Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy.
Study shows that mindfulness can help ease the pain of breast cancer survivors University of Ottawa (Canada), January 6, 2021 A study led by University of Ottawa researchers provides empirical evidence that mindfulness has a significant impact on the brain of women suffering from neuropathic pain related to breast cancer treatment. The researchers showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) helps modulate neuropathic pain. Their findings could make a difference in the lives of many women. In Canada, over a quarter of a million women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer – the most diagnosed cancer among women worldwide – in 2020. In addition to the psychological impacts of breast cancer, approximately 20 to 50 percent of survivors report experiencing chronic neuropathic pain following treatment. We talked to senior author Dr. Andra Smith, Full Professor at the uOttawa School of Psychology, to learn more about the most recent findings published in the journal Mindfulness. Why did you and your team decide to look at mindfulness to improve pain-related problems? “Neuropathic pain is a very common side effect of chemotherapy and other breast cancer treatments. Pain killers do not always work and quality of life, cognitive abilities, and overall well-being can be reduced due to this pain. Due to these negative effects and the complexity of treatment for this type of pain following breast cancer treatment, it is important to provide adjunct treatment and management options. We have heard a lot about mindfulness over the past few years, about how it helps people relax and feel better. If mindfulness, a non-pharmacological tool, can be used to help with neuropathic pain, women will feel better and might not experience such disruptive pain. Pain is a subjective experience and mindfulness is often dismissed as a “buzz word.” But our research provides objective, empirical evidence of a significant impact of mindfulness on the brain of these women.” How was the research conducted? “We investigated the impact of an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on emotional reactivity among a sample of breast cancer survivors with chronic neuropathic pain. We used state-of-the-art brain imaging at The Ottawa Hospital, on their 3T MRI scanner and collected data on white matter health, brain activity during emotional pain related word processing and during resting state. Women with neuropathic pain were imaged before and after an MBSR program, or treatment as usual. Pain, quality of life, and imaging were compared between the two groups and within the MBSR group pre- and post-MBSR.” What did you find? “We observed major reductions in brain activity following mindfulness-based stress reduction in regions related to pain, emotional regulation, and cognitive processing. Both pain severity and pain interference, for the MBSR group, were significantly reduced after the 8-week training. Our results show a significant improvement in brain health as well as in pain perception. There are many anecdotal reports of how this or that made a person “feel better” but the really exciting results here are that we can see that there are actual changes in the brain and the way a person can alter their response to pain.” Why is it important? “This research provides hope for a non-invasive method of easing the struggle of chronic neuropathic pain in women following breast cancer treatment. Pain is something that people fear, and many people run into significant secondary problems because of their pain medication use, including drug misuse and mental health issues. Mindfulness has a neurophysiological effect that can alter one’s perception of pain. This research shows that there are adjunctive treatment options. If used properly, the information we have published can improve health outcomes for the people involved and could potentially also reduce health costs, as well as some of the related problems – particularly those related to mental health.” Who worked on this research? “Dr. Patricia Poulin, at The Ottawa Hospital, was the clinical principal investigator with her research team of Heather Romanow, Yaad Shergill, Emily Tennant, and Eve-Ling Khoo. This included recruitment of the women and all clinical assessments. My lab performed the scanning component of the study, including my imaging team of Dr. Taylor Hatchard, Ola Mioduszewski and Dr. Lydia Fang. The data was collected over two years, from 2017 to 2019, funded by both Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation grants. We published three articles on our research in the last four months. The latest, “Reduced Emotional Reactivity in Breast Cancer Survivors with Chronic Neuropathic Pain Following Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): an fMRI Pilot Investigation” was published in November 2020 in the journal Mindfulness.” Moderate calcium intake, supplementation associated with reduced mortality risk during up to two decades of follow-up University of Aberdeen (UK), January 6 2021. A study and meta-analysis reported on December 31, 2020 in the European Journal of Epidemiology found a lower risk of premature mortality from any cause among men and women