COVID-19 Made worse By Social Distancing?

We are led to question whether the recommended social distancing measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission could increase the number of other serious instabilities. The breaking of the contagion pathways reduces the sharing of microorganisms between people, thus favoring dysbiosis, which, in turn, may increase the poor prognosis of the disease. #covid #microbiome #dysbiosis Célia P. F. Domingues, João S. Rebelo, Francisco Dionisio, Ana Botelho, Teresa Nogueira. The Social Distancing Imposed To Contain COVID-19 Can Affect Our Microbiome: a Double-Edged Sword in Human Health. mSphere, 2020; 5 (5) DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00716-20 https://msphere.asm.org/content/5/5/e00716-20

Vaccines cause many children to develop allergies to aluminum

Public release date: 14-Dec-2010: HRR Requested Re-Post

The following is the author's description of t...

‘Pruritic nodules’ are small lumps under the skin that cause itching and which, according to some studies, can remain for several years. A study of whooping cough vaccinations in Gothenburg a few years ago showed that almost one per cent of the children developed pruritic nodules in the area of the vaccination. Three out of four of the children who had a reaction with nodules also developed an allergy to aluminium.

“This was completely unexpected. Aluminium has been used as an adjuvant, intensifier, in vaccines for over 70 years with only a small number of reports of pruritic nodules and allergic contact dermatitis”, says Eva Netterlid. Her research has been carried out at the Occupational and Environmental Dermatology Unit in Malmö. Continue reading “Vaccines cause many children to develop allergies to aluminum”

So that’s why we’re allergic to sun creams

Public release date: 10-Oct-2010 HRR-Repost Request

“We know that sun creams pass through the skin into our bodies, but we don’t know what effects they have on us,”

– ”Arylglyoxales, one of the degradation products, turned out to be highly allergenic,”

– “Which could explain why some people are allergic to creams that contain dibenzoylmethanes, one of the UVA-absorbing substances in sun creams.”


Health Research Report -Video- 18 NOV 2013

Topics:
Ibuprofen and paracetamol Useless as well as make Colds and sore throats worse
* BMJ NOV 2013
Flu Shots may kill you if you have Gelatin Allergies
*ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting notes NOV 2013
Hay Fever (Oral Allergy Syndrome) at risk of life threatening reactions to certain High Blood Pressure Medications (ACE)
*ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting notes NOV 2013
New US erroneous Guidelines on statins extremely dangerous, and un-researched
*Croydon University Hospital Commentary NOV 2013

Allergies and high blood pressure medications can create lethal cocktail

Contact: Christine Westendorf ChristineWestendorf@acaai.org 847-427-1200 American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Oral allergy syndrome and high blood pressure medications can create lethal cocktail

Some allergy suffers with hypertension may be at increased risk for severe reaction

BALTIMORE, MD. (November 8, 2013) – Oral allergy syndrome sufferers that take high blood pressure medications may experience extreme facial swelling and difficulty breathing the next time they bite into a juicy apple. When patients with oral allergy syndrome take angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors for hypertension and congestive heart failure, they are at an increased risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, according to new research.

The case studies, being presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), found use of ACE inhibitors can cause what is known as a “priming effect” in oral allergy syndrome sufferers.

“When a sufferer’s allergies are primed and they come in contact with a particular allergen, they experience a more severe than normal reaction,” said allergist Denisa Ferastraoaru, MD, ACAAI member and lead study author. “Symptoms can include extreme facial swelling (angioedema) and difficulty breathing, which can lead to death in some cases.”

Hay fever sufferers that experience an itchy mouth or scratchy throat after eating certain raw fruits or vegetables and some tree nuts, may have oral allergy syndrome. It is also known as pollen-food syndrome, since it is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw produce.

“Sufferers can often mistake oral allergy syndrome symptoms for food allergy,” said allergist David Rosenstreich, MD, ACAAI fellow and study author. “But it isn’t a food allergy, and often patients can eat that food when it is cooked. For example, an individual may have a reaction to a raw apple but not to apples baked in a pie.”

When allergists advised patients to avoid raw produce and switched from ACE inhibitors to angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) therapy, no further oral allergy symptoms occurred.

Not everyone with a pollen allergy will experience oral allergy syndrome when eating raw produce and tree nuts. However, the syndrome is commonly associated with these allergens:

  • Birch Pollen: apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, plum
  • Grass Pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomato
  • Ragweed Pollen: banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds, zucchini 

While oral allergy symptoms are typically mild, including mouth and throat discomfort, swelling and itching, it is important sufferers discuss these symptoms with their allergist because anaphylaxis can sometimes occur.

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To learn more about oral allergy syndrome, and to locate an allergist, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

The ACAAI Annual Meeting is being held Nov. 7-11 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore. For more news and research being presented at the meeting, follow the conversation on Twitter #ACAAI.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Allergic to Gummy Bears? Be Cautious Getting the Flu Shot

Those with gelatin allergy can have reaction from flu vaccinations

BALTIMORE, MD. (November 8, 2013) – Do marshmallows make your tongue swell? Gummy bears make you itchy? If you’ve answered yes and are allergic to gelatin, you will want to take some precautions when getting the flu shot. While the vaccine is recommended for those six months of age and older, a case report being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting notes that individuals with a gelatin allergy can have a mild to severe reaction from the shot.

“Gelatin is used in the flu shot, as well as other vaccines, as a stabilizer,” said Stephanie Albin, MD, an allergist and ACAAI member. “Because it is found in the vaccine, those with a known allergy to gelatin can experience allergic reactions, such as hives, sneezing and difficulty breathing.”

There is a misconception about allergies and the flu shot, with many believing those with an egg allergy should not receive the vaccination. But last month, ACAAI published an update that found even those with a severe egg allergy can receive the vaccine without special precautions.

“Gelatin reactions can cause hives, swelling, itchiness, shortness of breath and a severe life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis,” explained Dr. Albin. “Because of this, precautions should be taken, such as having a board-certified allergist administer the vaccine in a person with known gelatin allergy in case a reaction occurs.”

Gelatin can contain proteins derived from cow, pig or fish. Gelatin can be found in a variety of foods and pharmaceuticals, including gummy vitamins, marshmallows and candy.

“Gelatin allergy is very rare,” said allergist Richard Weber, M.D., ACAAI president. “Many food intolerances can be mistaken as allergies. Those who believe they might have an allergy should be tested and diagnosed by an allergist before taking extreme avoidance measures or skipping vaccinations. The flu shot is an important vaccine and can even be life-saving for individuals that are at an increased risk for severe side effects associated with the flu.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends receiving an annual flu shot, especially for high risk age groups as children and the elderly. The vaccination can be given either as a shot or a nasal spray, both of which can contain gelatin.

For more information about allergies and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. The ACAAI Annual Meeting is being held Nov. 7-11 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore. For more news and research being presented at the meeting, follow the conversation on Twitter #ACAAI.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Children with milk allergy may be ‘allergic to school’ : Chalk dust can contain milk protein

Contact: Christine Westendorf ChristineWestendorf@acaai.org 847-427-1200 American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Chalk dust can contain milk protein, triggering respiratory symptoms

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILL. (May 2, 2013) – Many of today’s school teachers opt for dustless chalk to keep hands and classrooms clean. But according to a study published in the May issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), this choice in chalk may cause allergy and asthma symptoms in students that have a milk allergy.

Casein, a milk protein, is often used in low-powder chalk. When milk allergic children inhale chalk particles containing casein, life-threatening asthma attacks and other respiratory issues can occur.

“Chalks that are labeled as being anti-dust or dustless still release small particles into the air,” said Carlos H. Larramendi, MD, lead study author. “Our research has found when the particles are inhaled by children with milk allergy, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath can occur. Inhalation can also cause nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny nose.”

Milk allergy affects an estimated 300,000 children in the United States, according to the ACAAI. Although it has been believed the majority of children will outgrow milk allergy by age three, recent studies contradict this theory, showing school aged children are still affected. However, 80 percent of children with milk allergy will likely outgrow it by age 16.

“Chalk isn’t the only item in a school setting that can be troublesome to milk allergic students,” said James Sublett, MD, chair of the ACAAI Indoor Environment Committee. “Milk proteins can also be found in glue, paper, ink, and in other children’s lunches.”

Even in the wake of whiteboards, overhead projectors and tablets, chalk is a classroom staple that likely won’t become extinct anytime soon. Parents with milk allergic children should ask to have their child seated in the back of the classroom where they are less likely to inhale chalk dust, advises Sublett.

“Teachers should be informed about foods and other triggers that might cause health problems for children,” said Sublett. “A plan for dealing with allergy and asthma emergencies should also be shared with teachers, coaches and the school nurse. Children should also carry allergist prescribed epinephrine, inhalers or other life-saving medications.”

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If your child is sneezing and wheezing at school, you should see a board-certified allergist for proper testing, diagnosis and treatment. For more information about pediatric allergies and asthma, and to find an allergist, visit http://www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit http://www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Study suggests US children born outside the United States have lower risk of allergic disease

Contact: Richard Bory rbory@chpnet.org 212-523-6069 The JAMA Network Journals

 

 

A study by Jonathan I. Silverberg, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., of St. Luke’s—Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York,  and colleagues suggests children living the in the United States but born outside the U.S. have a lower prevalence of allergic disease that increases after residing in the United States for one decade. (Online First)

The cross-sectional questionnaire used for the study was distributed to 91,642 children aged 0 to 17 years enrolled in the 2007-2008 National Survey of Children’s Health. The main outcomes measured were prevalence of allergic disease, including asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food allergies.

According to the study results, children born outside the United States had significantly lower odds of any atopic disorders than those born in the United States, including ever-asthma, current-asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food allergies. Children born outside of the United States whose parents were also born outside the United States had significantly lower odds of any atopic disorders than those whose parents were born in the United States. Children born outside the United States who lived in the United States for longer than 10 years when compared with those who resided for only 0 to 2 years had significantly higher odds of developing any allergic disorders, including eczema and hay fever, but not asthma or food allergies.

“In conclusion, foreign-born Americans have significantly lower risk of allergic disease than US-born Americans. However, foreign-born Americans develop increased risk for allergic disease with prolonged residence in the United States,” the study concludes.

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(JAMA Pediatr. Published online April 29, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.1319. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

Editor’s Note: Please see the articles for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

93rd Health Research Report 14 NOV 2010 – Reconstruction

 

Editors Top Five:

 

Black raspberries may prevent colon cancer

Study finds Plantar Fasciitis? Stretching seems to do the trick

Obesity rate will reach at least 42 percent, say models of social contagion

Dangerous chemicals in food wrappers likely migrating to humans

U of T study Myth of a germ-free world:

A closer look at antimicrobial products

 

In This Issue:

1. Pregnant women who eat peanuts may put infants at increased risk for peanut allergy

2. Antibiotics have long-term impacts on gut flora

3. Common stomach bacteria may fight off inflammatory bowel disease caused by Salmonella

4. Black raspberries may prevent colon cancer, study finds

5. Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults

6. Exposure of humans to cosmetic UV filters is widespread

7. Levels of coumarin in cassia cinnamon vary greatly even in bark from the same tree

8. Insufficient vitamin D levels in CLL patients linked to cancer progression and death

9. Obesity rate will reach at least 42 percent, say models of social contagion

10. Study shows a single shot of morphine has long lasting effects on testosterone levels

11. Plantar Fasciitis? Stretching seems to do the trick

12. Plant-based, olive oil diet also has health benefits for prostate cancer survivors

13. Canola-type rapeseed oil reduces the level of fibrinogen, a cause of thrombosis and inflammation

14. Mild painkillers in pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of male reproductive problems

15. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center research shows fish oil component given up to 5 hours after stroke limits brain damage

16. Dangerous chemicals in food wrappers likely migrating to humans: U of T study

17. Soy May Stop Prostate Cancer Spread

18. DHA improves memory and cognitive function in older adults

19. Low blood levels of vitamin D linked to chubbier kids, faster weight gain

20. Exercise may reduce risk of endometrial cancer

21. Probiotics shorten diarrhea episodes

22. Myth of a germ-free world: a closer look at antimicrobial products

23. Fructose-rich beverages associated with increased risk of gout in women

Public release date: 1-Nov-2010

Pregnant women who eat peanuts may put infants at increased risk for peanut allergy

Researchers have found that allergic infants may be at increased risk of peanut allergy if their mothers ingested peanuts during pregnancy. The data are reported in the November 1 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Led by Scott H. Sicherer, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, researchers at five U.S. study sites evaluated 503 infants aged three to 15 months with likely milk or egg allergies or with significant eczema and positive allergy tests to milk or egg, which are factors associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy. The study infants had no previous diagnosis of peanut allergy. A total of 140 infants had strong sensitivity to peanut based on blood tests, and consumption of peanut during pregnancy was a significant predictor of this test result.

“Researchers in recent years have been uncertain about the role of peanut consumption during pregnancy on the risk of peanut allergy in infants,” said Dr. Sicherer. “While our study does not definitively indicate that pregnant women should not eat peanut products during pregnancy, it highlights the need for further research in order make recommendations about dietary restrictions.”

In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that women whose infants were at increased risk of allergies based upon family history consider avoiding peanut products while pregnant and breast feeding. However, the recommendation was withdrawn in 2008 due to limited scientific evidence to support it. The Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), which was just awarded a renewed $29.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, is conducting this ongoing, observational study to help better understand the risk factors behind a child’s developing peanut allergy, as well as allergies to milk and egg. The Consortium is also studying novel treatments for food allergies.

The authors caution that the study has limitations, including the reliance on the self-reporting of dietary habits among pregnant women. Importantly, the study has thus far only shown an increased risk for positive allergy test results to peanut.

Despite its limitations, the study has identified a potential risk factor that, if verified, could present an opportunity for risk reduction. The authors conclude that controlled, interventional studies should be conducted to explore these findings further.

“Peanut allergy is serious, usually persistent, potentially fatal, and appears to be increasing in prevalence,” said Dr. Sicherer. “Our study is an important step toward identifying preventive measures that, if verified, may help reduce the impact of peanut allergy.”

Public release date: 1-Nov-2010

Antibiotics have long-term impacts on gut flora

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Short courses of antibiotics can leave normal gut bacteria harbouring antibiotic resistance genes for up to two years after treatment, say scientists writing in the latest issue of Microbiology, published on 3 November.

The researchers believe that this reservoir increases the chances of resistance genes being surrendered to pathogenic bacteria, aiding their survival and suggesting that the long-term effects of antibiotic therapy are more significant than previously thought.

Antibiotics that are prescribed to treat pathogenic bacteria also have an impact on the normal microbial flora of the human gut. Antibiotics can alter the composition of microbial populations (potentially leading to other illnesses) and allow micro-organisms that are naturally resistant to the antibiotic to flourish.

The impact of antibiotics on the normal gut flora has previously been thought to be short-term, with any disturbances being restored several weeks after treatment. However, the review into the long-term impacts of antibiotic therapy reveals that this is not always the case. Studies have shown that high levels of resistance genes can be detected in gut microbes after just 7 days of antibiotic treatment and that these genes remain present for up to two years even if the individual has taken no further antibiotics.

The consequences of this could be potentially life-threatening explained Dr Cecilia Jernberg from the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control who conducted the review. “The long-term presence of resistance genes in human gut bacteria dramatically increases the probability of them being transferred to and exploited by harmful bacteria that pass through the gut. This could reduce the success of future antibiotic treatments and potentially lead to new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

The review highlights the necessity of using antibiotics prudently. “Antibiotic resistance is not a new problem and there is a growing battle with multi-drug resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria. The development of new antibiotics is slow and so we must use the effective drugs we have left with care,” said Dr Jernberg. “This new information about the long-term impacts of antibiotics is of great importance to allow rational antibiotic administration guidelines to be put in place,” she said.

Public release date: 1-Nov-2010

Common stomach bacteria may fight off inflammatory bowel disease caused by Salmonella

Helicobacter pylori in the mouse stomach put the brakes on colitis by reducing the immune response in the lower GI tract, U-M study shows

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Helicobacter pylori, a common stomach bacterium, reduced the severity of inflammation of the colon caused by Salmonella in mice, according to research from U-M Medical School scientists.

More than half the people in the world are infected with H. pylori, although it is very unusual to find it in the United States. But this research shows there may be an inflammation control benefit to hosting the H. pylori infection, says Peter Higgins, M.D., Ph.D., M.Sc., lead author of the study published last week in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

“If we have evolved to live with certain bugs, maybe there is a reason,” said Higgins, assistant professor of gastroenterology in U-M’s Department of Internal Medicine. “This research demonstrates that having H. pylori in your stomach could have beneficial immune effects in other parts of the

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body.”

In the study, mice were infected with H. pylori, allowed to develop immune tolerance for a month, and then infected with Salmonella, which induces the inflammatory bowel disease colitis. The data provided the first evidence that H. pylori infection in the stomach alters the immunological environment of the lower gastrointestinal tract and reduced the severity of Salmonella-induced colitis.

“This was surprising because H. pylori infects the stomach, not the colon. It appears to have a more global effect on the gut immune system,” says John Kao, M.D., senior author of this study and assistant professor in U-M’s Department of Internal Medicine.

“But it may explain why people in regions with lots of H. pylori infection — such as Asia and Africa — get fewer inflammatory bowel diseases, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.”

It also may explain why H. pylori infection is so common, Higgins says. Salmonella was historically a rampant fatal infection that caused the plague of Athens, which led to rise of Sparta. It also likely led to the early death of Alexander the Great. So it would make sense that many humans carry the H. pylori bacteria, if it truly reduces the severity of inflammation caused by Salmonella, Higgins says.

The H. pylori infection is now more commonly found in developing countries or those with poor sanitation, where Salmonella and inflammatory bowel diseases are more common. Most people contract H. pylori in their first seven years of life, most commonly through exposure to feces.

Higgins does not recommend that inflammatory bowel patients should be infected with H. pylori, however. In the U.S., H. pylori infection is treated with antibiotics because it can lead to stomach ulcers or cancer, even though most people don’t notice they have it.

“There may be a reason we co-exist with H. pylori. Maybe we should not be so quick to get rid of it in patients who do not have stomach ulcers,” Higgins says, adding that this may be especially true in places where Salmonella remains a common threat.

“It would be reasonable for researchers to look at whether H. pylori infection is associated with reduced severity of other gut infections like cholera or Clostridium difficile. Many more studies are needed, however, to see if H. pylori could actually prevent inflammatory bowel disease.”

About U-M’s Division of Gastroenterology: U-M is one of the largest gastroenterology practices in the country and is a leader in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. Our 50-plus physicians are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of all diseases of the gastrointestinal system, from simple to complex, including those of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and biliary tract.

In addition to being leaders in the clinic, our faculty are also leaders in their respective areas of research, which span such varied interests as the role of peptides in the brain-gut interactions in functional bowel diseases to innovative treatments of viral hepatitis and liver cancer.

