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Feb 28
Eating fish can make you less aggressive
A new study has revealed that Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D may control the brain serotonin.

In a new Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) study, serotonin is explained as the possible missing link tying together why vitamin D and marine omega-3 fatty acids might ameliorate the symptoms associated with a broad array of brain disorders.

Here they discuss the relevance of these micronutrients for neuropsychiatric illness. Serotonin affects a wide-range of cognitive functions and behaviors including mood, decision-making, social behavior, impulsive behavior, and even plays a role in social decision-making by keeping in check aggressive social responses or impulsive behavior.

Many clinical disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression share as a unifying attribute low brain serotonin.

Rhonda Patrick said that they explained how serotonin is a critical modulator of executive function, impulse control, sensory gating, and pro-social behavior and linked serotonin production and function to vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, suggesting one way these important micronutrients help the brain function and affect the way people behave.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) increases serotonin release from presynaptic neurons by reducing inflammatory signaling molecules in the brain known as E2 series prostaglandins, which inhibit serotonin release and suggests how inflammation may negatively impact serotonin in the brain.

Their paper illuminates the mechanistic links that explain why low vitamin D and marine omega-3 deficiencies interacts with genetic pathways, such as the serotonin pathway, that are important for brain development, social cognition, and decision-making, and how these gene-micronutrient interactions may influence neuropsychiatric outcomes.

Bruce Ames added that vitamin D, which is converted to a steroid hormone that controls about 1,000 genes, many in the brain, is a major deficiency in the US and omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies are very common because people don't eat enough fish.

The study is published in FASEB Journal.

Feb 27
Vitamin D deficiency causes diabetes, not obesity
A new study has examined that people who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have diabetes, regardless of how much they weigh.

The study conducted by the Endocrine Society found that people who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be obese and they also are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome than people with normal vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and maintain bone and muscle health. The skin naturally produces this vitamin after exposure to sunlight. People also absorb smaller amounts of the vitamin through foods, such as milk fortified with vitamin D. More than 1 billion people worldwide are estimated to have deficient levels of vitamin D due to limited sunshine exposure.

Feb 26
Black tea substance may treat bone loss
Japanese researchers have found that a substance in black tea may be effective for treating osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle.

The team, including Keizo Nishikawa, assistant professor at Osaka University, found that theaflavin-3, or TF-3, a substance in black tea, blocks an enzyme - DNA methyltransferase - that increases osteoclasts, cells that destroy bone tissues.

In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers said that after TF-3 was administered to mice suffering from osteoporosis, their bone volume recovered to levels similar to those of normal mice.

If the experimental conditions are applied to humans, however, a person weighing 60 kg would need to drink 60 cups of black tea every three days, 'The Japan Times' reported.

The discovery may pave the way for development of teas or supplement foods containing a large amount of TF-3.

However, Nishikawa said that products using TF-3 may have very bitter taste because it is a type of catechin, a bittering agent.

Feb 25
How breakfasts and dinners can help control diabetes
A new study has claimed that a high energy breakfast combined with a low energy dinner helps control blood sugar better than in type 2 diabetics, than a low energy breakfast and a high energy dinner.

The small study included 18 individuals (8 men, 10 women), with type 2 diabetes of less than 10 years duration, an age range 30-70 years, body mass index (BMI) 22-35 kg/m2, and treated with metformin and/or dietary advice (eight patients with diet alone and 10 with diet and metformin).

The results showed that post-meal glucose levels were 20 percent lower and levels of insulin, C-peptide and GLP-1 were 20 percent higher in participants on the B diet compared with the D diet. Despite the diets containing the same total energy and same calories during lunch, lunch in the B diet resulted in lower blood glucose (by 21-25 percent) and higher insulin (by 23 percent) compared with the lunch in the D diet.

Prof. Oren Froy, one of the authors of the study from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that the observations suggest that a change in meal timing influences the overall daily rhythm of post-meal insulin and incretin and results in a substantial reduction in the daily post-meal glucose levels. It may be a crucial factor in the improvement of glucose balance and prevention of complications in type 2 diabetes and lend further support to the role of the circadian system in metabolic regulation.

Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz Jakubowicz concluded that high energy intake at breakfast is associated with significant reduction in overall post-meal glucose levels in diabetic patients over the entire day. The dietary adjustment may have a therapeutic advantage for the achievement of optimal metabolic control and may have the potential for being preventive for cardiovascular and other complications of type 2 diabetes.

The study is published in Diabetologia.

