Dr. Bray Links

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Changes in midlife death rates across racial and ethnic groups in the United States: systematic analysis of vital statistics | The BMJ

Mortality in midlife in the US has increased across racial-ethnic populations for a variety of conditions, especially in recent years, offsetting years of progress in lowering mortality rates. This reversal carries added consequences for racial groups with high baseline mortality rates, such as for NH blacks and NH American Indians and Alaskan Natives. That death rates are increasing throughout the US population for dozens of conditions signals a systemic cause and warrants prompt action by policy makers to tackle the factors responsible for declining health in the US.

https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3096

Report Finds Traces of a Controversial Herbicide in Cheerios and Quaker Oats - The New York Times

An environmental research and advocacy group has found traces of a controversial herbicide in Cheerios, Quaker Oats and other breakfast foods that it says could increase cancer risk for children.

The report comes amid longstanding debate about the safety of the chemical glyphosate, which federal regulators maintain is not likely to cause cancer.

In its report, released Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group said that it tested 45 samples of breakfast foods made from oats grown in fields sprayed with herbicides. Then, using a strict standard the group developed, it found elevated levels of glyphosate in 31 of them.

"There are levels above what we could consider safe in very popular breakfast foods," said Alexis Temkin, the group's toxicologist who helped with the analysis in the report.


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/health/herbicide-glyphosate-cereal-oatmeal-children.html

Full-Fat Milk Could Cut Risk of Stroke, Heart Attack, Study Says

Consuming dairy products such as milk and cheese could cut the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a study that challenged the commonly held belief that dairy is harmful. 

Marcia Otto, lead author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology, human genetics and environmental sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health, said in a statement: "Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults."

One fatty acid present in dairy was actually found to potentially lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke, she said.

Popular baby foods contain 'worrisome levels' of heavy metals, study finds | Fox News

Still, of the brands and samples studied, "15 of the foods would pose potential health risks to a child regularly eating just one serving or less per day."

Those 15 food items include: Earth's Best Organic Chicken & Brown Rice; Earth's Best Turkey, Red Beans and Brown Rice; Gerber Chicken & Rice; Gerber Turkey & Rice; Sprout Organic Baby Food Garden Vegetables Brown Rice with Turkey; Gerber Lil' Meals White Turkey Stew with Rice & Vegetables; Gerber Carrot, Pear & Blackberry; Gerber Carrots Peas & Corn with Lil' Bits; Plum Organics Just Sweet Potato Organic Baby Food; Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potatoes; Earth's Best Organic Sweet Potatoes, 1st Stage; Earth's Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal; Earth's Best Organic Sunny Days Snack Bars, Strawberry; Happy Bab Organics Superfood Puffs, Apple & Broccoli; and Happy Baby Organics Superfood Puffs, Purple Carrot & Blueberry.

Researchers also determined baby and toddler foods labeled as "organic" did not mean these products were safer or contained less heavy metals than non-organic foods.

The effects from these heavy metals are long-term, not short-term, according to the Consumer Reports study. The long-term effects can result in serious complications, such as different types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and cognitive issues, among other potential side effects.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2018/08/17/popular-baby-foods-contain-worrisome-levels-heavy-metals-study-finds.html

First Biomarker Evidence Autism Is Linked to DDT

"This study provides the first evidence, using a marker of an insecticide in the blood, that a pregnant mother's exposure to this organic pollutant is related to an increased risk of autism in her offspring. Previous studies were based, for example, on proximity to sites that were contaminated with these pollutants," lead investigator Alan S. Brown, MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, told Medscape Medical News.

"The study," he said, "offers potential implications for understanding a pathway regarding how autism might develop from a prenatal exposure and could have policy implications for public health regarding testing for, and minimizing exposure to, environmental pollutants."

The study was published online August 16 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/900776

New Warning About Benzodiazepine Use and Dementia Risk

Yet another study has linked benzodiazepine use to an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD).

"Even though the association between benzodiazepine use and Alzheimer's disease was small in this study, the threshold for prescribing these drugs should be high enough due to their overall adverse effect profile, including higher risk of falls and hip fractures," lead author Vesa Tapiainen, MD, PhD, a student in the School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, told Medscape Medical News.

These drugs are often used to treat sleep problems, but their efficacy for this indication diminishes over time, whereas the risks for adverse events remain, she added.

"Physicians should consider the risks and benefits, as well as appropriate duration of treatment, before prescribing these drugs," said Tapiainen.

