The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.
Study: Regular mushroom consumption can lead to lower prostate cancer risk
Tohoku University (Japan), July 20. 2020
Lead author and doctoral student Shu Zhang noted that the cancer-fighting effects of mushrooms appeared to be more significant in men aged 50 and older.
That said, Zhang clarified that her team did not collect information on specific mushroom species and, as such, did not elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind the fungi’s cancer-fighting effects.
Their findings have been published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Habitual mushroom consumption linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer
To see if mushrooms are potent against prostate cancer – the second most common cancer among older men – Zhang and her team looked at the data of 36,000 men between the ages of 40 and 79 for a median period of 13.2 years. Each participant had been part of either the Miyagi Cohort Study in 1990 or the Ohsaki Cohort Study in 1994.
Upon analysis of the pooled data from both cohorts, Zhang and her team found that 3.3 percent of the participants had incidents of prostate cancer based on responses from questionnaires regarding their medical histories and their eating, smoking and drinking habits.
It also appeared that mushroom consumption is inversely related to incident prostate cancer. In particular, participants who regularly ate mushrooms once or twice a week had an eight percent lower risk of prostate cancer.
Those who ate mushrooms more than three times a week, on the other hand, had an incredible 17 percent lower risk of prostate cancer.
Furthermore, Zhang notes that these effects had been especially pronounced in men aged 50 or older and in men whose diets consisted of low fruit and vegetable intake but high meat and dairy intake.
Unfortunately, the team was unable to collect information on mushroom species involved in either cohort. As such, they could not specify the species responsible for the reductions in prostate cancer risk.
Because of this, Zhang stated that the underlying mechanisms behind the beneficial effects of mushrooms on prostate cancer remain uncertain.
At High Doses Turmeric Compound Kills Virus Particles
Curcumin, a natural compound found in the spice turmeric, could help eliminate certain viruses, research has found.
A study published in the Journal of General Virology showed that curcumin can prevent Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) – an alpha-group coronavirus that infects pigs – from infecting cells. At higher doses, the compound was also found to kill virus particles.
Infection with TGEV causes a disease called transmissible gastroenteritis in piglets, which is characterised by diarrhoea, severe dehydration and death. TGEV is highly infectious and is invariably fatal in piglets younger than two weeks, thus posing a major threat to the global swine industry. There are currently no approved treatments for alpha-coronaviruses and although there is a vaccine for TGEV, it is not effective in preventing the spread of the virus.
To determine the potential antiviral properties of curcumin, the research team treated experimental cells with various concentrations of the compound, before attempting to infect them with TGEV. They found that higher concentrations of curcumin reduced the number of virus particles in the cell culture.
The research suggests that curcumin affects TGEV in a number of ways: by directly killing the virus before it is able to infect the cell, by integrating with the viral envelope to ‘inactivate’ the virus, and by altering the metabolism of cells to prevent viral entry.
“Curcumin has a significant inhibitory effect on TGEV adsorption step and a certain direct inactivation effect, suggesting that curcumin has great potential in the prevention of TGEV infection,” said Dr Lilan Xie, lead author of the study and researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Bioengineering.
Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the replication of some types of virus, including dengue virus, hepatitis B and Zika virus. The compound has also been found to have a number of significant biological effects, including antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activities. Curcumin was chosen for this research due to having low side effects according to Dr Xie.
They said: “There are great difficulties in the prevention and control of viral diseases, especially when there are no effective vaccines. Traditional Chinese medicine and its active ingredients, are ideal screening libraries for antiviral drugs because of their advantages, such as convenient acquisition and low side effects.”
The researchers now hope to continue their research in vivo, using an animal model to assess whether the inhibiting properties of curcumin would be seen in a more complex system.
“Further studies will be required, to evaluate the inhibitory effect in vivo and explore the potential mechanisms of curcumin against TGEV, which will lay a foundation for the comprehensive understanding of the antiviral mechanisms and application of curcumin” said Dr Xie.
