The Gary Null Show – 08.06.20

The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.

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Turmeric could have antiviral properties

Wuhan Institute of Bioengineering, August 5, 2020

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.


A quarter of arthritis cases linked to excess weight

Weight loss from young adulthood to midlife was associated with substantially reduced risk of developing arthritis

Boston University, August 4, 2020

A new Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) study shows that weight loss between early adulthood and midlife lowers arthritis risk, and found no evidence of any persistent risk of arthritis for people who were heavier earlier in life and then lost weight.

The study, published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, also estimates that nearly a quarter of arthritis cases in the U.S., corresponding to 2.7 million people, are attributable to excess weight.

“Policies that address the social and structural factors that promote weight gain are urgently needed. Our findings suggest that such measures could have a significant impact on reducing the incidence of arthritis, a leading cause of disability and chronic pain in the US,” says study corresponding author Dr. Andrew Stokes, assistant professor of global health at BUSPH.

“Although weight loss could represent a viable way to reduce arthritis risk at the individual level, we found that the best solution at the population level would be to prevent weight gain,” says study lead author and BUSPH alumna Kaitlyn Berry, who was a research fellow at BUSPH while working on the study and is now at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. 

The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) on adults 40-69 years old, to categorize individuals based on the changes in their body mass indices (BMI) from early adulthood to mid-life, and analyzed the association between these BMI trajectories and the risk of developing an arthritis condition within 10 years.

Of the 13,669 people in the study, 3,603 developed an arthritis condition. Compared with those who had a BMI in the “normal” range in both early adulthood and middle age, those who went from the “normal” range to the “overweight” or “obese” ranges, those who went from the “overweight” range to the “obese” range, and those whose BMIs were in the “obese” range at both points were all significantly more likely to develop arthritis conditions. 

On the other hand, those whose BMIs went from the “obese” down to the “overweight” range had a significantly lower risk of developing arthritis compared to those whose BMI remained in the “obese” range. Additionally, those who lost weight had the same likelihood of developing arthritis as those whose BMIs stayed in the “overweight” range. 

“These findings highlight the need for lifelong public health measures to prevent obesity at younger ages as an important step to curb later life musculoskeletal and joint health problems such as osteoarthritis. This is particularly important as musculoskeletal pain is a leading cause of disability globally,” says study co-author Dr. Tuhina Neogi, professor of epidemiology at BUSPH, professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, and chief of rheumatology at Boston Medical Center.

Consumption of a blueberry enriched diet by women for six weeks alters determinants of human muscle progenitor cell function

Cornell University, August 5, 2020 

A new research study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, investigated how serum from subjects consuming a diet enriched with blueberries would affect the cells responsible for muscle growth and repair. The emerging study, “Consumption of a blueberry enriched diet by women for six weeks alters determinants of human muscle progenitor cell function,” was conducted at Cornell University.

The study was conducted over six weeks with 22 women, 12 aged 25-40 and 10 aged 60-75. For the blueberry-enriched diet, participants consumed the equivalent of 1.75 cups of fresh blueberries/day, given as freeze-dried blueberries (19 g in the morning and 19 g in the evening), along with their regular diet. Participants were also asked to avoid other foods rich in polyphenols and anthocyanins. Serum was obtained from the participants 1.5 hours after consuming the morning dose of blueberries. The researchers then investigated how the serum would affect muscle progenitor cell function through proliferation or cell number, capacity to manage oxidative stress and oxygen consumption rate or metabolism.

The results showed the six-week blueberry-enriched serum obtained from the women aged 25-40 increased human muscle progenitor cell numbers in culture. There was also a trend toward a lower percentage of dead human muscle progenitor cells, suggesting a resistance to oxidative stress, as well as increased oxygen consumption of the cells. There were no beneficial effects seen in the muscle progenitor cells treated with serum from participants aged 60-75 who consumed the blueberry enriched diet.

