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Saturday, 17 January 2015

New Study Finds A “Very Strong” Correlation Between GMOs And Two Dozen Diseases

It’s no secret that we are living in a time where chronic disease continues to rise at an exponential rate, especially within the past couple of decades. New evidence continues to mount suggesting that Genetically Modified Organisms (more specifically GM food) might have played, and do play a key role in those statistics.
gmoA new study  recently published in the Journal of Organic Systems last September examined US government databases, researchers searched for GE (Genetically Engineered) crop data, glyphosate application data, and disease epidemiological data while performing a “correlation analysis” on a total of 22 different diseases.
Researchers reached an alarming conclusion:
“These data show very strong and highly significant correlations between the increasing use of glyphosate, GE crop growth and the increase in a multitude of diseases. Many of the graphs show sudden increases in the rates of diseases in the mid-1990s that coincide with the commercial production of GE crops. The probabilities in the graphs and tables show that it is highly unlikely that the correlations are a coincidence. The strength of the correlations shows that there is a very strong probability that they are linked somehow.”  (1)
If you’re thinking causation doesn’t mean correlation, you are right, but it’s important to consider taking into account the multitude of studies that clearly indicate the potential dangers associated with ingesting genetically modified foods . There is a lot of information out there, and our lack of support for GE foods comes from examining a multitude of information instead of just “a study.”  It’s always important to look at a wide variety of data and evidence when trying to make the best possible decisions for you and your family when it comes to GE foods. The science suggesting that they should not be deemed completely safe for consumption is quite large, and goes beyond the correlation analysis that was performed in this study.
If you take glyphosate, for example, it was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating at an alarming rate. Over the decades, strong scientific evidence has shown how glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, that it damages DNA and encourages cell mutations that can lead to cancer. It’s also been linked toautism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and various other detrimental human health ailments. This fact alone gives more credence to the main study mentioned in this article.
The actual study contains more information and visuals for anybody who reads it, you can access it within the sources.
With all of the information and science that’s now been published, more specifically with regards to glyphosate, it’s absolutely absurd, dangerous and irresponsible for any biotech corporation who manufactures these substances to tell the world that they are completely safe and harmless, yet they do. Don’t you think? How could a corporation like Monsanto (a corporation charged with regulating our global food supply) claim that glyphosate is safe despite all of the evidence that confirms that it’s not?
“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691
Keep in mind that the use of glyphosate rose 1500% from 1995 to 2005, and that 100 million pounds of glyphosate is used every year on more than a billion acres. (Cherry B. GM crops increase herbicide use in the United States. Science in Society 45, 44-46, 2010) 
Related CE Article:
New Study Links GMOs To Cancer, Liver/Kidney Damage & Severe Hormonal Disruption. 
This is exactly why a number of countries across the world have completely banned GMOs and the pesticides that go with them. The number of countries that still import or use these products is rapidly declining, The most recent country to introduce severe restrictions (and make a lot of noise in doing so) regarding GMOs, is Russia.
“Any politician or scientist who tells you these products are safe is either very stupid or lying. The hazards of these foods are uncertain. In view of our enormous ignorance, the premature application of biotechnology is downright dangerous. By slipping it into our food without our knowledge, without any indication that there are genetically modified organisms in our food, we are now unwittingly part of a massive experiment.” – David Suzuki, CC,OBC,PH.D LLD, Geneticist

600 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World's Most Important Herb

