158th Heath Research Report 28 JUN 2013

 

Health Research Report

158th Issue Date 28 JUN 2013

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

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In this Issue:

  1. Dietary supplement linked to increased muscle mass in the elderly
  2. Vitamin D supplementation may delay precocious puberty in girls
  3. Artificial Sweetener a Potential Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
  4. Iodine in bread not enough for pregnant women
  5. Herbal extract boosts fruit fly lifespan by nearly 25 percent, UCI study finds
  6. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center Find
  7. Study shows probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 significantly increased vitamin D levels
  8. Dietary fructose causes liver damage in animal model, study finds
  9. Daily iron during pregnancy linked to improved birth weight
  10. Vitamin D reduces blood pressure and relieves depression in women with diabetes
  11. UT study: Chemical in antibacterial soaps may harm nursing babies

Dietary supplement linked to increased muscle mass in the elderly

SAN FRANCISCO– A supplemental beverage used to treat muscle-wasting may help boost muscle mass among the elderly, according to a new study. The results were presented today at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The supplemental beverage, called Juven®, contains three amino acids, including arginine. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and are required for cell growth and repair. The amino acid arginine is especially important because it increases growth-hormone production, which causes the body to produce a critical protein called insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1. This protein promotes growth and development and, as its name suggests, is similar in structure to the hormone insulin.

Previously, studies showed that Juven® helped increase muscle mass in patients with AIDS or cancer. These earlier findings led this study’s investigators to hypothesize that the increased muscle mass could result from greater blood concentrations of IGF-1. They theorized that these increased protein levels could have the same benefits among the elderly, who also experience decreased muscle mass and strength related to drops in hormone production that occur with aging. In turn, increased muscle strength could potentially improve quality of life among the elderly.

They found that participants who received Juven® had significant increases in lean body mass, while those who received placebo did not have any change. In addition, blood concentrations of IGF-1 increased among Juven® recipients, but not among the placebo group. The correlation between the improved IGF-1 concentrations and increased lean tissue, however, was not statistically significant.

“The amino acid cocktail of the dietary supplement Juven® appears to hold promise for increasing lean body in healthy older adults,” said study lead author Amy C. Ellis, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. “However, more research is needed to determine the cause-and-effect relationship and the mechanisms by which the amino acids in Juven® may favorably affect body composition of healthy, older adults.”

Study participants were 29 healthy adults between the ages of 65 and 87 years. Each received either Juven® or a placebo drink twice a day, along with their regular daily diet, for six months. At the beginning of the study and again six months later, investigators used a special test to measure lean body mass. At both times, they also assessed participants’ blood levels of IGF-1 after fasting.

The National Institutes of Health and the Center for Aging at the University of Alabama-Birmingham funded the study. Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Juven®, provided the dietary supplement and the placebo.

Vitamin D supplementation may delay precocious puberty in girls

SAN FRANCISCO– Vitamin D supplementation may help delay early onset of puberty in girls, a new clinical study finds. The results were presented Monday at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Among girls, puberty generally begins between the ages of 10 and 14. Boys undergo these changes later, usually between 12 to 16 years of age. Precocious puberty is diagnosed in girls when sexual development begins before the age of 8; in boys, it is diagnosed when these changes occur before age 9.

Recently, medical research has linked vitamin D deficiency to a number of diseases, including cancer, obesity and autoimmune disease. Low vitamin D levels have been found in girls with precocious puberty, as well, although the exact relationship between vitamin D deficiency and early development remains unclear.

To determine how low vitamin D deficiency is related to precocious puberty, investigators in the current study compared blood levels of the vitamin between girls with early and normal development.

They found that girls with precocious puberty were significantly more likely than those with age-appropriate development to have a severe vitamin D deficiency. Among the precocious puberty group, 44 percent had a severe deficiency in vitamin D, compared to 21 percent of the group with age-appropriate physical development.

