Health Research Report
140th Issue Date 19 OCT 2012
Compiled By Ralph Turchiano
Editors Top Five:
- CAFFEINE MAY BLOCK INFLAMMATION LINKED TO MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT
- MINUTES OF HARD EXERCISE CAN LEAD TO ALL-DAY CALORIE BURN
- PREBIOTIC MAY HELP PATIENTS WITH INTESTINAL FAILURE GROW NEW AND BETTER GUT
- LINK BETWEEN CREATIVITY AND MENTAL ILLNESS CONFIRMED
- LEAVES OF CAROB TREE, SOURCE OF CHOCOLATE SUBSTITUTE, FIGHT FOOD-POISONING BACTERIA: LISTERIA
In This Issue:
- PRENATAL MERCURY EXPOSURE MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH RISK OF ADHD-RELATED BEHAVIORS
- CAFFEINE MAY BLOCK INFLAMMATION LINKED TO MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT
- COFFEE SPEEDS UP RETURN OF BOWEL FUNCTION AFTER COLON SURGERY
- CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE ALTERS INTESTINAL MICROBIAL FLORA, UCI STUDY FINDS
- MOUNT SINAI SCHOOL OF MEDICINE STUDY SHOWS VITAMIN C PREVENTS BONE LOSS IN ANIMAL MODELS
- RESEARCHERS DISCOVER HOW THE BODY USES VITAMIN B TO RECOGNIZE BACTERIAL INFECTION
- STUDY: PARENTING MORE IMPORTANT THAN SCHOOLS TO ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
- SURVEY SHOWS SUPPLEMENT USERS HAVE STRONG INTEREST IN NATURAL SOLUTIONS TO MANAGE THEIR CHOLESTEROL
- EXERCISE COULD FORTIFY IMMUNE SYSTEM AGAINST FUTURE CANCERS
- MINUTES OF HARD EXERCISE CAN LEAD TO ALL-DAY CALORIE BURN
- SCIENCE REVEALS THE POWER OF A HANDSHAKE
- PREBIOTIC MAY HELP PATIENTS WITH INTESTINAL FAILURE GROW NEW AND BETTER GUT
- COCHRANE REVIEW FINDS NO BENEFIT FROM ROUTINE HEALTH CHECKS
- VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS MAY BENEFIT LUPUS PATIENTS
- LINK BETWEEN CREATIVITY AND MENTAL ILLNESS CONFIRMED
- MOTHER’S TOUCH COULD CHANGE EFFECTS OF PRENATAL STRESS
- EXERCISE MAY LEAD TO BETTER SCHOOL PERFORMANCE FOR KIDS WITH ADHD
- OBESE TEEN BOYS HAVE UP TO 50 PERCENT LESS TESTOSTERONE THAN LEAN BOYS, UB STUDY FINDS
- IMMUNE RESPONSE MAY LINK SOCIAL REJECTION TO LATER HEALTH OUTCOMES
- ANTIDEPRESSANTS LINKED TO INCREASED RISK OF STROKE
- 2 COMPONENTS OF RED MEAT COMBINED WITH ALTERATION IN DNA REPAIR INCREASE RISK FOR BLADDER CANCER
- DAILY MULTIVITAMINS REDUCE RISK OF CANCER IN MEN
- LEAVES OF CAROB TREE, SOURCE OF CHOCOLATE SUBSTITUTE, FIGHT FOOD-POISONING BACTERIA: LISTERIA
- LOW CALCIUM DIET LINKED TO HIGHER RISK OF HORMONE CONDITION IN WOMEN
Prenatal mercury exposure may be associated with risk of ADHD-related behaviors
Fish consumption may be associated with lower risk
CHICAGO – A study of children in the New Bedford, Mass., area suggests that low-level prenatal mercury exposure may be associated with a greater risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-related behaviors and that fish consumption during pregnancy may be associated with a lower risk of these behaviors, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood and affects 8 percent to 12 percent of children worldwide, although its cause is not well understood. The developmental neurotoxicity of mercury is known, but the findings from epidemiological studies are inconsistent with some studies showing associations between mercury exposure and ADHD-related behaviors and others reporting null associations, according to the study background.
Nonoccupational methylmercury exposure comes primarily from eating fish, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended pregnant women limit their total fish intake to no more than two, six-ounce servings per week. However, fish is also a source of nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to benefit brain development, potentially confounding mercury-related risk estimates, the study background also indicates.
Sharon K. Sagiv, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues analyzed data from the New Bedford birth cohort, a group of infants born between 1993 and 1998, to investigate the association of peripartum maternal hair mercury levels (n=421) and prenatal fish intake (n=515) with ADHD-related behaviors at age 8 years.
“In this population-based prospective cohort study, hair mercury levels were consistently associated with ADHD-related behaviors, including inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. We also found that higher prenatal fish consumption was protective for these behaviors,” the authors comment.
Statistical analysis indicates mercury exposure appeared to be associated with inattention and impulsivity/hyperactivity and some outcomes had an apparent threshold with associations at 1 μg/g (microgram/per gram) or greater of mercury. For example, at 1 μg/g or greater, the adjusted risk ratios for mild/markedly atypical inattentive and impulsive/hyperactive behaviors were 1.4 and 1.7 respectively, according to the study results.
There also appeared to be a “protective” (lower risk) association for fish consumption of greater than two servings per week with ADHD-related behaviors, particularly impulsive/hyperactive behaviors (relative risk = 0.4), the study results show.
“In summary, these results suggest that prenatal mercury exposure is associated with a higher risk of ADHD-related behaviors, and fish consumption during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of these behaviors,” the authors conclude. “Although a single estimate combining these beneficial vs. detrimental effects vis-à-vis fish intake is not possible with these data, these findings are consistent with a growing literature showing risk of mercury exposure and benefits of maternal consumption of fish on fetal brain development and are important for informing dietary recommendations for pregnant women.”
(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published online October 8, 2012. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.1286. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)
Editor’s Note: This study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc
Caffeine may block inflammation linked to mild cognitive impairment
URBANA – Recent studies have linked caffeine consumption to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and a new University of Illinois study may be able to explain how this happens.
“We have discovered a novel signal that activates the brain-based inflammation associated with neurodegenerative diseases, and caffeine appears to block its activity. This discovery may eventually lead to drugs that could reverse or inhibit mild cognitive impairment,” said Gregory Freund, a professor in the U of I’s College of Medicine and a member of the U of I’s Division of Nutritional Sciences.
Freund’s team examined the effects of caffeine on memory formation in two groups of mice—one group given caffeine, the other receiving none. The two groups were then exposed to hypoxia, simulating what happens in the brain during an interruption of breathing or blood flow, and then allowed to recover.
The caffeine-treated mice recovered their ability to form a new memory 33 percent faster than the non-caffeine-treated mice. In fact, caffeine had the same anti-inflammatory effect as blocking IL-1 signaling. IL-1 is a critical player in the inflammation associated with many neurodegenerative diseases, he said.
“It’s not surprising that the insult to the brain that the mice experienced would cause learning memory to be impaired. But how does that occur?” he wondered.
The scientists noted that the hypoxic episode triggered the release of adenosine by brain cells.
“Your cells are little powerhouses, and they run on a fuel called ATP that’s made up of molecules of adenosine. When there’s damage to a cell, adenosine is released,” he said.
Just as gasoline leaking out of a tank poses a danger to everything around it, adenosine leaking out of a cell poses a danger to its environment, he noted.
The extracellular adenosine activates the enzyme caspase-1, which triggers production of the cytokine IL-1β, a critical player in inflammation, he said.
“But caffeine blocks all the activity of adenosine and inhibits caspase-1 and the inflammation that comes with it, limiting damage to the brain and protecting it from further injury,” he added.
