The Gary Null Show Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy.

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? 

April 16, 2021  

1.  EMPATHY - BEST SPEECH OF ALL TIME By Simon Sinek | Inspiritory 10 mins 

2. Sweet Uncle Billy


Mushrooms boost immunity, suggests research

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, April 13. 2021



Could a mushroom a day help keep the doctor away?


A new University of Florida study shows increased immunity in people who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom every day for four weeks.


Of the thousands of mushroom species globally, about 20 are used for culinary purposes. Shiitake mushrooms are native to Asia and are cultivated for their culinary and medicinal value.


A study led by UF Food Science and Human Nutrition Professor Sue Percival, 52 healthy adults, age 21 to 41, came to the Gainesville campus, where researchers gave them a four-week supply of dry shiitake mushrooms. Participants took the mushrooms home, cleaned and cooked them. Then they ate one, 4-ounce serving of mushrooms each day during the experiment.


Through blood tests before and after the experiment, researchers saw better-functioning gamma delta T-cells and reductions in inflammatory proteins.


"If you eat a shiitake mushroom every day, you could see changes in their immune system that are beneficial," said Percival, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member. "We're enhancing the immune system, but we're also reducing the inflammation that the immune system produces."


To be eligible for the study, participants could not be vegans or vegetarians. They also could not drink tea, take antioxidant supplements or probiotics before the study. They also could not consume more than 14 glasses of alcoholic beverages per week or eat more than seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day during the experiment.


Percival explained the dietary restrictions as follows: Fiber, tea and probiotics help the body's immune system, so researchers didn't want to start with people who already had a strong immune system. Additionally, that much alcohol could suppress immunity, she said.


The study was published  in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.



Metabolic changes in fat tissue in obesity associated with adverse health effects

University of Helsinki (Finland), April 9, 2021

Researchers at the Obesity Research Unit of the University of Helsinki have found that obesity clearly reduces mitochondrial gene expression in fat tissue, or adipose tissue. Mitochondria are important cellular powerplants which process all of our energy intake. If the pathways associated with breaking down nutrients are lazy, the changes can often have health-related consequences.

A total of 49 pairs of identical twins discordant for body weight participated in the study conducted at the University of Helsinki: their body composition and metabolism were studied in detail, and biopsies from adipose and muscle tissue were collected. Multiple techniques for analysing the genome-wide gene expression, the proteome and the metabolome were used in the study. 

The study was recently published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine.

According to the findings, the pathways responsible for mitochondrial metabolism in adipose tissue were greatly reduced by obesity. Since mitochondria are key to cellular energy production, their reduced function can maintain obesity. For the first time, the study also compared the effects of obesity specifically on the mitochondria in muscle tissue in these identical twin pairs: muscle mitochondria too were found to be out of tune, but the change was less distinct than in adipose tissue. 

The study provided strong evidence of a connection between the low performance of adipose tissue mitochondria and a proinflammatory state. Furthermore, the findings indicate that metabolic changes in adipose tissue are associated with increased accumulation of fat in the liver, prediabetic disorders of glucose and insulin metabolism as well as cholesterol.

"If mitochondria, the cellular powerplants, are compared to the engine of a car, you could say that the power output decreases as weight increases. A low-powered mitochondrial engine may also generate toxic exhaust fumes, which can cause a proinflammatory state in adipose tissue and, consequently, the onset of diseases associated with obesity," says Professor Kirsi Pietiläinen from the Obesity Research Unit, University of Helsinki.

"What was surprising was that the mitochondrial pathways in muscle had no association with these adverse health effects," Pietiläinen adds.

Obesity also affected amino acid metabolism

In the study, changes in mitochondrial function were also seen in amino acid metabolism. The metabolism of branched-chain amino acids, which are essential to humans, was weakened in the mitochondria of both adipose tissue and muscle tissue.

"This finding was of particular significance because the reduced breakdown of these amino acids and the resulting heightened concentration in blood have also been directly linked with prediabetic changes and the accumulation of liver fat in prior twin studies," says Pietiläinen.

Obesity, with its numerous associated diseases, is a common phenomenon that is continuously increasing in prevalence. While lifestyle influence the onset of obesity, genes also have a significant role. 

"Identical twins have the same genes, and their weight is usually fairly similar. In fact, studying twins is the best way to investigate the interplay between genes and lifestyle. In spite of their identical genome, the genes and even mitochondria of twins can function on different activity levels. We utilised this characteristic in our study when looking into the effects of weight on tissue function," Pietiläinen says.



Research suggests selenium supplementation may extend lifespan

Orentreich Foundation for the Advancement of Science (Cold Spring), April 12, 2021


Adding the nutrient selenium to diets protects against obesity and provides metabolic benefits to mice, according to a study published in eLife.

The results could lead to interventions that reproduce many of the anti-aging effects associated with dietary restriction while also allowing people to eat as normal.

Several types of diet have been shown to increase healthspan - that is, the period of healthy lifespan. One of the proven methods of increasing healthspan in many organisms, including non-human mammals, is to restrict dietary intake of an amino acid called methionine.

Recent studies have suggested that the effects of methionine restriction on healthspan are likely to be conserved in humans. Although it might be feasible for some people to practice methionine restriction, for example, by adhering to a vegan diet, such a diet might not be practical or desirable for everyone. In the current study, a research team from the Orentreich Foundation for the Advancement of Science(OFAS), Cold Spring, New York, US, aimed to develop an intervention that produces the same effects as methionine restriction, while also allowing an individual to eat a normal, unrestricted diet.

An important clue for developing such a treatment is that methionine restriction causes a decrease in the amounts of an energy-regulating hormone called IGF-1. If a treatment could be found that causes a similar decrease in IGF-1, this might also have beneficial effects on healthspan. Previous research has shown that selenium supplementation reduces the levels of circulating IGF-1 in rats, suggesting that this could be an ideal candidate.

The team first studied whether selenium supplementation offered the same protection against obesity as methionine restriction. They fed young male and older female mice one of three high-fat diets: a control diet containing typical amounts of methionine, a methionine-restricted diet, and a diet containing typical amounts of methionine as well as a source of selenium. For both male and female mice of any age, the authors found that selenium supplementation completely protected against the dramatic weight gain and fat accumulation seen in mice fed the control diet, and to the same extent as restricting methionine.

Next, they explored the effects of the three diets on physiological changes normally associated with methionine restriction. To do this, they measured the amounts of four metabolic markers in blood samples from the previously treated mice. As hoped, they found dramatically reduced levels of IGF-1 in both male and female mice. They also saw reductions in the levels of the hormone leptin, which controls food intake and energy expenditure. Their results indicate that selenium supplementation produces most, if not all, of the hallmarks of methionine restriction, which suggests that this intervention may have a similar positive effect on healthspan.

To gain insight into the beneficial effects of selenium supplementation, the researchers used a different organism - yeast. The two most widely used measurements of healthspan in yeast are chronological lifespan, which tells us how long dormant yeast remain viable, and replicative lifespan, which measures the number of times a yeast cell can produce new offspring. The team previously showed that methionine restriction increases the chronological lifespan of yeast, so they tested whether selenium supplementation might do the same. As it turned out, yeast grown under selenium-supplemented conditions had a 62% longer chronological lifespan (from 13 days to 21 days) and a replicative lifespan extended by nine generations as compared with controls. This demonstrates that supplementing yeast with selenium produces benefits to healthspan detectable by multiple tests of cell aging.

“One of the major goals of aging research is to identify simple interventions that promote human healthspan,” notes senior author Jay Johnson, Senior Scientist at OFAS. “Here we present evidence that short-term administration of either organic or inorganic sources of selenium provides multiple health benefits to mice, the most notable of which being the prevention of diet-induced obesity. In the long term, we expect that supplementation with these compounds will also prevent age-related disease and extend the overall survival of mice. It is our hope that many of the benefits observed for mice will also hold true for humans.”



Adherence to Mediterranean Diet Is Associated With Lung Function in Older Adults

Kapodistrian University (Greece), April 3, 2021

Objective: The aim of this work was to examine the association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet (MD) and lung function in older adults.

Design: This was an observational and cross-sectional study.

Setting: This research was conducted among community-dwelling older adults from the 2014 Health and Retirement Study (HRS).

Subjects: Subjects were 2108 adults aged 50 years or older, 1234 (58.5%) of whom were female.

Measures: Dietary intakes from respondents of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) were used for the current analysis. Adherence to MD was evaluated using the MedDietScore, while lung function was evaluated through peak expiratory flow rate (PEF; l/min). Multiple linear regression and logistic regression were performed, adjusted for potential confounders, to examine the relation between adherence to MD and lung function.

Results: Mean MedDietScore was 28.0 (± 5.0), indicating a moderate adherence to MD. Multiple linear regression showed a significant association between the MedDietScore and lung function (β = 0.072, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.039–0.104) after adjusting for age, gender, body mass index, race, comorbidities, education, height, grip strength, smoking history, physical activity, and daily caloric intake. Specific food groups such as grains, dairy products, and fish consumption were also associated with PEF rate (p < 0.05). Logistic regression confirmed these findings, and high adherence to MD was associated with reduced risk of having PEF rate < 80% of its peak predictive value (odds ratio: 0.65, 95% CI: 0.48–0.89).

Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that adherence to MD is an independent predictor of lung function in older adults, and dietary interventions could be a possible preventive measure in adults with a high risk of developing lung function decline.


Leaking calcium in neurons an early sign of Alzheimer's pathology

Yale University, April 9, 2021

Alzheimer's disease is known for its slow attack on neurons crucial to memory and cognition. But why are these particular neurons in aging brains so susceptible to the disease's ravages, while others remain resilient?

A new study led by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine has found that susceptible neurons in the prefrontal cortex develop a "leak" in calcium storage with advancing age, they report April 8 in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association. This disruption of calcium storage in turns leads to accumulation of phosphorylated, or modified, tau proteins which cause the neurofibrillary tangles in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's.

These changes occur slowly, building over many years, and can be seen within neurons in the brains of very old monkeys, the researchers report.

"Altered calcium signaling with advancing age is linked to early-stage tau pathology in the neurons that subserve higher cognition," said corresponding author Amy Arnsten, the Albert E. Kent Professor of Neuroscience and professor of psychology and member of the Kavli Institute of Neuroscience at Yale University.

These vulnerable neurons face another problem. As they age, they tend to lose a key regulator of calcium signaling, a protein called calbindin, which protects neurons from calcium overload, and is abundant in the neurons of younger individuals.

"With age, these neurons face a double whammy, with an excessive calcium leak that initiates toxic actions, as well as diminished levels of the protectant, calbindin," said Arnsten.

Neurons in the prefrontal cortex require relatively high levels of calcium to perform their cognitive operations, but the calcium must be tightly regulated. However, as regulation is lost with increasing age, neurons become susceptible to tau pathology and degeneration. Essentially, neurons "eat" themselves from within.

"Understanding these early pathological changes may provide strategies to slow or prevent disease progression," Arnsten said.



Magic mushroom compound performs at least as well as leading antidepressant medication in small study


Imperial College London, April 14, 2021


Psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, may be at least as effective as a leading antidepressant medication in a therapeutic setting.

This is the finding of a study carried out by researchers at the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.

In the most rigorous trial to date assessing the therapeutic potential of a ‘psychedelic’ compound, researchers compared two sessions of psilocybin therapy with a six-week course of a leading antidepressant (a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor called escitalopram) in 59 people with moderate-to-severe depression.

The results, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that while depression scores were reduced in both groups, the reductions occurred more quickly in the psilocybin group and were greater in magnitude.

However, the researchers caution that the main comparison between psilocybin and the antidepressant was not statistically significant. They add that larger trials with more patients over a longer period are needed to show if psilocybin can perform as well as, or more effectively than an established antidepressant.

