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Friday, 23 January 2015

CDC Warns About Pregnant Women Using Opioid Painkillers

PillsAccording to a report released on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25% women of child bearing age are getting prescriptions for opioid painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, that can cause birth defects and other serious complications early in pregnancy.
Typically, these common opioid medications are prescribed for moderate to severe pain, and they are also found in some prescription cough medicines. Taking them early in pregnancy is dangerous. “They’re deadly, they’re addictive and they cause birth defects,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said.
Earlier studies of opioid use during pregnancy show that they could increase risk of major defects of the baby’s brain and spine, heart and abdominal wall. However, this is the first time that the CDC has looked into opioid painkillers specifically among women of child-bearing age. This study is important because women taking these medications may not know they’re pregnant and may expose their unborn baby to serious risks.
 After analyzing data from 2008 to 2012 from two sets of data for women ages 15-44: those with private insurance and those enrolled in Medicaid, CDC researchers found that, on average, 39% of Medicaid-enrolled women filled at least one opioid prescription each year, compared with 28% of women with private insurance. The report said that one of the reasons for the different prescribing rates might be differences in coverage under their health plans and differences in the women’s underlying health conditions.
Private-insurance claims data showed that opioid prescription rates were highest for women in the South and lowest in the Northeast. Medicaid race and ethnicity data showed that opioid prescriptions were higher for white women who might become pregnant than black or Latino women.
Pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant should discuss the risks with their doctor.
Source:Pioneer News

Google is developing cancer and heart attack detector

Google hopes to develop a wristband that would carry out non-invasive blood tests
 Google is aiming to diagnose cancers, impending heart attacks or strokes and other diseases, at a much earlier stage than is currently possible. The company is working on technology that combines disease-detecting nanoparticles, which would enter a patient's bloodstream via a swallowed pill, with a wrist-worn sensor.
WristbandThe idea is to identify slight changes in the person's biochemistry that could act as an early warning system.
The work is still at an early stage.
Early diagnosis is the key to treating disease. Many cancers, such as pancreatic, are detected only after they have become untreatable and fatal.
There are marked differences between cancerous and healthy tissues.
Google's ambition is to constantly monitor the blood for the unique traces of cancer, allowing diagnosis long before any physical symptoms appear.
The project is being conducted by the search company's research unit, Google X, which is dedicated to investigating potentially revolutionary innovations.

Andrew Conrad and Google Life Sciences teamIt marks the firm's latest shift into the medical sector following its work on glucose-measuring contact lenses for patients with diabetes and the acquisition of a start-up that developed a spoon to counteract the tremors caused by Parkinson's disease.
Google has also bought stakes in Calico, an anti-ageing research company, and 23andMe, which offers personal genetic-testing kits.
Nanoparticles The diagnostic project is being led by Dr Andrew Conrad, a molecular biologist who previously developed a cheap HIV test that has become widely used.
"What we are trying to do is change medicine from reactive and transactional to proactive and preventative," he told the BBC.
 "Nanoparticles... give you the ability to explore the body at a molecular and cellular level."
Google is designing a suite of nanoparticles which are intended to match markers for different conditions.
They could be tailored to stick to a cancerous cell or a fragment of cancerous DNA.
Or they could find evidence of fatty plaques about to break free from the lining of blood vessels. These can cause a heart attack or stroke if they stop the flow of blood.
Another set would constantly monitor chemicals in the blood.
High levels of potassium are linked to kidney disease. Google believes it will be possible to construct porous nanoparticles that alter colour as potassium passes through.
"Then [you can] recall those nanoparticles to a single location - because they are magnetic - and that location is the superficial vasculature of the wrist, [where] you can ask them what they saw," said Dr Conrad.
Unattached nanoparticles would move differently in a magnetic field from those clumped around a cancer cell.
In theory, software could then provide a diagnosis by studying their movements.
As part of the project, the researchers have also explored ways of using magnetism to concentrate the nanoparticles temporarily in a single area.
The tech company's ambition is ultimately to create a wristband that would take readings of the nanoparticles via light and radio waves one or more times a day.
Google graphic
Prof Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research in London, told the BBC News website: "In principle this is great. Any newcomers with new ideas are welcome in the field.
"There is an urgent need for this. If we can detect cancer or other diseases earlier, then we can intervene with either lifestyle changes or treatment.
"How much of this proposal is dream versus reality is impossible to tell because it is a fascinating concept that now needs to be converted to practice."
His team at the institute is investigating cancer cells and cancer DNA in the blood as new methods of diagnosis and planning treatment.
He did warn Google that a diagnosis could increase anxiety and lead to unnecessary treatment, so there needed to be "very careful and rigorous analysis" before this type of blood monitoring could be used widely.
The scheme is being made public because Google is now seeking to establish partnerships.
But Dr Conrad sought to play down the idea that his firm wanted to run a search tool for the human body, alongside the one it already offers for the internet.
"We are the inventors of the technology but we have no intentions of commercialising it or monetising it in that way," he said.
"We will license it out and the partners will take it forward to doctors and patients.
"These are not consumer devices. They are prescriptive medical devices, and you know that doctor-patient relationships are pretty privileged and would not involve Google in any way."