There is a medicinal spice so timelessly interwoven with the origins of human culture and metabolism, so thoroughly supported by modern scientific inquiry, as to be unparalleled in its proven value to human health and well-being.
Indeed, turmeric turns the entire drug-based medical model on its head.  Instead of causing far more side effects than therapeutic ones, as is the case for most patented pharmaceutical medications, turmeric possesses hundreds of potential side benefits, having been empirically demonstrated to positively modulate over 160 different physiological pathways in the mammalian body.
600 Reasons Why Turmeric Is The World's Most Important HerbWhile no food or herb is right for everyone, and everything has the potential for unintended, adverse side effects, turmeric is truly unique in its exceptionally high margin of safety vis-à-vis the drugs it has been compared with, e.g. hydrocortisoneibuprofenchemotherapy agents. Furthermore, nothing within the modern-day pharmaceutical armamentarium comes even remotely close to turmeric's 6,000 year track record of safe use in Ayurvedic medicine.[1]
Despite its vast potential for alleviating human suffering, turmeric will likely never receive the FDA stamp of approval, due to its lack of exclusivity, patentability and therefore profitability. Truth be told, the FDA's "gold standard" for proving the value of a prospective medicinal substance betrays the age old aphorism: "he who owns the gold makes the rules," and unless an investor is willing to risk losing the 800+ million dollars that must be spent upfront, the FDA-required multi-phased double-blind, randomized clinical trials will not occur. For additional details on this rather seedy arrangement read our article on the topic: Why The Law Forbids The Medicinal Use of Natural Substances.
Here   reviewing  over 5,000 study abstracts from the National Library of Medicine's bibliographic database known as MEDLINE and have discovered over 600 potential health benefits of turmeric, and/or its primary polyphenol known as curcumin. These can be viewed on our turmeric research page which is dedicated to disseminating the research on the topic to a larger audience.
Some of the most amazing demonstrated properties include:
  • Destroying Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer
  • Destroying Cancer Stem Cells (arguably, the root of all cancer)
  • Protecting Against Radiation-Induced Damage
  • Reducing Unhealthy Levels of Inflammation
  • Protecting Against Heavy Metal Toxicity
  • Preventing and Reversing Alzheimer's Disease Associated Pathologies
Again, what is so amazing is not that turmeric may have value in dozens of health conditions simultaneously, or that it may improve conditions that are completely resistant to conventional treatment, but that there are over six hundred additional health conditions it may also be valuable in preventing and/or treating. Consider also the fact that turmeric grows freely on the Earth, and you will understand why its very existence threatens billions of dollars in pharmaceutical industry revenue.  
Watch This Video:

How The History Of Psychoactive Plants Validates Epigenetics

Research conducted at Stanford’s School of Medicinerevealed that genes were turned on and off, not by the genes themselves, but through external, environmental stimuli. These radical findings ran contrary to the long-held assumptions of genetic determinism and became one of the early heralds of an emerging scientific understanding called epigenetics.
weedAt the same time it has been a theme of modern neuroscience that certain concepts and ideas (“memes”)have a life of their own within our culture and become adopted over time.
So it is interesting to speculate what sorts of influences and forces might be at work in these processes.
I was struck by the January 11th Sixty Minutes piece that highlighted the “normalization” of marijuana use in Colorado and how other institutions like law enforcement are handling it. Not surprisingly the fact that it is commercially successful has made it popular among capitalists and the widespread adoption is continuing.
It is not hard to connect the popularity of “weed” with various changes in memes in our culture among the adopters.  Early proponents were rebels against the materialist establishment, pacifists and sometimes referred to as “hippies.”
Also among them were teachers like Alan Watts and Ram Dass who really began the consciousness movement in the United States.  But is there a cause and effect connection to be drawn between the popularity of a drug and the changes in a society that happen at the same time?
The adoption or integration of marijuana as a “mind altering weed” is not a new phenomenon. It actually happened in a similar way in Elizabethan England in the 16th century. The real story of tobacco has been covered in John Barth’s novel “The Sot Weed Factor,” a Bob Newhart comedy sketch and in a historical novel I wrote in my 20’s about the real life of Sir Walter Raleigh.
In truth, Raleigh was the first capitalist – he financed his Virginia colonies with tobacco which he promoted as a “strange herb smoked by the Indians in the New World.”  He brought two Indian chieftains back from Virginia and brought them into court, scandalizing the royals because they were of course nearly naked, and demonstrated their smoke through a pipe.
Previously it had only been popular among the seafaring roughnecks and privateers but when tobacco became popular it was smoked as an intoxicant at the theatre and gained in popularity, making Raleigh wealthy.
At the same time it is interesting to note that it was during this period that the power of the monarchy began to wane, and ideas like individual freedom and democracy began to spread through Europe. Of course it was only a century or so later that these ideas (memes) flowered in America and the colonists rebelled from England and proponents of tobacco wrote the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
The entire class systems began to erode and even more revolutionary ideas took hold; for example it was also during this time that the church began to split apart and “heretical” ideas like the heliocentric theory became adopted.  The Age of Tobacco was also the Age of Newton, Galileo, Giordano Bruno and Copernicus.
Interestingly a close of associate of Raleigh was Thomas Harriot, an astrologer, astronomer and mathematician who was in touch with Kepler and other astronomers in Europe and propounded the theory of many worlds and of course validated the concept that the earth and planets move about the sun in elliptical orbits, hastening the birth of modern astronomy and astrophysics.
Harriot was Raleigh’s emissary to Virginia and befriended the Indians by learning their language; he was also the first known victim of cancer from tobacco use.
The Elizabethan meme that most intrigued me was the belief in the divine right of the monarch, and the dedication and devotion, for example, to the Queen of England. Raleigh was a man of his own mind, which got him imprisoned several times, as he stood up to both Elizabeth and later King James.
Along with democracy came the rise of capitalism and individual wealth rather than the inheritance of the monarchs and their blood lines.

