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

Dementia levels 'are stabilising'

(BBC News) The number of people living with dementia is levelling off in parts of western Europe, a report says.
The University of Cambridge study shows the proportion of elderly people with the condition in the UK has fallen, contrary to predictions that cases would soar.
Improvements in health and levels of education might be protecting people from the disease, the scientists said.
Charities warned there was no guarantee the improvements would continue.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Dementia Prevention: The Business of Mind

(David Katz, M.D., Yale Prevention Research Center) We know how to prevent 80% or more of heart disease by using lifestyle as our medicine.  For type 2 diabetes, and thus presumably type 3 as well, the news is even better; we know how prevent as much as 95% of that using much the same formula.  Eating well, being active, and not smoking- good use of our feet, forks, and fingers if you will- takes us a long way toward the prize.  In the Blue Zones, where living well prevails, dementia is rare- as are all chronic diseases.
Dementia is not a bogeyman waiting in the shadows to pounce on us unpredictably.  For the most part, the risk factors that presage the threat are familiar, well understand, and eminently manageable.  None of us gets a guarantee, of course.  But we all have the means, in our own hands (and feet) to shift the odds massively in our favor.
Our minds are our own business if anything is.  As the interest of big business is attracted to their preservation, we should not get distracted.  An enormous opportunity to preserve and protect our cognitive abilities resides with us, and the lifestyle choices we make.  We are all well advised to mind them accordingly.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Nine Risk Factors for Alzheimer's, Preventive Strategies Found

(BMJ) Nine potentially modifiable risk factors may contribute to up to two thirds of Alzheimer's disease cases worldwide, suggests an analysis of the available evidence…
The analysis indicates the complexity of Alzheimer's disease development and just how varied the risk factors for it are.
But the researchers suggest that preventive strategies, targeting diet, drugs, body chemistry, mental health, pre-existing disease, and lifestyle may help to stave off dementia. This could be particularly important, given that, as yet, there is no cure, they say…
[The researchers] found grade 1 level evidence in favour of a protective effect for the female hormone oestrogen, cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), drugs to lower high blood pressure, and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
They found the same level of evidence for folate, vitamins C and E, and coffee, all of which were associated with helping to stave off the disease.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Could Trimming Waistlines Delay Alzheimer's?

(MedPage Today) Being obese or overweight at age 50 was associated with earlier onset of Alzheimer's disease, according to a large prospective study from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Excess weight at middle age was also associated with more neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid deposits in the brain, two hallmarks of Alzheimer's, reported senior investigator Madhav Thambisetty, MD, PhD, of the NIA in Baltimore, and colleagues…
After adjusting for sex, race, cardiovascular comorbidities, and other factors, the investigators found that each unit of increase in body-mass index (BMI) at midlife was associated with earlier onset of Alzheimer's by 6.7 months…
Higher BMI in middle age also predicted neurofibrillary tangle burden in the brain as measured by the Braak score.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Routinely Screen Those Older Than 70 for Brain Health, World Expert Panel Advises

(Saint Louis University) A panel of world experts in aging convened at Saint Louis University recommended that everyone 70 and older should have their memory and reasoning ability evaluated annually by a doctor or health care provider.
This is the first time routine brain health screenings have been recommended for patients, starting at age 70. Patients found to have cognitive problems also should be screened for physical frailty, and vice versa, suggested the panel…
Some causes of early cognitive disorder, can be reversed and treated when caught early. These include depression, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, problems with sight and hearing, and treatments of multiple health conditions with medications. "You can actually fix some of these issues, which is one reason why it's critical to identify a problem and try to find a root cause," said [John Morley, M.D., director of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University and lead author of the consensus paper].
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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For Alzheimer's patients, resveratrol brings new hope

(CNN) Over the years, resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, chocolate and red wine, has been touted as a possible antidote to Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes and many other conditions. Now, the first study in people with Alzheimer's suggests that the compound, when taken in concentrated doses, may actually have benefit in slowing progression of this disease…
The study was not big enough to answer some important questions, such as whether patients taking resveratrol actually had lower levels of amyloid-beta plaques in their brain, and most importantly, whether they experienced less decline in their mental faculties…
If resveratrol does pan out in further research, it may add to the medications that are currently available, such as Aricept and Exelon, which slow, but do not halt, progression of the disease, [said James A. Hendrix, director of global science initiatives at the Alzheimer's Association].
Ultimately, it will probably be a combination of several drugs, as well as diet, exercise and social and mental stimulation that help stave off the rapid mental decline that is often associated with Alzheimer's, he added…
The current study used high doses of resveratrol to increase the chances that enough of the compound got into the brain to have an effect. But for now, the best way to get resveratrol is probably through diet. One glass of red wine a day could help those with mild Alzheimer's, "but no more than that," [said lead investigator Dr. R. Scott Turner, professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center].
Community: Not sure why the lead researcher recommended red wine, when there are many other food sources of resveratrol. And supplements are available.
There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Degenerating Neurons Respond to Gene Therapy Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease

(University of California - San Diego) Degenerating neurons in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) measurably responded to an experimental gene therapy in which nerve growth factor (NGF) was injected into their brains, report researchers…
The affected neurons displayed heightened growth, axonal sprouting and activation of functional markers, said lead author Mark H. Tuszynski, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Neurosciences, director of the UC San Diego Translational Neuroscience Institute and a neurologist at VA Medical Center, San Diego.
The findings are derived from postmortem analyses of 10 patients who participated in phase I clinical trials launched in 2001 to assess whether injected NGF -- a protein essential to cellular growth, maintenance and survival -- might safely slow or prevent neuronal degeneration in patients with AD.
Administering NGF directly into the brain -- a first for treating of an adult neurodegenerative disorder -- was done for two reasons. The NGF protein is too large pass through the blood-brain barrier, making it impossible to inject elsewhere. And freely circulating NGF causes adverse effects, such as pain and weight loss. By precisely injecting NGF into targeted regions of the brain, researchers could introduce the protein only to surrounding degenerating neurons.
The gene therapy approach has since progressed to phase II trials at multiple test sites.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Alzheimer’s Disease Thought to Be Accelerated by an Abnormal Build-Up of Fat in the Brain

(University of MontrĂ©al) People with Alzheimer's disease have fat deposits in the brain. For the first time since the disease was described 109 years ago, researchers affiliated with the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) have discovered accumulations of fat droplets in the brain of patients who died from the disease and have identified the nature of the fat…
Fortunately, there are pharmacological inhibitors of the enzyme that produces these fatty acids. These molecules, which are currently being tested for metabolic diseases such as obesity, could be effective in treating Alzheimer's disease. "We succeeded in preventing these fatty acids from building up in the brains of mice predisposed to the disease. The impact of this treatment on all the aspects of the disease is not yet known, but it significantly increased stem cell activity," explained Karl Fernandes. "This is very promising because stem cells play an important role in learning, memory and regeneration."
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Insulin Resistance Linked to Cognitive Decline in Women

(MedPage Today) Insulin resistance was associated with poorer verbal cognitive ability in women but not men, according to a large Finnish population-based study.
The study suggests that insulin resistance may be an early marker of cognitive decline and perhaps even a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease in women, said lead investigator Laura Ekblad, MD.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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'Brainy' Mice Raise Hope of Better Treatments for Cognitive Disorders

(University of Leeds) [A study] sheds light on the molecular underpinnings of learning and memory and could form the basis for research into new treatments for age-related cognitive decline, cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia, and other conditions.
The researchers altered a gene in mice to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase-4B (PDE4B), which is present in many organs of the vertebrate body, including the brain.
In behavioural tests, the PDE4B-inhibited mice showed enhanced cognitive abilities. They tended to learn faster, remember events longer and solve complex exercises better than ordinary mice…
Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer's Research UK, who were not involved in the study, said:… "There is currently a lack of effective treatments for dementia and understanding the effect of genes can be a key early step on the road to developing new drugs. With so many people affected by dementia, it is important that there is research into a wide array of treatment approaches to have the best chance of helping people sooner."
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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'Get moving!' Exercise can relieve symptoms of Parkinson's disease

(The Missoulian) As Parkinson’s progresses, motor and non-motor skills may decline, leading to rigidity and gait disorders, tremor and cognitive loss…
Some recent studies, including by the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, published in 2008, found that patients with Parkinson’s showed a 35-percent decrease in symptoms after participating in a cycling program. A study in 2012, by researchers at Kent State University’s department of exercise science, also found that exercise and movement therapies benefited patients with Parkinson’s, but there remains little consensus on the optimal mode or intensity of exercise.
“All of this information that is coming in dovetails with what we, the establishment, are promoting with physical therapy or exercise as part of our daily recommendations to our patients,” said Dr. Carlos Singer, director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
“Exercise is the hot topic in neurology and the neurology of Parkinson’s disease,” Singer said. “There is evidence coming in that it makes a difference in slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s, and it’s good physically and for cognitive ability – the ability to think clearly and for better memory.”
Community: Some of the practical measures that may help delay cognitive decline may also help prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of other neurodegenerative disorders.
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Magnetic Stimulation Effective in Helping Parkinson's Patients Walk

