A5M's Prevention e-Journal presents the latest research in Preventative,
Anti-Ageing & Aesthetic Medicine. See the latest research below.
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LATEST RESEARCH ARTICLES
LOW-CARB, HIGH-PROTEIN DIET LINKED TO GREATER RISK OF HEART DISEASE AND STROKES
Women who regularly eat a low carbohydrate, high protein diet are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke) than those who do not, a study just published on the British Medical Journal suggests.
Women often consume diets that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, such as the Atkins diet, in order to manage their weight. Millions have been converted to this approach, which work because protein keeps hunger at bay for longer.
Because studies on the long term consequences of these diets on cardiovascular health have generated inconsistent results, a team of researchers conducted a study of more than 43,000 women in Sweden for over 15 years.
Researchers say they have found an extra four to five cases of cardiovascular disease per 10,000 women per year for those on low carbohydrate high protein diets.
While the number is small it actually represents a 28% increase in the number of cases which is worrying when it is mainly younger women going on the diets, the researchers say.
Results showed that 1270 cardiovascular incidents took place in the 43,396 women.
The stricter the women kept to the low carb high protein diet the more cardiovascular diseases increased.
The study found that if women decreased their carb intake by 20g a day (equivalent to a small bread roll) and increased their protein intake by 5g (equivalent to one boiled egg), they had a 5% increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Increasing levels of smoking was found to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, whilst increasing level of education and physical activity reduced the risk.
The researchers took into account factors, such as alcohol use, smoking, overall level of activity, diagnosis of hypertension, and saturated/unsaturated fat intake, all of which were likely to influence the results.
“Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets, used on a regular basis and without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates or the source of proteins, are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” the researchers said.
They explained it was not the protein per se that was the worry, but the fact that high-protein foods tended to come from animal products high in saturated fat.
The Swedish researchers say the short term benefits of losing weight need to be balanced against possible increase in heart and stroke problems.
OZONE POLLUTION HIKES HEART RISK
The World Health Organization estimated that some 2 million people die annually due to a combination of heart problems increased by Ozone pollution.
This correlation between ozone exposure and the potential for heart attacks has been shown in a new study published by the American Heart Association in the journal Circulation. This new study shows just how quickly exposure to air pollution can trigger dangerous changes in the heart, even in otherwise healthy young people.
Recent scientific research has drawn strong links between air pollution and adverse health, particularly in susceptible parts of the community which include children, the elderly and sick.
To date most research had focused on lung problems and associated respiratory issues. A new unique study, published journal Circulation, looks specifically at changes to heart and cardiovascular function in healthy individuals exposed to Ozone, as they might be in city situations where air pollution and ozone levels spike.
In this study 23 healthy, young volunteers with no history of heart disease showed unfavourable changes in their heart function after just two hours of exercising while being exposed to air containing 0.3 parts per million of ozone.
The changes included:
• 99% increase in levels of interleukin-8, an marker for inflammation in the blood vessels
• 42% drop in plasminogen levels, which lowers the body’s ability to break up blood clots
• Changes in heart rhythm, an indication of an alternation in the nervous system's control of the heart rate.
These alterations that may explain the link between exposure to air pollution and heart risk.
The test subjects were all young and healthy, so the changes were not particularly problematic or permanent, however in elderly people, those on medication, with weight or heart issues, especially those with heart risk and other factors involved, the stress placed on the cardiovascular system could be enough to bring on major symptoms or even a heart attack.
The study is among the first to document the physiological changes caused by exposure to ozone, a major pollutant formed when volatile organic compounds from industrial waste or car exhaust reacts with sunlight. Previous studies have linked exposure to ozone to heart problems, but had not quantified the precise effect of the pollutant on biological markers of heart and lung function.
Whilst Ozone at high altitude helps to shield the planet from radiation, at ground level it is considered a pollutant, a nuisance and a health risk, it is created when pollutants from vehicles, power plants, industry, and other sources react in the sunlight.