For the psilocybin dosing sessions, volunteers received an oral dose of the drug in a specialist clinical setting, while they listened to a curated music playlist and were guided through their experiences by a psychological support team, which included registered psychiatrists. All volunteers on the study received the same level of psychological support.

People treated with psilocybin – named ‘COMP360’ by its developers, COMPASS Pathways PLC – showed marked improvements across a range of subjective measures, including in their ability to feel pleasure, and express emotions, greater reductions in anxiety and suicidal ideation, and increased feelings of wellbeing.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial, who designed and led the study, said: “These results comparing two doses of psilocybin therapy with 43 daily doses of one of the best performing SSRI antidepressants help contextualise psilocybin’s promise as a potential mental health treatment. Remission rates were twice as high in the psilocybin group than the escitalopram group.

“One of the most important aspects of this work is that people can clearly see the promise of properly delivered psilocybin therapy by viewing it compared with a more familiar, established treatment in the same study. Psilocybin performed very favourably in this head-to-head.”



During the study, 59 volunteers with moderate-to-severe depression received either a high dose of psilocybin and a placebo, or a very low dose of psilocybin and escitalopram. 

In the psilocybin arm of the trial, 30 people received an initial dose of psilocybin (25mg) at the start of the study, followed by a second dose (25mg) three weeks later. They were given six weeks of daily placebo capsules to take: one per day after the first dosing session, increasing to two per day after the second dosing session.  

In the escitalopram arm of the study, 29 people received 1mg psilocybin at the dosing sessions – a dose so low as to be classed as a non-active and unlikely to have an effect. They were also given six weeks of daily escitalopram: one 10mg capsule per day after the first dosing session, increasing to two per day after the second dosing session (20mg per day) – the maximum dose for this SSRI. 

All participants were assessed using standardised scales of depressive symptom severity. The main measure, the QIDS-SR-16, was used to gauge depressive symptoms on a continuous scale ranging from 0-27, where higher scores indicate greater depression. At the start of the trial, the mean score was 14.5 for the psilocybin group. But after six weeks, scores reduced by an average of 8.0 points.

Response, defined as a reduction in depression scores from baseline of at least 50%, was seen in 70% of people in the psilocybin group, compared with 48% in the escitalopram group. In addition, remission of symptoms – measured as a score of 0-5 at week six – was seen in 57% of the psilocybin group, compared with just 28% in the escitalopram group.



The team highlights that while the findings are generally positive, the absence of a straight placebo group and the small number of participants limits conclusions about the effect of either treatment alone. They add that the trial sample was comprised of largely white, majority male, and relatively well-educated individuals, which limits extrapolations to more diverse populations. 

The psilocybin group reported fewer cases of dry mouth, anxiety, drowsiness and sexual dysfunction than the escitalopram group, and a similar rate of adverse events overall. Headaches experienced one day after dosing sessions were the most common side effect of psilocybin.

Dr Rosalind Watts, clinical lead of  the trial and formerly based at the Centre for Psychedelic Research, said: “Context is crucial for these studies and all volunteers received therapy during and after their psilocybin sessions. Our team of therapists were on hand to offer full support through sometimes difficult emotional experiences."

Professor David Nutt, principal investigator on the study and the Edmond J Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial, said: “These findings provide further support for the growing evidence base that shows that in people with depression, psilocybin offers an alternative treatment to traditional antidepressants.

“In our study, psilocybin worked faster than escitalopram and was well tolerated, with a very different adverse effects profile. We look forward to further trials, which if positive should lead to psilocybin becoming a licensed medicine.”



Magnesium has key role in keeping body clocks running on time

University of Edinburgh, April 13, 2021


An essential mineral in our diets has an unexpected role in helping living things remain adapted to the rhythms of night and day, scientists have found.


Magnesium - a nutrient found in many foods - helps control how cells keep their own form of time to cope with the natural environmental cycle of day and night.


The discovery in cells is expected to be linked to whole body clocks which influence daily cycles - or circadian rhythms - of sleeping and waking, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions in people. The surprising discovery may aid the development of chronotherapy - treatment scheduled according to time of day - in people, and the development of new crop varieties with increased yields or adjustable harvesting seasons.


Experiments in three major types of biological organisms - human cells, algae, and fungi - found in each case that levels of magnesium in cells rise and fall in a daily cycle.


Scientists found that this oscillation was critical to sustain the 24-hour clock in cells. They were surprised to discover that it also had an enormous impact on metabolism in cells - how fast cells can convert nutrients into energy - throughout the course of a day.


Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge used molecular analysis to find that concentrations of magnesium rose and fell in a 24-hour cycle in all cell types, and that this impacts on the cells' internal clocks.


Further tests showed that magnesium levels were linked to the cells' ability to burn energy. It was already known that magnesium is essential to help living things convert food into fuel, but scientists were surprised to discover that it also controls when this biological function takes place, and how efficiently.


Dr Gerben van Ooijen, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: "Internal clocks are fundamental to all living things. They influence many aspects of health and disease in our own bodies, but equally in crop plants and micro-organisms. It is now essential to find out how these fundamentally novel observations translate to whole tissue or organisms, to make us better equipped to influence them in complex organisms for future medical and agricultural purposes."


The study's other senior author, Dr John O'Neill of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, said: "Although the clinical relevance of magnesium in various tissues is beginning to garner more attention, how magnesium regulates our body's internal clock and metabolism has simply not been considered before. The new discovery could lead to a whole range of benefits spanning human health to agricultural productivity.



Exercise promotes healthy living and a healthy liver

Researchers show that in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, regimented exercise has beneficial effects on the liver that are unrelated to weight loss and reveal the mechanisms underlying these benefits

University of Tsukuba (Japan), April 12, 2021

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disorder worldwide, affecting as much as a quarter of humanity. It is characterized by fat accumulation in liver cells and may progress to inflammation, cirrhosis and liver failure. Now, researchers at the University of Tsukuba reveal the positive effects, beyond the expected weight-loss benefit, of exercise on the liver. 

NAFLD is associated with unhealthy behaviors such as overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. In Japan 41% of middle-aged men have NAFLD and 25% will progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatic dysfunction.

Weight reduction is fundamental to NAFLD management. Unfortunately, achieving a targeted bodyweight without supervision is difficult, and maintaining this over time even more so. Hitherto, exercise was considered adjunctive to dietary restrictions for weight loss but the other benefits such as reduced hepatic steatosis (fatty change) and stiffness are being increasingly recognized. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear.

"We compared data from obese Japanese men with NAFLD on a 3-month exercise regimen with those on dietary restriction targeting weight loss," senior author Professor Junichi Shoda explains. "We tracked hepatic parameters, reduction in adipose tissue, increase in muscle strength, reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress, changes in organokine concentrations, and expression of target genes of Nrf2, an oxidative stress sensor."

The researchers found that exercise preserved muscle mass better, though with modest decrease of body and fat mass. Remarkably, ultrasound elastography revealed that the exercise regimen reduced liver steatosis by an additional 9.5%, liver stiffness by an additional 6.8%, and the FibroScan-AST Score (a measure of liver fibrosis) by an additional 16.4% over the weight-loss regimen.

Additionally, the exercise regimen altered the circulating concentrations of specific organokines and apparently induced anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress responses through activation of the Nrf2 (nuclear factor E2-related factor 2), an oxidative stress sensor. It also enhanced the phagocytic capacity of Kupffer cells which help maintain liver function.

Professor Shoda explains the relevance of their findings. "Our research shows how exercise prevents liver steatosis and fibrosis in NAFLD and clarifies that this benefit is compounded by preservation of muscle mass and is independent of weight changes. Patients on exercise regimens may become demotivated and drop out if they do not experience significant weight loss. Therefore, moderate to vigorous intensity exercise should be integrated in all NAFLD therapeutic regimens, and patients at risk for NASH should be encouraged to persevere with moderate to high intensity exercise regardless of whether or not they lose weight."

April 15, 2021  
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April 14, 2021  



Study identifies specific antioxidants that may reduce oncogenic HPV infection in women

Louisiana State University, April 12, 2021

A study led by Hui-Yi Lin, Ph.D., Professor of Biostatistics, and a team of researchers at LSU Health New Orleans Schools of Public Health and Medicine has found that adequate levels of five antioxidants may reduce infection with the strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) associated with cervical cancer development. Findings are published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Although previous studies have suggested that the onset of HPV-related cancer development may be activated by oxidative stress, the association had not been clearly understood. This study evaluated associations between 15 antioxidants and vaginal HPV infection status -- no, low-risk, and oncogenic/high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) -- in 11,070 women aged 18-59 who participated in the 2003-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. 

Study results showed that lower levels of serum albumin and four dietary antioxidants - vitamins A, B2, E, and folate -- were associated with a higher risk of HR-HPV infection. Albumin is the most bountiful circulating protein in plasma, and decreased serum albumin was found to be associated with increased systemic inflammation and impaired immune response. Based on the four dietary antioxidants, the researchers developed a nutritional antioxidant score. 

"Our results showed that the women with the lowest quartile of the nutritional antioxidant score had a higher chance of both high-risk and low-risk HPV infection compared with the women with the highest quartile score after adjusting for other factors such as age, race, smoking, alcohol, and the number of sexual partners in past 12 months," notes the paper's lead author Hui-Yi Lin, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health. 

Human Papillomavirus is a well-known risk factor for cervical cancer, which is the fourth most common female cancer and contributed to 7.5% of cancer deaths for women worldwide in 2018. Certain HPV strains are more likely to trigger precursor events leading to cancer development. These strains are called oncogenic or high-risk [HR] HPV strains. Almost all cervical cancers are directly linked to previous infection with one or more HR-HPV infections.

"Currently, there is no effective antiviral therapy to clear genital HPV infection," adds Dr. Lin. "It is important to identify modifiable factors, such as antioxidants, associated with oncogenic HPV infection in order to prevent HPV carcinogenesis onset."



Exercise benefit in breast cancer linked to improved immune responses

Tumors grew more slowly and responded better to immunotherapy in mice that exercised compared with sedentary mice.

Massachusetts General Hospital, April 12, 2021

Exercise training may slow tumor growth and improve outcomes for females with breast cancer - especially those treated with immunotherapy drugs - by stimulating naturally occurring immune mechanisms, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) have found.

Tumors in mouse models of human breast cancer grew more slowly in mice put through their paces in a structured aerobic exercise program than in sedentary mice, and the tumors in exercised mice exhibited an increased anti-tumor immune response. 

"The most exciting finding was that exercise training brought into tumors immune cells capable of killing cancer cells known as cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CD8+ T cells) and activated them. With more of these cells, tumors grew more slowly in mice that performed exercise training," says co-corresponding author Dai Fukumura, MD, PhD, deputy director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories in the Department of Radiation Oncology at MGH.

As Fukumura and colleagues report in the journal Cancer Immunology Research , the beneficial effects of exercise training are dependent on CD8+ T cells; when the researchers depleted these cells in mice, tumors in mice that exercised no longer grew at a slower rate.

They also found evidence that recruitment of CD8+ T cells to tumors was dependent on two chemical recruiters (chemokines) labeled CXCL9 and CXCL11. Levels of these chemokines were increased in mice that exercised, and mice that were genetically engineered to lack the receptor (docking site) for these chemokines did not recruit CD8+ T cells and did not have an anti-tumor benefit.

"Humans whose tumors have higher levels of CD8+ T cells tend to have a better prognosis, respond better to treatment, and have reduced risk of cancer recurrence compared with patients whose tumors have lower levels of the immune cells, effects that were echoed by a reduced incidence of metastasis, or spread, of the cancers in mice that exercised," says co-corresponding author Rakesh K. Jain, PhD, director of the Steele Labs at MGH and Andrew Werk Cook Professor of Radiation Oncology at HMS.

