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April 30, 2021  

The Weaponization of the CDC Against Public Health

Richard Gale and Gary Null

Progressive Radio Network, April 30, 2021

 

What if you were to know that a cabal of corrupt bureaucrats and scientists at the heart of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have known for almost two decades that vaccines, including the MMR, can lead to autism and other neurological disorders? Most people are unaware that the CDC is a militarized federal agency further influenced by private pharmaceutical interests. Due to the politicization of national immunization, vaccine efficacy and safety has become all but irrelevant.  Its policies drive profits for itself and its partners. Now the agency is committed to have as many Americans mandated to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible, irrespective of how many lives are destroyed.  The very mindset and disregard for human life that created the notorious Tuskegee experiment is alive and thriving in the innards of the CDC. 

 

It is time to take a hard look at the advocates of compromised pharmaceutical science and the motivations that compel the CDC and it’s vaccine network to systematically mislead the public for personal benefit, power, and greed.  We need to begin to understand that the agency operates as an independent “deep state,” secretive, non-transparent, and conducting itself in covert ways behind the disguise of heralding public health. When the brilliant journalist I.F. Stone wrote, “Every government is run by liars, and nothing they say should be believed,” he may have just as well been speaking about the CDC and its alliance with the pharmaceutical industry, many medical journals, and the mainstream media.

 

The money-driven institutions of evidence-based medicine and science, which have hijacked America's health agencies--the CDC, FDA, Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the USDA-- have plunged a stake into the heart of authentic scientific inquiry, knowledge and innovative medical progress.  Its efforts to hermetically seal and silence the debate on vaccination safety with propaganda, coercion, erroneous and deceptive research, and blatant criminality have succeeded in transforming modern vaccinology into an egregious pseudo-science that is today destroying the lives of millions of infants, children and their families. 

 

The deep-seated problems that reside in the CDC are not going unnoticed by a growing number of Americans. A Rand Corporation survey of public trust in the agency during the Covid-19 pandemic found a 10 percent decline. For decades distrust in the CDC has been high among Black Americans; today, levels of trust among non-Hispanic whites and Hispanic respondents are comparable.  One of the fundamental reasons for Americans’ mistrust and skepticism has been the agency’s culture of muddying the lines between scientific facts and compromised opinions that support gross and deep-seated conflicts of interest.  

 

This problem has also entered the ranks of CDC personnel.  A group of CDC scientists who called themselves SPIDER (Scientists Preserving the Integrity, Diligence and Ethics in Research) became anonymous whistleblowers after releasing a written complaint criticizing the agency for operating as a tax-funded subsidiary of the drug industry in partnership with the FDA.  And after a Congressional Government Reform Committee brought CDC officials to testify before legislators, the Committee concluded the agency had routinely allowed scientists with conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies to serve on its two advisory committees that make recommendations on vaccine policy

 

The blurring of the lines between the pharmaceutical industry and our federal health agencies has been a scandal evolving over the course of several decades. The revolving door between private interests and top government employees never ceases to gyrate.  For example, former CDC director Julie Gerberding left government to become president of Merck's vaccine division, a move that has since earned her upwards to $3 million in stock options.  This may seem to be a modest reward for Gerberding heading the agency now irrefutably responsible for the cover-up of the CDC's own studies proving the MMR vaccine increases the risk of autism in African American boys.  The MMR is manufactured by Merck.

 

Robert Kennedy Jr, one of the nation’s expert watchdogs in the corporatization of our federal medical establishment, has called the CDC "a cesspool of corruption." Unlike the FDA, which has a contract with the American public to assure warnings about health risks and contraindications of registered drugs and medical devices, the CDC has no such contract with the nation's citizenry.  It seemingly holds no ethical standard and abides by no mandated rules of law. For this reason it may be best regarded as an intelligence agency rather than an institution committed to public health.

 

One recent example of the CDC's covert activities took place in 2016. Across the mainstream media, journalists en masse denounced the documentary film Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe. The film recounted the events of CDC whistle-blower Dr. William Thompson and his agency's intentional cover-up and destruction of documents of scientific evidence proving the MMR vaccine caused autism. Rather than denouncing the nation's vaccine agenda, the film uncovers massive corruption in the CDC's vaccine division.  But a problem with the media-wide demonization of the film arose, which included outlets such as ABC, CNN, MSNBC, the Guardian, the Washington Post and the New York Times, Forbes, Rolling Stone and many others. The media blitzkrieg occurred before the film's actual release. None of the journalists had watched it. None knew the underlying story line aside from what could be gleaned from a 3 minute trailer. Our investigative article, "Why is the CDC petrified of the film Vaxxed" uncovered a template for an editorial script upon which all of these reviews were based.  They originated from a single source, and the tracks led to the halls of the CDC. The CDC's partnership and fellowship programs with the Association of Health Care Journalists is nothing less than an intelligence indoctrination program to train journalists to be the mouthpieces of the CDC's fake science. The curriculum held at the CDC's Atlanta campus includes propaganda in federal health policies, epidemiology (no authentic gold standard biological science), pandemic preparedness, vaccine safety and autism. Journalists are also instructed to access CDC publications and databases to peruse federal resources, public relations kits, and propaganda. 

 

Vaccine policy and the development and promotion of the childhood vaccine schedule is only one of the CDC's many corporate tasks. It is not exclusively concerned with the physical and mental health of the nation. It is also engaged in the design and development of biological weapons and threats of bioterrorism. Because vaccines are biological drugs that may be weaponized, they fall under the CDC's purview and jurisdiction. Consequently the Centers work closely with the Department of Defense and the intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency with whom there is the exchange of data collection and sharing of classified information.  In its April 21, 2000 MMWR report entitled "Biological and Chemical Terrorism: Strategic Plan for Preparedness and Response" the CDC reported that for "the first time the CDC has joined with law enforcement, intelligence and defense agencies in addition to traditional CDC partners to address a national security threat." 

 

This may have been the turning point when the Centers morphed into a pseudo-intelligence agency and assumed a “deep state” role by adopting an inquisitional task of population surveillance and information data collection as a matter of intelligence gathering instead of improving healthcare. During the past years, this has further grown into spying and covert operations against the critics of our national health and immunization policies. Immunization, as described on the CDC's website, is now a matter of national and global security.  Therefore, no longer are vaccines simply a public health intervention. In fact, immunization has been removed from science altogether and consequently can only rely upon flawed and unreliable research to support policy templates and recommendations that get enacted at state levels. These policies are left for politicians to debate, which is rarely done, and is no longer open for discussion among expert medical researchers outside of the CDC’s ranks and its network of trolls, shills and medical puppets spewing disinformation into the public sector.  This alone is sufficient incentive for targeting and silencing voices challenging vaccine safety and efficacy and who demand a reevaluation of vaccination and its toxic ingredients. 

 

Few people realize that the CDC owns 56 vaccine patents; these patents are licensed to drug makers with royalties who later buy and distribute $4.6 billion worth of vaccines through its Vaccines for Children Program, which accounts for 40% of its budget. This has given rise to a 2015 British Medical Journalinvestigative report accusing the CDC of becoming a lapdog for commercial interests. 

 

The CDC also controls a separate non-profit institution known as the CDC Foundation, which operates like an astro turf organization. Founded in 1992 through an amendment inserted into the George H.W. Bush’s Preventative Health Act, the Foundation operates outside of Congressional oversight. This is clearly stated in its documentation:  

 

“The Foundation shall not be an agency or instrumentality of the Federal Government, and officers, employees and members of the board of the Foundation shall not be officers of the Federal government…. The purpose of the Foundation shall be to support and carry out activities for the prevention and control of diseases, disorders, injuries and disabilities, and for promotion of public health… the Foundation shall establish a fund for providing endowments for positions that are associated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…”

 

In other words, the Foundation has been established as a recruiting service, funded by non-Federal sources, which can include private corporations and drug makers, for the sole purpose to serving the tax-funded CDC.  Moreover, endowments to the Foundation are “unrestricted,” which means they can be spent solely based upon the discretion of the donator and to support the giver’s vested interests.  Among the CDC Foundation’s list of partners we find all of the large vaccine makers – Glaxo, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi Pasteur – and of course the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A Freedom of Information Act submission discovered that the CDC had been providing guidance to the companies for influencing authorities on sugar and beverage policies. For example, the CDC Foundation receives large donations from Pepsi and Coca Cola, and thereby exerts its influence to taint national guidelines about diabetes, liver disease and other illnesses. In another example, Roche, the manufacturer of the drug Tamiflu against influenza infection, donated $193,000 to the Foundation in return for the CDC’s advocating the drug’s benefits for relieving flu symptoms.  This completely undermines the FDA’s own ruling that Tamiflu’s clinical trial data does not support the claims that the drug saves lives or lessens hospitalization. 

 

It has been through the Foundation that Bill Gates’ faux philanthropy has bought off the CDC. Gates has given tens of millions of dollars to the CDC Foundation over the years.  In 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $13.5 million to support the CDC’s efforts to undertake surveillance and increase meningitis and rotavirus vaccination rates in Sub-Sahara Africa. 

 

Furthermore, the Centers' activities are no longer limited to the US' domestic health; after 911, its mission expanded, far beyond its original mandate, and today the agency is globally engaged.  On the Centers’ website, it defines itself as America's "Global Health Protection Agency" in charge of "implementing global health security" and works in partnership with other nations. Since 2006, the CDC claimed it had trained over 115,000 professional personnel in its interpretation of health issues. It’s Global Rapid Response Team of over 400 experts "can deploy in as little as 48 hours" to respond to local and regional health emergencies. In brief, the Centers are immersed in the technology of surveillance, information gathering and analysis. These are among the defining characteristics of an intelligence agency. 

 

Other intelligence activities often associated with a “deep state” and now undertaken by the CDC include pressuring peer-reviewed medical journals to retract studies that challenge their ideology or endanger the agency's reputation.  In 2014, Prof Brian Hooker, a biochemist at Simpson University, reevaluated the CDC's own data showing a 350% increase in autism among African American boys receiving the MMR. Initially approved for publication by the journal Translational Neurodegeneration, the study was shortly thereafter suspended after the CDC pressured the journal with fabricated claims against Dr. Hooker. This is a textbook case of intelligence sabotage of a critic by false accusation.  

 

Similar to the Pentagon and the CIA, the CDC has also infiltrated Hollywood. Hidden within the corridors on the University of Southern California campus is the relatively unknown organization Hollywood Health and Society. Its top funders include the CDC, the National Cancer Institute, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the largest private funder of vaccines, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The small organization's mission is to provide "briefings and consultations with experts, case examples, panel discussions about timely health issues" for Hollywood script writers and producers. Among the main topics listed on its website are influenza, smallpox and autism, all official propaganda stamped with the CDC's seal of approval. 

 

Among the trove of classified national security documents released by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, were several regarding the government's intelligence agencies' infiltration of the internet in order to manipulate information, deceive the public and destroy personal reputations of opponents, including independent journalists.  Among the documents was a manual, "The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations." One of its stated missions is to flood the internet with false information and data to destroy the reputation of its opponents.  Furthermore, the manual provides instructions on taking control of online public discourse in order to generate allegiance to the intelligence agency's false point of view. 

 

Vaccine opponents often complain about the blogosphere being riddled with anonymous trolls, most who would be unable to debate their way out of cardboard box on scientific issues regarding vaccines, but who nevertheless follow the intelligence manual's strategies to disparage vaccine critics.  Bill Gates, who is on record condemning parents who refuse vaccines and who is no stranger to the higher echelon of executives in the vaccine industry and department heads at the CDC, funded a professor at the University of Connecticut to develop a monitoring system to track all anti-vaccine internet traffic. Given Gate's utter disdain towards voices speaking out against vaccines, we can be certain this was not for humanitarian, research purposes but as part of intelligence gathering in the CDC's war against the health of the nation.  Others who have been CDC mouthpieces yet are viewed as respectable and medically credentialed kingpins, such as Paul Offit, Peter Hotez, Senator Richard Pan, and others are welcomed by the media as the foremost authorities and final voices on vaccine topics. 

 

To our peril, federal agencies take full advantage of the average American's scientific illiteracy.  An important survey conducted by Michigan State University found that only 4% of American adults had an understanding about stem cells. Seventy percent could "not read or understand" the science section in the New York Times.  An earlier study funded by the US National Science Foundation noted that about half of Americans understood that the earth rotates once around the sun annually, 45% of people had an "acceptable" understanding of DNA, and only 22% knew what a molecule was.  Although scientific illiteracy is an enormous threat to a functioning democracy and an informed public, nevertheless it is a boon for the CDC and the vaccine industry. Manipulating this ignorance with heavy doses of fear tactics, such as revealed through the CDC's press model to guide the mainstream media's role in increasing vaccine compliance, health officials have managed to successfully thwart many efforts to educate the public to evaluate the pros and cons of vaccination. 

 

Along with the corporatization of Washington's three branches of government, and the emergence of a surveillance state watching over the shoulders of every citizen, the politicization of medicine, particularly vaccines, is another sign of the further decay of the nation towards totalitarianism. For almost two decades, fake news and bureaucratic deception, anger, hatred and disproportional distrust has taken the spotlight as the nation's health further erodes. Annually, the quality of Americans' health is declining and this is most evident in the younger generations who have received the bulk of vaccines. While the CDC and its allies conjure distorted statistics with no sound scientific basis from thin air in order to convince us that vaccines have saved countless lives, in fact these screeds are no more scientifically reliable than visiting the local gypsy soothsayer to have your palm read. A doctorate in science or a medical degree from Harvard does not excuse a person from duplicitous chicanery. 

 

The good news is that the tide is slowly turning. The populace is steadily losing its faith in government. Autism rates continue to rise and parents are able to access extensive independent medical research to understand the real dangers of vaccines. A fundamental reason why parents increasingly refuse to vaccinate themselves and their children is quite simple; the cartel of pharmaceutical-friendly bureaucrats writing the nation's healthcare policies has been losing the public's trust. There is no secret why federal health officials and their absolutist claims to mandate vaccine compliance are untrustworthy. In 2016 over 1500 medical researchers surveyed by the prestigious journal Nature failed to reproduce another scientist's experimental results. Over half were unable to reproduce their own experiments. The article concludes that the potential reasons for this lack of scientific confirmation are numerous. However, most important is that no single scientific study or paper can claim to be the final word on any medical issue, and this is especially true with vaccine research. The complexities of the human immune system, its biomolecular mechanisms and epigenetic relationships with external environmental factors are not fully understood.  And there remains much more to discover and digest.  Modern immunology still has a long ways to go and needs frequent revision as new discoveries emerge. In contrast, vaccine science continues to rely partially upon an antiquated understanding of the body's immune system focused almost exclusively on antibody generation.

 

One example of medical negligence has been the rising epidemic of citizens who are immune-compromised and therefore most susceptible to adverse vaccine reactions. When a severe condition of immunosuppression is clearly diagnosed, it is not uncommon for physicians to withhold vaccinations.  But how many Americans are immune-compromised?  When this question was posed to a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in 2015, to his surprise Theo Schall discovered there were no population accurate statistics and none of our federal health agencies nor medical institutions were tracking it.  Not only are these people at higher risk for vaccine injury, they are also at a higher risk for infection from wild viruses. Federal vaccine policies do not differentiate the population with weakened immune systems from healthier individuals. The CDC' immunization schedule is a one-size-fits-all paradigm/ Its bottom line demands that everyone should and must be vaccinated. 

 

After reviewing the different immune-compromised populations (eg, immunosenescence or weakened immunity due to age in the senior population, malnourishment, cancer patients, people with AIDS and HIV, transplant recipients, patients under immunosuppressive drugs with autoimmune conditions, and primary genetic immunodeficiency disorders, Schall estimated there were approximately 122.6 million Americans with a weakened immune system and stand at higher risk for infections. Our revaluation of the available figures places this figure now at 130.4 million, over one-third of the US population.

 

The question whether 130 million people, including hundreds of thousands of children, should be subject to injections with infectious viruses-- live, attenuated or killed – or now the new generation of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines that have no prior precedence for observing long-term adverse effects, is never discussed. Volumes of medical and biochemical research confirming the severe vaccine ingredients are also ignored. Nor is any consideration given to the number of vaccines administered and the risks due to the accumulative levels of toxic ingredients when multiple vaccines are given simultaneously or within short time intervals. Nor do pediatricians routinely evaluate the state of children's immunological health before determining whether or not to administer vaccines. There is no profit from delaying or postponing vaccination.  No perks are received from insurance companies for increasing vaccination compliance.  And finally, physicians and pediatricians are largely as ignorant as the general public about the scientific evidence supporting and debunking vaccine safety and efficacy myths.  Their primary source of information is channeled through the CDC and its disinformation campaign. 

 

The CDC has yet to conduct or fund definitive and legitimate studies to determine once and for all individual vaccine safety and whether or not vaccines as exogenous factors are contributing to the onslaught of illnesses ravishing the country. Yes, such gold standard studies, which remain absent from the pro-vaccine arsenal, would be very costly.  But that would be the price to pay to bring sanity to the irrational conclusions of the CDC’s decision makers on our nation’s national advisory vaccine committee. Nevertheless, the cumulative financial cost of all previous government sponsored fake science would be a small price to pay for the future well-being of children.  

 

During Congressional proceedings in 2002 into the causes for the unaccountable rise in autism in the United States, CDC officials confirmed no studies have been undertaken to compare the quality of health between vaccinated and unvaccinated children. Yet the subcommittee was assured by the CDC that such studies would be conducted. A decade later, when the CDC was again yanked back into a subcommittee, still no studies had been conducted, and again, Congress was assured such studies were forthcoming. 

 

We should not hold our breath. Officials at the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services know perfectly well that vaccinated children are susceptible to far more allergies and illnesses than their unvaccinated peers.  Their greatest fear is a thorough long-term study to see whether unvaccinated children are indeed healthier. Otherwise, the necessary research to prove the health advantages of vaccines would have been conducted long ago. 

 

Yet there are reasons why such studies are not mandated nor funded. Health agencies are fully aware that vaccines are a scourge. Instead they pump out ecological and epidemiological cohort studies, notorious for subjective manipulation, confounders and biases to support their dogma. Such studies, which are little more than algorithmic equations for sifting, shifting and fudging data, are scientifically invalid for determining any medical truth.  Nevertheless, epidemiological studies remain the most cited articles by the most vocal proponents of vaccination and vaccine mandates. 

 

However, corruption at the CDC is not limited to national vaccine policies and the deceptive manipulation of scientific data to further advance a national vaccination regime. The agency has also been discovered to mislead the nation on other health issues that in turn shape government policies. Earlier it was accused of inflating numbers of rapes in the US. The CDC estimated 2 million rapes occurred within a single year (2011); however, the Justice Department's crime statistics recorded only 238,000. Later Time magazine reported that the manner the CDC gathered its information was extremely flawed and biased.

 

In 2016 The Hill reported that the CDC misled Congress with its WISEWOMAN project --  a national screening and evaluation project to help reduce heart disease risks in women between 40-64 and to promote healthier lifestyles.  The CDC's data of the project was all "cooked" to make the results look better than it was and that the project was larger and more inclusive than it actually was

 

The writings of Hannah Arendt over fifty years ago about the origins of totalitarian ideologies and states have never been more poignant and prophetic than today.  She worried deeply about the language of absolutism, and particularly in the realm of science, which is now the underlying mission of the CDC to politicize immunization. The attempt to reduce all of human life to well-defined processes, to predictable patterns and primitive linear reductionism, was in Arendt's view both self-defeating and extremely dangerous for a healthy society. In a totalitarian state, objectivity is tyrannical. Scientific objectivity that threatens the official policy even more so. In the case of vaccines, the entire industry is a creed that has institutionalized a denial of the most fundamental principles of science and fact finding. And worse, the CDC's ongoing war of terror against the unvaccinated has become lawful.  And this is what gives rise to a totalitarian culture of science. 

 

Arendt was certain that a fascist worldview does not necessarily have to be framed in nationalism, religious doctrine nor based upon race and ethnicity. She worried that science, and its technologies, once they become politicized, would give rise to new forms of totalitarianism and persecution in the future. And today this totalitarian stench breathes through many scientific institutions and universities, throughout the private vaccine industry, and its most pungent odor of rot and decay fills the halls of the CDC. 

April 29, 2021  

Anti-aging compound improves muscle glucose metabolism in people

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, April 26, 2021

 

A natural compound previously demonstrated to counteract aspects of aging and improve metabolic health in mice has clinically relevant effects in people, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A small clinical trial of postmenopausal women with prediabetes shows that the compound NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) improved the ability of insulin to increase glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, which often is abnormal in people with obesity, prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. NMN also improved expression of genes that are involved in muscle structure and remodeling. However, the treatment did not lower blood glucose or blood pressure, improve blood lipid profile, increase insulin sensitivity in the liver, reduce fat in the liver or decrease circulating markers of inflammation as seen in mice.

The study, published online April 22 in the journal Science, is the first randomized clinical trial to look at the metabolic effects of NMN administration in people.

Among the women in the study, 13 received 250 mg of NMN orally every day for 10 weeks, and 12 were given an inactive placebo every day over the same period.

"Although our study shows a beneficial effect of NMN in skeletal muscle, it is premature to make any clinical recommendations based on the results from our study," said senior investigator Samuel Klein, MD, the William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science and director of the Center for Human Nutrition. "Normally, when a treatment improves insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle, as is observed with weight loss or some diabetes medications, there also are related improvements in other markers of metabolic health, which we did not detect in our study participants."

The remarkable beneficial effects of NMN in rodents have led several companies in Japan, China and in the U.S. to market the compound as a dietary supplement or a neutraceutical. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed, and many people in the U.S. and around the world now take NMN despite the lack of evidence to show clinical benefits in people.

The researchers studied 25 postmenopausal women who had prediabetes, meaning they had higher than normal blood sugar levels, but the levels were not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. Women were enrolled in this trial because mouse studies showed NMN had the greatest effects in female mice.

NMN is involved in producing an important compound in all cells, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD plays a vital role in keeping animals healthy. Levels of NAD decline with age in a broad range of animals, including humans, and the compound has been shown to contribute to a variety of aging-associated problems, including insulin resistance in studies conducted in mice. Supplementing animals with NMN slows and ameliorates age-related decline in the function of many tissues in the body. 

Co-investigator Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, a professor of developmental biology and of medicine who has been studying NMN for almost two decades and first reported on its benefits in mice said, "This is one step toward the development of an anti-aging intervention, though more research is needed to fully understand the cellular mechanisms responsible for the effects observed in skeletal muscle in people."

Insulin enhances glucose uptake and storage in muscle, so people who are resistant to insulin are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. But the researchers caution that more studies are needed to determine whether NMN has beneficial effects in the prevention or management of prediabetes or diabetes in people. Klein and Imai are continuing to evaluate NMN in another trial involving men as well as women.

 

 

N-acetylcysteine for depression in adolescents and young adults at risk for bipolar disorder

University of Cincinnati, April 23, 2021

According to news reporting originating from Cincinnati, Ohio, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, “To investigate the mechanism of action of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in depressive symptoms in young individuals at familial risk for bipolar disorder. We conducted an 8-week open label clinical trial of NAC 2400 mg/days in 15-24 years old depressed offspring of a bipolar I disorder parent, with baseline and endpoint proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy acquired within the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC).”

Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the University of Cincinnati, “Nine participants were enrolled and finished the study. NAC significantly improved depressive and anxiety symptom scores, and clinical global impression (all p< .001). There was a non-significant reduction in glutamate levels in the left VLPFC. Reduction in depressive symptom scores was positively associated with reduction in glutamate levels in the left VLPFC (p = .007).”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “This pilot study suggests that NAC might be efficacious for depressive symptoms in at-risk youth, and that its mechanism of action involves the modulation of glutamate in the left VLPFC.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

Soda consumption linked to accelerated aging and increased mortality risk

University of California at San Francisco, April 26, 2021

A recent study by researcher from the University of California, San Francisco says that drinking soda can increase the risk of all-cause mortality and accelerate aging. The findings build on mounting evidence of the adverse effects drinking soda and other sugary beverages have on the body, which include obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, dental caries and gout.