Is Weed The New Tobacco?

So one may ask is something similar to what happened with tobacco now happening with pot?
Certainly many memes have changed during our current period and Collective Evolution has been an agent of such change. Chief among them in terms of consciousness is the realization that we do not have to “believe our thoughts.”
What also intrigued me about Raleigh and Harriot when I wrote about them was their interest in the civilizations of the New World. Raleigh lost his son on a final voyage to Guiana to ostensibly search for the Lost City of Gold, the legendary El Dorado.
But what if his quest had a deeper motivation.  It seems that the Indians with whom Harriot communicated told him of their legends of Gods from the Sky, and these same legends were repeated by a Spaniard that Raleigh captured and who told him of El Dorado.
Again, what if Raleigh and Harriot’s efforts at reaching the Amazon were not just for material wealth, but to gain the greater wisdom to which their minds had been opened –that the true source of civilization was an ancient wisdom that they sought to discover?
Today, of course, the “outrageous” theories of extraterrestrial influence are becoming more widely accepted, especially as our science discovers the secrets of DNA and we begin to suspect that our origins as a species may not be entirely “random.”
Could it be that once again an organic substance has changed our brain chemistry so that we are open to new ideas and an upheaval of our belief systems?
Of course tobacco and marijuana are rather mild substances when compared to other organic and synthetic products that have become of great interest to neuroscience –like ayahuasca from the Amazon, peyote and of course LSD.
It seems obvious that our mental vistas are expanding, and perhaps the quest for outer space will really lead us to inner space.
In any case, it is now obvious that as Shakespeare wrote, influenced by tobacco or not that “there is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Leaves of Sweet Potato are Good Source of Vitamins

Leaves of sweet potato plants and other tissues in sweet potato are found to have good amount of vitamin B6 and other water-solubleLeaves of sweet potato plants and other tissues in sweet potato are found to have good amount of vitamin B6 and other water-soluble vitamins, in a new study.

Sweet potato is known to be a good source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and certain B vitamins that are considered essential to human health. Besides the commonly consumed root of the plant, certain tissues in sweet potato are also edible and high in nutritional value. 

Wilmer Barrera and David Picha from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center analyzed a variety of sweet potato tissue types (mature leaves, young leaves, young petioles, buds, vine sections, and root tissue) in late October and again the following September. They conducted a third experiment to study water-soluble vitamin content among different sweet potato root tissues. 

Analyses revealed differences in total ascorbic acid (AA) content among tissue types. Young leaves contained the highest AA content, followed by mature leaves and buds. Buds also contained significantly higher AA content than sweet potato roots, vines, and petiole tissues. 

The results confirmed that sweet potato foliar tissues are a good source of ascorbic acid, and that young leaves have the highest foliar AA content, the scientists noted. The experiments showed no presence of thiamin in foliar tissues, a finding the authors say differs from previous studies. 

Results also showed that riboflavin content differed with sweet potato tissue type, but was consistently higher in the leaves; mature leaves contained higher amounts of riboflavin than young leaves and other plant tissues, including roots. 

They noted that the vitamin B6 content in sweet potato leaves compares well with fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, avocados, carrots, bananas, and cauliflower. 

Source:The research is published in HortScience.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Coenzyme A plays leading role in nitric oxide function so essential to cell metabolism

Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center researchers and physicians have discovered that the molecule known as coenzyme A plays a key role in cell metabolism by regulating the actions of nitric oxide. Cell metabolism is the ongoing process of chemical transformations within the body's cells that sustains life, and alterations in metabolism are a common cause of human disease, including cancer and heart disease. Their findings about the mechanisms of action for coenzyme A, as well as discovering a new class of enzymes that regulate coenzyme A-based reactions, appear in the Dec. 15 edition of theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"The governing role of coenzyme A in nitric oxide function was completely unknown and unanticipated before this study," said senior author Jonathan Stamler, MD, professor of medicine, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and director, Harrington Discovery Institute at UH Case Medical Center. "Nitric oxide operates in every cell and tissue of the body to influence cell function. We are trying to work through the basic control of nitric oxide biology to elucidate the machinery underlying its mechanisms of action."
Coenzyme A sets into motion a process known as protein nitrosylation, which unleashes nitric oxide to alter the shape and function of proteins within cells to modify cell behavior. The purpose of manipulating the behavior of cells is to tailor their actions to accommodate the ever-changing needs of the body's metabolism.
In addition, Case Western Reserve and UH investigators identified hundreds of proteins regulated by coenzyme A-driven protein nitrosylation. Many of the newly discovered targets of nitrosylation were noted to influence cellular energy production. Because coenzyme A itself serves as a source of energy for cells, the authors concluded that nitrosylation might influence the major building blocks of cells such as fats and sugars.
"We are trying to understand how nitrosylation works in ensuring that nitric oxide achieves its specificity in regulating cell function. We have found new enzymes that regulate nitrosylation by coenzyme A," Stamler said. "We know that aberrant protein nitrosylation is a common cause or contributor to disease. We anticipate that these new enzymes may play a role."
During their research, investigators studied yeast in making their discoveries about coenzyme A and also a new class of enzymes that control the ability of coenzyme A to nitrosylate proteins. These newly found enzymes have a profound effect on cell metabolism, particularly in sterol (cholesterol) synthesis, by regulating the signal mechanism of cell metabolism and protein nitrosylation. Alternations in cholesterol levels are a common cause of atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's.
"We are excited to say that these new classes of enzymes potentially provide entry into metabolic regulation in mammals and offer new pathways and new possibilities for understanding cell metabolism," Stamler said. "This new class of enzymes is present in every living cell, and it governs metabolic signaling molecules and regulates cellular metabolism in organisms from bacteria to humans."
In terms of next steps, Stamler and fellow researchers will work to identify the specific functions of each enzyme in the class of enzymes they discovered during the course of this investigation.
The fundamental basic discoveries of this new class of enzymes and of coenzyme A function could open a new avenue of scientific research. His findings anchor the development of new therapeutic approaches for patients with heart and other diseases.
"Cell metabolism is a hot topic today because alterations in cell metabolism serve as a signature for a whole variety of diseases," Stamler said. "Our findings about these cell metabolism mechanisms promise new understanding of health and disease."
Source:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Cone snail venom holds promise for medical treatments for cancer and addiction

While considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, snails have found a more intriguing use to scientists and the medical profession offering a plethora of research possibilities. Cone snails are marine mollusks, just as conch, octopi and squid, but they capture their prey using venom. The venom of these marine critters provides leads for detection and possible treatment of some cancers and addictions.
Frank Marí, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at Florida Atlantic University, has focused his research on cone snail venom and has published a study in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
IMAGE"The venom produced by these animals immobilizes prey, which can be worms, other snails and fish," said Marí. "The venom is an extraordinary complex mixture of compounds with medicinal properties."
The venom components selectively target cells in the body and make them valuable drug leads and powerful molecular tools for understanding the human body's processes. One class of venom components is the alpha-conotoxins, named so because they target nicotinic receptors that are central to a range of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, tobacco addiction and lung cancer.
The venom of a particular species of cone snail, Conus regius, collected by the Marí group at the Florida Keys, is particularly rich in alpha conotoxins. Aldo Franco, Ph.D., who worked in Marí's lab, described more than ten new alpha-conotoxins in his Ph.D. dissertation at FAU. Among these, they found RegIIA, a compound that potently blocked the alpha3beta4 nicotinic receptor. This particular receptor when activated can be associated with lung cancer and nicotine addiction.
"We investigated in detail how RegIIA interacts with the alpha3beta4 nicotinic receptors and embarked on engineering new compounds that were more specific toward alpha3beta4 receptors and not other nicotinic receptors," said Marí. "Our aim is to open new avenues for cancer and addiction research inspired on compounds from marine animals."
Cone snails can be found throughout the Florida coast at different depths. Marí and his team regularly collect these animals using SCUBA and sometimes using deep-water submarines.
Source:About Florida Atlantic University:

How Avocado Can Help With Weight Management

You have all heard of 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'; now how about replacing the good old apple with an avocado? After all avocado is considered as a 'super fruit' packed with many natural 'super nutrients'.

Avocado is a fruit, which has a creamy texture. It is native to Mexico and Central America and is rich in monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy. It is believed that consumption of avocado increases your healthy fat and calorie intake without seriously increasing protein or carbohydrate intake. It is known to have the slow burning and protective monounsaturated fats, which is important for a healthy heart. It is also a rich source of potassium and helps in balancing the vital sodium to potassium ratio.

