Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Scientists find plant genes that may finally get rid of ‘spinach teeth’

Spinach fans may love the healthy benefits of eating this superfood, but they’re also familiar with the annoying, gritty, and chalky mouthfeel it leaves them with afterwards. Now, scientists may finally be able to remove the plant genes which give many people “spinach teeth.”

A team from the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) and six Chinese universities say they found the genes in spinach that regulate how much oxalate the leafy green contains. This compound, which is also abundant in beans, has its pros and cons. While it causes people to have “spinach teeth,” it also plays a key role in fighting off downy mildew — a major disease in crops.

Finding out what controls levels of oxalate in crops may allow scientists to engineer more appealing brands of spinach which don’t give eaters that chalky mouthfeel.

“I think more consumers would be willing to buy spinach that has less oxalate,” says BTI faculty member and study co-leader Zhangjun Fei in a media release. “Dietary oxalate can interfere with mineral absorption and may lead to kidney stones, and less oxalate would also make spinach more palatable to a wider market.”

Study authors add that the discovery may also help farmers produce even more disease-resistant varieties of spinach. In this study, they compared the genomes of both cultivated (Spinacia oleracea) and wild varieties (S. turkestanica and S. tetranda) to find the genetic traits which would be most important to both farmers and consumers.

“Our results provide rich resources for the spinach community, especially those working on increasing downy mildew resistance, improving leaf texture and reducing oxalate content,” adds co-corresponding author Chen Jiao, a professor in the College of Agriculture and Biotechnology at Zhejiang University.
Changes in spinach come mostly from moving around the world

Researchers sequenced the genomes of 295 cultivated varieties of S. oleracea and 10 groups of the two wild varieties during this study. In both comparative genomic analyses and genome-wide association studies (GWAS), the team found that most of spinach’s genetic differences come from the plant’s adaptation to new environments — as humans brought the crop with them from Asia to Europe.

A few of the variations also reflect the local preferences of the people producing the leafy green, including flat or wrinkled leaves.

“I think our most interesting finding is that the genetic diversity between Asian and European spinach is higher than it is between cultivated and wild spinaches, which is not very common in other crops,” Jiao says. “This increases our knowledge of how human selection diversifies crop plants.”

The study also confirmed the role of the NBR-LRR family of genes in spinach, which fight off downy mildew. Moreover, scientists identified areas along spinach’s genome which play smaller-but-still-important roles in plant disease resistance. These areas include a “promoter region” in the gene WSD6, which encodes the enzyme that reinforces the waxy physical barrier spinach leaves use to keep pathogens away.

“Like most plants, disease resistance in spinach is controlled by a network of genetic regions,” Fei explains. “If you can ‘stack’ disease-resistant gene variants into one variety then you will get better resistance than with just one gene variant.”
Balancing mouthfeel with disease prevention will be tricky

When it comes to better mouthfeel, researchers say they found two genes which encode metal and metal ion transporters. They believe this process is what regulates how much oxalate spinach has. When you lower that amount, the chalky aftertaste goes away.

Although the study findings reveal the blueprint for making spinach tastier, the team cautions that this will be a difficult balancing act for geneticists. Since oxalates are also vital to disease resistance, taking them away makes spinach more vulnerable to pests and pathogens. Fei says scientists will have to find other genes in the crop which promote the plant’s disease-fighting properties and modify them too.

“Plants usually depend on networks of genetic factors to defend themselves; removing one means findings the right balance among the others,” Fei concludes.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Drought-hit western US walloped by powerful winter storm

A powerful winter storm battered the western United States Monday, dumping much-needed snow on the drought-parched mountains of California, but causing travel misery over a wide area.

Three feet (one meter) of snow had fallen in 24 hours on parts of the Sierra Nevada range, taking December's total to a record-breaking 16 feet, and bolstering the badly depleted snowpack that feeds the region's reservoirs.

"We were definitely not expecting a wet winter," said Dr. Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the Central Sierra Nevada Snow Laboratory at UC Berkeley, California.

"It just so happens that we ended up with a lot more snow this year than we expected, which is a pleasant surprise, of course," Schwartz told AFP.

The US west has suffered years of pitiful rainfall, leaving vast swaths of the countryside parched and vulnerable to wildfire.

It is too soon to declare the drought over, said Schwartz, but "it looks like the western United States is getting some help."

The immediate impact of the storm was less positive, with tens of thousands of people experiencing electricity outages and roads blocked.

Pacific Gas and Electric reported power lines had been felled by the fierce weather, with more still to come.