The team collated data from the National Health and Examination Surveys, an annual program for assessing the health and nutrition of American adults and children. They gathered data from over 5,300 participants between 1999 and 2002, all of whom had no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease. 

In particular, they looked at stored DNA data from the participants – measuring telomere length and comparing it with their consumption of sugar-sweetened soda. The researchers found that those who regularly drank sugar-sweetened soda had shorter telomeres than those who didn’t.

Research has shown that telomeres have been previously associated with lifespan. Having shorter telomere length, for instance, has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even certain types of cancer.

The team reported in their study that consuming even just eight ounces of soda every day can accelerate aging by nearly two years. Meanwhile, 20 ounces of soda can accelerate aging by up to 4.6 years when consumed daily. In fact, drinking sugar-sweetened soda can reduce telomere length at a rate similar to smoking.

The UCSF study is also the first to link regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soda to telomere shortening. According to study co-author Elissa Epel, drinking sugar-sweetened soda adds strain to the body by metabolizing these sugars and accelerates cellular aging in tissues.

“This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset,” Epel added. ” Although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.”

Sugary sodas linked to rising all-cause deaths

In another study, European experts revealed that drinking sugary sodas and other sweetened drinks increases the risk of all-cause deaths. The researchers collected data from more than 450,000 individuals enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, a large-scale cohort study for biochemical and genetic markers for cancer and other chronic diseases.

A follow-up revealed that more than 40,000 participants from the original study had already died. Using their data, the team found a strong link between regular soda consumption and all-cause mortality. Those who regularly drank more than two glasses of sugary drinks increased their risk of dying from circulatory diseases, while those who drank at least one glass of sugary drinks increased their risk of dying from digestive diseases and Parkinson’s disease.

“Our results … provide additional support for the possible adverse health effects of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and to replace them with other healthier beverages, preferably water,” explained co-author Neil Murphy. “For artificially-sweetened soft drinks, we now need a better understanding of the mechanisms that may underlie this association and research such as ours will hopefully stimulate these efforts.”

The findings appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine.

 

 

Curcumin concoction could combat colitis: Study

Baylor University, April 25, 2021

A formula that blends curcumin and turmeric oils can prove effective against the activity and inflammatory burden of colitis, a study has determined.

Published in Nature Scientific Reports, the study identifies the efficacy of a specific curcumin preparation containing essential turmeric oils (ETO-curcumin) in reducing colitis symptoms.

These turmeric oils, aromatic-tumerones (ar-tumerones), alpha-turmerones, beta-turmerones, alpha-santalene and aromatic curcumene, appear to be responsible for an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action, the study suggests.

The combination also appeared to exert higher bioactivity than stand-alone curcumin – a feature that could prove valuable in using turmeric for other intestinal conditions.

“The therapeutic benefits of turmeric can be attained at its best by combining curcumin with turmerone, an active compound derived from essential oil of turmeric,” said P.J. Kunjachan, chairman and managing director for Arjuna Natural Extracts

“This new finding provides our customers an added value for promoting their BCM-95-based formulations in an increasingly crowded curcumin market,” added Dr Benny Antony, joint managing director for Arjuna.

BCM-95 often combines curcumin with other turmeric compounds as its poor bioavailability has been cited as a barrier to its use in other disorders.

Obstacles are not limited to curcumin's chemical properties. Despite the 17 claims for its anti-inflammatory and digestive health properties, there are currently no approved health claims for curcumin in the EU.

These claims are featured on the 2000+ list of on-hold botanical claims yet to be processed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

As well as Arjuna, other manufacturers with an interest in curcumin include herbal manufacturers Sabinsa and Italian botanicals firm Indena.

Led by Dr Shusuke Toden, research associate from Baylor University in the US, the trial compared ETO-curcumin preparations  against standard curcumin at three specific doses (0, 5, 25 or 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg)).

These doses were administered to an animal model with induced colitis for seven days.

The research team found that ETO-curcumin improved disease activity index (DAI) dose-dependently, while the anti-inflammatory efficacy of standard curcumin remained constant.

“This suggests that ETO-curcumin may provide superior anti-inflammatory efficacy compared to standard curcumin,” the study explained.

“ETO-curcumin associated anti-inflammatory effects were particularly pronounced at higher doses.”

Further findings revealed that anti-inflammatory proteins produced included IL-10 and IL-11 as well as FOXP3, which increased in number in the colon by ETO-curcumin.

 

Study examines association between lifestyle patterns and BMI in early childhood

Results support obesity prevention efforts early in life

Deakin University (Australia), April 26, 2021

 

A new Australian study reveals that changes in lifestyle patterns were longitudinally associated with concurrent changes in body mass index (BMI) z scores, and maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, maternal dietary patterns and television viewing time are significant determinants, according to a paper published online in Obesity, The Obesity Society's (TOS) flagship journal. This is the first study that used multi-trajectory modeling to examine the longitudinal relationship between concurrent changes in lifestyle patterns and BMI z scores in early childhood. 

"The findings will inform early childhood obesity prevention intervention and policy, and will be of great interest to pediatricians, researchers, policymakers and the general public," said Miaobing Zheng of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, in Geelong, Australia. Zheng is the corresponding author of the study. 

Experts explain that longitudinal studies investigating the association between lifestyle patterns and obesity in children are scarce. An association between a healthy lifestyle pattern and lower obesity risk has, however, been previously reported in a few cross-sectional studies. In the present study, the co-occurrence of stable healthy lifestyle patterns along with a concurrent normal BMI z score trajectory of one unit from 18 to 60 months in about half of the children provides new longitudinal evidence supporting that children with healthy lifestyles were more likely to concurrently have normal BMI z score development. 

Data of 439 children were used from the Melbourne Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) program. This longitudinal cohort of children commenced in 2008 as a 15-month parent-focused cluster randomized controlled trial aiming to reduce obesity risk behaviors in children until 18 months. Additional follow-ups without interventions occurred for children aged 42 and 60 months. Multi-trajectory modeling identified groups of children following similar lifestyle patterns and BMI z score trajectories and multi-nomial logistic regression assessed the determinants of the trajectory groups. 

Three trajectory groups of child lifestyle patterns and BMI z scores were identified and distinguished, showing a mixture of healthy and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors and BMI zscores. Compared to Groups 1 "Unhealthy lifestyle pattern, Low BMI z" and 3 "Unhealthy lifestyle pattern, High BMI z", Group 2 "Healthy lifestyle pattern, Mid BMI z" revealed the most distinctive trajectories across lifestyle patterns and BMI z scores. Group 2 comprised nearly 53 percent of children and followed a stable and low trajectory for an unhealthy lifestyle pattern characterized by energy-dense and nutrient poor discretionary food consumption and television viewing time and a high and rising trajectory for a healthy lifestyle pattern of fruit and vegetable intakes and time outdoors, along with a mean BMI z score of +1 unit over time.

Groups 1 and 3 shared similar high trajectories for an unhealthy lifestyle pattern of discretionary food consumption and television viewing time, and low trajectories for a healthy lifestyle pattern of fruit and vegetable intakes and time outdoors. The two groups however differed in BMI z score trajectories, showing stable patterns but at mean scores of 0 and +2 units, respectively. Child sex, breastfeeding duration and maternal physical activity were not associated with the identified trajectory groups.

The study's authors note that the co-occurrence of stable lifestyle patterns and BMI z score trajectories in early childhood highlight the importance of initiating lifestyle obesity prevention early in life, and such interventions could target both children and the mother. A multi-behavior approach to simultaneously target healthy diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviors could be adapted.

"Young children learn by imitating that which they see daily. There is no doubt that children copy the behaviors observed in the presence of parents: healthy and unhealthy," said Liliana Aguayo, PhD, MPH, a childhood obesity expert, TOS member and research assistant professor from the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. "Evidence from this study highlights the importance of early childhood as a critical period for development of obesity. More research is needed to identify effective approaches to simultaneously address parent and child health behaviors." Aguayo was not associated with the research.

 

 

DDT exposure in grandmothers linked to obesity, earlier periods in granddaughters

Young women today may face increased health risks linked to breast cancer due to effects from the banned toxic pesticide lasting over three generations

University of California at Davis, April 16, 2021

In the first study to report on the health effects of exposure to a toxic environmental chemical over three human generations, a new study has found that granddaughters whose grandmothers were exposed to the pesticide DDT have higher rates of obesity and earlier first menstrual periods. This may increase the granddaughters' risk for breast cancer as well as high blood pressure, diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases. 

The research by the Public Health Institute's Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) and the University of California at Davis was published today in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. It suggests that effects from the pesticide DDT -- despite being banned in the U.S. nearly 50 years ago -- may contribute to the falling age of first periods and increases in obesity rates among young women today.

The study found that the risk of obesity in young adult granddaughters was 2 to 3 times greater when their grandmothers (who were not overweight) had higher levels of o,p'-DDT (a contaminant of commercial DDT) in their blood during or just after pregnancy. Granddaughters were twice as likely to have earlier first menstrual periods when their grandmothers had higher o,p'-DDT blood levels. DDT and its related chemicals, including o,p'-DDT, are known to be endocrine disrupting chemicals, compounds that can alter and interfere with natural hormones that are essential for development. 

"We already know that it's nearly impossible to avoid exposures to many common environmental chemicals that are endocrine disruptors. Now our study shows for the first time in people that environmental chemicals like DDT may also pose health threats to our grandchildren," said Barbara Cohn, director of CHDS and senior author of the study. "In combination with our on-going studies of DDT effects in the grandmother's and mother's generations, our work suggests we should take precautionary action on the use of other endocrine disrupting chemicals, given their potential to affect generations to come in ways we cannot anticipate today." 

The Child Health and Development Studies is a unique project that has followed 20,000 pregnant women and their families for more than 60 years. CHDS enrolled and began following pregnant women in the Bay Area between 1959 and 1967, a time of high pesticide use before DDT was banned in 1972. These "founding grandmothers" in the study gave blood samples at each trimester during pregnancy and one sample shortly after birth. The blood samples were tested for levels of DDT and its related chemicals, including active ingredients, contaminants and their metabolites. The study today focused on o,p'-DDT as it has previously been linked to breast cancer, obesity and other harmful health effects in daughters, and is believed to be the most sensitive biomarker for exposures before and immediately after birth. Since granddaughters' exposure would occur via their mothers' in utero egg cell development, o,p'-DDT levels are a potential predictor of granddaughters' exposure outcomes. 

"These data suggest that the disruption of endocrine systems by DDT initiates in immature human eggs, decades before the eggs are fertilized," said Michele La Merrill, associate professor at UCD who was co-lead author of the study.

The CHDS study included interviews, home visits and questionnaires from the daughters and granddaughters of the original enrollees. During home visits, blood pressure and height and weight measurements were taken. The study today is based on 365 adult granddaughters who completed questionnaires, participated in a home visit, had available DDT measures from grandmothers' serum, and (for 285 of them) had available information on body mass index (BMI) in all three generations. Information on the age of first period for all three generations was available from 235 granddaughters.

Previous CHDS studies have shown that mothers' DDT exposure during pregnancy or immediately after birth correlates with increased daughters' risk of breast cancer and the prevalence of breast cancer risk factors, including obesity, among adult daughters. Other prior studies have linked DDT exposure to birth defects, reduced fertility and an increased risk of diabetes.

A commentary in the journal Reproductive Toxicology last year called CHDS "a national treasure that keeps on giving" and noted that "There are no other U.S. studies as well defined, sampled, and followed as the CHDS....The CHDS provides unique and essential value in understanding health effects of environmental exposures as they relate to life-stage sensitivity."

 

 

 

Capsaicin analog could help treatment-resistant lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer cells exposed to synthetic analog of chili pepper compound responded better to chemotherapy

Marshall University, April 27, 2021

A new study found that non-pungent synthetic analog of capsaicin -- the compound that makes chili peppers hot -- made small cell lung cancer cells more responsive to treatment. Small cell lung cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer with a low survival rate. 

Cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy is typically the first-line treatment for small cell lung cancer patients. Although patients initially respond very well to this chemotherapy, the tumor usually comes back within a year in a form that doesn't respond to treatments. Patients with relapsed small cell lung cancer have very few treatment options. 

"Irinotecan is the only FDA approved second-line drug for small cell lung cancer, but less than 3% of patients respond to it," said research team leader Piyali Dasgupta, PhD, from Marshall University. "Therefore, agents that improve the anti-cancer activity of irinotecan would be of great value to these patients."

Jamie Friedman, a former doctoral student in Dasgupta's lab will present the new findings at the American Society for Investigative Pathology annual meeting during the virtual Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, to be held April 27-30. 

The natural compound capsaicin has been shown to have anti-cancer effects, but its heat can also cause a burning sensation, stomach cramps, gut pain and nausea. In the new work, the researchers studied arvanil, a synthetic capsaicin analog without capsaicin's undesirable side effects. 

When the researchers exposed two cisplatin-resistant lung cancer cell lines to a low concentration of arvanil, they saw no growth-inhibitory activity. However, when they treated the cells with varying concentrations of SN38 -- the active ingredient irinotecan -- they observed that the presence of arvanil greatly enhanced the ability of SN38 to slow cancer cell growth. Statistical analysis showed that the interaction between arvanil and SN38 was synergistic in nature. 

"Because arvanil enhanced the anti-cancer activity of SN38 in human small cell lung cancer cells, arvanil-based combination therapies may be useful for patients with relapsed small cell lung cancer cells," said Friedman. "We hope that this work will pave the way for novel therapies for relapsed and cisplatin-resistant small cell lung cancer."

 

 

Five Therapeutic Properties of Medicinal Mushrooms

GreenMedInfo, April 25, 2021

 

Mushrooms have recently gained popularity in culinary circles, but their far-reaching therapeutic properties should get your attention for a longer and healthier life.

Although mushrooms have been part of the healer’s toolbox since ancient times, the medicinal power of mushrooms is gaining momentum in evidence-based journals.

Medicinal mushrooms come in a wide variety and shapes such as white button, reishi, maitake, shiitake, oyster, cordyceps, cauliflower, tiger tail and lion’s mane, and most have health benefits that range from fighting cancer and boosting your immunity and memory to preventing diseases like diabetes and arthritis.

1. Anticancer

Reishi (in Japanese) or lingzhi (in Chinese) mushrooms are well known in Asia for their anticancer properties. In a meta-analysis by scientists of 23 trials involving 4,246 cancer patients, reishi mushrooms enhanced longevity and quality of life in cancer patients.[i]

Therapy with white button mushrooms impacted prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and inhibited prostate cancer by decreasing immunosuppressive factors.[ii]

Polysaccharides from Cordyceps cicadae mushrooms inhibited the growth of cancer cells and induced cancer cell deaths showing its effectiveness as a low cost and safe treatment for cervical cancer.[iii]

A peptide from the shiitake mushroom showed promising results in growth arrest, cell death and cleaning out damaged cells in a breast cancer in vitro study.[iv] In both in vitro and in vivo studies, results showed that mice with induced testicular cancer treated with the Cordyceps sinensis mushroom had significantly smaller and fewer tumors than the control group.[v]

Cordyceps cicadae mushroom treatment prevented testicular damage and tumors caused by the chemotherapy drug cisplatin via inhibition of oxidative stress and inflammation in rats.[vi]

In a lung cancer-induced study of mice, treatment with reishi mushrooms inhibited cell viability and mobility of lung cancer cells in vitro.[vii] In a cell study of reishi mushroom extract, the treatment offered high antitumor and liver protection with low toxicity on human liver cancer cells.[viii]

2. Immunomodulatory

In a meta-analysis of 20 animal disease studies, grifola frondosa, or maitake mushroom, polysaccharide showed strong immune function by enhancing T cells, natural killer cells and macrophages in mice and increasing the secretion of two important immune factors, TNF-α and INF-γ.[ix]

In a clinical study of 105 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments, a combination of reishi mushroom extract and geraniums improved immunity and fought the cancer and secondary infections that could have compromised treatment and health.[x]

In a study of 18 patients diagnosed with low and intermediate myelodysplastic syndrome, which can lead to leukemia if not managed well, maitake mushroom extract treatment of three milligrams (mg) twice a day for 12 weeks increased immunity, positively affecting neutrophil, monocyte and free radical production.[xi]

In a clinical study of asymptomatic children from 3 to 5 years old, treatment with beta glucans from reishi mushrooms showed increased immune system cells in the peripheral blood — signaling a strong defense against childhood infections.[xii]

Reviewing in vivo and in vitro studies on mice and human cell lines using lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) and tiger tail (Trametes versicolor) mushrooms, treatments showed immunomodulatory, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and neuroregenerative effects.[xiii]

3. Antioxidant

Polysaccharide beta glucan extracted from reishi mushroom was shown to be a powerful antioxidant in 37 high risk and 34 stable angina patients; those who were treated with 750 mg per day for three months had significantly decreased oxidative radicals and improved progression of atherosclerosis.[xiv]

In a study of 42 healthy subjects, another intervention with beta glucan from reishi mushrooms of 225 mg per day for three months demonstrated its antioxidative effects — enhanced total antioxidant capacity and enzyme activities as well as reduced mild fatty liver condition to normal by suppressing oxidative stress were observed.[xv]

4. Anti-inflammatory 

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Treatment with a triterpene compound from reishi mushrooms showed that the inflammatory cytokines were significantly inhibited in a study of children with Crohn’s disease.[xvi]

Sixty patients with moderate persistent asthma were studied and those who took the cordyceps sinensis mushroom capsule for two months had reduced airway inflammation caused by their chronic asthma.[xvii] Cordycepin from medicinal mushrooms showed strong effects on many anti-inflammatory diseases.[xviii]

In a study of 32 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, supplementation of medicinal mushroom and Chinese herbs — reishi (4 grams) and San Miao San (2.4 grams) daily — lowered arthritic pain for patients.[xix] The data in a mice study support a model where white button mushrooms regulate immunity in vitro and protect the colon from inflammation-induced injuries in vivo.[xx]

The brain is susceptible to inflammation as well. In an Alzheimer’s disease model of rats, treatment with medicinal mushroom extracts delayed disease progression, improved learning and memory functions and stopped neural cell deaths and brain atrophy.[xxi]

Chaga mushrooms administered to mice successfully protected against Alzheimer’s disease by modulating oxidative stress, Nrf2 signaling and mitochondrial cell deaths while improving memory and cognition.[xxii] Cordycepin from the Cordyceps sinensis mushroom alleviated Parkinson’s disease motor disorder symptoms by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation in vivo and in vitro.[xxiii]

Lion’s mane mushrooms were supplemented for 12 weeks and were effective in preventing dementia and cognitive decline.[xxiv] Lion’s mane supplementation for four weeks in a study of 30 females also reduced depression and anxiety.[xxv]

5. Antidiabetic

Dyslipidemia, high blood cholesterol and triglycerides is often a harbinger of future diabetes. In a rat model, white button mushrooms and a probiotic were found to lower dyslipidemia and decrease oxidative stress.[xxvi] In a study of 89 diabetic patients, oyster mushroom consumption significantly reduced blood glucose, blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol without ill effects on the liver or kidneys.[xxvii]

Polyphenols from Phellinus igniarius, or willow bracket, mushroom extract were used in vitro and in vivo studies of induced Type 2 diabetes mice and showed improved glucose tolerance, reduced hyperglycemia and normalized insulin levels.[xxviii]

Diabetic nephropathy, kidney disease caused by Type 2 diabetes, was studied in vitro with disease-induced rats and treatment with Cordyceps cicadae resulted in improved insulin resistance and glucose tolerance, suppressed inflammation and balanced gut microbiome thus stopping the diabetes-related progression of renal disease and tumors.[xxix]

In an animal study, maitake mushroom prevented the progression of kidney fibrosis in diabetic nephropathy rats, significantly decreased fasting blood glucose levels, reduced inflammatory cytokines and lowered renal fibrosis indexes indicating its effectiveness in the treatment or prevention of nephropathy.[xxx]

In their meta-analysis of 623 articles and 33 randomized controlled experiments using cauliflower mushroom extract (S. Crispa), researchers found statistically significant differences in diabetic symptoms including decreased serum insulin levels and wound rates and an increase in nutrient intake content.[xxxi]

Mushrooms and Their Medicinal Powers

Medicinal mushrooms are widely researched and used as treatment in the prevention and progression of many diseases from cancer and asthma to diabetes and dementia. Mushrooms protect you due to their anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antidiabetic, immune boosting and antioxidant activities. To learn more, see GreenMedInfo.com’s database on mushrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2021  

Compound found in some vegetables may reduce diabetes-related kidney damage

Phenethyl isothiocyanate, derived from watercress and other cruciferous vegetables, shows benefits

Al-Maarefa University (Saudi Arabia), April 27, 2021

New research conducted in rats suggests a compound that gives some cruciferous vegetables their pungent taste could help to reverse kidney problems associated with diabetes. 

It is estimated that about one-quarter of people with diabetes will eventually develop diabetic nephropathy, a gradual loss of kidney function eventually requiring dialysis. The condition is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease in the U.S. and is also associated with a high risk of heart disease. There is currently no cure. 

For the new study, researchers assessed the effects of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in rats with diabetic nephropathy. PEITC is found in several types of vegetables but is most concentrated in watercress. 

"Our study provides, for the first time, evidence that PEITC might be effective as a naturally occurring agent to reverse serious kidney damage in people with diabetes," said lead study author Mohamed El-Sherbiny, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at AlMaarefa University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. "Our study introduces mechanistic evidence of how PEITC might manage kidney injury associated with diabetes by targeting multiple interconnected pathways involved in diabetic nephropathy, including inflammation, glycation and oxidative status."

El-Sherbiny will present the research at the American Association for Anatomy annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, held virtually April 27-30. 

Previous studies have suggested sulforaphane, a related compound in cruciferous vegetables, also helps reduce diabetes-associated kidney damage. The new study bolsters the evidence that eating more vegetables containing these compounds could help people with diabetes to stave off kidney problems. 

"PEITC seems to manage one of the most serious and painful diabetic complications. Luckily, PEITC is naturally present in many dietary sources, importantly watercress, broccoli, turnips and radish," said El-Sherbiny. 

Since the research was conducted in animal models, further studies will be needed to confirm the findings and understand how the results could translate to new treatments or dietary recommendations for people with diabetes.

 

Eating probiotic foods helps improve bone health in women

Kyung Hee University (South Korea), April 23, 2021

A recent study by researchers at Kyung Hee University (KHU) in South Korea presents a good example of how powerful probiotics are and how they can be used for medicinal purposes. The researchers examined the effects of probiotics on vaginosis caused by the bacterium, Gardnerella vaginalisand osteoporosis induced by ovariectomy. They reported that probiotics, specifically, anti-inflammatory bacteria isolated from kimchi, caused significant improvements in female mice with the above-mentioned conditions.

The researchers discussed their findings in an in an article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Probiotics from fermented food offer substantial benefits for women

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a type of inflammation caused by the overgrowth of bacterialike G. vaginalis, which naturally reside in the vagina. Normally, good bacteria outnumber bad bacteria and keep them in check; but certain activities, such as frequent douching or unprotected sex, can disrupt the microbial balance in the vagina and promote the growth of bad bacteria.

Osteoporosis, also called “porous bone,” is a disease characterized by either the loss of too much bone in the body, a decreased formation of bone, or both. These events cause the bones to become weak and more likely to break from a fall, a minor bump or even from sneezing. According to statistics, osteoporosis is more common in women, with one in three over the age of 50 experiencing bone fractures because of it, while only one in five men experience the same. Genetics and age can play a part in osteoporosis development, along with low calcium intake, thyroid problems, inflammatory conditions and the use of corticosteroid medications.

In their study, the team from KHU noted that the excessive expression of tumor necrosis factor-(TNF-a), a signaling protein (cytokine) secreted by inflammatory cells, is known to aggravate BV and osteoporosis. To determine if probiotics can influence the expression of TNF-and alleviate these conditions, they isolated anti-inflammatory Lactobacillus plantarum NK3 and Bifidobacterium longum NK49 from kimchi as well as from human fecal samples. They then tested the effects of these good bacteria in female mice with BV and osteoporosis.