Although other studies have linked benzodiazepines with AD risk, Tapiainen believes this one is the largest to date.

The study was published in the August issue of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/900813

Monday, August 13, 2018

White House called toxins contamination 'PR nightmare'

 Lauren Woeher wonders if her 16-month-old daughter has been harmed by tap water contaminated with toxic industrial compounds used in products like nonstick cookware, carpets, firefighting foam and fast-food wrappers. Henry Betz, at 76, rattles around his house alone at night, thinking about the water his family unknowingly drank for years that was tainted by the same contaminants, and the pancreatic cancers that killed wife Betty Jean and two others in his household.

Tim Hagey, manager of a local water utility, recalls how he used to assure people that the local public water was safe. That was before testing showed it had some of the highest levels of the toxic compounds of any public water system in the U.S.

"You all made me out to be a liar," Hagey, general water and sewer manager in the eastern Pennsylvania town of Warminster, told Environmental Protection Agency officials at a hearing last month. The meeting drew residents and officials from Horsham and other affected towns in eastern Pennsylvania, and officials from some of the other dozens of states dealing with the same contaminants.

https://apnews.com/2ca497384f01401394f4fbdd7e9aeb1d/Toxins-turning-up-in-dozens-of-public-water-systems

Monday, August 6, 2018

More Evidence for Gut-Brain Link in Alzheimer's Disease

First, lower serum concentrations of primary bile acids synthesized in the liver from cholesterol were significantly associated with worse cognitive function, decreased hippocampal volume, and decreased brain glucose metabolism.

Second, higher serum concentrations of secondary bile acids produced in the gut by bacteria were significantly associated with higher CSF phosphorylated tau and CSF total tau levels, as well as larger brain structural atrophy and decreased brain glucose metabolism.

Third, higher serum concentrations of ratios of bacterially produced secondary bile acids to primary bile acids were significantly associated with lower CSF Aβ1-42 values, larger brain structural atrophy, and decreased brain glucose metabolism.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/899956

Better Prevention and Treatment of Tick-borne Diseases Needed

The incidence of tick-borne disease in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate, officials from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases say. They call on public health and biomedical researchers to double down on efforts to better understand the pathogenesis of tick-borne illnesses and to develop improved strategies for prevention and management.

Citing a report released earlier this year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicating that the number of tick-borne diseases reported in the United States has more than doubled in the last 13 years, Catharine I. Paules, MD, from the Office of the Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues suggest this is a conservative estimate.

"The public health burden of tickborne pathogens is considerably underestimated," the authors write in a perspective article published online July 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine. "For example, the CDC reports approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease per year but estimates that the true incidence is 10 times that number." The authors attribute this discrepancy to limitations in surveillance and reporting systems, as well as constraints imposed by diagnostics that rely heavily on serologic assays.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/900249

Low Acetyl-L-Carnitine a New Biomarker for Major Depression?

"In rodent experiments led by Dr Nasca, both here at Rockefeller and elsewhere previously, a deficiency of acetyl-L-carnitine was associated with depression-like behavior," McEwen said in the press release.

"They also showed that [LAC] is one of the vital connecting biomarkers in developing depression as a reaction to stress," Rasgon added in speaking to Medscape Medical News.

Interestingly, LAC supplementation administered intravenously or orally to the rats who had depression-like traits led to "rapid and lasting antidepressant-like effects."

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/900130

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The classic EDCs, phthalate esters and organochlorines, in relation to abnormal sperm quality: a systematic review with meta-analysis

Nonetheless, our systematic review with meta-analysis, together with the review of possible mechanisms, provides a better explanation of the impact of classic EDCs on sperm quality. However, future research is needed to examine the following: (1) the biomarker of testis function and human fertility should be well defined in an epidemiology study, and the analysis of sperm quality parameters need to be normalized; (2) the size of adequate samples, occupational exposure to specific EDCs, longitudinal instead of cross-sectional studies, and multi-center studies need to be conducted; (3) due to potential interactions between different EDCs on sperm quality, co-exposure to mixtures of EDCs, as well as their interactions or combined effects should be investigated; (4) for a better understanding of classic EDC-induced abnormal sperm quality, mechanism studies should be focused on low-dose, long-term, and co-exposure; and (5) both human studies and animal experiments are needed on transgenerational effects (e.g. DNA methylation) of EDCs because epigenetic effects as a result of EDC exposure can subsequently change the sperm quality of future generations.

