TRUE CAUSES of the top 6 preventable diseases – plus remedies


Image: TRUE CAUSES of the top 6 preventable diseases – plus remedies

Do you realize that all of the preventable diseases that U.S. medical doctors can’t seem to cure are ones they now refer to as genetic, meaning you inherited them? But that’s next to impossible, since those same diseases barely existed in America just five generations ago. It all started with chemical medicine made in laboratories, then came processed, canned food, then fluoridated water, then vaccines, and now GMOs. It’s all one big formula that feeds the chronic sick care system of disease and disorder. What most people fail to realize is that most of it is NOT inherited, but rather preventable and even reversible. Consider this:

The American allopathic system of medicine relies on two major platforms in order to remain in business. Part one: Never cure anything, but only address and manage symptoms of disease and disorder with lab-made concoctions and surgery. Part two: Tell all patients that any serious disease or disorder they have is genetic and has been inherited from their parents’ or grandparents’ genes, so the “victim” (allopathic patient for life) won’t ever figure out that they can prevent (and often reverse) these diseases and disorders with nutritional remedies.

Want to prevent (and cure) conventional food diseases? Limit your “junk science” intake and focus on nutrients. Here are the top six preventable diseases with information on how to remedy them, naturally.

#1. Cancer

Hardly any type of cancer is inherited or contagious. Almost all types of cancer are caused by chemical consumption, and conversely can be prevented and even reversed by ending chemical consumption. Cancer is not actually a disease. It’s called that to scare Americans into going to medical doctors for prescriptions, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. This is big business. Doctors and surgeons get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly, whether you get better or whether you suffer more and die at their hands. More people die each year from chemotherapy than from cancer, by the way.

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Cancer is a disorder of the cells that feeds off chemicals in food, including artificial food colorings, artificial sweeteners, bleach (think of all white foods), fluoride (tap water), nitrates, and chemicals in cooking oils. You can reverse cancer by alkalizing the body with organic produce, properly filtered water, and a daily handful of the right supplements.

Look into garlic, licorice root, cool cayenne, oil of oregano, aloe, vitamin C, vitamin D, medicinal mushrooms, hemp seed oil, blackcurrant seed oil, and even CBD oils. The answer will then be “in your hands.”

#2. Heart Disease and Strokes

Most cases of heart disease and strokes are caused by blood becoming clogged, preventing blood from flowing properly, thus limiting the right amount of oxygen from reaching the rest of your body, including your brain. Top causes of these totally preventable and curable “diseases” are canola oil (yes, even organic), animal fat from meat and dairy products, vegetable shortening, and America’s beloved margarine.

Switch to a mainly plant-based diet immediately and engage in moderate exercise and watch those problems dissipate within months, if not weeks.

#3. Dementia

The main causes of dementia are foods that coagulate and heavy metal toxins, including aluminum and mercury. Refer to the “food stuff” covered in #2 above. Toxic amounts of aluminum are commonly found in antacids, vaccines, deodorants, antiperspirants, and tap water. Mercury is found in shockingly high amounts in multi-dose flu vaccines that are recommended by the CDC for 6-month young infants and pregnant women, even though the CDC lied and said mercury was “removed from all childhood vaccines” nearly two decades ago.

Medical doctors never warn their patients about vaccines causing dementia because vaccines are the “holy grail” of the Western chronic sick care “management” Ponzi scheme. Eat clean (organic, non-processed foods) and look into evidence-based “brain foods” and nutrients like coconut oil, avocados, kale, dark chocolate, berries, vitamin B12, and omega 3s.

#4. Anxiety and Depression

Make no mistake, most anxiety and depression are caused by consuming dangerous chemicals found in common, conventional foods today, including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), and pesticides. Pesticide is the “mother” name for all chemicals engineered into food (GMOs) and all chemical insecticides and herbicides sprayed onto crops and produce, including Roundup.

Nearly all medical doctors and psychiatrists blame all anxiety and depression on genes so they can continue to medicate their patients for life. Easy money. Look into Mucuna Pruriens (raise dopamine levels naturally), St. John’s Wort, and dark organic chocolate.

#5. Chronic Inflammation

Got that constant ringing in your ears? Got achy joints? Got excess mucus and chronic congestion? Got arthritis? Got irritable bowels? You’re suffering from chronic inflammation. Get off all that conventional gluten and switch to an organic, plant-based diet immediately. Make sure you drink lots of properly filtered water (or spring water).

#6. Obesity

Another disorder that M.D.s love to say is genetic is obesity. Visit a naturopathic physician instead of those allopathic quacks who never studied a lick of nutrition in medical school. No amount of surgery or chemicals could ever cure your junk food disorder. Switch to an organic, plant-based diet and exercise for 20 minutes a day.

