Health Technology Research Synopsis 100th Issue Date 21 FEB 11 Compiled By Ralph Turchiano www.vit.bz
- 1. Processed food diet in early childhood may lower subsequent IQ
- 2. New research suggests tart cherries could speed muscle recovery
- 3. Lavender oil has potent antifungal effect
- 4. Zinc reduces the burden of the common cold
5. 1 person of 1,900 met AHA’s definition of ideal heart health, says University of Pittsburgh study
- Chocolate is a ‘super fruit’
- Allergies lower risk of low- and high-grade glioma
- 3. Can breastfeeding transmit yellow fever after maternal vaccination?
- 4. CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: Teaching the old drug niacin new tricks
5. Processed food diet in early childhood may lower subsequent IQ
- 6. As many as 3 in 4 hospital tests not followed up after discharge
- 7. Antipsychotics for schizophrenia associated with subtle loss in brain volume
- 8. Diet soda may raise odds of vascular events; salt linked to stroke risk
- 9. Omega 3’s — more evidence for their benefit
- 10. New research suggests tart cherries could speed muscle recovery
11. Young people now take longer to join adult life
- 12. What makes fructose fattening? OHSU researchers find some potential clues in the brain
- 13. Study finds magnesium sulfate may offer protection from cerebral palsy
14. Look at your body to reduce pain
- 15. Common insecticide used in homes associated with delayed mental development of young children
- 16. Eating berries may lower risk of Parkinson’s
- 17. Red wine compound increases anti-tumor effect of rapamycin
- 18. Lavender oil has potent antifungal effect
- 19. Fiber intake associated with reduced risk of death
- 20. Zinc reduces the burden of the common cold
- 21. Vitamin E may increase or decrease the risk of pneumonia depending on smoking and exercise
22. 1 person of 1,900 met AHA’s definition of ideal heart health, says University of Pittsburgh study
Chocolate is a ‘super fruit’
It is widely known that fruit contains antioxidants which may be beneficial to health. New research published in the open access journal Chemistry Central Journal demonstrates that chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants and contains more polyphenols and flavanols than fruit juice.
When researchers at the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition™ compared the antioxidant activity in cocoa powder and fruit powders they found that, gram per gram, there was more antioxidant capacity, and a greater total flavanol content, in the cocoa powder.
Similarly when they compared the amount of antioxidants, per serving, of dark chocolate, cocoa, hot chocolate mix and fruit juices they found that both dark chocolate and cocoa had a greater antioxidant capacity and a greater total flavanol, and polyphenol, content than the fruit juices. However hot chocolate, due to processing (alkalization) of the chocolate, contained little of any.
Dr Debra Miller, the senior author of the paper, says that, “Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit” providing nutritive value beyond that of their macronutrient composition”. Which is great news for chocolate lovers.
Allergies lower risk of low- and high-grade glioma
PHILADELPHIA — The more allergies one has, the lower the risk of developing low- and high-grade glioma, according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago, used self-reported data on medically diagnosed allergies and antihistamine use for 419 patents with glioma and 612 cancer-free patients from Duke University and NorthShore University HealthSystem. Controls had no history of brain tumors or any cancers, and did not have a history of neurodegenerative disease.
“Other studies have found a correlation between allergies and glioma risk,” said Bridget McCarthy, Ph.D., a research associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. “In this study we confirmed that allergies are protective and found that the more allergies one has, the more protected he or she is.”
Participants completed a web-based or telephone survey and were asked if they were medically diagnosed with allergies or asthma at least two years prior to the survey, and if so, the age of diagnosis. In addition, they were asked to indicate the number of individual allergies within each of the following groupings: seasonal, pet, medication, food and other.
Included in the survey were details on regular medication usage two years or more prior to the survey, and information on specific medication brands, frequency and duration of usage.
Allergies appeared to be protective and provided a reduced risk for those with who have a higher number and more types of allergies, according to the study results. Age of allergy diagnosis and years since diagnosis were not associated with glioma risk. In addition, antihistamine use, including diphenhydramine hydrochloride (a possible neurocarcinogen), did not appear to affect glioma risk separately from the effects of allergies.
“Our study confirms that there is a relationship between the immune system of allergy sufferers and glioma risk,” said McCarthy. “A comprehensive study of allergies and antihistamine use with standardized questions and biological markers is essential to further delineate
the biological mechanism that may be involved in brain tumor development.”
Can breastfeeding transmit yellow fever after maternal vaccination?
A five-week old infant most likely contracted a vaccine strain of yellow fever virus through breastfeeding, according to a case report published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj100619.pdf
“Until recently, avoidance of vaccination of breastfeeding women with yellow fever vaccine had been based on theoretical grounds only,” writes Dr. Susan Kuhn, with coauthors. “We report the probable transmission of vaccine strain of yellow fever virus from a mother to her infant through breastfeeding,” which supports current recommendations for breastfeeding mothers to avoid the vaccine.
The yellow fever vaccine is a live-virus vaccine that has been used since the 1940s.
When the infant was 10 days old the mother received pre-travel advice and travel vaccinations, including one for yellow fever. Subsequently, they traveled to Venezuela for one week and breastfeeding was continued. The infant did not receive vaccinations.
“The previously healthy five-week old infant male presented to the hospital with a two-day history of fever and irritability,” write the authors. “The day before his admission, he had been noted to have focal seizures on alternating sides.” Testing of the spinal fluid revealed evidence of recent infection with the yellow fever virus. Given that the travellers elected to stay in urban Venezuela where yellow fever is not known to be a risk, the authors concluded that the likely explanation was transmission of the yellow fever vaccine strain through breastfeeding.
The baby showed no sign of insect bites, had not been in contact with sick people, was not exposed to animals in Canada or elsewhere, had no history of herpes infections in family members and had not had any vaccinations prior to his symptoms.
