Dr. Bray Links

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Nickel allergy: How to avoid exposure and reduce symptoms | American Academy of Dermatology

Avoid foods containing nickel if you are extremely sensitive to nickel. Some foods that contain high amounts of nickel include soy products—such as soybeans, soy sauce, and tofu—licorice, buckwheat, cocoa powder, clams, cashews, and figs.


Frame Materials and Metal Allergies

The most common cause of metal allergies is mercury, and this is followed by metals including nickel, cobalt, tin, palladium and chrome.Conversely, metals such as gold, titanium, silver and iron are less likely to produce allergic reactions since they rarely dissolve upon contact with perspiration or other bodily fluids.

Of the metals most likely to produce allergic reactions, nickel is the one that is most commonly used in spectacle frames. For a long time, nickel has been used in the form of an alloy as a material for spectacle frames and is also used as the base plating material for plating and gold plating, for example. 

Compared with other metals, the properties of nickel make it readily dissolvable, and this means that contact of the body with nickel will result in the metal beginning to dissolve due to the effect of sodium ions in perspiration, causing an allergic reaction.

However, as a recent measure to prevent allergic reactions, the materials used in many products on the market nowadays are nickel-free. In addition, frames with vinyl-covered temples are now available for people with metal allergies.

People who may have metal allergies are recommended to undergo a patch test at a dermatologist. Forearmed with knowledge of which metals are likely to cause an allergic reaction, you will know which metals to avoid when purchasing spectacles.


Nickel Allergies on Rise as Devices Meet Skin - NYTimes.com

Nickel, one of the most common allergens in the United States, can be found in things like hand-held devices and jewelry. But unlike Europe, the United States has no restrictions on its widespread use in consumer products. That worries some doctors who say that the growing use of mobile and hand-held devices combined with a lack of regulatory oversight could lead to a spike in allergic reactions.

"I am absolutely concerned about it," said Stephen P. Stone, the director of clinical research in dermatology at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the former president of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 10 to 20 percent of the population is allergic to nickel. The reactions can be unpleasant, but not fatal. Typically they include blistering, redness and dry skin.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fire Retardants Found in Furniture and Gym Mats Implicated in Infertility

PFRs are commonly added to polyurethane foam, gym mats and baby items such as car seats, ostensibly to reduce the risk of the items catching fire. However, the chemicals do not remain in these items. They spread, contaminating air and dust. They can also migrate through direct contact. One 2015 study13 found nearly every dust sample collected from American homes contained the flame retardants Tris phosphate and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP).

Ninety-one percent of urine samples from the residents also contained metabolites of Tris phosphate, and 83 percent had metabolites of TPHP. Disturbingly, toddlers have been found to have levels of flame retardants that are as much as five times higher than their mother's.14 Needless to say, bioaccumulation can have serious health consequences over the course of a lifetime, and may ultimately affect the reproductive capacity of coming generations.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Exposure to Disinfectants Linked to COPD

This was a "well-performed study," said Lidwien Smit, PhD, from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. "I just wonder about the pathology, and how it influences the microbiome."

"Disinfectants are meant to kill off bacteria, but if you're exposed to large concentrations, you're also inhaling them, which could affect your airway microbes," she explained.

In fact, disinfectants could play a role in killing off bacterial communities in the airways that are responsible for "immune homeostasis" and keep users healthy, she added.

If that immune balance gets disturbed, it might have an influence on a person's reaction to pathogens or inflammation. "This is all part of the COPD pathology — that could be another interesting hypothesis to study," Dr Smit told Medscape Medical News.

Dr Dumas is clear that this is preliminary observational research and more studies are needed. Determining which agents are most harmful "would help define guidelines to protect workers," she noted.

The current findings do not show that the disinfectants are a direct cause of COPD, but they do draw an association between some disinfectants and development of the disease. "I hope this study will help open the discussion for better guidelines," Dr Dumas said.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Unexpected and Troubling Rise of Candida auris

Hello. I am Dr Tom Chiller, chief of the Mycotic Diseases Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As part of the CDC Expert Commentary Series on Medscape, I would like to tell you about Candida auris, a novel yeast that is behaving in unexpected and concerning ways, causing severe disease in countries across the globe, including the United States. Today we'll share how you can protect your patients from this potentially deadly infection, the history of this unusual bug, and how the United States is working with global partners to combat its spread.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Dark Hair Dye and Chemical Relaxers Linked to Breast Cancer

The study of 4,285 African-American and white women was the first to find a significant increase in breast cancer risk among black women who used dark shades of hair dye and white women who used chemical relaxers.

Black women who reported using dark hair dye had a 51 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to black women who did not, while white women who reported using chemical relaxers had a 74 percent increased risk of breast cancer, the study found.

The risk of breast cancer was even higher for white women who regularly dyed their hair dark shades and also used chemical relaxers, and it more than doubled for white dual users compared to white women who used neither dark dye nor chemical straighteners.

The association between relaxers and breast cancer in white women surprised lead author Adana Llanos, an epidemiologist at the Rutgers School of Public Health in Piscataway, New Jersey, although she worried enough about the safety of hair relaxers in African-American women like herself to stop using them years ago.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

HLA-DQ:gluten tetramer test in blood gives better detection of coeliac patients than biopsy after 14-day gluten challenge

A 14-day gluten challenge was not enough to establish significant mucosal architectural changes in majority of patients with coeliac disease (sensitivity ≈25%–50%). Increase in CD4+ effector-memory gut-homing HLA-DQ:gluten tetramer-binding T cells in blood 6 days after gluten challenge is a more sensitive and less invasive biomarker that should be validated in a larger study.


HPHPA and Clostridia

The dysbiosis marker 3-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-3-hydroxypropionic acid (HPHPA), the predominant dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid isomer in urine, is also measured in the Organic Acids Test offered by The Great Plains Laboratory. This marker was proven by Dr. William Shaw to be due to a combination of human metabolism and the metabolism by a group of Clostridia species, including but not limited to C. difficile.

HPHPA has been one of the most useful clinical markers in recent medical history. Treatment with metronidazole, vancomycin, or high doses of probiotics of individuals with high urinary values has led to significant clinical improvements or remissions of psychosis.

The biochemical role of Clostridia in altering brain neurotransmitters is due to the fact that Clostridia metabolites inactivate dopamine beta-hydroxylase, leading to an excess production of brain dopamine and reduced levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Excess dopamine is associated with abnormal or psychotic behavior. This imbalance can be demonstrated in the Organic Acids Urine Test by observing the ratio of the major dopamine metabolite, homovanillic acid (HVA), to that of the major norepinephrine metabolite, vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) when the Clostridia marker HPHPA is elevated. After treatment with metronidazole or vancomycin, HPHPA values return to normal along with normal ratios of HVA/VMA and normal behavior.

The highest value of HPHPA was measured in the urine of a young woman with first onset of schizophrenia. Treatment of Clostridia bacteria resulted in loss of auditory hallucinations. In autism, children with gastrointestinal Clostridia commonly exhibit aggressive behavior, agitation, obsessive compulsive behavior, and irritability. They may have very foul stools with diarrhea with mucus in the stools although some individuals may be constipated. Stool testing for Clostridia is usually of limited usefulness since most Clostridia species are considered probiotics or beneficial. There are about 100 species of Clostridia that are commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. Only seven of these species are producers of HPHPA including C. sporogenes, C.botulinum, C. caloritolerans, C. angenoti, C. ghoni, C.bifermentans, C. difficile, and C. sordellii while C. tetani,C. sticklandii, C. lituseburense, C. subterminale, C.putifaciens, C. propionicum, C. malenomenatum, C.limosum, C. lentoputrescens, C. tetanomorphum, C.coclearium, C. histolyticum, C. aminovalericum, and C.sporospheroides do not produce compounds that are converted to HPHPA.