Health graphic
From searching the internet to searching your blood, Google certainly has high ambitions. But is it feasible?
The basic principles are sound and mirror the work already taking place around the world.
Many research groups are looking at bits of cancer floating in the blood as a better way of diagnosing the disease and also to assess which tumours are more aggressive.
But Google will have to address concerns around "false positives", when healthy people are told they are ill.
These have plagued the PSA test for prostate cancer, as PSA levels can soar even when cancer is absent.
There is also the issue of "over-diagnosis". Who needs treating even if a condition is discovered?
There is continuing controversy around breast cancer screening: for every life saved, three women have invasive treatment for a cancer that would never have proved fatal.
Screening the body for disease is littered with dangers, and if it is not done carefully, it could make hypochondriacs out of all of us.
Big risk? The nanoparticle project is the latest so-called "moonshot" to originate from Google X.
Other schemes include the firm's driverless car effort and Project Loon, an attempt to provide internet access to remote areas via a network of high-altitude weather balloons.
WATCH: Google X "captain of moonshots" Astro Teller explains why he does not fear failure
While such ideas have the potential to make money, there is also a high risk of failure, and Google X acknowledges that several of its ideas have been ditched before being made public.
One analyst commented that its parent was in a rare position to make such investments.
"Under normal circumstances this is the kind of thing that would worry investors because such projects are too long-term and the miss rate is too high," said Cyrus Mewawalla, from CM Research.
"But because Google's core search business is currently so strong, shareholders are not worried at the moment and are allowing the firm to take a gamble."

Google's diagnostic project may never come to fruition, but its significance lies in the fact it represents part of a wider push by the firm into health tech.
Bearing in mind this is already a crowded sector, it begs the question: why?
The search firm denies that it wants to run its own diagnosis service, with all the privacy headaches that would entail, but the patents it creates along the way could prove lucrative.
No doubt the fact that co-founder and Google X chief Sergey Brin has been told that a gene mutation has increased his likelihood of contracting Parkinson's has also focused efforts.
And the company clearly believes its expertise in "big data" analysis and its freedom to focus on giant leaps forward, rather than incremental steps, plays to its advantages.
It's worth remembering that another much hyped health idea, Google Flu Trends - which aimed to predict the spread of the virus based on internet searches - has been dubbed a failure by some after researchers said it had overestimated the number of cases in 100 out of 108 weeks.
And US health watchdogs banned Google-backed 23andme from selling the the heath data part of its genetic screening kits last year.
On the other hand, Google's "smart lens" for diabetics shows promise, with Swiss firm Novartis stepping up to license the technology in July.
And the forthcoming Android Fit platform, designed to harness data from other apps and wearables, has a good chance of success given the huge number of people using the operating system.

Need to sensitise physicians on ADRs to strengthen pharmacovigilance in India: Dr G N Singh

With increasing use of OTC drugs and irrational prescribing of drugs across the country, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) Dr G N Singh advocates the need to sensitise medical practitioners and patients about adverse drug reactions (ADRs) for its effective monitoring as part of the Pharmacovigilance Programme of India (PvPI).

Even as factors like sub-standard drugs, medication errors and lack of reporting culture has given a set- back to PvPI, DCGI Dr G N Singh informs, "Of the 1, 20,000 ADRs reported in the country, we are planning to analyse drugs on the basis of risk benefit ratio so that apt sensitisation and suggestions can be provided to the practitioners and patients before suspending and banning any particular drug."

