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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Glucosamine fails to prevent deterioration of knee cartilage, decrease pain

A short-term study found that oral glucosamine supplementation is not associated with a lessening of knee cartilage deterioration among individuals with chronic knee pain. Findings published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal, indicate that glucosamine does not decrease pain or improve knee bone marrow lesions—more commonly known as bone bruises and thought to be a source of pain in those with osteoarthritis (OA).
According to the ACR 27 million Americans over 25 years of age are diagnosed with OA—the most common form or arthritis and primary cause of disability in the elderly. Patients may seek alternative therapies to treat joint pain and arthritis, with prior research showing glucosamine as the second most commonly-used natural product. In fact, a 2007 Gallup poll reports that 10% of individuals in the U.S. over the age of 18 use glucosamine, with more than $2 billion in global sales of the supplement.
For this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Dr. C. Kent Kwoh from the University of Arizona in Tucson and colleagues, enrolled 201 participants with mild to moderate pain in one or both knees. Participants were randomized and treated daily with 1500 mg of a glucosamine hydrochloride in a 16-ounce bottle of diet lemonade or placebo for 24 weeks. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to assess cartilage damage.
Trial results show no decrease in cartilage damage in participants in the glucosamine group compared to the placebo group. Researchers report no change in bone marrow lesions in 70% of knees, 18% of knees worsened and 10% improved. The control group had greater improvement in bone marrow lesions compared to treated participants, with neither group displaying a worsening of bone marrow lesions. Glucosamine was not found to decrease urinary excretion of C-telopeptides of type II collagen (CTX-II)—a predictor of cartilage destruction.
The joints on glucosamine (JOG) study is the first to investigate whether the supplement prevents the worsening of cartilage damage or bone marrow lesions. Dr. Kwoh concludes, "Our study found no evidence that drinking a glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain, or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain."
Source:University of Arizona

Mindfulness-based meditation helps teenagers with cancer

Mindfulness-based meditation could lessen some symptoms associated with cancer in teens, according to the results of a clinical trial intervention led by researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children's hospital. Mindfulness-based meditation focuses on the present moment and the connection between the mind and body. Adolescents living with cancer face not only the physical symptoms of their condition, but also the anxiety and uncertainty related to the progression of the disease, the anticipation of physical and emotional pain related to illness and treatment, the significant changes implied in living with cancer, as well as the fear of recurrence after remission. Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise of the university's Department of Psychology presented the findings today at the American Psychosomatic Society Meeting in San Francisco.
The researchers asked 13 adolescents with cancer to complete questionnaires covering mood (positive and negative emotions, anxiety and depression), sleep and quality of life. The group was divided in two: a first group of eight adolescents were offered eight mindfulness-based meditation sessions and the remaining five adolescents in the control group were put on a wait-list. The eight sessions were 90 minutes long and took place weekly. After the last meditation session, patients from both groups filled out the same questionnaires a second time. "We analyzed differences in mood, sleep and quality of life scores for each participant and then between each group to evaluate if mindfulness sessions had a greater impact than the simple passage of time. We found that teenagers that participated in the mindfulness group had lower scores in depression after our 8 sessions. Girls from the mindfulness group reported sleeping better. We also noticed that they developed mindfulness skills to a greater extent than boys during the sessions," Malboeuf-Hurtubise said. "Our results suggest that mindfulness sessions could be helpful in improving mood and sleep in teenagers with cancer, as previous oncology research suggests with adults."
Differences between both groups were not large enough for the researchers to impute observed benefits solely to the mindfulness component of the sessions. "The social support provided to the adolescents in the mindfulness group could possibly explain observed benefits on mood and sleep," Malboeuf-Hurtubise said. "Nonetheless, mindfulness-based interventions for teenagers with cancer appear as a promising option to lighten psychological inconveniences of living with cancer." The researchers intend to offer members of the control group an opportunity to undertake the meditation sessions.
Source:University of Montreal

Catching a Yawn Linked to Age: Study

Yawning is linked to a person's age, reveals new study.  
According to scientists, contagious yawning is linked more closely to a person's age than their ability to empathise, as previously thought. It also showed a stronger link to age than tiredness or energy levels, a BBC report said.

The study, involving 328 participants and led by Elizabeth Cirulli, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, US has been published in the journal Plos One.

Researchers are now looking at whether the ability to catch yawns from other people is inherited, with the hope of helping treat mental health disorders.

Autism and schizophrenia sufferers are reportedly less able to catch yawns, researchers said, so understanding the genes that might code for contagious yawning could illuminate new pathways for treatment.

"This is the first study to look at a whole bunch of factors. It is the largest study, in terms of the number of people involved, to date," she said, adding that she did not know why contagious yawning decreased with age.