Public release date: 2-Nov-2010

Black raspberries may prevent colon cancer, study finds

Black raspberries are highly effective in preventing colorectal tumors in two mouse models of the disease, according to a University of Illinois at Chicago study.

The findings are published in the November issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

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Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute.

Building on previous research that found black raspberries have antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-neurodegenerative and anti-inflammatory properties, the researchers looked at the fruit’s ability to prevent colon cancer.

“We saw the black raspberry as a natural product, very powerful, and easy to access,” said Dr. Wancai Yang, assistant professor of pathology at the UIC College of Medicine and senior author of the study, whose research focuses on the interactions of genetic and nutritional factors in the development of intestinal cancer and tumor prevention.

The researchers used two strains of mice, Apc1638 and Muc2, which each have a specific gene knocked out, causing the mice to develop either intestinal tumors (in the case of Apc1638) or colitis in the case of Muc2. Colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine that can contribute to the development of colorectal cancer.

Both mouse strains were randomized to be fed either a Western-style, high-risk diet (high in fat and low in calcium and vitamin D) or the same diet supplemented with 10 percent freeze-dried black raspberry powder for 12 weeks.

The researchers found that in both mouse strains the black raspberry-supplemented diet produced a broad range of protective effects in the intestine, colon and rectum and inhibited tumor formation.

In the Apc1638 mice, tumor incidence was reduced by 45 percent and the number of tumors by 60 percent. The researchers found that black raspberries inhibited tumor development by suppressing a protein, known as beta-catenin, which binds to the APC gene.

In the Muc2 mice, tumor incidence and the number of tumors were both reduced by 50 percent, and black raspberries inhibited tumor development by reducing chronic inflammation associated with colitis.

The researchers now hope to obtain funding to begin clinical trials in humans, said Yang. Because black raspberries not only prevent cancer but also inflammation, they may also protect against other diseases, such as heart disease.

Public release date: 2-Nov-2010

Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults

Winston-Salem, N.C. – Researchers for the first time have shown that drinking beet juice can increase blood flow to the brain in older adults – a finding that could hold great potential for combating the progression of dementia.

The research findings are available online in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society and will be available in print soon. (Read the abstract.)

“There have been several very high-profile studies showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, but we wanted to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain,” said Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest University’s Translational Science Center; Fostering Independence in Aging. “There are areas in the brain that become poorly perfused as you age, and that’s believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition.”

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High concentrations of nitrates are found in beets, as well as in celery, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables like spinach and some lettuce. When you eat high-nitrate foods, good bacteria in the mouth turn nitrate into nitrite. Research has found that nitrites can help open up the blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen specifically to places that are lacking oxygen.

In this study, the first to find a link between consumption of nitrate-rich beet juice and increased blood flow to the brain, Translational Science Center researchers looked at how dietary nitrates affected 14 adults age 70 and older over a period of four days.

On the first day, the study subjects reported to the lab after a 10-hour fast, completed a health status report, and consumed either a high- or low-nitrate breakfast. The high-nitrate breakfast included 16 ounces of beet juice. They were sent home with lunch, dinner and snacks conforming to their assigned diets.

The next day, following another 10-hour fast, the subjects returned to the lab, where they ate their assigned breakfasts. One hour after breakfast, an MRI recorded the blood flow in each subject’s brain. Blood tests before and after breakfast confirmed nitrite levels in the body.

For the third and fourth days of the study, the researchers switched the diets and repeated the process for each subject.

The MRIs showed that after eating a high-nitrate diet, the older adults had increased blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes – the areas of the brain commonly associated with degeneration that leads to dementia and other cognitive conditions.

“I think these results are consistent and encouraging – that good diet consisting of a lot of fruits and vegetables can contribute to overall good health,” said Gary Miller, associate professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science and one of the senior investigators on the project.

To make the sometimes-bitter beet juice tastier – so a greater number of people will drink it and reap its health benefits – the university has worked with a company to create a new beet juice-based beverage. The university is currently looking into ways of marketing the beverage.

Public release date: 2-Nov-2010

Exposure of humans to cosmetic UV filters is widespread

UV filters were present in 85 percent of human milk samples of a research published in Chemosphere

Amsterdam, 2 November, 2010 – An investigation conducted in the context of the Swiss National Research Programme (NRP50), Endocrine Disrupters: Relevance to Humans, Animals and Ecosystems, demonstrates for the first time that internal exposure of humans to cosmetic UV filters is widespread.

In the course of the Summer and Fall 2004, 2005 and 2006 (3 cohorts), human milk was sampled by mothers who had given birth at the University Women’s Hospital in Basel. The participants filled out a detailed questionnaire with general questions and, as special feature, in depth questions on use of different types of cosmetic products.

Chemicals out of a large range of products including “modern” chemicals and classical persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were analyzed in the same human milk sample by analytical laboratories in Freiburg, Erlangen and Baden. The list comprised cosmetic UV filters, synthetic musk fragrances, pesticides, phthalates, parabens, flame retardants (polybrominated diphenylethers), and polychlorinated biphenyls

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(PCBs); in total 89 analyses per milk sample. The chemical analytical data of milk samples of individual mothers were then compared with the information obtained through the questionnaire.

The investigation revealed that one and the same human milk sample contained a large range of chemical contaminants, most of which are known to interact with endocrine systems. Individual exposure patterns differed between different types of chemicals. The study demonstrates for the first time that internal exposure of humans to cosmetic UV filters is widespread. Cosmetic UV filters were present in 85% of human milk samples, at concentrations comparable to PCBs. Synthetic musk fragrances were also present in the milk samples. The presence of UV filters in human milk was significantly correlated with the use of cosmetic products containing these UV filters. As a result, exposure patterns differed between individuals.

It seems plausible that exposure to other cosmetic constituents such as synthetic fragrances is also linked to the use of the corresponding products. However, this could not be investigated because musk fragrances are not declared. In contrast, classical contaminants such as PCBs, DDT and metabolites of DDT as well as some other persistent organochlor pesticides represented a rather uniform background exposure. Their levels were in part correlated with each other and also with fat-rich nutrition.

A total daily intake of each individual chemical was calculated for each individual infant from their individual levels in human milk. Calculation included fat content of individual milk samples, total daily milk intake per infant and body weight of the infant. Some infants exhibited values of daily intake of PCBs and several organochlor pesticides that were above US EPA reference dose values.

Margret Schlumpf and Walter Lichtensteiger, who lead the research said, “Research on the effects of endocrine disrupters (chemicals interfering with hormone actions) has shown that it is of utmost importance to obtain information on simultaneous exposure of humans to different types of chemicals because endocrine active chemicals can act in concert. Information on exposure is particularly important for the developing organism at its most sensitive early life stages. Human milk was chosen because it provides direct information on exposure of the suckling infant and indirect information on exposure of the mother during pregnancy.”

An important question during the research was: To what extent lifestyle can influence the presence of chemicals in breast milk? This question was the foundation for the preparation of the questionnaire. The questions were focused particularly on the use of cosmetic products; information on the relationship between the exposure of human populations to constituents of cosmetics and the presence of these constituents in the human body was limited and, in the case of UV filters, absent.

Gert-Jan Geraeds, Executive Publisher of Chemosphere commented, “This study once again emphasizes the importance of global research on the impact of contaminants in the human environment and the need for continuous critical assessment of our priorities in environmental health and consumer habits. I am sure that this investigation will also spark debate at the upcoming first Environmental Health conference in Brazil, February 2011”.

Public release date: 3-Nov-2010

Levels of coumarin in cassia cinnamon vary greatly even in bark from the same tree

A “huge” variation exists in the amounts of coumarin in bark samples of cassia cinnamon from trees growing in Indonesia, scientists are reporting in a new study. That natural ingredient in the spice may carry a theoretical risk of causing liver damage in a small number of sensitive people who consume large amounts of cinnamon. The report appears in ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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Friederike Woehrlin and colleagues note that cinnamon is the second most popular spice, next to black pepper, in the United States and Europe. Cinnamon, which comes from the bark of trees, is sold as solid sticks and powder with the country of origin rarely declared on the package label. There are two main types: Ceylon cinnamon (also known as “true” cinnamon) and cassia cinnamon. Ceylon grows in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), the Seychelles, and Madagascar. Cassia generally comes from China and Indonesia. Both types can contain coumarin, a natural flavoring found in plants. Studies have linked high coumarin intake to liver damage in a small number of sensitive people.

The scientists analyzed 91 cinnamon samples purchased from stores in Germany. They found that coumarin levels varied widely among different bark samples of Cassia cinnamon. Therefore they analyzed cassia bark samples of five trees received directly from Indonesia and found a huge variation even among samples collected from a single tree. The study confirmed that cassia cinnamon has the highest levels of coumarin, while Ceylon had the lowest levels. On average, cassia cinnamon powder contained up to 63 times more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon powder and cassia cinnamon sticks contained 18 times more coumarin than Ceylon sticks. “Further research is necessary to identify factors influencing the coumarin levels in cassia cinnamon and to possibly allow the harvesting of cassia cinnamon with low coumarin levels in the future,” the report notes.

Health officials say it is almost impossible for consumers to distinguish between Ceylon and cassia in cinnamon powder. Cinnamon sticks, however, do look different. Cassia cinnamon sticks consist of a thick layer of rolled bark, while Ceylon cinnamon sticks have thin layers of bark rolled up into a stick.

Public release date: 3-Nov-2010

Insufficient vitamin D levels in CLL patients linked to cancer progression and death

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Researchers at Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.org/) have found a significant difference in cancer progression and death in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients who had sufficient vitamin D (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d/NS_patient-vitamind) levels in their blood compared to those who didn’t.

In the Mayo Clinic study, published online in the journal Blood (http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/), the researchers found that patients with insufficient levels of vitamin D when their leukemia was diagnosed progressed much faster and were about twice as likely to die as were patients with adequate levels of vitamin D.

They also found solid trends: increasing vitamin D levels across patients matched longer survival times and decreasing levels matched shortening intervals between diagnosis and cancer progression. The association also remained after controlling for other prognostic factors associated with leukemia progression.

The finding is significant in a number of ways. For the first time, it potentially offers patients with this typically slower growing form of leukemia a way to slow progression, says the study’s lead author, Tait Shanafelt, M.D., (http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/staff/shanafelt_td.cfm) a hematologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“This finding may be particularly relevant for this kind of leukemia because although we often identify it at an early stage, the standard approach is to wait until symptoms develop before treating patients with chemotherapy,” Dr. Shanafelt says. “This watch and wait approach is difficult for patients because they

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feel there is nothing they can do to help themselves.”

“It appears vitamin D levels may be a modifiable risk factor for leukemia progression. It is simple for patients to have their vitamin D levels checked by their physicians with a blood test,” he says. “And if they are deficient, vitamin D supplements are widely available and have minimal side effects.”

While the researchers have not yet determined if vitamin D replacement in patients with initially low levels will reverse the more rapid progression associated with insufficiency, they are planning a study to explore that hypothesis.

This research adds to the growing body of evidence that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for development and/or progression of a number of cancers, the researchers say. Studies have suggested that low blood vitamin D levels may be associated with increased incidence of colorectal, breast and other solid cancers. Other studies have suggested that low vitamin D levels at diagnosis may be associated with poorer outcomes in colorectal, breast, melanoma and lung cancers, as well as lymphoma.

Replacing vitamin D in some patients has proven to be beneficial, the researchers say. For example, they cite a placebo-controlled clinical trial that found women who increased their vitamin D intake reduced their risk of cancer development.

Vitamin D insufficiency, in general, is widespread, Dr. Shanafelt says. “Between one-fourth and one-half of patients seen in routine clinical practice have vitamin D levels below the optimal range, and it is estimated that up to 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D insufficiency,” he says.

Vitamin D is obtained from skin exposure to sunlight, from certain foods (fatty fish and eggs) and from supplements.

In this study, the research team, including physicians at the University of Iowa (http://www.uihealthcare.com/), enrolled 390 CLL patients into a prospective, observational study. They tested the blood of these newly diagnosed patients for plasma concentration of 25-hydroxyl-vitamin D and found that 30 percent of these CLL patients were considered to have insufficient vitamin D levels, which is classified as a level less than 25 nanograms per milliliter.

After a median follow-up of three years, CLL patients deficient in vitamin D were 66 percent more likely to progress and require chemotherapy; deficient patients also had a two-fold increased risk of death.

To confirm these findings, they then studied a different group of 153 untreated CLL patients who had been followed for an average of 10 years. The researchers found that about 40 percent of these 153 CLL patients were vitamin D deficient at the time of their diagnosis. Patients with vitamin D deficiency were again significantly more likely to have had their leukemia progress and to have died, Dr. Shanafelt says.

“This tells us that vitamin D insufficiency may be the first potentially modifiable risk factor associated with prognosis in newly diagnosed CLL,” he says.

Public release date: 4-Nov-2010

Obesity rate will reach at least 42 percent, say models of social contagion

Projections suggest obesity among American adults may not plateau until 2050

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Researchers at Harvard University say America’s obesity epidemic won’t plateau until at least 42 percent of adults are obese, an estimate derived by applying mathematical modeling to 40

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years of Framingham Heart Study data.

Their work, published this week in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, runs counter to recent assertions by some experts that the obesity rate, which has been at 34 percent for the past five years, may have peaked. An additional 34 percent of American adults are overweight but not obese, according to the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Harvard scientists say that their modeling shows that the proliferation of obesity among American adults in recent decades owes in large part to its accelerating spread via social networks.

“Our analysis suggests that while people have gotten better at gaining weight since 1971, they haven’t gotten any better at losing weight,” says lead author Alison L. Hill, a graduate student in Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Biophysics Program, and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. “Specifically, the rate of weight gain due to social transmission has grown quite rapidly.”

The projections by Hill and colleagues are a best-case scenario, meaning that America’s obesity rate could rise above 42 percent of adults. One silver lining is that their model suggests the U.S. population may not reach this level for another 40 years, making the future rate of increase much more gradual than over the past 40 years. Only 14 percent of Framingham Heart Study participants were obese in 1971.

Along with co-authors David G. Rand, Martin A. Nowak, and Nicholas A. Christakis, Hill broke down the spread of obesity into three components:

•the rate at which obesity has spread through social networks, via transfer from person to person; •the rate of non-social transmission of obesity, such as through easier access to unhealthy foods or increasingly sedentary lifestyles;

•the rate of “recovery” from obesity, defined as weight loss sufficient to push body mass index (BMI) back below 30.

“We find that while non-social transmission of obesity remains the most important component in its spread, social transmission of obesity has grown much faster in the last four decades,” says Rand, a research scientist in the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and a fellow in Harvard’s Department of Psychology and Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Hill, Rand, and colleagues found that a non-obese American adult has a 2 percent chance of becoming obese in any given year — a figure that has risen in recent decades — and that this number rises by 0.4 percentage points with each obese social contact, meaning that five obese contacts doubles the risk of becoming obese.

By comparison, an obese adult has a 4 percent chance of losing enough weight to fall back to merely “overweight” in any given year. This figure has remained essentially constant since 1971.

“These results suggest that social norms are changing the propensity for becoming obese by non-social mechanisms, and also magnifying the effect that obese individuals have on their non-obese contacts,” the scientists write in PLoS Computational Biology

Public release date: 4-Nov-2010

Study shows a single shot of morphine has long lasting effects on testosterone levels

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A single injection of morphine to fight persistent pain in male rats is able to strongly reduce the hormone testosterone in the brain and plasma, according to a new paper published in Molecular Pain. The study, led by Anna Maria Aloisi, M.D., of the Department of Physiology – Section of Neuroscience and Applied Physiology at the University of Siena, Italy, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, University of Siena, and the Human Health Foundation in Spoleto, Italy, showed that opioids had “long lasting genomic effects in body areas which contribute to strong central and peripheral testosterone levels” including the brain, the liver and the testis.

The study showed increases in aromatase, an enzyme that is responsible for a key step in the biosynthesis of estrogen. The findings are particularly important since testosterone is the main substrate of aromatase, which is involved in the formation of estradiol. Both testosterone and estradiol are important hormones, engaged in cognitive functions as well as in mood, motor control and in many other functions, such as bone structure remodeling.

“Our lab became interested in gonadal hormones several years ago when it became clear that there were many differences in pain syndromes between the sexes,” says Dr. Aloisi. “In looking at differences, it was immediately apparent that these changes were introduced by different treatments, opioids in particular.”

“The research findings are very relevant to the management of patients with chronic pain,” said Marco Pappagallo, M.D., professor and director of pain research and development, Department of Anesthesiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY. “Today, primary care physicians, pain specialists, and a variety of health care professionals are asked not only to treat pain but how to manage side effects of drugs and to strive for the best possible comprehensive care and wellness of patients who experience chronic pain. Opioid induced hypogonadism can cause health complications to which patients with pain can be overly susceptible, including chronic fatigue, loss of stamina, emotional and sexual disturbances, as well painful skeletal and muscular complications.”

It has been known that patients treated with opioids for short or long periods show low levels of gonadal hormones. Hypogonadism was already described in opioid users and applied to pain patients as OPIAD (opioid induced androgen deficiency). It is also known that patients treated with opioids, including newer drugs (fentalyl, tramadol) have a high probability to be hypogonadic, with menopausal symptoms occurring in women and andropausal symptoms in men.

“The use of opioids puts a ‘physiological’ block on the reproductive system and can induce a long lasting absence of these essential hormones from the blood and the brain,” says Dr. Aloisi. “The normal effect of opioids to restrict reproduction in stressed subjects is multiplied by the higher levels/ long duration of opioids in the body.”

“Until a few years ago this condition was completely unrecognized by physicians although some reports clearly showed it in many kinds of patients,” notes Dr. Aloisi. “Today there remains some ignorance on this condition but gonadal hormones are more commonly cited as responsible for many chronic degenerative pathologies.”

Despite the side effects of opioids, Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, warns that the study’s message is not meant to limit the use of opioids for pain. Instead, he suggests that doctors should “take into consideration this side effect, since it is very easy to find hormone replacement therapies. Using HRTs, patients can get relief from their pain, and improve their quality of life.”

Public release date: 4-Nov-2010

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Plantar Fasciitis? Stretching seems to do the trick

New study compares two treatment methods for acute plantar

Rosemont, IL

According to a new study from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS), patients with acute plantar fasciitis who perform manual plantar fasciitis stretching exercises, as opposed to shockwave therapy, had superior results and higher patient satisfaction.

Study details and findings:

A total of 102 patients who had acute plantar fasciitis pain, were randomly assigned to two groups. Acute is defined as any patient that experiences pain for less than six weeks. 54 people performed an eight-week stretching program, while 48 people received repetitive low-energy radial shock-wave therapy once a week for three weeks. Each group was asked to refrain from any other forms of physical therapy.

