Yeast Is A Cause of Cancer And Turmeric Can Kill Both, Research


Yeast Is A Cause of Cancer And Turmeric Can Kill Both, Research Confirms

A new study validates a controversial cancer theory, namely, that yeast in our body can contribute to not just feeding, but actually causing cancer. Can the ancient healing spice turmeric come to the rescue?

A recent study published in Critical Reviews in Microbiology lends support to the concept that opportunistic Candida albicans (yeast) infection may not just be a consequence of cancer, but is an actively contributing cause as well.

Titled, “Candida albicans and cancer: Can this yeast induce cancer development or progression?“, the study provided the following important background information on this controversial subject:

There is currently increasing concern about the relation between microbial infections and cancer. More and more studies support the view that there is an association, above all, when the causal agents are bacteria or viruses. This review adds to this, summarizing evidence that the opportunistic fungus Candida albicans increases the risk of carcinogenesis and metastasis. Until recent years, Candida spp. had fundamentally been linked to cancerous processes as it is an opportunist pathogen that takes advantage of the immunosuppressed state of patients particularly due to chemotherapy. In contrast, the most recent findings demonstrate that C. albicans is capable of promoting cancer by several mechanisms, as described in the review: production of carcinogenic byproducts, triggering of inflammation, induction of Th17 response and molecular mimicry. We underline the need not only to control this type of infection during cancer treatment, especially given the major role of this yeast species in nosocomial infections, but also to find new therapeutic approaches to avoid the pro-tumor effect of this fungal species.

The four distinct ways by which Candida albicans may contribute to cancer are explained in more detail below:

  • Production of carcinogenic byproducts: First, Candida Albicans produces nitrosamines, which are carcinogens that activate specific proto-oncogenes that could trigger cancerous lesions. Second, Candida albicans produce acetaldehyde, which is produced as the first metabolite of ethanol (the yeast fermentation byproduct), and which is a DNA-damaging (mutagenic) and carcinogenic chemical with a wide range of downstream cancer promoting properties.

  • Triggering of inflammation: Prolonged, unresolved inflammation can promote cancer, both by causing damage to tissue, and through the secretion of proliferative chemicals intended to stimulate regeneration of damaged tissue, but which can render tissue immortalized when the inflammation is chronic and misdirected. Candida albicans is well known to promote a cascade of inflammatory responses within the body when growing beyond their normal population density due to immunosuppression, an inappropriate diet, and/or chemical exposure.  These misguided inflammatory responses have been found to promote increases in tumor cell adhesion, which is believed to promote the formation of secondary tumors and/or metastasis.

  • Induction of Th17 response: The set of CD4 T-cells that are dominant in response to Candida albicans, namely, TH17 cells, also secrete factors that may promote angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and increased tumor incidence and growth.

  • Molecular mimicry: Antibodies produced against a protein on the surface of Candida Albicans (CR3-RP) has structural and antigenic similarities with a receptor on certain of our white blood cells (leukocytes). This “molecular mimicry” may cause antibodies to be formed against our immune cells that then disturb the anti-tumor and anti-Candida defenses of the host.

This newly identified research not only substantiates the concept that yeast overgrowth can be a contributing cause of cancer, but it also, indirectly, raises a red flag to both sugar and alcohol consumption. Clearly, if sugar and its conversion to ethanol produce acetaldehyde, reducing excessive consumption of either is a good chemopreventive step, and likely a completely necessary intervention when actively treating already established cancers — that is, if the goal is full remission.

Moreover, sugar has also recently been found to not just feed cancer, but actively contributes to the transformation of normal cells into cancerous ones; i.e. sugar is potentially carcinogenic. Read my recent article, “Research Reveals How Sugar CAUSES Cancer,” to learn more.

The implications of this research are profound since sugar also promotes yeast growth, which means that sugar is both directly and indirectly carcinogenic; a fact that is all the more concerning considering cancer treatment wards in major hospitals still give sugar-contain

Scientists discover a natural adhesive with biomedical applications


Scientists discover a natural adhesive with biomedical applications
a) The reaction of urea and urease (1,2) produces a base that drives b) thiol–acrylate (3,4) gelation after an induction period. Sketched graphs show the dependence of the urea–urease reaction rate on the pH value, the resultant pH–time curve, and the dependence of the thiol–acrylate gelation rate on the pH value. 

