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The Gary Null Show – 02.07.19

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Eating Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (France), February 2, 2019 

To investigate the association between organic food consumption and cancer risk in a large prospective study

This was a prospective cohort study of 68,946 French adults who reported their frequency of organic food consumption. Volunteers were asked to provide information on their consumption frequency of 16 organic products (fruits; vegetables; soy-based products; dairy products; meat and fish; eggs; grains and legumes; bread and cereals; flour; vegetable oils and condiments; ready-to-eat meals; coffee, tea, and herbal tea; wine; biscuits, chocolate, sugar, and marmalade; other foods; and dietary supplements). Dietary intake was assessed using three 24-hour records randomly allocated over a 2-week period, including 2 weekdays and 1 weekend day. Participants were followed for a mean of 4.5 years.

The data were adjusted for confounding factors such as sociodemographics, lifestyle, and dietary patterns. Baseline age, sex, occupation, educational level, marital status, monthly income per household, number of children, and smoking status were collected.

Participants self-declared health events through a yearly health status questionnaire or an interface on the study website. Medical records were obtained for more than 90% of self-reported cancer cases. The French national health insurance system database and the French mortality epidemiology database were used to collect and verify reported health records and mortality data.

Participants

There were 68,946 participants, 78% of whom were female. Mean age at beginning of the study was 44.2 years.

Study Parameters Assessed

The authors assessed both the frequency of organic food consumption and the quality of the food consumed; quality of the diet was based on nutrient density.

An organic food score was computed based on the participant reports, ranging from 0 to 32 points. Consumption frequencies were reported with the following options: (1) most of the time; (2) occasionally; (3) never “too expensive”; (4) never “product not available”; (5) never “I’m not interested in organic products”; (6) never “I avoid such products”; (7) never “for no specific reason”; and (8) I don’t know.

Nutrient intake was derived from the self-reported diet diaries and was calculated using the NutriNet-Santé food composition table. To assess dietary quality, these intake values were compared to the official French nutritional guidelines.

Outcome Measures

The primary outcome measure was the number of incident cancer cases in the follow-up period.

Key Findings

A total of 1,340 first incident cancer cases were identified during follow-up; the most prevalent were breast cancer (459; 34.3%), prostate cancer (180; 13.4%), skin cancer (135; 10.1%), colorectal cancer (99; 7.4%), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (47; 3.5%), and other lymphomas (15; 1.1%). High organic food scores were inversely associated with the overall risk of cancer (hazard ratio for the fourth quartile compared to the first quartile, 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.63-0.88; P for trend=0.001; absolute risk reduction, 0.6%; hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.92; 95% CI: 0.88-0.96).

Higher organic food scores were linearly and inversely associated with the overall risk of cancer. Significant risk reduction was seen for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.75; CI: 0.6-0.93; P=0.009) and for other lymphomas (hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.75; CI: 0.6-0.93; P=0.03). There were trends of risk reduction for post-menopausal breast cancer (hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.91; CI: 0.83-1.01; P=0.07), and skin cancer (hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.89: CI: 0.78-1.01; P=0.06).

Accounting for other additional dietary factors did not modify the factors.

Higher organic food scores were positively associated with female sex, monthly income, education level, physical activity, and former smoking status. Higher organic food scores were also associated with a healthier diet rich in fiber, vegetable proteins, and micronutrients (ie, a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes), and with a lower intake of processed meat, other meat, poultry, and milk.

 

Being kind to yourself has mental and physical benefits, research shows

University of Exeter, February 6, 2019

 

Taking time to think kind thoughts about yourself and loved ones has psychological and physical benefits, new research suggests.

A study by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford has found that taking part in self-compassion exercises calms the heart rate, switching off the body’s threat response. Previous studies have shown that this threat response damages the immune system. Researchers believe the ability to switch off this response may lower the risk of disease.

In the study, published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, 135 healthy University of Exeter students were divided into five groups, and members of each group heard a different set of audio instructions. The team took physical measurements of heart rate and sweat response, and asked participants to report how they were feeling. Questions included how safe they felt, how likely they were to be kind to themselves and how connected they felt to others.

The two groups whose instructions encouraged them to be kind to themselves not only reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others, but also showed a bodily response consistent with feelings of relaxation and safety. Their heart rates dropped and the variation in length of time between heartbeats – a healthy sign of a heart that can respond flexibly to situations. They also showed lower sweat response.

Meanwhile, instructions that induced a critical inner voice led to an increased heart rate and a higher sweat response – consistent with feelings of threat and distress.