Avocado Nutrition Facts

How Avocado Can Help With Weight ManagementGood source of heart healthy fat

  • s  Avocado is rich in healthy fats, which is important for maintaining good health and even losing weight to some extent. About 100 grams of avocado has a total of 15 grams of fat. It is abundant in monounsaturated oleic acid, which is the same beneficial healthy fat found in olive oil.
  • s  Numerous studies have demonstrated that diet rich in oleic acid can significantly reduce high levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increase levels of protective HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Thus avocado contributes to a reduced risk of heart disease and improved cardiac health.
  • s   Another benefit of avocado is in losing weight because oleic acid to be used by the body as a slow burning energy source when compared to saturated fat.

Rich in antioxidants

  • s  Avocado contains a wide array of antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene, alpha carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, violaxanthin, neoxanthin and neochrome. Antioxidants are known to protect your body's cells from free radical damage that leads to the visible signs of ageing and a variety of diseases like cancer.
  • s  The other two special antioxidants found in avocado are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are proven to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in the elderly) and cataract.

Phytosterol-rich fruit

  • s  Beta-sitosterol is the main phytosterol found in avocado. It is structurally similar to cholesterol and is known to block its absorption during digestion.
  • s  Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is useful in preventing diseases of inflammation like arthritis and heart disease.

Packed with vitamins and minerals

  • s  Avocado is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, folate and vitamin K. Manganese, copper, magnesium and potassium are the main minerals found in avocado.
  • s  Vitamin C not only protects against heart disease, but is also known to improve circulation, boost your immunity and enhance collagen production for beautiful skin.
  • s  Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that protects your skin from free radical damage which causes wrinkles, sagging skin and other visible signs of aging.
  • s  Folate is known to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood (a consistent marker for cardiovascular disease) and thus cuts the risk of developing heart disease.
  • s  Vitamin K plays a vital role in controlling many diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


  • s  Avocado is rich in fiber content which helps in improving digestion and also in lowering cholesterol. The fiber along with the healthy fats in avocado fills you up quite well to the extent of reducing hunger and cravings.

Avocado in weight management

  • s  When you are trying to lose weight, you would most likely think of cutting down on fats and calories. Most of us believe that they get fat by eating fat. This is not really true because the way we consume fatty acids in our diet affects whether we gain or lose weight. Research has shown that some dietary fats, like the fats found in avocado, can help with weight loss. Avocado is also one of the metabolism enhancing food with their high levels of monounsaturated fats.
  • s   Considering the fact that 100 grams of a fresh avocado provides nearly 160 calories, but it has to be noted that more than two thirds of those calories actually come from monounsaturated oleic acid, which is more likely to be utilized by your body as a slow burning source of energy compared to saturated fats.
  • s  Avocado increases satiety and gives you a feeling of fullness after you eat it due to:
    • s  high in calories and healthy monounsaturated fats
    • s   rich buttery taste
    • s   good levels of protein
    • s   low levels of carbohydrate
    • s   high fiber content
  • s   A high carbohydrate meal which includes foods such as rice, bread, potatoes or pasta, usually causes significant increase in hunger due to the effect it has on the insulin levels in your blood. It has been demonstrated that increasing your intake of monounsaturated fats provides marked improvement in insulin sensitivity and glycemic, which is considered to a be a vital factor in weight gain and developing diabetes.
  • s   On the other hand, fruits such as avocado have the ability to increase the nutrition that one would receive from a meal and satisfy your hunger quicker. This leads to most people eating less and thus has a tremendous effect on weight loss. Avocado is thus considered as an effective weight loss food when added to a healthy eating plan.
  • s  Avocado is also high in omega-9 fats, which is known to aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins from the foods they are eaten with.
A study was conducted in 26 subjects to see how the consumption of avocado affected the person's satiety and blood sugar levels in particular. The results of the study which were published in the journal Nutrition, revealed that subjects who ate half of a fresh avocado along with their lunch reported a 40% decrease in the desire to eat during the three hours following their lunch and a 28% decreased desire to eat 5 hours following their lunch in comparison to the subjects who ate regular lunch (i.e., without avocado). The avocado eating group also reported feeling 26% more satisfied after their lunch as compared to the other group. The researchers also observed that by eating the avocado, the participants had an increased calorie and carbohydrate intake, however no increase in blood sugar levels were seen.

