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March 31, 2021  

High-fiber diet may play a role in controlling the inflammation associated with COVID-19

In vitro treatment of cells with these molecules reduced the expression of a gene that plays a key role in viral cell entry and a cytokine receptor.

University of Campinas (Brazil), March 30, 2021

A study conducted at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, shows that compounds produced by gut microbiota (bacteria and other microorganisms) during fermentation of insoluble fiber from dietary plant matter do not affect the ability of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 to enter and replicate in cells lining the intestines. However, while in vitro treatment of cells with these molecules did not significantly influence local tissue infection, it reduced the expression of a gene that plays a key role in viral cell entry and a cytokine receptor that favors inflammation.

An article reporting the findings is published in the journal Gut Microbes.

Up to 50% of COVID-19 patients experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Such symptoms are detected in 17.6% of severe cases. They are partly associated with viral entry into intestinal cells resulting in alterations to their normal functions. In addition, recent studies point to major changes in patients’ gut microbiota, including a decrease in levels of bacteria that secrete short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by fermenting dietary fiber. SCFAs are important to colon health and maintenance of intestinal barrier integrity.

The researchers decided to confirm whether SFCAs directly affected the infection of intestinal cells by SARS-CoV-2. Previous studies had suggested alterations in gut microbiota and its products could modify an infected subject’s immune response.

“In earlier research, we found in animals that compounds produced by gut microbiota help protect the organism against respiratory infection. The model used there was respiratory syncytial virus [RSV], which causes bronchiolitis [inflammation of the small airways in the lung] and frequently infects children. Similar results have been obtained by other research groups in studies of different respiratory diseases,” said Patrícia Brito Rodrigues, who has a doctoral scholarship from FAPESP and is joint first author of the article with postdoctoral fellow Livia Bitencourt Pascoal. Rodrigues conducted the research as part of her doctorate at UNICAMP’s Institute of Biology (IB) with a scholarship from FAPESP. 

In the latest study, healthy colon tissue and epithelial cells were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory and subjected to a battery of tests.

“Viral load wasn’t reduced and was the same in cells and tissue treated with SCFAs and in untreated samples. However, treated intestinal biopsy samples displayed a significant decrease in expression of the gene DDX58 [an innate immune system receptor that detects viral nucleic acids and activates a signaling cascade that results in production of pro-inflammatory cytokines] and the interferon-lambda receptor, which mediates anti-viral activity. There was also a decrease in expression of the protein TMPRSS2, which is important to viral cell entry,” said Raquel Franco Leal, a professor at UNICAMP’s School of Medical Sciences (FCM), supported by FAPESP and co-principal investigator for the study with Marco Aurélio Ramirez Vinolo, a professor at IB-UNICAMP, also supported by FAPESP.

Protection against inflammation

The researchers took colon tissue samples from 11 patients without COVID-19. They also tested epithelial cells that line the intestines and are in close contact with gut microbiota. Tissue and cell samples were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in IB-UNICAMP’s Laboratory of Emerging Virus Studies (LEVE), a Biosafety Level III (BSL-3) facility led by José Luiz Proença Módena, a professor at IB-UNICAMP and a co-author of the article.

The tissues and cells were treated with a mixture of acetate, propionate and butyrate, compounds produced by gut microbiota metabolization of SCFAs present in dietary fiber. The treatment did not alter viral load in colon biopsies or cells, nor were there any changes in cell wall permeability and integrity. 

“That doesn’t exclude the possibility of significant action by SCFAs on infection by SARS-CoV-2. The anti-viral effects could depend on interaction with other cells in the organism,” Rodrigues said. “We’ll continue our investigation in animal models since the action of these compounds on the infection could depend on a more complete system than the samples we used in vitro [isolated cells and tissues].”

Other tests involving non-treated infected biopsy samples showed an increase in expression of the gene DDX58, which encodes an important viral receptor, and of interferon-beta (IFN-beta), a pro-inflammatory molecule that participates in the cytokine storm associated with severe cases of COVID-19.

“Alterations in genes associated with virus recognition and response during intestinal infection may be relevant to the onset of the inflammatory chain,” Leal said. “In this context, it will be important to deepen the analysis of the effects of SCFAs with these parameters, as this could be significant in severe stages of the disease.”

 

 

Glycine-NAC combo improves multiple defects in aging to boost strength and cognition in older humans

Baylor School of Medicine, March 29, 2021

A pilot human clinical trial conducted by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine reveals that supplementation with GlyNAC—a combination of glycine and N-acetylcysteine as precursors of the natural antioxidant glutathione—could improve many age-associated defects in older humans to improve muscle strength and cognition, and promote healthy aging.

Published in the journal Clinical and Translational Medicine, the results of this study show that older humans taking GlyNAC for 24 weeks saw improvements in many characteristic defects of aging, including glutathione deficiency, oxidative stressmitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction, body fat, genomic toxicity, muscle strength, gait speed, exercise capacity and cognitive function. The benefits declined after stopping supplementation for 12 weeks. GlyNAC supplementation was well tolerated during the study period.

"There is limited understanding as to why these defects occur in older humans, and effective interventions to reverse these defects are currently limited or lacking," said corresponding author endocrinologist Dr. Rajagopal Sekhar, associate professor of medicine in the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Baylor.

For the last 20 years, Sekhar and his team have been studying natural aging in older humans and aged mice. Their work brings mitochondria, known as the batteries of the cell, as well as free radicals and glutathione to the table in discussions about why we age.

Mitochondrial dysfunction and aging

Mitochondria generate energy needed for supporting cellular functions by burning fat and sugar from foods, therefore mitochondrial health is critically important for life. Sekhar believes that improving the health of malfunctioning mitochondria in aging is the key.

As mitochondria generate energy, they produce waste products such as free radicals. These highly reactive molecules can damage cells, membranes, lipids, proteins and DNA. Cells depend on antioxidants, such as glutathione, the most abundant antioxidant in our cells, to neutralize these toxic free radicals. Failing to neutralize free radicals leads to harmful and damaging oxidative stress that can affect mitochondrial function.

Interestingly, glutathione levels in older people are much lower than those in younger people, and the levels of oxidative stress are much higher.

Animal studies conducted in the Sekhar lab have shown that restoring glutathione levels by providing GlyNAC reverses glutathione deficiency, reduces oxidative stress and fully restores mitochondrial function in aged mice.

"In previous work we showed that supplementing HIV patients with GlyNAC improved multiple deficits associated with premature aging observed in those patients," Sekhar said. "In this study, we wanted to understand the effects of GlyNAC supplementation on many age-associated defects in older adults."

GlyNAC improves several hallmark defects in aging

The world population of older humans is rapidly increasing and with it comes an increase in many age-related illnesses. To understand what causes unhealthy aging, scientific research has identified nine hallmark defects which are believed to contribute to the aging process.

"It is believed that correcting these aging hallmarks could improve or reverse many age-related disorders and help people age in a healthier way," Sekhar said. "However, we do not fully understand why these hallmark defects happen, and there are currently no solutions to fix even a single hallmark defect in aging."

This is where Sekhar's trial results become encouraging, because GlyNAC supplementation for 24 weeks appears to improve four of the nine aging hallmark defects.

To further understand whether GlyNAC holds the keys to mitochondrial recovery and more, Sekhar and his team conducted this pilot clinical trial.

"We worked with eight older adults 70 to 80 years of age, comparing them with gender-matched younger adults between 21 and 30 years old," Sekhar said. "We measured glutathione in red-blood cells, mitochondrial fuel-oxidation, plasma biomarkers of oxidative stress and oxidant damage, inflammation, endothelial function, glucose and insulin, gait-speed, muscle strength, exercise capacity, cognitive tests, gene-damage, glucose-production and muscle-protein breakdown rates and body composition. Before taking GlyNAC, all these measurements were abnormal in older adults when compared with those in younger people."

The older participants took GlyNAC for 24 weeks, and then stopped it for 12 weeks. Sekhar and his colleagues repeated the above measurements at the halfway point at 12 weeks, after 24 weeks of taking GlyNAC, and again after stopping GlyNAC for 12 weeks.

"We are very excited by the results," Sekhar said. "After taking GlyNAC for 24 weeks, all these defects in older adults improved and some reversed to the levels found in young adults." The researchers also determined that older adults tolerated GlyNAC well for 24 weeks. The benefits, however, declined after stopping GlyNAC supplementation for 12 weeks.

"I am particularly encouraged by the improvements in cognition and muscle strength," Sekhar said. "Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are serious medical conditions affecting memory in older people and leading to dementia, and there are no effective solutions for these disorders. We are exploring the possibility that GlyNAC could help with these conditions by conducting two pilot randomized clinical trials to test whether GlyNAC supplementation could improve defects linked to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease and in MCI, and possibly improve cognitive function."

"The overall findings of the current study are highly encouraging," Sekhar said. "They suggest that GlyNAC supplementation could be a simple and viable method to promote and improve healthy aging in older adults. We call this the 'Power of 3' because we believe that it takes the combined benefits of glycine, NAC and glutathione to reach this far reaching and widespread improvement. We also have completed a randomized clinical trial on supplementing GlyNAC vs. placebo in older adults and those results will be forthcoming soon."

 

Association found between consumption of ultra-processed foods and drinks and colorectal cancer risk

Barcelona Institute for Global Health (Spain), March 23, 2021

Consumption of ultra-processed foods and drink could increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. This was the conclusion of a large study undertaken by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation, based on questionnaires about food behaviours completed by around 8,000 people in Spain. The study, the first of its kind in the country, also analysed the relationship between ultra-processed food and drink products and two other cancers; while no association was observed with prostate cancer, in the case of breast cancer a higher risk was observed in the sub-group of former and current smokers who reported a diet high in ultra-processed products.

Social, economic and industrial changes have driven a rise in ultra-processed food and drink consumption, which currently accounts for between 25% and 50% of the total energy intake in diets in Europe and in high- and middle-income countries. The Nova classification system groups all foods and drinks into four categories according to how much processing they undergo. Ultra-processed foods--those that undergo the most processing--are industrial formulations with more than five ingredients which usually contain additional substances, such as sugar, fats, salt and additives. Examples of products in this category include sugary soft drinks, ready meals and mass-produced industrial baked goods. 

Several studies have linked the consumption of ultra-processed foods and drinks to health risk factors, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and an increased risk of premature death. There are only a few studies on the relationship of these food products with cancer and the results are not entirely conclusive. A French study found an association between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and an increased cancer risk. A Canadian study found an increased risk of developing prostate cancer with a higher intake of processed foods, but not with ultra-processed foods. 

The aim of the present study was to assess whether the consumption of ultra-processed foods and drinks is associated with an increased risk of colorectal, breast or prostate cancer. To this end, the researchers undertook a case-control study of 7,843 adults living in different Spanish provinces: half of the participants had a diagnosis of colorectal (1,852), breast (1,486) or prostate cancer (953); and the other half were people with the same characteristics who did not have cancer. Data were obtained from the multicase-control study MCC-Spain. Dietary data was collected using a validated questionnaire designed to evaluate the frequency of consumption of usual food and drink items over a one-year period. The results were then classified according to the level of processing using the Nova classification. 

The study, published in Clinical Nutrition, concluded that the consumption of ultra-processed foods and beverages is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer: a 10% increment in the consumption of ultra-processed foods and drinks was found to be associated with an 11% increase in the risk of developing colorectal cancer. 

Dora Romaguera, first author of the study and researcher at ISGlobal, the Institut d'Investigació Sanitària Illes Balears (IdISBA) and the CIBEROBN, says that this relationship can be explained, in part, "by the low intake of fibre, fruits and vegetables, which are known to offer protection against colorectal cancer, among people who eat a lot of ultra-processed foods, but also by the additives and other substances with carcinogenic potential typically used in processed food products."

In the case of breast cancer, no strong relationship was found, but an association was observed in the group of current and former smokers. Romaguera explains that "smoking is a risk factor for breast cancer, and smoking and certain dietary factors, such as the consumption of ultra-processed foods and beverages, are known to have synergetic effects on cancer development."

No association was found between prostate cancer and a diet high in ultra-processed products. "This finding is not surprising and is consistent with the results of previous studies of dietary factors and prostate cancer risk, in which no link was found," adds Romaguera.

Colorectal and Breast Cancer Cases: Less Healthy Diets

The results of the study showed that people with breast and colorectal cancer, but not those with prostate cancer, reported less healthy diets than people without cancer in the control group. "We found differences in terms of their intake of energy, fibre, energy density and saturated fatty acids. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and beverages was higher among colorectal and breast cancer cases than in the controls", says ISGlobal researcher Sílvia Fernández, joint first author of the study.

The food groups that accounted for the largest proportion of ultra-processed food consumption were sugary beverages (35%), sugary products (19%), ready-to-eat foods (16%) and processed meats (12%). Processed meats have already been classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). However, according to Pilar Amiano, researcher at the Guipúzcoa Public Health Service, which coordinated the study: "ultra-processed foods and drinks in general are not yet classified as carcinogenic because the aim of the IARC was not to assess the overall risk of an individual's diet, but rather to focus on specific components that might be dangerous, such as processed meats". 

She goes on to say that, in light of the results of the present study and the current scientific evidence on the health risks associated with ultra-processed foods and drinks, in particular with respect to cancer, the authors believe "that food and public health policies and the IARC should already be taking food processing into account and discouraging the consumption of ultra-processed products".

 

 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy impact on telomere length and immunosenescence

Tel Aviv University (Israel), March 23, 2021

 

In a scientifically verified approach, signalling an important breakthrough in the study of aging,  Tel Aviv University and The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Shamir Medical Centerannounced today that, for the first time in humans, two key biological hallmarks of aging, telomere length shortening, and accumulation of senescent cells, can be reversed. The prospective clinical trial, published in peer-reviewed Journal Aging,  utilizes Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy protocols to demonstrate cellular level improvement in healthy aging adults.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy targets aging as a reversible disease

The prospective clinical trial is part of a comprehensive aging research program taking place in Israel. It was conducted by Prof. Shai Efrati, MD, from the Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, and Amir Hadanny, MD, Chief Medical Research Officer of The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research and co-author of the study. Using a specific protocol of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), telomere length was significantly increased and senescent cells were reduced in a population of healthy aging subjects. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Aging. Titled: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Increases Telomere Length and Decreases Immunosenescence in Isolated Blood Cells: A Prospective Trial.

A significant breakthrough in the study of aging

The biological deterioration of aging is cited as a major risk factor for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. At the cellular level, two key hallmarks of the aging process are:

  1. The shortening of telomere length of approximately 20-40 bases per year, which is associated with a variety of serious life-threatening illnesses; and
  2. The accumulation of senescent cells, the so-called “old malfunctioning cells,” inhibit cell proliferation. The accumulation of senescence contributes to many age-associated conditions and illnesses, while the elimination of those cells can reverse them, as shown in previous animal studies.   