Additionally, investigators examined the activity of neurons responsible for stimulating the release of a hormone that triggers the ovulation process. Specifically, investigators used the neuron-stimulating compound called N-methyl-D-aspartate, or NMDA, to activate the neurons responsible for releasing gondadotropin-releasing hormone, or GnRH. They found that vitamin D was associated with a suppression of the NMDA-mediated neuronal activities on GnRH neurons.

“If we understand more about the action mechanism of vitamin D on GnRH neuronal activities, we can find a clue to control of precocious puberty using vitamin D or related molecules,” said study lead author Min Sun Kim, MD, PhD, assistant professor at Chonbuk National University Medical School in Jeonju, South Korea. “Our results suggest that vitamin D may inhibit early pubertal onset and/or the rapid progression of puberty, at least in part, through the suppression of NMDA-mediated GnRH neuronal excitation in humans.”

Study participants included 110 girls between the ages of 7 to 10 years. Seventy-five girls exhibited normal patterns of development, while 35 were classified as having precocious puberty. Investigators used the Tanner scale, which assesses human physical development, to differentiate normal versus precocious pubertal development.

According to Kim, more research, including studies in animal models, is necessary to confirm this project’s findings.

Artificial Sweetener a Potential Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease


Monday, June 17, 2013

TAU researcher says mannitol could prevent aggregation of toxic proteins in the brain

Mannitol, a sugar alcohol produced by fungi, bacteria, and algae, is a common component of sugar-free gum and candy. The sweetener is also used in the medical field — it’s approved by the FDA as a diuretic to flush out excess fluids and used during surgery as a substance that opens the blood/brain barrier to ease the passage of other drugs.

Now Profs. Ehud Gazit and Daniel Segal of Tel Aviv University‘s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, along with their colleague Dr. Ronit Shaltiel-Karyo and PhD candidate Moran Frenkel-Pinter, have found that mannitol also prevents clumps of the protein α-synuclein from forming in the brain — a process that is characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.

These results, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and presented at the Drosophila Conference in Washington, DC in April, suggest that this artificial sweetener could be a novel therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. The research was funded by a grant from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and supported in part by the Lord Alliance Family Trust.

Seeing a significant difference

After identifying the structural characteristics that facilitate the development of clumps of α-synuclein, the researchers began to hunt for a compound that could inhibit the proteins’ ability to bind together. In the lab, they found that mannitol was among the most effective agents in preventing aggregation of the protein in test tubes. The benefit of this substance is that it is already approved for use in a variety of clinical interventions, Prof. Segal says.

Next, to test the capabilities of mannitol in the living brain, the researchers turned to transgenic fruit flies engineered to carry the human gene for α-synuclein. To study fly movement, they used a test called the “climbing assay,” in which the ability of flies to climb the walls of a test tube indicates their locomotive capability. In the initial experimental period, 72 percent of normal flies were able to climb up the test tube, compared to only 38 percent of the genetically-altered flies.

The researchers then added mannitol to the food of the genetically-altered flies for a period of 27 days and repeated the experiment. This time, 70 percent of the mutated flies could climb up the test tube. In addition, the researchers observed a 70 percent reduction in aggregates of α-synuclein in mutated flies that had been fed mannitol, compared to those that had not.

These findings were confirmed by a second study which measured the impact of mannitol on mice engineered to produce human α-synuclein, developed by Dr. Eliezer Masliah of the University of San Diego. After four months, the researchers found that the mice injected with mannitol also showed a dramatic reduction of α-synuclein in the brain.

Delivering therapeutic compounds to the brain

The researchers now plan to re-examine the structure of the mannitol compound and introduce modifications to optimize its effectiveness. Further experiments on animal models, including behavioral testing, whose disease development mimics more closely the development of Parkinson’s in humans is needed, Prof. Segal says.

For the time being, mannitol may be used in combination with other medications that have been developed to treat Parkinson’s but which have proven ineffective in breaking through the blood/brain barrier, says Prof. Segal. These medications may be able to “piggy-back” on mannitol’s ability to open this barrier into the brain.