“This probable case of yellow fever virus further supports the current recommendations for avoidance of yellow fever vaccination in lactating mothers of infants under nine months of age,” write the authors. “While there may be situations in which the mother will have unavoidable and significant risk of yellow fever exposure, the risk to the infant due to maternal vaccination must be weighed against the risk of wild- type virus infection.”
The authors conclude that travelling women should adjust their plans to reduce or limit their risk of exposure or postpone their trip entirely until their infant is no longer breastfeeding or is old enough to be
CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: Teaching the old drug niacin new tricks
A team of researchers, led by Stefan Offermans, at the Max-Planck-Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Germany, has now identified in mice a new mechanism by which the drug nicotinic acid (niacin) mediates its beneficial effects.
Niacin is one of the oldest drugs used to prevent and treat atherosclerosis, a disease of the major arterial blood vessels that is a major cause of heart attack and stroke. The antiatherosclerotic effects of niacin are believed to be a result of its effects on lipid (fat) levels in the blood, in particular, its ability to decrease levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL). However, Offermans and colleagues have now determined that niacin can have antiatherosclerotic effects in mice that are independent of its effects on lipids. Specifically, it had anti-inflammatory effects on immune cells, in particular macrophages, decreasing their recruitment to atherosclerotic plaques and reducing the progression of atherosclerosis. Thus, the authors conclude that the antiatherosclerotic effects of niacin are mediated via effects on both lipid levels in the blood and immune cells.
TITLE: Nicotinic acid inhibits progression of atherosclerosis in mice through its receptor GPR109A expressed by immune cells
Processed food diet in early childhood may lower subsequent IQ
Are dietary patterns in childhood associated with IQ at 8 years of age? A population-based cohort study A diet, high in fats, sugars, and processed foods in early childhood may lower IQ, while a diet packed full of vitamins and nutrients may do the opposite, suggests research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The authors base their findings on participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which is tracking the long term health and wellbeing of around 14,000 children born in 1991 and 1992.
Parents completed questionnaires, detailing the types and frequency of the food and drink their children consumed when they were 3, 4, 7 and 8.5 years old.
Three dietary patterns were identified: “processed” high in fats and sugar intake; “traditional” high in meat and vegetable intake; and “health conscious” high in salad, fruit and vegetables, rice and pasta. Scores were calculated for each pattern for each child.
IQ was measured using a validated test (the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) when they were 8.5 years old. In all, complete data were available for just under 4,000 children.
The results showed that after taking account of potentially influential factors, a predominantly processed fooddiet at the age of 3 was associated with a lower IQ at the age of 8.5, irrespectiveof whether the diet improved after that age. Every 1 point increase in dietary pattern score was associated with a 1.67 fall in IQ.
On the other hand, a healthy diet was associated with a higher IQ at the age of 8.5, with every 1 point increase in dietary pattern linked to a 1.2 increase in IQ. Dietary patterns between the ages of 4 and 7 had no impact on IQ.
The authors say that these findings, although modest, are in line with previous ALSPAC research showing an association between early childhood diet and later behaviour and school performance.
“This suggests that any cognitive/behavioural effects relating to eating habits in early childhood may well persist into later childhood, despite any subsequent changes (including improvements) to dietary intake,” they say.
The brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life, say the authors, by way of a possible explanation for the findings, adding that other research has indicated that head growth at this time is linked to intellectual ability.
“It is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth,” they suggest, advocating further research to determine the extent of the effect early diet has on intelligence.
As many as 3 in 4 hospital tests not followed up after discharge
The safety implications of missed test results for hospitalized patients: A systematic review
Up to three quarters of hospital tests are not being followed up, suggests a systematic review of international evidence, published in BMJ Quality and Safety.
This failure can have serious implications for patients, including missed or delayed diagnoses and even death, the study shows.
The authors base their findings on a systematic review of evidence published in English between 1990 and 2010, and available on reputable research databases.
Analysis of the findings of the 12 studies which were suitable for inclusion indicated that between 20% and 61% of inpatient test results, and between 1% and 75% of tests on patients treated in emergency care, were not followed up after discharge.
Critical test results and results for patients moving between healthcare settings, such as from inpatient to outpatient care or to general practice, were most likely not to be pursued, the study showed.
Only two of the 12 studies described fully electronic test management systems, and the rate of missed results was high in both. But the authors point out that this might be because technology makes the issue more explicit and easier to measure.
And rates were just as high in paper-based systems and those using a mix of paper and electronic records.
In 2008, the World Alliance for Patient Safety identified poor test follow-up as one of the key processes leading to unsafe patient care, and the analysis of the seven studies looking at the impact on patients reveals a range of consequences.
These include missed or delayed diagnoses of infectious disease and cancer, inappropriate or unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, and even death.
Onestudy,which assessed clinical negligence claims, found that 79 of the 112 claims –
almosttwothirds– involved missed diagnoses in emergency care settings that
ended up harming the patient.
In 13 of these 79 claims, the broken link in the chain occurred when the test results were either transmitted to, or received by, the care provider.
“There is evidence to suggest that the proportion of missed test results is a substantial problem, which impacts on patient safety,” conclude the authors.
Antipsychotics for schizophrenia associated with subtle loss in brain volume
Patients with schizophrenia who take antipsychotic medications appear to lose a small but measurable amount of brain tissue over time, according to a report in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Schizophrenia affects 1 percent of the worldwide population and remains a leading cause of chronic disability among young adults, according to background information in the article. Progressive changes in brain volume observed in patients with schizophrenia have been thought to be an effect of the disease. “However, recent animal studies indicate that antipsychotics, the mainstay of treatment for schizophrenia patients, may also contribute to brain tissue volume decrement,” the authors write. “Because antipsychotics are prescribed for long periods for schizophrenia patients and have increasingly widespread use in other psychiatric disorders, it is imperative to determine their long-term effects on the human brain.”