Caffeine’s ability to block adenosine receptors has been linked to cognitive improvement in certain neurodegenerative diseases and as a protectant against Alzheimer’s disease, he said.
“We feel that our foot is in the door now, and this research may lead to a way to reverse early cognitive impairment in the brain. We already have drugs that target certain adenosine receptors. Our work now is to determine which receptor is the most important and use a specific antagonist to that receptor,” he said.
Coffee speeds up return of bowel function after colon surgery
Patients who drank coffee, rather than water, after bowel surgery to remove a part of their colon experienced a quicker return to bowel movements and tolerance of solid food.
Those are two of the key findings of a comparative study of 80 patients, carried out at University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany, and published in the surgical journal BJS.
“Post-operative bowel obstruction is a common problem after abdominal surgery and the aim of this study was to test our theory that coffee would help to alleviate this” says lead author Dr Sascha Müller, who is now based at Kantonsspital St Gallen, Switzerland.
The 80 patients were randomised into coffee and water groups before their operation, with one patient in the water arm subsequently excluded due to a change in their surgical procedure.
Patient characteristics were similar in both groups. Their average age was 61 years and 56 per cent were male.
Just over half (56 per cent) had colonic cancer, 28 per cent had diverticular disease (a structural problem with the wall of their colon), 13 per cent had inflammatory bowel disease and four per cent had other conditions. The majority had open surgery (61 per cent) and the remainder had laparoscopic surgery.
The patients were given 100mls of coffee or water three times a day.
Key findings were:
- Time to first bowel movement after surgery was just over 60 hours in the coffee group and 74 hours in the water group.
- The coffee group were able to tolerate solid food in just over 49 hours, compared to just under 56 hours in the water group.
- The coffee drinkers were also able to pass wind just under 41 hours after surgery, compared with over 46 hours for the water group.
- Length of hospital stay and ill health were similar in both groups.
“This randomised trial showed that the time to first bowel movement after surgery was much shorter in the coffee drinkers than the water drinkers” says Dr Müller.
“Although 10 per cent of the patients did not want to drink strong coffee at this time, it was well accepted by the group and no coffee-related complications were noted.
“It is not clear how coffee stimulates the intestine and caffeine appears to have been ruled out by previous studies, which found that decaffeinated coffee, which was not used in this study, also has beneficial effects.
“Whatever the mechanism, it is clear that postoperative coffee consumption is a cheap and safe way to activate bowel motility after elective colonic surgery.”
Chronic kidney disease alters intestinal microbial flora, UCI study finds
Results help explain serious health, dietary complications in renal failure patients
— Irvine, Calif., October 09, 2012 —
Chronic kidney disease changes the composition of intestinal bacterial microbes that normally play a crucial role in staving off disease-causing pathogens and maintaining micronutrient balance, according to UC Irvine researchers.
This profound alteration of the gut microbial population may contribute to the production of uremic toxins, systemic and local inflammation, and nutritional abnormalities present in patients with advanced renal disease, they said.
Study leader Dr. N.D. Vaziri of the UCI School of Medicine’s Division of Nephrology & Hypertension noted that consumption of high-fiber foods and better control of uremia — a disease common in kidney failure — by diet and dialysis may improve the composition of gut microbes and the well-being of patients.
The researchers studied microbial DNA extracted from the stool samples of a group of renal failure patients and healthy control individuals. They found marked differences in the abundance of some 190 types of bacteria in the gut microbiome of those with kidney disease — and confirmed the results in a concurrent study of rats with and without chronic kidney disease.
Vaziri explained that nitrogen-rich waste products — particularly urea and uric acid, which are usually excreted by the kidneys — accumulate in the body fluids of patients with renal failure. This leads to the massive release of these waste products in the gastrointestinal tract, supporting the growth and dominance of microbial species that can utilize these compounds.
The impact of this flooding of the gut by nitrogenous waste products in patients with advanced kidney disease, Vaziri added, is compounded by dietary restrictions on fruits and vegetables, which contain the indigestible fibers that favorable gut microbes feed on. This is because fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of potassium, a mineral normally excreted by the kidneys. In cases of renal failure, potassium levels are high, increasing the risk of cardiac arrest.
One solution, Vaziri said, is to provide longer, more frequent dialysis treatments. This would let more potassium be removed by dialysis and allow for more potassium in the diet. Alternatively, packaged fiber foods that do not contain potassium could be used as a dietary supplement.
Dr. Madeleine Pahl, Dr. Jun Yuan and Dr. Zhenmin Ni of UCI; Jakk Wong, Yvette Piceno, Tien-Hung Nguyen and Gary Andersen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Todd DeSantis of San Bruno-based Second Genome participated in the study, which appears onlinein Kidney International.
The work adds to a growing body of evidence pointing to the role of gut bacteria in disease and health. Recent research by other groups has identified changes in the composition of intestinal microbial flora in people with diabetes, colorectal cancer, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, among other conditions
Mount Sinai School of Medicine study shows vitamin C prevents bone loss in animal models
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have shown for the first time in an animal model that vitamin C actively protects against osteoporosis, a disease affecting large numbers of elderly women and men in which bones become brittle and can fracture. The findings are published in the October 8 online edition of PLoS ONE.
“This study has profound public health implications, and is well worth exploring for its therapeutic potential in people,” said lead researcher Mone Zaidi, MD, Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease, and of Structural and Chemical Biology, and Director of the Mount Sinai Bone Program.
“The medical world has known for some time that low amounts of vitamin C can cause scurvy and brittle bones, and that higher vitamin C intake is associated with higher bone mass in humans, “said Dr. Zaidi. “What this study shows is that large doses of vitamin C, when ingested orally by mice, actively stimulate bone formation to protect the skeleton. It does this by inducing osteoblasts, or premature bone cells, to differentiate into mature, mineralizing specialty cells.”
The researchers worked with groups of mice whose ovaries had been removed, a procedure known to reduce bone density, and compared them with control mice that had “sham” operations, which left their ovaries intact. The mice with ovariectomies were divided into two groups, one of which was given large doses of vitamin C over eight weeks. The scientists measured the bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, femur, and tibia bones.
The mice who received an ovariectomy – and no vitamin C — had a much lower bone mineral density (BMD) versus controls, whereas mice who received a ovariectomy and large doses of vitamin C, had roughly the same BMD as the controls, suggesting vitamin C prevented BMD loss in this group.
“Further research may discover that dietary supplements may help prevent osteoporosis in humans,” said Dr. Zaidi. “If so, the findings could be ultimately useful to developing nations where osteoporosis is prevalent and standard medications are sparse and expensive.”
Researchers discover how the body uses vitamin B to recognize bacterial infection
An Australian research team has discovered how specialised immune cells recognise products of vitamin B synthesis that are unique to bacteria and yeast, triggering the body to fight infection.
The finding opens up potential targets to improve treatments or to develop a vaccine for tuberculosis.
The study, jointly led by the University of Melbourne and Monash University and published today in the journal Nature, has revealed for the first time that the highly abundant mucosal associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells), recognise products of vitamin B synthesis from bacteria and yeast in an early step to activating the immune system.
The research revealed how by-products of bacterial vitamin synthesis, including some derived from Folic acid or vitamin B9 and Riboflavin or vitamin B2, could be captured by the immune receptor MR1 thus fine-tuning the activity of MAIT cells.
Dr Lars Kjer-Nielsen from the University of Melbourne led the five year study.
“Humans are unable to make vitamin B and obtain it mostly from diet. Because bacteria can synthesise vitamin B, our immune system uses this as a point of difference to recognise infection,” he said.
