A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

What You Can Learn From Hunter-Gatherers' Sleeping Patterns

(The Atlantic) [A study by Jerome Siegel at the University of California, Los Angeles, and] his team found that insomnia, a common affliction of Western society, is almost non-existent in … three groups [of hunter gatherers and hunter farmers]. Neither the San nor Tsimane even have a word for insomnia in their language. Why?
His study provides three clues. First, all three groups wake up before sunrise, in stark contrast to Westerners who typically rouse when it’s already light. Once up, the volunteers got the most light exposure at around 9 a.m.; in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its strongest, they head for shade…
Second, the volunteers woke up at virtually the same time every day. “They get up at 7 a.m. today and 7 a.m. tomorrow. The day-to-day variability is almost zero,” says Eus van Sommeren from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, who was not involved with the study. “This is advice we give to people with insomnia: No matter how much sleep you’ve had, always try to get up at the same time.”
The Hadza, Tsimane, and San were also strongly affected by falling temperature, much more so than failing light. They start to sleep as the night cools and begin waking up at its coldest point…
“I think that these three things—sleeping during declining temperature, getting up at the same time of day every day, and exposing yourself to a lot of bright light in the morning—may be key to sound sleep,” says van Sommeren.
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Lack of sleep linked to risk factors for diabetes and heart disease

(Reuters Health) People who get less than six hours of sleep a night may be more likely to have risk factors that increase their odds of diabetes, heart disease and strokes, a Korean study suggests.
This combination of risk factors - including high blood sugar, high cholesterol, extra fat around the midsection, high blood pressure and excess amounts of fats in the blood - is known as metabolic syndrome.
“The 'short' sleepers should be aware of the risks of developing metabolic syndrome, which could lead them to suffer from life threatening and chronic diseases,” lead author Dr. Jang Young Kim of Yonsei University in South Korea said by email.
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Snoring, apnea linked to diabetes risk in older adults

(Reuters Health) Seniors with nighttime breathing issues like snoring or sleep apnea often have high blood sugar and may be almost twice as likely as sound sleepers to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study.
Findings from some 6,000 U.S. adults who were followed for up to 10 years suggest that doctors may want to monitor blood sugar in older patients with sleep-disordered breathing, researchers say.
“Recent evidence suggests that diabetes patients have a higher prevalence of sleep disturbances than the general population,” lead author Linn Beate Strand said by email.
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Sleep Apnea Is Tied to Gout

(Well, New York Times ) A new study has found that sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk for gout, a painful disease of the big toe and other joints caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood.
Observational studies have shown that people with sleep apnea have a higher prevalence of excess uric acid, but until now it has been unclear whether sleep apnea is associated with gout, and how strongly…
After one year, compared with controls, people with sleep apnea were about 50 percent more likely to have had an attack of gout, and the increased risk was found without regard to sex, age or obesity.
The conclusion suggests that treating sleep apnea would reduce gout attacks.
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Erectile Dysfunction in Men With Sleep Apnea: New Clues

(Medscape) Men with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who also have depressive symptoms and a low quality of life specific to sleep apnea have a higher incidence of erectile dysfunction (ED) than men with OSA alone…
[R]esearchers found that the frequency of ED did not correlate with OSA severity. However, the scores on the Beck Depression Inventory and the Epsworth Sleepiness Scale were inversely correlated with the Korean version of the International Index of Erectile Function (KIIEF-5)… In addition, the score of the Calgary Sleep Apnea Quality of Life was positively correlated with KIIEF-5… However, the respiratory disturbance index and the lowest oxygen saturation did not correlate with KIIEF-5.
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A Nap to Recap: How Reward, Daytime Sleep Boost Learning

(eLife) A new study suggests that receiving rewards as you learn can help cement new facts and skills in your memory, particularly when combined with a daytime nap.
The findings from the University of Geneva, to be published in the journal eLife, reveal that memories associated with a reward are preferentially reinforced by sleep. Even a short nap after a period of learning is beneficial.
"Rewards may act as a kind of tag, sealing information in the brain during learning," says lead researcher Dr Kinga Igloi from the University of Geneva.
"During sleep, that information is favourably consolidated over information associated with a low reward and is transferred to areas of the brain associated with long-term memory."
"Our findings are relevant for understanding the devastating effects that lack of sleep can have on achievement," she says.
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Crocodiles sleep with one eye watching