"Winter storm system forecasted to bring more snow, rain & wind—electric and vegetation crews have restored service to nearly 50k customers since Christmas morning and are prepared to respond to potential outages ahead," the utility said on social media.

In Seattle, in northern Washington state, heavy snow was causing delays and cancellations for travelers, with airport operators having to remove ice from planes, as the city suffered under plunging temperatures.

"After a year of unprecedented challenges, Seattle is facing a long duration of dangerously cold temperatures & snow," tweeted Mayor Jenny Durkan.

"We've declared an emergency to allow Seattle to marshal full resources required to protect residents, provide warm spaces & support our frontline workers."

Much of Oregon was also under a winter storm warning, with a further blanketing of snow expected overnight Monday.

"Snow returns tonight!" tweeted the weather service in Portland, Oregon's biggest city.

"The heaviest snowfall is expected late tonight into early Tuesday morning with 1 to 3 inches for the valley and coast."

While the US west was laboring under heavy winter weather, Texas was sweltering in an unseasonably warm spell, with the Christmas Day mercury topping out at a toasty 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius) in Rio Grande Village.

Scientists say human-caused global warming is playing havoc with the climate, making storms more intense and unpredictable, and generating high temperatures in unexpected places.


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Stress is contagious in relationships – here’s what you can do to support your partner and boost your own health during the holidays and beyond

In published an article in which caliming that:- With the flurry of shopping, spending money and traveling to see family, stress can feel inevitable during the holidays.

You might already know stress can affect your own health, but what you may not realize is that your stress – and how you manage it – is catching. Your stress can spread around, particularly to your loved ones.

As a social-health psychologist, I have developed a model on how partners and their stress influence each other’s psychological and biological health. Through that and my other research, I’ve learned that the quality of intimate relationships is crucial to people’s health.

Here’s just a sample: Relationship stress can alter the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems. A study of newlyweds found levels of stress hormones were higher when couples were hostile during a conflict – that is, when they were critical, sarcastic, spoke with an unpleasant tone and used aggravating facial expressions, like eyerolls.

Likewise, in another study, people in hostile relationships had slower wound healing, higher inflammation, higher blood pressure and greater heart rate changes during conflict. Middle-aged and older men had higher blood pressure at times when their wives reported greater stress. And partners who felt they weren’t being cared-for or understood had poorer well-being and higher mortality rates 10 years later when compared with those who felt more cared-for and appreciated by their partners.
Conflict and cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone that plays a key role in the body’s stress response. Cortisol has a diurnal rhythm, so its levels are usually highest soon after waking and then gradually decline during the day. But chronic stress can lead to unhealthy cortisol patterns, such as low cortisol levels upon waking or cortisol not tapering off much by the end of the day. These patterns are associated with an increase in disease development and mortality risks.

My colleagues and I found that conflict altered cortisol levels of couples on the day they had a dispute; people with stressed partners who used negative behaviors during the conflict had higher cortisol levels even four hours after the conflict ended.

These findings suggest that arguing with a partner who is already stressed could have lasting biological health effects for ourselves.
Managing stress

Here are three ways you can reduce the stress in your relationship, during and after the holidays.

First, talk to and validate each other. Tell your partner you understand their feelings. Talk about big and little things before they escalate. Sometimes partners hide problems to protect each other, but this can actually make things worse. Share your feelings, and when your partner shares in return, don’t interrupt. Remember, feeling cared-for and understood by a partner is good for your emotional well-being and promotes healthier cortisol patterns, so being there for each other and listening to each other can have good health effects for both you and your partner.

Next, show your love. Hug each other, hold hands and be kind. This too lowers cortisol and can make you feel happier. One study found that a satisfying relationship can even help improve vaccination response.

Then remind yourself that you’re part of a team. Brainstorm solutions, be each other’s cheerleaders and celebrate the wins together. Couples who unite to tackle stress are healthier and more satisfied with their relationships. Some examples: Make dinner or run errands when your partner is stressed; relax and reminisce together; or try a new restaurant, dance or exercise class together.

That said, it’s also true that sometimes these steps aren’t enough. Many couples will still need help managing stress and overcoming difficulties. Couples therapy helps partners learn to communicate and resolve conflicts effectively. It’s critical to be proactive and seek help from someone who is trained to deal with ongoing relationship difficulties.