The researchers reported that oral gavage of NK3 alone or in combination with NK49 significantly alleviated GV-induced vaginosis and decreased GV population in the vagina. The probiotics also inhibited the activation of NF-kB, a transcription factor that increases the production of inflammatory cytokines, and TNF-a expression in the vagina and uterus of the female mice.

The researchers also found that treatment with NK3 alone or in combination with NK49 alleviated ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis and obesity. Moreover, it increased blood calcium, phosphorus and osteocalcin levels, as well as suppressed weight gain. NK3 and/or NK49 treatment also reduced TNF-a expression and NF-kB activation in the colon and restored optimal gut microbiota composition.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the probiotics present in fermented foods like kimchi can alleviate BV and osteoporosis by reducing inflammation and regulating gut microbial composition.

 

 

Chronic stress may reduce lifespan in wild baboons, according to new multi-decadal study

Duke University, April 21, 2021

Female baboons may not have bills to pay or deadlines to meet, but their lives are extremely challenging. They face food and water scarcity and must be constantly attuned to predators, illnesses and parasites, all while raising infants and maintaining their social status.

A new study appearing April 21 in Science Advances shows that female baboons with high life-long levels of glucocorticoids, the hormones involved in the 'fight or flight' response, have a greater risk of dying than those with lower levels.

Glucocorticoids are a group of hormones that help prepare the body for a challenge. While these hormones have many functions in the body, persistently high levels of glucocorticoids in the bloodstream can be a marker of stress.

To understand the relationship between stress responses and survival, scientists studied 242 female baboons in Amboseli National Park, in Kenya. For more than 20 years, they measured glucocorticoid levels in the baboons' feces, a task that drew upon one of the world's largest collections of data from a wild primate population.

Females with higher levels of glucocorticoids in their feces, either due to more frequent exposure to different types of challenges, or more intense stress responses, tended to die younger.

The researchers then used these real values of hormone levels and risk of death to simulate a comparison between females that lived at opposite ends of the stress spectrum. The model showed that a hypothetical female whose glucocorticoid levels were kept very elevated would die 5.4 years sooner than a female whose glucocorticoid levels were kept very low.

If they reach adulthood, female baboons have an expected lifespan of about 19 years, so 5.4-years represents a 25% shorter life. Five years more life can also represent enough time to raise one or two more infants.

The team's simulations represent extreme values that are unlikely to be maintained throughout the females' lives, said Fernando Campos, an assistant professor at the University of Texas San Antonio and lead author of the study. Nonetheless, the link between exposure to stress-associated hormones and survival is clear.

"Whether it's due to your environment or your genes or something that we are not measuring, having more glucocorticoids shortens your life," said Susan Alberts, a professor of biology and chair of evolutionary anthropology at Duke and senior author on the paper.

The variation in glucocorticoid levels observed by Campos, Alberts, and their team shows that some females have it worse than others.

Glucocorticoid levels may vary due to environmental factors, such as growing up in very hot and dry years, social factors, such as living in an unusually small or large group, and individual differences, such as being pregnant more often.

"Those are the things we know about," said Alberts, "there's a whole bunch of horrible things that happen to animals that we just can't measure."

"Whatever is exposing you to the glucocorticoids is going to shorten your life," Alberts said. "The more hits you get, the worse your outcome."

Glucocorticoids play all sorts of vital roles in our bodies. They regulate our immunity, help our bodies access energy from sugars and fats, and modulate metabolic reactions to prepare the body for a challenge.

But being constantly prepared for a challenge has high costs: maintenance processes get shut down, and fight or flight processes stay active for longer. Over time, these effects accumulate.

"This chronic activation of the stress response leads to a caustic downstream physiological environment of not enough immune system, and not enough attention to maintenance," said Alberts.

Associations between stress and survival are extremely difficult to test in a natural scenario. They require very frequent data collection for a very long period of time, in this case through the Amboseli Baboon Research Project, which was launched in 1971.

Amboseli females are followed daily from birth to death, their activity is monitored, big events in their lives are recorded, and their feces are periodically collected.

"In my lab we have one of the largest collections of primate behavioral data in the world," said Alberts, "and also one of the biggest primate poop collections." More than 14,000 fecal samples were used in this study.

Poop is a very valuable, if slightly smelly, repository of information. By measuring hormone levels in feces rather than in blood or saliva, researchers avoid handling and stressing the animals, which could influence hormone levels.

"People have long hypothesized that glucocorticoids play a role in how long you live," said Campos, "but to our knowledge this is the first direct evidence that chronic exposure to glucocorticoids strongly predicts survival in wild primates."

 

Smoking cannabis significantly impairs vision, study finds

Smoking cannabis significantly impairs vision but many users are unaware of it

University of Granada (Spain), April 15, 2021

A study carried out by the University of Granada indicates that smoking cannabis significantly alters key visual functions, such as visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, three-dimensional vision (stereopsis), the ability to focus, and glare sensitivity

Yet, more than 90% of users believe that using cannabis has no effect on their vision, or only a slight effect

A group of researchers from the Department of Optics of the University of Granada (UGR) has studied the effects of smoking cannabis on various visual parameters compared to the effect that the users themselves perceive the drug to have on their vision.

This study, led by Carolina Ortiz Herrera and Rosario González Anera, has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. Its main author, Sonia Ortiz Peregrina, explains that cannabis use is on the rise despite being an illegal drug. According to the national Survey on Alcohol, Drugs and Other Addictions in Spain 2019-2020, cannabis use nationally has increased since 2011, with 37% of Spanish adults having used this drug at some time. Approximately 10% consumed it in the last year. 

In this study, which had the approval of the Human Research Ethics Committee of the UGR (ref. 921/CCEIH/2019), an exhaustive visual trial was conducted on 31 cannabis users, both when they had not consumed any substance in advance and also when they were under the effect of the drug. The researchers also studied the participants' perception of the visual effects of having consumed this drug.

The results showed that, following consumption, visual aspects such as visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, three-dimensional vision (stereopsis), the ability to focus, and glare sensitivity significantly worsened. Despite this, not all subjects reported a worsening of their vision after smoking cannabis. Indeed, 30% reported that their vision had not suffered at all, while 65% responded that it had worsened only slightly. The authors note that the visual parameter that could be most strongly linked to users' perception of the visual effect is contrast sensitivity.

The study found a negative effect on all of the visual parameters evaluated, with the effect of cannabis on some of the parameters being analysed for the first time in this research. These results, together with the lack of awareness that the participants presented about the visual impairment caused by smoking cannabis, indicate the need to carry out awareness-raising campaigns, as this visual deterioration can pose a danger when performing everyday tasks.

 

Poor iodine levels in pregnancy poses risks to fetal intellectual development

 

University of South Australia, April 23, 2021

A growing number of young Australian women are at increased risk of having children born with impaired neurological conditions, due to poor iodine intake.

Dietary changes, including a growing trend towards the avoidance of bread and iodised salt, as well as a reduced intake of animal products containing iodine can contribute to low iodine levels.

A small pilot study undertaken by the University of South Australia (UniSA) comparing iodine levels between 31 vegan/plant-based participants and 26 omnivores has flagged the potential health risk.

Urine samples showed iodine readings of 44 ug/L in the plant-based group, compared to the meat eaters' 64 ug/L level. Neither group came close to the World Health Organization's recommended 100 grams per liter.

Participants from both groups who chose pink or Himalayan salt instead of iodised salt had severely deficient iodine levels, averaging 23 ug/L.

The findings have been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

While the study was undertaken in South Australia, it builds evidence on a 2017 US study (1) that found nearly two billion people worldwide were iodine deficient, resulting in 50 million experiencing clinical side effects.

UniSA research dietitian Jane Whitbread says adequate iodine is essential for fetal intellectual development.

"Mild to moderate iodine deficiency has been shown to affect language development, memory and mental processing speeds," Ms Whitbread says.

"During pregnancy, the need for iodine is increased and a 150mcg supplement is recommended prior to conception and throughout pregnancy. Unfortunately, most women do not take iodine supplements before conceiving. It is important to consume adequate iodine, especially during the reproductive years."

Dietary sources of iodine include fortified bread, iodized salt, seafoods including seaweeds, eggs, and dairy foods.

Concerns about the link between poor iodine status and impaired neurological conditions in newborns prompted the mandatory fortification of non-organic bread with iodised salt in 2009 in Australia.

It has since been reported that women who consume 100g of iodine-fortified bread every day (approximately three pieces) have five times greater chance of meeting their iodine intake compared to women who don't consume that much. The average amount of bread consumed by women in this study was one piece of bread.

The growing preference of Himalayan salt over iodized table salt may also be problematic, Ms Whitbread says. A quarter of women in the study reported using the pink salt which contains an insignificant level of iodine.

Another issue is that plant-based milks have low levels of iodine and are not currently fortified with this nutrient.

Neither group met the estimated average requirement (EAR) for calcium.

The vegan/plant-based group also did not reach the recommended levels for selenium and B12 without supplementation, but their dietary intake of iron, magnesium, vitamin C, folate and fibre was higher than the meat eaters. This reflects the inclusion of iron-rich soy products, wholemeal foods, legumes, and green leafy vegetables in their diet.

The researchers recommended that both new salts and plant milks be fortified with iodine as well as a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of iodine in the diet, especially for women in their reproductive years.

They also called for a larger study sample to determine iodine status of Australian women.

 

Taking vitamin D could lower heart disease risk for people with dark skin

Racial disparities in heart disease may be linked to vitamin D deficiency

Penn State University, April 26, 2021

New research suggests a simple step could help millions of people reduce their risk of heart disease: make sure to get enough vitamin D. Elucidating linkages between skin pigmentation, vitamin D and indicators of cardiovascular health, the new study, combined with evidence from previous research, suggests vitamin D deficiency could contribute to the high rate of heart disease among African Americans. 

"More darkly-pigmented individuals may be at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, particularly in areas of relatively low sun exposure or high seasonality of sun exposure," said S. Tony Wolf, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Pennsylvania State University and the study's lead author. "These findings may help to explain some of the differences that we see in the risk for developing blood vessel dysfunction, hypertension and overt cardiovascular disease between ethnic groups in the United States. Although there are many factors that contribute to the development of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, vitamin D supplementation may provide a simple and cost-effective strategy to reduce those disparities."

Wolf noted that the need for vitamin D supplementation depends on a variety of factors, including where you live, how much time you spend in the sun, your skin pigmentation and your age. 

Wolf will present the research at the American Physiological Society annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, held virtually April 27-30. 

Melanin, which is more concentrated in darker skin, is known to inhibit the process our bodies use to make vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. As a result, darkly pigmented people may make less vitamin D, potentially leading to vitamin D deficiency.

For the study, Wolf and colleagues measured skin pigmentation, vitamin D and the activity of nitric oxide in the small blood vessels beneath the skin in 18 heathy adults of varying skin tones. Nitric oxide is important for blood vessel function, and reduced nitric oxide availability is thought to predispose an individual to the development of hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Previous studies suggest vitamin D helps to promote nitric oxide availability. 

Study participants with darker skin had lower levels of vitamin D and lower nitric oxide availability. In addition, the researchers found that lower levels of vitamin D were related to reduced nitric oxide-mediated blood vessel function. The results align with those of a separate study by the same research group, which found that vitamin D supplementation improved blood vitamin D levels and nitric oxide-mediated blood vessel function in otherwise healthy, young African American adults.

"Vitamin D supplementation is a simple and safe strategy to ensure vitamin D sufficiency," said Wolf. "Our findings suggest that promoting adequate vitamin D status in young, otherwise healthy adults may improve nitric oxide availability and blood vessel function, and thereby serve as a prophylactic to reduce risk of future development of hypertension or cardiovascular disease."

 

Men's loneliness linked to an increased risk of cancer

University of Eastern Finland, April 27, 2021

A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland shows that loneliness among middle-aged men is associated with an increased risk of cancer. According to the researchers, taking account of loneliness and social relationships should thus be an important part of comprehensive health care and disease prevention. The findings were published in Psychiatry Research.

"It has been estimated, on the basis of studies carried out in recent years, that loneliness could be as significant a health risk as smoking or overweight. Our findings support the idea that attention should be paid to this issue," Project Researcher Siiri-Liisi Kraav from the University of Eastern Finland says. 

The study was launched in the 1980s with 2,570 middle-aged men from eastern Finland participating. Their health and mortality have been monitored on the basis of register data up until present days. During the follow-up, 649 men, i.e. 25% of the participants, developed cancer, and 283 men (11%) died of cancer. Loneliness increased the risk of cancer by about ten per cent. This association with the risk of cancer was observed regardless of age, socio-economic status, lifestyle, sleep quality, depression symptoms, body mass index, heart disease and their risk factors. In addition, cancer mortality was higher in cancer patients who were unmarried, widowed or divorced at baseline. 

"Awareness of the health effects of loneliness is constantly increasing. Therefore, it is important to examine, in more detail, the mechanisms by which loneliness causes adverse health effects. This information would enable us to better alleviate loneliness and the harm caused by it, as well as to find optimal ways to target preventive measures."

 

 

How exercise and the simple act of moving your body can improve mental health

 

University of Toronto, April 26, 2021

Whether running around a track or simply stretching in your living room, physical activity can go a long way toward making you happier.

Catherine Sabiston, a professor in the University of Toronto's Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, says the positive impact of exercise on mental health is well-documented.

"There is uncontested evidence that physical activity is conducive to mental health," she says.

For example, Sabiston co-authored a study in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology that adolescents who consistently participated in team sports during high school reported lower depression levels in early adulthood.

A Canada Research Chair in physical activity and mental health, Sabiston directs a lab that studies the connections between physical activity and mental health, developing and evaluating interventions to promote physical activity and mental wellness among people who are at risk of inactivity and mental health problems.

The lab also runs a six-week program called MoveU.HappyU that provides customized coaching and training aimed at reducing the stress and anxiety of students in the lab through physical movement.

She recently spoke with U of T News about why it's important to stay active during the pandemic—and how to feel good doing it.

How closely connected are physical activity and mental health?

Symptoms of mental illness such as anxiety and depression can impede physical activity and vice versa. When you are experiencing symptoms, you may also encounter feelings of low self-worth and an inability to be motivated. It's very hard to find a type of physical activity that you can engage in when you lack interest in most things. Many of the symptoms tied to mental illness are also barriers to physical activity.

On the flip side, there is uncontested evidence that physical activity is conducive to mental health. Physical activity prevents some forms of mental illness, and, for individuals who have been diagnosed with mental illness, physical activity can help reduce those symptoms and improve their quality of life. It holds its own weight in comparison to all other forms of treatment for mental illness, including psychotherapy and even medication.

Physical activity is a potential adjunct to any other form of preventative or treatment-focused therapy.

How exactly does exercise lift our mood?

There are a number of mechanisms at play, including physical activity effects that are tied to our brain activity and brain chemistry. Physical activity increases our body temperature. When we are warmer, we are given the sense that we are comfortable and cared for. Also, from a historical perspective, we know that humans were naturally much more active in the past than we are now. So, physical activity brings us closer to that core level of movement that human bodies are meant to be.

Moreover, physical activity can mimic mental health symptoms such as anxiety. When you exercise, you may sweat or feel your heart racing. That mimics the feeling of panic, so by engaging in exercise, you are producing a similar physical effect that can make you more accustomed to those symptoms. Exercise also provides you with an opportunity, whether for two minutes or 20, to break away from your usual routines or worries. This escape can help people better cope with their symptoms while experiencing a sense of purpose or accomplishment. In fact, feelings of mastery and accomplishment are also specific ways that physical activity impacts mental health. Small goals and activities inherent to physical activity offer plenty of opportunities for positive feedback, feeling successful and achieving, which helps stave off symptoms of mental illness.

Finally, physical activity is something you can partake in outdoors, which has a potentiating effect on mental health. That allows you to see other people, even if you are not interacting with them, and feel a sense of connectedness.

What are some ways people can stay active and motivated during the pandemic?

We want to dispel the myth that physical activity is just running, biking and lifting weights.

Physical activity can be any movement where your heart is increasing its work capacity and your body is moving. In "MoveU.HappyU," we coach students on day-to-day strategies for how to maintain a level of physical activity. Because the program is virtual now, we have trained students who are currently all over the world. Some students who had never spoken to their families about their mental health struggles are now actually having their whole families join in on the physical activities.

The physical activity you are doing should be something that you enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, you're not going to continue to do it.

We also want people to engage in physical activity to improve function rather than appearance. It's important to uncouple the relationship between physical activity for weight and body-size reasons and move towards physical activity for enjoyment and fun reasons. If it's fun, you are more likely to do it, and more likely to do it leads to more benefits.

Do you have any tips for people looking to boost physical activity at home?

There are many ways you can innovate physical activity to make it more varied, even when you are stuck in the same place. The best part of physical activity is thinking about the endless possibilities of ways your body can move. If you are purposeful about it, physical activity can be integrated into your everyday routines:

  • Set aside time as you would if you were going to the gym or commuting. Mark it in your calendar or set an alarm to give you an actual reminder.
  • Use your phone or a pedometer to measure your step count. Having something that measures how many steps you're taking gives you a baseline: If you know you walked a certain number of steps on day one, you can add five additional steps on day two. That way you'll have a tangible goal for increasing movement.
  • Consciously link items or places in your home to short bouts of movement. For example, if you use the toaster oven every morning, make a habit of doing squats while you're waiting for your bread. Or when you are wheeling from one room to another, add some extra distance.
  • When you're outside, use aspects of your environment to change up your physical activity. You can change the intensity of your walking or wheeling, for instance, each time that you pass a lamppost or see a blue car. Make it fun to change up the intensity, type, and timing of your activities.
  • Create movement challenges for yourself and your friends, family, colleagues, or students. Set goals for taking a certain number of steps or finishing a certain number of arm raises each day. Making physical activity more like a game is a proven strategy for increasing movement—and enjoying it.

 

 
April 27, 2021  

Anti-aging compound improves muscle glucose metabolism in people

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, April 25, 2021

A natural compound previously demonstrated to counteract aspects of aging and improve metabolic health in mice has clinically relevant effects in people, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A small clinical trial of postmenopausal women with prediabetes shows that the compound NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) improved the ability of insulin to increase glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, which often is abnormal in people with obesity, prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. NMN also improved expression of genes that are involved in muscle structure and remodeling. However, the treatment did not lower blood glucose or blood pressure, improve blood lipid profile, increase insulin sensitivity in the liver, reduce fat in the liver or decrease circulating markers of inflammation as seen in mice.

The study, published online April 22 in the journal Science, is the first randomized clinical trial to look at the metabolic effects of NMN administration in people.

Among the women in the study, 13 received 250 mg of NMN orally every day for 10 weeks, and 12 were given an inactive placebo every day over the same period.

"Although our study shows a beneficial effect of NMN in skeletal muscle, it is premature to make any clinical recommendations based on the results from our study," said senior investigator Samuel Klein, MD, the William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science and director of the Center for Human Nutrition. "Normally, when a treatment improves insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle, as is observed with weight loss or some diabetes medications, there also are related improvements in other markers of metabolic health, which we did not detect in our study participants."

The remarkable beneficial effects of NMN in rodents have led several companies in Japan, China and in the U.S. to market the compound as a dietary supplement or a neutraceutical. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed, and many people in the U.S. and around the world now take NMN despite the lack of evidence to show clinical benefits in people.

The researchers studied 25 postmenopausal women who had prediabetes, meaning they had higher than normal blood sugar levels, but the levels were not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. Women were enrolled in this trial because mouse studies showed NMN had the greatest effects in female mice.

NMN is involved in producing an important compound in all cells, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD plays a vital role in keeping animals healthy. Levels of NAD decline with age in a broad range of animals, including humans, and the compound has been shown to contribute to a variety of aging-associated problems, including insulin resistance in studies conducted in mice. Supplementing animals with NMN slows and ameliorates age-related decline in the function of many tissues in the body.

Co-investigator Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, Ph.D., a professor of developmental biology and of medicine who has been studying NMN for almost two decades and first reported on its benefits in mice said, "This is one step toward the development of an anti-aging intervention, though more research is needed to fully understand the cellular mechanisms responsible for the effects observed in skeletal muscle in people."

Insulin enhances glucose uptake and storage in muscle, so people who are resistant to insulin are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. But the researchers caution that more studies are needed to determine whether NMN has beneficial effects in the prevention or management of prediabetes or diabetes in people. Klein and Imai are continuing to evaluate NMN in another trial involving men as well as women.

 

High dose of vitamin D fails to improve condition of moderate to severe COVID-19 patients

 

University of São Paulo's Medical School (Brazil), April 26, 2021

Can a high dose of vitamin D administered on admission to hospital improve the condition of patients with moderate or severe COVID-19? The answer is no, according to a Brazilian study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The article reports a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the kind of study considered the gold standard to evaluate drug efficacy. It was conducted with FAPESP's support by researchers at the University of São Paulo's Medical School (FM-USP), who recruited 240 patients treated at Hospital das Clínicas (HC), the hospitalcomplex run by FM-USP, and the Ibirapuera field hospital in São Paulo City in June-August 2020.

"In vitro studies or trials with animals had previously shown that in certain situations vitamin D and its metabolites can have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects, as well as modulating the immune response. We decided to investigate whether a high dose of the substance could have a protective effect in the context of an acute viral infection, reducing either the inflammation or the viral load," Rosa Pereira, principal investigator for the project, told Agência FAPESP.

The volunteers were randomly divided into two groups, one of which was given vitamin D3 in a single dose of 200,000 units (IU) dissolved in a peanut oil solution. The other group was given only the peanut oil solution. All participants were treated according to the standard protocol for hospital treatment of the disease, which includes administration of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The main purpose was to see if acute supplementation would affect the length of hospital stay for these patients, but the researchers also wanted to find out whether it would mitigate the risks of admission to the intensive care unit (ICU), intubation and death.

No significant difference between the groups was observed for any of these clinical outcomes. According to Pereira, the study was designed above all to assess the impact on hospital stay and a larger number of volunteers would be needed to achieve a scientifically acceptable estimate of the effect on mortality.

"So far we can say there's no indication to administer vitamin D to patients who come to the hospital with severe COVID-19," she said.

For Bruno Gualano, a researcher at FM-USP and penultimate author of the article, the findings show that at least for now there is no "silver bullet" for the treatment of COVID-19. "But that doesn't mean continuous use of vitamin D can't have beneficial effects of some kind," he said.

Ideal dose

Pereira is currently leading a study at FM-USP to find out whether subjects with sufficient circulating levels of vitamin D combat infection by SARS-CoV-2 better than those with insufficient levels of the nutrient.

The ideal level of vitamin D in the blood and the daily supplementation dose vary according to age and overall health, she explained. Older people and patients with chronic diseases including osteoporosis should have more than 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL). For healthy adults, 20 ng/mL is an acceptable threshold.

"The ideal approach is case-by-case analysis, if necessary dosing the substance periodically by means of blood work, with supplementation if a deficiency is detected," Pereira said.

 
 
 
 

Sufficient serum vitamin D before 20 weeks of pregnancy reduced risk of gestational diabetes mellitus

Fudan University Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital (China), April 16, 2021

A new study on Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases and Conditions - Obesity and Diabetes is now available. According to news originating from Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, “Our aim was to evaluate the relationship between serum vitamin D levels before 20 weeks of pregnancy and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. This study is a retrospective study.”

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Fudan University Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, “We analyzed the relationship between serum 25 (OH) D level before 20 weeks of pregnancy (first antenatal examination) and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Age, parity and pre-pregnancy body mass index were used as confounding factors. 8468 pregnant women were enrolled in this study between January 2018 and March 2020 at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University. Adjusted smoothing splinespline plots, subgroup analysis and multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to estimate the relative risk between 25(OH)D and gestational diabetes mellitus. After fully adjusting the confounding factors, serum vitamin D is a protective factor in gestational diabetes mellitus (OR=0.90). Compared with vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D insufficiency (OR=0.78), sufficience (OR=0.82) are a protective factor for gestational diabetes mellitus. Sufficience vitamin D before 20 weeks of pregnancy is a protective factor for gestational diabetes mellitus. Vitamin D>20 ng/mL can reduce the risk of GDM, which is not much different from the effect of >30 ng/mL.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “The protective effect of vitamin D is more significant in obese pregnant women.”