Chemists created a nonpermanent adhesive from a natural chemical reaction that can be used in the biomedical field. This discovery may benefit tissue repair or drug delivery. The scientific journal Angewandte Chemie recently published this collaborative work between LSU and University of Sheffield researchers.

The scientists studied the natural chemical process that occurs when urea, a molecule found in urine, is broken down by the enzyme urease, which produces ammonia and carbon dioxide. Based on previous studies, scientists know how long it takes urease to break down urea, which can be used to create a called a “pH clock reaction.” They chose urea and urease because it is one of the few nontoxic and natural clock reactions. By adding water and two chemicals—a sulfur-based thiol and a synthetic acrylate—during the urea-urease clock reaction, the researchers were able to create a thin, water-soluble adhesive gel.

LSU doctoral candidate Elizabeth Jee led the study. Jee tested more than 20 different combinations of chemicals in this experiment before achieving the intended reaction.

“I was so excited. I jumped up and down and ran into the office to tell my lab mates that my experiment worked,” said Jee, who will receive her doctorate in August from the LSU Department of Chemistry.

As the urease breaks down the urea and ammonia is produced, the watery solution changes from acidic to basic. The molecules then begin to build a framework of polymers that entraps water, and the solution solidifies into a gel that resembles Jell-O. In the study, Jee identified how long it takes urease to break down urea, how long it takes the gel to form, at which time the gel will break down in a basic solution and how the solution reacts in different sized containers.

“By tuning the properties of this system, we can adjust the rate of degradation, which might be desirable in a biomedical adhesive or drug carrier in your body,” Jee said.

Her Ph.D. advisor, Professor John Pojman, has developed a variety of polymer adhesives and clays that can be manipulated through chemical processes such as applying heat. This latest research is based on previous urea-urease pH clock reaction research he conducted with a collaborator in England.

The underestimated power of plants


Imagine a future full of solar rose gardens that generate electricity and robot-tree hybrids that grow into whatever shapes we need. Antony Funnell ventures to the frontiers of plant science to meet researchers who believe the power of botanical organisms has long been underestimated.

By his own admission, Magnus Berggren has killed an awful lot of roses in his quest to turn simple flowers into a source of power.

‘Most of the materials for the devices that we injected into the plants actually were so toxic, the plants didn’t survive,’ says Berggren, a professor of organic electronics at Linkoping University in southern Sweden. ‘But now we have chosen materials that we know cope well with plants.’

What I think we could actually do is generate electricity inside the plants to power, for instance, a sensor or some other device that regulates the growth process in a plant.

MAGNUS BERGGREN, LINKOPING UNIVERSITY

Those materials include a type of conductive liquid polymer capable of passing through the vascular system of the rose, effectively hard-wiring it.

‘What we have focused on in our science is to make conducting wires, batteries or capacitors inside a stem,’ he says.

‘We have done electrodes in the leaves and step by step we are distributing components, electrodes and wires into the plant, so we basically approach a situation where we start, maybe, to connect a solar-to-electricity conversion system inside a plant.’

The ultimate goal, according to Berggren, is to create a system which siphons off some of the power generated by the plant during the natural process of photosynthesis. But while he and his team have already proven that it is possible to build a functioning electronic circuit within a rose bush, the dream of going further and creating an energy-producing solar garden is still many years away.

‘We are talking about an application scenario that lies maybe 20, 30 years ahead,’ says Berggren. ‘What I think we could actually do is generate electricity inside the plants to power, for instance, a sensor or some other device that regulates the growth process in a plant. Or we could perhaps power up our mobile phone or something like that. But that’s more on the demonstration or prototype level.

‘What this will end up with in the end, to be honest I’m too naive to speculate on that. What we are trying to do in our group is to see how far we can stretch the idea.

‘If we can use this as an energy conversion system in large scales in the future it will depend very much on the performance we can achieve. We have to remember that the solar cell that we have on the roof today, they have a power conversion efficiency of around 20 or 30 per cent. So we have to do this in a very efficient way if it’s going to compete with that. But it’s an interesting idea, and it certainly opens up a new pathway where electronics can end up in the future, that’s for sure.’

Robots interacting with plants as they grow

In the German city of Paderborn, computer scientist Heiko Hamann has also been exploring ways of using technology to modify and regulate plants.