Everything We Learned in One Year About Thousands of Years of Human Evolution

If you were to encounter humans from 300,000 years ago, you might be struck by how much they look like humans in 2018. Anatomically modern and large-brained, with faces and teeth not dissimilar to our own, these early Homo sapienswent to war, formed relationships, and created tools, just like us. There’s still plenty to learn about our direct evolutionary ancestors, but this year, thanks to the widespread use of genomic sequencing, scientists gave us an unprecedented glimpse into how humans came to be. Here, Inverse lists everything we’ve learned about human evolution in the past year.

While we are the only hominids to walk the Earth today, this year genomic evidence proved that the DNA of some people contains traces of Paleolithic trysts between humans and other Homo species, like the Neanderthals and the Denisovans. A decade ago, scientists would have been extremely skeptical. University of Buffalo evolutionary anthropologist Omer Gokcumen, Ph.D. tells Inverse that it’s only in the past five years that scientists have been able to confirm that early Sapiens didn’t only hang out with other Sapiens.

“You can think of the world 100,000 years ago like a Lord of the Rings world, where different, pretty smart human-like creatures are roaming,” Gokcumen says, explaining that this situation is called interaction dynamism. “One of them would be our ancestors in Africa, but there would also be other species like Neanderthals, that we could tell were different — but not different enough to not interbreed and produce fertile offspring.”

This year, academics including Gokcumen published an extensive amount of research filling in the details of this Tolkien-esque world, furthering our understanding of how our minds, bodies, and behavior came to be. Learning what it means to be human, it seems, means learning about really old humans.

1. Ancient Spit Reveals Mysterious Human ‘Ghost’ Ancestor

In July, Gokcumen and a team of scientists announced in Molecular Biology and Evolution that a protein in the saliva of people from sub-Saharan Africa indicates that they carry genetic evidence of an unknown hominin ancestor. The saliva protein became a point of interest when University of Buffalo oral biologist and co-author Stefan Ruhl, Ph.D. compared the saliva proteins of primates and humans. Typically, these proteins look very similar. That’s why it was startling when they discovered that one protein from the sub-Saharan African population was revealed to be very different in size than the others.

This protein, known as MUC7, is thought to be the result of genetic material left over from mating between Homo sapiens and a ‘ghost’ species as recently as 150,000 years ago. Gokcumen believes this mysterious species was confined to Africa and split from Homo sapiens’ evolutionary path around three million years ago. This study is further proof that we, in Gokcumen’s polite words, “absorbed different populations that lived around us” — mating with other Homo species, many of which are still unidentified.

“Our study adds to this generally more colorful picture of human history, and it’s becoming very clear that it’s not as simple as we previously thought,” says Gokcumen. “It’s become very clear to researchers that even though the majority of our genome can be traced back to particular, Homo sapien ancestral population, there’s observable evidence that other, smaller populations made their way into our modern human gene pool.”

Read more: Humans Had Sex with Ancient ‘Ghost’ Species, Spit Analysis Shows

2. Newly Discovered Fossils Pushed Back Our Origins by 100,000 Years

Scientists announced a textbook-changing discovery in June, writing in Nature that they discovered three Homo sapiensfossils that date back to approximately 300,000 years ago. Previously, the oldest Homo sapiens found were 200,000 years old. These fossils were excavated in Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, contradicting the popular claim that our species evolved from a “cradle of mankind” in East Africa.

“The dating was a bit, wow!” co-author Jean-Jacques Hublin, Ph.D., said in his interview with Inverse in June. “No one imagined these remains could be that old. In the meantime, the interpretation of the fossil evidence suddenly made much more sense.”

Read more: Discovery Puts First Humans in North Africa 300,000 Years Ago

A facial reconstruction of one of the ancient samples found in Morocco. 

3. Neanderthal Genes Responsible for Bad Habits and Modern-Day Looks

Research published in October by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology added further detail to what we know about the Neanderthal genes some humans carry around today. In the American Journal of Human Genetics, the team explained that Neanderthal DNA strongly influences the hair and skin color of the one to five percent of European and Asian people who carry this DNA. Neanderthal alleles also shape whether people have lighter and darker skin tones and determine hair color, indicating that ancient hominids had many different hair and skin colors, too.

Drawing from a sample of 112,000 study participants, the scientists additionally determined that there was a significant link between people who carry Neanderthal DNA and those who had experienced “loneliness of isolation, frequency of enthusiasm or disinterest in the last two weeks, and smoking status.”

Read more: Blame Neanderthal Genes for Your Bad Habits and Good Looks

4. The Remains of One of the Oldest Americans Were Found in Mexico

Human remains found in 2012 in Mexico’s Tulum system of submerged caves were re-analyzed this year, leading scientists to believe the remains are the oldest osteological remains of humans in the Americas. In a paper published in PLOS One in August, the scientists behind the research, led by Heidelberg University paleoecologist Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, Ph.D., explain the bones likely belong to a young man who lived around 13,000 years ago.

Stinnesbeck and his team dated one bone, the pelvis, by measuring the levels of uranium, carbon, and oxygen isotopes within it as well as that within the stalagmite that had grown through it. Calcite layers, which contain oxygen and carbon isotopes, store information about climate and precipitation data, which helps determine an age.