CD8+ T cells are also essential for the success of drugs known as immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as Keytruda (pembrolizumab), Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab), which have revolutionized therapy for many types of cancer, but have to date had only limited success in breast cancer. The researchers found that exercise-trained mice displayed a much better response to immune checkpoint blockade, while the drugs did not work at all in sedentary mice. 

"We showed that daily sessions of a moderate-to-vigorous intensity, continuous aerobic exercise training, lasting 30-45 minutes per session, induces a profound reprogramming of the tumor microenvironment that rewires tumor immunity, recruiting and activating CD8+ T cells to an unprecedented level with a non-pharmacological approach. Similar exercise training could be prescribed to a patient referred to an exercise oncology program," says Igor L. Gomes-Santos, PhD, lead author and exercise physiologist and post-doctoral fellow in the Steele Labs.

He notes that current clinical guidelines focus on general wellness, improved fitness levels and quality of life, but not necessarily on improved cancer treatment, especially immunotherapy, and that this lack of evidence limits its application in clinical practice.

More convincing, mechanism-based data are needed to motivate oncologists to discuss exercise training with their patients, to motivate patients to become more active and to expand implementation of outpatient exercise oncology programs, the investigators say.



Higher dietary total antioxidant capacity associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment

National University of Singapore, April 12 2021. 


The results of a study reported on April 7, 2021 in The Journals of Gerontology® Series A revealed a lower risk of cognitive impairment among older individuals who consumed more antioxidants.

The study included 16,703 participants in the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which enrolled men and women aged 45 to 74 years between April 1993 and December 1998. Questionnaires completed upon enrollment provided information concerning dietary and supplement intake that was evaluated for antioxidant content using the Comprehensive Dietary Antioxidant Index and the Vitamin C Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity. Disease status and lifestyle factors were updated during follow-up visits conducted every five to six years. Cognitive function was evaluated 20.2 years after the beginning of the study.

Cognitive impairment was detected among 14.3% of the participants. Among those whose Comprehensive Dietary Antioxidant Index Scores placed them among the top 25% of participants, the risk of having developed cognitive impairment was 16% lower than that of participants among the lowest 25%. Those whose Vitamin C Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity was among the top 25% experienced a risk that was 25% lower. When antioxidant nutrients were individually analyzed, greater daily intake of vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids and flavonoids was associated with a reduction in the risk of cognitive impairment. Among carotenoids, alpha carotene and beta cryptoxanthin were found to be protective and among flavonoids, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavones and flavonols were associated with lower risk.

“These findings suggested that higher total antioxidant capacity of midlife diet was associated with lower odds of cognitive impairment in later life,” authors Li-Ting Sheng and colleagues concluded. “The generalizability of results to other populations remains to be confirmed, and future studies with repeated measures of dietary variables and cognitive functions are still needed.



Beneficial effect of quercetin on ovalbumin-induced rhinitis

Xian Jiao-tong University (China), April 8, 2021

According to news reporting originating in Shaanxi, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease, characterized by reversible goblet cells, smooth muscle hyperplasia, airflow obstruction, hyperactivity enhanced, ultra-structural remodeling, and airway mucus production. The current experimental study was aimed at scrutinizing quercetin’s inhibitory effect on airway inflammation in mice and its possible mechanism of action.”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Xi’an Jiaotong University, “The mice received varying doses of quercetin from 22-30 days (1, 10 and 50 mg / kg, p.o.) and montelukast (10 mg / kg, p.o.). Intranasal OVA has been instilled on the 21 days. Biochemical parameters, spleen weight, physiological parameters, interleukin (IL-113 and IL-6) parameters and immunoglobin-E (IgE) were calculated at the end of the experimental study. To investigate the potential mechanism of action, Paw edema and mast cell de granulation are estimated. Used to measure immune and inflammatory mediators, qRT-PCR technique. Quercetin significantly (P <0.001) reduced IgE levels in the asthma mice serum. Inflammatory cells in the mice BALF are significantly reduced in a dose-dependent manner through quercetin. Quercetin (P <0.05) significantly reduced the level of TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-4 and IL-5 cytokines and increased the level of IFN-pi in allergic asthma mice caused by OVA. In contrast, there was no significant effect in the body weight of mice treated with quercetin.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Based on the result, we may infer that quercetin demonstrates an inflammatory mechanism for the therapeutic effect of inflammation in allergic asthma.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.



Fighting dementia with play

ETZ Zurich (Switzerland), April 9, 2021

A dementia diagnosis turns the world upside down, not only for the person affected but also for their relatives, as brain function gradually declines. Those affected lose their ability to plan, remember things or behave appropriately. At the same time, their motor skills also deteriorate. Ultimately, dementia patients are no longer able to handle daily life alone and need comprehensive care. In Switzerland alone, more than 150,000 people share this fate, and each year a further 30,000 new cases are diagnosed.

To date, all attempts to find a drug to cure this disease have failed. Dementia, including Alzheimer's - the most common of several forms of dementia - remains incurable. However, a clinical study carried out in Belgium with the involvement of ETH researcher Eling de Bruin has now shown for the first time that cognitive motor training improves both the cognitive and physical skills of significantly impaired dementia patients. A fitness game, known as "Exergame", developed by the ETH spin-off Dividat was used in the study. 

Better cognitive ability thanks to training

In 2015, a team of scientists led by ETH researcher Patrick Eggenberger showed that older people who train both body and mind simultaneously demonstrate better cognitive performance and can thereby also prevent cognitive impairment (as reported by ETH News). However, this study was carried out on healthy subjects only. 

"It has been suspected for some time that physical and cognitive training also have a positive effect on dementia," explains de Bruin, who worked with Eggenberger at the Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport at ETH Zurich. "However, in the past it has been difficult to motivate dementia patients to undertake physical activity over extended periods." 

ETH spin-off combines exercise and fun

With a view to changing this, Eva van het Reve, a former ETH doctoral student, founded the ETH spin-off Dividat in 2013 together with her PhD supervisor Eling de Bruin and another doctoral student. "We wanted to devise a customised training programme that would improve the lives of older people," says van het Reve. Fun exercises were developed in order to encourage people who were already experiencing physical and cognitive impairments to participate in training, and the Senso training platform was born.

The platform consists of a screen with the game software and a floor panel with four fields that measure steps, weight displacement and balance. The users attempt to complete a sequence of movements with their feet as indicated on the screen, enabling them to train both physical movement and cognitive function simultaneously. The fact that the fitness game is also fun makes it easier to motivate the subjects to practice regularly.

Eight weeks' training for dementia patients

An international team led by Nathalie Swinnen, a doctoral student at KU Leuven, and co-supervised by ETH researcher de Bruin, recruited 45 subjects for the study. The subjects were residents of two Belgian care homes, aged 85 years on average at the time of the study and all with severe dementia symptoms. 

"The participants were divided into two groups on a random basis," explains de Bruin. "The first group trained for 15 minutes with the Dividat Senso three times a week for eight weeks, while the second group listened to and watched music videos of their choice." Following the eight-week training programme, the physical, cognitive and mental capacity of all subjects was measured in comparison with the start of the study. 

Regular play has an effect

The results offer hope to dementia patients and their relatives: training with this machine indeed enhanced cognitive skills, such as attention, concentration, memory and orientation. "For the first time, there's hope that through targeted play we will be able not only to delay but also weaken the symptoms of dementia," emphasises de Bruin. 

It is particularly striking that the control group deteriorated further over the eight-week period, while significant improvements were recorded in the training group. "These highly encouraging results are in line with the expectation that dementia patients are more likely to deteriorate without training," adds de Bruin.

But playful training not only has a positive impact on cognitive ability - researchers were also able to measure positive effects on physical capability, such as reaction time. After just eight weeks, the subjects in the training group reacted significantly more quickly, while the control group deteriorated. This is encouraging in that the speed with which older people respond to impulses is critical in determining whether they can to avoid a fall. 

A better understanding of brain processes

The research group led by de Bruin is currently working on replicating the results of this pilot study with people with mild cognitive impairment - a precursor of dementia. The aim is to use MRI scans to investigate more closely the neural processes in the brain responsible for the cognitive and physical improvement.



Maple syrup protects neurons and nurtures young minds

University of Montreal (Quebec), April 13, 2021

 Catherine Aaron and Gabrielle Beaudry were 17 when they knocked on the door of the laboratory of Alex Parker, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). While students at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, they were looking for a mentor for an after-school research project. Two and half years later, the results of this scientific adventure were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

"We wanted to test the effect of a natural product on a neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer's. Professor Parker had already discovered that sugar prevents the occurrence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in an animal model of the disease, the C. elegans worm. That's how we got the idea of maple syrup, a natural sugar produced in Quebec," said Beaudry.

Supervised by PhD student Martine Therrien and Alex Parker, Aaron and Beaudry added maple syrup to the diet of these barely 1 mm-long nematodes. "We just gave them a supplement of maple syrup at various concentrations and compared with a control group that had a normal diet," said Aaron. "After twelve days, we counted under the microscope the worms that were moving and those that were paralyzed. The worms that had consumed the highest dose of syrup were much less likely to be paralyzed."

Alex Parker's C. elegans worms are genetically modified to express a protein involved in ALS in motor neurons - TDP-43. "When they are adults, around 12 days, their motor neurons break down. Normally, at two weeks of life, 50% of the worms are completely paralyzed. But among those that received a diet enriched with 4% maple syrup, only 17% were paralyzed. We can therefore conclude that maple syrup protects neurons and prevents the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in C. elegans worms," said Parker, a researcher at the CRCHUM and professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal.

How can we explain this dramatic effect? "Sugar is good for the nervous system. Diseased neurons require more energy to combat toxic proteins. But maple syrup is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants found in certain foods. We isolated phenols contained in the maple syrup, and we showed that two polyphenols in particular, gallic acid and catechol, have a neuroprotective effect. In pure maple syrup, these polyphenols are found in low concentrations. Probably a combination of sugar and polyphenols prevents the occurrence of the disease in worms," said Therrien, a PhD student at the CRCHUM.

But don't go ahead and gorge yourself on maple syrup thinking it'll protect you against neurological diseases! "The life expectancy of C. elegans worms is only three weeks. They are spared the long-term toxic effects of sugar. Humans who consume comparable amounts of sugar risk developing chronic diseases such Type 2 diabetes and obesity," cautioned Parker.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rare neuromuscular disease that causes paralysis and death a few years after the onset of symptoms. So far, no cure is available for patients. This latest study on maple syrup and the C. elegans worm was conducted for educational purposes. Other studies by Alex Parker with C. elegans have led to the discovery of promising drugs, which will be tested in patients in a few years.


Profound loss of pleasure related to early-onset dementia


University of Sydney, April 12, 2021



- Loss of pleasure has been revealed as a key feature in early-onset dementia (FTD), in contrast to Alzheimer's disease.

- Scans showed grey matter deterioration in the so-called pleasure system of the brain.

- These regions were distinct from those implicated in depression or apathy - suggesting a possible treatment target.


People with early-onset dementia are often mistaken for having depression and now Australian research has discovered the cause: a profound loss of ability to experience pleasure - for example a delicious meal or beautiful sunset - related to degeneration of 'hedonic hotspots' in the brain where pleasure mechanisms are concentrated.

The University of Sydney-led research revealed marked degeneration, or atrophy, in frontal and striatal areas of the brain related to diminished reward-seeking, in patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). 

The researchers believe it is the first study to demonstrate profound anhedonia - the clinical definition for a loss of ability to experience pleasure - in people with FTD. 

Anhedonia is also common in people with depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder and can be particularly disabling for the individual. 

In the study, patients with FTD - which generally affects people aged 40-65 - displayed a dramatic decline from pre-disease onset, in contrast to patients with Alzheimer's disease, who were not found to show clinically significant anhedonia. 

The results point to the importance of considering anhedonia as a primary presenting feature of FTD, where researchers found neural drivers in areas that are distinct from apathy or depression.

The findings were published today in the leading neuroscience journal, Brain.

