CoQ10 supplementation associated with lower pro-inflammatory factors in randomized trial
Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences (Iran), June 8 2021
A double-blind trial reported in the International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research found a reduction in markers ofinflammation in mildly hypertensive patients given coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for twelve weeks. Participants who received CoQ10 also experienced an increase in adiponectin: a protein secreted by adipose tissue that has an anti-inflammatory effect and which has been found to be reduced in high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
“Considering that coenzyme Q10 has attracted noticeable attention in recent years for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension in regard to its effect on inflammatory factors such as cytokines, it is therefore hypothesized that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 reduces the proinflammatory factors,” write Nasim Bagheri Nesami of Iran’s Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences and colleagues. “This study was conducted in order to determine the effects of coenzyme Q10 on proinflammatory factors as well as on adiponectin in patients with mild hypertension.”
Sixty men and women were randomized to receive 100 milligrams CoQ10 or a placebo for a twelve week period. Plasma adiponectin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP, a marker of inflammation) and the cytokines interleukin 2, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were measured before and after treatment.
At the end of the study, participants who received CoQ10 had significant declines in interleukin-6 and hs-CRP compared with levels measured upon enrollment. They also experienced an increase in adiponectin, while levels in the placebo group slightly declined.
The authors suggest that CoQ10 could be prescribed as a supplement along with antihypertensive medication for patients with mildly elevated blood pressure, and recommend that further research be conducted to validate the current findings.
Exposure to nature during COVID-19 lockdown was beneficial for mental health
A study by the ICTA-UAB and the University of Porto analyses the effects of exposure to green spaces during the first months of the COVID19 pandemic in Spain and Portugal
Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona (Spain), June 18, 2021
A study carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) and the Instituto de Saúde Pública of the University of Porto (ISPUP), concludes that exposure to natural spaces during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 was beneficial for the mental health of Spanish and Portuguese citizens.
The research shows that, in Portugal, during the first confinement, people who maintained or increased contact with natural public spaces, such as parks and coastal areas, or who could contemplate these spaces from their homes, presented lower levels of stress, psychological distress and psychosomatic symptoms.
In Spain, those who maintained or increased contact with private natural spaces, such as indoor plants or community green areas, presented lower levels of stress and psychosomatic symptoms. This could be due to the fact that Spain adopted more restrictive measures for foreign circulation during the period analysed.
The research Exposure to nature and mental health outcomes during COVID-19 lockdown. A comparison between Portugal and Spain, published in the journal Environment International, was conducted between March and May 2020.
Dr Ana Isabel Ribeiro, researcher at the ISPUP and first author of the work together with Margarita Triguero-Mas from the ICTA-UAB says that “we decided to study whether natural, public and private spaces had a beneficial effect on the mental health of Portuguese and Spanish citizens, helping them to better cope with the negative effects of lockdown”. For her part, Margarita Triguero-Mas adds that “people around us and ourselves talked about how we missed the park we crossed when we went to the office or the walk on the beach with our dogs, so we wanted to check to what extent contact with natural spaces was an important factor during confinement”.
Several previous articles have also shown the positive impact of exposure to natural spaces on mental health, that is, in reducing stress, anxiety and improving psychological well-being as a whole. “Taking into account what is described in the literature, we wanted to evaluate whether people who enjoyed greater exposure to natural spaces during the first COVID-19 lockdown had better mental health indicators than those who had no contact with natural areas”, explains Dr Ribeiro. At the same time, they wanted to investigate whether exposure to private natural spaces, such as gardens, orchards or plants, was more beneficial among Spanish citizens than among Portuguese, given that Spain applied stricter measures to restrict mobility than Portugal.
To carry out the research, the authors applied an online questionnaire, between March 27 and May 6, 2020, aimed at all citizens aged 18 years old or older, residing in Spain or Portugal. The survey covered aspects related to the frequency and type of exposure people had to natural spaces (public and private), before and during the first confinement; mental health questions to assess levels of stress, mental disorders and somatization symptoms, and sociodemographic issues. Of the more than 3,000 citizens (n = 3,157) who answered the questionnaire, 1,638 were Portuguese and 1,519 Spanish.