The first study to evaluate telomere length and senescence

This is the first study to evaluate whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy can affect telomere length and senescence using a specific HBOT protocol. The trial included 35 healthy independent adults aged 64 and older. They did not undergo any lifestyle, diet, or medication adjustments.

How was the study conducted?

Each patient received 60 daily hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions over the course of 90 days. Whole blood samples were collected prior to treatment, at the 30th and 60th session, and one to two weeks following the last HBOT session, to assess peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PMBCs) telomere length and senescence.

The holy grail of the biology of aging

“After dedicating our HBOT research to exploring its impact on the areas of brain functionality and age-related cognitive decline, we have now uncovered for the first time in humans hyperbaric oxygen therapy’s biological effects at the cellular level in healthy aging adults,” said Prof. Shai Efrati.

“Since telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging, many pharmacological and environmental interventions are being extensively explored in the hopes of enabling telomere elongation.”

Significant improvement of telomere length

“The significant improvement of telomere length shown during and after these unique hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocols provides the scientific community with a new foundation of understanding that aging can, indeed, be targeted and reversed at the basic cellular-biological level.”

Improvement in just three months

Results found that the telomere length of T helper, T cytotoxic, natural killer, and B cells increased significantly. They rose by over 20 percent, following HBOT. The most significant change was in B cells, which increased during the 30th session, 60th session, and post HBOT by:

  • 25.68%±40.42 (p=0.007)
  • 29.39%±23.39 (p=0.0001)
  • 37.63%±52.73 (p=0.007)

In addition, there was a significant decrease in the number of senescent T helpers by -37.30%±33.04 post-HBOT (P<0.0001). T-cytotoxic senescent cell percentages decreased significantly by -10.96%±12.59 (p=0.0004) post-HBOT.

“Until now, interventions such as lifestyle modifications and intense exercise were shown to have some inhibition effect on the expected telomere length shortening,”  explained Dr. Hadanny.

 

Midlife loneliness is a risk factor for Dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Recovery from temporary loneliness may provide reduction in dementia risk

Boston University School of Medicine, March 14, 2021

Being persistently lonely during midlife (ages 45-64) appears to make people more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD) later in life. However, people who recover from loneliness, appear to be less likely to suffer from dementia, compared to people who have never felt lonely. 

Loneliness is a subjective feeling resulting from a perceived discrepancy between desired and actual social relationships. Although loneliness does not itself have the status of a clinical disease, it is associated with a range of negative health outcomes, including sleep disturbances, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, and stroke. Still, feeling lonely may happen to anyone at some point in life, especially under extreme and unresolved quickly circumstances such as the Covid-19 lockdowns. Yet, people differ in how long--or how "persistent"--they feel lonely for. Thus, it may be that people who recover from loneliness will experience different long-term consequences for their health than people who are lonely for many years.

In an effort to shed light on the relationship between these different forms of loneliness (transient and persistent loneliness) and the incident of AD, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) examined data involving cognitively normal adults from the Framingham Heart Study. Specifically, they investigated whether persistent loneliness more strongly predicted the future development of dementia and AD than transient loneliness. They also wanted to see whether this relationship was independent from depression and established genetic risk factors for AD, such as the Apolipoprotein ε4 (APOE ε4) allele.

After taking effects of age, sex, education, social network, living alone, physical health and genetic risk into account, persistent loneliness was associated with higher risk, whereas transient loneliness was linked to lower risk of dementia and AD onset after 18 years, compared with no loneliness. 

"Whereas persistent loneliness is a threat to brain health, psychological resilience following adverse life experiences may explain why transient loneliness is protective in the context of dementia onset," explained corresponding author Wendy Qiu, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology & experimental therapeutics at BUSM. In light of the current pandemic, these findings raise hope for people who may suffer from loneliness now, but could overcome this feeling after some time, such as by using successful coping techniques or following a policy change in the physical distancing regulations. 

According to the researchers, these results motivate further investigation of the factors that make individuals resilient against adverse life events and urges to tailor interventions to the right person at the right time to avert persistency of loneliness, promote brain health and AD prevention.

 

 

Resveratrol inhibits macrophage infiltration of pancreatic islets in type 1 diabetes

Nahda University (Egypt), March 16, 2021

According to news reporting originating in Beni Suef, Egypt, research stated, “Despite CXC chemokine ligand 16 (CXCL16) contributes to the pathogenesis of many inflammatory disorders, the mechanism by which CXCL16 is involved in T1DM remains unclear. In this study, we examined the role of the CXCL16/NF-kB p65 signaling pathway in the progression of this disease and the possible protective effect of resveratrol (RES) on streptozotocin (STZ)-induced T1DM.”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Nahda University, “Mice were classified into four groups of 10 animals each. The control group received citrate buffer. The RES group received 50 mg/kg i.p. RES for 12 days beginning on day 4 of citrate buffer. The STZ group received 55 mg/kg i.p. STZ once a day for 5 consecutive days. The fourth group injected with RES (50 mg/kg) for 12 days starting on day 4 of STZ injection. Biochemical, physical and oxidative stress parameters were measured in all groups. Moreover, expression of CXCL16 and CD45 was measured in pancreatic islets and spleen. Additionally, NF-kB p65 was investigated in isolated islets. Our results showed a significant elevation of CXCL16, NF-kB p65 and CD45 in islets of diabetic (DM) mice. Intriguingly, RES significantly restored distorted biochemical, physical and oxidative stress parameters after STZ treatment as well as inhibited the expression of CXCL16/NF-kB p65 in pancreatic islets. Moreover, RES normalized CXCL16 and CD45 expression in islets and spleen.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “This study demonstrates first evidence that CXCL16/NF-kB p65 signaling pathway is associated with macrophage infiltration to pancreatic islet in T1DM and that RES successfully improved T1DM may be at least via inhibiting this pathway.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

Boosting enzyme with NAD+ may help improve blood flow, fitness in elderly

University of Pennsylvania, March 22, 2018 

 

As people age, their blood-vessel density and blood flow decrease, which is why it's harder to maintain muscle mass after 40 and endurance in the later decades, even with exercise. This vascular decline is also one of the major causes of age-related diseases, such as frailty or hypertension. However, little is known about the underlying cause or how to stop it.

Now, in a new study published this week in Cell, a team of researchers from Penn Medicine and other institutions have shown for the first time how a well-studied enzyme called SIRT1 declines in the blood vessels with age and that restoring it reverses the effects of vascular aging. After receiving a supplement called NAD+ precursor nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), older mice had the number of capillaries and capillary density found in much younger mice, and improved endurance by up to 80 percent. The collaborative study also involves researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"This study tells us that the loss of SIRT1 is a primary reason why our ability to exercise and receive its benefits diminish as we age," said co-senior author Zoltan Pierre Arany, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "We also show that when we bring the enzyme back into the blood vessels, vascular health improves dramatically: The old blood vessel tree [cluster of capillaries] in the older mice is turned into a young vessel tree, one that looks like it's been exercising for a while, just by turning on this enzyme. That's the most powerful aspect of the study."

The preclinical results show for the first time the ability to improve vascular health by increasing SIRT1, but they also have important implications for the prevention of age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and aging itself. Identifying a target such as an enzyme that could be restored in a person's vessels is an important step that could lead to new or modified existing therapeutics to treat diseases or slow down aging.

SIRT1 is a member of a family of enzymes that mediate the health benefits of diet and can extend lifespan when overexpressed, researchers have shown in past studies. It's known that in young muscle SIRT1 is required for developing new and stronger blood vessels and is implicated in the deterioration of cells that line vessels. It was, however, unknown whether SIRT1 regulates vascular health in skeletal muscle tissue, and if so, whether its breakdown with age was reversible.

To test if SIRT1 was required for vessel creation and maintenance, the researchers knocked out its gene in mice and found that the density and number of capillaries was significantly lower compared to untreated mice, who in a high intensity endurance test ran twice as long as the mice without SIRT1.

Now, knowing that SIRT1 was necessary for vascularization, the researchers administered the NMN supplement to 18-month-old mice for two months and compared their blood vessels to six-month-old mice. NMN restored the number of capillaries and capillary density of the old mice to those typically seen in young mice and also dramatically increased their oxygen consumption. The most striking effect was a 56 to 80 percent improvement in endurance during a high-intensity, treadmill exercise test. Combining hydrogen sulfide, another molecule known to increase SIRT1, with NMN also increased capillary density in mice as old as 32 months compared to younger mice.

To the authors' knowledge, this is the first time small molecules have induced the formation of new blood vessels at an advanced age in an animal model.

Overall, the researchers show in mice that loss of SIRT1 resulted in an early decline in skeletal muscle vascular density and exercise capacity, while overexpression of SIRT1 in older mice had a protective effect, ostensibly by sensitizing these cells to vascular endothelial growth factor coming from muscle fibers, the authors said.

The next step, Arany said, is to look for evidence of this mechanism at play in humans and for a more robust pharmaceutical agent that would be appropriate and effective for use in the clinic. NMN supplements marketed as having anti-aging properties exist today, but very few, if any, have clinical evidence to back up that claim. Researchers also used a larger dosage in the study compared to what's on the market.

"We know that enzymes that regulate the fundamental metabolic program can go awry with age," Arany said. "And we now know that turning that around and fixing it improves the health of aging blood vessels, sufficiently enough so that we can see differences in performance such as exercise capacity. We are still a long way away from testing in humans, but this gives us direction, a target to work with."

March 30, 2021  

Dr. Lyons Weiler is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Pittsburgh where he is the Scientific Director of the Bioinformatics Analysis Core. He earned his PhD at University of Nevada Reno in Ecology Evolution and Conservation Biology. He has published numerous papers with advanced novel methods for genomic proteomic and integromic data analysis. He has taught genetics, population genetics, biology, evolutionary biology, bioinformatics and clinical research principles. He served as the founding Editor in Chief of Cancer Informatics. He serves as a reviewer of peerreviewed journals in the areas of genomics proteomics bioinformatics and clinical decision analysis. He has organized regional and national meetings in bioinformatics. He was the recipient of the Sloan/US DOE Postdoctoral Award in Computational Molecular Biology under the tutelage of Dr Masatoshi Nei and Web Miller at the Pennsylvania State University

March 29, 2021  
 
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, Dr. McCullough completed his medical degree as an Alpha Omega Alpha graduate from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He went on to complete his internal medicine residency at the University of Washington in Seattle, cardiology fellowship including service as Chief Fellow at William Beaumont Hospital, and master’s degree in public health at the University of Michigan. Dr. McCullough is a consultant cardiologist and Vice Chief of Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX. He is a Principal Faculty in internal medicine for the Texas A & M University Health Sciences Center. Dr. McCullough is an internationally recognized authority on the role of chronic kidney disease as a cardiovascular risk state with > 1000 publications and > 500 citations in the National Library of Medicine. His works include the “Interface between Renal Disease and Cardiovascular Illness” in Braunwald’s Heart Disease Textbook. Dr. McCullough is a recipient of the Simon Dack Award from the American College of Cardiology and the International Vicenza Award in Critical Care Nephrology for his scholarship and research. Dr. McCullough is a founder and current president of the Cardiorenal Society of America, an organization dedicated to bringing cardiologists and nephrologists together to work on the emerging problem of cardiorenal syndromes. His works have appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Lancet and other top-tier journals worldwide. He is the co-editor of Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, and associate editor of the American Journal of Cardiology and Cardiorenal Medicine. He serves on the editorial boards of multiple specialty journals. Dr. McCullough has made presentations on the advancement of medicine across the world and has been an invited lecturer at the New York Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency, and the U.S. Congressional Oversight Panel.
 
March 26, 2021  

Greater magnesium intake linked with lower risk of liver cancer

Mt Sinai Hospital, March 22 2021. 

 

A study of AARP members revealed a protective effect for increased intake of magnesium against the risk of developing liver cancer. The findings were published in the March 2021 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

For the current study, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashvilleexamined data from 536,359 participants in the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-AARP) Diet and Health Study cohort, which is which is one of the largest and longest prospective cohorts that collected data concerning diet and cancer outcomes in the United States. Food frequency questionnaire responses provided by the participants during 1995 to 1996 were analyzed for total magnesium and total calcium intake from supplements and food. The subjects were followed up to December 31, 2011, during which 1,067 cases of primary liver cancer were diagnosed. 

Among those whose total magnesium intake was among the top 25% of participants, there was a 35% lower adjusted risk of developing liver cancer in comparison with participants whose intake was among the lowest 25%. Heavy users of alcohol who had a high magnesium intake experienced an even greater protective effect. 

As potential mechanisms for magnesium against liver cancer, authors Shalija C. Shah, MD, and colleagues observed that the mineral is a cofactor for enzymes involved in DNA replication and repair, gene expression, cell proliferation and differentiation, and other factors. 

“Based on a prospective cohort analysis, we demonstrated that magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of primary liver cancer, which was more pronounced among moderate and heavy alcohol users,” they concluded. “These findings add clinical value to the current expansive body of translational literature defining the mechanisms through which this essential micronutrient mediates inflammatory and antineoplastic pathways, particularly within the liver.”

 

 

Green leafy vegetables essential for muscle strength

Eating just one cup of leafy green vegetables every day could boost muscle function, according to new research.

Edith Cowan University (Australia), March 24, 2021

 

Eating just one cup of leafy green vegetables every day could boost muscle function, according to new Edith Cowan University (ECU) research.

The study, published today in the Journal of Nutrition, found that people who consumed a nitrate-rich diet, predominantly from vegetables, had significantly better muscle function of their lower limb.

Poor muscle function is linked to greater risk of falls and fractures and is considered a key indicator of general health and wellbeing.

Researchers examined data from 3,759 Australians taking part in Melbourne's Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute AusDiab study over a 12-year period. They found those with the highest regular nitrate consumption had 11 per cent stronger lower limb strength than those with the lowest nitrate intake. Up to 4 per cent faster walking speeds were also recorded.

Lead researcher Dr Marc Sim from ECU's Institute for Nutrition Research said the findings reveal important evidence for the role diet plays in overall health. 

"Our study has shown that diets high in nitrate-rich vegetables may bolster your muscle strength independently of any physical activity," he said.

"Nevertheless, to optimise muscle function we propose that a balanced diet rich in green leafy vegetables in combination with regular exercise, including weight training, is ideal."

Muscle function is vital for maintaining good overall health, especially bone strength later in life.

