Health Research Report

145th Issue Date 28 DEC 2012

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

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Editors Top Five:

Null…Only like have 5 articles.

In this issue:

  1. Regular aspirin use 10 or more years ago associated with increased risk of type of age-related macular degeneration
  2. JAMA article discusses critical need for iodine supplements during pregnancy and while nursing
  3. Impaired melatonin secretion may play a role in premenstrual syndrome
  4. Are GMOs “sterilizing” Serbia?
  5. Maybe it’s time for a little human enhancement – Morally enhancing drugs added to our Water Supply

Regular aspirin use 10 or more years ago associated with increased risk of type of age-related macular degeneration

CHICAGO ‑ Among nearly 5,000 study participants, regular aspirin use reported ten years prior was associated with a small but statistically significant increase in the risk of neovascular age‑related macular degeneration, according to a study in the December 19 issue of JAMA.

“Aspirin use in the United States is widespread, with an estimated 19.3 percent of adults reporting regular consumption, and reported use increases with age,” according to background information in the study. “The results of cross-sectional studies of aspirin use and its relation to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have been inconsistent. AMD is a potentially blinding condition for which prevalence and incidence are increasing with the increased survival of the population, and regular use of aspirin is common and becoming more widespread in persons in the age range at highest risk for this disease. Therefore, it is imperative to further examine this potential association.”

Barbara E. K. Klein, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, and colleagues conducted a study to examine the association between aspirin use and AMD. The researchers used data from the Beaver Dam Eye Study, a longitudinal population-based study of age-related eye diseases conducted in Wisconsin. Examinations were performed every 5 years over a 20-year period (1988-1990 through 2008-2010). Study participants (n = 4,926) were 43 to 86 years of age at entry in the study. At subsequent examinations, participants were asked if they had regularly used aspirin at least twice a week for more than 3 months. The average duration of follow-up was 14.8 years.

For the study, the researchers measured the incidences of different types of AMD (early, late, and 2 subtypes of late AMD [neovascular AMD and pure geographic atrophy]).

There were 512 incident cases of early AMD and 117 incident cases of late AMD over the course of the study. The researchers found that regular use of aspirin use 10 years prior to the retinal examination was associated with late AMD (age- and sex-adjusted incidence, 1.8 percent for users vs. 1.0 percent for nonusers). When examining the relationships by late AMD subtype, neovascular AMD was significantly associated with such use (age-and sex-adjusted incidence, 1.4 percent for users vs. 0.6 percent for nonusers), but not for pure geographic atrophy. Aspirin use 5 years or 10 years prior to retinal examination was not associated with incident early AMD.

“Our findings are consistent with a small but statistically significant association between regular aspirin use and incidence of neovascular AMD. Additional replication is required to confirm our observations. If confirmed, defining the causal mechanisms may be important in developing methods to block this effect to prevent or retard the development of neovascular AMD in persons who use aspirin, especially to prevent CVD,” the authors conclude.

JAMA article discusses critical need for iodine supplements during pregnancy and while nursing

(Boston/Washington) – A viewpoint in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) discusses the issue of iodine deficiency in pregnant women in the U.S. and the potential negative health implications for both mothers and their children from this deficiency.

Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD, MHPE, professor of medicine and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), is the paper’s lead author. Elizabeth Pearce, MD, MSc, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), serves as co-author on the paper. The authors hope to start a conversation in the healthcare community on how to better protect the health of mothers and their children.

“Iodine levels in the US have been decreasing, which has the potential to negatively impact the mother and unborn child,” said Stagnaro-Green. “It’s time for all healthcare professionals to make sure that every pregnant and breast-feeding woman gets supplemental iodine during pregnancy and while they are breast-feeding.”

Iodine, which is not naturally made in the human body, must be consumed through foods rich in the element or through supplements. Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormone, and adequate thyroid hormone levels are critical for normal fetal neurodevelopment. National and international health organizations currently recommend that pregnant women take at least 150 µg of potassium iodide daily.

“There is concern that even mild iodine deficiency in pregnant women could lead to children with lower IQ’s,” said Pearce. Iodine deficiency remains the leading cause of preventable mental retardation worldwide. Other risks of iodine deficiency include maternal and fetal goiter and increased pregnancy loss and infant mortality.

Guidelines from the American Thyroid Association, Endocrine Society and Teratology Society have recommended daily iodine supplements for women in the U.S. who are pregnant, lactating or planning a pregnancy. However, these recommendations have not been widely adopted and many prenatal multivitamins sold do not contain iodine. Previous studies have shown that approximately only 20 percent of women in the U.S. take supplements with iodine.