Experts have also been pinpointing that data available on ADRs is also inadequate as it does not represent population which consumes the drug or to which the drug has been prescribed for. There is, therefore, no representative epidemiological data on drug utility and outcomes of treatments. Moreover, the regulations and review process which is lagging behind in India has further aggravated the situation.

It has also been advocated that there is a need for quantifying ADR data to assess drug behaviour in the Indian population. Epidemiological data on drug utility and outcomes of treatments need to be generated through more studies from private hospitals and community healthcare. A reporting culture of ADRs also need to be developed in the form of publications, drug utilisation research to boost regulatory decisions.

Of 150 ADR Monitoring Centres set up under the PvPI, Technical Data Associates (TDAs) are currently working in 82 centres as of today to generate relevant ADR data in coordination with IPC, Ghaziabad for final analysis. Four nodal centres in KEM, Nair, Sion, JJ Hospital has also been authorised by the Central government to quantify ADR data.

TDAs are accountable for collecting information from the patients, performing follow up with them, entering information in the prescribed software (Vigiflow) and sending them to the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) for further analysis and documentation. Only 90 centres have the Swedish software Vigiflow which helps in accurate reporting of ADRs.

IPC also updates information on ADRs that is being reported in India from across all its centres through VigiFlow to the Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC) in Sweden, which is WHO's collaborating centre for international drug monitoring. 

Ahead of Obama visit, MSF cautions India of US pressure against India’s patent law

Ahead of US President Obama’s visit to India, the international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has expressed deep concern over the US government’s heightened efforts to undermine access to affordable medicines from India.

The US has been scaling up pressure on India and increasing visits to the country over the last several months in order to aggressively campaign against India’s patent law. The country’s law sets a high bar for what merits a patent in an effort to prevent abusive pharmaceutical patenting practices, such as ‘evergreening,’ which put profit over public health by blocking production of more affordable generics. The US is pushing for India to adopt intellectual property (IP) measures similar to those common in the US and EU, which would ultimately result in unaffordable medicine prices for both India and the countries that rely on affordable medicines made in India.

“The US is pushing India to play by its rules on intellectual property, which we know will lead to medicines being priced out of reach for millions of people,” said Dr. Manica Balasegaram, executive director of MSF’s Access Campaign.

US pressure already appears to be having an impact as the new Indian government has been delaying a decision to allow generic production of an exorbitantly-priced patented anti-cancer medicine that is unaffordable in the country—an action recommended by a Health Ministry expert committee to increase access to affordable versions.

Also in response to US pressure, the Indian Commerce Minister in November last year set up a high-level ‘think tank’ to draft national IP policy. First draft of the policy recently released is alarming. The draft emphasises patent monopolies as the key driver of innovation, when such claims have been refuted by numerous studies, and experts at the World Health Organization, which have found IP in fact to be a barrier to both access to affordable medicines, and innovation for medicines desperately needed by developing countries for diseases such as TB.

“We need the Indian government to pay very careful attention to what the US is up to right now,” said Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis of MSF’s Access Campaign.  “India has been a leader in promoting access to affordable medicines and new innovation models, but this could all unravel very fast if the Indian government caves into US pressure. The think tank so far seems to be singing to Big Pharma’s tune of undermining global efforts to finally overhaul today’s system of how medicines are developed and priced.”

At the same time, the Obama visit comes in the wake of a critical decision by India’s Patent Controller to deny a patent to pharma company Gilead for the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir—an example of how important India’s law is to encouraging price-lowering generic competition. The drug is priced in the US at US$84,000 for a three-month treatment course ($1,000 per pill), although studies estimate its production for a three-month course could be as low as $101 (about $1 per pill). The UK’s National Health Service is delaying introduction of the drug because of its cost, and protests have erupted in Spain over the drug’s rationing as a result of its price.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Too Much Protein is 'As Bad as Smoking' In Middle Age - Study

Your diet is like a bank account. Good food choices are good investments. You should make sure that you eat smart in order to keep fit. A well-planned balanced meal, which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and so on that provides your body the nutrition it needs to function properly.
Too Much Protein is 'As Bad as Smoking' In Middle Age - Study

Why is protein important?

Protein is the major component of all human cells such as bone and muscle. It is composed of 'building blocks' known as amino acids. 8 out of the total 22 amino acids are considered as essential amino acids since our body cannot produce them and we have to get them from the food we eat. It is important to eat the right kind and amount of protein daily for proper growth, to keep your bones healthy, for production of hormones and brain development. 