The same article by Dr. Shaw indicates that 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid (DHPPA) is a marker for beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract such as Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and E. coli. The exception is one species of Clostridia orbiscindens that can convert the flavanoids luteolin and eriodictyol, that occur only in a relatively small food group that includes parsley, thyme, celery, and sweet red pepper to 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid. The quantity of C. orbiscindens in the gastrointestinal tract is negligible (approximately 0.1% of the total bacteria) compared to the predominant flora of Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and E. coli (7). DHPPA is an antioxidant that lowers cholesterol, reduces proinflammatory cytokines, and protects against pathogenic bacteria. 2,3-Dihydroxyphenypropionic acid, a different isomer has been claimed to be a metabolite of Pseudomonas species but the literature indicates that this compound is formed by the in vitro action of these species on quinoline, a component of coal tar, a substance missing from the diet of virtually all humans. 


Saturday, August 26, 2017

More Young People Are Dying of Colon Cancer - NYTimes.com

While rates of cancers tied to human papillomavirus, or HPV, have been rising in recent years, that virus causes cancers mainly of the cervix, back of the throat and anus, and scientists do not believe sexual behaviors or HPV are driving the increase in colon or rectal cancer (anal and rectal cancers are distinct).

Obesity, a diet high in red or processed meats and lack of physical activity are among the factors tied to increased risk, but new research is looking at other possible causes. One recent study found, for example, that prolonged use of antibiotics during adulthood was associated with a greater risk of developing precancerous polyps, possibly because antibiotics can alter the makeup of the gut microbiome.


Toxic metal hip replacements could cause Alzheimer's | Daily Mail Online

Doctors are being urged to check for signs of dementia or heart disease in hip implant patients.

There are concerns that the metal-on-metal devices are leaching toxic chemicals into the blood which cause serious health complications.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency announced last month that patients would be called in for x-rays and blood tests to check for adverse reactions.

Now a spokesman for the watchdog said it was also keeping a 'weather eye' on a possible link to heart attacks and dementia.

Dr Neil McGuire, clinical director of medical devices at the MHRA, said he wanted to establish whether cobalt leached from the implants was causing adverse effects.
Patients with the 'metal on metal' hip implants will be advised to have X-rays and undergo blood tests due to fears of their toxicity


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why You’re Not Losing Weight On Your Diet | Time.com

Another area that has some scientists excited is the question of how weight gain is linked to chemicals we are exposed to every day--things like the bisphenol A (BPA) found in linings of canned-food containers and cash-register receipts, the flame retardants in sofas and mattresses, the pesticide residues on our food and the phthalates found in plastics and cosmetics. What these chemicals have in common is their ability to mimic human hormones, and some scientists worry they may be wreaking havoc on the delicate endocrine system, driving fat storage.

"The old paradigm was that poor diet and lack of exercise are underpinning obesity, but now we understand that chemical exposures are an important third factor in the origin of the obesity epidemic," says Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at New York University's School of Medicine. "Chemicals can disrupt hormones and metabolism, which can contribute to disease and disability."

Another frontier scientists are exploring is how the microbiome--the trillions of bacteria that live inside and on the surface of the human body--may be influencing how the body metabolizes certain foods. Dr. Eran Elinav and Eran Segal, researchers for the Personalized Nutrition Project at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, believe the variation in diet success may lie in the way people's microbiomes react to different foods.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Japanese fungus spreading in UK hospitals - BBC News

What is Candida auris?

It belongs to a family of fungi or yeasts that live on the skin and inside the human body.

A more common "cousin" in this family is Candida albicans, which causes the yeast infection thrush.

Candida auris was first identified in 2009 in a patient from Japan.

Hospital outbreaks have since been reported in the United States, India, Pakistan, Venezuela, Colombia, Israel, Oman, South Africa and Spain, as well as the UK.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Medicare to cover supervised exercise for heart disease

Following a request from cardiologists, the CMS will now offer national Medicare coverage of supervised exercise therapy for treating peripheral artery disease

The agency said in a coverage decision released Thursday that research has shown supervised exercise therapy can help alleviate common symptoms of the cardiovascular disease, including pain and discomfort in a patient's legs.

Peripheral artery disease occurs when plaque buildup narrows the arteries outside the heart. It affects 12% to 20% of Americans age 60 and older, and the incidence of the disease increases considerably with age.

Without exercise, individuals with peripheral artery disease could see their condition worsen to the point they lose functional independence.

"Medicare beneficiaries, a significant portion of which have peripheral artery disease will benefit considerably from participating in supervised exercise therapy sessions," American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement. "Evidence shows this therapy can improve quality of life for patients and enhance clinical outcomes."

Supervised exercise is a non-invasive treatment option, which can alleviate leg pain during exercise and improve a patient's walking distance, according to the American Heart Association.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Take the Generic, Patients Are Told. Until They Are Not. - NYTimes.com

Consumers have grown accustomed to being told by insurers — and middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers — that they must give up their brand-name drugs in favor of cheaper generics. But some are finding the opposite is true, as pharmaceutical companies squeeze the last profits from products that are facing cheaper generic competition.

Out of public view, corporations are cutting deals that give consumers little choice but to buy brand-name drugs — and sometimes pay more at the pharmacy counter than they would for generics.

The practice is not easy to track, and has been going on sporadically for years. But several clues suggest it is becoming more common.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Exercise Top Lifestyle Factor for Alzheimer's Prevention?

 A growing body of research suggests that physical activity not only improves executive function and cerebral blood flow but may also reduce amyloid and tau levels in the brain.

The new findings were presented here at Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017.

Much of the focus of this year's AAIC meeting was on lifestyle interventions – healthy eating, reduced stress, adequate sleep, and increased physical activity – to help prevent dementia. Some experts believe that of all lifestyle factors, exercise is tops when it comes to preserving cognition.

In recent years, the identification of biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease (AD) has made it possible to compare levels of amyloid-beta (Aβ) and tau ― both hallmarks of AD ― in those who are and those who are not physically active.

One new study presented here, led by Belinda M. Brown, PhD, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia, evaluated the relationship between exercise levels and brain amyloid load in carriers of genetic mutations that cause autosomal-dominant AD.

The analysis included data from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network for 139 presymptomatic mutation carriers. These patients are destined to develop AD and know approximately when they will start having symptoms.

From self-reports of exercise, the researchers categorized patients into those reporting fewer than 150 minutes per week of (low exercise) and those reporting 150 minutes or more per week (high exercise).

The researchers also had information on brain amyloid load, as quantified by Pittsburgh compound B positron-emission tomography (PiB PET). They stratified patients in order to investigate those with high brain amyloid levels (PiB+).

Compared to the high-exercise group, the low-exercise group was older (38.6 years vs 33.7 years) and had more depressive symptoms, as measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale (2.2 vs 1.4).


Friday, August 4, 2017

Drinking Milk Is Linked to Parkinson’s Disease: Study | Time.com

Abbott and his team studied 449 brains and recorded the density of neurons in specific areas of the brain known to be affected by Parkinson's. They found that men who reported drinking more than two glasses of milk a day (16 oz) showed the thinnest nerve networks in these areas, suggesting compromised function of these nerves, compared to men who drank little or no milk. The milk drinkers also had residues of specific organochlorines called heptachlor epoxide.

