At Medical and Technology of Joseph Kim, the upcoming Grand Rounds host, I saw the blog post “Need your help on Facebook to get Diet Coke to Donate $50,000 to the Foundation for NIH”.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has started a national campaign in the US, The Heart Truth®. They issued a challenge in [...]... Read more »
Litsa K Lambrakos, Pamela Coxson, Lee Goldman, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo. (2010) Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and the Attributable Burden to Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease. Circulation. info:other/
Malik VS, Schulze MB, & Hu FB. (2006) Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 84(2), 274-88. PMID: 16895873
Wolff E, & Dansinger ML. (2008) Soft drinks and weight gain: how strong is the link?. Medscape journal of medicine, 10(8), 189. PMID: 18924641
Forshee RA, Anderson PA, & Storey ML. (2008) Sugar-sweetened beverages and body mass index in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(6), 1662-71. PMID: 18541554
Gibson S. (2008) Sugar-sweetened soft drinks and obesity: a systematic review of the evidence from observational studies and interventions. Nutrition research reviews, 21(2), 134-47. PMID: 19087367
Janssen I, Katzmarzyk PT, Boyce WF, Vereecken C, Mulvihill C, Roberts C, Currie C, Pickett W, & Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Obesity Working Group. (2005) Comparison of overweight and obesity prevalence in school-aged youth from 34 countries and their relationships with physical activity and dietary patterns. Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 6(2), 123-32. PMID: 15836463
Amidst the preprint list of the Rejuvenation Research journal, I see an interesting paper I'd somehow missed: life span can be extended in old mice by transplant of a young thymus. Noninvasive Neonatal Thymus Graft into the Axillary Cavity Extends the Lifespan of Old Mice: Neonatal thymus grafts exert a rejuvenating action on various immunological and nonimmunological functions found altered in old mice. Commonly, half of a thymus is grafted under the kidney capsule. The invasiveness of the surgical procedure and the use of limited thymus tissue may explain why precedent survival kinetics remain unaffected. In this trial, we grafted two neonatal thymi into the axillary cavity of old mice, thus reducing the invasiveness of the intervention and increasing the amount of grafted neonatal tissue. Using a Piantanelli parametric model of survivorship, we found a significant change in mortality rate between the two groups (thymus graft and controls). You might recall that the degeneration of the thymus over time - a process known as involution - is one of the limits placed upon your immune system. The thymus is the source of T cells, the workers of the active immune system. Considered within the framework of a normal life span,...... Read more »
Basso, A., Malavolta, M., Piacenza, F., Santarelli, L., Marcellini, F., Papa, R., & Mocchegiani, E. (2009) Noninvasive Neonatal Thymus Graft into the Axillary Cavity Extends the Lifespan of Old Mice. Rejuvenation Research, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1089/rej.2009.0936
Regular readers of Obesity Panacea will know that I am a huge fan of active transportation (e.g. walking or cycling to work, rather than commuting by vehicle). I just can't say enough good things about it. It often takes about the same amount of time as commuting by vehicle, plus it ensures that you're getting at least some physical activity on even the busiest days. Even just taking transit instead of driving yourself increases your chances of meeting the daily physical activity guidelines, since transit trips almost always involve some walking on either end of the trip (for more info on the transit/physical activity link, click here).... Read more »
Wilkinson, P., Smith, K., Davies, M., Adair, H., Armstrong, B., Barrett, M., Bruce, N., Haines, A., Hamilton, I., & Oreszczyn, T. (2009) Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: household energy. The Lancet, 374(9705), 1917-1929. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61713-X
Via FuturePundit, I see that a recent open access paper outlines the results of applied cancer research over the past four decades. Declining Death Rates Reflect Progress against Cancer The success of the "war on cancer" initiated in 1971 continues to be debated, with trends in cancer mortality variably presented as evidence of progress or failure. We examined temporal trends in death rates from all-cancer and the 19 most common cancers in the United States from 1970-2006. ... Progress in reducing cancer death rates is evident whether measured against baseline rates in 1970 or in 1990. The downturn in cancer death rates since 1990 result mostly from reductions in tobacco use, increased screening allowing early detection of several cancers, and modest to large improvements in treatment for specific cancers. Continued and increased investment in cancer prevention and control, access to high quality health care, and research could accelerate this progress. That there is debate over the effectiveness of funding for cancer research is somewhat a function of slow and steady progress rather than sudden leaps in technology both inspiring and obvious in their magnificence - which will always be the case, people being people. On the other hand, that cancer...... Read more »
Jemal, A., Ward, E., & Thun, M. (2010) Declining Death Rates Reflect Progress against Cancer. PLoS ONE, 5(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009584
Neuroscientists have uncovered differential encoding of a tune and its lyrics within the superior temporal sulcus and gyrus. ... Read more »
Sammler, D., Baird, A., Valabregue, R., Clement, S., Dupont, S., Belin, P., & Samson, S. (2010) The Relationship of Lyrics and Tunes in the Processing of Unfamiliar Songs: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Adaptation Study. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(10), 3572-3578. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2751-09.2010
Coca-Cola sucks India dry. Image: Carlos Latuff / Wikimedia CommonsThe marketing executive who came up with Coca-Cola's popular slogan in 1908 most likely never expected it would be taken so literally. However, a hundred years ago there probably weren't many who imagined a term like "water wars" could exist in a region that experiences annual monsoons.