Tips to lose weight with avocado

  • s  Remember that by just counting calories, limiting fat intake and starving yourself does not always help to lose those extra pounds.
  • s   Eat fresh, unprocessed foods, which have plenty of vitamins and minerals to have lasting effect on your body.
  • s  Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, so never skip it. Try making an avocado omelette by simply adding diced avocado to a beaten egg. You can also add other vegetables of your choice such as mushrooms, spring onions, tomatoes etc and spice it up with some black pepper powder and salt. This protein-packed omelette is not only healthy, but will keep you full for a while and provide longer lasting energy as compared to toast or cereal.
  • s  Make your own sandwich by adding few slices of avocado to lettuce and tomato using whole grain bread and fat free mayonnaise. This is a healthier option as compared to the traditional "BLT sandwich" which is typically loaded with fats. Alternatively, you could use some mashed avocado as a spread for sandwiches; you will love the creamy texture and the flavor!
  • s  Adding diced avocados to any kind of vegetarian salad (one kind is to use cooked beans such as pinto or garbanzo beans) or chicken and mango salad is a great option to start off a meal.
  • s  Keep a jar of guacamole (traditional dish made with avocado) handy. To prepare guacamole, simply add garlic and diced tomato to some mashed avocado. This is a great tasting dip to snack on with some low fat crackers or vegetables of your choice.
So if your New Year resolution is to lose some weight and stay healthy and fit, try going the avocado way! Charge up your metabolism and make weight loss even easier. Consider adding the heart-healthy, creamy avocado to your daily meal and see the difference for yourself! 

Rate of Investment in Medical Research Declined in US and Increased Globally, from 2004 to 2012

The rate of investment in medical research has declined in the United States, while there has been an increase in research investment globally, particularly in Asia, from 2004 to 2012, according to a study by the Alerion Institute and Alerion Advisors LLC, North Garden, Va., and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore.
 Rate of Investment in Medical Research Declined in US and Increased Globally, from 2004 to 2012
Researchers examined developments over the past two decades in the pattern of who conducts and who supports medical research, as well as resulting patents, publications, and new drug and device approvals. Publicly available data from 1994 to 2012 were compiled showing trends in US and international research funding, productivity, and disease burden by source and industry type. Patents and publications from 1981 to 2011 were evaluated using citation rates and impact factors. 

It was seen that from 2004 to 2012, the rate of investment growth declined to 0.8 percent annually and (in real terms) decreased in 3 of the last 5 years, reaching $117 billion (4.5 percent) of total health care expenditures. The US government research funding declined from 57 percent (2004) to 50 percent (2012) of the global total, as did that of US companies (50 percent to 41 percent), with the total US (public plus private) share of global research funding declining from 57 percent to 44 percent. Asia, particularly China, tripled their investment from $2.6 billion (2004) to $9.7 billion (2012). The US share of life science patents declined from 57 percent (1981) to 51 percent (2011). 

The authors concluded, "The analysis underscores the need for the United States to find new sources to support medical research, if the clinical value of its past science investment and opportunities to improve care are to be fully realized. Substantial new private resources are feasible, though public funding can play a greater role. Both will require non-traditional approaches if they are to be politically and economically realistic. Given global trends, the United States will relinquish its historical innovation lead in the next decade unless such measures are undertaken." 

The study appears in JAMA.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine: Study reveals rate at which smokers metabolize nicotine could predict the best way to quit smoking