The researchers claim this discovery adds further proof to the theory that humans came to the Americas at least 5,000 years before the Clovis, a prehistoric group of people who have previously been called the first Americans.

Read more: A Stolen Human Skeleton Found in 2012 Might Be Americas’ Oldest

5. Neanderthal Brains Grew At a Slower Pace Than Human Brains

In a paper published in Science in September, an international team of scientists reported that they found 13 ancient Neanderthal skeletons in a 49,000-year old cave in northern Spain. To the astonishment of the researchers, one of the specimens, which they named El Sidron, was a nearly complete specimen that belonged to a boy who died when he was almost eight years old.

El Sidron’s teeth and endocranial features suggested that his brain growth wasn’t done by the time of his death, giving away his age. A human brain is essentially grown to its full size by the time a person is six, but El Sidron’s brain was still growing at a period when the brains of his peers had long since stopped. This extended period of brain growth, the study authors hypothesize, suggest Neanderthal children spent more time acquiring cognitive skills than human children.

But perhaps the most marvelous revelation from this study was the fact that, barring brain growth, Neanderthal children were much like human children in terms of physical growth and maturation, reducing the gap between us and our not-so-distant cousins.

Read more: Ancient Child’s Skeleton Unlocks Secret About Modern Brain Development

Comparison of modern human and Neanderthal skulls.

6. Some of Man’s Earliest Ancestors Were Furry Rat-Like Creatures

If you imagine your ancient human ancestors, you might an envision a bulky, strong caveperson, ready to hunt and provide. But if you look past that ancestor and deeper into their lineage, you’d see a something that looks a lot like a rat.

In November, scientists reported in Acta Palaeontologica Polonica that they excavated two fossilized teeth belonging to this rat-like creature in the rocky cliffs of Dorset, England. The teeth are believed to be 145 million years old, and the scientists claim they are the oldest evidence of this human ancestor ever found. The claim is contested by a different team of scientists, who say theirfinding is the oldest at 160 million years old, but their study’s validity is still being debated.

The nocturnal, placental mammal is thought to be an ancestor of mice, pygmy shrews, blue whales and elephants — putting us humans in good company within the animal kingdom.

7. Human Speech Is Our Evolutionary Advantage Over Monkeys

In a very Planet of the Apes-like turn of events, scientists announced in July that the reason that monkeys can’t talk like humans isn’t because of their vocal anatomy but their neural wiring. In a Science study led by the University of Vienna’s W. Tecumseh Fitch, Ph.D., scientists used x-ray videos to examine the vocal tracts of living macaques while they ate, made facial displays, and vocalized monkey sounds. Analysis revealed that their vocal tracts could “easily produce an adequate range of speech sounds to support spoken language,” disproving previous theories that both human anatomy and the human brain give us our specialized ability to speak.

Instead, Fitch argues that the “evolution of human speech capabilities required neural changes rather than modifications of vocal anatomy.” This revelation likely offers a clue to a bigger mystery: Understanding why human language emerged in the first place. Maybe we’ll find that out this year.

U.S. Government Lifts 3-Year Research Ban on Engineering Lethal Viruses

The United States National Institutes of Health is ending a three-year moratorium on funding research on extremely dangerous viruses that were previously considered too risky to study in a lab. On Tuesday, the agency announced new guidelines for scientists seeking NIH support in studying pathogens capable of creating a pandemic. Now, in NIH-approved labs, scientists can increase the strength of viruses like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and influenzas to understand how they evolve and spread.

Scientists are celebrating the end of the moratorium as a forward step in their work and in public health in general. On Monday, NIH Director Francis Collins said in a media briefing that the decision will “help to facilitate the safe, secure, and responsible conduct of this type of research.”

The viruses affected by the previous ban, like H5N1 influenza, cause severe disease and have a high mortality rate. According to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate for human cases of H5N1 is 60 percent, the mortality rate for MERS is 35 percent, and the mortality rate for SARS ranges from one to 50 percent, increasing in precariousness as a person ages.

Lung tissue pathology due to SARS.

The U.S. government instituted its ban on funding experiments that could potentially make pathogens more transmissible in 2014. In these “gain-of-function” studies, designed with the goal of understanding disease pathways, scientists increase the ability of the infectious disease to spread by enhancing its pathogenicity, or its ability to cause disease.

 Doing so gives scientists a better understanding of how a virus interacts with its host and how genetics affects its strength, which is necessary for creating more effective vaccines.

The original ban was put into place after a series of careless biosafety incidents at federal research facilities. In 2014, two labs were forced to close after the facilities accidentally shipped live anthrax and a highly virulent strain of H5N1. In that same year, six vials of live smallpox were found in an FDA lab in Bethesda, Maryland, and 75 CDC employees in Atlanta were thought to be exposed to anthrax.

