Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Physical inactivity is responsible for up to 8% of non-communicable diseases and deaths worldwide



News Release 29-Mar-2021
The impact per person is greatest in high-income countries, but more people are affected in middle-income countries


The health implications of physical inactivity are truly a global issue with physical inactivity responsible for up to 8% of non-communicable diseases and deaths across the world, finds research published online in British Journal of Sports Medicine.

It is in high-income countries that physical inactivity has the greater relative impact on non-communicable disease and death (in terms of increased risk to the average person), but it is middle-income countries that have the greatest number of people affected by physical inactivity and face the biggest strain on health resources.

Physical inactivity is a known risk factor for premature mortality and several non-communicable diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers.

Levels of physical inactivity increase according to the income levels of countries, and in 2016 levels of physical inactivity in high-income countries were estimated to be more than double those in low-income countries.


Physical inactivity was defined as less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.

The calculations show that the proportions of non-communicable diseases attributable to physical inactivity ranges from 1.6% for hypertension to 8.1% for dementia. Population-level, prevalence-based population attributable risks increase with countries' income levels and are more than two times higher in high-income countries than they are in low-income ones.


Working long hours may increase odds of second heart attack



News Release 

American College of Cardiology

Among patients who return to work after a heart attack, those who work more than 55 hours per week, compared to those working an average full-time job of 35-40 hours a week, increase their odds of having a second heart attack by about twofold, according to a prospective cohort study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Data from the International Labour Office estimates 1 in 5 workers worldwide work over 48 hours per week. Previous studies have found an association between working long hours and increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. This is the first study of its kind to examine the effect of long working hours and the risk of a second cardiovascular event among patients who return to work after a first heart attack.




Air pollution and physical exercise: when to do more or less


News Release 29-Mar-2021
European Society of Cardiology


Physical activity is important in preventing heart and blood vessel disease in young people so long as they don't undertake very strenuous activity on days when air pollution levels are high, according to a nationwide study of nearly 1.5 million people published today (Tuesday) in the European Heart Journal [1].


Maternal exposure to chemicals linked to autistic-like behaviours in children



News Release 29-Mar-2021
Simon Fraser University


A new study by Simon Fraser University's Faculty of Health Sciences researchers - published today in the American Journal of Epidemiology - found correlations between increased expressions of autistic-like behaviours in pre-school aged children to gestational exposure to select environmental toxicants, including metals, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phthalates, and bisphenol-A (BPA).


COVID-19 pandemic has led to more advanced-stage cancer diagnoses, physician survey finds


News Release 30-Mar-2021
American Society for Radiation Oncology


Doctors who oversee cancer clinics say that new patients are arriving for treatment with more advanced disease than before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). The national survey of radiation therapy practice leaders fielded this winter also indicates that treatment postponements and deferrals that were common a year ago have largely subsided and that clinics continue to use a variety of enhanced safety measures to protect their patients and staff.

"One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we already see the consequences of pandemic-driven drops in cancer screening and diagnostics," said Thomas J. Eichler, MD, FASTRO, Chair of the ASTRO Board of Directors.

Two-thirds of the radiation oncologists (66%) said new patients are presenting with more advanced-stage cancers. Nearly three-fourths (73%) said physicians in their practice are noticing that patients are not receiving cancer screenings, and many also said existing patients experienced an interruption in their radiation treatment due to the pandemic (66%).

"Because the pandemic and cancer cause disproportionately more harm for Black and other medically underserved populations, these rates may be even higher for some vulnerable communities," added Dr. Eichler.


New COVID-19 research: How to make people follow restrictions without appealing to fear



News Release 30-Mar-2021
"Many countries are hit by a third wave of infections and authorities may be tempted to induce fear to make people follow guidelines. Our findings provide policy makers with an alternative." - Michael Bang Petersen, professor, Aarhus University, Denmark
Aarhus University


Making people fear the coronavirus may motivate us to wash our hands, keep our distance and wear a face mask. But fear also takes a heavy toll on our mental health and is fertile ground for discrimination and prejudice. New research shows a different path.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the world in the spring of 2020, feelings of being capable or efficacious against the virus were a key factor in driving compliance with the authorities' guidelines. This is the result of a new study based on large surveys across eight Western democracies, published in British Journal of Health Psychology.

The extent to which we personally felt informed and capable of acting clearly affected the extent of our behaviour to prevent infection, e.g. by keeping our distance and refraining from handshakes. 


In fact, the study shows that when people feel capable of handling the crisis, the impact of fear is no longer important. Those who feel efficacious comply with the authorities' guidelines regardless of whether they are worried about the health of themselves and their families. And they also comply regardless of whether they trust their government and their fellow citizens.


High-fiber diet may play a role in controlling the inflammation associated with COVID-19



News Release 30-Mar-2021
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo


A study conducted at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, shows that compounds produced by gut microbiota (bacteria and other microorganisms) during fermentation of insoluble fiber from dietary plant matter do not affect the ability of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 to enter and replicate in cells lining the intestines. However, while in vitro treatment of cells with these molecules did not significantly influence local tissue infection, it reduced the expression of a gene that plays a key role in viral cell entry and a cytokine receptor that favors inflammation.ww.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/fda-hdm033021.php


Fat grafting shows promise for cancer patients with radiation-induced skin injury



News Release 30-Mar-2021
Wolters Kluwer Health


As cancer survival rates improve, more people are living with the aftereffects of cancer treatment. For some patients, these issues include chronic radiation-induced skin injury - which can lead to potentially severe cosmetic and functional problems.

Recent studies suggest a promising new approach in these cases, using fat grafting procedures to unleash the healing and regenerative power of the body's natural adipose stem cells (ASCs). "Preliminary evidence suggests that fat grafting can make skin feel and look healthier, restore lost soft tissue volume, and help alleviate pain and fibrosis in patients with radiation-induced skin injury after cancer treatment," says J. Peter Rubin, MD, MBA, FACS, American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) President-Elect and Chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is one of the authors of a new review of the clinical evidence on fat grafting for radiation-induced skin and soft tissue injury.


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Should you take fish oil? Depends on your genotype



News Release 25-Mar-2021
University of Georgia


Fish oil supplements are a billion-dollar industry built on a foundation of purported, but not proven, health benefits. Now, new research from a team led by a University of Georgia scientist indicates that taking fish oil only provides health benefits if you have the right genetic makeup.

The study, led by Kaixiong Ye and published in PLOS Genetics, focused on fish oil (and the omega-3 fatty acids it contains) and its effect on triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood and a biomarker for cardiovascular disease.

"We've known for a few decades that a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood is associated with a lower risk of heart disease," said Ye, assistant professor of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "What we found is that fish oil supplementation is not good for everyone; it depends on your genotype. If you have a specific genetic background, then fish oil supplementation will help lower your triglycerides. But if you do not have that right genotype, taking a fish oil supplement actually increases your triglycerides."


Relieve your stress, relieve your allergies



News Release 25-Mar-2021
Osaka City University


Increased allergic reactions may be tied to the corticotropin-releasing stress hormone (CRH), suggests a study published this month in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. These findings may help clarify the mechanism by which CRH induces proliferation of mast cells (MC) - agents involved in the development of allergies in the human nasal cavity.

"In my daily practice, I meet many patients with allergies who say their symptoms worsened due to psychological stress," states lead researcher Mika Yamanaka-Takaichi, a graduate student of the Department of Dermatology, Osaka City University, "This is what led me to do this research."

Together with Professor Daisuke Tsuruta of the same department, they hypothesized that due to its role in inducing MC degranulation in human skin, "CRH may also be involved in stress-aggravated nasal allergies," says Professor Tsuruta.

