Antioxidant ( N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC ) shows promise as treatment for certain features of autism, Stanford study finds Reply

01 JUN 2012

STANFORD, Calif. — A specific antioxidant supplement may be an effective therapy for some features of autism, according to a pilot trial from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital that involved 31 children with the disorder.

The antioxidant, called N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC, lowered irritability in children with autism as well as reducing the children’s repetitive behaviors. The researchers emphasized that the findings must be confirmed in a larger trial before NAC can be recommended for children with autism.

Irritability affects 60 to 70 percent of children with autism. “We’re not talking about mild things: This is throwing, kicking, hitting, the child needing to be restrained,” said Antonio Hardan, MD, the primary author of the new study. “It can affect learning, vocational activities and the child’s ability to participate in autism therapies.”

The study appears in the June 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry. Hardan is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford and director of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic at Packard Children’s. Stanford is filing a patent for the use of NAC in autism, and one of the study authors has a financial stake in a company that makes and sells the NAC used in the trial. More…

Drug-monitoring programs needed to cut dangers linked to ‘pharmaceuticalization’ of 21st century Reply

”  Today, nearly three quarters of all fatal drug overdoses in the United States are due to prescription drugs — far outnumbering deaths from cocaine and heroin combined, and often outpacing car accidents as the top cause of preventable deaths.”

1 JUN 2012

Penn researcher calls for expansion of programs to identify potential drug abusers and protect pain patients

PHILADELPHIA — Individual use of prescription opioids has increased four-fold since the mid-1990s, in part due to increased awareness of pain control for chronic conditions such as low back pain and fibromyalgia and a Joint Commission mandate that hospitals assess patients’ pain as a “vital sign” along with their blood pressure and temperature. During the same timeframe, however, the number of people using these drugs recreationally, becoming addicted to them, and dying of overdoses has also shot up. Today, nearly three quarters of all fatal drug overdoses in the United States are due to prescription drugs — far outnumbering deaths from cocaine and heroin combined, and often outpacing car accidents as the top cause of preventable deaths. More…

Exercise and a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables extends life expectancy in women in their 70s Reply

01 Jun 2012
Women in their seventies who exercise and eat healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables have a longer life expectancy, according to research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University studied 713 women aged 70 to 79 years who took part in the Women’s Health and Aging Studies. This study was designed to evaluate the causes and course of physical disability in older women living in the community.

“A number of studies have measured the positive impact of exercise and healthy eating on life expectancy, but what makes this study unique is that we looked at these two factors together,” explains lead author, Dr. Emily J Nicklett, from the University of Michigan School of Social Work. More…

American parents may want to think again about how much they want to protect their children from everyday germs. Reply

01 JUN 2012

Understanding the links between inflammation and chronic disease

Early exposure to microbes reduces inflammation related to chronic disease later

EVANSTON, Ill. — American parents may want to think again about how much they want to protect their children from everyday germs.

A new Northwestern University study done in lowland Ecuador remarkably finds no evidence of chronic low-grade inflammation — associated with diseases of aging like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.

In contrast, about one-third of adults in the United States have chronically elevated C-reactive protein (CRP). Acute elevations in CRP — a protein in the blood whose levels rise as part of the inflammatory response — are important for protecting us against infectious disease. But when CRP is chronically produced, it is associated with chronic diseases.

“In other words, CRP goes up when you need it, but it is almost undetectable when you don’t, after the infection resolves,” said Thomas W. McDade, professor of anthropology at Northwestern and faculty fellow at the university’s Institute for Policy Research. “This is a pretty remarkable finding, and very different from prior research in the U.S., where lots of people tend to have chronically elevated CRP, probably putting them at higher risk for chronic disease.” More…

Overdiagnosis poses significant threat to human health Reply

” a third of people diagnosed with asthma may not have the condition; a systematic review suggests up to one in three breast cancers detected through screenings may be overdiagnosed; and some researchers argue osteoporosis treatments may do more harm than good for women at very low risk of future fracture “

01 Jun 2012
International conference: Preventing Overdiagnosis

Overdiagnosis poses a significant threat to human health by labeling healthy people as sick and wasting resources on unnecessary care, warns Ray Moynihan, Senior Research Fellow at Bond University in Australia, in a feature published on bmj.com today.

The feature comes as an international conference ‘Preventing Overdiagnosis’ is announced for Sept. 10-12, 2013, in the United States, hosted by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, in partnership with the BMJ, the leading consumer organization Consumer Reports and Bond University, Australia.