 

 

Review summarizes known links between endocrine disruptors and breast cancer risk

University of Eastern Finland, April 20, 2021

Exposure to certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals could elevate the risk of breast cancer, according to a new comprehensive systematic review of epidemiological research. However, for many chemicals, evidence is inconsistent or still limited. The review was carried out by researchers at the universities of Hong Kong and Eastern Finland and published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can interfere with the body's hormonal system, also called the endocrine system, and are widely present in the environment. They originate from a variety of sources, including pesticides, plasticisers and other industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals, as well as natural sources. Humans are often exposed to EDCs through food, but other possible exposure routes include drinking water, skin contact and air.

Breast cancer accounts for the majority of women's cancers. There has been an increasing interest in the role of estrogene-mimicking EDCs, so called xenoestrogens, in the development of breast cancer. They comprise a broad range of pesticides, synthetic chemicals, phytoestrogens and certain mycotoxins. The researchers reviewed 131 epidemiological studies evaluating the link between xenoestrogen exposure and breast cancer. Most studies assessed exposures by measuring the EDCs and their metabolites in urine, serum, plasma or adipose tissues. 

Some may be genetically more vulnerable to EDCs

According to the review, the nowadays widely banned pesticide DDT is one of the most studied EDCs in relation to breast cancer risk. Out of 43 epidemiological studies, eleven reported positive associations between DDT or its metabolites in lipid, serum or plasma and breast cancer incidence. Nine reported higher DDT levels among women with breast cancer than among controls. In a few studies, DDT was linked to estrogen-positive breast cancer or the association to breast cancer risk depended on genotype. 

Polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs, are a large group of compounds earlier much used in electrical devices, surface coatings and other purposes. The review of 50 studies found the association between total PCBs and breast cancer risk to be inconsistent. However, 19 studies linked certain PCBs to a higher breast cancer incidence. Similar to DTT, PCBs accumulate in the adipose tissue and in the food chain and can be excreted in breast milk. 

Perfluorooctanoid acid (PFOA) found in some food packaging and cookware was linked to breast cancer risk in three out of five epidemiological studies. Some studies found an association between cancer risk and certain genotypes both for PCBs and PFOAs.

DDT, PCBs ja PFOA are POP substances, persistent organic pollutants, the use of which is strictly regulated. DDT ja PCBs are old POP substances and their levels in the environment are decreasing. PFOA is a newer POP substance.

Phytoestrogens were found beneficial in some, but not all studies

Phytoestrogens are natural plant estrogens that have been suggested to prevent breast cancer. Genistein is a phytoestrogen found in soy products. The review included 29 epidemiological studies focusing on genistein, 18 of which linked it to a lower breast cancer risk, although some only in certain age groups or populations.

For most EDCs included in the review, the link to breast cancer has been investigated in only a few epidemiological studies. Phtalates and bisphenol A (BPA), for example, are used in plastic packaging and can transfer to food. According to the review, four out of six studies linked phthalates to increased breast cancer risk. BPA was linked to more aggressive tumours in one study, but two other epidemiological studies found no link to breast cancer.

Parabens are common preservatives in foods and cosmetic products and considered possible endocrine disruptors. The only epidemiological study on the topic reported a link between paraben exposures, breast cancer risk and mortality following breast cancer. 

Oral contraceptive use was linked to an increased breast cancer risk in seven out of eight epidemiological studies, but there were controversies on how duration or discontinuation of oral contraceptive use affected the risk.

The review also included the herbicide atrazine, the industrial by-product dioxine, mycotoxins produced by food and crop molds, and PBDEs found in household furniture coatings and appliances, but epidemiological studies on their links to breast cancer risk were still scarce and often inconsistent. 

The writers point out that for EDCs to disrupt endocrine functions, dose, time, duration and age at exposure all matter. In addition, as multiple EDCs coexist in the environment, more research is needed to evaluate their interactive effects on breast cancer risk.

The review also suggests that genotypes could determine whether EDC exposure affects breast cancer risk, and more research is needed on this topic. "One example is the polymorphism of the CYP1A1 gene, which is responsible for estrogen metabolism."

According to the writers, next-generation technologies, such as genome sequencing, proteomics or epigenomics, can help identify new exposure biomarkers with better sensitivity and specificity. "These technologies will also pave way to better assessment of past exposure and prediction of future risks, by taking into account an individual's genetic profile."

 

 

Grape seed extract may protect gut from inflammation: Study

Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain), April 25, 2021

Proanthocyanidin-rich grape seed extracts may protect the intestines from the deleterious effects of a high-fat/high-carbohydrate diet, according to data from a rat study.

A high-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or Western diet has been reported to produce changes in the intestine, explained researchers from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain.

“Concretely, several recent studies have provided compelling new evidence to suggest that changes in the epithelial barrier function and intestinal inflammation are associated with and could even lead to altered regulation of body weight and glucose homeostasis,” they added.

“The main consequence of the gut barrier dysfunction has been proposed to be the entry of toxins from the intestinal lumen, which can trigger local inflammation or gain access to the circulation and induce systemic inflammation through cytokine release.”

Their new research indicated that a grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) may protect the gut from such harmful effects.

Study details

Data published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research reveals that supplementing the diet of lab rats with medium or high-dose proanthocyanidins had beneficial impacts on intestinal inflammation, oxidative stress, and barrier function. The medium dose was 25 mg/kg, which is a dose similar to the dietary proanthocyanidin intake in humans, explained the researchers. The high dose (50 mg/kg) would exceed the dietary proanthocyanidin intake in humans.

Thirty-six week-old rats were fed a Western diet for 15 weeks and then divided into one of four supplementation groups, receiving 0 mg/kg (control), 5 mg/kg (low dose), 25 mg/kg, or 50 mg/kg for an additional three weeks.

Results showed that intestinal inflammation, assessed by measuring myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, significantly increased in the control animals, but these increases were reduced in the rats receiving the grape seed extract.

In addition, significant reductions in plasma levels of reactive oxygen species were observed in the medium and high dose groups, compared to the control group.

Tight junctions

The researchers also examined the function of the intestinal barrier, and looked specifically at so-called tight junctions (TJ) between cells in the lining of the intestine – the epithelium. On one side is the intestinal cavity and on the other is a mass of cells and tissues. In a healthy system, materials in the cavity find their way into tissues by passing through the cells, which controls which substances pass through. In an unhealthy system, the tight junctions are not so tight and materials can bypass the cells and find their way into tissues via the tight junctions. This increase in intestinal permeability has been referred to as "leaky gut".

“Another point of interest in this study was to evaluate whether GSPE could modulate the alterations in the permeability of the intestinal barrier that are related to the state of intestinal inflammation,” wrote the researchers. “Our findings indicate that the TJ  proteins were negatively associated with measures of adiposity and with the circulating levels of [triglycerides]. These are not causal associations, but they suggest that increased adiposity is accompanied by lower expression of TJ components, which is in agreement with the hypothesis that obesity and a [high-fat diet] are associated with increased intestinal permeability. Then, given the importance of having a healthy barrier function, dietary interventions that can modulate the intestinal permeability might afford an effective tool for the prevention and treatment of metabolic diseases associated with obesity.”

The researchers concluded: “Our findings indicate that orally administered GSPE modulates the intestinal inflammation, oxidative stress, and possibly the barrier function. Based on these findings, our data suggest that nutritional and/or therapeutic interventions focused on gut health and modulation of the intestinal permeability should be extensively explored in the context of obesity.”

 

Antidepressant use in pregnancy tied to affective disorders in offspring; no causal link

 

Mount Sinai Hospital, April 12, 2021

Major depressive disorder is highly prevalent, with one in five people experiencing an episode at some point in their life, and is almost twice as common in women than in men. Antidepressants are usually given as a first-line treatment, including during pregnancy, either to prevent the recurrence of depression, or as acute treatment in newly depressed patients. Antidepressant use during pregnancy is widespread and since antidepressants cross the placenta and the blood-brain barrier, concern exists about potential long-term effects of intrauterine antidepressant exposure in the unborn child. 

Using the Danish National Registers to follow more than 42,000 singleton babies born during 1998-2011 for up to 18 years, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai investigated whether exposure to antidepressants in the womb would increase the risk of developing affective disorder like depression and anxiety in the child. In a study published April 5 in Neuropsychopharmacology,the scientists found that children whose mothers continued antidepressants during pregnancy had a higher risk of affective disorders than children whose mothers stopped taking antidepressants before pregnancy. However, to understand whether the underlying disorder for which the antidepressant was given or the medication itself was linked to the child's risk of developing an affective disorder, they also studied the effect of paternal antidepressant use during pregnancy and similarly, found that children of fathers who took antidepressants throughout pregnancy had a higher risk for affective disorders. Thus, the research team speculates that rather than being an intrauterine effect, the observed link is most likely due to the parental mental illness underlying the antidepressant use. 

"Approximately half of women who use antidepressants before pregnancy decide to discontinue use either before or during pregnancy due to concerns about the negative consequences for their child," said Anna-Sophie Romel, PhD, an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Icahn Mount Sinai and first author of the paper. "Our study does not provide evidence for a causal relationship between in-utero exposure to antidepressants and affective disorders in the child. So, while other long-term effects of intrauterine exposure to antidepressants remain to be investigated, our work supports antidepressant continuation for women with severe symptoms or a high risk of relapse because untreated psychiatric illness during pregnancy can have negative consequences on the health and development of the child. Women and their health care providers should carefully weigh all of the treatment options and jointly decide on the best course of action."

 

Staying Active Can Fight Declines in Cognitive Engagement
 
North Carolina State University, April 22, 2021
 

Preserving physical and mental health helps older adults experiencing cognitive impairment stave off declines in cognitive engagement, a new study suggests

“We found that declines in physical and mental health were associated with more pronounced cognitive disengagement,” says Shevaun Neupert, professor of psychology at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of the study published in Entropy.

“The impact of declines in physical health was particularly pronounced for study participants who had more advanced cognitive impairment to begin with.”

There’s a lot of research showing that cognitive engagement can help older adults maintain cognitive health. However, the vast majority of that work has been done on healthy adults.

“There’s very little work on cognitive engagement in people who are already cognitively impaired, such as people who have been diagnosed with dementia,” Neupert says. “Are they still capable of sustained cognitive engagement? What factors contribute to that engagement?”

To begin addressing those questions, the researchers enlisted 28 study participants. All of the participants were over 60 and had documented cognitive impairment.

Participants came to a testing site two times, six months apart. On each visit, researchers collected data on the physical and mental health of the study participants and performed a battery of tests designed to assess cognitive ability. They also connected participants to a device that tracked blood pressure continuously and then asked them to engage in a series of increasingly difficult cognitive tasks. This allowed researchers to track how cognitive engagement changed as the tasks become progressively harder.

Cognitive engagement means taking part in activities that are mentally challenging. Monitoring blood pressure allows the researchers to track how hard study participants are working to accomplish cognitive tasks. Specifically, blood pressure rises as more blood is pumped to the brain when participants work harder at these tasks.

Broadly speaking, the researchers found that if a participant’s cognitive ability, physical health, or mental health declined over the course of the six month study period, that participant became less cognitively engaged as the tasks became harder.

“Normally, you’d expect more engagement as the tasks became harder, but we found that some people essentially stopped trying,” says coauthor Claire Growney, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis.

“The findings highlight the fact that well-being is holistic; physical health, mental health, and cognitive function can influence each other,” says coauthor Xianghe Zhu, a recent PhD graduate of NC State.

“In practical terms, it suggests that it may be particularly important for people to focus on mental and physical well-being during the early stages of cognitive decline,” Growney says. “Or, at the very least, don’t become so focused on addressing cognitive challenges that you ignore physical health, or create anxiety or emotional distress for yourself that leads to mental health problems.”

“Future research will be needed to determine how beneficial it might be for people to take part in cognitively engaging activities once they’ve started experiencing cognitive decline,” Neupert says.

“But we already know that there is an element of ‘use it or lose it’ to cognitive function in healthy adults. And while it’s understandable for people to want to avoid tasks that are difficult or challenging, it’s really important to continue challenging ourselves to take part in difficult cognitive activities.”

April 26, 2021  

To Lower Cancer Risks, Eat More Mushrooms

Eating more mushrooms is associated with lower risk of cancer, according to a new study

Penn State University, April 23, 2021

The systematic review and meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition examines 17 cancer studies from 1966 to 2020. Analyzing data from more than 19,500 cancer patients, researchers explore the relationship between mushroom consumption and cancer risk.

Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. The team’s findings show that mushrooms may also help guard against cancer. Even though shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms have higher amounts of the amino acid ergothioneine than white button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms, the researchers found that people who incorporated any variety of mushrooms into their daily diets had a lower risk of cancer.

According to the findings, individuals who ate 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45% lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not eat mushrooms.

“Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine, which is a unique and potent antioxidant and cellular protector,” says Djibril M. Ba, a graduate student in epidemiology at Penn State College of Medicine. “Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer.”

When specific cancers were examined, the researchers noted the strongest associations for breast cancer as individuals who regularly ate mushrooms had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer. Ba explains that this could be because most of the studies did not include other forms of cancer. Moving forward, this research could be helpful in further exploring the protective effects that mushrooms have and helping to establish healthier diets that prevent cancer.

“Overall, these findings provide important evidence for the protective effects of mushrooms against cancer,” says coauthor John Richie, a Penn State Cancer Institute researcher and professor of public health sciences and pharmacology. “Future studies are needed to better pinpoint the mechanisms involved and specific cancers that may be impacted.”

 

 

Probiotic strain helps pregnant women maintain healthy iron levels

Probi AB (Sweden), April 21, 2021

A new study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica found that taking a particular probiotic strain improves iron levels in healthy pregnant women and may therefore help to prevent iron deficiency.

A total of 326 healthy women were randomized to receive a placebo or the probiotic strain Lactiplantibacillus plantarum 299v (Lp299v) administered with a low dose of iron, folic acid, and ascorbic acid. They took the placebo or the combination product twice daily during pregnancy. 

Compared with taking placebo, taking the probiotic product reduced the prevalence of iron deficiency (78% versus 59%) and iron deficiency anemia (21% versus 7.4%) towards the end of pregnancy. (When a person develops iron deficiency anemia, the body cannot get the amount of oxygen it needs.) 

Iron deficiency is common in women of childbearing age and is a global health problem. In a pregnant woman, this can lead to a number of complications for the mother and her child.

"We have previously shown that the Lp299v strain together with a low dose of iron increase iron absorption. With this study, we proved that this translates into an improved iron status in pregnant women," said lead author Ulrika Axling, PhD, of Probi AB, in Sweden. "Iron deficiency is especially common during pregnancy and high-dose iron supplements are often recommended. Since these typically come with side effects such as stomach pain and constipation, there is a need for new solutions. This probiotic product could offer a novel and safe approach for improving iron status during pregnancy."

 

 

Music improves older adults' sleep quality

National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (Taiwan), April 21, 2021

Listening to music before going to be can improve sleep quality among older adults, according to an analysis of all relevant published clinical trials.

In the analysis, which is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, five randomized trials met the investigators' criteria. Older adults who listened to music experienced significantly better sleep quality than those who did not listen to music. Also, older adults who listened to sedative music experienced a greater improvement in sleep quality than those who listened to more rhythmic music. Furthermore, listening to music for longer than four weeks was especially effective at improving sleep quality. 

"Music intervention is an effective strategy and is easy to administer by a caregiver or healthcare worker," the authors wrote. "Music therapy might be the first line of therapy to recommend in older adults with sleep disturbances, which would reduce the need for dependence on sedatives and sleeping medication."

 

Association low magnesium intake with greater risk of prefrailty in community-dwelling older women

Osaka Prefecture University (Japan), April 14, 2021

 

According to news reporting originating in Osaka, Japan, research stated, “We examined the association between nutrient intake and prefrailty. Data from 815 older people (63% women) who participated in a community-based health check survey (Tarumizu Study) were analyzed.”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Osaka Prefecture University, “Prefrailty were defined using five parameters (exhaustion, slowness, weakness, low physical activity, and weight loss). Participants with one or more components were considered to belong to the prefrailty group. Nutrition intake was estimated from a validated brief-type self-administered diet history questionnaire. Among the participants, 154 men (52%) and 278 women (54%) were found to be in a status of prefrailty. In men, there were no significant associations between nutrient intake and prefrailty. In women, carbohydrate intake was slightly higher in prefrailty group. Vitamins K, B1, B2, folic acid, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper intake was significantly lower in the prefrailty group. Among the nutrients, magnesium was identified as a significant covariate of prefrailty using a stepwise regression method. In women adjusted ORs (95%CI, p value) for prefrailty in the first, second, third, and fourth quartiles of magnesium intake were 1.00 (reference), 0.52 (0.29-0.92, 0.024), 0.51 (0.28-0.95, 0.033), and 0.38 (0.19-0.74, 0.005), respectively, by multivariate logistic regression analysis (variates: age, body mass index, energy intake, supplement use, osteoporosis, magnesium, and protein intake). Protein intake did not related to prefrailty. Protein intake might be sufficient to prevent prefrailty in the present study.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “We propose magnesium to be an important micronutrient that prevents prefrailty in community-dwelling older Japanese women.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

Gardens and green space linked to better mental health during pandemic, study shows

Cardiff University (UK), April 19, 2021

People with green space on their doorstep or access to a private garden reported better health and wellbeing during and after the first lockdown in the UK, according to a new study.

Researchers from Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University have shown that people with a garden and a park nearby were more likely to say they were feeling calm, peaceful and had a lot of energy as compared to those with no access to a garden or living further away from a green space.

Official figures show that around one in eight households in Great Britain had no access to a private or shared garden during the coronavirus pandemic, and that just a quarter of people in Great Britain live within a five-minute walk of a public park.

The researchers say the study is the first to assess the impact of green space during the pandemic, and that it highlights the huge benefits for both physical and mental health and making our communities more resilient.

In the study, published in the journal Landscape & Urban Planning, the researchers surveyed 5,556 people about their home and neighborhood, as well as their perceived mental health and wellbeing, at two intervals—the first in March/April 2020 during the first peak of the pandemic and again in June/July 2020 after the first peak had subsided.

For the first 2-3 months of the lockdown, individuals were only permitted to leave their home for essential travel, such as food shopping, and for outdoor exercise once a day.

The survey formed part of the COVID-19 Public Experiences (COPE) study, with most participants recruited through Health Wise Wales (HWW), an existing national longitudinal study funded by the Welsh Government.

Among a wide-range of topics, participants were specifically asked if they felt calm and peaceful and had a lot of energy, or if they felt downhearted and blue, with answers provided on a scale of zero to five. Similarly, the participants were asked how they would rate their health in general from one to five.

The participants were also asked about their access to a private garden and how far they lived from the nearest green space, such as a park, woodland or playing field.

Subjective wellbeing was shown to be significantly higher in the post-peak period when lockdown restrictions were being eased than in the first peak of the pandemic when lockdown restrictions came into force in the UK.

People living a five-to-10-minute walk or more than a 10-minute walk away from public green space had lower levels of subjective wellbeing than those living less than a five-minute walk away, whilst those with access to a private garden had higher levels of subjective wellbeing than those without a private garden.

The results further show that, during the first peak of the pandemic, access to green space was particularly important for households without private gardens. Being close to a public green space or private garden had a greater health protective effect for those who did not have access to a private garden.

Though a statistically significant link was found between access to a private gardenand the wellbeing of men, no evidence was found for specific groups benefitting more than others.

"What this shows is that both gardens and parks have been essential for people's health and wellbeing during the pandemic, especially when the toughest restrictions were in place," said lead author of the study Professor Wouter Poortinga, from Cardiff University's Welsh School of Architecture and School of Psychology.

"Public parks and other green spaces have been a lifeline for many in these difficult times."

"We have to make sure that everybody has access to such spaces, not only now but also in the future. This can be done by planting more trees and creating new parks, but also by protecting the few green spaces we have left."

Co-author of the study Dr. Rhiannon Phillips, from Cardiff Metropolitan University, said: "During the pandemic, green spaces have offered us a place to connect with nature, be physically active, and socialize when regulations allow. This has made spending time in private gardens and public green spaces vital to reducing the impact of the pandemic on people's health and wellbeing.

"Taking care of our green spaces is vitally important in enabling us to take care of ourselves. We need to value our green spaces and use them respectfully, making sure we don't damage these environments and take our litter home, so that they are there for all of us to enjoy."

 

 

Ashwagandha root extract may improve memory and cognitive functions

Institute of Pharmacological Technology (India), April 25, 2021

Compared to a placebo, adults supplemented with ashwagandha root extract had improved memory test scores, researchers in India found.

Dietary supplements that address cognitive function are increasingly in the limelight thanks to a growing aging population, as well as the gaming, tech, and fitness culture that’s making nootropics in vogue .

Ashwagandha root has been a part of the medicinal traditions of Ayurveda as a memory aid, wrote researchers of a new study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements. In this current study, the researchers conducted what they claimed to be the first trial that looked at “the clinical impact of ashwagandha on the cognitive deficits seen in mild cognitive impairment.”

 

Participants: Selecting patients of mild cognitive impairment

The study was conducted over eight weeks using a random-assignment, parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Clinical visits all took place at one center, with participants being selected from different outpatient clinics in the city of Pune, India, who sought treatment for mild cognitive impairment.

To be included in the study, participants had to be aged 35 or older, have subjective sumptoms of memory impairment, a previous diagnosis of early dementia or a score a certain amount in a mini-mental state examination, and the ability and willingness to provide informed consent.

Excluded from the study are participants with severe memory impairment, known neuropsychiatric conditions, persistent endocrine disorders, and chronic medical conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension or diabetes mellitus.

Throughout the study period, other than ashwagandha root extract for the supplement group, the use of nootropic agents or anticholinesterase drugs were prohibited.

 

Measuring protocols and outcomes

Participants were assessed using standardized tests for several memory types: Immediate memory (the ability to remember a small amount of information over a few seconds), general memory (delayed recall of word lists, geometric designs, text, faces), working memory (capacity to store information received from eyes, ears, and other sense organs in the immediate term).

They were also assessed for visuospatial processing and response, executive function, attention, and speed of information processing.

Study outcomes revealed that the ashwagandha group fared significantly better than baseline and the placebo group participants in terms of immediate and general memory test scores. There was also a great uptick in executive function, sustained attention, and information-processing speed.

According to the researchers, this may be from ashwagandha’s sedative properties, which “may be indirectly involved in improving memory and cognition in human subjects, as stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders can affect normal cognitive function,” they wrote.

The small sample size was one drawback of the study, and the researchers recommend a follow-up that is longer and with a larger sample to “confirm the promising results of this study.”

 

Foods associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death in middle-age

Oxford University, April 23, 2021

Two common dietary patterns identified in British adults, which include high intakes of chocolate and confectionary, may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death in middle-age, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

Carmen Piernas, the corresponding author said: "Cardiovascular disease is one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK and poor diet is a major contributor to this. The most common dietary guidelines are based on the nutrients found in foods rather than foods themselves and this can be confusing for the public. Our findings help identify specific foods and beverages that are commonly eaten in Britain and that may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality."

Researchers from the University of Oxford, UK identified two diets that were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death in middle-age in Britain. The first was high in chocolate, confectionary, butter and white bread and low in fresh fruit and vegetables. The second was high in sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, chocolate, confectionary, table sugar and preserves and low in butter and higher-fat cheese.

The researchers found that those whose diet included higher amounts of chocolate, confectionary, butter and white bread, were more likely to be male, younger, experiencing economic deprivation, current smokers, less physically active, living with obesity or have hypertension compared to those whose diet did not include high amounts of these foods. In this group, individuals who were younger than 60 years old or living with overweight or obesity had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than individuals who were older than 60 years or not living with overweight or obesity.

Those whose diet was high in sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice and preserves were found to have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality, even though they also tended to be physically active and less likely to be current smokers or living with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol, than those who did not eat this diet. Women, individuals who were younger than 60 years old or who lived with obesity in particular had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, if they consumed a diet high in these foods.