Proteins are classified into animal and plant proteins. Meat, cheese and eggs are examples of animal proteins which are also known as primary proteins since they contain all eight essential amino acids and are thought to be important for growth. Plant protein sources are pulses, legumes, lentils, tofu and other soya products. They are called as incomplete proteins because they don't contain all of the essential amino acids. However, it is believed that when eaten in the right combination it is possible to get all the essential amino acids, for example beans and grains complement each other in their amino acid profiles when eaten together. 

High protein diets such as Atkins diet, South Beach diet, liquid protein diet and others, have been extremely popular in the past for their quick weight-loss results. These diets allow consumption of unlimited amounts of all meat, poultry, fish, eggs and most cheeses and cut down on amount of carbohydrates ingestion. 

Study links high protein intake to cancer and other diseases

According to the latest study, which analyses the impact of protein consumption on longevity, having a diet rich in meat, eggs, milk and cheese could be as harmful to health as smoking. The risk is equivalent to the danger of developing cancer by smoking about 20 cigarettes each day. Research conducted in the past have shown a link between cancer and red meat, but this is the first time research was done to show the risk of death caused by regularly eating too much protein. 

Researchers from the University of Southern California conducted a study and found that people who ate a high protein diet were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period as compared to people on low-protein diet. The study also showed that they were many times more likely to die of diabetes. This was found to be true for people below 65 years of age; however, this trend appeared to be reverse for those above 65 years of age. The results of the study was published in the journal Cell: Metabolism

The researchers took pre-existing data from one of the largest national surveys of health and nutrition done in the United States known as NHANES III. They studied about 6,300 people over the age of 50 and followed them for 18 years, which included analyzing their death rates and cause of death. 

The three study groups were formed according to their protein intake: 
  • s  High - 20% or more of calories from protein (1,146 people)
  • s   Moderate - 10 to 19% of calories from protein (4,798 people)
  • s   Low - less than 10% of calories from protein (437 people)
The study results were as follows:
  • s   The study group who ate a high-protein diet were found to be four times more likely to die from cancer, and twice as likely to die from any cause.
  • s   The group which consumed moderate amounts of protein had a three-fold higher chance of dying of cancer.
  • s   These effects were either reduced or were not there at all in subjects whose high-protein diet was mainly plant-based such as beans. The probable reason for this is because proteins in plants have a different composition, and don't stimulate growth hormones as efficiently as meat proteins.
  • s   In subjects who were aged 65 and over, an opposite effect was seen. High protein intake in this age group was linked to a 60% reduced risk of dying from cancer and a 28% reduced risk of dying from any cause. Similar effects were observed in subjects with moderate protein intake.
The researchers felt that chicken, fish, pulses, vegetables, nuts and grains were healthier sources of protein, however, a chicken breast or salmon fillet would account for about 40 percent of recommended daily protein intake. 

The researchers thought that the higher-protein intake and higher risk of death from cancer was associated with higher insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) levels in the subjects. Protein controls the growth hormone IGF-I, which helps bodies grow but has been linked to cancer susceptibility. 

It was also stipulated that the amino acids that proteins are made of could reduce cellular protection and increase damage to DNA, both of which is a possible explanation as to why high-protein intake is linked to cancer. 

One of the lead researchers, Dr. Valter Longo said "We provide convincing evidence that a high-protein diet - particularly if the proteins are derived from animals - is nearly as bad as smoking for your health." 

Dr. Longo also stated that the results of the study suggest that the Mediterranean diet, which is low in animal protein and high in carbohydrates could be best for extending life span. 

Dr. Eileen Crimmins, a co-author of the study commented "The research shows that a low-protein diet in middle age is useful for preventing cancer and overall mortality. However, we also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid a low-protein diet to allow the maintenance of healthy weight and protection from frailty." 

Dr. Gunter Kuhnle, who is a food nutrition scientist at the University of Reading thought that it was potentially dangerous to compare effects of smoking to effect of high intake of protein. He thought that this could be misinterpreted by the public, especially the smokers who would not think of quitting smoking if their protein loaded sandwich was equally unhealthy. 