When the team added CRH to a nasal polyp organ culture, they saw a significant increase in the number of mast cells, a stimulation both of MC degranulation and proliferation, and an increase of stem cell factor (SCF) expression, a growth factor of mast cells, in human nasal mucosa- the skin of the nasal cavity. In exploring possible therapeutic angles, "we saw the effect of CRH on mast cells blocked by CRHR1 gene knockdown, CRHR1 inhibitors, or an addition of SCF neutralizing antibodies," states Dr. Yamanaka-Takaichi.

In vivo, the team found an increase in the number of mast cells and degranulation in the nasal mucosa of mouse models of restraint stress, which was inhibited by the administration of CRHR1 inhibitor, antalarmin.


More protein doesn't mean more strength in resistance-trained middle-aged adults



News Release 25-Mar-2021
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau


 A 10-week muscle-building and dietary program involving 50 middle-aged adults found no evidence that eating a high-protein diet increased strength or muscle mass more than consuming a moderate amount of protein while training. The intervention involved a standard strength-training protocol with sessions three times per week. None of the participants had previous weightlifting experience.


Moderate daily caffeine intake during pregnancy may lead to smaller birth size



News Release 25-Mar-2021
NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development


Pregnant women who consumed the caffeine equivalent of as little as half a cup of coffee a day on average had slightly smaller babies than pregnant women who did not consume caffeinated beverages, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The researchers found corresponding reductions in size and lean body mass for infants whose mothers consumed below the 200 milligrams of caffeine per day--about two cups of coffee--believed to increase risks to the fetus. Smaller birth size can place infants at higher risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes later in life.


The researchers noted that caffeine is believed to cause blood vessels in the uterus and placenta to constrict, which could reduce the blood supply to the fetus and inhibit growth. Similarly, researchers believe caffeine could potentially disrupt fetal stress hormones, putting infants at risk for rapid weight gain after birth and for later life obesity, heart disease and diabetes.



Anabolic androgenic steroids accelerate brain aging



News Release 25-Mar-2021
Brain imaging reveals long-term effects


Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), a synthetic version of the male sex hormone testosterone, are sometimes used as a medical treatment for hormone imbalance. But the vast majority of AAS is used to enhance athletic performance or build muscle because when paired with strength training. AAS use increases muscle mass and strength, and its use is known to have many side effects, ranging from acne to heart problems to increased aggression. A new study now suggests that AAS can also have deleterious effects on the brain, causing it to age prematurely.


Better postoperative recovery for physically active



News Release 25-Mar-2021
University of Gothenburg


People who are physically active on a regular basis recover better after surgery for colorectal cancer. However, starting to exercise only after the diagnosis is a fact had no effect on recovery, a University of Gothenburg thesis shows.


Frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home associated with an increased risk of death



News Release 25-Mar-2021
Very frequent consumption (two meals or more per day) of meals prepared away from home is significantly associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality, reports a new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Dining out is a popular activity worldwide, but there has been little research into its association with health outcomes. Investigators looked at the association between eating out and risk of death and concluded that eating out very frequently is significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause death, which warrants further investigation. Their results appear in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, published by Elsevier.

Eating out is a popular activity. The US Department of Agriculture recently estimated that Americans' daily energy intake from food away from home increased from 17 percent in 1977-1978 to 34 percent in 2011-2012. At the same time, the number of restaurants has grown steadily, and restaurant-industry sales are forecasted to increase significantly.

Although some restaurants provide high-quality foods, the dietary quality for meals away from home, especially from fast-food chains, is usually lower compared with meals cooked at home. Evidence has shown that meals away from home tend to be higher in energy density, fat, and sodium, but lower in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protective nutrients such as dietary fiber and antioxidants.


Preservative used in hundreds of popular foods may harm the immune system



News Release 25-Mar-2021
Environmental Working Group


A food preservative used to prolong the shelf life of Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its and almost 1,250 other popular processed foods may harm the immune system, according to a new peer-reviewed study by Environmental Working Group.

For the study, published this week in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, EWG researchers used data from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxicity Forecaster, or ToxCast, to assess the health hazards of the most common chemicals added to food, as well as the "forever chemicals" known as PFAS, which can migrate to food from packaging.

EWG's analysis of ToxCast data showed that the preservative tert-butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, has been found to harm the immune system both in both animal tests and in non-animal tests known as high-throughput in vitro toxicology testing. This finding is of particular concern during the coronavirus pandemic.


TBHQ is a preservative that is pervasive in processed foods. It has been used in foods for many decades and serves no function besides increasing a product's shelf life. Using new non-animal test results from ToxCast, EWG found that TBHQ affected immune cell proteins at doses similar to those that cause harm in traditional studies. Earlier studies have found that TBHQ might influence how well flu vaccines work and may be linked to a rise in food allergies.


Processed foods can be made without these potentially harmful ingredients, so shoppers should read labels carefully. TBHQ is often, though not always, listed on the ingredient label. It will be listed if it has been added to the product during manufacturing. But it can also be used in food packaging, particularly plastic packaging, in which case it may migrate to food.


Midlife loneliness is a risk factor for Dementia and Alzheimer's disease



News Release 24-Mar-2021
Recovery from temporary loneliness may provide reduction in dementia risk
Boston University School of Medicine


Being persistently lonely during midlife (ages 45-64) appears to make people more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD) later in life. However, people who recover from loneliness, appear to be less likely to suffer from dementia, compared to people who have never felt lonely.

Loneliness is a subjective feeling resulting from a perceived discrepancy between desired and actual social relationships. Although loneliness does not itself have the status of a clinical disease, it is associated with a range of negative health outcomes, including sleep disturbances, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, and stroke. Still, feeling lonely may happen to anyone at some point in life, especially under extreme and unresolved quickly circumstances such as the Covid-19 lockdowns. Yet, people differ in how long--or how "persistent"--they feel lonely for. Thus, it may be that people who recover from loneliness will experience different long-term consequences for their health than people who are lonely for many years.


After taking effects of age, sex, education, social network, living alone, physical health and genetic risk into account, persistent loneliness was associated with higher risk, whereas transient loneliness was linked to lower risk of dementia and AD onset after 18 years, compared with no loneliness.

"Whereas persistent loneliness is a threat to brain health, psychological resilience following adverse life experiences may explain why transient loneliness is protective in the context of dementia onset," explained corresponding author Wendy Qiu, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology & experimental therapeutics at BUSM. In light of the current pandemic, these findings raise hope for people who may suffer from loneliness now, but could overcome this feeling after some time, such as by using successful coping techniques or following a policy change in the physical distancing regulations.


Even small increases in NO2 levels could be linked to heightened risk of heart and respiratory death



News Release 24-Mar-2021


Even small increases in nitrogen dioxide levels in the air may be linked to increases in cardiovascular and respiratory deaths, according to research published by The BMJ today.

The findings suggest a need to revise and tighten the current air quality guidelines, and to consider stricter regulatory limits for nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a common air pollutant formed by burning fuel for things like transport, power and industrial processes.


Green leafy vegetables essential for muscle strength



News Release 24-Mar-2021
Edith Cowan University


Eating just one cup of leafy green vegetables every day could boost muscle function, according to new Edith Cowan University (ECU) research.

The study, published today in the Journal of Nutrition, found that people who consumed a nitrate-rich diet, predominantly from vegetables, had significantly better muscle function of their lower limb.

Poor muscle function is linked to greater risk of falls and fractures and is considered a key indicator of general health and wellbeing.


Patients should receive COVID-19 vaccine before surgery to reduce risk of death



News Release 24-Mar-2021
University of Birmingham


Governments should prioritise surgical patients for COVID-19 vaccination

Patients waiting for elective surgery should get COVID-19 vaccines ahead of the general population - potentially helping to avoid thousands of post-operative deaths linked to the virus, according to a new study funded by the NIHR.

Between 0.6% and 1.6% of patients develop COVID-19 infection after elective surgery. Patients who develop COVID-19 infection are at between 4- and 8-fold increased risk of death in the 30 days following surgery. For example, whereas patients aged 70 years and over undergoing cancer surgery would usually have a 2.8% mortality rate, this increases to 18.6% if they develop COVID-19 infection.