The American Heart Association recommends that people with heart disease avoid going out on high-ozone days, and lower their risk of exposure to heavily polluted air, including cigarette smoke.
Review the daily air quality in your State:
South Australia: http://www.epa.sa.gov.au
Western Australia: http://portal.environment.wa.gov.au/portal/page?_pageid=54,66336&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
Source: Devlin RB, Duncan KE, Jardim M, Schmitt MT, Rappold AG, Diaz-Sanchez D. Controlled Exposure of Healthy Young Volunteers to Ozone Causes Cardiovascular Effects. Circulation. 2012 Jun 25. [Epub ahead of print]
SLEEP LESSENS THE EFFECT GENES HAVE ON WEIGHT
Lose weight while you sleep. It sounds like something you'd hear on a late night infomercial. But as wild as the idea sounds, substantial medical evidence suggests some fascinating links between sleep and weight.
A new study shows sleeping more may actually help fight a genetic predisposition to gain weight.
A new study examining the relationship between sleep duration and body mass index (BMI), suggests that getting plenty of sleep each night may help to suppress certain genetic factors that promote weight gain.
Nathaniel Watson, of the University of Washington, and colleagues collected data on height, weight, and sleep habits from 1,088 pairs of twins.
Results showed that genetic influences accounted for 70% of differences in BMI in twins that slept for seven hours or less each night, compared with just 32% in those that slept for nine hours or more each night.
Furthermore, shorter sleep duration was associated with increased BMI, whilst longer sleep duration was associated with decreased BMI.
"The less sleep you get, the more your genes contribute to how much you weigh. The more sleep you get, the less your genes determine how much you weigh," says lead author Nathaniel Watson, a neurologist and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle.
The researchers concluded: “Shorter sleep duration is associated with increased BMI and increased genetic influences on BMI, suggesting that shorter sleep duration increases expression of genetic risks for high body weight. At the same time, longer sleep duration may suppress genetic influences on body weight.”
Scientists have known for years that sleep deprivation increases levels of a hunger hormone and decreases levels of a hormone that makes you feel full. The effects may lead to overeating and weight gain.
The new findings are another good reason to be sure you get enough shut-eye every night, says sleep expert Jodi Mindell, a psychology professor at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. "If you're trying to lose weight, getting enough sleep gives you a fighting chance."
Source: Nathaniel F Watson, Kathryn Paige Harden,Dedra Buchwald, Michael V Vitiello, Allan I. Pack, David S Weigle, Jack Goldberg. Sleep duration and body mass index in twins: a gene-environment interaction. Sleep. 2012;35:597-603.
DEPRESSION IN MIDDLE AGE LINKED TO DEMENTIA
People who have symptoms of depression in middle age may be
at increased risk of dementia decades later, a new study suggests.
The results, published in the May 2012 issue of the Archives
of General Psychiatry, showed that those who had depression symptoms in the
later stages of life were 70 percent more likely to develop dementia than those
who didn't have symptoms during that time.
“Depression commonly occurs in individuals with cognitive
impairment and dementia," the researchers wrote.
Although some studies have found that depression coincides
with or follows the onset of dementia in older adults, most studies and several
meta-analyses have concluded that depression precedes dementia and is
associated with approximately a 2-fold increase in the risk of developing
cognitive impairment or dementia.
The researchers evaluated more than 13,000 long term Kaiser
Permanente members, looking for a history of depressive symptoms in midlife
(1964-1973) and in late life (1994-2000), and compared the results with those
suffering from Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia; dementia resulting from
brain damage from reduced blood flow to the brain.
Depressive symptoms were present in 14.1 percent of subjects
during their midlife, 9.2 percent in late life only, and 4.2 percent in both
During the six years they had follow-ups, 22.5 percent were
diagnosed with dementia.