“Given the relative abundance of the MAIT cells lining mucosal and other surfaces, such as the intestine, the mouth, lungs, it is quite probable that they play a protective role in many infections from thrush to tuberculosis.
“This is a significant discovery that unravels the long sought target of MAIT cells and their role in immunity to infection.”
Professor James McCluskey of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne said the discovery opened up opportunities for vaccine development and other potential therapeutics.
“This is a major breakthrough in which Australian researchers have beaten many strong research teams around the world, becoming the first to unlock the mystery of what drives a key component of our immune system,” he said.
Monash University’s Professor Jamie Rossjohn said the findings had major implications for understanding the interplay between gut bacteria and the immune system.
“Some vitamin by-products appear to drive immunity while others dampen it,” Professor Rossjohn said.
The next step is to explore whether MAIT cells might also be involved in intestinal or mucosal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
“This discovery now cracks open a new field in immunology and we can expect many research groups to focus their attention on this system,” Professor Rossjohn said.
“The discovery also involved collaborators at Melbourne’s Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, Metabolomics Australia and the University of Queensland, reflecting the importance of collaboration between researchers to be globally competitive,” Professor McCluskey said.
Study: Parenting More Important Than Schools to Academic Achievement
New research from North Carolina State University, Brigham Young University and the University of California, Irvine finds that parental involvement is a more significant factor in a child’s academic performance than the qualities of the school itself.
“Our study shows that parents need to be aware of how important they are, and invest time in their children – checking homework, attending school events and letting kids know school is important,” says Dr. Toby Parcel, a professor of sociology at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work. “That’s where the payoff is.”
Study finds parental involvement more important than the school itself when it comes to academic achievement.
The researchers evaluated data from a national representative study that collected information from more than 10,000 students, as well as their parents, teachers and school administrators.
Specifically, the researchers looked at how “family social capital” and “school social capital” pertained to academic achievement. Family social capital can essentially be described as the bonds between parents and children, such as trust, open lines of communication and active engagement in a child’s academic life. School social capital captures a school’s ability to serve as a positive environment for learning, including measures such as student involvement in extracurricular activities, teacher morale and the ability of teachers to address the needs of individual students.
The researchers found that students with high levels of family social capital and low levels of school social capital performed better academically than students with high levels of school social capital but low family social capital. “In other words, while both school and family involvement are important, the role of family involvement is stronger when it comes to academic success,” Parcel says.
Survey shows supplement users have strong interest in natural solutions to manage their cholesterol
Cardioviva will help fill the gap between diet, exercise and drugs
Montréal, Québec, Oct. 11, 2012 — Over half (52 percent) of supplement users are concerned about their heart health and 73 percent express an interest in natural, clinically proven solutions for cholesterol reduction, according to market research conducted by Micropharma Limited, a pioneer in the development of innovative and effective probiotics.
“People are looking for naturally sourced supplements that work naturally with the body’s systems for balance and control,” said Mitchell Jones, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer and co-founder, Micropharma. “We are launching a probiotic supplement, Cardioviva™, in the coming months that will offer a safe and natural addition to a heart healthy diet and lifestyle for those consumers who want a natural solution.”
Dr. Jones will present new clinical results about Cardioviva™ (Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242) at an oral presentation entitled “Probiotics for Heart Health: Next Generation of Adjunct Therapies for Lipid Management,” at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions on Nov. 5, 2012, in Los Angeles. The association expects more than 20,000 scientists and healthcare professionals from more than 110 countries to attend the Scientific Sessions. It is the largest gathering devoted to the science of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the care of patients suffering from these diseases. Results of the research will be available following the presentation.
Highlights from the survey, conducted among 677 supplement users in the United States in May 2012, follow:
Heart health is very important among supplement users, and they understand there is a connection between gut health and heart health.
- Heart health is a bigger concern than digestive health. Roughly half (52 percent) are concerned about heart health relative to just over one third (40 percent) who express concern over digestive health.
- Nearly all (91 percent) understand and believe that diet is related to heart health, agreeing that the health of their heart can be directly affected by what they eat.
- Seventy-five percent agree that their overall health is affected by the health of their digestive system and 76 percent agree that the health of their digestive system affects the health of their heart.
Supplement users are looking specifically for a better, more holistic long-term solution to high cholesterol and promoting heart health.
- Three-fourths (75 percent) of supplement users would prefer a more natural way to lower cholesterol.
- Seventy-three percent wish there was a clinically proven way to reduce cholesterol that is not a prescription drug.
- More than two-thirds (67 percent) of supplement users say they worry about the side effects of taking prescription drugs to treat cholesterol.
Probiotic supplement users understand different strains of probiotics confer different benefits and that these benefits extend beyond improved regularity.
- Seventy-seven percent agree that probiotics deliver a dose of good bacteria to your body.
- Sixty percent have used probiotics, either in the form of a food with active live cultures, a probiotic food, or supplement.
- Over two thirds (69 percent) of probiotic users agree that different active cultures provide different types of health benefits, and nearly three out of four (73 percent) probiotic users agree that active cultures do more for them than improve digestion.
Emerging science is evaluating whether the microbiome, and gut bacteria specifically, can play a role in health and certain chronic diseases such as heart disease. Probiotics (live healthy bacteria that confer a health benefit to the host) are being studied to determine if they may have a role in improving specific health markers to maintain and improve health and wellness through the gut.
Exercise could fortify immune system against future cancers
Small pilot study suggests that T cells become more responsive in exercising cancer survivors weeks after chemo ends
WESTMINSTER, CO (October 10, 2012)—Researchers may soon be able to add yet another item to the list of exercise’s well-documented health benefits: A preliminary study suggests that when cancer survivors exercise for several weeks after they finish chemotherapy, their immune systems remodel themselves to become more effective, potentially fending off future incidences of cancer. The finding may help explain why exercise can significantly reduce the chances of secondary cancers in survivors or reduce the chances of cancer altogether in people who have never had the disease.
Laura Bilek, Graham Sharp, and Geoffrey Thiele, all of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and Daniel Shackelford, Colin Quinn, and Carole Schneider, all of Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute, analyzed T cells in the blood of cancer survivors before and after a 12-week exercise program. They found that a significant portion of these immune cells converted from a senescent form, which isn’t as effective at combating disease, to a naïve form, ready to fight cancer and infections.
Their poster presentation entitled, “Effect of Exercise on T Cells in Cancer Survivors,” will be discussed at The Integrative Biology of Exercise VI meeting being held October 10-13 at the Westin Westminster Hotel in Westminster, CO. This popular meeting is a collaborative effort between the American Physiological Society, the American College of Sports Medicine and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. The conference is supported in part by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, an institute of the National Institutes of Health, GlaxoSmithKline, Inc., Stealth Peptides, Inc., and Seahorse Biosciences. The full program is online at http://bit.ly/OrMFtN.
Exercise and Immunity
Study leader Laura Bilek explains that previous research had turned up a variety of positive associations between exercise and cancer—notably, that exercise can reduce the risk of getting initial incidences of several different types of cancers, can often improve prognosis in cancer patients, and can reduce the risk of recurrence and secondary cancers survivors of some types of cancers. However, the mechanism behind these phenomena has been unknown.
Since other research has suggested that exercise can remodel the immune system, making it more effective at fighting disease in general, Bilek and her colleagues decided to investigate how exercise affects the immune system of cancer patients. Working with a group of 16 cancer survivors, all but one of who recently finished chemotherapy cancer treatment, the researchers focused on T cells, a type of immune cell that attacks a variety of infectious agents as well as cancer cells. After chemotherapy, previous research had shown that the majority of T cells become senescent, with a decreased ability to fight infections and cancers. However, Bilek says, rebuilding the population of responsive (naïve) T cells is critical for regaining normal immune function and cancer-fighting ability.