So this holiday season, tell your partner that you’re there for them, preferably while you’re hugging. Take each other’s stress seriously, and no more eyerolls. It’s not so much the stress itself; it’s the way that both of you manage the stress together. Working as an open and honest team is the key ingredient to a healthy and happy relationship, during holiday season and into the new year.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Stress is a killer, says important new medical study


In published an article in which claiming that: Researchers tracked almost 120,000 patients from 21 countries over ten years and found that those with excessive levels of stress had somewhere between 22 and 30 per cent greater risk of a cardiovascular event.

While this may not seem like anything surprising, or even new, this is one of the few studies to engage participants before a heart attack or stroke, whereas many previously relied on reported stress levels in those who had already had a major cardiovascular event.

Perhaps what we can now say is that stress can and should be viewed as a modifiable risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. As with all conditions, there are risk factors which are fixed, typically gender, age and family history, as well as those which are modifiable, such as weight, exercise, tobacco and alcohol consumption.

There is no one simple answer as to why stress is linked with a greater chance of heart attack and stroke. From a physiological standpoint, chronically elevated levels of cortisol are linked with impaired blood sugar regulation and the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, disruption of the sleep wake cycle, and increased hardening of the arteries.

Yet the psychological aspects of prolonged stress must not be underestimated. Poor mental health alters perception significantly such that those suffering do less to look after themselves.

You may feel this is a less appealing article for the season of good will, but the period of Christmas is traditionally associated with worsening levels of anxiety and stress as well as a large increase in the numbers of heart attacks and strokes.

Post Pandemic Stress Disorder should also be considered at the present time.

Steps toward a reduction in cardiovascular events and an improvement in both physical and mental health are still within our reach. By being less of a perfectionist, living in the moment, accepting that the past is the past, yet not worrying unnecessarily about the future, we may unburden ourselves of many of our stressors.

Enhanced copper surface kills bacteria in minutes


In published an article in which claiming that:- As explained by CSIRO’s Dr Daniel Liang, researchers across the world are looking to develop new medical materials and devices that can help reduce the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs by reducing the need for antibiotics.

“Drug-resistant infections are on the rise and, with limited new antibiotics coming onto the market, the development of materials resistant to bacteria will likely play an important role in helping address the problem,” Dr Liang said.

An example of a potent microbial is nanosilver, which is currently used in medical devices such as internal catheters and wound dressings to fight or prevent infections, and has also been incorporated into consumer products from soap and toothpaste to washing machines and fridges. Unfortunately, researchers at the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) ithree institute recently discovered that pathogens that form biofilms can evolve to survive nanosilver treatment. Following prolonged treatment, nanosilver killed 99.99% of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa with 0.01% of cells surviving for longer — and this minute fraction of ‘persisters’ resumed normal growth upon discontinuation of the treatment.

Copper is another material that has long been used to fight different strains of bacteria, including the commonly found golden staph, because the ions released from the metal’s surface are toxic to bacterial cells. But this process is slow when standard copper is used, said RMIT Distinguished Professor Ma Qian, and significant efforts are underway to speed it up.

“A standard copper surface will kill about 97% of golden staph within four hours,” Prof Qian said.

“Incredibly, when we placed golden staph bacteria on our specially designed copper surface, it destroyed more than 99.99% of the cells in just two minutes.

“So not only is it more effective, it’s 120 times faster.”

Importantly, these results were achieved without the assistance of any drug — rather, it is the copper’s unique porous structure that is key to its effectiveness as a rapid bacteria killer.

A special copper mould casting process was used to make the alloy, arranging copper and manganese atoms into specific formations. The manganese atoms were then removed from the alloy using a cheap and scalable chemical process called ‘de-alloying’, leaving pure copper full of tiny microscale and nanoscale cavities in its surface.

“Our copper is composed of comb-like microscale cavities and within each tooth of that comb structure are much smaller nanoscale cavities; it has a massive active surface area,” said former CSIRO researcher Dr Jackson Leigh Smith, lead author on the new study.

“The pattern also makes the surface super hydrophilic, or water-loving, so that water lies on it as a flat film rather than as droplets.

“The hydrophilic effect means bacterial cells struggle to hold their form as they are stretched by the surface nanostructure, while the porous pattern allows copper ions to release faster.

“These combined effects not only cause structural degradation of bacterial cells, making them more vulnerable to the poisonous copper ions, but also facilitates uptake of copper ions into the bacterial cells.

“It’s that combination of effects that results in greatly accelerated elimination of bacteria.”

The team believes there could be a huge range of applications for the new material once further developed, including antimicrobial doorhandles and other touch surfaces in schools, hospitals, homes and public transport, as well as filters in antimicrobial respirators or air ventilation systems, and in face masks.