"With around one in three Australians aged over 65 suffering a fall each year, it's important to find ways of preventing these events and their potentially serious consequences," said Dr Sim.

Go for green

While leafy greens may be some of our least favourite vegetables, they could be the most important, according to Dr Sim.

The research found nitrate-rich vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, kale and even beetroot, provided the greatest health benefits.

"Less than one in ten Australians eat the recommended five to six serves of vegetables per day," Dr Sim said.

"We should be eating a variety of vegetables every day, with at least one of those serves being leafy greens to gain a range of positive health benefits for the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system." 

"It's also better to eat nitrate-rich vegetables as part of a healthy diet rather than taking supplements. Green leafy vegetables provide a whole range of essential vitamins and minerals critical for health."

Building knowledge

The study, a collaboration with Deakin University's Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition and the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, builds on Dr Sim's previous research into nitrate and muscle function in older women

It also adds to growing evidence linking vegetables with cardiovascular health, including a recent ECU study into cruciferous vegetables and blood vessel health.

Dr Sim said the next step of his research will be exploring strategies to increase leafy green vegetable consumption in the general population. 

"We are currently recruiting for the MODEL Study, which examines how knowledge of disease can be used to prompt people in making long-term improvements to their diet and exercise," said Dr Sim.

 

 

Preservative used in hundreds of popular foods may harm the immune system

New science suggests the FDA should test all food chemicals for safety

Environmental Working Group, March 25, 2021

 

A food preservative used to prolong the shelf life of Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its and almost 1,250 other popular processed foods may harm the immune system, according to a new peer-reviewed study by Environmental Working Group.

For the study, published this week in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, EWG researchers used data from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxicity Forecaster, or ToxCast, to assess the health hazards of the most common chemicals added to food, as well as the "forever chemicals" known as PFAS, which can migrate to food from packaging. 

EWG's analysis of ToxCast data showed that the preservative tert-butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, has been found to harm the immune system both in both animal tests and in non-animal tests known as high-throughput in vitro toxicology testing. This finding is of particular concern during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The pandemic has focused public and scientific attention on environmental factors that can impact the immune system," said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG vice president for science investigations and lead author of the new study. "Before the pandemic, chemicals that may harm the immune system's defense against infection or cancer did not receive sufficient attention from public health agencies. To protect public health, this must change."

TBHQ

TBHQ is a preservative that is pervasive in processed foods. It has been used in foods for many decades and serves no function besides increasing a product's shelf life. Using new non-animal test results from ToxCast, EWG found that TBHQ affected immune cell proteins at doses similar to those that cause harm in traditional studies. Earlier studies have found that TBHQ might influence how well flu vaccines work and may be linked to a rise in food allergies. 

PFAS

Using ToxCast, EWG analyzed all publicly available studies that show how PFAS migrate to food from packaging materials or processing equipment. This is the first known compilation of available research on PFAS migration from packaging to food. In 2017, nationwide tests showed that many fast-food chains used food wrappers, bags and boxes coated with highly fluorinated chemicals.

Human epidemiological studies show that PFAS suppresses immune function and decreases vaccine efficacy. Recently published research has also found a link between high levels of PFAS in the blood and the severity of Covid-19. 

Surprisingly, for most PFAS, the ToxCast results did not match previous animal and human test data. This illustrates the limitations of this new chemical testing method. More research is needed to understand how PFAS harm the immune system.

Food Chemicals Regulation

The Food and Drug Administration's approach to the regulation of food additives does not consider the latest science on the health harms of additives that may be legally added to processed foods manufactured in the U.S. Last year, EWG published Food Additives State of the Science, which highlighted additives known to increase the risk of cancer, harm the nervous system and disrupt the body's hormonal balance. 

Chemicals linked to health harms can be legally added to packaged foods because the FDA frequently allows food manufacturers to determine which chemicals are safe. Additives like TBHQ were approved by the FDA decades ago, and the agency does not consider new science to reassess the safety of food chemicals. 

"Food manufacturers have no incentive to change their formulas," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at EWG. "Too often, the FDA allows the food and chemical industry to determine which ingredients are safe for consumption. Our research shows how important it is that the FDA take a second look at these ingredients and test all food chemicals for safety."

Less Toxic Food Preservatives

Processed foods can be made without these potentially harmful ingredients, so shoppers should read labels carefully. TBHQ is often, though not always, listed on the ingredient label. It will be listed if it has been added to the product during manufacturing. But it can also be used in food packaging, particularly plastic packaging, in which case it may migrate to food. 

EWG's Food Scores database helps consumers find products made with healthier alternatives, and our Healthy Living app allows shoppers to scan products while in stores to choose a better option. 

EWG recommends that immunotoxicity testing be prioritized for chemicals in food and food contact materials in order to protect public health from their potential harm to the immune system. 

EWG also calls on the FDA to close the regulatory loophole that allows potentially unsafe food additives to remain on the market. The FDA should also promptly review additives like TBHQ to reflect new science.

 

 

Transcendental Meditation effective in reducing PTSD, sleep problems, depression symptoms

Maharishi International University, March 19, 2021

 

Veterans with PTSD who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique showed significant reductions in PTSD symptom severity, according to a new study published today in Journal of Traumatic Stress. Fifty percent of the meditating veterans no longer met criteria for PTSD after three months compared to only 10 percent of controls. The randomized controlled study also showed significant reductions in veterans' symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sleep difficulties. 

"Transcendental Meditation is a non-trauma-focused, easy-to-learn technique that was found in this study to improve PTSD symptoms, likely through the experience of physical rest," said Mayer Bellehsen, Ph.D., director of the Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and their Families, Northwell Health, and study principal investigator. "In contrast to commonly administered therapies for PTSD that are trauma-focused and based on a patient's recall of past traumatic experiences, this intervention does not require extensive review of traumatic history, which some individuals find difficult to engage in. This intervention may therefore be more tolerable for some individuals struggling with PTSD."

The randomized controlled trial, conducted at Northwell Health in Bay Shore, New York, assigned 40 veterans with documented PTSD to either the Transcendental Meditation (TM) group or treatment as usual control group. The TM treatment provided 16 sessions over 12 weeks, with twice-a-day daily home practice. PTSD symptom severity was assessed with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5), and patient self-report with the PTSD Checklist for DSM -5 (PCL-5). 

The results showed large effect sizes, indicating a strong TM treatment impact in reducing trauma symptoms for both PTSD measures. Other factors associated with trauma, such as depression and anxiety symptoms and sleep problems, also showed a strong impact of TM treatment.

"This trial corroborates the findings of a large clinical trial published in The Lancet Psychiatry," said Sanford Nidich, Ed.D., Director of the Center for Social-Emotional Health at Maharishi International University Research Institute, and study co-investigator. "The current study further supports the effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation as a first-line treatment for PTSD in veterans. The availability of an additional evidence-based therapy will benefit veterans, both by offering them a greater range of options and by serving as an alternative treatment strategy for those who don't want to engage in trauma-focused treatment or who aren't responding to a previous PTSD intervention." 

The authors point out in their research paper that TM may positively affect trauma symptom severity through the reduction of hyperarousal symptoms. Previous research has shown that TM practice decreases physiological responses to stressful stimuli. In addition, recent research indicates that TM may improve resilience and positive coping strategies, providing further benefit to both veterans and active military personnel.

 

 

Study: Eating White Bread & Bagels Can Be Worse Than Smoking – 49% Increase In Lung Cancer

University of Texas, March 17, 2021

An alarming study has found eating foods high on the glycemic index (GI), such as bagels, white bread, and rice, increase the risk of developing lung cancer by 49 percent — particularly for non-smokers.

In fact, when researchers studied the diets of 4,320 people, they were shocked to find non-smokers with diets high on the GI had nearly double the risk to develop the disease than those whose eating habits remained on the low end of the GI.

Foods with high GI raise blood glucose and insulin, in turn causing increased insulin growth factors (IGFs), which are associated with greater risk for developing lung cancer.

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center conducted the study of 1,905 people who had cancer diagnoses and 2,415 healthy people, which was published this month in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, RTreported.

“The results from this study suggest that, besides maintaining healthy lifestyles, such as avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption, and being physically active, reducing the consumption of foods and beverages with high glycemic index may serve as a means to lower the risk of lung cancer,” explained Dr. Xifeng Wu, study senior author.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the United States. More the 150,000 people will die from lung cancer in 2016 alone, according to the American Cancer Society.

What’s more, a second study revealed Americans consume more than half their calories via “ultra-processed” foods, which directly contribute to health problems like obesity and heart disease.

“Ultra-processed foods are products that contain several manufactured ingredients that are not generally used when cooking from scratch, including natural and artificial flavors or colors, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives,”CBS News explained.

Obvious examples of ultra-processed foods include soft drinks; chicken and fish nuggets, as well as other reconstituted meat products; packaged snacks, both sweet and savory; packaged baked goods; and instant noodle products.

Lead author of the study, Professor Carlos Augusto Monteiro at the University of São Paulo School of Public Health, Dept. of Nutrition, explained such highly-processed foods are designed to imitate natural foods, but often “disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.”

Where a diet of fresh foods and minimally-processed products — like cheeses and simple breads — are healthiest, Monteiro told CBS News, ultra-processed products “are manufactured and marketed to replace those foods, drinks, dishes, and meals.”

Such ‘foods’ are generally high in sugars, saturated fat, and sodium and contribute to a wide range of health issues, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and many more.

Both studies ultimately suggest the need to cut out highly-processed products and return to a natural diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In other words, food — not products.

 

Move your body for five minutes every hour to counteract lockdown inactivity

Kings College London, March 23, 2021

A study which looked at activity levels before and during the COVID-19 pandemic has found lockdown restrictions significantly reduced light activity associated with socialising and work.

The study, published recently in BMJ Neurology and led by King's College London, examined how activity levels changed in study participants with muscular dystrophy and other inheritable myopathies. The sample included people with a range of physical abilities, from highly independent to assisted mobility, including 41 wheelchair users, who are often underrepresented in research. However, the authors say the findings are likely to be relevant to adults of various abilities and backgrounds because many people have lost their usual daily routine during lockdown.

The study is unique because it used accelerometers to measure physical activity before and during lockdown as part of an ongoing longitudinal physical activity study from 2019 to 2020. The accelerometers measured activity intensity, frequency and time in vigorous, moderate, light and inactive categories.

Researchers found there was a significant reduction in daily activity intensity during lockdown. Before lockdown, participants did a mean of 84.5 minutes per day of light activity and had a relatively low frequency of hourly movement. During lockdown, light activity reduced by a mean of 25 minutes per day and frequency of hourly movement reduced by a median of 11%. Moderate and vigorous activity did not change significantly during lockdown, but this might be explained by low baseline levels in this group. 

In lockdown, the reduction in light activity time and frequency of movement was explained by restrictions on going to work, leisure pursuits and socialising. This light activity within daily routine is not exercise-focused so it can be difficult for individuals to detect these subtle light activity losses. However, light activity and regular movement throughout the day are associated with improved health outcomes for everyone, regardless of health conditions.

Sarah Roberts-Lewis, the study lead and a Neurological Physiotherapist at King's College London, said; "Even people who don't do much exercise have been impacted by lockdown inactivity. During COVID-19 lockdown, our study detected an extra hour per day of inactivity in disabled and independent adults with neuromuscular diseases. Moving less is detrimental to health. Reduced activity can be especially harmful for those with neuromuscular conditions, disabilities or advanced age." 

"The reduction in light activity measured in this study is likely to be similar for anybody whose daily routine has been restricted by lockdown. Based on our findings, we suggest people move their bodies for 5 minutes each hour during the day. Additionally, spend 30 minutes each day doing some extra light activity, like yoga or chair exercises. The World Health Organisation activity guidelines state 'every move counts'; they provide suggestions about light activites suitable for all abilities. Simple changes can help with reconditioning during and after lockdown."

 

 

Lifestyle program improves fertility for women with obesity, infertility

University of Sherbrooke (Quebec) March 19, 2021

A lifestyle intervention targeting women with obesity and infertility is more effective in increasing the pregnancy rate compared with fertility treatments, according to a study presented virtually at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.

The lifestyle intervention, called the Fit-For-Fertility (FFF) program, is a cost-effective alternative to the usual standard of care for women with obesity seeking fertility treatments, according to lead researcher Matea Belan, Ph.D., of the University of Sherbrooke and the Research Center of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (RC-CHUS) in Quebec, Canada. "Our study shows that the FFF program can significantly improve the pregnancy rate, especially the spontaneous pregnancy rate when no fertility treatments are required, as well as the live-birth rate," she said.

Obesity is a known risk factor for infertility in women of childbearing age. Lifestyle changes and a moderate weight loss of 5%-10% of a woman's initial weight have been shown to improve the odds of a pregnancy in women with obesity and infertility, Belan noted.

"Lifestyle changes are recommended as the first-line treatment for these women," said study author Jean-Patrice Baillargeon, M.D., M.Sc., professor of the University of Sherbrooke and clinician investigator of the RC-CHUS. The new study tested Fit-For-Fertility, a multidisciplinary lifestyle intervention that includes a nutritionist and a kinesiologist, or human movement specialist.

The researchers recruited 130 women receiving treatment at a fertility clinic, and randomly divided them into two groups. The first group had access to the Fit-For-Fertility program alone for the first six months of their participation, and in combination with fertility treatments if no pregnancy occurred after six months.

The program included individual sessions with a nutritionist and a kinesiologist every six weeks. Women in the FFF group were also asked to follow at least once each one of the 12 group sessions, which included a 45-minute workshop on topics regarding nutrition, lifestyle changes and lifestyle habits, followed by a 45-minute session of initiation to different types of physical activity, including walking, circuit training, step workout and others. In the second group, the control group, women had access to the fertility treatments from the outset but did not take part in the FFF program.

Data was collected for 18 months, or until the end of a pregnancy for women who became pregnant during those 18 months of participation.

Of the 108 women who completed at least six months of the study, or became pregnant during the first six months, the FFF program generated a difference of 14.2 percentage points in the live-birth rate (51% for the FFF group and 36.8% for the control group). The spontaneous pregnancy rate (pregnancy without any fertility treatments) was 33.3% in the treatment group, compared with 12.3% in the control group.

The researchers estimate the cost per additional newborn resulting from the FFF program at $12,633 (in 2019 Canadian dollars), somewhat similar to the willingness-to-pay for a newborn resulting from in vitro fertilization, which can cost up to $15,000.

"We hope this research will give women with obesity and infertility affordable access to a tailored lifestyle intervention adapted to their condition and their specific needs in order to improve their chances of having a pregnancy and building a family," Belan said.