First author Dr Hans Kirschner, who conducted the research at Exeter, said: “These findings suggest that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important for regeneration and healing.”

Lead researcher Dr Anke Karl, of the University of Exeter, said: “Previous research has found that self-compassion was related to higher levels of wellbeing and better mental health, but we didn’t know why.

“Our study is helping us understand the mechanism of how being kind to yourself when things go wrong could be beneficial in psychological treatments. By switching off our threat response, we boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance of healing. We hope future research can use our method to investigate this in people with mental health problems such as recurrent depression.”

The recordings that encouraged self-compassion were a “compassionate body scan” in which people were guided to attend to bodily sensations with an attitude of interest and calmness; and a “self-focused loving kindness exercise” in which they directed kindness and soothing thoughts to a loved one and themselves.

The three other groups listened to recordings designed to induce a critical inner voice, put them into a “positive but competitive and self-enhancing mode”, or an emotionally neutral shopping scenario.

All the audio recordings were 11 minutes long.

While people in both the self-compassion and positive but competitive groups reported greater self-compassion and decreased self-criticism, only the self-compassion groups showed the positive bodily response.

The signs of this were reduced sweat response and heart rate slowed by two to three beats per minute on average, compared to the groups listening to critical voice recordings. The self-kindness groups also showed increased hear rate variability – a sign of a healthy heart that is able to adapt to a range of situations.

Co-author Willem Kuyken, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford, said: “These findings help us to further understand some of our clinical trials research findings, where we show that individuals with recurrent depression benefit particularly from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy when they learn to become more self-compassionate.

“My sense is that for people prone to depression, meeting their negative thoughts and feelings with compassion is a radically different way – that these thoughts are not facts.

“It introduces a different way of being and knowing that is quite transformative for many people.”

The researchers now plan to extend their research by studying the physiological responses in individuals with recurrent depression.

The researchers stress that the study was conducted in healthy people, so their findings do not mean that people with depression would experience the same improvements from one-off exercises. They did not investigate another important feature of self-compassion, the ability to directly repair mood or distress. Further research is necessary to address these two open points.

 

Vitamin D helps treat lethal drug-resistant TB

Queen Mary University at London, February 6, 2019

 

Vitamin D has been found to speed up the clearance of tuberculosis (TB) bacteria from the lungs of people with multi-drug resistant TB, according to a study of 1,850 patients receiving antibiotic treatment, led by Queen Mary University of London.

Lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau from Queen Mary University of London said: “Multi-drug resistant TB is on the rise globally. It’s notoriously difficult to treat, and it carries a much worse prognosis than standard TB.

“Our study raises the possibility that vitamin D – which is very safe and inexpensive – could benefit this hard-to-treat group of patients by taking a novel approach to their treatment. By adding vitamin D to antibiotic treatment, we can boost the immune system to help the body to clear TB bugs, rather than relying on antibiotics on their own to kill the bacteria directly.

“This is a novel approach, as it contrasts with the conventional tactic of developing new antibiotics in an attempt to ‘keep up’ with the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria – an arms race that is proving hard for us to win.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that 10.0 million people developed active tuberculosis in 2017, and that 1.6 million people died of this disease. Multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB is caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB drugs, causing around 500,000 cases and 150,000 deaths per year worldwide. Existing antibiotic treatments for MDR TB are lengthy, costly and often toxic due to their serious side effects.

Vitamin D has shown potential in boosting the immune system, but randomised controlled trials of vitamin D in TB treatment have yielded conflicting results.

In the new study, published in European Respiratory Journal, the research team pooled data from 1,850 TB patients who took part in clinical trials of vitamin D in eight countries (the UK, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Republic of Georgia and Guinea Bissau). They then ran an analysis to see whether there were particular groups of patients who responded better to vitamin D than others.

When added to antibiotic treatment, vitamin D was found to accelerate TB clearance specifically in patients with MDR TB, even though no acceleration of TB clearance was seen when looking at the entire study population as a whole.

The vitamin D supplementation was also found to be safe at the doses administered, with no links to serious adverse events.

The researchers say these results illustrate the potential for so-called ‘host-directed therapies’ – treatments that boost the immune system – to improve outcomes in patients with drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The researchers caution that the analysis is not sufficient on its own to justify a clinical recommendation of the use of vitamin D in the treatment of MDR TB, as it is based on a relatively small number of participants. However, they say these results now provide a rationale to carry out new clinical trials to see if vitamin D really can benefit patients who are taking standard antibiotics for MDR TB.