(BBC News) Crocodiles can sleep with one eye open, according to a study from Australia.
In doing so they join a list of animals with this ability, which includes some birds, dolphins and other reptiles… [T]he researchers say the crocs are probably sleeping with one brain hemisphere at a time, leaving one half of the brain active and on the lookout…
We and our fellow land mammals, it seems, are running out of company in our all-consuming slumber.
"To me, the most exciting thing about these results is they provide some evidence to think that the way we sleep might be novel, in an evolutionary sense," [senior author Dr. John] Lesku said.
Half-brain sleeping, he explained, may have evolved in a shared ancestor of reptiles and birds, and separately in the aquatic mammals - or perhaps in an even more distant ancestor, shared by birds, reptiles and mammals, before ancient land mammals somehow lost the knack.
"We tend to think of our sleep as the norm: a behavioural shutdown that is a whole-brain affair. And yet if birds sleep unihemispherically, and if crocodiles and other reptiles that engage in unilateral eye closure - if it turns out that they are also also sleeping unihemispherically, then suddenly our sleep becomes unusual.
"Then, pretty much the only things that aren't sleeping this way are the terrestrial mammals."
Community: I believe I saw on one of the animal shows that ducks sleep in groups, floating on the water, and they take turns sleeping on the edge of the group, with one eye open.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

Radio Show: Diet and Lifestyle as Gene Therapy
Actually changing genes is very difficult, but changing how they behave is under our control; this is the science of everyday gene therapy.
Cornmeal Mush Cures Nail Fungus
We've heard from many visitors to this website that cornmeal is surprisingly effective against nail fungus. You don't eat it, you soak your tootsies in it!
Does Coconut Water Ease Acid Reflux?
Coconut water produced amazing results against acid reflux.
Don’t Let Gas Ruin Your Marriage
Some people experience embarrassing amounts of intestinal gas. Others may not make much gas but the smell can be deadly. Find out what to do for flatulence.
Flu Medicines Make Sense for People at High Risk of Complications
Despite weak evidence, experts encourage doctors to use flu medicines for hospitalized and other vulnerable patients who develop flu-like illness.
Pricey New Cancer Drugs Produce Disappointing Results
When the FDA approves new cancer drugs there are often exciting newspaper headlines about advances and breakthroughs. Do the data support the hype?
Conflicting Advice on Mammograms
How soon and how often should a woman have screening mammograms? Various organizations have offered conflicting guidelines on mammograms.
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Tualang Honey Supplements Found to Reduce Harmful Side Effects of Smoking

(Taylor & Francis) Smoking is a known factor in many serious health issues: stroke, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, to name but a few. In their recent research…, Syaheedah et al. sought to study what impact antioxidants in honey have on the oxidative stress in smokers…
Honey, a natural product, created by bees and derived from nectar, contains sugars but also minerals, proteins, organic acids and antioxidants. Syaheedah et al. set out to determine the effects of Tualang honey on smokers after a 12-week supplementation on a group of 32 chronic smokers with two equal-sized control groups; one who were not supplemented and a group of non-smokers…
Syaheedah concludes: "Our findings may suggest that honey can be used as a supplement among those who are exposed to free radicals in cigarette smoke either as active or passive smokers in order to protect or reduce the risk of having cardiovascular diseases."
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Fukushima Nuclear Plant Worker Diagnosed With Cancer

(ABC News) A worker at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been diagnosed with leukemia, but experts say a sharp increase in cancer related to the plant is unlikely.
In March 2010 a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing a meltdown of three reactors and forcing the evacuation of workers and local residents. When the meltdown was eventually contained, there was a 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant. More than 80,000 people left their homes due to the threat of radiation.
Japan's Office of Health and Labor Ministry said it has approved the worker's claim for compensation for the radiation-induced illness, according to the Associated Press. Emails to Tepco, the company that ran the Fukushima plant, were not immediately answered.
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UK Ebola nurse has meningitis caused by persisting virus: doctors

(Reuters) A Scottish nurse who contracted and initially recovered from Ebola, but then suffered relapsing illness, has meningitis caused by the virus persisting in her brain, doctors treating her said on Wednesday.
Pauline Cafferkey was not reinfected with the Ebola virus, doctors said, but it had remained in her body since her initial recovery and re-emerged to cause life-threatening complications.
"The virus re-emerged around the brain and around the spinal column to cause meningitis," said Michael Jacobs, an infectious diseases consultant who has been treating Cafferkey in London…
Jacobs said Cafferkey had been critically ill and at one stage last week was at high risk of dying, but had now made a significant improvement and looked likely to be able to recover.
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Artificial Skin That Can Feel Is In Our Future

(TIME) Zhenan Bao, professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, and her colleagues have developed a skin-like plastic sensor that can actually feel pressure and transmit a touch signal to nerve cells.
Scientists hope to develop a sheet of skin embedded with lots of these tiny sensors. Covering a prosthetic with this artificial skin may give users the ability to feel, possibly even alleviating phantom limb pain from the loss of a limb.
Bao and her team figured out how to imitate pressure by embedding carbon nanotubes into flexible waffled plastic. 
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State Laws Are Reaching Into The Exam Room To Interfere With Doctors And Their Patients

(ThinkProgress) Across the country, a web of politically motivated laws influence the way that doctors are allowed to interact with their patients.
As detailed in a new report entitled “Politics in the Exam Room,” medical professionals in a growing number of states must navigate restrictions that govern the way they can address issues like reproductive health, gun safety, and toxic chemical exposure.
Proliferating anti-abortion laws, for instance, prevent doctors from using their best medical judgment to treat their patients.
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Healthcare Needs Pit Crews, Not Cowboys, Says Atul Gawande