With patents currently pending in the US, China and Australia, the team is now looking to investigate their enhanced copper’s effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2, including assessing 3D-printed samples. Other studies have suggested that copper may be highly effective against the virus, leading the US Environmental Protection Agency to officially approve copper surfaces for antiviral uses earlier this year.

“This new copper product offers a promising and affordable option to fighting superbugs, and is just one example of CSIRO’s work in helping to address the growing risk of antibiotic resistance,” Dr Liang concluded.

By Lauren Davis
Monday, 20 December, 2021
Researchers from RMIT University and CSIRO have developed a new copper product that kills bacteria more than 100 times faster and more effectively than standard copper, and could therefore help combat the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Their findings have been published in the journal Biomaterials.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Post-breakup conflict between parents harms children

Post-breakup conflict between parents harms children - It can be messy when relationships end, particularly when children are involved. Many parents are able to protect their children from conflicts when they arise. Unfortunately, there are other parents who are unable to put their differences aside—and they use their children against the other parent. When children are dragged into the fight, they often suffer serious consequences such as found with other forms of child abuse, like anxiety and depression. It may seem unsurprising that being used as a weapon in their parents’ conflicts has multiple negative consequences for children. However, parents caught up in their fight with their ex seem to fail to recognize this. In my research, we examine the toxic nature of this family dynamic for all involved.

There are two primary ways children respond to this conflict. Some children feel “stuck in the middle” of their parents’ conflict, which triggers what we call a “loyalty conflict.” Children in loyalty conflicts want to love both parents, but they are pressured to pick a side. In these cases, the parents have similar amounts of power and the child often distances from both parents to avoid their conflict.

In contrast, there are other children who experience “parental alienation.” This is when the child picks a side: they align with one parent and reject their other parent for reasons that are objectively not legitimate. In this case, the child has usually been influenced by their preferred parent to adopt a story in which the preferred parent is an innocent victim and the other parent is a villain who never loved them, abandoned them, and is unsafe to be around. A growing number of scholars have considered the behaviors that cause parental alienation a form of child abuse.
Recognizing Parental Alienation as Abuse

My research shows that parental alienation may not be just child abuse, but rather an extension of “coercively controlling” intimate partner abuse whereby one partner seeks to dominate and control the other. This view runs contrary to the views of legal and mental health professionals who have called these types of cases “high conflict families,” which insinuates that both parents are to blame for their ongoing disputes. My research has shown that this “high conflict” label is too general to apply to all families because not all conflict is the same. Further, assuming there is “wrong on both sides” can, in fact, be blaming a parent who is the target of abusive behaviors.

In my most recent study, we analyzed the stories shared with us in interviews with 79 parents who had been alienated from their children. Consistent with current understanding of coercively controlling abuse, the majority of situations described by alienated parents were ones where they had almost no power. In most instances, the alienating parent controlled their outcomes, provoked public arguments, limited access to their children, and manipulated the children to align against the alienated parent. Provoking public arguments was a particularly effective way of setting up a lose-lose situation for the alienated parent. If they walk away? Then they are accused of not engaging in a dialogue. If they dive into the conflict? Now they are being combative. It is a no win situation.

Also common in these stories were descriptions of many incidents of victimization both before and after leaving the relationship. This finding suggests that the intentional alienation of their child from the alienated parent was just another way for the alienating parent to continue to victimize their ex. While this research relied on the perceptions of alienated parents, some of whom may have been motivated to cast themselves as a victim, it is unlikely that all would independently portray themselves in this way. Indeed, many of the alienated parents rejected the label of “innocent victim” and even blamed themselves for situations where they had little to no power or control.

What became clear in these discussions was that many parents, regardless of gender, still engage in coercively controlling abuse post-breakup and will use their children to do so. We need wider recognition that the behaviors used by alienating parents to turn their children against their other parent are the same as those used by coercively controlling abusers. When we recognize that not all “high conflict families” are the same, and look closer at the power dynamics at work, we can find more effective strategies to intervene and protect children from rejecting a loving parent. Telling everyone to “just get along” just isn’t cutting it. We need to do better.

For Further Reading

Harman, J. J., Leder-Elder, S., & Biringen, Z. (2019). Prevalence of adults who are the targets of parental alienating behaviors and their impact: Results from three national polls. Child & Youth Services Review, 106, 1-13.

Harman, J. J., Matthewson, M. L., & Baker, A. J. L. (2022). Losses experienced by children alienated from a parent. Current Opinion in Psychology.