Nitric oxide may slow progression of COVID-19
A recent review published by GW researchers suggests that nitric oxide has promise as a therapeutic to control the replication and rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2
George Washington University, July 21, 2020
Nitric oxide treatment can be pivotal in the world’s fight against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to a review from the George Washington University (GW). The article is published in the journal Nitric Oxide.
Nitric oxide is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory molecule with key roles in pulmonary vascular function in the context of viral infections and other pulmonary diseases. In SARS-CoV-1 infection, which led to the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003, nitric oxide inhibited viral replication by cytotoxic reactions through intermediates such as peroxynitrite. It is one of several potential COVID-19 treatments included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency expanded access program.
“Nitric oxide plays key roles in maintaining normal vascular function and regulating inflammatory cascades that contribute to acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS),” said Adam Friedman, MD, interim chair and professor in the Department of Dermatology at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and co-senior author of the review. “Interventions that are protective against ALI and ARDS can play a critical role for patients and health systems during the pandemic.”
Coronaviruses are RNA viruses that primarily infect birds or livestock, but can mutate to be highly infectious and lethal in humans. There is currently no registered treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. The absence of a specific treatment and the high mortality rate of the virus dictate an urgent need for therapeutics that may control the replication and rapid spread of the virus.
The team, led by first author Nagasai Adusumilli, MBA, a fourth-year medical student at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, reviewed data from between 1993 and 2020 on the pathogenesis of coronaviruses and the use of nitric oxide as a treatment for respiratory illness. The authors highlight the potential for inhaled nitric oxide contributing to better clinical outcomes and alleviating the rapidly rising strain on health care capacity due to COVID-19.
As groups continue to publish more results with their respective nitric oxide platforms, the team recommends that dosing and protocol variations should be examined in evaluating the studies.
“With the emergence of COVID-19 as a pandemic with the ability to overwhelm the body and our health care infrastructure, patients have a pressing need for effective agents that can slow the disease in their bodies and in their communities,” Friedman said.
The authors suggest that if nitric oxide’s efficacy is illustrated for COVID-19, its use as a treatment can be pivotal in the fight against the pandemic.
Friedman has been collaborating with co-senior author Joel Friedman, MD, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics and of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, on research related to the use of nitric oxide in a broad range of medical indications for close to two decades, and together are developing nitric oxide-based therapeutics for COVID-19.
Cinnamon may improve blood sugar control in people with prediabetes
Joslin Diabetes Center (Boston), July 21, 2020
Cinnamon improves blood sugar control in people with prediabetes and could slow the progression to type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
It is estimated that nearly 90 million people in the United States have prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal and often leads to type 2 diabetes. Identifying strategies to prevent the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes is challenging, yet important for a large population.
“Our 12-week study showed beneficial effects of adding cinnamon to the diet on keeping blood sugar levels stable in participants with prediabetes,” said the study’s corresponding author, Giulio R. Romeo, M.D., of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Mass. “These findings provide the rationale for longer and larger studies to address if cinnamon can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes over time.”
The randomized clinical trial investigated the effects of cinnamon supplementation in 51 participants with prediabetes. Participants were given a 500 mg cinnamon capsule or placebo three times a day for 12 weeks. The researchers found that cinnamon supplements lowered abnormal fasting glucose levels and improved the body’s response to eating a meal with carbohydrates, which are hallmarks of prediabetes. Cinnamon was well tolerated and was not associated with specific side effects or adverse events.
Supplements with potential to prevent Alzheimer’s affect blood, but less so the brain
Omega-3 fatty acids might require larger doses to be effective — especially for people with high-risk gene
University of Southern California, July 21, 2020
For years, a scientific puzzle has bedeviled researchers aiming to fight Alzheimer’s disease, a common and incurable form of dementia.
The results of numerous lab investigations and population studies support the preventive potential of omega-3 fatty acids, “good fats” found abundantly in fish. However, to date the majority of studies evaluating omega-3s for averting or curtailing cognitive decline in human participants have failed to show benefits.