(Medscape) Patient outcomes depend just as much on well-coordinated teams as they do on technically skilled clinicians, said Atul Gawande, MD, a health policy professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and a staff writer at The New Yorker
"We have trained, hired, and rewarded physicians for being cowboys, but it's pit crews that we need for our patients," he explained. "Teams of clinicians deliver far better results than autonomous specialists, each doing their own thing."
In his 2009 bestselling book — The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right — Dr Gawande points out that surgical checklists are one way to build clinical teams that keep patients … from falling through the cracks.
In the operating room, such checklists, adopted from the aviation industry, prod clinicians to periodically stop and review surgical goals and safety risks — before the induction of anesthesia, before the first incision, and before the patient leaves the operating room. In the process, every team member introduces themselves and describes their role.
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Unintended Costs of Health-Care Integration

(Harvard Medical School) In recent years hospitals have been rapidly acquiring physician practices, a trend that could potentially lower health care spending--for example, through better coordination of inpatient and outpatient care--or increase spending by increasing prices or use of profitable hospital-based services.
As health care providers position themselves to meet the challenges of new payment models that hold them accountable for the full spectrum of patient care, many observers believe that this trend will accelerate. If this is the case, the consequences of physician-hospital integration become even more important to understand.
So far, a new study by researchers from Harvard Medical School's Department of Health Care Policy has determined, this type of provider consolidation has led to higher prices with no evidence of offsetting reduction in the use of care. 
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Retail Clinics Best Used as Backup to a Patient's Primary Care Physician

(American College of Physicians) The American College of Physicians (ACP) today said that retail health clinics -- now commonly present in drugstores and/or big box retailers -- are best used as a backup alternative to a patient's primary care physician for the diagnosis and treatment of episodic minor illnesses. "Health care delivery models are changing and our patients are embracing and exploring alternatives to the traditional office practice," said Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, president of ACP…
"The expansion of both the number and scope of retail health clinics raises many questions about the role of retail clinics long term and how they may complement or augment good medical care and routine preventive health services." Dr. Riley said. "A balance must be struck between the convenience and easy access retail clinics provide with the importance of establishing relationships between patients and physicians, particularly for patients who have complex medical histories and/or multiple medical problems."
ACP's half-dozen recommendations and positions address the expansion of retail health clinics while underscoring the need for adherence to patient safety and quality protocols and strong communication and collaboration among patients and the retail health clinic providers, and physicians.
Community: The ACP has a financial interest in demoting retail clinics.
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Drug Makers Sidestep Barriers on Pricing

(New York Times) The pain reliever Duexis is a combination of two old drugs, the generic equivalents of Motrin and Pepcid.
If prescribed separately, the two drugs together would cost no more than $20 or $40 a month. By contrast, Duexis, which contains both in a single pill, costs about $1,500 a month.
Needless to say, many insurers do not want to pay for Duexis. Yet sales of the drug are growing rapidly, in large part because its manufacturer, Horizon Pharma, has figured out a way to circumvent efforts of insurers and pharmacists to switch patients to the generic components, or even to the over-the-counter versions.
It is called “Prescriptions Made Easy.” Instead of sending their patients to the drugstore with a prescription, doctors are urged by Horizon to submit prescriptions directly to a mail-order specialty pharmacy affiliated with the drug company. The pharmacy mails the drug to the patient and deals with the insurance companies, relieving the doctor of the reimbursement hassle that might otherwise discourage them from prescribing such an expensive drug.
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Two more Obamacare health insurance plans collapse

(Washington Post) Nearly a third of the innovative health insurance plans created under the Affordable Care Act will be out of business at the end of 2015, following announcements Friday that plans in Oregon and Colorado are folding.
In just the past week, four co-ops, as the nonprofit plans are known, have decided or been ordered to shut down. Their demise means that eight of the 23 co-ops in existence a year ago will be unavailable to consumers shopping for 2016 coverage through insurance marketplaces created under the ACA.
Community: I’m sorry to see this. I had hoped these non-profit plans could lead us to single payer.
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Mediterranean diet linked to healthier aging brain

(Reuters Health) Following a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish and healthy fats may preserve a more youthful brain in old age, a U.S. study suggests.
Previous research has connected a Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative brain conditions, noted lead study author Yian Gu of Columbia University in New York.
For the current study, researchers focused on elderly people with normal cognitive function to see if the diet might also be tied to losing fewer brain cells due to aging, Gu said by email.
“Among cognitively healthy older adults, we were able to detect an association between higher adherence to a Mediterranean type diet and better brain measures,” Gu said.
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Does Vessel Dysfunction Drive Alzheimer's Disease?

