Health & Fitness:Alternative Health
The Gary Null Show - 10.22.20
The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.
In a recent study, South Korean researchers investigated the effects of an extract derived from black ginseng against the lung damage caused by exposure to particulate matter. Particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles of varying size and composition that can be found suspended in the air. These particles may range from harmless liquid droplets to dangerous smoke, dust, pollen or soot.
The researchers reported their findings in an article published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine.
Particulate matter can be made up of coarse particles and fine particles. Coarse particles refer to the large particles that usually contain earth crust materials and fugitive dust from roads and industries. Fine particles, on the other hand, are usually about 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5) or smaller and contain combustion particles, secondary aerosols and recondensed organic and metal vapors.
Due to their composition, fine particles pose considerable health risks. They are said to be responsible for most of the acidity and mutagenic activities of particulate matter. The small size of fine particles also allows them to travel deeply into the respiratory tract and reach the lungs, causing throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to high levels of PM 2.5 can also affect lung function and worsen conditions like asthma, lung cancer and heart disease.
Inhalation of PM 2.5 has been linked to lung injury caused by the loss of vascular barrier integrity. The vascular barrier, which is made up of endothelial cells, serves as the wall that separates the blood — along with any harmful substances that may have potentially entered into the bloodstream — from the surrounding tissue of the body. This barrier only becomes permeable to fluids and cells under pathological conditions, such as inflammation.
According to previous studies, black ginseng exhibits a variety of pharmacological properties, which include antibacterial, antihyperglycemic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities. Black ginseng has also been found to have anti-cancer, antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties, which can all be attributed to the transformed ginsenosides it contains. Ginsenosides are the major active compounds present in ginseng.
To investigate the effects of black ginseng on lung endothelial cell barrier disruption and lung inflammation caused by particulate matter exposure, the researchers exposed endothelial cell cultures and mice to PM 2.5 and treated them with black ginseng extract. They then examined permeability, white blood cell migration, activation of proinflammatory proteins, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and histology in these two setups.
The researchers found that the black ginseng extract significantly scavenged PM2.5-induced ROS and inhibited ROS-induced activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), an enzyme involved in inflammatory responses and cell death, while concurrently activating the pro-survival enzyme Akt, which helped maintain endothelial integrity. The extract also reduced vascular protein leakage, immune cell infiltration and proinflammatory signaling protein release in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid taken from PM-exposed lung tissues.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that black ginseng protects against PM-induced inflammatory lung injury and vascular hyperpermeability.
American Cancer Society, October 20, 2020
Older adults with higher physical activity and lower sitting time have better overall physical and mental health, according to a new study from the American Cancer Society (ACS). The study, appearing in the journal, CANCER, suggests that higher amounts of regular moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) and lower duration of sedentary time is associated with higher global mental and physical health for older cancer survivors and older adults, in general.
With a rapidly aging population and nearly 16.9 million cancer survivors in the United States today, there is a need to identify strategies associated with healthy aging and improving quality of life for aging cancer survivors. Being physically active is related to several health benefits, and in this study, ACS investigators led by Dr. Erika Rees-Punia analyzed self-reported aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities, sitting time, and mental and physical health among nearly 78,000 participants in the ACS's Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Participants (average age 78 years) included older cancer survivors up to 10 years post-diagnosis, and cancer-free adults.
The investigators found that regardless of cancer history, the differences in global mental and physical health between the most and least active, and the least and most sedentary, were clinically meaningful. These findings provide evidence for the importance of engaging in regular MVPA and decreasing sitting time as a reasonable non-pharmacologic strategy to improve quality of life in older men and women, with or without a prior cancer diagnosis. In fact, the recently published ACS physical activity guidelines recommend that adults get 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity through the week, and to limit sedentary behaviors such as screen-based entertainment.
"The findings reinforce the importance of moving more and sitting less for both physical and mental health, no matter your age or history of cancer," said Rees-Punia. "This is especially relevant now as so many of us, particularly cancer survivors, may be staying home to avoid COVID-19 exposure, and may be feeling a little isolated or down. A simple walk or other physical activity that you enjoy may be good for your mind and body."
Kyushu University (Japan), October 21, 2020
Drinking green tea and coffee was associated with reduced all-cause mortality in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes, especially those who drank both, researchers reported.