(IOS Press) About 50% of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) experience freezing of gait (FOG), an inability to move forward while walking. This can affect not only mobility but also balance. In a new study…, researchers report that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can reduce FOG and improve other motor skills in PD patients…
"This study demonstrated that five cumulative sessions a week of 10 Hz high-frequency rTMS was likely to alleviate FOG in patients with PD, and the effect continued for a week. Similar results were found in the motor and the gait function," explained lead investigator Yun-Hee Kim, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea. "This study provides evidence that the cumulative high-frequency rTMS is a good candidate as an add-on therapy for FOG in PD."
Community: Some of the practical measures that may help delay cognitive decline may also help prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of other neurodegenerative disorders.
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Urate May Protect Against Parkinson's Disease

(Massachusetts General Hospital) A study from members of the research team investigating whether increasing blood levels of the antioxidant urate can slow the progression of Parkinson's disease has found that the neuroprotective effects of urate extend beyond its own antioxidant properties.
In their paper…, the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators report that urate also stimulates brain cells called astrocytes to activate a major antioxidant pathway believed to have a role in several neurodegenerative disorders. A National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)-funded phase 3 trial of a urate-elevating drug, led by the senior author of the current study, will begin enrolling patients next year…
The phase 3 trial of the nutritional supplement inosine, which is converted to urate in the body, is a follow-up to the phase 2 trial, led by Schwarzschild and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester Medical Center. Published in 2013 and supported by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, that two-year trial confirmed that the studied dosages successfully raised urate levels in 74 recently diagnosed Parkinson's patients without producing serious side effects.
Community: Some of the practical measures that may help delay cognitive decline may also help prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of other neurodegenerative disorders.
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Dietary and Metabolic Factors Tied to ALS Risk

(MedPage Today) A positive association of high total energy intake, combined with low premorbid body mass index (BMI) and high fat intake, corrected for lifetime physical activity, supports a role for an altered energy metabolism before the clinical onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a population-based, case-control study indicated.
"We found an increased risk of sporadic ALS with higher premorbid intake of total fat, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, and cholesterol, and a low intake of alcohol," Jan H. Veldink, MD, PhD, and colleagues reported.
Community: Some of the practical measures that may help delay cognitive decline may also help prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of other neurodegenerative disorders.
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Scientists are crediting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for breakthroughs in research

(Washington Post) Just one year ago, Facebook feeds were awash with videos and photos of people pouring buckets of cold water on their heads all in the name of medical research.
At the time, the Ice Bucket Challenge had become the viral campaign everyone was talking about — an online effort to raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The movement attracted criticism of social media "slacktivism" — a convenient way for people to act like they're making a difference without achieving anything at all.
But one year and more than $220 million in donations later, scientists at Johns Hopkins are claiming a major breakthrough in ALS research and are partly crediting the success to the massive influx of public interest.
Community: Some of the practical measures that may help delay cognitive decline may also help prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of other neurodegenerative disorders.
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Neurons' broken machinery piles up in ALS

(National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) A healthy motor neuron needs to transport its damaged components from the nerve-muscle connection all the way back to the cell body in the spinal cord. If it cannot, the defective components pile up and the cell becomes sick and dies. Researchers at the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) have learned how a mutation in the gene for superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), which causes ALS, leads cells to accumulate damaged materials.
The study … suggests a potential target for treating this familial form of ALS.
Community: Some of the practical measures that may help delay cognitive decline may also help prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of other neurodegenerative disorders.
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First almost fully-formed human brain grown in lab, researchers claim

(The Guardian) An almost fully-formed human brain has been grown in a lab for the first time, claim scientists from Ohio State University. The team behind the feat hope the brain could transform our understanding of neurological disease.
Though not conscious the miniature brain, which resembles that of a five-week-old foetus, could potentially be useful for scientists who want to study the progression of developmental diseases. It could also be used to test drugs for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, since the regions they affect are in place during an early stage of brain development.
The brain, which is about the size of a pencil eraser, is engineered from adult human skin cells and is the most complete human brain model yet developed, claimed Rene Anand of Ohio State University, Columbus.
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California Schools Wage Legal Battle Over Alzheimer's Data

(MedPage Today) As Paul Aisen, MD, was making headlines last month for reporting positive data for solanezumab at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, he was simultaneously embroiled in a legal battle for taking a new job and trying to bring one of the biggest projects in Alzheimer's research with him.
In a lawsuit brought in the Superior Court of the State of California, Aisen's previous employer, the University of California San Diego (UCSD), claimed that when he moved to a new Alzheimer's institute at the University of Southern California (USC), he locked UCSD out of administrative access to an Amazon cloud account.
That account housed all of the data from the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), an umbrella organization that manages several important trials in the field.
Aisen was made to hand over that access to UCSD by a California Superior Court injunction issued last month, and that was promptly followed with a countersuit from USC claiming UCSD violated Aisen's academic freedom. Aisen's new employer also accused UCSD of other misdeeds, such as barring Aisen from accessing his own email once word got around that he might leave.
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Aging: Apple Skin and Green Tomatoes May Ward Off Muscle Loss