In both countries, during the confinement, there was a significant reduction in the use of public natural spaces, such as beaches, parks and gardens, and an increase in contact with private natural spaces, such as community gardens, urban gardens and plants, especially in Spain. People living in single-family houses (detached house) and flats located in cities were the ones who least maintained or increased their exposure to public natural spaces in both countries.
In Spain, where the measures during the period analysed were much more restrictive and it was forbidden to leave the house and public outdoor spaces were closed, the benefits of exposure to public natural spaces were not as relevant as in Portugal, but it was clear the importance of private natural elements. Among the Spanish citizens who participated in the study, 66% decreased the frequency of exposure to public natural spaces (compared to 54% in Portugal).
In Spain, people who had the opportunity to continue dedicating or increasing the time dedicated to caring for their plants had lower stress levels, while those who were able to continue enjoying or increasing the time of use of community green spaces had lower rates of somatization.
In Spain, it is remarkable that the people who least maintained or increased the care of indoor plants were people over 65 years of age, those who lived with several people at home or those who were in a second residence during confinement. In contrast, the people who maintained or increased the care of indoor plants the most were those with children, but without dependent adults.
In Portugal, those who were confined the longest and those who commuted to work were those who least maintained or increased their contact with the natural public spaces. In turn, those who practiced physical exercise indicated greater exposure to these places. Portuguese citizens who managed to maintain or increase their exposure to natural public spaces showed lower levels of stress compared to those who did not. Likewise, those who contemplated natural spaces from their homes obtained improvements in all the mental health outcomes analysed: stress, mental disorders and somatization.
“This study clearly demonstrates the benefit of natural spaces for the mental health of the population in a context of public health crisis,” says Ana Isabel Ribeiro. “Public authorities and decision-makers could implement measures that facilitate access to natural public spaces, in a safe and controlled manner, in the context of a pandemic. This is particularly important for the most socially and economically vulnerable population groups, and for those who have little access to these spaces in their private context”, she emphasizes.
In addition, Dr Triguero-Mas adds that “our study is especially important for cities like Barcelona, where new buildings rarely have balconies or community spaces with vegetation. It is important to revalue how building remodelling or new homes can be healthier spaces that promote and prevent deterioration in the health of the people who inhabit them”.
Flame retardants and pesticides overtake heavy metals as biggest contributors to IQ loss
New York University, June 2, 2021
Adverse outcomes from childhood exposures to lead and mercury are on the decline in the United States, likely due to decades of restrictions on the use of heavy metals, a new study finds.
Despite decreasing levels, exposure to these and other toxic chemicals, especially flame retardants and pesticides, still resulted in more than a million cases of intellectual disability in the United States between 2001 and 2016. Furthermore, as the target of significantly fewer restrictions, experts say, flame retardants and pesticides now represent the bulk of that cognitive loss.
NYU Grossman School of Medicine researchers found that IQ loss from the toxic chemicals analyzed in their study dropped from 27 million IQ points in 2001 and 2002 to 9 million IQ points in 2015 and 2016.
While this overall decline is promising, the researchers say, their findings also identify a concerning shift in which chemicals represent the greatest risk. Among toxin-exposed children, the researchers found that the proportion of cognitive loss that results from exposure to chemicals used in flame retardants, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs), and organophosphate pesticides increased from 67 percent to 81 percent during the same study period.
“Our findings suggest that our efforts to reduce exposure to heavy metals are paying off, but that toxic exposures in general continue to represent a formidable risk to Americans’ physical, mental, and economic health,” says lead study investigator Abigail Gaylord, MPH, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone. “Unfortunately, the minimal policies in place to eliminate pesticides and flame retardants are clearly not enough.”
The substances analyzed are found in household products from furniture upholstery to tuna fish, and can build up in the body to damage organs, researchers say. Heavy metals, lead and mercury in particular, are known to disrupt brain and kidney function. In addition, they, along with flame retardants and pesticides, can interfere with the thyroid, which secretes brain-developing hormones. Experts say exposure at a young age to any of these toxins can cause learning disabilities, autism, and behavioral issues.
In their investigation, the researchers found that everyday contact with these substances during the 16-year study period resulted in roughly 1,190,230 children affected with some form of intellectual disability. Overall childhood exposures cost the nation $7.5 trillion in lost economic productivity and other societal costs.