Patients in the stretching group, were told to perform stretching exercises three times a day, for eight weeks. All patients were contacted by phone every two weeks to check on training compliance. After four weeks, the patients were told to slowly return to their previous sport and/or recreational activity. Patients in group two received three sessions of radial shock-wave therapy, three times a week.

Patients were given follow-up evaluations at two, four and fifteen months. At both the two and fourth month evaluation, 65 percent of patients who performed the plantar fascia-specific stretch reported total satisfaction with treatment or satisfaction with treatment with minor reservations. Only 29 percent did so after shockwave therapy.

John Furia, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in Pennsylvania and one of the study authors added that those who develop plantar fascia pain should begin non-operative treatment promptly. “The earlier you understand how stretching fits in, and the earlier you learn how frequently to perform the simple plantar stretch, the less likely you will require a more invasive treatment method,” stated Dr. Furia. “Shockwave therapy has been shown to be a very effective treatment for patients with chronic plantar fasciitis (pain for more than six to eight weeks), however acute cases are probably best treated with more simple measures,” he added.

How to do the stretch: According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), this stretch should be performed in the seated position. Cross your affected foot over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the toes of your painful foot and bring your ankle up and your toes up. Place your thumb along the plantar fascia and rub it to stretch it. The fascia should feel like a tight band along the bottom of your foot when stretched. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat it 10-20 times for each foot. Dr. Furia and Dr. Judy Baumhauer, orthopaedic surgeon and president-elect of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) recommend that this exercise be performed initially in the morning, before getting out of bed and after any long periods of sitting. If there is a sharp pain in your heel when getting up, a stretch should have been done before standing or walking. Dr. Baumhauer gives her patients a visual as a reference for this exercise.

Dr. Baumhauer, who was not involved in this study, has been counseling patients on the plantar fascia stretch for 15 years. “I am a firm believer in this type of stretch and nearly 80 percent of my patients have shown improvement in just eight weeks of stretching therapy.”

Relevant statistics:

•Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel, and approximately two

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million patients are treated for plantar fasciitis each year.

•More than 80 percent of patients with plantar fasciitis will improve within 10 months of starting simple treatment methods.

•Dr. Furia suggests that approximately 20 percent of patients with plantar fasciitis develop a chronic condition.

Public release date: 7-Nov-2010

Plant-based, olive oil diet also has health benefits for prostate cancer survivors

PROVIDENCE, RI – Researchers from The Miriam Hospital say a plant-based, olive oil diet similar to the Mediterranean diet can improve the health of men with recurrent prostate cancer.

The findings may be of significance to men who have been treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), a common treatment that blocks the level of circulating androgens (male hormones), which can fuel the growth of prostate cancers. This therapy has been associated with increased body mass index, excess body fat around the waist and elevated insulin levels – all symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

According to Miriam researchers, the men who followed the olive oil diet lost an average of 12.4 pounds in an eight-week period. As a result of the diet and weight loss, participants also experienced a significant improvement in some of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome, particularly triglyceride levels (a type of fat found in the blood that can cause plaque buildup in artery walls).

The findings were presented today at the American Dietetic Association’s 2010 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Boston.

“My plant-based olive oil diet is based on foods that research suggests will improve health, such as vegetables, nuts and olive oil, so it is a healthy diet for weight loss,” says lead author Mary Flynn, PhD, RD, LDN, a research dietitian at The Miriam Hospital. “Our study shows that the diet was not only successful as a weight loss tool for these men, but our participants liked the diet and planned to stay on it.”

According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of metabolic risk factors in one person. These include abdominal obesity, blood fat disorders (including high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol), elevated blood pressure, and insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen). Metabolic syndrome has become increasingly common in the United States, and it’s estimated that more than 50 million Americans are affected by it.

Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to decrease blood pressure, fasting insulin, glucose, oxidation and inflammation – all risk factors for heart disease and some cancers. Not only does extra virgin olive oil improve the taste of the meal, but because it’s a healthy fat, it also keeps the stomach fuller longer, so individuals are less likely to snack between meals. According to Flynn, the health benefits of olive oil start at about two tablespoons per day.

The health benefits of a plant-based diet are due to the phytonutrients found in plant products. In particular, carotenoids, which are found in dark vegetables, have been shown to help decrease the risk of cancer. Studies also have shown that olive oil – the only oil that is from a fruit – has numerous

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phytonutrients that can improve health; it has been associated with decreasing oxidation, inhibiting tumors from forming or growing and decreasing inflammation. Research also suggests that about two tablespoons a day will improve insulin function and lower blood pressure.

The Miriam study included 11 men treated with ADT who developed metabolic syndrome. For eight weeks, they followed a plant-based olive oil diet, which included a minimum of three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil daily, as well as four servings of vegetables a day. Nuts were allowed and poultry and seafood were limited to eight ounces a day. Men also kept daily food records for key food items and were asked to keep three-day food diaries at weeks four and eight. Participants’ weight loss goal was five percent of their baseline weight.

In addition to shedding an average of 12.4 pounds, men in the study lost an average of just over two inches in their waistline. They also experienced significant improvements in their triglyceride levels. At the start of the study, the average triglyceride level was more than 100 mg/dl; after eight weeks, it dropped down to a healthy range of less than 100 mg/dl.

“It’s possible that someday we may be able to recommend a diet that will prevent the development of metabolic syndrome in men being treated for recurrent prostate cancer, which would greatly decrease their risk of heart disease,” said Flynn.

A separate study led by Flynn earlier this year also showed that a plant-based, olive oil diet produced greater weight loss in breast cancer survivors compared to a more traditional low-fat diet.

Public release date: 8-Nov-2010

Canola-type rapeseed oil reduces the level of fibrinogen, a cause of thrombosis and inflammation

According to research on fatty acids conducted at the universities of Helsinki and Tampere, the consumption of canola-type rapeseed oil decreases the level of fibrinogen detrimental to health in the body. The increased fibrinogen level, caused by an imbalance in essential fats in one’s diet, decreases when saturated fatty acids are replaced with rapeseed oil. The research results were published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids.

A complex state of balance, the haemostatic balance, prevails in the bloodstream. One player in this balancing act is fibrinogen, the single most important blood coagulation factor. A high level of fibrinogen promotes the creation of thrombosis and maintains inflammation within the body. An increase in the fibrinogen level is closely linked with, for example, cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The new research demonstrates for the first time that an increase in the fibrinogen level of the blood is largely caused by the lack of omega-3-alpha-linolenic acid in the diet. When there is too little of this beneficial fatty acid found in one’s diet, an imbalance between fatty acids in the body is created. When the omega-3-alpha-linolenic acid level is too low, the body starts to manufacture more harmful omega-6-arachidonic acid out of the omega-6-linoleic acid, creating hormone-like compounds that cause thrombosis and inflammation. According to the researchers, the fat composition of rapeseed oil is optimal with regard to fatty acids essential to the body and consequently is well-suited to reduce the fibrinogen levels in the blood.

Levels of fibrinogen and cholesterol reduced

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In all 42 research subjects, many of whom with high levels of fibrinogen and cholesterol, participated in the research. The study subjects replaced one-fourth of the food fat (margarine, cheese, butter) they used to rapeseed oil. The oil used was canola-quality spring turnip rape oil. They took about a tablespoon of oil a day, for example, mixed with a salad. The rapeseed oil dose doubled the intake of omega-3-alpha-linolenic acid during the experiment period of six weeks. Due to the regime, all higher-than-average fibrinogen levels decreased by approximately 30 per cent.

The research shows that controlling fibrinogen and cholesterol by changing the fat consumed is a point of departure in the prevention of diseases as well as from the perspective of successful individual medical treatment. According to Into Laakso, Ph.D. from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Helsinki, harmful effects of fats in, for example, elderly people could be easily rectified by switching one-fourth of fats to rapeseed oil. Laakso also recommends that, in addition to cholesterol, healthcare centres should measure patients’ fibrinogen levels.

Public release date: 8-Nov-2010

Mild painkillers in pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of male reproductive problems

New evidence has emerged that the use of mild painkillers such as paracetamol (Tylenol, acetaminophen) , aspirin and ibuprofen, may be part of the reason for the increase in male reproductive disorders in recent decades. Research published in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction today (Monday 8 November) shows that women who took a combination of more than one mild analgesic during pregnancy, or who took the painkillers during the second trimester of pregnancy, had an increased risk of giving birth to sons with undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) – a condition that is known to be a risk factor for poor semen quality and testicular germ cell cancer in later life. [1]

The researchers from Denmark, Finland and France found that women who used more than one painkiller simultaneously (e.g. paracetamol and ibuprofen) had a seven-fold increased risk of giving birth to sons with some form of cryptorchidism compared to women who took nothing.

The second trimester appeared to a particularly sensitive time. Any analgesic use at this point in the pregnancy more than doubled the risk of cryptorchidism. Of the individual painkillers, ibuprofen and aspirin approximately quadrupled the risk of cryptorchidism, while a doubling of the risk (although non-statistically significant) was found for paracetamol. Simultaneous use of more than one painkiller during this time increased the risk 16-fold.

These findings were supported by work that the researchers Dr Ulla Hass at the Technical University of Denmark (Søborg, Denmark) and Dr Bernard Jégou from INSERM (Institut National de la Santé at de la Recherche Médicale) at the University of Rennes (Rennes, France) carried out in rats. They found that analgesics disrupted androgen production, leading to insufficient supplies of the male hormone testosterone during the crucial early period of gestation when the male organs were forming. The effects of the analgesics on the rats was comparable to that caused by similar doses of known endocrine (hormone) disrupters such as phthalates – a family of chemical compounds used in the manufacture of plastics such as PVC.

Dr Henrik Leffers, senior scientist at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen (Denmark), who led the research, said: “If exposure to endocrine disruptors is the mechanism behind the increasing reproductive problems among young men in the Western World, this research suggests that particular attention should be paid to the use of mild analgesics during pregnancy, as this could be a major reason for the problems.”

The study looked at two groups of women, 834 in Denmark and 1463 in Finland, who joined the study

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while they were pregnant. In Finland the women answered written questionnaires about their use of medication during pregnancy and in Denmark the women did the same or took part in a telephone interview, or both. The telephone interview asked specifically about the use of painkillers during pregnancy, while the written questionnaires did not. The baby boys were examined at birth for any signs of cryptorchidism, ranging from a mild form of the condition, in which the testis is located high in the scrotum, to the more severe form, in which the testis is so high up in the abdomen that it is non-palpable.

The researchers found that women significantly under-reported the use of painkillers in the written questionnaire because they did not consider mild painkillers to be “medication”. Among the 298 Danish mothers who took part in both the self-administered questionnaire and the telephone interview, 30.9% reported using painkillers in the questionnaire, but 57.2% reported it in the telephone interview.

The researchers could find no statistically significant effect in the group of Finnish women, but found significant effects amongst the Danish women.

Dr Leffers said: “We do not quite understand why the Finnish cohort does not show the same associations as the Danish cohort. However, the use of mild analgesics in the Finnish cohort was only examined by questionnaires, not by telephone interviews, and the telephone interviews gave the most reliable information in the Danish cohort, which may explain some of the differences. Moreover, the prevalence of cryptorchidism is much lower in Finland (2.4%) compared to Denmark (9.3%) and, therefore, this would require a larger cohort to find the same number of cases.”

The work examining the effects of the analgesics in rats showed that intrauterine exposure to paracetamol reduced the anogenital distance (the distance between the anus and the genitals) in the offspring. AGD is a sensitive marker for reduced intrauterine androgen levels and effects on AGD predicts increased risk for impaired reproductive performance of the adult animal. The researchers also found that mild analgesics reduced levels of testosterone in the rat foetal testis by approximately 50%.

Dr Jégou said that the mechanism by which mild analgesics reduced testosterone was poorly understood. “It seems to be related to their mode of action which involves inhibiting the production of prostaglandins – locally acting messenger molecules. In another study by David Kristensen et al., we have shown that endocrine disruptors of the phthalate type are almost as potent inhibitors of prostaglandin synthesis as pharmaceutical inhibitors such as mild analgesics. However, currently we do not know how a reduction of prostaglandin synthesis can reduce testosterone production.”

The researchers say that there has been a marked increase in the incidence of congenital cryptorchidism in recent decades, notably in Denmark where it has increased from 1.8% in 1959-1961 to 8.5% in 1997-2001. “The magnitude of this difference is too large to be accounted for by random fluctuations and differences in ascertainment. Moreover, this finding is in accordance with the reported decline in reproductive health in the adult male population over the past five decades,” they write in their paper.

Dr Leffers said: “Although we should be cautious about any over-extrapolation or over-statement, the use of mild analgesics constitutes by far the largest exposure to endocrine disruptors among pregnant women, and use of these compounds is, at present, the best suggestion for an exposure that can affect a large proportion of the human population.”

The researchers say that the risk from the analgesics is markedly higher than that seen for known endocrine disrupters such as phthalates, and that, as most Western women are inevitably exposed to low levels of endocrine disrupters, these together with analgesic use, could be contributing to the increased incidence of cryptorchidism and later life reproductive problems.

Dr Leffers said: “A single paracetamol tablet (500 mg) contains more endocrine disruptor potency than the combined exposure to the ten most prevalent of the currently known environmental endocrine

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Health Research Report

93rd Issue 14 NOV 2010

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

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So that’s why we’re allergic to sun creams

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Isabella Karlsson isabella.karlsson@chem.gu.se 46-317-869-108 University of Gothenburg

What happens to sunscreens when they are exposed to sunlight? And how is the skin affected by the degradation products that form? This has been the subject of research at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology that will be presented at the upcoming dermatologist conference in Gothenburg.

A growing hole in the ozone layer and a change in sunbathing habits have brought an increase in the number of cases of skin cancer worldwide. One way of dealing with this has been to advocate sunscreens, though greater use of these products has triggered an increase in contact allergy and photocontact allergy to sun protection products.

“We know that sun creams pass through the skin into our bodies, but we don’t know what effects they have on us,” says Isabella Karlsson, doctoral student at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Gothenburg’s Faculty of Science. “Many of them actually break down in the presence of sunlight. We therefore wanted to look at what can happen to the chemical sun protection agents when exposed to UV rays, and how the degradation products that form affect the skin.”

In their study, the researchers have come up with an explanation of what happens during this process.
”Arylglyoxales, one of the degradation products, turned out to be highly allergenic,” says Karlsson. “Which could explain why some people are allergic to creams that contain dibenzoylmethanes, one of the UVA-absorbing substances in sun creams.”

This has made for a better understanding of the mechanism behind photocontact allergy, which could lead to a product that does not cause allergy, and could determine which sun creams people are most likely to be sensitive to.

But their discovery is already having an impact. The healthcare system has long found it difficult to test patients with suspected photocontact allergy, but thanks to the study a new test is being developed.
”We’re just starting to work with various dermatology clinics on assessing the test,” explains Karlsson. “So more patients will be able to find out whether they have photocontact allergy, which could help them in their everyday lives and reduce the burden on the healthcare system.”

###

PHOTOCONTACT ALLERGY AND CONTACT ALLERGY

A photocontact allergic reaction results from the chemical alteration of sunscreens by sunlight, with the body’s immune system then responding with an allergic reaction. The reaction is uncommon, and the cause of the condition is generally sunscreens. The symptoms are eczema-like rashes that can itch. The treatment is to avoid the substance that causes the allergy.

92nd Health Research Report 23 OCT 2010 – Reconstruction

 

Editors Top Five:

 

1. So that’s why we’re allergic to sun creams

2. Too much light at night at night may lead to obesity, study finds

3. Fructose intolerance common in children with functional abdominal pain

4. No standard for the placebo?

5. New theory links depression to chronic brain inflammation

 

 

In this Issue:

 

 

 

1. So that’s why we’re allergic to sun creams

 

2. New findings on autoimmune diseases

 

3. Too much light at night at night may lead to obesity, study finds

 

4. Estrogen therapy may be associated with kidney stones in postmenopausal women

 

5. Patients and doctors are being misled by published data on medicines

 

6. Walk much? It may protect your memory down the road

 

7. Study demonstrates pine bark naturally improves tinnitus

 

8. Compound in celery, peppers reduces age-related memory deficits

 

9. New evidence that fat cells are not just dormant storage depots for calories

 

10. Florida State study finds watermelon lowers blood pressure

 

11. Study confirms: Whatever doesn’t kill us can make us stronger

 

12. Vitamin B12 may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease

 

13. Soy intake associated with lower recurrence of breast cancer in hormone-sensitive cancers

 

14. Western diet exacerbates sepsis

 

15. Fructose intolerance common in children with functional abdominal pain

 

16. Intestinal enzyme helps maintain population of beneficial bacteria

 

17. No standard for the placebo?

 

18. Major component in turmeric enhances effect of chemotherapy drug in head and neck cancer

 

19. Vitamin E in front line of prostate cancer fight

 

20. Professional sports persons should drink more water

 

21. Docs not immune to drug marketing: Study co-authored by York U prof

 

22. New theory links depression to chronic brain inflammation

 

23. Black rice bran may help fight disease-related inflammation

 

24. Obsessing Over Strep Throat in Kids

 

25. Burn injuries rapidly deplete vitamin E

 

26. Number of diabetic Americans could triple by 2050

 

27. Alarms over radiation from thyroid cancer patients

 

 

 

 

Public release date: 10-Oct-2010

So that’s why we’re allergic to sun creams

 

What happens to sunscreens when they are exposed to sunlight? And how is the skin affected by the degradation products that form? This has been the subject of research at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology that will be presented at the upcoming dermatologist conference in Gothenburg.

 

A growing hole in the ozone layer and a change in sunbathing habits have brought an increase in the number of cases of skin cancer worldwide. One way of dealing with this has been to advocate sunscreens, though greater use of these products has triggered an increase in contact allergy and photocontact allergy to sun protection products.

 

“We know that sun creams pass through the skin into our bodies, but we don’t know what effects they have on us,” says Isabella Karlsson, doctoral student at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Gothenburg’s Faculty of Science. “Many of them actually break down in the presence of sunlight. We therefore wanted to look at what can happen to the chemical sun protection agents when exposed to UV rays, and how the degradation products that form affect the skin.”

 

In their study, the researchers have come up with an explanation of what happens during this process.
”Arylglyoxales, one of the degradation products, turned out to be highly allergenic,” says Karlsson. “Which could explain why some people are allergic to creams that contain dibenzoylmethanes, one of the UVA-absorbing substances in sun creams.”

 

This has made for a better understanding of the mechanism behind photocontact allergy, which could lead to a product that does not cause allergy, and could determine which sun creams people are most likely to be sensitive to.