“During this pause, the U.S. Government will not fund any new projects involving these experiments and encourages those currently conducting this type of work — whether federally funded for not — to voluntarily pause their research while risks and benefits are being reassessed,” the White House Office of Science and Technology announced in 2014.

“The funding pause will not apply to the characterization or testing of naturally occurring influenza, MERS, and SARS viruses unless there is a reasonable expectation that these tests would increase transmissibility or pathogenicity.”

A 3-D images of Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as MERS.

The lifting of the ban, which scientists previously argued was too broad, means that the government has decided these gain-of-function experiments aren’t a serious threat to the public. In the new guidelines, the NIH says that research involving potential pandemic pathogens is “essential to protecting global health and security” and outlines the new rules for studying the pathogens. These include the provision that says the experiment can only proceed if there are “no feasible, equally efficacious alternative methods to address the same question in a manner that poses less risk than does the proposed approach.”

Ray Kurzweil Predicts Three Technologies Will Define Our Future

Over the last several decades, the digital revolution has changed nearly every aspect of our lives.

The pace of progress in computers has been accelerating, and today, computers and networks are in nearly every industry and home across the world.

Many observers first noticed this acceleration with the advent of modern microchips, but as Ray Kurzweil wrote in his book The Singularity Is Near, we can find a number of eerily similar trends in other areas too.

According to Kurzweil’s law of accelerating returns, technological progress is moving ahead at an exponential rate, especially in information technologies.

This means today’s best tools will help us build even better tools tomorrow, fueling this acceleration.

But our brains tend to anticipate the future linearly instead of exponentially. So, the coming years will bring more powerful technologies sooner than we imagine.

As the pace continues to accelerate, what surprising and powerful changes are in store? This post will explore three technological areas Kurzweil believes are poised to  change our world the most this century.

Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics

Of all the technologies riding the wave of exponential progress, Kurzweil identifies genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics as the three overlapping revolutions which will define our lives in the decades to come. In what ways are these technologies revolutionary?

  • The genetics revolution will allow us to reprogram our own biology.
  • The nanotechnology revolution will allow us to manipulate matter at the molecular and atomic scale.
  • The robotics revolution will allow us to create a greater than human non-biological intelligence.

While genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics will peak at different times over the course of decades, we’re experiencing all three of them in some capacity already. Each is powerful in its own right, but their convergence will be even more so. Kurzweil wrote about these ideas in The Singularity Is Near over a decade ago.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening in each of these domains today, and what we might expect in the future.


The Genetics Revolution: ‘The Intersection of Information and Biology’

“By understanding the information processes underlying life, we are starting to learn to reprogram our biology to achieve the virtual elimination of disease, dramatic expansion of human potential, and radical life extension.”
Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near

We’ve been “reprogramming” our environment for nearly as long as humans have walked the planet. Now we have accrued enough knowledge about how our bodies work that we can begin tackling disease and aging at their genetic and cellular roots.

Biotechnology Today

We’ve anticipated the power of genetic engineering for a long time. In 1975, the Asilomar Conference debated the ethics of genetic engineering, and since then, we’ve seen remarkable progress in both the lab and in practice—genetically modified crops, for example, are already widespread (though controversial). 

Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, enormous strides have been made in reading, writing and hacking our own DNA.

Now, we’re reprogramming the code of life from bacteria to beagles and soon, perhaps, in humans. The ‘how,’ ‘when,’ and ‘why’ of genetic engineering are still being debated, but the pace is quickening.

Major innovations in biotech over the last decade include:

Many challenges still need to be overcome before these new technologies are widely used on humans, but the possibilities are incredible. And we can only assume the speed of progress will continue to accelerate. The surprising result? Kurzweil proposes that most diseases will be curable and the aging process will be slowed or perhaps even reversed in the coming decades.

The Nanotechnology Revolution: ‘The Intersection of Information and the Physical World’

“Nanotechnology has given us the tools…to play with the ultimate toy box of nature atoms and molecules. Everything is made from it…The possibilities to create new things appear endless.”
– Nobelist Horst Störmer, The Singularity Is Near

Many people date the birth of conceptual nanotech to Richard Feynman’s 1959 speech, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” where Feynman described the “profound implications of engineering machines at the level of atoms.” But it was only when the scanning tunneling microscope was invented in 1981 that the nanotechnology industry began in earnest.

Kurzweil argues that no matter how successfully we fine tune our DNA-based biology, it will be no match for what we will be able to engineer by manipulating matter on the molecular and atomic level.

Nanotech, Kurzweil says, will allow us to redesign and rebuild “molecule by molecule, our bodies and brains and the world in which we live.”

Nanotechnology Today

While we can already see evidence of the ‘genetics revolution’ in the news and in our daily lives, for most people, nanotech might still seem like the stuff of science fiction. However, it’s likely you already use products on a daily basis that have benefitted from nanotech research. These include sunscreens, clothing, paints, cars, and more. And of course, the digital revolution has continued thanks to new methods allowing us to make chips with nanoscale features.