On February 25 a complaint was filed in the New York Supreme Court against the The Coca-Cola Company alleging that they knew about and sought to cover up human rights abuses in Guatemala. While that trial gets started, the company's controversial practices in India continue involving the over-exploitation of limited water resources and the contamination of groundwater supplies. In response to public outcry the soft drink company is now championing itself as a longtime environmental leader and the business community is eager to advertise their claim. Yesterday CNN Money reported that:
Coke has been a leader when it comes to environmental issues: It is aiming to be water neutral -- meaning every drop of water used by the company will be replenished -- by 2020.
This would come as a surprise to the Plachimada community in the State of Kerala. Ever since Coca-Cola opened a bottling plant on their land in 2000 they have been faced with chronic drought and polluted water. In 2006 these residents of a small impoverished community in southern India began a pitched campaign to evict Coca-Cola from their land which led to fierce battles with local authorities. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
AIYER, A. (2007) THE ALLURE OF THE TRANSNATIONAL: Notes on Some Aspects of the Political Economy of Water in India. Cultural Anthropology, 22(4), 640-658. DOI: 10.1525/can.2007.22.4.640
This morning the newswires (HT Mike Huckman) are full of the BioSante (formerly Cell Genesys) news on their leukemia vaccine, GVAX, which is being tested to see whether it is a viable approach for eradication of minimal residual disease. Accordingly,...... Read more »
Smith, B., Kasamon, Y., Kowalski, J., Gocke, C., Murphy, K., Miller, C., Garrett-Mayer, E., Tsai, H., Qin, L., Chia, C.... (2010) K562/GM-CSF Immunotherapy Reduces Tumor Burden in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Patients with Residual Disease on Imatinib Mesylate. Clinical Cancer Research, 16(1), 338-347. DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-2046
Roll out the barrel because if you believe the news reports alcohol contains magical negative calories!Yup a recent study is making waves in the media and blogosphere and the gist of the reporting is that a few alcoholic drinks a day may help control your weight - though of course that's not the whole story.The study's a big one. It looked at 19,220 American women aged 38.9 years or older who had a baseline normal BMI and followed them for 12.9 years and tracked alcohol consumption and self reported exit weight. As with any long term prospective study, the authors tried valiantly to control for potentially confounding variables and they adjusted for age, race, baseline BMI, smoking status, non-alcohol energy intake, physical activity, menopausal status, postmenopausal hormone use, multivitamin use, comorbid medical conditions, and macronutrient distribution. They then stratified results into alcohol intake by grams with a 5 level subdivision.The results?Firstly it's important to note that statistically all groups of women gained weight. Average weight gain for the women who didn't drink at all was 3.63kg over 12.9 years and for those drinking an average of 30g or more of alcohol daily the average weight gain was 1.55kg. That's a difference of 4.6lbs over nearly 13 years.So best case scenario is the study has indeed accounted for all variables and the association is causal and if you're a woman, drinking 2 glasses of wine daily will help you not gain roughly a third of a pound extra per year.Worse case scenario? The study proves just how difficult it is to study nutritional variables and that it's one of those association doesn't prove causality pieces.The lead author, Dr. Lu Wang, very kindly responded to a few email questions regarding potential confounding variables and both in the paper and in her emails made it very clear the authors did a truly bang up job trying to control for everything they could think of. At the same time Dr. Wang readily admitted that there are, "an endless list of potential confounders."Given we're talking about a difference of only 4.6lbs over more than a decade of time, it would therefore certainly be possible there's some subtle difference or differences other than alcohol intake to account for the results.But does that matter?Ultimately research on heart disease and moderate drinking in women has already suggested benefit to tempered imbibing and with this study, perhaps there's more. More to the point of this post though, the press' reporting on this story has been abysmal with some articles suggesting that alcohol will cause weight loss, others not noting the small actual absolute differences seen in the study and sadly most of the articles doing a better job of reflecting the media's need to sensationalize study results than to practice good science journalism. So will booze make you less skinny? Nope. But maybe, just maybe it'll make you ever so slightly less fat.Wang, L., Lee, I., Manson, J., Buring, J., & Sesso, H. (2010). Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women Archives of Internal Medicine, 170 (5), 453-461 DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.527