(Science World Report ) Keeping our muscles strong becomes harder as we age. This is because as we grow older, we lose strength and muscle mass. Now, scientists are taking a closer look at how to keep our muscles as strong as they were when they were young.
In previous studies, researchers identified ursolic acid, which can be found in apple peel, and [tomatidine], which comes from green tomatoes, as small molecules that can prevent acute muscle wasting caused by starvation and inactivity. In this latest study, though, researchers focused on these compounds a bit more closely.
The scientists found that ursolic acid and tomatidine dramatically reduce age-related muscle weakness and atrophy in mice. Elderly mice with age-related muscle weakness and atrophy were fed diets lacking or containing either .27 percent ursolic acid or .05 percent tomatidine for two months. Both the compounds increased muscle mass by 10 percent, and also increased muscle quality.
"Based on these results, ursolic acid and tomatidine appear to have a lot of potential as tools for dealing with muscle weakness and atrophy during aging," said Christopher Adams, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We also thought we might be able to use ursolic acid and tomatidine as tools to find a root cause of muscle weakness and atrophy during aging."
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NIH study finds calorie restriction lowers some risk factors for age-related diseases

(National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases) A National Institutes of Health-supported study provides some of the first clues about the impact of sustained calorie restriction in adults. Results from a two-year clinical trial show calorie restriction in normal-weight and moderately overweight people failed to have some metabolic effects found in laboratory animal studies. However, researchers found calorie restriction modified risk factors for age-related diseases and influenced indicators associated with longer life span, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin resistance…
Calorie restriction is a reduction in calorie intake without deprivation of essential nutrients. It has been shown to increase longevity and delay the progression of a number of age-related diseases in multiple animal studies…
“[This] study found that this calorie restriction intervention did not produce significant effects on the pre-specified primary metabolic endpoints, but it did modify several risk factors for age-related diseases. It is encouraging to find positive effects when we test interventions that might affect diseases and declines associated with advancing age,” notes NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “However, we need to learn much more about the health consequences of this type of intervention in healthy people before considering dietary recommendations. In the meantime, we do know that exercise and maintaining a healthy weight and diet can contribute to healthy aging.”
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Health Effects of a Diet that Mimics Fasting

(NIH Research Matters) Dietary restriction has been shown in a variety of animal models to have many health benefits. Fasting, in which food isn’t consumed (but water is), represents the extreme form of restriction. Previous studies in animals and people suggested that periodic cycles of fasting may improve certain metabolic and immune functions. Fasting for 2 or more days, however, is difficult for many people, and can have adverse health effects.
A team led by Dr. Valter Longo … conducted a pilot study in a small group of people. Nineteen healthy adults consumed a proprietary plant-based diet that provided between 34% and 54% of the normal caloric intake with at least 9–10% protein, 34–47% carbohydrate, and 44–56% fat. Participants consumed the diet 5 days a month for 3 months (3 cycles), resuming their normal diet at the end of each diet period. A control group of 19 adults ate a normal diet.
People on the diet had improvements in blood glucose and decreased body weight compared to the control group. Those with initially elevated C-reactive protein levels (a marker of heart disease risk) had lower levels, while those with normal levels had no change. Reports of side effects were low and included fatigue, weakness, and headache.
“Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,” Longo says. “It’s not a typical diet because it isn't something you need to stay on.”
More research will be needed to determine the long-term impact of the diet on human health and provide information on when and how such a diet might be applied.
Community: My message to Dr. Longo and to NIH Research Matters: “Why is this diet considered proprietary, if we the taxpayers paid for the study?” No answer received.
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Can a Mineral Help You Age with Grace?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) According to Bruce Ames, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, when certain vital micronutrients are in short supply, the body undergoes slow, insidious changes that undermine health and increase the risk of chronic disease.
One such crucial micronutrient is selenium. Dr. Ames and his fellow researchers recently analyzed 25 studies to judge the activity of immune-system components called selenoproteins - which, as the name suggests, contain selenium as an essential component. His conclusion? Even "modest" selenium deficiency appears to be associated with age-related diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease and immune dysfunction.
Excellent dietary sources of selenium include Brazil nuts (in fact, these should be eaten only occasionally, as their unusually high levels of this vital mineral could lead to an overdose, according to the National Institutes of Health). Good dietary sources include brewer's yeast, wheat germ, garlic, truly whole grains, sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, shellfish, and both fresh and saltwater fish. In supplement form, I recommend an organic form such as yeast-bound selenium or selenomethionine. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 80 to 200 micrograms.
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'Fountain of Youth' Protein Points to Possible Human Health Benefit