Harman, J. J., Kruk, E., & Hines, D. (2018). Parental alienating behaviors: An unacknowledged form of family violence. Psychological Bulletin, 14 (12)1275-1299.

Jennifer J. Harman is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Colorado State University whose primary area of research is on the study of parental alienation and other forms of family violence.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

What’s behind the belly button?

The umbilical cord is cut, and the belly button left behind. But what happens inside?

Our belly button is a reminder for life that once we were attached to and dependent on our mother, floating like a little astronaut in our liquid universe. The cord, and in particular the remaining belly button, has always been fascinating to humans, and we still embark on some interesting traditions to celebrate and aid the physical separation of the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is probably the baby’s first toy, as they are sometimes caught on ultrasound playing around with it.

Cutting the cord at birth is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world today, and at some point almost every human on earth has undergone this.

Recent scientific evidence has made us rethink how soon this should occur after birth, with evidence the baby can receive as much as another 80-100 millilitres (almost a third of its total blood volume) if we just delay clamping and cutting the cord for three or more minutes after the birth. Not only do babies get more blood this way, but this extra blood volume has a positive impact on child development.

The umbilical cord forms very early on in pregnancy and basically gets longer due to the increasing baby movements until it reaches around 50-70 centimetres. Babies who move a lot tend to have longer cords.

The umbilical cord is made up of one large vein and two smaller arteries. The vein carries the oxygen-filled blood from the mother to the baby. The arteries carry the oxygen-depleted blood and waste products from the baby back to the mother. The cord inserts into the placenta, so it’s not directly connected to the mother’s circulation.

The placenta acts like a very sophisticated filtering system. In order to protect the blood vessels from compression while the baby moves about, or when it is being born, the cord is filled with a jellylike substance called Wharton’s jelly. Think of it as nature’s airbags. This is why most of the time when the cord is around a baby’s neck at birth (a common event) it’s not a problem.

At some point after the birth, the cord ceases its important function of taking blood back and forth between the mother and baby. Once cut and clamped, it withers away into a firm black stump over the first week of life before falling off and leaving that much-adored belly button.

You may have discussed with friends whether you have an “inny” or an “outty”, and during pregnancy women often marvel at the exposure and flattening of their own belly button as their uterus expands with the growing baby. People joke about belly button fluff and some decorate this part of their body with piercings and jewels. But is more going on beneath this shrivelled reminder of our beginning on this earth?

After the baby is born and takes that first breath, blood is shunted to the lungs, which have been reasonably quiet up to that point as they have been filled with fluid. An amazing switch happens in the circulation with the two arteries constricting to stop the flow of blood to the placenta and then the vein slowly collapsing.

Internally, the veins and arteries in the cord close up and form ligaments, which are tough connective tissues. These ligaments divide up the liver into sections and remain attached to the inside of the belly button.

The part of the umbilical arteries closest to the belly button degenerates into ligaments that serve no real purpose, but the more internal part becomes part of the circulatory system and is found in the pelvis supplying blood to parts of the bladder, ureters and ductus deferens (a tube sperm moves through in males).

Rarely, a canal remains that connects the bladder to the belly button. This leads to urine leaking out of the belly button and this is an abnormality that would need to be surgically repaired following birth.

Ever noticed that when you stick a finger in your belly button you can feel tingling around your bladder and pelvic area? Now you know why. What was once a highway of blood from mother to baby turns into ligaments and some continued connection to blood supply deep inside your body.

So next time someone tells you not to navel-gaze you will have a smart comeback about just how amazing the navel really is.

Hannah Dahlen, Professor of Midwifery, Western Sydney University

This article was originally published on The Conversation and is republished here with permission. Read the original article.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Vaping or smoking behaviour - Study: Vaping Is Far Less Risky Than Smoking

Vapers experience DNA changes, according to a recent paper published in Nature, and the changes are similar to those seen in smokers – although much less pronounced.

Crucially, this evidence was based on a few people by examining changes in their DNA at the time of the analysis, similar to creating a snapshot image, without considering any potential future change in vaping or smoking behaviour. The study does not provide real-world evidence of vaping-associated ill health in humans

Positively, the study attempts to separate the effects of vaping itself from the effects of damage caused by tobacco smoking. This is difficult because most vapers use e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking and so are likely to be ex-smokers.

An important outcome of this analysis, somewhat buried in the paper, is that the damaged genes in smokers was  about 7.4 times higher than in vapers. So what this study finds is what we know already: vaping is not completely risk free but is much less risky than smoking tobacco.