“Although people argue against costly regulations, unrestricted use of these chemicals is far more expensive in the long run, with American children bearing the largest burden,” says senior study author Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, the Jim G. Hendrick, MD Professor at NYU Langone Health.
Publishing online Jan. 14 in the journal Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, the new study is the only long-term neurological and economic investigation of its kind, the authors say. The investigators analyzed PBDE, organophosphate, lead, and methylmercury exposures in blood samples from women of childbearing age and 5-year-olds. Data on women and children was obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The researchers used results from several previous environmental health studies to estimate the annual number of IQ points lost per unit of exposure to each of the four main chemicals in the study. Then, they estimated the lost productivity and medical costs over the course of the children’s lives linked to long-term intellectual disability using a second algorithm, which valued each lost IQ point at $22,268 and each case of intellectual disability at $1,272,470.
While exposure to these chemicals persists despite tightened regulations, experts say Americans can help limit some of the effects by avoiding the use of household products or foods that contain them.
“Frequently opening windows to let persistent chemicals found in furniture, electronics, and carpeting escape, and eating certified organic produce can reduce exposure to these toxins,” says Trasande, who also serves as chief of environmental pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone.
Trasande notes that the impact of these chemicals may be worse than their study can capture since there are far more hazards that affect brain development than the four highlighted in the investigation, and other potential consequences beyond IQ loss. “All the more reason we need closer federal monitoring of these substances,” she says.
The study authors say they plan to explore the cost of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in other countries.
Red meat consumption may promote DNA damage-assoc. mutation in colorectal cancer patients
Study provides mechanistic link between red meat consumption and colorectal cancer development
Harvard Medical School, June 17, 2021
Bottom Line: Genetic mutations indicative of DNA damage were associated with high red meat consumption and increased cancer-related mortality in patients with colorectal cancer.
Journal in Which the Study was Published: Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research
Author: Marios Giannakis, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Background: “We have known for some time that consumption of processed meat and red meat is a risk factor for colorectal cancer,” said Giannakis. The International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that processed meat was carcinogenic and that red meat was probably carcinogenic to humans in 2015.
Experiments in preclinical models have suggested that red meat consumption may promote the formation of carcinogenic compounds in the colon, but a direct molecular link to colorectal cancer development in patients has not been shown, Giannakis explained. “What is missing is a demonstration that colorectal cancers from patients have a specific pattern of mutations that can be attributed to red meat,” he said. “Identifying these molecular changes in colon cells that can cause cancer would not only support the role of red meat in colorectal cancer development but would also provide novel avenues for cancer prevention and treatment.”
How the Study was Conducted: To identify genetic changes associated with red meat intake, Giannakis and colleagues sequenced DNA from matched normal and colorectal tumor tissues from 900 patients with colorectal cancer who had participated in one of three nationwide prospective cohort studies, namely the Nurses’ Health Studies and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. All patients had previously provided information on their diets, lifestyles, and other factors over the course of several years prior to their colorectal cancer diagnoses.
Results: Analysis of DNA sequencing data revealed the presence of several mutational signatures in normal and cancerous colon tissue, including a signature indicative of alkylation, a form of DNA damage. The alkylating signature was significantly associated with pre-diagnosis intake of processed or unprocessed red meat, but not with pre-diagnosis intake of poultry or fish or with other lifestyle factors. Red meat consumption was not associated with any of the other mutational signatures identified in this study. In line with prior studies linking red meat consumption with cancer incidence in the distal colon, Giannakis and colleagues found that normal and cancerous tissue from the distal colon had significantly higher alkylating damage than tissue from the proximal colon.
Using a predictive model, the researchers identified the KRAS and PIK3CA genes as potential targets of alkylation-induced mutation. Consistent with this prediction, they found that colorectal tumors harboring KRAS G12D, KRAS G13D, or PIK3CA E545K driver mutations, which are commonly observed in colorectal cancer, had greater enrichment of the alkylating signature compared to tumors without these mutations. The alkylating signature was also associated with patient survival: Patients whose tumors had the highest levels of alkylating damage had a 47 percent greater risk of colorectal cancer-specific death compared to patients with lower levels of damage.