Now, a small clinical trial from USC provides important clues about this discrepancy, in the first Alzheimer’s prevention study to compare levels of omega-3s in the blood with those in the central nervous system. The findings suggest that higher doses of omega-3 supplements may be needed in order to make a difference, because dramatic increases in blood levels of omega-3s are accompanied by far smaller increases within the brain. Among participants who carry a specific mutation that heightens risk for Alzheimer’s, taking the supplements raised levels of a key fatty acid far less compared to those without the mutation.
“Trials have been built on the assumption that omega-3s get into the brain,” said senior author Dr. Hussein Yassine, associate professor of medicine and neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Our study was specifically designed to address this question.”
The paper was published today in the journal EBioMedicine.
The researchers recruited 33 participants who had risk factors for Alzheimer’s but were not cognitively impaired. All participants had a family history of the disease, a sedentary lifestyle and a diet low in fatty fish. Fifteen carried a gene variant called APOE4, which is linked to inflammation in the brain and increases Alzheimer’s risk by a factor of four or more; the other 18 were noncarriers.
At random, participants were assigned to a treatment group or control group. Members of the treatment group were asked to take supplements containing more than 2 grams of an omega-3 called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) daily for six months. Control group members took placebos each day over the same period. Participants in both groups also were asked to take daily B-complex vitamins, which help the body process omega-3s.
Dr. Yassine and his colleagues gathered samples of blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid — a gauge for whether the omega-3s reached the brain — from participants at the outset, and again at the end of the study period. The scientists looked at levels of two omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a potent anti-inflammatory that the body derives from a small portion of its DHA intake.
Higher doses for omega-3s to be effective?
The researchers found that at the end of the six months, participants who took omega-3 supplements had 200 percent more DHA in their blood compared to those who took placebos. In contrast, the DHA found in cerebrospinal fluid was only 28 percent higher in the treatment group than the control group. This result hints that measuring omega-3 levels in the blood may not indicate how much is reaching the brain.
Dr. Yassine and his co-authors also report that, within the treatment group, those without the risk-inflating APOE4 mutation showed an increase of EPA (anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid) in their cerebrospinal fluid three times greater than what was seen in carriers of the gene.
“E4 carriers, despite having the same dose, had less omega-3s in the brain,” he said. “This finding suggests that EPA is either getting consumed, getting lost or not getting absorbed into the brain as efficiently with the E4 gene.”
Notably, the 2-gram dose of DHA in this study far exceeded what has been used in major clinical trials testing the preventive power of omega-3s, which typically administer 1 gram or less daily.
“If you use a lower dose, you can expect a less-than-10-percent increase in omega-3s in the brain, which may not be considered meaningful,” Dr. Yassine said.
The sacrifice of study participants advances Alzheimer’s research
The investigators worked for two years to recruit participants for the trial. The barrier to entry came from the only method capable of extracting cerebrospinal fluid: a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. It proved challenging to find people willing to undergo that procedure, which involves a hollow needle piercing the lower back, two times.
Dr. Yassine had high praise for the study participants.
“They were generous with their time, and they were courageous to do the lumbar punctures,” he said. “The main reason they did this was their desire to advance science.”
The participants’ bravery may pay off in the creation of even more knowledge about omega-3s and Alzheimer’s.
The preliminary data from the current study was intriguing enough that the scientists were able to attract funding for a larger trial for which recruitment is underway. Following 320 participants over two years, it will examine whether high doses of omega-3s can slow cognitive decline in carriers of the APOE4 gene.
Dr. Yassine believes that the progression from a small study to a bigger one is a good model for developing therapies and preventions targeting the brain.
“These pilot studies are so important as a step toward much larger, more complicated studies,” he said. “The bottom line is, before you embark upon very expensive clinical trials, you need to show proof of concept, that your drug is getting into the brain and changing biomarkers of disease in the right direction.”
Efficacy of acupuncture in insomnia treatment
In this study, researchers provided updated evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for primary insomnia. Their findings were published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
- Acupuncture is widely used in Asia as an alternative therapy for insomnia.