 

But their discovery is already having an impact. The healthcare system has long found it difficult to test patients with suspected photocontact allergy, but thanks to the study a new test is being developed.
”We’re just starting to work with various dermatology clinics on assessing the test,” explains Karlsson. “So more patients will be able to find out whether they have photocontact allergy, which could help them in their everyday lives and reduce the burden on the healthcare system.”

 

 

 

 

Public release date: 10-Oct-2010

New findings on autoimmune diseases

 

A deficiency in one of the immune system’s enzymes affects the severity of autoimmune diseases such as MS, and explains why the course of these diseases can vary so much. New findings give an insight into how this enzyme deficiency can be diagnosed, and could lead to new medicines, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy.

 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) – the two autoimmune diseases covered by the thesis – can follow vastly different courses, with symptoms ranging from insignificant to life-threatening, the reason for which has been largely unknown. In the thesis the researchers have now found a factor in the immune defence that can explain this mechanism.

 

The immune system’s white blood cells play an important role in the fight against invading micro-organisms. They contain an enzyme called NADPH oxidase, which converts oxygen into reactive oxygen radicals. It has long been known that these oxygen radicals stop infections by breaking down micro-organisms. New studies using animal models have shown that inadequate production of oxygen radicals can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases, where a patient’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. This would indicate that oxygen radicals are important for preventing the occurrence of autoimmune diseases.

 

“We wanted to look at this in humans, and examined the NADPH oxidase in the white blood cells of patients with MS, GBS and recurring GBS (RGBS),” says Natalia Mossberg, doctoral student at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy. “The results show that patients with more severe forms of the illness have lower levels of oxygen radical production in their white blood cells as a result of deficient NADPH oxidase function.”

 

The researchers discovered that the body’s ability to produce reactive oxygen radicals at an early stage in the immune defence against infections has a major impact on how these illnesses develop.
”We’ve shown that a strong but controlled production of oxygen radicals by the immune system is important for subduing illnesses such as MS and GBS,” says Mossberg.

 

The researchers think that this method of measuring oxygen radical production in white blood cells can be used for investigating other autoimmune diseases and for diagnosing the severity of these illnesses. The discovery could also lead to a new approach to the treatment of MS in its early stages with medicines that trigger the production of NADPH oxidase or a vaccination for people at risk of developing this type of illness.

 

 

Public release date: 11-Oct-2010

Too much light at night at night may lead to obesity, study finds

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Persistent exposure to light at night may lead to weight gain, even without changing physical activity or eating more food, according to new research in mice.

 

Researchers found that mice exposed to a relatively dim light at night over eight weeks had a body mass gain that was about 50 percent more than other mice that lived in a standard light-dark cycle.

 

“Although there were no differences in activity levels or daily consumption of food, the mice that lived with light at night were getting fatter than the others,” said Laura Fonken, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University.

 

The study appears this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

If the mice are not less active or eating more, what’s causing the bigger weight gain? Results suggest that mice living with light at night eat at times they normally wouldn’t.

 

In one study, mice exposed to light at night – but that had food availability restricted to normal eating times – gained no more weight than did mice in a normal light-dark cycle.

 

“Something about light at night was making the mice in our study want to eat at the wrong times to properly metabolize their food,” said Randy Nelson, co-author of the study and professor of neuroscience and psychology at Ohio State.

 

If these results are confirmed in humans, it would suggest that late-night eating might be a particular risk factor for obesity, Nelson said.

 

In one study, mice were housed in one of three conditions: 24 hours of constant light, a standard light-dark cycle (16 hours of light at 150 lux, 8 hours of dark), or 16 hours of daylight and 8 hours of dim light (about 5 lux of light).

 

The researchers measured how much food the mice ate each day. They also measured how much they moved around their cages each day through an infrared beam crossing system. Body mass was calculated each week.

 

Results showed that, compared to mice in the standard light-dark cycle, those in dim light at night showed significantly higher increases in body mass, beginning in the first week of the study and continuing throughout.

 

By the end of the experiment, light-at-night mice had gained about 12 grams of body mass, compared to 8 grams for those in the standard light-dark cycle. (Mice in constant bright light also gained more than those in the standard light-dark cycle, but Nelson said the dim light-at-night mice were better comparisons to the light exposure that humans generally get.)

 

The dim light-at-night mice also showed higher levels of epididymal fat, and impaired glucose tolerance – a marker of pre-diabetes.

 

Although the dim light-at-night mice didn’t eat more than others, they did change when they ate, results showed. These mice are nocturnal, so they would normally eat substantially more food at night. However, the dim light-at-night mice ate 55 percent of their food during the daylight hours, compared to only 36 percent in the mice living in a standard light-dark cycle.

 

Since the timing of eating seemed significant, the researchers did a second study, similar to the first, with one important difference: instead of having food freely available at all times, food availability was restricted to either the times when mice would normally be active or when they would normally be at rest.

 

In this experiment, mice exposed to the dim light at night did not have a greater gain in body mass than did the others when their food was restricted to times when they normally would be active.

 

“When we restricted their food intake to times when they would normally eat, we didn’t see the weight gain,” Fonken said. “This further adds to the evidence that the timing of eating is critical to weight gain.”

 

The findings showed that levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone, were not significantly different in dim light-at-night mice compared to those living in a standard light-dark cycle.

 

That’s important because corticosterone has been linked to changes in metabolism, Fonken said. This shows there doesn’t have to be changes in corticosterone levels to have changes in metabolism in the mice.

 

So how does light at night lead to changes in metabolism? The researchers believe the light could disrupt levels of the hormone melatonin, which is involved in metabolism. In addition, it may disrupt the expression of clock genes, which help control when animals feed and when they are active.

 

Overall, the findings show another possible reason for the obesity epidemic in Western countries.

 

“Light at night is an environmental factor that may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in ways that people don’t expect,” Nelson said. “Societal obesity is correlated with a number of factors including the extent of light exposure at night.”

 

For example, researchers have identified prolonged computer use and television viewing as obesity risk factors, but have focused on how they are associated with a lack of physical activity.

 

“It may be that people who use the computer and watch the TV a lot at night may be eating at the wrong times, disrupting their metabolism,” Nelson said. “Clearly, maintaining body weight requires keeping caloric intake low and physical activity high, but this environmental factor may explain why some people who maintain good energy balance still gain weight.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public release date: 11-Oct-2010

Estrogen therapy may be associated with kidney stones in postmenopausal women

 

Use of estrogen therapy is associated with an increased risk of developing kidney stones in postmenopausal women, according to a report in the October 11 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

 

“Nephrolithiasis [kidney stones] is a common condition that affects 5 percent to 7 percent of postmenopausal women in the United States,” according to background information in the article. “Because the process of kidney stone formation is influenced by a variety of lifestyle and other health-related factors, the true impact of estrogen therapy on the risk of kidney stone formation is difficult to infer from observational studies.”

 

Using data from the national Women’s Health Initiative study, Naim M. Maalouf, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, examined data from two trials: 10,739 postmenopausal women with hysterectomy who received either an estrogen-only treatment or matching placebo and 16,608 postmenopausal women without hysterectomy who received either an estrogen plus progestin treatment or matching placebo. Data were collected for an average of 7.1 years in the estrogen-only trial and 5.6 years for the estrogen plus progestin trial.

 

A total of 335 cases of kidney stones were reported in the active treatment groups, while 284 cases occurred in the placebo groups. The beginning demographic characteristics and risk factors for kidney stones were similar in the two groups, and the authors found that estrogen therapy was associated with a significant increase in risk of kidney stones. The corresponding annualized incidence rate per 10,000 women per year was 39 in the treatment group and 34 in the placebo group. Development of kidney stones was five times more common in women with a history of kidney stones at the beginning of the study, but was not significantly altered by estrogen therapy. In this trial, estrogen therapy increased the risk of development of kidney stones irrespective of age, ethnicity, body mass index, prior hormone therapy use or use of coffee or thiazide diuretics.

 

The authors conclude that their results “indicate that estrogen therapy increases the risk of nephrolithiasis in healthy postmenopausal women. The mechanisms underlying this higher propensity remain to be determined. In view of the sizable prevalence of nephrolithiasis in this segment of the population, these findings need to be considered in the decision-making process regarding postmenopausal estrogen use.”

 

Public release date: 12-Oct-2010

Patients and doctors are being misled by published data on medicines

 

Research: Reboxetine for acute treatment of major depression: systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished trials controlled with placebo and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

The drug reboxetine is, overall, an ineffective and potentially harmful antidepressant, according to a comprehensive study of the evidence published on bmj.com today.

 

The study also shows that nearly three quarters of the data on patients who took part in trials of reboxetine were not published until now, and that the published data on the drug overestimate the benefits and underestimate the harms of treatment – all underlining the urgent need for mandatory publication of all clinical trial results.

 

Reboxetine has been approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder in many European countries since 1997, but doubts have been raised about its effectiveness on the basis of recent studies and rejection of the application for approval in the United States in 2001. Published trials, however, show a favourable risk-benefit profile for reboxetine.

 

So a team of researchers at The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) set out to assess the benefits and harms of reboxetine compared with placebo or other antidepressants, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), for treating adults with major depression.

 

They also measured the impact of potential publication bias in trials of reboxetine (where positive trial results are more likely to be published than unfavourable results).

 

They analysed the results of 13 trials, including eight previously unpublished trials from the manufacturer of reboxetine (Pfizer). The overall quality of the trials was good, but the researchers noted that data on 74% of patients were unpublished.

 

They show that reboxetine is, overall, an ineffective and potentially harmful antidepressant. They found no significant difference in benefit (remission and response rates) versus placebo and inferior benefit versus SSRIs, as well as a higher rate of patients affected by adverse events than with placebo and higher withdrawal rates owing to adverse events than with placebo and the SSRI fluoxetine.

 

A further comparison of published and unpublished trials shows that published data overestimated the benefit of reboxetine and underestimated harm.

 

This, say the authors, is a striking example of publication bias, resulting in a distorted public record of a treatment. Publication bias can affect health policy decisions and the content of clinical guidelines, they warn. “Our findings underline the urgent need for mandatory publication of trial data.”

 

In an accompanying analysis, the same authors argue that current regulations on the publication of trial results are insufficient. They believe several measures are required in order to provide patients, clinicians, and health policy makers with unbiased and verified evidence on which to base decisions.

 

These include mandatory public disclosure of data for all drugs, even for those never approved, public access to trials of older drugs not covered by current law, greater data sharing between regulatory authorities, as well as re-evaluation of a drug if approval is declined elsewhere, and a legal obligation for manufacturers to provide all requested data to official bodies without restrictions to publication.

 

In a second analysis, senior researchers Robert Steinbrook and Jerome Kassirer highlight several recent examples that illustrate the problems of trusting drug companies to provide the complete picture about the clinical trials they sponsor. They propose that journals should define full access to all the trial data and require that investigators and journal editors have full access. Editors should also take appropriate action if concerns about data arise after publication. “Trust in the medical literature, not just in industry sponsored trials, is at stake,” they conclude.

 

In an accompanying editorial, BMJ Editors Dr Fiona Godlee and Dr Elizabeth Loder, argue that “the medical evidence base is distorted by missing clinical trial data” and that “urgent action is needed to restore trust in existing evidence.”

 

They believe it is important to re-evaluate the integrity of the existing base of research evidence and, as such, the BMJ will devote a special theme issue to this topic in late 2011.

 

“Full information about previously conducted clinical trials involving drugs, devices and other treatments is vital to clinical decision-making,” they say. “It is time to demonstrate a shared commitment to set the record straight.”

 

Ralph’s Note – Why has there been a criminal Investigation of Pfizer, after multiple repeated blatant offenses?

 

Public release date: 13-Oct-2010

Walk much? It may protect your memory down the road

 

ST. PAUL, Minn. – New research suggests that walking at least six miles per week may protect brain size and in turn, preserve memory in old age, according to a study published in the October 13, 2010, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

 

“Brain size shrinks in late adulthood, which can cause memory problems. Our results should encourage well-designed trials of physical exercise in older adults as a promising approach for preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author Kirk I. Erickson, PhD, with the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh.

 

For the study, 299 dementia-free people recorded the number of blocks they walked in one week. Then nine years later, scientists took brain scans of the participants to measure their brain size. After four more years, the participants were tested to see if they had developed cognitive impairment or dementia.

 

The study found that people who walked at least 72 blocks per week, or roughly six to nine miles, had greater gray matter volume than people who didn’t walk as much, when measured at the nine-year time point after their recorded activity. Walking more than 72 blocks did not appear to increase gray matter volume any further.

 

By four years later, 116 of the participants, or 40 percent, had developed cognitive impairment or dementia. The researchers found that those who walked the most cut their risk of developing memory problems in half.

 

“If regular exercise in midlife could improve brain health and improve thinking and memory in later life, it would be one more reason to make regular exercise in people of all ages a public health imperative,” said Erickson.

 

Public release date: 13-Oct-2010

Study demonstrates pine bark naturally improves tinnitus

 

Pycnogenol is effective in relieving tinnitus symptoms and improving inner-ear blood flow

 

HOBOKEN, N.J. (Sept. 13, 2010) – More than 50 million Americans will experience some degree of tinnitus in their lifetime, according to the American Tinnitus Association. Tinnitus is a hearing condition that causes the constant misperception of sound, including hissing, ringing and rushing noises. A study recently published in Panminerva Medica reveals that Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, is effective in relieving tinnitus symptoms by improving blood flow in the inner ear.

 

“Impaired blood flow to the ear is a common cause for tinnitus, a disturbing and very debilitating condition that can considerably impact overall health and quality of life,” said Dr. Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher on the study along with his team from Irvine3 Vascular labs, Chieti-Pescara University. “With few options available for treatment, this study gave us the opportunity to explore a natural solution to tinnitus symptoms and its causes.”

 

In a study conducted by the Chieti-Pescara University in Italy, 82 patients between the ages of 35 and 55 with mild-to-moderate tinnitus in only one ear, while the other remains unaffected, were studied throughout a four-week period. Tinnitus in all subjects was a result of restricted blood supply to the inner ear, as measured by high resolution ultrasonography imaging of their cochlear blood flow. Patients were assigned to one of three groups: A, B and control. Group A consisted of 24 patients who were administered 150 mg/day of Pycnogenol®, group B consisted of 34 patients who were administered 100 mg/day of Pycnogenol®, and the control group consisted of 24 patients who received no Pycnogenol®. None of the patients had previously used medication for their tinnitus symptoms.

 

At the beginning of the study, patients’ average initial systolic and diastolic blood flow velocities were 14.3 and 4.22 cm/sec in the low dose Pycnogenol® group and 13.2 and 3.2 cm/sec in the high dose Pycnogenol® group, indicative of insufficient blood perfusion of the ear in both groups. The study found that after four weeks of treatment with Pycnogenol®, inner ear systolic and diastolic blood flow velocities in the affected ear rose to an average of 21.2 and 8.23 cm/sec in the low dose group and to 24.3 and 12.5 cm/sec in the high dose group. Not only are these results significant for the improvement of inner ear blood micro-circulation and, consequently reduction of tinnitus symptoms, but they also indicate the potentially dose-related effect of Pycnogenol® on the condition.

 

The study also examined in detail the effects of Pycnogenol® on the symptoms of tinnitus. Using a Subjective Tinnitus Scale (STS) at the inception of the study, subjects were instructed to rate their symptoms from “zero” (low intensity of symptoms) to “fifteen” (constant and severe symptoms). The initial STS average value was approximately 8.8 among patients in the Pycnogenol® group and 7.9 in the control group. After four weeks, STS scores reduced to 5.2 in the low dose group and 3.3 in the high dose group, demonstrating a dramatic reduction of the disturbing background noise in the effected ear. There were no significant changes within the control group.

 

“The study clearly indicates Pycnogenol®’s ability to improve vascular function and restore cochlear blood perfusion, which in turn relieves the severity of tinnitus symptoms” said Dr. Belcaro. “The results provide further evidence of the supplement’s natural efficacy for a variety of vascular health symptoms.”

 

This study further corroborates Pycnogenol®’s prominence for improvement of vascular function which spans from the large arteries and veins to the tiniest micro-vessels.

 

Pycnogenol® is a proprietary, patented pine bark extract and the research findings detailed here and in other published journals may not be applied to other pine bark extracts on the market.

 

Public release date: 13-Oct-2010

 

Compound in celery, peppers reduces age-related memory deficits

 

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — A diet rich in the plant compound luteolin reduces age-related inflammation in the brain and related memory deficits by directly inhibiting the release of inflammatory molecules in the brain, researchers report.

 

Luteolin (LOOT-ee-oh-lin) is found in many plants, including carrots, peppers, celery, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile.

 

The new study, which examined the effects of dietary luteolin in a mouse model of aging, appears in the Journal of Nutrition.

 

The researchers focused on microglial cells, specialized immune cells that reside in the brain and spinal cord. Infections stimulate microglia to produce signaling molecules, called cytokines, which spur a cascade of chemical changes in the brain. Some of these signaling molecules, the inflammatory cytokines, induce “sickness behavior”: the sleepiness, loss of appetite, memory deficits and depressive behaviors that often accompany illness.

 

Inflammation in the brain also appears to be a key contributor to age-related memory problems, said University of Illinois animal sciences professor Rodney Johnson, who led the new study. Johnson directs the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Illinois.

 

“We found previously that during normal aging, microglial cells become dysregulated and begin producing excessive levels of inflammatory cytokines,” he said.

 

 

“We think this contributes to cognitive aging and is a predisposing factor for the development of neurodegenerative diseases.”

 

Johnson has spent nearly a decade studying the anti-inflammatory properties of nutrients and various bioactive plant compounds, including luteolin. Previous studies – by Johnson’s lab and others – have shown that luteolin has anti-inflammatory effects in the body. This is the first study to suggest, however, that luteolin improves cognitive health by acting directly on the microglial cells to reduce their production of inflammatory cytokines in the brain.

 

The researchers showed that microglial cells that were exposed to a bacterial toxin produced inflammatory cytokines that could kill neurons. When the microglia were exposed to luteolin before they encountered the toxin, however, the neurons lived.

 

“The neurons survived because the luteolin inhibited the production of neurotoxic inflammatory mediators,” Johnson said.

 

Exposing only the neurons to luteolin before the experiment had no effect on their survival, the researchers found.

 

“This demonstrated that luteolin isn’t protecting the neurons directly,” he said. “It’s doing it by affecting the microglial cells.”

 

The researchers next turned their attention to the effects of luteolin on the brains and behavior of adult (3- to 6-month-old) and aged (2-year-old) mice. The mice were fed a control diet or a luteolin-supplemented diet for four weeks. The researchers assessed their spatial memory and measured levels of inflammatory markers in the hippocampus, a brain region that is important to memory and spatial awareness.

 

Normally, aged mice have higher levels of inflammatory molecules in the hippocampus and are more impaired on memory tests than younger adult mice. Aged mice on the luteolin-supplemented diet, however, did better on the learning and memory task than their peers, and the levels of inflammatory cytokines in their brains were more like those of the younger adult mice.

