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The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Infighting Among Turkish Proxies Erupts In Syria Wed Apr 08, 2020 01:10 | Scott
Infighting Among Turkish Proxies Erupts In Syria. Rocket Strike Hits US-operated Oil Facility In Iraq † Infighting among Turkish-backed groups has erupted near the town of Ras al-Ayn. According to

offsite link Ukrainian Peace Process Collapses Tue Apr 07, 2020 18:06 | The Saker
by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog News has only gradually seeped out that the Minsk II agreement, to find a peaceful way to end the war between Ukraine and

offsite link U.S. Confirms Deployment Of Patriot Missiles In Iraq Tue Apr 07, 2020 01:18 | Scott
U.S. Confirms Deployment Of Patriot Missiles In Iraq. Iran Prepares For Conflict In Straight Of Hormuz On April 5, a series of large explosions rocked the village of al-Kastan in

offsite link ?It is disease that makes health sweet and good? Mon Apr 06, 2020 22:41 | amarynth
by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission.† How Heraclitus, the Riddler, may teach us to fight Covid-19 He was known as ?the Riddler.? Even ?the Dark.?††Heraclitus of Ephesus was one

offsite link The Saker Blog needs your help! Mon Apr 06, 2020 04:08 | The Saker
Dear friends, As I have explained recently, the Saker Community, the Saker blog and my family have been negatively affected by the SARS-COV-2/COVID19 pandemic.† Even though most of us are

The Saker >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

offsite link Turkish President Calls On Greece To Comply With Human Rights on Syrian Refugee Issues Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58 | Human Rights

offsite link US Holds China To Account For Human Rights Violations Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12 | Human Rights

offsite link UN Human Rights Council Should Address Human Rights Crisis in Cambodia Sat Aug 31, 2019 13:41 | Human Rights

offsite link Fijian women still face Human Rights violations Mon Aug 26, 2019 18:49 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Cedar Lounge
"A flaky website that purports to be ?leftist,? The Cedar Lounge Revolution, occasionally makes a relevant point or two."

offsite link The German model in relation to the crisis? 13:24 Tue Apr 07, 2020 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Left Lives in 20th Century Ireland ? Launch offer 12:25 Tue Apr 07, 2020 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link An insight into a not uncommon view of the crisis in other parts? 10:30 Tue Apr 07, 2020 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Our new government? 09:19 Tue Apr 07, 2020 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Another update from Madrid on the crisis? 15:15 Mon Apr 06, 2020 | WorldbyStorm

Cedar Lounge >>

Dublin Opinion
Life should be full of strangeness, like a rich painting

offsite link Some Thoughts on the Brexit Joint Report 11:50 Sat Dec 09, 2017

offsite link IRISH COMMONWEALTH: TRADE UNIONS AND CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE 21ST CENTURY 14:06 Sat Nov 18, 2017

offsite link Notes for a Book on Money and the Irish State - The Marshall Aid Program 15:10 Sat Apr 02, 2016

offsite link The Financial Crisis:What Have We Learnt? 19:58 Sat Aug 29, 2015

offsite link Money in 35,000 Words or Less 21:34 Sat Aug 22, 2015

Dublin Opinion >>

Podcast Feeds

Links to Alternative Media Podcasts

  • KPFK Indy Media on Air
  • From Alpha To Omega
  • Stop Imperialism
  • Kevin Barret Unz Review Podcast
  • Eco Shock
  • Gary Null Show

KPFK - Indy Media On Air

en-us Indy Media On Air

RSS Feed for 'Indymedia on Air' from the LA Indymedia broadcast on LA KPFK

offsite link Indy Media On Air - Wednesday, February 13, 2019 Thu Feb 14, 2019 02:30
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offsite link Indy Media On Air - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 Thu Feb 07, 2019 02:30
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offsite link Indy Media On Air - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 Thu Jan 31, 2019 02:30
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offsite link Indy Media On Air - Wednesday, January 23, 2019 Thu Jan 24, 2019 02:30
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offsite link Indy Media On Air - Wednesday, January 16, 2019 Thu Jan 17, 2019 02:30
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KPFK - Indy Media On Air >>

From Alpha To Omega

en-ie What is happening to our economy and our politics? Are we stuck forever in this corporate dystopia? What can we learn from the failures of radical politics over the last 100 years? Commandante Alpha talks in depth to experts from the fields of Political Economy, Politics, Science, Philosophy, Complexity, Mathematics, Music, and the Environment.

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offsite link #041 Revolutionary Strategy Series Sat Apr 04, 2020 09:00 | Tom O'Brien
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We finish our reading of Paul Cockshotts critique of the book and gather out thoughts. Don't join a cult

offsite link #115 Aye Corona w/ GIU BONUS Episdoe Mon Mar 16, 2020 16:37 | Tom O'Brien
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An emergency corona virus special with boys from General Intellect Unit on the human, political, and financial catastrophe that is upon us.....

offsite link #114 Radical Gaming w/ Colestia TEASER Tue Mar 10, 2020 08:00 | Tom O'Brien
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Today we talk with Colestia, a radical left games designer about his work and the world of independent anti-capitalist gaming. You can check out his work at: https://colestia.itch.io. Credit to Matt who helped edit this episode.

offsite link #040 Revolutionary Strategy Series Tue Mar 10, 2020 08:00 | Tom O'Brien
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We continue our reading of Paul Cockshotts critique of Mike MacNair's 'Revolutionary Strategy' book, and give sortition the once over. Panelists: C Derick Varn - Symptomatic Redness Kyle - General Intellect Unit Lexi Dog Robot - Swampside Chats Pouya - Machine Noise Expert

offsite link #113 Super Tuesday Election Special Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:45 | Tom O'Brien
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A very special Emancipation Network all-star panel with Ben Burgis of Zero Books discuss the recent poor showing by Bernie Sanders in the US primaries. What does it mean for politics? What does is mean for socialist/communist politics? Is Jake actually a meme? Listen to find out...

From Alpha To Omega >>

en-US Stop Imperialism - Geopolitical Analysis

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offsite link French Elections: Le Pen and the Far Right, a Collapsed Center, and the Rise of ... Sun Apr 30, 2017 16:07 | Eric Draitser
**FREE PREVIEW**
Please visit http://patreon.com/ericdraitser to become a patron and have full access to this and other content available exclusively to subscribers.
Eric Draitser sits down with political commentator and activist Dr. Moustafa Traore to discuss the French presidential elections, the likely outcomes, and the broader political significance both nationally and internationally. [...]
The post French Elections: Le Pen and the Far Right, a Collapsed Center, and the Rise of a New Left? appeared first on .

offsite link CounterPunch Radio (Ep. 83) ? David Swanson Thu Apr 27, 2017 18:25 | Eric Draitser
Listen to Eric’s conversation with David Swanson here
This week Eric sits down with author and peace activist David Swanson to discuss war and peace in the Age of Trump. Eric and David examine whether Trump’s early days in office represent an escalation of the war machine, and how Trump is [...]
The post CounterPunch Radio (Ep. 83) – David Swanson appeared first on .

offsite link Israel: Trauma, Oppression, and the Politics of a Fascist State Mon Apr 24, 2017 19:19 | Eric Draitser
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To hear full episodes and receive access to exclusive content, please visit patreon.com/ericdraitser to become a patron today.
Eric Draitser sits down with Israeli-American political commentator and doctor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience Yoav Litvin to discuss Israel and the pathology of its politics and self-image. Eric and Yoav [...]
The post Israel: Trauma, Oppression, and the Politics of a Fascist State appeared first on .

offsite link Robert Hunziker on CounterPunch Radio! Tue Apr 04, 2017 19:53 | Eric Draitser
Click here to listen to Robert Hunziker and Eric Draitser on CounterPunch Radio!
This week Eric welcomes back to the show environmental journalist and CounterPunch contributor Robert Hunziker to talk about how the earth’s climate is going bonkers, and what this means for human civilization. The conversation begins with a discussion [...]
The post Robert Hunziker on CounterPunch Radio! appeared first on .

offsite link Trump, Fascism, and the American Psyche Fri Mar 31, 2017 17:45 | Eric Draitser
Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org sits down with independent journalist Andrew Stewart to discuss his experience at a Trump rally, Trump as the inverse Obama (right wing Hope and Change), the cowardice of the Democrats, and the mentality of Americans on both sides of the partisan divide.
For full access to all [...]
The post Trump, Fascism, and the American Psyche appeared first on .