Professor Hamann is one year into a four-year project called flora robotica, which is funded by Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

The focus of flora robotica is to develop ‘symbiotic robot-plant bio-hybrids’—essentially a system of small robotic devices fixed to a plant that interact with it as it grows.

Hamann sees applications for such technology in agriculture, where robotic sensors could be used to help farmers respond more accurately to a plant’s needs and therefore speed up growth. But he also sees potential for creating what he calls bespoke ‘architectural artefacts’.

‘What we have in mind is more like having robots interact with plants and have them grow in different ways to what we see right now,’ he says.

‘We want to extend the natural growth processes to some artificial growth processes by imposing different stimuli on the plants and then grow certain shapes, for example. And that’s where architecture comes in as an application. The idea is that some human user can input a desired shape and then we would use our robots to direct the growth of the plants and to actually grow that particular shape.’

The ability to grow trees into desired shapes, says Hamann, could have associated environmental benefits.

‘Until now we grow our trees and then, with a lot of waste energy, we cut them and transport them. We think: what if you just grow wood in the shape that you require for your construction, maybe even at the spot? You have a house that is growing along with your needs.

‘These robots are, we believe, the best way to interact with plants and also to gain a better understanding. Basically our robots can serve as a communication channel between plants and human beings.’

‘We are not the only living systems who are smart’

The notion of plant-human communication in such a context might seem entirely functional: a new way for humans to once again exercise their dominance over the natural environment. However, a growing number of researchers believe the potential power and sophistication of plants have long been underestimated.

Professor Paco Calvo at the University of Murcia in Spain is one of the co-founders of a multi-functional research institute called the MINT Lab, one of the first centres of its kind, designed to further the relatively new field of plant neurobiology, the study of plant ‘intelligence’.

‘The easiest way to get into plant neurobiology is by thinking of the cognitive sciences in comparison,’ says Calvo.

‘Go back to the ’70s, the ’80s, and when we were talking about cognitive science we wouldn’t talk about psychology or neuroscience or linguistics or anthropology, we were talking about the sum of all those disciplines. It was an attempt to better understand what cognition consists of by putting together the methodologies, and a little bit the same happens with plant neurobiology.’

In that vein, the MINT Lab brings biologists together with philosophers to explore what forms of intelligence plants exhibit, and in turn, what a better understanding of their capacities and capabilities might mean for the future.

‘I’m not quite that happy with trying to provide the definition of intelligence, of plant intelligence, but maybe because I don’t even know what animal intelligence is. I mean, as soon as you provide the definition somebody is going to show up a dozen counter-examples. I’d rather talk about particular capacities, competencies, and then we might discuss whether that deserves the label of intelligence or not.

‘Think of sensory motor coordination, as we know happens in animals, or perceptual capacities, or goal oriented behaviour, basic forms of learning, of memory, decision-making, problem-solving. If animals can do all those things we’re happy with the label intelligence, right? We say animals are intelligent.

‘When plants do it, it seems we are in a whole different business. Why? Plants are able to do that, to make decisions, solve problems, learn, memorise. Well, let’s deal with it. We are not the only living animals who are smart or living systems who are smart.’

The social side of plants

Forest ranger Peter Wohlleben has been something of a media hit in Germany with his best-selling book The Hidden Life of Trees, in which he spells out his belief that trees are social entities that not only grow together but communicate with each other in different ways.

It’s a controversial idea on the surface, but he’s not alone in coming to that conclusion. One who shares his belief is Suzanne Simard, a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia. Simard has spent many years studying what’s called mycorrhizal symbiosis: the theory that various forms of fungi that grow around the roots of trees act as a sort of pathway for communication, almost like neurons in an animal brain.

‘These mycorrhizae function by growing through the soil and picking up nutrients and water and bringing them back to the tree. It’s a symbiosis because they live together in a root tip, and it’s mutualistic because the tree provides photosynthate in return for these nutrients and water that the fungi gather up from the soil.

‘The reason that we say that the trees can communicate is that these fungi, some of them can actually link trees together. So a fungus that is associated with one tree can grow through the soil and link up with another tree, provided that fungus is compatible with both of those trees. Even if the trees are of a different species, if they have a compatible mycorrhizal fungus, they can link up.’

According to Simard’s research, trees use their mycorrhizal networks to exchange a whole range of biochemical information, from how much photosynthate they have to how rich they are in nutrients.