The findings add to a growing list of health benefits for the ‘sunshine vitamin’. While vitamin D is best known for its effects on bone health, previous studies by Queen Mary researchers have revealed its role in protecting against colds, flu, asthma attacks, and last month, that it can protect COPD patients from deadly lung attacks.

Curcumin for Cognitive Function in Aging Adults

UCLA Longevity Center, February 5, 2019

Randomized, double-blind, 2-group parallel design comparing placebo to proprietary form of curcumin (Theracurmin)

To assess whether a proprietary curcumin formula has a measurable effect on cognitive performance in older adults without frank dementia.

Forty-six adults aged 50 to 90 years with objective cognitive performance scores and clinical histories consistent with normal aging or mild neurocognitive disorder and inconsistent with dementia (major neurocognitive disorder) were randomized to receive curcumin or placebo; all agreed to participate for the entire study duration (18 months), had adequate visual and auditory acuity for neuropsychological testing, and had screening laboratory tests and electrocardiograms that did not show significant medical abnormalities that might interfere with the study. A total of 40 participants (age 51-84 years; 21 in the experimental group and 19 in the placebo group) ultimately completed the trial and were included in the data analysis.

The experimental group took Theracurmin (containing 90 mg of curcumin) twice a day (ie, 180 mg curcumin/day) for 18 months.

The following tests were used to assess cognitive performance:

  • Verbal performance—Buschke Selective Reminding Test (SRT)
  • Visual performance—Brief Visual Memory Test-Revised (BVMT-R)
  • Attention—Trail Making A (secondary outcome measure)

To assess brain effects, investigators used a specific type of positron emission tomography (PET) scan that provides in vivo images of brain plaques and tangles: 2-(1-{6-[(2-[F-18]fluoroethyl)(methyl)amino]-2-naphthyl}ethylidene)malononitrile positron emission tomography (FDDNP-PET). Thirty participants, 15 in the intervention group and 15 in the placebo group, completed the FDDNP-PET testing.

All assessments were performed at baseline (before intervention) and at the end of the 18-month intervention.

Outcome Measures

Improvement in cognitive performance tests from baseline; changes in brain amyloid and tau accumulation as determined by PET testing (for 30 participants) from baseline.

Key Findings

Significant differences between groups were seen on a number of the tests. Long-term memory retrieval improved in the curcumin group but not in the placebo group. Total long-term memory recall, visual memory, and attention also improved significantly in the curcumin group, with no significant improvement in the placebo group. The FDDNP testing showed significantly decreased binding in the amygdala in participants on curcumin compared to those on placebo. (Higher FDDNP binding values have been positively associated with dementia.) In the hypothalamus, FDDNP binding did not change with curcumin but increased with placebo

 

NSAID impairs immune response in heart failure, worsens heart and kidney damage

University of Alabama Birmingham, February 6, 2019

 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are widely known as pain-killers and can relieve pain and inflammation. However, prolonged use raises the risk of heart and kidney failure events. A heart attack causes death of heart muscle cells by lack of oxygen, and it also significantly injures the kidneys.

To understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of action that damage the heart and kidneys at the same time — known as cardiorenal syndrome — University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers pretreated animals with the NSAID carprofen in a mouse-heart attack model. Basic research on heart disease is needed because heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ganesh Halade, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB Department of Medicine’s Division of Cardiovascular Disease, wanted to see if carprofen affected either of the two steps the immune system takes to repair heart attack damage. First is an immediate acute inflammation, where leukocytes rush into heart muscle to remove dead cells and cell debris. Second is the subsequent resolution phase to dampen the excess inflammation caused by those activated leukocytes, which otherwise would further damage the heart and kidneys.

In a study published in the journal Life Sciences, Halade and colleagues found that carprofen treatment alone triggered subtle low-grade inflammation in the heart and kidneys. The combination of carprofen pretreatment and heart attack magnified this impact by dysregulating the acute inflammatory response, amplifying inflammation and intensifying the cardiorenal syndrome.

Specifically, the UAB researchers first found that carprofen without heart attack triggered kidney inflammation, as measured by increased levels of plasma creatinine, NGAL and KIM-1, all biomarkers of kidney injury. They also found inflamed proximal convoluted tubules and compromised glomerular structure integrity in the kidneys.

Second, they found that carprofen without heart attack caused increased levels of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta, and increased levels of the enzyme COX-2, which normally is induced at the start of the inflammation process after injury to produce chemoattractants that recruit immune cells. The carprofen also induced the protein MRC-1 prior to injury. MRC-1 is involved in the resolution of inflammation, suggesting that both the acute inflammation phase and the resolution of inflammation phase are falsely activated during carprofen pretreatment before any heart injury.