Based on the high risks that surgical patients face, scientists calculate that vaccination of surgical patients is more likely to prevent COVID-19 related deaths than vaccines given to the population at large - particularly among the over-70s and those undergoing surgery for cancer. For example, whereas 1,840 people aged 70 years and over in the general population need to be vaccinated to save one life over one year, this figure is only 351 in patients aged 70 years and over having cancer surgery.


Slow posting

Mar. 25, 2021

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I don't have internet at home right now.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

WMO Hurricane Committee retires some tropical cyclone names and ends the use of Greek alphabet


Published 17 March 2021

The World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee has retired Dorian (2019) and Laura, Eta and Iota (2020) from the rotating lists of Atlantic tropical cyclone names because of the death and destruction they caused. It also decided that the Greek alphabet will not be used in future because it creates a distraction from the communication of hazard and storm warnings and is potentially confusing.

The Hurricane Committee, which serves North America, Central America and the Caribbean (WMO Regional Association IV), agreed to the changes in its naming convention at its virtual session from 15 to 17 March. The meeting reviewed the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic season and fine-tuned preparations for 2021, including the provision of forecasts and warnings, as well as impact assessments, for wind, storm surge and flooding hazards.


The 2020 season got off to an early and rapid start with a record nine named storms from May through July. It ended late, with two major hurricanes in November for the first time on record and at a time when the season is normally winding down. The season was so active that WMO’s 21-name rotating list was exhausted and the Greek alphabet was used for only the second time (the first time was in 2005).


Although the naming convention is only a small part of the Hurricane Committee’s life-saving work, it attracts the most public attention. Atlantic tropical cyclone name lists repeat every six years unless a storm is so deadly or costly that its name is retired from future lists.

In total,93 names have now been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1953, when storms began to be named under the current system.


Hurricane Committee members agreed to create a supplemental list of names A-Z (excluding Q, U, as well as X, Y, and Z on the Atlantic list) that would be used in lieu of the Greek alphabet when the standard list is exhausted in a given season. Names on this list could be retired and replaced, when required. Names beginning with Q, U, X, Y and Z are still not common enough or easily understood in local languages to be slotted into the rotating lists.

The 2020 season showed that there were a number of shortcomings with the use of the Greek alphabet.

    There can be too much focus on the use of Greek alphabet names and not the actual impacts from the storm.  This can greatly detract from the needed impact and safety messaging.
    There is confusion with some Greek alphabet names when they are translated into other languages used within the Region.
    The pronunciation of several of the Greek letters (Zeta, Eta, Theta) are similar and occur in succession.  In 2020, this resulted in storms with very similar sounding names occurring simultaneously, which led to messaging challenges rather than streamlined and clear communication.
    Impacts from Eta and Iota were severe enough that those names have formally retired by the Hurricane Committee.  There was no formal plan for retiring Greek names, and the future use of these names would be inappropriate.  


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Heart-healthy lifestyles linked to lower risk of future cancers



News Release 16-Mar-2021
Risk of future cancers was lowest among participants in community-based observational study who had a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Massachusetts General Hospital


In addition to lowering risk of heart disease, maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle may pay off in lower risk for developing cancer, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and other centers in the United States and the Netherlands have found.

Looking at the potential link between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer among participants in two large population-based health studies, Emily S. Lau, MD, and Jennifer E. Ho, MD, from the division of Cardiology at MGH and their co-authors found that traditional risk factors for CVD, including older age, male sex, and current or former smoking were all independently associated with increased risk of the development of cancer.

In addition, they found increased levels of natriuretic peptides--markers of stress on the heart--also predicted higher cancer risk among study participants.


Although participants with CVD at baseline and those who had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke during the study were not at higher risk of subsequent cancer, those who most closely adhered to the AHA recommendations at study entry (manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat better, lose weight, stop smoking) had lower risk of future cancers.

Could environmental pollution from industry contribute to increase in undescended testicles?


News Release 16-Mar-2021
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology


Environmental pollution from industries such as coal mining and metal works may play a role in the increasing numbers of boys born with undescended testicles, according to a study published today (Wednesday) in Human Reproduction [1].

The researchers stress that their findings are hypothesis-generating, cannot show that these industries cause cryptorchidism and that further, targeted research is required. However, the study of nearly 90,000 boys is the first to describe at a national level a recent increase in incidence of the condition over time and to identify clusters of cases in parts of France that are former mining or metal-working areas, such as the Pas de Calais in northern France. The boys all had operations to correct undescended testicles between 2002 and 2014 when they were younger than seven years.


Boys with untreated cryptorchidism may have fertility problems in later life and are at higher risk of testicular cancer.

Other research has shown that certain chemicals, such as phthalates and pesticides, are associated with cryptorchidism.


Low socio-economic status is an established risk factor for cryptorchidism and several of the clusters identified in the study were in areas where economic activity was declining with the closure of industries. Other factors that are linked to a higher risk of cryptorchidism include maternal smoking and being born prematurely or small for gestational age, all of which are known to be more common in industrialised areas and in association with low socio-economic status.



New study finds slow walkers four times more likely to die from Covid-19



News Release 16-Mar-2021
Pick up the pace!
University of Leicester


SLOW walkers are almost four times more likely to die from COVID-19, and have over twice the risk of contracting a severe version of the virus, according to a team of researchers from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre led by Professor Tom Yates at the University of Leicester.


The analysis found slow walkers of a normal weight to be almost 2.5 times more likely to develop severe COVID-19 and 3.75 times more likely to die from the virus than normal weight fast walkers.


A further key finding from this research was that normal weight slow walkers are more at risk for both severe COVID-19 and COVID-19 mortality than fast walkers with obesity. Furthermore, risk was uniformly high in normal weight slow walkers and slow walkers with obesity.


Minimally invasive treatment provides fast pain relief for cancer patients



News Release 16-Mar-2021
Society of Interventional Radiology


A minimally invasive treatment for patients whose cancer has spread to their bones provides quick and sustained pain relief and improves quality of life, according to a new study to be presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology Annual Scientific Meeting. The palliative treatment known as radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is effective in providing relief in as little as three days, and the benefits last more than 12 months--a significant improvement over radiation treatment.

"Commonly used radiation treatments can take weeks to provide pain relief," said Jason R. Levy, MD, a vascular and interventional radiologist at Northside Hospital in Atlanta and lead researcher of the study. "A few weeks can represent a large portion of the remaining life in these patients, and RFA may be able to give them the best quality of life possible in the time they have left."



Consumption of added sugar doubles fat production



News Release 16-Mar-2021
University of Zurich


Sugar is added to many common foodstuffs, and people in Switzerland consume more than 100 grams of it every day. The high calorie content of sugar causes excessive weight and obesity, and the associated diseases. But does too much sugar have any other harmful effects if consumed regularly? And if so, which sugars in particular?

Even moderate amounts of sugar increase fat synthesis

Researchers at the University of Zurich (UZH) and the University Hospital Zurich (USZ) have been investigating these questions. Compared to previous studies, which mainly examined the consumption of very high amounts of sugar, their results show that even moderate amounts lead to a change in the metabolism of test participants. "Eighty grams [2.8 oz] of sugar daily, which is equivalent to about 0,8 liters of a normal soft drink, boosts fat production in the liver. And the overactive fat production continues for a longer period of time, even if no more sugar is consumed," says study leader Philipp Gerber of the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition.


Overall, the participants did not consume more calories than before the study, as the sugary drink increased satiety and they therefore reduced their calorie intake from other sources. Nevertheless, the researchers observed that fructose has a negative effect: "The body's own fat production in the liver was twice as high in the fructose group as in the glucose group or the control group - and this was still the case more than twelve hours after the last meal or sugar consumption," says Gerber. Particularly surprising was that the sugar we most commonly consume, sucrose, boosted fat synthesis slightly more than the same amount of fructose. Until now, it was thought that fructose was most likely to cause such changes.