Transcriptomics (the study of “gene readouts” in a cell), which this study used, is a promising field that explores the molecular mechanisms and potential processes leading to the future development of cancer. However, it cannot currently be used to accurately predict future cancer risk.

The study recruited a relatively small number of people who were not representative of the population. And it did not consider other lifestyle habits that may affect the measurements, such as alcohol use.

Studies are already emerging showing that switching from smoking to e-cigarettes can have health benefits, such as improvement in respiratory symptoms and lung function in asthma patients, or improvements in measurements that predict the future development of disease, such as blood vessel function for cardiovascular disease.

Other studies show that exposure to toxins is far lower in vapers who used to smoke compared with current smokers. It is important to look at all the evidence, which supports the harm reduction role of e-cigarettes as a smoking substitute.

Sadly, studies that do not examine direct clinical effects are easily interpreted and reported as evidence of health damage. A Daily Mail headline states: “Vaping damages DNA and raises the risk of cancer the same way as cigarettes”. Although the second part of the headline offers balance: “but it’s not as bad as traditional smoking”, the damage to public perceptions may already be done.
Nothing is risk free

No one is claiming that e-cigarettes are completely risk free. Inhaling anything into the lung may result in changes to DNA that could increase risks for future disease. Inhaling fumes from diesel cars, for example, has been shown to cause DNA changes. For the public good, the focus should be on reducing harm, since preventing all harm is impossible.

Many people are physically dependent on nicotine. People may come to first use nicotine through smoking tobacco, or, less commonly, may start using nicotine by vaping. Once dependent, it is very hard to quit. If you try to stop, you will suffer from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and experience cravings.

Some people, particularly with support, can overcome nicotine dependence. Others find it more difficult or don’t want to stop using nicotine. For these people, public health doctors must encourage smokers to use nicotine in ways that reduce harm, through vaping or by using nicotine replacement products.

The costs to people’s health of using nicotine by continuing to smoke are huge. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco kills more than 8 million people a year.

It is irresponsible to report sensationalist headlines to the public based on complex studies that in reality do not show any real-world harm. Particularly compared to the immense harms to health of tobacco smoking.

Caitlin Notley, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, University of East Anglia and Konstantinos Farsalinos, Research Associate, University of West Attica, Greece, University of West Attica

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cancer risk in obesity - Glucose control is a key factor for reduced cancer risk in obesity and type 2 diabetes

Good glucose control is important for reduction of cancer risk in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Large durable weight loss, as such, appears to afford protection against cancer, but with good glucose control the number of cancer cases also drops radically, a University of Gothenburg study shows.

That obesity is a risk factor for both type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer is a known fact. Similarly, intentional weight loss through, for example, bariatric surgery often results in amelioration of diabetes and many patients achieve normal blood-glucose control.

I patients with obesity, cancer risk, too, can be reduced after major, long-lasting weight loss. However, there have been relatively few studies on the association between weight loss, risk of cancer and glucose control in patients with both obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The present study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, used data from the “SOS” (Swedish Obese Subjects) intervention trial, which is led and coordinated from the University of Gothenburg, as well as data from other sources, such as the Swedish Cancer Registry.

Cancer risk 60 percent lower

The researchers studied a group of 393 people with type 2 diabetes who underwent bariatric surgery, and compared them with a control group of 308 people with the same clinical characteristics; i.e., they had severe obesity and type 2 diabetes, but had not undergone bariatric surgery. In other respects, such as in terms of gender composition, blood glucose, and smoking, the two groups were comparable.

In the surgery group, 68 individuals (approximately 17 percent) developed cancer in parallel with a significant weight loss. The corresponding emerging cancer cases in the control group amounted to 74 (24 percent), while these individuals retained their condition of severe obesity. The median follow-up period was 21 years. Overall, the risk of getting cancer was 37 percent lower in the group that underwent obesity surgery.

However, the largest difference was observed when cancer risk was analyzed in the patients who achieved normal glucose control and had no relapse of diabetes over a ten-year period. Among these patients, the incidence of cancer was only 12 out of 102 (12 percent), against 75 out of 335 (22 percent) in the group whose diabetes had recurred in the same period. Thus, the results show a 60% reduction in cancer risk in the group where normal glucose control was maintained over 10 years.

Guidance for preventing cancer

“What we see is that, among patients with type 2 diabetes, many cancer cases are preventable. These results are an important contribution that enhances our understanding of the connection between glucose control and cancer prevention,” says Kajsa Sj√∂holm, Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and the study’s first author.