Beng-Choon Ho, M.R.C.Psych., and colleagues at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, studied 211 patients with schizophrenia who underwent repeated neuroimaging beginning soon after their illness. Each patient had an average of three magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans over 7.2 years, for a total of 674 scans. The authors then assessed the relative contributions of four predictors— illness duration, antipsychotic treatment, illness severity and substance abuse—on changes in brain volume over time.
Patients who were followed for longer periods of time experienced more reductions in brain volume. Antipsychotic treatment was also associated with brain tissue reduction after controlling for the other three predictors. More intense antipsychotic treatment was associated with overall measures of brain tissue loss, smaller gray matter volume and progressive declines in white matter volume.
The other two variables, illness severity and substance abuse, had no or minimal association with brain changes after the effects of illness duration and antipsychotic treatment were considered.
“Findings from the present study raise several clinical questions. Are antipsychotic-associated gray matter and white matter volume reductions ‘bad’ for patients?” the authors write. Although they are assumed to be undesirable, the benefits of long-term treatment may outweigh the risks, they note. “However, our findings point toward the importance of prescribing the lowest doses necessary to control symptoms.”
In addition, the results raise concerns about the use of antipsychotics for people who do not have schizophrenia, including children, older adults and patients with bipolar or depressive disorders.
“Antipsychotics are effective medications for reducing some of the target clinical symptoms of
schizophrenia: psychotic symptoms. In medicine we are aware of many instances in which improving target symptoms worsens other symptoms,” the authors conclude. “It is possible that, although antipsychotics relieve psychosis and its attendant suffering, these drugs may not arrest the pathophysiologic processes underlying schizophrenia and may even aggravate progressive brain tissue volume reductions.”
(Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68:128-137. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://www.jamamedia.org.)
Editor’s Note: This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
Diet soda may raise odds of vascular events; salt linked to stroke risk
Even if you drink diet soda — instead of the sugar variety — you could still have a much higher risk of vascular events compared to those who don’t drink soda, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011.
In findings involving 2,564 people in the large, multi-ethnic Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), scientists said people who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events than those who reported no soda drinking.
“If our results are confirmed with future studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes,” said Hannah Gardener, Sc.D., lead author and epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Fla.
In separate research using 2,657 participants also in the Manhattan study, scientists found that high salt intake, independent of the hypertension it causes, was linked to a dramatically increased risk of ischemic strokes (when a blood vessel blockage cuts off blood flow to the brain).
In the study, people who consumed more than 4,000 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium had more than double the risk of stroke compared to those consuming less than 1,500 mg per day.
At the start of both studies, researchers assessed diet by a food frequency questionnaire.
NOMAS is a collaboration of investigators at Columbia University in New York and Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, launched in 1993 to examine stroke incidence and risk factors in a multi-ethnic urban population. A total of 3,298 participants over 40 years old (average age 69) were enrolled through 2001 and continue to be followed. Sixty-three percent were women, 21 percent were white, 24 percent black and 53 percent Hispanic.
In the soda study, researchers asked subjects at the outset to report how much and what kind of soda they drank. Based on the data, they grouped participants into seven consumption categories: no soda (meaning less than one soda of any kind per month); moderate regular soda only (between one per month and six per week), daily regular soda (at least one per day); moderate diet soda only; daily diet soda only; and two groups of people who drink both types: moderate diet and any regular, and daily diet with any regular.
During an average follow-up of 9.3 years, 559 vascular events occurred (including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by rupture of a weakened blood vessel). Researchers accounted for participants’ age, sex, race or ethnicity, smoking status, exercise, alcohol consumption and daily caloric
intake. And even after researchers also accounted for patients’ metabolic syndrome, peripheral vascular disease and heart disease history, the increased risk persisted at a rate 48 percent higher.
In the sodium research, 187 ischemic strokes were reported during 9.7 years of follow-up. Stroke risk, independent of hypertension, increased 16 percent for every 500 mg of sodium consumed a day, the scientists calculated. Those figures included adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, alcohol use, exercise, daily caloric intake, smoking status, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and previous heart disease.
Only a third of participants met the current U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans that recommend daily sodium intake fall below 2,300 mg, or about a teaspoon of salt, Gardener said. Only 12 percent of subjects met the American Heart Association’s recommendations to consume less than 1,500 mg a day. Average intake was 3,031 milligrams.
“The take-home message is that high sodium intake is a risk factor for ischemic stroke among people with hypertension as well as among those without hypertension, underscoring the importance of limiting consumption of high sodium foods for stroke prevention,” Gardener said.
Participants’ reporting their dietary behavior is a key limitation of both studies, Gardener said.
In the soda study, investigators also lacked data on types of diet and regular drinks consumed, preventing analysis of whether variations among brands or changes over time in coloring and sweeteners might have played a role.
Omega 3’s — more evidence for their benefit
Study reveals how they work in preventing several forms of blindness
Omega-3 fatty acids –fats commonly found in fish oil – were shown several years ago to prevent retinopathy, a major form of blindness, in a mouse model of the disease. A follow-up study, from the same research team at Children’s Hospital Boston, now reveals exactly how omega-3’s provide protection, and provides reassurance that widely used COX-inhibiting drugs like aspirin and NSAIDs don’t negate their benefit. The findings, published in the February 9th issue of Science Translational Medicine, also suggest that omega-3’s may be beneficial in diabetes.
Retinopathy – an eye disease caused by the proliferation of tortuous, leaky blood vessels in the retina – is a leading cause of blindness, affecting 4.1 million Americans with diabetes (a number expected to double over the next 15 years) and many premature infants. Another 7 million-plus Americans have age-related macular degeneration (AMD); this too will increase as the population ages. The most common “wet” form of AMD is also caused by abnormal blood vessel growth.