‘I consider it communication because there is behaviour adjustment. There are changes in the trees before they send the communication, the ones that are sending the communication, and then it results in a behaviour change by the trees that receive that piece of information. When you have those kinds of responses and effects and there’s an information transfer that results in these big behaviour changes, to me that is communication.’

Crucially, argues Simard, there is also evidence of intent. ‘We often reserve that word for human beings, where we have intention of changing some sort of pattern or behaviour, but in this case the trees, you could say that they also have intent in the sense that the trees that are sending the messages are conveying that there is some kind of environment or occurrence that is affecting their behaviour and that they need to, or have a want to, send that information to their neighbours.

‘We know that big old trees—we call them mother trees—will communicate with seedlings that are their kin or their kids and make room for those kids compared to seedlings that are strangers, and they are doing this through their mycorrhizal networks.

‘In that sense the mother trees are providing a favourable environment for the regeneration of their own kin, their own genes. That is one example of forests behaving like a family. There’s other experiments where we’ve shown if we injure that mother tree experimentally that she will also send defence signals out to other seedlings around her.’

A different kind of intelligence

Simard says the growth in research around plant neurobiology has seen a increasing acceptance of the notion that plant intelligence does exist, even if it represents a more decentralised form of intelligence than brain-based animal intelligence.

But she says there is still considerable resistance to the theory among those involved in forestry activities. That resistance, she argues, denies forestry management an important natural way of increasing the resilience of natural habitats.

‘We’ve tended to treat plants as these inanimate unfeeling objects,’ she says. ‘We’ve grown them for our own purposes, and often that means in agriculture it would be like growing rows of a crop or, in forests, rows of trees, that we have the intent of eventually harvesting for our own good.

‘What we are finding … is that those tree farms do not function like a real forest, like a whole, intact, healthy, resilient forest. They are not very resistant to some of the insects and diseases that are becoming more prevalent as a result of climate change, and so we’re seeing more diebacks in our forests, they are more vulnerable. And I think it’s because we have not honoured and tried to conserve the connections that make up the forests.’

If we accept that trees are intelligent and even social entities, does that mean that we now have to redefine the distinction we’ve long made between plants and animals? That’s the million-dollar question for Paco Calvo.

‘We are such anthropocentric beings that we think we are the one and only intelligent system on Earth,’ he says.

‘Little by little we come to realise that things are different and there are many different strategies to survive and to reproduce, to pass down your genes. Different species do it in different ways. It’s not such a big deal; we should be more modest.’

Simard agrees. ‘Plants don’t have an animal brain, but they have an intelligence that is more a dispersed network of, in this case fungi and roots, that operates a lot like a brain,’ she says.

‘Even though it’s not biochemically the same, the way that it works and the way these interactions go on are not that different, and that the organisation of fungi and mother trees and the linkages in nature, when you start looking at the architecture of that, it’s really not that different than the architecture, say, of axons and neurons in a brain.’

Calvo is confident perceptions are changing, but he says the major barrier to such a transition in thinking remains the human mind and humanity’s pride.

Enhancing Neurotransmitter Production Naturally


Depression & Anxiety

Life events can trigger changes in our moods, and this can put our brain chemistry out of whack. Our neurotransmitters begin to mis-fire, leading to chronic states of anxiety and depression.

But when it comes to ideal neurotransmitter functioning and performance, dopamine is ‘King of the Chemistry’. And many alternative physicians consider that the amino acid tyrosine – a precursor to dopamine production in the brain – surpasses the performance of the majority of anti-depressant drugs. It costs less, it helps you think better, and it can lift your mood when you’re feeling gloomy.

So let’s begin to delve into our mental chemistry and learn how we can enhance the production of dopamine using the readily available supplement – tyrosine.

The hormone dopamine has a hand in almost every human interaction. In its most refined state, dopamine is a precursor for norepinephrine, which is a hormone that is most responsible for our cognitive alertness. In turn, norepinephrine controls our mood, motivation, anxiety and even sex drive. So, if you’re an aspiring mental health professional or a person who is committed to their own long-term health and wellbeing, it’s important to note that a mis-firing of dopamine in our brain can result in a host of issues.