Feb 24
New drug effective for hormone-resistant breast cancer
A new drug that works by blocking molecules responsible for cancer cell growth has been found to be effective for advanced breast cancer patients.

The drug called palbociclib, an investigational oral medication, has been found to be well tolerated and extends progression-free survival (PFS) in newly diagnosed cancer.

The palbociclib was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for metastatic breast cancer patients just beginning to undergo endocrine therapy.

"The FDA approval has expanded treatments options for many metastatic breast cancer patients, but these new results are showing how effective the drug can also be for breast cancer patients who have already tried endocrine therapies and may be running out of options," said Angela DeMichele from Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania.

The drug was developed by researchers at Penn Medicine.

Patients enrolled in the trial had previously undergone several prior chemotherapy and hormonal regimen for metastatic disease.

"The drug was extremely well-tolerated in this trial, and the absence of symptoms commonly associated with cancer treatment, such as nausea, diarrhoea, or pain was remarkable," said professor Peter O'Dwyer at Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania.

"The palbociclib drug may be effective in other types of cancer that operate by a similar mechanism. These trials are currently ongoing," said Amy Clark, from Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania.

The results appeared in Clinical Cancer Research.

Feb 23
Soft drink consumers at a higher risk of cancer
People who consume one or more cans of cold drinks per day are exposing themselves to a potential carcinogen, warns a new study.

The ingredient, 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) - a possible human carcinogen - is formed during the manufacture of some kinds of caramel colour. Caramel colour is a common ingredient in colas and other dark soft drinks.

"Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes," said Keeve Nachman, senior author of the study.

Building on an analysis of 4-MEI concentrations in 11 different soft drinks first published by Consumer Reports in 2014, researchers estimated exposure to 4-MEI from caramel-coloured soft drinks and modelled the potential cancer burden related to routine soft drink consumption levels in the United States.

"This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel colouring in soda," Nachman of Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future (CLF).

Results indicated that levels of 4-MEI could vary substantially across samples, even for the same type of beverage.

While there is currently no federal limit for 4-MEI in food or beverages, Consumer Reports petitioned the Food and Drug Administration last year to set limits for the potential carcinogen.

"This new analysis underscores our belief that people consume significant amounts of soda that unnecessarily elevate their risk of cancer over the course of a lifetime," said Urvashi Rangan, executive director for Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center.

The results were published online in the journal PLOS One.

Feb 21
Drug-resistant malaria parasite from Myanmar threatens India
India faces the imminent threat of malaria parasites that are resistant to the drug artemisinin, the frontline treatment against malaria, spreading from Myanmar into its territory, putting thousands of lives at risk, researchers have warned.

The research team confirmed resistant parasites in Homalin, Sagaing Region located only 25 kms from the Indian border.

If drug resistance spreads from Asia to the African sub-continent, or emerges in Africa independently, millions of lives will be at risk, the researchers added.

"We are facing the imminent threat of resistance spreading into India, with thousands of lives at risk," explained professor Mike Turner, head of infection & immunobiology at Britain-based Wellcome Trust.

The researchers examined whether parasite samples collected at 55 malaria treatment centres across Myanmar carried mutations in specific regions of the parasite's kelch gene (K13) - a known genetic marker of artemisinin drug resistance.

The team obtained the DNA sequences of 940 samples of malaria infections (known as Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites) from across Myanmar and neighbouring border regions in Thailand and Bangladesh between 2013 and 2014. Of those 940 samples, 371 (39 percent) carried a resistance-conferring K13 mutation.

Using this information, the researchers developed maps to display the predicted extent of artemisinin resistance determined by the prevalence of K13 mutations.

The maps suggest that the overall prevalence of K13 mutations was greater than ten percent in large areas of the East and North of Myanmar, including areas close to the border with India.

The collection of samples from across Myanmar and its border regions was led by Kyaw Myo Tun of Defence Services Medical Research Centre, Napyitaw, Myanmar and coordinated by the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, Thailand.

"Drug resistant malaria parasites in the 1960s originated in Southeast Asia and from there spread through Myanmar to India, and then to the rest of the world where it killed millions of people," Turner noted.

"The new research shows that history is repeating itself with parasites resistant to artemisinin drugs, the mainstay of modern malaria treatment, now widespread in Myanmar," Turner explained.

The study appeared online in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Feb 20
Exercise lessens heart problems in the elderly
Every minute of physical activity contributes to reducing risk of heart attack and coronary death in older adults with limited mobility, says a study.