In addition to already having practical applications today, there is much research and testing being conducted into groundbreaking (if still experimental) nanotechnology like:

Though we continue to improve at manipulating matter on nanoscales, we’re still far from nanobots or nanoassemblers that would build and repair atom by atom.

That said, as Feynman pointed out, the principles of physics do not speak against such a future. And we need only look to our own biology to see an already working model in the intricate nano-machinery of life.


The Robotics Revolution: ‘Building  Strong Artificial Intelligence’

“It is hard to think of any problem that a superintelligence could not either solve or at least help us solve. Disease, poverty, environmental destruction, unnecessary suffering of all kinds: these are things that a superintelligence equipped with advanced nanotechnology would be capable of eliminating.”
Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near

The name of this revolution might be a little confusing. Kurzweil says robotics is embodied artificial intelligence—but it’s the intelligence itself that matters most. While acknowledging the risks, he argues the AI revolution is the most profound transformation human civilization will experience in all of history. 

This is because this revolution is characterized by being able to replicate human intelligence: the “most important and powerful attribute of human civilization.”

We’re already well into the era of “narrow AI,” which is a machine that has been programmed to do one or a few specific tasks, but that’s just a teaser of what’s to come.

Strong AI will be as versatile as a human when it comes to solving problems. And according to Kurzweil, even AI that can function at the level of human intelligence will already outperform humans because of several aspects unique to machines:

  • “Machines can pool resources in ways that humans cannot.”
  • “Machines have exacting memories.”
  • Machines “can consistently perform at peak levels and can combine peak skills.”

Artificial Intelligence Today

Most of us use some form of narrow AI on a regular basis — like Siri and Google Now, and increasingly, Watson. Other forms of narrow AI include programs like:

  • Speech and image recognition software
  • Pattern recognition software for autonomous weapons
  • Programs used to detect fraud in financial transactions
  • Google’s AI-based statistical learning methods used to rank links

The next step towards strong AI will be machines that learn on their own, without being programmed or fed information by humans. This is called ‘deep learning,’ a powerful new mode of machine learning, which is currently experiencing a surge in research and applications.

Why Is This Important?

Kurzweil calls genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics overlapping revolutions because we will continue to experience them simultaneously as each one of these technologies matures.

These and other technologies will likely converge with each other and impact our lives in ways difficult to predict, and Kurzweil warns each technology will have the power to do great good or harm—as is the case with all great technologies. The extent to which we’re able to harness their power to improve lives will depend on the conversations we have and the actions we take today.

“GNR will provide the means to overcome age-old problems such as illness and poverty, but it will also empower destructive ideologies,” Kurzweil writes. “We have no choice but to strengthen our defenses while we apply these quickening technologies to advance our human values, despite a lack of consensus on what those values should be.”

The more we anticipate and debate these three powerful technological revolutions, the better we can guide their development toward outcomes that do more good than harm.

Autism severity linked to genetics, ultrasound, data analysis finds.

For children with autism and a class of genetic disorders, exposure to diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester of pregnancy is linked to increased autism severity, according to a new study.

Ultrasound diagnosis

For children with autism and a class of genetic disorders, exposure to diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester of pregnancy is linked to increased autism severity, according to a study by researchers at UW Medicine, UW Bothell and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

The study published Sept. 1 in Autism Research studied the variability of symptoms among kids with autism, not what causes autism. What they found is that exposure to diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester is linked to increased autism symptom severity. The greatest link is among kids with certain genetic variations associated with autism; 7 percent of the children in the study had those variations.

FDA guidelines currently recommend that diagnostic ultrasound only be used for medical necessity.

“I believe the implications of our results are to bolster the FDA guidelines,” said corresponding author Pierre Mourad, a UW professor of neurological surgery in Seattle and of engineering & mathematics in Bothell who specializes in translational research on ultrasound and the brain.

Mourad said their results are about the first trimester of pregnancy. Data looking at the effect of ultrasound on the second and third trimester showed no link, he said.

The researchers used data from the Simons Simplex Collection autism genetic repository funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. The data was derived from 2,644 families among 12 research sites across the United States.

“There has been a real struggle in why there are so many kids with autism,” said lead author Sara Webb, UW Medicine researcher in psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “Where does this disorder develop from? How do kids get autism? And the second question is why are kids with autism so different from each other? This study really looks at the second question. Within kids with autism, what are some of the factors that may result in a child having a good outcome or higher IQ or better language or less severity versus a child who maybe takes more of a hit and continues to struggle throughout their lifespan?”

Webb said the research team approached their work based on a three-part model explaining variability in kids with autism. The first is a genetic vulnerability to the disorder. Second, is an outside stressor. And the third implies that the outside stressor has to impinge on a kid at a certain time.

Webb said a number of outside stressors have been proposed and investigated in autism. This study looked at only one of them — ultrasound.

As a mother of two, Webb said given what she knows now, she would not have ultrasound in the first trimester unless there is a medical necessity and that includes knowing how far along the pregnancy is.