(University of California, San Francisco) Individuals previously diagnosed with heart disease may be less likely to experience heart failure, heart attacks, or stroke, or to die from these events, if they have higher blood levels of two very closely related proteins, according to a new study led by a UC San Francisco research team.
One of these proteins, known as GDF11, has attracted great interest since 2013, when researchers showed that it could rejuvenate old mice. Based on these findings, scientists have speculated that drugs that increase GDF11 levels might reverse physiological manifestations of aging that lead to heart failure in people.
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Is Chipotle evil? This ad campaign says absolutely

(Roberto A. Ferdman, Wonkblog, Washington Post) [Last week] a new, controversial ad campaign hit the press. New Yorkers, en route to work, were likely the first to see it, because its inaugural imprint was in the New York Post, in the form of a full-page advertisement. And it isn't at all kind to Chipotle…
The campaign is being funded by the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), which is only apparent once one scrolls to the very bottom of the Web page. CCF is a nonprofit organization which lobbies on behalf of the food companies…
Chipotle has earned both praise and skepticism in its ascent to the upper echelon of the fast food world. The company's mission, which is centered on a commitment to sourcing the most ethical ingredients possible, has proven an honest one…
"We've always been very transparent in the way that we run our business," he said. "You can't really say the same about the Center for Consumer Freedom."
Indeed, there is reason to believe that the organization's intention might be less pure than their statements make it seem. CCF, after all, was founded by Rick Berman, a lawyer and lobbyist, famous for arguing on behalf of big food companies and against big health initiatives.
Initially, the group was founded to fight smoking curbs in restaurants. The money, of course, came from the coffers of tobacco companies and restaurants. But it has since shifted its focus to the food and beverage industry, where many large players are worried about the impact of health, nutrition and animal welfare concerns.
Community: My comment:
Very good job of presenting the facts. Too often, in the mainstream media, we see mealymouthed attempts to soften the reality behind scammers like this CCF outfit. That's certainly what happens in political reporting.
Good for you, Roberto, please give us an equally candid report on the presidential race.
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NIH awards nearly $35 million to research natural products

(National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) Five research centers will focus on the safety of natural products, on how they work within the body, and on the development of cutting-edge research technologies… Natural products include a wide variety of substances produced by plants, bacteria, fungi, and animals that have historically been used in traditional medicine and other complementary and integrative health practices.
Many of the botanical supplements proposed for study by these centers — such as black cohosh, bitter melon, chasteberry, fenugreek, grape seed extract, hops, maca, milk thistle, resveratrol, licorice, and valerian — are among the top 100 supplements consumed in the United States based on sales data. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults use botanical supplements and other non-vitamin, non-mineral dietary supplements, such as fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics, according to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey…
“Natural products have a long and impressive history as sources of medicine and as important biological research tools,” said Josephine Briggs, M.D., NCCIH director. “These centers will seek not only to understand potential mechanisms by which natural products may affect health, but also to address persistent technological challenges for this field by taking full advantage of innovative advances in biological and chemical methodology.”
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Battle lines drawn as legislative fight over labeling looms

(Reuters) Combatants in a national food fight over labeling genetically modified products are gearing up for a showdown in the U.S. Senate, campaign leaders said on Tuesday.
The tactics range from old-fashioned lobbying to modern social media campaigns, and both sides say it is too early to tell who will prevail.
"I feel like we're in the final battle now," said David Bronner, a California business owner and leading backer of mandatory labeling for foods made with genetically engineered crops, also known as GMOs…
Leaders of the Just Label It movement say consumers want mandatory labeling so they can make informed choices about consuming foods made with GMOs.
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Vaginal estrogen linked to improved sexual health for some women

(Reuters Health) Among women who don’t take hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause, and even some who do, vaginally applied estrogen may help ease dryness and painful intercourse, a small U.S. study suggests.
Many women have been reluctant to use HRT to ease menopause symptoms since 2002, when the federally-funded Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study linked the treatments containing man-made versions of the female hormones estrogen and progestin to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes…
“Vaginal estrogen is safer because very little if any estradiol gets into the blood stream,” Dr. Michael Thomas, a researcher in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, said by email.
Lubricants may help make sex less painful for women after menopause, but this alternative can’t work like estrogen to improve the mucous lining of the vagina and make bleeding and abrasions or tearing less likely during intercourse, added Thomas, who wasn’t involved in the study.
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Preventive Medicine Experts Speak out About Reducing Firearm Violence

(Elsevier Health Sciences) Every week in the U.S. an average of 645 people lose their lives to firearm violence and 1,565 more are treated in an emergency department for a firearm-related injury. Most of these events do not make headlines, but they account for about 7% of the premature deaths before age 65 in the U.S.
In a special issue of Preventive Medicine, preventive medicine and health policy experts address a wide range of critical topics related to firearm violence, from the interaction of alcohol abuse with gun violence, effects of changes to gun laws in various states, how criminals obtain guns in a large U.S. city, to how the public perceives gun violence and gun policies…
Dr. [Eduardo Franco, Editor-in-Chief of Preventive Medicine,] and co-authors are optimistic. "As a public health community, we have tackled the opposition from the tobacco, asbestos, and automotive industries and their political lobbying. We have reversed the tide of economic dependence that legislators and entire nations have had on these industries. It took time and determination but we made enormous progress. Reducing gun violence throughout the world will do wonders for helping humanity achieve all eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals. We need to muster the same courage now as we did when we picked other low-hanging fruits of public health."
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Expert group says embryo genetic modification should be allowed