who consumed moderate amounts of calcium. Supplementing with calcium was associated with a lower risk of mortality from all causes among women. Tiberiu A. Pana and colleagues conducted a study that examined the effects of calcium among 17,968 participants in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer, Norfolk (EPIC-Norfolk). The results were then included in a meta-analysis of 26 studies with a total of 1,828,149 subjects that evaluated the association between calcium intake and all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and incident cardiovascular disease, aortic stenosis, heart failure, myocardial infarction, peripheral vascular disease and stroke. When divided into fifths according to amount of their calcium intake, EPIC-Norfolk participants whose intake of calcium was between 771 mg and 926 mg per day had a 9% lower risk of dying from any cause and participants whose intake was 1074 mg to 1254 mg had a 15% lower risk in comparison with subjects whose intake was among the lowest fifth at less than 770 mg. Cardiovascular disease mortality was also reduced in these groups. A moderate intake of calcium was associated with a significantly lower risk of stroke, while the reduction in risk associated with an intake of more than 1255 mg per day failed to reach significance. The meta-analysis found a lower risk of all-cause mortality in association with higher calcium intake compared to lower intake. Calcium supplementation was associated with lower all-cause mortality among women, while no significant association was observed among men. “Moderate dietary calcium intake may protect against cardiovascular and all-cause mortality and incident stroke,” the authors concluded. Health benefits of replacing wheat flour with chickpea flour Kings College London and Quadram Institute, January 11, 2021 Researchers from the Quadram Institute and King’s College London have shown that replacing wheat flour with a new ingredient derived from chickpeas improved the glycaemic response of people eating white bread. The ingredient uses specially developed milling and drying processes that preserves cellular structure, making its starch more resistant to digestion. Developing food products that contain more of this resistant starch would help to control blood glucose levels and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes. Starch from wheat is a major source of dietary carbohydrate, but in bread and many other processed foods it is quickly digested to glucose in the body, causing a large spike in blood glucose levels. There is a large body of evidence that links long-term consumption of foods that provoke high glycaemic responses to the development of Type II diabetes. With this condition on the rise, along with obesity and other metabolic disorders, providing foods and ingredients that help consumers better manage blood glucose could help combat these challenges to health. Many pulses, such as chickpeas, peas, beans and lentils naturally contain high amounts of resistant starch, which is digested slowly and avoids potentially damaging blood glucose spikes. But most of this beneficial resistance is lost, rendering the starch highly digestible, when these crops are milled to flour and processed into a food product. For this reason, the scientists invented an alternative milling process, which preserves the plant cell wall structures (dietary fiber) that surround the starch. This ‘Type 1′ resistant starch is the same as that found in wholefoods, but this new ingredient can be used in a form that potentially allows it to be incorporated into a wider range of foods. Funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UKRI, was used to develop the commercial potential of this novel ingredient, referred to as PulseON, and expands the possibilities for including large amounts of resistant starch in processed foods to improve nutritional quality. And now, in a new study published in the journal Food Hydrocolloids, the research team shows for the first time that the resistant property of the starch is retained during bread making, and that people who ate bread rolls where some wheat flourwas replaced by PulseON had lower blood glucose responses. In a double blind randomized cross over study, the scientists replaced 0%, 30% or 60% of the wheat flour in a standard white wheat bread recipe with PulseON. Healthy human participants consumed each type of bread roll type for breakfast in random order on separate days, with no knowledge of which type of roll they were eating. Their glucose levels were recorded using continuous glucose monitors. Blood glucose responses to the PulseON enriched breads were on average 40% lower than after eating the control breads. All bread rolls contained similar amounts of starch and wheat protein (gluten) per serving, so the different blood glucose responses reflect the carbohydrate quality. These results raise the possibility of using such foods for improving the dietary management of diabetes, which needs to be evaluated in future studies. The digestion of starch in each bread type was also studied in a laboratory using biochemical and microscopy techniques. These experiments showed that after two hours of digestion, the wheat starch had been digested, but