About 5.5 percent were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease,
caused by protein deposits that stop brain function, and 2.3 percent were
determined to have vascular dementia, which is caused by blood flow being
blocked from the brain.
The chance of getting dementia increased by approximately 20
percent for those who had midlife depressive symptoms, 70 percent for those who
had for late-life symptoms only, and 80 percent for those who exhibited the
symptoms in both periods.
Depressive symptoms in mid and late stages showed double the
risk from Alzheimer's, while the risk for vascular dementia increased threefold.
The researchers commented that future studies are necessary
to determine if depression treatment during mid and late stages can help stave
Given the anticipated increase in dementia prevalence during
the next 40 years, even a small reduction in dementia risk would have a
tremendous public health impact," they wrote.
SOURCE: D. E.
Barnes, K. Yaffe, A. L. Byers, M. McCormick, C. Schaefer, R. A. Whitmer. Midlife
vs Late-Life Depressive Symptoms and Risk of Dementia: Differential Effects for
Alzheimer Disease and Vascular Dementia. Archives of General
Psychiatry, 2012; 69 (5): 493 DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.1481
AVOCADO& ANTI-AGEING PROPERTIES
Avocado oil may have anti-ageing properties similar to those
attributed to olive oil, researchers say.
A study presented at the American Society for Biochemistry
and Molecular Biology annual scientific meeting in California showed that
avocado could combat free radicals which contribute to ageing, artery damage
While many antioxidants in vegetables and fruits are known
to neutralise free radicals, they cannot reach those in mitochondria.
However, experiments on yeast cells showed that avocado oil
was effective against mitochondrial free radicals, Mexican researcher
Christopher Cortes-Rojo told the conference.
Our results are promising because they indicate that avocado
consumption could improve the health status of patients with diabetes and other
patients through an additional mechanism to improvement of blood
lipids,” he said.
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Annual Scientific Meeting 2012
SOME HEART HEALING FROM BONE MARROW STEM CELLS
Bone marrow stem cell therapy offers "moderate
improvement" to heart attack patients, according to a large UK review of
The analysis by the Cochrane Collaboration looked at 33
trials involving more than 1,700 patients.
Currently, the standard treatment for people suffering a
heart attack (due to a blockage in the artery supplying blood to the heart) is
to directly open the artery with a tiny balloon in a procedure called primary
angioplasty and to introduce a small tube into the artery to keep it open
called a stent.
The use of primary angioplasty and stents to reopen the
blocked artery can lead to a 33% reduction in the mortality (death rate)
associated with this condition.
Bone marrow stem/progenitor cells has been investigated as a
new treatment that may prevent the damage to heart muscle caused by a heart
attack in addition to the treatment offered by primary angioplasty.
Analysis of randomised controlled trials to 2011 indicates
that this new treatment may lead to some improvements over standard treatment
as measured by tests of heart function in the short and long term.
The report suggested that, while longer term trials are
needed, bone marrow therapy "may lead to a moderate long-term
improvement" in heart function which "might be clinically very
It said there was still no evidence of "any significant
effect on mortality" in comparison with standard treatment.
However, this may be due to the size of the studies and that
patients were followed for a short period of time.
Lead author Dr Enca Martin-Rendon, from NHS Blood and Transplant
at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, said: "This new treatment may
lead to moderate improvement in heart function over standard treatments.
"Stem cell therapy may also reduce the number of
patients who later die or suffer from heart failure, but currently there is a
lack of statistically significant evidence based on the small number of
patients treated so far.
"The review comes very shortly after doctors reported
the first case of using heart cells to heal heart attack damage.
Researchers are beginning to show that taking cells from a
heart, growing millions of new heart cells in the laboratory and pumping those
back into the heart may reduce scar tissue and lead to new heart muscle.
However, the trials are at a very early stage and in only a handful
Using a similar technique with cells taken from the bone
marrow, which is a prime source of stem cells, has a much longer pedigree.