 

 

“When we provided the old mice luteolin in the diet it reduced inflammation in the brain and at the same time restored working memory to what was seen in young cohorts,” Johnson said.

 

Studies have shown that plant compounds such as luteolin can get into the brain, Johnson said.

“We believe dietary luteolin accesses the brain and inhibits or reduces activation of microglial cells and the inflammatory cytokines they produce. This anti-inflammatory effect is likely the mechanism which allows their working memory to be restored to what it was at an earlier age.”

 

“These data suggest that consuming a healthy diet has the potential to reduce age-associated inflammation in the brain, which can result in better cognitive health,” he said.

 

Public release date: 13-Oct-2010

New evidence that fat cells are not just dormant storage depots for calories

 

Scientists are reporting new evidence that the fat tissue in those spare tires and lower belly pooches — far from being a dormant storage depot for surplus calories — is an active organ that sends chemical signals to other parts of the body, perhaps increasing the risk of heart attacks, cancer, and other diseases. They are reporting discovery of 20 new hormones and other substances not previously known to be secreted into the blood by human fat cells and verification that fat secretes dozens of hormones and other chemical messengers. Their study appears in ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

 

Anja Rosenow and colleagues note that excess body fat can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Many people once thought that fat cells were inert storage depots for surplus calories. But studies have established that fat cells can secrete certain hormones and other substances much like other organs in the body. Among those hormones is leptin, which controls appetite, and adiponectin, which makes the body more sensitive to insulin and controls blood sugar levels. However, little is known about most of the proteins produced by the billions of fat cells in the adult body.

 

The scientists identified 80 different proteins produced by the fat cells. These include six new proteins and 20 proteins that have not been previously detected in human fat cells. The findings could pave the way for a better understanding of the role that hormone-secreting fat cells play in heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.

 

 

 

 

 

Public release date: 13-Oct-2010

Florida State study finds watermelon lowers blood pressure

 

Results are published in the American Journal of Hypertension

 

No matter how you slice it, watermelon has a lot going for it –– sweet, low calorie, high fiber, nutrient rich –– and now, there’s more. Evidence from a pilot study led by food scientists at The Florida State University suggests that watermelon can be an effective natural weapon against prehypertension, a precursor to cardiovascular disease.

 

It is the first investigation of its kind in humans. FSU Assistant Professor Arturo Figueroa and Professor Bahram H. Arjmandi found that when six grams of the amino acid L-citrulline/L-arginine from watermelon extract was administered daily for six weeks, there was improved arterial function and consequently lowered aortic blood pressure in all nine of their prehypertensive subjects (four men and five postmenopausal women, ages 51-57).

 

“We are the first to document improved aortic hemodynamics in prehypertensive but otherwise healthy middle-aged men and women receiving therapeutic doses of watermelon,” Figueroa said. “These findings suggest that this ‘functional food’ has a vasodilatory effect, and one that may prevent prehypertension from progressing to full-blown hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

 

“Given the encouraging evidence generated by this preliminary study, we hope to continue the research and include a much larger group of participants in the next round,” he said.

 

Why watermelon?

 

“Watermelon is the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline, which is closely related to L-arginine, the amino acid required for the formation of nitric oxide essential to the regulation of vascular tone and healthy blood pressure,” Figueroa said.

 

Once in the body, the L-citrulline is converted into L-arginine. Simply consuming L-arginine as a dietary supplement isn’t an option for many hypertensive adults, said Figueroa, because it can cause nausea, gastrointestinal tract discomfort, and diarrhea.

 

In contrast, watermelon is well tolerated. Participants in the Florida State pilot study reported no adverse effects. And, in addition to the vascular benefits of citrulline, watermelon provides abundant vitamin A, B6, C, fiber, potassium and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Watermelon may even help to reduce serum glucose levels, according to Arjmandi.

 

“Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States,” Arjmandi said. “Generally, Americans have been more concerned about their blood cholesterol levels and dietary cholesterol intakes rather than their overall cardiovascular health risk factors leading to CVD, such as obesity and vascular dysfunction characterized by arterial stiffening and thickness –– issues that functional foods such as watermelon can help to mitigate.

 

“By functional foods,” said Arjmandi, “we mean those foods scientifically shown to have health-promoting or disease-preventing properties, above and beyond the other intrinsically healthy nutrients they also supply.”

 

Figueroa said oral L-citrulline supplementation might allow a reduced dosage of antihypertensive drugs necessary to control blood pressure.

 

“Even better, it may prevent the progression from prehypertension to hypertension in the first place,” he said.

 

While watermelon or watermelon extract is the best natural source for L-citrulline, it is also available in the synthetic form in pills, which Figueroa used in a previous study of younger, male subjects. That investigation showed that four weeks of L-citrulline slowed or weakened the increase in aortic blood pressure in response to cold exposure. It was an important finding, said Figueroa, since there is a greater occurrence of myocardial infarction associated with hypertension during the cold winter months.

 

“Individuals with increased blood pressure and arterial stiffness –– especially those who are older and those with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes –– would benefit from L-citrulline in either the synthetic or natural (watermelon) form,” Figueroa said. “The optimal dose appears to be four to six grams a day.”

 

Approximately 60 percent of U.S. adults are prehypertensive or hypertensive. Prehypertension is characterized by systolic blood pressure readings of 120-139 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) over diastolic pressure of 80-89 mm Hg. “Systolic” refers to the blood pressure when the heart is contracting. “Diastolic” reflects the blood pressure when the heart is in a period of relaxation and expansion.

 

Findings from Figueroa’s latest pilot study at Florida State are described in the American Journal of Hypertension. A copy of the paper (“Effects of Watermelon Supplementation on Aortic Blood Pressure and Wave Reflection in Individuals With Prehypertension: A Pilot Study”) can be accessed online.

 

The paper’s lead author, Figueroa holds a medical degree, a doctoral degree in physiological sciences, and a master’s degree in sports medicine. He has been a faculty member in the Florida State University Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences since 2004. Figueroa’s coauthor and colleague Arjmandi serves as chairman of the department, which is a part of Florida State’s interdisciplinary College of Human Sciences. Arjmandi also is the author or coauthor of an extensive body of published research on the health benefits of prunes and other functional foods.

 

Public release date: 15-Oct-2010

Study confirms: Whatever doesn’t kill us can make us stronger

 

Psychologists say we fare better after some life difficulties, than if we’ve had many or none at all

 

BUFFALO, N.Y. — We’ve all heard the adage that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but until now the preponderance of scientific evidence has offered little support for it.

 

However, a new national multi-year longitudinal study of the effects of adverse life events on mental health has found that adverse experiences do, in fact, appear to foster subsequent adaptability and resilience, with resulting advantages for mental health and well being.

 

The study, “Whatever Does Not Kill Us: Cumulative Lifetime Adversity, Vulnerability and Resilience,” to be published in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is available on the website of the American Psychological Association at http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2010-21218-001/.

 

It examined a national sample of people who reported their lifetime history of adverse experiences and several measures of current mental health and well being.

 

Authors are Mark Seery, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo; E. Alison Holman, PhD, assistant professor of nursing sciences, University of California, Irvine; and Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD, professor of psychology and social behavior and medicine at UC Irvine.

 

Seery, senior author of the study, says previous research indicates that exposure to adverse life events typically predicts negative effects on mental health and well-being, such that more adversity predicts worse outcomes.

 

But in this study of a national survey panel of 2,398 subjects assessed repeatedly from 2001 to 2004, Seery and co-researchers found those exposed to some adverse events reported better mental health and well-being outcomes than people with a high history of adversity or those with no history of adversity.

 

“We tested for quadratic relationships between lifetime adversity and a variety of longitudinal measures of mental health and well-being, including global distress, functional impairment, post-traumatic stress symptoms and life satisfaction,” Seery says.

 

“Consistent with prior research on the impact of adversity, linear effects emerged in our results, such that more lifetime adversity was associated with higher global distress, functional impairment and PTS symptoms, as well as lower life satisfaction.

 

“However,” says Seery, “our results also yielded quadratic, U-shaped patterns, demonstrating a critical qualification to the seemingly simple relationship between lifetime adversity and outcomes.

 

“Our findings revealed,” he says, “that a history of some lifetime adversity — relative to both no adversity or high adversity — predicted lower global distress, lower functional impairment, lower PTS symptoms and higher life satisfaction.”

 

The team also found that, across these same longitudinal outcome measures, people with a history of some lifetime adversity appeared less negatively affected by recent adverse events than other individuals.

 

Although these data cannot establish causation, Seery says the evidence is consistent with the proposition that in moderation, experiencing lifetime adversity can contribute to the development of resilience.

 

“Although we studied major lifetime adversity,” he says, “there is reason to believe that other relatively mundane experiences should also contribute to resilience.

 

“This suggests that carefully designed psychotherapeutic interventions may be able to do so, as well, although there is much work that still needs to be done to fully understand resilience and where it comes from.”

 

Public release date: 18-Oct-2010

Vitamin B12 may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease

 

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A new study shows that vitamin B12 may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, adding more evidence to the scientific debate about whether the vitamin is effective in reducing the risk of memory loss. The research will be published in the October 19, 2010, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

 

“Our findings show the need for further research on the role of vitamin B12 as a marker for identifying people who are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author Babak Hooshmand, MD, MSc, with Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “Low levels of vitamin B12 are surprisingly common in the elderly. However, the few studies that have investigated the usefulness of vitamin B12 supplements to reduce the risk of memory loss have had mixed results.”

 

For the seven-year study, researchers took blood samples from 271 Finnish people age 65 to 79 who did not have dementia at the start of the study. During that time, 17 people developed Alzheimer’s disease. Blood samples were tested for levels for homocysteine, an amino acid associated with vitamin B12, and for levels of the active portion of the vitamin, called holotranscobalamin. Too much homocysteine in the blood has been linked to negative effects on the brain, such as stroke. However, higher levels of vitamin B12 can lower homocysteine.

 

The study found that for each micromolar increase in the concentration of homocysteine, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease increased by 16 percent, whereas each picomolar increase in concentration of the active form of vitamin B12 reduced risk by two percent. The results stayed the same after taking into account other factors, such as age, gender, education, smoking status, blood pressure and body mass index. The addition of folate did not appear to raise or lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

“More research is needed to confirm these findings before vitamin B12 should be used solely as a supplement to help protect memory,” said Hooshmand.

 

Public release date: 18-Oct-2010

Soy intake associated with lower recurrence of breast cancer in hormone-sensitive cancers

 

Post-menopausal breast cancer patients with hormone-sensitive cancers who consumed high amounts of soy isoflavones had a lower risk of recurrence, found a research study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj091298.pdf.

 

Soy isoflavones are similar to estrogen in chemical structure and may stimulate or inhibit estrogen-like action in tissues. Consumption of soy isoflavones, found in soybeans and soy products, has increased in recent years and there are concerns about the effect of soy consumption on women with estrogen and progesterone receptor positive breast cancer as tumour growth is dependent on estrogen.

 

The study, by researchers at the Cancer Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, China, involved 524 women who had surgery for breast cancer and were followed afterwards for between five to six years. Since little is known about the effects of soy isoflavones on breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant endocrine therapy, the researchers sought to understand its impact in these patients.

 

“Compared with postmenopausal patients in the lowest quartile of soy isoflavone intake (less than 15.2 mg/day), those in the highest quartile (more than 42.3 mg/day) had a significantly lower risk of recurrence,” writes Dr. Qingyan Zhang with coauthors.

 

“The recurrence rate of estrogen- and progesterone- positive breast cancer was 12.9% lower among patients in the highest quartile of soy isoflavone intake than among those in the lowest quartile and was 18.7% lower for patients receiving anastrozole therapy in the highest quartile,” they state.

 

However, there was no effect on overall survival in postmenopausal women and no association between soy intake and survival in premenopausal women.

 

The authors conclude that while this finding is potentially important regarding soy intake, large multicentre clinical trials are needed to provide more data.

 

Public release date: 18-Oct-2010

Western diet exacerbates sepsis

 

High fat diets cause a dramatic immune system overreaction to sepsis, a condition of systemic bacterial infection. An experimental study in mice, published in the open access journal BMC Physiology, has shown that a diet high in saturated fat, sugars and cholesterol greatly exaggerates the inflammatory response to sepsis.

 

Chantal Rivera, PhD Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, said that “Mortality due to sepsis in morbidly obese subjects is estimated to be 7 times more prevalent compared to mortality in lean individuals. Morbidity in obese patients is also more severe. Results from our recent studies suggest that this adverse outcome may be caused by consuming a high-fat diet, which predisposes the immune system to react more strongly to infection”.

 

Dr. Rivera lead a team of researchers to carry out the surgical induction of sepsis in mice that had been fed normal chow or western diet for 3 weeks. Mice on the western diet, which was enriched in saturated fat, showed exacerbated inflammation that was found to be mediated by signaling via the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4) pathway. According to Dr Rivera, “These results suggest that targeting the TLR signaling pathway as a therapeutic approach to the medical management of sepsis may be especially beneficial in obese patients”.

 

Public release date: 18-Oct-2010

Fructose intolerance common in children with functional abdominal pain

 

Low-fructose diet is an effective treatment

 

San Antonio, Texas (October 18, 2010) – Fructose intolerance, or fructose malabsorption, is common in children with recurrent or functional abdominal pain, but the condition can be effectively managed with a low-fructose diet, according to the results of a new study unveiled today at the American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) 75th Annual Scientific meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

 

The study, “Fructose Intolerance/Malabsorption and Recurrent Abdominal Pain in Children,” investigated a total of 245 patients with unexplained chronic abdominal pain alone or associated with constipation, gas or bloating and/or diarrhea — 150 of them female (62.1 percent) – who ranged in age from 2 to 18 years old, with a median age of 11.

 

Fructose intolerance is typically diagnosed by exclusion, according to researchers Daniel Lustig, M.D. and Bisher Abdullah, M.D., pediatric gastroenterologists with the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center in Tacoma, WA, who explained that once other GI conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are ruled out, a hydrogen breath test is given to the patient. If the patient’s breath hydrogen exceeds 20 points above baseline, then the patient is likely fructose intolerant.

 

Breath hydrogen test (BHT) for fructose was performed in all patients in the study and it was positive for fructose intolerance in 132 of 245 patients (53.9 percent). A total of 113 of 245 (46.1 percent) of patients had a negative BHT for fructose intolerance. All of the 132 patients with a positive BHT for fructose had a nutritional consult with a registered dietician and were placed on a low-fructose diet. Using a standard pain scale for children, 88 of the 132 patients (67.7 percent) reported resolution of symptoms on a low-fructose diet.

 

“With fructose in so many foods, ranging from apples to packaged foods with the wide-spread use of high fructose corn syrup, it is difficult to avoid, so the challenge is finding those foods with low fructose and still maintain a healthy nutritional balance that patients will adhere to,” said Dr. Lustig, “especially teenagers.” He said fructose intolerance is seems to be more prevalent in teenage girls with chronic abdominal pain. In his practice, Dr. Lustig said he typically sees three or four teenage girls a week with either a new diagnosis of fructose intolerance or for follow-up.

 

“But the good news is that over half of patients who are fructose intolerant and are able to maintain a low-fructose diet will notice an immediate improvement in their symptoms,” concluded Dr. Lustig.

 

Public release date: 18-Oct-2010

Intestinal enzyme helps maintain population of beneficial bacteria

 

Potential therapy could prevent some antibiotic-associated health problems

 

An enzyme that keeps intestinal bacteria out of the bloodstream may also play an important role in maintaining the normal microbial population of the gastrointestinal system. Since the loss of beneficial bacteria that usually results from antibiotic therapy can sometimes lead to serious health problems, a treatment that maintains microbial levels could have significant benefits.

 

“Our mouse studies confirmed that giving this enzyme by mouth keeps the gut healthy, in terms of the microbes that usually live there,” says Richard Hodin, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Surgery, senior author of the report in the November issue of the journal Gut. “This could prevent infection with dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and C. difficile, which can occur when the normal bacterial population becomes depleted, and may lead to development of a supplement to maintain intestinal health whenever someone takes an antibiotic.”

 

Virtually all higher animals maintain a population of microbes – primarily bacteria – in their digestive tracts. These organisms are not only harmless, they also benefit their host by helping with digestion, and their presence prevents the more pathogenic bacteria that may be present from proliferating. Because antibiotics kill all non-resistant bacteria, including those residing in the intestines, the usual balance of beneficial versus harmful microbes is destroyed, leading to problems ranging from diarrhea to infections with dangerous antibiotic-resistant organisms.

 

A 2008 study by members of Hodin’s team that investigated why intestinal bacteria and their toxins do not pass into the bloodstream found that intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), an enzyme produced by the intestinal lining, blocks the activity of a toxic molecule found on many pathogenic bacteria. Because that study and findings by other groups showed that IAP acts against several bacterial toxins, the MGH researchers looked at whether the enzyme directly interacted with intestinal bacteria.

 

Studies of mice lacking the gene for IAP revealed that the animals had reduced levels of all intestinal bacteria and practically none of the common beneficial strains of E. coli. In fact, the most common E. coli strain would not grow if introduced into these knockout mice. But when the animals received oral doses of IAP, beneficial E. coli proliferated quickly after other microbial species were killed by antibiotics. Experiments with normal mice infected with an antibiotic-resistant Salmonella strain showed that IAP treatment significantly reduced Salmonella levels in the animals’ feces. Although only 20 percent of animals not treated with IAP survived, 70 percent of those receiving the enzyme were alive 7 days later.

 

“We believe that IAP rapidly restores E. coli and other beneficial bacteria after antibiotic treatment and that the higher numbers of these bacteria prevent colonization by Salmonella or other pathogens by competing for nutrients and attachment sites,” says Mahdu Malo, PhD, MBBS, of MGH Surgery, corresponding and first author of the Gut paper. “We need to test this approach in larger animals before planning a human clinical trial, but this approach has the potential of solving a common, often serious health problem.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public release date: 18-Oct-2010

No standard for the placebo?

 

Much of medicine is based on what is considered the strongest possible evidence: The placebo-controlled trial. A paper published in the October 19 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine – entitled “What’s In Placebos: Who Knows?” calls into question this foundation upon which much of medicine rests, by showing that there is no standard behind the standard – no standard for the placebo.

 

The thinking behind relying on placebo-controlled trials is this: to be sure a treatment itself is effective, one needs to compare people whose only difference is whether or not they are taking the drug. Both groups should equally think they are on the drug – to protect against effects of factors like expectation. So study participants are allocated “randomly” to the drug or a “placebo” – a pill that might be mistaken for the active drug but is inert.