KevinBarret
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media

offsite link Coronavirus, Spirituality, & Politics: Shia/Sufi/Muslim Perspectives Pt. 1: Andrew Israel & Charles ... Sat Apr 04, 2020 22:00 | Kevin Barrett
First half hour: Andrew Israel (Muhammad Al Mahdi) reverted to Shia Islam from Judaism last Ramadan. As the Anglo-Zionist war on the ?Shia crescent? (a.k.a. the Axis of Resistance) intensifies, even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, this might be a good time to check in with him? Next half hour: Charles Upton discusses...

offsite link Richard Gage AIA, Roland Angle, and Wayne Coste on WTC-7 Study & New 9/11 Demolition Theory, by Kevi... Sun Mar 29, 2020 22:00 | Kevin Barrett
First half hour: Richard Gage, AIA, and civil engineer Roland Angle discuss the newly-issued University of Alaska report showing that the only possible explanation for the observed collapse of WTC-7 on 9/11 is the simultaneous failure of every column in the building?in other words, a controlled demolition. Just like your lying eyes already told you,...

offsite link Barbara Honegger Covid-19-9/11, E. Michael Jones on Coronavirus Culture War, by Kevin Barrett Sat Mar 28, 2020 21:00 | Kevin Barrett
First 30 minutes: Barbara Honegger discusses her new article ?Here We Go Again: 9/11, Coronavirus and Another ?New Pearl Harbor?.? In this interview she also references her 2008 article ?The Scarlet A: Links between the Anthrax Attacks and 9/11.? Barbara worked as Senior Military Affairs Journalist at the Naval Postgraduate School, DoD?s premiere science, technology...

offsite link Ralph Cinque: Official Coronavirus Data Is Dubious, by Kevin Barrett Tue Mar 24, 2020 21:00 | Kevin Barrett
Ralph Cinque, founder of the Oswald Innocence Project, and writer and producer of My Stretch of Texas Ground, is a chiropractor and expert on nutrition, weight loss, and fasting. In this interview he questions whether the global medical establishment really understands the Covid-19 issue, arguing that the

offsite link Brian Ruhe: Bjerknes and Hoffman Are Wrong, Hitler Was a Great Guy!, by Kevin Barrett Sat Mar 21, 2020 21:00 | Kevin Barrett
Brian Ruhe, who has (non-ironically) called himself a ?Buddhist Nazi,? espouses a generally pro-Hitler position. In this interview, we?ll air our widely differing views on that?and also discuss the recent flurry of claims that Brian is secretly Jewish, which I guess would make him a ?Jewish Buddhist Nazi,? which is even weirder than just a...

KevinBarret >>

RADIO ECOSHOCK

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RADIO ECOSHOCK

91 Radio Stations and Growing!

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offsite link Coronavirus: What can you do and how can it end? Thu Apr 02, 2020 00:48 | Alex Smith
Popular UK nurse teacher Dr. John Campbell’s tips. Scientist Paul Beckwith says Canada blundered into disaster, and clearing air could release 25 years worth of warming – this spring or summer. I’m Alex Smith. Here we go. Listen to or download this Radio  …

offsite link Growing Out of This Horrible Crisis Wed Mar 25, 2020 23:01 | Alex Smith
I have just one message for you now: it is not too late to prepare to feed yourself, those you love, and maybe even your community. We need to produce local food, and food in your yard or balcony, right now. Buy seeds.  …

offsite link The Hardest of Times Under the Black Coronavirus Wed Mar 18, 2020 15:20 | Alex Smith
How long to self isolate during the Corona virus? – new science from John Hopkins. For this crisis, Alex calls tear out your lawn and grow food. You may need it. Interview with Professor Jos Lelieveld of Max Planck Institute on the other  …

offsite link Corona Virus ? With Dr. John Campbell Wed Mar 11, 2020 18:19 | Alex Smith
Dr. John Campbell, UK teacher of nurses and YouTube guide explains how the novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) hurts us, who and how many. What medical science and experience can tell us as we enter uncharted territory both economic and social. Plus 1918 Epidemic  …

offsite link John Campbell with Alex Smith ? Corona Virus ? what you need to know ? transcri... Wed Mar 11, 2020 18:03 | Alex Smith
Transcript as broadcast week of March 11, 2020 on Radio Eoshock, ecoshock.org. Alex Smith: This is Radio Ecoshock with a feature on the coronavirus – what do you need to know, and what you can do. With his daily briefing on the novel  …

RADIO ECOSHOCK >>

The Gary Null Show

en

The Gary Null Show

Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy.

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offsite link The Gary Null Show - Yes, Numbers Matter - 04.07.20 Tue Apr 07, 2020 19:20

Yes, Numbers Matter

Richard Gale and Gary Null PhD

Progressive Radio Network, April 7, 2020

 

For the millions of people who are following the daily reports and analyses of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing should be evident. There are far more questions arising than answers, and there are certainly less answers to be relied upon. Consequently, we are being inundated with numbers and more numbers. The number of cases of infection. The number of tests performed or that should be performed. The number of masks, hospital beds and ventilators necessary. And the number of fatalities. Consider the early predictions made by NIAID director Anthony Fauci that we might expect 1.7 million deaths only to later reduce his numbers to that of a regular flu season. Or there is one of the nation's chief physicians serving Congress and the Supreme Court, Dr. Brian Monahan, who pulled unsubstantiated figures from the astral plane to warn NBC News that up to 150 million Americans will become infected. 

Moreover, confusion seems to be rampant throughout much of the nation's healthcare infrastructure. We are being deprived of basic facts because even the experts don't have them. Perhaps we have all seen the images of medical personnel having to wear black garbage bags as protective gear in a New York hospital or nurses' reports about having to wash and share face masks due to shortages. One revelation that COVID-19 is mirroring back to us is dire state of our corporate healthcare system and the dearth of doctors compared to other developed nations. But should we be surprised about the failures of American medicine? Funding that should go towards a resilient medical infrastructure and preventative health measures in times of emergency has been neglected for decades. If the nation's healthcare infrastructure had progressed to meet its population's demand it would have lessened the pandemic significantly. Instead the US budget has been funneled off to sustain our imperialist military adventures and provide bailouts for the mega-transnational corporations, banks and billionaires. 

Part of the problem is that there are no accurate epidemiological and statistical analyses, even for fatality numbers, that are based upon sound scientific principles. Perhaps one of the clearest examples to try to understand this confusion is to look at the huge discrepancy in infection rates and deaths between different countries, especially neighboring countries in Europe. How does one account for an approximate 1,810 deaths per 103,300 cases in Germany with 8,900 deaths per 98,000 cases right next door in France? Each has comparable economies and advanced healthcare systems. Is it that there are no reliable mechanisms for proper data collection and analysis? It seems to be that every government is doing its own thing and therefore all the data we have to determine the severity of the pandemic is skewed. The distinguished physician and German politician Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, who earlier declared the H1N1 swine flu pandemic as "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century," has again warned that the COVID-19 hype is causing "considerable damage to our freedom and personal rights through frivolous and unjustified quarantine measures and restrictions." Commenting on the current situation, Dr. Wodarg argues that "evidence based epidemiological assessment is drowning in the mainstream of fear mongers in labs, media and ministries."

In the US, which closely follows (or controls) the World Health Organization (WHO), it is a larger mess. For example, WHO's recent guidelines divide COVID-19 cases into two categories. First are those cases that have been confirmed by properly identifying the virus through laboratory testing. The second are those cases that have been "assigned to a clinical or epidemiology diagnosis of COVID-19 where laboratory confirmation is inconclusive or not available." In other words, people are being ruled as COVID-19 positive without any laboratory confirmation. Furthermore, the WHO now recommends that deaths in this second category should be contributed to the coronavirus.  One does not require a medical degree to realize how this is resulting in faulty tabulation of infection and death rates. 

The US has also adopted the WHO guidelines according to the National Vital Statistics System. A NVSS document explaining how deaths should be reported on death certificates states, "COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death." So what impact would this have on fatality numbers if deaths without laboratory confirmation are in fact caused by other illnesses? We already know that the virus is most lethal to the elderly and persons with pre-existing medical conditions. 

Below is a chart produced by the NVSS showing weekly pneumonia deaths from 2013 to the present.

Note the dramatic unprecedented decrease in deaths associated with pneumonia since the arrival of COVID-19 in the US. How does that happen? Is there an invisible war being waged between COVID-19 and pneumonia-causing pathogens such as flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), bacteria, mycoplasma and fungi to infect victims? The chart is nothing more than an illusion. The reason for this remarkable decrease is simply human error and scientific negligence. 