The ability to prevent these “neovascular” eye diseases with omega-3 fatty acids could provide tremendous cost savings, says Children’s ophthalmologist Lois Smith, MD, PhD, senior investigator on the study. “The cost of omega-3 supplementation is about $10 a month, versus up to $4,000 a month for anti- VEGF therapy,” she says, referring to drugs such as Macugen and Lucentis used in AMD and diabetic retinopathy. “Our new findings give us new information on how omega-3s work that makes them an even more promising option.”
Omega-3 fatty acids, highly concentrated in the retina, are often lacking in Western diets, which tend to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids. In Smith’s previous study (http://www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom/Site1339/mainpageS1339P1sublevel309.html), mice fed
diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids by Smith’s team had nearly 50 percent less pathologic vessel growth in the retina than mice fed omega-6-rich diets. Smith and colleagues further showed that the omega-3 diet decreased inflammatory messaging in the eye.
In the new study, they document another protective mechanism: a direct effect on blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) that selectively promotes the growth of healthy blood vessels and inhibits the growth of abnormal vessels.
In addition, Smith and colleagues isolated the specific compound from omega-3 fatty acids that has these beneficial effects in mice (a metabolite of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, known as 4-HDHA), and the enzyme that produces it (5-lipoxygenase, or 5-LOX). They showed that COX enzymes are not involved in omega-3 breakdown, suggesting that aspirin and NSAIDs – taken by millions of Americans — will not interfere with omega-3 benefits.
“This is important for people with diabetes, who often take aspirin to prevent heart disease, and also for elderly people with AMD who have a propensity for heart disease,” says Smith. (One drug used for asthma, zileuton, does interfere with 5-LOX, however.)
Finally, the study demonstrated that 5-LOX acts by activating the PPAR-gamma receptor, the same receptor targeted by “glitazone” drugs such as Avandia, taken by patients with type 2 diabetes to increase their sensitivity to insulin. Since these drugs also increase the risk for heart disease, boosting omega-3 intake through diet or supplements might be a safer way to improve insulin sensitivity in patients with diabetes or pre-diabetes. “There needs to be a good clinical study in diabetes,” Smith says.
Smith works closely with principal investigators at the National Eye Institute who are conducting an ongoing multicenter trial of omega-3 supplements in patients with AMD, known as AREDS2. The trial will continue until 2013. An earlier retrospective study, AREDS1, found higher self-reported intake of fish to be associated with a lower likelihood of AMD.
In addition, Smith is collaborating with a group in Sweden that is conducting a clinical trial of omega-3 fatty acids in premature infants, who are often deficient in omega-3. That study will measure infants’ blood levels of omega-3 products and follow the infants to see if they develop retinopathy. If results are promising Smith will seek FDA approval to conduct a clinical trial in premature infants at Children’s.
Meanwhile, in her lab work, Smith plans to continue seeking beneficial lipid pathways, while looking for the most harmful omega 6 metabolites. “We found the good guys, now we’ll look for the bad ones,” says Smith. “If we find the pathways, maybe we can selectively block the bad metabolites. We would hope to start with drugs that are already available.”
New research suggests tart cherries could speed muscle recovery
Study finds daily cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by exercise
Tart cherries could help athletes reduce muscle damage to recover faster from a tough workout, according to new research published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Researchers at the Sports and Exercise Science Research Center at London South Bank University in the UK gave 10 trained athletes 1 ounce of an antioxidant-packed tart cherry juice concentrate (provided by CherryActive) twice daily for seven days prior to and two days after an intense round of strength training. The athletes’ recovery after the cherry juice concentrate was significantly faster compared to
when they drank juice without the same phytonutrient content of cherry juice.
Afterdrinking cherry juice, athletes returned to 90 percent of normal muscle force at 24 hours, comparedto only 85 percent of normal at the same time point without cherry juice – a significant difference that could affect an athlete’s next bout of performance. Researchers suggest that the powerful antioxidant compounds in cherry juice likely decreased oxidative damage to the athletes’ muscles – the damage that normally occurs when muscles are worked to their max – allowing the muscles to recover more quickly.
Cherries and Muscle Recovery
This is the latest in a growing body of science linking cherries to muscle recovery. Researchers attribute the benefits to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compounds in the red fruit called anthocyanins, also responsible for cherries’ bright red color.
“Cherries are what I call an ultimate super food,” said Dr. Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, registered dietitian and author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients “Not only are they a perfect complement to a training routine since they’re available year-round in dried, frozen and juice forms, but they taste great.” Dr. Bazilian says some of her favorite ways to include cherries in the diet range from topping dried cherries in oatmeal to enjoying a smoothie of cherry juice and low-fat yogurt.
In addition to recovery benefits, research also suggests cherries could affect inflammation related to heart disease and arthritis.
Young people now take longer to join adult life
A research study by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), in collaboration with the State University of Campinas (Brazil), shows that young Spanish people were by 2001 taking six years longer than in 1981 to reach full employment, residential and family independence.
Spain considers itself to be a “family-centred” country, in other words, families are expected to take up the slack with regard to areas not covered by social security. “The objective was to evaluate transformations in the trends of how young people gained their independence in Spain over the last decades of the 20th Century”, Pau Miret Gamundi, a researcher at the UAB Centre for Demographic Studies, tells SINC.
The transition from youth to adult life can be broken down into three key stages – the passage from student life to the world of work (joining the labour market), from a dependent member of the household to a leading figure within it (residential emancipation), and from a position of being exclusively a child to being a parent (formation of family).
“Our results show there has been a significant change in the age at which the most intense status changes take place, which were six years later in 2001 than in 1981”, says Miret, who is a co-author of the study, which has been published in the journal REIS.
This time lag has been the same for both sexes. In 1981, the average age at which young people gained full independence was 22 for females and 24 for males, while this age had risen by 2001 to 28 and 30, respectively. “These ages, in comparison with other geographical locations outside southern Europe, are considered to be extraordinarily late”, the researcher explains.