The researchers first took blood samples from each of the volunteers to examine how many senescent and naïve T cells each had. Then, these study subjects were all enrolled into 12-week exercise programs at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute. All programs were individualized for the study participants, incorporating elements of cardiovascular exercise, strength and endurance training, and exercises for flexibility, posture, and balance, with extra emphasis in areas where participants were weak.
After the 12-week program, the researchers drew a second blood sample from each volunteer and ran the same T cell analysis.
Another Reason to Work Out
Results showed that the ratio of senescent to naïve T cells changed favorably in the majority of participants, with most of the study subjects regaining greater numbers of the naïve variety.
“What we’re suggesting is that with exercise, you might be getting rid of T cells that aren’t helpful and making room for T cells that might be helpful,” Bilek says.
She adds that this finding highlights the importance of exercise for all, including those with cancer and cancer survivors. These two populations might benefit especially from the heightened “cancer surveillance”—the ability of the immune system to seek out and destroy budding cancers—that this study suggests exercise brings, Bilek explains.
“There’s a litany of positive benefits from exercise,” Bilek says. “If exercise indeed strengthens the immune system and potentially improves cancer surveillance, it’s one more thing we should educate patients about as a reason they should schedule regular activity throughout their day and make it a priority in their lives.”
Minutes of hard exercise can lead to all-day calorie burn
Sprint interval training could cut time exercising while controlling weight
WESTMINSTER, CO (October 10, 2012)—Time spent in the drudgery of strenuous exercise is a well-documented turn-off for many people who want to get in better shape. In a new study, researchers show that exercisers can burn as many as 200 extra calories in as little as 2.5 minutes of concentrated effort a day—as long as they intersperse longer periods of easy recovery in a practice known as sprint interval training. The finding could make exercise more manageable for would-be fitness buffs by cramming truly intense efforts into as little as 25 minutes.
Kyle Sevits, Garrett Peltonen, Rebecca Scalzo, Scott Binns, Anna Klochak, Christopher Melby, and Christopher Bell, all of Colorado State University, and Edward Melanson and Tracy Swibas, both of University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus, compared volunteers’ energy expenditures on two different days, one in which they performed a sprint interval workout on a stationary bicycle. Their results showed a marked uptick in the amount of calories the volunteers burned on the workout day, despite the short amount of time spent in actual hard exercise.
Their poster presentation entitled, “A Single Session of Sprint Interval Training Increases Total Daily Energy Expenditure,” will be discussed at The Integrative Biology of Exercise VI meeting being held October 10-13 at the Westin Westminster Hotel in Westminster, CO. This popular meeting is a collaborative effort between the American Physiological Society, the American College of Sports Medicine and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. The conference is supported in part by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, an institute of the National Institutes of Health, GlaxoSmithKline, Inc., Stealth Peptides, Inc., and Seahorse Biosciences. The full program is online at http://bit.ly/OrMFtN.
Feeling the Burn
Study leader Sevits notes that despite exercise’s numerous documented benefits, few people hit the U.S. government’s recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. “Research shows that many people start an exercise program but just can’t keep it up,” Sevits says. “The biggest factor people quote is that they don’t have the time to fit in exercise. We hope if exercise can be fit into a smaller period of time, then they may give exercise a go and stick with it.”
Though other studies have shown that sprint interval training can markedly improve fitness and athletic performance, little was known about how this type of exercise affects energy expenditure, a factor that motivates many people to exercise. To determine how many calories a typical sprint interval training workout might burn, Sevits and his colleagues recruited five healthy male volunteers, all between the ages of 25 and 31 years old. These volunteers made an initial visit to Colorado State University in Fort Collins in which they performed an exercise stress test to make sure their hearts were healthy enough to participate. The researchers also analyzed the volunteers’ body compositions and their resting metabolic rates.
Over the next three days, the volunteers ate a diet precisely calibrated to meet their metabolic needs so that they’d be in “energy balance,” Sevits explains, with just enough calories so they weren’t over- or under-eating. At the end of those three days, the men then checked in to a research facility at the University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus that was outfitted much like a typical hospital room. However, this room was completely enclosed, with air intake and exhaust regulated and equipment installed to analyze oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water content. Based on the results of this analysis, the researchers could determine how many calories the volunteers burned while each stayed in the room.
For two days, each volunteer lived in the room, continuing to eat the prescribed diet and spending the majority of their time in sedentary activities, such as watching movies or using a computer. However, on one of the days, they engaged in a sprint interval workout that involved pedaling as fast as possible on a stationary bicycle in the room that was set at a high resistance for five 30-second periods, each separated by four-minute periods of recovery in which they pedaled slowly with very little resistance. During the intense, 30-second bouts, the researchers coached the volunteers over an intercom system, encouraging them to give 100 percent effort.
Sprint Interval Trainer?
Analyzing results from the room calorimeter system showed that the volunteers burned an average of an extra 200 calories on the sprint interval workout day, despite spending just 2.5 minutes engaged in hard exercise. Though the researchers can’t yet speculate on whether such efforts could translate into weight loss, Sevits and his colleagues suggest that engaging in intense, but brief, bursts of exercise could aid in weight maintenance. “Burning an extra 200 calories from these exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away that pound or two that many Americans gain each year,” Sevits says.
However, maintaining the maximum effort needed to exercise at peak intensity over the 30-second sprints could prove tricky for many people to maintain on their own without help, Sevits warns. “Motivating yourself can be very hard,” he says. “The way this could work in the real world is with the guidance of a personal trainer.”
Science Reveals the Power of a Handshake
Published on October 19, 2012 by Steve McGaughey
New neuroscience research is confirming an old adage about the power of a handshake: strangers do form a better impression of those who proffer their hand in greeting.
A firm, friendly handshake has long been recommended in the business world as a way to make a good first impression, and the greeting is thought to date to ancient times as a way of showing a stranger you had no weapons. Now, a paper published online and for the December print issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience on a study of the neural correlates of a handshake is giving insight into just how important the practice is to the evaluations we make of subsequent social interactions.
The study was led by Beckman Institute researcher Florin Dolcos and Department of Psychology postdoctoral research associate Sanda Dolcos. They found, as they wrote, that “a handshake preceding social interaction enhanced the positive impact of approach and diminished the negative impact of avoidance behavior on the evaluation of social interaction.”
Their results, for the first time, give a scientific underpinning to long-held beliefs about the important role a handshake plays in social or business interactions. Sanda Dolcos said their findings have obvious implications for those who want to make a good impression.
“I would tell them to be aware of the power of a handshake,” she said. “We found that it not only increases the positive effect toward a favorable interaction, but it also diminishes the impact of a negative impression. Many of our social interactions may go wrong for a reason or another, and a simple handshake preceding them can give us a boost and attenuate the negative impact of possible misunderstandings.”
The study focused experimentally on approach and avoidance behaviors in social interactions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), skin conductance, and behavioral responses were collected from18 male and female volunteers who watched and rated animated videos of non-verbal guest-host interactions in a business setting. Analysis of the fMRI data focused on brain areas from the social cognition network.
The results showed “increased sensitivity to approach than to avoidance behavior in amygdala and superior temporal sulcus, which were linked to a positive evaluation of approach behavior and a positive impact of handshake.” In addition, the researchers wrote, the “nucleus accumbens, which is a reward processing region, showed greater activity for Handshake than for No-handshake conditions” – thus demonstrating a link to “the positive effect of handshake on social evaluation.”
“The regions of the social cognition network are commonly engaged when people are assessing the intentions of others,” Florin Dolcos said. “They had been identified before and people who have difficulty in interactions, like people with autism, have reduced response in this region.