Likewise, as both confirmed and assumed cases of COVID-19 climb, influenza cases are falling. To add to the confusion, just as the CDC now tallies COVID-19 deaths, it has done the same by conflating influenza and pneumonia deaths for many years. The CDC claims approximately 34,000 people die from flu infections annually. However, no distinction is made between the two and influenza and pneumonia deaths are grouped together. It is an excellent propaganda tool for keeping people nervous when flu season arrives in order to get rid of and distribute the 160 million-plus vaccine doses our tax dollars purchase every year. 

As physician Dr. Ken Stoller wrote to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, 

"US data on influenza deaths are false and misleading. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges a difference between flu death and flu associated death yet uses the terms interchangeably. Additionally, there are significant statistical incompatibilities between official estimates and national vital statistics data. Compounding these problems is a marketing of fear‚ÄĒa CDC communications strategy in which medical experts "predict dire outcomes" during flu seasons."

And now we discover the same agency re-categorizing influenza and pneumonia cases as COVID-19. In the same vein, how many deaths assigned to the flu may actually be caused by a coronavirus?  Dr. Wodarg notes that it is "the well known fact that in every 'flu wave' 7-15% of acute respiratory illnesses (ARI) are coming along with coronaviruses." He further warns that "we are currently not measuring the incidence of coronavirus diseases but the activity of the specialists searching for them." We still do not know COVID-19's pathogenetic role and impact compared to the common seasonal flu. 

Even if we erroneously assume the CDC's figures are accurate, as of today, there are 364,700 cases of coronavirus and almost 11,000 deaths. Yet this is a far cry from annual illnesses and deaths associated with the flu. Last year, according to Johns Hopkins University, there were over 35 million cases of flu infection and over 34,100 deaths (see chart below). And when did the entire economy ever shut down during a flu season?  Even during the 2009-2010 H1N1 swine flu scare -- the hyped-up pandemic that never was and was estimated to have killed only 17,000 people -- life went on as normal. The WHO's faux H1N1 pandemic resulted in only half of the CDC's conventional estimates for annual deaths. The world's experts at the WHO, British Health Ministry, and the CDC could not have been more wrong in their predictions in their fear tactics. 

Curiously, the Johns Hopkins researchers estimated 61,000 deaths during the 2017-2018 flu season while the CDC reported it being over 80,000, a 25% difference. This also completely ignores co-morbidity, deaths directly due to other medical complications, usually pre-existing, that are independent from the virus. 

Equally challenging is the lack of a universal and accurate test for proper viral identification. Polymerase Chain Reaction testing or PCR is the most accurate but is not being utilized at the level it should due to the lack of PCR systems and facilities for high throughput testing. People go to a hospital emergency room and are often only checked and asked about their symptoms. Rapid influenza tests may be performed and if negative a patient is diagnosed with a positive coronavirus diagnosis. This is not sound medical protocol. It is divination. 

For whatever reason, America has an allergic reaction against learning anything from previous mistakes in the face of emergencies, whether it is a real crisis such as hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, or false alerts such as the 2009 swine flu scare. We may also remember that the aggressive push to fast track an inadequately studied swine flu vaccine onto the market resulted in spontaneous abortions and miscarriages by pregnant women who were persuaded to receive the vaccine. 

But there are some facts we know. Physical distancing, wearing masks, and conscientiously washing hands and cleaning surfaces work as several Asian countries have proven. Perhaps this is a cultural thing. East Asians tend to have a greater sense of civil responsibility towards their neighbors than Americans who regard wearing a mask in public or entering self-isolation as an annoyance and inconvenience. For years, Chinese, Japanese and Korean citizens have frequently worn masks if they are feeling ill in order to protect their those they come in contact with. Other nations have been able to contain the spread of COVID-19; unfortunately Americans' superiority complex of global exceptionalism has been one of our worst enemies.

In the meantime we desperately need scientifically valid numbers. No more politicized numbers that unnecessarily stress people out, further weaken their immune systems, and spiral the nation into further confusion and panic. 

offsite link The Gary Null Show - 04.06.20 Mon Apr 06, 2020 19:45

The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment. Today's health topics: Fiber consumption linked to lower breast cancer risk, Soy-based foods may promote heart health, Effect of standardized curcuminoids mixture against epithelial ovarian cancer cells, Study suggests curcumin could reverse effects of diabetic osteoporosis, A new type of magnetic stimulation helps reverse concussion symptoms, study finds, Examining the healing effects of sorghum on atherosclerosis, Association between decreased serum vitamin D and greater risk of dry eye disease, Gut communicates with the entire brain through cross-talking neurons, Scientists find link between autism and processed foods: Preservative found to increase pro-inflammatory neurons, Hair analysis suggests children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder suffer from calcium deficiency and toxic metal overload. On today's program Gary plays an audio clip: Dr. Paul Marik: "Vitamin C" Cocktail for Sepsis -- ICU Physician: NOTHING to lose (VICTAS TRIAL)

 

offsite link The Gary Null Show - 04.03.20 Fri Apr 03, 2020 19:25

The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment. Researchers find that nicotinamide may help treat fibrotic eye diseases and mitigate vision loss, Lifestyle changes could delay memory problems in old age, depending on our genes, Acupuncture can improve quality of life, Increasing vitamin D serum levels associated with reduced pulmonary exacerbations in patients with cystic fibrosis, Gardening helps to grow positive body image, Study: Niacin may help immune system battle a deadly brain tumor, Zinc therapy is a reasonable choice for patients with pressure injuries, 3M is selling lifesaving PPE to foreign countries over US: Florida Official,   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

offsite link The Gary Null Show - 04.02.20 Thu Apr 02, 2020 21:35

How stress can cause a fever

Psychological stress can trigger physiological responses, including an increase in body temperature. A neural circuit that underlies this stress-induced heat response has been identified.

Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine  

You are about to take the stage to speak in front of a large audience. As you wait, your heart starts to pound, your breathing quickens, your blood pressure rises and your palms sweat. These physiological responses are evolutionarily conserved mechanisms to prepare your body to fight against imminent dangers, or to run away quickly. Another key response is an increase in body temperature. Emotional stress can cause this psychogenic fever in many mammalian species, from rodents to humans1,2. What is the neural mechanism that underlies this phenomenon? Writing in Science, Kataoka et al.3 describe a key neural circuit in psychologically induced hyperthermia.

The current work builds on a long legacy of research by the same group, who began their quest for a neuronal circuit that triggers heat production in 2004, using brown fat tissue as an entry point4. Brown fat is a type of ‚Äėgood‚Äô fat that can generate heat when needed. Blocking the activity of ő≤3-adrenergic receptor proteins, which are abundant in brown fat and enable the tissue to respond to signals from neurons, attenuates stress-induced hyperthermia5.

In the 2004 study, the researchers injected viral ‚Äėretrograde tracers‚Äô into brown fat in rats; the tracers move through connected neurons, allowing the authors to identify brain regions from which neurons project to the fat4. This revealed that neurons in a brainstem area called the rostral medullary raphe (rMR) connect to brown fat. Later on, the same group identified2¬†the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) as a key brain region upstream of the rMR. When the authors artificially activated the DMH-to-rMR pathway, they found an increase in neuronal activity and heat production in brown fat. Unexpectedly, activating this pathway also increased heart rate and blood pressure, suggesting that DMH‚ÄďrMR could coordinate various physiological responses during stress.

In humans, psychological stress often involves an understanding of complicated situations, and thus probably requires instructions from regions of the brain‚Äôs cortex, which is involved in cognition. In the current study, Kataoka¬†et al.¬†set out to identify the cortical regions that could send these instructions to the DMH. As in their previous work, the authors used retrograde tracers ‚ÄĒ this time, injected into the DMH ‚ÄĒ to look for neurons that link into their heat-generating circuit. They found that only one, little-studied, region of the cortex was strongly labelled by the tracer. This region, called the dorsal peduncular cortex and dorsal taenia tecta (DP/DTT), is also highly active in rats in the wake of social defeat (a hostile interaction in which the animal has lost a fight with another, dominant rat).

To examine the role of this region in stress responses, the authors impaired its connection to the DMH in three ways. They blocked activity throughout the DP/DTT using a chemical inhibitor; they used a virus to kill cells projecting from the DP/DTT to the DMH; and they used a sophisticated genetic approach to inhibit activity specifically in the projections that DP/DTT neurons send to the DMH. In each case, their intervention reduced stress-induced hyperthermia.