Increased fat production in the liver is a significant first step in the development of common diseases such as fatty liver and type-2 diabetes.


The fitter you are the better you burn fat - new research



News Release 16-Mar-2021
University of Bath


Females who are fit and healthy tend to burn more fat when they exercise than men, according to new research from a team of sports nutritionists.

The research, comprising two new studies from academics led by the University of Bath's Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism, analysed the factors that most influenced individuals' capacity to burn body fat when undertaking endurance sports.


Previous research from the same team has shown how, for endurance athletes competing in distance events, the body's carbohydrate stores deplenish quickly when exercising. This means that that an athletes' ability to tap into their fat reserves to fuel them on becomes essential to their performance.


Their results found that females and those who were physically fitter, right across the age ranges, burnt fat more efficiently when exercising.


Lead author on both papers, Ollie Chrzanowski-Smith from the University of Bath explains: "Our study found that females typically have a greater reliance upon fat as a fuel source during exercise than males. Understanding the mechanisms behind these sex differences in fuel use may help explain why being female seems to confer a metabolic advantage for insulin sensitivity, an important marker of metabolic health."

The researchers note that the ability to burn fat as a fuel appears to protect against future weight gain, ensuring good weight management. However, they caution that the body's ability to burn fat should not be equated with an ability to lose weight. Losing weight is primarily produced by an energy deficit (ie. consuming fewer calories than we expend). For weight loss, in particular where individuals might be overweight, they stress the importance of diet and exercise.


Exposure to common chemical during pregnancy may reduce protection against breast cancer



News Release 16-Mar-2021
UMass Amherst research suggests propylparaben is an endocrine disruptor
University of Massachusetts Amherst


Low doses of propylparaben - a chemical preservative found in food, drugs and cosmetics - can alter pregnancy-related changes in the breast in ways that may lessen the protection against breast cancer that pregnancy hormones normally convey, according to University of Massachusetts Amherst research.

The findings, published March 16 in the journal Endocrinology, suggest that propylparaben is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that interferes with the actions of hormones, says environmental health scientist Laura Vandenberg, the study's senior author. Endocrine disruptors can affect organs sensitive to hormones, including the mammary gland in the breast that produces milk.

"We found that propylparaben disrupts the mammary gland of mice at exposure levels that have previously been considered safe based on results from industry-sponsored studies. We also saw effects of propylparaben after doses many times lower, which are more reflective of human intake," Vandenberg says. "Although our study did not evaluate breast cancer risk, these changes in the mammary tissue are involved in mitigating cancer risk in women."


Study uncovers safety concerns with some air purifiers



News Release 16-Mar-2021
Joint university research finds some air purifiers may actually increase harmful airborne chemicals
Colorado State University


The market for air purifiers is booming, but a new study has found that some air cleaning technologies marketed for COVID-19 may be ineffective and have unintended health consequences.

The study, authored by researchers at Illinois Tech, Portland State University, and Colorado State University, found that cleaning up one harmful air pollutant can create a suite of others.

Both chamber and field tests found that an ionizing device led to a decrease in some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including xylenes, but an increase in others, most prominently oxygenated VOCs (e.g., acetone, ethanol) and toluene, substances commonly found in paints, paint strippers, aerosol sprays and pesticides. According to the EPA, exposure to VOCs has been linked to a range of health effects from eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination and nausea, to damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system, and some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

The study, published this week in Building and Environment, mimicked real-world operating conditions for these ionization devices to test the effectiveness and potential to form chemical byproducts in environments similar to where we all live, work, and learn.

One of the most popular types of air purifiers on the market right now are ion-generating systems, including 'bipolar ionization' devices that electrically charge particles so they settle out of the air faster, and are generally marketed to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses.


"Manufacturers and third-party test labs commonly demonstrate their product's effectiveness using chamber tests, but these test reports often don't use experimental conditions that could show how the device actually performs in real-world conditions," said Brent Stephens, Chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at Illinois Tech. "To the extent that there are testing standards for ionization and other devices, those are largely industry-led standards that remain underdeveloped at this point, focused mostly on ensuring just one pollutant, ozone, is not generated during operation."


Health impacts of air ionizers are largely unknown, although a small number of recent studies give cause for concern. In August 2020, a study concluded that exposure to negative ions was associated with increased systemic oxidative stress levels (a marker of cardiovascular health), and despite reduced indoor particulate matter concentrations, there were no beneficial changes to respiratory health.

Another recent study of air ionizers in school classrooms reduced particulate matter concentrations led to some improvements in respiratory health among 11-14 year old children, the ionizers had an adverse effect on heart rate variability (a measure of cardiovascular health), meaning that any benefit to the lungs came at a cost to the heart.


Fewer kids are going to college because they say it costs too much


Published Sun, Mar 14 202110:00 AM EDT
Jessica Dickler


“I grew up with not a lot of money and that was a fear of mine — the money,” he said. “I would not be able to feasibly pay for college.”

Instead, Neuharth enlisted in the National Guard with an eight-year commitment. “This second option, this get-out-of-jail-free card, which was the military, seemed like a no-brainer.”


A year into the coronavirus crisis, many high school seniors have dramatically changed their expectations about the future.

A recent survey of high school students found that the likelihood of attending a four-year school sank nearly 20% in the last eight months — down to 53%, from 71%, according to ECMC Group, a nonprofit aimed at helping student borrowers.

High schoolers are putting more emphasis on career training and post-college employment, the report found.

More than half said they can achieve professional success with three years or less of college, and just one-fourth believe a four-year degree is the only route to a good job. ECMC Group polled more than 1,000 high school students three times over the last year.

Even before the pandemic, families were starting to question the return on investment, said Jeremy Wheaton, ECMC Group’s president and CEO.

″There is going to be a reckoning here.″


The price tag increasingly is a problem.

Tuition and fees plus room and board for a four-year private college averaged $50,770 in the 2020-21 school year; at four-year, in-state public colleges, it was $22,180, according to the College Board, which tracks trends in college pricing and student aid.

The significant increase in the cost of college has outpaced both inflation and — even more starkly — family income over recent decades.


For college-bound students and their parents, a whopping 98% of families said financial aid would be necessary to pay for college and 82% said it was “extremely” or “very” necessary, The Princeton Review found.


Monday, March 15, 2021

Fingerprints enhance our sense of touch



News Release 15-Mar-2021
Society for Neuroscience


Fingerprints may be more useful to us than helping us nab criminal suspects: they also improve our sense of touch. Sensory neurons in the finger can detect touch on the scale of a single fingerprint ridge, according to new research published in JNeurosci.


Association between a pregnant mother's diet and her child's weight



News Release 15-Mar-2021
Study results published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that a mother's diet during pregnancy has a long-term impact on her child's weight gain trajectory
American Society for Nutrition


Approximately one in five children and adolescents in the United States has obesity. These children have an increased risk of asthma, type 2 diabetes, and orthopedic disorders. Studies have also found links between childhood obesity and low self-esteem and poor academic performance. Children with obesity, in turn, are more likely to become obese as adults. As adults with obesity, they will experience a higher risk of coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke, chronic kidney and liver disease, many types of cancer, depression, and other mental health disorders.

Research has shown that accelerated weight gain in early childhood is associated with obesity later in childhood and during adolescence. Therefore, identifying the determinants of accelerated weight trajectories in children may set the stage for the development of strategies to successfully reduce obesity, as well as its associated conditions, in both childhood and adulthood.


According to Dr. Monthé-Drèze, the results of the study "suggest maternal nutrition during pregnancy may have a long-term impact on children's weight trajectories, and that there are specific developmental periods when nutrition during pregnancy may influence offspring growth. For example, we found that a pregnancy diet with higher inflammatory potential was associated with faster BMI growth rates in children between three and ten years of age. We also found that lower adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet during pregnancy was associated with higher BMI trajectories through adolescence." Interestingly, mothers' Alternate Healthy Eating Index-for Pregnancy score did not predict their offspring's growth trajectory.

