The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.
Intense light may boost heart health
A novel use of intense light therapy may help decrease the tissue damage experienced during heart attacks, reveals new research in mice.
University of Colorado, August 19, 2020
The research also suggests that this procedure could benefit humans, and the researchers outline the reason why.
“We already knew that intense light can protect against heart attacks, but now we have found the mechanism behind it,” says the study’s senior author Dr. Tobias Eckle, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.
Boosting specific gene protects heart
In the study, the researchers discovered that intense light influences the functions of the PER2gene, which is expressed by a part of the brain that controls circadian rhythms.
By boosting this gene through intense light therapy, the researchers discovered that the mice’s heart tissue received extra protection when it experienced issues with oxygen, such as during a heart attack.
Additionally, this intense light also heightened cardiac adenosine, which is a specialized chemical that helps with blood flow regulation. In concert, both benefits helped protect heart health.
Also, when they studied the mice, the researchers found that being able to physically perceive light was vital, as blind mice experienced no benefits from the intense light.
Humans had similar benefits
The next step was to see if humans could benefit from light therapy. The researchers worked with healthy human volunteers and exposed them to 30 minutes of intense light.
On five consecutive mornings, the researchers exposed the participants to 10,000 lumens of light and drew blood several times.
The researchers found that PER2 levels increased in response to light therapy in the human participants as it did in the mice. They also reported that the human volunteers saw a decreased level of plasma triglycerides and improved metabolism.
Dr. Eckle explained that light plays an essential part in human health, not only in regulating the circadian rhythm but in cardiovascular health as well.
He adds that according to prior studies, more people throughout the U.S. experience heart attacks during the darker months of winter, even in states that traditionally get more sunshine, such as Hawaii and Arizona.
Study: Supplementation with curcumin offers benefits for patients with metabolic syndrome
Coventry University (UK) and Tehran University of Medical Sciences (Iran), August 19, 2020
A study published in the journal Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research and Review found that curcumin supplementation can help increase adiponectin levels. Adiponectin is said to help reduce the risk of cardiometabolic disease.
According to researchers from the United Kingdom and Iran, people with metabolic syndrome and metabolic disorders can benefit from taking curcumin supplements regularly. Curcumin is the main active component of turmeric, an herb that offers plenty of health benefits.
Increased levels of adiponectin through curcumin supplementation
Adiponectin is a hormone produced exclusively by adipocytes, or fat cells. It plays a role in insulin response and has anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, low blood levels of adiponectin are linked to cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance, obesity and dyslipidemia — a condition characterized by abnormal levels of lipids in the blood.
In the study, the researchers examined the effect of curcumin on blood adiponectin levels. They reviewed six randomized clinical trials on curcumin, in which 652 participants were included.
Data analysis revealed that, compared with a placebo, curcumin supplementation significantly raised adiponectin levels. In trials that lasted longer, the researchers observed greater effects on adiponectin.
“We were able to confirm the veracity of a number of independent studies, highlighting that curcumin supplementation, particularly when consumed for less than 10 weeks, may significantly increase adiponectin levels, even when controlling for numerous biological and sociological variables,” wrote the researchers.
Study finds physical activity is beneficial for health, and more intense activity is better
Cambridge University, August 18, 2020
Physical activity of any intensity is beneficial for health, but more intense activity has greater benefits, according to a new study published today in Nature Medicine. In the largest study to date of accelerometer-measured physical activity, a team led by researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge analyzed data from more than 96,000 UK Biobank participants.
Current physical activity guidelines from the UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that adults should aim to be active every day, and also that adults should undertake 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity (equivalent to a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (such as running) every week. Previous research has shown that moderate and vigorous intensity activity confers greater health benefits than light intensity activity, but it has not been clear if this is because it makes a greater contribution to the total amount of physical activity, or if it has additional health benefits beyond this.
A challenge facing researchers has been that the low intensity, incidental movement that accumulates in the course of everyday activities is very hard to recall accurately, and consequently difficult to measure using questionnaires. Wearable devices have enabled better detection of this type of movement that makes up the majority of our daily physical activity, but until now have not been used on a large enough scale to determine if more intense activity makes a contribution to health, distinct from increasing total volume.