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Wang, L., Lee, I., Manson, J., Buring, J., & Sesso, H. (2010) Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 170(5), 453-461. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.527
by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych
A few weeks ago I wrote a study that showed that exposing premature babies to Mozart music may lead to metabolic changes that facilitate weight gain and better medical outcomes. That study is an example of one credible and positive outcome that came out of the “Mozart effect’ craze. Unfortunately, most of the other claims, [...]... Read more »
Metabolism, which might be broadly defined as the biochemical process of living, is absurdly complex. The way in which metabolism varies between individuals, and then changes over time with aging? Even more complex. This is one of the reasons why slowing aging by changing metabolic machinery - in effect creating a new human metabolism - looks very much like an inferior, harder path in comparison to attempts to restore the metabolism we have to the way it operates in youthful bodies. Complexity is interesting to look at, however. I recently noticed a paper that investigates the details of a known trend in metabolism that takes places as people age: This study investigates age-dependent changes in resting metabolic rate (RMR) considering changes in body composition and fat distribution within the longitudinal study on nutrition and health status in an aging population in Giessen (GISELA), Germany ... Approach 1: RMR correlates significantly negatively with age in women and men. Considering fat free mass, fat mass, and [weight and height], age proved to be a significant predictor of RMR in both sexes in multiple regression analysis; RMR falls by 11.2 kJ/d and 34.1 kJ/d per year in females and males, respectively. Approach 2:...... Read more »
Luhrmann PM, Edelmann Schafer B, & Neuhauser Berthold M. (2010) Changes in resting metabolic rate in an elderly german population: cross-sectional and longitudinal data. The journal of nutrition, health , 14(3), 232-6. PMID: 20191259
Check out this great post by Mary M on biofortifed. In it she reviews a new research paper that describes how the use of Bt could potentially save the lives of millions.
You can download a video about the researchers and their work here.
From Mary's post: "For some people, a great deal of the conflama around genetically-engineered (GE) crops has to do with the presence of a pesticide in the plant material--mainly the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt protein--rather than coating the surface of the plant as organic Bt sprays or chemical-style pesticides would. No matter how many times I explain that there are benefits to this strategy (such as reduced impact on non-target species and on improvements in farm family health among others), it doesn't seem to help. No matter how many times I explain that pesticides aren't the only modification to plants (as we see at Biofortified regularly), it doesn't matter to critics of GE. The fact that plants make their own pesticides? Not interested. And no matter how many times I explain how the Bt proteins work only on species that have the specific receptor for that interaction--and therefore does not affect humans as it would the corn borer pest--it doesn't seem to have any impact. The misplaced fear continues to be used by the critics.ResearchBlogging.org
So when I saw this paper that suggested the Bt protein may be a powerful strategy for improving the lives of impoverished children around the world, all I could do was wonder if that might finally register with those who make unsupported claims of the effects of Bt on humans."
Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Hu, Y., Georghiou, S., Kelleher, A., & Aroian, R. (2010) Bacillus thuringiensis Cry5B Protein Is Highly Efficacious as a Single-Dose Therapy against an Intestinal Roundworm Infection in Mice. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 4(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000614
A study has found that regular use of common painkillers – such aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen – increases the risk of hearing loss in men aged 40-74 years.
Using aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, or paracetamol twice a week or more over a 20 year period increased the risk of hearing loss by 12%, [...]... Read more »
On an article on retrospective, cross-sectional surveys of parents whose children died of cancer at least one year previously, with their experiences about, views on and endorsement of hypothetical vignettes of hastening death in end-stage, pediatric cancer. ... Read more »
Dussel V, Joffe S, Hilden JM, Watterson-Schaeffer J, Weeks JC, & Wolfe J. (2010) Considerations about hastening death among parents of children who die of cancer. Archives of pediatrics , 164(3), 231-7. PMID: 20194255
Who retires gracefully, who adjusts to retirement easily and who doesn’t. Which personality traits play a part in successful retirement?
The five factor model of personality or the Big Five can be used to see how personality traits are linked to how people adjust to retirement. It has been done in the past for other life [...]