Although the results look promising, it is still not advisable for Parkinson’s patients to begin ingesting mannitol in large quantities, Prof. Segal cautions. More testing must be done to determine dosages that would be both effective and safe

Iodine in bread not enough for pregnant women

Research from the University of Adelaide shows that iodized salt used in bread is not enough to provide healthy levels of iodine for pregnant women and their unborn children.

The study-– led by researchers from the University’s Robinson Institute – has prompted calls for pregnant women to keep taking iodine supplements.

Iodine deficiency is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most common preventable cause of brain damage in the world.

“Iodine is an essential element which is important for human brain development and thyroid function,” says one of the lead authors of the study, Associate Professor Vicki Clifton from the University’s Robinson Institute and the Lyell McEwin Hospital.

“In 2009, Australian bread producers began a mandatory program of iodine supplementation in bread to help provide a boost to iodine levels in the community. Our study was aimed at determining whether or not that was having a positive impact on iodine levels for pregnant women.”

In the study, almost 200 South Australian women were tested throughout their pregnancy and six months after giving birth.

“We found that South Australian women are mildly iodine deficient. Despite the inclusion of iodized salt in bread, women who were not taking an iodine supplement during pregnancy were still suffering from iodine deficiency,” Associate Professor Clifton says.

“Those women who were taking a supplement in addition to eating bread with iodized salt were receiving healthy levels of iodine, well within WHO guidelines.”

This is the latest study to follow on from the pioneering work of the University’s Emeritus Professor Basil Hetzel AC, who began researching iodine deficiency more than 50 years ago at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in collaboration with the Papua New Guinea Public Health Department.

His work revealed very low urine iodine levels and high rates of goitre were associated with a form of brain damage called ‘cretinism’. Professor Hetzel showed that this brain damage could be prevented by correcting the severe iodine deficiency before pregnancy.

“There’s a lot of work going on around the world to ensure that pregnant women are receiving enough iodine for the healthy development of their unborn babies,” says Professor Hetzel, who is also a lead author on this current study.

“The message is simple: by taking iodine supplements, pregnant women will be able to prevent brain and organ development problems in their babies, and also maintain a healthy level of iodine for themselves.”

Professor Hetzel says Australia continues to be a world leader in this field, “but there is still very little public understanding about the dangers of iodine deficiency”.

The results of this study were published in the Nutrition Journal.

Herbal extract boosts fruit fly lifespan by nearly 25 percent, UCI study finds

 

Rhodiola rosea promotes longevity separately from dietary restriction

Irvine, Calif., June 18, 2013 — The herbal extract of a yellow-flowered mountain plant long used for stress relief was found to increase the lifespan of fruit fly populations by an average of 24 percent, according to UC Irvine researchers.

But it’s how Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden root, did this that grabbed the attention of study leaders Mahtab Jafari and Sam Schriner. They discovered that Rhodiola works in a manner completely unrelated to dietary restriction and affects different molecular pathways.

This is significant, said Jafari, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, because dietary restriction is considered the most robust method of improving lifespan in laboratory animals, and scientists have been scrambling to identify compounds that can mimic its effects.

“We found that Rhodiola actually increases lifespan on top of that of dietary restriction,” Jafari said. “It demonstrates that Rhodiola can act even in individuals who are already long-lived and healthy. This is quite unlike resveratrol, which appears to only act in overfed or unhealthy individuals.”

The researchers proved this by putting flies on a calorie-restricted diet. It has been shown that flies live longer when the amount of yeast they consume is decreased. Jafari and Schriner expected that if Rhodiola functioned in the same manner as dietary restriction, it would not work in these flies. But it did. They also tested Rhodiola in flies in which the molecular pathways of dietary restriction had been genetically inactivated. It still worked.

Not only did Rhodiola improve lifespan an average of 24 percent in both sexes and multiple strains of flies, but it also delayed the loss of physical performance in flies as they aged and even extended the lives of old flies. Jafari’s group previously had shown that the extract decreased the natural production of reactive oxygen species molecules in the fly mitochondria and protected both flies and cultured human cells against oxidative stress.

