses...Laboratory animals were injected with the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 and then tested with the Forced Swim test ...The anti-depressant and intoxicating effects of cannabis are due to its chemical similarity to natural substances in the brain known as "endo-cannabinoids," which are released under conditions of high stress or pain, explained Dr. Gobbi. They interact with the brain through structures called cannabinoid CB1 receptors. This study demonstrates for the first time that these receptors have a direct effect on the cells producing serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates the mood..."

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New Theory Of How Viruses May Contribute To Cancer

New Theory Of How Viruses May Contribute To Cancer ScienceDaily
"...viruses may contribute to cancer by causing excessive death to normal cells while promoting the growth of surviving cells with cancerous traits. Viruses may act as forces of natural selection by wiping out normal cells that support the replication of viruses and leaving behind those cells that have acquired defects in their circuitry. When this process is repeated over and over, cancer can develop say study authors, led by Preet M. Chaudhary, M.D., Ph.D...Infection with viruses has been linked to many human cancers, including some forms of Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, sarcomas and cancers of the throat and liver..."

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Experts: Global Warming Affects Health

Experts: Global Warming Affects Health WebMD
"Poor air quality, scarce water, even a more hospitable environment for disease-carrying mosquitoes. All of these are potential impacts of global warming on human health..."I don't think in some of these areas it's a question of 'if.' It's a question of who, what, where, when, how -- and how bad it will be," CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee...."

Ok the story is short on specifics, but the point is that at least WebMD is covering it a bit. Global Warming is the most under reported story. Why? Because a good % of the dire research never makes it into the news. Even when it does there's little context, or the flat earthers who deny climate change exists gets equal time or space. It's a journalistic travesty. It's also a great con job by the global warming skeptics, modeled on the cigarette industry tactics of the past. It will be the single greatest health effect this century, and virtually no news? So what's new...

Here's a good place to look for what's new.

And of course that is actually run by researchers, not a bunch of highly paid industry lobbyists playing at being skeptical.

And then today there comes this "A team of scientists has found that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) growth has increased 35 percent faster than expected since 2000"

Helloooo, is anyone paying attention????

This should be the number one issue of any politician. For our health, the health of those we love, for the animals we love and for the whole planet. Anything else is halflobed.

Whole grain cereals cut heart failure risk

Whole grain cereals cut heart failure risk: study - Yahoo! News
" who ate a bowl a day of whole grain cereal had a 28 percent lower risk of developing heart failure over a 20-year study..."Eating half a cup to a cup of whole grain breakfast cereal may help lower your blood pressure. It may help lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease," said Dr. Luc Djousse...The more fiber the cereal contains, the more likely you are getting the right type," he added...He suggests looking for 4 grams of fiber or more per serving..."

Bit lazy of the writer not to even ponder the mechanism of action. There's still debate on this and it would be nice to include an update.

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Tonsillectomy can improve kids' sleep, behavior

Tonsillectomy can improve kids' sleep, behavior - Yahoo! News
"...Children with sleep disordered breathing who undergo adenotonsillectomy - surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids -- may not only start sleeping better, but may also show improvements in behavior...Often, the problem stems from enlarged tonsils and adenoids, masses of tissue that help catch incoming germs; the tonsils are located in the back of the throat, while the adenoids dwell behind the nose...Studies have found that children with sleep disordered breathing also have an elevated rate of behavioral problems, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and poor school performance. It's thought that poor sleep quality contributes to these problems..."

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Daily Aspirin for Men Only?

Daily Aspirin for Men Only? - WebMD
"Aspirin cuts the risk of a first heart attack in men but not in women...The evidence suggests that aspirin helps everyone who has had a heart attack. But when it came to preventing a first heart attack, different trials got different results.

Why? Studies that looked predominantly at men found that aspirin helped. Trials that looked predominantly at women found no effect...Researchers are learning that some people are resistant to aspirin's blood-thinning effects. And those people tend to be women, says Alan Heldman, MD,..."