One of the experts in metabolic medicine from Glasgow University, Prof Naveed Saattar, thought that the low-protein effect in older people could be due to "survival bias", where those who reportedly lived longer are already generally healthier.

Prof Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist, said: "Further research is needed to establish whether there is any link between eating a high protein diet and an increased risk of middle aged people dying from cancer." 

All said and done, a balanced diet was still the best option. There is no diet that will do what eating healthy does. So eat right and take care of your body, after all it is the only place you have to live.
Source: journal Cell: Metabolism.

Drinking More Fluids Cuts the Risk of Kidney Stones

Plenty of water a day may keep the kidney stones away. The new guidelines issued by the American College of Physicians advocate drinking at least 2 liters of water per day so as to prevent recurrence of kidney stones.
Drinking More Fluids Cuts the Risk of Kidney Stones

Life is provided "as is" and without any warranties, so you have to incur damages arising from use or misuse. Problems like kidney stones could arise at any time; may seem serious and encompassing in the heat of the moment, but it will eventually pass. For some patients, the pain is mild and generally comes and goes, however in others the intense pain makes their legs go weak and their stomach buckle over! 

What is a kidney stone?

Kidney stones generally occur when there is accumulation of certain crystals or solid materials, usually of calcium oxalate in the kidney. They vary in size from a fraction of an inch to several inches. Small kidney stones can generally pass through the urinary tract and out of the body with minimal pain. However, when the larger stones are lodged in the urinary tract, they cause intense pain, blockage or infection. Other problems such as bleeding and damage to the kidneys may also occur. Kidney stones made of calcium are the most common type. 

It is believed that about 13% of men and 7% of women in the US will develop a kidney stone at some point during their life. And the worst part is that once you have one, you are more prone to develop another one. Studies have shown that there is a 35 to 50% chance of patients having another kidney stone within 5 years of the first one. 

New ACP guidelines for prevention and treatment of kidney stones

American College of Physicians (ACP) conducted a review of all scientific evidences which were published between the years 1948 and 2014, taking into account the benefits and risks of drugs and dietary treatments to prevent recurring kidney stones. They came up with the new guidelines which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, along with a patient summary. It simply states to drink plenty of water (at least 2 liters in a day) to prevent recurrence of kidney stones. On a hot and humid day, it is recommended you should drink 3 liters of water. 

It has been well established in many scientific studies that drinking lot of fluids could potentially cut the risk of developing recurrent kidney stones by at least half. The stipulated theory behind this is that increasing fluid intake reduces the concentration of solids in the urine, thus reducing the formation of stones. 

Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, an urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital said, "The reason that water is supposedly helpful is that it is a mechanical flushing process so that stone fragments can pass but also so the urine doesn't sediment in the kidney and collect." 

The study authors also observed that reducing intake of cola drinks , particularly the sweetened variety could also possibly help prevent further kidney stones. Studies have shown that subjects who change their beverage habits and abstain from soda, particularly the sodas acidified with phosphoric acid could reduce their risk of recurrence of kidney stones by about 15 percent. They however, did not find any evidence suggesting tap water to be any better or worse than a particular brand of mineral water. 

Dr. Kavaler further added that soda has oxalates and phosphoric acid, which could be major factors in the formation of kidney stones. In addition, soda can be a diuretic so it has a dehydrating effect. 

Drinking more fluids does not always resolve the issue for some patients; these patients could resort to drug therapy and try diuretics (also known as "water pills") to reduce stone formation. Citrates or allopurinol also effectively reduces recurrence of kidney stones made of calcium. 

The ACP reviewers also advised patients about making changes in their diet by reducing intake of foods containing oxalate, such as beets, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, nuts, chocolate, tea and wheat bran. 

The guidelines suggest minimizing intake of animal protein and purines (compounds that break down into uric acid) in their diet. Patients are also advised to maintain their normal dietary calcium intake. 

The ACP researchers also want us to note that "the quality of available research varies, and studies comparing one treatment with another are limited." 

Tips to prevent kidney stones

Drink plenty of fluids: Drinking enough fluid is vital to prevent kidney stones. People who have had a kidney stone in the past should make it a point to drink enough water and other fluids to make at least 2 liters of urine a day. Keep yourself well hydrated at all times, especially when engaging in exercise or activities that cause a lot of sweating. 