“The consequences associated with the deterioration of skeletal muscle are a loss of mobility, decreased quality of life, and ultimately, loss of independence. Currently, research on dietary interventions to support skeletal muscle regeneration in humans is limited. This preliminary study of muscle progenitor cell function paves the way for future studies to develop clinical interventions,” said Anna Thalacker-Mercer, Ph.D., the study’s lead investigator. “While the results cannot be generalized to all populations, this study is an important step in translating findings from cell culture and rodent studies to a potential dietary therapy for improving muscle regeneration after injury and during the aging process.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), muscles lose strength, flexibility, and endurance over time. Muscle mass decreases three to five percent every decade after 30 years of age, and that rate increases over age 60. Therefore, strategies to improve muscle progenitor cell proliferation and lower oxidative stress may also benefit muscle regeneration during the aging process.

Research on the role that blueberries may play in promoting good health is ongoing across multiple areas, including cardiovascular health, diabetes management, brain health, exercise and the gut microbiome.

From mitochondria to healthy aging: role of branched-chain amino acid treatment

University of Turin (Italy), August 3, 2020

According to news originating from Turin, Italy, research stated, “Malnutrition often affects elderly patients and significantly contributes to the reduction in healthy life expectancy, causing high morbidity and mortality. In particular, protein malnutrition is one of the determinants of frailty and sarcopenia in elderly people.”

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from the University of Turin, “To investigate the role of amino acid supplementation in senior patients we performed an open-label randomized trial and administered a particular branched-chain amino acid enriched mixture (BCAAem) or provided diet advice in 155 elderly malnourished patients. They were followed for 2 months, assessing cognitive performance by Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), muscle mass measured by anthropometry, strength measure by hand grip and performance measured by the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, the 30 s Chair Sit to Stand (30-s CST) test and the 4 m gait speed test. Moreover we measured oxidative stress in plasma and mitochondrial production of ATP and electron flux in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Both groups improved in nutritional status, general health and muscle mass, strength and performance; treatment with BCAAem supplementation was more effective than simple diet advice in increasing MMSE (1.2 increase versus 0.2, p = 0.0171), ATP production (0.43 increase versus -0.1, p = 0.0001), electron flux (0.50 increase versus 0.01, p< 0.0001) and in maintaining low oxidative stress. The amelioration of clinical parameters as MMSE, balance, four meter walking test were associated to increased mitochondrial function.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Overall, our findings show that sustaining nutritional support might be clinically relevant in increasing physical performance in elderly malnourished patients and that the use of specific BCAAem might ameliorate also cognitive performance thanks to an amelioration of mitochondria bioenergetics.”

20-year sedentary lifestyle linked to twice the risk of premature death: Being physically active is key to a longer life

Norweign University of Science and Technology, August 4, 202

It’s easy to fall into the habit of skipping exercise because you’re busy with work or chores. Yet according to a study, having a sedentary lifestyle for at least 20 years is linked to twice the risk of premature death, especially compared to those who exercise regularly.

Results from the Trøndelag Health Study (the HUNT study) was presented at ESC Congress 2019 and the World Congress of Cardiology.

The HUNT study was conducted to determine how changes in physical activity within two decades were linked to “subsequent death from all causes and from cardiovascular disease.”

Other studies on the association between physical activity and longevity only ask volunteers about their level of physical activity once and followed them for several years. However, physical activity is a behavior that constantly changes, highlighting the importance of looking into how these changes over time are linked to the risk of death later in life.

Physical activity levels linked to premature death risk

Researchers asked residents of Norway aged 20 and older to participate during three points: 1984 to 1986, 1995 to 1997 and 2006 to 2008.

For all three time points, the volunteers reported their frequency and duration of leisure time physical activity. The researchers then examined data from the first and third surveys.

Data for the analysis was obtained from 23,146 male and female volunteers. Physical activity was classified as:

  • Inactive
  • Moderate (Less than two hours a week.)
  • High (Two or more hours per week.)

The volunteers were divided into groups based on their activity levels for each survey. The physical activity data were linked to information on deaths until the end of 2013 via the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry.

The risk of death in the two physical activity groups was compared to the reference group, which included participants who reported a high level of exercise during both surveys.