By contrast, artificial activation of the neuronal projections between the two regions elicited a battery of responses, including increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and heat production in brown fat. The group provided evidence that the DP/DTT neurons send excitatory signals to the DMH, and demonstrated that the projections from the DP/DTT terminate close to the DMH cells that, in turn, project to the rMR. Taken together, Kataoka and colleagues‚Äô experiments support the idea of a DP/DTT‚ÄďDMH‚ÄďrMR‚Äďbrown fat circuit for heat production in response to stress¬†

How does the stress-related information reach the DP/DTT? Further retrograde tracing experiments revealed that the strongest inputs to the DP/DTT are from the brain’s midline thalamic regions, including the paraventricular (PVT) and mediodorsal (MD) thalamic nuclei. The PVT is highly sensitive to various physical and psychological stressors, such as predator cues and pain6. By contrast, the MD interacts with the prefrontal cortex to mediate complex cognitive functions, such as rule learning, abstraction, evaluation and (in humans) imagination7. Thus, every possible stressor, from physical pain to anticipated legal trouble, can find their way to the DP/DTT. It remains unclear, however, how different stressors are encoded in the DP/DTT, whether the responses of the DP/DTT to stressors are influenced by experience, and whether deficits in DP/DTT cells could be responsible for abnormal physiological responses to stress. Future studies using electrophysiological or optical recordings of the DP/DTT cells will help to address these questions.

The philosopher and psychologist William James suggested that fear is an interpretation of physiological responses to threat, instead of the other way around8. In other words, rather than running from a bear because we are afraid, we are afraid because we are running from a bear. If James is right, rats should stop being afraid if their physiological responses to a threat are blocked. Kataoka¬†et al.¬†therefore asked whether inhibiting the DP/DTT‚ÄďDMH pathway can suppress the fear that a rat shows when presented with an aggressive, dominant counterpart that has recently defeated it in a stressful social interaction.

Under normal conditions, a defeated animal will try to stay away from the aggressor to avoid incurring further damage. By contrast, naive animals that have not previously gone through a social defeat show no signs of fear, and investigate the dominant rat with great interest. Remarkably, when the authors blocked the DP/DTT‚ÄďDMH pathway in rats that had been defeated, the animals behaved like naive rats.

Thus, the behavioural manifestation of fear, and perhaps the perception of fear (which can only be inferred from behaviours in rats), depends on bodily responses to threat. These data provide an indication of why taking a deep breath before that big public speech might help to calm us down. The data also suggest that suppressing physiological responses to stress could be an effective way to alleviate stressful feelings. Of importance in this context, non-stress-related thermoregulation ‚ÄĒ changes in internal temperature caused by infections or external temperature change, for instance ‚ÄĒ is mediated, not by the DP/DTT, but by another region upstream of the DMH, the preoptic area9. Blocking the DP/DTT‚ÄďDMH pathway would therefore be expected to leave day-to-day regulation of temperature unchanged. It is early days, but manipulation of the DP/DTT could potentially be a way to curb chronic psychological stress.

 

Protective effects of curcumin against neuroinflammation 

Wenzhou Medical University (China), April 1, 2020

 

According to news reporting originating from Wenzhou, People‚Äôs¬†Republic of China, he research stated, ‚ÄúActivated microglia induced by amyloid-beta (A beta) release proinflammatory cytokines that can induce neurotoxicity. High-mobility group box I protein (HMGB1) and HMGB1-mediated inflammatory responses have been attributed with memory impairment in patients with Alzheimer‚Äôs disease (AD).‚ÄĚ

Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from¬†Wenzhou Medical University, ‚ÄúThere is accumulating evidence to suggest curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory polyphenol. However, whether curcumin could effectively inhibit inflammation through the suppression of HMGB1 production or HMGB1-mediated inflammatory responses in AP-activated microglia is still unclear. Primary microglia were prepared from the cerebral cortices of one- to three-day-old¬†Sprague Dawley¬†rats. The microglia were cultured and treated with A beta(25-35) 50 mu M for 24 h to prove a toxic effect. Curcumin 10 mu M was administrated 1 h before A beta(25-45) treatment. The levels of HMGB1, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in the culture medium were analyzed by ELISA. Western blotting was conducted to assess the expression level of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE). In addition, PC12 cells were treated with conditioned medium from microglia treated with A beta(25-35), or A beta(25-35) and curcumin, and cell viability was subsequently assessed by MTT. Curcumin was found to significantly inhibit HMGB1 expression and release in A beta(25-35)-stimulated microglia. Pretreatment with curcumin reduced TLR4 and RAGE expression. Proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha were also remarkably reduced by curcumin. In addition, curcumin protected neurons from indirect toxicity mediated by A beta(25-35)-treated microglia.‚ÄĚ

According to the news editors, the research concluded: ‚ÄúCurcumin effectively inhibits A beta(25-35)-induced neuroinflammation in microglia, partly by suppressing the expression of HMGB1, TLR4, and RAGE.‚ÄĚ

 

 

Making healthy lifestyle choices can prevent the onset of dementia

Universities of Exeter, Michigan, Oxford and Southern Australia, April 2, 2020

 

Researchers found that individuals aged 60 years and above who follow a healthy lifestyle have a lower risk of dementia than those who have an unhealthy lifestyle. Additionally, they found that genetic risk can be mitigated by healthy lifestyle choices.

The study was a collaboration between researchers from the University of Exeter in the U.K., the University of Michigan, the University of Oxford and the University of South Australia.

Fortunately, the onset of dementia can be prevented. In their study, American and British researchers hypothesized that adherence to a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce the risk of dementia.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers examined data drawn from the UK Biobank, a prospective cohort study that collected data from approximately 500,000 individuals in the U.K. from 2006 to 2010. The researchers restricted their analyses to data from individuals aged 60 years and above, who had no symptoms or diagnosis of dementia. The number of participants that fit the criteria amounted to 196,383.

To assess the participants’ lifestyles, the researchers used a touchscreen questionnaire that scored the participants based on the following dementia risk factors: smoking status, physical activity, diet and alcohol consumption.

Over a follow-up period of eight years, the researchers identified 1,769 cases of dementia. Surprisingly, they found that participants with unhealthy lifestyles, regardless of their genetic risk, had a higher likelihood of developing dementia than participants who followed healthier lifestyles.

This suggests that a person’s lifestyle choices can dictate his dementia risk, regardless of whether he is genetically predisposed to dementia or not. Having a healthy lifestyle can help prevent a person from developing dementia.

Dementia is the leading cause of disability¬†and dependency among older individuals. Fortunately, the study proved that dementia is not inevitable. According to David Llewellyn, one of the authors of the study, their research ‚Äúdelivers a really important message that¬†undermines a fatalistic view of dementia.‚ÄĚ

 
 

Study finds that Pilates significantly improves blood pressure in young, obese women

Marymount University (US), April 1, 2020

 

A new paper in The American Journal of Hypertension, published by Oxford University Press, finds that mat Pilates may be an effective strategy to improve cardiovascular health for young obese women, a population that is at risk for hypertension and early vascular complications.

With an estimated 9 million participants in 2018 and a series of celebrity endorsements, including Beyoncé and Emma Stone, mat Pilates training has seen a recent resurgence in popularity. It has become one of the most widely known wellness routines in the United States. The program emphasizes core strength, flexibility, body posture, and controlled breathing.

At the same time, the prevalence of obesity in young adults has become a major public health issue. Though it is well-documented that exercise is a key factor in preventing and managing cardiovascular health problems, obese women tend not to maintain traditional workout routines. Despite sources in the media reporting on the cardiovascular benefits of Pilates, the existing scientific literature is scarce.

Researchers here studied young obese women (age 19-27) with elevated blood pressure and a body mass index between 30-40kg/m2 through 12 weeks of mat Pilates. The participants were free of chronic diseases, were non-smokers and performed less than 90 minutes of regular exercise per week. There were three one-hour training sessions per week, which were divided into the following stages: initial warm up and stretch (10min), general mat Pilates exercises (40 min), and a cool down (10 min). The training increased over the 12 weeks, with the repetition of each exercise steadily increasing. A certified mat Pilates instructor supervised all sessions.

This is the first study to find that mat Pilates routines significantly reduced arterial stiffness and blood pressure, including central (aortic) pressure.

"We hypothesized that Mat Pilates might decrease the risk of hypertension in young obese women. Our findings provide evidence that Mat Pilates benefit cardiovascular health by decreasing blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and body fatness in young obese women with elevated blood pressure. Because adherence to traditional exercise (both aerobic and resistance) is low in obese individuals, Mat Pilates Training might prove an effective exercise alternative for the prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular events in young obese adults."

 

 

Tempting by design: Study reveals exposure to ‚Äúfood cues‚ÄĚ increases a person‚Äôs cravings

Dartmouth College, April 1, 2020

 

Ever wonder why you sometimes get cravings after seeing a picture of food, even though you know you aren’t really hungry? According to a recent study, it’s all in the mind, or more precisely, in how the mind processes food cues.