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Key to mental 'resilience' found

Key to mental 'resilience' found - BBC News
"...a key pathway in mice differs in those who cope well with stress, and those who do not...In the mice who did not cope well with stress, nerve cells fired signals at a faster rate in two areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, releasing a substance called BDNF, which has previously been linked to poor coping...The resilient mice had no increase in BDNF, probably because the neurons were firing less rapidly...Blocking BDNF in the timid mice caused them to become more resistant to stress...In mice who coped better with stress, there were also greater regulation of genes in the key brain regions, suggesting resilience to such conditions is an active process rather than a lack of a response...Analysis of brain samples from depressed and non-depressed humans, showed that depressed people have a 40% increased level of BDNF... "

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Pre- and probiotics show promise against childhood eczema - review

Pre- and probiotics show promise against childhood eczema - review -
"... the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and the prebiotics galacto- and fructo-oligosaccharides showed benefits for a range of allergic diseases..."Studies using Lactobacillus rhamnosus showed some benefit in preventing the onset of eczema," said Sinn. "However, the benefits were not shown in other common allergic symptoms such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, food hypersensitivity and food allergy."..."In the studies that analyzed allergy as an outcome, the galactose oligosaccharide was made from lactose and the fructose oligosaccharide was made from chicory root [an herb], all of which are natural substances," ...there was insufficient evidence to support the addition of prebiotics to infants' milk or formula to prevent allergies..."

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Fresh Fruits And Vegetables Retain Antioxidants Long After Purchase

Fresh Fruits And Vegetables Retain Antioxidants Long After Purchase - ScienceDaily
"...Belgian scientists report that fruits and vegetables do not lose any antioxidant content in the days after purchase, even as tell-tale signs of spoilage appear. In some cases, antioxidant levels actually the days following purchase, fruits and vegetables do not lose any phenolic compounds, ascorbic acid or flavonols -- a trio of chemical classes associated with antioxidant content. "Better, in some cases, an increase on the antioxidant capacity was observed in the days following their purchase, accompanied by an increase in phenolic compounds,"..."

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Choline, An Alternative Therapy For Asthma

Choline, An Alternative Therapy For Asthma - Medical News Today
"...Choline treatment inhibits the development of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and eosinophilic inflammation in the lungs. This reduction of AHR is accompanied by a reduction in immunoglobulin E antibody (IgE) and other inflammatory parameters like type 2 T-helper cell (Th2) cytokines, in a manner comparable with current therapy of asthma. Choline treatment also downregulates mucus production and prevents airway obstruction...Choline supplementation increases membrane phosphatidyl choline and thereby decreases the mediator release from human basophils... The results of the present study are encouraging, as choline therapy may enable to substitute or reduce the dosage and side effects of steroid therapy in asthma."

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Most U.S. Adults are "Morning People"

Most U.S. Adults are "Morning People" WebMD
"...a new Gallup poll.

In the poll, some 1,000 U.S. adults were asked when they're at their best on a typical day. Their answers:

  • Morning (5 a.m. to 11:59 a.m.): 55%
  • Afternoon (noon to 4:59 p.m.): 15%
  • Evening ( 5 p.m. to 10:59 p.m.): 20%
  • Late night (11 p.m. to 4:59 a.m.): 6%

They were also asked what hour of the day was their personal best. Their top three hours were 10 a.m., 9 a.m., and 8 a.m...Age may make the morning sweeter...In the poll, 43% of adults aged 18-34 favored mornings, compared with 58% of those aged 35-54 and 59% of those aged 55 and older..."Morning people" are particularly common among people with high salaries...For instance, 70% of people in households earning at least $75,000 per year prefer mornings, compared with 40% of those in households earning less than $30,000 annually..."

What does this have to do with longevity or health? I suspect quite a bit, but unfortunately the study didn't go into it. It seems to me that morning folks are generally healthier because they are more capable of keeping to a regular circadian rhythm. In my experience, as one of the night-folk, and knowing plenty of the same, our clock isn't 24hrs, but 25 or more - thus altering sleep patterns. Which has been shown to be bad for health and probably bad for longevity as seen in shift workers and those that deal with jet lag regularly.

The poll is interesting in itself though. If the poll is to be believed, with a supposed +/- 3pts, then there are way more morning persons than I had imagined, and way less night people. Is this true in other countries? If so what is the evolutionary reasons why this distribution exists?