(MedPage Today) Costantino Iadecola, MD, and the team he directs at the Cornell Brain and Mind Research Institute in New York City have been delving into the mechanisms linking Alzheimer's disease and vascular dysfunction through mouse models and basic science. Iadecola spoke with MedPage Today for an overview of those discoveries and what it means for clinical practice…
"In Alzheimer's patients, before they become demented, there is already dysfunction of the blood vessels in the brain. For example, patients before they develop Alzheimer's disease they have alteration of the blood brain barrier, which is another aspect of vascular function. So all this data matches what we find in the laboratory, the mouse work suggesting that one of the first things that a-beta does is really alter blood vessel function, while it also alters neuronal function -- nobody is arguing with that. But it's a double hit. There are two things going on."
"All these data together suggest that while we try to figure out how to treat Alzheimer's with medicines, we should really make an effort to curtail the vascular risk factors because they can have a beneficial effect on the progression of the disease."
Community: LiveStrong has some suggestions for keeping blood vessels healthy.
There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Boosting the Brain's Waste Disposal System

(Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin) Worldwide, more than 20% of persons over the age of 85 suffer from Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Deposits of beta-amyloid (Aβ) peptide represent an important target for research into AD. These peptide fragments, which accumulate in the brains of AD patients, play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD.
A research team headed by Prof. Dr. Frank Heppner, Director of Charité's Department of Neuropathology, had previously demonstrated that the brain's immune cells, known as microglia, are impaired in the course of AD., Thus, microglia in AD are unable to fulfill their primary purpose, which is the elimination of foreign substances or abnormal structures such as pathological beta-amyloid peptides…
The researchers are now planning to conduct further studies aimed at identifying the missing stimulus. By doing so, they hope to ensure that the phagocytic cells in question can return to fulfilling their original function.
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Some Evidence of Link Between Stress, Alzheimer's Disease Discovered

(University of Florida) University of Florida Health researchers have uncovered more evidence of a link between the brain's stress response and a protein related to Alzheimer's disease.
The research, conducted on a mouse model and in human cells, found that a stress-coping hormone released by the brain boosts the production of protein fragments. Those protein pieces, known as amyloid beta, clump together and trigger the brain degeneration that leads to Alzheimer's disease…
The research contributes to further understanding the potential relationship between stress and Alzheimer's disease, a disorder believed to stem from a mix of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. The findings strengthen the idea of a link between stress and Alzheimer's disease, [said Todd Golde, M.D., Ph.D.].
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Aspirin relative might help Alzheimer's

(San Diego Union-Tribune) A chemical relative of aspirin is potentially useful in treating a neurodegenerative illness like Alzheimer's disease and possibly Alzheimer's itself, according to a study by California scientists.
In a mouse model of frontotemporal dementia, giving salsalate reversed memory loss and protected the hippocampus, a part of the brain essential for memory formation. The drug appears to work by reducing toxic buildup of tau, a protein also implicated in Alzheimer's…
Salsalate inhibits a process called acetylation, which makes tau more toxic, the study found.
"One of the main enzymes that acetylates tau is p300, which can be inhibited by salicylate or SSA, an ancient drug commonly used as an NSAID [pain reliever]," the study stated.
"Pharmacokinetically, SSA is quickly metabolized into its active component, salicylate. Unlike salicylate, aspirin (acetylsalicylate) leads to higher levels of ac-tau in cultured neurons. SSA and aspirin have been widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and related illnesses in the past decades, and work presumably via inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase (COX). Interestingly, patients taking NSAIDs, including salicylate and derivatives, have a reduced risk of AD."
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Food as Medicine: Preventing Alzheimer's

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) To help minimize your risk of Alzheimer's disease, stick with the Dr. Weil-recommended Anti-Inflammatory Diet. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants - both of which can help address inflammation, which experts now consider a primary contributor to many diseases, including Alzheimer's. You can get started by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as omega-3 rich foods such as walnuts, wild Alaskan salmon, and freshly ground flaxseed.
Find out if you are eating Anti-Inflammatory - take Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Quiz!
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Major Breakthrough in Understanding Alzheimer's Disease

(Trinity College Dublin) Scientists at Trinity College Dublin have shed light on a fundamental mechanism underlying the development of Alzheimer's disease, which could lead to new forms of therapy for those living with the condition…
Alzheimer's disease is characterized, in part, by the build-up of a small protein ('amyloid-beta') in the brains of patients. Impaired clearance of this protein appears to be a major factor in the build-up of plaques, and then in the disease process itself…
Research Assistant Professor in Genetics at Trinity, Dr Matthew Campbell, [said]: "Our recent findings have highlighted the importance of understanding diseases at the molecular level. The concept of periodic clearance of brain amyloid-beta across the BBB could hold tremendous potential for Alzheimer's patients in the future. The next steps are to consider how this might be achieved.
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Modulation of Brain Cholesterol: New Line of Research in Alzheimer's Disease Treatment?