No regional differences can be appreciated with regard to different autonomous communities “as we showed in the detailed study of particular cases in Catalonia – which is representative of an urban,
industrialised setting – and Galicia, which is more rural”. When the two regions were compared, the researchers found the results converged towards identical patterns of independence.
The study is based on data from the Spanish censuses for this period, which were provided by the University of Minnesota (USA), as part of a project that is attempting to collect census data from as many countries as possible. The next census that will allow further calculations to be made of the transition to adult life will be carried out in 2011.
Crises exacerbate the situation
The 1973 recession is considered to be one of the reasons for the growth in university education in the 1970s. “The constant sensation of instability makes it hard for young people to achieve full autonomy and residential independence”, say the authors.
The experts say investment in education “is part of the dynamic of the labour market”, in other words, young people prolong their studies in the hope of increasing their career opportunities, putting their other personal plans on the back burner.
“Policies regarding young people are not usually a priority and are the last to be implemented. The independence grants that the Government is providing are a favourable policy for helping resolve this problem, but it would also be interesting to be able to provide access to subsidised rent for housing, not necessarily for single-occupancy flats, but flats shared by three or four people”, Miret concludes.
What makes fructose fattening? OHSU researchers find some potential clues in the brain
PORTLAND, Ore. – The dietary concerns of too much fructose is well documented. Sweeteners containing fructose are commonly added to processed foods. Many dietary experts believe this increase directly correlates to the nation’s growing obesity epidemic. Now, new research at Oregon Health & Science University demonstrates that the brain – which serves as a master control for body weight – reacts differently to fructose compared with another common sweetener, glucose. The research is published in the online edition of the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and will appear in the March print edition.
“We know from animal models that the brain responds uniquely to different nutrients and that these responses can determine how much they eat,” said Jonathan Purnell, M.D., an associate professor of medicine (endocrinology, diabetes and clinical nutrition) in the OHSU School of Medicine.
“With newer technologies such as functional MRI, we can examine how brain activity in humans reacts when exposed to, say, carbohydrates or fats. What we’ve found in this case is that the brain’s response to fructose is very different to the response to glucose, which is less likely to promote weight gain.”
Functional MRI allows researchers to watch brain activity in real time. To conduct the research, nine normal-weight human study subjects were imaged as they received an infusion of fructose, glucose or a saline solution. When the resulting brain scans from these three groups were compared, the scientists observed distinct differences.
Brain activity in the hypothalamus, one brain area involved in regulating food intake, was not affected by either fructose or glucose. However, activity in the cortical brain control areas showed the opposite response during infusions of the sugars. Activity in these areas was inhibited when fructose was given but
activated during glucose infusion.
This is an important finding because these control brain areas included sites that are thought to be important in determining how we respond to food taste, smells, and pictures, which the American public is bombarded with daily.
“This study provides evidence in humans that fructose and glucose elicits opposite responses in the brain. It supports the animal research that shows similar findings and links fructose with obesity,” added Purnell.
“For consumers, our findings support current recommendations that people be conscious of sweeteners added to their drinks and meals and not overindulge on high-fructose, processed foods.”
Study finds magnesium sulfate may offer protection from cerebral palsy
SAN FRANCISCO (February 10, 2011) — In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal- Fetal Medicine’s (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting ™, in San Francisco, researchers will present findings that showed that in rats, the use of magnesium sulfate (Mg) significantly reduced the neonatal brain injury associated with maternal inflammation or maternal infection.
Magnesium sulfate is sometimes used during preterm labor to reduce the risk of neonatal brain injury. In 2010 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine issued an opinion that “available evidence suggests that magnesium sulfate given before anticipated preterm birth reduces the risk of cerebral palsy in surviving infants.”
“We knew there were indications from other studies that magnesium sulfate might protect a preterm fetus from cerebral palsy, but we wanted to demonstrate direct and conclusive protective effect on the offspring brain in cases of maternal inflammation” said Ron Beloosesky, M.D., one of the study’s authors. “We wanted to learn more about the protective effects of Mg in cases where maternal inflammation causes preterm birth, so we used the very sensitive diffusion tensor imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging to study how Mg works.”
Beloosesky and his colleagues studied pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats at 18 days gestation that received i.p. LPS (500 µg/kg) or saline at time 0. Dams were randomized to treatment with s.c. saline or Mg (270 mg/kg loading followed by 27 mg/kgq20 min) for two hours prior to and following the i.p. LPS or saline. Pups were delivered spontaneously (e21) and allowed to mature until postnatal day 25. Female offspring (4-8 per group) were examined under isoflurane anesthesia by MRI brain imaging and analyzed using voxel based analysis (VBA) after spatial normalization. T2 relaxation time was used to assess for white matter injury and diffusion tensor imaging for Fractional Anisotropy (FA) comparison.
The results showed that offspring of LPS-treated dams exhibited significantly increased T2 levels, and reduced FA levels in white and gray matter (eg, corpus callosum, thalamus, hippocampus), consistent with diffuse cerebral injury. In contrast, offspring of Mg-treated LPS dams demonstrated similar T2 and FA levels as control in both white and gray matter.
The study concluded that Mg treatment significantly reduced evidence of neonatal brain injury associated with maternal LPS. These studies suggest that maternal Mg therapy may be most effective in human preterm deliveries associated with maternal/fetal inflammation.
“The next step, said Beloosesky, “is to do more studies to understand exactly how the Mg works and
protects the fetal brain.”
Look at your body to reduce pain
Simply looking at your body reduces pain, according to new research by scientists from UCL (University College London) and the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy.
Published in the journal Psychological Science, the research shows that viewing your hand reduces the pain experienced when a hot object touches the skin. Furthermore, the level of pain depends on how large the hand looked – the larger the hand the greater the effect of pain reduction.