NYTimes on Owl (night) - Lark (morning) marriages.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vitamin D deficiency linked to greater pain

Vitamin D deficiency linked to greater pain
" in four patients who suffer from chronic pain also have inadequate blood levels of vitamin D. As such, the researchers put forth that the vitamin D deficiency possibly contributed to the patients' ongoing pain...Vitamin D deficiency - which can lead to osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases - s been found to be lacking particularly in inhabitants of colder climates... A recent study, for example, indicated that the median adult intake of vitamin D in the US is only 230 IU per day, versus the researchers' recommended 2000 IU per day...However, inadequate levels of vitamin D has long been associated with causing pain and muscle weakness and studies have suggested that pain-related symptoms of vitamin D inadequacy respond poorly to pain medications..."The implications are that in chronic pain patients, vitamin D inadequacy is not the principal cause of pain and muscle weakness, however, it could be a contributing but unrecognized factor," said Hooten... "

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Fruit compound fights head and neck cancer

Fruit compound fights head and neck cancer - Yahoo! News
"Lupeol, a compound in fruits like mangoes, grapes and strawberries, appears to be effective in killing and curbing the spread of cancer cells in the head and neck...lupeol worked most effectively with chemotherapy drugs and had almost no side effects, scientists at the University of Hong Kong..."It can suppress the movement of cancer cells and suppress their growth and it is found to be even more effective than conventional drugs (eg. cisplatin)," said Anthony Yuen..."From the animal models, not only did it suppress the spread, the tumor got smaller. Compared to conventional drugs, lupeol reduced the size of the tumor far faster"..."It may be possible to use (lupeol) in other cancers because it is able to suppress the NFkB protien, which is activated in many cancers like prostate cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer,""

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HIV Vaccine Fails

HIV Vaccine Hopeful Fails: Scientific American
" The two-decade-long search for an AIDS vaccine suffered a major blow last week when researchers prematurely halted the much-anticipated trial of a new HIV vaccine after it failed to block or slow down infections...The so-called STEP trial, sponsored by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. and the federally funded HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), was the first to test the idea of stimulating the immune system's killer T cells to hunt for the virus more aggressively, in this case using a weakened form of the cold virus to carry three genes from HIV... In V520, each of three HIV genes—gag, pol and nef—was inserted into a separate weakened adenovirus, one of the viruses that cause the common cold. Human cells infected by the viruses produced the gene products, giving T cells an advance exposure to them...the adenovirus used in V520 was altered so it couldn't reproduce, which may have limited its effectiveness"

AIDS RESEARCH: Promising AIDS Vaccine's Failure Leaves Field Reeling -- Cohen 318 (5847): 28 -- Science "The failure of a promising AIDS vaccine in a large human trial, dubbed STEP, has stunned researchers and raised concerns about the broader T-cell vaccine concept and the future of AIDS vaccine research and development." ($ pay wall)

Massively under-reported story and if Science is right, a serious set back. A virologist friend thinks it is truly a serious setback - of the 5-10yr variety. Unbelievably bad news.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why Garlic Is Good for You

Why Garlic Is Good for You - WebMD
" blood cells process compounds from digested garlic and turn them into the cell messenger hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow. Therefore, eating garlic may increase our natural supply of this vital chemical and play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease...Previous studies on garlic’s health effects have produced mixed results. For example, some studies of garlic have found few benefits, but others have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease...But researchers say if further studies confirm these findings, testing the ability to produce hydrogen sulfide may be used to standardize garlic supplements to produce greater health benefits..."

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Avian Flu -- 1918 and Today -- Protein Enhances Lethality Of Virus

ScienceDaily: Avian Flu -- 1918 and Today -- Protein Enhances Lethality Of Virus
"Often called the most devastating epidemic in the recorded history of the world, the 1918 influenza virus pandemic was responsible for more than 40 million deaths across the globe. The incredible lethality of the 1918 flu strain is not well understood, despite having been under intense scrutiny for many years. Now, a new study published by Cell Press in the October issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe unravels some of the mystery surrounding the devastating 1918 pandemic and provides key information that will help prepare for future pandemics...The researchers found that expression of PB1-F2 increased the incidence of and exacerbated secondary bacterial pneumonia in a mouse model. Intranasal delivery of a synthetic peptide derived from a portion of PB1-F2 had the same effects. Further, an influenza virus engineered to express a version of PB1-F2 identical to that in the 1918 pandemic strain was more virulent in mice and led to more severe bacterial pneumonia, explaining in part both the unparalleled virulence of the 1918 strain and the high incidence of fatal pneumonia during the pandemic..."These findings also reinforce the recent suggestion of the American Society for Microbiology that nations should stockpile antibiotics for the next pandemic, since many of the deaths during this event are likely to be caused by bacterial super-infections."..."