“If we can figure out this information in any other way, I would go with that,” she said. “It’s always worth considering that when we do medical procedures, there are great benefits but also risk.”

Earlier study

In an earlier study, Mourad and co-authors Webb, Abbi McClintic (UW Medicine researcher in neurological surgery) and Bryan King, now a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, published a paper in Autism Research in 2014 that showed ultrasound exposure in-utero caused mice to exhibit autistic-like symptoms.

Mourad said he and King wanted to study the issue further. They brought together a team with a wide range of autism experience. King, formerly with UW Medicine, had conducted several clinical trials with children with autism. Webb works in developing biomarkers in kids with autism. Raphael Bernier, UW Medicine researcher in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, works with the Simon sample. Michelle Garrison, UW Medicine researcher with Seattle Children’s Research Institute specializes in statistics and epidemiology.

Mourad said he and his colleagues now intend to look more closely into links between ultrasound and autism severity, as well as the possibility — thus far not shown — that ultrasound exposure could contribute to autism incidence.

Psychologists argue mental illness is less about genetics and more about life experiences

Image: Psychologists argue mental illness is less about genetics and more about life experiences

It wasn’t long ago scientists believed that most mental illnesses, including autism, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), were a result of genetics, but that is beginning to change.

Psychologists are now warning that too much money is being spent on researching the genetic and biological factors of mental illness, instead of understanding what they say is the real cause: “social crises such as unemployment or childhood abuse,” according to the Telegraph.

If this theory is in fact true, that would mean the medical establishment (Big Pharma, hospitals, and doctors) is drugging people with harmful psychotropics simply because they’re going through a tough time – a situation or condition that could probably be resolved through safer and more effective treatments, like meditation, exercise, a strong support network, and talk therapy.

Examining the triggers of mental illness

The Telegraph writes that “while there has been some success in uncovering genes which make people more susceptible to various disorders, specialists say that the true causes of depression and anxiety are from life events and environment, and research should be directed towards understanding the everyday triggers.”

Yet, the Medical Research Council (MRC), a governmental agency that coordinates and funds medical research in the UK, has blown hundreds of millions of dollars investigating the biological causes of mental illness. The same is true for research done in the U.S..

A few years ago, the National Institute of Health funded a study that sifted through thousands of genetic markers searching for genetic commonalities among patients with the most common mental illnesses: autism, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and ADHD.

Researchers said they found genetic variations associated with the five most common disorders. But Peter Kinderman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool, says “genes are involved, but not very much.”

Kinderman told BBC Radio 4’s Today program:

“Of course every single action, every emotion I’ve ever had involves the brain, so to have a piece of scientific research telling us that the brain is involved in responding emotionally to events doesn’t really advance our understanding very much.

“And yet it detracts from the fact that when unemployment rates go up in a particular locality you get a measurable number of suicides.

“It detracts from the idea that trauma in childhood is a very very powerful predictor of serious problems like experiencing psychotic events in adult life, so of course the brain is involved and of course genes are involved, but not very much, and an excessive focus on those issues takes us away from these very important social factors.”

Why won’t the medical establishment fund mental illness studies outside of genetic factors?

Though this opinion is becoming increasingly more accepted, the medical establishment appears reluctant to divert funding away from studies on genetics and towards learning to understand the triggers of mental illness.

“It’s a tragedy actually. The UK Medical Research Council is one of the biggest funders of medical research in the UK but if you look at the things that they fund, by far the majority are things like brain scanners or gene sequencing machines, almost none of it is going towards understanding psychological mechanisms or social circumstances by which these problems develop,” said Professor Richard Bentall, of Liverpool University. “It is impossible to get funding to look at these kind of things.”

So why is the medical establishment dead set on only researching the genetic causes of mental illness?

Well, if it is accepted that the majority of mental illness is a result of stressful situations and events… that would imply the condition is much more recoverable as opposed to someone who is purportedly biologically wired with it.

In other words, drug companies couldn’t push pills as easily on individuals suffering temporarily, say from lost job or a divorce. But if a person is born with mental illness, that’s essentially justification for a life on psychotropic drugs.

The last line of the Telegraph’s report basically proves our theory: “So if by doing studies like this we can strongly implicate one area of biology it gives a new lead for drug companies to try to develop new therapies.”

Eating Green Could Be in Your Genes

Could there be a vegetarian gene?

global frequency pattern of an allele adaptive to vegetarian diets

Cornell University researchers describe a genetic variation that has evolved in populations that have historically favored vegetarian diets, such as in India, Africa, and parts of East Asia.

A different version of this gene (called an allele) adapted to a marine diet was discovered among the Inuit in Greenland, who mainly consume seafood.

The vegetarian allele evolved in populations that have eaten a plant-based diet over hundreds of generations. The adaptation allows these people to efficiently process omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and convert them into compounds essential for early brain development and controlling inflammation. In populations that live on plant-based diets, this genetic variation provided an advantage and was positively selected in those groups.