“It is imperative that collaborations develop among health care providers and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that all prenatal vitamins contain at least 150 µg of iodine,” said Pearce.

Dr. Stagnaro-Green recommends that, “every prenatal vitamin in the US should have iodine supplementation.”

Impaired melatonin secretion may play a role in premenstrual syndrome

A new study by Douglas Mental Health University Institute researchers shows altered body rhythms of the hormone melatonin in Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) women with insomnia. This finding may help explain some of the sleep disruptions experienced by women with PMDD, also known as premenstrual syndrome. PMDD is a mood disorder which appears in the week preceding menses, and affects about 3-8% of women. PMDD sufferers can experience depression, tension, and irritability of sufficient intensity to interfere with daily activities and relationships. Disturbed sleep is also a common symptom of the disorder, with up to 70% of patients frequently reporting either poor sleep quality with increased awakenings or excessive sleepiness during the symptomatic phase.

First study in a highly controlled time-isolation environment

Dr. Diane B. Boivin’s team at the Centre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms at the Douglas Institute investigated how rhythms of the hormone melatonin vary across the 24-hour day in a group of women with PMDD and a group of healthy controls. In the study, participants underwent two 24-hour laboratory visits, once during the pre-ovulatory follicular phase and again during the post-ovulatory luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Each visit consisted of intensive physiological monitoring under highly controlled time-isolation conditions. During this time, blood samples were collected to determine circulating plasma melatonin levels.

The main finding was that compared to healthy controls, PMDD women had significantly decreased melatonin secretion levels during the night-time hours. PMDD women also had a further reduction of melatonin levels during their symptomatic luteal phase compared to the asymptomatic follicular phase.

Clinical implications of reduced melatonin in PMDD The prevalence of insomnia and depression are both about twice as high in women than in men, yet the reasons for this are still not fully understood. The current results highlight the importance of considering melatonin and circadian rhythms as factors leading to PMDD, with many clinical implications.

“Clearly understanding the mechanisms and specific pathophysiology of PMDD can help improve treatments, including both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches, for this disorder”, said lead author Dr. Ari Shechter.

By targeting the melatonin system specifically, or, more broadly, the circadian system, clinicians may be able to better treat symptoms, including insomnia, in PMDD.

ARE GMOS “STERILIZING” SERBIA?

Timur Blokhin

Dec 27, 2012 15:52

It’s no time for joking in Serbia: the ban on GMOs currently in force could spoil the country’s relations with the United States, and close the doors of the WTO for Belgrade. A statement to this effect was made the other day by representative of the American Embassy in Serbia Victoria Nibarger.

Serbian defenders of healthy eating cannot but curse at the already passed stages on the way to the WTO and the adoption of the Codex Alimentarius. This is a set of food standards, which implies, in particular, high levels of growth hormones in meat. Ecologists cite the case of an eight-year-old girl from Belgrade who is experiencing premature puberty and intensive hair growth because of these hormones taken with food. Some experts assert that when such “precocious” children come of age, they face a risk of breast or prostate cancer, depending on their gender.

Anti-transgenic sentiments are strong in Serbia. They impose GMO on us in order to sterilize our nation, Executive Director of the Novi Sada Ecological Movement Nikola Aleksich says in an interview with the Voice of Russia:

“Serbia is experiencing serious problems because of the illegal import of GMOs. 350 thousand married couples cannot conceive a child. And as for the increasing number of cases of cancer in Serbia, nobody dares to speak about it, these data are secret.”

For the past two decades scientists around the world have been arguing about the dangers of GMOs, and Russia is no exception. Doctor of Biological Sciences and international expert on environmental and food security Irina Ermakova believes that very inefficient technologies are used when GMOs are being created, that’s why such products cannot be safe by definition:

“During my experiments I added genetically-modified soya to the food of female rats. I was interested in what would happen to their progenies. More than 50% of young rats died in the first two-three weeks, about one half of the remaining rats were physically underdeveloped and they were not procreant. Later these studies were repeated with mice and hamsters in other Russian institutes and the results were the same: infertility. Many similar studies, independent of transnational corporations, are being carried out in the world, and they all show negative results. This means the deterioration of internal organs and cancer. Foreign colleagues have brought attention to the fact that companies often test the impact of GMOs during the first two-three months, but huge tumors appear during the 4th – 5th month.”

GMOs are accompanied by a trade war, and during the war the end justifies the means, including juggling facts and half-truths, Vadim Lebedev says.