The conference is timely, says Moynihan because “as evidence mounts that we’re harming the healthy, concern about overdiagnosis is giving way to concerted action on how to prevent it.”

“The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice has long been a leader in understanding and communicating the problems of overdiagnosis,” say Drs. Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz, professors of medicine at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. “We are extremely excited to host this international conference to advance the science and develop concrete proposals to reduce overdiagnosis and its associated harms.” More…

Dark chocolate could prevent heart problems in high-risk people Reply

1 Jun 2012

Daily consumption over 10 years is a cost-effective strategy

Daily consumption of dark chocolate can reduce cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, in people with metabolic syndrome (a cluster of factors that increases the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes), finds a study published on bmj.com today.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Dark chocolate (containing at least 60% cocoa solids) is rich in flavonoids – known to have heart protecting effects – but this has only been examined in short term studies.

So a team of researchers from Melbourne, Australia used a mathematical model to predict the long-term health effects and cost effectiveness of daily dark chocolate consumption in 2,013 people already at high risk of heart disease.

All participants had high blood pressure and met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, but had no history of heart disease or diabetes and were not on blood pressure lowering therapy. More…

Defective carnitine metabolism may play role in autism Reply

HOUSTON — (May 7, 2012) – The deletion of part of a gene that plays a role in the synthesis of carnitine – an amino acid derivative that helps the body use fat for energy – may play a role in milder forms of autism, said a group of researchers led by those at Baylor College of Medicine (http://www.bcm.edu) and Texas Children’s Hospital (http://www.texaschildrens.org).

“This is a novel inborn error of metabolism,” said Dr. Arthur Beaudet (http://www.bcm.edu/genetics/index.cfm?pmid=10579), chair of molecular and human genetics at BCM and a physician at Texas Children’s Hospital, and the senior author of the report that appears online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (http://www.pnas.org). “How it is associated with the causes of autism is as yet unclear. However, it could point to a means of treatment or even prevention in some patients.”

Beaudet and his international group of collaborators believe the gene deletion leads to an imbalance in carnitine in the body. Meat eaters receive about 75 percent of their carnitine from their diet. However, dietary carnitine levels are low in vegetarians and particularly in vegans. In most people, levels of carnitine are balanced by the body’s ability to manufacture its own carnitine in the liver, kidney and brain, starting with a modified form of the amino acid lysine.

Carnitine deficiency has been identified when not enough is absorbed through the diet or because of medical treatments such as kidney dialysis. Genetic forms of carnitine deficiency also exist, which are caused when too much carnitine is excreted through the kidneys. More…

Tiny amounts of BPA can alter mammary gland development Reply

Researchers see BPA effects in monkey mammary glands

Study adds to growing health concerns about common plastic additive

PULLMAN, Wash.—A new study finds that fetal exposure to the plastic additive bisphenol A, or BPA, alters mammary gland development in primates. The finding adds to the evidence that the chemical can be causing health problems in humans and bolsters concerns about it contributing to breast cancer.

“Previous studies in mice have demonstrated that low doses of BPA alter the developing mammary gland and that these subtle changes increase the risk of cancer in the adult,” says Patricia Hunt, a geneticist in Washington State University’s School of Molecular Biosciences. “Some have questioned the relevance of these findings in mice to humans. But finding the same thing in a primate model really hits uncomfortably close to home.” More…

Gut flora affects maturation of B cells in infants Reply

18 May 2012

Infants whose gut is colonised by E. coli bacteria early in life have a higher number of memory B cells in their blood, reveals a study of infants carried out at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The bacteria in our gut outnumber the cells in our bodies by a factor of ten and are extremely important for our health because they stimulate the maturation of the immune system. The normal bacterial flora in the gut is established at the very beginning of our lives, but an increasingly hygienic lifestyle has led to changes in this flora.

Colonised ever later

These days Swedish children are colonised by E. coli bacteria later and later. They also have a less varied bacterial flora and a smaller turnover of bacterial strains in the gut than children in developing countries. Meanwhile, diseases caused by deficiencies in immune regulation have increased sharply, making allergies a major public health issue in the Western World.