“But, unlike previous studies, we simulated approach and avoidance behaviors using animated characters that displayed obvious interest or indifference for further interactions. This is the first time that such a manipulation was used in a relevant context.”
The videos the participants watched included animated human figures in a setting that indicated a business-type interaction. The figures included a host and a guest encountering each other for the first time. Florin Dolcos said using animated videos with human figures interacting in a defined social context was a big step forward in this type of research.
“Previous research investigating social interactions has used static instead of dynamic social stimuli, or focused only on faces,” he said. “However, in everyday life people are typically involved in dynamic interactions with others in a defined social context. I think that is what sets this study apart.”
Sanda Dolcos summed up the results: “Overall, our study not only replicated previous reports that identify activity in regions of the social cognition network, but also provided insight into the contribution of these regions into evaluating approach and avoidance social interactions, and grant neuroscientific support for the power of a handshake.”
Florin Dolcos added that it’s not just any handshake that leads to positive feelings, but a particular way of shaking hands, such as a firm, confident, yet friendly handshake, as is often promoted as good business practice.
“In a business setting this is what people are expecting, and those who know these things use them,” he said. “Not a very long time ago you could get a loan based on a handshake. So it conveys something very important, very basic. Yet the science underlying this is so far behind. We knew these things intuitively but now we also have the scientific support.”
Florin Dolcos is a member of Beckman’s Cognitive Neuroscience group, heads the Dolcos Lab for Affective, Cognitive, and Clinical Neuroscience, and is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology.
Sitting for protracted periods increases risk of diabetes, heart disease and death – study
Sitting around compromises health of people- even if they meet typical physical activity guidelines
A new study led by the University of Leicester, in association with colleagues at Loughborough University, has discovered that sitting for long periods increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and death.
The study, which combined the results of 18 studies and included a total of 794,577 participants, was led by Dr. Emma Wilmot, a research fellow in the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester. It was done in collaboration with colleagues from the newly established National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit and was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association of the Study of Diabetes.
According to the study, those who sit for long periods have a two fold increase in their risk of diabetes, heart disease and death. Importantly, associations were independent of the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity undertaken, suggesting that even if an individual meets typical physical activity guidelines, their health may still be compromised if they sit for long periods of time throughout the day.
Dr Wilmot, a Clinical Research Fellow in Diabetes and Endocrinology based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, Leicester General Hospital, said: “The average adult spends 50-70% of their time sitting so the findings of this study have far reaching implications. By simply limiting the time that we spend sitting, we may be able to reduce our risk of diabetes, heart disease and death”.
“Our study also showed that the most consistent associations were between sitting and diabetes. This is an important message because people with risk factors for diabetes, such as the obese, those of South Asian ethnic origin, or those with a family history of diabetes, may be able to help reduce their future risk of diabetes by limiting the time spent sitting. ”
Professor Stuart Biddle, of Loughborough University, and a co-investigator on the study, said: “There are many ways we can reduce our sitting time, such as breaking up long periods at the computer at work by placing our laptop on a filing cabinet. We can have standing meetings, we can walk during the lunch break, and we can look to reduce TV viewing in the evenings by seeking out less sedentary behaviours.”
Professor Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and honorary consultant at University Hospitals of Leicester is a co-investigator and Director of the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit. She said:
“This paper has a very important message for the public but also for health care professionals – namely that being sedentary is common and dangerous for our long term health, particularly for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and that this link appears to be over and above other lifestyle factors such as our diet and physical activity.”
Prebiotic may help patients with intestinal failure grow new and better gut
URBANA – Adding the right prebiotic to the diets of pediatric patients with intestinal failure could replace intravenous feeding, says a new University of Illinois study.
“When we fed the carbohydrate fructooligosacharide (FOS) as a prebiotic, the gut grew and increased in function,” said Kelly A. Tappenden, a U of I professor of nutrition and gastrointestinal physiology. “The study showed that using the correct pre- and probiotic in combination could enhance these results even more.”
When FOS enters the intestines, bacteria convert it into butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that increases the size of the gut and its ability to digest and absorb nutrients, she said.
But today’s IV solutions don’t contain butyrate and adding it would entail drug development trials and regulatory red tape. She wanted to see if adding this carbohydrate to the diet while continuing to provide most nutrients intravenously would cause the gut to start producing butyrate on its own. It worked.
According to Tappenden, at least 10,000 U.S. patients are totally reliant on intravenous feeding because their intestines have been surgically shortened.
Many of these patients are premature infants who develop necrotizing enterocolitis, a kind of gangrene of the intestine. In the U.S., one in eight infants is a preemie, and removing necrotized, or dead, intestine is the most common surgical emergency in these babies.
“Surgery saves their lives, but with so much intestine removed, they’re unable to digest or absorb nutrients. These babies are also at risk for long-term complications, such as bone demineralization and liver failure. Our goal is to take kids who’ve had this resection and cause their gut to grow and adapt,” she said.
She tested her hypothesis about butyrate using newborn piglets, an excellent model for the human infant in metabolism and physiology. Piglets with intestinal failure were assigned to one of four groups: a control group; a group whose diet contained FOS, a carbohydrate given as a prebiotic to stimulate the production of butyrate by beneficial bacteria; a probiotic, or actual live bacteria; and a combination of pre- and probiotics.
“We believed that bacteria in the gut would use the prebiotic to make butyrate and support intestinal growth. But we thought that might only happen in the group that received both pre- and probiotics because we didn’t know if the newborn gut would have enough bacteria to make this important short-chain fatty acid.”
Actually, the neonatal piglets did have enough bacteria in their guts, and the prebiotic alone was effective in increasing intestinal function and structure, she said.
“In fact, the probiotic that we used in one of the groups eliminated the beneficial effect of the prebiotic. That shows us that we need to be exceptionally careful in selecting the probiotic we use, matching it to the specific disease,” she noted. Many consumers believe all probiotics are equal, but the effect of specific bacterial strains is different, she said.
“At this point, we can only recommend consumption of the FOS prebiotic alone,” she added.
The article appears in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and is available online at http://pen.sagepub.com/content/current. Jennifer L. Barnes of the U of I and Bolette Hartmann and Jens J. Holst of the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, are co-authors of the study, which was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Cochrane Review finds no benefit from routine health checks
Carrying out general health checks does not reduce deaths overall or from serious diseases like cancer and heart disease, according to Cochrane researchers. The researchers, who carried out a systematic review on the subject for The Cochrane Library, warn against offering general health checks as part of a public health programme.
In some countries, general health checks are offered as part of standard practice. General health checks are intended to reduce deaths and ill health by enabling early detection and treatment of disease. However, there are potential negative implications, for example diagnosis and treatment of conditions that might never have led to any symptoms of disease or shortened life.
The researchers based their findings on 14 trials involving 182,880 people. All trials divided participants into at least two groups: one where participants were invited to general health checks and another where they were not. The number of new diagnoses was generally poorly studied, but in one trial, health checks led to more diagnoses of all kinds. In another trial, people in the group invited to general health checks were more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, as might be expected. In three trials, large numbers of abnormalities were identified in the screened groups.
However, based on nine trials with a total of 11,940 deaths, the researchers found no difference between the number of deaths in the two groups in the long term, either overall or specifically due to cancer or heart disease. Other outcomes were poorly studied, but suggested that offering general health checks has no impact on hospital admissions, disability, worry, specialist referrals, additional visits to doctors or time off work.
“From the evidence we’ve seen, inviting patients to general health checks is unlikely to be beneficial,” said lead researcher Lasse Krogsbøll of The Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. “One reason for this might be that doctors identify additional problems and take action when they see patients for other reasons.”