(Reuters) Research involving genetic modification of human embryos, though controversial, is essential to gain basic understanding of the biology of early embryos and should be permitted, an international group of experts said on Wednesday.
The statement was issued by members of the so-called Hinxton Group, a global network of stem cell researchers, bioethicists and policy experts who met in Britain last week…
The expert group cited the "tremendous value to basic research" and said the science of gene-editing "will continue to progress rapidly, and there is and will be pressure to make decisions scientifically and for funding, publishing and governance purposes."
Community: First, GMO crops, now GMO people?
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The Cost Problem

(Reuters Health) Two years after offering colonoscopy patients full coverage for their screening if they had it done at lower-priced facilities, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) saved $7 million, according to a new study.
(Reuters Health) When patients have drug benefits that encourage them to save money by using certain pharmacies, they may end up filling more prescriptions, a company-funded study suggests.
(Reuters Health) The shingles vaccine might not be cost-effective for people in their fifties, a new analysis suggests.
(Reuters) An independent non-profit organization that evaluates clinical and cost effectiveness of new medicines said announced prices for a just-approved class of potent cholesterol lowering drugs were far too high, according to a draft report released on Tuesday.
(New York Times) The linchpin of this effort at the University of Utah Health Care is a computer program — still a work in progress — with 200 million rows of costs for items like drugs, medical devices, a doctor’s time in the operating room and each member of the staff’s time. The software also tracks such outcomes as days in the hospital and readmissions. A pulldown menu compares each doctor’s costs and outcomes with others’ in the department.
(Reuters) The leading U.S. physicians' organization said on Tuesday that two proposed mergers of U.S. health insurers worth tens of billions of dollars could lead to higher prices in 17 states for companies that buy insurance for their workers or people who buy their own insurance.
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Bernie Sanders to Introduce Bill Targeting High Drug Prices

(Wall Street Journal‎) U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and a fellow lawmaker are taking aim at high prescription drug costs with a new bill that would empower Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical prices, allow consumers to import cheaper drugs from Canada and require companies to disclose the prices they charge overseas.
Sen. Sanders, the Vermont independent running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, plan to introduce the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 at a news conference in Washington on Thursday.
“There is no rational reason why Americans should pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” Sen. Sanders said in an interview Wednesday. “The result of that is people are dying and becoming much sicker because they can’t afford the medicines they need.”
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Most Americans View Access to Health Care as a Moral Issue

(HealthDay News)  An overwhelming majority of Americans believes that access to health care is a moral issue, and that the United States should be able to afford universal health care if other developed nations can do the same.
But after that, Americans are still deeply divided over many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than five years after President Barack Obama signed the controversial health-reform legislation into law, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll found.
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Lifestyle Medicine: Finding a Way to Prevent Diabetes

(Karl Nadolsky, DO, and Spencer Nadolsky, DO) We already know that lifestyle medicine can be more powerful than prescription drugs when it comes to type 2 diabetes prevention, as shown in the Diabetes Prevention Program, Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study, and DaQing Diabetes Prevention Study (which recently reported its 23-year mortality follow-up study). We also know that lifestyle changes are first-line recommendations for every ailment affected...
 [I]t is time to accept a paradigm shift focusing on prevention...
Community-based diabetes prevention programs work, but how can we take advantage of this now? One program that is based on the famous Diabetes Prevention Program is already available at YMCAs throughout the U.S. There are also health systems using similar programs within their communities, so it may be worth to ask yours if there is one available. The CDC has also helped over 625 organizations develop their own diabetes prevention programs.
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Unsaturated Fatty Acid Diet Reverses Insulin Resistance in Mice

(MedPage Today) Studies in mice may help explain the mechanism behind the anti-inflammatory effects of dietary omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids that help protect against obesity and metabolic disease.
The studies suggest that two G protein-coupled receptors -- GPR120 and GPR40 -- play critical roles, "as mediators of the beneficial effects of dietary unsaturated fatty acids in the context of obesity-induced insulin resistance," the researchers wrote…
In a series of experiments, [flax seed oil (FS)] and [olive oil (OL)] substitutions were found to reduce weight gain and adiposity, improve glucose homeostasis and insulin action, reduce diet-induced inflammation, and change liver lipid composition.
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11 No-Alcohol Drinks for People With Diabetes