To examine the effects of diet on the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, the authors analysed data collected from 116,806 adults from England, Scotland and Wales who were recruited to the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010. Participants were aged between 37 and 73 years old, with an average age of 56 years old. Participants reported the food they ate during the previous 24 hours on between two and five occasions. The researchers then identified the nutrients and food groups eaten by participants. The incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality was calculated using hospital admission and death registry records until 2017 and 2020, respectively.

The authors caution that the observational nature of the study does not allow for conclusions about a causal relationship between diet, cardiovascular disease and mortality. Additionally, as dietary data was taken from individual 24 hour assessments rather than a continuous period of time, it may not be representative of participants' lifetime diets. Future research could investigate the potential reasons for the associations between the two diets investigated in this study and cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Carmen Piernas said: "Our research suggests that eating less chocolate, confectionery, butter, low-fibre bread, sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, table sugar and preserves could be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease or death during middle-age. This is consistent with previous research which has suggested that eating foods that contain less sugar and fewer calories may be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The findings of this study could be used to create food-based dietary advice that could help people eat more healthily and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease."

April 23, 2021  

How the Big Food Industry threatens public health and its influence over public policies

Gary Ruskin is the co-founder and executive director of US Right to Know -- a non profit  that investigates corporate practices that threaten public health. US Right to Know has won prestigious awards, including the James Madison Freedom of Information Award.  Gary has been a leader in public interest advocacy over 30 years. For 14 years he directed the Congressional Accountability Project to monitor and oppose corruption in Congress. He also served as the executive director of Commercial Alert, an initiative he co-founded with Ralph Nader. In 2012, Gary was the campaign manager for California's Proposition 37 which was to get genetically modified food labeling on a statewide ballot. His articles and research have appeared in the Washington Post, the Nation, Environmental Health News, Journal of Public Health Policy, Public Health Nutrition and many other public and professional publications. His report on corporate espionage against non-profits exposed spy activities of the US Chamber of Commerce, Monsanto, Walmart, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, oil and chemical companies among others.  Gary graduated from Carleton College and received a graduate degree in public policy from Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government. The website for US Right to Know is USRTK.org.
April 22, 2021  

Vitamin A derivative selectively kills liver cancer stem cells

 RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Science (Japan), April 23, 2021

Acyclic retinoid, an artificial compound derived from vitamin A, has been found to prevent the recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer. Now, in research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have discovered that the compound targets one class of cancer stem cells, preventing them from giving rise to new tumors.

HCC is a highly lethal cancer, which causes approximately 600,000 deaths each year around the world, making it the second deadliest cancer after non-small cell lung cancer. One of the reasons for the high lethality is that it has a high rate of recurrence—surgery and other treatments are initially effective, but the cancer often relapses. As a result, researchers have looked for ways to prevent recurrence, and acyclic retinoid was recently found to be effective in stopping recurrence of tumors. However, scientists were not sure exactly why it worked.

To find clues, a research group led by Soichi Kojima of the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Science looked at the transcriptome of cells that had been exposed to acyclic retinoid, and found that compared to control untreated cells, they had low expression of MYCN, a gene that is often expressed in tumors and is correlated with poor prognosis. Further experiments, which involved deliberately repressing the expression of the gene in cancer cells, showed that the reduction in MYCN expression led functionally to slower cell-cycle progression, proliferation, and colony formation, and to greater cell death, implying that the action of the acyclic retinoid on MYCN was slowing the cancer growth.

The group then focused on the role of "cancer stem cells"—special cells that are able to survive the onslaught of chemotherapy or other treatments and to then differentiate into new cancer cells, leading to recurrence. They found, indeed, that high expression of MYCN was correlated with the expression of a number of markers that are associated with cancer stem cells.

"The most interesting part of our finding," says Kojima, "is when we then looked at different subpopulations of heterogeneous cancer cells. We found one specific group of EpCAM-positive cancer stem cells, where MYCN was elevated. We wondered if perhaps the key to acyclic retinoid's effect was its ability to target these hepatic cancer stem cells."

Indeed, experiments revealed that when exposed to acyclic retinoid, in a dose dependent manner, the EpCAM-positive cells were selectively depleted. To test whether this had clinical significance, they took liver biopsies of patients who had been given acyclic retinoid following liver cancer surgery, and found that in four of the six who had received a higher dosage of 600 mg/d but rather than 300 mg/d, there were decreased levels of MYCN expression, suggesting that MYCN expression in response to acyclic retinoid could be an important part of the difference in recurrence seen in trials. Finally, they looked at data from the Cancer Genome Atlas, and found that elevated expressionof MYCN correlated with dramatically poorer prognosis.

According to Kojima, "It is remarkable that the acyclic retinoid clearly targets a certain category of cancer stem cells, and this provides us with important hints for decreasing cancer recurrence and truly curing patients. We are waiting to see what clinical data will show us."

A phase 3 clinical trial of acyclic retinoid (also called Peretinoin), is currently underway in Korea, Taiwan and Singapore to test the drug's ability to prevent HCC recurrence.

 
 

Light up your mind: A novel light-based treatment for neurodegenerative diseases

Researchers review growing knowledge on the methods and applications of light therapy in treating neurodegenerative diseases

Soochow University (China), April 2021

A lot about the human brain and its intricacies continues to remain a mystery. With the advancement of neurobiology, the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases (ND) has been uncovered to a certain extent, along with molecular targets around which current therapies revolve. However, while the current treatments offer temporary symptomatic relief and slow down the course of the disease, they do not completely cure the condition and are often accompanied by a myriad of side effects that can impair normal daily functions of the patient.

Light stimulation has been proposed as a promising therapeutic alternative for treating various ND like Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), cognitive and sleep disorders. Light therapy consists of controlled exposure to natural daylight or artificial light of specific wavelengths. While neurologists worldwide have begun testing its use in clinical practice, less remains understood about the mechanisms behind how light affects neurological function.

Thus, in a review article now published in Chinese Medical Journal, researchers from China comprehensively summarize the growing knowledge on the mechanism of action, effectiveness, and clinical applications of LT in the treatment of ND. Neurologist and author Dr. Chun-Feng Liu explains how their work can advance our understanding of novel emerging therapies for ND. "While light therapy has been investigated in mental and sleep disorders, comprehensive knowledge on its use in neurodegenerative diseases in lacking. We therefore sought to shed light on the potential therapeutic methods and implications of light therapy," he states.

Our body function is tuned to a circadian or day and night rhythm. The clock that controls this rhythm is housed in the hypothalamus region of the brain. The genes expressed in this region are crucial in maintaining the circadian rhythm. Thus, a malfunction of these genes can disrupt the rhythmic cycle. These defects have been associated with neurodegenerative, metabolic and sleep disorders. External stimuli such as light, physical activity and food intake can help reset the clock and restore normal circadian rhythms, thus alleviating symptoms.

Another mechanism by which the clock controls circadian rhythms is through the secretion of the melatonin (MT) hormone. MT secreted by the pineal gland in the brain is known to control sleep patterns as it is secreted in higher amounts in the night than the day. Light stimulation in this case suppresses the secretion of MT during the day time and thus reduces drowsiness.

Interestingly, different tissue and organs in the body may respond differentially to light stimulation. Furthermore, different biomolecules expressed in circulating immune cells and stem cells are sensitive to specific wavelengths of light and thus elicit different responses by promoting the secretion of neurotrophic factors that can rescue neuronal functions.

Next, the researchers go on to discuss the application of light stimulation in specific neurodegenerative disorders. In case of AD, a progressive dementia, sleep disturbance has been associated with an increased expression of biomarkers that promote disease progression. Patients with AD often experience confusion, emotional distress and hyperactivity after dusk and through the night. Preliminary clinical studies on AD mouse models as well as patients with AD suggest that light stimulation helps restore memory and cognition and decreases the burden of the pathogenic amyloid-β protein in the brain. Furthermore, LT has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration in patients with sleep disorders while bright environments help reduce anxiety and aggressive behaviors in patients with dementia.

In case of PD, patients suffer from motor impairment, tremors and posture imbalance and also display non-motor symptoms such as insomnia, depression and fatigue that can collectively impair their quality of life. While LT has been shown to decrease non-motor symptoms to some extent, evidences on its direct benefits towards motor-function however are limited.

The use of LT in other neurodegenerative disorders is currently at preclinical stages and needs to be pursued further. Overall, LT offers a safe and cost-effective alternative for treatment of ND. Additional studies and large scale clinical trials in this direction can help establish its effectiveness as a potential therapeutic strategy.

Explaining the long term clinical applications of LT, Dr. Liu says, "The light box or light therapy lamp will help improve the sleep quality of patients with sleep disorders. Light stimulation will also likely have therapeutic effects on neurodegenerative diseases and seasonal depression. Further studies are needed to elucidate its effectiveness."

This review not only advances our understanding on how LT functions in resetting the circadian rhythm and associated neurological symptoms but also highlights its applications in routine clinical practice.

 

Bad to the bone: Hebrew University reveals impact of junk food on kids' skeletal development

Study provides first comprehensive analysis for how junk foods impact skeletal development.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, April 19, 2021

A team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has proven the linkages between ultra-processed foods and reduced bone quality, unveiling the damage of these foods particularly for younger children in their developing years. The study, led by Professor Efrat Monsonego-Ornan and Dr. Janna Zaretsky from the Department of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at the University's Faculty of Agriculture, was published in the journal Bone Research and serves as the first comprehensive study of the effect of widely-available food products on skeleton development.

Ultra-processed foods--aka, junk food--are food items products that undergo several stages of processing and contain non-dietary ingredients. They're popular with consumers because they are easily accessible, relatively inexpensive and ready to eat straight out of the package. The increasing prevalence of these products around the world has directly contributed to increased obesity and other mental and metabolic impacts on consumers of all ages. 

Children tend to like junk food. As much as 70% percent of their caloric consumption are estimated to come from ultra-processed foods. While numerous studies have reflected on the overall negative impact of junk food, few have focused on its direct developmental effects on children, particularly young children.

The Hebrew University study provides the first comprehensive analysis for how these foods impact skeletal development. The study surveyed lab rodents whose skeletons were in the post embryonic stages of growth. The rodents that were subjected to ultra-processed foods suffered from growth retardation and their bone strength was adversely affected. Under histological examination, the researchers detected high levels of cartilage buildup in the rodents' growth plates, the "engine" of bone growth. When subjected to additional tests of the rodent cells, the researchers found that the RNA genetic profiles of cartilage cells that had been subjected to junk food were showing characteristics of impaired bone development. 

The team then sought to analyze how specific eating habits might impact bone development and replicated this kind of food intake for the rodents. "We divided the rodents' weekly nutritional intake--30% came from a 'controlled' diet, 70% from ultra-processed foods", shared Monsonego-Ornan. They found that the rodents experienced moderate damage to their bone density albeit there were fewer indications of cartilage buildup in their growth plates. "Our conclusion was that even in reduced amounts, the ultra-processed foods can have a definite negative impact on skeletal growth." 

These findings are critical because children and adolescents consume these foods on a regular basis to the extent that 50 percent of American kids eat junk food each and every day. Monsonego-Ornan added. "when Carlos Monteiro, one of the world's leading experts on nutrition, said that there is no such thing as a healthy ultra-processed food, he was clearly right. Even if we reduce fats, carbs nitrates and other known harmful substances, these foods still possess their damaging attributes. Every part of the body is prone to this damage and certainly those systems that remain in the critical stages of development."

 

Results From The World's Largest Wellbeing Study Are In: Here's What We Know

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, April 20, 2021

For decades, researchers have known that positive mental wellbeing seems to deliver significant improvements in physical health, development, and lifespan – which suggests looking after your mind and mental state is one of the most effective ways to care for the rest of your body as well.

But what's the best way to actually promote personal mental wellbeing? In a new study led by scientists in Australia, researchers cast a wide net, analyzing data from almost 420 randomized trials employing different kinds of psychological interventions to help improve mental states of wellbeing.

The results – a meta-analysis examining data from over 53,000 participants involved in hundreds of psychological experiments – is being billed as the world's largest study of its kind on wellbeing, giving perhaps the most comprehensive overview ever on how interventions can help towards a healthy mind and body.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad hardships it has brought all over the world, new insights on how to successfully bolster mental states are in high demand.

"During stressful and uncertain periods in our lives, pro-actively working on our mental health is crucial to help mitigate the risk of mental and physical illness," says mental health researcher Joep Van Agteren from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

"Our research suggests there are numerous psychological approaches people should experiment with to determine what works for them."

In itself that might seem obvious, but as the researchers point out, up until now our awareness of psychological interventions' relative efficacy has been obstructed, given much research treats mental wellbeing and mental illness as different things, although they are overlapping concepts in some ways.

Here, the researchers tried to take a broader view, looking at how a wide range of different types of psychological intervention can benefit mental wellbeing, irrespective of any particular theoretical foundation in psychology.

Amongst the many forms of interventions included, two in particular stood out for their consistent associations with positive findings across trial cohorts: mindfulness-based interventions, and multi-component PPIs (positive psychological interventions), which package together a range of treatment methods and activities designed to cultivate positive feelings, behaviors, and thinking patterns.

To a lesser extent, other interventions also appeared to deliver benefits, including acceptance and commitment therapy-based interventions, cognitive therapy, singular PPIs, and interventions focusing on reminiscence.

While the effect sizes of these interventions are often moderate, the analysis here suggests they are linked with positive improvements in wellbeing in both clinical and non-clinical populations – but there's no quick fix, the researchers emphasize.

"Just trying something once or twice isn't enough to have a measurable impact," says co-author Matthew Iasiello, a project coordinator at SAHMRI's Mental Health and Wellbeing program.

"Regardless of what method people are trying out, they need to stick at it for weeks and months at a time for it to have a real effect."

In their paper, the researchers make the same point in a different way.

"Our moderator analysis indicated that improvement in mental wellbeing seems to be related to effort," the team writes.

"While the review did not find a clear linear dose-response effect, with more exposure leading simply to better treatment outcomes, the results do indicate that more intense interventions seem to lead to more pronounced changes."

Another insight by the researchers is that many kinds of psychological interventions can be done safely in volunteer groups or via online platforms, not requiring clinical appointments with professionals such as psychologists.

With mental illness projected to become the largest contributor to disease by 2030, electing to look after yourself with these sorts of activities might not only benefit your own mental wellbeing and health – but the health of the health system too.

"It is therefore potentially a cost-effective addition to current referral pathways and treatment methods," says clinical psychologist Michael Kyrios from Flinders University.

"We need to take everyone's wellbeing seriously and ensure we're taking the necessary steps to improve mental and physical health so we can prevent future complications for ourselves and keep healthcare costs down."

The findings are reported in Nature Human Behaviour.

 

 

The Stuff Beer Cans are Made from is Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

Keele University (UK), April 15, 2021

There appears to be a troubling link between aluminum in the brain and the early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, according to a new study.

Researchers have known for years that aluminum has something to do with Alzheimer’s, but now Keele University scientists have discovered that the metal pops up at the same places in the brain as the tangles of tau protein that appear in the early stages of the disease, according to research published last month in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports. The discovery suggests that it’s possible that aluminum could even play a role in forming those tangles and plaques — which precede the onset of Alzheimer’s — in the first place.

“The presence of these tangles is associated with neuronal cell death, and observations of aluminum in these tangles may highlight a role for aluminum in their formation,” lead study author Matthew Bold said in a press release.

That doesn’t mean that you need to ban aluminum cans from your home. Aluminum, perhaps introduced through food or other exposures, is commonly found in healthy brains, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, a dementia-focused charity based in London. But as people age, their kidneys may lose the ability to filter it out of the brain ­— potentially leading to the Alzheimer’s ties uncovered in the new study.

“Aluminum accumulation has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease for nearly half a century,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease editor-in-chief George Perry said in the release, “but it is the meticulously specific studies of Drs. Mold and Exley that are defining the exact molecular interaction of aluminum and other multivalent metals that may be critical to formation of the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.”

 

 

Drought-resistant cactus pear could become a sustainable food and fuel source, new research shows

University of Nevada, April 16, 2021

Cactus pears could become a sustainable source of food and fuel in places in need of these two resources. Those are the findings of a recent study by researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Published in the journal GCB Bioenergy, the study covered five years of research. The group had set out to look at how successful different varieties of cactus pear would fare in warm, dry climates.

They found that the prickly pear variety (Opuntia ficus-indica) produced the most fruit and used up 80 percent less water than other varieties to do so.

With drought and heatwave events becoming more common worldwide, crops like corn and soybean may likely be heavily affected because they require more water than what might be available in the future. People will need to look for alternative crops that require less water, can tolerate droughts and still bear fruits.

Cactus pears as sustainable food and fuel source

Given current climate trends, the world is poised to get hotter and drier in the future. Therefore, plants that are drought-resistant and able to produce food with little water might soon become major sources of food.

According to study co-author John Cushman, about 42 percent of all land on Earth is classified as arid or semi-arid. Therefore, there is enormous potential for planting cactuspears. Doing so has two main benefits. For starters, scientists can grow cactus pears in fields that are far too arid to be suitable for other crops.

This increased production would put cactus pears on the map as food. Many cultures worldwide already eat the fruits from cactus pears and even the cactus pads themselves. However, cactus pears and other edible cactus varieties are far from being a major food and forage crop in the United States, let alone around the world.

But that is a missed opportunity because cactus pear fruits can be used just like other fruits. They are especially great for making jams because they contain natural sugars. They can also be consumed fresh or pickled once the spines have been removed. They are also great for feeding livestock due to their high water content.

The other benefit of utilizing arid fields for the cultivation of cactus pears is carbon sequestration. They capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, serving as a land-based carbon “sink.” They can also be harvested and used as raw materials for biofuels to replace fossil fuels.

That’s the benefit of this perennial crop,” explained Cushman. After you have harvested the fruits and pads for food, you will be left with a large amount of biomass that can be used for biofuel production, he said. (Related: Hemp: the versatile biofuel that could save America’s energy independence.)

Cushman and his colleagues plan to continue researching cactus pears and their potential as sustainable fuel or foods. They plan to understand what it is about the genetic makeup of cactus pears that makes them so drought-resistant and use that information to make other crops more drought-resistant as well.

Scientists have long been interested in the potential of cactus pears to serve as food and fuel. In 2015, a team of researchers from the United Kingdom suggested that water-efficient plants like cacti could be the key to providing sustainable bioenergy for the future.

Plants like cacti carry out photosynthesis through a crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) system. They grow on arid and semi-arid land with low or unpredictable rainfall, which can make conventional farming difficult.

Arid and semi-arid lands are unproductive. But they can be put to good use by filling them with cacti and many other CAM plants that can capture and store carbon efficiently. The researchers said CAM plants like prickly pear could make a huge contribution to sustainable biogas production this way.

 

Yeast in kefir drink combats disease-causing bacteria

Ben-Gurion University (Israel), April 17, 2021

People may have been producing and drinking kefir, a fermented milk drink that originated in Tibet and the North Caucasus, for thousands of years.

People can make the sour, slightly effervescent brew by infusing milk with kefir grains, which are a starchy matrix containing a symbiotic community of lactic acid bacteria, acetic bacteria, and yeasts. 

The drink has many reputed health benefits, which include lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation, and exerting an antioxidant effect. 

In common with other probiotics, kefir also has antimicrobial properties. However, scientists were unsure exactly how it inhibits the growth of disease-causing bacteria.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Be’er Sheva, Israel, have now discovered that a type of yeast in kefir called Kluyveromyces marxianus secretes a molecule that disrupts bacterial communication.

Scientists already knew that plants and algae produce this substance, called tryptophol acetate, but this is the first time that they have found a yeast that makes it.

They discovered that tryptophol acetate interferes with “quorum sensing” — a form of microbial communication — in several disease-causing bacteria. 

In quorum sensingTrusted Source, bacteria release signaling molecules into their surroundings. When the molecules reach a particular concentration, they trigger changes in the expression of genes in bacteria of the same species.

These changes allow disease-causing bacteria to coordinate their activity according to their numbers. This coordination is necessary for some bacteria to defend themselves or attack their hosts. 

In some cases, when they reach a certain density, the microbes may come together to form a slimy, protective coating, or “biofilm,” on a surface. 

Disease-causing bacteria

In lab cultures, the researchers found that tryptophol acetate had an inhibitory effect over quorum sensing in several disease-causing bacteria, including some Gram-negativeTrusted Source bacteria.

Some of the tested species were:

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes pneumonia when it infects the lungs. 
  • S. enterica, which is responsible for food poisoning. 
  • Staphylococcus aureus, which can trigger sepsis, among other life threatening infections.
  • V. cholerae, which causes cholera.

The research, which Ph.D. student Orit Malka led, appears in the journal BMC Microbiome.

“These results are notable, since this is the first demonstration that virulence of human pathogenic bacteria can be mitigated by molecules secreted in probiotic milk products, such as yogurt or kefir,” says senior author Prof. Raz Jelinek.

The scientists focused in particular on the effect of tryptophol acetate on V. cholerae.

They found that the substance blocked quorum sensing in this bacteria and reduced its virulence.

It did this by changing the expression of bacterial genes that control quorum sensing.

The researchers write that this kind of interference in bacterial communication may be commonplace in complex environments where many different microorganisms live together, such as in probiotic food or the human gut.

 

Living near pesticide-treated farms raises risk of childhood brain tumors

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, April 15, 2021

Pregnant women living within 2.5 miles of agricultural lands treated with pesticides have a greater risk of their children developing central nervous system (CNS) tumors, according to a recent study.

Published on Wednesday, March 31, in the Environmental Research journal, the study also revealed that the pregnant women did not have to be working in agriculture or in close contact with pesticides for health-harming exposures to occur.

Study co-author Christina Lombardi, a public health researcher at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said there are large numbers of pregnant women and children living close to pesticide-treated farmlands. Both mothers and children could experience adverse health effects from their proximity to those farmlands.

The study is not the first to show that pesticide use poses a threat to pregnant women and their children. But it is unique in that it showed the specific pesticides linked to the development of different kinds of CNS tumors.

Maternal exposure to pesticides linked to childhood tumors

Experts have examined pesticide exposures as risk factors for the development of childhood brain cancers. But they have yet to assess the risk of developing childhood brain cancers from exposure to specific pesticides. (Related: California is going after another dangerous pesticide: Chlorpyrifos has been linked to brain damage.)

To that end, Lombardi and her colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles made use of the California Cancer Registry to identify cases of childhood CNS tumors in children below six years old.

Overall, the researchers found 667 cases of CNS tumors in children below six. They matched each one with 20 controls to increase the statistical power of their findings.

They then checked pesticide application records from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation‘s (CDPR) Pesticide Use Reporting (PUR) system to determine whether chemicals classified as possible carcinogens were used within 2.5 miles of the mothers’ homes at the time of the children’s births.

Results showed that maternal exposure to certain pesticides heightened the risk of certain childhood CNS tumors by 2.5 times, even if the mother was not a farmworker.

Pesticides found to increase the risk of childhood CNS tumors include thiophanate- and kresoxim-methyl, chlorothalonil, bromacil, triforine, propiconazole, dimethoate and linuron.

Co-author Julia Heck said their findings are more precise than those of previous studies on pesticide exposure, which usually grouped pesticide use into broad categories based on type, such as herbicides or insecticides.

Heck added that their results suggest that exposure to specific pesticides may best explain the results of earlier studies that reported a link between broader pesticide types and CNS tumors.

Due to the risks that pesticide exposure poses on pregnant women and children, the researchers called for policy interventions to reduce pesticide exposure among people living near farms.

“The simplest way to mitigate these risks is by reductions in exposure to pesticides,” said co-author Myles Cockburn. This can be done by restricting harmful practices like aerial spraying and air blast. Exposure to pesticides may also be reduced by promoting farming methods that limit reliance on pesticides.

April 21, 2021  

Here’s why eating garlic and onions can prevent hypertension and diabetes

Federal University of Technology (Nigeria), April 16, 2021

n a recent study, researchers at the Federal University of Technology in Nigeria investigated the benefits of eating garlic, white onion and purple onion against serious conditions like diabetes and hypertension. They confirmed these by looking at how extracts from the three alliums affect the activity of diabetes-related enzymes, such as a-amylase and a-glucosidase, and the hypertension-related enzyme, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).

The researchers reported their findings in an article published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.