“What we’re not saying is that doctors should stop carrying out tests or offering treatment when they suspect there may be a problem. But we do think that public healthcare initiatives that are systematically offering general health checks should be resisted.”
According to the review, new studies should be focused on the individual components of health checks and better targeting of conditions such as kidney disease and diabetes. They should be designed to further explore the harmful effects of general health checks, which are often ignored, producing misleading conclusions about the balance of benefits and harm. Another problem is that those people who attend health checks when invited may be different to those who do not. People who are at a high risk of serious illness may be less likely to attend.
Vitamin D supplements may benefit lupus patients
A new clinical study published in BioMedCentral’s open access journal Arthritis Research and Therapy provides preliminary evidence that vitamin D supplementation could be considered an immunomodulatory agent for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized not only by skin, joint, neurological and renal symptoms, but also by inflammation of tissue linings in the body.
SLE is a T- and B-cell-dependent disease that causes an appearance of autoantibodies, causing the body to attack itself. Patients present with a depletion of regulatory T cells (Tregs) that normally protect against autoimmune disease, an increase in cytokine-producing T helper (Th) 17 cells and an increase in IFN-inducible genes, which trigger the body’s protective responses. Recent studies have shown that vitamin D could ameliorate these effects.
In a prospective clinical trial, Nathalie Costedoat-Chalumeau and colleagues set out to evaluate the safety and immunological effects of vitamin D supplementation in 20 SLE patients with low vitamin D levels. They observed these patients over six months and found that vitamin D was not only well-tolerated but, more importantly, there were no SLE flare-ups during the follow-up period.
Vitamin D supplementation in these patients caused an increase in beneficial CD4+ cells (mature Th cells), an increase in Treg cells and a decrease of effector Th1 and Th17 cells. It also induced a decrease of memory B cell and anti-DNA antibodies – all beneficial for SLE symptoms. The authors found that no modification of existing immunosuppressant drugs was needed, nor any new drugs initiated.
Although preliminary in nature, these findings suggest that vitamin D provides beneficial immunological effects for SLE, with a decrease in B memory cells and effector T cells, and an increase in Tregs. Costedoat-Chalumeau said “This should be confirmed in larger randomized controlled trials.”
Costedoat-Chalumeau believes that the findings confirm that vitamin D may also play other roles in the immune system. She said “The study has highlighted interesting pathways to explore. Among the identified signatures, we observed the down-regulation of RNA polymerase functions and histone expression and the up-regulation of the TP53/CDKN1A-related pathway. These deserve further research owing to their possible involvement with a decrease in the accumulation of autoantigens and the activation and proliferation of autoreactive T and B lymphocytes.”
Link between creativity and mental illness confirmed
[PRESS RELEASE 16 October 2012] People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population, there being a particularly salient connection between writing and schizophrenia. This according to researchers at Karolinska Institutet, whose large-scale Swedish registry study is the most comprehensive ever in its field.
Last year, the team showed that artists and scientists were more common amongst families where bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is present, compared to the population at large. They subsequently expanded their study to many more psychiatric diagnoses – such as schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety syndrome, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, autism, ADHD, anorexia nervosa and suicide – and to include people in outpatient care rather than exclusively hospital patients.
The present study tracked almost 1.2 million patients and their relatives, identified down to second-cousin level. Since all were matched with healthy controls, the study incorporated much of the Swedish population from the most recent decades. All data was anonymized and cannot be linked to any individuals.
The results confirmed those of their previous study: certain mental illness – bipolar disorder – is more prevalent in the entire group of people with artistic or scientific professions, such as dancers, researchers, photographers and authors. Authors specifically also were more common among most of the other psychiatric diseases (including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety syndrome and substance abuse) and were almost 50 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
The researchers also observed that creative professions were more common in the relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa and, to some extent, autism. According to Simon Kyaga, consultant in psychiatry and doctoral student at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the results give cause to reconsider approaches to mental illness.
“If one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patients illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment,” he says. “In that case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost. In psychiatry and medicine generally there has been a tradition to see the disease in black-and-white terms and to endeavour to treat the patient by removing everything regarded as morbid.”
The study was financed with grants from the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Psychiatry Foundation, the Bror Gadelius Foundation, the Stockholm Centre for Psychiatric Research and the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research
Mother’s touch could change effects of prenatal stress
Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester, and Kings College, London, have found that mothers who stroke their baby’s body in the first few weeks after birth may change the effects that stress during pregnancy can have on an infant’s early-life development.
Researchers world-wide have been studying whether stress in pregnancy can lead to emotional and behavioural problems in children for many years. Attention is now moving towards how parents might alter these effects after birth. Researchers are aiming to improve understanding of the issues to help enhance information services for pregnant women and their partners.
Scientists believe that stress in pregnancy can have an effect on an infant in later life by reducing the activity of genes that play a role in stress response. Studies of early care-giving in rats have found that high levels of mothers’ licking and grooming their pups soon after birth can increase the activity of these genes and may reverse the effects of prenatal stress on their offspring.
Some studies suggest that impacts of prenatal stress on an infant’s development can be either positive or negative depending on the type of environment a child encounters. It is thought that some children may experience the effects through being more prone to high levels of fear or anger.
The team at Liverpool, Manchester and London followed first-time mothers from pregnancy through to the first years of their children’s lives as part of Medical Research Council (MRC) funded research, The Wirral Child Health and Development Study.
It showed that links between symptoms of depression in pregnancy and subsequent infant emotions of fear and anger, as well as heart rate response to stress at seven months of age changed by how often a mother stroked their baby on the head, back, legs and arms in the early weeks of life. The results suggest that stroking may alter gene activity in a similar way to that reported in animals.
Dr Helen Sharp, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, explains: “We are currently following up on the Wirral children in our study to see if reports of early stroking by their mothers continue to make a difference to developmental outcomes over time.
“The eventual aim is to find out whether we should recommend that mothers who have been stressed during pregnancy should be encouraged to stroke their babies early in life”
Eating lots of carbs, sugar may raise risk of cognitive impairment, Mayo Clinic study finds
Those 70-plus who ate food high in fat and protein fared better cognitively, research showed
ROCHESTER, Minn. — People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, Mayo Clinic researchers have found. Those who consume a lot of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired, the study found. The findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The research highlights the importance of a well-rounded diet, says lead author Rosebud Roberts, M.B., Ch.B., a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist.
“We think it’s important that you eat a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, because each of these nutrients has an important role in the body,” Dr. Roberts says.
Researchers tracked 1,230 people ages 70 to 89 who provided information on what they ate during the previous year. At that time, their cognitive function was evaluated by an expert panel of physicians, nurses and neuropsychologists. Of those participants, only the roughly 940 who showed no signs of cognitive impairment were asked to return for follow-up evaluations of their cognitive function. About four years into the study, 200 of those 940 were beginning to show mild cognitive impairment, problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes.
Those who reported the highest carbohydrate intake at the beginning of the study were 1.9 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest intake of carbohydrates. Participants with the highest sugar intake were 1.5 times likelier to experience mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest levels.
But those whose diets were highest in fat — compared to the lowest — were 42 percent less likely to face cognitive impairment, and those who had the highest intake of protein had a reduced risk of 21 percent.
When total fat and protein intake were taken into account, people with the highest carbohydrate intake were 3.6 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment.
“A high carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact your glucose and insulin metabolism,” Dr. Roberts says. “Sugar fuels the brain — so moderate intake is good. However, high levels of sugar may actually prevent the brain from using the sugar — similar to what we see with type 2 diabetes.”
Exercise may lead to better school performance for kids with ADHD
EAST LANSING, Mich. — A few minutes of exercise can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder perform better academically, according to a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher.