The paper's senior author, Professor Muireann Irish from the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Centre and School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science, said despite increasing evidence of motivational disturbances, no study had previously explored the capacity to experience pleasure in people with FTD.

"Much of human experience is motivated by the drive to experience pleasure but we often take this capacity for granted. 

"But consider what it might be like to lose the capacity to enjoy the simple pleasures of life - this has stark implications for the wellbeing of people affected by these neurodegenerative disorders.

"Our findings also reflect the workings of a complex network of regions in the brain, signaling potential treatments," said Professor Irish, who also recently published a paper in Brain about moral reasoning in FTD.

"Future studies will be essential to address the impact of anhedonia on everyday activities, and to inform the development of targeted interventions to improve quality of life in patients and their families."

April 13, 2021  

Research suggests quercetin can alleviate pulmonary arterial hypertension by regulating inflammatory cytokines

Zhejiang Provincial People’ s Hospital (China), April 9, 2021


According to news reporting originating in Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “This study aimed to investigate the effects of quercetin in the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in a murine model. Thirty-six adult male rats were randomly divided into three groups: the control group (saline), monocrotaline (MCT) - induced PAH group (MCT group) and quercetin treatment group (prevention group).”

The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Zhejiang Provincial People’ s Hospital, “After modelling, the animals from prevention group received 100 mg/(kg bw/day quercetin by gavage and the gavage for 20 days, while the animals from the other two groups received the same amount of 0.9% sodium chloride saline solution. The mean pulmonary artery pressure, right ventricular index and relative expression levels of HIF-1 (hypoxia-inducible factor 1), ET-1(vascular endothelin-1), TGF-beta 1 (transforming growth factor-beta 1), VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), IL-1 (interleukin-1), IL-6 (interleukin-6) and TNF-alpha (tumour necrosis factor alpha) in lung tissues significantly increased in MCT group compared with the control group, 21 days after modelling. The levels of HGF (hepatocyte growth factor) and NAC (N-acetyl-L-cysteine) significantly increased compared with the control group. The treatment with quercetin significantly decreased the level of mean PAH, right ventricular index and relative expression levels of H1F-1, ET-1, TGF-beta 1, VEGF, IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-alpha in lung tissues compared with MCT group and significantly decreased the levels of HGF and NAC. In vitro experiment with PCEC (pulmonary capillary endothelial cells) from the three groups showed that in the MCT group the cell proliferation was significantly decreased and the apoptosis was significantly increased compared with the control group, while the quercetin treatment inhibited the MCT-induced cell apoptosis and promoted cell proliferation.”

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Quercetin can alleviate PAH by regulating the inflammatory cytokines, promoting cell proliferation and inhibition of cell apoptosis.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.




Intermittent fasting shown to provide broad range of health benefits in new study

Texas State University, April 7, 2021

Intermittent fasting may provide significant health benefits, including improved cardiometabolic health, improved blood chemistry and reduced risk for diabetes, new research conducted in part at Texas State University indicates. 

Matthew McAllister, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, co-authored the study with Liliana Renteria, graduate research assistant in the Department of Health and Human Performance, along with Brandon Pigg and Hunter Waldman of the Department of Kinesiology at Mississippi State University. Their research, "Time-restricted feeding improves markers of Cardiometabolic health in physically active college-age men: A 4-week randomized pre-post pilot study," is published in the journal Nutrition Research (

"What we are doing is time-restricted feeding. It is a way to use fasting each day to promote various aspects of cardiometabolic health," McAllister said. 

Time-restricted feeding (TRF) has been shown to improve body composition and blood lipids, as well as reduce markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. However, those results originated from rodent models and studies with small human samples. In the Texas State study, 22 men were divided into two groups to complete a 28-day study. Subjects ate daily during one eight-hour period, for example, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or between noon and 8 p.m. For 16 hours of the day, they did not eat or drink anything other than water. 

While both groups underwent TRF, one group's caloric intake was controlled during meal periods to ensure they ate the same amount as before the study, while members of the other group were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. 

"My initial thought was that if you are going to restrict the time, you would eat fewer calories. And the reduction of daily calories would cause weight loss and other health benefits," McAllister said. "But these benefits are found with no change in caloric intake—things like loss in body fat, reduced blood pressure, reduced inflammation.”

Fasting blood samples were analyzed for glucose and lipids, as well as adiponectin, human growth hormone, insulin, cortisol, c-reactive protein, superoxide dismutase, total nitrate/nitrite and glutathione. Results showed that both groups experienced significant reductions in body fat, blood pressure and significant increases in adiponectin and HDL-c. No change in caloric intake was detected among members of either group.



The COVID-19 pandemic has been linked with six unhealthy eating behaviors

University of Minnesota Medical School, April 12, 2021

A new probe into the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed correlations to six unhealthy eating behaviors, according to a study by the University of Minnesota Medical School and School of Public Health. Researchers say the most concerning finding indicates a slight increase or the re-emergence of eating disorders, which kill roughly 10,200 people every year -- about one person every 52 minutes.

U of M Medical School's Melissa Simone, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, collaborated with School of Public Health professor and head of the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, to learn from study participants in Neumark-Sztainer's Project EATbetween April and May 2020.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the rapid implementation of public health policies to reduce transmission of the virus. While these protections are necessary, the disruptions to daily life associated with the ongoing pandemic may have significant negative consequences for the risk of eating disorders and symptoms," said Simone, who is the lead author of the study. "Eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates across all psychiatric health concerns, and therefore, it is important to try to make links between the consequences of the pandemic and disordered eating behaviors.

The study aimed to understand potential associations between stress, psychological distress, financial difficulties and changes in eating behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic through the analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data. Simone's findings, published in theInternational Journal of Eating Disorders, found six key themes of eating behavior changes:

  • Mindless eating and snacking;
  • Increased food consumption;
  • Generalized decrease in appetite or dietary intake;
  • Eating to cope;
  • Pandemic-related reductions in dietary intake;
  • And, a re-emergence or marked increase in eating disorder symptoms.

Approximately 8% of those studied reported extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors, 53% had less extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors and 14% reported binge eating. The study revealed that these outcomes were significantly associated with poorer stress management, greater depressive symptoms and moderate or extreme financial difficulties.

"There has been a lot of focus on obesity and its connection with COVID-19. It is also important to focus on the large number of people who have been engaging in disordered eating and are at risk for eating disorders during and following the pandemic," said Neumark-Sztainer, who is the principal investigator of Project EAT. "The majority of the young adults in our study are from diverse ethnic/racial and lower income backgrounds, who often do not receive the services they need. To ensure health inequities do not increase, we need to meet the needs of these populations."

Simone added, "The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely persist long beyond the dissemination of a vaccine. Because our findings suggest that moderate or severe financial difficulties may be linked with disordered eating behaviors, it is essential that eating disorder preventive interventions and treatment efforts be affordable, easily accessible and widely disseminated to those at heightened risk. As such, online or mobile-based interventions may prove to be effective and accessible modes for targeted intervention efforts."

This study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01HL116892, R35HL139853: Principal Investigator: D. Neumark-Sztainer), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (TL1R002493, UL1TR002494), and the National Institute of Mental Health (T32MH082761).



Ginseng and anti-obesity: Does Asian variety offer greater weight loss hope?

Tennessee State University, April 5, 2021


Studies comparing the differing anti-obesity effects of Asian and American ginseng are urgently needed, it has been claimed, not least because they are thought to have opposite medical effects in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).


Writing in a review in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, scientists from Tennessee State University said a number of investigations had been conducted on ginseng in preventing and treating of obesity.


However, the effect and the relevant mechanisms behind how ginseng works as an anti-obesity treatment are still controversial, they added, and the issue is clouded by the differing uses of American and Asian ginseng in TCM.


The former is used to treat yin manifestations of Qi (life energy), while the latter tackle yang manifestations. Therefore, Asian ginseng has often been used to help treat, fatigue, poor appetite, diarrhoea, breath shortness, feeble pulse, spontaneous perspiration, febrile diseases, amnesia, insomnia and impotence.


On the other hand, American ginseng is used to treat diseases such as cough, blood sputum, dysphoria, fatigue and thirst.


“Although the potential anti-obesity effect of Asian ginseng has been investigated in mice and humans in Asia in the last several decades, the anti-obesity effect and mechanism of ginseng are still not fully understood, especially in humans,” wrote the researchers. “Moreover, high-quality studies of the effects of ginseng in the United States are rare, particularly whether and how American ginseng prevents obesity is almost blank.”


They said this was area ripe for further investigation, and pointed to their own unpublished data which showed that while Asian ginseng significantly inhibited fat accumulation in 3T3-L1 cells, American ginseng has no such effect at the same concentration (1 mg/ml). They suggest this could be due increased fat accumulation caused by one of the major ginsenosides in American ginseng that is not detectable in Asian ginseng



“The different anti-obesity effect between American ginseng and Asian ginseng may also result from the different profiles of other ginsenosides,” they added.


“There is only one study showing that Asian ginseng extract intake exerted a weight loss effect in obese women,” they wrote. “American ginseng extract or whole plant/berry has not been investigated for anti-obesity in humans. In addition, there is no report using human primary cells investigating the antiobesity effect of ginseng and ginsenosides.”


They argue that standardised ginseng production is sorely needed to overcome the fact that the results of existing studies “are controversial”.


“These controversial results at least partly come from the variety of the quality of ginseng, especially the whole extract and juice. The quantity and composition of ginsenosides in ginseng plants are dramatically influenced by species, age, and part of the plant, cultivation methods, harvesting season, preservation methods and geographical distribution,” they state. “However, almost all ginsenosides or extracts in these studies were prepared in the individual labs or from different companies, it is almost impossible to keep the quality at the same level, particularly the whole extract.”


The authors concluded; “Although Asian and American ginsengs have similar profiles of active ingredients, the different percentage of crude saponins (4.8%–5.2% in Asian ginseng vs. 7.0%–7.3% in American ginseng) and the specific ginsenoside (Rf only in Asian ginseng, F11 only in American ginseng) may contribute to the different functions of these two ginsengs.” “Therefore, it is very important to compare the medical effects using modern scientific approaches.”




Study links prenatal phthalate exposure to altered information processing in infants

University of Illinois, April 6, 2021

Exposure to phthalates, a class of chemicals widely used in packaging and consumer products, is known to interfere with normal hormone function and development in human and animal studies. Now researchers have found evidence linking pregnant women's exposure to phthalates to altered cognitive outcomes in their infants.

Most of the findings involved slower information processing among infants with higher phthalate exposure levels, with males more likely to be affected depending on the chemical involved and the order of information presented to the infants.

Reported in the journal Neurotoxicology, the study is part of the Illinois Kids Development Study, which tracks the effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals on children's physical and behavioral development from birth to middle childhood. Now in its seventh year, IKIDS has enrolled hundreds of participants and is tracking chemical exposures in pregnant women and developmental outcomes in their children. Susan Schantz, a neurotoxicologist and professor emerita of comparative biosciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is the principal investigator of the study. She is a faculty member in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, which houses the IKIDS program at Illinois.

"IKIDS is part of a larger initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes program. It is tracking the impact of prenatal chemical exposures and maternal psychosocial stress on children's growth and development over time," Schantz said. "We measure numerous birth outcomes, including birth weight and gestational age. We also assess infants' cognition by studying their looking behavior. This allows us to get measures of working memory, attention and information-processing speed."

The researchers analyzed metabolites of three commonly occurring phthalates in urine samples regularly collected from the pregnant women in the study. The chemical exposure data were used in combination with assessments of the women's infants when the children were 7.5 months old.

The researchers used a well-established method that gives insight into the reasoning of children too young to express themselves verbally: Infants typically look longer at unfamiliar or unexpected images or events.