Given the results of this study, Dr. Monthé-Drèze stressed, "it is important to counsel women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant on the importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy. In particular, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should consider a Mediterranean diet, which may not only benefit their own health, but may also help their child maintain a healthy weight." A Mediterranean-style diet has low inflammatory potential and is rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, low-mercury fish, and good quality oils such as extra virgin olive oil. These foods provide important sources of vitamin D, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and other nutrients that have been shown to be beneficial for offspring health. According to Dr. Monthé-Drèze, "research has shown that the foods that we eat during pregnancy may influence the metabolism of the growing child as well as their eating behaviors and food preferences. Additionally, the food choices women make during pregnancy are likely to be similar to food choices they offer their children. Therefore, it is conceivable that maternal nutrition during pregnancy may be related to long-term weight issues in the offspring. Additional research is therefore needed to better understand the relationship between maternal diet in pregnancy and child BMI and weight gain patterns."


Epigenetic mechanism contributing to lifelong stress susceptibility discovered



News Release 15-Mar-2021
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine


An epigenetic modification that occurs in a major cell type in the brain's reward circuitry controls how stress early in life increases susceptibility to additional stress in adulthood, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have learned. In a study in Nature Neuroscience, the team also reported that a small-molecule inhibitor of the enzyme responsible for this modification, currently being developed as an anti-cancer drug, was able to reverse increased vulnerability to lifelong stress in animal models.

"It has long been known that stress exposures throughout life control lifelong susceptibility to subsequent stress. Here we discovered a key molecular mechanism that mediates the lasting effects of that stress," says lead author Hope Kronman, an MD, PhD student in the Nash Family Department of Neuroscience and The Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.


A lifelong history of stress is the strongest known risk factor for depression in humans. Previous studies have shown that early-life stress increases the risk of adult depression as much as threefold, depending on its timing, intensity, and specific features. Early-life stress is also known to increase the likelihood of behavioral susceptibility to stress later in life, and to have particularly strong effects on the nucleus accumbens, an essential component of the brain's reward system.


Pre-term births in Tennessee decreased during pandemic

I suspect at least part of this is due to being away from stressful workplaces and commutes.  Also away from the pollution of commuting.



News Release 15-Mar-2021
Vanderbilt University Medical Center


Statewide stay-at-home orders put in place as Tennessee fought to control the spread of coronavirus last March were associated with a 14% lower rate of preterm birth, according to a research letter published today in JAMA Pediatrics.

Preterm infants have higher morbidity and mortality risks than babies born at term.


The study is the first in the US to confirm the trend that more persons staying at home, essentially on forced bed rest, reduced the number of late pre-term infants (34-35 weeks).

"Preterm birth affects 1-in-10 infants nationwide, taking a substantial toll on children, families and communities," Patrick said. "Our study, coupled with similar studies from Europe, provide initial evidence that COVID-19 stay at home orders were associated with reductions in spontaneous preterm birth. While encouraging, we need to ensure other pregnancy complications, like stillbirth, did not increase during this time period."


There were 49,845 births among Tennessee residents during the study period. The pre-term birth rate during the 2020 stay-at-home order was lower than rates in previous years (10.2% vs. 11.3%); late pre-term (35-36 weeks gestation) birth rates were also lower (5.8% vs. 6.5%).

"The overall decrease in preterm birth we saw during Tennessee COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order was driven by reductions among infants born late preterm, 35-36 weeks gestation," said lead author Elizabeth Harvey, PhD, MPH, Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist at CDC Division of Reproductive Health.

"Although we saw less infants born preterm, we also saw infants born during this time required more respiratory assistance at birth, which may suggest they were sicker and warrants further investigation," she added.


13 things primary care clinics can check to help preserve brain health



News Release 15-Mar-2021
American Stroke Association/American Heart Association scientific statement
American Heart Association


Primary care clinics can play an important role in preserving patients’ brain health using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 as a guide, as well as addressing 6 other factors associated with cognitive decline, according to a new American Stroke Association/American Heart Association Scientific Statement. “A Primary Care Agenda for Brain Health,” published today in the Associations’ journal Stroke.

Preserving brain health in an aging population is a growing concern in the U.S. An estimated one in five Americans 65 years and older has mild cognitive impairment, and one in seven has dementia. By 2050, the number of Americans with dementia is expected to triple, the statement authors note.


Life’s Simple 7 focuses on seven lifestyle targets to achieve ideal cardiovascular health: managing blood pressure, healthy cholesterol levels, reducing blood sugar, increasing physical activity, eating better, losing weight and not smoking. The new statement suggests primary care professionals also consider assessing risk factors to address cognitive health. The six risk factors to consider, in addition to Life’s Simple 7, that impact optimal brain health are depression, social isolation, excessive alcohol use, sleep disorders, less education and hearing loss. The statement lists risk factors for cognitive impairment, prevention strategies and best practices to integrate brain health prevention into primary care.

“Scientists are learning more about how to prevent cognitive decline before changes to the brain have begun. We have compiled the latest research and found Life’s Simple 7 plus other factors like sleep, mental health and education are a more comprehensive lifestyle strategy that optimizes brain health in addition to cardiovascular health,” said Lazar, who is also a professor of neurology and neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


Calls to poison centers about high-powered magnets increased by 444% after ban lifted



News Release 15-Mar-2021
Findings reflect the urgent need to protect children through preventive efforts and government action
Nationwide Children's Hospital


High-powered magnets are small, shiny magnets made from powerful rare earth metals. Since they started showing up in children's toys in the early 2000s and then later in desk sets in 2009, high-powered magnets have caused thousands of injuries and are considered to be among the most dangerous ingestion hazards in children.

When more than one is swallowed, these high-powered magnets attract to each other across tissue, cutting off blood supply to the bowel and causing obstructions, tissue necrosis, sepsis and even death. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found them dangerous enough that in 2012 they halted the sale of high-powered magnet sets and instituted a recall followed by a federal rule that effectively eliminated the sale of these products. This rule was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals in December 2016.

A recent study led by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy, Emergency Medicine, and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital along with the Children's Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) analyzed calls to U.S. poison centers for magnet exposures in children age 19 years and younger from 2008 through October 2019 to determine the impact of the CPSC rule and the subsequent lift of the ban.

The study, recently published in Journal of Pediatrics, found that the average number of cases per year decreased 33% from 2012 to 2017 after high-powered magnet sets were removed from the market. When the ban was lifted and high-powered magnet sets re-entered the market, the average number of cases per year increased 444%. There was also a 355% increase in the number of cases that were serious enough to require treatment in a hospital. Cases from 2018 and 2019 increased across all age groups and accounted for 39% of magnet cases since 2008.


"While many cases occur among young children, parents need to be aware that high-powered magnets are a risk for teenagers as well," said Bryan Rudolph, MD, MPH, co-senior author of this study and gastroenterologist at CHAM. "Serious injuries can happen when teens use these products to mimic tongue or lip piercings. If there are children or teens who live in or frequently visit your home, don't buy these products. If you have high-powered magnets in your home, throw them away. The risk of serious injury is too great."


New research reveals possible cause of mystery condition that leaves people paralysed



News Release 15-Mar-2021
University of York

Researchers believe they may have discovered a possible cause of a mystery condition that can leave sufferers suddenly unable to walk, talk or see.

It's hoped the study - led by the University of York and Hull York Medical School and supported by Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust - will pave the way for new treatments for Conversion disorder which affects around 800,000 people in the UK alone.

The condition, also known as functional neurological disorder (FND), causes physical symptoms that would appear neurological but doctors can't find an injury or physical condition to explain them.


The first findings suggest that conversion disorder could be caused by a low grade inflammation process that influences gene expression, which is the process by which the instructions in our DNA are converted into a functional product, such as a protein. Protein does most of the work in cells and is required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's tissues and organs.