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Quercetin might help fight bacteria and viruses

100 apples a day could keep the doctor away Daily Mail
"...DARPA, the Pentagon's research arm, has been sponsoring studies into whether quercetin could be used to help protect US troops...The latest trial saw 40 male cyclists either given one gram of the flavenoid every day - equal to eating 100 apples - or a placebo for three weeks...According to an article in the New Scientist journal, the cyclists spent a three-day period training at maximum intensity for three hours a day. Two weeks later, nine of the cyclists in the placebo group had chest infections while only one of the quercetin group was ill...Tests showed the cyclists taking the supplement had high levels of quercetin in their blood...The scientist believes quercetin's ability to bind to viruses and bacteria to stop them replicating had stopped the cyclists getting sick...cyclists had reduced levels of IL-8, a chemical that helps mediate the immune response to antigens, indicating the flavenoid could also be influencing the immune system in some way." "

Quercetin drink launched to boost health

More info on Quercetin at PDR Health.

So who do you think is doing more advanced research on nutraceuticals - Darpa, or institutions supporting professional athletes performances? In the case of quercetin it seems clear the answer is Darpa. So who knows? A year ago I would have said that athletics has the edge, but maybe not now. Certainly I bet Darpa has the edge over almost everyone else when it comes to nootropic research. Alas, other than provigil, which is old news, most of it remains under lock and key.

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Low-fat diet cuts ovarian cancer risk

Low-fat diet cuts ovarian cancer risk: study - Yahoo! News
"...Researchers tracked about 49,000 post-menopausal women from around the United States for about eight years. About 40 percent of them were asked to cut nearly in half the amount of fat in their diet. The others were asked to eat their usual diet...women who ate a diet lower in fat were 40 percent less likely to develop this cancer...The women in the study who were asked to change what they ate were directed to lower their fat intake to 20 percent of their overall diet and increase their consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains..."

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Drinking Tea May Slow Bone Loss

Drinking Tea May Slow Bone Loss WebMD
"...The results, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that women who were regular tea drinkers had higher bone density in two sites in the hip compared with non-tea drinkers...The bone mineral density in tea drinkers was higher than in non-tea drinkers. Tea drinkers also had less loss of bone density over a four-year period compared with non-tea drinkers. These results took into account factors such as smoking history and use of calcium supplements...The researchers did not find a relationship between the number of cups of tea consumed per day and bone mineral density...Previous studies have suggested that phytochemicals in tea, such as flavonoids, may be responsible for the protective effect against bone loss due to their estrogen-like properties."

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Vitamin C May Slow Skin Wrinkling

Vitamin C May Slow Skin Wrinkling WebMD
"...In one of the first studies to examine the impact of nutrients from foods rather than supplements on skin aging, researchers reported that people who ate plenty of vitamin C-rich foods had fewer wrinkles than people whose diets contained little of the vitamin...Diets rich in the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid were also associated with less skin aging from dryness and thinning, while higher-fat diets and those higher in carbohydrates were associated with more wrinkling...Sunflower and safflower oils and many nuts are high in linoleic acid. Byproducts of linoleic acid are plentiful in salmon and other fatty fish...what we eat affects our skin-aging appearance,” nutritional epidemiologist Maeve C. Cosgrove." However... "“Skin aging, especially facial aging, is remarkably multifactorial. It involves many things including genetics, ultraviolet light exposure, and lifestyle,..”

Not the strongest study, but maybe something to keep in mind till more research on diet and skin comes out.

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Folic Acid Lowers Blood Arsenic Levels

ScienceDaily: Folic Acid Lowers Blood Arsenic Levels, Study Shows
"...treatment with 400 micrograms a day of folic acid, the U.S. recommended dietary allowance, reduced total blood arsenic levels in the study population by 14 percent..."Folic acid supplementation enhanced the detoxification of arsenic to a form that is more readily excreted in urine," said Mary Gamble...Folic acid increased the methylation or detoxification of arsenic in the body, allowing the body to change some of its more toxic metabolite, or methylarsonic (MMA) acid, to a form that could more easily be excreted from the body, thus lowering the levels of arsenic found in the blood..."

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Vaccine lessens severity of pneumonia

Vaccine lessens severity of pneumonia, study finds - Yahoo! News
"...A study of more than 3,400 mostly elderly patients admitted to six Canadian hospitals with community-acquired pneumonia found those who had previously been vaccinated were 40 percent less likely to die or end up in the hospital's intensive care unit..."