Enhancing Neurotransmitter Production Naturally

Parkinson’s Disease: a Lack of Dopamine

Parkinson ’s Disease, a degenerative condition, is the result of an insufficient supply of dopamine within the middle parts of the brain. Essentially, the dopamine-generating cells in patients with Parkinson’s are experiencing apoptosis, otherwise known as cell death. Ultimately, for a physician to reach a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, there must be clear damage to the dopamine pathways called the substantia nigra.

While the cause of this illness can vary from patient to patient – for example, excessive skull trauma (boxers and other aggressive sports), environmental toxins, and even genetic factors – fundamentally the symptoms are quite similar ‘across the board’. The results of this drastic loss of dopamine functionality often results in the stereotypical tremor and motor impairment which is characterized by ‘shaky’ hand and head movements. Parkinson’s sufferers’ capacity for movement is quite low; their movement is slow and their posture can be quite poor. However, there are prescription medications which physicians can use to treat patients – primarily a drug called L-dopa.

L-dopa is a molecule which serves as a precursor to dopamine, mirroring the chemical structure of dopamine. Once a person’s symptoms become severe enough for a definitive diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, a physician will prescribe a synthesized “drug” form of L-dopa to mitigate the patient’s overwhelming symptoms. So, by ingesting this substance in pill form, it will inevitably promise an influx of dopamine production.

Unfortunately, like many other prescription medication, the benefits of L-dopa can often come with unwelcome side effects; fatigue, anxiety, agitation and nausea are just a few of those unwelcome side effects. While L-dopa has an important role in the current treatment protocol of Parkinson’s, it is also important to consider that the dopamine precursor, tyrosine, can be ingested in a natural form to enhance dopamine production – without the side effects.

Tyrosine

Tyrosine is responsible for the production of an organic compound, called catecholamines. Without getting too scientific here, the more prominent examples of catecholamines are norepinephrine, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine. The more tyrosine we have on hand, the better equipped we are to handle stress, fatigue, anger, aggression, and those dips in our moods.

Tyrosine-rich foods include meats, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, oats, and wheat, with the highest amounts found in animal sources. Vegan diets may fall short of minimum requirements, and there are some researchers who consider it is a lack of tyrosine in the diet that can lead to ‘angry vegan syndrome’, so proponents of a Vegan diet may need to consider supplementation if they begin to suffer symptoms of deficiency.

Indications you may need to give your dopamine levels a good boost with some supplemental tyrosine include lethargy, depression, sadness, anger, dark moodiness, low self-esteem, loneliness, and a low sex drive. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, it’s important not to sweep them under the rug, because they may form a nasty ‘dust bunny’ you’ll have to face later!

Considering that dopamine controls so many crucial areas of our daily activities, it is crucial to realize you have the ability to optimize your mental and physical potential accordingly. As mentioned, dopamine helps us coordinate movements efficiently; if I knew as much about dopamine when I was pitching in high school, there’s no doubt I would be playing major league baseball right now (sarcasm, of course!) Nevertheless, with the amount of control that dopamine has on our mind and body it’s important to become aware of your body’s signals, and to adjust your tyrosine supplementation to what best fits your needs.

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is both an amino acid and a neurotransmitter, and is known for its ability to reduce anxiety, elevate moods and actually tone muscle! In fact, GABA could even be considered the perfect natural tranquilizer for those times when you’re feeling overtly anxious, agitated and overwrought.

As a certified kettlebellinstructor and fitness enthusiast, the topic of GABA supplements is a recurring discussion amongst friends and colleagues. So, what’s the hoopla?

Like Tyrosine and L-dopa, GABA too can allow us to create our own ‘mood lifter’. This is not pseudoscience, this is simple chemistry. You can purchase GABA supplements – usually they are sold in increments of 750 mg per pill. While you should consult with your preferred health professional about your ability to cope with a bout of depression or anxiety, it should be comforting knowing that these ‘over the counter’ supplements do exist.

Need to reduce indoor pollution? House plants will help you with that


When you think of indoor health hazards, exposure to air pollution is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

Happy man figure on a small plant

However, Dr Fraser Torpy, director of the University of Technology Sydney Plants and Indoor Environmental Quality Research Group, says the air circulating inside our buildings is often more polluted than the air outside, and this can have a very real impact on our health.

The air circulating inside buildings can contain a cocktail of polluted air that comes into a building from outside mixed with pollutants from indoor sources.