In Inuit populations of Greenland, the researchers uncovered that a previously identified adaptation is opposite to the one found in long-standing vegetarian populations: While the vegetarian allele has an insertion of 22 bases (a base is a building block of DNA) within the gene, this insertion was found to be deleted in the seafood allele.

“The opposite allele is likely driving adaptation in Inuit,” said Kaixiong Ye, co-lead author of the paper appearing Mar. 29 in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Ye is a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Alon Keinan, associate professor of biological statistics and computational biology, and the paper’s co-senior author.

“Our study is the first to connect an insertion allele with vegetarian diets, and the deletion allele with a marine diet,” Ye said.

“It is the most interesting example of local adaptation that I have been fortunate to help study,” said Keinan. “Several studies have pointed to adaptation in this region of the genome. Our analyses combine to show that the adaptation is driven by an insertion of a small piece of DNA that we know its function. Moreover, when it reached the Greenlandic Inuit, with their marine-based diet rich in omega-3, it might have become detrimental.”

FADS1 and FADS2 are enzymes that are essential for converting omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids into downstream products needed for brain development and controlling inflammation. Meat and seafood eaters have less need for increased FADS1 and FADS2 enzymes to get proper nutrition because their omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid conversion process is simpler and requires fewer steps.

This study is based on previous work by co-senior author Tom Brenna, professor of human nutrition and of chemistry, who showed the insertion can regulate the expression of FADS1 and FADS2 and hypothesized it could be an adaptation in vegetarian populations.

Ye, Keinan and colleagues analyzed frequencies of the vegetarian allele in 234 primarily vegetarian Indians and 311 U.S. individuals and found the vegetarian allele in 68 percent of the Indians and in just 18 percent of Americans. Analysis using data from the 1,000 Genomes Project similarly found the vegetarian allele in 70 percent of South Asians, 53 percent of Africans, 29 percent of East Asians and 17 percent of Europeans.

“Northern Europeans have a long history of drinking milk and they absorbed enough end products from milk for long-chain fatty acid metabolism so they don’t have to increase capacity to synthesize those fatty acids from precursors,” said Ye.

“One implication from our study is that we can use this genomic information to try to tailor our diet so it is matched to our genome, which is called personalized nutrition,” he added.

The researchers are not sure yet when the adaptation first occurred, as analyses of chimpanzee or orangutan genomes did not uncover the vegetarian allele. But there is evidence for the allele in early hominid Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes.

“It is possible that in the history of human evolution, when people migrated to different environments, sometimes they ate a plant-based diet and sometimes they ate a marine-based diet, and in different time periods these different alleles were adaptive,” meaning the alleles have a tendency to evolve under dietary pressures, Ye said.

A Rare Disease That’s More Common Than You Think .

When people think of blood clotting disorders, Factor V (“Five”) Leiden isn’t the first one that comes to mind. But it could be more common than you think.

As many as 3-8 percent of all people who have European roots carry the gene mutation, and it is the most common inherited blood clotting disorder, also known as thrombophilia. It is rare in African-Americans and Asians.

With Factor V Leiden thrombophilia, your blood has a tendency to form abnormal blood clots that can block your blood vessels. Though Factor V Leiden doesn’t automatically cause blood clots, it does increase any existing risk factors you already have. There are many risk factors but the more common ones include cancer, prolonged immobilization, following surgery, pregnancy, hormone therapy, injury or trauma. Anyone who has increased risk factors should talk with their doctor about how to improve their odds to keep healthy blood flowing smoothly.

Select few experience blood clot symptoms

Your blood has substances in it that help you stop bleeding when you cut yourself or you get injured. These substances are not supposed to clump up in the arteries or the veins under normal circumstances, though. The faulty gene in Factor V Leiden increases the likelihood that clots can form in blood vessels where they are not wanted.

Blood clots that form in blood vessels can be dangerous when they block blood flow to the legs (deep venous thrombosis) or break off and travel to the lungs where they can cause a pulmonary embolism, a medical emergency.

Not all people who have Factor V Leiden develop blood clots. In fact, only 10 percent of all those with the disorder ever experience any blood clotting problems.

blood clot

Reducing your risk

John R. Bartholomew, MD, Section Head of Vascular Medicine and Director of the Thrombosis Center at Cleveland Clinic, says that patients should keep news about the mysterious-sounding disorder in perspective. “Factor V Leiden is a relatively uncommon condition even among the population group most often affected by it,” he said.

Though you are unlikely to have the pair of genes that cause Factor V Leiden, it’s always a good idea to assess your risk factor for cardiovascular problems.

Some things that increase your risk for blood clots are beyond your control, such as recovering from surgery, having certain diseases or being injured, but other risk factors are within your control.

Dr. Bartholomew says, “Everyone should act to eliminate any risk factors that are under their control, namely quitting smoking, losing weight, and being physically active. This is especially important for patients who have thrombophilia. They should also notify all of their doctors if they have this condition.”