According to psychologists at Dartmouth College, there is a physiological process responsible for heightened sensitivity to food cues that brings about food cravings. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers were able to observe changes in the brain when volunteers were exposed to images of food.

The data comes as part of a study focused on figuring out how exposure to certain kinds of images can help predict behavior. The idea that the researchers wanted to demonstrate was that exposure to such images can lead to failures in self-regulation.

The brain gives you food cravings when it sees food cues

To test their hypothesis, the scientists had female college students weighed and had their brains scanned using fMRI while viewing images of neutral scenes and appetizing foods. The fMRI scans focused on changes to the nucleus accumbens of the volunteers.

Located deep near the basal region of the brain, the nucleus accumbens is part of its reward system. Specifically, it controls the reward and punishment centers of the brain, transferring relevant motivational information to the motor cells in order to obtain a certain reward or satisfaction. This, of course, includes the satisfaction felt when eating.

Based on this, the researchers theorized that there is a relationship between greater activity in the nucleus accumbens while viewing pictures of food and weight gain. Any participants who showed less response to the images would be less likely to gain weight.

Six months after the scans, the participants returned to the lab for a follow-up weighing. As expected, those who demonstrated greater activity in the nucleus accumbens when viewing food images did actually gain weight.

Exposure can occur unconsciously

The interesting, but also frightening, thing that the study discovered was that the whole process can take place unconsciously. Just seeing triggers on TV commercials or other media can increase the likelihood of cravings and eating. In a way, the study sheds new light on just how effective the food-related imagery in such commercials can be. (Related: Fighting your cravings: Researchers identify new brain circuits that can help curb junk food cravings.)

The study also demonstrates how¬†resisting cravings¬†triggered by these images and commercials isn‚Äôt just a matter of ‚Äúwill power‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ there are actual physiological processes driving them. Learning about how these images can cause cravings can go a long way towards resisting them.

More than just food cravings

The study is just one part of a larger study on how images, in general, can affect the nucleus accumbens and predict behavior. In addition to food, the researchers also studied reactions towards sexually suggestive images and whether or not it resulted in an increase in sexual activity.

Upon returning after six months, the participants were also made to answer two surveys for sexual activity, the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory and the Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI). The researchers noted a correlation between increased activity in the nucleus accumbens when viewing sexually suggestive images and sexual activity (both alone and with a partner).

Based on these results, scientists believe that further research into how the nucleus accumbens and the brain’s reward centers react to images could be useful for predicting health risks, such as obesity and sexually transmitted diseases (STD). It can also give further insight into how such imagery can be used and abused by certain parties, such as advertisers, to their benefit and the public’s detriment.

 

Older people generally more emotionally healthy, better able to resist daily temptations

Duke University, March 24, 2020

 

The stereotype of grumpy old people apparently doesn't hold up under closer inspection. A new study from Duke and Vanderbilt University psychologists finds that older people are generally more emotionally stable and better able to resist temptations in their daily lives.

"There is evidence here that emotional health and regulation improve with age," said Daisy Burr, a Duke PhD student who led the study with Gregory Samanez-Larkin, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience. Their work appeared March 23 in the journal Emotion.

The researchers pinged 123 study participants aged 20 to 80 on their cell phones three times a day for ten days. Participants were asked to indicate how they felt on a five-point scale for each of eight emotional states, including contentment, enthusiasm, relaxation and sluggishness. Then they were asked whether they were desiring anything right then, including food or alcohol, cigarettes, social media, shopping, talking to someone, sex, sleep or work. They could report up to three temptations at once.

Each participant had also been assessed on a standard measure of "global life satisfaction," which determined their general well-being, regardless of the moment-to-moment moods.

What the researchers were looking for is how positive or negative feelings and the ability to resist temptations might change as people get older.

What they found is that the older people in the study were more stable and "less volatile in their emotions," Samanez-Larkin said. And age, it turns out, is a stronger predictor of the ability to resist temptation than the emotional state.

Samenez-Larkin said a person's goals change with age. The older person may be more oriented toward the present and "trying to maximize well-being every day. You want to feel good as much as possible."

The researchers said their findings are a better reflection of real-world conditions because they surveyed participants in their own time and space, rather than having them respond to cues in a laboratory setting. Burr added that older people are better at regulating their emotional state when allowed to do what they want.

In the end, Burr's analysis of the data found people experiencing more negative affect are worse at resisting desires. Younger study participants who had higher levels of life satisfaction were better able to resist desires.

But older adults were better at resisting temptation, regardless of their life satisfaction.

 

 

Most diets lead to weight loss and lower blood pressure, but effects largely disappear after a year

Monash University (Australia), April 1, 2020

 

Reasonably good evidence suggests that most diets result in similar modest weight loss and improvements in cardiovascular risk factors over a period of six months, compared with a usual diet, finds a study published by The BMJ today.

Weight reduction at the 12 month follow-up diminished, and improvements in cardiovascular risk factors largely disappeared, except in association with the Mediterranean diet, which saw a small but important reduction in 'bad' LDL cholesterol.

As such, at least for short-term benefits, the researchers suggest that people should choose the diet they prefer without concern about the size of benefits.

Obesity has nearly tripled worldwide since 1975, prompting a plethora of dietary recommendations for weight management and cardiovascular risk reduction.

But so far, there has been no comprehensive analysis comparing the relative impact of different diets for weight loss and improving cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

To address this, a team of international researchers set out to determine the relative effectiveness of dietary patterns and popular named diets among overweight or obese adults.

Their findings are based on the results of 121 randomised trials with 21,942 patients (average age 49) who followed a popular named diet or an alternative control diet and reported weight loss, and changes in cardiovascular risk factors.

The studies were designed differently, and were of varying quality, but the researchers were able to allow for that in their analysis.

They grouped diets by macronutrient patterns (low carbohydrate, low fat, and moderate macronutrient‚ÄĒsimilar to low fat, but slightly more fat and slightly less carbohydrate) and according to 14 popular named dietary programmes (Atkins, DASH, Mediteranean, etc).

Compared with a usual diet, low carbohydrate and low fat diets resulted in a similar modest reduction in weight (between 4 and 5 kg) and reductions in blood pressure at six months. Moderate macronutrient diets resulted in slightly less weight loss and blood pressure reductions.

Among popular named diets, Atkins, DASH, and Zone had the largest effect on weight loss (between 3.5 and 5.5 kg) and blood pressure compared with a usual diet at six months. No diets significantly improved levels of 'good' HDL cholesterol or C reactive protein (a chemical associated with inflammation) at six months.

Overall, weight loss diminished at 12 months among all dietary patterns and popular named diets, while the benefits for cardiovascular risk factors of all diets, except the Mediterranean diet, essentially disappeared.

The researchers point to some study limitations that could have affected the accuracy of their estimates. But say their comprehensive search and thorough analyses supports the robustness of the results.

As such, they say moderate certainty evidence shows that most macronutrient diets result in modest weight loss and substantial improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, particularly blood pressure, at six but not 12 months.

Differences between diets are, however, generally trivial to small, implying that for short-term cardiovascular benefit people can choose the diet they prefer from among many of the available diets without concern about the magnitude of benefits, they conclude.

The extensive range of popular diets analysed "provides a plethora of choice but no clear winner," say researchers at Monash University, Australia in a linked editorial.

As such, they suggest conversations should shift away from specific choice of diet, and focus instead on how best to maintain any weight loss achieved.

As national dietary guidelines fail to resonate with the public, taking a food-based approach with individuals and encouraging them to eat more vegetables, legumes, and whole grains and less sugar, salt and alcohol is sound advice, they add.

"If we are to change the weight trajectory of whole populations, we may learn more from understanding how commercial diet companies engage and retain their customers, and translate that knowledge into more effective health promotion campaigns," they conclude.

 

Dietary niacin intake affects risk of hip fracture, hip bone mineral density

Medical College of Georgia and University of Washington, April 2, 2020

 

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is an essential micronutrient that helps the body break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins and convert them into energy. It is also involved in the production of certain hormones and plays a role in liver function. Niacin can be obtained from a wide variety of food sources, such as organ meats like liver, white meat and fish.

However, recent studies suggest that niacin intake may have an influence on the development of age-related diseases. To investigate this, researchers from different universities in the U.S. examined the association of dietary niacin intake with multiple skeletal health parameters, such as bone mineral density (BMD), hip fractures and body composition.

In their paper, which appeared in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, they detailed how consuming too much or too little of this important vitamin can affect bone health, particularly in the elderly.

Low or high intake of niacin can increase the risk of hip fractures in older adults

According to the researchers, interest in niacin has increased recently due to its potential involvement in diseases associated with aging. However, to date, no study has investigated its influence on bone health, particularly in African American and white men and women.