Jafari and Schriner, an assistant project scientist in Jafari’s laboratory, are not claiming that Rhodiola supplements will enable humans to live longer, but their discovery is enhancing scientific understanding of how supplements believed to promote longevity actually work in the body.

Rhodiola has already shown possible health benefits in humans, such as decreasing fatigue, anxiety and depression; boosting mood, memory and stamina; and preventing altitude sickness. Grown in cold climates at high elevations, the herb has been used for centuries by Scandinavians and Russians to reduce stress. It’s also thought to have antioxidant properties.

Jafari’s research group is currently exploring the plant’s potential to kill cancer cells, improve Alzheimer’s disease and help stem cells grow.

Rhodiola is readily available online and in health food stores. Jafari, though, has analyzed several commercial products and found them to not contain sufficient amounts of the reputed active compounds – such as rosavin and salidroside – that characterize high-quality products.

Kevin Lee, Stephanie Truong, Kathyrn Salvadora, Steven Maler, Alexander Nam and Thomas Lee, all undergraduate students in Jafari’s lab, contributed to the work, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant R21 AT004987). Study results appear online in PLOS ONE.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center Find

Germ fighters, antidepressants, opioids top list; women, elderly likelier to have prescriptions

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two, Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center researchers say.. Antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opioids are most commonly prescribed, their study found. Twenty percent of patients are on five or more prescription medications, according to the findings, published online in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The findings offer insight into prescribing practices. The statistics from the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Olmsted County, Minn. are comparable to those elsewhere in the United States, says study author Jennifer St. Sauver, Ph.D., a member of the Mayo Clinic Population Health Program in the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

“Often when people talk about health conditions they’re talking about chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes,” Dr. St. Sauver says. “However, the second most common prescription was for antidepressants — that suggests mental health is a huge issue and is something we should focus on. And the third most common drugs were opioids, which is a bit concerning considering their addicting nature.”

Seventeen percent of those studied were prescribed antibiotics, 13 percent were taking antidepressants and 13 percent were on opioids. Drugs to lower lipids, such as cholesterol, came in fourth (11 percent) and vaccines were fifth (11 percent). Drugs were prescribed to both men and women across all age groups, except high blood pressure drugs, which were seldom used before age 30.

Overall, women and older adults receive more prescriptions. Vaccines, antibiotics and anti-asthma drugs are most commonly prescribed in people younger than 19. Antidepressants and opioids are most common among young and middle-aged adults. Cardiovascular drugs are most commonly prescribed in older adults. Women receive more prescriptions than men across several drug groups, especially antidepressants: Nearly 1 in 4 women ages 50-64 are on an antidepressant.

For several drug groups, use increases with advancing age.

“As you get older you tend to get more prescriptions, and women tend to get more prescriptions than men,” Dr. St. Sauver says.

Prescription drug use has increased steadily in the U.S. for the past decade. The percentage of people who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44 percent in 1999-2000 to 48 percent in 2007-08. Spending on prescription drugs reached $250 billion in 2009 the year studied, and accounted for 12 percent of total personal health care expenditures. Drug-related spending is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, the researchers say.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

Study shows probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 significantly increased vitamin D levels

New study is first report of increased circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D in response to oral probiotic supplementation

Montreal, June 19, 2013 – A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism is the first report of an oral probiotic supplement significantly increasing circulating vitamin D levels in the blood.

The lead author on the study, Mitchell Jones, MD, PhD, received the Early Career Investigator Poster Presentation Prize from the New York Academy of Sciences and the Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at last week’s Probiotics, Prebiotics, and the Host Microbiome: The Science of Translation conference in New York City(1).

The study(2) , a post-hoc analysis of a published randomized controlled trial, examined the effect of Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 on fat-soluble vitamins. It showed that L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 increased circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels by 25.5 percent in hypercholesterolemic adults over the nine-week intervention.