Factor V Leiden provides a good reminder to people to pay attention to the risk of blood clots, and how important it is to help avoid them by changing some bad habits, exchanging them for healthy ones instead.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

A recently published study funded by The Michael J. Fox Foundation and using MJFF research tools showed two avenues through which inhibiting the function of the protein LRRK2 may help treat Parkinson’s. The paper from the laboratory led by Andrew West, PhD, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are the greatest known genetic cause of PD, accounting for one to two percent of all cases of PD and more in certain ethnic populations. Mutations appear to heighten activity of the LRRK2 protein. Therefore, development of LRRK2 inhibitors is a priority of the Foundation.

“LRRK2 is one of our most promising areas of research toward a therapy to stop or slow the progression of Parkinson’s, and MJFF has established a roadmap to learn more about this target and build the infrastructure to accelerate discovery and drug development,” said Marco Baptista, PhD, MJFF associate director of research programs.

Part of the Foundation’s LRRK2 roadmap is the creation of research tools such as pre-clinical models and antibodies important to hasten the development of future therapeutics. The LRRK2 knockout pre-clinical model is bred without the LRRK2 gene, which can mimic the effects of a LRRK2 inhibitor drug.

Dr. West and his team studied both the LRRK2 knockout model and a wild-type model (typical form) when they introduced an excess of the protein alpha-synuclein. Parkinson’s is marked by clumps of alpha-synuclein in brain cells, which leads to cell death. The scientists compared the effects of too much alpha-synuclein in a LRRK2 knockout and a control model.

They found cell loss from the excess alpha-synuclein in the wild-type model but not in the LRRK2 knockout, meaning inhibiting LRRK2 could protect from neurodegeneration.

Using new antibodies developed by MJFF, Dr. West also found that LRRK2 was highly expressed in cells that responded to injury, leading to another hypothesis that inhibiting LRRK2 may help alleviate a specific type of inflammation. To test this hypothesis, they also introduced an inflammatory agent into both models and found, again, that the wild-type model experienced cell loss while the LRRK2 knockout did not.

Often tests of LRRK2 inhibitors use models with LRRK2 gene mutations. Since this study compared only knockout and wild-type models, its findings suggest LRRK2 inhibition may also benefit people who have PD but no LRRK2 mutations (the majority of PD patients).

“This broadens the window of those who might be helped by this therapeutic approach beyond only those with a LRRK2 mutation,” said Dr. West. “Seeing protection in this study gave us the green light to attempt and copy the symptomatic results pharmacologically, to help find a drug that we can bring to clinical trial.”

He is working on testing LRRK2 inhibitors, through separate projects with the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance and with Pfizer. MJFF is funding the collaborative project with Pfizer.


Spanish flu-like virus could emerge from birds.

Bird flu viruses are just a few genetic steps away from the flu virus that caused the deadly 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, a new study shows.

An international team of virologists identified the key genetic components — similar to those in the virus behind the 1918 pandemic — in influenza viruses in wild ducks.

The findings, published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe , suggest that 1918-like pandemic viruses may emerge in the future.

“Because avian influenza viruses in nature require only a few changes to adapt to humans and cause a pandemic, it is important to understand the mechanisms involved in adaptations … so we can be better prepared,” says study lead author Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Spanish flu killed up to 50 million people across the world in 1918.

Previous genetic analysis indicates the deadly virus was a type of influenza A of avian origin, although this finding is controversial.

Wild birds harbour a large gene pool of influenza A viruses that could cause pandemics, but the likelihood of birds harbouring a virus similar to the 1918 pandemic virus has been unclear.

To assess the risk, the scientists used reverse genetic methods to recreate a virus that differed from that of the Spanish flu by only 3 per cent of the amino acids that make the virus proteins.

In the animals it was tested on, the new virus was less pathogenic than the Spanish flu — but more so than avian flu.

However, the scientists then discovered seven mutations in three virus genes that allowed it to spread as easily as the Spanish flu in ferrets, an animal commonly used in influenza transmission studies.

Consisting of genetic factors already present in wild bird populations, the virus showed that genetic ingredients capable of combining to create a dangerous pathogen that could produce a human pandemic exist in nature.

Surveillance strategies

Kawaoka says the discovery could help scientists develop more effective strategies to combat the emergence of such a disease.

“Research findings like this help us assess the risk of outbreaks and could contribute to routine surveillance of influenza viruses,” he says.

The research also shines light on the bird flu virus’s adaptive mechanisms for spreading to mammals.

A mutation of a protein on the surface of the virus, for example, allows it to cling to an organism’s cells and could increase the virus’s ability to infect human respiratory tracts.

The researchers also discovered that the virus they created reacted to the current vaccine against seasonal flu — which is effective against H1N1 flu responsible for a 2009 pandemic — indicating that the current vaccine could offer protection against a pandemic.

The scientists also noted that the virus was sensitive to oseltamivir, an antiviral medication to prevent and slow the flu.


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