Magdalena Taube, Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, is the senior author of the study.

“The global epidemic of both obesity and diabetes leads to an increased risk of cancer, as well as an increased risk of premature death. It has been estimated that, over the next 10 to 15 years, obesity may cause more cancer cases than smoking in several countries. This is a clear illustration of how serious the condition is,” she says.

“Strategies are need to prevent this development, and our results can provide vital guidance for prevention of cancer in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes,” Taube concludes.



Diabetes Care



Saturday, December 4, 2021

Probiotics improve nausea and vomiting in pregnancy

Vomiting in pregnancy peer reviewed 1 +  peer reviewed 2

In published and in which claiming that: Findings also provide clues to why some people experience more stomach upset during pregnancy

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine found that probiotics significantly improve the symptoms of pregnancy-related nausea, vomiting and constipation. The findings were published in the journal Nutrients.

Nausea and vomiting affect about 85% of pregnancies and can significantly impact quality of life, particularly during early pregnancy.

"The cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is unknown to this date. Various theories have been proposed, but none of them is conclusive," said Albert T. Liu, lead author for the study and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

"Nausea, vomiting and constipation during pregnancy can significantly diminish the quality of patients' lives. Once nausea and vomiting during pregnancy progress, they can become difficult to control, and sometimes the patient even needs to be hospitalized," Liu said.

Beneficial microbes

Probiotics are referred to as "beneficial bacteria." They can be found in foods like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut and tempeh. Probiotics are also available as food supplements. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, other than vitamins, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement for adults.

Probiotics are thought to support the community of different microbes, often referred to as the "gut microbiome," found in the gastrointestinal tract.

During pregnancy, hormones like estrogen and progesterone increase, bringing about many physical changes. These increases can also change the gut microbiome, which likely affects the digestive system functions and causes unwanted symptoms like nausea, vomiting and constipation.

The researchers set out to determine whether supplementing with a probiotic could be beneficial for gastrointestinal function during pregnancy.

The study lasted for 16 days. A total of 32 participants took a probiotic capsule twice a day for six days and then took two days off. They then repeated the cycle.

The probiotics were available over-the-counter and mainly containedLactobacillus., a type of good bacteria. Each capsule contained approximately 10 billion live cultures at the time of manufacture.

Participants kept 17 daily observations of their symptoms during the duration of the study, for a total of 535 observations for the researchers to statistically assess.

What the researchers found was that taking the probiotic significantly reduced nausea and vomiting. Nausea hours (the number of hours participants felt nauseous) were reduced by 16%, and the number of times they vomited was reduced by 33%. Probiotic intake also significantly improved symptoms related to quality of life, such as fatigue, poor appetite and difficulty maintaining normal social activities, as scored by questionnaires.

Probiotics were also found to reduce constipation significantly.

"Over the years, I've observed that probiotics can reduce nausea and vomiting and ease constipation. It's very encouraging that the study proved this to be true," said Liu. "Probiotics have also benefited many of my other patients who weren't in the study," said Liu.

New clues from gut microbes and byproducts

Participants also contributed fecal specimens before and during the study. The samples were analyzed to identify the type and number of microbes and the different byproducts of digestion.

This allowed the researchers to examine whether biomarkers in the fecal specimens corresponded with more severe nausea and assess how the probiotics affected participants who began the study with different baseline biomarkers.

One finding was that a low amount of bacteria that carry an enzyme named bile salt hydrolase, which generates bile acid to absorb nutrients, was associated with more pregnancy-related vomiting. Probiotics increase bile salt hydrolase-producing bacteria, which may explain why the supplements decreased levels of nausea and vomiting.

Another finding was that high levels of the gut microbes Akkermansia and A. muciniphila at the beginning of the study were associated with more vomiting. The probiotic significantly reduced the amount of those particular microbes and also reduced vomiting. This suggests Akkermansia and A. muciniphila may be reliable biomarkers that can predict vomiting in pregnancy.

Another finding was that vitamin E levels increased after taking probiotics. Higher levels of vitamin E were associated with low vomiting scores.

"This research provides key insights about the impact of gut microbes on gastrointestinal function during pregnancy. Our gut microbiota explains why we are what we eat, and why bacteria-generated metabolites and products have a huge impact on our health," said Wan. "They affect the gastrointestinal tract as well as skin health and neurological function."

Although the findings are intriguing, the researchers caution that due to the small sample size, further studies will be needed to confirm the effects of the probiotics.