According to the National Institutes of Health, serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the best indicator of vitamin D status, and is important for adequate bone and overall health in healthy individuals(3). More than 40 million adults in the United States have – or are at risk of – developing osteoporosis, a disease most often associated with inadequate calcium intake. Insufficient vitamin D contributes to osteoporosis by reducing calcium absorption(4) . Researchers continue to study other possible health effects of vitamin D, such as protection against heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes.

The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IUs of vitamin D daily to meet the needs of almost everyone in the United States and Canada. Most people get vitamin D through sun exposure, foods that contain it, and supplements. A variety of factors may reduce vitamin D absorption, including limited exposure to sunlight, dark skin, obesity, and problems with absorption or ability to convert vitamin D to its active form.

“This study, part of an ongoing line of research in bile metabolism and Western disease, is adding to the body of knowledge on the microbiome and its role in human health,” said Dr. Jones, lead study author and chief scientific officer, Micropharma Limited. “Although it has long been known that the gastrointestinal tract plays an active role in the absorption of vitamin D, these findings showing improved vitamin D status in response to an orally delivered probiotic are a first, and will inform the development of new products that may be beneficial for people with low vitamin D levels.”

Previous studies have shown the effect of L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 on cholesterol reduction, but its effect on the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins was unknown.

“The vitamin D market has grown by 20 percent a year over the last 10 years, and within this timeframe, U.S. medical costs around osteoporosis and fractures in an aging population were already estimated at $22 billion(5),” said Ryan Jones, Micropharma’s chief executive officer. “As a pioneer in research and innovation on products that work naturally through the microbiome to impact health outcomes, we are very encouraged about the potential for these vitamin D findings for public health.”

Dietary fructose causes liver damage in animal model, study finds

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – June 19, 2013 – The role of dietary fructose in the development of obesity and fatty liver diseases remains controversial, with previous studies indicating that the problems resulted from fructose and a diet too high in calories.

However, a new study conducted in an animal model at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center showed that fructose rapidly caused liver damage even without weight gain. The researchers found that over the six-week study period liver damage more than doubled in the animals fed a high-fructose diet as compared to those in the control group.

The study is published in the June 19 online edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Is a calorie a calorie? Are they all created equal? Based on this study, we would say not,” said Kylie Kavanagh, D.V.M., assistant professor of pathology-comparative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study.

In a previous trial which is referenced in the current journal article, Kavanagh’s team studied monkeys who were allowed to eat as much as they wanted of low-fat food with added fructose for seven years, as compared to a control group fed a low-fructose, low-fat diet for the same time period. Not surprisingly, the animals allowed to eat as much as they wanted of the high-fructose diet gained 50 percent more weight than the control group. They developed diabetes at three times the rate of the control group and also developed hepatic steatosis, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The big question for the researchers was what caused the liver damage. Was it because the animals got fat from eating too much, or was it something else?

To answer that question, this study was designed to prevent weight gain. Ten middle-aged, normal weight monkeys who had never eaten fructose were divided into two groups based on comparable body shapes and waist circumference. Over six weeks, one group was fed a calorie-controlled diet consisting of 24 percent fructose, while the control group was fed a calorie-controlled diet with only a negligible amount of fructose, approximately 0.5 percent.

Both diets had the same amount of fat, carbohydrate and protein, but the sources were different, Kavanagh said. The high-fructose group’s diet was made from flour, butter, pork fat, eggs and fructose (the main ingredient in corn syrup), similar to what many people eat, while the control group’s diet was made from healthy complex carbohydrates and soy protein.

Every week the research team weighed both groups and measured their waist circumference, then adjusted the amount of food provided to prevent weight gain. At the end of the study, the researchers measured biomarkers of liver damage through blood samples and examined what type of bacteria was in the intestine through fecal samples and intestinal biopsies.