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Robinson, O., Demetre, J., & Corney, R. (2010) Personality and retirement: Exploring the links between the Big Five personality traits, reasons for retirement and the experience of being retired. Personality and Individual Differences. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.014
Recent progress in neuroscience suggests that athlete's are the masters of mind over matter, expending less brain energy while focusing more intently on motor procedural tasks compared to sedentary controls. ... Read more »
Galea, J., & Celnik, P. (2009) Brain Polarization Enhances the Formation and Retention of Motor Memories. Journal of Neurophysiology, 102(1), 294-301. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00184.2009
Via Dormivigilia, I came across a fascinating paper about a man who suffered from a severe lack of monoamine neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin etc.) as a result of a genetic mutation: Sleep and Rhythm Consequences of a Genetically Induced Loss of SerotoninNeuroskeptic readers will be familiar with monoamines. They're psychiatrists' favourite neurotransmitters, and are hence very popular amongst psych drug manufacturers. In particular, it's widely believed that serotonin is the brain's "happy chemical" and that clinical depression is caused by low serotonin while antidepressants work by boosting it.Critics charge that there is no evidence for any of this. My own opinion is that it's complicated, but that while there's certainly no simple relation between serotonin, antidepressants and mood, they are linked in some way. It's all rather mysterious, but then, the functions of serotonin in general are; despite 50 years of research, it's probably the least understood neurotransmitter.The new paper adds to the mystery, but also provides some important new data. Leu-Semenescu et al report on the case of a 28 year old man, with consanguineous parents, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, sepiapterin reductase deficiency (SRD). SRD patients lack an enzyme which is involved, indirectly, in the production of the monoamines serotonin and dopamine, and also melatonin and noradrenaline which are produced from these two. SRD causes a severe (but not total) deficiency of these neurotransmitters.The most obvious symptoms of SRD are related to the lack of dopamine, and include poor coordination and weakness, very similar to Parkinson's Disease. An interesting feature of SRD is that these symptoms are mild in the morning, worsen during the day, and improve with sleep. Such diurnal variation is also a hallmark of severe depression, although in depression it's usually the other way around (better in the evening).The patient reported on in this paper suffered Parkinsonian symptoms from birth, until he was diagnosed with dystonia at age 5 and started on L-dopa to boost his dopamine levels. This immediately and dramatically reversed the problems.But his serotonin synthesis was still impaired, although doctors didn't realize this until age 27. As a result, Leu-Semenescu et al say, he suffered from a range of other, non-dopamine-related symptoms. These included increased appetite - he ate constantly, and was moderately obese - mild cognitive impairment, and disrupted sleep:The patient reported sleep problems since childhood. He would sleep 1 or 2 times every day since childhood and was awake during more than 2 hours most nights since adolescence. At the time of the first interview, the night sleep was irregular with a sleep onset at 22:00 and offset between 02:00 and 03:00. He often needed 1 or 2 spontaneous, long (2- to 5-h) naps during the daytime.After doctors did a genetic test and diagnosed STP, they treated him with 5HTP, a precursor to serotonin. The patient's sleep cycle immediately normalized, his appetite was reduced and his concentration and cognitive function improved (although that may have been because he was less tired). Here's his before and after hypnogram:Disruptions in sleep cycle and appetite are likewise common in clinical depression. The direction of the changes in depression varies: loss of appetite is common in the most severe "melancholic" depression, while increased appetite is seen in many other people.For sleep, both daytime sleepiness and night-time insomnia, especially waking up too early, can occur in depression. The most interesting parallel here is that people with depression often show a faster onset of REM (dreaming) sleep, which was also seen in this patient before 5HTP treatment. However, it's not clear what was due to serotonin and what was due to melatonin because melatonin is known to regulate sleep.Overall, though, the biggest finding here was a non-finding: this patient wasn't depressed, despite having much reduced serotonin levels. This is further evidence that serotonin isn't the "happy chemical" in any simple sense.On the other hand, the similarities between his symptoms and some of the symptoms of depression suggest that serotonin is doing something in that disorder. This fits with existing evidence from tryptophan depletion studies showing that low serotonin doesn't cause depression in most people, but does re-activate symptoms in people with a history of the disease. As I said, it's complicated...Smaranda Leu-Semenescu et al. (2010). Sleep and Rhythm Consequences of a Genetically Induced Loss of Serotonin Sleep, 33 (03), 307-314... Read more »
Smaranda Leu-Semenescu et al. (2010) Sleep and Rhythm Consequences of a Genetically Induced Loss of Serotonin. Sleep, 33(03), 307-314. info:/
Image by atomicjeep
I came across a very interesting article in the Ottawa Citizen this weekend, unpleasantly titled "For Canada's obese, exercise alone isn't going to cut it". The crux of the article is this - exercise will not help you lose weight. Every few months it seems that this issue pops up, including a cover article in TIME magazine last year, which Peter has previously dissected. This is a complicated issue, and given the sensational title, I wasn't expecting much from the Citizen article. But the article is actually very well written, and includes interviews with a number of excellent researchers (including Bob Ross, who supervised my MSc, and Tim Church, who has co-authored papers with both Peter and I), as well as physician Yoni Freedhoff of Weighty Matters. Since this issue comes up so frequently, and because of its public health importance, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to "weigh in" with my opinion.