In a cohort study that followed nearly 5,000 patients for approximately 5 years, Masanori Iwase, MD, PhD, of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, and colleagues found a dose-response relationship for both beverages. Drinking one cup of green tea every day was associated with a 15% lower mortality risk compared with those who drank no green tea, having two to three cups daily was associated with a 27% reduction, and drinking four or more cups was associated with a 40% drop in risk (P=0.001 for trend).
Similarly, as shown in the study online in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, among coffee drinkers, one cup a day was associated with a 12% lower mortality risk, and two or more cups with a 41% reduction compared with those who drank no coffee (P=0.001 for trend).
Furthermore, risk of death was even lower for those who drank both beverages daily: 51% lower for two to three cups of green tea plus two or more cups of coffee; 58% lower for four or more cups of green tea plus one cup of coffee every day; and 63% lower for a combination of four or more cups of green tea and two or more cups of coffee daily (HR 0.37, 95% CI 0.18-0.77, P for trend not given).
"To date, no study has investigated the combined effect of green tea and coffee consumption on all-cause mortality," the researchers wrote. "The present study determined that combined higher green tea and coffee consumption markedly reduced mortality. Further, this cohort study included potential confounders, such as sleep duration, diabetic complications, lifestyle, physical activity, laboratory data, and medications."
Previous studies in the general population have suggested that both green tea and coffee have health benefits, including preventing chronic diseases and reducing mortality, the team noted, adding that few studies, however, have been conducted in patients with diabetes.
Still not fully understood are the mechanisms involved, the researchers said. Green tea contains substances that may have health benefits, including phenolic compounds, theanine, and caffeine, and epigallocatechin gallate, the most prevalent phenolic compound, has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-mutagenic properties.
Coffee also contains phenolic compounds and caffeine, as well as other bioactive components that may have favorable health effects, Iwase and co-authors explained. Phenolic compounds found in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid, have been reported to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Of course, coffee has also been associated with harmful effects, including increasing blood pressure and heart attack risk.
For the new study, Iwase's group analyzed data on 4,923 patients (2,790 men; 2,133 women) with type 2 diabetes from the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry, a multicenter prospective study designed to investigate the effect of modern treatments and lifestyles on patients with diabetes. The mean age of patients was 66, and they were followed for a median of 5.3 years.
Consumption of green tea and coffee was assessed by a self-administered dietary questionnaire. The main study outcome was all-cause mortality. In the analysis, the researchers adjusted for potential risk or protective factors for mortality including age, sex, body mass index, diabetes duration, smoking, alcohol intake, sleep duration, glycated hemoglobin, systolic blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, history of cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In addition, when examining the effects of green tea, the researchers also adjusted for coffee consumption, and vice versa.
During the follow-up period, 309 individuals died. The main causes of death were cancer (114 patients) and cardiovascular disease (76). When the researchers examined the associations of green tea with these cause-specific mortalities, they found no significant association with cancer (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.35-1.19, P=0.11) and a non-significant trend with cardiovascular mortality (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.33-1.29, P=0.08). The results were similar for coffee when the team assessed cancer (HR 0.77, 95% CI 0.45-1.33, P=0.39) and cardiovascular mortality (HR 0.53, 95% CI 0.27-1.04, P=0.06).
One limitation of the study, the researchers noted, was that it did not include information on education level and socioeconomic status, both of which are known to affect mortality. In addition, there was no determination of whether the coffee consumed was caffeinated or decaffeinated (decaf coffee is uncommon in Japan, however, the team pointed out).
"In conclusion, this prospective cohort study demonstrated that greater consumption of green tea and coffee was significantly associated with reduced all-cause mortality: the effects may be additive," the study authors wrote. "Our results suggest that consuming green tea and coffee may have beneficial effects on the longevity of Japanese people with type 2 diabetes."
n a new study published in npj Precision Oncology, Australian and American researchers reported that honey bees are also a great source of anti-cancer agents.
Honey bee venom is a colorless acidic liquid honey bees excrete through their stingers when they are threatened. It contains numerous compounds with different biological activities. The researchers found that honey bee venom and its major component, melittin, can effectively kill cancer cells, even those that belong to one of the most aggressive types of cancer.
Apitherapy is the ancient medicinal practice of using bee products, namely, honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom, for disease prevention and treatment purposes. Its roots can be traced back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians. Apitherapy is also a feature of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ancient records describe honey as a remedy for various ailments, including cough, stomach pains, dry throat, dry skin and constipation.