Starting next year, Professor Anthony Mathur, from Barts and
the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, is leading the largest ever trial
of stem cells in heart attack patients.
Three thousand patients across Europe will take part.
They will be injected with stem cells five days after a
heart attack and then followed for two years to see if the therapy affects life
DM, Fisher SA, Brunskill SJ, Doree C, Mathur A, Watt S, Martin-Rendon E.
Stem cell treatment for acute myocardial infarction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 2
EATING BERRIES LINKED TO LOWER PARKINSON'S RISK IN MEN
Eating a bowel of berries every week can reduce the chances
of developing Parkinson's by a quarter, researchers have claimed.
Men who regularly consume foods rich in naturally occurring
flavonoids, such as berries, apples, certain vegetables, tea and red wine, may
significantly reduce their risk for developing Parkinson's disease (PD),
according to a large-scale study published in the journal Neurology that saw no
such effect among women.
In this study, the main protective effect appeared to come
from a subclass of flavonoids known as anthocyanins.
The most common source of anthocyanins in the participants'
diet were strawberries and blueberries.
The study analysed data from 130,000 men and women over 20
years and found that 800 developed PD in that time.
By analysing their diet, lifestyle and other factors, they
concluded that those who ate the most flavonoids were 40 per cent less likely
to develop PD than those who ate the least.
When they only looked at berries, it was found that those
who ate a portion of berries a week were 25 per cent less likely to develop the
disease than those who ate few or no berries.
This is thought to be the first study in humans to show that
flavonoids may have neuroprotective effects.
PD is a neurological disease where the death of certain
cells in the brain means it does not have enough dopamine, which in turn
affects ability to control movement so that it takes longer to do things.
The disease most often develops after the age of 50.
The disease is progressive, so symptoms, such as tremor,
rigidity and slowness of movement, gradually get worse with time.
PD is a global phenomenon being recognised in all cultures
and is estimated to affect approximately 6.3 million individuals worldwide.
In 2005, approximately 55,000 Australians were diagnosed
with PD and almost 9,000 new cases were identified that year.
There is no cure, and very few effective drug therapies.
The study adds weight to the growing body of evidence that
regular consumption of certain flavonoids may lower the risk for developing a
wide range of human diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease,
dementia, and some cancers.
While clinical trials are needed to confirm results and
determine how important diet might be for people with PD, Professor Aedin
Cassidy of the Department of Nutrition, Norwich Medical School at UEA,
said:"These exciting findings provide further confirmation that regular
consumption of flavonoids can have potential health benefits.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Gao X, Cassidy A, Schwarzschild MA, Rimm EB, and Ascherio A
Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson
Published ahead of print April 4, 2012
CAFFEINE BOOSTS EFFECTIVENESS OF PAINKILLERS
Caffeine improves the
effectiveness of over-the-counter pain relieving drugs by a small margin according
to a new evidence review in The Cochrane Library.
Caffeine, the same stimulant present in coffee, tea, sodas,
and chocolate, is a common ingredient added to many analgesic formulations sold
in Australian pharmacies.
The review set out to examine whether caffeine
actually improves the pain-relieving effects of such medicines.
The authors identified 19 double-blind studies,
with 7238 participants, that compared a single dose of analgesic plus caffeine
with the same dose of the analgesic alone in the treatment of acute pain.
Most studies used paracetamol or ibuprofen, with
100 mg to 130 mg caffeine, and the most common pain conditions studied were
menstrual period pain, postoperative dental pain, postpartum pain, and headache.
The review found that adding caffeine, at a dose equivalent
to a mug of coffee, to a standard dose of common analgesics such as paracetamol
or ibuprofen increases the number of people with acute pain who will experience
a good level of pain relief by 5% to 10%.
Specifically, an additional five to 10 percent of patients
who took the caffeinated formulations said that they experienced at least 50
percent of the maximum possible pain relief over four to six hours, considered
their treatment very good or excellent, or had headache relief after two hours.