"Our previous work showed the benefits of probiotics in preventing liver inflammation. The current study might be one of the first to show the benefits of probiotics in pregnancy," said Wan. "It would be interesting and important to further test whether probiotics can reduce nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients."

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of California - Davis Health. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Albert T. Liu, Shuai Chen, Prasant Kumar Jena, Lili Sheng, Ying Hu, Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan. Probiotics Improve Gastrointestinal Function and Life Quality in Pregnancy. Nutrients, 2021; 13 (11): 3931 DOI: 10.3390/nu13113931

University of California - Davis Health. "Probiotics improve nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: Findings also provide clues to why some people experience more stomach upset during pregnancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2021. <>.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Green tea shown to increase the defensive capabilities of cells

An interview conducted by  published in with Professor Micheal Ristow Professor, Energy Metabolism ETH Zurich in which claiming that Professor said Green tea has long been said to have health benefits including prolonging life. What are some of the other health benefits of green tea and what ingredients of green tea are said to give these various health benefits?

Clinical trials and epidemiological studies have revealed health benefits associated with green tea consumption, including a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and fasting glucose, as well as weight loss in type 2 diabetes patients, and women with central obesity.
What is meant by the term ‘oxidative stress’ and how do the catechins in green tea prevent damage to cells or DNA?

Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals form when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. While they are a natural result of normal metabolic processes such as digesting foods, and environmental stressors (too much sun, for example), they can damage cells in the body.

As we age the body loses its ability to eliminate free radicals creating oxidative stress and aging. What we found is that green tea catechins do not suppress oxidative stress (meaning they do not act as an antioxidant). Instead, they improve the body’s defenses by promoting oxidative stress.
Can you describe how you carried out your latest research into green tea and oxidative stress? What did you discover?

Researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Jena conducted a study to determine how catechins act in the nematode worm C. elegans. The worms were fed green tea catechins and researchers analyzed their cellular metabolism, stress resistance, physical exercise capacity, health, and lifespan, among others.

We discovered that green tea polyphenols (or catechins) are not in fact antioxidants. The green tea catechins increase oxidative stress in the short term, increasing the body’s defensive capabilities much like eating fewer calories or engaging in sporting activities. In our study, the catechins in green tea led to longevity in the nematodes.
You also noticed similar results when you investigated sports and health. Can you describe your research here?

In 2009, my research group conducted a study that showed that physical activity and sports promote health by increasing oxidative stress in the short term which improves the body’s defenses. Consuming fewer calories has the same effect.
You yourself are an avid green tea drinker but advise against taking green tea extracts or concentrates. Why is this?

At a certain concentration, high-does catechins inhibit mitochondria inducing cell death which could be particularly dangerous for the liver.

Anyone consuming these polyphenols in excessive doses risks damaging their organs.
What advice would you give to people who either drink green tea or want to try and start drinking green tea?

I suggest drinking green tea in moderation would be fine, but certainly avoid green tea extracts or concentrates.

As with any nutritional or dietary supplement, it is best to seek personalized advice from a medical professional familiar with your medical history and needs.
What are the next steps for you and your research?

My research team and I are pursuing research on the biochemical and molecular basis of longevity regulation to provide novel therapeutic options to prevent and cure age-related diseases like obesity, diabetes, neurodegeneration, and cancer. We are particularly interested in genetic pathways and environmental factors that modulate longevity.

In addition to other topics, we are particularly focused on the role played by mitochondria in lifespan regulation. In the past and contrary to the widely reiterated Free Radical Theory of Aging, we have repeatedly shown that the health-promoting effects associated with low caloric intake, physical exercise, sirtuins (signaling proteins involved in metabolic regulation), impaired insulin/IGF-​1 signaling, and other lifespan-extending interventions may be due to increased formation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) within the mitochondria, causing a vaccination-​like adaptive response that culminates in increased stress resistance and extended longevity, a process a. k. a. mitochondrial hormesis or mitohormesis.
Where can readers find more information?
Green tea catechins promote oxidative stress
Published paper
Tian J, Geiss C, Zarse K, Madreiter-​Sokolowski CT, Ristow M: Green tea catechins EGCG and ECG enhance the fitness and lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans by complex I inhibition. Aging, 2021 Oct 4;13. doi: 10.18632/aging.203597call_made
Oxidative stress mediates health-promoting effects of physical exercise, and antioxidants prevent these
Glucosamine promotes longevity by mimicking a low-carb diet
Energy Metabolism Lab at ETH Zurich
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