(INSERM) We have known for some years that Alzheimer's disease is characterised by two types of lesions, amyloid plaques and degenerated tau protein. Cholesterol plays an important role in the physiopathology of this disease.
Two French research teams (Inserm/CEA/University of Lille/University of Paris-Sud ) have just shown, in a rodent model, that overexpressing an enzyme that can eliminate excess cholesterol from the brain may have a beneficial action on the tau component of the disease, and completely correct it. This is the first time that a direct relationship has been shown between the tau component of Alzheimer's disease and cholesterol…
Taken together, this work now enables the research team coordinated by Nathalie Cartier, Inserm Research Director, to propose a gene therapy approach for Alzheimer's disease: intracerebral administration of a vector, AAV-CYP46A1, in patients with early and severe forms (1% of patients, familial forms) for whom there is no available treatment.
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Disruption of Brain-Blood Barrier Might Influence Progression of Alzheimer’s

(Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology) More and more data from preclinical and clinical studies strengthen the hypothesis that immune system-mediated actions contribute to and drive pathogenesis in Alzheimer's disease. The team of Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke in the Claude Libert Group (VIB/UGent) combined their knowledge and expertise related to inflammation with the expertise in Alzheimer's disease present in the Bart De Strooper Group (VIB/KU Leuven).
This collaboration lead to the insights that Aβ indeed induces a strong inflammatory response, thereby destroying an important but often neglected brain barrier, called the blood-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barrier. Disruption of this blood-CSF barrier disturbs brain homeostasis and might negatively affect disease progression. Strikingly, these effects could be blocked in the presence of a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitor.
Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke: "Although further research is needed, these data suggest that blocking MMP activity or upstream inflammatory signalling, might have therapeutic potential to treat Alzheimer's disease. It is important we could demonstrate the role of the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier, because this would be an easier target to reach in comparison with the targets of current therapies."
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Increased Activity in Older Brains May Point to New Avenues for Treating Memory Loss

(Northwestern University) Northwestern Medicine scientists have examined activity in a little-studied part of the brain associated with memory and found for the first time the reason that neurons there become more active in old age, findings that may suggest a new target for future therapies to combat memory loss in aging and Alzheimer's disease…
"What we can do now very well is identify the cellular properties of abnormal things that change with aging and discover how we can make it young-like again," said study co-author Matthew Oh, research assistant professor of physiology at Feinberg.
[Senior author John] Disterhoft said the study's findings are important because they show that not all parts of the brain react in the same way to aging. They also make the case that future treatments for the cognitive decline seen in aging as well as in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease will need to account for many different effects.
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Stem Cell Treatment Lessens Impairments Caused by Dementia With Lewy Bodies

(University of California – Irvine) Neural stem cells transplanted into damaged brain sites in mice dramatically improved both motor and cognitive impairments associated with dementia with Lewy bodies, according to University of California, Irvine neurobiologists…
DLB is the second-most common type of age-related dementia after Alzheimer's disease and is characterized by the accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein that collects into spherical masses called Lewy bodies -- which also accumulate in related disorders, including Parkinson's disease. This pathology, in turn, impairs the normal function of neurons, leading to alterations in critical brain chemicals and neuronal communication and, eventually, to cell death.
The UCI researchers, led by associate professor of neurobiology & behavior Mathew Blurton-Jones and doctoral student Natalie Goldberg, hope that one day transplantation of neural stem cells into human patients might help overcome the motor and cognitive impairments of DLB.
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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New Method to Measure Artery Stiffness in the Human Brain

(UCLA Health Sciences) Using a new MRI technique, the UCLA team measured the volume of cerebral arteries twice using a technique called Arterial Spin Labeling, which can magnetically "label" the blood in arteries without the use of an external agent. The team measured once at the systolic phase of the cardiac cycle, when the heart was pumping the blood into the brain, and again at the diastolic phase, when the heart was relaxing.
That team found that the stiffer the arteries were, the smaller the change in the arterial blood volume between the two cardiac phases, because stiff arteries are not as able to change shape or comply with the blood pressure changes as elastic arteries are, said study senior author Danny J.J. Wang…
"We hope our technique can provide an early marker for a number of socioeconomically important diseases like Alzheimer's," said study first author Lirong Yan, an assistant researcher in the UCLA Department of Neurology. "A number of studies suggest that vascular dysfunctions, including arterial stiffening, are associated with the development of Alzheimer's. The development of early bio- or imaging markers for Alzheimer's is of great importance for slowing disease progression. Hardened arteries due to the accumulation of plaques on the vessel walls also is linked to cerebrovascular disorders such as stroke. We hope our technique may provide an early marker for the prevention of stroke."
Community: There are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Parkinson's Disease: Everyday Activity More Beneficial Than Occasional Strenuous Exercise