- In Western countries, the use of acupuncture is increasing.
- To determine the suitability of acupuncture as insomnia treatment, the researchers searched 11 databases from January 2008 to October 2017 for relevant RCTs.
- Two authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias.
- The researchers performed statistical analysis using RevMan 5.3 software then combined data in a meta-analysis according to a predefined protocol.
- They also performed trial sequential analysis when appropriate and assessed the quality of evidence using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE).
- The researchers analyzed 73 RCTs that involved 5,533 participants. Their results showed that real acupuncture treatment yielded better results than no treatment by reducing the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scores.
- Acupuncture, combined with medication, also showed better results than medication alone by decreasing PSQI total scores.
- Compared with estazolam, acupuncture exerted better effects on PSQI scores.
- It also caused fewer adverse events than western medications.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that acupuncture benefits people with insomnia by improving their sleep quality. The researchers recommend a larger sample size and more rigorously designed RCTs to explore this benefit further.
Dietary guidelines advisory committee reinforces need for increased choline intake
Vulnerable populations, including infants, toddlers, pregnant and lactating women, are at greatest risk for choline deficiency
HHS and Cornell University, July 20, 2020
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC or Committee) – a group comprised of 20 nationally recognized health and nutrition experts – published the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Among its findings, the Committee concluded that current choline intake levels are too low for most Americans and found low intake levels among infants and toddlers, as well as vulnerable populations like pregnant and lactating women, especially concerning.
“The Committee’s scientific report shines a light on the growing body of evidence that shows choline plays a critical role in health during specific life stages,” says Marie Caudill, PhD, RD, Professor, Cornell University and an internationally recognized choline researcher. “Unfortunately, consumption data tell us choline is widely under-consumed, and it’s concerning that those populations who would benefit most from choline, such as pregnant and lactating women and infants and children, fall short of meeting intake targets. In fact, only 8 percent of pregnant women are meeting choline recommendations.”
Choline is an essential nutrient that supports a variety of processes at all stages of life and throughout the body, including fetal and infant development; cognition and memory; energy and fitness; metabolism; and liver health. While more research is needed for choline to reach the level of a ‘nutrient of public health concern,’ the Committee recognized choline as a ‘nutrient that poses public health challenges’ for all infants and toddlers between ages 12 and 24 months; and special attention around choline inadequacies was specifically noted for girls and boys ages 9 to 14; and the vulnerable pregnant population and women who are lactating. Choline is naturally found in some foods; yet, based on typical and recommended eating patterns, it is difficult to meet daily choline needs through foods alone. In fact, the DGAC presented three food pattern styles, which generally meet all nutrient needs across the lifespan, except for a few such as choline. Importantly, the Committee noted that many supplements do not yet contain sufficient amounts of choline, indicating an important opportunity for both supplement innovations, as well as food fortification, in the future.
“The Committee’s report clearly highlights the challenges of meeting choline intake targets through food alone,” added Caudill. “Americans need guidance on how to choose supplements to help fill nutrient gaps, particularly for pregnant women as most recognized prenatal vitamins don’t contain enough–if any–choline.”
“Choline’s increased recognition in the DGAC report is an important scientific milestone for the public health community,” says Jonathan Bortz, MD, Senior Director, Nutrition Science, Balchem. “We are quickly approaching an inflection point in time for choline awareness. In addition to the findings released in this report, Balchem has, and will continue to support research needed to develop a blood biomarker for choline, which will provide a more accurate understanding of the level of deficiency among Americans and help to generate stronger guidance and messages.”
Choline can be purchased online or in specialty stores as a stand-alone, over-the-counter supplement; incorporated into some prenatal vitamins or packaged along with prenatal vitamins; and fortified in branded milk products, specifically:
– Bayer recently launched a “One A Day Women’s Prenatal Advanced Complete Multivitamin with Brain Support,” that includes a side-by-side prenatal multivitamin plus a supplement that provides 110mg of choline, helping to substantially close the gap in pregnant women’s daily needs.