She added that although age was the most important predictor of contagious yawning, only 8 percent of the variation in whether or not a participant yawned was explained by their age. "The vast majority of variation in the contagious yawning response was just not explained."

The study used questionnaires to test the participants' empathy, levels of tiredness and sleep patterns.

During the study, 328 participants were shown a three-minute video showing other people yawning. Each subject had to click a button every time they yawned.

Overall, 68 percent of the participants yawned. Of those, 82 percent of people aged under 25 yawned, compared with 60 percent of people aged between 25 and 49, and 41 percent of people aged over 50.

Robert R Provine, professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, said the study was "unique" as it marked the first time a link between ageing and contagious yawning had been shown.

He said the study would "help to get down to the neurological nitty-gritty of contagious behaviours" and mental health disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

Provine said the findings could also help to understand why laughing and coughing were so contagious.
 Source:BBC report     

A Sweet Way of Plants to Attract Pollinators With Nectar

 A Sweet Way of Plants to Attract Pollinators With NectarSexual reproduction is key to creating a diverse population that secures competitiveness in nature, and evolution is based on this diversity. Plants as largely immobile organisms had to solve a problem: they needed to find ways to spread their genetic material beyond individual flowers. To make sure that flying pollinators such as insects, birds and bats come to the flowers to pick up pollen, plants evolved special organs, the nectaries, to attract and reward the animals.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena (Germany) and their colleagues from Stanford and Duluth (USA) have identified the sugar transporter that plays a key role in plants' nectar production. SWEET9 transports sugar into extracellular areas of the nectaries where nectar is secreted. Thus, SWEET9 may have been crucial for the evolution of flowering plants that attract and reward pollinators with sweet nectar. (Nature, March 16, 2014, doi: 10.1038/nature13082)
Despite the obvious importance of nectar, the process by which plants manufacture and secrete it has remained a mystery. New research from a team led by Wolf Frommer, director of the Plant Biology Department, Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, in collaboration with the Carter lab in Minnesota and the Baldwin lab at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, now identified key components of the sugar synthesis and secretion mechanisms. Their work also suggests that the components were recruited for this purpose early during the evolution of flowering plants.
Source:Their work is published by Nature


Children Who Prefer Sweet Food also Have Tendency to Like Salty Food

At the Monell Chemical Senses Center, scientists have found that kids who most prefer high levels of sweet tastes also most prefer high levels of salt taste and that, in general, children prefer sweeter and saltier tastes than adults do. 
These preferences relate not only to food intake but also to measures of growth and can have important implications for efforts to change children's diets.

Many illnesses of modern society are related to poor food choices. Because children consume far more sugar and salt than recommended, which contributes to poor health, understanding the biology behind children's preferences for these tastes is a crucial first step to reducing their intake.

"Our research shows that the liking of salty and sweet tastes reflects in part the biology of the child," study lead author Julie Mennella, PhD, a biopsychologist at Monell said.

Biology predisposes us to like and consume calorie-rich sweet foods and sodium-rich salty foods, and this is especially true for children.

"Growing children's heightened preferences for sweet and salty tastes make them more vulnerable to the modern diet, which differs from the diet of our past, when salt and sugars were once rare and expensive commodities," she added.
Source:The study is published online in PLOS ONE.


Stress can Lead to Bad Breath

 Stress can Lead to Bad BreathIf you avoid pungent foods and take care of your oral hygiene, but still have bad breath, there is a possibility that you usually remain stressed.

When we're stressed, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in. And one consequence of that is that it cuts the production of saliva.            

As a result, the mouth becomes dry. Anything that dries the mouth makes bad breath worse.

The gases released by bacteria are usually contained by saliva and swallowed. But if you have a dry mouth -- known as xerostomia -- the saliva evaporates so the gases are released.

Furthermore, the bacteria can stick to the mouth more, making things worse.

There are particular types of bacteria found on the tongue that can also contribute to bad breath.

You may assume a mouthwash will freshen breath, but some that contain alcohol can actually do the reverse.

Sleeping with your mouth open, smoking, drinking coffee and exercising without hydrating properly also dry out the mouth.

Sjogren's syndrome, an auto-immune condition where the body attacks the tear and salivary glands, reducing the production of fluid, can also lead to bad breath brought on by a dry mouth.

Another cause of bad breath is salivary stones blocking the salivary glands.

These form when food debris reacts with chemicals in the saliva. This crystallises into a stone that can block the salivary ducts, stopping saliva flow and causing dryness and bad breath.

Bad breath may also occur if you stick to a low-carb diet.

In the absence of carbohydrates for energy, the liver breaks down fat instead. This produces chemicals called ketones, which have a distinct metallic smell.

This can also happen in people with uncontrolled diabetes because the liver can't break down sugar, so breaks down fat instead.

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