The team used an infrared eye-tracker to follow each infant's gaze during several laboratory trials. With the infant sitting on a caregiver's lap, researchers first familiarized the child with two identical images of a face. After the infant learned to recognize the face, the researchers showed that same face paired with an unfamiliar one.

"In repeated trials, half of the 244 infants tested saw one set of faces as familiar, and half learned to recognize a different set of faces as familiar," Schantz said. "By analyzing the time spent looking at the faces, we could determine both the speed with which the infants processed new information and assess their ability to pay attention."

The assessment linked pregnant women's exposure to most of the phthalates that were assessed with slower information processing in their infants, but the outcome depended on the specific chemical, the sex of the infant and which set of faces the infant viewed as familiar. Male infants, in particular, tended to process information more slowly if their mothers had been exposed to higher concentrations of phthalates known to interfere with androgenic hormones.

The specific characteristics of faces presented to the infants in the familiarization trials also appeared to play a role in the outcome, the researchers reported. Phthalate-exposed children who were first familiarized with faces from Set 2 were more likely to experience slower processing speed than those familiarized with faces from Set 1. The finding is perplexing, Schantz said, but is likely related to differences in the infants' preferences for the faces in the two sets. It also may be an indication that familiarization with the Set 2 faces is a more sensitive detector of changes in processing speed related to phthalate exposure.

"Most previous studies of the relationship between prenatal exposure to phthalates and cognition have focused on early and middle childhood," Schantz said. "This new work suggests that some of these associations can be detected much earlier in a child's life."


Heart failure and stroke rising in men under 40

University of Gothenburg (Germany), April 8, 2021

Heart failure and stroke are unusual diagnoses among younger people. But they are now clearly on the rise in men below the age of 40, according to a University of Gothenburg study. The scientists have found links to obesity and low fitness in the upper teens.

The present study, published in Journal of Internal Medicine, includes data on 1,258,432 men who, at an average age of 18.3 years, enlisted for military service in Sweden between 1971 and 1995.

Particulars of the men's weight, height and physical fitness on enlistment were merged with data in the National Board of Health and Welfare's National Patient Register and Cause of Death Register for the period 1991-2016. From when they enlisted, the men were thus monitored over a period exceeding 20 years.

The proportion of participants who were overweight at the time of enlistment, i.e. with a body mass index (BMI) of 25-30, increased from 6.6 to 11.2 percent between 1971 and 1995, while the proportion with obesity (BMI over 30) rose from 1.0 to 2.6 percent. During the same period, their fitness level at the time of enlistment also declined slightly.

"These factors -- that is, overweight, obesity and low fitness -- partly explain the large increase in heart failure we see in the study, and the rise in stroke as well," states David Åberg. An Associate Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and specialist doctor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Åberg is the study's first author.

"It's pleasing to see, despite rising obesity, a fairly sharp fall in heart attacks among these younger men, and also their reduced mortality from cardiovascular diseases," he continues.

Heart-failure cases within 21 years of enlistment rose, according to the study, by 69 percent -- from 0.49 per 1,000 of the men who had enlisted in the first five years (1971-75) to 0.83/1,000 of those who enlisted in the last five (1991-95).

The number of stroke cases -- cerebral infarction and cerebral hemorrhage -- showed a similar trend. The increase for cerebral infarction was 32 percent, from 0.68 for the first five-year cohort to 0.9 per 1,000 for the last. For cerebral hemorrhage the rise was 20 percent, from 0.45 to 0.54 per 1,000.

In contrast, heart attacks within 21 years of enlistment fell by 43 percent, from 1.4 to 0.8 per 1,000, of the cohorts enlisting first and last respectively. The proportion of deaths from all cardiovascular disease also decreased, by 50 percent -- from 1.5 to 0.74 per 1,000.

The fact that the trends for cardiovascular diseases move in differing directions over time suggests that other, unknown factors are involved as well. According to the researchers, post-enlistment weight trends may be one such factor, but stress and drug use may be others. Especially for heart attacks, researchers believe that a sharp fall in smoking underlies the decline. The fact remains, however, that overweight and obesity are influential.

"We see that heart attacks would have decreased even more if it hadn't been for the rise in overweight and obesity. Our results thus provide strong support for thinking that obesity and, to some extent, low fitness by the age of 18 affect early-onset cardiovascular disease. So at societal level, it's important to try to get more physical activity, and to have already established good eating habits by adolescence, while being less sedentary," David Åberg concludes.


Clinical trial shows benefit of yoga for side effects of prostate cancer treatment

University of Pennsylvania, April 7, 2021

Men who attended a structured yoga class twice a week during prostate cancer radiation treatment reported less fatigue and better sexual and urinary function than those who didn't, according to a clinical trial led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It is the first randomized trial to look at the effect of twice-weekly yoga on the side-effects and quality of life issues caused by prostate cancer treatment. The results published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics.

All of the patients in the trial underwent between six and nine weeks of external beam radiation therapy for prostate cancer. The patients were randomized into two groups: one arm participated in a yoga class that met twice a week and the other arm served as a control group. Patients who already practiced yoga on their own were not eligible for the study, nor were patients with a history of prior radiation therapy or those with metastatic disease.

Only two instructors led classes for this study, with the lead instructor teaching 75 percent of the classes. Each session lasted 75 minutes, beginning with five minutes of breathing and centering techniques and ending with five minutes of Savasana, a common yoga position. Typical sessions incorporated sitting, standing, and reclining positions that were modified using props to adapt to each patient's needs and restrictions.

Patients were primarily evaluated on their level of fatigue. Each man filled out a nine-item questionnaire assessing fatigue severity and impact on daily life. The first questionnaire was given between two and three weeks before the start of radiotherapy, then twice a week while receiving radiotherapy, with a final survey filled out within a week of their last yoga class or last radiation treatment, depending on the assigned study arm.

"At their baseline, before patients started treatment, patients in both groups were on the lower end of the scale, meaning they reported lower amounts of fatigue," said the trial's principal investigator Neha Vapiwala, MD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology. "But as treatment went on, we observed a difference in the two groups." Patients in the yoga group reported lower fatigue scores over time, as they attended more yoga sessions, relative to where they started. Patients who did not participate in yoga trended in the opposite direction, reporting greater fatigue as treatment progressed.

"Levels of patient-reported fatigue are expected to increase by around the fourth or fifth week of a typical treatment course, but that did not happen in the yoga group," Vapiwala said. "Both the severity of the fatigue as well as the patients' ability to go about their normal lives appeared to be positively impacted in the yoga group."

Researchers also evaluated both groups in terms of their sexual health. Sexual dysfunction - including but not limited to erectile dysfunction (ED) - is reported by up to 85 percent of radiation therapy patients during treatment, often due to the concurrent use of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). The study utilized the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) questionnaire, in which scores range from 0-25. Scores greater than 21 are considered normal and scores below 12 indicate moderate to severe ED. Both groups started out with scores of around 11, and were balanced in terms of ADT exposure; but while the yoga group's score ended up largely unchanged from baseline, the non-yoga group saw a decline over the course of treatment.

"Yoga is known to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which is one of several postulated theories that may explain why this group did not demonstrate declining scores, as seen in the control group," Vapiwala said. "That may also explain the yoga patients' improved urinary function scores, another finding of this trial." Vapiwala pointed out that the findings on improved or stable urinary function are consistent with other research on the effects of physical therapy on pelvic floor muscles.

The trial also found that while the emotional well-being of both groups increased as patients progressed through treatment, the evaluation scores in the yoga group rose more rapidly than in the control group. An evaluation of physical well-being showed a similar pattern


Spanking may affect the brain development of a child

Study shows it could alter a child's neural responses to their environment in similar ways to a child experiencing more severe violence

Harvard University, April, 12, 2021

Spanking may affect a child's brain development in similar ways to more severe forms of violence, according to a new study led by Harvard researchers. 

The research, published recently in the journal Child Development, builds on existing studies that show heightened activity in certain regions of the brains of children who experience abuse in response to threat cues. 

The group found that children who had been spanked had a greater neural response in multiple regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), including in regions that are part of the salience network. These areas of the brain respond to cues in the environment that tend to be consequential, such as a threat, and may affect decision-making and processing of situations.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

According to the study's authors, corporal punishment has been linked to the development of mental health issues, anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and substance use disorders. And recent studies show that approximately half of parents in U.S. studies reported spanking their children in the past year and one-third in the past week. However, the relationship between spanking and brain activity has not previously been studied. 

McLaughlin and her colleagues--including Jorge Cuartas, first author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and David Weissman, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology's Stress & Development Lab--analyzed data from a large study of children between the ages of three and 11. They focused on 147 children around ages 10 and 11 who had been spanked, excluding children who had also experienced more severe forms of violence. 

Each child lay in an MRI machine and watched a computer screen on which were displayed different images of actors making "fearful" and "neutral" faces. A scanner captured the child's brain activity in response to each kind of face, and those images were analyzed to determine whether the faces sparked different patterns of brain activity in children who were spanked compared to those who were not. 

"On average, across the entire sample, fearful faces elicited greater activation than neutral faces in many regions throughout the brain... and children who were spanked demonstrated greater activation in multiple regions of PFC to fearful relative to neutral faces than children who were never spanked," researchers wrote. 

By contrast, "(t)here were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked."

The findings are in line with similar research conducted on children who had experienced severe violence, suggesting that "while we might not conceptualize corporal punishment to be a form of violence, in terms of how a child's brain responds, it's not all that different than abuse," said McLaughlin. "It's more a difference of degree than of type."

Researchers said the study is a first step towards further interdisciplinary analysis of spanking's potential effects on children's brain development and lived experiences. 

"These findings aligned with the predictions from other perspectives on the potential consequences of corporal punishment," studied in fields such as developmental psychology and social work, said Cuartas. "By identifying certain neural pathways that explain the consequences of corporal punishment in the brain, we can further suggest that this kind of punishment might be detrimental to children and we have more avenues to explore it."

However, they noted that their findings are not applicable to the individual life of each child. 

"It's important to consider that corporal punishment does not impact every child the same way, and children can be resilient if exposed to potential adversities," said Cuartas. "But the important message is that corporal punishment is a risk that can increase potential problems for children's development, and following a precautionary principle, parents and policymakers should work toward trying to reduce its prevalence." 

Ultimately, added McLaughlin, "we're hopeful that this finding may encourage families not to use this strategy, and that it may open people's eyes to the potential negative consequences of corporal punishment in ways they haven't thought of before."

April 12, 2021  

Sufficient vitamin D during gestation and early life can lower susceptibility to allergy in infants

Wageningen University (Netherlands), April 5, 2021


According to news originating from Wageningen, Netherlands, the research stated, “Worldwide, the prevalence of allergies in young children, but also vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and in newborns is rising. Vitamin D modulates the development and activity of the immune system and a low vitamin D status during pregnancy and in early life might be associated with an increased risk to develop an allergy during early childhood.”

Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from Wageningen University and Research: “This review studies the effects of vitamin D during gestation and early life, on allergy susceptibility in infants. The bioactive form of vitamin D, 1,25(OH)2D, inhibits maturation and results in immature dendritic cells that cause a decreased differentiation of naive T cells into effector T cells. Nevertheless, the development of regulatory T cells and the production of interleukin-10 was increased. Consequently, a more tolerogenic immune response developed against antigens. Secondly, binding of 1,25(OH)2D to epithelial cells induces the expression of tight junction proteins resulting in enhanced epithelial barrier function. Thirdly, 1,25(OH)2D increased the expression of anti-microbial peptides by epithelial cells that also promoted the defense mechanism against pathogens, by preventing an invasive penetration of pathogens.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Immune intervention by vitamin D supplementation can mitigate the disease burden from asthma and allergy. In conclusion, our review indicates that a sufficient vitamin D status during gestation and early life can lower the susceptibility to develop an allergy in infants although there remains a need for more causal evidence.”