Heating, cooking, cleaning, smoking, perfumes and furnishings are all sources of indoor pollutants, which include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur oxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs are a group of chemicals that are released from plastics and synthetics. In your home or office they can come from carpets, furniture, glues, computers, detergents and paints.

Just one plant in a room is fine, its capacity to remove those things is absolutely phenomenal.

Dr Fraser Torpy

These tend to build up indoors as they can be released from so many sources and because there is often poor ventilation.

A CSIRO report that measured the concentration of a range of pollutants inside homes and outdoorsfound that carbon dioxide, total VOCs, formaldehyde and carbonyls concentrations, for example, were all significantly higher inside than outside.

Health impact

Carbon dioxide and VOCs are often to blame for lessening the quality of our indoor air, Dr Torpy says.

Indoor plant on a bench against a red wall

While VOC levels in most dwellings and workplaces are quite low, a UTS study highlighted that even at low levels these pollutants can contribute to sick building syndrome, which has been associated with headaches, dry eyes, nose and throat, a woozy-head feeling and nausea.

Carbon dioxide can also have a similar effect. The maximum level of CO2 under Australian recommendations is 1000 parts per million, according to the UTS group. Yet being exposed to CO2 at levels above 800 to 1000 parts per million can produce feelings of stuffiness, loss of concentration and drowsiness. If you’re exposed to higher levels you’ll probably become quite unwell, but this is uncommon due to efficient ventilation.

“Almost all the carbon dioxide indoors is going to be human exhalation but because world carbon dioxide levels are increasing so fast the rate is now getting really seriously high. It’s very easy to get to a level indoors where you are going to start seeing symptoms, ” Dr Torpy explained.

Clearing the air

The good news is that indoor plants can remove VOCs 24/7 by absorbing and degrading air pollutants and releasing oxygen into the air as part of the photosynthetic process.

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Interestingly NASA scientists back in the ’80s were early observers of the major role indoor plants played in removing organic chemicals from the air (specifically benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde in their study).

“A lot of people are concerned about volatile organic compounds… If that’s what you are worried about then just one plant in a room is fine, its capacity to remove those things is absolutely phenomenal,” Dr Torpy explains.

“A medium-sized plant (anything above about 20cm) in a room will make really big reductions to those particular chemicals.”

Houseplant in a bedroom

Plants can also help manage carbon dioxide levels. Dr Torpy’s research group analysed the effect of indoor plants on air quality in workplaces and found that in offices with plants, CO2 levels reduced by about 10 per cent in an air-conditioned building and 25 per cent in a building without air-conditioning.

UTS has done a lot of work into different types of plants and have made comparisons on their impact on air quality.

“We found palms beat everything else for carbon dioxide. But when it comes to volatile organics everything is the same – it doesn’t matter.”

As well plants have been found to improve mood, and again you only need one indoor plant to start feeling the difference. In a three-month study of UTS office staff, participants with plants reported a reduction in stress and negative feelings by as much as 40 per cent. International researchers have found plants can help to reduce the amount of sick leave people take.

The next step in creating healthier indoor spaces, Dr Torpy says, will be green walling, making strong use of vertical gardens to bring out maximum air cleaning benefits.

Alcoholic Drinks, No Matter How Many Calories They Have, Can Still Impede Weight Loss


drink

http://www.medicaldaily.com/alcoholic-drinks-still-impede-weight-loss-376370

Vitamin D a No Go for Arthritic Knees, Study Finds .


Vitamin D supplements didn’t relieve pain or slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis in a new study, even though the patients involved had low levels of the vitamin.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, and currently no treatment is available that will stop the loss of cartilage. Eventually, many patients are headed for knee replacements, the Australian researchers said.

“These data suggest a lack of evidence to support vitamin D supplementation for slowing disease progression or structural change in knee osteoarthritis,” said lead researcher Dr. Changhai Ding, a professor at the University of Tasmania in Hobart.

The use of vitamin D supplements to reduce pain and slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis has been controversial in the past, with studies showing conflicting results, he said.

This new study put vitamin D supplements to the test by randomly assigning some osteoarthritis sufferers to receive supplements while others received a placebo. In the context of this type of definitive study, vitamin D failed to have any beneficial effect, Ding’s team found.