 

 

Vitamin B3 to stay younger? A global increase in antioxidant defenses of the body may delay aging and its diseases

 

Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (Spain), March 15, 2021

 

The gradual accumulation of cell damage plays a very important role in the origin of ageing. There are many sources of cellular damage, however, which ones are really responsible for ageing and which ones are inconsequential for ageing is a question that still lacks an answer.

The Oxidative Hypothesis of Ageing -- also known as the Free Radicals Hypothesis -- was put forward in 1956 by Denham Harman. Since then, the large majority of attempts to prove that oxidative damage is relevant for ageing have failed, including multiple clinical trials in humans with antioxidant compounds. For this reason, although the accumulation of oxidative damage with ageing is undisputed, most scientists believe that it is a minor, almost irrelevant, cause of ageing.

However, this may change in light of the recently published observations. A group of scientists from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) headed by Manuel Serrano, in collaboration with a group from the University of Valencia, directed by José Viña, and researchers at IMDEA Food from Madrid, have tried to increase the global antioxidant capacity of the cells, rather than just one or a few antioxidant enzymes. To achieve this global improvement in the total antioxidant capacity, researches have focused on increasing the levels of NADPH, a relatively simple molecule that is of key importance in antioxidant reactions and that, however, had not been studied to date in relation to ageing.

The researchers used a genetic approach to increase NADPH levels. In particular, they generated transgenic mice with an increased expression throughout their bodies of one of the most important enzymes for the production of NADPH, namely, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (or G6PD).

The results, published today in the journal Nature Communications, indicate that an increase in G6PD and, therefore, in NADPH, increases the natural antioxidant defences of the organism, protecting it from oxidative damage, reducing ageing-related processes, such as insulin resistance, and increasing longevity.

Antioxidants That Delay Ageing

"As anticipated, the cells in these transgenic animals are more resistant to highly toxic artificial oxidative treatments, thus proving that an increase in G6PD really improves antioxidant defences," explains Sandrina Nóbrega-Pereira, first author of the study and currently a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Medicine of the University of Lisbon.

Furthermore, when researchers analysed long-lived transgenic animals, they noted that their levels of oxidative damage were lower than in non-transgenic animals of the same age. They also studied the propensity of these animals to develop cancer and found no difference, suggesting that enhancing G6PD activity does not have an important effect on the development of cancer.

The greatest surprise for the team was when they measured the ageing process in the transgenic mice: the animals with a high G6PD expression and, therefore, high levels of NADPH, delayed their ageing, metabolised sugar better and presented better movement coordination as they aged. In addition, transgenic females lived 14% longer than non-transgenic mice, while no significant effect on the longevity of males was observed.

"This increased longevity, although modest, is striking taking into account that until now attempts to increase longevity by manipulating individual antioxidant enzymes had failed," said Pablo Fernández-Marcos, co-first author of the study and researcher at IMDEA Food.

Overall Increase in the Antioxidant Capacity of Cells

Perhaps the key is that the researchers involved in this paper enhanced all antioxidant enzymes in a comprehensive manner. "Compared to the traditional approach of administering antioxidants that react directly with oxygen, we have stimulated all the cell's natural antioxidant mechanisms by raising G6PD levels, and its by-product, NADPH," emphasizes Mari Carmen Gómez-Cabrera, co-author of the paper and researcher at the University of Valencia.

Based on these results, the authors of the study point to the use of pharmacological agents or nutritional supplements that increase NADPH levels as potential tools for delaying the ageing process in humans and age-related diseases, such as diabetes, among others. More specifically, vitamin B3 and its derivatives are responsible for the synthesis of NADPH precursors and are suitable candidates for future studies.

March 25, 2021  

why we should be deeply worried about the rush to begin covid vaccine trials in children and infants, and our distorted perceptions about vaccination

Dr. Lawrence Palevsky ("Larry") is a board certified pediatrician who utilizes a holistic approach to children’s wellness and illness. Over the years he has lectured and spoken extensively about vaccine risks and vaccine adverse reactions, including autism spectrum disorders and neurological damage. Dr. Palevsky received his medical degree from the NYU School of Medicine and completed a three-year pediatric residency at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Since 1991, his clinical experience includes working in pediatric emergency and intensive care medicine, in-patient and out-patient pediatric medicine, neonatal intensive care medicine, newborn and delivery room medicine, and conventional, holistic and private practice in integrative pediatric practice. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, and Past–President of the American Holistic Medical Association.  Dr. Palevsky’s current practice is in Northport Long Island and Manhattan where he specializes in treating acute and chronic pediatric and adult conditions.  For more information about his practice and work, his website is NorthPointWellnessCenter.com
March 24, 2021  

Lion’s mane mushroom helps reduce depression and anxiety

Tohoku University (Japan), March 21, 2021

Several studies have shown the potential of lion’s mane mushroom to help address several health problems including those that are related to brain function.

Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), also known as hedgehog mushroom, is a mushroom native to North America, Asia and Europe. Its fruiting bodies are said to contain polysaccharides that are beneficial to the human body.

This mushroom has a long history of medical uses, especially in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where it was used to help support brain health. In recent years, its value in supporting cognitive health has been supported by a number of studies.

The mushroom helps Reduce depression and anxiety

In a study published in the journal Biomedical Research, the mushroom was tested on female participants in order to tests its effects on mental health.

After taking lion’s mane mushroom cookies for four weeks, the participants reported reduced depression and anxiety. According to the researchers, this was due to two chemical constituents isolated from lion’s mane’s fruiting body called hericenones and erinacines. These two chemicals stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis.

NGF takes part in a number of activities in the body that are essential in maintaining and organizing neurons. By stimulating NGF biosynthesis, lion’s mane is able to help improve mental health.

Meanwhile, in a study on mice, researchers from Tohoku University  in Japan discovered that lion’s mane mushroom may be used to prevent cognitive dysfunction.

The Japanese researchers administered 10 micrograms of amyloid-beta peptide to the mice on days seven and 14 in their 23-day experimental period. Also, the mice subjects were fed with food containing lion’s mane mushroom over the course of the experimental period.

To measure the results of their study, the team used Y-maze and the novel object recognition tests on the subjects. They discovered that the mushroom prevented the negative effects of amyloid-beta peptide on the spatial short-term and visual recognition memory of the mice. The study suggests that the mushroom might reverse even the effects of amyloid-beta peptide – a protein believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease.

Lion’s mane for cognitive impairment

Moreover, in another study conducted by Japanese scientists, lion’s mane mushroom showed potential in improving symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. This is the stage between aging-related cognitive decline and the development of dementia. Its symptoms include problems with memory, language, thinking or judgment.

The team took 30 patients with mild cognitive impairment and gave them 250mg tablets with 96 percent lion’s mane extract to be taken in four pieces for three times a day for 16 weeks. During weeks eight, 12 and 16, the patients underwent observation wherein they showed improvement in their cognitive function as displayed by the increase of their scores on the cognitive function scale. Moreover, the researchers conducted laboratory tests on the patients and saw that the intake of lion’s mane did not result in any side effect.

In addition, the patients’ scores in the cognitive function scale decreased by the time their intake of lion’s mane mushroom tablets stopped.

 

 

 

Quercetin-3-o-glucuronide alleviates cognitive deficit in mouse model of Alzheimer disease

Hua-zhong University of Science & Technology (China), March 22, 2021

 

According to news reporting from Wuhan, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Scope Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by amyloid-beta (A beta) related imbalance, Tau-hyperphosphorylation, and neuroinflammation, in which A beta and neuroinflammation can induce brain insulin resistance (IR). Gut microbiome disorder is correlated with inflammation in AD.”

The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, “As of yet, there are no effective treatments clinically. Thus, it is focused on the potential benefit of quercetin-3-O-glucuronide (Q3G), a pharmacologically active flavonol glucuronide, on AD treatment by regulating brain IR and the gut microbiome. AD mice model built through intracerebroventricular injection of A beta(1-42) and AD cell model developed through the SH-SY5Y cell line and A beta(1-42) are used to explore the protective effects of Q3G on AD. Neurobehavioral test, brain insulin signaling pathway, and high-throughput pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA are assessed. Data show that Q3G attenuates neuroinflammation and brain IR in A beta(1-42)-injected mice and relieves apoptosis in A beta(1-42)-treated SH-SY5Y cells by interrupting the downstream insulin signaling. Q3G ameliorates A beta accumulation and Tau phosphorylation, restores CREB and BDNF levels in the hippocampus , and reverses A beta(1-42)-induced cognitive impairment. Besides, Q3G restores A beta(1-42)-induced reduction of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and gut microbiota dysbiosis.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Q3G can alleviate brain IR through directly acting on the brain or modulating the gut-brain axis, ultimately to relieve A beta(1-42)-induced cognitive dysfunction.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

Research shows possible link between number of fast-food outlets and heart attacks

Hunter Medical Research Institute & University of Newcastle (UK), March 17, 2021 

Researchers from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health (HNE Health) have found that for each new fast-food outlet the number of heart attacks per 100,000 people went up by four.

Published in the latest edition of the Internal Medicine Journal the study aimed to determine whether the number of fast-foodoutlets in an area could be considered an environmental risk factor for Myocardial Infarction (heart attack).

The team led by Dr. Tarunpreet Saluja from the University of Newcastle, compared all cases of Myocardial Infarction within the Hunter-New England Health District with the Fast-Food Outlet Density (FFD) of each Local Government Area within the district. 

"Heart attack is one of the leading causes of death worldwide" said Dr. Saluja, "However, recent data suggests that an increasing number of heart attacks cannot be explained by known risk factors."

"There is a well-established link between fast food consumption and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack. This highlights the need to explore the role of food availability in the probability of having a heart attack."

The team found that FFD was positively correlated with an increase of myocardial infarction, even after accounting for other factors such as age, obesity, hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol), hypertension (high blood pressure), smoking status, diabetes, and socioeconomic status. 

Study co-author and cardiologist at John Hunter Hospital, Professor Andrew Boyle said that while it has been known for some time that consuming fast food was bad for the heart no one had determined whether the number of stores was itself a predicting factor. 

"Until now there has been very little data on the link between fast-food outlet density and heart attacks, so these results should provide an important consideration for future public‐health policy and community development," said Professor Boyle. 

Study co-author and Associate Director of HMRI's Data Science Group, Dr. Christopher Oldmeadow, said that developing a new metric to calculate fast-food outlet density was key to the study and there was scope to expand the data to look at more outlets in the future. 

"For this study, we focused on the 10 most popular fast-food outlets in Australia and used census data to determine the density per 100,000 people in each local government area," Dr. Oldmeadow said. "This worked for the majority of the LGAs, but there is scope to investigate the relationship between smaller, locally operated fast‐food outlets and heart attacks."

 

Vitamin B6 may help calm cytokine storms in COVID-19

University of Hiroshima (Japan), March 14, 2021

Vitamin B6 may help calm cytokine storms and unclog blood clots linked to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) lethality, according to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

In the paper, researchers from Hiroshima University pointed out growing evidence showing that vitamin B6 exerts a protective effect against chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes by suppressing inflammation, inflammasomes, oxidative stress, and carbonyl stress. Coronaviruses and influenza are among the viruses that can cause lethal lung injuries and death from acute respiratory distress syndrome worldwide. Viral infections evoke a “cytokine storm,” leading to lung capillary endothelial cell inflammation, neutrophil infiltration, and increased oxidative stress, the researchers said.

The researchers said thrombosis or blood clotting and cytokine storm or hyper-inflammation might be closely linked to the graveness of COVID-19. Cytokine storms happen when the immune system dangerously goes into overdrive and starts attacking even the healthy cells. Meanwhile, blood clots linked to COVID-19 can block capillaries, damaging vital organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, according to the study.

Vitamin B6 is a known anti-thrombosis and anti-inflammation nutrient. Deficiency in this vitamin is also associated with lower immune function and higher susceptibility to viral infections.

Studies have so far explored the benefits of vitamins D and C and minerals like zinc and magnesium in fortifying immune response against COVID-19. Research on vitamin B6 has been limited, the researchers said. The researchers said they hope the paper will show vitamin B6's potential in lowering the odds of patients becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus, and prompt further research.

"It is of great interest to examine if vitamin B6 exerts protection against novel types of virus infection and pneumonia which will be encountered in the future,” said Thanutchaporn Kumrungsee, PhD, lead author of the paper, in a statement. “At present, there is few information regarding the protective role of nutrients against pneumonia and lung diseases.”

Vitamin B6 has a close relationship with the immune system, she said. Its levels always drop in people under chronic inflammation such as obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.

“We can see from the news that obese and diabetic people are at high risk for COVID-19, said Kumrungsee. “Thus, our attempt in this paper is to shed light on the possible involvement of vitamin B6 in decreasing the severity of COVID-19.

 

 

Green space or light at night: How we can improve health

University of Adelaide (Australia), March 18, 2021

There is a growing body of evidence that exposure to green space is good for our health but a new study from the University of Adelaide has found that this may equally be due to how much light we are exposed to at night.

Spending time in green space can improve depressive symptoms, obesity, and sleep problems, and reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Conversely, exposure to light at night, particularly urban light pollution, increases the risk of breast and prostate cancer, and can worsen depression, obesity and sleep problems. 

Researchers identified a negative correlation between green space diversity and outdoor artificial light at night for Australian major cities—in other words, the greener your environment, the less the light pollution, and vice versa. 

This makes intuitive sense, because the more developed an area is, the fewer trees there will be and the more lights there will be. 

Published in Environmental Research, the study questions whether the health benefits of green space exposure may in part be a result of avoiding light at night. 

"There seems to be a pattern here—yet, amazingly, no one has put these two things together—until now,"' said lead author Dr. Jessica Stanhope from the University of Adelaide's School of Allied Health Science and Practice. 

"It is possible that these factors have been confounding each other in epidemiological studies of the associations between residential green spaces and improved health, and urban outdoor artificial light at night exposure and poor health

"We have shown that green space is inversely associated with outdoor artificial light at night, making it unclear whether health outcomes result from the green space, the light at night, or possibly in an interaction of the two." 

Researchers recommend that epidemiological studies focus on resolving this problem as a priority, so that recommendations can be made for interventions that would improve the public health. For example, to improve population health, is it more important to plant green space in urban areas to give people in cities better green space exposure, or is it better to invest that effort in reducing urban light pollution, or both? 

"Some great studies have been done on the association between green space and health, which is a rapidly growing research area; and there are also very neat epidemiological studies of the adverse health effects of exposure to light at night," said Dr. Stanhope. 

"It is now really important that future studies include both factors so that we can better understand their association—only then can we make better public health recommendations about planning health-giving sustainable urban landscapes."