So, does exercise reduce body weight? To be completely honest, it depends on the situation. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Church, T., Earnest, C., Skinner, J., & Blair, S. (2007) Effects of Different Doses of Physical Activity on Cardiorespiratory Fitness Among Sedentary, Overweight or Obese Postmenopausal Women With Elevated Blood Pressure: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 297(19), 2081-2091. DOI: 10.1001/jama.297.19.2081
Ross R, Dagnone D, Jones PJ, Smith H, Paddags A, Hudson R, & Janssen I. (2000) Reduction in obesity and related comorbid conditions after diet-induced weight loss or exercise-induced weight loss in men. A randomized, controlled trial. Annals of internal medicine, 133(2), 92-103. PMID: 10896648
A new journal article in Physical Therapy in Sport (the journal I recently reviewed) discusses imbalance between upper and lower trapezius muscle activity and the association of subacromial impingement.
The authors studied the EMG activity of the upper and lower trapezius in subjects with and without subacromial impingement. Results show that subjects with impingement had a greater ratio of upper to trapezius to lower trapezius than the...
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Smith, M., Sparkes, V., Busse, M., & Enright, S. (2009) Upper and lower trapezius muscle activity in subjects with subacromial impingement symptoms: Is there imbalance and can taping change it?. Physical Therapy in Sport, 10(2), 45-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2008.12.002
As usual there are lots of news stories about Omega 3s (including last week's that some omega 3 supplements may contain high levels of PCBs) but two really caught my eye.The first detailed a hypothetical plan to force feed convicts omega 3 supplements as a means to reduce violent and aggressive episodes. That plan is being born out of the results of a recent study titled, "Effects of nutritional supplements on aggression, rule-breaking, and psychopathology among young adult prisoners".The study tracked 221 adult prisoners and randomized them to receive either placebo or a nutritional supplement containing 25 vitamins and minerals along with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Staff then tracked aggressive and rule breaking behaviours.The authors found that the supplemented group saw their aggressive and rule breaking behaviours decrease by 34% versus a 14% increase in the control group.Sounds really impressive until you see the absolute numbers whereby we're talking about 11 incidents per 1,000 prison days in the supplemented group vs. 9.7 incidents per 1,000 prison days in the control. I also have to question the blinding in this study in that fish oil capsules are absolutely noticeable, even enteric coated ones, when you burp. Oh, and no, this wasn't truly an omega 3 study given the supplements had many other vitamins and minerals in them.So colour me unimpressed.The second story I mentioned? Apparently the American Department of Defense is considering force feeding the US military omega-3 supplements as a means to, "enhance stress resilience, wellness, and military performance".Now I'm not sure on which study they're basing their recommendations but hope if they do use them on the military that it doesn't hinder their troops' combat skills by rendering those fighting men and women less violent and aggressive.Zaalberg, A., Nijman, H., Bulten, E., Stroosma, L., & van der Staak, C. (2009). Effects of nutritional supplements on aggression, rule-breaking, and psychopathology among young adult prisoners Aggressive Behavior DOI: 10.1002/ab.20335
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Zaalberg, A., Nijman, H., Bulten, E., Stroosma, L., & van der Staak, C. (2009) Effects of nutritional supplements on aggression, rule-breaking, and psychopathology among young adult prisoners. Aggressive Behavior. DOI: 10.1002/ab.20335
Both the hidden and informal curriculum take place after or next to the theoretical teaching, the formal teaching and has an important part in the shaping of the medical students’ professionalism and professional values. Moreover, these forms of the curriculum have a major impact on the learning potential of med students. Yet little is known [...]
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Wear D, & Skillicorn J. (2009) Hidden in plain sight: the formal, informal, and hidden curricula of a psychiatry clerkship. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 84(4), 451-8. PMID: 19318777
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