Third, when the pretreatment with carprofen was followed by heart attack, the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1-beta decreased, rather than increasing as they do in response to heart attacks without carprofen pretreatment. KIM-1 showed a similar dysfunction — it stayed at similar levels at both pre- and post-heart attack after carprofen pretreatment, rather than increasing as it does in response to a heart attack without carprofen pretreatment. This KIM-1 dysfunction led to less clearance of dead cells from the heart. Also, carprofen pretreatment and heart attack amplified subsequent kidney tissue damage, as compared with kidney damage after heart attack alone.

Mountain ginseng found to have immunostimulating, antioxidant, anticancer and anti-aging properties

Kyung Hee University (S Korea), February 6, 2019  

There are many kinds of ancient Chinese medicine that are known to be effective yet still not commonly understood. One example of this is the root of mountain ginseng (Panax ginseng Meyer), which is popular for its enhanced pharmacological-like properties. Although known for its many benefits, most people do not think of it as a readily available item mainly because of its expensive price tag. At the same time, it is also quite scarce, which makes it a bit inaccessible for potential users who could benefit from it.

Fortunately, there are known alternatives for it. In particular, cultured roots from mountain ginseng tissue have been identified as viable replacements for larger and cheaper production of the highly sought-after ginseng roots. With this in mind, a team of researchers worked on finding out exactly how effective these alternative materials can be when it came to providing similar benefits.

A new study titled, “Novel application of cultured roots of mountain ginseng and ginsenoside Re as safe antimelanogenic cosmeceutical components,” was authored by a team of researchers who worked together to determine the effects of the water extract of cultured roots of mountain ginseng (CRMG) and its major compound ginsenoside Re (Re) on melanin synthesis in ?-MSH-stimulated mouse melanoma B16BL6 cells (B16). That is to say, how it might affect the well-being of individuals who use them in certain amounts.

What the researchers found was that both CRMG and Re possess potential melanogenic activities and can both be used as antimelanogenic cosmeceutical agents, just as their hypothesis predicted. To be more specific, the researchers performed a number of tests to determine both the adverse as well as the positive effects of the two, and later found that neither of them have any significant cytotoxic effect at 100 ?g/mL and 100 ?M respectively.

There have already been previous studies that reported on the fact that mountain ginsengand Re both have anti-cancer properties, and now the researchers are hoping to add to the growing body of evidence that supports this hypothesis. They note in their study that further studies are going to be necessary to provide conclusive proof.

For now, the consensus is as it always has been: Ginseng has some risks as a supplement, but does indeed offer a long list of health benefits. Some of the more well-known positive effects of taking ginseng including getting a boost of energy, improved mental focus and brain function, cancer prevention, improved performance in the bedroom, enhanced activity of the immune system, lower blood sugar levels, weight control, and even the alleviation of menstrual pain.

Ginseng wouldn’t have survived as a supplement for literally several thousand years if it weren’t truly effective. People have been taking it for many centuries now and it is still being referred to as a very effective tool for improving individual moods, boosting overall health, and creating a much better sense of overall well-being.

Of course, as a supplement, ginseng is only meant to be taken if it is something that works with your past or present medical condition. For that reason, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for advice before taking ginseng or any other supplements. That way, you can make sure that you enjoy all of the health benefits without running into any issues afterward.

Heavy drinking in teens causes lasting changes in emotional center of brain

University of Illinois, February 6, 2019

 

Binge drinking in adolescence has been shown to have lasting effects on the wiring of the brain and is associated with increased risk for psychological problems and alcohol use disorder later in life.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics have shown that some of these lasting changes are the result of epigenetic changes that alter the expression of a protein crucial for the formation and maintenance of neural connections in the amygdala — the part of the brain involved in emotion, fear and anxiety. Their results, which are based on the analysis of postmortem human brain tissue, are published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Epigenetics refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. Epigenetic modifications are involved in the normal development of the brain, but they can be influenced by environmental or even social factors, such as alcohol and stress. These kinds of epigenetic alterations have been linked to changes in behavior and disease.

The researchers looked at postmortem human amygdala tissue obtained from the New South Wales Brain Tissue Resource Center in Sydney, Australia. The amygdala is the part of the brain involved in emotional regulation. The specimens were from the brains of 11 individuals who started drinking heavily before the age of 21 or early-onset drinkers; 11 individuals who started drinking seriously after the age of 21, known as late-onset drinkers; and 22 individuals with no history of alcohol use disorder. The average age of death of the individuals from whom the samples were taken was 58 years old for those without alcohol use disorder; 55 years old for early-onset drinkers; and 59 for late-onset drinkers.