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Lack of Sleep Set Back Your Child's Cognitive Abilities

Can a Lack of Sleep Set Back Your Child's Cognitive Abilities? -- New York Magazine
"...The performance gap caused by an hour’s difference in sleep was bigger than the normal gap between a fourth-grader and a sixth-grader. Which is another way of saying that a slightly sleepy sixth-grader will perform in class like a mere fourth-grader. “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development,” ...Dr. Paul Suratt of the University of Virginia studied the impact of sleep problems on vocabulary-test scores of elementary-school students. He also found a seven-point reduction in scores. Seven points, Suratt notes, is significant: “Sleep disorders can impair children’s I.Q.’s as much as lead exposure.”...Teens who received A’s averaged about fifteen more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged eleven more minutes than the C’s, and the C’s had ten more minutes than the D’s. Wahlstrom’s data was an almost perfect replication of results from an earlier study of more than 3,000 Rhode Island high schoolers...With the benefit of functional MRI scans, researchers are now starting to understand exactly how sleep loss impairs a child’s brain. Tired children can’t remember what they just learned, for instance, because neurons lose their plasticity, becoming incapable of forming the synaptic connections necessary to encode a memory...

Sleep loss debilitates our body’s ability to extract glucose from the bloodstream. Without this stream of basic energy, one part of the brain suffers more than the rest: the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for what’s called “executive function.” Among these executive functions are the orchestration of thoughts to fulfill a goal, the prediction of outcomes, and perceiving consequences of actions. So tired people have difficulty with impulse control, and their abstract goals like studying take a back seat to more entertaining diversions. A tired brain perseverates—it gets stuck on a wrong answer and can’t come up with a more creative solution, repeatedly returning to the same answer it already knows is erroneous...a handful of school districts around the nation are starting school later in the morning. The best known of these is in Edina, Minnesota, an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, where the high school start time was changed from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30. The results were startling. In the year preceding the time change, math and verbal SAT scores for the top 10 percent of Edina’s students averaged 1288. A year later, the top 10 percent averaged 1500..."

More interesting sleep dep. information at the article.

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Chemical Compound Found In Tree Bark Stimulates Growth, Survival Of Brain Cells

ScienceDaily: Chemical Compound Found In Tree Bark Stimulates Growth, Survival Of Brain Cells
"...The tree bark compound, known as gambogic amide, behaves much like Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), a molecule found in the brain. NGF binds to TrkA, a neuronal receptor, and activates neuronal signaling. It is known that the loss of TrkA density correlates with neuronal atrophy and severe cognitive impairment such as that associated with Alzheimer's disease...Gambogic amide is derived from gambogic acid, a major ingredient of gamboges, a brownish-orange resin exuded from the Southeast Asian Garcinia hanburryi tree. The resin has been used in that area of the world for thousands of years to treat cancers without any reported toxicity to noncancerous cells..."

If proven safe, gambogic amide will be a big story. Interesting that the synthetic version of NGF was so ineffective that they went looking for a molecule in nature that was "robust" enough to do the job. And apparently found it. I'd love to know the reason why cyclopeptide mimetics couldn't be improved more at this time.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Worm Study Sheds Light On Human Aging, Inherited Diseases

ScienceDaily: Worm Study Sheds Light On Human Aging, Inherited Diseases
"...In the first formal study of its kind, researchers manipulated the metabolic state of genetically engineered lab worms called C. elegans and discovered a window of high-efficiency cellular processing that enabled the worms to slow their rate of aging. The findings could one day contribute to the creation of gene therapies to reverse or lessen the effects of mitochondrial diseases, the largest family of human genetic diseases, said lead study author Shane Rea of CU-Boulder's Institute for Behavioral Genetics...Rea and his team used RNAi to produce worms with varying levels of mitochondrial dysfunction with the hope of solving a mystery that has baffled scientists for years. They wanted to know why the genetically engineered worms, known as "Mit mutants," lived longer despite cellular defects that would have caused similarly damaged human cells to become diseased or die off in the lab...The team concluded that long life occurs in worms only when energy production by their mitochondria is reduced to very discrete levels. "By tweaking cells into that tight little window of high efficiency, we may be able to increase the life span and health span of both sick and healthy people," Rea said...The research suggests that the worms' cells receive signals from their nuclei as DNA problems are sensed and not, as previously thought, from their disrupted mitochondrial power sources. The signal-sending nuclei order cells to shut down DNA replication, allowing them time to fix problems and create an environment that copes better with DNA damage and stress, researchers believe...The process appears to mimic the "hunker down" survival mode that stressed animals adopt during times of famine and danger. When conditions improve, the animals procreate again to ensure the survival of their species...In the future, Rea and his collaborators hope to build on these findings with biochemistry and genetics to discover what controls this pro-longevity mode and how humans can reduce oxidative stress that causes cellular damage. "Life extension in humans is around the corner. There is no doubt about it," Rea said."