Garlic, white onion and purple onion show antioxidant, antidiabetic and antihypertensive properties

Garlic and onions are spices commonly used in cooking. They also serve as ingredients in several traditional delicacies in Nigeria that are known to contain plenty of polyphenols. To assess the beneficial properties of garlic, white onion and purple onion, the researchers first obtained extracts from each and assessed their inhibitory effects on certain enzymes. They also conducted assays to determine the antioxidant capacities of the extracts.

ACE is the enzyme responsible for converting angiotensin I into angiotensin II, the hormone that increases blood pressure, as well as body water and sodium content. Angiotensin II elevates blood pressure by constricting the blood vessels; hence, chemicals that can inhibit the activity of ACE, which is responsible for the production of angiotensin II, are used for the treatment of hypertension. (Related: Meet the “two-day cure” plant: An African medicinal plant that can naturally lower blood pressure.)

a-Amylase is the enzyme that breaks down starch and glycogen into glucose and maltose (two glucose molecules bound together). In humans, this enzyme is produced by the salivary glands and the pancreasa-Glucosidase, on the other hand, is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates in the small intestine and facilitating the absorption of glucose. Inhibiting the activity of this enzyme is one of the strategies currently used to prevent the rise of blood sugar levels following a carbohydrate-filled meal.

The researchers reported that the garlic, purple onion and white onion extracts inhibited the activities of ACE, a-amylase and a-glucosidase in vitro in a concentration-dependent manner. At a half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 0.59 mg/mL, the purple onion extract exhibited a higher inhibitory effect on ACE than the white onion extract (IC50 = 0.66 mg/mL) and the garlic (IC50 = 0.96 mg/mL) extract.

Meanwhile, the white onion extract showed a significantly stronger inhibitory effect on a-amylase at an IC50 of 3.93 mg/mL than the garlic extract (IC50 = 8.19 mg/mL) and the purple onion (IC50 = 8.27 mg/mL) extract. The garlic extract, on the other hand, showed a similar inhibitory effect (IC50 = 4.50 mg/mL) on a-glucosidase as the white and purple onion extracts. All three extracts also showed dose-dependent free radical scavenging activity and reducing power in the antioxidant assays.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that garlic, white onion and purple onion can be used to treat or prevent diabetes and hypertension, thanks to their ability to inhibit ACE, a-amylase and a-glucosidase activity, as well as lipid peroxidation in the pancreas and the heart.

 

Adolescents with lack of empathy show early signs of psychopathy

 

University of Coimbra (Portugal), April 14, 2021

A pioneering study with the Portuguese population shows that adolescents with high levels of callous-unemotional traits demonstrate lower levels of anticipated guilt towards the possibility of committing an immoral act and struggle to judge an immoral act as a wrong one.

Researchers have evaluated the callous traits, that is, the lack of empathy and disregard for the wellbeing and feelings of others, of 47 adolescents between 15 and 18 years old. The teenagers watched video animations portraying examples of moral transgressions, such as incriminating someone or keeping money that fell from someone else's pocket. "This approach allowed us to create more realistic scenarios that happen in daily life," explains Oscar Gonçalves, a neuroscientist at Proaction Lab and co-author of the study. The adolescents were asked how guilty they would feel if they were the ones to commit the moral transgressions and how wrong they think the actions were. 

Although the callous-unemotional traits in adolescents are known to be precursors of psychopathy in adulthood, the results of the study differ from what is known about psychopaths. "Adults with psychopathic traits show low levels of anticipated guilt but consider immoral actions as wrong. However, in our study, adolescents with high CU levels show levels of guilt and judge immoral actions as less wrong," explains Margarida Vasconcelos, first author. 

However, researchers have found evidence of a dissociation between moral emotions and moral judgment, that is, between the feelings of guilt and the judgment of immoral actions. "Even in adolescents with sub-clinical levels of callous-unemotional traits, this dissociation typical in psychopathy in adulthood is already happening during development," explains the study coordinator Ana Seara Cardoso. 

The results of the study will "contribute to the development of a severe anti-social behavior model" and allow the "development of intervention targets, rehabilitation and early prevention of anti-social behavior," says Ana Seara Cardoso.

 

Omega-3 supplements do double duty in protecting against stress

 

Ohio State University, April 20, 2021

A high daily dose of an omega-3 supplement may help slow the effects of aging by suppressing damage and boosting protection at the cellular level during and after a stressful event, new research suggests.

Researchers at The Ohio State University found that daily supplements that contained 2.5 grams of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, the highest dose tested, were the best at helping the body resist the damaging effects of stress.

Compared to the placebo group, participants taking omega-3 supplements produced less of the stress hormone cortisol and lower levels of a pro-inflammatory protein during a stressful event in the lab. And while levels of protective compounds sharply declined in the placebo group after the stressor, there were no such decreases detected in people taking omega-3s.

The supplements contributed to what the researchers call stress resilience: reduction of harm during stress and, after acute stress, sustained anti-inflammatory activity and protection of cell components that shrink as a consequence of aging.

The potential anti-aging effects were considered particularly striking because they occurred in people who were healthy but also sedentary, overweight and middle-aged—all characteristics that could lead to a higher risk for accelerated aging.

"The findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation is one relatively simple change people could make that could have a positive effect at breaking the chain between stress and negative health effects," said Annelise Madison, lead author of the paper and a graduate student in clinical psychology at Ohio State.

The research is published today (Monday, April 19, 2021) in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Madison works in the lab of Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State. This paper is a secondary analysis of one of Kiecolt-Glaser's earlier studies showing that omega-3 supplements altered a ratio of fatty acid consumption in a way that helped preserve tiny segments of DNA in white blood cells.

Those short fragments of DNA are called telomeres, which function as protective caps at the end of chromosomes. Telomeres' tendency to shorten in many types of cells is associated with age-related diseases, especially heart disease, and early mortality.

In the initial study, researchers were monitoring changes to telomere length in white blood cells known as lymphocytes. For this new study, the researchers looked at how sudden stress affected a group of biological markers that included telomerase, an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres, because levels of the enzyme would react more quickly to stress than the length of telomeres themselves.

Specifically, they compared how moderate and high doses of omega-3s and a placebo influenced those markers during and after an experimental stressor. Study participants took either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams of omega-3s each day, or a placebo containing a mix of oils representing a typical American's daily intake.

After four months on the supplements, the 138 research participants, age 40-85, took a 20-minute test combining a speech and a math subtraction task that is known to reliably produce an inflammatory stress response.

Only the highest dose of omega-3s helped suppress damage during the stressful event when compared to the placebo group, lowering cortisol and a pro-inflammatory protein by an average of 19% and 33%, respectively.

Results from blood samples showed that both doses of omega-3s prevented any changes in telomerase levels or a protein that reduces inflammation in the two hours after participants experienced the acute stress, meaning any needed stress-related cell repair—including telomere restoration—could be performed as usual. In the placebo group, those repair mechanisms lost ground: Telomerase dropped by an average of 24% and the anti-inflammatory protein decreased by an average of at least 20%.

"You could consider an increase in cortisol and inflammation potential factors that would erode telomere length," Madison said. "The assumption based on past work is that telomerase can help rebuild telomere length, and you want to have enough telomerase present to compensate for any stress-related damage.

"The fact that our results were dose-dependent, and we're seeing more impact with the higher omega-3 dose, would suggest that this supports a causal relationship."

The researchers also suggested that by lowering stress-related inflammation, omega-3s may help disrupt the connection between repeated stress and depressive symptoms. Previous research has suggested that people with a higher inflammatory reaction to a stressor in the lab may develop more depressive symptoms over time.

"Not everyone who is depressed has heightened inflammation—about a third do. This helps explain why omega-3 supplementation doesn't always result in reduced depressive symptoms," Kiecolt-Glaser said. "If you don't have heightened inflammation, then omega-3s may not be particularly helpful. But for people with depression who do, our results suggest omega-3s would be more useful."

The 2.5-gram dose of omega-3s is much higher than what most Americans consume on a daily basis, but study participants showed no signs of having problems with the supplements, Madison said.

 

 

 

 
 

Want to be robust at 40-plus? Meeting minimum exercise guidelines won't cut it

5 hours of moderate activity a week may be required to avoid midlife hypertension, UCSF-led study shows

University of California at San Francisco, April 15, 2021

Young adults must step up their exercise routines to reduce their chances of developing high blood pressure or hypertension - a condition that may lead to heart attack and stroke, as well as dementia in later life.

Current guidelines indicate that adults should have a minimum of two-and-a-half hours of moderate intensity exercise each week, but a new study led by UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals reveals that boosting exercise to as much as five hours a week may protect against hypertension in midlife - particularly if it is sustained in one's thirties, forties and fifties. 

In the study publishing in American Journal of Preventive Medicine on April 15, researchers followed approximately 5,000 adults ages 18 to 30 for 30 years. The participants were asked about their exercise habits, medical history, smoking status and alcohol use. Blood pressure and weight were monitored, together with cholesterol and triglycerides. 

Hypertension was noted if blood pressure was 130 over 80 mmHg, the threshold established in 2017 by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association. 

The 5,115 participants had been enrolled by the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study and came from urban sites in Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Minneapolis and Oakland, Calif. Approximately half the participants were Black (51.6 percent) and the remainder were White. Just under half (45.5 percent) were men. 

Fitness Levels Fall Fast for Black Men Leading to More Hypertension

Among the four groups, who were categorized by race and gender, Black men were found to be the most active in early adulthood, exercising slightly more than White men and significantly more than Black women and White women. But by the time Black men reached age 60, exercise intake had slumped from a peak of approximately 560 exercise units to around 300 units, the equivalent to the minimum of two-and-a-half hours a week of moderate intensity exercise recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This was substantially less exercise than White men (approximately 430 units) and slightly more than White women (approximately 320 units). Of the four groups, Black women had the least exercise throughout the study period and saw declines over time to approximately 200 units.

"Although Black male youth may have high engagement in sports, socio-economic factors, neighborhood environments, and work or family responsibilities may prevent continued engagement in physical activity through adulthood," said first author Jason Nagata, MD, of the UCSF Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Additionally, Black men reported the highest rates of smoking, which may preclude physical activity over time, he noted.

Physical activity for White men declined in their twenties and thirties and stabilized at around age 40. For White women, physical activity hovered around 380 exercise units, dipping in their thirties and remaining constant to age 60.

Rates of hypertension mirrored this declining physical activity. Approximately 80-to-90 percent of Black men and women had hypertension by age 60, compared with just below 70 percent for White men and 50 percent for White women. 

"Results from randomized controlled trials and observational studies have shown that exercise lowers blood pressure, suggesting that it may be important to focus on exercise as a way to lower blood pressure in all adults as they approach middle age," said senior author Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, of the UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. 

"Teenagers and those in their early twenties may be physically active but these patterns change with age. Our study suggests that maintaining physical activity during young adulthood - at higher levels than previously recommended - may be particularly important."

More Exercise from Youth to Midlife Offers Best Protection Against Hypertension

When researchers looked at the 17.9 percent of participants who had moderate exercise for at least five hours a week during early adulthood - double the recommended minimum - they found that the likelihood of developing hypertension was 18 percent lower than for those who exercised less than five hours a week. The likelihood was even lower for the 11.7 percent of participants who maintained their exercise habits until age 60. 

Patients should be asked about physical activity in the same way as they are routinely checked for blood pressure, glucose and lipid profiles, obesity and smoking, Nagata said, and intervention programs should be held at schools, colleges, churches, workplaces and community organizations. Black women have high rates of obesity and smoking, and low rates of physical activity, he said, and should be an important group for targeted intervention. 

"Nearly half of our participants in young adulthood had suboptimal levels of physical activity, which was significantly associated with the onset of hypertension, indicating that we need to raise the minimum standard for physical activity," Nagata said. "This might be especially the case after high school when opportunities for physical activity diminish as young adults transition to college, the workforce and parenthood, and leisure time is eroded."

 

 

Study finds association between periodontal disease and low intake of minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber in young adult women

Tokyo Medical and Dental University, April 12, 2021

According to news reporting out of Tokyo, Japan, research stated, “Dietary habits of middle-aged and elderly individuals affected by periodontal disease (PD) differ from those who are unaffected by it, according to previous reports. However, in young adults, there are only a few reports that show a correlation between nutrient/food intake and PD.”

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU), “Moreover, no report till date has assessed the correlation between dietary habits and PD using a self-administered diet history questionnaire (DHQ). Therefore, we assessed this correlation using a DHQ in young adult women who are likely to develop PD. The participants were enrolled from 2 universities and included 120 female college students a mean age of 20.4 y. The participants were assessed for the presence of PD according to the community periodontal index and were divided into two groups, the PD group and the non-PD group. Their dietary habits were investigated using a DHQ and the level of difficulty in chewing food was assessed. The PD group had a significantly lower nutrient intake of minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins, and dietary fiber than the non-PD group. In terms of food groups, the PD group consumed significantly lesser amounts of green and yellow vegetables (GYV) than the non-PD group. Multivariate analysis revealed that the PD group had significantly lower intakes of vitamin E and GYV than the non-PD group. The PD group consumed significantly lesser amounts of hard foods than the non-PD group.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Young adult women who were evaluated for PD by a screening test had a significantly lower nutrient/food intake than those without a PD.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

 

 

 

Just 2 days of increased sugar intake can harm your gut health, warn researchers

University of Alberta, April 16, 2021

Researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada found that short-term increases in sugar intake can increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Their finding, which was published in Scientific Reports, is a reminder that eating healthy must be sustained in order to keep your gut in good shape.

“Surprisingly, our study shows that short-term sugar consumption can really have a detrimental impact, and so this idea that it’s OK to eat well all week and indulge in junk food on the weekend is flawed,” said Karen Madsen, one of the study researchers.

Increased sugar intake is bad for the gut

Previous studies have shown that diets can affect your susceptibility to disease. Western diets, for example, have been implicated in the development of inflammatory bowel disease. But it’s still unclear when a poor diet begins to take a toll on your health, much less how it does so.

To investigate, the researchers placed adult mice on a chow diet or a high-sugar diet and treated them with dextran sodium sulfate to induce ulcerative colitis, one of the major forms of inflammatory bowel disease. Disease severity was assessed daily.

After two days, the mice on the high-sugar diet were at great risk of developing colitis. Their immune response also weakened while their gut permeability increased, allowing more bacteria and toxins to enter their bloodstream.

“We wanted to know how long it takes before a change in diet translates into an impact on health. In the case of sugar and colitis, it only took two days, which was really surprising to us. We didn’t think it would happen so quickly,” said Madsen.

The researchers attributed these effects to sugar’s impact on the gut bacteria. Eating sugary foods decreases the amount of “good” gut bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids, which are critical for a strong immune response. Meanwhile, sugar feeds “bad” bacteria that promote inflammation and weaken your immunity. 

Fortunately, the researchers found that supplementing with short-chain fatty acids helped reduce the negative effects of a high-sugar diet. Having these supplements as an option will be great for people struggling to change their bad eating habits.

“People want to eat what they want to eat, so short-chain fatty acids could possibly be used as supplements to help protect people against the detrimental effects of sugar on inflammatory bowel disease,” said Madsen.

 

 

Rose water is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory remedy for skin infections

Teikyo University (Japan), April 15, 2021

Rosa damascena, commonly known as Damask rose, is one of the most important and medicinally useful members of the Rosaceae (rose) family. It is an ornamental plant widely used to make perfumes and is reported to have plenty of beneficial properties. According to multiple studies, Damask rose has anti-HIV, antibacterial, antioxidant, antitussive, hypnotic and antidiabetic properties. It has also shown relaxant effects on the tracheal chains of guinea pigs.

In a recent study, researchers at Teikyo University in Japan investigated two biological properties of Damask rose, specifically it’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. They tested rose water made from high-quality Damask rose petals on two microbial pathogens, namely, Candida albicans and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which commonly cause skin infections.

The researchers reported their findings in an article published in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin.

Damask rose water is a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory agent

Damask rose is a multipurpose plant widely known for its culinary and medicinal applications, among other things. Edible parts of Damask rose are used in various cuisines, including its young shoots, petals, fruits, leaves and seeds.

Damask rose petals are used to make jams and add flavor to beverages, baked goods and desserts. They are also used for cooking dishes. Rosewater, which can be sweetened to produce rose syrup, is a byproduct of rose oil production. It is usually obtained by steam distilling Damask rose petals and taking the hydrosol portion of the rose petal distillate. 

In different parts of the world, rose water, rose oil and a decoction made of Damask rose roots are used in traditional medicine for the treatment of various ailments, such as abdominal and chest pain, digestive problems and inflammation, especially of the neck. In North America, Indian tribes use the decoction as a cough remedy for children. Rose oil is used to treat depression and reduce stress and tension. Inhaling the vapor produced by heating rose oil is also believed to be an effective remedy for allergies, headaches and migraine.

Damask rose water, on the other hand, is traditionally used to treat skin conditions, such as erythema (skin redness), itchiness and swelling. To evaluate its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, the researchers tested Damask rose water against C. albicans and MRSA and assessed its effects on the function of neutrophils, which are white blood cells that serve as key regulators of inflammatory reactions.

The researchers reported that Damask rose water (2.2. percent solution) inhibited the mycelial growth of C. albicans and reduced the viability of MRSA within an hour of treatment. Damask rose water (five to 15 percent) also suppressed the activation of neutrophils induced by treatment with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a bacterial toxin; tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), a cell-signaling protein produced by immune cells; and N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe (fMLP), a macrophage activator.

Additionally, Damask rose water reduced LPS- and TNF-a-induced cell surface expression of the adhesion-related molecule, cluster of differentiation 11b (CD11b), which is rapidly elevated by the activation of neutrophils. The amount of CD11b in neutrophils is said to correlate with their activation and inflammation. However, Damask rose water did not affect the migratory capacity of neutrophils (with or without a chemoattractant).

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that Damask rose water can reduce the pathogenicity of microbes and attenuate neutrophil stimulation, thus inhibiting skin inflammation caused by microbial infections.

 

 

Study shows how chronic stress may inhibit the body's cancer-fighting ability

University of Western Ontario, April 15, 2021

New research from Western University has shown how psychological stress hinders the immune system's defenses against cancer.

By investigating the effects of chronic stresson the immune system's "emergency responders," researchers at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry found that a stress-induced hormone impairs the ability of these immune cells to carry out their cancer-fighting function.

Led by Mansour Haeryfar, Ph.D., the research looked specifically at innate-like T cells, which when functioning properly enable the immune system to look for potentially cancerous cells in the body and destroy them. The study was published today in Cell Reports.

Innate-like T cells include invariant natural killer T (iNKT) and mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, which were the subjects of this investigation. iNKT cells are present in small numbers in many tissues but are especially enriched in the human omentum, an apron-like layer of fatty tissue. MAIT cells are present in relatively high numbers in the human peripheral blood, gut, lungs and liver among other organs.

"These innate-like T cells are our immune system's emergency responders," said Haeryfar. "They react quickly to pathogens and cancer cells and are in a pre-activated mode, so they are like loaded guns, ready to respond."

Previous studies have shown that when a person experiences chronic psychological and emotional stress, the body's immune system is suppressed, dampening its ability to fight cancer and opportunistic infections. This happens in large part because stress hormones kill off some of the body's immune cells.

However, Haeryfar and his team showed that innate-like T cells actually don't die as a result of chronic stress but their cancer-fighting abilities are drastically impaired by stress-induced hormones called glucocorticoids. This impairment led to a striking increase in cancer metastasis in a mouse model.

"We found that innate-like T cells survive when the host is under stress, but their functions are compromised," Haeryfar said. "The cells cannot make enough of their beneficial mediators to help fight cancer, so the metastatic burden is increased because of the stress."

The team also looked at the effects of natural and synthetic glucocorticoids on innate-like T cells in human blood and liver tissue, where they are abundant. This was important to providing initial evidence that some of the discoveries made in the mouse models were valid for human cells as well, said Patrick Rudak, Ph.D. Candidate in Haeryfar's lab.

One of the important implications of this work is that innate-like T cells are currently being investigated for cancer immunotherapy treatment. This study demonstrates that their therapeutic potential can be dampened by psychological stress, said Haeryfar, and this finding needs to be considered when designing or administering those therapies.

Rudak added: "Our study demonstrates that, despite being capable of instigating robust anti-tumor immune responses under normal conditions, innate-like T cells completely fail to protect against tumors during psychological stress."

Because the study also uncovered the mechanisms by which stress diminishes T cell function, the researchers hope they can use the information to help design immunotherapies involving these cells that will still be effective in psychologically stressed patients.

April 20, 2021  

Study strengthens links between red meat and heart disease

Queen Mary University (UK), 15 April 2021

An observational study in nearly 20,000 individuals has found that greater intake of red and processed meat is associated with worse heart function. The research is presented at ESC Preventive Cardiology 2021, an online scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1

"Previous studies have shown links between greater red meat consumption and increased risk of heart attacks or dying from heart disease," said study author Dr. Zahra Raisi-Estabragh of Queen Mary University of London, UK.2,3 "For the first time, we examined the relationships between meat consumption and imaging measures of heart health. This may help us to understand the mechanisms underlying the previously observed connections with cardiovascular disease."

The study included 19,408 participants of the UK Biobank.4 The researchers examined associations of self-reported intake of red and processed meat with heart anatomy and function.

Three types of heart measures were analysed. First, cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) assessments of heart function used in clinical practice such as volume of the ventricles and measures of the pumping function of the ventricles. Second, novel CMR radiomics used in research to extract detailed information from heart images such as shape and texture (which indicates health of the heart muscle). Third, elasticity of the blood vessels (stretchy arteries are healthier).

The analysis was adjusted for other factors that might influence the relationship including age, sex, deprivation, education, smoking, alcohol, exercise, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and body mass index (BMI) as a measure of obesity.

The researchers found that greater intake of red and processed meat was associated with worse imaging measures of heart health, across all measures studied. Specifically, individuals with higher meat intake had smaller ventricles, poorer heart function, and stiffer arteries - all markers of worse cardiovascular health.

As a comparison, the researchers also tested the relationships between heart imaging measures and intake of oily fish, which has previously been linked with better heart health. They found that as the amount of oily fish consumption rose, heart function improved, and arteries were stretchier.

Dr. Raisi-Estabragh said: "The findings support prior observations linking red and processed meat consumption with heart disease and provide unique insights into links with heart and vascular structure and function."

The associations between imaging measures of heart health and meat intake were only partially explained by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.

"It has been suggested that these factors could be the reason for the observed relationship between meat and heart disease," said Dr. Raisi-Estabragh. "For example, it is possible that greater red meat intake leads to raised blood cholesterol and this in turn causes heart disease. Our study suggests that these four factors do play a role in the links between meat intake and heart health, but they are not the full story."

She noted that the study did not look into alternative mechanisms. But she said: "There is some evidence that red meat alters the gut microbiome, leading to higher levels of certain metabolites in the blood, which have in turn been linked to greater risk of heart disease."

Dr. Raisi-Estabragh said: "This was an observational study and causation cannot be assumed. But in general, it seems sensible to limit intake of red and processed meat for heart health reasons."

 

 

More Fruits and Veggies Improves Sleep for Young Adults

University of Michigan, April 15, 2021

Eating more fruits and vegetables can help young adults, especially young women, sleep better, a new study shows

Young adults who reported eating less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day reported a high prevalence of chronic insomnia symptoms, with over one-third reporting difficulties with falling asleep or maintaining sleep at least three times per week for three months or longer.

Women who increased their fruit and vegetable intake by three or more servings over a three-month period were more than twice as likely to experience an improvement in these insomnia symptoms, according to the study in the Sleep Health Journal.

“We were very excited to see that a fairly simple dietary intervention, such as encouraging an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, could make such an impact on sleep,” says lead author Erica Jansen, research assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

“We know from other literature that improving sleep improves overall quality of life and many other health outcomes, so the benefits likely extend beyond the sleep changes.”

Jansen and senior author Gwen Alexander, a researcher in the public health sciences department at Henry Ford Health System, and colleagues analyzed data of more than 1,400 participants compiled by Detroit-based Henry Ford and the more rural Geisinger Health System headquartered in Danville, Pennsylvania.