Flavia Mancini, the first author of the study, said “The image that the brain forms of our own body has a strong effect on the experienced level of pain. Moreover, the way the body is represented influences the level of pain experienced.”
During the experiment, 18 participants had a heat probe placed on their left hand. The probe temperature was gradually increased, and participants stopped the heat by pressing a foot pedal as soon as they began to feel pain. The scientists used a set of mirrors to manipulate what the participants saw during the experiment. Participants always looked towards their left hand, but they either saw their own hand, or a wooden object appearing at the hand’s location.
The team found that simply viewing the hand reduced pain levels: the pain threshold was about 3°C higher when looking at the hand, compared to when looking at another object.
Next, the team used concave and convex mirrors to show the hand as either enlarged or reduced in size. When the hand was seen as enlarged, participants tolerated even greater levels of heat from the probe before reporting pain. When the hand was seen as smaller than its true size, participants reported pain at lower temperatures than when viewing the hand at its normal size.
This suggests that the experience of pain arises in parts of the brain that represent the size of the body. The scientists’ ‘visual trick’ may have influenced the brain’s spatial maps of the skin. The results suggest that the processing of pain is closely linked to these brain maps of the skin.
Professor Patrick Haggard said: “Many psychological therapies for pain focus on the painful stimulus, for example by changing expectations, or by teaching distraction techniques. However, thinking beyond the stimulus that causes pain, to the body itself, may have novel therapeutic implications. For example, when a child goes to the doctor for a blood test, we tell them it will hurt less if they don’t look at the needle. Our results suggest that they should look at their arm, but they should try to avoid seeing the needle, if that is possible!”
Public release date: 10-Feb-2011
Common insecticide used in homes associated with delayed mental development of young children
Effects on IQ appear to be similar to lead exposure
February 9, 2011 — When the EPA phased out the widespread residential use of chlorpyrifos and other organophosphorus (OP) insecticides in 2000-2001 because of risks to child neurodevelopment, these compounds were largely replaced with pyrethroid insecticides. But the safety of these replacement
insecticides remained unclear, as they had never been evaluated for long-term neurotoxic effects after low- level exposure. In the first study to examine the effects of these compounds on humans and the first evaluation of their potential toxicity to the developing fetal brain, scientists of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found a significant association between piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a common additive in pyrethroid formulations, measured in personal air collected during the third trimester of pregnancy, and delayed mental development at 36 months. Findings from the study are online in the journal, Pediatrics.
The study was conducted with a subset of 725 pregnant women participating in a prospective longitudinal study of black and Dominican women living in upper Manhattan and the South Bronx underway at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH). The insecticide permethrin was selected for the evaluation because it is one of the most common pyrethroid insecticides used in U.S. homes, as well as the most commonly sold pesticide, according to a nationally representative sample. PBO, a chemical that is added to insecticides to increase efficacy was also selected for evaluation. Any detection of PBO in air is a marker of a pyrethroid insecticide application.
In all, 342 women were studied for permethrin exposure in personal air during pregnancy; 272 for permethrin in maternal and umbilical cord plasma; and 230 were evaluated for exposure to PBO. To collect the air samples, mothers from the CCCEH Mothers and Newborns cohort wore a small backpack holding a personal ambient air monitor for 48 hours during the third trimester of pregnancy.
The children of these mothers were evaluated for cognitive and motor development at age three. CCCEH researchers used the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. In evaluating the results, researchers controlled for gender, gestational age, ethnicity, maternal education and intelligence, quality of the home environment, and prenatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and chlorpyrifos.
PBO was detected in the majority of personal air samples (75%). While the results demonstrate that a significant prenatal exposure to permethrin in personal air and/or plasma was not associated with performance scores for the Bayley Mental Developmental Index or the Psychomotor Developmental Index at 36 months, children who were more highly exposed to PBO in personal air samples (≥4.34 ng/m3) scored 3.9 points lower on the Mental Developmental Index than those with lower exposures.
“This drop in IQ points is similar to that observed in response to lead exposure,” said Megan Horton of the Mailman School of Public Health and lead researcher. “While perhaps not impacting an individual’s overall function, it is educationally meaningful and could shift the distribution of children in the society who would be in need of early intervention services”.
The researchers point out that environmental and biological monitoring of pyrethroid insecticides present certain challenges. “We know most pyrethroid insecticides are difficult to measure in the air because they are not volatile and are difficult to measure in bodily fluids because they are rapidly metabolized, and these difficulties may prevent us from seeing significant associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes,” noted Dr. Horton. “Because PBO is volatile and permethrin is not volatile, we would not expect to find a strong association between the two compounds. With the exception of the increased odds of motor delay in the lowest PBO exposure group, prenatal exposure to PBO seems to have an impact on cognitive rather than motor development, which is quite worrisome because mental development scores are more predictive of school readiness.”
As this is the first study of these compounds, the results should be considered preliminary but, Dr. Horton notes, they do – raise a cautionary red flag about the use of these chemicals during pregnancy. And, she adds, research at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, indicates that “integrated pest management and the non-spray application of lower toxicity pesticides are viable alternatives to the use of these spray pesticides for pest control.”
“This is an important study with potentially broad public health implications,” according to Dr. Robin Whyatt, Mailman School professor of clinical environmental health sciences and a co-deputy director at the CCCEH. “Further, it identifies a critical need for additional research.”
Eating berries may lower risk of Parkinson’s
ST. PAUL, Minn. –New research shows men and women who regularly eat berries may have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, while men may also further lower their risk by regularly eating apples, oranges and other sources rich in dietary components called flavonoids. The study was released today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.
Flavonoids are found in plants and fruits and are also known collectively as vitamin P and citrin. They can also be found in berry fruits, chocolate, and citrus fruits such as grapefruit.