Professor van der Feltz-Cornelis said: "This is a very difficult condition for people to live with and one which is often overlooked because the medical profession doesn't have the answers."

"People living with the condition can become very distressed and isolated, often losing jobs and social networks through being unable to communicate or being unwell. Patients can also suffer from memory and concentration problems."

"We made the discovery by examining levels of inflammation in blood samples from patients with FND that mimicked stroke-like symptoms. They were found to be higher than normal. Also, microRNA levels in the blood seemed to play a role and this influences the expression of genes in the cell." 


Millionaires dodged $2.4 billion in income tax, watchdog claims


Greg Iacurci
Published Mon, Mar 15 20211:27 PM EDTUpdated Mon, Mar 15 20211:33 PM EDT

The IRS should police wealthy Americans who intentionally dodge their income taxes with more vigor, according to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

About 686,000 taxpayers who earn at least $200,000 a year had a combined $38.5 billion tax balance as of mid-May 2019, according to the watchdog.

Further, the agency collects less than 50% of tax debt owed by high-income taxpayers within a year of the case being assigned to an IRS tax collector, the report said.


For example, high earners — those making at least $1.5 million a year — paid the IRS just 39% of the taxes they owed, on average, according to the audit. Such taxpayers still owed about $2.4 billion in delinquent tax.


Researchers enhance Alzheimer's disease classification through artificial intelligence

I have to wonder if believing Qanon stuff is an indication of the early stages of Alzheimer's



News Release 15-Mar-2021
Better detection of the disease may lead to earlier treatment, opportunity to participate in clinical trials
Boston University School of Medicine


Warning signs for Alzheimer's disease (AD) can begin in the brain years before the first symptoms appear. Spotting these clues may allow for lifestyle changes that could possibly delay the disease's destruction of the brain.

"Improving the diagnostic accuracy of Alzheimer's disease is an important clinical goal. If we are able to increase the diagnostic accuracy of the models in ways that can leverage existing data such as MRI scans, then that can be hugely beneficial," explained corresponding author Vijaya B. Kolachalama, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Financial strain predicts future risk of homelessness and partly explains the effect of mental illness



News Release 12-Mar-2021
Wolters Kluwer Health


Financial strains like debt or unemployment are significant risk factors for becoming homeless, and even help to explain increased risk of homelessness associated with severe mental illness, reports a study in a supplement to the April issue of Medical Care. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.


All types of financial strain analyzed - financial crises and debt, lower income, and unemployment - were associated with an increased risk of future homelessness. As expected, severe mental illness - psychotic, bipolar, or depressive disorder - was directly related to an increased risk of homelessness.

In addition, there was a significant "mediating effect" of financial strain, which explained 39 percent of the link between homelessness and mental illness. Homelessness risk was lowest for participants with none of the four types of financial strain, whether or not they had severe mental illness.

"Conversely, participants with all four financial strain variables had significantly higher risk of homelessness," Dr. Elbogen and coauthors write. The risk of becoming homeless increased with each additional type of financial strain, independent of mental illness.


The finding that financial strain accounts for part of the impact of severe mental illness "suggests that addressing mental illness without consideration of financial strain may not lead to optimal reduction in homelessness risk," Dr. Elbogen and colleagues add. The study supports efforts to help homeless individuals grow financially through employment, increased financial knowledge, and money management skills - as offered in effective interventions such as Housing First and VA homeless programs.


Study suggests role of sleep in healing traumatic brain injuries



News Release 12-Mar-2021
Technique developed at OHSU measures brain's waste-clearance system through MRIs
Oregon Health & Science University


Sound sleep plays a critical role in healing traumatic brain injury, a new study of military veterans suggests.

The study, published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, used a new technique involving magnetic resonance imaging developed at Oregon Health & Science University. Researchers used MRI to evaluate the enlargement of perivascular spaces that surround blood vessels in the brain. Enlargement of these spaces occurs in aging and is associated with the development of dementia.

Among veterans in the study, those who slept poorly had more evidence of these enlarged spaces and more post-concussive symptoms.

"This has huge implications for the armed forces as well as civilians," said lead author Juan Piantino, M.D., MCR, assistant professor of pediatrics (neurology) in the OHSU School of Medicine and Doernbecher Children's Hospital. "This study suggests sleep may play an important role in clearing waste from the brain after traumatic brain injury - and if you don't sleep very well, you might not clean your brain as efficiently."

Piantino, a physician-scientist with OHSU's Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute, studies the effects of poor sleep on recovery after traumatic brain injuries.


Children's preventive healthcare costs dropped under ACA



News Release 12-Mar-2021
Boston University School of Medicine


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) dramatically increased children's preventive healthcare while reducing out-of-pocket costs, according to a new Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) study.

Published in JAMA Network Open, the study found that checkups with out-of-pocket costs dropped from 54.2% of visits in 2010 (the year the ACA passed) to 14.5% in 2018.

"This is a great feather in the cap of the ACA, even though there is still some work to do," says study lead author Dr. Paul Shafer, assistant professor of health law, policy & management at BUSPH.

"We found that one in seven families were still charged something for their children's well visits," he says, "and costs can be a barrier to parents keeping their kids up-to-date with preventive care."


Intervening early for infant brain health



News Release 14-Mar-2021
CNS 2021 Virtual
Cognitive Neuroscience Society


In the world of neurodevelopment, one thing is clear: the earlier the intervention the better. Infancy is a critical time in brain development, and neuroscientists are increasingly identifying factors that can negatively impact cognition and ones that can improve cognition early in life. At the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS), researchers from the University of Minnesota are presenting new work on two early interventions: one on the potential use of engineered gut microbes for antibiotic-exposed infants and another on a choline supplement to treat infants exposed prenatally to alcohol.


At CNS, Gale will present new research that shows that infants with different compositions of gut bacteria process auditory and visual stimuli differently during memory tasks. "These results raise the possibility that gut bacteria are involved in the development of brain function," she says.


The antibiotic-exposed infants' ERP measurements indicated an abnormal response to their mother's voices compared to the non-antibiotic-exposed infants. All infants were otherwise healthy, and the researchers worked to control for other variables, such as inflammatory responses and gestational age of the infant.


Despite decades of research showing the detrimental effects of consuming alcohol during pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome is still common around the world - affecting approximately 8 of 1000 people in the general population, according to a 2017 study in JAMA Pediatrics. The syndrome leaves infants with structural brain abnormalities and cognitive impairments, among other deleterious effects.


From this work, he and his colleagues have identified a number of ways in which prenatal alcohol exposure causes the loss of brain cells and the interruption of important developmental processes, including gene expression. For example, he says, alcohol may interfere with genes involved in the myelination process throughout the brain.

This research has included work on a potential treatment, specifically an early intervention through supplementing with the nutrient choline. Over a decade-long randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study, they have seen how postnatal choline supplementation in 2- to 5-year-olds with prenatal alcohol exposure has translated to cognitive benefits compared to those without the supplementation.

At CNS, he will present findings from participants, four years after their choline supplementation and with no further interventions since. Those who received choline early in life showed higher non-verbal intelligence, higher visual-spatial skill, higher working memory ability, better verbal memory, and fewer behavioral symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than those in the placebo group.


The link between nutrients and brain development is not new; for example, folic acid has long been established as a supplement that prevents neural tube disorders.


Exhaustion linked with increased risk of heart attack in men



News Release 13-Mar-2021
European Society of Cardiology


Men experiencing vital exhaustion are more likely to have a heart attack, according to research presented today at ESC Acute CardioVascular Care 2021, an online scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1 The risk of a myocardial infarction linked with exhaustion was particularly pronounced in never married, divorced and widowed men.

"Vital exhaustion refers to excessive fatigue, feelings of demoralisation and increased irritability," said study author Dr. Dmitriy Panov of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk, Russian Federation. "It is thought to be a response to intractable problems in people's lives, particularly when they are unable to adapt to prolonged exposure to psychological stressors."