Interestingly, by measuring when cells in motor nerve regions died, they also learned that the accumulation of heptachlor epoxide occurred before the cells were damaged, strongly hinting that the chemical was responsible for triggering the changes associated with Parkinson's.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

How Overeating May Contribute to a Metabolic "Traffic Jam" - Scientific American Blog Network

Around 15 years ago, the lab of David Kelley, MD, then at the University of Pittsburgh, had a hunch that what really matters for metabolic health might be the cell's ability to select the right fuel for the right physiological setting (i.e. fasting or feeding, exercise or not). They found that in individuals who where obese or had type II diabetes, their mitochondria had lost the capacity to make this decision. In other words, mitochondria were unable to efficiently direct traffic. This is known as metabolic inflexibility and it has been linked with numerous ailments such as obesity, heart disease, and disorders of the liver and ovaries.


Boosting Brain Ketone Metabolism: A New Approach to Alzheimer's

"The ketogenic diet has been used in epilepsy for almost 100 years and has been shown to reduce intractable seizures," Russell H. Swerdlow, MD, University of Kansas Alzheimer's Disease Center, Fairway, who presented the ketogenic diet study, told Medscape Medical News.

"Our results suggest it could also be useful in other forms of neurological disease like Alzheimer's, but it is not an easy diet to follow," he added. "The point of our study is that it helps to establish a principle that brain metabolism can be rescued by a fuel other than glucose."

Dr Cunnane noted that studies have shown glucose uptake into the brain frontal cortex to be 14% lower in cognitively healthy older people than in younger healthy people. Patients with early Alzheimer's have a greater deficit, with 20% to 30% less glucose uptake than cognitively normal older people.

"Anybody trying to function with 20% less brain glucose long term will suffer from brain exhaustion," he said. 


Depression in CAD Trumps All Other Risk Factors for Death

Depression and coronary artery disease are known to walk hand in hand, but a new study suggests that depression any time after a diagnosis of CAD is the strongest predictor of death[1].

Among 24,137 patients identified with significant CAD, a new depression diagnosis was associated with a twofold higher risk of all-cause death after multivariable adjustment, the investigators reported in the European Heart Journal Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes.

"It was stronger than any follow-up events, stronger than diabetes, stronger than smoking, sex, prior diagnosis of high blood pressure or depression, and even whether they had a heart attack," lead author Dr Heidi T May (Intermountain Heart Institute, Murray, UT) told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology. "I thought it would be a significant predictor, but I didn't anticipate it would be the strongest.

"I would think most people would find that amazing."


The Myth of Drug Expiration Dates - ProPublica

The box of prescription drugs had been forgotten in a back closet of a retail pharmacy for so long that some of the pills predated the 1969 moon landing. Most were 30 to 40 years past their expiration dates — possibly toxic, probably worthless.

But to Lee Cantrell, who helps run the California Poison Control System, the cache was an opportunity to answer an enduring question about the actual shelf life of drugs: Could these drugs from the bell-bottom era still be potent?

Cantrell called Roy Gerona, a University of California, San Francisco, researcher who specializes in analyzing chemicals. Gerona had grown up in the Philippines and had seen people recover from sickness by taking expired drugs with no apparent ill effects.

"This was very cool," Gerona says. "Who gets the chance of analyzing drugs that have been in storage for more than 30 years?"


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Treatment and management of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis

This review explores the current evidence on benefits and harms of therapeutic interventions in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and makes recommendations. CFS/ME is a complex, multi-system, chronic medical condition whose pathophysiology remains unknown. No established diagnostic tests exist nor are any FDA-approved drugs available for treatment. Because of the range of symptoms of CFS/ME, treatment approaches vary widely. Studies undertaken have heterogeneous designs and are limited by sample size, length of follow-up, applicability and methodological quality. The use of rintatolimod and rituximab as well as counselling, behavioural and rehabilitation therapy programs may be of benefit for CFS/ME, but the evidence of their effectiveness is still limited. Similarly, adaptive pacing appears to offer some benefits, but the results are debatable: so is the use of nutritional supplements, which may be of value to CFS/ME patients with biochemically proven deficiencies. To summarize, the recommended treatment strategies should include proper administration of nutritional supplements in CFS/ME patients with demonstrated deficiencies and personalized pacing programs to relieve symptoms and improve performance of daily activities, but a larger randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluation is required to confirm these preliminary observations. At present, no firm conclusions can be drawn because the few RCTs undertaken to date have been small-scale, with a high risk of bias, and have used different case definitions. Further, RCTs are now urgently needed with rigorous experimental designs and appropriate data analysis, focusing particularly on the comparison of outcomes measures according to clinical presentation, patient characteristics, case criteria and degree of disability (i.e. severely ill ME cases or bedridden).


The autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA)/Shoenfeld’s syndrome

The autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) is a recently identified condition in which the exposure to an adjuvant leads to an aberrant autoimmune response. We aimed to summarize the results obtained from the ASIA syndrome registry up to December 2016, in a descriptive analysis of 300 cases of ASIA syndrome, with a focus on the adjuvants, the clinical manifestations, and the relationship with other autoimmune diseases. A Web-based registry, based on a multicenter international study, collected clinical and laboratory data in a form of a questionnaire applied to patients with ASIA syndrome. Experts in the disease validated all cases independently. A comparison study regarding type of adjuvants and differences in clinical and laboratory findings was performed. Three hundred patients were analyzed. The mean age at disease onset was 37 years, and the mean duration of time latency between adjuvant stimuli and development of autoimmune conditions was 16.8 months, ranging between 3 days to 5 years. Arthralgia, myalgia, and chronic fatigue were the most frequently reported symptoms. Eighty-nine percent of patients were also diagnosed with another defined rheumatic/autoimmune condition. The most frequent autoimmune disease related to ASIA syndrome was undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD). ASIA syndrome is associated with a high incidence of UCTD and positive anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) test. Clinical and laboratory features differ from the type of adjuvant used. These findings may contribute to an increased awareness of ASIA syndrome and help physicians to identify patients at a greater risk of autoimmune diseases following the exposure to vaccines and other adjuvants. The ASIA syndrome registry provides a useful tool to systematize this rare condition.



Antibody wipeout found to relieve chronic fatigue syndrome

"I was completely revitalised," says Karen. "Suddenly, I could be sociable again. I would go to work, go home, eat dinner and feel restless."

Karen (not her real name) experienced this relief from chronic fatigue syndrome while taking a drug that is usually used to treat the blood cancer lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis (see "Karen's experience", below).

She was one of 18 people with CFS who reported improvements after taking rituximab as part of a small trial in Bergen, Norway. The results could lead to new treatments for the condition, which can leave people exhausted and housebound.

Finding a cause for CFS has been difficult. Four years ago, claims that a mouse virus was to blame proved to be unfounded, and some have suggested the disease is psychosomatic.

The latest study implicates the immune system, at least in some cases. Rituximab wipes out most of the body's B-cells, which are the white blood cells that make antibodies.

Øystein Fluge and Olav Mella of the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen noticed its effect on CFS symptoms in 2004, when they used the drug to treat lymphoma in a person who happened to also have CFS.

Several months later, the person's CFS symptoms had disappeared. A small, one-year trial in 2011 found that two-thirds of those who received rituximab experienced relief, compared with none of the control group.

The latest study, involving 29 people with CFS, shows that repeated rituximab infusions can keep symptoms at bay for years.