The researchers used data from 96,476 middle-aged adults in Great Britain to investigate whether activity of moderate intensity or above contributed to a lower risk of death over and above its contribution to total volume of activity. These individuals wore a research-grade activity tracker on their dominant wrist for a week as part of their participation in the UK Biobank study. The researchers used the data on the duration and intensity of movement collected to calculate the total volume of activity, expressed as physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE). The researchers also determined the percentage of that volume that was achieved through moderate and vigorous intensity activity.
The UK Biobank participants had an average PAEE of 40 kJ/kg/day, a third of which was from activity of at least moderate intensity, again on average. Owing to the large scale of the study, there was much variation in the underlying intensity contributions to similar volume levels.
The researchers examined if physical activity levels were associated with the risk of death in the follow-up period of on average 3.1 years. During this time 732 of the 96, 476 participants died, though the researchers excluded those who died within the first year from their analysis, and took existing conditions such diabetes, heart disease, and cancer into account as these might reduce physical activity.
Expending more energy of any intensity was strongly associated with a lower risk of death over the following three years. Participants who accumulated 20 kJ/kg/day through physical activity were a third less likely to die compared to those who accumulated 15 kJ/kg/day, when the proportion from at least moderate intensity activity was 10% in both cases. The additional activity is the equivalent to a 35-minute stroll, with an extra two minutes at a brisker pace.
Those who accumulated 30 kJ/kg/day were about half as likely to die in the follow-up period compared to those who accumulated 15 kJ/kg/day, when the proportion from at least moderate intensity activity was 10% in both cases. However, if this volume of 30 kJ/kg/day included 30% from at least moderate intensity activity, then they were only about a quarter as likely to die. The difference between this scenario and the reference of 15 kJ/kg/day and 10% is equivalent to an hour’s stroll plus 35 minutes at a brisker pace.
Dr. Tessa Strain of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, and lead author on the paper, said:
“Our results show that doing more activity of any intensity is beneficial, but that expending those calories in more intense activity is better still. By gradually building up the intensity of physical activity we do each day we can improve our future health.”
Dr. Søren Brage, also at the MRC Epidemiology Unit and senior author on the paper, added:
“Our research shows how the use of wearable devices capable of measuring physical activity in large cohorts can help disentangle the roles of volume and intensity of activity in influencing future health. The availability of data from nearly 100,000 participants in UK Biobank, backed up by a series of validation studies, allowed us to compare the impact of activity intensity in groups with similar overall volumes of physical activity, and demonstrate that more intense physical activity has health benefits beyond just contributing to total activity volume. Our results also show that activity volumes accumulated almost exclusively through light activity could still halve the mortality risk. Taken together, this means that there are several different pathways to maintain good health and people can choose the path that works best for them.”
High blood pressure during pregnancy may mean worse hot flashes during menopause
Mayo Clinic, August 19, 2020
Women with a history of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy are more likely to experience bothersome menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, according to a study published Wednesday, Aug. 19, in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.
“We already know that women with high blood pressure during pregnancy or those who experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats have a higher risk of developing heart disease. Our research discovered that women who experienced high blood pressure during pregnancy were much more likely to experience bothersome menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats during menopause,” says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., the study’s lead author. Dr. Faubion is the Penny and Bill George Director for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health.
Researchers analyzed the medical records of 2,684 women ages 40 to 65 who were seen for specialty menopause or sexual health consultations at women’s health clinics at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, between May 2015 and September 2019. All study participants completed a questionnaire in which they self-reported their menopause symptoms and effects of these symptoms on their quality of life. Study participants also completed questionnaires that documented whether they experienced high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia or gestational hypertension.
Researchers discovered a significant association between women with a history of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy who reported more bothersome menopausal symptoms. Women with this high blood pressure history using hormone therapy also reported more menopausal symptoms, compared to women with no history of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy.
Dr. Faubion says more research is needed to understand why there is a link between high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy and more severe menopausal symptoms. But one thing is clear: Physicians need to do a better job monitoring women who experience high blood pressuring during pregnancy after they give birth.
“We know medical providers have historically done a lousy job identifying and following women with histories of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy, despite knowing that they have a higher heart disease risk,” says Dr. Faubion. “This study is another reminder that these women are different. It is important that they not only receive education with regard to what they may experience during menopause, but also that they undergo routine screenings and counseling on how they can reduce their risk for heart disease.”
Oxidative stress a significant contributor to COPD and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Justus-Liebig University (Germany), August 17, 2020
According to news reporting originating from Giessen, Germany, research stated, “Healthy ageing of the lung involves structural changes but also numerous cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic alterations. Among them are the age-related decline in central cellular quality control mechanisms such as redox and protein homeostasis.”
Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, “In this review, we would like to provide a conceptual framework of how impaired stress responses in the ageing lung, as exemplified by dysfunctional redox and protein homeostasis, may contribute to onset and progression of COPD and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We propose that age-related imbalanced redox and protein homeostasis acts, amongst others (e.g. cellular senescence), as a ‘first hit’ that challenges the adaptive stress-response pathways of the cell, increases the level of oxidative stress and renders the lung susceptible to subsequent injury and disease. In both COPD and IPF, additional environmental insults such as smoking, air pollution and/or infections then serve as ‘second hits’ which contribute to persistently elevated oxidative stress that overwhelms the already weakened adaptive defence and repair pathways in the elderly towards non-adaptive, irremediable stress thereby promoting development and progression of respiratory diseases.”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “COPD and IPF are thus distinct horns of the same devil, ‘lung ageing.”
Citrus fruits could help prevent obesity-related heart disease, liver disease, diabetes
Universidade Estadual Paulista (Brazil), August 11, 2020
Oranges and other citrus fruits are good for you—they contain plenty of vitamins and substances, such as antioxidants, that can help keep you healthy. Now a group of researchers reports that these fruits also help prevent harmful effects of obesity in mice fed a Western-style, high-fat diet.
The researchers are presenting their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
“Our results indicate that in the future we can use citrus flavanones, a class of antioxidants, to prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity in humans,” says Paula S. Ferreira, a graduate student with the research team.
More than one-third of all adults in the U.S. are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Being obese increases the risk of developing heart disease, liver disease and diabetes, most likely because of oxidative stress and inflammation, Ferreira says. When humans consume a high-fat diet, they accumulate fat in their bodies. Fat cells produce excessive reactive oxygen species, which can damage cells in a process called oxidative stress. The body can usually fight off the molecules with antioxidants. But obese patients have very enlarged fat cells, which can lead to even higher levels of reactive oxygen species that overwhelm the body’s ability to counteract them.
Citrus fruits contain large amounts of antioxidants, a class of which are called flavanones. Previous studies linked citrus flavanones to lowering oxidative stress in vitro and in animal models. These researchers wanted to observe the effects of citrus flavanones for the first time on mice with no genetic modifications and that were fed a high-fat diet.
The team, at Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Brazil, conducted an experiment with 50 mice, treating them with flavanones found in oranges, limes and lemons. The flavanones they focused on were hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol. For one month, researchers gave groups either a standard diet, a high-fat diet, a high-fat diet plus hesperidin, a high-fat diet plus eriocitrin or a high-fat diet plus eriodictyol.
The high-fat diet without the flavanones increased the levels of cell-damage markers called thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) by 80 percent in the blood and 57 percent in the liver compared to mice on a standard diet. But hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol decreased the TBARS levels in the liver by 50 percent, 57 percent and 64 percent, respectively, compared with mice fed a high-fat diet but not given flavanones. Eriocitrin and eriodictyol also reduced TBARS levels in the blood by 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively, in these mice. In addition, mice treated with hesperidin and eriodictyol had reduced fat accumulation and damage in the liver.
“Our studies did not show any weight loss due to the citrus flavanones,” says Thais B. Cesar, Ph.D., who leads the team. “However, even without helping the mice lose weight, they made them healthier with lower oxidative stress, less liver damage, lower blood lipids and lower blood glucose.”
Ferreira adds, “This study also suggests that consuming citrus fruits probably could have beneficial effects for people who are not obese, but have diets rich in fats, putting them at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity.”
Next, the team will explore how best to administer these flavanones, whether in citrus juice, by consuming the fruit or developing a pill with these antioxidants. In addition, the team plans to conduct studies involving humans, Cesar says.
Researchers find link between gut microbiome and cancer treatment outcomes
Study highlights positive impact of microbial diversity on immunotherapy response and suggests that cancer patients should eat a high-fiber diet with fruits, vegetables and grains with resistant starches.
City of Hope Hospital, August 19, 2020
Physicians at City of Hope, working in collaboration with scientists at Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), have found that greater gut microbial diversity in patients with metastatic kidney cancer is associated with better treatment outcomes on Food and Drug Administration-approved immunotherapy regimens. Their findings are outlined in a study published today in the journal European Urology.