Farm-level study shows rising temperatures hurt rice yields



News Release 12-Mar-2021
North Carolina State University


A study of the relationship between temperature and yields of various rice varieties, based on 50 years of weather and rice-yield data from farms in the Philippines, suggests that warming temperatures negatively affect rice yields.

Recent varieties of rice, bred for environmental stresses like heat, showed better yields than both traditional rice varieties and modern varieties of rice that were not specifically bred to withstand warmer temperatures. But the study found that warming adversely affected crop yields even for those varieties best suited to the heat. Overall, the advantage of varieties bred to withstand increased heat was too small to be statistically significant.

One of the top 10 countries globally in rice production, the Philippines is also a top-10 rice importer, as domestic supply cannot meet demand.


California's rainy season starting nearly a month later than it did 60 years ago



News Release 4-Feb-2021
American Geophysical Union


The start of California's annual rainy season has been pushed back from November to December, prolonging the state's increasingly destructive wildfire season by nearly a month, according to new research. The study cannot confirm the shift is connected to climate change, but the results are consistent with climate models that predict drier autumns for California in a warming climate, according to the authors.

Wildfires can occur at any time in California, but fires typically burn from May through October, when the state is in its dry season. The start of the rainy season, historically in November, ends wildfire season as plants become too moist to burn.

California's rainy season has been starting progressively later in recent decades and climate scientists have projected it will get shorter as the climate warms. In the new study, researchers analyzed rainfall and weather data in California over the past six decades. The results show the official onset of California's rainy season is 27 days later than it was in the 1960s and the rain that does fall is being concentrated during the months of January and February.

"What we've shown is that it will not happen in the future, it's happening already," said Jelena Lukovi, a climate scientist at the University of Belgrade in Serbia and lead author of the new study. "The onset of the rainy season has been progressively delayed since the 1960s, and as a result the precipitation season has become shorter and sharper in California."


Friday, March 12, 2021

Billionaires pay a lower tax rate than the people getting the stimulus checks



Dan Price

11:33 PM · Mar 12, 2021

Billionaires have almost a third of America's wealth.

If you got a $1,400 stimulus every day and never spent it, you'd have a billion dollars in the year 3978.

But the billionaires pay a lower tax rate than the people getting the stimulus checks.

Make it make sense.

Breast cancer: The risks of brominated flame retardants



News Release 12-Mar-2021
Institut national de la recherche scientifique - INRS


Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are found in furniture, electronics, and kitchenware to slow the spread of flames in the event of a fire. However, it has been shown that these molecules may lead to early mammary gland development, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The study on the subject by Professor Isabelle Plante from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) made the cover of the February issue of the journal Toxicological Sciences.

Part of the flame retardants are considered to be endocrine disruptors, i.e. they interfere with the hormonal system. Since they are not directly bound to the material in which they are added, the molecules escape easily. They are then found in house dust, air and food.

This exposure can cause problems for mammary glands because their development is highly regulated by hormones. "BFRs pose a significant risk, particularly during sensitive periods, from intrauterine life to puberty and during pregnancy," says Professor Plante, co-director of the Intersectoral Centre for Endocrine Disruptor Analysis and environmental toxicologist. Endocrine disruptors, such as BFRs, can mimic hormones and cause cells to respond inappropriately.


Professor Isabelle Plante points out that peaks in human exposure to BFRs have been observed in the early 2000s. "Young women exposed to BFRs in utero and through breastfeeding are now in the early stages of fertility. Their mothers are in their fifties, a period of increased risk for breast cancer," says Professor Plante. This is why the team is currently studying endocrine disruptors related to a predisposition to breast cancer, funded by the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Cancer Research Society.


In all three studies, most of the effects were observed when subjects were exposed to the lowest dose, from dust, and not the higher doses. This observation raises questions about the current legislation for endocrine disruptors. "To evaluate the "safe" dose, experts give an increasing dose and then, when they observe an effect, identify it as the maximum dose. With endocrine disruptors, the long-term consequences would be caused by lower doses" reports Professor Plante.

Although counter-intuitive, this observation comes from the fact that high doses trigger a toxic response in the cells. When the body is exposed to lower doses, similar to the concentration of hormones in our body, the consequences rather consist in the deregulation of the hormonal system.


Fatal police violence nearby increases risk of preterm birth



News Release 11-Mar-2021
University of California - San Francisco


Black women have 80% higher risk of preterm birth between 32 and 33 weeks of pregnancy if a Black person who lives in their neighborhood is killed by police during the pregnancy, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley.


"Our findings suggest that deaths due to police violence, which already differentially affect Black and Brown communities, adversely affect the health of mothers and babies during pregnancy," said first author Dana Goin, PhD, post-doctoral scholar in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences. "In addition, we observed the strongest associations with preterm birth when the victim of the lethal violence and the mother/birth parent were both Black."


The researchers also discovered that the associations of fatal police violence with preterm birth were stronger among female infants. Since male fetuses are more sensitive to stress during pregnancy, it is plausible that male fetuses exposed to police violence may have been more likely than female fetuses to be miscarried earlier in the pregnancy, said Goin, who intends to explore this possibility further in a subsequent study.

"Our research provides evidence that policing practices that differentially harm Black people in California can also contribute to their disproportionate risk for preterm delivery," she said. "This work contributes to the evidence that additional forms of stress and hardship experienced from racism and institutional violence significantly affect their health and the health of the next generation."

Heart attack diagnosis missed in women more often than in men



News Release 12-Mar-2021
European Society of Cardiology


Chest pain is misdiagnosed in women more frequently than in men, according to research presented today at ESC Acute CardioVascular Care 2021, an online scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1 The study also found that women with chest pain were more likely than men to wait over 12 hours before seeking medical help.

"Our findings suggest a gender gap in the first evaluation of chest pain, with the likelihood of heart attack being underestimated in women," said study author Dr. Gemma Martinez-Nadal of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain. "The low suspicion of heart attack occurs in both women themselves and in physicians, leading to higher risks of late diagnosis and misdiagnosis."


Biological differences between females, males need to be considered in scientific studies




News Release 11-Mar-2021
Endocrine Society issues Scientific Statement on sex differences in research

The Endocrine Society
Biological differences between females and males affect virtually every aspect of medicine and biomedical research. In a new Scientific Statement released today, the Endocrine Society called for sex differences to be studied thoroughly to improve public health.


For instance, SARS CoV-2 infection, cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionately affects men. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found the overall case-fatality ratio was about 2.4 times higher in men than women.

Failing to consider sex differences can lead to the failure of promising drug candidates. Drugs are tested in cell lines or animals before drug trials are conducted in humans, and most of these foundational studies rely predominantly on male animals or cell lines. Many published studies that use animal models either do not report the breakdown of animals by sex or do not aggregate results by the sex. Clinical studies similarly fail to consider sex as a variable and instead often report it as a confounding factor.

"Without exploring sex differences, some drug candidates that could be beneficial to women never have the chance to make it to market," Bhargava said. "The process of developing drugs using only males of a species in pre-clinical studies likely contributes to the higher rates of adverse drug reactions in women compared to men, failure to see efficacy in clinical trials, and translation to therapeutics."


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Exposure to particulate matter before and after birth linked to heightened allergic rhinitis risk



News Release 11-Mar-2021


Exposure to the air pollutant fine particulate matter (PM2.5) before and after birth is linked to a heightened risk of childhood allergic rhinitis, finds research published online in the journal Thorax.

The period of vulnerability may be during late pregnancy (30 weeks) right through to the first year of life, the findings suggest.

Allergic rhinitis is defined as inflammation of the membranes lining the nose and typically involves one or more of: sneezing; itching; runny and/or a blocked nose. Allergic rhinitis doesn't cause serious health problems, but its various symptoms, particularly if severe, affect social life, school performance, and work productivity, say the researchers.