"Eleven of the 18 responders were still in remission three years after beginning the treatment, and some have now had no symptoms for five years," says Fluge. "Suddenly, their limbs started to work again and their hands were no longer cold or sweaty."

"I am very intrigued by the rituximab story," says Nancy Klimas, an authority on CFS at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "It's particularly exciting when people seem to have experienced very long periods of remission, and even speak of recovery," she says.


EWG Tap Water Database

On Wednesday, EWG released its groundbreaking National Tap Water Database – a project two years in the making that allows nearly every American to punch in their zipcode to find out exactly what's in their local drinking water and how it can affect their health. The information in the database goes far beyond anything utilities or the Environmental Protection Agency provides. EWG found a number of contaminants, that while regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, are often found at levels that many scientists believe pose health risks.

"Americans deserve the fullest picture possible of what's in their tap water," said EWG President Ken Cook. "But they won't get that information from the government or, in many cases, from their utilities. The only place they'll find that is EWG's drinking water report."

The database provides real solutions to Americans concerned about their water quality. First and foremost, it provides advice on choosing the right water filter so they can take matters into their own hands and remove contaminants. Filtering tap water is not only cheaper than bottled water – it's far better for the environment, too.  


Sperm count: Fertility in men on the decline due to everyday plastics say scientists

Men are suffering a sharp decline in fertility because of the prevalence of every-day plastics, say scientists.

And Niels Jørgensen, associate professor at Rigshospital, Copenhagen, has told the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology's conference in Lisbon that only one in four men have "good" sperm.

According to The Times, phthalates, chemicals that are found in shower curtains, car dashboards and cleaning materials, "can be breathed in, consumed or absorbed through the skin of pregnant women, inhibiting testosterone production in male foetuses, leading to sons with low sperm counts".

Jørgensen said that society should be "very worried" by these studies, and advised women to try to avoid cosmetics.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Consuming Walnuts Boost Good Bacteria

Walnut consumption may increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut, according to a recent animal study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

At the end of 10 weeks, rats fed a diet containing ground walnuts showed an increase in beneficial bacteria types including, Lactobacillus, Roseburia, and Ruminococcaceae.

Rats in the walnut diet group also showed greater gut bacteria diversity than those consuming the walnut-free control diet.

"The diet groups had distinct microbial communities with animals consuming walnuts displaying significantly greater species diversity," concluded the researchers from Louisiana State University.

The finding is also important because the ability to positively influence gut bacteria composition with foods like walnuts may eventually lead to better health outcomes.

"Gut health is an emerging research area, but we are seeing that greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease," said lead researcher professor Lauri Byerley.


England’s Mental Health Experiment: No-Cost Talk Therapy - NYTimes.com

LONDON — England is in the midst of a unique national experiment, the world's most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses.

The rapidly growing initiative, which has gotten little publicity outside the country, offers virtually open-ended talk therapy free of charge at clinics throughout the country: in remote farming villages, industrial suburbs, isolated immigrant communities and high-end enclaves. The goal is to eventually create a system of primary care for mental health not just for England but for all of Britain.

At a time when many nations are debating large-scale reforms to mental health care, researchers and policy makers are looking hard at England's experience, sizing up both its popularity and its limitations. Mental health care systems vary widely across the Western world, but none have gone nearly so far to provide open-ended access to talk therapies backed by hard evidence. Experts say the English program is the first broad real-world test of treatments that have been studied mostly in carefully controlled lab conditions.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Influenza: marketing vaccine by marketing disease | The BMJ

Promotion of influenza vaccines is one of the most visible and aggressive public health policies today. Twenty years ago, in 1990, 32 million doses of influenza vaccine were available in the United States. Today around 135 million doses of influenza vaccine annually enter the US market, with vaccinations administered in drug stores, supermarkets—even some drive-throughs. This enormous growth has not been fueled by popular demand but instead by a public health campaign that delivers a straightforward, who-in-their-right-mind-could-possibly-disagree message: influenza is a serious disease, we are all at risk of complications from influenza, the flu shot is virtually risk free, and vaccination saves lives. Through this lens, the lack of influenza vaccine availability for all 315 million US citizens seems to border on the unethical. Yet across the country, mandatory influenza vaccination policies have cropped up, particularly in healthcare facilities,1 precisely because not everyone wants the vaccination, and compulsion appears the only way to achieve high vaccination rates.2 Closer examination of influenza vaccine policies shows that although proponents employ the rhetoric of science, the studies underlying the policy are often of low quality, and do not substantiate officials' claims. The vaccine might be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza appears overstated.


Study points to possible trigger of chronic fatigue symptoms, offering hope of new therapies

A study by University of Florida Health researchers published recently in the Journal of Pain Research provides a possible explanation for that atypical exhaustion, supporting a hypothesis that the bodies of those with chronic fatigue inappropriately magnify minute muscle byproducts caused by exertion.

"People with chronic fatigue are essentially sensing muscle metabolites while they are not doing anything, and they're not supposed to be," said Roland Staud, M.D., a professor of rheumatology and clinical immunology in the UF College of Medicine and the study's lead author. "Generally speaking, when we're at rest, we don't feel our muscles."


Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes

 We therefore investigated the compound with the highest overlap, SFN, in greater detail. SFN is a naturally occurring isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. It activates nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (NRF2) by modifying the conformation of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1) cytoplasmic chaperone, thus releasing NRF2 for translocation to the nucleus and transcriptional activation of genes with the antioxidant response element (ARE) in their promoters (23). Although SFN uptake into cells leads to an initial burst of reactive oxygen species, it then rapidly activates the KEAP1-NRF2-ARE system to induce antioxidant enzymes and increase cellular glutathione for an overall antioxidative effect (24). As an inducer of endogenous antioxidants, SFN has been extensively studied for its protective effects in different experimental models associated with oxidative stress and chemoprotection (25), inflammatory disorders (26), and fatty liver disease (27, 28). To date, SFN has not been implicated for the treatment of exaggerated hepatic glucose production in T2D.


Friday, July 21, 2017

No Reduction in CVD Events With PAP Treatment of Sleep Apnea

The use of positive airway pressure (PAP) to treat sleep apnea does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular events and death, a new analysis suggests[1].

In a meta-analysis of 10 randomized clinical trials comprising more than 7000 patients, PAP was not associated with a reduction in major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), cardiovascular death, all-cause death, stroke, or heart failure compared with no or sham treatment.

"While sleep apnea is clearly associated in observational studies with risks of cardiovascular disease, it doesn't seem as if those risks can be reversed by treating people with PAP," coauthor Dr Bruce Neal, the George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, said in an interview.

"Whether that's because our treatment method with PAP isn't very good or whether the association that we see in the observational studies is being driven by something else isn't really clear to us," Neal said.

The results were published online July 11, 2017 in JAMA.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

One Third of Dementia May Be Preventable With Lifestyle Change

More than one third of global dementia cases may be preventable by addressing nine lifestyle factors that affect an individual's risk, according to the findings of a new comprehensive report from The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care.

The report, presented today at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017 and simultaneously published in The Lancet, was compiled by 24 international experts in the field of dementia who reviewed the available literature in the field and conducted a new meta-analysis that included some risk factors not considered in previous similar analyses.

They found that nine lifestyle factors are responsible for 35% of dementia burden. These factors include not completing secondary education in early life; hypertension; obesity and hearing loss in midlife; and smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation, and diabetes in later life.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Heartburn drugs tied to greater mortality

Widely used heartburn drugs are associated with increased risk of death, and the longer a person uses the drugs, the greater the risk, new research suggests.

Proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, have been tied to a wide range of side effects including fractures, dementia, heart disease, pneumonia and kidney disease, the study's senior author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

"We took it a bit further and asked is this class associated with a higher risk of death, and the answer is yes," he said.

. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/07/05/heartburn-drugs-tied-to-greater-mortality.html

Inflammatory Dietary Pattern Linked to Brain Aging

Researchers believe they have uncovered a key piece of the puzzle in the connection between diet and dementia.

They linked a specific dietary pattern to blood markers of inflammation. In addition, they showed that in elderly adults who followed such a dietary pattern, brain gray matter volume was less, and they had worse visuospatial cognitive function.

"We found that people who consume less omega 3, less calcium, vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin B5 and B2 have more inflammatory biomarkers," study investigator Yian Gu, PhD, Columbia University and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, New York City, told Medscape Medical News.

An inflammatory dietary pattern, said Dr Gu, "is bad for both the brain and cognition."

The study was presented here at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Study: Blood Test Detects Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists have identified a pair of markers—readily detectable in patients' blood using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)—that can accurately identify those with early-stage pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), according to a report published yesterday in Science (July 12).

The mortality rate for pancreatic cancer is staggeringly high—a 7 percent 5-year survival rate, according to an estimate from the American Cancer Society—and it's expected to rank second on the list of top causes of cancer death within the next three years, write the authors in their report.

Doctors are typically only able to detect this cancer "after it causes pronounced symptoms, when it has advanced far enough to be lethal," lead author Kenneth Zaret of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania tells UPI.

The researchers sought to find markers that could catch patients with the disease before it progressed into later stages. In a prior study, they modeled the advance of this disease by manipulating human PDAC cells into a pluripotent state, hypothesizing that they "might undergo early stages of cancer," the authors write in their report. They investigated the types of proteins secreted by these cells, and in the current study they looked for some of these proteins in the blood of patients with PDAC.

One protein, thrombospondin-2, was elevated in patients with PDAC. When combined with the already-identified cancer marker CA19-9, the researchers were even better at detecting these patients and discriminating between cancer stage. For instance, in a sample of 537 people, including PDAC patients, participants with other pancreatic disorders, and healthy individuals, the researchers demonstrated that thrombospondin-2 together with CA19-9 could pick out PDAC patients with 98 percent specificity and 87 percent sensitivity.


Flu vaccine ineffective for people 65 and older last winter

The vaccine was about 42 percent effective in preventing illness severe enough to send a patient to the doctor's office. But it was essentially ineffective protecting some age groups. That includes people 65 and older — the group that's hardest hit by flu, suffering the most deaths and hospitalizations.

The flu season that just ended was a long one that peaked in February and was considered moderately severe. But the flu-related hospitalization rate for older adults was the highest it's been since the severe 2014-2015 flu season.

Like that season, last winter was dominated by a kind of flu — Type A H3N2 — that tends to cause more deaths and serious illnesses than other seasonal flu viruses.

In four of the last seven flu seasons, flu vaccine was essentially ineffective in seniors, past studies suggest. The worst performances tend to be in H3N2-dominant seasons.

Health officials say flu vaccine still protects many people. And even if fares poorly against the dominant virus, it can do a good job against other circulating flu strains.

"While it is clear we need better flu vaccines, it's important that we not lose sight of the important benefits of vaccination with currently available vaccines," said Jill Ferdinands, a flu epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement.

The CDC calculates vaccine effectiveness from a sample of flu tests done on patients in five states.

Vaccines against some other infectious diseases are not considered successful unless they are at least 90 percent effective. But flu is particularly challenging. Over the last ten winters, overall flu vaccine effectiveness has averaged about 46 percent.

Last winter's vaccine did well in protecting young children, about 60 percent effective. And it did OK in older children and in adults ages 50 to 64. But it had no clear effect in adults 18 to 49, or among the oldest adults.

Results were presented at a meeting in Atlanta of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which provides vaccine advice to the CDC.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Woman dies after contracting rare tick-borne virus | Fox News

The family of a Missouri woman who died from a rare tick-borne illness is speaking out about the dangers of the virus, which has only been confirmed in a handful of patients since it was discovered in 2014. Tamela Wilson, who died June 23 of complications stemming from Bourbon virus, had worked at Meramec State Park in Sullivan, and removed two ticks from her body a few weeks prior to falling ill, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The 58-year-old woman's stepmother, Kathy Potter, said doctors didn't know to test for the disease, and diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection before sending her home with antibiotics.


Association of Changes in Diet Quality with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality — NEJM

Some epidemiologic studies of nutrition focus on dietary patterns rather than single nutrients or foods to evaluate the association between diet and health outcomes.1 Accumulated evidence supports an association between healthy dietary patterns and a decreased risk of death.2-11 Results from recent studies suggest that improved diet quality, as assessed by means of the Alternate Healthy Eating Index–2010 score,12 the Alternate Mediterranean Diet score,10,13 and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet score,14 was associated with reductions of 8% to 22% in the risk of death from any cause15,16 and reductions of 19% to 28% in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and 11% to 23% in the risk of death from cancer.2-4,17

Given such consistent evidence, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean Diet, and DASH as practical, understandable, and actionable diet plans for the public.18 Such guidelines are important in the United States and globally because unhealthy diets have been ranked as a major factor contributing to death and health complications.19 Evaluation of changes in diet quality over time in relation to the subsequent risk of death would be important. Here, we evaluated the association between 12-year changes (from 1986 through 1998) in the three diet-quality scores noted above and the subsequent risk of total and cause-specific death from 1998 through 2010 among participants in the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. We also examined short-term changes (baseline to 8-year follow-up, 1986–1994) and long-term changes (baseline to 16-year follow-up, 1986–2002) in diet quality in relation to total and cause-specific mortality.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Cardiovascular Disease Death Before Age 65 in 168 Countries Correlated Statistically

Paradoxes concerning CVD abound. Food scientists hotly dispute whether a plant-based diet or an omnivorous diet is optimal for the prevention of CVD [1]. Cardiologists debate whether the vulnerable plaque hypothesis to explain coronary artery disease (CAD) events, a foundational basis of lipid-lowering treatment, should be abandoned [2]. A recent trial showed that evacetrapib, a drug that lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, had no effect on the CVD outcomes, bringing into question the mechanism of the benefit of statins in reducing CVD events [3]. Counterintuitively, while the incidences of obesity and diabetes (i.e. risk factors for CVD) have risen during recent decades in Western countries, deaths attributed to CVD have fallen markedly [4].

Globally, about 30% of all deaths are due to CVD. About 38% of people in high-income countries die of CVD compared to 28% in low and middle-income countries [5]. However, CVD death rates among young people (< age 65) are higher in low and middle-income countries because of the shorter average lifespan. Nearly 80% of deaths in high-income countries occur among those over the age of 60 compared to 42% in low and middle-income countries [6]. These and the other CVD paradoxes call for new hypotheses that better explain the diverse and puzzling data. This paper will present data that supports the hypothesis that vitamin K2 (menaquinones: MK-4–MK-13) plays a central role in CVD etiology, epidemiology, and pathogenesis.