Amygdalae of individuals who were early-onset drinkers had about 30 percent more of a molecule called BDNF-AS, a large non-coding RNA. Usually, RNA is involved in the production of proteins from DNA, but this one is not. BDNF-AS regulates a gene that produces a protein called BDNF. This protein is a growth factor and is crucial for the normal formation and maintenance of synapses throughout the brain. When there is more BDNF-AS, there is less BDNF. The brain tissue of early-onset drinkers had 30 percent to 40 percent less BDNF compared with brain tissue from people with no history of alcohol use disorder. This reduction in BDNF was not seen in brain samples from late-onset drinkers or from people with no alcohol use disorder.

Subhash Pandey, professor of psychiatry and director of the UIC Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics, and corresponding author on the paper, believes that epigenetic changes to BDNF-AS are the reason BDNF is lower in the amygdalae from people who started drinking early in life. In the amygdala from people who started drinking after age 21, there were no such changes.

“BDNF is needed for normal development in the brain and for connections to form between neurons,” said Pandey, who is also a senior research career scientist at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago. “If levels are lowered due to alcohol exposure, then the brain will not develop normally, and we see that in these brain samples where there are abnormalities in another synaptic gene, Arc, possibly making abnormal connections between neurons.”

Pandey and his colleagues found that the increase in BDNF-AS in the early-onset drinkers is caused by decreased methylation of BDNF-AS. Methylation is a type of epigenetic change where a molecule containing a methyl group is added to another molecule and results in a change in genetic expression. The decreased methylation of BDNF-AS is believed to be caused by early-onset drinking and appears to be a long-lasting change.

“The epigenetic changes we saw in the amygdala of early-onset drinkers can alter the normal function of the amygdala, which helps regulate our emotions, and may cause individuals to be more susceptible for things like anxiety, which we have shown in other studies, or the development and maintenance of alcohol use disorder later in life,” Pandey said.

Architect shares his experience of how magnet therapy cured his OCD

Daily Mail, November 17, 2019

 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be challenging to deal with, especially for sufferers. Scientists have not yet fully understood the underlying causes of the condition, although they have said that it could be a brain dysfunction.

However, an architect has reportedly been cured of OCD – all thanks to magnets.

In an interview, Alex Jones, a 46-year old architect from England, had been battling with OCD for over 28 years. During these times, he went around his day thinking that he had harmed others because of his actions – which has led Alex even to imagine that he had run people over with his car or beaten up strangers.

The thoughts would haunt his mind throughout the day. This would cause him great anxiety and stress, and sometimes, he would retrace his steps to check if there were any “victims” of his actions. This behavior, which included washing his hands for up to 50 times a day, put a burden on his relationship with his wife, Paulette.

After his OCD brought him to a nervous breakdown, he discovered magnetic pulse theory soon after, and he claimed to feel like a “normal person” after the first transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) session.

According to him, “I had experienced these obsessive, intrusive thoughts since I was a teenager. They were pretty much constant. I was in a perpetual state of anxiety, and it was really mentally draining, and hard on my wife too. But then after leaving the clinic after mt first TMS session, I felt like a completely ‘normal’ person.”

Running out of options, Alex visited a TMS clinic in London in July 2017 and was amazed at the results. He claims that he went to the clinic after being anxious around people, thinking that he would harm them. However, after a 30-minute session at the clinic, he felt that his mind has been cleared of all those impulses that gave him a hard time. After two sessions, he claims to be symptom-free, except a minor relapse.

Fast facts on TMS

TMS is defined as “a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression.” The method is typically used for depression treatment when forms are already ineffective.

When a person undergoes a TMS session, electromagnetic coils are placed around the person’s scalp, near the forehead. The coils will then deliver a painless magnetic pulse that will stimulate the nerves in the person’s brain region that affects mood and depression. Moreover, TMS is believed to trigger parts of the brain that have diminished function because of depression.

It is also known as rTMS since the pulses emitted are repetitive.

As TMS is a non-invasive way to stimulate your brain, there are no risks for this therapy, as against other conventional forms which require surgery or implants. Moreover, it does not cause any seizure or require sedation with anesthesia.

Some side effects that may occur after TMS are noted to be mild to moderate and may decrease over time. These would include headaches, scalp discomfort, lightheadedness, and some tingling in the facial muscles.

Earlier studies have already found TMS to be effective in providing relief for people who suffer from tinnitus, with more than 50 percent of the samples felt a significant improvement.