“We also reported the changes over time in the gut microbiome that occur during the course of therapy — the cumulative findings from our report open the door to therapies directed at the microbiome,” said Sumanta Pal, M.D., one of the study’s senior authors and co-director of the Kidney Cancer Program at City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.
The gut microbiome is composed of microbes like bacteria and viruses that reside in the gastrointestinal tract. In recent years, an increase in knowledge about the microbiome in relation to general health has led to deeper explorations of its role in disease states, as well as how the organisms may interact with treatments.
“Previous studies have suggested a relationship between the gut microbiome and response to immunotherapy in solid tumors, including metastatic kidney cancer,” said Nicholas Salgia, B.Sc., a clinical research assistant at City of Hope and the paper’s lead author. “The results from our study build on earlier findings and reaffirm that the diversity and composition of patients’ microbiomes are associated with clinical responses to anti-cancer therapies.”
The study, which collected data from 31 people with metastatic kidney cancer, features the first reports of comparing microbiome sequencing at different time points in cancer patients. Participants were asked to provide up to three stool samples: at baseline, four weeks into therapy and 12 weeks into therapy.
Using the clinical trial results, the team was able to identify changes in the microbiome over time in kidney cancer patients receiving immunotherapy. The findings found that a greater variety of organisms was associated with a benefit to the patients, and also suggested that modulating the gut microbiome during the course of treatment may impact responses to therapy.
“The patients with the highest benefit from cancer treatment were those with more microbial diversity, but also those with a higher abundance of a specific bacterium known as Akkermansia muciniphila,” said Sarah Highlander, Ph.D., a research professor in TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division and one of the study’s senior authors. “This organism has been associated with benefit in other immunotherapy studies.”
Highlander says one potential takeaway is that oncologists might encourage patients to pay attention to their gut microbiome by eating a high-fiber diet, including fruits and vegetables high in fructo-oligosaccharides such as bananas, dried fruit, onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus and artichokes, as well as grains with resistant starches such as barley or uncooked potato starch, for example.
Highlander says that next steps should include expanding the relatively small study to a much larger group of patients that are followed over a longer time period. At City of Hope, researchers have already embarked on a clinical trial to further explore the idea that modulating the microbiome during therapy could have an impact on clinical outcomes.
“We have randomized patients with metastatic kidney cancer to receive a probiotic supplement in addition to an FDA-approved immunotherapy regimen or the immunotherapy alone,” explained Salgia. “This work provided a strong framework for such a study.”
The collaborations between clinical experts at City of Hope and basic science colleagues at TGen have contributed to advancements in the understanding of not just the microbiome, but also in cancer biology and clinical outcomes at large.
“Our strong relationship with the microbiome team at TGen has fruitfully produced novel insights into the clinical implications of the microbiome in kidney cancer, among other cancer types,” said Pal, who is an internationally recognized leader in the area of genitourinary cancers.
Just last month, City of Hope and TGen launched a project to use one of the world’s most comprehensive genomic analysis tools to map out personalized treatment plans for metastatic kidney cancer patients.
“This current study is a further testament to the collaborative research structure we’ve developed between the affiliate institutions,” said Pal. “Through these collaborations we can implement both a bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench research model that will lead to better patient care at City of Hope through access to clinical trials and precision medicine approaches.”
Antiapoptotic effects of carotenoids in neurodegeneration
University of Alabama, August 17, 2020
According to news reporting out of the University of Alabama research stated, “Apoptosis, programmed cell death type I, is a critical part of neurodegeneration in cerebral ischemia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from University of Alabama: “Apoptosis begins with activation of pro-death proteins Bax and Bak, release of cytochrome c and activation of caspases, loss of membrane integrity of intracellular organelles, and ultimately cell death. Approaches that block apoptotic pathways may prevent or delay neurodegenerative processes. Carotenoids are a group of pigments found in fruits, vegetables, and seaweeds that possess antioxidant properties. Over the last several decades, an increasing number of studies have demonstrated a protective role of carotenoids in neurodegenerative disease. In this review, we describe functions of commonly consumed carotenoids including lycopene, b-carotene, lutein, astaxanthin, and fucoxanthin and their roles in neurodegenerative disease models.”
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “We also discuss the underlying cellular mechanisms of carotenoid-mediated neuroprotection, including their antioxidant properties, role as signaling molecules, and as gene regulators that alleviate apoptosis-associated brain cell death.”