(University of Michigan Health System) New University of Michigan research finds people with Parkinson's disease may want to consider attempting to do the dishes, fold the laundry and take strolls around the neighborhood in their quest to control their symptoms.
Parkinson's patients often become sedentary because of motor symptoms such as gait, balance problems or falls, said study principal investigator Nicolaas Bohnen, M.D., Ph.D., director of the U-M Functional Neuroimaging, Cognitive and Mobility Laboratory.
Once patients feel unstable on their feet, they may develop a fear of falling and then get scared to do any activity at all. Bohnen's team investigated whether participation in exercise, like swimming or aerobics, could help alleviate the motor symptoms that made these patients want to stay sedentary in the first place.
"What we found was it's not so much the exercise, but the routine activities from daily living that were protecting motor skills," Bohnen said. "Sitting is bad for anybody, but it's even worse for Parkinson's patients."
Community: The things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline may also protect against other neurodegenerative diseases.
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Cancer Drug Helps Parkinson's Patients

(NBC News) A pill usually prescribed to treat leukemia has had dramatic effects in a few patients with Parkinson's disease, doctors reported Saturday.
Doctors hoped it might stop the steady and unstoppable progression of Parkinson's, but it also appears to have reversed some of the worst symptoms in 10 of the 12 patients who tried it.
It'll take bigger trials to really show if it does make a difference but the findings have encouraged families and patients alike who took part in the tests.
The drug's called Tasigna. Its generic name is nilotinib and it's used to fight chronic myelogenous leukemia. High doses kill leukemia cells. The researchers think lower doses will help damaged brain cells get rid of toxic trash that keeps them from functioning properly.
Community: The things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline may also protect against other neurodegenerative diseases.
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New Technique Negotiates Neuron Jungle to Target Source of Parkinson's Disease

(Imperial College London) Researchers from Imperial College London and Newcastle University believe they have found a potential new way to target cells of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease.
The new technique is relatively non-invasive and has worked to improve symptoms of the disease in rats…
Scientists already suspect that cholinergic neuron cells are involved in Parkinson's disease. This is because in post mortem studies of patients' brains, about half of these cells have perished, for reasons that are currently unknown.
The researchers worked with rats that had been treated to recreate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. They used a harmless virus to deliver a specially-designed genetic 'switch' to the cholinergic neurons. The rats were then given a drug that was designed to activate the 'switch' and stimulate the target neurons.
Following the treatment the rats made an almost complete recovery and were able to move normally.
Community: The things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline may also protect against other neurodegenerative diseases.
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Gene Could Hold Key to Treating Parkinson's Disease

(King's College London) Researchers at King's College London have identified a new gene linked to nerve function, which could provide a treatment target for 'switching off' the gene in people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease…
Previous research suggests that defects in mitochondria, which are tiny 'batteries' in cells that provide energy, play an important role in a number of diseases that affect the nervous system, including Parkinson's. However, until now the neuronal processes underlying the development of these conditions were unknown.
The study … discovered that damaged mitochondria in fruit flies produce a signal which stops nerve cells from working. A gene called HIFalpha was found to regulate the nerve signals from damaged mitochondria and, when this gene was 'switched off' by the research team, nerve function in flies with Parkinson's disease was restored. By deactivating the HIFalpha gene, the early failure of nerve cells caused by mitochondrial damage was prevented…
As the HIFalpha gene is also found in humans, this new finding could pave the way for new treatments in the future, according to the study authors.
Community: The things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline may also protect against other neurodegenerative diseases.
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Dormant viral genes may awaken to cause ALS

(National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Scientists at the National Institutes of Health discovered that reactivation of ancient viral genes embedded in the human genome may cause the destruction of neurons in some forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The results, published in Science Translational Medicine, suggest a link between human endogenous retroviral genes (HERVs) and ALS. The findings also raise the question of whether antiretroviral drugs, similar to those used for suppressing HIV, may help some ALS patients.
For generations, humans have been passing on genetic remnants of HERV infections that may have happened millions of years ago. Although nearly eight percent of the normal human genome is made up of these genes, very little is known about their role in health and disease.
“People call the genes for these viruses junk DNA. Our results suggest they may become activated during ALS,” said Avindra Nath, M.D., clinical director at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and a senior author of the study. “Ultimately we hope the results will lead to effective treatments for a heartbreaking disorder.”
Currently, there is no effective treatment for the more than 12,000 Americans who live with ALS.
Community: The things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline may also protect against other neurodegenerative diseases.
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Researchers Develop Drug Delivery Technique to Bypass Blood-Brain Barrier

(Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary) Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and Boston University have successfully shown neuroprotection in a Parkinson's mouse model using new techniques to deliver drugs across the naturally impenetrable blood-brain barrier. Their findings … lend hope to patients around the world with neurological conditions that are difficult to treat due to a barrier mechanism that prevents approximately 98 percent of drugs from reaching the brain and central nervous system.
"We are developing a platform that may eventually be used to deliver a variety of drugs to the brain," said senior author Benjamin S. Bleier, M.D., of the department of otolaryngology at Mass. Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School. "Although we are currently looking at neurodegenerative disease, there is potential for the technology to be expanded to psychiatric diseases, chronic pain, seizure disorders and many other conditions affecting the brain and nervous system down the road."
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The 20 Lb. Cereal Box: Kitchen Counter Foods That Relate to Your Weight