For their study, the researchers recruited 5,187 men and women from the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), a population-based study of coronary heart disease and stroke in adults aged 65 and above. These participants have a mean daily dietary niacin intake of 32.6 milligrams (mg) and were divided into four groups:

  • Group 1, with an intake of 3.6 to 21.8 mg per day
  • Group 2, with an intake of 21.9 to 30.2 mg per day
  • Group¬†3, with an intake of 30.3 to 40.9 mg per day
  • Group 4, with an intake of 41 to 102.4 mg per day

The researchers estimated the risk of incident hip fracture per 10 mg increment of daily dietary niacin intake using proportional hazards models. 

They reported that during a median follow-up of 13 years, 725 participants had an incident hip fracture. Adjusting for demographic, clinical characteristics and diet, the researchers found that high and low dietary niacin intake was significantly associated with an increased risk of hip fractures.

The two groups with the lowest and highest niacin intake had an increased risk of incident hip fracture compared with groups 2 and 3. Meanwhile, dietary niacin intake was inversely associated with hip BMD. However, it had no significant association with total body BMD or any body composition measures.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that in elderly, community-dwelling African American and white men and women, high and low dietary niacin intake significantly increases the risk of hip fracture.

 

 

 

Teen marijuana use boosts risk of adult insomnia

University of Colorado, April 1, 2020

Smoke a lot of weed as a teenager, and when you reach adulthood you'll be more likely to have trouble falling or staying asleep, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study of nearly 2,000 twins.

The study, published in the journal¬†Sleep, comes at a time when cannabis‚ÄĒin everything from THC-infused gummies to prerolled joints and high-potency vape pens‚ÄĒis increasingly being marketed as a sleep aid in states where marijuana is legal. It adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that while it may help some users fall asleep occasionally, chronic use can have negative long-term consequences, particularly for the young.

"People tend to think that cannabis helps with sleep, but if you look closely at the studies, continued or excessive use is also associated with a lot of sleep deficits," said lead author Evan Winiger, a graduate student in the Institute for Behavioral Genetics. "Our study adds to that literature, showing for the first time that early use is associated with increased rates of insomnia later on."

For the study, Winiger analyzed data from 1,882 young adults from the Colorado Twin Registry, which has been following twins for research since 1968. Each had completed surveys about their sleep habits, marijuana use and mental health.

They found that about one-third of subjects who started using marijuana regularly before age 18 had insomnia in adulthood, compared to less than 20% among those who didn't use cannabis regularly as teens. The same pattern held true for a particularly hazardous form of insomnia known as "short sleep" (sleeping fewer than six hours per night on a regular basis). About one in 10 subjects who used cannabis regularly as teens grew up to be short-sleepers, while only about 5% of non-users did.

People who started using marijuana after they turned 18 also had slightly higher rates of insomnia in young adulthood. And these patterns persisted when controlling for depression, anxiety and shift work (which can all also impair sleep).

Lasting impacts on developing brains

Exactly why early cannabis use correlates with later sleep problems remains unclear, but several theories are emerging.

As Winiger explains, the human body has its own endocannabinoid system, producing chemicals much like the cannabinoids (CBD and THC) present in marijuana that bind to¬†cannabinoid receptors¬†in our brains and have been shown to influence our cognition, emotions and circadian rhythm‚ÄĒor body clock.

"One theory is that these receptors are being desensitized or disturbed from all the cannabis use at a time that the brain is still developing, and that leads to waking issues later," he said.

It could also be that cannabis use in adolescence leads to structural changes in the brain. (Previous brain imaging studies have shown it can alter the developing prefrontal cortex.)

Or chronic use may set teens up for poor sleep habits when they are young, which linger into adulthood.

Genes may also be at play.

By looking at 472 identical twin pairs (who share 100% of their genetic makeup) and 304 fraternal pairs (who share only 50%), the researchers were able to infer to what degree the traits were inherited. They concluded that many of the same genes that contribute to the risk of early cannabis use are also associated with insomnia and insomnia with short sleep.

This is the first study to find a direct genetic correlation between cannabis use and insomnia.

In short, it remains a chicken-and-egg question.

"It is possible that sleep problems could influence cannabis use, cannabis use could influence sleep problems, or common genetics could be responsible," the authors wrote.

Co-author Ken Wright, director of the Sleep and Chronobiology lab, says the study does not necessarily mean all strains of marijuana are bad for sleep in all people all the time. Some previous studies show cannabis can help people fall asleep if used occasionally.

"The evidence in adults is quite mixed, and unfortunately we can't do randomized controlled trials with different strains and different doses," Wright said, pointing to federal laws that prohibit researchers from handling cannabis, providing it to subjects or being present while subjects use it.

What he can say now is this:

"We would not recommend that teenagers utilize marijuana to promote their sleep. Anytime you are dealing with a developing brain you need to be cautious."

offsite link The Gary Null Show - 04.01.20 Wed Apr 01, 2020 20:02

Vitamin A deficiency associated with severe mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in children

Peking University (China), March 31, 2020

 

According to news originating from¬†Beijing, People‚Äôs¬†Republic of China, research stated, ‚ÄúChildren with vitamin A, D, and E deficiency are susceptible to respiratory infections. However, the correlations between the levels with Mycoplasma pneumoniae pneumonia (MPP) and patient MPP occurrence is still unclear.‚ÄĚ

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from¬†Peking University, ‚ÄúThis study aims to measure and compare the serum levels in severe (sMPP) and non-severe MPP (nsM PP) and to investigate the correlations between their levels and the occurrence of MPP. A total of 122 children were enrolled, including 52 sMPP and 70 nsMPP aged 0-15 years old in 2015-2018. The serum levels of vitamins A, D, and E were measured and compared, and two-category logistic regression was used for correlation analysis of vitamins A, D, and E levels with nsMPP and sMPP. The age was older (7.12 vs. 4.01 y, P=0.002) in the sMPP samples than that in the nsMPP samples. Vitamin A deficiency was present in both the nsMPP and sMPP samples; its level was significantly lower (0.15 +/- 0.06 vs. 0.19 +/- 0.07, P=0.0193) in the sMPP serum than that in the nsMPP serum. Vitamins E and D in the sMPP samples were significantly lower (vitamin E 7.43 +/- 1.55 vs. 8.22 +/- 2.22, P=0.0104; vitamin D 23.08 +/- 11.0 vs. 32.07 +/- 19.2, P=0.0007) than that in the nsMPP group; both sMPP and nsMPP did not show a deficiency of vitamins E and D. Logistic regression analysis revealed that vitamin A deficiency was significantly (OR 0.001, 95% CI: 0.001-0.334, P=0.009) associated with sMPP, and vitamin A supplementation could reduce the incidence of sMPP. In y sMPP, the incidence of vitamin A deficiency was 62.5%, while >= 6 y, 85%, showing a significant difference. Vitamin A level in = 6 y sMPP. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with sMPP and more likely present in the younger sMPP samples.‚ÄĚ

According to the news editors, the research concluded: ‚ÄúTherefore, it is important to watch and supplement vitamin A in M. pneumoniae infection patients.‚ÄĚ

 

 

Regular exercise benefits immunity -- even in isolation

University of Bath (UK), March 31, 2020

 

Being in isolation without access to gyms and sports clubs should not mean people stop exercising, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Bath. Keeping up regular, daily exercise at a time when much of the world is going into isolation will play an important role in helping to maintain a healthy immune system.

The analysis, published in the international journal Exercise Immunology Review, involving leading physiologists Dr James Turner and Dr John Campbell from the University of Bath's Department for Health, considers the effect of exercise on our immune function.

Over the last four decades, many studies have investigated how exercise affects the immune system. It is widely agreed that regular moderate intensity exercise is beneficial for immunity, but a view held by some is that more arduous exercise can suppress immune function, leading to an 'open-window' of heightened infection risk in the hours and days following exercise.

In a benchmark study in 2018, this 'open window' hypothesis was challenged by Dr Campbell and Dr Turner. They reported in a review article that the theory was not well supported by scientific evidence, summarising that there is limited reliable evidence that exercise suppresses immunity, concluding instead that exercise is beneficial for immune function.

They say that, in the short term, exercise can help the immune system find and deal with pathogens, and in the long term, regular exercise slows down changes that happen to the immune system with ageing, therefore reducing the risk of infections.

In a new article, published this month, leading experts, including Dr Turner and Dr Campbell, debated whether the immune system can change in a negative or positive way after exercise, and whether or not athletes get more infections than the general population. The article concludes that infections are more likely to be linked to inadequate diet, psychological stress, insufficient sleep, travel and importantly, pathogen exposure at social gathering events like marathons -- rather than the act of exercising itself.