Refreshingly optimistic for a behavioral geneticist.

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Warming to a Cold War Herb - Rhodiola

Warming to a Cold War Herb: Science News Online, Sept. 22, 2007
"...Rhodiola rosea ...over the past decade a growing body of new research published in English tentatively supports the results of early Soviet research. Laboratory and animal studies show that the herb may inhibit cancer cells, protect healthy cells from toxins, and correct enzyme imbalances associated with diabetes. In addition, four trials with human volunteers show that rhodiola extracts can boost mental performance, reduce fatigue, and ease depression...Documented medicinal use reaches back at least to A.D. 77, when a physician to Roman legionnaires recommended it for headaches...When the Soviet scientists gave rats rhodiola, the animals swam 35 percent to 59 percent longer...In animals, the herb lowers production of the stress hormone cortisol. It acts as an antioxidant, helping to eliminate from the body the oxygen radicals that damage cells. And in muscles, it increases production of adenosine triphosphate, the molecule that serves as cellular gasoline...Trials in people, while not up to Western standards, hinted that rhodiola could alleviate depression, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, and chronic listlessness...three compounds found only in the rosea type of Rhodiola—there are at least 200 related species—were responsible for much of the plant's activity. They dubbed these compounds rosavins, and in 1989 the Soviet government declared that all rhodiola extracts must contain at least 3 percent rosavins. Dietary supplement makers throughout the world still hew to this standard..."

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Bird flu virus mutating into human-unfriendly form

Bird flu virus mutating into human-unfriendly form - Yahoo! News
"The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain...The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison...Birds usually have a body temperature of 106 degrees F, and humans are 98.6 degrees F usually. The human nose and throat, where flu viruses usually enter, is usually around 91.4 degrees F..."So usually the bird flu doesn't grow well in the nose or throat of humans," Kawaoka said. This particular mutation allows H5N1 to live well in the cooler temperatures of the human upper respiratory tract."

Here's hoping world leaders don't lose their focus on this...

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

ScienceDaily: Creatine In Addition To Exercise Enhances Strength In Older Adults

ScienceDaily: Creatine In Addition To Exercise Enhances Strength In Older Adults
"...taking a combination of creatine monohydrate (CrM) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in addition to resistance exercise training provides even greater benefits..."

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Red Wine Ingredient -- Resveratrol -- Fights Diabetes In Mice

ScienceDaily: Red Wine Ingredient -- Resveratrol -- Fights Diabetes In Mice
"...Even relatively low doses of resveratrol--a chemical found in the skins of red grapes and in red wine--can improve the sensitivity of mice to the hormone insulin, according to a new report. As insulin resistance is often characterized as the most critical factor contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes, the findings "provide a potential new therapeutic approach for preventing or treating" both conditions...also confirmed that increased levels of an enzyme called SIRT1, which earlier studies had linked to longevity, DNA repair, and insulin secretion, improve insulin sensitivity in mice. Resveratrol is known to activate the SIRT1 enzyme...SIRT1 levels are reduced in insulin-resistant cells and tissues and that treatments that block the enzyme's function lead to insulin resistance. Furthermore, increased SIRT1 activity improved insulin sensitivity. Similarly, resveratrol--at a dose of just 2.5 mg/kg/day--enhanced insulin sensitivity in cells. That low dose of resveratrol also reduced insulin resistance in animals fed a high-fat diet...about 15 mg--for its biological effects..."

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Ginger May Combat Deadly Infant Diarrhea In Developing World

ScienceDaily: Ginger May Combat Deadly Infant Diarrhea In Developing World
"...ginger shows promise as a treatment for bacteria-induced diarrhea, the leading cause of infant death in developing countries...Chien-Yun Hsiang and colleagues showed that an extract of ginger blocked the toxin responsible for diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (E. coli), which accounts for 210 million cases of diarrhea worldwide and causes 380,000 deaths yearly. They also showed that zingerone, a component of ginger, is the likely compound responsible for this effect..."