Training in compassion improves the well-being of relatives to people with mental illness

Aarhus University (Denmark), April 7, 2021

If relatives of people with mental illness become better at accepting the difficult emotions and life events they experience - which is what training in compassion is about - their anxiety, depression and stress is reduced. These are the results of a new study from the Danish Center for Mindfulness at Aarhus University.

Being a relative of a person with a mental illness can be very burdensome. It can feel like a great responsibility, and many people struggle with feelings of fear, guilt, shame and anger. A new study from the Danish Center for Mindfulness shows that eight weeks of training in compassion can significantly improve the well-being of relatives. 

Compassion is a human quality that is anchored in the recognition of and desire to relieve suffering. In other words, compassion occurs when we come into contact with our own or others' suffering and feel motivated to relieve our own or others pain.

"After completing the course, the relatives had increased their well-being on several parameters. They could deal with the illness in a new and more skillful way, and we saw that the training reduced their symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress," says psychologist and PhD student Nanja Holland Hansen, who is behind the study.

And the positive results were maintained after a six month follow-up. 

Trying to fix what is difficult

"The relatives learned that the more they turn towards what is difficult, the more skillful they may act. For example, relatives often try to 'fix' the problem or the challenge - so as to relieve their loved ones of what is difficult. That's a huge pressure to constantly deal with, and very few people can bear it," says Nanja Holland Hansen. 

Living with chronic fear

She goes on to explain that training in compassion helps people to find the strength and courage to bear pain and suffering when life is difficult. It may seem both sensible and intuitive to guard yourself from the confrontation or avoid what is difficult and unpleasant. But this is the paradox of the training, explains the researcher. Because it is precisely actions and thoughts like these that shut down our compassion and thereby maintain the suffering. 

"Fear and grief are emotions that take up a lot space for relatives of people with mental illness. For example chronic fear, which is a real fear that parents of a child with schizophrenia have about whether their child is going to commit suicide, or whether a child with autism will ever enjoy a 'normal life'," explains Nanja Holland Hansen and continues:

"Our suffering is maintained inside of us when we don't work with it. To avoid feeling pain, we may resort to behaviour such as working too much or buying things that we don't need. It's therefore in all these everyday actions that our compassion training becomes important and can be used to help alleviate what is difficult," she says.

No one escapes

The purpose of training in compassion is thus more than just feeling empathy or worrying about another person. 

"Not a single person can completely avoid experiencing painful things in their life. In this way we're all the same. But what isn't the same for everyone is our ability to deal with the pain and suffering we experience. Training programmes in compassion have been developed because the research shows that we can train and strengthen our mental health. With systematic training of compassion, we generate more attention - and understanding of - our own thoughts, feelings and behaviour. And this helps us to develop the tools and skills to engage in healthier relations with ourselves and others," she explains. 

A total of 161 relatives of people with mental illness participated in the study. This makes the study one of the largest of its kind in the world, and also the first scientific randomised clinical trial carried out with relatives in Denmark. The relatives were between 18 and 75 of age and were family members to people with various psychiatric disorders such as e.g. ADHD, schizophrenia and depression. 

Meditation as homework

The relatives met once a week in groups of twenty participants over an eight-week period. Each session lasted two hours and was structured with small group exercises, large group discussions, instruction in the theme of the week and meditation. The homework consisted of twenty minutes of daily meditation.

"There is definitely a shortage of offers for these relatives. They're often told that they should remember to take care of themselves, but they haven't learned how to. We found that those who were involved in the study received the tools for precisely this," says Nanja Holland Hansen.

The results have just been published in the scientific journal JAMA.

"My hope is that local authorities and regions can offer this type of intervention for relatives. It should be an option and could easily be incorporated into our healthcare system. Economically and socially, a healthy person going on sick leave solely because he or she is a relative is a huge loss," says the researcher.

[Billedtekst:]: "Up to fifty percent of relatives of people with mental illness risk becoming ill themselves. That's why it's important that we also keep them and their well-being in mind," says Nanja Holland Hansen.


Sesaminol prevents Parkinson's disease by activating the Nrf2-ARE signaling pathway

Osaka City University (Japan), March 331, 2021


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the degeneration of substantia nigra neurons due to oxidative stress. Sesaminol has strong antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. We investigated the preventive effect on PD as a new physiological action of sesaminol produced from sesaminol glycoside using in vitro and in vivo PD models. To prepare an in vitro PD model, 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) was added to human neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y cells). The viability of SH-SY5Y cells decreased dose-dependently following 6-OHDA treatment, but the addition of sesaminol restored viability to the control level. 6-OHDA increased intracellular reactive oxygen species production, and the addition of sesaminol significantly suppressed this increase. No Nrf2 expression in the nucleus was observed in the control group, but a slight increase was observed in the 6-OHDA group. The sesaminol group showed strong expression of Nrf2 in the cytoplasm and nucleus. NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1) activity was enhanced in the 6-OHDA group and further enhanced in the sesaminol group. Furthermore, the neurotoxine rotenone was orally administrated to mice to prepare an in vivo PD model. The motor function of rotenone-treated mice was shorter than that of the control group, but a small amount of sesaminol restored it to the control level. The intestinal motility in the rotenone group was significantly lower than that in the control group, but it remained at the control level in the sesaminol group. The expression of α-synuclein in the substantia nigra increased in the rotenone group but decreased in the sesaminol group. The rotenone group exhibited shortening and damage to the colonic mucosa, but these abnormalities of the colonic mucosa were scarcely observed in the sesaminol group. These results suggest that sesaminol has a preventative effect on PD.



Study finds connection between lifestyle choices, Alzheimer disease

Brigham Young University, April 8, 2021


A recent study out of BYU has linked lifestyle choice to Alzheimer's disease, at least to some degree, through findings that show a possible energy gap between the amount of glucose and ketones being used to power the brain.

BYU professor Ben Bikman, who studies diabetes and insulin resistance, thought of a fundamental question surrounding Alzheimer's disease and insulin resistance in the brain.

Bikman said there has been growing evidence that the brains in humans with Alzheimer's disease are deficient in the use of glucose.

"The brain has a certain energy demand, let's say that is 100%," Bikman said. "In most instances, glucose is providing virtually all of that energy, nearly 100% all of the time. There is a secondary fuel known as ketones, so the average brain is consuming almost all of its energy from glucose with a little bit of energy coming from ketones at any moment. In some individuals, the brain starts to become deficient in its ability to use glucose. So now glucose can only provide about 60% of that energy, and then ketones would be expected to fill up the rest of that energy. The tragedy is that the average individual has almost undetectable levels of ketones and that's entirely a matter of lifestyle."

This lack of ketones as well as the brain's resistance to insulin is linked to lifestyle. Insulin is expected to stimulate tissues or cells to take in the glucose and use it for energy.

As the brain becomes more insulin resistant, it can't take in glucose anymore and this is something Bikman said has been shown in other research. The BYU research expanded on some of those findings.

"We found that indeed the expression of genes involved in glucose metabolism was significantly down, very broad across every cell type we looked at in the brain," Bikman said. "All of the cell types we looked at had significant reductions in glucose-related genes, but the ketone-related genes were almost totally normal."

This is key because it shows that if the brain can receive more ketones, there is a possibility that one could overcome that energy gap. While it may not be able to be filled in with glucose, it can be with ketones but ketones need to be produced by one's body.

With many people having diets that are high in refined sugars and starches, insulin is elevated all of the time, and ketones are only produced when insulin levels are low. These conditions include fasting or low-carb diets, also known as keto diets.

Ph.D. student Erin Saito is another one of the lead authors of the study and is doing this project as her dissertation. Another collaborator included Washington University of Saint Louis, which gave the BYU research team access to various brain banks.

"BYU is a wonderfully collaborative environment, not only encouraging collaborations within the university but also outside of the university," Bikman said. "Thus communicating with our internal and external collaborators was very easy and very natural. There was very much a common interest to work on this project together, a common enthusiasm for answering a question that had not been asked yet. It would not have been possible without that mutual collaboration and enthusiasm."

He added that managing the project with enthusiastic students was a delight, making it easy because of the enthusiasm surrounding the project.

Bikman said it is gratifying for him to be able to contribute to what little is known about Alzheimer's disease, because traditional strategies and approaches have continued to fail.

"Looking at Alzheimer's disease as a metabolic problem, I would say, is the greatest breakthrough in our understanding of the disease in decades," Bikman said.

Looking at it through the metabolic side of things allows people to possibly detect the problem years in advance, looking at changes in brain glucose metabolism long before Alzheimer's sets in.

Bikman believes that someday the metabolic approach to Alzheimer's will be the standard of care.

Moving forward, Bikman said he hopes that people feel empowered when it comes to Alzheimer's disease. He wants people to not look at it as a passive process where they are the victim, but rather acknowledging that their lifestyle choices can either act as the culprit or the cure.

"For too long we have viewed Alzheimer's disease as a disease that is no respecter of person, no respecter of choices and that is simply not true," Bikman said. "We have long known that people with metabolic disorders, like type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, are at significantly greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and we have more evidence suggesting that dietary choices and changes do make significant improvements in someone's cognition."

Even someone in the midst of Alzheimer's disease can see improvements in memory and learning with a lifestyle change, according to Bikman, and he added that he hopes this evidence will help to strengthen that view and empower individuals to take matters into their own hands.



New Study Shows Broad Benefits Of High-CBD Cannabis

Health Canada Research Institute, April 6, 2021

With CBD exploding in popularity, new studies continue to reveal its potential benefits.

A new study published in the journal Aging-US reported that high-CBD cannabis has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and may even help reduce COVID symptoms.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis and is legal in all 50 states.

“Cannabis sativa, especially those high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol, has been found to alter gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties,” the researchers at Health Canada concluded.

As such, they say specific CBD extracts “may become a useful and safe addition to the prevention/treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy.”

Researchers hypothesized that high-CBD C. sativa extracts may be used to down-regulate ACE2 expression in target COVID-19 tissues. Using artificial 3D human models of oral, airway and intestinal tissues, they identified 13 high-CBD C. sativa extracts that decrease ACE2 protein levels. Some C. sativa extracts down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein required for SARS-CoV-2 entry into host cells.

This is not the first study to suggest that CBD could combat respiratory illnesses like COVID.

In April 2020, researchers at the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute published a peer-reviewed article suggesting that CBD could be included in the treatment regimen for the COVID-19 coronavirus as THC and CBD both appeared to reduce the severe lung inflammation associated with the virus.

In July 2020, researchers at the Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia found early evidence that Cannabidiol, or CBD, may help reduce the cytokine storm and excessive lung inflammation that killed many patients with COVID-19.

“Our laboratory studies indicate pure CBD can help the lungs recover from the overwhelming inflammation, or cytokine storm, caused by the COVID-19 virus, and restore healthier oxygen levels in the body,” says co-author Dr. Jack Yu, physician-scientist and chief of pediatric plastic surgery at MCG.

In October 2020, the same research group published a follow-up peer-reviewed study identifying the mechanism they believe was responsible for the encouraging results of using CBD to reduce lung inflammation.

“One way CBD appears to reduce the “cytokine storm” that damages the lungs and kills many patients with COVID-19 is by enabling an increase in levels of a natural peptide called apelin, which is known to reduce inflammation and whose levels are dramatically reduced in the face of this storm,” they concluded.

While this is incredibly encouraging news for relief from COVID, businesses that sell CBD edibles and oils are not allowed to mention these benefits in advertising because the FDA has not officially approved it for any specific treatment. Apparently, experimental vaccines are okay to advertise but natural plant extracts aren’t.

The new study above is just another to suggest cannabis and CBD can help fight cancer. There have been many studies as well as countless confirmed anecdotal accounts.

In 2018, a 44-year-old UK mom refused chemo for her aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. She opted for CBD oil instead and was declared cancer-free five months later.

In 2019, an 81-year-old diagnosed with lung cancer shrunk his tumors in half by taking CBD oil. The case study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Sage.