"Reducing time spent being sedentary even by engaging in low-intensity activities could have important cardiovascular benefits for older adults with mobility limitations," said senior author of the study Thomas Buford from the University of Florida Institute on Aging in Gainesville, Florida.

For the study, the researchers measured movement with accelerometers in 1,170 people aged 74-84 at eight centers across the US who had physical limitations but could walk 400 metres.

Using factors such as age, cholesterol levels and blood pressure, the researchers calculated participants' predicted 10-year risk of heart attack or coronary death.

For every 25-30 minutes a participant was sedentary per day, his/her predicted risk was one percent higher.

Physical activity like slow walking or light housekeeping was linked to higher HDL or high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol levels in people with no history of heart disease.

Participants on an average spent only an hour or less with physical activity such as moderate walking.

Generally, most physical activity recommendations suggest that adults should engage in higher intensity activities to improve or maintain health. But that level might not be realistic for sedentary older adults with limited mobility, researchers said.

"Encouraging individuals to just reduce the amount of time they spend being sedentary may have important cardiovascular benefits," Buford noted.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Feb 19
Unhealthy eating habits triumphing over healthy eating worldwide
Even though healthy eating habits have increased over the past two decades, consumption of unhealthy food had outpaced it in most world regions.

According to the first study to assess diet quality in 187 countries covering almost 4.5 billion adults, the diet patterns vary widely by national income, with high-income countries generally having better diets based on healthy foods (average score difference +2.5 points), but substantially poorer diets due to a higher intake of unhealthy foods compared with low-income countries (average score difference -33.0 points). On average, older people and women seem to consume better diets.

The highest scores for healthy foods were noted in several low-income countries (eg, Chad and Mali) and Mediterranean nations (eg, Turkey and Greece), possibly reflecting favourable aspects of the Mediterranean diet. In contrast, low scores for healthy foods were shown for some central European countries and republics of the former Soviet Union (eg, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan).

Of particular interest was that the large national differences in diet quality were not seen, or were far less apparent, when overall diet quality (including both healthy and unhealthy foods) was examined as previous studies have done.

Dr Imamura said that as per the projections, by 2020, non-communicable diseases would account for 75 percent of all deaths. Improving diet has a crucial role to play in reducing this burden. Policy actions in multiple domains are essential to help people achieve optimal diets to control the obesity epidemic and reduce non-communicable diseases in all regions of the world.

According to Dr Mozaffarian, there was an urgent need to focus on improving diet quality among poorer populations, as under-nutrition would be rapidly eclipsed by obesity and non-communicable diseases, as is already being seen in India, China, and other middle-income countries.

Carlo La Vecchia from the University of Milan in Italy and Lluis Serra-Majem from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain said that the main focus of the paper remains the need to understand the agricultural, trade, and food industry, and health policy determinants to improve dietary patterns and nutrition in various areas, taking into account the traditional characteristics of diets worldwide.

The study is published in The Lancet Global Health journal.

Feb 18
600 million people will have diabetes by 2035: Report
A report looking at the prevalence of type-2 diabetes worldwide has warned that an estimated 600 million people will suffer from the disease by 2035.

The report, "Rising to the Challenge",was published at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) which kicked off here Tuesday.

The report urges policymakers to address the serious, urgent and universal diabetes challenge.

According to the report, the cost of direct healthcare for diabetes and its complications was around 11 per cent of total healthcare costs worldwide in 2014, which is equivalent to USD 612 billion and is greater than the entire GDP of countries such as Nigeria or Sweden.

"Improving disease management for people with diabetes to reduce complication rates, establish effective surveillance to identify and support those at risk of type 2 diabetes and deliver a range of interventions to help create an environment focused on prevention," the report said while proposing three clinical goals.

The expert report also said that type-2 diabetes currently affects about 350 million people worldwide. It said that 80 per cent of the world's diabetic population lives in countries where only 20 per cent of the global budget for healthcare is spent.

"Doing nothing is not an option, so it is vital that we share and learn from best practice examples from around the world and put interventions in place," said Stephen Colagiuri, Professor of Metabolic Health at University of Sydney, Australia, who led the team that published the report.

The report focuses on proposing actionable recommendations which enable policymakers to improve disease management, increase effective surveillance and implement prevention strategies, based on innovative approaches from around the world.

This is one of eight reports being presented at the WISH Summit 2015 where leading international health experts, leaders and policymakers are participating to discuss innovative solutions to some of the most pressing global health challenges.

Type-2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder where high levels of blood sugar occur and if left untreated, it can cause heart attacks, strokes, blindness and kidney failure.