 

Supplements may protect those with low vitamin D levels from severe COVID-19

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, March 20, 2021

Patients with low vitamin D levels who are hospitalized for COVID-19 may have a lower risk of dying or requiring mechanical ventilation if they receive vitamin D supplementation of at least 1,000 units weekly, according to a study presented virtually at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.

"Given how common vitamin D deficiency is in the world and the United States, we believe that this research is highly relevant right now," said co-author Sweta Chekuri, M.D., of Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. 

Research has shown that vitamin D supplementation can prevent inflammation in other respiratory diseases, but there have been limited studies examining the role of vitamin D supplementation in COVID-19. The purpose of the study was to determine whether being supplemented with vitamin D before being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 resulted in less severe COVID-19 disease in patients with a low vitamin D level.

The researchers studied 124 adult patients with low vitamin D that was measured up to 90 days before their admission for COVID-19. They compared the patients who were supplemented with at least 1,000 units of vitamin D weekly to those who had not received vitamin D supplements in terms of whether they were mechanically ventilated or died during admission.

They found that patients who were supplemented were less likely to be mechanically ventilated or to die following admission, though the finding wasn't statistically significant (37.5 percent of patients who were not supplemented vs. 33.3 percent of those who were) They also found that more than half of those who should have been supplemented were not. 

"Though we weren't able to show a definitive link to severe COVID-19, it is clear that patients with low vitamin D should receive supplementation not only for bone health, but also for stronger protection against severe COVID-19," said co-author Corinne Levitus, D.O., of Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "We hope this research will encourage clinicians to discuss adding this supplement with their patients who have low vitamin D, as this may reduce the odds of people developing severe COVID-19."

study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism last fall found over 80 percent of 200 COVID-19 patients in a hospital in Spain had vitamin D deficiency.

 

 

Study finds changes in gut microbiome connected to Alzheimer-like behavior

Oregon Health & Science University, March 19, 2021

New research in mice published in the journal Scientific Reports strengthens the growing scientific consensus regarding the role of the gut microbiome in neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, led by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, found a correlation between the composition of the gut microbiome and the behavioral and cognitive performance of mice carrying genes associated with Alzheimer’s. The mice carried the human amyloid precursor protein gene with dominant Alzheimer’s mutations generated by scientists in Japan.

The study further suggests a relationship between microbes in the digestive tract and the expression of genes that trigger Alzheimer-like symptoms in mice.

“You know the expression, ‘You are what you eat?’” said senior author Jacob Raber, Ph.D., professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine. “This may be part of that. While all mice were fed the same diet, the gut microbiome is affected in a genotype-dependent fashion and this in turn might affect your brain.”

The findings are the first to demonstrate a direct connection between the gut microbiome and cognitive and behavioral changes in an Alzheimer’s disease animal model, and they are consistent with a recently published observational study in people newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In fact, a U.S. clinical trial for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease is currently underway involving a compound that targets microbes in the gut.

The research published breaks new ground.

In addition to the cognitive and behavioral changes that were measured, the study is the first to demonstrate a relationship between changes in the gut microbiome and epigenetic changes in neural tissue in the hippocampus, an area of the brain affected in Alzheimer’s. This type of research is not possible in people.

The microbiome is a complex assemblage of microorganisms such as bacteria that play a critical role in a wide range of functions in the body. In this case, researchers wanted to see if the gut microbiome affected cognitive and behavioral measures in specially bred mice at 6 months of age. So they compared wild-type mice with those genetically engineered to carry the human amyloid precursor protein gene with dominant Alzheimer’s mutations.

They found changes in the gut microbiome - measured in fecal pellets - corresponded with epigenetic regulation of the apolipoprotein E and Tomm40 genes, both associated with Alzheimer’s. They found a clear correlation, but they still can’t say whether one causes the other.

“Microbes may elicit an impact on behavioral and cognitive measures relevant to Alzheimer’s disease via epigenetic changes in the hippocampus,” Raber said. “Or, alternatively, it might be that the epigenetic changes in the hippocampus affect changes in the gut microbiome.”

The next phase of research will determine whether it’s possible to reduce Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in genetically predisposed mice by altering their diet.

“The exciting part of this is that you can manipulate the gut microbiome,” Raber said. “We can use probiotics and see what the effect is.”

March 23, 2021  

White button mushrooms could slow progression of prostate cancer

Beckman Research Institute, March 19, 2021

The chemicals present in white button mushrooms may slow the progression of prostate cancer, according to a mouse study presented virtually at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.

"Androgens, a type of male sex hormone, promote the growth of prostate cancer cells by binding to and activating the androgen receptor, a protein that is expressed in prostate cells," said lead researcher Xiaoqiang Wang, M.D., Ph.D., M.B. (A.S.C.P.), of the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, a comprehensive cancer center in Duarte, Calif. "White button mushrooms appear to suppress the activity of the androgen receptor."

City of Hope's Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., the principal investigator of this project, previously conducted a phase one clinical trial of white button mushroom powder in patients with recurrent prostate cancer, which indicated that the mushrooms reduced levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood, with minimal side effects. Heightened blood levels of PSA in men may indicate the existence of prostate tumors.

The new study aimed to understand the mechanism behind this finding. The researchers studied the mushroom extract's effect on prostate cancer cells that were sensitive to androgen. They also studied the extract's effect on mice implanted with human prostate tumors, which creates an animal model whose results would be more reliable as the research is translated to human clinical trials.

The researchers found that in prostate cancer cells, white button mushroom extract suppressed androgen receptor activity. They also found that in mice treated with white button mushroom extract for six days, prostate tumor growth was significantly suppressed, and levels of PSA decreased.

"We found that white button mushrooms contain chemicals that can block the activity of the androgen receptor in mouse models, indicating this fungus can reduce PSA levels," Wang said. "While more research is needed, it's possible that white button mushrooms could one day contribute to the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer."

 

 

Study shows stronger brain activity after writing on paper than on tablet or smartphone

University of Tokyo, March 18, 2021

A study of Japanese university students and recent graduates has revealed that writing on physical paper can lead to more brain activity when remembering the information an hour later. Researchers say that the complex, spatial and tactile information associated with writing by hand on physical paper is likely what leads to improved memory.

"Actually, paper is more advanced and useful compared to electronic documents because paper contains more one-of-a-kind information for stronger memory recall," said Professor Kuniyoshi L. Sakai, a neuroscientist at the University of Tokyo and corresponding author of the research recently published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. The research was completed with collaborators from the NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting.

Contrary to the popular belief that digital tools increase efficiency, volunteers who used paper completed the note-taking task about 25% faster than those who used digital tablets or smartphones.

Although volunteers wrote by hand both with pen and paper or stylus and digital tablet, researchers say paper notebooks contain more complex spatial informationthan digital paper. Physical paper allows for tangible permanence, irregular strokes, and uneven shape, like folded corners. In contrast, digital paper is uniform, has no fixed position when scrolling, and disappears when you close the app.

"Our take-home message is to use paper notebooks for information we need to learn or memorize," said Sakai.

In the study, a total of 48 volunteers read a fictional conversation between characters discussing their plans for two months in the near future, including 14 different class times, assignment due dates and personal appointments. Researchers performed pre-test analyses to ensure that the volunteers, all 18-29 years old and recruited from university campuses or NTT offices, were equally sorted into three groups based on memory skills, personal preference for digital or analog methods, gender, age and other aspects.

Volunteers then recorded the fictional schedule using a paper datebook and pen, a calendar app on a digital tablet and a stylus, or a calendar app on a large smartphone and a touch-screen keyboard. There was no time limit and volunteers were asked to record the fictional events in the same way as they would for their real-life schedules, without spending extra time to memorize the schedule.

After one hour, including a break and an interference task to distract them from thinking about the calendar, volunteers answered a range of simple (When is the assignment due?) and complex (Which is the earlier due date for the assignments?) multiple choice questions to test their memory of the schedule. While they completed the test, volunteers were inside a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, which measures blood flow around the brain. This is a technique called functional MRI (fMRI), and increased blood flow observed in a specific region of the brain is a sign of increased neuronal activity in that area.

Participants who used a paper datebook filled in the calendar within about 11 minutes. Tablet users took 14 minutes and smartphone users took about 16 minutes. Volunteers who used analog methods in their personal life were just as slow at using the devices as volunteers who regularly use digital tools, so researchers are confident that the difference in speed was related to memorization or associated encoding in the brain, not just differences in the habitual use of the tools.

Volunteers who used analog methods scored better than other volunteers only on simple test questions. However, researchers say that the brain activation data revealed significant differences.

Volunteers who used paper had more brain activity in areas associated with language, imaginary visualization, and in the hippocampus—an area known to be important for memory and navigation. Researchers say that the activation of the hippocampus indicates that analog methods contain richer spatial details that can be recalled and navigated in the mind's eye.

"Digital tools have uniform scrolling up and down and standardized arrangement of text and picture size, like on a webpage. But if you remember a physical textbook printed on paper, you can close your eyes and visualize the photo one-third of the way down on the left-side page, as well as the notes you added in the bottom margin," Sakai explained.

Researchers say that personalizing digital documents by highlighting, underlining, circling, drawing arrows, handwriting color-coded notes in the margins, adding virtual sticky notes, or other types of unique mark-ups can mimic analog-style spatial enrichment that may enhance memory.

Although they have no data from younger volunteers, researchers suspect that the difference in brain activation between analog and digital methods is likely to be stronger in younger people.

"High school students' brains are still developing and are so much more sensitive than adult brains," said Sakai.

Although the current research focused on learning and memorization, the researchers encourage using paper for creative pursuits as well.

"It is reasonable that one's creativity will likely become more fruitful if prior knowledge is stored with stronger learning and more precisely retrieved from memory. For art, composing music, or other creative works, I would emphasize the use of paper instead of digital methods," said Sakai.

 

Eating processed meat could increase dementia risk?

University of Leeds (UK), March 22, 2021

Scientists from the University of Leeds's Nutritional Epidemiology Group used data from 500,000 people, discovering that consuming a 25g serving of processed meat a day, the equivalent to one rasher of bacon, is associated with a 44% increased risk of developing the disease. 

But their findings also show eating some unprocessed red meat, such as beef, pork or veal, could be protective, as people who consumed 50g a day were 19% less likely to develop dementia.? 

The researchers were exploring a potential link between consumption of meat and the development of dementia, a health condition that affects 5%-8% of over 60s worldwide. 

Their results, titled Meat consumption and risk of incident dementia: cohort study of 493888 UK Biobank participants, are published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Lead researcher Huifeng Zhang, a PhD student from the University of?Leeds'?School of Food Science and Nutrition, said: "Worldwide, the prevalence of dementia is increasing and diet as a modifiable factor could play a role. Our research adds to the growing body of evidence linking processed meat consumption, to increased risk of a range of non-transmissible diseases."? 

The research was supervised by Professor Janet Cade and Professor Laura Hardie, both at Leeds. 

The team studied?data provided by UK Biobank, a database containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants?aged 40 to 69, to investigate associations between consuming different types of meat and risk of developing dementia.?? 

The data included?how often?participants?consumed different kinds of meat, with six options from never to once or more daily, collected in 2006-2010 by the UK Biobank.?The study did not specifically assess the impact of a vegetarian or vegan diet on dementia risk, but it included data from people who said they did not eat red meat.? 

Among the participants, 2,896 cases of dementia emerged over an average of eight years of follow up.?These people were?generally older, more?economically deprived, less educated, more likely to smoke, less physically active, more likely to have stroke history and family dementia history, and more likely to be carriers of a gene which is highly associated with dementia. More men than women were diagnosed with dementia in the study population.?? 

Some people were three to six times more likely to develop dementia due to well established genetic factors, but the findings suggest the risks from eating processed meat were the same?whether or not?a person was genetically predisposed to developing the disease.? 

Those who consumed higher amounts of processed meat were?more likely to be male, less educated, smokers, overweight or obese, had lower intakes of vegetables and fruits, and had higher intakes of energy, protein, and fat (including saturated fat).? 

Meat consumption has previously been associated with dementia risk, but this is believed to be the first large-scale study of participants over time to examine a link between specific meat types and amounts, and the risk of developing the disease.? 

There are around 50 million dementia cases globally, with around 10 million new cases diagnosed every year. Alzheimer's Disease makes up 50% to 70% of cases, and vascular dementia around 25%. Its development and progression are associated with both genetic and environmental factors, including diet and lifestyle.?? 

Ms?Zhang said: "Further confirmation is needed, but the direction of effect is linked to current healthy eating guidelines suggesting lower intakes of unprocessed red meat could be beneficial for health." 

Professor Cade said: 'Anything we can do to explore potential risk factors for dementia may help us to reduce rates of this debilitating condition. This analysis is a first step towards understanding whether what we eat could influence that risk."

 

Tea drinking slashes the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease: Singapore population-based analysis

 

National University of Singapore, March 20, 2021

 

Tea consumption halves the risk of cognitive impairment for people 55 years old and above, and also dramatically reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease among those at greater genetic risk.

 

These were the key findings of a longitudinal study involving 957 seniors led by assistant professor Feng Lei from the Department of Psychological Medicine at National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. It found that regular consumption of tea lowers the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly by 50%, while APOE e4 gene carriers who are genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease may experience a reduction in cognitive impairment risk by as much as 86%.

 

The research team also discovered that the neuroprotective role of tea consumption on cognitive function is not limited to a particular type of tea – so long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves, such as green, black or oolong tea.

 

“While the study was conducted on Chinese elderly, the results could apply to other races as well. Our findings have important implications for dementia prevention. Despite high quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory. Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life,” said assistant professor Feng.

 

However, he said much more work is needed to fully understand the biological mechanisms responsible for these benefits.

 

Assistant professor Feng added: "Based on current knowledge, this long term benefit of tea consumption is due to the bioactive compounds in tea leaves, such as catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine. These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration. Our understanding of the detailed biological mechanisms is still very limited so we do need more research to find out definitive answers."

 

In this study, tea consumption information was collected from the participants, who were community-living elderly, from 2003 to 2005. At regular intervals of two years, these seniors were assessed on their cognitive function using standardised tools until 2010. Information on lifestyles, medical conditions, physical and social activities were also collected. Those potential confounding factors were controlled in statistical models to ensure the robustness of the findings.