Consider adding lemon to water: Citric acid in lemon binds with calcium in the urine, thus decreasing the amount of calcium available to form calcium oxalate stones. It makes the urine less acidic, consequently inhibits the development of both calcium oxalate and uric acid stones. 

Limit intake of sodium: It is believed that sodium, which comes most often from salt we ingest, causes the kidneys to excrete more calcium into the urine. High concentrations of calcium combine with oxalate and phosphorus in the urine leading to formation of stones. Limit sodium intake. 

Cut down in foods rich in purines: Cut down on high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats and shellfish to prevent formation of uric acid stones. Eating less of animal-based protein will help decrease urine acidity and help reduce possibility of kidney stone formation. Eat a balanced healthy meal consisting of plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low fat dairy products. 

Continue eating calcium-rich foods: It is a myth that calcium from food increases the risk of calcium oxalate stones. In fact, calcium is known to bind to oxalate from food and thus prevents it from entering the blood and eventually the urinary tract, where it could form stones. Thus, getting too little calcium in your diet can cause oxalate levels to rise and cause kidney stones. Make sure to get the recommended amount of calcium in your daily diet. 

Continue exercising: It is believed that you are more prone to kidney stones if you have a sedentary lifestyle, because limited activity could cause your bones to release more calcium. So get up, be on your toes as much as possible and exercise. Exercise will also help control high blood pressure, a condition that is thought to double your risk for kidney stones. 

Remember, kidney stones aren't a one-time thing, they can come back. With some lifestyle modifications and a big determination, you surely can keep kidney stones at bay!!!!
American College of Physicians 

Eating an Orange Better Than Drinking Orange Juice

Eating an orange is believed to be better than drinking orange juice, explained scientists in a new study that it may not be that clear.


Although juice is indeed high in sugar, the scientists found that certain nutrients in orange juice might be easier for the body to absorb than when a person consumes them from unprocessed fruit. 

Ralf Schweiggert, Julian Aschoff and colleagues note that oranges are packed with nutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoids that, among other benefits, can potentially help lower a person's risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. But many people prefer to drink a glass of orange juice rather than eat the fruit. 

The researchers found that the production of pasteurized orange juice slightly lowered the levels of carotenoids and vitamin C. But at the same time, it significantly improved the carotenoid and vitamin C bioaccessibility - or how much the body can absorb and use. And contrary to conventional wisdom, although juicing oranges dramatically cut flavonoid levels, the remaining ones were much more bioaccessible than those in orange segments. 

Source:The study is published in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Excessive Salt Intake Reprograms the Brain

An international research team at McGill University has found that excessive salt intake "reprograms" the brain, interfering with a natural safety mechanism that normally prevents the body's arterial blood pressure from rising.
 Excessive Salt Intake Reprograms the Brain

While the link between salt and hypertension is well known, scientists until now haven't understood how high salt intake increased blood pressure. By studying the brains of rats, a team led by Prof. Charles Bourque of McGill's Faculty of Medicine discovered that ingesting large amounts of dietary salt causes changes in key brain circuits. 

"We found that a period of high dietary salt intake in rats causes a biochemical change in the neurons that release vasopressin (VP) into the systemic circulation", says Bourque who is also a researcher at the The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). "This change, which involves a neurotrophic molecule called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), prevents the inhibition of these particular neurons by other cells". 

The team's findings, published today in the journal Neuron, found that high salt intake prevents the inhibition of VP neurons by the body's arterial pressure detection circuit. The disabling of this natural safety mechanism allows blood pressure to rise when a high amount of salt is ingested over a long period of time. 

While the team's discovery advances the understanding of the link between salt intake and blood pressure, more work is needed to define new targets that could potentially be explored for therapeutic intervention. Among the questions for further research: Does the same reprogramming effect hold true for humans? If so, how might it be reversed? 

In the meantime, Bourque says, the message remains: limit dietary salt. 

Scientists from the University of North Texas Health Sciences Centre, Neurocentre Magendie, France and Centre for Neuroendocrinology, University of Otago, New Zealand also contributed to this study. 