Author’s Comments: “Our study identified for the first time an alkylating mutational signature in colon cells and linked it to red meat consumption and cancer driver mutations,” said Giannakis. “These findings suggest that red meat consumption may cause alkylating damage that leads to cancer-causing mutations in KRAS and PIK3CA, thereby promoting colorectal cancer development. Our data further support red meat intake as a risk factor for colorectal cancer and also provide opportunities to prevent, detect, and treat this disease.”
Giannakis explained that if physicians could identify individuals who are genetically predisposed to accumulating alkylating damage, these individuals could be counseled to limit red meat intake as a form of precision prevention. In addition, the alkylating mutational signature could be used as a biomarker to identify patients at greater risk of developing colorectal cancer or to detect cancer at an early stage. Because of its association with patient survival, the alkylating signature may also have potential as a prognostic biomarker. However, future studies are needed to explore these possibilities, Giannakis noted.
Study Limitations: A limitation of the study is the potential selection bias of study participants, as tissue specimens could not be retrieved from all incident colorectal cancer cases in the cohort studies. Current studies from Giannakis and his colleagues are exploring the potential role of red meat intake and alkylating damage in diverse groups of patients.
Funding & Disclosures: The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Stand Up To Cancer Colorectal Cancer Dream Team Translational Research Grant (co-administered by the AACR), the Project P Fund, the Cancer Research UK Grand Challenge Award, the Nodal Award from the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center, the Friends of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Bennett Family Fund, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation through the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance and Stand Up To Cancer.
Giannakis has received research funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Servier, and Janssen unrelated to this study.
Association of higher average daily polyphenol intake with Mediterranean diet adherence and decreased waist to hip circumference
University of the Aegean (Greece), June 14, 2021
According to news reporting originating from the University of the Aegean research stated, “Research data indicate the possible effect of both polyphenols consumption and Mediterranean diet adherence on metabolic diseases’ prevalence. The present retrospective study investigated the possible association of polyphenols mean daily intake with Mediterranean diet adherence and anthropometric indices in a sample of the Greek population.”
Our news reporters obtained a quote from the research from University of the Aegean: “A total of 250 healthy volunteers, aged between 18 and 65 years, were randomly recruited from central and northern Greece. Total daily polyphenols intake was estimated using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) based on the NHANES study, while Med Diet Score was used for the degree of Mediterranean diet adoption. Daily polyphenols intake was identified by the Phenol Explorer database, and anthropometric measurements (BMI, waist-to-hip circumference, and body composition) were performed. The mean daily polyphenols intake was determined to be 1905 mg, while most of the participants had moderate or high mean consumption last year (67.5% of the sample were consuming more than 1000 mg/d). Moderate adherence to the Mediterranean diet (higher Med Diet Score) was associated with increased mean daily polyphenols intake (* * p* * = 0.016). Increased polyphenols intake and higher Med Diet Score were associated with decreased waist-to-hip circumference (* * p* * = 0.027, 0.004, respectively).”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Specific functional foods rich in polyphenols, such as sour cherry, tomatoes, black tea, and cocoa were associated with improved body composition indices. Larger epidemiological studies need to be performed for safer conclusions about whole population polyphenols intake and its association with metabolic disease biomarkers.”
Whole, natural fiber works best to protect gut mucosal layer, researcher says
University of Michigan, June 12, 2021
Dietary fiber plays an important role in protecting the gut’s mucosal layer, according to research presented at the recent Probiota Americas event.
It has long been known that the gut stays healthier and performs better with adequate fiber. But why? This is one of the questions that informed the research conducted by Dr Eric Martens, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan. Martens presented his research at the IPA World Congress + Probiota Americas event, which was hosted by William Reed in Chicago last week. The event brought together 280 regulators, probiotics and prebiotics researchers and product developers.
Protecting the mucosal layer
Martens said that his research showed that without adequate fiber in the gut, some organisms that might be nourished by that food source will look to alternative sources, one of which is the gut’s mucosal layer. That layer is a critical component of the gut wall, and when it is eroded or absent harmful bacteria have an opportunity to latch onto the cells of the wall itself.
“The core of our research is we are interested in the physiology of the many bacteria that live in the gut and defining at the functional and mechanistic level how they work with goal of understanding how the community works,” Martens said.