The study involved 49,281 men and 80,336 women. Researchers gave participants questionnaires and used a database to calculate intake amount of flavonoids. They then analyzed the association between flavonoid intakes and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. They also analyzed consumption of five major sources of foods rich in flavonoids: tea, berries, apples, red wine and oranges or orange juice. The participants were followed for 20 to 22 years.
During that time, 805 people developed Parkinson’s disease. In men, the top 20 percent who consumed the most flavonoids were about 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than the bottom 20 percent of male participants who consumed the least amount of flavonoids. In women, there was no relationship between overall flavonoid consumption and developing Parkinson’s disease. However, when sub-classes of flavonoids were examined, regular consumption of anthocyanins, which are mainly obtained from berries, were found to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.
“This is the first study in humans to examine the association between flavonoids and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” said study author Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, with the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “Our findings suggest that flavonoids, specifically a group called anthocyanins, may have neuroprotective effects. If confirmed, flavonoids may be a natural and healthy way to reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.”
Red wine compound increases anti-tumor effect of rapamycin
Rapamycin-resveratrol treatment promotes activity against breast cancer
Monday, February 14, 2011 – Cleveland – Researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute have discovered that resveratrol – a compound found in red wine – when combined with rapamycin can have a tumor-suppressing effect on breast cancer cells that are resistant to rapamycin alone.
The research – recently published in Cancer Letters – also indicates that the PTEN tumor-suppressing gene contributes to resveratrol’s anti-tumor effects in this treatment combination.
Charis Eng, MD, Ph.D., Chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, led her team to study the effect of combining resveratrol, a chemopreventive drug found in many
natural compounds, with rapamycin on breast cancer cells. The research demonstrates an additive effect between these two drugs on breast cancer cell signaling and growth.
“Rapamycin has been used in clinical trials as a cancer treatment. Unfortunately, after a while, the cancer cells develop resistance to rapamycin,” Eng said. “Our findings show that resveratrol seems to mitigate rapamycin-induced drug resistance in breast cancers, at least in the laboratory. If these observations hold true in the clinic setting, then enjoying a glass of red wine or eating a bowl of boiled peanuts – which has a higher resveratrol content than red wine – before rapamycin treatment for cancer might be a prudent approach.”
Rapamycin, an immunosuppressant drug used to prevent rejection in organ transplantation, has been considered for the use of anti-tumor activity against breast cancer. Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol that is found in the skin of red grapes and is a constituent of red wine, and has been considered for multiple uses regarding cellular therapies.
Despite the potential for tumor suppression, rapamycin’s efficacy with respect to growth inhibition differs markedly among various breast cancer cell lines. The effect of resveratrol and rapamycin, alone and in combination, on cell growth of three human breast cancer cell lines was assessed. Rapamycin, resveratrol, and combinations of these agents inhibited cell growth in a dose-dependent manner. In all three cell lines tested, the presence of low concentrations of resveratrol and rapamycin was sufficient to induce 50 percent growth inhibition. Although relatively early, these observations may suggest resveratrol as a powerful integrative medicine adjunct to traditional chemotherapy.
Lavender oil has potent antifungal effect
Lavender oil could be used to combat the increasing incidence of antifungal-resistant infections, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology. The essential oil shows a potent antifungal effect against strains of fungi responsible for common skin and nail infections.
Scientists from the University of Coimbra in Portugal distilled lavender oil from the Lavandula viridis L’Hér shrub that grows in southern Portugal. The oil was tested against a range of pathogenic fungi and was found to be lethal to a range of skin-pathogenic strains, known as dermatophytes, as well as various species of Candida.
Dermatophytes cause infections of the skin, hair and nails as they use the keratin within these tissues to obtain nutrients. They are responsible for conditions such as Athletes’ foot, ringworm and can also lead to scalp and nail infections. Candida species coexist with most healthy individuals without causing problems but may cause mucocutaneous candidosis – or thrush – in some people. In immunocompromised patients, Candida species are able to cause serious infection if the fungal cells escape into the blood stream.
Currently, there are relatively few types of antifungal drugs to treat infections and those that are available often have side effects. Professor Lígia Salgueiro and Professor Eugénia Pinto who led this study explained why novel fungicides are urgently needed. “In the last few years there has been an increase in the incidence of fungal diseases, particularly among immunocompromised patients,” they said. “Unfortunately there is also increasing resistance to antifungal drugs. Research by our group and others has shown that essential oils may be cheap, efficient alternatives that have minimal side effects.”
Essential oils distilled from the Lavandula genus of lavender plants are already used widely, particularly in the food, perfume and cosmetic industries. Studies of the biological activities of these oils suggest Lavandula oils have sedative and antispasmodic properties as well being potent antimicrobials and
This group has demonstrated that these oils work by destroying fungal cells by damaging the cell membrane. They believe that further research into the mechanisms by which this essential oil works could have significant clinical benefits. “Lavandula oil shows wide-spectrum antifungal activity and is highly potent. This is a good starting point for developing this oil for clinical use to manage fungal infections. What is now required is clinical trials to evaluate how our in vitro work translates in vivo,” said Professor Salgueiro.
Fiber intake associated with reduced risk of death
Dietary fiber may be associated with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases, as well as a reduced risk of death from any cause over a nine-year period, according to a report posted online today that will be published in the June 14 print issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Fiber, the edible part of plants that resist digestion, has been hypothesized to lower risks of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and obesity, according to background information in the article. It is known to assist with bowel movements, reduce blood cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, promote weight loss and reduce inflammation and bind to potential cancer-causing agents to increase the likelihood they will be excreted by the body.
Yikyung Park, Sc.D., of the National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from 219,123 men and 168,999 women in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.
Participants completed a food frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the study in 1995 and 1996. Causes of death were determined by linking study records to national registries.