Knee osteoarthritis affects about 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women aged 60 and older, according to background information in the report. The study was published in the March 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study findings did not come as a surprise to Dr. Neil Roth, an orthopedic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease and any medications patients take, orally or injected, won’t alter the disease,” he said. “The best we can do without a joint replacement is to modify some of the symptoms.”

These treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers and cortisone injections, he said. These therapies do not stop the disease from getting worse and only relieve some of the symptoms, Roth said.

For the study, Ding and colleagues randomly assigned just over 400 patients with knee osteoarthritis and low vitamin D levels to monthly treatment with either 50,000 International Units of vitamin D a month or a placebo.

Over two years of follow-up, the investigators did not see any difference between the groups in reduced pain, loss of cartilage or improvement in bone marrow in the thigh or shin bone.

“That’s not to say that vitamin D doesn’t play a role in other aspects of bone health — because it does,” Roth said.

It is important for men and women to have the appropriate levels of vitamin D to build and maintain bone mass, he said.

“Vitamin D is an important part of any well-balanced diet,” Roth said. “But the notion that it is going to alter your arthritis and minimize some of the symptoms or the progression isn’t sound. I wouldn’t be taking vitamin D supplements if that’s what your goal is.”

A group that represents the vitamin supplement industry said the study did find slight improvements in some who were given vitamin D supplementation.

“This study demonstrates the potential benefit of vitamin D for patients with knee osteoarthritis as patients supplementing with vitamin D experienced pain reduction and a slightly smaller loss of cartilage over time,” said Andrea Wong, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Coucil for Responsible Nutrition. “Even though the numbers are not statistically significant, these are positive trends that should encourage further research.”

‘Overdosing’ on Exercise May Be Toxic to the Heart


Slackers, rejoice! You knew you were right all along, didn’t you? Extreme exercise may be toxic to your heart, according to a provocative review of studies set to appear in an upcoming issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Pushing your body to the max day after day can stress your heart and raise your risk for a type of abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, which ultimately can lead to heart failure or a stroke, according to the review, which analyzed 12 studies on A-fib in athletes and endurance runners.

But before you fall off your sofa laughing at the ambitious among us, note that not exercising at all is far worse for your heart than overdoing it, doctors emphasize. As in so many aspects of life, moderation is key.

Myriad studies have established the heart-health benefits of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise. Conversely, not getting your blood pumping can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease.

Moderate-intensity exercise includes movement that raises your heartbeat, such as casual sports, walking briskly, jogging, biking or swimming. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to help ward off unhealthy weight gain and heart disease.

Vigorous-intensity exercise is the type that makes you short of breath and break out in a heavy sweat. This includes strenuous hiking, high-impact aerobics, long-distance running, or biking faster than 10 mph (16 km/h). People can do 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise weekly instead of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, the CDC says.

Both of these types of exercise lower the risk of atrial fibrillation. In people with A-fib, blood can pool in the atria, the two “top” chambers of the heart that take in blood and pump it downward to the left and right ventricles. This incomplete pumping can stress the entire cardiovascular system. The most common causes for an A-fib are high blood pressure and heart disease affecting any of the four heart valves.

Extreme exercise is loosely defined as several hours of vigorous exercise nearly every day — the type of exercise expected from elite athletes and endurance athletes. This much exercise could cause atrial fibrillation, according to Dr. André La Gerche, a sports cardiologist at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and the author of the new review study.

All available drug therapies aimed at treating A-fib have a dose-response relationship in which benefits diminish at high doses and the risks of adverse events increase, La Gerche said. So, then, it is logical to assume there may also be a dose-response relationship between exercise and A-fib — and that “overdosing” on exercise may be toxic to the heart, he said.

Research that questions the benefits of exercise is often criticized, La Gerche said.

The new paper explores “the often questionable, incomplete and controversial science behind the emerging concern that high levels of intense exercise may be associated with some adverse health effects,” he told Live Science.

La Gerche’s earlier research, published in 2011 with colleague Guido Claessen of the University of Leuven in Belgium, found that patients who were admitted to the University of Leuven Hospital with an atrial fibrillation of unknown cause — that is, not due to hypertension, heart disease, obesity or diabetes — were four times more likely than the general population to have engaged in endurance sports.

A similar study by researchers from Denmark, published in 2009, found that athletes were about 5.3 times more likely to develop A-fib than were matched nonathletic participants (used as a control group for comparison). La Gerche highlighted numerous studies showing the risk of developing atrial fibrillation by midlife among athletes and endurance runners.