B cells play key role in development of allergies More…

L-Carnitine may help sciatic nerve injury Reply


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How does L-carnitine maintain the normal structure of sciatic nerve in crush injury?
- Several studies have demonstrated that L-carnitine exhibits neuroprotective effects on injured sciatic nerve of rats with diabetes mellitus. Dr. Ümmü Zeynep Avsar, Faculty of Medicine, Ataturk University, Turkey and his team proposed a hypothesis that L-carnitine exhibits neuroprotective effects on injured sciatic nerve of rats. Rat sciatic nerve was crush injured by a forceps and exhibited degenerative changes. After intragastric administration of 50 and 100 mg/kg L-carnitine for 30 days, axon area, myelin sheath area, axon diameter, myelin sheath diameter, and numerical density of the myelinated axons of injured sciatic nerve were similar to normal, and the function of injured sciatic nerve also improved significantly. These findings suggest that L-carnitine exhibits neuroprotective effects on sciatic nerve crush injury in rats. This paper was published in Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 9, No. 10, 2014). More…

Pesticide linked to 3 generations of disease Reply

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

24-Jul-2014

Methoxychlor causes epigenetic changes
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers say ancestral exposures to the pesticide methoxychlor may lead to adult onset kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity in future generations.

“What your great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy, like the pesticide methoxychlor, may promote a dramatic increase in your susceptibility to develop disease, and you will pass this on to your grandchildren in the absence of any continued exposures,” says Michael Skinner, WSU professor and founder of its Center for Reproductive Biology. More…

Exposure to dim light at night may make breast cancers resistant to tamoxifen ( melatonin helps fix it) Reply

Public Release: 25-Jul-2014

Animal study shows suppressed production of melatonin

PHILADELPHIA — For rats bearing human breast tumors, exposure to dim light at night made the tumors resistant to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, according to data published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The negative effects of dim light exposure on tamoxifen treatment were overcome by giving rats a melatonin supplement during the night.

“Resistance to tamoxifen is a growing problem among patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer,” said Steven M. Hill, PhD, professor of structural and cellular biology and the Edmond and Lily Safra chair for breast cancer research at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. “Our data, although they were generated in rats, have potential implications for the large number of patients with breast cancer who are being treated with tamoxifen, because they suggest that nighttime exposure to light, even dim light, could cause their tumors to become resistant to the drug by suppressing melatonin production. More…

Natural products from plants protect skin during cancer radiotherapy Reply

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

24-Jul-2014
Radiotherapy for cancer involves exposing the patient or their tumor more directly to ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays or X-rays. The radiation damages the cancer cells irreparably. Unfortunately, such radiation is also harmful to healthy tissue, particularly the skin over the site of the tumor, which is then at risk of hair loss, dermatological problems and even skin cancer. As such finding ways to protect the overlying skin are keenly sought.

Writing in the International Journal of Low Radiation, Faruck Lukmanul Hakkim of the University of Nizwa, Oman and Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan, and colleagues there and at Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia, Bharathiar University, India and Konkuk University, South Korea, explain how three ubiquitous and well-studied natural products derived from plants can protect the skin against gamma radiation during radiotherapy. More…

Rosemary and oregano contain diabetes-fighting compounds Reply

Public Release: 23-Jul-2014
The popular culinary herbs oregano and rosemary are packed with healthful compounds, and now lab tests show they could work in much the same way as prescription anti-diabetic medication, scientists report. In their new study published in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they found that how the herbs are grown makes a difference, and they also identified which compounds contribute the most to this promising trait.

Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia and colleagues point out that in 2012, type-2 diabetes affected more than 8 percent of Americans and cost the country $175 billion. Some people can manage the disease with exercise and changes to their diet, and others take medication. But not everyone can stick to a new lifestyle or afford the prescription drugs necessary to keep their blood-sugar level in check. Recent research has shown that herbs could provide a natural way to help lower glucose in blood. So Gonzalez de Mejia’s team decided to take a closer look. More…

The Lancet: Paracetamol no better than placebo for lower back pain Reply

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

23-Jul-2014
Paracetamol is no better than placebo at speeding recovery from acute episodes of lower back pain or improving pain levels, function, sleep, or quality of life, according to the first large randomised trial to compare the effectiveness of paracetamol with placebo for low-back pain. The findings, published in The Lancet, question the universal endorsement of paracetamol as the first choice painkiller for low-back pain, say the authors.

Low-back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. National clinical guidelines universally recommend paracetamol as the first choice analgesic for acute low-back pain, despite the fact that no previous studies have provided robust evidence that it is effective in people with low-back pain. More…