“What surprised us the most was how quickly the liver was affected and how extensive the damage was, especially without weight gain as a factor,” Kavanagh said. “Six weeks in monkeys is roughly equivalent to three months in humans.”

In the high-fructose group, the researchers found that the type of intestinal bacteria hadn’t changed, but that they were migrating to the liver more rapidly and causing damage there. It appears that something about the high fructose levels was causing the intestines to be less protective than normal, and consequently allowing the bacteria to leak out at a 30 percent higher rate, Kavanagh said.

One of the limitations of the study was that it only tested for fructose and not dextrose. Fructose and dextrose are simple sugars found naturally in plants.

“We studied fructose because it is the most commonly added sugar in the American diet, but based on our study findings, we can’t say conclusively that fructose caused the liver damage,” Kavanagh said. “What we can say is that high added sugars caused bacteria to exit the intestines, go into the blood stream and damage the liver.

“The liver damage began even in the absence of weight gain. This could have clinical implications because most doctors and scientists have thought that it was the fat in and around tissues in the body that caused the health problems.”

The Wake Forest Baptist team plans to begin a new study using the same controls but testing for both fructose and dextrose over a longer time frame.

Daily iron during pregnancy linked to improved birth weight

Dose-response relation found up to 66 mg per day

Taking iron daily during pregnancy is associated with a significant increase in birth weight and a reduction in risk of low birth weight, finds a study published on bmj.com today.

The effects were seen for iron doses up to 66 mg per day. The World Health Organization currently recommends a dose of 60 mg per day for pregnant women.

Iron deficiency is the most widespread nutritional deficiency in the world. It is the most common cause of anaemia during pregnancy, especially in low and middle income countries, affecting an estimated 32 million pregnant women globally in 2011.

Studies suggest an association between prenatal anaemia and risk of premature (preterm) birth, but evidence on other birth outcomes is inconsistent. The effect of prenatal iron use on adverse birth outcomes is also unclear.

So researchers in the UK and US analysed the results of over 90 studies (a mix of randomised trials and cohort studies) of prenatal iron use and prenatal anaemia, involving nearly two million women.

Iron use increased a mother’s average haemoglobin levels compared with controls and significantly reduced the risk of anaemia.

There was no reduction in risk of preterm birth as a result of iron use. However analysis of cohort studies showed a significantly higher risk of low birth weight and preterm birth with anaemia in the first or second trimester of pregnancy.

Further analysis indicated that for every 10 mg increase in iron dose per day (up to 66 mg per day), risk of maternal anaemia was 12% lower, birth weight increased by 15 g and risk of low birth weight decreased by 3%.

No differences were seen in duration of iron use after adjusting for dose.

“Our findings suggest that use of iron in women during pregnancy may be used as a preventive strategy to improve maternal haematological status and birth weight,” say the authors. They call for “rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of existing antenatal care programmes in high burden countries to identify gaps in policy and programme implementation.”

And they say future research should explore “feasible strategies of iron delivery” as well as “evaluation of the effectiveness of other strategies, such as fortification and dietary diversification.”

Vitamin D reduces blood pressure and relieves depression in women with diabetes

MAYWOOD, Il. — In women who have type 2 diabetes and show signs of depression, vitamin D supplements significantly lowered blood pressure and improved their moods, according to a pilot study at Loyola University Chicago Niehoff School of Nursing.

Vitamin D even helped the women lose a few pounds.

The study was presented at the American Diabetes Association 73rd Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

“Vitamin D supplementation potentially is an easy and cost-effective therapy, with minimal side effects,” said Sue M. Penckofer, PhD, RN, lead author of the study and a professor in the Niehoff School of Nursing. “Larger, randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the impact of vitamin D supplementation on depression and major cardiovascular risk factors among women with Type 2 diabetes.”

Penckofer recently received a four-year, $1.49 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health to do such a study. Penckofer and her Loyola co-investigators plan to enroll 180 women who have type 2 diabetes, symptoms of depression and insufficient levels of vitamin D. Women will be randomly assigned to receive either a weekly vitamin D supplementation (50,000 International Units) or a matching weekly placebo for six months. The study is titled “Can the Sunshine Vitamin Improve Mood and Self Management in Women with Diabetes?