The mechanism by which caffeine boosts
painkillers & effectiveness is currently unknown.
The stimulant could have multiple effects, including getting
other drugs into the bloodstream faster, raising their concentration by slowing
their clearance from the bloodstream, directly affecting how nerves perceive
pain, or even changing how people perceive pain by affecting their moods or
According to Steven P.Cohen, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical
Care Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Director of Pain
Research at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, doctors should choose
carefully which patients receive caffeine along with their regular pain
Since the booster effect is small, he explains, patients
taking strong painkillers for very painful conditions probably won';t
However, he says, the drug is a relatively harmless addition
that might help patients with more minor conditions.
Caffeine is a really, really safe drug, so safe
that we don't regulate it," he says.
Basically, it’s a very minimal risk and
might be beneficial, depending on the patient.
Derry CJ, Derry S, Moore RA.
Caffeine as an analgesic adjuvant for acute pain in adults.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 3.
TEN-FOLD INCREASE SEEN IN ILLICIT DRUG USE IN 50 TO
Until now, illicit drug use has not been common in older
However, it is likely to become more common as generations
that use drugs more frequently reach an older age.
New UK research published in the journal Age and Ageing has
found that the lifetime use of cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine and LSD in 50-64
year olds has significantly increased since 1993 and is much higher than
lifetime use in adults aged over 65.
Cannabis was the most frequent drug used. Lifetime cannabis use was reported by 1.7% of people aged 65 and over, and by 11.4% of people aged 50-64 in the sample.
In the inner city sample, these proportions were 9.4% and 42.8% respectively. Recent cannabis use (i.e. within the last 12 months) was reported by 0.4% of people aged 65 and over, and by 1.8% of people aged 50-64.
In the inner city sample, these proportions were 1.1% and 9.0% respectively.
While the series of national UK surveys carried out from
1993 to 2007 did not contain data on the oldest end of the age range, patterns
of cannabis use in middle age were consistent with a rapid increase in 50-64
year olds, lifetime use had increased approximately ten-fold from 1.0% in 1993 to 11.4% in 2007, and recent use had multiplied by a similar
extent from 0.2% in 1993 to 2.0% in 2007.
Lifetime amphetamine use had increased
substantially although recent reported use remained uncommon.
Tranquiliser use showed more stability.
Senior author of the study Prof. Robert Stewart, from King's College London, comments that
"the key message of this paper confirms something which has been
long-suspected but which has not, to our knowledge, ever been formally
investigated in the UK - namely that illicit drug use will become a more common
feature in older generations over the next one to two decades.
One particular issue is that we really know very little
about the effects of drugs like cannabis in older people but will need to work
fast if research is to keep up with its wider use at these ages.
"Our data suggest, at the very least,
that large numbers of people are entering older age groups with lifestyles
about which we know little in terms of their effects on health and would
benefit from further monitoring - in particular, health service staff providing
care for older people should be aware of the possibility of illicit drug use as
part of the clinical context, particularly as previous research and policy
reports have suggested that this is often missed.
Little is known about the prevalence
of illicit drug use in late-life. The prevalence of some illicit drug use in people aged 50-64
years is higher than that in 65+ year olds (recent and lifetime use of cannabis
1.8% and 11.4% respectively, 9.0% and 42.8% respectively).
class="Apple-tab-span" style="font-weight: normal; white-space:
style="font-weight: normal;">Projected increasing use of cannabis
in older age groups is confirmed by past trends observed in previous mental
health surveys in 1993 and 2000.
The clinical and public health relevance of these potential
secular changes in both lifetime and recent prevalence is not clear but should
be a research priority.
There is a need to develop a treatment infrastructure that
is sensitive to problems of older illicit drug users.
Fahmy V, Hatch SL, Hotopf M, Stewart, R.
Prevalence of illicit drug use in people aged 50 years and
over from two surveys.