Lifestyle intervention is beneficial for most people with type 2 diabetes, but not all



News Release 11-Mar-2021
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center


 March 11, 2021- For people who are overweight or obese and have type 2 diabetes, the first line of treatment is usually lifestyle intervention, including weight loss and increased physical activity. While this approach has cardiovascular benefit for many, it can be detrimental for people who have poor blood sugar control, according to a study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

In the study, published in the current issue of the journal Diabetes Care, the researchers re-evaluated the National Institutes of Health Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD) study that found intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) neither helped nor hurt people with diabetes.

"Contrary to the initial findings of Look AHEAD, our work found that lifestyle interventions reduced potential cardiovascular harm and optimized benefits for 85% of those in the trial," said the study's lead investigator, Michael P. Bancks, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health.

"However, for those who had poor blood sugar control, lifestyle intervention increased the risk of major cardiovascular events. Based on our findings, doctors may want to consider alternative options, such as glucose-lowering drugs, before trying lifestyle modification for those people."


Unhealthy weight gains, increased drinking reported by Americans coping with pandemic stress



News Release 11-Mar-2021
Stress in America™ poll reveals secondary pandemic health crisis; parents, essential workers, communities of color more likely to report mental, physical health consequences
American Psychological Association


As growing vaccine demand signals a potential turning point in the global COVID-19 pandemic, the nation's health crisis is far from over. One year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, many adults report undesired changes to their weight, increased drinking and other negative behavior changes that may be related to an inability to cope with prolonged stress, according to the American Psychological Association's latest Stress in America™ poll.


'Hunker down' stress genes boosted in women who live in violent neighborhoods



News Release 11-Mar-2021
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau


The chronic stress of living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence and poverty alters gene activity in immune cells, according to a new study of low-income single Black mothers on the South Side of Chicago.

The changes in stress-related gene expression reflect the body's "hunker down" response to long-term threat, a physiological strategy for lying low and considering new actions rather than launching an immediate "fight-or-flight" response. This has implications for health outcomes in communities of color and other marginalized populations, said researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators at the University of Kentucky and UCLA. The researchers published the study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.


"These hunker-down responses are the body's strategy for conserving resources and persevering in the face of overwhelming adversity," Cole said. "Instead of preparing to fight or flee, the body bides its time and preserves itself for better days in the future. But it's important to get to that better future, or the hunkered-down body may not do the ongoing maintenance work needed for optimal health."


"Increased glucocorticoid activity is typically associated with aging, so it's as if these women are showing signs of accelerated aging, which is thought to be one reason that stress can lead to worse health outcomes," Rittschof said.


Stress reduction as a path to eating less fast food



News Release 11-Mar-2021
Ohio State University


Overweight low-income mothers of young kids ate fewer fast-food meals and high-fat snacks after participating in a study - not because researchers told them what not to eat, but because the lifestyle intervention being evaluated helped lower the moms' stress, research suggests.

The 16-week program was aimed at preventing weight gain by promoting stress management, healthy eating and physical activity. The methods to get there were simple steps tucked into lessons on time management and prioritizing, many demonstrated in a series of videos featuring mothers like those participating in the study.

"We used the women's testimonies in the videos and showed their interactions with their families to raise awareness about stressors. After watching the videos, a lot of intervention participants said, 'This is the first time I've realized I am so stressed out' - because they've lived a stressful life," said Mei-Wei Chang, lead author of the study and associate professor of nursing at The Ohio State University.


Most coronavirus long-haulers are women. That may be because they mount a stronger immune response to the virus.



Aria Bendix

Mar. 11, 2021


In general, men get hit harder by the coronavirus than women.

Men have almost three times the odds of requiring intensive-care treatment for COVID-19 than women, according to a December study, and 1.4 times the odds of dying from the disease.

But women may have a harder time recovering after an infection. French researchers found female long-haulers in Paris outnumber male long-haulers four to one. The findings suggest most of those long-haulers — defined as people with symptoms lasting more than eight weeks — are women around 40 years old with no preexisting medical conditions.

"If you think about who the long-haulers are, we're talking about young women who mostly were super healthy before," Noah Greenspan, a physical therapist who runs a pulmonary rehabilitation center in New York City, told Insider.


Scientists have a working theory about this imbalance: Women seem to mount a stronger T-cell response to the virus than men, which helps their immune systems identify and destroy it. This can save their lives, but it's a double-edged sword, since an overly robust T-cell response can lead the immune system to attack itself. In that case, the consequences of infection can lead to something akin to an autoimmune disease.


It's not altogether surprising that women who get COVID-19 die at lower rates than men but struggle with more long-term symptoms. Women live longer than men on average — which might be due to biological characteristics like a stronger immune response, though the science is far from settled — but are also more likely to develop autoimmune diseases like lupus, Crohn's, or rheumatoid arthritis.


Trump's own Pentagon chief says rioters wouldn't have stormed the Capitol if it hadn't been for the president's speech



Ryan Pickrell

Mar. 11, 2021


The man who was leading the Pentagon on Jan. 6 says that rioters would not have stormed the Capitol if it hadn't been for President Donald Trump's speech beforehand.

Asked if he thought Trump was responsible for what unfolded at the Capitol, then-Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller told Vice News that the situation appears to be "cause and effect."

"Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president's speech? I think it's pretty much definitive that wouldn't have happened."

Shortly before a pro-Trump mob descended on the Capitol complex, Trump spread falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election and told a large crowd of his supporters that "if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

Trump encouraged the crowd to march over to the Capitol make their voices heard, telling them that they have to be strong because "you'll never take back our country with weakness."


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Amazon blocks e-books and audiobooks it publishes from going to the library.



Dan Price

1:31 PM · Mar 10, 2021

Amazon blocks e-books and audiobooks it publishes from going to the library. It is the only publisher than bans people from getting its books in the library for free. If libraries didn't exist and were proposed today, Amazon would get the idea killed

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome at significantly increased risk of COVID-19



News Release 9-Mar-2021
University of Birmingham


Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at a significantly increased risk of contracting COVID-19 than women without the condition, new research led by the University of Birmingham has revealed.

Researchers are now calling for healthcare policy to specifically encourage women with PCOS to adhere to COVID-19 infection control measures while the global pandemic continues.


A new analysis of U.S.-funded cancer research shows that online news stories mention significantly fewer studies than do other forms of news media. Additionally, it highlights mismatches between relative prevalence or mortality of different cancer types and the amount of coverage they receive. Laura Moorhead of San Francisco State University and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 10, 2021. The U.S. government mandates that federally funded research findings be made widely available. However, many people access health information via news stories, meaning that journalists play a major role in determining what kinds of information is attained by the public. Despite this influence, little is known about which kinds of cancer studies get covered in the news.



News Release 10-Mar-2021
Pancreatic cancer is underreported compared to the number of deaths it causes; certain cancer types receive much more media coverage relative to mortality rates


A new analysis of U.S.-funded cancer research shows that online news stories mention significantly fewer studies than do other forms of news media. Additionally, it highlights mismatches between relative prevalence or mortality of different cancer types and the amount of coverage they receive. Laura Moorhead of San Francisco State University and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 10, 2021.

The U.S. government mandates that federally funded research findings be made widely available. However, many people access health information via news stories, meaning that journalists play a major role in determining what kinds of information is attained by the public. Despite this influence, little is known about which kinds of cancer studies get covered in the news.


High rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD worldwide among health workers during COVID-19



News Release 10-Mar-2021


A new systematic review of 65 studies from around the world involves a total of 97,333 health care workers and finds that 1 in 5 have experienced depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Yufei Li, Nathaniel Scherer, and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, U.K., present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 10.

The pandemic has posed significant challenges for health care workers, with many fearing for their own safety while facing a high workload and limited psychological support. Previous analyses of data from multiple studies have revealed high rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD among health care workers during the pandemic.