Analyses were also adjusted for factors that influence prognosis:

  • Age
  • Blood pressure
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Education level
  • Sex
  • Smoking

Unlike volunteers in the reference group, participants who were inactive in both 1984-1986 and 2006-2008 had twice the risk of premature death and a 2.7-fold greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Compared to the reference group, participants with moderate activity at both time points had a 60 percent and 90 percent greater risk of all-cause and cardiovascular deaths, respectively.

Exercising consistently is key

Dr. Trine Moholdt, a study author from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology at Trondheim, Norway, explained that to reap the maximum health benefits of physical activity and prevent premature all-cause and cardiovascular death, people must be physically active consistently.

Moholdt noted that even if you had a sedentary lifestyle, you can still reduce your risk by exercising later in life. Adults should have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity a week to effectively boost their overall well-being.

But these numbers aren’t set in stone, said Moholdt. She added that even exercise below the recommended levels will offer some benefits.

Instead of focusing on how much you’re exercising, Moholdt suggests setting goals to be more physically fit. Consult a trusted physician for activities that suit your health condition.

Even smaller amounts of activity can help you be more physically fit, as long as your workout “makes you breathe heavily.” (Related: If you have an 8-hour desk job, exercise for 30 minutes daily to significantly improve your health.)

Set aside some time to go to the gym, or sneak in mini-workouts throughout a regular day. Moholdt recommends any exercise that you might enjoy, such as:

  1. Using the stairs at work instead of the elevator.
  2. Walking instead of driving to your destination.
  3. Getting off the bus one stop early and walking the rest of the way.
  4. Exercise during work breaks. Break out a sweat in the office break room by doing jumping jacks or squats.
  5. Going for a long walk with your dog.
  6. Enjoying a walk around the neighborhood with your family.
  7. Following online workout videos if you can’t leave the house.

Some participants changed categories between surveys and those who went from inactive to highly active had a mortality risk “between those who were continually active or continually sedentary.” On the other hand, volunteers who went from highly active to inactive had a similar risk of dying like those who were inactive at both surveys.

Moholdt said that it’s never too late to start exercising even if you’ve been sedentary for most of your life. Starting exercise sooner ensures that you also see positive results sooner.

Moholdt concluded that you should start and maintain good exercise habits as early as you can. Being physically active doesn’t just help prevent premature death, it also helps improve your mental and physical health. Exercising regularly is key to having a longer and healthier life.

Researchers say where you live could add years to your life

People who live in blue states are living longer, and the gap is widening

Syracuse University, August 4 2020

Could where you live dictate how long you live? New research at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, published today in the Milbank Quarterly, shows Americans who live in so called blue states tend to live longer than those in red states, primarily due to state policies. Among the findings:

U.S. state policies since the 1980s have cut short American lives, particularly for women. U.S. life expectancy gains since 2010 would be 25% greater for women and 13% greater for men if states policies had not changed in the way they did, with many becoming more conservative.

Enacting more liberal state policies could raise U.S. life expectancy by over 2 years, whereas enacting more conservative state policies could reduce it by 2 years.

In the greatest gap between states, residents in Connecticut outlive their counterparts in Oklahoma by as many as seven years.

The study examined how state policy environments contributed to U.S. life expectancy trends from 1970 to 2014. It used information on 18 policy domains such as abortion and guns, each measured on a liberal-to-conservative scale, for every state and calendar year. The analysis then predicted U.S. life expectancy trends from all policy domains, controlling for characteristics of states and their residents.

“Americans die younger than people in other high-income countries,” said Jennifer Karas Montez, sociology professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and lead author of the study. “This gap in life expectancy between the U.S. and other countries emerged in the 1980s and has grown ever since. Since that time, gaps in life expectancy between U.S. states also expanded. The difference between the highest and lowest life expectancy states has grown to 7.0 years–the largest ever recorded. These two trends are related: the dismal life expectancy trends of some states have been an anchor on overall U.S. life expectancy.”‘ 

For instance, between 1980 and 2017, life expectancy rose by just 2.2 years in Oklahoma (73.6 to 75.8 years) but 5.8 years in Connecticut (74.9 to 80.7 years). Life expectancy in Oklahoma now falls between that of Serbia and Brazil, while Connecticut falls between Denmark and Costa Rica. 