“From my health educator perspective, our study shows a link between dietary choices and improved sleep for young people who wish to improve their overall health and well-being,” Alexander says.

“Our study was unique in that it investigated an understudied population of generally healthy young adults. Future research designed for this population has great potential to lead to better health habits.”

Eligible young adults included those ages 21-30, who received any medical care at the centers and who reported eating less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Researchers randomized the participants into one of three groups: one had an untailored web-based program to encourage higher fruits and vegetables consumption; the second had an age-targeted tailored web-based program; and the third group also included personalized e-coaching support.

Young adults who increased their fruit and vegetable consumption by at least three servings experienced modest improvements in sleep latency (time to fall asleep) and insomnia over a three-month period, compared to participants with no change or smaller increases in fruits and vegetable intake, although there were no differences in sleep duration.

Women who increased their fruit and vegetable intake by three or more servings reported a four-minute shorter time, on average, to fall asleep at follow-up, and twofold higher odds of improvement in insomnia symptoms.

“What is unique about our study is that we were able to see that as fruit and vegetable intake changed, insomnia-related sleep characteristics also changed,” Jansen says.

“We still cannot rule out that sleep characteristics changed first, which in turn caused a change in fruit and vegetable intake, but since the participants were part of a trial to increase fruit and vegetable intake, it is more likely the other way around. The participants were not told to change anything about their sleep habits.”

The researchers hope the findings will be incorporated into other sleep hygiene principles, which include things like maintaining a consistent bedtime and rise time, eliminating screens prior to going to bed, sleeping in a dark, cool environment, and not drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed.

Additional coauthors are from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and the Henry Ford Health System.

 
 

Multivits, omega-3, probiotics, vitamin D may lessen risk of positive COVID-19 test

British Medical Journal, April 20, 2021

Taking multivitamins, omega-3, probiotics or vitamin D supplements may lessen the risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 infection—at least among women—indicates a large population study, published online in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

But taking any of vitamin C, zinc, or garlic supplements wasn't associated with a lower risk of testing positive for the virus, the findings show.

There has been plenty of celebrity endorsement of the use of dietary supplements to both ward off and treat COVID-19 infection since the start of the pandemic, note the researchers.

In the UK alone, market share rose by 19.5% in the period leading up to the first national 'lockdown' on March 23 last year, with sales of vitamin C rising by 110% and those of multivits by 93%.

Similarly, zinc supplement sales rose by 415% in the first week of March, at the height of COVID-19 fears in the U.S..

Dietary supplements can help to support a healthy immune system, but whether specific supplements might be associated with a lower risk of catching SARS-CoV-2 isn't known.

In a bid to plug this knowledge gap, the researchers drew on adult users of the COVID-19 Symptom Study app to see if regular supplement users were less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The app was launched in the UK, the US, and Sweden in March 2020 to capture self-reported information on the evolution of the pandemic.

Initially, it recorded the location, age and core health risk factors of its users. But as time went on, subscribers were asked to provide daily updates on a range of issues, including symptoms, coronavirus test results, and healthcare. People without obvious symptoms were also encouraged to use it.

For the purposes of this study, the researchers analysed information supplied by 372,720 UK subscribers to the app about their regular use of dietary supplements throughout May, June, and July 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic as well as any coronavirus swab test results.

Between May and July,175,652 UK subscribers regularly took dietary supplements;197,068 didn't. Around two thirds (67%) were women and over half were overweight (BMI of 27).

In all, 23,521 people tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 349,199 tested negative between May and July.

Taking probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivits or vitamin D was associated with a lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection: by 14%, 12%, 13% and 9%, respectively, after accounting for potentially influential factors, including underlying conditions and usual diet.

No such effects were observed among those taking vitamin C, zinc, or garlic supplements.

And when the researchers looked specifically at sex, age and weight (BMI), the protective associations for probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivits and vitamin D were observed only in women of all ages and weights. No such clear associations were seen in men.

Despite some differences, the same overall patterns were mirrored in both the US (45,757) and Swedish (27,373) subscribers.

The equivalent figures for the US and Sweden were a reduced risk of:18% and 37%, respectively for probiotics; 21% and 16%, respectively, for omega-3 fatty acids; 12% and 22%, respectively for multivits; and 24% and 19%, respectively, for vitamin D supplements.

This is an observational study, and as such, can't establish cause. The researchers also acknowledge several limitations, including that the study relied on self reported data and a self selected group. No information was collected on supplement doses or ingredients either.

But although the observed effects were modest, they were significant, note the researchers, who call for large clinical trials to inform evidence-based therapeutic recommendations.

"We know that a range of micronutrients, including vitamin D, are essential for a healthy functioning immune system. This, in turn, is key to prevention of, and recovery from, infections.

"But to date, there is little convincing evidence that taking nutritional supplements has any therapeutic value beyond maintaining the body's normal immune response," comments Professor Sumantra Ray, Executive Director, NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health, which co-owns the journal.

"What's more, this study wasn't primarily designed to answer questions about the role of nutritional supplements in COVID-19. This is still an emerging area of research that warrants further rigorous study before firm conclusions can be drawn about whether specific nutritional supplements might lessen the risk of COVID-19 infection," he cautions.

 

Vitamin D deficiency may impair muscle function

Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Australia), April 16, 2021

Vitamin D deficiency may impair muscle function due to a reduction in energy production in the muscles, according to a mouse study published in the Journal of Endocrinology. Vitamin D deficient mice were found to have impaired muscle mitochondrial function, which may have implications for muscle function, performance and recovery. This may suggest that preventing vitamin D deficiency in older adults could help maintain better muscle strength and function and reduce age related muscle deterioration, but further studies are needed to confirm this. 

Vitamin D is a hormone well known to be important for maintaining bone health and preventing rickets and osteoporosis. In recent years, vitamin D deficiency has been reported to be as prevalent as 40% in European populations and linked to increased risk for several conditions, including COVID-19, cancer and diabetes. Although these studies report association rather than causation, the benefits of vitamin D supplementation are now a major subject of health debate. Multiple studies have also linked low vitamin D levels to poor muscle strength, particularly in older people. Skeletal muscle enables us to move voluntarily and perform everyday activities. It is essential that they have enough energy to power these movements. Specialised organs in cells, called mitochondria, convert nutrients in to energy to meet this demand. Previous studies indicate that impaired muscle strength in people with vitamin D deficiency may be linked to impaired muscle mitochondrial function. Determining the role of vitamin D in muscle performance of older people is also difficult, as they may suffer from a number of pre-existing health conditions that can also affect their vitamin D status. Therefore, previous studies have been unable to determine how vitamin D may directly affect muscle performance.

Dr Andrew Philp and his team at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, and collaborating universities, used a mouse model to determine the effects of diet-induced vitamin D deficiency on skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in young, male mice. Mice were either fed a diet with normal quantities of vitamin D, or with no vitamin D to induce deficiency, for a period of 3 months. A typical vitamin D level for humans is 40-50 nmol.L-1, and acute vitamin D deficiency is diagnosed when levels drop below 12 nmol.L-1. On average, the mice in this study had vitamin D levels of 30 nmol.L1, with diet-induced vitamin D deficiency leading to levels of just 3 nmol.L-1. Although this level was more extreme than typically observed in people, it is still within the clinically-recognised range. Tissue and blood samples were collected monthly to quantify vitamin D and calcium concentrations and to assess markers of muscle mitochondrial function and number. After 3 months of diet-induced vitamin D deficiency skeletal muscle mitochondrial function was found to be impaired by up to 37%. This was not due to a reduced number of mitochondria or a reduction in muscle mass.

"Our results show there is a clear link between vitamin D deficiency and oxidative capacity in skeletal muscle. They suggest that vitamin D deficiency decreases mitochondrial function, as opposed to reducing the number of mitochondria in skeletal muscle." Dr Philp comments. "We are particularly interested to examine whether this reduction in mitochondrial function may be a cause of age related loss in skeletal muscle mass and function."

These findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency may impair mitochondrial function and reduce the amount of energy produced in the muscles, which may lead to poor muscle function. Therefore, preventing vitamin D deficiency in older people may help maintain muscle performance and reduce the risk of muscle related diseases, such as sarcopenia. However, further studies that investigate the direct effect of vitamin D deficiency on muscle function and strength are necessary to confirm this.

Whilst this study indicates that vitamin D deficiency can alter mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle, Dr Philp and his team were unable to determine precisely how this process occurred. Therefore, their future work aims to establish how vitamin D deficiency alters mitochondrial control and function in skeletal muscle.

 
 

Psychedelic experience may not be required for psilocybin's antidepressant-like benefits

So-called 'magic mushroom' drug seems to work through multiple brain mechanisms for its different effects

University of Maryland School of Medicine, April 16, 2021

University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) researchers have shown that psilocybin--the active chemical in "magic mushrooms"-- still works its antidepressant-like actions, at least in mice, even when the psychedelic experience is blocked. The new findings suggest that psychedelic drugs work in multiple ways in the brain and it may be possible to deliver the fast-acting antidepressant therapeutic benefit without requiring daylong guided therapy sessions. A version of the drug without, or with less of, the psychedelic effects could loosen restrictions on who could receive the therapy, and lower costs, making the benefits of psilocybin more available to more people in need.

In all clinical trials performed to date, the person treated with psilocybin remains under the care of a guide, who keeps the person calm and reassures them during their daylong experience. This can include hallucinations, altered perception of time and space, and intense emotional and spiritual encounters. 

Researchers in the field have long attributed psilocybin's effectiveness to the intense psychedelic experience. 

"We do not understand the mechanisms that underlie the antidepressant actions of psilocybin and the role that the profound psychedelic experience during these sessions plays in the therapeutic benefits," says Scott Thompson, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology at UMSOM and senior author of the study. "The psychedelic experience is incredibly powerful and can be life-changing, but that could be too much for some people or not appropriate." 

Several barriers prevent the wide-spread use of psychedelic compounds. For example, there is fear that the psychedelic experience may promote psychosis in people who are predisposed to severe mental disorders, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, so the clinical therapy sessions performed to-date have been limited to a highly selected screened group without a family history of these disorders. 

Dr. Thompson adds that there may also be an equity issue because not everyone can take several days off work to prepare and engage in the experience. The costs of staffing a facility with at least one trained guide per treated person per day and a private space may also be prohibitive to all but a few. He says it is conceivable that a depression treatment derived from psilocybin could be developed without the psychedelic effects so people can take it safely at home without requiring a full day in a care facility.

For their study, led by UMSOM MD/PhD student Natalie Hesselgrave, the team used a mouse model of depression in which mice were stressed for several hours a day over 2-3 weeks. Because researchers cannot measure mouse moods, they measure their ability to work for rewards, such as choosing to drink sugar water over plain water. People suffering from depression lose the feeling of pleasure for rewarding events. Similarly, stressed mice no longer preferred sugar water over plain water. However, 24 hours after a dose of psilocybin, the stressed mice regained their preference for the sugar water, demonstrating that the drug restored the mice's pleasure response. 

Psilocybin exerts its effects in people by binding to and turning on receptors for the chemical messenger serotonin. One of these receptors, the serotonin 2A receptor, is known to be responsible for the psychedelic response. To see if the psychedelic effects of psilocybin were needed for the anti-depressive benefits, the researchers treated the stressed mice with psilocybin together with a drug, ketanserin, which binds to the serotonin 2A receptor and keeps it from being turned on. The researchers found that the stressed mice regained their preference for the sugar water in response to psilocybin, even without the activation of the psychedelic receptor.

"These findings show that activation of the receptor causing the psychedelic effect isn't absolutely required for the antidepressant benefits, at least in mice," says Dr. Thompson, "but the same experiment needs to be performed in depressed human subjects." He says his team plans to investigate which of the 13 other serotonin receptors are the ones responsible for the antidepressant actions.

"This new study has interesting implications, and shows that more basic research is needed in animals to reveal the mechanisms for how these drugs work, so that treatments for these devastating disorders can be developed" says Albert E. Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

 

Tea compound promotes formation of osteoblasts under inflammatory environment and increases bone mass

First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University (China), April 7, 2021

 

According to news originating from Suzhou, People’s Republic of China, the research stated, “Postmenopausal osteoporosis is a disease of bone mass reduction and structural changes due to estrogen deficiency, which can eventually lead to increased pain and fracture risk.”

Our news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University: “Chronic inflammatory microenvironment leading to the decreased activation of osteoblasts and inhibition of bone formation is an important pathological factor that leads to osteoporosis. Theaflavin-3,3’-digallate (TFDG) is an extract of black tea, which has potential anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects. In our study, we found that TFDG significantly increased the bone mass of ovariectomized (OVX) mice by micro-CT analysis. Compared with OVX mice, TFDG reduced the release of proinflammatory cytokines and increased the expression of osteogenic markers in vivo. In vitro experiments demonstrated that TFDG could promote the formation of osteoblasts in inflammatory environment and enhance their mineralization ability. In this process, TFDG activated MAPK, Wnt/b-Catenin and BMP/Smad signaling pathways inhibited by TNF-a, and then promoted the transcription of osteogenic related factors including Runx2 and Osterix, promoting the differentiation and maturation of osteoblasts eventually.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “In general, our study confirmed that TFDG was able to promote osteoblast differentiation under inflammatory environment, enhance its mineralization ability, and ultimately increase bone mass in ovariectomized mice. These results suggested that TFDG might have the potential to be a more effective treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.”

 

 

Patients who are overweight or obese at risk of more severe COVID-19

 

Murdoch Children's Research Institute and University of Queensland, April 16, 2021

 

Patients who are overweight or obese have more severe COVID-19 and are highly likely to require invasive respiratory support, according to a new international study. 

The research, led by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) and The University of Queensland and published in Diabetes Care, found obese or overweight patients are at high risk for having worse COVID-19 outcomes. They are also more likely to require oxygen and invasive mechanical ventilation compared to those with a healthy weight. 

MCRI researcher Dr Danielle Longmore said the findings, which highlighted the relationship between obesity and increased COVID-19 disease burden, showed the need to urgently introduce strategies to address the complex socio-economic drivers of obesity, and public policy measures such as restrictions on junk food advertising. 

"Although taking steps to address obesity in the short-term is unlikely to have an immediate impact in the COVID-19 pandemic, it will likely reduce the disease burden in future viral pandemics and reduce risks of complications like heart disease and stroke," she said.

The study looked at hospitalised SARS-CoV-2 patients from 18 hospitals in 11 countries including China, America, Italy, South Africa and The Netherlands. 

Among the 7244 patients aged 18 years and over, 34.8 per cent were overweight and 30.8 per cent were obese. 

COVID-19 patients with obesity were more likely to require oxygen and had a 73 per cent greater chance of needing invasive mechanical ventilation. Similar but more modest results were seen in overweight patients. No link was found between being overweight or obese and dying in hospital from COVID-19. 

Cardiovascular and pre-existing respiratory diseases were associated with increased odds of in-hospital deaths but not a greater risk for needing oxygen and mechanical ventilation. For patients with pre-existing diabetes, there was increased odds of needing invasive respiratory support, but no additionally increase in risk in those with obesity and diabetes. 

Men were at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes and needing invasive mechanical ventilation. In those aged over 65 years, there was an increased chance of requiring oxygen and higher rates of in-hospital deaths.

The University of Queensland's Dr Kirsty Short, who co-led the research, said almost 40 per cent of the global population was overweight or obese. 

"Obesity is associated with numerous poor health outcomes, including increased risk of cardiometabolic and respiratory disease and more severe viral disease including influenza, dengue and SARS-CoV-1," she said. 

Dr Short said while previous reports indicated that obesity was an important risk factor in the severity of COVID-19, almost all this data had been collected from single sites and many regions were not represented. Moreover, there was a limited amount of evidence available about the effects of being overweight or obese on COVID-19 severity. 

"Given the large scale of this study we have conclusively shown that being overweight or obese are independent risk factors for worse outcomes in adults hospitalised with COVID-19," she said.

MCRI Professor David Burgner, who co-led the research, said the data would help inform immunisation prioritisation for higher-risk groups.

"At the moment, the World Health Organization has not had enough high-quality data to include being overweight or obese as a risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease. Our study should help inform decisions about which higher-risk groups should be vaccinated as a priority," he said.

 

Neuroprotective Herbs for the Management of Alzheimer’s Disease

University of Central Florida and University of California, Los Angeles
 
Background—Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a multifactorial, progressive, neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by memory loss, personality changes, and a decline in cognitive function. While the exact cause of AD is still unclear, recent studies point to lifestyle, diet, environmental, and genetic factors as contributors to disease progression. The pharmaceutical approaches developed to date do not alter disease progression. More than two hundred promising drug candidates have failed clinical trials in the past decade, suggesting that the disease and its causes may be highly complex. Medicinal plants and herbal remedies are now gaining more interest as complementary and alternative interventions and are a valuable source for developing drug candidates for AD. Indeed, several scientific studies have described the use of various medicinal plants and their principal phytochemicals for the treatment of AD. This article reviews a subset of herbs for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cognitive-enhancing effects. Methods—This article systematically reviews recent studies that have investigated the role of neuroprotective herbs and their bioactive compounds for dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease and pre-Alzheimer’s disease. PubMed Central, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases of articles were collected, and abstracts were reviewed for relevance to the subject matter. Conclusions—Medicinal plants have great potential as part of an overall program in the prevention and treatment of cognitive decline associated with AD. It is hoped that these medicinal plants can be used in drug discovery programs for identifying safe and efficacious small molecules for AD.
 

1.1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha, commonly called Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is one of the most prominent herbs prescribed as a brain rejuvenator for AD. It is prescribed to increase energy, improve overall health and longevity, and as a nerve tonic [86]. Ashwagandha has been shown to possess antioxidant activity, free radical scavenging activity, as well as an ability to support a healthy immune system [87]. Ashwagandha contains several bioactive compounds of great interest, such as ergostane-type steroidal lactones, including withanolides A-Y, dehydrowithanolide-R, withasomniferin-A, withasomidienone, withasomniferols A-C, withaferin A, withanone, and others. Other constituents include the phytosterols sitoindosides VII-X and beta-sitosterol and alkaloids [86,88].
A subset of these components has been shown to scavenge free radicals generated during the initiation and progression of AD. Molecular modeling studies showed that withanamides A and C uniquely bind to the active motif of Aβ25-35 and prevent fibril formation. Furthermore, these compounds protected PC-12 cells and rat neuronal cells from β-amyloid-induced cell death [89,90,91]. Treatment with the methanol extract of ashwagandha triggered neurite outgrowth in a dose- and time-dependent manner in human neuroblastoma cells [29], and, in another study involving cultured rat cortical neurons, treatment with Aβ peptide induced axonal and dendritic atrophy and loss of pre-and postsynaptic stimuli [92]. Subsequent treatment with withanolide A induced significant regeneration of both axons and dendrites and restored the pre- and post-synapses in the cultured cortical neurons.
In vivo, withanolide A inhibited Aβ(25–35)-induced degeneration of axons, dendrites, and synapses in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus and also restored Aβ-peptide-induced memory deficits in mice [93]. The in vivo ameliorative effects were maintained even after the discontinuation of the drug administration. Aqueous extracts of ashwagandha increased acetylcholine (ACh) content and choline acetyl transferase activity in rats, which might partly explain the cognition-enhancing and memory-improving effects [29,94,95]. Treatment with the root extract caused the upregulation of the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein, which enhanced the Aβ clearance and reversed the AD pathology in middle-aged and old APP/PS1 mice [96].
Oral administration of a semi-purified extract of ashwagandha reversed behavioral deficits and blocked the accumulation of Aβ peptides in an APP/PS1 mouse model of AD. This therapeutic effect of ashwagandha was mediated by the liver low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein [96]. Using an AD model of Drosophila melanogaster, researchers noted that treatment with ashwagandha mitigated Aβ toxicity and also promoted longevity [97]. Despite the extensive literature on the therapeutic effects of ashwagandha, there are limited data on its clinical use for cognitive impairment [98].
In a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study involving 50 subjects with mild cognitive impairment, subjects were treated with either ashwagandha root extract (300 mg twice daily) or placebo for eight weeks. After eight weeks of study, the ashwagandha treatment group demonstrated significant improvements in both immediate and general memory tests compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, the treatment group showed significant improvement in executive function, sustained attention, and information-processing speed [99]. These studies lend credence to ashwagandha’s role in enhancing memory and improving executive function in people with SCI or MCI.

1.2. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)

Brahmi, or Bacopa monnieri (Bm), is a perennial creeper medicinal plant found in the damp and marshy wetlands of Southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, Bm is recommended for mental stress, memory loss, epilepsy, insomnia, and asthma [34,36]. The bioactive phytochemicals present in this plant include saponins, bacopasides III, IV, V, bacosides A and B, bacosaponins A, B, C, D, E, and F, alkaloids, sterols, betulic acid, polyphenols, and sulfhydryl compounds, which may be responsible for the neuroprotective roles of the plant. Both in vitro and in vivo studies show that these phytochemicals have an antioxidant and free radical scavenging action by blocking lipid peroxidation in several areas of the brain [36,100,101,102]. Bm acts by reducing divalent metals, scavenging reactive oxygen species, decreasing the formation of lipid peroxides, and inhibiting lipoxygenase activity [103].
Numerous studies have also shown Bm’s role in memory and intellect [33,56,100,104,105,106]. To determine the neuroprotective effect of Bm in a rat model of AD, researchers tested an alcoholic extract of Bm at doses of 20, 40, and 80 mg/kg for a period of 2 weeks before and 1 week after the intracerebroventricular (icv) administration of ethylcholine aziridinium ion (AF64A). Spatial memory was tested using the Morris water maze (MWM), and the cholinergic neuron density was determined using histological techniques. The researchers showed that Bm extract improved the escape latency time in the MWM test and blocked the reduction of cholinergic neuron densities [35]. Another group reported the reversal of colchicine-induced cognitive deficits by a standardized extract of Bm. In addition to reversing colchicine-triggered cognitive impairment, the Bm extract also attenuated colchicine-induced oxidative damage by decreasing the protein carbonyl levels and restoring the activities of the antioxidant enzymes [107].
Most of the studies exploring the cognitive-enhancing effects of Bm in humans focused on normal, aged individuals. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial on 35 individuals aged above 55 years, subjects received either 125 mg of Bm extract or a placebo twice a day for a period of 12 weeks, followed by a placebo period of another four weeks. Subjects underwent a battery of memory tests, including general information, orientation, mental control, logical memory, digit forward, digit backward, visual reproduction, and paired association learning. Subjects were scored on each sub-test, and total memory score was calculated by adding the score of all subtests. A significant improvement was observed in mental control, logical memory, and paired association learning in Bm-treated patients compared to the placebo group at 8 and 12 weeks after initiation of the trial [37]. The results suggested the use of Bm in the treatment of age-associated memory impairment.
Ten subjects were given 500 mg of Sideritis extract, 320 mg Bm extract, or a combination using a crossover design. Sideritis extract is rich in a variety of flavonoids and has been shown to improve cognition in animal models of AD [108]. The Attention d2 Test is a neuropsychological measure of selective and sustained attention and visual scanning speed. Assessment tests revealed that Sideritis extract combined with a low-dose Bm extract resulted in improvement in the d2 concentration test score [109]. A similar effect of Bm alone was observed only after repetitive dosing, suggesting that the long-term memory effects seen with repetitive dosing of Bm may be a promising therapeutic option for subjects suffering from MCI [109].
In another prospective, non-comparative, multicenter trial involving 104 subjects who suffered from MCI, Bm extract in combination with astaxanthin, phosphatidylserine, and vitamin E was given for 60 days. The tested combination formula was well tolerated. Cognitive and mnemonic performance was assessed with validated instruments including Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog) and Clock-Drawing Test (CDT) that can assess the risk of MCI progression to AD. Researchers noted significant improvements in ADAS-cog and CDT scores [110]. The observed sixty-day improvements in ADAS-cog and CDT were statistically significant as compared with baseline values. Memory is affected by several factors, including focus and attention, neurotransmitters, hormones, trophic factors, cyclic AMP, ion channels, protein transcription, synapse formation, and nutrients. Some of these processes can be modulated by Bm extract alone or in combination with other compounds.
The abovementioned study design is similar to our therapeutic program for people with SCI and MCI, where Bm is administered in combination with other nutraceuticals and cogniceuticals [15,111].