So, how much exercise is too much?

“The science is simply not good enough” to answer that question, La Gerche told Live Science. “We have not conclusively proven that too much exercise is bad — although there are plenty of strong hints — and we are miles from being able to know where the cutoff point is.”

La Gerche instead noted that studies have shown how the risk of death over a given period sharply decreases as exercise frequency and intensity increases but that these benefits begin to level off at an intensity that represents only approximately 50 percent of a well-trained athlete’s capacity. [How Many Calories Am I Burning? (Infographic)]

Other researchers say the heart benefits of extreme exercise outweigh the risks. Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar, of the October 12 Research Institute in Madrid, has found that the benefits of high levels of intense exercise include lower blood pressure, lower body fat, a better ratio of HDL to LDL (“good” cholesterol compared to “bad”), improved insulin sensitivity and an overall lower risk of death over a certain time period.

New insight into this controversial issue may be coming soon. In January 2015, 12 endurance runners set out in the name of science to run 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) across the United States, completing what amounted to a marathon a day for more than 100 days.

Bryce Carlson, an assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, was one of the runners and is also leading the study to assess the health of these runners. He expects to publish the results later this year. This will include what he has described as the first longitudinal study on the heart health of extreme-long-distance runners, led by his colleague Dr. Aaron Baggish, associate director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center in Boston.

So hold that urge to start your marathon-a-day exercise regime just a little longer.

Norway’s new bicycle trend.


Perhaps taking a cue from Germany’s “Autobahn for bikes,” Norway has announced plans for one of the most ambitious bicycle infrastructure projects in the world, according to a report by CityLab’s Feargus O’Sullivan.

Norway

The Scandinavian nation intends to construct a system of bicycle superhighways to safely connect nine of its biggest cities to outer suburbs. The proposed two-lane cycleways are part of a broader transportation initiative aimed at reducing vehicle emissions and achieving zero growth in car use by 2030. The cycleways are estimated to cost about $930 million.

Despite their environmentalist tendencies and outdoorsy reputation, Norwegians ride bicycles with much less frequency than their Danish and Swedish neighbors. The Norwegian government sees this as a major growth area, thus the investment in safe, direct, and well-maintained routes in and out of urban areas. Officials are willing to bet that infrastructure improvements will boost the number of people who commute on two wheels.

The major challenge, as O’Sullivan writes, is promoting travel-by-bike in a dark, wet, mountainous country. While the Norwegian coast isn’t as frigid as many would expect, proper maintenance of cycleways would require fervent snow removal in the winter. Lighting would also need to be a priority, as latitudinal realities necessitate artificial illumination from late fall to early spring.

Norwegian Values

The cycleway announcement continues to cement Norway’s status as a world leader in green initiatives. Oslo, the nation’s capital, has already said it plans to ban cars from its city center by 2019. We’ve also reported in the past about Norway’s keen interest in academic environmental research, as well as their more offbeat plans such asscouring sewers for biofuel.

Progressive values and Scandinavia seem to go hand-in-hand for a variety of reasons. But as former President of Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen explains in the video below, environmentalism makes a lot of sense in countries that would be most directly affected by climate change, the consequences of which could create an array of new geopolitical challenges

Crew Sets Up Experiment Ahead of Next SpaceX Mission.


Astronaut Tim Peake

Astronaut Tim Peake answers questions from U.S. and British journalists Tuesday morning.

The Expedition 47 trio conducted a wide variety of science today. The crew explored life science, physics research and crew performance.

Astronaut Tim Peake is setting up the Microgravity Science Glovebox for Rodent Researchoperations. That experiment is due to start after the arrival of the next SpaceX mission due in the spring. Scientists will use the research to learn how to prevent muscle atrophy and bone loss in space.

Commander Tim Kopra also worked with the Microgravity Science Glovebox installing gear for a different experiment. The OASIS study explores the unique behavior of liquid crystals in microgravity with potential benefits for display devices on Earth and in spacecraft. Kopra also explored how living in space affects cognitive performance by taking brief computerized tests.

Veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko transferred cargo from the new 62P resupply ship docked to the Pirs docking compartment. He also studied radiation exposure on the Russian side of the International Space Station using simulated tissue.