The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, shows for the first time that kids with ADHD can better drown out distractions and focus on a task after a single bout of exercise. Scientists say such “inhibitory control” is the main challenge faced by people with the disorder.
“This provides some very early evidence that exercise might be a tool in our nonpharmaceutical treatment of ADHD,” said Matthew Pontifex, MSU assistant professor of kinesiology, who led the study. “Maybe our first course of action that we would recommend to developmental psychologists would be to increase children’s physical activity.”
While drugs have proven largely effective in treating many of the 2.5 million school-aged American children with ADHD, a growing number of parents and physicians worry about the side effects and costs of medication.
In the study, Pontifex and colleagues asked 40 children aged 8 to 10, half of whom had ADHD, to spend 20 minutes either walking briskly on a treadmill or reading while seated. The children then took a brief reading comprehension and math exam similar to longer standardized tests. They also played a simple computer game in which they had to ignore visual stimuli to quickly determine which direction a cartoon fish was swimming.
The results showed all of the children performed better on both tests after exercising. In the computer game, those with ADHD also were better able to slow down after making an error to avoid repeat mistakes – a particular challenge for those with the disorder.
Pontifex said the findings support calls for more physical activity during the school day. Other researchers have found that children with ADHD are less likely to be physically active or play organized sports. Meanwhile, many schools have cut recess and physical education programs in response to shrinking budgets.
“To date there really isn’t a whole lot of evidence that schools can pull from to justify why these physical education programs should be in existence,” he said. “So what we’re trying to do is target our research to provide that type of evidence.”
Pontifex conducted the study for his doctoral dissertation at the University of Illinois before joining the MSU faculty. His co-investigators included his adviser, kinesiology professor Charles Hillman, and Daniel Picchietti, a pediatrician at the Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign, Ill. The research was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Obese Teen Boys Have Up to 50 Percent Less Testosterone than Lean Boys, UB Study Finds
Results send “grim message” that obese teen males may become impotent, infertile adults
“These findings demonstrate that the effect of obesity is powerful, even in the young,” says UB’s Dandona, who led the research.
Release Date: October 12, 2012
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A study by the University at Buffalo shows for the first time that obese males ages 14 to 20 have up to 50 percent less total testosterone than do normal males of the same age, significantly increasing their potential to be impotent and infertile as adults.
The paper was published online as an accepted article in Clinical Endocrinology.
The authors are the same researchers in the University at Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences who first reported in 2004 the presence of low testosterone levels, known as hypogonadism, in obese, type 2 diabetic adult males and confirmed it in 2010 in more than 2,000 obese men, both diabetic and nondiabetic.
“We were surprised to observe a 50 percent reduction in testosterone in this pediatric study because these obese males were young and were not diabetic,” says Paresh Dandona, MD, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine, chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in the UB medical school and first author on the study. “The implications of our findings are, frankly, horrendous because these boys are potentially impotent and infertile,” says Dandona. “The message is a grim one with massive epidemiological implications.”
The paper is available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22970699.
The small study included 25 obese and 25 lean males and was controlled for age and level of sexual maturity. Concentrations of total and free testosterone and estradiol, an estrogen hormone, were measured in morning fasting blood samples. The results need to be confirmed with a larger number of subjects, Dandona says.
“These findings demonstrate that the effect of obesity is powerful, even in the young, and that lifestyle and nutritional intake starting in childhood have major repercussions throughout all stages of life,” he says.
In addition to the reproductive consequences, the absence or low levels of testosterone that were found also will increase the tendency toward abdominal fat and reduced muscle, Dandona says, leading to insulin resistance, which contributes to diabetes.
“The good news is that we know that testosterone levels do return to normal in obese adult males who undergo gastric bypass surgery,” says Dandona. “It’s possible that levels also will return to normal through weight loss as a result of lifestyle change, although this needs to be confirmed by larger studies.”
The UB researchers now intend to study whether or not weight loss accomplished either through lifestyle changes or through pharmacological intervention will restore testosterone levels in obese teen males.
Co-authors with Dandona are Muniza Mogri, MD, a medical resident in the UB Department of Pediatrics, Sandeep Dhindsa, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at UB; Husam Ghanim, PhD, research assistant professor of medicine; and Teresa Quattrin, MD, A. Conger Goodyear Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, housed in Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.
Immune Response May Link Social Rejection to Later Health Outcomes
No matter which way you look at it, rejection hurts. Experiencing rejection from a boss, a friend, or a partner is difficult enough for many adults to handle. But adolescents, who are dealing with the one-two punch of biological and social change, may be the most vulnerable to its negative effects.
In a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researcher Michael Murphy of the University of British Columbia and colleagues examine the human immune response as a potential link between social stressors like rejection and later mental and physical health outcomes.
There are many kinds of stressors that increase our risk for disease, but stressors that threaten our social standing, such as targeted rejection, seem to be particularly harmful.
Many people are probably familiar with targeted rejection from their school days, when a student was actively and intentionally rejected by another student or a group of students. It’s the kind of behavior that we see in so many cases of ostracism and bullying.
“Targeted rejection is central to some of life’s most distressing experiences – things like getting broken up with, getting fired, and being excluded from your peer group at school,” said Murphy. “In this study, we aimed to examine processes that may give these experiences the ability to affect health.”
Previous research has shown that people who are on the receiving end of this kind of rejection experience symptoms of depression three times faster than people who are faced with similarly severe life events. Researchers believe that certain inflammatory processes that are part of the immune response could be a link between targeted rejection and depression.
Murphy and colleagues decided to directly investigate whether rejection-related life events affect inflammatory activity by conducting a study that followed 147 healthy adolescent women over 2.5 years. The participants did not have a personal history of mental health problems but were all at risk for major depression due to family and other personal risk factors.
The participants were assessed for psychiatric diagnoses, incidences of targeted rejection, perceived social status, expression of inflammatory signaling molecules, and indicators of low-grade inflammation every 6 months over the course of the study.
The data collected suggest that recent exposure to targeted rejection does indeed activate the molecular signaling pathways that regulate inflammation. Participants had elevated levels of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules at visits when they had recently experienced an incidence of targeted rejection compared to visits when no targeted rejection had occurred.
Interestingly, the effect was more pronounced in those who perceived their social status to be higher.
Murphy and colleagues speculate that this inflammatory response might be adaptive for individuals at the top of a social hierarchy, giving them a survival advantage. The researchers note, however, that an overly productive immune response can be harmful to mental and physical health in the long run.
If substantiated in future research, these findings could have implications for understanding how social conditions increase risk for a variety of inflammation-related diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and depression.
The study was co-authored by George M. Slavich, University of California, Los Angeles; Nicolas Rohleder, Brandeis University; and Gregory E. Miller, University of British Columbia.
Antidepressants linked to increased risk of stroke
MINNEAPOLIS – Research shows that use of popular antidepressants is linked to an increased risk of some strokes caused by bleeding in the brain, but that the risk is low, according to a multi-study analysis published in the October 17, 2012, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
For the research, scientists analyzed all of the studies that have looked at antidepressant use and stroke, which included 16 studies with more than 500,000 total participants. They found that people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are the most commonly used antidepressants, were 50 percent more likely to have an intracranial hemorrhage than those not taking the antidepressants and about 40 percent more likely to have an intracerebral hemorrhage.
But study author Daniel G. Hackam, MD, PhD, FRCPC, of Western University in London, Ontario, said the findings should be viewed with caution. “Because these types of strokes are very rare, the actual increased risk for the average person is very low,” he said.
An estimated 24.6 of these strokes occur per 100,000 people per year. According to the research, the use of SSRIs would increase the risk by one additional stroke per 10,000 people per year.