 

The paper, published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, stated: "A total of 72 incidents of neurocognitive disorders (NCD) were identified from the cohort. Tea intake was associated with lower risk of incident NCD, independent of other risk factors. Reduced NCD risk was observed for both green tea (OR=0.43) and black/oolong tea (OR=0.53) and appeared to be influenced by the changing of tea consumption habit at follow-up. Using consistent non-tea consumers as the reference, only consistent tea consumers had reduced risk of NCD (OR=0.39). Stratified analyses indicated that tea consumption was associated with reduced risk of NCD among females (OR=0.32) and APOE e4 carriers (OR=0.14) but not males and non APOE e4 carriers."

 

It concluded that regular tea consumption was associated with lower risk of neurocognitive disorders among Chinese elderly. Gender and genetic factors could possibly modulate this association, it added.

 

 

Exposure to common chemical during pregnancy may reduce protection against breast cancer

Research suggests propylparaben is an endocrine disruptor

University of Massachusetts, March 16, 2021

Low doses of propylparaben - a chemical preservative found in food, drugs and cosmetics - can alter pregnancy-related changes in the breast in ways that may lessen the protection against breast cancer that pregnancy hormones normally convey, according to University of Massachusetts Amherst research.

The findings, published March 16 in the journal Endocrinology, suggest that propylparaben is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that interferes with the actions of hormones, says environmental health scientist Laura Vandenberg, the study's senior author. Endocrine disruptors can affect organs sensitive to hormones, including the mammary gland in the breast that produces milk.

"We found that propylparaben disrupts the mammary gland of mice at exposure levels that have previously been considered safe based on results from industry-sponsored studies. We also saw effects of propylparaben after doses many times lower, which are more reflective of human intake," Vandenberg says. "Although our study did not evaluate breast cancer risk, these changes in the mammary tissue are involved in mitigating cancer risk in women."

Hormones produced during pregnancy not only allow breast tissue to produce milk for the infant, but also are partly responsible for a reduced risk of breast cancer in women who give birth at a younger age.

The researchers, including co-lead author Joshua Mogus, a Ph.D. student in Vandenberg's lab, tested whether propylparaben exposure during the vulnerable period of pregnancy and breastfeeding adversely alters the reorganization of the mammary gland. They examined the mothers' mammary glands five weeks after they exposed the female mice to environmentally doses of propylparaben during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Compared with pregnant mice that had not received propylparaben, the exposed mice had mammary gland changes not typical of pregnancy, the researchers report. These mice had increased rates of cell proliferation, which Vandenberg says is a possible risk factor for breast cancer. They also had less-dense epithelial structures, fewer immune cell types and thinner periductal collagen, the connective tissue in the mammary gland.

"Some of these changes may be consistent with a loss of the protective effects that are typically associated with pregnancy," says Mogus, who was chosen to present the research, deemed "particularly newsworthy" by the Endocrine Society, at the international group's virtual annual meeting, ENDO 2021, beginning March 20. 

Mogus says future studies should address whether pregnant females exposed to propylparaben are actually more susceptible to breast cancer. "Because pregnant women are exposed to propylparaben in many personal care products and foods, it is possible that they are at risk," Mogus says, adding that pregnant and breastfeeding women should try to avoid using products containing propylparaben and other parabens.

"This chemical is so widely used, it may be impossible to avoid entirely," Mogus adds. "It is critical that relevant public health agencies address endocrine-disrupting chemicals as a matter of policy."

 

 

Low magnesium levels associated with depressive symptoms and metabolic disorders in men

Pomeranian Medical University (Poland), March 19, 2021

 

According to news reporting from Szczecin, Poland, research stated, “Background: changes in the concentration of magnesium influence numerous processes in the body, such as hormone and lipid metabolism, nerve conduction, a number of biochemical pathways in the brain, and metabolic cycles. As a result, changes in magnesium concentration may contribute to the emergence of such pathologies as depressive and metabolic disorders, including hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia.”

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Pomeranian Medical University: “Methods: blood samples were taken from 342 men whose mean age was 61.66 ± 6.38 years. The concentrations of magnesium, lipid parameters, and glucose were determined using the spectrophotometric method. Anthropometric measurements were performed to determine each participant’s body mass index (BMI). Additionally, all participants completed two questionnaires: the Beck Depression Inventory and the author’s questionnaire. Results: abnormal levels of magnesium were found in 78 people. The analysis showed that these subjects more often suffered from metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus (* * p* * < 0.001), hypertension (* * p* * < 0.001), and depressive symptoms (* * p* * = 0.002) than participants with normal magnesium levels.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Conclusion: our research showed that there is a relationship between abnormal levels of magnesium and the presence of self-reported conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and depressive symptoms among aging men. These findings may contribute to the improvement of the diagnosis and treatment of patients with these conditions.”

 

 

Self-compassion can lessen feelings of work-from-home loneliness, finds study

Indiana University, March 19, 2021

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is keeping millions of Americans from their usual offices, as they find themselves still working at home. Even with the vaccine now being distributed, working from home may still be the future for some, and new research suggests the resulting work loneliness negatively impacts employee well-being.

Stephanie Andel, an assistant professor of psychology in the School of Science at IUPUI, along with collaborators at York University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, recently published a study finding that feelings of work loneliness during the pandemic were associated higher depression and fewer voluntary work behaviors. The research appears in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

"We wanted to understand what factors are driving feelings of work loneliness, and to understand how this work loneliness influenced employees' psychological health and work behaviors," Andel said. "We looked at three different factors that we thought might drive work loneliness: perceptions of job insecurity, telecommuting frequency and insufficient communication from their companies about how they were responding to the pandemic.

"We found each of those factors contributed to feelings of work loneliness, and we also found that work loneliness was associated with depression and fewer voluntary helping behaviors at work."

Participants in the study came from a wide range of industries including manufacturing; technology, such as computer programming; retail; and education. The results are based on weekly surveys of these individuals from mid-March to mid-May 2020.

When people feel lonely, the study found, they experience more depressive symptoms, and they are less likely to go above and beyond in their jobs, such as helping a co-worker—something many organizations may have hoped their employees would do during the pandemic.

But there is hope—in the form of self-compassion. Andel and colleagues found self-compassion, or being kind to yourself during times of suffering, can mitigate some of the negative effects of work loneliness.

"We found that self-compassion helps protect employees from some of the negative effects of work loneliness," Andel said. "We suspect this is because self-compassion leads individuals to be kinder to themselves, makes them more likely to recognize that they are not alone in their feelings and helps them to be aware of—but not consumed by—their negative feelings."

Individuals who reported having higher levels of self-compassion exhibited fewer depressive symptoms following feelings of work loneliness in comparison to those with lower levels of self-compassion. But they also engaged in fewer helping behaviors, which surprised the study's authors.

"We originally thought if you were more self-compassionate, you might have the energy and mental resources to engage in more helping behaviors at work," Andel said. "However, it turns out that the pattern is opposite of what we expected. Instead, those who were higher in self-compassion were more likely to give themselves a necessary break. We suspect that this may ultimately help them to feel better and help more in the future."

Although self-compassion has been studied quite a bit in the field of clinical psychology, it has rarely been examined in the workplace context. Andel is optimistic about its potential to enhance the health and well-being of employees.

"It will be very interesting for future research to continue investigating the power of self-compassion in the workplace," she said. "For instance, it would be great to see if managers who promote self-compassion at work foster a better working experience for their employees. Ultimately, my collaborators and I hope to develop self-compassion interventions that can be utilized by companies to help their employees feel and perform better at work."

For companies that want to help their employees struggling right now with work loneliness, Andel provides the following suggestions:

  • Provide consistent and clear communication regularly to employees regarding the company's response to the pandemic and be transparent about structural or financial changes that may affect employees' job security or income.
  • Host virtual social gatherings for employees. These should not be mandatory, but rather voluntary social activities aimed at enhancing employee morale and promoting a sense of belonging among employees.
  • Create an organizational climate that promotes and encourages employee self-compassion.

For individuals who want to take the initiative themselves to enhance their own self-compassion, Andel suggests that in times of perceived failure or suffering, one should try to avoid negative self-talk and instead, give the same kindness and compassion to oneself that you would give to a good friend.

"This is an exciting and important step in bringing self-compassion to the organizational literature, and my collaborators and I look forward to building on this research," Andel said. 

March 22, 2021  

Choline supplements may help delay dementia in APOE4 gene carriers

MIT and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, March 18, 2021

 

Researchers found that the APOE4 gene may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other dementias by altering brain cells' lipid metabolism.

Choline supplements reversed these defects in cell studies, supporting further research in people carrying APOE4.

Certain genes can increase the risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. One of the most significant genetic risk factors is a form of the apolipoprotein E gene called APOE4. About 25% of people carry one copy of APOE4, and 2 to 3% carry two copies. ApoE4 is the strongest risk factor gene for Alzheimer's disease, although inheriting ApoE4 does not mean a person will definitely develop the disease.

The APOE gene comes in several different forms, or alleles. APOE3 is the most common and not believed to affect Alzheimer's risk. APOE2 is relatively rare and may provide some protection against Alzheimer's disease.

The reason APOE4 increases Alzheimer's risk isn't not well understood. The APOE protein helps carry cholesterol and other types of fat in the bloodstream. Recent studies suggest that problems with brain cells' ability to process fats, or lipids, may play a key role in Alzheimer's and related diseases.

Lipid imbalances can impair many of a cell's essential processes. This includes creating cell membranes, moving molecules within the cell, and generating energy.

Dr. Li-Huei Tsai and the late Dr. Susan Lindquist of MIT investigated how APOE4 affects lipid metabolism in brain cells. The study was funded by NIH's National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Dr. Priyanka Narayan of NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) was a co-first author. Findings were published in Science Translational Medicine on March 3, 2021.

The research team began by creating brain cells called astrocytes using stem cells. They used skin cells from people carrying APOE3 or APOE4 that were reprogrammed into a state where they could develop into any cell. Called induced pluripotent stem cells, these cells were then coaxed into becoming astrocytes, star-shaped cells that produce the most ApoE in the brain.

The researchers found changes in how APOE4 astrocytes were able to process lipids. The astrocytes accumulated droplets containing fats called triglycerides. These triglycerides had many more unsaturated fatty acid chains than normal. Lipid buildup in the APOE4 astrocytes was much greater than in APOE3 astrocytes. The researchers also found disruptions in lipid metabolism when they coaxed the cells into becoming other brain cells called microglia.

The team next tested whether yeast cells with the human version of APOE4 would have the same disruption in lipid metabolism. Lipid metabolism pathways are very similar between yeast and humans. Yeast with a copy of the APOE4 gene accumulated lipids much like the human cells did. Genetic screens in the yeast identified a molecular pathway that could be responsible for the defects. Boosting the activity of a pathway that normally produces phospholipidsan essential building block of the cell membranereversed some of the lipid accumulation.

Further research showed that supplementing the yeast cells' culture with choline restored normal lipid metabolism. Choline is needed to synthesize phospholipids. Similar benefits were seen after treating the human APOE4 astrocyte cells with choline. These findings provide preliminary support for testing choline supplements in people who carry APOE4.

"What we would really like to see is whether in the human population, in those APOE4 carriers, if they take choline supplements to a sufficient amount, whether that would delay or give them some protection against developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease," Tsai says.

However, it is important to keep in mind that results from isolated cells don't often translate into successful approaches when tested in people.

 

 

Acupuncture Tops Usual Care for Pain in Cancer Survivors

Two types of acupuncture proved superior, with one better than the other

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center  March 18, 2021

 

Two types of acupuncture significantly reduced chronic musculoskeletal pain in cancer survivors as compared with usual care, a randomized trial showed.

Electroacupuncture reduced patient-reported pain by 1.9 points versus usual care, and auricular acupuncture reduced patients' mean pain score by 1.6 points as compared with usual care, which consisted of analgesics, physical therapy, and steroid injections.

Auricular acupuncture, developed by the U.S. military and widely used in VA health facilities, failed to achieve noninferiority to electroacupuncture and was associated with more adverse events (AEs), reported Jun J. Mao, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and co-authors in JAMA Oncology.

"The magnitude of effect of electroacupuncture was clinically important and durable," the authors wrote. "This finding is consistent with evidence from other large acupuncture trials for chronic pain in the general population. Electroacupuncture has been shown to influence endogenous opioid release, which provides a mechanistic basis for chronic pain management."

"The present trial includes a large and diverse group of cancer survivors and provides evidence that electroacupuncture provides additional benefits beyond usual care, including not only reduction in pain severity, but also improvements in physical function and quality of life and reductions in analgesic use."

The U.S. has a growing population of cancer survivors, who have a greater pain burden than the general population. Almost half of cancer survivors receive inadequate pain relief, adversely affecting quality of life, physical function, and cancer-related outcomes.

large body of evidence supports the superiority of acupuncture over usual care for relief of chronic noncancer pain, and last year CMS approved coverage of acupuncture for chronic lower back pain. A recent meta-analysis showed that acupuncture reduced cancer-associated pain, but the strength of evidence was considered moderate because of trials' small sample sizes and heterogeneity of acupuncture techniques.

Mao and colleagues reported findings from the largest randomized trial to date of acupuncture for cancer-related pain. The multicenter PEACE study enrolled adults with a history of cancer but no current evidence of disease. Eligible patients had musculoskeletal pain for at least 3 months and at least 15 of the preceding 30 days and a worst pain intensity within the past week of ≥4 (moderate or greater) on the 0-10 scale of the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI).

Patients were randomized 2:2:1 to electroacupuncture, auricular acupuncture, or usual care. Licensed experienced acupuncturists provided both types of acupuncture. During electroacupuncture, needles were placed at four sites near the pain location and four additional sites elsewhere on the body to address comorbid symptoms. The angle and depth of insertion were individualized to each patient's body type and point location. Treatment consisted of 10 once-weekly 30-minute sessions.

The protocol for auricular acupuncture, often called "battlefield acupuncture," was standardized and began with insertion of one needle into the cingulate gyrus of one ear. The patient then walked for 1 minute. If pain remained ≥1 on the BPI, another needle was inserted into the other ear. The process was repeated for the remaining ear points: thalamus, omega 2, point zero, and shen men.

The primary endpoint was change in average BPI score from baseline to week 12, and data analysis included 360 patients. Of 145 patients randomized to electroacupuncture, 136 (93.8%) completed at least eight sessions, as did 117 of 143 (81.8%) patients assigned to auricular acupuncture.

Mean baseline BPI scores ranged from 5.0 to 5.6. The most common sites of pain across all three groups were lower back (27.8% to 36.6%), knee/leg (14.5% to 23.6%), and hip/thigh (11.0% to 12.5%). At week 12, mean BPI score had declined by 0.48 in the usual care group, 2.39 in the electroacupuncture group (P<0.001), and 2.03 in the auricular acupuncture group (P<0.001). The 0.36 difference between the two acupuncture groups exceeded the prespecified noninferiority margin of 0.657 for auricular versus electroacupuncture.

