Category Archives: Health

Health: Growing Concern Over “The Obesity-Cancer Link” (The Lancet)

From a The Lancet online editorial (Feb 3, 2020):

The Lancet Endocrine and DiabetesPrevention represents the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for reducing the cancer burden and associated mortality. If provided with adequate information and support to adopt a healthy lifestyle, individuals can reduce their exposure to behavioural and dietary cancer risk factors by quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy BMI, cutting down on alcohol consumption, exercising more, and eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables. 

Although smoking is currently the major cause of preventable cancer cases and accounts for 22% of cancer deaths, a 2018 report from Cancer Research UK estimated that high BMI (overweight and obesity) now causes more cases of four common cancers (bowel, kidney, ovarian, and liver) in the UK than does smoking, and could overtake smoking as the biggest cause of cancer in women in the UK by 2043. According to WHO, in 2016, 1·9 billion adults around the world were overweight, of whom 650 million had obesity—triple the number in 1975. State-level projections for the USA paint an even bleaker picture going forward: by 2030, 48·9% of adults will have obesity; 24·2% of adults will have severe obesity; and severe obesity will be the most common BMI category among women, non-Hispanic black adults, and low-income adults. With such shocking statistics, the knock-on effect of the obesity epidemic for cancer prevention and control cannot be underestimated.

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Medical Podcasts: “2020 U.S. Influenza Epidemic” – Very Serious Year-To-Date

JAMA Clinical Reviews logoAlthough coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) dominates the news in early 2020, it affects few people in the US. In contrast, at the same time the US is experiencing a severe influenza epidemic, which has caused an estimated 250 000 hospitalizations and 14 000 deaths. 

Timothy Uyeki, MD, lead for the CDC’s 2019 novel coronavirus response team and Chief Medical Officer of CDC’s influenza division, discusses influenza in the US, how it compares to coronavirus, and what both patients and clinicians should know about this year’s flu season.

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Study: “Med-Diet” Alters Gut Microbiota, Lowers Frailty & Inflammation, Improves Cognition (BMJ)

From BMJ Journal “Gut” study (February 17, 2020):

BMJ Journal GUT Februrary 2020We observed that increased adherence to the MedDiet modulates specific components of the gut microbiota that were associated with a reduction in risk of frailty, improved cognitive function and reduced inflammatory status.

Objective Ageing is accompanied by deterioration of multiple bodily functions and inflammation, which collectively contribute to frailty. We and others have shown that frailty co-varies with alterations in the gut microbiota in a manner accelerated by consumption of a restricted diversity diet. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with health. In the NU-AGE project, we investigated if a 1-year MedDiet intervention could alter the gut microbiota and reduce frailty.

Design We profiled the gut microbiota in 612 non-frail or pre-frail subjects across five European countries (UK, France, Netherlands, Italy and Poland) before and after the administration of a 12-month long MedDiet intervention tailored to elderly subjects (NU-AGE diet).

Results Adherence to the diet was associated with specific microbiome alterations. Taxa enriched by adherence to the diet were positively associated with several markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function, and negatively associated with inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein and interleukin-17. Analysis of the inferred microbial metabolite profiles indicated that the diet-modulated microbiome change was associated with an increase in short/branch chained fatty acid production and lower production of secondary bile acids, p-cresols, ethanol and carbon dioxide. Microbiome ecosystem network analysis showed that the bacterial taxa that responded positively to the MedDiet intervention occupy keystone interaction positions, whereas frailty-associated taxa are peripheral in the networks.

Conclusion Collectively, our findings support the feasibility of improving the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier ageing.

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Health: New “Digital AI Device” Helps Identify Patients With Atrial Fibrillation (Mayo Clinic)

Mayo Clinic LogoThis small device may change how doctors identify and manage patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that increases risk of stroke.

And the past. The device uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to not only determine if a person is in the midst of an episode of atrial fibrillation, but also it can reveal if they’ve had the irregular rhythm before or will have it in the future.

Dr. Paul Friedman and his team trained the device to detect subtle changes in the heart’s electrical signals. Then in a study, they found it can identify patients with episodic atrial fibrillation. Even when they record the heart while the rhythm is normal – something no current wearable heart monitor can do.

That’s because a heart monitor won’t detect atrial fibrillation unless you have an episode while wearing it. But in a matter of moments, the AI device can identify people with atrial fibrillation, even if their heart is in normal rhythm. Then they can get on the right treatment to help prevent life-threatening strokes from happening.

Study: Added Sugars In Diet Lowers Sleep Quality For Women, Increasing Heart Disease Risks (AHA)

Journal of the American Heart Association study (Feb 17, 2020):

American Heart Association AHA logoThe association between poor overall sleep quality and greater consumption of added sugars observed in the current study aligns with previous findings that intakes of confectionary and sugar‐sweetened beverages were higher in middle‐aged Japanese women reporting poor, compared with good, sleep quality.

Background – Poor sleep increases cardiovascular disease risk, and diet likely contributes to this relationship. However, there are limited epidemiological data on the relationship between measures of sleep quality and habitual dietary patterns. This study examined these associations in a diverse sample of women.

Both short sleep duration and poor sleep quality are associated with the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease (CVD), and it is likely that the relationship between sleep and cardiometabolic disease risk is partially mediated by diet.5 Indeed, experimental studies demonstrate that restricting sleep duration leads to increases in energy intake, confirming associations of short sleep with higher energy intakes in observational population‐based studies.

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Diet: “Skeptical” NY Times Health Writer Endorses Numerous Health Benefits Of 16+ Hour Fasting

From a New York Times article by Jane E. Brody (Feb 17, 2020):

“It takes 10 to 12 hours to use up the calories in the liver before a metabolic shift occurs to using stored fat,” Dr. Mattson told me. After meals, glucose is used for energy and fat is stored in fat tissue, but during fasts, once glucose is depleted, fat is broken down and used for energy.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting Jane E Brody New York Times February 17 2020I was skeptical, but it turns out there is something to be said for practicing a rather prolonged diurnal fast, preferably one lasting at least 16 hours. Mark P. Mattson, neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explained that the liver stores glucose, which the body uses preferentially for energy before it turns to burning body fat.

For example, human studies of intermittent fasting found that it improved such disease indicators as insulin resistance, blood fat abnormalities, high blood pressure and inflammation, even independently of weight loss. In patients with multiple sclerosis, intermittent fasting reduced symptoms in just two months, a research team in Baltimore reported in 2018.

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Health: “Living With Arthritis” (Mayo Clinic)

On the Mayo Clinic Radio program, Dr. John M. Davis III, a Mayo Clinic rheumatologist, discusses arthritis, and the latest edition of the book, “Mayo Clinic on Arthritis — How to Manage Pain and Lead an Active Life”.

If you have arthritis, you are not alone. More than 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis and it is the No. 1 cause of disability in the country. Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints, causing joint pain and stiffness that typically worsen with age. Of the over 100 kinds of arthritis, the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Learn more about arthritis: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-c…