About 1 in 10 people in the United States has diabetes, and the incidence is projected to increase to 1 in 4 persons by 2050. Women with type 2 diabetes have worse outcomes than men. The reason may be due to depression, which affects more than 25 percent of women with diabetes. Depression impairs a patient’s ability to manage her disease by eating right, exercising, taking medications, etc.

Many Americans do not get enough vitamin D, and people with diabetes are at especially high risk for vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency. Reasons include limited intake of foods high in vitamin D, obesity, lack of sun exposure and genetic variations.

The pilot study included 46 women who were an average age of 55 years, had diabetes an average of 8 years and insufficient blood levels of vitamin D (18 ng/ml). They took a weekly dose (50,000 International Units) of vitamin D. (By comparison, the recommended dietary allowance for women 51 to 70 years is 600 IU per day.)

After six months, their vitamin D blood levels reached sufficient levels (average 38 ng/ml) and their moods improved significantly. For example, in a 20-question depression symptom survey, scores decreased from 26.8 at the beginning of the study (indicating moderate depression) to 12.2 at six months (indicating no depression. (The depression scale ranges from 0 to 60, with higher numbers indicating more symptoms of depression.)

Blood pressure also improved, with the upper number decreasing from 140.4 mm Hg to 132.5 mm Hg. And their weight dropped from an average of 226.1 pounds to 223.6 pounds.

Penckofer is internationally known for her research on vitamin D, diabetes and depression. In October, she will be inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing for her scientific contributions in improving the health and quality of life of women with chronic disease. And she recently was appointed as the first nurse researcher to the Chicago Diabetes Center for Translational Research.

UT study: Chemical in antibacterial soaps may harm nursing babies

KNOXVILLE—A mother’s prolonged use of antibacterial soaps containing the chemical triclocarban may harm nursing babies, according to a recent study from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The study, which was conducted on rats, showed that exposure to the compound may reduce the survival rates of babies.

Rebekah Kennedy, a UT graduate student pursuing a dual master’s degree in public health and nutrition, and Jiangang Chen, an assistant professor in the UT Department of Public Health, presented the results this month at the Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting and Expo in San Francisco. Kennedy was the study’s lead author.

Triclocarban, a bactericide, is found primarily in antibacterial bar soaps.

The researchers noted that they were not condemning the use of antibacterial soaps.

“People have to weigh their own risks and decide what would be the best route,” Kennedy said. “There’s always a time and place for antibacterial bar soaps, such as in health care settings where the chance of infection and transmission is high. For the average person, antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap.”

Chen conducted an earlier study that examined how prolonged exposure to triclocarban affected growth of sex organs in adult male rats. Kennedy decided to go a step further and look into how it would affect baby rats in the womb and during nursing.

Humans are exposed to triclocarban through skin absorption. Research shows that based on how the compound is biotransformed, oral exposure in rats is similar to dermal exposure for humans, Kennedy said.

During Kennedy’s research, pregnant rats fed with triclocarban through food had similar blood concentrations compared to human blood concentrations after a 15-minute shower using antibacterial soap.

The study found that triclocarban did not affect the post-birth survival rate of baby rats exposed to the compound in the womb. But baby rats nursed by mothers that were exposed to the compound did not survive beyond the sixth day after birth.

The results showed that a mother’s long-term use and exposure to triclocarban could affect her baby’s early development, according to the animal model, Kennedy said.

Humans may be exposed to triclocarban through other ways besides skin absorption, including produce consumption, Chen said. Triclocarban is washed down the drain, where about 95 percent of it is removed when wastewater is treated. The remainder may still be a problem, particularly since treated wastewater is used for agricultural purposes.

“There are potential exposure routes in daily life we are not aware of,” Chen said. “The goal is to try to minimize those if at all possible.”

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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.

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