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep19982

Fullerenes as Anti-Aging Antioxidants. - PubMed - NCBI

Here we review fullerenes biological effects focusing on their antioxidant and anti-ageing action. A scope of various poisonous and healing properties reported in literature for fullerene and its derivatives is analyzed. The review begins with the history of fullerenes discovery and their main properties. Then we focus on the longevity and antioxidant action, including the confrontation of available experimental data and theoretical modeling of buckminsterfullerene C60. Special attention is given to our hypothesis concerning the possibility of fullerenes to act as mitochondria protonophore and various simulations of the transport of C60 and its hydroxylated and other derivatives through lipid bilayer membranes, which can account for scavenging capacity of fullerenes for reactive oxygen species and their acting as mild mitochondrial respiration uncouplers. Extension of the theoretical modeling to the mitochondria membranes and implications on the real biological systems is analyzed. Finally, we focus on the toxicity evaluation and current therapeutic usage of fullerenes. The review contains a comprehensive discussion of both papers published by 2016 and our own research results.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27659261

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Alpha-Gal Allergy: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, and More

Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal) is a carbohydrate found in the cells of many mammals that humans eat, such as cows, sheep, and pigs. Poultry that has been injected with natural flavoring containing beef or other mammal cells may also have alpha-gal. As a result of autoimmune responses, some people become allergic to alpha-gal.

People with this allergy may experience mild discomfort after eating meat, or they may have a dangerous reaction that leaves them unable to breathe. The spectrum of reactions to alpha-gal varies. Most instances of this allergy are triggered by tick bites.

https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/alpha-gal

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Why petroleum jelly may not be the best thing to heal cuts - BBC News

Prof Ariens said: "We did laboratory and animal studies which showed this film could be a barrier against microbial infection for at least 12 hours, and this gives the immune system time to get white blood cells to the wound to counteract any infection."

Adding petroleum jelly perforated the protective film.

Prof Ariens said: "If you get a scrape or a cut it is best to let it clot for half an hour to let the film form. Do clean it of course if it needs it, but the clot will make its own perfect plaster. After that, it might not be so bad to add petroleum jelly, but before then, from our findings, it appears to damage this film."

Independent wound care advisor Jacqui Fletcher, who is also the clinical editor of the journal Wound UK, said: "You do see it used in sports. Boxing is a good example. If the fighter gets a cut they can use it to stop the blood running down the their face so that they can continue the fight. 

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-44600618

Monday, June 25, 2018

The effects of micronutrient deficiencies on bacterial species from the human gut microbiota

Vitamin and mineral (micronutrient) deficiencies afflict 2 billion people. Although the impact of these imbalances on host biology has been studied extensively, much less is known about their effects on the gut microbiota of developing or adult humans. Therefore, we established a community of cultured, sequenced human gut-derived bacterial species in gnotobiotic mice and fed the animals a defined micronutrient-sufficient diet, followed by a derivative diet devoid of vitamin A, folate, iron, or zinc, followed by return to the sufficient diet. Acute vitamin A deficiency had the largest effect on bacterial community structure and metatranscriptome, with Bacteroides vulgatus, a prominent responder, increasing its abundance in the absence of vitamin A. Applying retinol selection to a library of 30,300 B. vulgatus transposon mutants revealed that disruption of acrR abrogated retinol sensitivity. Genetic complementation studies, microbial RNA sequencing, and transcription factor-binding assays disclosed that AcrR is a repressor of an adjacent AcrAB-TolC efflux system. Retinol efflux measurements in wild-type and acrR-mutant strains plus treatment with a pharmacologic inhibitor of the efflux system revealed that AcrAB-TolC is a determinant of retinol and bile acid sensitivity in B. vulgatus Acute vitamin A deficiency was associated with altered bile acid metabolism in vivo, raising the possibility that retinol, bile acid metabolites, and AcrAB-TolC interact to influence the fitness of B. vulgatus and perhaps other microbiota members. This type of preclinical model can help to develop mechanistic insights about the effects of, and more effective treatment strategies for micronutrient deficiencies.

Combo antibiotic found inferior for MDR bloodstream infections | CIDRAP

The results of a large, international randomized trial indicate that the use of a combination therapy being investigated as a potential alternative to carbapenem antibiotics should be avoided in patients with certain multidrug-resistant bloodstream infections (BSIs), because of increased risk of mortality.