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Depression, Aging, And Proteins Made By A Virus May All Play Role In Heart Disease

ScienceDaily: Depression, Aging, And Proteins Made By A Virus May All Play Role In Heart Disease
"Researchers here have linked an increase in two immune system proteins essential for inflammation to a latent viral infection and proposed a chain of events that might accelerate cardiovascular disease...The findings also suggest that chronic depression may play a key role in starting the cascade that can lead to the buildup of plaques clogging coronary arteries...

Ronald Glaser, a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University , said, “To me, this suggests a new way of thinking about how these diseases develop. We carry around these latent herpes viruses in our bodies virtually all our lives and periodically they can hurt us, inducing biological events that could lead to an increased risk of atherosclerosis.”

Glaser, head of Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, has focused for years on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), one of eight different herpesviruses that can remain dormant in the body for a lifetime...

As the immune system ages, the levels of IL-6 in the body increase in the blood. Some of that IL-6 is created by immune cells called macrophages that rush to the site of an infection or injury. Earlier work by the team also showed that increases in psychological stress and depression can substantially raise the levels of IL-6 and TNF-a in the body.

Increased stress and depression can also trigger the latent virus to reactivate and begin reproducing inside cells

The researchers also knew that as Epstein-Barr virus begins to multiply in cells in the body, it produces a protein called dUTpase that, in turn, can stimulate macrophages to make even more IL-6.

The more IL-6 levels rise in the body, the greater a person's risk is for disease,” Glaser said, adding that IL-6 increases, as well as depression, have been associated with cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and type-2 diabetes..."

Clearly a vicious cycle. One answer would be truly effective, broad brush antivirals. But they don't exist yet. So how would one ramp down IL-6? Omega 3's. Ring any bells? There has been recent speculation that some forms of unipolar depression are the result of immune dysfunction. Could it be that some of that immune dysfunction is caused by "latent" viruses like Epstein-Barr? And that for some people fish oil is somewhat effective for depression because it addresses elevated IL-6 levels? And of course fish oil has proven effective at combating heart disease, osteoporosis and type-2 diabetes. Connections...

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Life might be longer if you cut out the sugar

Life can be sweeter if you cut out the sugar - Yahoo! News
"Giving up sweets and avoiding vitamins could help you live longer...restricting glucose -- a simple sugar found in foods such as sweets that is a primary source of energy for the body -- set off a process that extended the life span of some worms by up to 25 percent...The key was boosting the level of "free radicals" -- unstable molecules that can damage the body and which people often try to get rid of by consuming food or drinks rich in anti-oxidants such as vitamin E...Restricting glucose first spurred the worms to generate more free radicals, but then they quickly built up long-lasting defenses against them, said Michael Ristow...Scientists have long known that restricting calorie intake in worms and monkeys increases longevity, and the study narrowed that idea further, to glucose...The study also for the first time points to a possible reason why antioxidants -- long thought to promote health -- might do more harm than good...The German team used a chemical that blocked the worms' ability to process glucose in a treatment that extended their life span by up to 25 percent, the equivalent of 15 years in humans...The worms unable to depend on glucose increased energy power sources in certain cells for fuel. That activity produced more free radicals, which in turn generated enzymes that strengthened long-time protection against the harmful molecules, Ristow said...However, antioxidants and vitamins given to some worms erased these benefits by neutralizing free radicals and preventing the body from generating the defenses, Ristow said."These latter findings tentatively suggest that the widespread use of antioxidants as human food supplements may exert undesirable effects..."

Also - ScienceDaily: Avoiding Sweets May Spell A Longer Life, Study In Worms Suggests

Now I already see that some journalists have the story backwards. In the German Magazine Expatica they write "Free radicals of oxygen, widely feared to be a cause of cancer, are in fact good and prolong life, German scientists claimed Tuesday after research on worms." If true, white would be black, up - down etc. It isn't the free radicals that prolong life. It is the worms response to the free radicals that does. ScienceDaily has it right in the press release "Unable to depend on glucose for energy, the long-lived worms ramped up the activity of cellular powerhouses known as mitochondria to fuel their bodies, Ristow said. That mitochondrial activity led to the increased production of reactive oxygen species, sometimes referred to as free radicals. In turn, the worms' defenses against "oxidative stress" increased, the researchers found."

What is the worms defense against oxidative stress? Endogenous antioxidants.

As the researchers note, it's too early to recommend that people should stop taking basic antioxidants like C. But it's never too early to take substances that increase endogenous antioxidants. Like ashwagandha, bacopa, milk thistle, turmeric, green tea, etc.