Author Dr James Turner from the Department for Health at the University of Bath explains: "Our work has concluded that there is very limited evidence for exercise directly increasing the risk of becoming infected with viruses. In the context of coronavirus and the conditions we find ourselves in today, the most important consideration is reducing your exposure from other people who may be carrying the virus. But people should not overlook the importance of staying fit, active and healthy during this period. Provided it is carried out in isolation -- away from others -- then regular, daily exercise will help better maintain the way the immune system works -- not suppress it."

Co-author, Dr John Campbell added: "People should not fear that their immune system will be suppressed by exercise placing them at increased risk of Coronavirus. Provided exercise is carried out according to latest government guidance on social distancing, regular exercise will have a tremendously positive effect on our health and wellbeing, both today and for the future."

Regular moderate intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, running or cycling is recommended, with the aim of achieving 150 minutes per week. Longer, more vigorous exercise would not be harmful, but if capacity to exercise is restricted due to a health condition or disability, the message is to 'move more' and that 'something is better than nothing'. Resistance exercise has clear benefits for maintaining muscles, which also helps movement.

At this current time in particular, the researchers underline the importance of maintaining good personal hygiene when exercising, including thoroughly washing hands following exercise. To give the body its best chance at fighting off infections, they suggest in addition to doing regular exercise, people need to pay attention to the amount of sleep they get and maintain a healthy diet, that is energy balanced to account for energy that is used during exercise. They hope that this debate article will lead to a wave of new research exploring the beneficial effects of exercise on immune function.

 

 

Exercise training better than weight loss for improving heart function in type 2 diabetes

University of Leicester (UK), March 31, 2020

 

Researchers in Leicester have shown that the function of the heart can be significantly improved in patients with type 2 diabetes through exercise.

The study, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and conducted at the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) - a partnership between Leicester's Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University - also showed that a low-energy diet did not alter heart function in the same patient group.

Dr Gaurav Gulsin, a BHF Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Leicester, trainee heart doctor, and a lead author of the study, said: "Heart failure is one of the most common complications in people with type 2 diabetes, and younger adults with type 2 diabetes already have changes in their heart structure and function that pose a risk of developing heart failure. We wanted to confirm the abnormalities in the structure and function of the heart in this patient population using the latest scanning techniques, and explore whether it is possible to reverse these through exercise and/or weight loss."

Eighty-seven patients between 18 and 65 years of age with type 2 diabetes were recruited to the study. Participants underwent echocardiography and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to confirm early heart dysfunction, and exercise tests to measure cardiovascular fitness. They were then randomised into one of three groups: routine care, supervised aerobic exercise training, or a low-energy meal replacement programme. Each programme had a 12-week duration. Seventy-six patients completed the full 12 weeks. Thirty six healthy volunteers were enrolled as a control group.

The study found that patients who followed the supervised exercise programme had significantly improved heart function compared with the control group, and had also increased their exercise capacity. Whilst the low energy diet did not improve heart function, it did have favourable effects on the structure of the heart, vascular function and led to the reversal of diabetes in 83 per cent of this arm of the study population.

Gerry McCann, NIHR Research Professor and Professor of Cardiac Imaging at the University of Leicester and a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Hospitals, was senior author on the study. He said: "Through this research we have shown that lifestyle interventions in the form of regular exercise training may be important in limiting and even reversing the damage to heart structure and function seen in younger adults with type 2 diabetes. While losing weight has a beneficial effect on heart structure, our study shows that on its own it does not appear to improve heart function.

"It may seem obvious, but if we can empower patients with type 2 diabetes to make changes to their daily routines through exercise and healthy eating, we may help them reduce the risk of heart failure and even early death. By using imaging techniques such as MRI we can actually show them the benefits their changes are making to their hearts."

The research team recognised the study population was relatively small. In addition, nearly 1 in 5 patients in the exercise arm of the study did not complete all 36 sessions, which may limit its application in future clinical practice.

 

 

Vitamin D proven to protect against respiratory infections

 Queen Mary University (UK), March 29, 2020

 

 

Adequate vitamin D levels are critical to immune system health and a range of other health areas.  In fact, science clearly suggests that maintaining proper levels can help us to avoid dementias like, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

 

This essential vitamin is best produced by exposing the body to the sun and can help to keep our muscles and bones healthy.

 

A new meta-analysis has confirmed that proper supplementation has a protective effect against colds and flu.  There had been some confusion about this in recent years due to conflicting results from past studies; however, the efficacy of this nutrient in fighting respiratory infection has now been verified.

Taking vitamin D at least as effective as flu shot in fighting respiratory infection

 

The study was conducted by Queen Mary University of London, and it pooled raw data from nearly 11,000 participants. In the meta-analysis, 25 double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trials looked at both vitamin D2 and D3 supplementation and its effects on cold or flu risk.

 

The reduction of acute respiratory infection risk through taking vitamin D3 supplementation was at least as effective as getting a flu shot.  The protective effects of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had the most dramatic positive results in those who had the lowest baseline levels to begin with.  And, another important point, regular doses were more effective than less frequent doses.

 

These study results emphasize the importance of getting enough of this fat-soluble secosteroids through supplementation and food sources.  Keep in mind, 25-hydroxyvitamin D supplementation is especially important in geographic regions that are prone to lots of rain and cloudy weather, as residents of these areas will likely not receive adequate sunlight for its production.

 

In addition to a stronger immune system and support of numerous aspects of physical health, 25-hydroxyvitamin D also helps to regulate blood sugar and mood. There are two types: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.  Of the two, D3 is the dynamic type that’s triggered by sunlight exposure. In fact, some estimates put vitamin D3 at 300 percent more effective than vitamin D2.

 

Fortified foods tend to contain vitamin D2, so the better choice for this vitamin is to get plenty of sunshine and/or take a supplement containing D3.  While sunlight does not actually contain 25-hydroxyvitamin D, it is essential in promoting its natural production inside the body.

Vitamin D3 supplements and natural food sources

 

Some great food choices include, free-range, egg yolks; wild-caught fish and organic, non-GMO soy.¬† Of course, many dairy products have this vitamin ‚Äď but, it is often the less beneficial D2 variety and dairy-rich foods tend to promote allergies in many people. (especially if the dairy is highly-processed)

 

When it comes to supplementation, amounts as high as 10,000 IU per day have been taken to raise blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D; however, the average ideal dose can range from 2,000 to 6,000 IU per day depending upon your current health status. Your best bet is to get a blood test to determine your current status, then ask your doctor to help you determine the best course of action.

 

 

Vitamin B12 measurements across neurodegenerative disorders

University of California, March 30, 2020

 

According to news reporting out of the¬†University of California¬†by NewsRx editors, research stated, ‚ÄúVitamin B12 deficiency causes a number of neurological features including cognitive and psychiatric disturbances, gait instability, neuropathy, and autonomic dysfunction.‚ÄĚ

The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from¬†University of California: ‚ÄúClinical recognition of B12 deficiency in neurodegenerative disorders is more challenging because it causes defects that overlap with expected disease progression. We sought to determine whether B12 levels at the time of diagnosis in patients with Parkinson‚Äôs disease (PD) differed from those in patients with other neurodegenerative disorders. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of B12 levels obtained around the time of diagnosis in patients with PD, Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB), Alzheimer‚Äôs disease (AD), Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). We also evaluated the rate of B12 decline in PD, AD, and MCI. In multivariable analysis adjusted for age, sex, and B12 supplementation, we found that B12 levels were significantly lower at time of diagnosis in patients with PD than in patients with PSP, FTD, and DLB. In PD, AD, and MCI, the rate of B12 decline ranged from - 17 to - 47 pg/ml/year, much greater than that reported for the elderly population.‚ÄĚ

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: ‚ÄúFurther studies are needed to determine whether comorbid B12 deficiency affects progression of these disorders.‚ÄĚ

 

 

Physical activity contributes to positive mental well-being in menopausal women

University of Jyväskylä (Finland), April 1, 2020

 

A recent study has found that late menopausal status is associated with an elevated level of depressive symptoms that indicate the negative dimension of mental well-being. However, menopause was not linked to positive dimensions of mental well-being in women aged 47 to 55. The results also suggest that a high level of physical activity was linked to fewer depressive symptoms, higher satisfaction with life and higher positive affectivity in menopausal women.

"According to our research, postmenopausal women had more depressive symptoms than peri- or premenopausal women," says doctoral student Dmitriy Bondarev from the Gerontology Research Center and Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. "At the same time menopause was not related to positive mental well-being."