The study found that Oklahoma and Connecticut differ in other ways. While these two states were diverging in life expectancy, they were also diverging in their policy orientation. Oklahoma made one of the largest transitions toward a conservative state policy environment among all 50 states. Conversely, Connecticut made one of the largest transitions toward a liberal state policy environment. This polarization in state policy environments has occurred across the U.S. and helps to explain the growing gap in life expectancy between states and the troubling trends in U.S. life expectancy since the 1980s. 

Among the 18 policy domains studied, 10 strongly predict life expectancy. More liberal versions of those policies generally predict longer lives and more conservative versions generally predict shorter lives. This is especially the case for policies on tobacco, immigration, civil rights, labor (e.g., Right to Work laws, minimum wage), and the environment. For instance, by changing its labor laws from the most conservative to the most liberal orientation, a state could experience a large 1-year increase in life expectancy. State policies have particularly important consequences for women’s life expectancy. This finding reflects the reality that state policies such as minimum wage, EITC, abortion laws, and Medicaid are more relevant for women’s than men’s lives.

According to Montez, “During the 1980s and after 2010, overall changes in state policies had a negative impact on U.S. life expectancy. After 2010, the small gains in U.S. life expectancy would have been 13% steeper among men and 25% steeper among women if state policies had not changed in the way that they did, with many becoming more conservative.”

If all 50 states enacted either liberal or conservative policies, what would happen to U.S. life expectancy? “If all states enacted liberal policies across the 18 domains, our study estimated that U.S. life expectancy would increase by 2.8 years for women and 2.1 years for men,” said Montez. “However, if all states enacted conservative policies, U.S. life expectancy would decline by 2.0 years for women and 1.9 years for men. If all states followed current national policy trends, there would continue to be little improvement in life expectancy. This is partly due to countervailing forces: gains in U.S. life expectancy associated with some national policy trends (e.g., toward liberal policies on the environment and civil rights) would be offset by losses associated with other trends (e.g., toward conservative policies on abortion and guns).”

Montez said that trends in state policies since the 1980s have cut short many lives. “Improving U.S. health and longevity requires changing many of those policies,” said Montez. “In particular, it is essential to enact policies that protect the environment, regulate tobacco and firearms, and ensure labor, reproductive, and civil rights.” But Montez believes e nacting these changes in state policies will not be easy. “On the contrary: policymakers in many states have put the interests of corporations and their lobbyists–particularly the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)–and wealthy donors over the interests and health of their constituents.”

To drive home her point, Montez points out Oklahoma, for example, is one of the most active states in terms of enacting the corporate-friendly and politically-conservative policies promoted by ALEC, while Connecticut is among the least active states.

“Policymakers and the public must recognize,” she said, “that putting profits over people cuts lives short.”

Gut microbes shape our antibodies before we are infected by pathogens

University of Bern (Germany), August 5, 2020

B cells are white blood cells that develop to produce antibodies. These antibodies, or immunoglobulins, can bind to harmful foreign particles (such as viruses or disease-causing bacteria) to stop them invading and infecting the body’s cells. Each B cell carries an individual B cell receptor (BCR) which determines which particles it can bind, rather like each lock accepts a different key. There are many millions of B cells with different receptors in the body. This immense diversity comes from rearranging the genes that code these receptors, so the receptor is slightly different in every B cell resulting in billions of possibilities of different harmful molecules that could be recognized. Intestinal microbes trigger expansion of these B cell populations and antibody production, but until now it was unknown whether this was a random process, or whether the molecules of the intestinal microbes themselves influence the outcome. 

In a research article published in the journal Nature, Dr. Hai Li, Dr. Julien Limenitakis, Prof. Stephanie Ganal-Vonarburg and Prof. Andrew Macpherson of the Department for BioMedical Research, University of Bern, and Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, have analyzed the billions of genes that code the antibodies in a system that allows the responses to individual benign intestinal microbes to be understood. 