Today, apitherapy is a popular complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In particular, bee venom therapy is recognized for its potential in alleviating the symptoms of painful inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Other modern uses for apitherapy include treating multiple sclerosis and infections, and as a natural remedy for burns, wounds and tendonitis. (Related: Dermal injection of purified honey bee venom found to reduce knee osteoarthritis pain.)
According to earlier studies, bee venom is rich in both anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory compounds, as well as peptides with pain-relieving properties. Bee venom also contains an abundance of active enzymes, sugars, minerals and amino acids, some of which have been linked to immunoprotective effects.
Melittin, a small protein made up of 26 amino acids, comprises about 50 percent of the dry weight of bee venom and is considered one of its major components. Previous studies have linked the antimicrobial and anti-cancer effects of bee venom to melittin, although the mechanisms behind these activities are poorly understood.
For their study, the American-Australian team investigated the anti-cancer properties of honey bee venom and melittin by testing both on normal breast cells, as well as different breast cancer cells. They found that honey bee venom and melittin significantly and rapidly reduced the viability of even the most aggressive subtypes, namely, triple-negative breast cancer and HER2-enriched breast cancer cells.
The researchers also reported that melittin exerted its anti-cancer effects using two mechanisms. First, it suppressed the activation of signaling pathways involved in cancer cell growth and proliferation. Secondly, it induced cell death by poking holes in the plasma membranes of cancer cells. The researchers observed this effect within an hour of exposure to melittin.
Despite the toxic effects of honey bee venom and melittin on breast cancer cells, neither caused any damage to healthy cells. The researchers said that both are promising anti-cancer agents that can be used in combination with chemotherapy. Melittin showed that it could enhance the effect of docetaxel, a chemotherapeutic drug used to suppress the growth of breast tumors, in mice.
“Honeybee venom is available globally and offers cost-effective and easily accessible treatment options in remote or less-developed regions. Further research will be required to assess whether the venom of some genotypes of bees has more potent or specific anticancer activities, which could then be exploited.”
“Overall, our results could be leveraged to aid the development of new therapeutic modalities for many cancer types associated with frequent drug resistance and poor prognosis,” the researchers concluded in their report.
New research demonstrates that the right nutrition is directly linked to physical and cognitive performance in active duty men and women in US Air Force
University of Illinois, Abbott Labs, US Air Force Research Lab, October 19, 2020
Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Abbott and, the U.S. Air Force Research Lab announced today the results of a new study that found a direct link between physical fitness, cognitive performance, and optimal nutrition. The scientists revealed that getting the right nutrition not only fuels our bodies and improves fitness, but gives us an edge mentally, too.
The double-blind study, published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, examined the effectiveness of optimal nutrition and exercise to enhance fitness and cognitive performance among a population of active-duty men and women in the U.S. Air Force. Researchers divided the 148 study participants into two groups for 12 weeks.
The double-blind trial included 148 men and women who engaged in a 12-week regimen consisting of aerobics and resistance training five days per week. Seventy participants also received a nutritional drink twice per day that contained protein, carbohydrates and fat, as well as calcium beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), choline, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), folic acid, lutein, magnesium, phospholipids, zinc and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, D and E. The remainder of the participants received a placebo drink that contained protein, carbohydrates and fat. Both groups performed the same training program, which included a balanced exercise program comprised of aerobic and resistance training performed five days per week. In addition to the training program, one group was given a prototype nutritional drink, the other group received a placebo.
"The physical and mental health benefits of exercise are well known, but this study demonstrates how optimal nutrition can help boost brain function as well," said lead study author, Chris Zwilling, Ph.D, a postdoctoral researcher working with the study's principal investigator Aron Barbey, Ph.D. at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois. "We are excited by the results because they provide critical insights into how simple dietary changes can make a big difference in helping people be as efficient and productive as possible in today's world. "
FUELING BODY AND BRAIN
"Abbott has been researching the impact of nutrition on brain function for more than a decade," said Matthew Kuchan, Ph.D., a research fellow and brain health scientist at Abbott and co-author of the study. "These results confirm that by combining the right nutrition and exercise, people who are facing high-pressure situations can stay sharp physically and mentally when they need it most."