The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, National Institutes of Health, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Beyond prevention: Sulforaphane may find possible use for cancer therapy

New research has identified one of the key cancer-fighting mechanisms for sulforaphane, and suggests that this much-studied phytochemical may be able to move beyond cancer prevention and toward therapeutic use for advanced prostate cancer.
IMAGEScientists said that pharmacologic doses in the form of supplements would be needed for actual therapies, beyond the amount of sulforaphane that would ordinarily be obtained from dietary sources such as broccoli. Research also needs to verify the safety of this compound when used at such high levels.
But a growing understanding of how sulforaphane functions and is able to selectively kill cancer cells indicate it may have value in treating metasticized cancer, and could work alongside existing approaches.
The new findings on the unique abilities of sulforaphane were recently published in the journal Oncogenesis, by researchers from Oregon State University and the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
"There's significant evidence of the value of cruciferous vegetables in cancer prevention," said Emily Ho, professor and director of the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and lead author on this research.
"However, this study is one of the first times we've shown how sulforaphane can affect a histone methylation and alter gene expression in metasticized prostate cancer cells," said Ho, who is also a principal investigator in OSU's Linus Pauling Institute. "It begins a process that can help to re-express tumor suppressors, leading to the selective death of cancer cells and slowing disease progression."
The evidence now shows that sulforaphane should have therapeutic value against some forms of cancer, Ho said, including late-stage, metasticized disease. Its multiple impacts on metabolic processes might also make it a valuable adjunct to existing therapies, helping them to work better.
No clinical trials have yet been done to test the value of sulforaphane in cancer therapy, although a trial is under way using sulforaphane supplements in men with high risk for prostate cancer. Results from that may help demonstrate the safety of higher-dosage supplements and set the stage for therapeutic trials, Ho said.
Dozens of studies have examined the health value of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages, and many of them ultimately focused on the role of sulforaphane, one compound found in these foods. Broccoli sprouts contain some of the highest dietary levels of the sulforaphane precursor.
The new study identified a particular enzyme in prostate cancer cells, SUV39H1, that is affected by exposure to sulforaphane. Aside from potential dietary approaches, the researchers said that this establishes SUV39H1 as a new therapeutic target, in general, for advanced cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States, and existing therapies include surgical removal of the prostate, radiation therapy, hormones or other approaches. Although often slow growing, prostate cancer can be much more aggressive if it metasticizes to other areas of the body, at which point survival rates decrease dramatically. In the U.S. it's the fifth leading cause of cancer death.
In laboratory studies, sulforaphane has shown toxicity to a number of human cancer cell lines, including prostate, breast, ovarian, colon and pancreatic cancer, and in animal studies it decreased metastases of prostate cancer.

Could our brain instruct our bodies to burn more fat?

By uncovering the action of two naturally occurring hormones, scientists may have discovered a way to assist in the shedding of excess fat.
The findings, published today in the journal Cell, give new insights into how the brain regulates body fat and may lead to more effective ways to lose weight and prevent obesity by promoting the conversion of white fat to brown fat.
Monash University researchers unravelled a molecular mechanism that depends on the combined action of two hormones - leptin, an appetite suppressant generated in fat cells, and insulin, produced in the pancreas in response to rising levels of glucose in the blood. Their research shows that the two hormones act in concert on a group of neurons in the brain to stimulate the burning of body fat via the nervous system.
Lead researcher Professor Tony Tiganis, from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology said discovering the combined action of these two hormones makes could assist in the shedding of excess fat.
"These hormones give the brain a comprehensive picture of the fatness of the body. Because leptin is produced by fat cells, it measures the level of existing fat reserves - the more fat, the more leptin. Whereas insulin provides a measure of future fat reserves because glucose levels rise when we eat," Professor Tiganis said.
Fat in adult humans is typically stored in adipocytes, specialised cells that comprise white fat. But around the neck and shoulders, there is a second form of fat made of brown adipocytes. Rather than storing fat, these cells can be induced to burn it off.
The research team discovered leptin and insulin interact with proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the brain's hypothalamus, causing them to send signals through the nervous system promoting the conversion of white fat into brown fat. This leads to burning off of excess fat.
In laboratory work, researchers were able to show that the process is regulated in these neurons by enzymes known as phosphatases, which inhibit the actions of each of the hormones. When the levels of these inhibitors were reduced, the browning and burning of fat increased.
Professor Tiganis said this fundamental process normally serves to maintain body weight but in diet-induced obesity this mechanism goes awry.