(Cornell Food & Brand Lab) The food on your counter can predict your weight -- especially if it's cereal or soft drinks.
Over 200 American kitchens were photographed to determine if the food sitting out on counters could predict the weight of the woman living in each home. The new Cornell study found that women who had breakfast cereal sitting on their counters weighed 20-lbs more than their neighbors who didn't, and those with soft drinks sitting out weighed 24 to 26-lbs more. The good news? Those who had a fruit bowl weighed about 13-lbs less.
"It's your basic See-Food Diet -- you eat what you see," said lead author Brian Wansink, professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand lab and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life…
Although the study cautions that the findings are correlational, Wansink says, "We've got a saying in our Lab, 'If you want to be skinny, do what skinny people do.' If skinny people make their homes 'Slim by Design' by clearing the counters of everything but the fruit bowl, it won't hurt us to do the same."
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Weight gain due to more than poor diet and lack of exercise

(CNN) Researchers looked over the years at what adults in the United States said they ate, how much they reported exercising and their body mass index (BMI)…
The study concluded that a person in 2006 who consumed the same number of calories and exercised the same amount as someone in 1988, would have a BMI that was 2.3 points higher. (A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight, 25 to 29.9 is overweight and 30 or greater is obese.)…
Although the study did not investigate possible culprits, the authors point to numerous factors that have been linked to obesity that have changed since the 1970s.
We are more stressed and sleep less. We are exposed to more pesticides and industrial chemicals. Because of our changing diet we have less healthy gut microbiomes. We take more medications associated with weight gain than we used to, such as antidepressants. We increasingly live in climate-controlled worlds that don’t require us to burn calories to maintain our body temperature. The list goes on…
[Dr. Holly F. Lofton, director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Medical Center] recommends monitoring your weight, and if it shoots up or down, think about what has changed in your life. You might not be able to avoid these changes, such as stress at work or taking a new medication, but you can compensate for them, by exercising more and making sure to eat well.
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A Surprising Cause Of Weight Gain

(Sharecare) Do you look in the mirror and see extra pounds? Do you gripe about your thighs or love handles to your friends? Stop with the negative self-talk: Thinking of yourself as overweight could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
U.K.-based researchers found that those who believed themselves to be overweight were more likely to gain weight, according to a 2015 study…
That’s not surprising, says Sharecare’s chief medical officer Keith Roach, MD. “It has been my clinical experience that telling people they need to lose weight isn’t helpful; in fact, it often has the contrary effect, as evidenced by the results of the study.”
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Late Bedtimes Could Lead to Weight Gain

(University of California – Berkeley) Teenagers and adults who go to bed late on weeknights are more likely to gain weight than their peers who hit the hay earlier, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, that has found a correlation between sleep and body mass index.
Berkeley researchers analyzed longitudinal data from a nationally representative cohort of more than 3,300 youths and adults, and found that for every hour of sleep they lost, they gained 2.1 points on the BMI index. This gain occurred roughly over a five-year period.
Moreover, exercise, screen time, and the number of hours they slept did not mitigate this BMI increase, according to the study.
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Food tracking app links less sleeping to more eating

(Reuters Health) Even people who think they eat three meals a day may actually graze for most of their waking hours and consume fewer calories when they get more sleep, a small U.S. study suggests.
Researchers asked volunteers to use a mobile app to snap pictures of everything they ate and drank over three weeks. Most participants consumed food and drinks over about 15 hours of the day, taking in less than 25 percent of their calories before noon and more than 35 percent after 6 p.m.
“Most people think they eat three meals and a snack or two within a 10-12 hour window, but we found the majority spread their caloric intake over a very long time,” said study co-author Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.
The trouble with eating or drinking over a longer stretch of waking hours and consuming more calories at night is that “it confuses our body’s biological clock and predisposes us to obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease,” Panda added by email.
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More evidence marriage may be bad for your waistline

(Reuters Health) Need another reason to blame weight gain on your marriage? When one spouse becomes obese, the other’s risk of obesity almost doubles, a U.S. study suggests…
Plenty of research already links marriage and weight gain, and scientists have firmly established the connection between obesity and heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
What the current study adds is a fresh take on how couples may gain weight in tandem, insight that might help shape more effective obesity prevention and treatment efforts targeting couples, [the researchers] note.
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Diabetes Medication Can Reduce Food Intake

(University of Gothenburg) Many studies have focused on how much we eat when we are hungry, but sometimes we eat just to feel better. A new dissertation at Sahlgrenska Academy shows that medication used for type-2 diabetes which mimics the gut-brain hormone glucagon-like peptide-1, can affect the brain's reward system and reduce the intake of food…
Recently, type-2 diabetes has begun to be treated with medications that resemble the body's own hormone GLP-1, such as Byetta and Victoza. The hormone GLP-1 is produced naturally, both in the intestines and in the brain. After every meal, the levels of GLP-1 in the blood increase, which lead to an increase in insulin production and a decrease in appetite.
A new study on rats at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg shows that hormone-like medication used for type-2 diabetes can affect the brain's reward system and reduce the need for food intake.
A follow-up study showed that this substance can also reduce alcohol intake.
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From Brain, to Fat, to Weight Loss

(Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia) Weight is controlled by the hormone leptin, which acts in the brain to regulate food intake and metabolism. However, it was largely unknown until now, how the brain signals back to the fat tissue to induce fat breakdown.
Now, a breakthrough study … has shown that fat tissue is innervated and that direct stimulation of neurons in fat is sufficient to induce fat breakdown. These results … set up the stage for developing novel anti-obesity therapies…
"We used a powerful technique called optogenetics, to locally activate these sympathetic neurons in fat pads of mice, and observed fat breakdown and fat mass reduction." Ana Domingos adds: "The local activation of these neurons, leads to the release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter, that triggers a cascade of signals in fat cells leading to fat hydrolysis. Without these neurons, leptin is unable to drive fat-breakdown." The conclusions and future directions are clear according to Ana Domingos: "This result provides new hopes for treating central leptin resistance, a condition in which the brains of obese people are insensitive to leptin." Senior co-author Jeffrey Friedman adds: "These studies add an important new piece to the puzzle that enables leptin to induce fat loss."
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High-Fat Diet May Cause Changes in Brain That Lead to Anxiety, Depression

(Wiley) A new study in mice reveals that increased body weight and high blood sugar as a result of consuming a high-fat diet may cause anxiety and depressive symptoms and measurable changes in the brain.
Also, the beneficial effects of an antidepressant were blunted in mice fed a high-fat diet. "When treating depression, in general there is no predictor of treatment resistance," said Dr. Bruno Guiard, senior author of the … study. "So if we consider metabolic disorders as a putative treatment resistance predictor, this should encourage psychiatrists to put in place a personalized treatment with antidepressant drugs that do not further destabilize metabolism."
On the other hand, taking mice off a high-fat diet completely reversed the animals' metabolic impairments and lessened their anxious symptoms.
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Inflammatory Response May Fan the Flame of Dietary Fats' Role in Obesity-Related Diseases

(University of Vermont College of Medicine) An enhanced inflammatory response could be the key link between high saturated fat intake -- a recognized risk factor for obesity-related disorders -- and the development of diseases like type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.
A new study … demonstrates that ingesting fats similar to those in a Mediterranean-type diet, featuring low saturated fat and high monounsaturated fat, appears to decrease the inflammatory response, both in comparison to a high saturated fat diet, as well as in relation to a low-fat diet.
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Calorie Consumption: Do Numbers or Graphics Encourage Diners to Eat Less?

(American Marketing Association) To encourage consumers to lower their caloric intake, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now requires most chain restaurants to state the number of calories that each menu item contains. But is a number the only effective way of helping diners make low-calorie choices? No, says a new study… According to the study, another popular way of indicating calorie information, an image of a green, yellow, or red traffic light, can be just as effective.
"We find that either numbers or traffic lights have the same beneficial effect when it comes to taking in fewer calories," write the authors of the study, Eric M. VanEpps (Carnegie Mellon University), Julie S. Downs (Carnegie Mellon University), and George Loewenstein (Carnegie Mellon University). "In our particular study, either method resulted in food choices that contained 10 percent fewer calories."
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More Obesity Among the Less Educated in Rich Countries

(Norwegian Institute of Public Health) In rich countries, obesity is more common among the lower educated, whilst in poor countries, obesity is more common among the higher educated. This was shown in a new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, which confirms earlier research.
Previous studies have shown that the number of people with obesity increases with the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country. Previous research has also indicated that education can be an important factor in this context…
The results from this study confirm that there is an association between obesity, education and GDP. The prevalence of obesity increases with rising GDP, but only among individuals with lower levels of education. There is no significant increase in obesity among those with higher education.
This means that:
·         In countries with low GDP there is more obesity among those with high education.
·         In countries with high GDP there is more obesity among those with low education.
The study also found that the relationship was somewhat more marked among women than among men.
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Weight discrimination linked to increased risk of mortality

(FSU College of Medicine) In recent years, Florida State University College of Medicine researchers Angelina R. Sutin and Antonio Terracciano have found that people who experience weight discrimination are more likely to become or remain obese, to develop chronic health problems and to have a lower satisfaction with life.
Now they've found that people who report being subjected to weight discrimination also have a greater risk of dying. Not because they may be overweight, but because of the apparent effects of the discrimination…
"What we found is that this isn't a case of people with a higher body-mass index (BMI) being at an increased risk of mortality — and they happen to also report being subjected to weight discrimination," said Sutin, assistant professor of behavioral sciences and social medicine at the medical school.  "Independent of what their BMI actually is, weight discrimination is associated with increased risk of mortality."
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