the type-1-resistant starch remained. This confirms that the lower glucose response to PulseON enriched breads was due to the resistant starch enclosed in the chickpea ingredient not being digested. “Incorporating our new type of flour into bread and other staple foods provides an opportunity to develop the next generation of low glycaemic food products to support public health measures to improve health through better diets” said Dr. Cathrina Edwards from the Quadram Institute. “Consumers replacing wheat bread with PulseON enriched bread would benefit not only from the type 1 resistant starch, but also from the higher fiber and protein content.” For widespread acceptance, the qualities of the products such as their taste, texture and appearance need to match those that are so popular with consumers. Participants gave the PulseON enriched breads similar scores for texture and taste as the white bread. Quality tests indicated that any effects on bread quality (texture, appearance) were subtle and most noticeable when large amounts of PulseON were used. The sensory properties need to be confirmed with a broader consumer group in a non-clinical setting, but are very encouraging for efforts to produce healthier white bread without adverse effect on product quality. The technology is patent-protected and the group are looking at commercial exploitation. Previous research from the same group has shown that the same milling process may be applied to other beans, lentils and pulses, resulting in cellular powders high in resistant starch, but with different colors and flavors. The researchers are now exploring ingredient applications in a broader range of foodproducts, and planning further trials involving those with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Traditional Chinese water-only fasting associated with reduced thrombosis risk Soochow University School of Medicine (China), January 4, 2021 According to news reporting based on a preprint abstract, our journalists obtained the following quote sourced from medrxiv.org: “Beego is a traditional Chinese complete water-only fasting practice initially developed for spiritual purposes, later extending to physical fitness purposes. Beego notably includes a psychological induction component that includes meditation and abdominal breathing, light body exercise, and ends with a specific gradual refeeding program before returning to a normal diet. Beego has regained its popularity in recent decades in China as a strategy for helping people in subhealthy conditions or with metabolic syndrome, but we are unaware of any studies examining the biological effects of this practice. “To address this, we here performed a longitudinal study of beego comprising fasting (7 and 14 day cohorts) and a 7-day programmed refeeding phase. “In addition to detecting improvements in cardiovascular physiology and selective reduction of blood pressure in hypertensive subjects, we observed that beego decreased blood triacylglycerol (TG) selectively in TG-high subjects and increased cholesterol in all subjects during fasting; however, the cholesterol levels were normalized after completion of the refeeding program. Strikingly, beego reduced platelet formation, activation, aggregation, and degranulation, resulting in an alleviated thrombosis risk, yet maintained hemostasis by sustaining levels of coagulation factors and other hemostatic proteins. Mechanistically, we speculate that downregulation of G6B and MYL9 may influence the observed beego-mediated reduction in platelets. Fundamentally, our study supports that supervised beego reduces thrombosis risk without compromising hemostasis capacity. Moreover, our results support that beego under medical supervision can be implemented as noninvasive intervention for reducing thrombosis risk, and suggest several lines of intriguing inquiry for future studies about this fasting practice Assessing the antimicrobial activity of flaxseed NGH Institute of Dental Sciences & Research Centre (India), January 5, 2021 Researchers in India evaluated the antimicrobial activity of flaxseed against known periodontal pathogens. They reported their findings in an article published in the International Journal of Herbal Medicine. Research suggests that the use of antibiotics is beneficial in the management of periodontitis. However, antibiotic resistance has now become a major global issue, and it is believed to have stemmed from the misuse of antibiotics. Many researchers now see herbal interventions as therapeutic strategies that deserve more research and attention. Flaxseed, a popular superfood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, has demonstrated potent antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activities in several studies. To further explore its potential, the researchers conducted an in vitro study that aims to assess the antimicrobial activity of flaxseed against periodontal pathogens. They prepared an ethanolic extract from flaxseed powder and determined its minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) against Porphyromonas gingivalis, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitansand Tannerella forsythia. The researchers reported that the flaxseed extract exhibited bacteriostatic activities against all three pathogens. At 100 microliters (uL)/milliliter (mL), the extract exerted bactericidal effects against P. gingivalis. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that flaxseed can be used as a natural adjunct to periodontal therapy because of its bactericidal effects against P. gingivalis. Vitamin B3 may benefit those with Parkinson’s disease University of Leicester, January 11, 2021 Individuals with a specific type of Parkinson’s disease (PD) could gain from increasing vitamin B3 (niacin) content in their diet, say British investigators. The findings point to niacin’s ability to increase levels of a compound responsible for energy generation and DNA repair. These factors — if left unattended — result in faulty mitochondria function that contributes to the progression of the neuro-degenerative disorder. “This study strengthens the therapeutic potential for Vitamin B3/niacin-based dietary interventions in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr Miguel Martins, lead study author and programme leader of the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester. Niacin or Vitamin B3 is found in a number of foods, including liver, chicken, beef, fish, cereal, peanuts, and legumes. It can also be made from tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in most forms of protein. The team began by looking at studying fruit flies, specifically bred with a mutation that mimics PD. These flies specifically had a mutated form of the PINK1 gene that normally protects cells from stress-induced mitochondrial malfunction. Flies were then fed food supplemented with niacin, which is made into the compound NAD inside the body. With this additional source of NAD, the researchers found flies had a lower number of faulty mitochondria than their mutant cohorts fed a regular diet. In addition, niacin also prevented the flies from losing existing neurons. “Mutations in PINK1 prevent cells from clearing out the defective powerhouses. When they accumulate, neurons can’t get enough energy and die. The faulty mitochondria also release toxic molecules that damage their genes encoded by DNA,” said Dr Martins. “With all the mitochondrial damage going on, we wondered if in cases of Parkinson’s the NAD compound ends up in short supply.” The team also found that stopping DNA repair from depleting NAD kept mitochondria healthy and neurons alive, as well as enhance the flies’ strength, mobility and lifespan. “The results suggest that in familial Parkinson’s, available NAD is critical for keeping mitochondria in shape and the disease at bay,” said Dr Martins. While drug treatments exist that block NAD-consumption during the DNA repair process, Dr Martins thought increasing dietary niacin could provide certain benefits. “While neither of these would be cures, they would expand treatment options for Parkinson’s patients with faulty mitochondria,” he added. excluded Study finds unfavorable intestinal microflora levels associated with the development of postmenopausal osteoporosis Fujin University (China), December 27, 2020 According to news reporting originating from Fujian, People’s Republic of China, research stated, “We aimed to investigate the intestinal microecology and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) expression in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis (PMO) and their clinical value in the diagnosis of PMO. A total of 214 postmenopausal women were analyzed retrospectively.” Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the Department of Orthopedics, “The women were divided into the abnormal group (103 cases) and the normal group (111 cases) according to their bone mineral density (BMD). The levels of intestinal microflora and serum FGF-21, FGF-23, alpha-klotho, and beta-klotho were compared between the two groups, and the correlations of intestinal microflora, FGF-23, alpha-klotho, and beta-klotho with BMD were analyzed. The women in the abnormal group were further divided into the osteoporosis subgroup (59 cases) and the osteopenia subgroup (44 cases) for comparison. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was plotted to analyze the diagnostic value of intestinal microflora, FGF-23, alpha-klotho and beta-klotho for PMO. Compared with the normal group, the abnormal group had lower levels of bifidobacterium, lactobacillus, alpha-klotho, and beta-klotho and higher levels of enterococcus and FGF-23 (all P<0.05). BMD was closely correlated with the levels of intestinal microflora, FGF23, alpha-klotho, and beta-klotho (all P<0.05). Compared with the osteopenia group, the osteoporosis group had lower levels of bifidobacterium, lactobacillus, alpha-klotho, and beta-klotho and higher levels of enterococcus and FGF-23 (all P<0.05). ROC analysis revealed the clinical value of lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, enterococcus, FGF-23, alpha-klotho, and beta-klotho in diagnosing PMO (all area under the curve >0.70).” According to the news editors, the research concluded: “The levels of intestinal microflora and serum FGF-23, alpha-klotho, and beta-klotho are closely associated with the development of PMO, and these markers have clinical value in the diagnosis of PMO.” This research has been peer-reviewed.