"Eventually, we think we may be able to help people lose weight by targeting these two enzymes. Turning white fat into brown fat is a very exciting new approach to developing weight loss agents. But it is not an easy task, and any potential therapy is a long way off," Professor Tiganis said.
Source:Journal Cell

Insufficient Sleep in Young Adults may Lead to Alcohol and Drug Problems

Adolescents who had sleep difficulties and insufficient sleep can develop problems like binge drinking, driving under the influence of alcohol, and risky sexual behavior, finds a new study.
 Insufficient Sleep in Young Adults may Lead to Alcohol and Drug Problems
Maria M. Wong, professor and director of experimental training in the department of psychology at Idaho State University, said that national polls indicate that 27 percent of school-aged children and 45 percent of adolescents do not sleep enough. Other studies have shown that about one in 10 adolescents have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep almost every day, or every day, in the previous 12 months. 

Wong said, among normal adults, sleep difficulties and insomnia have predicted onset of alcohol use one year later, and increased risk of any illicit drug use disorder and nicotine dependence 3.5 years later. Among adult alcoholics who received treatment for alcohol dependence, those with insomnia at baseline were more likely to relapse to alcohol use. The association between poor sleep and substance use has also been found in younger age groups. Overtiredness in childhood has predicted lower response inhibition in adolescence, which in turn predicted number of illicit drugs used in young adulthood. It also directly predicted the presence of binge drinking, blackouts, driving after drinking alcohol, and number of lifetime alcohol problems in young adulthood. The purpose of this study was to examine whether sleep difficulties and hours of sleep prospectively predicted several serious substance-related problems. 

Wong and her co-authors analyzed data collected via interviews and questionnaires from 6,504 adolescents (52 percent girls, 48 percent boys) participating in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Data were collected for three waves - 1994-1995, 1996, and 2001-2002 - and study authors used sleep difficulties from a previous wave to predict substance-related problems at a subsequent wave, while controlling for substance-related problems at the previous wave. 

"Sleep difficulties at the first wave significantly predicted alcohol-related interpersonal problems, binge drinking, gotten drunk or very high on alcohol, driving under the influence of alcohol, getting into a sexual situation one later regretted due to drinking, and ever using any illicit drugs and drugs-related problems at the second wave," said Wong. "Substance-related problems such as binge drinking, driving under the influence of alcohol, and risky sexual behavior are more important than others due to their association with reckless driving, automobile accidents, physical injuries and even death, as well as risk for sexually transmitted disease and unplanned pregnancy." 

Both Wong and Roehrs believe that parents can play a significant role regarding their adolescents' sleep habits. 

Source:The results are currently available at Early View, and are due to be published in the February 2015 online-only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.


Bisphenol A Substitutes are Dangerous: Study

Bisphenol A is a plastic ingredient banned in some countries over the health fears. Two of the substitutes used for bisphenol are also a source of concern, French researchers warned Thursday.
 Bisphenol A Substitutes are Dangerous: Study

The chemical compounds bisphenol F and S may impair testicle development in foetuses, the team wrote in the journal Fertility and Sterility. 

Lab tests showed the compounds reduced foetal testosterone production. 

"Any reduction in testosterone production, as caused by these types of bisphenol, will affect normal (testes) development," possibly resulting in sterility, study co-author Rene Habert from the Paris Diderot University told AFP. 

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a common component of plastic bottles and the linings of food cans. 

Some studies have linked it to brain and nervous system problems, reproductive disorders and obesity. 

A study in 2013 said it may expose unborn children to breast cancer later in life. 

The substance has been banned for use in baby bottles by the European Union, United States and Canada, and from all food containers in France from the beginning of this year. 

Bisphenol F and S have started to replace bisphenol A in some products. 

"But while their chemical structure is very similar to that of bisphenol A, their potential harm has never been tested in humans or other mammals, and they are not subject to regulation," said a statement from the university, the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and France's Atomic Energy Commission, which also does non-nuclear research. 

The research entailed observing the effects of the chemicals on foetal testicle tissue in a lab dish. 

The method was used in 2012 to determine that BPA also presented a risk for male fertility. 

"This is the first study to show a negative physiological effect of bisphenol S and F on humans," said the statement. 

BPA is also commonly used in cashier slips and ATM receipts, CDs and DVDs and plastic containers used for microwave cooking or fridge storage. 

The United States has said it would not impose a general ban on BPA as there was no evidence of harm to adults. 

Earlier this month, a study said fish exposed to BPA at low concentrations showed evidence of hyperactive behaviour.

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