Vitamin K comprises a family of fat-soluble, structurally-similar compounds that function as enzymatic co-factors in the cross-linking of γ-carboxyl with ε-amino side chains in vitamin K-dependent proteins. Vitamin K-dependent proteins include not only blood coagulation proteins manufactured in the liver but also components of many extrahepatic tissues including arterial vessels and bones. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) comes primarily from green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K2 molecules are designated as MK-4–MK-13 according to the lengths of their isoprenyl side chains attached to a 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone ring. Some vitamin K2 comes from dietary animal products without bacterial action (MK-4). Other vitamin K2 originates from bacterial action in animal and human guts and from bacterial action in fermenting plants and dairy products (MK-5–MK-13) [7]. In conjunction with vitamin D, vitamin K2 regulates the deposition of calcium, so bones and teeth receive calcium while blood vessels such as coronary arteries do not [8].

Animal trials and human observational studies have demonstrated that vitamin K2 deficiency (dietary deficiency or vitamin K inhibition by warfarin) contributes to CVD by stiffening and calcifying coronary arteries and other vessels [9]. An eight-year-long observational study involving 4,807 men and women aged 55 years and older in Rotterdam, Netherlands found that people in the lowest tertile of intake (vitamin K2 < 21.6 µg/day) had 27% more CVD mortality than people in the mid tertile (vitamin K2 = 21.6–32.7 µg/day) and 57% more than those in the upper tertile (vitamin K2 > 32.7 µg/day) [10]. As per the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) in the United States, CVD incidence over 11 years of observation increased progressively as vitamin K2-dependent protein activity decreased, with event rates of 5.9 and 11.7 per 1000 person-years in the highest and lowest quartiles, respectively [11].

Biometric markers such as BMI, FBS, hemoglobin A1c, SBP, and serum cholesterol/HDL-cholesterol ratio (TC/HDL) have been correlated with CVD events in developed countries [12]. Socioeconomic risk factors such as dropping out of school, poverty, and certain occupations have also been correlated with CVD [13]. It has been found that nutritional and other stresses on infants and young children are associated with higher CVD death rates later in life. Study of infants in utero during the influenza pandemic of 1918 [14] and during the Dutch famine of 1944 [15] showed that these individuals suffered increased rates of CVD deaths in later life. Early childhood mortality (age 0–5 years) provides a reasonable index of fetal, infant, and early childhood distress (FICD) that might correlate with mortality from CVD in early adult life and middle age.

This study will use multiple regression analysis of female and male cohort data worldwide to relate early death from CVD (dependent variable) with major CVD risk factors (independent variables) to determine the attributable risks for each of these factors. For conditions associated with CVD (i.e. obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and increased TC/HDL), similar multiple regression analysis-derived formulae will be used to determine the attributable risks.


Higher Coffee Intake Tied to Lower Mortality Risk

Higher coffee intake is linked to significantly lower risk for death, two large studies confirm. The benefit was found in diverse European populations, as well as across different racial/ethnic groups, researchers report in articles published online today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Because coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the United States and worldwide, the public health effect of coffee intake could be substantial, even if the effect on an individual is small.

Despite mounting evidence for the health and mortality benefits of coffee consumption, the relationship between coffee intake and mortality in different European populations in which coffee preparation methods vary has been unclear. Similarly, data on coffee drinking among nonwhite populations were lacking.

The two new studies address those gaps.

In EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition), a large, prospective cohort study, Marc J. Gunter, PhD, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France, and colleagues examined the association of coffee intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality among 451,743 participants (130,662 men and 321,081 women) in 10 European countries.

"[O]ur results suggest that higher levels of coffee drinking are associated with lower risk for death from various causes, specifically digestive and circulatory diseases," the authors write.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Is Alcohol Good for You? An Industry-Backed Study Seeks Answers

But the mantra that moderate drinking is good for the heart has never been put to a rigorous scientific test, and new research has linked even modest alcohol consumption to increases in breast cancer and changes in the brain. That has not stopped the alcoholic beverage industry from promoting the alcohol-is-good-for-you message by supporting scientific meetings and nurturing budding researchers in the field.

Now the National Institutes of Health is starting a $100 million clinical trial to test for the first time whether a drink a day really does prevent heart attacks. And guess who is picking up most of the tab?

Five companies that are among the world's largest alcoholic beverage manufacturers — Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Carlsberg — have so far pledged $67.7 million to a foundation that raises money for the National Institutes of Health, said Margaret Murray, the director of the Global Alcohol Research Program at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which will oversee the study.

The decision to let the alcohol industry pay the bulk of the cost has raised concern among researchers who track influence-peddling in science.

"Research shows that industry-sponsored research almost invariably favors the interests of the industry sponsor, even when investigators believe they are immune from such influence," said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University who is the author of several books on the topic, including "Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health."


The heath effects of 1-naphthyl methylcarbamate

Sevin = 1-naphthyl methylcarbamate

The nightly release of melatonin from the pineal gland is regulated by biological clocks in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus and transmits signals to the brain and peripheral target tissues through activation of the G-protein coupled melatonin receptors MT1 and/or MT2.1–3 Rhythmicity of pineal melatonin synthesis from serotonin is tightly orchestrated by N-acetyltransferase (AA-NAT) and hydroxyindole-o-methyltransferase (HIOMT) both of which have peak enzymatic activities during the night.4–6 Activation of melatonin receptors play a pivotal role in modulating the phase and amplitude of circadian rhythms phase and amplitude through the body.1,7,8 Circadian rhythm misalignment is implicated in various conditions such as jet lag, delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS), and seasonal affective disorders (SAD).9 Activation of melatonin receptors inhibit cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) formation,10–13 regulate phosphorylation of the cAMP responsive element-binding protein (CREB),14 protein kinase activities,15,16 and ion fluxes.12,17 In essence, the melatonin receptor system regulates a wide-array of cellular signaling events essential to maintain rhythmicity and homeostatic balance of various regulatory processes.3,18 Aberrant melatonin receptor activation, sensitivity, and trafficking are linked to pathological conditions including cancer,19 diabetes,2,20 and cardiovascular disease.21

Exposure to chemicals that are structurally similar to melatonin can significantly alter this balance and could result in alteration of melatonin mediated signaling3 and potentially other conditions that impact human health. In the present study, innovative combinations of computational tools for chemical clustering of large data sets of environmental chemicals were employed in tandem with predictive three-dimensional models in an attempt to identify new-class of environmental neuroendocrine disruptors targeting melatonin receptors. Briefly, environmental chemicals that could potentially interact with melatonin receptors based on their structural similarity were identified using an integrated pharmacoinformatics screen from a comprehensive Chem2Risk knowledge-base. Molecular docking of select environmental modulators established novel bimolecular interactions of carbamate insecticides carbaryl and carbofuran with the MT1 and MT2 melatonin receptors in silico. Furthermore, the current study investigated ligand affinity, selectivity, and apparent intrinsic efficacy of selected environmental disruptors on hMT1 and hMT2 melatonin receptors in vitro.

Agricultural use of carbamates as insecticides is due to their strong yet reversible inhibitory effect on acetylcholinesterase.22 Occupational exposure to carbamates has been reported to be associated with psychological distress and depression among agricultural workers.23,24 There is also a positive correlation between carbamate exposure and the risk of developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome.25 Carbaryl produces behavioral changes in rodents such as tremor26 and hypothermia.27 Furthermore, a recent study reports age-specific sensitivity to carbaryl in Brown-Norway rats indicative of age-related changes in metabolism. Even low-dose (3 mg/kg) carbaryl treatment exhibits these age-specific differences in both biochemical and behavioral experiments.28 While some of these effects were attributed to cholinesterase inhibition and neurotoxicity at higher doses, persistent exposure to lower doses of insecticides including carbamates in both occupational and nonoccupational environment was associated with increased risk of various disease conditions including diabetes, cancer, and depression.24,25 Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in addition to the dermal routes (the most common route of exposure), several classes of insecticides including the carbamates that are used in spray formulations can reach the brain and other target tissues via inhalation, circumventing liver metabolism (CDC ToxGuide, 2003) and repeated exposure to these chemicals (as in occupational exposure) tend to render higher concentrations of insecticides in target tissues. It is imperative to find alternative targets and mechanisms through which carbamates and other insecticides render such a wide range of biochemical and behavioral effects.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Can you still trust the USDA Certified Organic label?