The success of different smoking cessation treatments could be predicted by how quickly smokers break down (metabolise) nicotine in their bodies, according to new research published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal. The findings, from the largest pharmacogenetic [1] study of tobacco dependence treatment to date, reveal that normal metabolisers of nicotine have better quit rates with the non nicotine replacement therapy drug varenicline (trade name Chantix or Champix) compared with the nicotine patch, whereas slow metabolisers achieve similar quitting success using the nicotine patch but without the side-effects reported with varenicline.
"As many as 65% of smokers who try to quit relapse within the first week"*, explains Caryn Lerman co-lead author and a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA. "Our findings show that matching a treatment based on the rate at which smokers metabolise nicotine could be a viable clinical strategy to help individual smokers choose the cessation method that will work best for them."*
Every year, about 6 million people die of smoking-related diseases and an estimated US$200 billion is spent on tobacco-related health-care costs worldwide.
Smokers crave nicotine when their body's nicotine levels drop. However, different people metabolise nicotine at different rates. Nicotine levels in the body drop more quickly in normal metabolisers (60% of smokers in the population) so they are more likely to smoke more and find it harder to quit. Previous research has identified a genetically informed biomarker of nicotine clearance--the nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR)--that reflects both environmental and genetic effects on nicotine metabolism. Until now, whether NMR status can be used to optimise treatment choice for individual smokers and improve outcomes has not been tested in a randomised trial.
In this study, Lerman and colleagues randomly assigned 1246 smokers who wanted to quit (662 slow metabolisers of nicotine and 584 normal metabolisers of nicotine) to 11 weeks of either the nicotine patch (plus a placebo pill), varenicline (plus placebo patch), or a placebo pill and patch. All participants also received behavioural counselling and were followed for 12 months after their quit date.
At the end of treatment (11 weeks), normal metabolisers taking varenicline were about twice as likely not to smoke as those using the nicotine patch, and were significantly more likely to still be abstaining from smoking 6 months later. Although varenicline was just as effective as nicotine patches at helping slow metabolisers to quit they reported more overall side-effects with the drug.
According to Dr Rachel Tyndale, co-lead author and Head of Pharmacogenetics at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto, Canada, "To optimise quit rates for all smokers whilst minimising side effects, our data suggest treating normal metabolisers with varenicline and slow metabolisers with the nicotine patch. What is more, it is feasible that a point-of-care blood test to measure the rate at which nicotine is metabolised could be developed and implemented in clinical practice."*
Writing in a linked Comment, Jennifer Ware, Neil Davies, and Marcus Munafò from the University of Bristol in the UK say, "The results reported by Lerman and colleagues are an important scientific advance. Should the findings be replicated, they might lead to changes in clinical practice through the implementation of prescriptions stratified on the basis of a biomarker test...[However] the extent to which tailoring treatment by a biomarker such as NMR is a cost-effective approach will depend on doing a full health economic assessment, including consideration of the relevant national context...which will also have to consider the effect of warnings stipulated by national regulatory bodies on prescribing rates of varenicline."
Source:The Lancet

May contain nuts. But how much is too much?

In a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the researchers identified the level of five of the most common food allergens which would cause a reaction in only ten percent of people who are sensitive to them.
Whilst allergenic ingredients used in a recipe have to be listed on food labels, traces of allergens that accidentally find their way into foods are not currently regulated. Currently precautionary labels that warn of such traces used phrases, such as 'produced in a factory which also handles peanuts', are not applied in a consistent way. They also have the effect of causing allergy sufferers to take risks, as different people can tolerate more of an allergen than others.
The researchers, from the University's Institute of Inflammation and Repair, analysed data from 436 people collected in the EuroPrevall project from across Europe who had allergies to peanut, hazelnut, celery, fish or shrimp. They were then given small doses of the food they were allergic to and their reactions monitored.
Professor Clare Mills, who led the study said: "What we wanted was to find a level of allergen which would only produce a reaction in the most sensitive ten percent of people. This sort of data can then be used to apply a consistent level of warning to food products.
"What we'd like to see are warnings which tell people with allergies to avoid certain products completely or just apply to those who are most sensitive."
Between 1.6 and 10.1 milligrams (1/1000 of a gram) of hazelnut, peanut and celery protein produced a reaction in the most sensitive 10% of those studied. For fish it was higher - at 27.3 milligrams - and for shrimp a significantly higher 2.5 grams of cooked protein produced a reaction - though the researchers didn't study raw shrimp which may have a different effect.
The number of people who have food allergies has increased in recent decades with around 5-7% of infants and 1-2% of adults at risk and The University of Manchester is part of a project 'Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Management' (iFAAM;, which aims to provide better advice for health workers and the public and, ultimately reduce the burden of allergy across Europe.
Professor Mills added: "This single study is part of the background to rolling out new warning guidelines across Europe, and alongside other work being carried out in Manchester and elsewhere we're developing a strong evidence base to give consumers and industry confidence."
Source:Journal of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology.

Contrary To Popular Belief, Cannabis May Effectively Treat Schizophrenia

Natural treatments potent enough to alleviate symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia (whether it is induced by an infectious illness or microbe of some kind, severe nutrient imbalance, or any other origin) are scarce. However, various reports have surfaced claiming cannabis can successfully treat symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia; and for each of these reports, multiple others have surfaced cautioning of cannabis induced psychosis.
While these reports exist on polar opposite ends of the spectrum, the validity of both are well-founded. Cannabis holds the power to either induce or reduce symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia, as it contains compounds enabling it to do both. The key to treating psychosis and schizophrenia with cannabis lies in identifying and using the specific compounds able to alleviate symptoms.