(WebMD) No doubt: Water is the perfect drink. It doesn't have calories, sugar, or carbs, and it's as close as a tap. If you're after something tastier, though, you've got options.
Some tempting or seemingly healthy drinks aren't great for you, but you can make swaps or easy homemade versions of many of them. These tasty treats can fit into your diabetes diet and still satisfy your cravings.
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More Evidence Ties Frequent Antibiotics to Type 2 Diabetes Risk

(MedPage Today) Frequent antibiotic users were about 50% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) compared with infrequent users, according to a nationwide population-based case-control study in Denmark.
In fact, increased antibiotic use among people who would eventually be diagnosed with T2DM was noted as early as 15 years before their diagnosis, reported a team of investigators led by Kristian Mikkelsen, a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen.
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Diabetes Linked to Bone Health

(University of Delaware) Diabetes, which now affects almost 30 million Americans, can cause serious health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations.
A lesser-known but equally grave complication is the effect of diabetes on bone health…
[A] study demonstrated that exercise-induced bone formation was maintained in mildly diabetic mice at a similar level as non-diabetic controls, while the positive effects of exercise were nearly abolished in severely diabetic mice…
"Our work demonstrates that diabetic bone can respond to exercise when the hyperglycemia is not severe, which suggests that mechanical interventions may be useful to improve bone health and reduce fracture risk in mildly affected diabetic patients," [says Liyun Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware].
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Potential Biomarker for Pre-Diabetes Discovered

(Virginia Tech) Virginia Tech researchers have identified a biomarker in pre-diabetic individuals that could help prevent them from developing Type II diabetes…
[T]he researchers discovered that pre-diabetic people who were considered to be insulin resistant -- unable to respond to the hormone insulin effectively -- also had altered mitochondrial DNA…
"There is no known cure for Type 2 diabetes, and early diagnosis and intervention is critical to prevent this disease," said [researcher Fabio] Almeida. "Discovery of the biomarker in obese, pre-diabetic individuals advances our understanding of how diabetes develops and provides evidence important for future diagnosis and intervention."
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New method of lowering blood sugar production in the liver may help treat diabetes

(UPI) Researchers found a way to lower glucose production in the livers of mice, lowering levels of blood sugar in their bodies, potentially offering a new method of treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Many treatments for type 2 diabetes work by making the body more sensitive to insulin, which is the hormone that lowers blood sugar.
Previous research has shown that reducing glucose production by interfering with the function of a protein in the liver was possible, however the new study is the first to successfully do so, the researchers said.
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Why Google Is Going All In On Diabetes

(Shots, NPR) Earlier this week the new Google Life Sciences unit announced that diabetes is the company's first major disease target. It may come as a surprise that Google, a company that helps people search online for flights and restaurants and dabbles in other ventures like self-driving cars, is investing in new therapies to treat disease.
But according to Michael Chae, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter at the American Diabetes Association, Google's decision is a no-brainer. It's a highly lucrative opportunity. In 2012, the total cost of managing diabetes was put at $245 billion in the U.S. alone. The timing also appears just right for technology companies to enter the field.
"There's been an explosion of wearables, data and analytics," Chae said. "People with diabetes are more comfortable living in a measured world."
He envisions a future where people with diabetes can measure their blood glucose levels on a continuous basis, using painless methods. One of Google's emerging products is a contact lens embedded with a glitter-sized sensor that can measure glucose levels in tears. "There's a whole lot of innovation at once," he said.
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Scientists Report Success Using Zebrafish Embryos to Identify Potential New Diabetes Drugs