The range of available antibodies depends on where beneficial microbes are in the body

The number of benign microbes living in our intestines is about the same as the number of cells in our body. Mostly these bacteria stay within the intestinal tube rather than penetrate the body tissues. Unfortunately, some penetration is unavoidable, because the intestine only has a single layer of cells that separate the inside of the tube from blood vessels that we need to absorb our food. 

Dr. Limenitakis used specially designed computer programs to process millions of genetic sequences that compare the antibody repertoire from B cells, depending on whether the microbes stay in the intestine, or whether they reach the bloodstream. In both cases the antibody repertoire is altered, but in rather different ways depending on how the exposure occurs. 

“Interestingly, this is rather predictable depending on the microbe concerned and where it is in the body, indicating that the intestinal microbes direct the development of our antibodies before we get a serious infection and this process is certainly not random”, explains Ganal-Vonarburg.

There are different sorts of antibodies in the lining of the intestine (IgA) compared with the bloodstream (IgM and IgG). Using the powerful genetic analysis, the researchers showed that the range of different antibodies produced in the intestine was far less that those produced in central body tissues. This means that once microbes get into the body, the immune system has many more possibilities to neutralize and eliminate them, whereas antibodies in the intestine mainly just bind the bacterial molecules that they can see at any one time.

How the antibodies change when the body is exposed to different microbes

Over their life-span mammals face a huge variety of different microbial challenges. It was therefore important to know how once the antibody repertoire could change once had been shaped by a particular microbe when something else came along. The research team answered this question by testing what happened with the same microbe at different sites or with two different microbes on after another. 

Although intestinal microbes do not directly produce an especially wide range of different antibodies, they sensitize the central immune tissues to produce antibodies if the microbe gets into the bloodstream. When a second microbes comes along, the rather limited intestinal antibody response changes to accommodate this microbe (rather like changing the lock in one’s door). This is different from what happens when microbes get into the blood stream to reach the central body tissues when a second set of antibodies is made without compromising the first response to the original microbes (like installing another lock, so the door can be opened with different keys). This shows that central body tissues have the capacity to remember a range of different microbial species and to avoid the dangers of sepsis. It also shows that different B cell immune strategies in different body compartments are important for maintenance of our peaceful existence with our microbial passengers. 

Dr. Li comments that “Our data show for the first time that not only the composition of our intestinal microbiota, but also the timing and sequence of exposure to certain members of the commensal microbiota, happening predominantly during the first waves of colonisations during early life, have an outcome on the resulting B cell receptor repertoire and subsequent immunity to pathogens.”

Meta-analysis finds higher circulating vitamin D levels associated with lower risk of gestational diabetes

Ahvaz Jundishapur University (Iran), August 5, 2020

According to news reporting out of Ahvaz, Iran, by NewsRx editors, research stated, “Several meta-analyses of observational studies revealed a modest increase in the risk of gestational diabetes (GDM) among pregnant women with low levels of serum vitamin D. However, no study examined a dose-response meta-analysis as well as a high versus low analysis in this regard.”

Financial support for this research came from Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences.

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from the Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, “We systematically searched PubMed, Embase, ISI Web of Science, and Scopus up to August 2019 to find prospective observational studies investigating the association of serum 25(OH)D with the risk of developing GDM. Using a random-effects model, the reported risk estimates were pooled. Nine cohort studies and six nested case-control studies were included in the final analysis (40,788 participants and 1848 cases). Considering linear analysis, each 10 nmol/L increase in circulating 25(OH)D was associated with a 2% lower risk of GDM (effect size (ES): 0.98; 95% CI: 0.98, 0.99; I=85.0%, p<0.001). highest compared with the lowest category of circulating 25(OH)D was associated with a 29% lower risk of GDM, with low evidence of heterogeneity (I=45.0%, p=0.079). In conclusion, lower levels of serum 25(OH)D were associated with a higher chance of GDM.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Differential results existed between the overall and subgroup analysis, either based on vitamin D detection methods or based on maternal age, although these subgroups partially lowered the heterogeneity.”