Cannabis Induced Psychosis

Cannabis has long been linked to psychosis, believed to both induce symptoms of psychosis as well as exacerbate preexisting symptoms of psychosis, most notably those of schizophrenia. Clinical documentation of the validity of this belief dates back to 1848, when French psychiatrist Jacques-Joseph Moreau de Tour began studying the effects of cannabis on the brain and body, with his interest particularly fixated on its ability to induce psychosis in users. Tonightmare-ghosttest his theory, Moreau used cannabis as an experimental psychotomimetic, a substance which mimics symptoms of psychosis, including but not limited to hallucinations, delusions and delirium. After observing behavioral changes similar to endogenous psychosis, or psychosis originating within rather than from external influences such as cannabis, Moreau concluded that THC worked as an excellent experimental psychotomimetic substance, indicating that the use, and definitely the abuse, of cannabis containing the psychoactive ingredient THC can initiate a symptom picture unparalleled to that of psychosis. Researchers who repeated the study in 2004 using more accurate measurements, scales and overall means of testing came to the same conclusion as Moreau.

Cannabidiol Reduces Symptoms and Progression of Schizophrenia and Psychotic Conditions by Enhancing Anandamide Signaling

Elevated levels of anandamide, a bioactive lipid that binds to cannabinoid receptors, in cerebrospinal fluid are linked to symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia. More specifically, they are linked to the prognosis of schizophrenia and psychotic conditions, with the amount to which they are elevated determining the rate at which the psychosis will progress. When exploring anandamides role in the transitioning of schizophrenic patients from prodromal states of psychosis (early, initial stages proceeding full blown manifestation of psychotic symptoms) to advanced, final stages of psychosis, researchers measured anandamide levels in the cerebrospinal fluid and serum of subjects in initial prodromal states alongside individuals clinically deemed psychologically stable and healthy. On account of ensuring the most accurate results possible, high-performance liquid chromatograph/spectrometry was used for testing.
Schizophrenic patients displayed appreciably higher levels of anandamide compared to healthy test subjects. Schizophrenic patients who exhibited anandamide levels that were above average, yet were notably lower in comparison to other patients with schizophrenia and psychosis related conditions, were found to be at a greater risk for transitioning from initial prodromal states of psychosis to advanced states of psychosis. This may seem backwards, as the fact that elevated levels of anandamide are associated with schizophrenia, a fact which could easily lend to the false assumption that higher levels of anandamide correlate with higher levels of psychosis. On the contrary, the opposite holds true. Anandamidergic upregulation, or enhanced anandamide levels, in the initial prodromal stage of schizophrenia and psychotic conditions are a protective response of the endocannabinoid system activated early on, upon initial onset of symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis.
That the cannabinoid Cannabidiol does not bind to cannabinoid receptors does not render it useless, especially in this case, considering its functioning in directly working to inhibit degradation of the endocannabinoid anandamide. Clearly, this is an exciting discovery  for those afflicted with schizophrenia or conditions producing symptoms similar to schizophrenia, as it offers hope of a slower progression of the condition and the possibility of a living a longer, fuller life. In a study comparing the effectiveness of cannabidiol and amisulpride, a strong anti-psychotic, on schizophrenic symptoms, both medications performed successfully. However, the list of side effects of cannabidiol was significantly less in comparison to that of the prescription antipsychotic amisulpride. Essentially, not only did cannabidiol prove to be an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of schizophrenia and inhibiting progression of psychosis by greatly increasing anandamide serum levels, but it did so without simultaneously generating a cascade of more undesirable symptoms, as its use is not equipped with a stealthy list of side effects like amisulpride and other antipsychotic prescription drugs. In short, studies performed on human and animal test subjects using behavioral and neurochemical techniques indicate that the pharmacological profiles of cannabidiol and atypical antipsychotic drugs are strikingly similar.
  • Zuardi, A., Crippa, J., Hallak, J., et. al(2006). Cannabidiol, A Cannabis Sativa Constituent, As An Antipsychotic Drug. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 39(4), 421-29.
  • Fergusson, D., Poulton, R., Smith, P., & Boden, J. (2006). Cannabis and psychosis. BMJ,332(7534), 172-175.
  • Chemicals in Cannabis may help mentally ill. (2005, June 6). Retrieved October 22, 2014, from
  • Chaturvedi, K. (2004). Cannabis as a psychotropic medication. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 185(78), 78-78
  • Cannabis does not induce schizophrenia, Dutch scientists say. (2004, August 19). Retrieved October 20, 2014, from

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