Participants’ fiber intake ranged from 13 to 29 grams per day in men and from 11 to 26 grams per day in women. Over an average of nine years of follow-up, 20,126 men and 11,330 women died. Fiber intake was associated with a significantly decreased risk of total death in both men and women—the one-fifth of men and women consuming the most fiber (29.4 grams per day for men and 25.8 grams for women) were 22 percent less likely to die than those consuming the least (12.6 grams per day for men and 10.8 grams for women).
The risk of cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases was reduced by 24 percent to 56 percent in men and 34 percent to 59 percent in women with high fiber intakes. Dietary fiber from grains, but not from other sources such as fruits, was associated with reduced risks of total, cardiovascular, cancer and respiratory disease deaths in men and women.
“The findings remained robust when we corrected for dietary intake measurement error using calibration study data; in fact, the association was even stronger with measurement error correction,” the authors write.
“The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend choosing fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains frequently and consuming 14 grams per 1,000 calories of dietary fiber,” the authors conclude. “A diet rich in dietary fiber from whole plant foods may provide significant health benefits.”
Zinc reduces the burden of the common cold
Zinc supplements reduce the severity and duration of illness caused by the common cold, according to a systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. The findings could help reduce the amount of time lost from work and school due to colds.
The common cold places a heavy burden on society, accounting for approximately 40% of time taken off work and millions of days of school missed by children each year. The idea that zinc might be effective against the common cold came from a study carried out in 1984, which showed that zinc lozenges could reduce how long symptoms lasted. Since then, trials have produced conflicting results and although several biological explanations for the effect have been proposed, none have been confirmed.
The review updates a previous Cochrane Systematic Review, carried out in 1999, with data from several new trials. In total, data from 15 trials, involving 1,360 people, were included. According to the results, zinc syrup, lozenges or tablets taken within a day of the onset of cold symptoms reduce the severity and length of illness. At seven days, more of the patients who took zinc had cleared their symptoms compared to those who took placebos. Children who took zinc syrup or lozenges for five months or longer caught fewer colds and took less time off school. Zinc also reduced antibiotic use in children, which is important because overuse has implications for antibiotic resistance.
“This review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold,” said lead researcher Meenu Singh of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India. “However, at the moment, it is still difficult to make a general recommendation, because we do not know very much about the optimum dose, formulation or length of treatment.”
Further research should focus on the benefits of zinc in defined populations, the review suggests. “Our review only looked at zinc supplementation in healthy people,” said Singh. “But it would be interesting to find out whether zinc supplementation could help asthmatics, whose asthma symptoms tend to get worse when they catch a cold.” The researchers also say that more work needs to be carried out in low-income countries, where zinc deficiency may be prevalent.
Vitamin E may increase or decrease the risk of pneumonia depending on smoking and exercise
Depending on the level of smoking and leisure time exercise, vitamin E supplementation may decrease or increase, or may have no effect, on the risk of pneumonia, according to a study published in Clinical Epidemiology.
In laboratory studies, vitamin E has influenced the immune system. In several animal studies vitamin E protected against viral and bacterial infections. However, the importance of vitamin E on human infections is not known.
Dr. Harri Hemila and Professor Jaakko Kaprio, of the University of Helsinki, Finland, studied the effect of vitamin E on the risk of pneumonia in the large randomized trial (Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study) which was conducted in Finland between 1985-1993. There were 898 cases of pneumonia among 29,133 participants of the study.
Vitamin E had no overall effect on pneumonia risk. However, vitamin E decreased pneumonia risk by 69% among participants who had the least exposure to smoking and exercised during leisure time.
In contrast, vitamin E increased pneumonia risk by 79% among those who had the highest exposure to smoking and did not exercise. Over half of the participants were outside of these two subgroups and vitamin E did not affect their risk of pneumonia. Thus, the beneficial and harmful effects of vitamin E are restricted to fairly small parts of the population. The researchers concluded the role of vitamin E in susceptibility to pneumonia in physically active nonsmokers warrants further study.
1 person of 1,900 met AHA’s definition of ideal heart health, says University of Pittsburgh study
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 18 – Only one out of more than 1,900 people evaluated met the American Heart Association (AHA) definition of ideal cardiovascular health, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their findings were recently published online in Circulation.
Ideal cardiovascular health is the combination of these seven factors: nonsmoking, a body mass index less than 25, goal-level physical activity and healthy diet, untreated cholesterol below 200, blood pressure below 120/80 and fasting blood sugar below 100, explained senior investigator and cardiologist Steven Reis, M.D., associate vice chancellor for clinical research at Pitt.
“Of all the people we assessed, only one out of 1,900 could claim ideal heart health,” said Dr. Reis. “This tells us that the current prevalence of heart health is extremely low, and that we have a great challenge ahead of us to attain the AHA’s aim of a 20 percent improvement in cardiovascular health rates by 2020.”
As part of the Heart Strategies Concentrating on Risk Evaluation (Heart SCORE) study, the researchers evaluated 1,933 people ages 45 to 75 in Allegheny County with surveys, physical exams and blood tests. Less than 10 percent met five or more criteria; 2 percent met the four heart-healthy behaviors; and 1.4 percent met all three heart-healthy factors. After adjustment for age, sex and income level, blacks had 82 percent lower odds than whites of meeting five or more criteria.
A multipronged approach, including change at the individual level, the social and physical environment, policy and access to care, will be needed to help people not only avoid heart disease, but also attain heart health, Dr. Reis said.
“Many of our study participants were overweight or obese, and that likely had a powerful influence on the other behaviors and factors,” he noted. “Our next step is to analyze additional data to confirm this and, based on the results, try to develop a multifaceted approach to improve health. That could include identifying predictors of success or failure at adhering to the guidelines.”
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 the base aspirations for fame, or fortune.
Just honorable people, doing honorable things.