The menopausal transition is divided into three stages. Pre-menopause begins five to ten years before the menopause with gradual irregularity in menstrual cycles. Perimenopause is the time prior to last menstruation, when the function of the ovaries noticeably fades away. Postmenopause is the time after the last menstruation.

Menopause occurs on average between the ages of 46 and 52 and signifies the aging of a woman's reproductive system, which has a far-reaching effect on many bodily functions. However, the link between menopause and psychological functioning in middle-aged women has been investigated less.

The findings of the study indicate that irrespective of the menopausal status, physical activity was beneficial for mental well-being in middle-aged women.

"Physically active women had lower depressive symptoms, had higher positive affectivity scores and were more satisfied with life in comparison to inactive women," Bondarev explains. "Thus, being physically active during the menopausal transition may help to withstand the negative influence of menopause on depressive symptomatology and spare positive mental well-being."

The study is a part of the Estrogenic Regulation of Muscle Apoptosis (ERMA) study involving over 1,000 women aged 47 to 55 living in Jyväskylä, Finland. In the present study, the menopausal stage was determined by the serum hormone concentrations and menstrual diaries. Mental well-being and physical activity were self-reported by the participants.

 

Complementary and integrative medical treatment interventions for increased intestinal permeability

Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, April 1, 2020 

Researchers from Australia explored the treatment interventions complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) practitioners use to manage an emerging health condition like increased intestinal permeability (IP), as well as the association these methods have on the observed time to resolve the condition. Their findings were published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

  • The researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey of¬†Australian naturopaths, nutritionists, and Western herbal medicine practitioners through the¬†Practitioner Research and Collaboration Initiative (PRACI) network.
  • They considered the frequencies and percentages of the treatment methods, including chi-square analysis, to examine the¬†associations between treatment methods and observed time to resolve IP.
  • The researchers reported that 36 CIM practitioners responded to the survey. These practitioners use a multi-modal approach for the management of IP.
  • Almost 93 percent of the respondents use three or more categories of treatment interventions, namely, nutritional, herbal, dietary and lifestyle interventions.
  • The researchers also found that the main treatments prescribed for IP include:
    • Zinc (85.2 percent)
    • Multi-strain probiotics (77.8 percent)
    • Vitamin D (75 percent)
    • Glutamine (73.1 percent)
    • Turmeric (73.1 percent)
    • Saccharomyces boulardii¬†(70.4 percent)
  • They also reported that CIM practitioners ask patients with IP to reduce their intake of alcohol (96.3 percent), gluten (85.2 percent) and dairy products (75 percent).
  • In addition, CIM practitioners frequently advise evaluation of antibiotics (75 percent) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (73.1 percent) prescriptions.
  • They observed that IP takes longer to resolve when patients do not reduce the intensity of their exercise.

The researchers concluded that their findings align with pre-clinical research, suggesting that CIM practitioners prescribe in accordance with published literature. They also recommend that CIM practitioners use numerous integrative treatment methods for the management of IP.

 

 

Burgers, other foods consumed at restaurants, fast food outlets, cafeterias, associated with higher levels of phthalates

George Washington University.  March 29, 2020

 

Dining out more at restaurants, cafeterias and fast-food outlets may boost total levels of potentially health-harming chemicals called phthalates in the body, according to a study out today. Phthalates, a group of chemicals used in food packaging and processing materials, are known to disrupt hormones in humans and are linked to a long list of health problems.

The study is the first to compare phthalate exposures in people who reported dining out to those more likely to enjoy home-cooked meals. People who reported consuming more restaurant, fast food and cafeteria meals had phthalate levels that were nearly 35 percent higher than people who reported eating food mostly purchased at the grocery store, according to the study.

"This study suggests food prepared at home is less likely to contain high levels of phthalates, chemicals linked to fertility problems, pregnancy complications and other health issues," says senior author Ami Zota, ScD, MS, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University. "Our findings suggest that dining out may be an important, and previously under-recognized source of exposure to phthalates for the U.S. population."

Lead author Julia Varshavsky, PhD, MPH, at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, Zota, and their colleagues used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The 10,253 participants in the study were asked to recall what they ate and where their food came from in the previous 24 hours. The researchers then analyzed the links between what people ate and the levels of phthalate break-down products found in each participant's urine sample.

The team found that 61 percent of the participants reported dining out the previous day. In addition, the researchers found:

  • The association between phthalate exposure and dining out was significant for all age groups but the magnitude of association was highest for teenagers;
  • Adolescents who were high consumers of fast food and other food purchased outside the home had 55 percent higher levels of phthalates compared to those who only consumed food at home;
  • Certain foods, and especially cheeseburgers and other sandwiches, were associated with increased levels of phthalates‚ÄĒbut only if they were purchased at a fast-food outlet, restaurant or cafeteria. The study found that sandwiches consumed at fast food outlets, restaurants or cafeterias were associated with 30 percent higher phthalate levels in all age groups.

"Pregnant women, children and teens are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals, so it's important to find ways to limit their exposures," says Varshavsky, who is also a postdoctoral scientist at the University of California, San Francisco. "Future studies should investigate the most effective interventions to remove phthalates from the food supply."

A previous study by Zota and colleagues suggested that fast food may expose consumers to higher levels of phthalates. That study found that people who ate the most fast food, burgers, fries and other foods, had phthalate levels that were as much as 40 percent higher than people who rarely ate such foods

The new study looked more broadly at dining out‚ÄĒnot just at fast-food outlets‚ÄĒand found that it was significantly associated with increased exposure to phthalates. The authors say the findings are worrisome because two-thirds of the U.S. population eats at least some food outside the home daily.

Additional authors of the study include Rachel Morello-Frosch at the University of California, Berkeley, and Tracey Woodruff at the University of California, San Francisco.

The team used an innovative method of assessing real-world exposures to multiple phthalates, called cumulative phthalate exposure, which takes into account evidence that some phthalates are more toxic than others. The National Academies of Sciences has weighed in twice on phthalates‚ÄĒfirst in a 2008¬†report, they recommended using cumulative risk assessments in order to estimate the human¬†health¬†risk posed by this class of chemicals; and then in 2017 with a report finding that certain phthalates are presumed to be reproductive hazards to humans.

Many products contain phthalates, including take-home boxes, gloves used in handling food, food processing equipment and other items used in the production of restaurant, cafeteria and fast food meals. Previous research suggests these chemicals can leach from plastic containers or wrapping into food.

If verified by additional research, the findings from this study suggest that people who love dining out are getting a side of phthalates with their entrée.

Home-cooked meals may be one way to limit exposure to these harmful chemicals. "Preparing food at home may represent a win-win for consumers," adds Zota. "Home cooked meals can be a good way to reduce sugar, unhealthy fats and salt. And this study suggests it may not have as many harmful phthalates as a restaurant meal."

At the same time, phthalate contamination of the food supply also represents a larger public health problem, one that must be addressed by policymakers. Zota and Woodruff's previous research shows that policy actions, such as bans, can help reduce human exposure to harmful phthalates.

 

Fracking chemical may interfere with male sex hormone receptor

University of California at Davis, March 31, 2020

 

A chemical used in hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, has the potential to interfere with reproductive hormones in men, according to research accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, and publication in a special supplemental section of the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

The study found the chemical can block the effects of testosterone and other male sex hormones known as androgens.

"Possible adverse health outcomes associated with anti-androgen exposure are abnormal reproductive function, male infertility and disrupted testicular and prostate development," said lead researcher Phum Tachachartvanich, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis in Davis, Calif.

Hydraulic fracturing technology has significantly improved the yield of oil and natural gas extraction from unconventional sources. Fracking involves drilling and hydraulic extraction by injecting mixtures of industrial chemicals at high pressure into horizontal bore wells. Fracking chemicals contaminate the environment, including lake, groundwater and wastewater, and they are likely to affect everyone that is exposed to this group of chemicals, according to Tachachartvanich.

"The widespread use of fracking has led to concerns of potential negative impacts on both the environment and human health," Tachachartvanich said. "Everyone should be concerned about fracking as the wastewater generated has potential endocrine-disrupting effects, which can adversely affect the general population."

The researchers used a computer model to rank 60 hydraulic fracturing chemicals used in California, based on the predicted potential of each chemical to interfere with androgens' ability to bind with cells in the body. Based on the rankings, they used a cell model to verify the top five fracking chemicals that showed the highest potential to interfere with this process.

They then measured the androgen binding activity in the cell model for each chemical. Of the five HF chemicals tested, only one - Genapol-X100--significantly inhibited androgen binding activity. "This suggests Genapol-X100 has endocrine-disrupting abilities," Tachachartvanich said.

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