 

But, according to the paper’s author, Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, this standard has a fundamental problem, “there isn’t anything actually known to be physiologically inert. On top of that, there are no regulations about what goes into placebos, and what is in them is often determined by the makers of the drug being studied, who have a vested interest in the outcome. And there has been no expectation that placebos’ composition be disclosed. At least then readers of the study might make up their own mind about whether the ingredients in the placebo might affect the interpretation of the study.”

 

Golomb pointed out these limitations to the placebo in a pair of letters to the journal Nature 15 years ago.

 

“A positive or negative effect of the placebo can lead to the misleading appearance of a negative or positive effect of the drug,” she said. “And an effect in the same direction as the drug can lead a true effect of the drug to be lost. These concerns aren’t just theoretical. Where the composition has been disclosed, the ingredients of the placebo have in some instances had a likely impact on the result of the study – in either direction (obscuring a real effect, or creating a spurious one). In the cases we know about, this is not because of any willful manipulation, but because it can in fact be difficult to come up with a placebo that does not have some kind of problem.”

 

Since 15 years have elapsed, the situation might have improved. Therefore, Golomb and her colleagues analyzed just how often randomized trials published in the past two years in each of the top four general medical journals actually disclosed the makeup of placebos.

 

The answer is not reassuring, according to the researchers, who found that the placebo ingredients for pills were disclosed in fewer than 10 percent of cases. (The nature of the “control” was significantly more likely to be stated for other types of treatments – like injections, acupuncture, or surgery – where people are more likely to question what “placebo” actually means.)

 

“How often study results are affected by what’s in the placebo is hard to say – because, as this study showed, most of the time we have no idea what the placebo is,” Golomb concluded.

 

Public release date: 18-Oct-2010

Major component in turmeric enhances effect of chemotherapy drug in head and neck cancer

 

Curcumin, the major component in the spice turmeric, when combined with the drug Cisplatin enhances the chemotherapy’s suppression of head and neck cancer cell growth, researchers with UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center have found.

 

A naturally occurring spice widely used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, Turmeric has long been known to have medicinal properties, attributed to its anti-inflammatory effects. Previous studies have shown it can suppress the growth of certain cancers, said Dr. Marilene Wang, a professor of head and neck surgery, lead author of the study and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher.

 

“Head and neck cancers, particularly cases diagnosed in a later stage, are terrible cancers that often require very radical surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation,” Wang said. “They often don’t present until late, and the structures in the head and neck are so vital that our treatments often cause disfigurement and severe loss of function. So using non-toxic curcumin as a treatment was a very appealing idea.”

 

The study, done in cells in Petri dishes and then in mouse models, appears in the October issue of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

 

In India, women for years have been using turmeric for medicinal purposes, as an anti-aging agent rubbed into their skin, to treat cramps during menstruation, as a poultice on the skin to promote wound healing and as an additive in cosmetics, said scientist Eri Srivatsan, an adjunct professor of surgery and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher who, along with Wang, has been studying curcumin and its anti-cancer properties for six years.

 

A 2005 study by Wang and Srivatsan first showed that curcumin suppressed the growth of head and neck cancer cells, first in cells and then in mouse models. In the animal studies, the curcumin was applied directly onto the tumors in paste form because it did not dissolve in saline, which would have allowed it to be injected.

 

In need of a better way to deliver the curcumin, the team collaborated with Dr. Kapil Mehta of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and found that encapsulating the curcumin in a liposome, an artificially prepared vehicle that enclosed the spice component within its membrane, made the treatment injectable. The curcumin was injected into the tail vein of a mouse, where it circulated into the blood stream, slowing down and eventually stopping the cancer growth, a study in 2008 found.

 

“This was a very positive finding, developing an efficient way to deliver the treatment,” Wang said. “Our study also showed that the curcumin was very well tolerated.”

 

In this study, the team wanted to combine the curcumin with the chemotherapeutic drug Cisplatin, which is very toxic at the doses needed to fight head and neck cancers, damaging kidneys, the ears and the bone marrow. They hoped that if they added curcumin to the mix, they might be able to lower the Cisplatin dose and cause less organ damage. Their finding, that the curcumin made the Cisplatin work better, was very promising, Wang said.

 

“We knew that both the curcumin and the Cisplatin, when given alone, had an effect against head and neck cancers,” Wang said. “This finding that curcumin enhances Cisplatin means that, in the future, we may be able to give this chemotherapy in lower doses.”

 

The study noted that “the mechanisms of the two agents through different growth signaling pathways suggest potential for the clinical use of sub-therapeutic doses of Cisplatin in combination with curcumin, which will allow effective suppression of tumor growth while minimizing the toxic side effects.”

 

The study found that curcumin suppressed head and neck cancer growth by regulating cell cycling, Srivatsan said. It binds to an enzyme and prevents the enzyme IKK, an inhibitor of kappa B kinase, from activating a transcription factor called nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), which promotes cancer growth. Cisplatin’s suppressive action involves a different pathway through the tumor suppressor proteins p16 and p53, both proteins that again inhibit the activity of cancer growth promoter NFκB.

 

“We needed to know the mechanism to help us translate this from the lab into the clinic,” Wang said. “That information will help us make better decisions on how to design therapies.”

 

The next step in the clinical setting is to give patients oral curcumin prior to surgery and, after surgery, study the excised tumors to determine curcumin’s effect on tumor markers, specifically whether there is reduced expression of markers such as growth promoting NFκB. They also will be monitoring to determine if the curcumin results in any side effects. After that, the team would give curcumin to patients also getting chemotherapy and radiation to see if the tumor suppression found in the cells lines and mouse models can be replicated in humans.

 

Although turmeric is used in cooking, the amount of curcumin needed to produce a clinical response is much larger, about 500 milligrams. Expecting a positive effect through eating foods spiced with turmeric is not realistic, the researchers said.

 

Curcumin also has a suppressive effect on other cancers, Wang said, including breast, colon and pancreatic cancers. However, the mechanism of suppression in those cancers has not yet been uncovered. It also may be effective against Alzheimer’s and aging, Wang said.

 

 

Public release date: 18-Oct-2010

 

Vitamin E in front line of prostate cancer fight

 

Survival rates of the world’s most common cancer might soon be increased with a new vitamin E treatment which could significantly reduce tumour regrowth.

 

 

 

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) prostate cancer researchers are leading the fight against a disease which kills 3000 Australian men a year.

 

Dr Patrick Ling, whose research will be a centrepiece of the new $354 million Translational Research Institute (TRI) when it opens in Brisbane, is leading a team of researchers who have identified a particular constituent of vitamin E, known as tocotrienol (T3), which can inhibit the growth of prostate tumours.

 

Construction of TRI officially began today (October 19) at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. The world-class facility brings together some of Queensland’s best medical researchers from four leading Australian research facilities to turn their work into accessible and potentially life-saving health treatments.

 

Dr Ling’s research has been funded by Davos Life Science in Singapore, who recently awarded him a further $128,000 to undertake a one-year study of the long-term effectiveness of T3 to prevent the recurrence of treated prostate cancer tumours.

 

“Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in developed countries,” Dr Ling said.

 

“It is responsible for more male deaths than any other cancer, except lung cancer.”

 

Dr Ling said existing chemotherapy and hormonal therapy treatment of prostate cancer was insufficient because it failed to kill off the prostate cancer stem cells (CSCs) which were believed to be responsible for the regrowth of tumours.

 

However, the research team have discovered a particular form of T3, called gamma-tocotrienol (γ-T3), can successfully kill off the prostate cancer CSCs.

 

“Currently there is no effective treatment for metastatic prostate cancer, because it grows back after conventional therapies in more than 70 per cent of cases,” he said.

 

“But with γ-T3, QUT researchers have found a better way to treat prostate cancer, which has the potential to inhibit recurrence of the disease.”

 

Dr Ling said in animal trials, γ-T3 completely inhibited tumour formation in more than 70 per cent of the mice implanted with prostate cancer cells and fed the vitamin E constituent in water. In the remaining cases, tumour regrowth was considerably reduced, while tumours reformed in 100 per cent of the control group.

 

The findings were published recently in the International Journal of Cancer.

 

The next stage of Dr Ling’s study has begun and will determine the long-term effectiveness of the γ-T3 treatment, with plans to progress to clinical trials in the future.

 

“Previous clinical trials using another vitamin E constituent to inhibit prostate cancer development were unsuccessful, but these trials did not use the vitamin E constituent γ-T3,” he said.

 

“Other research has found γ-T3 is also effective in suppressing other types of cancer, including breast, colon, liver and gastric.”

 

Dr Ling said while not all vitamin E preparations had the active constituent, natural vitamin E obtained from palm oil was rich in γ-T3.

 

Professor Ross Young, from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), said one of TRI’s greatest strengths was to bring together leading researchers.

 

“Collaboration, which combines the expertise of researchers from different disciplines and institutions to achieve common goals, will lead to better solutions,” Professor Young said.

 

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake said TRI would greatly benefit Queensland’s and Australia’s economy and ability to attract the world’s best researchers to our shores.

 

“By having this world-class facility producing research of the highest quality, we will be increasing Queensland’s international competitiveness in research,” Professor Coaldrake said.

 

TRI is a collaboration of QUT, the University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Mater Medical Research Institute, with funding from the Australian Government, Queensland Government, The Atlantic Philanthropies, QUT and UQ.

 

Dr Ling is based at IHBI and the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre – Queensland, a comprehensive research centre to investigate new ways to treat prostate cancer established by QUT and the Princess Alexandra Hospital with funding from the federal government.

 

His research is funded by world-leading tocotrienol manufacturer Davos Life Science. The Singapore-based company produces γ-T3 from sustainable palm plantations.

 

Public release date: 19-Oct-2010

Professional sports persons should drink more water

 

Top sports persons must always perform to their maximum capacity, making them the most vulnerable to the effects of dehydration. Now, a new study conducted by researchers from the Universidad de Castilla la Mancha (UCLM) reveals that 91% of professional basketball, volleyball, handball and football players are dehydrated when they begin their training sessions.

 

“Dehydration negatively affects sporting performance, even when the level of dehydration is low (such as a 2% loss of body weight through perspiration)”, UCLM researcher and author of the article Ricardo Mora-Rodríguez explained to SINC.

 

Many studies have tested dehydration in outdoor sports, but little scientific information is available on indoor sports. This new study, which has been published in the European Journal of Sport Science, calculates the loss of body fluids and salts on behalf of professional basketball, volleyball, handball and indoor football players.

 

“Despite being indoor sports, the pace these professionals play at makes them sweat a great deal”, Mora-Rodríguez added. In this sense, it is worth highlighting indoor football players, who lose approximately 1.8 litres per hour through perspiration.

 

The researchers analysed how sports persons replenish lost body fluids by drinking liquids between workouts and the degree of dehydration “inherited” from the previous day that they begin their training sessions with.

 

Four professional men’s sports teams were studied (Benetton de Treviso basketball and volleyball teams, the Ciudad Real handball team and the Boomerang indoor football team), from which 43 players re-hydrated, recovering 63% of the fluid they had lost through perspiration. As a result, their level of dehydration remained below 2%.

 

How to sweat 1.4 litres per hour

 

According to urine specific gravity data, 91% of the players began their training sessions “slightly dehydrated”. Furthermore, total sodium losses through perspiration amounted to an average of 1.3 grams per person.

 

“Professional indoor sports persons sweat profusely when playing their sports (1.4 litres/hour on average), but their rehydration habits prevent them from reaching levels of dehydration that would affect their sporting performance,” the research underlined.

 

The authors insist how important it is to recover body fluids and sodium after training sessions.

 

 

Public release date: 19-Oct-2010

Docs not immune to drug marketing: Study co-authored by York U prof

 

TORONTO, October 19, 2010 – Pharmaceutical promotion may cause doctors to prescribe more expensively, less appropriately and more often, according to a new study co-authored by York University professor Joel Lexchin.

 

The findings, published today in the journal, PLoS Medicine, offer a broad look at the relationship between doctors’ prescribing habits and their exposure to information provided by drug companies. Researchers analyzed 58 separate studies of this phenomenon from Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia, dating from the 1960s.

 

“Many doctors claim they aren’t influenced by the information provided by pharmaceutical companies. Our research clearly shows that they are – and the influence is negative,” says Lexchin, a professor in the School of Health Policy & Management in York’s Faculty of Health and an emergency physician in Toronto.

 

“Unfortunately, patients are the ones getting a raw deal. If doctors are inundated with advertising from brand name companies, they are more likely to prescribe that brand name, regardless of whether it’s best for the patient,” Lexchin says.

 

Overall, researchers found no evidence that drug companies’ promotional efforts improve prescribing behaviour in any way. All but one of the studies suggested that exposure to promotional information was associated with lower prescribing quality; others detected no association. Findings also show that promotional information led to more frequent prescribing; studies dealing with this correlation either showed a spike in prescribing or detected no association. Researchers also established a link between promotion and higher prescribing costs.

 

Lexchin says Canadian drug companies spend big money on marketing their products to physicians, to the detriment of other priorities such as research and development.

 

“In Canada, companies are estimated to be spending anywhere between $2.4 and $4.75 billion annually on promotion, one of the major reasons why spending on brand name drugs was rising at a rate of just under 10 per cent annually until two years ago,” he says.

 

A limitation of the research is that most studies were observational in nature, meaning that the majority of physicians who participated were not randomly selected.

 

“Although we didn’t find any evidence of improvements in prescribing due to promotional information, that doesn’t entirely exclude the possibility that prescribing might sometimes be improved,” Lexchin says. “As a precaution, we recommend that physicians avoid exposure to the information provided by pharmaceutical companies.”

 

 

 

Public release date: 19-Oct-2010

New theory links depression to chronic brain inflammation

 

Chronic depression is an adaptive, reparative neurobiological process gone wrong, say two University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers, positing in a new theory that the debilitating mental state originates from more ancient mechanisms used by the body to deal with physical injury, such as pain, tissue repair and convalescent behavior.

 

In a paper published in the September online edition of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Review, Athina Markou, PhD, professor of psychiatry, and Karen Wager-Smith, a post-doctoral researcher, integrate evidence from diverse clinical, biological and behavioral studies to create a novel theory they hope will lead to a shift in thinking about depression.

 

“In contrast to other biological theories of depression, we started with a slightly different question,” said Wager-Smith. “Other theories address the question: ‘What is malfunctioning in depression?’ We took a step back and asked the question: ‘What is the biology of the proper function of the depressive response?’ Once we had a theoretical model for the biology of a well-functioning depressive response, it helped make sense of all the myriad differences between depressed and non-depressed subjects that the biomedical approach has painstakingly amassed.”

 

According to the new theory, severe stress and adverse life events, such as losing a job or family member, prompt neurobiological processes that physically alter the brain. Neurons change shape and connections. Some die, but others sprout as the brain rewires itself. This neural remodeling employs basic wound-healing mechanisms, which means it can be painful and occasionally incapacitating, even when it’s going well.

 

“It’s necessary and normal so that an individual can adapt, change behavior and deal with altered circumstances,” Markou said. Real problems occur only “when these restructuring processes go into overdrive, beyond what is necessary and adaptive, and for longer periods of time than needed. Then depression becomes pathological.”

 

The theory extends findings made by other researchers that the neurobiological substrates of physical and emotional pain overlap. Just as the body’s repair mechanisms for physical injury can sometimes result in chronic pain and inflammation, so too can the response to psychological trauma, resulting in chronic depression.

 

Markou and Wager-Smith argue that existing, conflicting views about depression actually describe different aspects of the same phenomenon. Psychoanalytic and sociological theories refer to the psychological transformation that occurs during a productive depressive episode. Biomedical theories relate to the neural remodeling that underlies this psychological change. And neurodegenerative theories account for remodeling malfunctions.

 

“The big question, of course, is why aren’t all people affected the same way,” said Markou. “Why do some people deal effectively with stress, but others perpetuate a pathological state? This is an interesting question for future research.”

 

The researchers’ findings may have clinical ramifications as well. If psychological and physical pain responses share similar biological mechanisms, then analgesic agents could be useful in treating at least some symptoms of depression. Similarly, if chronic depression is proven to be a neuroinflammatory condition, then anti-inflammatory treatments should also have some antidepressant effects. Several small trials with depressed patients have already been published that support this possibility, though Markou cautioned that much more specific research and larger clinical trials are required.

 

Public release date: 20-Oct-2010

Black rice bran may help fight disease-related inflammation

 

Scientists are reporting evidence that black rice — a little-known variety of the grain that is the staple food for one-third of the world population — may help soothe the inflammation involved in allergies, asthma, and other diseases. Their study appears in ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

 

Mendel Friedman and colleagues point out that their previous research showed several potential health benefits of eating black rice bran. Bran is the outer husk of the grain, which is removed during the processing of brown rice to produce the familiar white rice. Those experiments, which were done in cell cultures, hinted that black rice bran suppressed the release of histamine, which causes inflammation.

 

In the new study, they tested the effects of black rice bran extract on skin inflammation in laboratory mice. When they injected the extract into the mice, it reduced skin inflammation by about 32 percent compared to control animals and also decreased production of certain substances known to promote inflammation. Brown rice bran extract did not have these effects, they say. When the scientists fed the mice a diet containing 10 percent black rice bran, it reduced swelling associated with allergic contact dermatitis, a common type of skin irritation. The findings “further demonstrate the potential value of black rice bran as an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic food ingredient and possibly also as a therapeutic agent for the treatment and prevention of diseases associated with chronic inflammation,” the article notes.

 

Public release date: 20-Oct-2010

 

Obsessing Over Strep Throat in Kids

TAU research links obsessive-compulsive disorder to common childhood illness

 

 

A common infection in children, strep throat can lead to problems with a child’s heart, joints or brain if left untreated. And when the brain is involved, motor and mental functioning may be compromised, leading to syndromes such as attention deficit disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

 

While scientists have speculated on a link between OCD and childhood infections like strep for more than two decades, Prof. Daphna Joel and her team of researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychology have now scientifically demonstrated that strep can lead to brain dysfunction and OCD. Dr. Joel says their breakthrough could lead to new drugs for treating OCD, and may in the future prevent the psychiatric disorder altogether.

 

Conducted by the PhD student Lior Brimberg and in collaboration with Prof. Madelaine W. Cunningham of the University of Oklahoma, the research, recently presented at the 13th Congress of the European Federation of Neurological Societies in Florence, Italy, is expected to be published by the beginning of next year.

 

How strep attacks the brain

 

“It’s almost impossible to show how strep can lead to OCD in humans ― almost all of us, even very young children, have been exposed to the bacterium at one time or another,” says Prof. Joel. “But childhood seems to provide a distinct window of opportunity for the disorder to take root through strep infection,” she warns.

 

Working with the world’s leading specialist in strep-related heart disease, Prof. Cunningham, the researchers developed a new animal model to show how exposure to strep affects the brain and leads to a number of physical and mental ailments.