The study he presented used 14 different bacteria with defined characteristics in a mouse model. The study had three groups, a group fed a fiber free diet, one with a whole grain diet rich in natural fibers, and a third that had fiber added back in in the form of purified, prebiotic fibers. His research found that the whole grain, natural fibers fostered a microbial community in which the muscosa-eroding organisms were suppressed the best. He postulated that this could be because the large, whole food particles typical of the natural fiber diet were best able to reach the distal regions of the gut and affect the microbial community makeup there, whereas the purified fibers may have been mostly digested by that point.
What Is the Liver Powerhouse Silymarin?
Here’s what science has found most beneficial about silymarin, extracted from milk thistle and known to be a friend of your liver mainly through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
When it comes to treating liver and gallbladder
The milk thistle plant, scientifically known as Silybum marianum, is a prickly plant with purple flowers and milky white veins present on the leaves, thus its name. Silymarin is the group of plant compounds that act as its active ingredient.[i]
Silymarin is the main bioactive component of this medicinal plant. It is a mix of various flavonolignans, includings silybinin A and B, isosilybinin A and B, silychristin and silydianin.[ii] Milk thistle extract has a high silymarin content of approximately 65% to 80%.
Silymarin is famed for its antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory components,[iii] as well as its traditional use or treating the liver and restoring its health. In addition, milk thistle itself is generally considered safe to take. Side effects are rare, and in an oral form standardized to contain 70% to 80% silymarin, it appears to be safe for up to 41 months of use.[iv]
Silymarin’s Liver-Protective Effects
- Fights liver inflammation and liver damage. Mounting evidence shows improvements in liver function among people with liver diseases who have taken a milk thistle supplement.[v] This suggests protection against flavanone silibinin liver inflammation and liver damage through use of the natural — silymarin’s primary active component — which was combined with phosphatidylcholine in a specific study to enhance its solubility and bioavailability.
- Protects from toxins such as amatoxin, produced by Amanita mushroom, which can cause death if ingested. Two cases in the U.S. were treated with N-acetylcysteine, high-dose penicillin, cimetidine and silibinin.[vi]
Uncontrolled trials and case reports cited successful treatment with intravenous silibinin, a flavonolignan isolated from milk thistle extracts, in nearly 1,500 cases.[vii] Overall mortality in those treated with the formula was less than 10%, compared to more than 20%when using penicillin, or a mix of silibinin and penicillin.
- Reduces liver fibrosis. In a randomized trial of 99 patients, the team administered silymarin in 700-milligram (mg) doses, or a placebo, given three times daily for 48 weeks.[viii] Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) activity score was reduced by 32.7% in the silymarin group compared to 26% in the placebo group.
Among the secondary outcomes were reductions in inflammation and fibrosis score in the silymarin group, leading the researchers to conclude that silymarin may decrease liver fibrosis, to be confirmed in larger trials. Fibrosis is the formation of abnormally large amounts of scar tissue in the liver.
- Helps prevent liver cancer. Studies have concluded that the long-term use of silymarin significantly increases survival time among patients with alcohol-induced liver cirrhosis, a risk factor for liver cancer. Silymarin can also significantly reduce tumor cell proliferation, angiogenesis or new blood vessel formation, as well as insulin resistance.[ix]
The chemopreventive effects “have been established in several studies using in vitro and in vivo methods,” according to the researchers, and combine well with anti-inflammatory and inhibitory effects on the metastasis or spread of cancer.
- Contributes to liver regeneration. An animal study suggested that silymarin played a crucial role in accelerating liver regeneration after liver resection, a kind of surgery designed to remove cancerous tumors from the liver.[x] Liver regeneration is thought to evolve to protect animals from loss of liver due to toxins or tissue injury.
Silymarin for Breastfeeding, Neurological Support
Not to be ignored is silymarin’s formidable list of other health benefits, such as boosting milk production in lactating mothers. A randomized trial found that mothers taking 420 mg of silymarin for 63 days produced more breast milk than subjects who took a placebo.[xi] Silymarin combined with phosphatidylserine and galega also increased milk production in moms of preterm infants, without any significant side effects.[xii]
Milk thistle is also a traditional remedy for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’sand Parkinson’s