However, recent developments have shaken consumers' trust in the USDA Organic label. Aurora, a top dairy producer in the country, was found ducking organic standards, selling conventional milk under the guise of organic.

The Aurora scandal exposed glaring gaps in organic inspections. Some inspections are scheduled in advance, giving a businesses time for a cover-up, and certifiers don't always inspect at crucial times during the season. USDA inspection at Aurora, for example, happened during winter months—though peak grazing season happens in summer. That way, inspectors didn't catch that operators weren't grazing their 15,000 head of dairy cows on grass as organic standards required.

Meanwhile, imported chemically-treated corn and soybeans were deliberately mislabeled organic to boost profits, when they entered the United States, further shaking consumer faith in the certified label.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Processed Food—An Experiment That Failed | JAMA Pediatrics

Those of us who have participated in science know that 9 of every 10 experiments are failures. Now imagine that the last 50 years has been a grand clinical research experiment, with the American population as unwitting participants, conducted by 10 principal investigators—Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Kraft, Unilever, General Mills, Nestlé, Mars, Kellogg, Proctor & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson. In 1965, these corporations posed the hypothesis that processed food is better than real food. To determine if the experiment was a success or a failure, we have to examine the outcome variables. In this case, there are 4: food consumption, health/disease, environment, and cash flow, divided into companies, consumers, and society.


Mechanisms, Pathophysiology, and Management of Obesity — NEJM

The review article by Heymsfield and Wadden (Jan. 19 issue)1 is valuable with respect to the clinical management of obesity, but information about the contribution of mitochondrial genes to obesity is not included. Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with an accumulation of fat that can occur during aging and in patients with obesity, the metabolic syndrome, or diabetes mellitus.2

Zheng et al.3 found that obese participants with a high metabolic syndrome score have increased DNA methylation in the mitochondrial genes MT-CO1 and MT-ND6 and in the mitochondrion-related nuclear gene PPARGC1A. Flaquer et al.4 conducted a study using samples obtained from 6528 participants in the KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) studies and found that two mitochondrial single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located in the cytochrome c oxidase subunit genes (MT-CO1 and MT-CO3) and three mitochondrial SNPs located in the NADH dehydrogenase subunit genes (MT-ND1, MT-ND2, and MT-ND4L) were significantly associated with a higher body-mass index (BMI). Latorre-Pellicer et al.5 systematically characterized conplastic mice (mice in which the nuclear genome of one mouse is backcrossed into the cytoplasm of another, so that the nuclear genes and mitochondrial genes are from different parents) throughout their lifespan. They found that the mitochondrial DNA haplotype profoundly influences mitochondrial proteostasis and generation of reactive oxygen species, insulin signaling, telomere shortening, the development of obesity, and mitochondrial dysfunction. These findings highlight the importance of the contribution of mitochondrial genetic variants to the risk of a high BMI.


Friday, June 30, 2017

'Alarming' rat lungworm parasite spreading through Florida, researchers warn

A parasite that can cause meningitis in humans and animals is spreading throughout the state of Florida, with health officials fearing that it may be in other areas throughout the southern U.S.

The parasitic roundworm, known as rat lungworm, is native to Hawaii and tropical locations, and while small studies have previously placed it in southern Florida, University of Florida researchers call their latest findings "alarming."

In their study, which was published in PLoS ONE, the researchers tested rats and snails from 18 counties around the state. Samples from Hillsborough, Orange, Alachua, St. Johns and Leon all tested positive for the parasite.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Patients With Mental Disorders Get Half Of All Opioid Prescriptions

Adults with a mental illness receive more than 50 percent of the 115 million opioid prescriptions in the United States annually, according to a study released Monday. The results prompted researchers to suggest that improving pain management for people with mental health problems "is critical to reduce national dependency on opioids."

People with mental health disorders represent 16 percent of the U.S. population.

The findings are worrisome, the researchers reported. They had expected that physicians were more conservative in prescribing these painkillers to people with mental illness.

"We are prescribing way too much opioids," said Dr. Brian Sites, an anesthesiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire and one of the study's researchers. "And that prescription behavior is resulting in significant morbidity in the country."


California to list glyphosate as cancer-causing

Glyphosate, an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto Co's (MON.N) popular Roundup weed killer, will be added to California's list of chemicals known to cause cancer effective July 7, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) said on Monday.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sick Building: Fungi Release Toxin Directly Into Air, Study Finds

 Toxins from mold can aerosolize directly into the air, which may help explain one cause of sick building syndrome, French researchers said Friday.

Mold growing in buildings can make people sick, especially people who are allergic to various fungi. It's also known that various molds and fungi produce mycotoxins — chemicals that can sicken and even kill people and animals. 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Probiotics Promising for Mild to Moderate Depression

Probiotics may be effective in reducing core depressive symptoms in treatment-naive patients with a mild to moderate form of the disorder, results of a new pilot study suggest.

Investigators led by Caroline Wallace, PhD candidate, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, found that symptoms of mood, anhedonia, and sleep disturbance were significantly reduced with probiotic therapy after just 4 weeks, with results maintained at 8 weeks.

The findings are of particular interest because probiotics are not associated with any of the adverse effects of current antidepressant therapies and can be safely taken over long periods.

These results, the investigators note, "suggest that probiotics may be effective in alleviating depressive symptoms such as mood, anhedonia, and sleep quality."


Antioxidant in Broccoli May Help Fight Diabetes

An antioxidant found in broccoli, called sulforaphane, may provide a new option for treating type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online June 14 in Science Translational Medicine.

"We identified a substance called sulforaphane that we showed reduces the exaggerated glucose production from the liver, which is a central mechanism in type 2 diabetes," lead author Anders Rosengren, MD, PhD, of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, commented to Medscape Medical News.

The work is the first to show that sulforaphane targets increased glucose production by the liver in type 2 diabetes.


Friday, June 16, 2017

A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial)


The possible therapeutic impact of dietary changes on existing mental illness is largely unknown. Using a randomised controlled trial design, we aimed to investigate the efficacy of a dietary improvement program for the treatment of major depressive episodes.

'SMILES' was a 12-week, parallel-group, single blind, randomised controlled trial of an adjunctive dietary intervention in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. The intervention consisted of seven individual nutritional consulting sessions delivered by a clinical dietician. The control condition comprised a social support protocol to the same visit schedule and length. Depression symptomatology was the primary endpoint, assessed using the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) at 12 weeks. Secondary outcomes included remission and change of symptoms, mood and anxiety. Analyses utilised a likelihood-based mixed-effects model repeated measures (MMRM) approach. The robustness of estimates was investigated through sensitivity analyses.