 

In her Tel Aviv University laboratory, Prof. Joel and Brimberg created an animal model using rats exposed to  the strep bacteria. Comparing them to a strep-free control group, Prof. Joel measured a distinct difference in behavior in the strep-exposed animals.

 

First, the strep-exposed rats developed a strep antibody which deposited in their brain, confirming the suspicions of previous researchers. Those exposed also developed balance and coordination difficulties, as well as compulsive behaviors such as increased and repetitive grooming.

 

More important, they also found that the strep antibody binds itself to dopamine D1 and D2 receptors in the brain. This finding is in harmony with the fact that one of the main drugs for treating Sydenham’s Chorea, a motor disorder associated with strep, targets these same dopamine D2 receptors.

 

“We were able to show that these antibodies are binding to receptors in the brain and changing the way certain neurotransmitters operate, leading to brain dysfunction and motor and behavioral symptoms,” Prof. Joel says.

 

Prevention before the cure

 

This breakthrough finding could lead to new modes of diagnosis of the disease and provide a  new platform for drug developers seeking to treat or cure OCD.

 

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, OCD affects up to 2% of all children and adolescents in the U.S. The disorder is characterized by recurrent intense obsessions and/or compulsions that may cause severe discomfort, anxiety and stress, and interfere with day-to-day functioning.

 

Prof. Joel stresses how important it is for parents who notice signs of strep throat to ensure that their children get treated with the appropriate antibiotics in a timely fashion.

 

Strep-induced OCD will likely continue to be a major problem in the developing world where strep is not treated adequately, she concludes.

 

Public release date: 20-Oct-2010

Burn injuries rapidly deplete vitamin E

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Severe burn injuries in children have been shown to rapidly deplete the levels of vitamin E in their body’s adipose, or fat tissues, a new clinical study has found.

 

Stored levels of this important antioxidant were reduced more in a few weeks than might normally be possible in years.

 

An analysis of eight children with third-degree burns over much of their body found they lost almost half of their stored vitamin E in three weeks, even though they were being given about 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E and other nutrients in a high-calorie diet.

 

Researchers are not certain what the implication of such rapid vitamin E depletion may be, but concluded in their report that “the depletion of vitamin E may be a very significant problem in patients with burn injury” and other forms of severe trauma.

 

One particular concern may be the possibility of peripheral neuropathy, since nerve damage is common in patients with severe burn injuries, and has also been associated with vitamin E deficiency in humans. Studies have not yet been done to determine whether heavier supplementation with vitamin E after a burn injury would help address this or other health and healing issues.

 

The findings of this clinical study were just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a professional journal, by scientists from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University; the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas; the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and other researchers.

 

“This is one of the first studies we’ve done that measures vitamin E in the body tissues of children,” said professor Maret Traber, a principal investigator in the Linus Pauling Institute, and one of the world’s leading experts on vitamin E. “Vitamin E in adipose tissue does not fluctuate much on a short-term basis. To find this level of vitamin E loss in such a short time was dramatic, unexpected and somewhat alarming.”

 

Of some concern, Traber said, is that of eight burn patients studied, three of them already had tissue levels of vitamin E that would be considered deficient upon admission to the hospital, shortly after their injury.

 

Some diet surveys of healthy children have concluded that up to 90 percent of them have vitamin E intake below that which nutrition experts recommend. This essential nutrient is an important antioxidant, plays a role in the immune system, nervous system, and performs many other metabolic functions. It is commonly found in fats, nuts, and some vegetables and seafood products.

 

“Unfortunately, with the modern American diet too many people are getting most of their vitamin E from foods that aren’t particularly good for them, things like ice cream or potato chips,” Traber said. “It’s probable that most people don’t get enough of this vitamin at all, and that’s one of the reasons we’re looking at people who have suffered severe illness or injury, in which vitamin E deficiencies may complicate other health problems.”

 

With the issue of burn injuries, expert say, one common result is a huge increase in metabolic rate as the body works overtime to deal with the trauma of burns, skin loss and oxidative stress. The patients in this study all had major injuries, with burns over 29 percent to 93 percent of their body. They were treated at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Texas, however, which has one of the leading burn treatment centers in the world, and all of them survived.

 

In the United States, about 100,000 people each year suffer burn injuries that are sufficient to require hospitalization, and 5,000 deaths occur as a result. Severe burns are associated with a systemic inflammatory response, increased production of reactive oxygen species and severe depletion of plasma antioxidants, previous research has shown.

 

Prior to this, it was not known that any mechanism existed that would so rapidly draw down body tissue levels of vitamin E. Low tissue levels of vitamin E are ordinarily observed only after years of inadequate absorption caused by certain genetic defects or diseases.

 

The report concluded that burn patients may not be receiving adequate vitamin E nutrition, and theorized that increased vitamin E supplementation may decrease the neuropathy, or nerve damage, that is often associated with severe burns. Further studies to address the mechanism and consequences of this issue are planned, they said.

 

The recommended daily allowance for vitamin E for children ages 4-8 is 10 I.U. per day. Traber said she would recommend performing studies with burn victims and giving them the “tolerable upper limit” of vitamin E as defined by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, which would be 400 I.U. per day. This is 40 times higher than the RDA but also a level of supplementation that many people take routinely. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, must also be consumed with some amount of fat-containing food in order to be absorbed by the body.

 

Public release date: 20-Oct-2010

 

Number of diabetic Americans could triple by 2050

 

ATLANTA – As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050, federal officials announced Friday in a dramatic new projection that represents a threefold increase.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 10 have diabetes now, but the number could grow to 1 in 5 or even 1 in 3 by mid-century if current trends continue.

 

“This is alarming,” said Ann Albright, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.

 

The agency’s projections have been a work in progress. The last revision put the number at 39 million in 2050. The new estimate takes it to the range of 76 million to 100 million.

 

An estimated 24 million Americans have diabetes currently.

 

The new CDC calculation accounts for people who have diabetes but are undiagnosed — a group that wasn’t figured into earlier estimates, explained Edward W. Gregg, chief of the CDC branch that handles diabetes epidemiology and statistics.

 

Also, the researchers used new population growth estimates for the elderly and minorities, who have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes, he said.

 

One more factor: Diabetics are living longer, thanks to improvements in medical care, he added.

 

“Not all of the increase in prevalence is a bad thing,” said Dr. Sue Kirkman, the American Diabetes Association’s senior vice president of medical affairs and community information.

 

Diabetes is a disease in which the body has trouble processing sugar. It was the nation’s seventh leading cause of death in 2007.

 

In the classic form of diabetes, traditionally diagnosed in children or young adults, the body does not produce enough of a hormone called insulin to help sugar get into cells. That’s Type 1 diabetes.

 

Another form of diabetes, Type 2, now accounts for about 95 percent of cases. In that kind, the body’s cells resist insulin’s attempts to transport sugar. Type 2 is most common in people who are overweight and obese, in people 60 and older, and in African-Americans and other minority groups.

 

The growth in U.S. diabetes cases has been closely tied to escalating obesity rates. Recent CDC data suggests obesity rates may have recently leveled off. But the new estimates should hold up even if obesity rates remain static, CDC officials said.

 

The CDC is the main source for national disease statistics, and the agency seems to have done a thoughtful job in putting together these latest projections, Kirkman said. Still, she acknowledged being a little startled by the size of the new numbers.

 

“The magnitude is a bit surprising. But the trend is not” she said.

 

The new estimates were published online Friday by the journal Population Health Metrics.

 

Public release date: 20-Oct-2010

 

Alarms over radiation from thyroid cancer patients

 

WASHINGTON – Reports of thyroid cancer patients setting off radiation alarms and contaminating hotel rooms are prompting the agency in charge of nuclear safety to consider tighter rules.

 

A congressional investigation made public Wednesday found that patients sent home after treatment with radioactive iodine have contaminated unsuspecting hotel guests and set off alarms on public transportation.

 

They’ve come into close contact with vulnerable people, including pregnant women and children, and trash from their homes has triggered radiation detectors at landfills.

 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering new rules to address the problem, in particular curbs on sending patients to hotels after treatment, a spokesman said Wednesday.

 

“The assumption was that patients would be going home,” said David McIntyre. “Now that we see there are some who are not, we are developing new guidance.” It’s unclear whether the radiation exposure occurs at levels high enough to cause harm.

 

The agency is also looking to make sure that risks of exposing pregnant women and children are more clearly communicated to patients, McIntyre said, after a commission meeting on the issue.

 

Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., says the problem stems from a decision years ago by the NRC to ease requirements that thyroid cancer patients remain in the hospital a few days after swallowing doses of radioactive iodine to shrink their tumors.

 

“There is a strong likelihood that members of the public have been unwittingly exposed to radiation from patients,” Markey wrote in a letter to the NRC that details findings by investigators on his staff. “This has occurred because of weak NRC regulations, ineffective oversight of those who administer these medical treatments, and the absence of clear guidance to patients and to physicians.”

 

About 40,000 people a year develop thyroid cancer, which generally responds well to treatment. Certain types are treated by swallowing radioactive iodine, or iodine-131. It concentrates in the thyroid, but small amounts are excreted through urine, saliva and sweat.

 

People given high doses may be kept in the hospital, but many patients are sent home with instructions on how to minimize exposure to others over the next few days. Most of the radiation is gone in about a week, says the National Cancer Institute’s website for patients.

 

Traditionally such patients were kept in the hospital, but treatment has now shifted to less costly outpatient facilities. Patients sent home are supposed to follow specific precautions, such as sleeping alone in their beds and not giving hugs and kisses to young children. Markey’s investigation indicates that’s where the breakdown is occurring.

 

Staffers on the House Energy and Environment subcommittee that Markey chairs sent detailed questionnaires to states that enforce the NRC rules and conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 thyroid cancer patients.

 

The investigation found that:

 

• A patient who had received a dose of radioactive iodine boarded a bus in New York the same day, triggering radiation detectors as the bus passed through the Lincoln Tunnel heading for Atlantic City, N.J., a casino Mecca. After New Jersey state police found the bus and pulled it over, officers determined that the patient had received medical instructions to avoid public transportation for two days, and ignored them. The 2003 case highlighted that NRC rules don’t require patients to stay off public transportation.

 

About 7 percent of outpatients said in the survey they had gone directly to a hotel after their treatment, most of them with their doctors’ knowledge. Hotel stays are a particular concern, since the patient can expose other guests and service workers. In 2007, an Illinois hotel was contaminated after linens from a patient’s room were washed together with other bedding. The incident would probably have gone unreported but for nuclear plant workers who later stayed in the same hotel and set off radiation alarms when they reported to work.

 

• About one-fourth of outpatients said in the survey they never discussed with their doctors how to avoid exposing pregnant women and children to radiation. The survey found 56 cases in which a patient shared a bathroom or bedroom with a pregnant woman or a child, or had other close contact, which is strongly discouraged in medical guidelines.

 

• At least two states — Maryland and Massachusetts — said they had encountered problems with household trash from the homes of patients treated with radioactive iodine. Garbage trucks set off radiation alarms at landfills, requiring loads to be unpacked and examined, exposing sanitation workers to a range of hazards.

 

Markey urged the agency to revise its rules so that more patients are kept in the hospital. Patient advocates say insurance companies routinely refuse to pay for a hospital room because it’s not required. He’s also calling for a ban on letting patients take public transportation after treatment with radioactive iodine.

 

 

________________________________

These reports are done with the appreciation of all the Doctors, Scientist, and other

Medical Researchers who sacrificed their time and effort. In order to give people the

ability to empower themselves. Without the base aspirations for fame, or fortune.

Just honorable people, doing honorable things.

 

 

 

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Health Research Report

92nd  Issue 23 OCT 2010

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

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Looks like we’ve got allergies all wrong: Allergies required to clear Toxins

 

From pollen to peanuts, we humans are an allergic lot. So could it be that allergies serve an evolutionary purpose?

MOST of us seem to be allergic to something these days. For many, the itching, sneezing, coughing, dry eyes and runny nose triggered by allergies are a predictable seasonal event, and for some these symptoms are a near-constant annoyance. About 1 in 50 people globally are seriously affected, with allergies to such things as bee stings, peanuts or penicillin triggering a potentially lethal “whole body” allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

Despite the prevalence and dramatic effects of allergy, the allergic response remains one of the most enigmatic features of our immune system. We still do not have good answers to such questions as: what determines which substances are potentially allergenic and which are not? What makes some people allergic to a particular substance while others remain unaffected? And the big one – why does the allergic response exist at all? What possible evolutionary purpose could it serve?

The study of allergy is a relatively young field, with the term “allergy” coined early in the 20th century by paediatricians Clemens von Pirquet and Bela Schick. “Anaphylaxis” was put on the map around the same time by physiologist Charles Richet. The work won him the 1913 Nobel prize for physiology or medicine. For many years thereafter, studies of the allergic response focused on allergy as a sickness or disorder. Partly because of this, very few scientists asked why this severe and potentially dangerous type of immune response would exist in the first place, let alone why the immune system would respond in this way to the seemingly harmless substances that often act as allergens.

The answer appeared to come from studies of immune responses to multicellular eukaryotic parasites in the 1960s. Researchers found that many of the critical players in the allergic response also help to defend the body against parasitic worms called helminths. Helminth infections lead to the production of high levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), the antibody responsible for allergic responses. Since then, the prevailing wisdom has been that allergies result from a mistargeting of immune responses that evolved to defend against parasitic worms. In other words, allergies are the price we pay for effective defence against multicellular parasites.

Now, though, a few scientists have started to question whether this hypothesis is sufficient to explain even the most basic features of the allergic response. For example, while helminth infections do induce IgE antibodies, IgE itself is not critical for getting rid of most of these infections – that is down to the type 2 cytokines IL-4, 5 and 13. So the cardinal feature and molecular mediator of the allergic response appears to be a bit player in defending us against helminths.

One alternative theory to account for the allergic response was proposed in 1991 by Margie Profet at the University of California, Berkeley. She speculated that the allergic response evolved to enable the immune system to protect us against environmental toxins, such as the noxious phytochemicals found in plants, and venoms. Indeed, while allergens are considered by most to be harmless, a closer look reveals that many are in fact toxins, an obvious example being venom. So, rather than viewing allergic response as a mistargeted response to helminths, it can be seen as an intentional and generally beneficial response that protects against noxious substances in the environment.

But the toxin hypothesis remains largely ignored by the biomedical community. We think this is wrong-headed for four reasons. First, allergic symptoms, including runny nose, tears, sneezing, vomiting and diarrhoea, can be understood as an attempt by the body to get rid of an allergen. Toxic substances found in the food and air elicit similar expulsive reactions in everyone.

Second, allergic responses are immediate, occurring within seconds or minutes of exposure. This rapid response is more consistent with defence against toxins, which can cause immediate damage, compared with helminth infection, which takes some time to develop. Moreover, affected people often become hypersensitive to allergens, reacting to minute amounts in the environment. Given that even immune responses to bacterial and viral pathogens fail to reach this level of sensitivity, it doesn’t make much sense to have this level of sensitivity to helminths.

Our final objection concerns one of the most puzzling features of the allergic response – the diversity of substances that act as allergens. This can be anything from small molecules found in penicillin and the urushiol chemical in poison ivy, to the complex mixtures of proteins in animal venoms, or components of common foods such as peanuts. While the helminth hypothesis fails to explain what these substances share that makes them allergenic, the toxin hypothesis predicts that what these allergens may share is their ability to cause harm.

But even if we accept that allergic processes evolved to protect their host from noxious substances in the environment, this doesn’t immediately explain why the body would sometimes mount such a severe, potentially lethal anaphylactic response to even trace amounts of an allergen in the environment. Here again, though, we think we can show that this unique feature of the allergic response might also have a very useful purpose, particularly for our ancestors.

As anyone who suffers from allergies knows, the best way to treat an allergy is to leave the environment in which it flares up and avoid that environment in future. So if many allergens are toxic, then the allergic response could be interpreted as conditioning people to avoid environments that contain potentially harmful toxins.

But in rare cases, allergies themselves can also become “conditioned” via the nervous system. For example, someone allergic to flowers may reach a point where they show an allergic reaction to a mere picture of a flower. This makes sense of a sort because, unlike the sources of microbial pathogens, the sources of allergens are often readily identifiable by sight, which may make avoidance the key strategy for minimising exposure.

Most people who suffer from allergies will find it hard to believe the allergic response can be beneficial. But the benefit of the reaction may be akin to the benefit of pain: pain is unpleasant, but its unpleasantness helps us avoid environmental agents that damage our bodies and, therefore, makes us more likely to survive. Likewise, allergies may have evolved to feel unpleasant to encourage us to avoid environments, animals, or foods that contain substances that may harm us

Food allergies? Pesticides in tap water might be to blame

Contact: Christine Westendorf christinewestendorf@acaai.org 847-427-1200 American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

New study finds chemicals used for water purification can lead to food allergies

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (December 3, 2012) – Food allergies are on the rise, affecting 15 million Americans. And according to a new study published in the December issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), pesticides and tap water could be partially to blame.

The study reported that high levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water, when found in the human body, are associated with food allergies.

“Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy,” said allergist Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc., ACAAI fellow and lead study author. “This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water.”

Among 10,348 participants in a US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006, 2,548 had dichlorophenols measured in their urine and 2,211 were included into the study. Food allergy was found in 411 of these participants, while 1,016 had an environmental allergy.

“Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States,” said Dr. Jerschow. “The results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked, and that increased use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies.”

While opting for bottled water instead of tap water might seem to be a way to reduce the risk for developing an allergy, according to the study such a change may not be successful.

“Other dichlorophenol sources, such as pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables, may play a greater role in causing food allergy,” said Dr. Jerschow.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase in food allergy of 18 percent was seen between 1997 and 2007. The most common food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish.

Food allergy symptoms can range from a mild rash to a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. The ACAAI advises everyone with a known food allergy to always carry two doses of allergist prescribed epinephrine. A delay in using epinephrine is common in severe food allergic reaction deaths.

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For more information about food allergies, and to locate an allergist to find relief, visit www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit  www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Press Note: This research was supported in part by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, components of the National Institutes of Health, through Clinical and Translational Science Award (grant numbers UL1 RR025750, KL2 RR025749, and TL1 RR025748)

Central and Southern Living Might Turn You Vegetarian: You may become Allergic to meat

RELEASE UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL NOVEMBER 9, 2012

Central and Southern Living Might Turn You Vegetarian

Lone star tick causes alpha-gal meat sensitivity, 32 percent higher in regional population

ANAHEIM, CA. (November 9, 2012) – Meat lovers living in the central and southern regions of the country might be opting for a vegetarian lifestyle if meat comes with an unwanted side of a life-threatening allergic reaction. According to a study presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the lone star tick inhabiting these regions is the primary reason for what’s known as a meat induced alpha-gal allergic reaction.