1.3. Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

Cat’s claw (CC) is a tropical vine with hooked thorns that resemble the claws of a cat and is mainly recommended for its potential role in the treatment of AD and pre-AD. It is found mainly in the Amazon rainforest and other areas of South and Central America. This medicinal plant contains oxindole alkaloids, polyphenols (flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and tannins), glycosides, pentacyclic alkaloids, and sterols [38,39]. CC is known for its immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory effects and for its role as a free radical scavenger. Based on in vitro studies, the anti-inflammatory effect of CC is attributed to its ability to inhibit iNOS gene expression, nitrate formation, cell death, PGE2 production, and the activation of NF-κB and TNF-α [45].
Using a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, a significant reduction in the Aβ load (by 59%) and plaque number (by 78%) in the hippocampus and cortex was observed after treating 8-month-old mice with the CC extract for 14 days [44]. CC extract also caused a significant reduction in astrocytosis and microgliosis, and it improved hippocampus-dependent memory. Some of the components in the CC extract crossed the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and entered the brain parenchyma following intravenous injection [44].
Pre-clinical studies suggest that CC extract inhibits the formation of plaques and tangles, reduces astrocytosis and microgliosis and improves memory in mouse models of AD [43,44]. CC extract not only prevented the formation and aggregation of Aβ fibrils and tau protein paired helical filaments, but it also facilitated the disaggregation of preformed fibrils and tau protein tangles [43,44]. While proanthocyanidin B2 was identified as the primary phytochemical with plaque-and tangle-dissolving activity, other polyphenols present in the CC extract also possess plaque-reducing activity [44].
Based on pre-clinical studies, Cat’s claw may be effective for memory loss and cognitive decline associated with AD, although no studies have been carried out in humans.

1.4. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba (Gb) has been in the spotlight primarily for its potential role in treating AD. Gb also appears promising as a therapeutic agent for several other chronic and acute forms of diseases. The main pharmacologically active groups of compounds are flavonoids and terpenoids. Almost all clinical studies use Gb extract that contains a combination of flavonoid glycosides, terpene lactones, and ginkgolic acids [50]. Gb extract has shown beneficial effects in treating Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, tinnitus, and other age-associated conditions [49,50]. The suggested mechanisms of the Gb extract are its antioxidant effect, anti-platelet activating factor activity for vascular diseases, inhibition of β-amyloid peptide aggregation in AD, and decreased expression of peripheral benzodiazepine receptor for stress alleviation [48,49,50].
Gb is popular as a treatment for early-stage AD and vascular dementia. Gb extract reverses β-amyloid and NO-induced toxicity in vitro and reduces apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo [112,113,114]. Treatment with Gb extract enhanced memory retention in young and old rats and improved short-term memory in mice [49,115].
Several studies indicate that ginkgo delays the progression of AD and is as effective as the cholinesterase inhibitors for treating AD. A modest improvement in cognitive function was observed in AD subjects in various randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials [116,117,118]. Gb extract also improves ADLs among AD individuals and is preferred over other AD medications because of its negligible adverse effects [119,120].

1.5. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

Considered both a nutraceutical and cogniceutical, Gotu kola (Gk) is a staple in Chinese, Indonesian, and Ayurvedic medicine [57]. This medicinal plant is used to strengthen the brain, heal skin issues, and promote liver and kidney health. Gk is considered a rejuvenating herb for nerve and brain cells as it is believed to promote intelligence and improve memory [54,55,56,57]. In vitro studies using various Gk plant derivatives (asiaticosides, asiatic acid, madecassoside, and madasiatic acid) showed that these compounds were capable of blocking H2O
April 19, 2021  

It is Time to Dismantle the World Health Organization

Richard Gale & Gary Null PhD

Progressive Radio Network, April 19, 2021

 

The ultimate international authority for infectious diseases is the World Health Organization (WHO). Due to its widespread acceptance by the world's national governments, it has been extremely successful in assuming the helm to monitor regional and global infectious diseases and dictate medical intervention policies to international health agencies. The organization has become the final word to rule whether the spread of a serious pathogen is a pandemic or not. For the majority of the medical community, the media and the average person, the WHO is the front line command post for medical prevention (i.e., vaccination) and treatment.  Consequently its rulings are often regarded as the gold standard.  On matters of global health, the WHO holds dominance. 

For approximately a year the WHO has propagated the belief that the first line of defense for curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic is self-isolation, distancing, masks and, ultimately, vaccination. Although it approved Ivermectin as a cost-effective treatment against SARS-CoV-2 infections, it disapproved hydroxychloroquine in favor of Gilead Bioscience’s and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s (NIAID) Anthony Fauci’s novel and costly drug Remdesivir.  Much of it’s funding efforts have been reserved for mass-vaccination with the new generation of experimental vaccines. Throughout these efforts, the WHO has allied itself with the US's and UK’s national health systems, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and his Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) initiative. 

Most people wrongly assume the WHO acts independently from private commercial and national government interests for the welfare of the world's population. The legitimacy of the WHO as a gold standard of health is dubious. The organization has frequently been accused of conflicts of interests with private pharmaceutical companies and mega-philanthropic organizations such as the Gates’ Foundation, as well as being riddled with political alliances, ideologies, and profiteering motives. Despite it’s mega-pharmaceutical interests and consultants representing private vaccine interests, in the past the WHO has had the audacity to ridicule the pharmaceutical industry of corruption.

“Corruption in the pharmaceutical sector occurs throughout all stages of the medicine chain, from research and development to dispensing and promotion…. A lack of transparency and accountability within the medicines chain can also contribute to unethical practices and corruption.”

These are similar charges that have been leveled against the WHO. An article in the National Review called the WHO "scandal plagued" with "wasteful spending, utter disregard for transparency, pervasive incompetence, and failure to adhere to even basic democratic standards." In his book, Immunization: How Vaccines Became Controversial, University of Amsterdam professor emeritus Dr. Stuart Blume raises the serious problem of the WHO’s most influential advisors on emergency health conditions, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic and earlier the 2009 H1N1 swine flu scare that never was, serve as consultants for the vaccine industry. During times of global emergencies and crises, the WHO confers with a separate group of advisors outside its formal sitting Strategic Advisory Group of Experts or SAGE; the names of this group’s members are not made public

We would add that the WHO’s level of incompetence has resulted in serious misinformation about pandemics, medical risks of vaccines and other health-threatening chemicals.  For example, during the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, the organization reported it could not find any evidence of human transmission. However, the WHO has repeatedly kowtowed to China’s demands and unscrupulously accepts whatever statistics and statements the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) provides. Responding to a petition signed by over 700,000 signatories demanding the resignation of the current WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso told the Japanese parliament that the organization “should be renamed the Chinese Health Organization” for favoring China’s policy to stall and obstruct international investigations and for lauding unsubstantiated praise on the country’s transparency and handling of the pandemic. Back on December 31, 2019, Taiwan – which has been barred from WHO membership due to China’s political maneuvering – had been warning of a possible human-to-human transmission contrary to the wet-market narrative, but this was largely ignored in order to avoid upsetting the CCP.

The UK’s Sunday Times reported that Chinese scientists were forced to destroy their proof of the virus shortly after its discovery. In the province of Hubei, authorities ordered the cessation of further testing and the destruction of existing samples. Other researchers who made efforts to warn the public were punished.  Writing for The Hill, University of Texas at San Antonio professor Bradley Thayer wrote, “Tedros apparently turned a blind eye to what happened in Wuhan and the rest of China and… has helped play down the severity, prevalence and scope of the Covid-19 outbreak.” Thayer concludes, “Tedros is not fit to lead the WHO.” He has no formal medical training as a physician or any international management experience in global health. Many others have voiced similar criticisms pointing out Tedro’s unsuitable background.  Moreover, the Director General’s conflicts of interest with China abound. Immediately before and after his tenure as the Health Minister for Ethiopia’s ruling Communist party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, China had donated an estimated $60 million to the terrorist government and its social programs. Now heading the WHO, Tedros appears to continue lobbying on China’s behalf. In 2017, the Washington Post noted the fundamental problem

“[China] worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help Tedros defeat the United Kingdom candidate for the WHO job, David Nabarro. Tedros’s victory was also a victory for Beijing, whose leader Xi Jinping has made public his goal of flexing China’s muscle in the world.”

Upon assuming his new position at the WHO, Tedros had left Ethiopia’s healthcare system in ruin.  As one young healthcare worker reported, there was no “bare necessities of a health care office…. Sterile gloves, paper exam gowns and covers, cotton swabs, gauze, tongue depressors, alcohol prep pads, chemical test strips, suturing equipment, syringes, stethoscopes… were non-existent. This is a fact in most health care centers in Ethiopia.” 

During the more recent re-investigation of SARS-CoV-2 origins, the Chinese authorities refused to provide raw case data and created repressive conditions to curtail reliable analysis and disclosure. The WHO’s final report concluded that the virus had an animal origin and did not escape Wuhan’s high security pathogen laboratory. But there are viable reasons to discredit the report as untrustworthy at best and perhaps intentionally deceptive. 

First, the entire agenda of the investigation was staged theater rather than a deep investigation to uncover empirical evidence. The team simply inspected seafood and open-air markets. Consequently, the WHO team returned empty handed and without laboratory records for a proper forensic examination. To call the entire WHO effort gross incompetence would be an understatement. Based upon all the evidence that has emerged, a large number of professional medical voices are calling the entire investigation a farce.

Most problematic is the appointment of Peter Daszak on the WHO’s group to carry out the investigation. Daszak, the founding president of the shadowy non-profit organization EcoHealth Alliance, has headed many hunting adventures worldwide to identify the emergence of potential pathogens that could become pandemics. With the intention to divert attention away from an escaped laboratory virus, Daszak stated on a Going Viral podcast there was no evidential reason to visit and inspect the Wuhan laboratory. According to Independent Science News, despite Daszak’s denial of a lab origin, “EcoHealth Alliance funded bat coronavirus research, including virus collection, at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and thus could themselves be directly implicated in the outbreak.” The research at the Wuhan lab included ‘gain of function” efforts on coronaviruses, and received funds directly approved by Anthony Fauci. Newsweek reports the NIH had given a total of $7.4 million to the Chinese lab for the research. The organization has received over $100 million from a variety of sources, including the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the NIH and undisclosed amounts from the Chinese government. Daszak himself has authored 25 studies funded by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, think tanks, universities, military institutions, and ministries directly connected with the Chinese Communist Party. 

Given the halls of power within the WHO, we are outlining some of the more salient reasons why the organization's declarations about infectious diseases, pandemics and vaccination should not be trusted. 

Vaccine Promotional Misconduct

For many years the WHO's recommendations for certain vaccines were kept secret. Writing in a 2006 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Marc Girard uncovered "scientific incompetence, misconduct or even criminal malfeasance" over the intentional inflation of vaccines' benefits while undermining toxicity and adverse effects. Dr. Girard testified as a medical expert for a French court in a criminal trial against the WHO after French health officials obliged the organization to launch its universal Hepatitis B vaccine campaign. The campaign resulted in the deaths of French children. Girard gained access to confidential WHO documents. He noted that the WHO's "French figures about chronic liver diseases were simply extrapolated from the U.S. reports." He further accused the WHO serving "merely as a screen for commercial promotion, in particular via the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board (VHPB), which was created, sponsored, and infiltrated by the manufacturers."

Now during the Covid-19 pandemic, as early as last July, the WHO approved of China’s first vaccine for emergency use, long before it had undergone proper clinical trials and much earlier than Moderna’s and Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines’ approval.

Orchestration of Pandemic Panics

Before the current COVID-19 pandemic, there was the H1N1 swine flu scare in 2009. However, at the very start the WHO's fear mongering of a global contagion that could exceed the death counts of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was solely based on false rhetoric rather than empirical evidence.  The fabrications are believed to have originated from the WHO's senior consultant on viral outbreaks who happens to carry the reputation of being one of the world's leading pandemic alarmists: Dr. Albert Osterhaus, nicknamed "Dr. Flu." At the time, Osterhaus was head of the Department of Virology at Erasmus University in the Netherlands. When the swine flu scare appeared, he was also the president of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI), an organization funded by the major vaccine manufacturers including Baxter, MedImmune, Glaxo, Sanofi Pasteur and others. It was also Osterhaus who transformed an otherwise potentially bad flu season into a global pandemic. The WHO has been criticized harshly in the media for changing the definition of a "pandemic" and in doing so has been charged with benefitting the pharmaceutical industry. The British Medical Journal reported that the WHO failed to report conflicts of interest in its H1N1 advisory group. The journal's Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee wrote, "WHO must act now to restore its credibility, and Europe should legislate." The former head of the prestigious Cochrane Database Collaboration’s vaccine studies, Dr. Tom Jefferson, told a Der Spiegel interviewer, “the WHO and public health officials, virologists and the pharmaceutical companies... built this machine around the impending [H1N1] pandemic. And there’s a lot of money involved, and influence and careers, and entire institutions.”

When the 2009 H1N1 influenza strain appeared, the WHO rushed forward to mangle its earlier criteria that would realistically define a pandemic. The organization intentionally removed reference to a pathogen’s “severity” as a necessary requirement. “Don’t you think there’s something noteworthy,” Dr. Jefferson continues, “about the fact that the WHO has changed its definition of a pandemic?.... that’s how swine flu has been categorized as a pandemic.” Moreover, the WHO’s decision to label the outbreak as a pandemic was not based upon its own permanent vaccine experts but on the recommendations of a non-disclosed group of outside consultants. 

According to a financial forecast published by JP Morgan, the collaboration between the WHO and Osterhaus's ESWI to orchestrate the pandemic would have profited the pharmaceutical industry up to $10 billion. Der Spiegel reported:

“The WHO and those in charge of public health, the virologists and the pharmaceutical laboratories....  created a whole system around the imminence of a pandemic. There is a lot of money at stake, as well as networks of influence, careers and whole institutions! And the minute one of the flu viruses mutates we’d see the whole machine roll into action.”

In 2010, the EU’s Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe launched an investigation into the evidence that the WHO had created “a fake pandemic” in order to financially benefit the pharmaceutical giants’ vaccine market and to strengthen the influence private drug interests have over the health organization. The Assembly’s chairperson Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg charged the WHO’s fake pandemic as “one of the greatest medical scandals of the century that resulted in “millions being needlessly vaccinated.”

Epidemic of Conflict of Interests

According to former World Bank geopolitical analyst Peter Koenig, about half of the WHO's budget is derived from private sources -- primarily pharmaceutical companies but also other corporate sectors including the telecommunication and agro-chemical industries. It also receives large donations from large philanthropic organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI. Eleven years ago, Gates had committed $10 billion to the WHO; after the US, his Foundation is its second largest donor providing 10 percent of its funding.  His financial commitment aligned with his global ambition to “make this the decade of vaccines.” Koenig also believes that Tedros’s appointment was due to Gates' influence. This may carry some truth because Tedros is a former Chair of GAVI’s Vaccine Alliance. Barbara Loe Fisher at the National Vaccine Information Center estimates that "only about 10 percent of total funding provided by GAVI ($862M) was used to strengthen health systems in developing countries, such as improving sanitation and nutrition, while nearly 80 percent was used to purchase, deliver and promote vaccines." 

There is also the deep personal and financial relationship between Gates and the Chinese Communist government that demands further investigation. Gates is a member of the Chinese Academy of Science. For the moment, the WHO has been advising against Covid-19 vaccine passports as a mandate to travel. Nevertheless, China has already launched encrypted digital certificates as proof of vaccination. Given Gates’ close relationship with Chinese officials, perhaps he is awaiting on China to establish a precedent for other nations to agree on a global mandate that will eventually be propagated by the Gate’s network and the World Economic Forum and its Great Reset.  During a 2020 TED talk, Gates had already revealed that digital vaccine passports may be necessary; that part of his speech was edited from the original video, however, Robert Kennedy Jr. tracked down the original footage.  Gates has also 1) commissioned MIT to develop injectable a quantum dot dye system for children, 2) funded MicroChips, a company developing implantable chip-based devices, and 3) purchased 3.7 million shares in Serco who is developing tracing technology to track pandemic infections and vaccine compliance.

Finally, Gates shares the Chinese Communist Party’s interests in collecting and ‘mining” citizens’ DNA. A 60 Minutes expose presented the covert activities of BGI Genomics, a CCP-linked firm that has exported Covid-19 tests to “collect, store and exploit biometric information” on American citizens. Independent investigations reveal that the Gates Foundation has collaborated with BGI and it was through Gates’ influence over Obama that the Chinese company entered the US market. 

BGI’s RT-PCR kit was promoted by the WHO back in May 2020 for first line emergency diagnostic use. The rationale was that the test was highly sensitive, specific and user-friendly. Subsequently the EU, FDA, and the Australian, Canadian and Japanese health ministries rapidly purchased and deployed it. On its website, the Gates Foundation acknowledges its role in having the PCR tests supplied to the WHO.

“Nine Chinese PCR tests were approved by WHO during 2020 under its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) mechanism, with one of the foundation’s partners supplying tests to WHO”

Three months later, Sweden filed complaints after reports of a high percentage of false positives from the Chinese tests. 

There is in our opinion little doubt that the WHO is another one of Gates' bought off entities for furthering his personal agenda to promote vaccines, genetically modified seeds and chemical agriculture in the developing world. 

Vaccine Adverse Effects Monitoring System Needs Overhaul

The WHO's Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is the group responsible for administering vaccine programs in poorer, developing countries. It is also responsible for gathering data on incidents of vaccine injuries. Any deaths following vaccination campaigns are ignored and ruled as coincidental. This policy is based on the erroneous assumption that if no one died during a vaccine's clinical trials, then the vaccine should be regarded as automatically safe and unrelated to any deaths that might occur later. Consequently, the WHO's monitoring system is seriously flawed and requires a major overhaul. 

One of the more controversial incidences was the WHO's collaboration with the Bill Gates’ GAVI campaign to launch the Pentavalent vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, HIP and Hepatitis B) in Africa and later in South and Southeast Asia. In India, health officials recorded upwards to 8,190 additional infant deaths annually following Pentavalent campaign.  The WHO’s response was to reclassify its adverse event reporting system to disregard "infant" deaths altogether. Dr. Jacob Puliyel, a member of the Indian government's National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization concluded

“deaths and other serious adverse events following vaccination in the third world, that use WHO-AEFI classification are not recorded in any database for pharmaco-vigilance. It is as if the deaths of children in low (and middle) income countries are of no consequence.”

WHO's Double Standards of Vaccine Safety

A more recent scandal erupted during the WHO's Global Vaccine Safety Summit convened in December 2019.  Days before the summit, one of the WHO's medical directors for vaccination, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, appeared in a public advertisement touting the unquestionable safety of vaccines and ridiculing parents who speak out against vaccination. She assured viewers that the WHO was in control of matters and monitored any potential adverse risks carefully. However, during the Summit, the same Dr. Swaminathan acknowledged vaccine health risks and stated, "We really don't have very good safety monitoring systems." Another Summit participant, Dr. Heidi Larson stated,

"We have a very wobbly ‘health professional frontline’ that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. When the frontline professionals are starting to question or they don’t feel like they have enough confidence about the safety to stand up to the person asking the questions. I mean most medical school curriculums, even nursing curriculums, I mean in medical school you are lucky if you have half a day on vaccines.”

And more noteworthy were the statements by Dr. Martin Howell Friede, Coordinator of the WHO's Initiative for Vaccine Research, 

"... I give courses every year on how do you develop vaccines, how do you make vaccines. And the first lesson is while you’re making your vaccine if you can avoid using an adjuvant please do so. Lesson two is if you’re going to use an adjuvant use one that has a history of safety. And lesson three is if you’re not going to do that, think very carefully."

In other words, what the WHO presents to the public contradicts what is discussed behind closed doors, another example of the veil of secrecy the organization operates within. 

Now we are witnessing more countries halting further administration of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, a vaccine Trump had committed $1.2 billion towards its development. Subsequently the CDC paused Johnson & Johnson’s similar engineered adenovirus vaccine in order to investigate its association with an otherwise rare condition of fatal blood clotting. The WHO on the other hand has ignored these nations’ ethical responsibility to adhere to the precautionary principle. Its own review claimed there were no blood clot links to AstraZeneca’s vaccine; later the WHO changed its tune to “plausible” after EU regulators found a causal link and the New England Journal of Medicine published two studies providing specific details confirming these adverse reactions.  Although acknowledging these risks, the WHO has continued to recommend that mass vaccination proceed as if there were no red alarms.  

WHO's Depopulation Efforts with Vaccines

Without doubt, the most nefarious activity conducted by the WHO is its alleged support and distribution of vaccines to poorer developing countries that may have been intentionally designed to decrease population rates.  Back in 1989, the WHO sponsored a symposium at its Geneva headquarters on "Antifertility Vaccines and Contraceptive Vaccines." The symposium presented proposals for vaccines that were later discovered to have been laced with the sterilizing hormones HCG and estradiol; the former prevents pregnancy and triggers spontaneous abortions and miscarriages, and the latter can turn men infertile.  

In 2015, the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops reported its discovery of a polio vaccine laced with estradiol that was manufactured in India and distributed by the WHO. A year earlier, Dr. Wahome Ngare from the Kenyan Catholic Doctors Association uncovered a tetanus vaccine specifically being administered to women, also distributed by the WHO, that contained the HCG hormone. All of the polio vaccine samples tested contained HCG, estrogen-related compounds, follicle stimulating and luteinizing hormones, which will damage sperm formation in the testes. Even more disturbing, this vaccine was going to be administered to children under five years of age. 

However, this is not the first time the WHO appears to have made efforts to use vaccination campaigns for depopulation.  A decade earlier, in 2004, the WHO, UNICIF and CDC launched a vaccination campaign to immunize 74 million African children during a polio outbreak. The initiative encountered a serious obstacle. In Nigeria, laboratory tests on the WHO's vaccine samples resulted in the presence of estrogen and other female hormones. And in the mid-1990s, a tetanus vaccine being administered to Nicaraguan and Filipino girls and women in their child-bearing years was discovered to contain HCG, which accounted for a large number of spontaneous abortions that were reported by Catholic health workers. 

Illegal Vaccine Experiments

In 2014, The Economic Times of India published a report that provided details of a joint venture between the WHO and the Gates Foundation to test an experimental HPV vaccine on approximately 16,000 tribal girls between the ages of 9 and 15 unwittingly. The experiment was conducted in 2008, and the vaccine is now what we commonly know as Gardasil. Many of the girls, the report states, became ill and some died. 

The following year the WHO and Gates Foundation conducted a similar experiment on 14,000 girls with the HPV vaccine Cervarix. Again "scores of teenage girls were hospitalized."  Investigations led by Indian health officials uncovered gross violations in India's laws regarding medical safety. In numerous cases there was no consent and the children had no idea what they were being vaccinated for. The Indian Supreme Court has taken up a case against the duo for criminal charges. 

There are many other questionable activities that the WHO has been involved with over the years. However, the above provide sufficient evidence to argue the case that, at least within the upper echelons of the WHO, global health does not stand in high priority.  The organization employs over 7,000 people around the world and most of these have deep concern for improving the lives of populations in poor and developing nations. On the other hand, the WHO's leaders are there largely because the powers of Washington, London and the pharmaceutical industry benefit by the organization advancing its agendas. 

Of course, the WHO is not the only health entity with a legacy of corruption.  Corruption appears to be systemic throughout global health and national health agencies.  This topic was featured last year in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. Author Dr. Patricia Garcia writes, 

"Corruption is embedded in health systems. Throughout my life—as a researcher, public health worker, and a Minister of Health—I have been able to see entrenched dishonesty and fraud. But despite being one of the most important barriers to implementing universal health coverage around the world, corruption is rarely openly discussed."

Bear in mind, the WHO, along with Bill Gates and his Foundation, and Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Disease, are leading the efforts to get the COVID-19 vaccine administered as quickly as possible. Already the Gates Foundation has given $1.75 billion for developing and distributing these vaccines. Do you believe we can trust their judgment and the intense public relations effort that will immediately follow after such a vaccine reaches the market? 

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