In fact, this is not only an ecological issue, but also an economic one as well. It is indicative that one of the main lobbyists of GMOs in Serbia is the MK Grupa Company, which is a representative of the Monsanto Corporation, the main supplier of GMO seeds in the world. Executive Director of Novi Sada Ecological Movement Nikola Aleksich believes that if Serbia gives the go-ahead to transgenic seeds, it will find itself in economic slavery:

“We have several producers of seeds, which are widely known, including in Russia. If the country allows the GMO seeds, these institutions will close, five thousand people will lose their jobs, and Serbia will become dependent on the products of the Monsanto Corporation. And the purchase of their products will cost a minimum of 180 million euros per year. Thousands of farmers in India have committed suicide because the activities of Monsanto literally led them in a debtor’s prison. In addition, Europe and the whole world are interested in organic agricultural products, which Serbia can supply. Thus, after adopting GMOs, we will lose a promising market.”

It is well known that removing the ban on GMOs is one of the conditions of accession to the World Trade Organization. Belgrade is used to endless “must” and “should”: in Serbia, they even joke that the end of the world did not come because the country did not fulfill the preconditions of the Apocalypse. However, the “chain” is much longer, because membership in the WTO, in its turn, is the necessary option for admission to the EU, which Serbia is so eager to join. Deputy Chairman of the Party of United Pensioners of Serbia Konstantin Arsenovich has recently pointed out that, in principle, there was a possibility of becoming a member of the WTO, and at the same time protecting the country from genetically modified products, like some of the member countries of the EU had already done. But in this case it is necessary to develop a unified national strategy, and Serbia is, obviously, not ready for this so far

Maybe it’s time for a little human enhancement – Morally enhancing drugs added to our Water Supply

Sam de Brito

Published: December 23, 2012 – 3:00AM

‘There’s something in the water.” That’s what we say when we observe a bunch of locals behaving in the same, odd way, but maybe it’s also the answer to some of our thornier social problems?

Tap water has a host of different elements to it, including naturally occurring minerals, as well as chlorine and fluoride added by officialdom to disinfect the good drop and fortify our teeth.

It’s said if you want to quietly murder a city, poison its water supply, so it follows if you want to uplift same metropolis, why not pop some antidepressants in the drink instead?

Mass doses of psychoactive drugs might sound ridiculous at first blanch but the concept of ”morally enhancing” our population was recently aired by two professors of philosophy, from Britain’s University of Oxford and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

In their new book Unfit for the Future: The Urgent Need for Moral Enhancement,  Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson argue that while humanity’s ability to shape its environment has accelerated wildly, our morality has failed to keep pace.

”Where our ancestors’ tools shaped the few acres on which they lived, the technologies we use today have effects across the world, and across time, with the hangovers of climate change and nuclear disaster stretching far into the future,” the professors write.

”The pace of scientific change is exponential, but has our moral psychology kept up?”

A quick glance at human history shows it’s always been easier for us to harm others than to help them. For this reason, we developed a sense of morality that makes us feel bad when we hurt the people closest to us; in our family, tribe or village.

Unfortunately, that’s often where it ends. But  our actions as consumers and citizens can adversely affect far more people through environmental degradation and climate change, as well as our  apathy to wars where people who don’t look like us are dying.

Humanity’s tendency to focus on the near future and those closest to us also means political leaders are loath to force voters into painful compromises (carbon tax, anyone?) because we just don’t feel a strong enough sense of altruism about strangers in distant lands.

Savulescu and Persson speculate this is where ”moral enhancement” could be used in future. ”Our knowledge of human biology – in particular genetics and neurobiology – is beginning to enable us to directly affect the biological or physiological bases of human motivation, either through drugs, or genetic selections or engineering,” they write in Philosophy Now.

”We could use these techniques to overcome the moral and psychological shortcomings that imperil the human species”, i.e. you don’t give a crap about climate change? We’ll put something in the water to make sure you do care.

Before you start screaming Brave New World, consider how many human ”enhancements” we already embrace – from prosthetic limbs and vaccines to genetic modifications.

Others might argue better moral education is the answer but if the teachings of Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Jesus and Kant haven’t made an impression, I’m sceptical Mrs Stringbag’s high school ethics class is going to cut much ice. Or save the polar ice caps from melting.

Tap water with your meal, sir

v

These reports are done with the appreciation of all the Doctors, Scientist, and other Medical Researchers who sacrificed their time and effort. In order to give people the ability to empower themselves. Without base aspirations of fame, or fortune. Just honorable people, doing honorable things.