“Overall, these results should not deter anyone from taking an SSRI when it is needed,” Hackam said. “In general these drugs are safe, and obviously there are risks to having depression go untreated. But doctors might consider other types of antidepressants for people who already have risk factors for these types of strokes, such as those taking blood thinners, people who have had similar strokes already or those with severe alcohol abuse.”
2 components of red meat combined with alteration in DNA repair increase risk for bladder cancer
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Two components of red meat — dietary protein and dietary iron — may combine to form powerful carcinogens, N-nitroso compounds, which increase risk for bladder cancer. Moreover, individuals with reduced ability to reverse the effects of N-nitroso compounds because of a genetic variation in their RAD52 gene could be at particularly high risk.
Chelsea Catsburg, a doctoral student at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, presented these data at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held here Oct. 16-19, 2012.
Dietary protein is made up of amino acids, which can be naturally metabolized into biogenic amines, according to Catsburg. Research has shown that the processing and storage of meat increases amine concentrations. When these amines are in the presence of nitrites, they generate nitrosamines, which have carcinogenic properties. In addition, heme iron, found in red meat, has been shown to increase the formation of nitrosamines from amines.
“Nitrosamine formation occurs predominantly in the stomach and intestines, so these exposures have been studied extensively in relation to gastric cancer and somewhat in relation to colorectal cancer,” Catsburg said. “However, there is evidence that these reactions also take place in the bladder, particularly in the presence of infection.”
Catsburg and colleagues had previously found that meat groups with high heme and high amine concentrations, such as salami and liver, increased risk for bladder cancer. In this study, they examined whether genetic variation in DNA repair enzymes, available to correct the damage caused by these endogenously formed carcinogens, modified these associations.
The researchers tested 627 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 27 genes involved in N-nitroso compound metabolism or DNA repair. They collected data from 355 bladder cancer cases and 409 controls in the Los Angeles Bladder Cancer Study.
“We found that a polymorphism in the RAD52 gene modified the effect of these exposures,” Catsburg said. “This polymorphism is suspected to reduce the DNA repair activity of the RAD52 protein, and the association of these meat groups and bladder cancer risk was significantly higher in individuals with one or more copies of this polymorphism.”
These results further support recommendations by the World Cancer Research Fund to limit red meat intake and to avoid processed meats to reduce risk for stomach and bowel cancer, according to the researchers.
“This study suggests that these exposures may also affect secondary organs such as the bladder,” Catsburg said. “Individuals at risk for bladder cancer may wish to avoid intake of red and processed meats, especially if they have genetic polymorphisms that reduce DNA repair activity and make them more vulnerable to the effects of carcinogens.”
Further replication of this study to support an association between heme and meat intake and the risk for bladder cancer is necessary, she added
Daily multivitamins reduce risk of cancer in men
Brigham and Women’s Hospital study is the first to examine the long-term affect of multivitamins on a major chronic diseases
Boston, MA – A daily multivitamin can help a man reduce his risk of cancer, according to new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). The first-of-its kind study will be presented October 17 at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research and published online the same day in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“The Physicians’ Health Study II is the first clinical trial to test the affects of multivitamins on a major disease such as cancer,” said lead author J. Michael Gaziano, MD, chief of the Division of Aging at BWH and an investigator at VA Boston. “Despite the fact that more than one-third of Americans take multivitamins, their long-term effects were unknown until now.”
Researchers had nearly 15,000 men over the age of 50 take either a multivitamin or a placebo every day for more than 10 years. (From the monthly multivitamin packs pictured here.) The men self-reported a cancer diagnosis, and researchers confirmed the diagnosis through medical records. Researchers found the group taking a daily multivitamin had an 8 percent reduction in total cancer compared with the group taking the placebo. They also found a multivitamin was associated with an apparent reduction in cancer deaths.
Study co-author Howard D. Sesso, ScD, an associate epidemiologist in the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH said, “Many studies have suggested that eating a nutritious diet may reduce a man’s risk of developing cancer. Now we know that taking a daily multivitamin, in addition to addressing vitamin and mineral deficiencies, may also be considered in the prevention of cancer in middle-aged and older men.”
Researchers point out that it is not clear which specific vitamins or minerals in a multivitamin may be responsible for the reduction in cancer risk. Also, it is not known if the results can extend to women or to men younger than the age of 50. Researchers plan to follow up with study participants to determine the affect of a daily multivitamin on cancer over an even longer period of time.
A similar study is examining the affect of daily multivitamin use on cardiovascular disease risk. Results of that study will be announced at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in early November.
Leaves of carob tree, source of chocolate substitute, fight food-poisoning bacteria: Listeria
Leaves of the plant that yields carob — the substitute for chocolate that some consider healthier than chocolate — are a rich source of antibacterial substances ideal for fighting the microbe responsible for listeriosis, a serious form of food poisoning, according to a report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Nadhem Aissani and colleagues explain that the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria has fostered a search for new natural substances to preserve food and control disease-causing microbes. They cite a need for new substances to combat Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria that caused food poisoning outbreaks in a dozen states with three deaths so far this year. Carob has attracted attention as a potential antibacterial substance, but until now, scientists had not tested it against Listeria. Carob may be best-known as a substitute for chocolate that does not contain caffeine or theobromine, which makes chocolate toxic to dogs.
Their report describes tests in which extracts of carob leaves proved effective in inhibiting the growth of Listeria bacteria growing in laboratory cultures. Further, it offers a possible explanation for the antibacterial action. The results were promising enough for the scientists to plan further tests of carob extracts on Listeria growing in meat and fish samples.
Low calcium diet linked to higher risk of hormone condition in women
Moderate calcium supplementation in women should be encouraged, says editorial
Primary hyperparathyroidism or PHPT is caused by overactive parathyroid glands secreting too much parathyroid hormone, which can result in weak bones, fractures and kidney stones. In recent years, several studies have also suggested a link between untreated PHPT and an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
PHPT affects one in 800 people during their lifetime. It is most common in post-menopausal women between 50-60 years of age.
Calcium intake is known to influence parathyroid hormone production and therefore may be important in the development of PHPT. However, no study to date has explored this relation in detail over many years.
So a team of US-based researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital set out to examine the association between calcium intake and risk of developing primary hyperparathyroidism in women.
They tracked 58,354 US women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study I aged between 39 and 66 years in 1986 with no history of PHPT. Calcium intake (from both dietary sources and supplements) was assessed every four years using food frequency questionnaires over a 22-year period.
During follow-up, 277 cases of PHPT were confirmed.
Women were divided into five equal groups, according to intake of dietary calcium. After adjusting for several factors including age, body mass index and ethnicity, women in the group with the highest intake of dietary calcium had a 44% reduced risk of developing PHPT compared with the group with the lowest intake.
Even for women taking a modest 500 mg/day of calcium supplements, the risk of developing PHPT was 59% lower than those taking no calcium supplements.
Further analyses to test these results did not significantly change the association between calcium intake and risk of PHPT.
The authors point out that “there could be unknown confounders that we did not control for in our analysis.” However, they conclude: “Increased calcium intake, including both dietary and supplemental calcium, is independently associated with a reduced risk of developing primary hyperparathyroidism in women.”
And they suggest that future research “should examine other environmental and lifestyle risk factors that could chronically stimulate the parathyroid gland and thereby affect subsequent development of primary hyperparathyroidism.”
An accompanying editorial says this study “provides evidence to support physicians in confidently encouraging female patients to take calcium supplements.”
James Norman, Chief of Surgery at the Norman Parathyroid Center in Florida argues that daily calcium supplements in modest doses “are likely to provide more benefits than risks” …. and, over many years, even a moderate increase in calcium concentration probably helps reduce the incidence of parathyroid tumors.”
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