AEs in both acupuncture groups were mild or moderate. Bruising was the most common AE in the electroacupuncture group (10.3%), and ear pain was most common with auricular acupuncture (18.9%). Only one patient (0.7%) discontinued electroacupuncture because of an AE, as compared with 15 (10.5%) in the auricular acupuncture group (P<0.001).

 

 

High vitamin D levels may protect against COVID-19, especially for Black people

In a study of individuals tested for COVID-19, vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient were associated with a lower risk of COVID-19.

University of Chicago Medicine Center, March 19, 2021

A new research study at the University of Chicago Medicine has found that when it comes to COVID-19, having vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient may lower the risk of infection, especially for Black people.

The study, published March 19 in JAMA Open Network, retrospectively examined the relationship between vitamin D levels and likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19. While levels of 30 ng/ml or more are usually considered "sufficient," the authors found that Black individuals who had levels of 30 to 40 ng/ml had a 2.64 times higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than people with levels of 40 ng/ml or greater. Statistically significant associations of vitamin D levels with COVID-19 risk were not found in white people. The study looked at data from over 3,000 patients at UChicago Medicine who had had their vitamin D levels tested within 14 days before a COVID-19 test. 

The research team is now recruiting participants for two separate clinical trials testing the efficacy of vitamin D supplements for preventing COVID-19. 

This research is an expansion of an earlier study showing that a vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/ml) may raise the risk of testing positive for COVID-19. In the current study, those results were further supported, finding that individuals with a vitamin D deficiency had a 7.2% chance of testing positive for the virus. A separate study recently found that over 80% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient. 

"These new results tell us that having vitamin D levels above those normally considered sufficient is associated with decreased risk of testing positive for COVID-19, at least in Black individuals," said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. "This supports arguments for designing clinical trials that can test whether or not vitamin D may be a viable intervention to lower the risk of the disease, especially in persons of color." 

Meltzer was inspired to investigate this topic after seeing an article in early 2020 that found people with vitamin D deficiency who had randomly been assigned to receive vitamin D supplementation had much lower rates of viral respiratory infections compared to those who did not receive supplementation. He decided to examine data being collected at UChicago Medicine on COVID-19 to determine the role that vitamin D levels might be playing. 

"There's a lot of literature on vitamin D. Most of it has been focused on bone health, which is where the current standards for sufficient vitamin D levels come from," Meltzer explained. "But there's also some evidence that vitamin D might improve immune function and decrease inflammation. So far, the data has been relatively inconclusive. Based on these results, we think that earlier studies may have given doses that were too low to have much of an effect on the immune system, even if they were sufficient for bone health. It may be that different levels of vitamin D are adequate for different functions." 

Vitamin D can be obtained through diet or supplements, or produced by the body in response to exposure of the skin to sunlight. Meltzer noted that most individuals, especially people with darker skin, have lower levels of vitamin D; roughly half of the world's population has levels below 30ng/ml. "Lifeguards, surfers, those are the kinds of folks who tend to have more than sufficient vitamin D levels," he said. "Most folks living in Chicago in the winter are going to have levels that are well below that." 

While vitamin D supplements are relatively safe to take, excessive consumption of vitamin D supplements is associated with hypercalcemia, a condition in which calcium builds up in the blood stream and causes nausea, vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination. If left unchecked, it can further lead to bone pain and kidney stones. 

"Currently, the adult recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 to 800 international units (IUs) per day," said Meltzer. "The National Academy of Medicine has said that taking up to 4,000 IUs per day is safe for the vast majority of people, and risk of hypercalcemia increases at levels over 10,000 IUs per day." 

One of the challenges of this study is that it is currently difficult to determine exactly how vitamin D may be supporting immune function. "This is an observational study," said Meltzer. "We can see that there's an association between vitamin D levels and likelihood of a COVID-19 diagnosis, but we don't know exactly why that is, or whether these results are due to the vitamin D directly or other related biological factors." 

Prompted by the evidence that people with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and experience significant symptoms, a team at the University of Chicago and Rush University is conducting two studies to learn whether taking a daily vitamin D supplement can help prevent COVID-19 or decrease the severity of its symptoms.

 

 

Study: 94% of older adults prescribed drugs that raise risk of falling

From 1999-2017, more than 7.8 billion fall-risk-increasing drugs were prescribed to older adults in the US, and deaths from falls doubled

University of Buffalo, March 2021 

Nearly every older adult was prescribed a prescription drug that increased their risk of falling in 2017, according to new University at Buffalo research.

The study found that the percentage of adults 65 and older who were prescribed a fall- risk-increasing drug climbed to 94% in 2017, a significant leap from 57% in 1999. The research also revealed that the rate of death caused by falls in older adults more than doubled during the same time period.

Even minor falls may be dangerous for older adults. Falls that are not fatal can still result in injuries - such as hip fractures and head traumas - that may drastically lower remaining quality of life. Each year, nearly $50 billion is spent on medical costs related to fall injuries among older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The alarming results solidify the importance of interventions to de-prescribe potentially inappropriate drugs among older, frailer patients, says Amy Shaver, PharmD, lead investigator and postdoctoral associate in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.

"Our study indicates two trends increasing concurrently at a population level that should be examined at the individual level. Our hope is it will start more conversations on health care teams about the pros and cons of medications prescribed for vulnerable populations," says Shaver.

Additional investigators in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences include Collin Clark, PharmD, clinical assistant professor; David Jacobs, PharmD, PhD, assistant professor; Robert Wahler Jr., PharmD, clinical associate professor; and Mary Hejna, PharmD, pharmacy resident at Kaleida Health.

Recently published in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, the study examined data on deaths due to falls and prescription fills among people 65 and older from the National Vital Statistics System and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

Fall-risk-increasing drugs include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, antihypertensives (for high blood pressure), opioids, sedative hypnotics, and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax), as well as other nonprescription medications.

From 1999-2017, more than 7.8 billion fall-risk-increasing drug orders were filled by older adults in the United States. The majority of the prescriptions were for antihypertensives. However, there was also a sharp rise in the use of antidepressants, from 12 million prescriptions in 1999 to more than 52 million in 2017.

"The rise in the use of antidepressant medications seen in this study is likely related to the use of these agents as safer alternatives to older medications for conditions such as depression and anxiety," says Shaver. "However, it is important to note that these medications are still associated with increased risks of falls and fractures among older adults."

Women were also found more likely than men to be prescribed fall-risk-increasing drugs, particularly Black women, who received the medications at the highest rate compared to women of other races. White women who were 85 and older experienced the largest increase in deaths from falls, rising 160% between 1999 and 2017.

The investigators are involved in multidisciplinary de-prescribing initiatives conducted through Team Alice and the UB Center for Successful Aging. The efforts encourage and evaluate patient/caregiver-initiated de-prescribing conversations with health care providers, promote interprofessional education on de-prescribing, and advocate for policy and system changes.

 

Probiotic effective in treating gum inflammation: Study

University of Strasbourg (Germany), March 21, 2021

Probiotics can benefit inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, a meta-analysis suggests.

The authors found that periodontitis, which is usually treated with antibiotics, responded positively to the Lactobacillus reuteri probiotic species providing a viable alternative and lowering antibiotic resistance risk.

The antibiotics commonly used in periodontal treatment are penicillin, tetracycline, macrolide and metronidazole and microbiota of the oral cavity can act as a reservoir of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, some of which are capable of causing disease.

Currently, in Europe , China, and the United States, periodontitis is reported to affect more than half of the adult population.

In ageing populations, the prevalence of periodontitis is even higher, with 70–90% of individuals aged between 60 and 74 suffering from the malady.

Review methodology

Researchers from the University of Strasbourg began by searching electronic databases.

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing scale and root planning (SRP) with probiotic treatment vs SRP were included.

A meta-analysis of these database results showed that the use of the probiotic supplement resulted in reduced values that measured the severity of periodontitis (PPD), improvements in measures of clinical manifestation and determinant of periodontal disease (CAL) and reduced bleeding on probing (BOP) in the short term.

“Certain probiotics could be used in combination with SRP for the management of chronic periodontitis, especially in case of deep pockets, with similar results to other adjunctive methods,” the authors noted.

The use of probiotics to accompany SRP has long been suggested as a better decontamination of the root surfaces alongside more first-line treatments such as antibiotics, antiseptics or photodynamic therapy.

Probiotic species such as Lactobacillius or Bifidobacterium are commonly used to treat diseases related to the gastrointestinal tract, as well as urogenital infections, eczema and oro-pharyngeal infections.

At the periodontal level, the application of probiotics in combination with SRP had been previously studied in animal models and produced evidence of delayed and reduced periodontopathogen recolonisation.  

“The most described probiotic regarding CP treatment is L. reuteri, a bacterium able to produce an antimicrobial compound resistant to proteolytic and liplytic enzymes. L.reuteri has shown in vitro an inhibitory effect against periodontopathogenic bacteria,” the study observed.

Conflicting studies

While the influence of L. reuteri on the reduction of gingival inflammation and plaque accumulation had been evaluated in several studies, there were some discrepancies among the results.

One study concluded that L. reuteri reduced both gingivitis and plaque in patients with moderate to severe ginigivitis in 14 days. However, in another study no significant differences in plaque index (PI) or gingival index (GI) were found at 8 weeks between test and control groups

 

 

Health declining in Gen X and Gen Y, national study shows

Ohio State University, March 20, 2021

Recent generations show a worrying decline in health compared to their parents and grandparents when they were the same age, a new national study reveals.

Researchers found that, compared to previous generations, members of Generation X and Generation Y showed poorer physical health, higher levels of unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol use and smoking, and more depression and anxiety.

The results suggest the likelihood of higher levels of diseases and more deaths in younger generations than we have seen in the past, said Hui Zheng, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

"The worsening health profiles we found in Gen X and Gen Y is alarming," Zheng said.

"If we don't find a way to slow this trend, we are potentially going to see an expansion of morbidity and mortality rates in the United States as these generations get older."

Zheng conducted the study with Paola Echave, a graduate student in sociology at Ohio State. The results were published online yesterday (March 18, 2021) in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-2016 (62,833 respondents) and the National Health Interview Survey 1997-2018 (625,221 respondents), both conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

To measure physical health, the researchers used eight markers of a condition called metabolic syndrome, a constellation of risk factors for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes. Some of the markers include waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol level and body mass index (BMI). They also used one marker of chronic inflammation, low urinary albumin, and one additional marker of renal function, creatinine clearance.

The researchers found that the measures of physical health have worsened from the baby boomer generation through Gen X (born 1965-80) and Gen Y (born 1981-99). For whites, increases in metabolic syndrome were the main culprit, while increases in chronic inflammation were seen most in Black Americans, particularly men.

"The declining health trends in recent generations is a shocking finding," Zheng said. "It suggests we may have a challenging health prospect in the United State in coming years."

Zheng said it is beyond the scope of the study to comprehensively explain the reasons behind the health decline. But the researchers did check two factors. They found smoking couldn't explain the decline. Obesity could help explain the increase in metabolic syndrome, but not the increases seen in chronic inflammation.

It wasn't just the overall health markers that were concerning for some members of the younger generations, Zheng said.

Results showed that levels of anxiety and depression have increased for each generation of whites from the War Babies generation (born 1943-45) through Gen Y.

While levels of these two mental health indicators did increase for Blacks up through the early baby boomers, the rate has been generally flat since then.

Health behaviors also show worrying trends.

The probability of heavy drinking has continuously increased across generations for whites and Black males, especially after late-Gen X (born 1973-80).

For whites and Blacks, the probability of using street drugs peaked at late boomers (born 1956-64), decreased afterward, then rose again for late-Gen X. For Hispanics, it has continuously increased since early-baby boomers.

Surprisingly, results suggest the probability of having ever smoked has continuously increased across generations for all groups.

How can this be true with other research showing a decline in overall cigarette consumption since the 1970s?

"One possibility is that people in older generations are quitting smoking in larger numbers while younger generations are more likely to start smoking," Zheng said. "But we need further research to see if that is correct."

Zheng said these results may be just an early warning of what is to come.

"People in Gen X and Gen Y are still relatively young, so we may be underestimating their health problems," he said. "When they get older and chronic diseases become more prevalent, we'll have a better view of their health status."

Zheng noted that the United States has already seen recent decreases in life expectancy and increases in disability and morbidity.

"Our results suggest that without effective policy interventions, these disturbing trends won't be temporary, but a battle we'll have to continue to fight."

 

 

Why Black is the New Green Tea

Life Extension, March 19, 2021

We’ve been drinking green tea for years, and with good reason. Not only does it make for a tasty teatime, but study after study has demonstrated the protective effects of the antioxidants that green tea is loaded with, leading many of us to also take it in extract form. But have we been missing out by giving black tea the shrug off? As it turns out, black tea contains theaflavins, which have health benefits in their own right. Here’s how the two tea varieties compare.

What’s so great about green tea?

So why has green tea been a favorite for so many years? Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, which are potent age-fighting nutrients that protect cells and tissues from destruction caused by free radicals. Produced from environmental toxins, free radicals attack healthy cells and increase inflammation throughout your body, causing irreversible damage. Antioxidants in green tea gobble up those free radicals and reduce inflammation, keeping your cells safe and healthy.

Among other benefits, green tea has been shown to:

  • Protect against heart disease
  • Support the immune system
  • Enhance mood and memory
  • Relieve arthritis
  • Help manage blood sugar

But green tea has its limits. It can't stop the production of free radicals or prevent inflammation from starting in the first place. That’s where black tea comes in.

Welcome to the dark side: the benefits of black tea

Might black tea be better for you than green tea? If longevity is your game plan, the answer is: perhaps. By influencing the expression of certain genes, black tea can prevent the production of free radicals and stop inflammation before it even starts, thanks to compounds called theaflavins.

Preclinical evidence shows that theaflavins, which give the tea its reddish hue, may protect against a huge array of different threats to our health, including cancer, atherosclerosis, obesity, osteoporosis, periodontal disease, inflammatory disorders and bacterial and viral infections.

Black tea and inflammation

Much of the misery of age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain and even cancer can be traced to inflammation. Chronic inflammation saturates your body in molecules known as cytokines, which are used by immune system cells to signal each other and react to potential threats. Circulating inflammatory cytokines have been linked to arterial disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke and coronary heart disease, among other serious concerns.2,3

These inflammatory molecules are the products of specific genes, and black tea theaflavins can turn those genes off, helping to control inflammation when and where it starts.