The findings of the MERINO Trial, presented this week at the 28th annual European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease (ECCMID), showed that the combination antibiotic piperacillin/tazobactam is inferior to meropenem for treating BSIs caused by third-generation cephalosporin-resistant Escherichia coli or Klebsiella pneumoniae. The number of patients on piperacillin/tazobactam who died at the 30-day mark was more than three times the number who died in the meropenem arm.

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2018/04/combo-antibiotic-found-inferior-mdr-bloodstream-infections

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Atopic Dermatitis severity reduced by topical microbiome treatment

Roseomonas mucosa bacteria obtained from healthy volunteers without atopic dermatitis reduced the severity of the disorder in a small, early-phase study of 10 adults and 5 children with atopic dermatitis. Also today, a new device could detect osteoarthritis with sound and motion, seven days of antibiotics is enough for gram-negative bacteremias, and canagliflozen is linked to lower HbA1c levels in younger patients. 


https://www.mdedge.com/oncologypractice/article/166415/mixed-topics/mdedge-daily-news-atopic-dermatitis-severity-reduced

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet Beneficial in Type 1 Diabetes

The study included 316 individuals, of whom 54% were adult patients and 42% were parents of children with type 1 diabetes. All were part of an international Facebook group for people with type 1 diabetes who follow Bernstein's recommended VLCD diet.

The approach includes a weight-based carbohydrate prescription of no more than 30 grams/day, derived from fibrous vegetables and nuts with a low glycemic index. High-protein foods are substituted for carbohydrates, and insulin doses adjusted empirically by postprandial and fasting glucose levels.  

Most of the participants were from the United States, Canada, Europe, or Australia, the majority (88%) were white, and 84% were college graduates. Mean age at diabetes diagnosis was 16 years, diabetes duration was 11 years, and time following the VLCD diet was 2.2 years.

Confirmatory data were obtained from diabetes care providers and medical records, including a multi-tiered investigation to ensure all participants had type 1 diabetes — not type 2 diabetes or a genetic variant. However, not all data points were available for all respondents.  

Participants reported consuming an average of 36 grams/day of carbohydrate. The mean reported HbA1c was 5.67%, a drop of 1.45 percentage points following adoption of the VLCD (P < .001). Average blood glucose level was 104 mg/dL in the 137 patients who had continuous glucose monitoring data.

In a regression analysis, carbohydrate intake goal was the only significant predictor of variation in HbA1c (P = .001), with an increase in HbA1c of 0.1% per 10 g of carbohydrate consumed. The mean daily insulin dose was 0.40 U/kg/day.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/896288

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tick and Mosquito Infections Spreading Rapidly, C.D.C. Finds - The New York Times

The real case numbers were undoubtedly far larger, Dr. Petersen said. For example, the C.D.C. estimates that about 300,000 Americans get Lyme disease each year, but only about 35,000 diagnoses are reported.

The study did not delve into the reasons for the increase, but Dr. Petersen said it was probably caused by many factors, including two related to weather: ticks thriving in regions previously too cold for them, and hot spells triggering outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.

Other factors, he said, include expanded human travel, suburban reforestation and a dearth of new vaccines to stop outbreaks.

More jet travel from the tropics means that previously obscure viruses like dengue and Zika are moving long distances rapidly in human blood. (By contrast, malaria and yellow fever are thought to have reached the Americas on slave ships three centuries ago.)

A good example, Dr. Petersen said, was chikungunya, which causes joint pain so severe that it is called "bending-up disease."

In late 2013, a Southeast Asian strain arrived on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Maarten, its first appearance in this hemisphere. Within one year, local transmission had occurred everywhere in the Americas except Canada, Chile, Peru and Bolivia.

Tickborne diseases, the report found, are rising steadily in the Northeast, the Upper Midwest and California. Ticks spread Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, rabbit fever, Powassan virus and other ills, some of them only recently discovered.

Ticks need deer or rodents as their main blood hosts, and those have increased as forests in suburbs have gotten thicker, deer hunting has waned, and rodent predators like foxes have disappeared.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/health/ticks-mosquitoes-diseases.html

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Intestinal microbiota as a tetrahydrobiopterin exogenous source

We further confirmed that at least two PTPS-2-producing species, Aldercreutzia equolifaciens and Microbacterium schleiferi, generate BH4 and are present in hph-1 fecal material. In conclusion, intestinal Actinobacteria generate BH4. This finding has important translational significance, since manipulation of the intestinal flora in individuals with congenital biopterin deficiency may allow for an increase in total body BH4 content.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227711/#!po=1.16279