– Danone’s Horizon Organic brand developed milk for young children–Growing Years–that is fortified to contain 55mg of choline per serving, providing between 10 percent to 27 percent of children’s daily needs, depending on age and gender.
“The Committee’s report has provided critical research directions to help inform Balchem’s long-standing commitment to choline research and science communications,” added Bortz. “We look forward to continuing to support science and product innovation to ensure all Americans throughout the lifespan can benefit from increased choline, as part of healthy diets.”
Older adults who can really smell the roses may face lower likelihood of dementia
University of California San Francisco, July 20, 2020
Seniors who can identify smells like roses, turpentine, paint-thinner and lemons, and have retained their senses of hearing, vision and touch, may have half the risk of developing dementia as their peers with marked sensory decline.
In a study by UC San Francisco, researchers tracked close to 1,800 participants in their seventies for a period of up to 10 years to see if their sensory functioning correlated with the development of dementia. At the time of enrollment, all participants were dementia-free, but 328 participants (18 percent) developed the condition over the course of the study.
Among those whose sensory levels ranked in the middle range, 141 of the 328 (19 percent) developed dementia. This compares with 83 in the good range (12 percent) and 104 (27 percent) in the poor range, according to the study, which publishes in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association on July 20, 2020.
Previous research has centered on the link between dementia and individual senses, but the UCSF researchers’ focus was on the additive effects of multiple impairments in sensory function, which emerging evidence shows are a stronger indicator of declining cognition.
“Sensory impairments could be due to underlying neurodegeneration or the same disease processes as those affecting cognition, such as stroke,” said first author Willa Brenowitz, PhD, of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the Weill Institute for Neurosciences. “Alternatively, sensory impairments, particularly hearing and vision, may accelerate cognitive decline, either directly impacting cognition or indirectly by increasing social isolation, poor mobility and adverse mental health.”
While multiple impairments were key to the researchers work, the authors acknowledged that a keen sense of smell, or olfaction, has a stronger association against dementia than touch, hearing or vision. Participants whose smell declined by 10 percent had a 19 percent higher chance of dementia, versus a 1-to-3-percent increased risk for corresponding declines in vision, hearing and touch.
“The olfactory bulb, which is critical for smell, is affected fairly early on in the course of the disease,” said Brenowitz. “It’s thought that smell may be a preclinical indicator of dementia, while hearing and vision may have more of a role in promoting dementia.”
The 1,794 participants were recruited from a random sample of Medicare-eligible adults in the Health, Aging and Body Composition study. Cognitive testing was done at the beginning of the study and repeated every other year. Dementia was defined by testing that showed a significant drop from baseline scores, documented use of a dementia medication or hospitalization for dementia as a primary or secondary diagnosis.
Multisensory testing was done in the third-to-fifth year and included hearing (hearing aids were not allowed), contrast-sensitivity tests for vision (glasses were permitted), touch testing in which vibrations were measured in the big toe, and smell, involving identifying distinctive odors like paint-thinner, roses, lemons, onions and turpentine.
The researchers found that participants who remained dementia-free generally had higher cognition at enrollment and tended to have no sensory impairments. Those in the middle range tended to have multiple mild impairments or a single moderate-to-severe impairment. Participants at higher risk had multiple moderate-to-severe impairments.
“We found that with deteriorating multisensory functioning, the risk of cognitive decline increased in a dose-response manner,” said senior author Kristine Yaffe, MD, of the UCSF departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Neurology, as well as the San Francisco VA Health Care System. “Even mild or moderate sensory impairments across multiple domains were associated with an increased risk of dementia, indicating that people with poor multisensory function are a high-risk population that could be targeted prior to dementia onset for intervention.”
The 780 participants with good multisensory function were more likely to be healthier than the 499 participants with poor multisensory function, suggesting that some lifestyle habits may play a role in reducing risks for dementia. The former group was more likely to have completed high school (85 percent versus 72.1 percent), had less diabetes (16.9 percent versus 27.9 percent) and were marginally less likely to have cardiovascular disease, high-blood pressure and stroke.