Highly purified theaflavin extracts have been shown to reduce damage caused by inflammation-based diseases, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Black or green, tea is a healthy choice

Both black and green tea have health benefits, whether you’re seeking the healthy mood and inflammatory response of green tea or want to address the genes involved in inflammation at their source with theaflavins from black tea. Since inflammation is the common denominator of all chronic age-related diseases, drink up! Or, seek a black tea or green tea based extract to add to your longevity regimen.

March 19, 2021  

On 10th Anniversary of the U.S.-NATO Attack on Libya: Powerful Perpetrators Have Yet To Face Justice

By Jeremy Kuzmarov on Mar 19, 2021

Three Powerful American WomenHillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan RicePushed Obama into Destroying the Wealthiest, Healthiest and Happiest Nation in Africa

On this day ten years ago, the Obama administration launched air strikes over Libya under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which culminated in the killing of Libya’s long-time […]

The post On 10th Anniversary of the U.S.-NATO Attack on Libya: Powerful Perpetrators Have Yet To Face Justice appeared first on CovertAction Magazine.

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March 18, 2021  

Merck's History of Crimes and Misdemeanors

 

Richard Gale and Gary Null

Progressive Radio Network, March 18, 2021

 

 

As the Covid-19 pandemic wears on past a full year, several of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies have dominated the world headlines, notably Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, along with the smaller start-ups such Moderna and Novavax. Each is now vying to usurp the coveted Covid-19 vaccine market. Prior to the pandemic, the vaccine market worldwide was only a small slice of the overall $1 trillion pharmaceutical market at about $24 billion annually. Now sales of the new generation of vaccines to fight the pandemic are poised to exceed global vaccine sales exponentially. Ronny Gal at the market analysis firm Bernstein estimates that Covid vaccine sales will reach $40 billion this year. We believe this is a very conservative estimate as newer vaccines come on line and with companies making efforts to outdo each other on its efficacy and safety profile. Moderna and Pfizer together are expected to earn $32 billion this year and we are not taking into account Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine and now five approved in China. The frenetic race is underway to vaccinate billions of human beings naively standing in line after drinking from the government health agencies’ and the mainstream media’s cattle trowels of vaccine hype and propaganda. What is certain is that a new era of drug discovery has begun and all will be driven by the surge in vaccines’ new celebrity status. The very definition of a vaccine is now being redefined and it is clearly predictable that we will be witnessing prophylactic and therapeutic drugs being reevaluated as vaccines to leap-frog regulatory hurdles and to escape legal actions for product injury and death. 

 

It may be surprising that the world’s second largest vaccine maker Merck is missing from the Covid vaccine cash cow. Along with the other two of the top three global vaccine makers, Glaxo and Sanofi, Merck exited the Covid vaccine arena after its candidates flopped in generating sufficient neutralizing antibodies in Phase 1 trials. Instead the company has shuffled its resources to develop two new novel drugs that will target serious risks of the body’s over-reactive immune response to SARS-CoV2 infection. Although we will not likely see a Merck Covid vaccine any time in the coming years, it has nevertheless lucratively reaped rewards after selling its Moderna stock late last year when the price went out the roof. Merck has also partnered with J&J to increase production of the latter’s vaccine in order to meet demand.

 

Merck's legacy of lawsuits for crimes and misdemeanors goes back at least to the 1960s. In 1975, it was busted by the SEC for illegal payments to foreign government officials from "approximately" 36 nations. The scam was orchestrated through personal bank accounts with the sole purpose of advancing drug approvals through foreign nations' regulatory medical agencies.  

 

One of the largest scandals in modern medical history was the company's anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx that resulted in fines above $4.8 billion for causing over a minimum 60,000 deathsfrom sudden heart attacks and over 120,000 serious medical injuries. At its height, Vioxx was earning over $2 billion in revenues annually and it is estimated that 25 million patients were prescribed the medication. The securities class action suit against Merck alone reached $1 billion, placing it in the top 15 securities lawsuits in US corporate history. The main criminal charge was Merck's intentional withholding of scientific data about the drug's adverse cardiovascular side effects. 

 

Years after the settlement, Ron Unz, the publisher of The American Conservative, undertook his own investigation to validate Vioxx's death toll. Analyzing the drug's adverse effects over a longer time period, Unz estimated Merck may have been responsible for nearly half a million premature deaths in elderly patients, the drug's primary target group. That is roughly the same number of total civilian, military and terrorist deaths from the US's military escapades in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan combined. 

 

Merck's settlement of 47,000 pending lawsuits for personal injuries and 265 class action cases was a small pittance for the harm Vioxx left in its wake. Merck executives were never properly punished for willingly concealing the drug's dangers in order to assure FDA approval. 

 

In Australia, Merck's efforts to increase Vioxx profits employed other forms of malfeasance. The Australian government launched a class action suit against the drug maker on charges that employees allegedly schemed a fake scientific paper that was ghostwritten for a medical journal in order to put Vioxx into a positive light. Testimonies during the trial stated data was completely based upon "wishful thinking." Merck also founded the peer-reviewed journal Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine. The journal was a fraud; it was not properly peer-reviewed and its primary purpose was to promote Vioxx on the Australian continent. 

 

Moreover, the class action lawsuit contained Merck emails accessed by Australian officials. The company's internal communications allegedly ordered select employees to draft up a hit list of physicians who were critical of Vioxx. According to the documents, these physicians were targeted to be "neutralized" or "discredited." Some, including Dr. James Fries at Sanford University's medical school, were clinical investigators who happened to speak out about the drug's shortcomings. One email stated, "We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live..."  

 

But Merck's troubles with the dangers of its products, falsifying data about drugs' efficacy and safety and exaggeration of medical claims go back sixty years. In the 1960s, the FDA discovered that the drug maker's arthritis medication Indocin had not been properly tested for efficacy and its adverse effects were being completely ignored.  In the 1970s, Merck's drug dietheylstilbestrol (DES) prescribed for the prevention of miscarriages caused a flurry of vaginal cancer cases and other gynecological disorders. Merck had all along known that DES was carcinogenic based upon its own animal clinical trials. In 2007, its cholesterol drug Zetiawas shown to increase liver disease. Again Merck had known about Zetia's liver risks but withheld the clinical trial's damning results. 

 

It would also appear that Merck has managed to hijack US courts. This includes an early 2019 ruling by Trump's corporate-friendly US Supreme Court to side with the drug maker and squash hundreds of lawsuits for failing to issue warnings that its osteoporosis drug Fosamax's may contribute to debilitating bone fractures. A federal court in California found that Merck committed perjury for lying in a patent infringement case against Gilead Sciences over the latter's blockbuster Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi. The judge ruled that Merck carried out a "systematic and outrageous deception in conjunction with unethical business practices and litigation misconduct."  It turned out that Merck's patent claims were a sham and orchestrated by its legal division.

 

Besides pushing through the FDA dangerous medications onto the market, the company has also found itself in the courtroom on many occasions for allegedly price-fixing, routinely defrauding and overbilling states' Medicare and Medicaid programs, and violating the Anti-Kickback Statute. In 2006, the IRS went after Merck for owing almost $2 billion in back taxes. According to the Wall Street Journal, Merck partnered with a British bank to create an offshore subsidiary in tax-friendly Bermuda to divert taxable revenue on its bestselling cholesterol drugs Zocor and Mevacor through a patent scheme. The company ran the operation for ten years before the FDA uncovered the racket. 

 

Merck is America's leading vaccine manufacturer. Despite public perception and the ruse that vaccines are somehow safer and more effective than pharmaceutical drugs in general, it is the same industry and corporate culture that manufactures both. Currently Merck markets vaccines for Haemophilus B, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B (individually and in combination), human papilomavirus (Gardasil), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR), pneumococcal, rotavirus, varicella (chickenpox) and Zoster virus (for shingles). In 2010, Merck obtained exclusive rights to MassBiologics’ vaccine portfolio. The consequence is that Merck's Adult Vaccine Portfolio expanded to include 9 of the 10 vaccines on the CDC's adult immunization schedule. The company now holds almost a full monopoly on the government's recommended vaccines

 

On its website, the FDA assures the public that "Vaccines, as with all products regulated by the FDA, undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure the safety, efficacy, purity and potency of these products."  However, not a single one of Merck's vaccines has ever been tested in a scientifically viable double-blinded placebo controlled trial. In each case, the placebo in the control group was not inert, such as the use of sterile saline. Rather Merck only tested its vaccines with the viral component against a faux placebo containing the same ingredients, including aluminum, but minus the virus. Known as a "carrier solution," the standard scientific protocol does not designate it as a proper placebo for measuring the efficacy and disease risks of a drug. And in the case of Gardasil, the trial was statistical trickery to mask Gardasil's adverse effects. One placebo group received the company’s proprietary adjuvant amorphous aluminum hydroxyphospate sulfate (AAHS), a known neurotoxin. The adjuvant has yet to be properly tested for safety. One of the more serious risks of aluminum adjuvants is the triggering of an extreme autoimmune response, what Israeli immunologist Yehuda Schoenfeld has called “autoimmue/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants.”

 

In the Cochrane Database Collaboration’s 2016 analysis of Merck's Gardasil, the investigators were so alarmed they filed a complaint against the European Medical Agency for failing to adequately assess the vaccine's neurological harms. More recently, a meta-analysis published in Systemic Reviews journal concluded “HPV vaccines increased serious nervous system disorders and general harms.”

 

Robert Kennedy Jr is currently taking steps to sue Merck over the Gardasil deception. Kennedy's in-depth investigations through his Children's Health Defense organization has uncovered evidence that the vaccine increases birth defects in children conceived of HPV-vaccinated moms; miscarriages have increased 2000 percent above normal, and girls are experiencing serious reproductive complications, including infertility, at approximately ten-fold above the normal rate. During an interview on the Progressive Radio Network, Kennedy noted that there was 10 times greater risk of dying from cervical cancer among Gardasil trial participants compared to the general public. There is a 10-fold increase for ovarian failure, and 1 in 37 girls who receive the vaccine will experience an autoimmune disease after 6 months of receiving the series of injections. When we consider that 1 in 37,000 women have a chance of dying from cervical cancer, it puts HPV vaccines into a completely different light. Sadly, across the nation, politicians from both sides of the aisle in state legislatures, notably Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York, are seemingly doing Merck's bidding to mandate Gardasil for all girls and boys upon entering school. 

 

Based upon Kennedy's research and documents received from Freedom of Information Act filings, during Merck's own Gardasil clinical trials, 2.3 percent of girls and women between the ages of 9 through 26 developed a serious autoimmune disease and crippling neurological disorders within seven months of vaccination. The most frequent adverse effects were arthritis and anthropathy, autoimmune thyroiditis, celiac disease, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, Raynaud's Phenomenon, rheumatoid arthritis and uveitis. In other words, it was the aluminum adjuvant responsible for this enormous suffering. He stated that according to Merck's own statistics, girls are one hundred times more likely to experience a serious adverse effect from the vaccine than to be protected from cervical cancer. 

 

In a 2012 article published in the Journal of Law and Medical Ethics, researchers at the University of British Columbia wrote that ever since Gardasil was approved in 2006, Merck has engaged in an "overly aggressive marketing strategies and lobbying campaigns aimed at promoting Gardasil as a mandatory vaccine."  One strategy Merck has employed is to take advantage of FDA loopholes to fast track its drugs. In the case of its expanded Gardasil-9 for adults between the ages of 27 to 45, the company applied for fast tracking two days after the Journal of Toxicological and Environmental Health published a study that the HPV vaccine was lowering the probability of pregnancy for women in their 20s.

 

Unfortunately, the media has indiscriminately colluded with Merck. Drug companies, according to Kennedy, pay $4.5 billion to the major media networks and publications to promote their drugs. And none of the media outlets are willing to sacrifice their profits for advertising drugs on moral and ethical grounds. 

 

Another scandal erupted within Merck's vaccine business in 2010 after two whistleblowers gave testimony that the mumps' component in its Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine was based on fraudulent data about it's efficacy, and the company knowingly proceeded in order to corner the mumps vaccine market. Merck had been defrauding the US government, which purchases the MMR, for over a decade. The government and two Merck whistleblowers, virologists Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, filed a lawsuit against Merck for being in violation of the False Claims Act. According to the charges, Merck had "falsified its mumps vaccine test results to hit an efficacy rate of 95 percent. The company achieved this by adding "animal antibodies to a blood sample to give the impression of increased antibodies." This would certainly explain why mumps outbreaks in summer camps and on college campuses are found to occur among those vaccinated. 

 

Merck has gained enormous political and social influence over the national perception about vaccines.  One example is Merck's behind the scenes aggression against the flim Vaxxed.  When the documentary film was officially selected to screen during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan, we discovered in an earlier report that Merck left its fingerprints on the film's removal and censorship. The Alfred Sloan Foundation is the festival's largest sponsor; pro-vaccine advocate Bill Gates is also a notable contributor. One of the leading persons on the Foundation's board of trustees was Dr. Peter Kim.  Kim happens to be the former president of Merck's Research Laboratories who was directly responsible for the launch of Gardasil and Merck's other vaccines for the Zoster virus and rotavirus. The film presents a harsh indictment against Dr Julie Gerberding, the former head of the CDC who allegedly coordinated the cover up of data that confirmed thimerosal's role in the onset of autism. After managing the agency's operations to mine sweep the data and generate new studies with public funds to suggest thimerosal's safety, Gerberding accepted her reward from the pharmaceutical industry by becoming the head of Merck's vaccine division. In addition, according to the whistleblowing of a senior CDC scientist, Dr. William Thompson, Gerberding was allegedly responsible for destroying the CDC's research that showed African American boys were at a substantially higher risk of becoming autistic from Merck's MMR vaccine. Fortunately, Dr. Thompson, who was present during the order to shred documents, saved copies which he subsequently turned over to Congressman Bill Posy and an independent biologist Prof. Brian Hooker. Since then, Congress has refused to hold hearings thereby supporting the cover-up. 

 

All told, these examples of Merck's culture of greed, deception, political maneuvering and aggression has collectively injured countless people. Its prime directive is selling drugs; its history of crimes and misdemeanors should indicate the company holds little integrity in its commitment to prevent and treat disease. The full extent of the casualties from Merck's drugs and vaccines may never be properly calculated. For firms such as Merck, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, injuries and deaths are the necessary collateral damage of getting poorly tested products on the market and as fast as possible. 

 

Can we really trust such a company with such a criminal reputation to be forthright about its product’s safety records? Therefore we recommend people to support the efforts of Bobby Kennedy and the Children's Health Defense in its lawsuit against Merck's Gardasil. A victory may well weaken the entire edifice of vaccine pseudoscience and the public will realize that for decades it has been little more than a house of cards.

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