Alpha-gal is a sugar carbohydrate found in red meats such as beef, pork and lamb. According to the study, positive alpha-gal rates are 32 percent higher in lone star tick population areas as compared to other regions. The central and southern regions of the United States have the highest rates of alpha-gal sensitization due to the lone star tick.

“Blood levels of antibodies for alpha-gal in the human body can rise after a single bite from the lone-star tick,” said allergist Stanley Fineman, M.D., ACAAI president. “This can result in allergic symptoms which are usually delayed after meat ingestion and may present as mild hives but may also be a severe, potentially deadly reaction known as anaphylaxis.”

The study also found positive rates higher than expected in the north-central and west regions of the country, where the lone star tick is not found.

“These findings suggest that other species of ticks, or possibly human factors, may play a role in allergic reactions to alpha-gal,” said Dr. Fineman. “Patients with delayed allergic reactions after eating meats should see an allergist to determine if it is an alpha-gal allergy. The best treatment is strict avoidance of meat. An allergist may also prescribe epinephrine in the event of a life threatening emergency.”

Unlike other food allergies, alpha-gal meat allergy can be delayed as long as three to six hours after eating meat. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Hives or skin rash
  • Nausea, stomach cramps, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Stuffy/runny nose
  • neezing
  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • A severe allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis, which starts rapidly and may cause death

If you experience an allergic reaction after eating meat, seek emergency medical attention. Follow up with a board-certified allergist who can develop a treatment plan for you and prescribe life-saving epinephrine.

Information about allergies and asthma can be found at www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. To see if lone star ticks populate your region, visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distribution map at http://1.usa.gov/PEsBDM. More news and research from the annual meeting, being held Nov. 8-13, 2012 can be followed via Twitter at #ACAAI.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The ACAAI Press Room is located in Room 304B at the Anaheim Convention Center, Nov. 9-12, 2012. To arrange an interview, please contact Christine Westendorf, ACAAI Media Relations Manager, at 847-427-1200 or ChristineWestendorf@acaai.org

Baby bathwater contains fragrance allergens : benzyl salicylate, linalol, coumarin and hydroxycitronellal.

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: SINC

info@plataformasinc.es

34-914-251-820

FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

 

Baby bathwater contains fragrance allergens

 

A group of chemists from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) has developed a method to quantify the fragrance allergens found in baby bathwater. The researchers have analysed real samples and detected up to 15 allergen compounds in cosmetics and personal hygiene products.

 

A team of scientists from the Department of Analytical Chemistry, Nutrition and Bromatology at the USC has developed a method to detect and quantify the 15 most common fragrance allergens included in soap, gel, cologne and other personal hygiene products.

 

“Applying the method to eight real samples obtained from the daily baths of a series of babies aged between six months and two years old, we discovered the presence of all the compounds under study in at least one of the samples,” co-author of the study published this month in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, María Llompart, explained to SINC.

 

The scientists found at least six of the 15 compounds in all the samples. In some cases, concentrations were “extremely high”, exceeding 100ppm (parts per million = nanograms/millilitre). Some of the substances that appeared were benzyl salicylate, linalol, coumarin and hydroxycitronellal.

 

“The presence and levels of these chemical agents in bathwater should be cause for concern,” Llompart said, “bearing in mind that babies spend up to 15 minutes or more a day playing in the bath and that they can absorb these and other chemicals not only through their skin, but also by inhalation and often ingestion, intentional or not.”

 

New Method to Detect Fragrances

 

Allergens were able to be detected due to the high level of sensitivity of the method, which for the first time applies the Solid-Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) technique to determining the ingredients of cosmetics and child hygiene products. This technique makes it possible to concentrate and isolate chemical components from a sample by absorbing them into fibres with a certain coating.

 

The researchers have also employed gas chromatography to separate compounds and mass spectrometry to identify and measure the abundance of each of the fragrances.

 

European regulations stipulate that the presence of such substances should be indicated on the label of the product when levels exceed a certain limit (0.1 or 0.01%, depending on the type of compound), but some associations believe these limits are excessively tolerant, particularly where child hygiene and baby and child care products are concerned.

 

 

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References:

 

J. Pablo Lamas, Lucia Sánchez-Prado, Carmen Garcia-Jares y María Llompart. “Solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography-mass spectrometry determination of fragrance allergens in baby bathwater”. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 394 (5): 1399-1411, julio de 2009.

 

Common fragrance ingredients in shampoos and conditioners are frequent causes of eczema

Contact: Elin Lindstroem Claessen
elin.lindstrom@sahlgrenska.gu.se
46-317-863-869
University of Gothenburg

Considerably more people than previously believed are allergic to the most common fragrance ingredient used in shampoos, conditioners and soap. A thesis presented at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden found that over 5% of those who underwent patch testing were allergic to the air oxidized form of the fragrance ingredient linalool.

“I would suspect that about 2% of the complete population of Sweden are allergic to air oxidized linalool. That may not sound very much, but it is serious since linalool is so widely used as a fragrance ingredient. Linalool is found in 60-80 percent of the perfumed hygiene products, washing up liquids and household cleaning agents that can be bought in the nearest supermarket, and it can be difficult for people who are allergic to avoid these products”, says dermatologist Johanna Bråred Christensson, author of the thesis.

Around one person in five in Sweden has some form of contact allergy. Nickel is by far the most common substance that causes eczema, but the thesis shows that oxidized linalool occupies third place in the list, after nickel and cobalt.

In the study, oxidized linalool was added at patch testing for more than 3,000 patients who wanted to find out what was causing their eczema. Between 5% and 7% proved to be allergic to the oxidized form of the fragrance ingredient.

“Linalool is present in many products around us, and this is probably the reason that contact allergy to this material is so common. Some people can shower with shower cream that contains linalool but never develop contact allergy, but we know that the risk increases as the exposure to t! he substance increases”, says Johanna Bråred Christensson.

Linalool is a fragrance ingredient found naturally in lavender, mint, and other plants. Linalool breaks down when it comes into contact with oxygen, it becomes oxidized and can cause allergy. Manufacturers do include other substances in the products to delay this oxidation process, but allergenic substances can st! ill be formed from linalool when it is stored.

“One way of trying to minimize exposure to oxidized linalool is to avoid buying large packs of soap and shower cream, and always to replace the top after using a bottle”, says Johanna Bråred Christensson.!

EU legislation states that manufacturers must specify on the labels of hygiene products whether they contain linalool. Previous studies have shown that oxidized linalool may cause contact allergy in about 1% of patients with eczema.

 

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BRIEF FACTS: COMMON CONTACT ALLERGENS

Around 10-15% of all Swedes are allergic to nickel, and this is the ! most common form of contact allergy. Another substance that may be present in imitation jewellery is cobalt, to which around 2 3% of the population is allergic. Linalool occupies third place in the list after nickel and cobalt. It has been estimated that 2% of all Swedes are allergic to linalool. Other substances that can cause contact allergy include various perfumes and preservatives.

The Sahlgrenska Academy

The Sahlgrenska Academy is the faculty of health sciences at the University of Gothenburg. Education and research are conducted within the fields of pharmacy, medicine, odontology and health care sciences. About 4000 undergraduate students and 1000 postgraduate students are enrolled at Sahlgrenska Academy. The staff is about 1500 persons. 850 of them are researchers and/or teachers.

This thesis is based on the following papers:

I. Air oxidation increases skin irritation from fragrance terpenes Bråred Christensson J, Forsström P, Wennberg A-M, Karlberg A-T, Matura M.Contact Dermatitis: 2009: 60: 32-40.

II. Oxidized linalool – a significant contact sensitizer Bråred Christensson J, Matura M, Gruvberger B, Bruze M, Karlberg A-T. Manuscript.

III. Hydroperoxides form specific antigens in contact allergy. Bråred Christensson J, Matura M, Bäcktorp C, Börje A, Nilsson JLG, Karlberg A-T.Contact Dermatitis: 2006; 55(4): 230-7.

IV. Limonene hydroperoxide analogues differ in allergenic activity. Bråred Christensson J, Johansson S, Hagvall L, Jonsson C, Börje A, Karlberg A-T.Contact Dermatitis: 2008; 59(6): 344-52

The upside to allergies: cancer prevention

Contact: Kevin Stacey
kstacey@uchicago.edu
773-834-0386
University of Chicago Press Journals

The upside to allergies: cancer prevention

A new article in the December issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology provides strong evidence that allergies are much more than just an annoying immune malfunction. They may protect against certain types of cancer.

The article, by researchers Paul Sherman, Erica Holland and Janet Shellman Sherman from Cornell University, suggests that allergy symptoms may protect against cancer by expelling foreign particles, some of which may be carcinogenic or carry absorbed carcinogens, from the organs most likely to come in with contact them. In addition, allergies may serve as early warning devices that let people know when there are substances in the air that should be avoided.

Medical researchers have long suspected an association between allergies and cancer, but extensive study on the subject has yielded mixed, and often contradictory, results. Many studies have found inverse associations between the two, meaning cancer patients tended to have fewer allergies in their medical history. Other studies have found positive associations, and still others found no association at all.

In an attempt to explain these contradictions, the Cornell team reexamined nearly 650 previous studies from the past five decades. They found that inverse allergy-cancer associations are far more common with cancers of organ systems that come in direct contact with matter from the external environment—the mouth and throat, colon and rectum, skin, cervix, pancreas and glial brain cells. Likewise, only allergies associated with tissues that are directly exposed to environmental assaults—eczema, hives, hay fever and animal and food allergies—had inverse relationships to cancers.

Such inverse associations were found to be far less likely for cancers of more isolated tissues like the breast, meningeal brain cells and prostate, as well as for myeloma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and myelocytic leukemia.

The relationship between asthma and lung cancer, however, is a special case. A majority of the studies that the Cornell team examined found that asthma correlates to higher rates of lung cancer. “Essentially, asthma obstructs clearance of pulmonary mucous, blocking any potentially prophylactic benefit of allergic expulsion,” they explain. By contrast, allergies that affect the lungs other than asthma seem to retain the protective effect.

So if allergies are part of the body’s defense against foreign particle invaders, is it wise to turn them off with antihistamines and other suppressants? The Cornell team says that studies specifically designed to answer this question are needed.

“We hope that our analyses and arguments will encourage such cost/benefit analyses,” they write. “More importantly, we hope that our work will stimulate reconsideration…of the current prevailing view … that allergies are merely disorders of the immune system which, therefore, can be suppressed with impunity.”

 

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Sherman, Paul W., Erica Holland, Janet Shellman Sherman, “Allergies: Their Role In Cancer Prevention,” The Quarterly Review of Biology December 2008

Since 1926, The Quarterly Review of Biology has been dedicated to providing insightful historical, philosophical, and technical treatments of important biological topics

Is your scent making you ill? Today’s obsession with perfuming everything from candles to bin liners could be to blame

By Victoria Lambert

PUBLISHED:16:34 EST, 17  September 2012| UPDATED:16:45 EST, 17 September 2012

Nearly a third of people may suffer adverse health effects from being exposed to scentsNearly a third of people may suffer adverse health  effects from being exposed to scents

The smell of fresh air is becoming something  of a distant memory, thanks to our increasing use of fragrance. From air  fresheners to scented candles, perfumed loo roll and bin liners, in-car scents  and even scented socks, we live in a miasma of scent.

Share a lift or train carriage and the aroma  of spray deodorant and perfume can be overwhelming. Recent figures show seven in  ten use air fresheners or scented candles to keep our homes smelling sweet.

Yet recent reports suggest that perfumed  products could affect our health, causing problems including allergies, asthma  and migraine, and even interfere with sexual desire.

One leading expert suggests nearly a third of  people suffer adverse health effects from being exposed to scents. A major  problem is so-called ‘contact’ allergy — where perfumes and scented products  trigger eczema and dermatitis when they come into contact with  skin.

Molecules in the product trigger an immune  response, causing itchiness and even scaly, cracked skin.

About one in 20 is thought to be affected by  fragrance allergy — though this number may be growing.

‘Allergies are on the increase, and the  amount of perfumed products is also on the rise,’ says Dr Susannah Baron,  consultant dermatologist at Kent & Canterbury hospital, and BMI Chaucer  Hospital.

‘Fragrance allergy can show up as contact  dermatitis in the site a perfumed product is applied, or as a flare-up of  existing eczema. It can be a real problem.’

In July, the EU Scientific Committee on  Consumer Safety asked perfume manufacturers to list potential allergens in their  product after reports that they triggered skin reactions.

Earlier this year, the U.S. state of New  Hampshire banned workers from wearing scents to protect their co-workers.

Often it may not be immediately obvious that  you’ve developed a fragrance allergy, says Dr Baron.

‘You don’t react immediately; the body notes  that it does not like the chemical and develops “memory cells”, which cause  inflammation when the body is next exposed to this chemical.

‘Gradually, as you are exposed more and more,  the body ramps up its reaction, until it becomes more noticeable to you.’

People with pre-existing eczema are  particularly vulnerable. ‘The eczema worsens in areas in  contact with  perfumes or perfume- containing shampoos, conditioners and shower gels,’ says Dr  Baron.

But even those without allergies can be at  risk of fragrance allergy.

‘You can become suddenly allergic to perfumes  and personal care products that you have been using for years.

‘You can also have problems with unexpected  products such as scented toilet roll and scented wipes which can cause  irritation.’

And strong scents can also cause headaches.

According to Dr Vincent Martin, a headache  specialist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, fragrances  activate the nose’s nerve cells, stimulating the nerve system associated with  head pain.

UK charity Migraine Action warns that intense  or penetrating smells can even trigger migraine for the same reason.

To minimise risks, migraine sufferers are  advised to keep diaries of all triggers including scent, so they can minimise  contact.

Meanwhile, products such as plug-in  deodorisers and even mild air fresheners contain chemicals that could  trigger  asthma attacks, experts have warned.

Charity Asthma UK says that perfumes can  irritate the airways in those with asthma, causing breathing  problems.

Dr Stanley Fineman, of the Atlanta Allergy  and Asthma Clinic in the U.S.,  says those with asthma are especially sensitive,  and that his research  indicates a change in lung function when exposed to  certain chemical  fragrances.

People with eczema are particularly vulnerable to perfumes and should wash with non-fragranced emollient products
People with eczema are particularly vulnerable to  perfumes and should wash with non-fragranced emollient products

The fashion for scented intimate products can  be linked to health issues, too, says Dr Sovra Whitcroft, a gynaecologist at the  Surrey Park Clinic, Guildford.

‘The problem with perfumed products is that  they change the natural pH or acidity of the vagina.

‘The normal pH is four to five. If this is  altered and made less acidic, it loses its natural protection and bacteria are  allowed to thrive and multiply. The very product designed to improve body odour  can, in a short space of time, do the opposite by contributing to an overgrowth  of odour-producing bacteria.

‘And many strong chemicals and perfumes can  have a direct irritant effect on the sensitive mucosal lining of the vagina as  well as the relatively thin and delicate skin, causing contact dermatitis or  inflammation. This can make the area more prone to harbouring bacteria, causing  secondary infections.

‘In the longer term, if products containing  talcum powder are sprayed around the vaginal area, the tiny particles can be  driven up into the female reproductive system.

‘There have been many studies suggesting a  link between these talcum particles and ovarian cancer and while it is difficult  to know whether these results are true, it is important to steer clear from  anything which can cause such potential harm.

‘The truth is as long as a woman is healthy,  washes thoroughly with soap and water frequently and changes her underwear every  day there should be no need for cover-up deodorants. Using a chemical perfume to  cover potential odours may mask an underlying infection or even cause  one.’

Commonly used chemicals in fragrances include  synthetic musk, linked to hormone disruption.

A 2009 study of Austrian college students  published in the journal Science of the Total Environment found that those who  used the most perfume and scented lotion also had the highest levels of  synthetic musks, including Galaxolide and Tonalide, in their  blood.

These can bind to and stimulate human  oestrogen receptors; they have also been shown to affect male hormone receptors.

‘Fragrance suggests cleanliness — yet people  are smelling a potentially hazardous chemical mixture,’ says Anne Steinemann,  professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs at the  University of Washington, who has investigated the effects of scents on public  health for more than a decade. ‘We often use them to mask one problem — as with  air fresheners — but create a greater one — adding toxic chemicals to the  air.’

Two surveys she did found more than 30 per  cent of the public report adverse health effects from being exposed to scents in  ordinary life.

‘Since then, I have received thousands of  messages from people all over the world saying they get sick around fragranced  products.

‘They are suffering seizures, losing  consciousness, can’t concentrate on work, as well as suffering  rashes, migraine headaches and asthma attacks.’

Longer term, our obsession with artificial  scent may even affect sexual desire, suggest Mel Rosenberg, professor of  microbiology at Tel Aviv University.

‘For thousands of years, we’ve been applying  the natural scents of flowers and animals to attract people and to appear more  sexually attractive,’ he says.

‘Now we have learned how to replicate natural  smells identically and to create chemical fragrances much more cheaply.

‘We fragrance our world so much that if odour  recognition is important in sexual biology, and I believe it is vital, we are  falling for the wrong people.

‘You could fall in love with a girl because  of the scent of her hair conditioner, not her natural hormones.

‘We should pick a mate by natural odour.  That’s why we traditionally go dancing and play sports — where we get natural  odours.’

The biggest problem is detecting the  substance to blame. Since the body reacts slowly, an affected part of skin could  have been touched by fragranced soap or deodorant, or clothes washed in  fragranced powder as much as perfume applied directly. So finding a culprit is  hard.

Lindsey McManus of charity Allergy UK warns: ‘Many chemicals have the potential to irritate skin, including rubber or  formaldehyde, which is added to preserve the fragrance. People have to be their  own detectives.’

But it is not just chemicals we have to watch  out for: Dr Baron cites a natural ingredient — balsam of Peru (a sticky aromatic  liquid that comes from cutting the bark of the tree Myroxyolon balsamum,) which  is common in fragrances — as a trigger for fragrance allergy.

Would reducing the number of scents  surrounding us help? Dr Baron does not think it is the number of fragrances  around us that may be responsible for rising numbers of cases, ‘but there are  more cases of eczema so that increases the chance of contact allergies  developing’.

She recommends that if you do have sensitive  or eczema-prone skin, use non-fragranced products if possible in order to  prevent an allergic reaction.

Eczema sufferers should limit their use of  soap and instead wash with non-fragranced emollient products.

But avoiding all perfume is not an easy task.  Though you can have allergy testing for the constituents in fragrances and other  common allergens at your local dermatology department, we are surrounded by  scented products.

‘Even if you know which fragrance causes a  problem, it can be difficult to avoid as most personal care products — soap,  shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, sun cream, shaving gel and washing powder — contain fragrances,’ says Dr Baron.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2204745/Is-scent-making-ill-Todays-obsession-perfuming-candles-bin-liners-blame.html#ixzz26nYTcRQ2