(Johns Hopkins Medicine) In experiments with 500,000 genetically engineered zebrafish embryos, Johns Hopkins scientists report they have developed a potentially better and more accurate way to screen for useful drugs, and they have used it to identify 24 drug candidates that increase the number of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas…
[T]he researchers say [the novel fish embryo technique] may yield new treatments for diabetes and potentially speed new drug discoveries for other diseases… "More studies need to be done, but we think there's potentially no limit on the diseases this screening technique could be applied to other than the human imagination," says Jeffrey Mumm, Ph.D.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Are You Afraid of Saturated Fat? Studies Say Not to Worry
What will it take for nutrition experts to give up their fear and loathing of saturated fat? Science suggests the sat-fat prohibition was a colossal mistake
How Dangerous Is Cinnamon?
The popular kitchen spice cinnamon often contains coumarin. How risky is this component, and how can its possible dangers be avoided?
Be Wary of Too Much Green Juice
Drinking green juice made of oxalate-rich foods like beet greens, kale or parsley could overwhelm the kidneys and result in painful kidney stones.
Prunes and Prune Juice Overcame Constipation
The standard constipation remedy of previous generations, prunes, works just as well today.
Vinegar Vanquishes Body Odor
Using vinegar to fight body odor is an old fashioned home remedy. The theory is that changing the Ph of the armpit discourages the bacteria that cause odor.
Seborrheic Dermatitis: Curing Facial Dandruff
Applying Vicks to the flaky areas morning and evening should help because of its antifungal ingredients. Milk of Magnesia (MoM) might also work.
Should You Skip Breakfast?
If you skip breakfast, you may consume fewer calories, but it is not clear that you will lose weight or live longer.
Low Vitamin D Level Raises Risk of Macular Degeneration
In women with a specific genetic marker, a low vitamin D level boosted the likelihood of developing macular degeneration during a three year study.
Club Drug (Ketamine) Produces Exciting Benefits for Severe Depression
A small study from the UK demonstrated that infusions of ketamine produced dramatic and often immediate responses in some severely depressed patients.
Can You Trust Your Blood Pressure Measurements? Taking Accurate Readings is Harder Than It Seems!
Millions of people have their blood pressure checked every day, but mistakes are commonly made and the consequences of an incorrect reading can be serious.
Clinical Trial Pits Aspirin Plus Metformin Against Prostate Cancer
How well will the combination of aspirin plus metformin work to prevent prostate cancer or its recurrence? This study should find out.
Diabetes Drugs Trigger Severe Joint Pain
FDA warns that diabetes drugs such as Januvia or Onglyza may cause severe joint pain that could be disabling; stopping the drug resolves the pain.
Metformin Reduces Vitamin B12 Absorption
The diabetes drug metformin can lead to low levels of vitamin B12. People taking this medicine may require a supplement of this crucial vitamin.
Patients Get Help Paying for Pricey Prescriptions
When pricey prescriptions outstrip the budget, some patients can get relief through the drug companies' patient assistance programs.
Community: At more than $250 per month, I’m unable to afford Zetia, which my doctor wants me to take. I was surprised to find that Merck’s Patient Assistance Program is fairly liberal in its requirements for eligibility. So I’ve applied, and may receive the medication at no charge.
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Feeling queasy? New therapy holds promise for motion sickness

(CBS News) [A study] shows that a mild electrical current applied to the scalp can dampen responses in an area of the brain that is responsible for processing motion signals, according to a press release from [Imperial College London]. This helps the brain deal with the confusing inputs it receives, and can prevent the problem that causes motion sickness.
Motion sickness can affect almost anyone, with about a third of people experiencing symptoms like dizziness and severe nausea that are hard to bear, the researchers say. There are medications to treat the condition, such as scopolamine or dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), but they can have drawbacks.
"The problem with treatments for motion sickness is that the effective ones are usually tablets that also make people drowsy," said Professor Michael Gresty from Imperial College, who collaborated on the study, in a statement. "That's all very well if you are on a short journey or a passenger, but what about if you work on a cruise ship and need to deal with motion sickness whilst continuing to work?"
In contrast, the research team says the experimental treatment is as effective as the best medication available, with no apparent side effect.
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Did Forged Signature Clear Way for Dangerous Blood-Clot Filter?

(NBC News) In 2002, medical giant C.R. Bard recruited Kay Fuller, a veteran regulatory specialist, to help secure FDA clearance for its Recovery blood clot filter, after the agency had turned down a previous application…
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Fuller said that she had serious concerns about the Recovery. A small human clinical trial raised red flags, and the company did not give her important safety performance test results, she said.
But when she voiced her concerns, she said, Bard officials didn't seem to want to hear them…
Fuller says she told her boss she would not sign the application until the issues were resolved. Bard submitted its application to the FDA with what appears to be Fuller's signature on it…
After receiving FDA clearance, Bard sold about 34,000 patients Recovery filters. Records show that over the course of a decade, the filter was associated with 27 deaths and several hundred non-fatal problems…
As reports of deaths and injury were growing, Bard decided not to recall the Recovery. It hired a public relations firm to develop a crisis management plan that warned "unfavorable press" could damage stock prices and ruin reputations. It also commissioned an outside doctor to conduct a confidential study, which was obtained by NBC News.
The result: the filter had higher rates of relative risk for death, filter fracture and movement than all its competitors.
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US-appointed egg lobby paid food blogs and targeted chef to crush vegan startup

(The Guardian) A government-controlled industry group targeted popular food bloggers, major publications and a celebrity chef as part of its sweeping effort to combat a perceived threat from an egg-replacement startup backed by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, the Guardian can reveal…
The scale of the campaign – dubbed “Beyond Eggs” after Hampton Creek’s original company name – shows the lengths to which a federally-appointed, industry-funded marketing group will go to squash a relatively small Silicon Valley startup, from enlisting a high-powered public relations firm to buying off unwitting bloggers.
One leading public health attorney, asked to review the internal communications, said the egg marketing group was in breach of a US department of agriculture (USDA) regulation that specifically prohibited “any advertising (including press releases) deemed disparaging to another commodity”.
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