More recently, a Colorado State University study showed that CBD extract can slow growth and kill cancer cells in aggressive brain cancer.

“Our experiments showed that CBD slows cancer cell growth and is toxic to both canine and human glioblastoma cell lines,” said Chase Gross, a doctoral student participating in the study. “Importantly, the differences in anti-cancer affects between CBD isolate and extract appear to be negligible.”

That’s not all, CBD has shown potential for treating a variety of other ailments such as arthritisseizures, chronic pain, high blood pressureAlzheimer’s and more – with little to no severe side effects that are common with leading pharmaceuticals.

Big Pharma hopes more people don’t discover natural treatments to common health issues, like CBD, because it could severely impact their profits and influence.



Polyphenol pills counter inflammation in women on hormonal contraceptives: RCT

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), April 7, 2021

Supplements containing a mixture of polyphenols may counter increases in pro-inflammatory markers in women of childbearing age using combined hormonal contraceptives, says a new study.

The supplements, formulated with resveratrol, catechin, quercetin, chlorogenic acid and cyanidin, were also found to prevent the increases in markers of systemic oxidative stress like F2-isoprostane, according to findings published in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids .

“The increase in biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress observed in the present study were possibly caused by the use of hormonal contraceptives, as verified in the [control group], and this change was not observed in the group that used polyphenols,” wrote researchers from the Institute of Cardiology and the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

“Therefore, the results of this polyphenol supplementation showed that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects observed in the studied population is due to the reduction in plasma levels of PGE2, supporting the conceptual hypothesis, by its action on the inflammatory cascade, probably by COX inhibition.”


Study details

The Brazil-based researchers recruited 40 women aged between 25 and 35 using contraceptives, and randomly assigned them to receive either placebo or polyphenols (3,000 mg per day) for 15 days. “A higher dosage was chosen in order to reduce the risk of food ingestion of control group to overcome the dosage of polyphenol supplementation in the [polyphenol group],” they explained.

Data from the 28 women who completed the study indicated that, as expected, markers of inflammation (PGE2 and C-reactive protein) and oxidative stress (F2-isoprostane) increased significantly in women in the placebo group. However, no such increases were observed in the polyphenol group.

“Among participants of the polyphenols group, an inverse correlation was observed between the consumption of polyphenols estimated by the [food frequency questionnaire] with PGE2 levels at the end of the study. This finding had not yet been previously described in the literature and reinforces the hypothesis of the present study regarding the action of polyphenols in reducing PGE2 levels,” wrote the researchers.

“The liver is the main organ involved in the metabolism of polyphenols, and metabolites are secreted in bile and urine. Excretion of polyphenols in participants of the [polyphenol group] was significantly higher than in the [control group], confirming the effective ingestion of capsules and absorption of compounds, which can vary depending on the amount ingested, the chemical structure of the substance and the intestinal flora of the subjects.”


Childhood diet and exercise creates healthier, less anxious adults

University of California Riverside, April 9, 2021

Exercise and a healthy diet in childhood leads to adults with bigger brains and lower levels of anxiety, according to new UC Riverside research in mice. 

Though diet and exercise are consistently recommended as ways to promote health, this study is the first to examine the long-lasting, combined effects of both factors when they are experienced early in life.

"Any time you go to the doctor with concerns about your weight, almost without fail, they recommend you exercise and eat less," said study lead and UCR physiology doctoral student Marcell Cadney. "That's why it's surprising most studies only look at diet or exercise separately. In this study, we wanted to include both."

The researchers determined that early-life exercise generally reduced anxious behaviors in adults. It also led to an increase in adult muscle and brain mass. When fed "Western" style diets high in fat and sugar, the mice not only became fatter, but also grew into adults that preferred unhealthy foods.

These findings have recently been published in the journal Physiology and Behavior. To obtain them, the researchers divided the young mice into four groups -- those with access to exercise, those without access, those fed a standard, healthy diet and those who ate a Western diet. 

Mice started on their diets immediately after weaning, and continued on them for three weeks, until they reached sexual maturity. After an additional eight weeks of "washout," during which all mice were housed without wheels and on the healthy diet, the researchers did behavioral analysis, measured aerobic capacity, and levels of several different hormones.

One of those they measured, leptin, is produced by fat cells. It helps control body weight by increasing energy expenditure and signaling that less food is required. Early-life exercise increased adult leptin levels as well as fat mass in adult mice, regardless of the diet they ate.

Previously, the research team found that eating too much fat and sugar as a child can alter the microbiome for life, even if they later eat healthier. Going forward, the team plans to investigate whether fat or sugar is more responsible for the negative effects they measured in Western-diet-fed mice.

Together, both studies offer critical opportunities for health interventions in childhood habits. 

"Our findings may be relevant for understanding the potential effects of activity reductions and dietary changes associated with obesity," said UCR evolutionary physiologist Theodore Garland. 

In other words, getting a jump start on health in the early years of life is extremely important, and interventions may be even more critical in the wake of the pandemic. 

"During the COVID-19 lockdowns, particularly in the early months, kids got very little exercise. For many without access to a park or a backyard, school was their only source of physical activity," Cadney said. "It is important we find solutions for these kids, possibly including extra attention as they grow into adults." 

Given that exercise was also shown to reduce adult anxiety, Cadney believes children who face these challenges may face unique physical and mental health issues as they become adults in the coming decade.

April 9, 2021  

Dr. Ryan Cole

Leigh Dundas @ Orange County Dept of Education. 

Sunlight linked with lower COVID-19 deaths, study shows

University of Edinburgh (Scotland), April 9, 2021

Sunnier areas are associated with fewer deaths from Covid-19, an observational study suggests.

Increased exposure to the sun's rays - specifically UVA - could act as a simple public health intervention if further research establishes it causes a reduction in mortality rates, experts say.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh compared all recorded deaths from Covid-19 in the continental US from January to April 2020 with UV levels for 2,474 US counties for the same time period.

The study found that people living in areas with the highest level of exposure to UVA rays - which makes up 95 per cent of the sun's UV light - had a lower risk of dying from Covid-19 compared with those with lower levels. The analysis was repeated in England and Italy with the same results. 

The researchers took into account factors known to be associated with increased exposure to the virus and risk of death such as age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, population density, air pollution, temperature and levels of infection in local areas. 

The observed reduction in risk of death from Covid-19 could not be explained by higher levels of vitamin D, the experts said. Only areas, with insufficient levels of UVB to produce significant vitamin D in the body, were included in the study.

One explanation for the lower number of deaths, which the researchers are following up, is that sunlight exposure causes the skin to release nitric oxide. This may reduce the ability of SARS Coronavirus2 - the cause of Covid-19 - to replicate, as has been found in some lab studies. 

Previous research from the same group has shown that increased sunlight exposure is linked to improved cardiovascular health, with lower blood pressure and fewer heart attacks. As heart disease is a known risk factor in dying from Covid-19, this could also explain the latest findings. 

The team say due to the observational nature of the study it is not possible to establish cause and effect. However, it may lead to interventions that could be tested as potential treatments.



Folic acid, DHA improve factors related to cognitive function

UND Life Sciences (US), April 7 2021. 

Findings from a randomized trial reported on March 13, 2021 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed improvements in aspects of cognitive function among men and women with mild cognitive impairment who consumed folic acid and/or the omega 3 fatty acid DHA. 

One hundred sixty participants received 800 micrograms folic acid, 800 milligrams DHA, folic acid plus DHA, or a placebo daily for six months. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised test, which includes six verbal subtests and five performance subtests, was administered at the beginning of the study and at six and 12 months. Blood amyloid beta levels were measured at baseline and six months. 

At the end of the treatment period, intelligence quotient, and information, arithmetic and picture complement scores were higher in the group that received folic acid than the placebo. Folic acid-supplemented participants also had increases in blood folate and S-adenosylmethionine levels, along with a decline in homocysteine. 

Those who received DHA also experienced improved intelligence quotient and information and arithmetic scores, along with better digit span scores. 

Participants who received both folic acid and DHA had better arithmetic and digital span scores as well as higher blood folate and SAMe, and lower homocysteine. The group also experienced declines in amyloid beta 40 and amyloid beta 42 levels. (Amyloid beta 42 levels are increased in the brains of Alzheimer disease patients.)

Cognitive test score improvements were not found to be maintained when assessed six months after supplementation discontinuance. 

“In terms of improving cognitive function, folic acid and DHA were more effective alone than when combined, and DHA was more effective than folic acid,” the authors noted. “The beneficial effect of folic acid + DHA supplementation on cognitive function may be mediated by amyloid beta protein reduction.”



ADHD and autism associated with in utero heavy metals and essential minerals

Norwegian Institute of Public Health, April 9, 2021

Levels of the heavy metals cadmium, lead, and arsenic and the essential mineral manganese, measured in maternal blood during pregnancy, were associated with increased risk of ADHD and/or autism in the child. This was reported in a new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. This research does not show that metals and minerals are a direct cause of ADHD or autism because observed associations may have other explanations; however, the findings show the importance of more knowledge about how environmental contaminants may impact fetal development.

Environmental contaminants can impact children's development even in the mother's womb. Several heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium are known or suspected to interfere with brain development and can reach the fetus through the placenta. This is also the case for minerals such as manganese, selenium, and copper, which in sufficient doses are important for a normal fetal brain development, while levels that are too low or too high can potentially be harmful. The research question in this study was whether any of these substances could increase risk for ADHD or autism in children. There are few studies that have investigated metals and minerals during fetal life and associations with ADHD or autism in children.

Heavy metals and minerals were measured in maternal blood during pregnancy in 2136 mothers from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), where 705 children had an ADHD diagnosis, 397 had an autism diagnosis, and 1034 did not have a diagnosis. The study showed that levels of some of the heavy metals and minerals were associated with increased risk of ADHD, autism or both diagnoses. In some cases, both high and low levels in maternal blood were associated with increased risk, compared to normal levels. This study also took into consideration other factors that could be associated with metal and mineral exposures and developmental diagnoses, like maternal education, age, parity, seafood consumption, smoking and child sex and birth year.

Even after considering these other factors, there was increased risk of autism diagnosis with both the highest and the lowest levels of lead in maternal blood, in addition to increased risk with elevated levels of arsenic. For ADHD, there was an increased risk of diagnosis with both low and high levels of arsenic. The highest levels of cadmium were associated with increased risk of both ADHD and autism, compared to the lowest levels.

Children of mothers with both low and high levels of manganese had increased risk of ADHD. Among children of mothers with the highest levels of manganese (compared to the lowest), there was increased risk of autism.

Most people, including pregnant women and the unborn children, are exposed to thousands of chemicals. Still, we know surprisingly little about how this can impact the fetal brain development. We need more research to gain knowledge about causal relationships between environmental contaminants and brain development, says Thea Skogheim and Gro Villanger, two of the researchers of the study. 

It is important to emphasize that the associations that were found in the study are on a group level and that factors that were not included may have affected the results. Thus, one cannot claim that these metals and minerals is a direct cause of ADHD and autism. There are many different factors that contribute to the development of these disorders, where particularly heredity is important. Yet, there is likely a complex interplay between genes and environmental factors, such as environmental contaminants.

Previous studies

Previous studies in this field have mainly focused on the most known and toxic heavy metals, such as lead and mercury. They have also based their research more on parent-reported ADHD symptoms in the children than on register-based diagnoses. The findings in this study support results from similar studies from other countries. However, this study is among the first that have investigated 11 different metals and minerals together with ADHD and autism diagnoses. The exposures were investigated both individually and as mixtures.

Toxic heavy metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium are naturally occurring in the environment, but due to human activity such as pollution from industry and mining, there are elevated levels in the environment. According to the Norwegian Environment Agency, the use of lead ammunition is the greatest source (67%) of emission of lead in the environment in Norway. Both natural occurrence and emission from industry to soil and water leads to food being the greatest source of metals and minerals. Some of the substances (mercury, lead, cadmium) accumulate in the food chain and can be transferred from mother to child during pregnancy.