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Centenarians in UK reach a record high

Centenarians reach a record high BBC NEWS
"The number of people living beyond 100 years has reached a record high in England and Wales, according to official figures.The Office for National Statistics says there are now 9,000 "centenarians" - a 90-fold increase since 1911...Recent improvements in death rates have been greater for men than for women...There were only 100 centenarians in 1911 - up to 1940, the annual increase was 1.9%, rising to approximately 6% between 1941 and the 1990s, 4.5% during the 1990s and 5.8% since 2002..."

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Chocolate 'aids fatigue syndrome'

Chocolate 'aids fatigue syndrome' BBC NEWS Health
"Patients in a pilot study found they had less fatigue when eating dark chocolate with a high cocoa content than with white chocolate dyed brown...Researchers from Hull York Medical School said the results were surprising but dark chocolate may be having an effect on the brain chemical serotonin... a daily dose - 45g - of dark chocolate..."Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols, which have been associated with health benefits such as a reduction in blood pressure."Also high polyphenols appear to improve levels of serotonin in the brain, which has been linked with chronic fatigue syndrome and that may be a mechanism." "

I must put a reminder in for Chocolate - Cocoa 'Vitamin' Health Benefits Could Outshine Penicillin from Harvard. If you aren't taking 85% cocoa chocolate every day, then there is something wrong with you... or something that will go wrong with you.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Apples and onions may slash pancreatic cancer risk

Apples and onions may slash pancreatic cancer risk
"A diet rich in flavonols from foods such as onions, apples and berries may cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by about 25 per cent...The results, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, indicate that the benefits may be even more pronounced amongst smokers, with a risk reduction of over 59 per cent...The reason for the apparent added benefits for smokers was presumed to be due to smokers being at an increased risk of pancreatic cancer...The researchers also stated that theirs is the first study to examine prospectively specific classes of flavonols (quercetin, found in onions and apples; kaempferol, found in spinach and some cabbages; and myricetin, found mostly in red onions and berries) and pancreatic cancer risk. "...Of the three individual flavonols, they report that kaempferol was associated with the largest risk reduction (22 per cent) across all participants. The interaction with smoking status was statistically significant for total flavonols, quercetin and kaempferol... the researcher indicated that the anti-cancer effects of these compounds may lie in their ability to the inhibit cell cycle, cell proliferation and oxidative stress..."

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Breast milk helps premature infants

Breast milk helps premature infants: study - Yahoo! News
"Even the tiniest premature babies should get breast milk while they are in a hospital's intensive care unit because it appears to boost their mental development...It found that babies in the group given breast milk got higher scores on a test measuring their overall intelligence at 30 months of age, with the highest scores showing up among the children who had received the most breast milk as infants..."

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More evidence ties education to lower dementia risk

More evidence ties education to lower dementia risk - Yahoo! News
"...In a study of more than 1,400 Finnish adults followed for two decades, researchers found that the more years of education participants had, the lower their risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease...with fewer than five years of education, those with six to eight years were 43 percent less likely to develop dementia. Men and women with nine or more years of schooling had an 84-percent lower risk of dementia...can be seen as support for the "brain reserve" hypothesis on dementia risk...According to this theory, older adults with more education or higher IQs are able to withstand more Alzheimer-linked brain damage before showing symptoms...A key question, according to Ngandu, is whether education can actually generate a greater brain reserve -- or whether people with an innately greater reserve go further in their education."

The last question is indeed key. Although they might not be mutually exclusive.

Does education help with vascular dementia? The etiology seems more related to genes, diet and exercise. If it does include vascular dementia why not give a simple % in relation to other dementias. And list the other dementias that might be helped by education. The problem is there are dozens of forms of dementia, most appear not connected to education at all. I only mention this because articles on dementia almost never mention which forms of dementia they are talking about. It's as if all the journalists writing about dementia have a new form of dementia... whose name will not be mentioned.

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Not all types of fat are harmful

Not all types of fat are harmful - Yahoo! News
"While it has long been held that too much fat in the liver may result in diabetes, researchers appear to have discovered that not all types of fat are harmful...while all the rodents became obese and the normal mice developed resistance to insulin and became prone to diabetes, the mutant group was free from those problems..."Obesity is a matter of quantity of fats in the body, but it is our new message that the quality of fats could be a new determinant factor for diabetes," said Hitoshi Shimano..."

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