Abbott Research Fellow, Tapas Das, Ph.D., led the design of the innovative liquid nutritional drink used in the study. It contained DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, lutein, a carotenoid, as well as phospholipids and micronutrients to support mental performance. The nutrition formulation also included protein, vitamin D, and HMB to support muscle health. Abbott will leverage these results and ingredients to design future nutritional products to allow individuals to live their lives to the fullest.
"It is clear that nutrition is a critical component for developing and maintaining the physical and cognitive performance of the men and women in the U.S. Air Force," said Adam Strang, Ph.D., and lead investigator with the Air Force Research Laboratory. "This research confirms that a nutritional supplement with the right nutrients can support and facilitate those improvements when paired with balanced exercise training. We hope to use this knowledge now and, in the future, to better prepare them for the complex and diverse mission sets they are facing."
A trio of researchers from Institut Polytechnique Paris, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat München, and Erasmus University has found evidence suggesting that cognitive abilities in humans peak at age 35 and begin to decline after age 45. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Anthony Strittmatter, Uwe Sunde and Dainis Zegners describe their study of chess player skill over a span of 125 years and what they found.
Prior research has shown that cognitive skillsfor most people begin to decline sometime during mid-life and continue to deteriorate for the rest of a person's life. In this new effort, the researchers have found a novel way to show such decline—by measuring the skills of professional chess players.
The work involved analyzing player performance over approximately 24,000 professional chess matches from the years 1890 to 2014. In all, they studied the moves of 4,294 players, 20 of whom were world champions—the other 4,274 were their opponents. The researchers' goal was to follow the skill level of each player over many years of their life to gage their skill level over time. They did this by comparing chess moves made by each player against optimal moves suggested by a computerized chess engine over the course of their career.
They found that performance for most players increased rapidly until they reached the age of 20—after that, their performance improvements slowed until reaching a peak at approximately age 35. Most of the players were able to maintain their peak playing abilities for approximately 10 years—after age 45, skills began to deteriorate. The researchers describe the data for a given individual as representing a "hump-shaped curve."
The researchers also found that player performance across the board has increased over the past 125 years, particularly among young people. They noted that performance rose sharply in the 1990s as chess enthusiasts gained access to computerized chess games, providing them with more accomplished opponents. They found that experience levels for most players rose, as well—in the modern age, professional chess players play a lot more matches than did those a century ago.
Harvard University, Emory University, Columbia University, October 19, 2020
Air pollution was significantly associated with an increased risk of hospital admissions for several neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and other dementias, in a long-term study of more than 63 million older U.S. adults, led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study, conducted with colleagues at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, is the first nationwide analysis of the link between fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution and neurodegenerative diseases in the U.S. The researchers leveraged an unparalleled amount of data compared to any previous study of air pollution and neurological disorders.
The study will be published online October 19, 2020 in The Lancet Planetary Health.
"The 2020 report of the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care has added air pollution as one of the modifiable risk factors for these outcomes," said Xiao Wu, doctoral student in biostatistics at Harvard Chan School and co-lead author of the study. "Our study builds on the small but emerging evidence base indicating that long-term PM2.5 exposures are linked to an increased risk of neurological health deterioration, even at PM2.5 concentrations well below the current national standards."
Researchers looked at 17 years' worth (2000-2016) of hospital admissions data from 63,038,019 Medicare recipients in the U.S. and linked these with estimated PM2.5 concentrations by zip code. Taking into account potential confounding factors like socioeconomic status, they found that, for each 5 microgram per cubic meter of air (μg/m3) increase in annual PM2.5 concentrations, there was a 13% increased risk for first-time hospital admissions both for Parkinson's disease and for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. This risk remained elevated even below supposedly safe levels of PM2.5 exposure, which, according to current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, is an annual average of 12 μg/m3 or less.
Women, white people, and urban populations were particularly susceptible, the study found. The highest risk for first-time Parkinson's disease hospital admissions was among older adults in the northeastern U.S. For first-time Alzheimer's disease and related dementias hospital admissions, older adults in the Midwest faced the highest risk.
"Our U.S.-wide study shows that the current standards are not protecting the aging American population enough, highlighting the need for stricter standards and policies that help further reduce PM2.5 concentrations and improve air quality overall," said Antonella Zanobetti, principal research scientist in Harvard Chan School's Department of Environmental Health and co-senior author of the study.
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