Lead and cadmium are found in many of the food items that we most frequently ingest, such as grain products and vegetables, in addition to beverages. There are elevated levels of cadmium in organ meat (kidney and liver) and brown crab meat. Cigarettes are also an important source of cadmium.

Families that have game meat as part of their daily diet get additionally exposed to lead, combined with the exposure from other food products. According to warnings from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, young, pregnant, and breastfeeding women as well as children below the age of seven, should not eat game meat that is shot with lead ammunition.

There are particular warnings from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority about the intake of seafood from polluted areas in Norway (ports, fjords and lakes). The population is exposed to arsenic mainly through food and drinks, and in Norway fish and seafood are one of the greatest sources. In fish and seafood most of the arsenic are organic forms that are considered less toxic than inorganic forms. Both human and animal studies have shown harmful effects on the nervous system following exposure to inorganic forms.

Even though manganese is essential for many biochemical processes in the body, excessive levels over a long period of time can also be harmful, especially for the brain and nervous system. The greatest human exposure source is food (grain products, green vegetables, nuts) and multivitamin supplements. Additionally, exposure can occur through cosmetics, drinking water, air pollution, and occupational sources. In the Norwegian population, there are some occupational groups working with metals that are exposed to high levels of manganese. In areas of the world with high levels of manganese in the soil and groundwater (such as drinking water) or where mining contributes to high air concentrations, studies have shown associations with behavioral problems, cognitive deficits, reduced learning abilities, and lower school performance in children.

A need for more knowledge about environmental contaminants in the population

This study includes children born between 2002 and 2009. There is, however, limited knowledge about present day levels of exposure. Even though bans and regulations for some of the heavy metals (e.g. mercury and lead) have been implemented, many metals are transported through air and ocean currents across the globe. Thus, we do not know the levels of metals and other environmental contaminants in the Norwegian population as of today, nor in vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and children. It is therefore important that we gain more knowledge about this, says Skogheim and Villanger.

ADHD and autism

The Norwegian health authorities estimates that about 3–5 percent of children and youth below the age of 18 have ADHD. This entails that on average, there is one child with ADHD in each school class. In Norway, around 1 percent of all children will have received a diagnosis of autism by the age of eight years. By discovering potential environmental risk factors that contribute to ADHD and autism, this can support and initiate preventive measures.


Idiopathic myalgic pain (fibromyalgia): supportive management and prevention with Pycnogenol

Ch-Pe University (Italy), April 4, 2021

Background: The aim of this registry study was the prospective evaluation of the efficacy of Pycnogenol in idiopathic fibromyalgia (FM), over 4 weeks in comparison with the standard management (SM).

Methods: A SM and a Pycnogenol+SM group were formed. Pycnogenol supplementation was used at the dose of 150 mg/day (4 weeks). The study considered the most important/frequent symptoms of FM.

Results: Fifty patients with idiopathic fibromyalgia were included: 26 in the Pycnogenol group and 24 served as controls. The two groups were comparable at inclusion. No other disease or condition was present. All subjects were otherwise healthy women (BMI<26), not using any drug. All subjects had an elevated level of oxidative stress (OS) at inclusion. All routine blood tests - and all inflammatory and rheumatic tests - were within the normal range at inclusion and at the end of the study. No safety or tolerability problems were observed. The percentage of patients using NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) as rescue medications in the observation period was significantly higher in the SM management group (P<0.05) in comparison with the supplement group. The percentage of patients using corticosteroids as rescue medication was significantly higher in the SM group (P<0.05). The percentage of subjects with the symptoms/complaints decreased significantly, considering each symptom, with Pycnogenol® after 4 weeks in comparison with the SM (P<0.05).

Conclusions: Pycnogenol supplementation appears to control and reduce the intensity of common symptoms and complaints - especially pain-related - associated with FM. Pycnogenol®could be a 'soft', safe supplementation and prevention method to manage the symptoms of most of these patients, even for longer periods, reducing the need for drugs.


Research finds that wisdom is a matter of both heart and mind

University of Waterloo (Canada) April 7, 2021 


The fluctuations of your heartbeat may affect your wisdom, according to new research from the University of Waterloo.


The study suggests that heart rate variation and thinking process work together to enable wise reasoning about complex social issues. The work by Igor Grossmann, professor of psychology at Waterloo, and colleagues based at the Australian Catholic University, appears in the online journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Their study breaks new ground in wisdom research by identifying conditions under which psychophysiology impacts wise judgment.


"Our research shows that wise reasoning is not exclusively a function of the mind and cognitive ability," says Prof. Grossmann. "We found that people who have greater heart rate variability and who are able to think about social problems from a distanced viewpoint demonstrate a greater capacity for wise reasoning."


The study extends previous work on cognitive underpinnings of wise judgment to include consideration how the heart's functioning impacts the mind.


A growing consensus among philosophers and cognitive scientists defines wise judgment to include the ability to recognize the limits of one's knowledge, to be aware of the varied contexts of life and how they may unfold over time, to acknowledge others' points of view, and to seek reconciliation of opposing viewpoints.


The new study is the first to show that the physiology of the heart, specifically the variability of heart rate during low physical activity, is related to less biased, wiser judgment.


Human heart rate tends to fluctuate, even during steady-state conditions, such as while a person is sitting. Heart rate variability refers to the variation in the time interval between heartbeats and is related to the nervous system's control of organ functions.


The researchers found that people with more varied heart rates were able to reason in a wiser, less biased fashion about societal problems when they were instructed to reflect on a social issue from a third-person perspective. But, when the study's participants were instructed to reason about the issue from a first-person perspective, no relationship between heart rate and wiser judgment emerged.


"We already knew that people with greater variation in their heart rate show superior performance in the brain's executive functioning such as working memory," says Prof. Grossmann. "However, that does not necessarily mean these people are wiser - in fact, some people may use their cognitive skills to make unwise decisions. To channel their cognitive abilities for wiser judgment, people with greater heart rate variability first need to overcome their egocentric viewpoints."


The study opens the door for further exploration of wise judgment at the intersection of physiological and cognitive research.


Sharing and enjoying meals with loved ones reduces obesity and improves the health of adolescents

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet come from both the food we eat and how we eat it

University of Oberta de  Catalunya (Spain), April 6, 2021

Eating together as a family, maintaining the Mediterranean diet's traditional customs of conviviality, influences the eating habits of adolescents and prevents eating behaviour disorders, according to a new study prepared by scientists from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and published in the open access International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

"At a time when lockdown due to the pandemic has revived family meals, this study indicates one of the possible positive aspects of the situation that we have had to confront", explains the study's researcher Anna Bach-Faig from the Foodlab group, and a member of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The research establishes that family meal routines, such as sharing food, sitting around a table without digital devices or having a pleasant conversation, are beneficial aspects for adolescents and contribute to their health. In line with other studies it notes that this conviviality, which favours conversation and slower eating, helps adolescents to recognize the feeling of fullness during meals and, indirectly, prevents obesity.

The study, conducted by means of in-depth interviews of families in Catalonia with adolescents from 12 to 16 years old, analyses one of the least studied aspects of the Mediterranean diet: socialization at mealtimes and how the way in which we eat also affects our health.

"A healthy diet is not just what we eat but also how we eat it", explains Bach-Faig. "The Mediterranean diet is much more than a list of foods. It is a cultural model which includes how these foods are selected, produced, processed and consumed."

The importance of conversation

To determine the degree of conviviality in the families studied, the researchers analysed the frequency and duration of family meals, the place where they took place, the use of digital devices, the preparation of the food and the type of communication established in these gatherings.

According to the study, the majority of families only ate the evening meal together and their habits varied depending on whether they ate alone or with their loved ones. The research ascertained that family meals were a place for communication and socialization, and that when families devoted less time to them, did not sit at the table, were distracted by digital devices or did not engage in pleasant conversation during these gatherings, they also followed the Mediterranean diet to a lesser extent.

For the majority of parents, family meals were especially important when they had adolescent children, since they favour conversation and closer family bonds. "It is easier when children are small, but in adolescence there is a disconnect between you and them and, thanks to these conversations, you can gain a little insight into their world", explained one of the mothers interviewed.

Moreover, the majority considered that, through these family gatherings, parents become role models and help to establish healthy patterns for their children. This impression is consistent with the results of other studies in which it is demonstrated that eating together as a family is related to a healthier diet, with more fruit and vegetables, and less sugary drinks.

The Western diet

For nutrition expert Bach-Faig, it is essential to preserve eating traditions in order to maintain the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and promote the health of the younger generations. However, for several decades now, the Mediterranean diet has been losing influence in the face of the so-called "Western diet", characterized by the predominance of processed foods and eating quickly, often in front of the television.

The study stresses that it is crucial to consider these aspects in order to promote a healthy diet among adolescents and to design public health campaigns. One example was the Implica't campaign, carried out in Catalonia with the participation of researchers from this study. "Just as we recommend 5 fruit and veg a day", explains Bach-Fair, "we could also propose at least one family meal a day".



Effects of Morning Blue-Green 500 nm Light Therapy on Cognition and Biomarkers in Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Subjective Cognitive Decline and Mild Cognitive Impairment

Chengdu Brain Science Institute and Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (China), April 2021

Abstract: Background:Given that there is no specific drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease, non-pharmacologic interventions in people with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) are one of the most important treatment strategies. Objective:To clarify the efficacy of blue-green (500 nm) light therapy on sleep, mood, and physiological parameters in patients with SCD and aMCI is an interesting avenue to explore. Methods:This is a monocentric, randomized, and controlled trial that will last for 4 weeks. We will recruit 150 individuals aged 45 years or older from memory clinics and divide them into 5 groups: SCD treatment (n = 30), SCD control (n = 30), aMCI treatment (n = 30), aMCI control (n = 30), and a group of healthy adult subjects (n = 30) as a normal control (NC). Results:The primary outcome is the change in subjective and objective cognitive performance between baseline and postintervention visits (4 weeks after baseline). Secondary outcomes include changes in performance assessing from baseline, postintervention to follow-up (3 months after the intervention), as well as sleep, mood, and physiological parameters (including blood, urine, electrophysiology, and neuroimaging biomarkers). Conclusion:This study aims to provide evidence of the impact of light therapy on subjective and objective cognitive performance in middle-aged and older adults with SCD or aMCI. In addition, we will identify possible neurophysiological mechanisms of action underlying light therapy. Overall, this trial will contribute to the establishment of light therapy in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.



Carotenoids linked to lower diabetes

Utrecht University Medical Center (Netherlands), April 3, 2021


A prospective study of 37,846 subjects links higher carotenoid consumption to a lower risk of diabetes.


People who consume a diet high in antioxidant-rich carotenoids have a lower occurrence of diabetes, according to a new study. The researchers linked higher intakes of beta and alpha carotene with lower risks of type 2 diabetes.


The research was conducted by scientists at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. They analyzed data from validated food frequency questionnaires from 37,846 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, which followed subjects for a mean of 10 years. They focused on dietary carotenoid intake levels consisting of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and the total of these six carotenoids. The study also examined how smoking (tobacco, not carotenoids) played into the subjects’ risk of developing diabetes. Thirty-one percent of the subjects smoked.


 “This study shows that diets high in beta-carotene and alpha-carotene are associated with reduced type 2 diabetes in generally healthy men and women,” concluded the authors of the study, which appeared in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease. Smoking, according the researchers’ analysis, made no difference in the risk of diabetes.


An earlier study linked low carotenoids with increased risk of colon cancer. Animal and human studies have found that beta-carotene can enhance many aspects of immunity. Some of this research has shown that beta-carotene boosts the activity of "natural-killer" cells, a type of immune cell that fights cancer.

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