We assessed 166 individuals for eligibility, of whom 67 were enrolled (diet intervention, n = 33; control, n = 34). Of these, 55 were utilising some form of therapy: 21 were using psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy combined; 9 were using exclusively psychotherapy; and 25 were using only pharmacotherapy. There were 31 in the diet support group and 25 in the social support control group who had complete data at 12 weeks. The dietary support group demonstrated significantly greater improvement between baseline and 12 weeks on the MADRS than the social support control group, t(60.7) = 4.38, p < 0.001, Cohen's d = –1.16. Remission, defined as a MADRS score <10, was achieved for 32.3% (n = 10) and 8.0% (n = 2) of the intervention and control groups, respectively (χ 2 (1) = 4.84, p = 0.028); number needed to treat (NNT) based on remission scores was 4.1 (95% CI of NNT 2.3–27.8). A sensitivity analysis, testing departures from the missing at random (MAR) assumption for dropouts, indicated that the impact of the intervention was robust to violations of MAR assumptions.

These results indicate that dietary improvement may provide an efficacious and accessible treatment strategy for the management of this highly prevalent mental disorder, the benefits of which could extend to the management of common co-morbidities.


Yes, Your Sleep Schedule Is Making You Sick - NYTimes.com

The clock in your brain doesn't just take cues from light, but from the hormone melatonin as well. Every night, about two to three hours before you conk out, your brain starts to secrete melatonin in response to darkness. Taking a melatonin supplement in the evening will advance your internal clock and make it possible to fall asleep earlier; taking it in the morning will do the opposite. (You might assume this would make you even more tired during the day but it won't; you could think of it as tricking your brain into believing you slept longer.)

So now you know the fix for jet lag: Travel east and you'll need morning light and evening melatonin; go west and you'll need evening light and morning melatonin.

The same principle tells us what to do for night owls, the 5 percent to 10 percent of adults who don't start releasing melatonin until late. If they try to sleep at a normal hour, like 11 or midnight, they will have "insomnia," because they don't feel sleepy yet — their natural circadian rhythm is delayed.


The Best Exercise

So researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently conducted an experiment on the cells of 72 healthy but sedentary men and women who were 30 or younger or older than 64. After baseline measures were established for their aerobic fitness, their blood-sugar levels and the gene activity and mitochondrial health in their muscle cells, the volunteers were randomly assigned to a particular exercise regimen.

Some of them did vigorous weight training several times a week; some did brief interval training three times a week on stationary bicycles (pedaling hard for four minutes, resting for three and then repeating that sequence three more times); some rode stationary bikes at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a few times a week and lifted weights lightly on other days. A fourth group, the control, did not exercise.

After 12 weeks, the lab tests were repeated. In general, everyone experienced improvements in fitness and an ability to regulate blood sugar.

There were some unsurprising differences: The gains in muscle mass and strength were greater for those who exercised only with weights, while interval training had the strongest influence on endurance.

But more unexpected results were found in the biopsied muscle cells. Among the younger subjects who went through interval training, the activity levels had changed in 274 genes, compared with 170 genes for those who exercised more moderately and 74 for the weight lifters. Among the older cohort, almost 400 genes were working differently now, compared with 33 for the weight lifters and only 19 for the moderate exercisers.


    •High-intensity interval training improved age-related decline in muscle mitochondria
    •Training adaptations occurred with increased gene transcripts and ribosome proteins
    •Changes to RNA with training had little overlap with corresponding protein abundance
    •Enhanced ribosomal abundance and protein synthesis explain gains in mitochondria


The molecular transducers of benefits from different exercise modalities remain incompletely defined. Here we report that 12 weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval (HIIT), resistance (RT), and combined exercise training enhanced insulin sensitivity and lean mass, but only HIIT and combined training improved aerobic capacity and skeletal muscle mitochondrial respiration. HIIT revealed a more robust increase in gene transcripts than other exercise modalities, particularly in older adults, although little overlap with corresponding individual protein abundance was noted. HIIT reversed many age-related differences in the proteome, particularly of mitochondrial proteins in concert with increased mitochondrial protein synthesis. Both RT and HIIT enhanced proteins involved in translational machinery irrespective of age. Only small changes of methylation of DNA promoter regions were observed. We provide evidence for predominant exercise regulation at the translational level, enhancing translational capacity and proteome abundance to explain phenotypic gains in muscle mitochondrial function and hypertrophy in all ages.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

More Evidence Links High Cholesterol to Lower Parkinson's Risk

Higher levels of total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) are associated with a decreased risk for Parkinson's disease (PD) in men, a large observational study shows.

The results represent the latest research linking higher cholesterol with lower risk for PD.

The new findings suggest that a "one-size-fits-all" approach in clinical practice "overlooks the possible benefits" of higher serum cholesterol levels in some patients, study author Chava Peretz, PhD, professor, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel, told Medscape Medical News.

"Tailoring individualized therapeutic strategies based on stratifying risk and personal background is important," he said.

Dr Peretz's research team presented their study at the International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS) 2017.

Higher levels of serum cholesterol are well-established risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke, but whether cholesterol levels have a similar effect in PD "remains elusive," said Dr Peretz.

"Previous studies on cholesterol and PD risk ignored the changes in cholesterol levels over time, considered only a fixed one-time cholesterol measure, and used small samples. Our study is a big-data study that included a large-scale cohort with a long follow-up time."


Monday, June 12, 2017

Pet Fooled

Pet Fooled tells the story that many of us are familiar with – the madness of pet food ignored by/endorsed by regulatory authorities…but it is so shocking to see in one sitting. I’ve previewed the film multiple times over the years of its making, and each time – through all progressive steps of the film, I can’t stop watching it. It draws me in, even though I know the subject matter very well. Producer Kohl Harrington did a fabulous job.

Featured in the film are veterinarians Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Barbara Royal. And I’m excited to say…I’m in the film too! Pet Fooled includes an interview of Dr. Dan McChesney of FDA too. Followers of this site might remember the name Dr. Dan McChesney. Dr. McChesney is the FDA representative that openly stated (in a March 2016 meeting with TAPF) the FDA will continue to allow diseased or dead/non-slaughtered animals in pet food (even though federal law prohibits it). Now you’ll be able to put a face to the name.



**now on Netflix**

Friday, June 9, 2017

Low-Fat Dairy Linked to Increased Parkinson's Risk

Consumption of low-fat dairy products, such as skim and low-fat milk and frozen yogurt, is associated with an increased risk for Parkinson's disease (PD), new research suggests.

Compared with people who consumed less than 1 serving of low-fat dairy per day, those who ate at least 3 servings of low-fat dairy per day were about 30% more likely to develop Parkinson's disease, the researchers report in a paper published online June 8 in Neurology.

The finding supports previous epidemiologic investigation into the link between dairy products and PD, said lead author, Katherine C. Hughes, ScD, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

"There had been a number of previous epidemiologic studies regarding this general topic of dairy intake and risk of Parkinson's disease, including an earlier analysis in our cohorts from the Nurses' Health Study [NHS] and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study [HPFS]," Dr Hughes told Medscape Medical News.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

'Individualize' Prostate Cancer Screening, Says USPSTF

The main change in the new guidance for prostate cancer screening is the emphasis that the decision of whether or not to be tested must be individualized for each man aged 55 to 69 years.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) previously recommended against routine screening using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, saying that potential harms outweigh benefits.

That recommendation – issued in 2012 – was met with outrage, especially from urologists, who predicted that prostate cancer cases would be diagnosed at a more advanced stage and that prostate cancer deaths would increase.

Now the task force has changed its tune. The new draft recommendations –issued on April 11 and open for public comments until May 8― divide men into two age groups.

For men aged 55-69 years, the task force says that the potential benefits and harms of PSA-based screening are closely balanced. The decision about whether to be screened should be an individual one and should be discussed with clinicians.

This is a C recommendation, which according to USPSTF definitions means "there is at least moderate certainty that the net benefit is small."