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Improve your performance with this mantra: ‘I am excited’ December 27, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Dreamhealer, Emotion, Experiments, Health, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Research.
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By: Relaxnews

Next time you’ve got a public speaking engagement or exam coming up, psych yourself up by telling yourself how excited you are rather than trying to calm down and you may actually perform better.

That’s according to a new Harvard study published by the American Psychological Association,  which found that affirmative statements like “I’m excited” helped people improve their performance compared to self-pep talks that urged relaxation such as “I am calm.”

“People have a very strong intuition that trying to calm down is the best way to cope with their anxiety, but that can be very difficult and ineffective,” said study author Alison Wood Brooks in a statement.

“When people feel anxious and try to calm down, they are thinking about all the things that could go badly. When they are excited, they are thinking about how things could go well.”

The results of the study are based on several different experiments. In one experiment, 140 participants were instructed to prepare a public speech on why they would be good work partners. Researchers videotaped the speeches and participants were told they would be judged by a committee to increase anxiety levels.

Before delivering their spiel, subjects were instructed to say either “I am excited” or “I am calm.” Judges found that those who made the first statement were more persuasive, competent and relaxed, the study says.

Similar results were observed during a math exam, with those who psyched themselves up with the mantra “I am excited” scoring an impressive eight percent higher on average compared to the “I am calm” and control groups.

In a karaoke experiment in which participants’ heart rates were monitored with a pulse meter, again singers who repeated the mantra “I am excited” scored an average of 80 percent on the karaoke machine which measures pitch, rhythm and volume. Those instructed to tell themselves they were calm, angry or sad scored 69 percent.

The moral of the study?

“It really does pay to be positive, and people should say they are excited. Even if they don’t believe it at first, saying ‘I’m excited’ out loud increases authentic feelings of excitement,” Brooks said.

A 2012 study out of the University of Chicago also found that performing math equations under anxiety prompts responses in the brain similar to physical pain.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/body-and-mind/improve-your-performance-with-this-mantra-i-am-excited-1.1608359#ixzz2ohpOvCB5

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Gut Microbes Linked to Autism-like Symptoms in Mice December 6, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in ADHD, Allergies, Alternative medicine, Antibiotics, Experiments, Genetics, Healing, Health, naturopathic, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy, Research.
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By: Emily Underwood

Many physicians and parents report that their autistic children have unusually severe gastrointestinal problems, such as chronic constipation or diarrhea. These observations have led some researchers to speculate that an ailing gut contributes to the disorder in some cases, but scientific data has been lacking. Now, a provocative study claims that a probiotic treatment for gastrointestinal issues can reduce autismlike symptoms in mice and suggests that this treatment could work for humans, too.

The reported incidence of gut maladies in people with autism varies wildly between published studies—from zero to more than 80%—making it difficult to establish just how commonly the two conditions go together, says principal investigator Sarkis Mazmanian, a microbiologist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. Overall, however, the evidence seems to point toward a connection. Last year, for example, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of thousands of children with developmental disabilities found that kids with autism were twice as likely as children with other types of disorders to have frequent diarrhea or colitis, an inflammation of the large intestine.

For many years, Mazmanian and his and colleagues have been studying the effects of a nontoxic strain of the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis on diseases such as Crohn’s disease, which causes intestinal inflammation and allows potentially harmful substances that should pass out of the body to leak through junctions between cells that are normally tight. Although the researchers don’t understand the mechanism, the bacterium appears to restore the damaged gut, possibly by helping close these gaps.

“The fact that we have an organism that repairs the gut makes it a very appealing” tool for testing whether gut abnormalities can contribute to autism, Mazmanian says. To explore that question, Mazmanian and colleagues at Caltech used a mouse model of autism that is thought to approximately recreate three of the disorder’s hallmark deficits: lack of social interaction, decreased communication (mice normally emit ultrasonic, birdsonglike chirps), and repetitive behaviors such as compulsive grooming or burying marbles.

The first step of the experiment was to determine whether the mice showed signs of gastrointestinal inflammation or other gut abnormalities, says microbiologist Elaine Hsiao, a postdoctoral candidate at Caltech and lead author of the study. By the time the mice were 3 weeks old, the researchers found that their intestines were indeed as leaky as those of mice that had been treated with a chemical that induces colitis. Next, the researchers tested whether they could reverse the damage by feeding the mice applesauce laced with B. fragilis for a week. A second group of autism-mimicking mice as well as a group of healthy mice ate applesauce that did not contain the bacteria. Then the group waited to see what effect the bacteria would have on the rodents’ intestines. “We didn’t know what would happen—we were hoping the bacterium would survive in the gut,” Hsiao says.

After 3 weeks, the team measured the levels of gut-derived molecules in the rodents’ bloodstream and found that the treatment had stopped up their intestinal leakage. Bacterial counts from rodents’ poop showed that although B. fragilis did not establish lasting colonies in the mice, they did “shake up the community,” of microorganisms, bringing it closer to that of the normal mice, Hsiao says. After the treatment, the autism-mimicking mice also resembled their normal peers in two behavioral tests, the authors report today in Cell. The animals no longer compulsively buried marbles in their cages and increased their ultrasonic squeaking to typical levels. They did not increase their social interactions, however, Hsiao says.

“It’s really striking that any bacterial treatment—even a transient one—could have a lasting impact on behavior,” Hsiao says. The most interesting thing about the results, she says, was not the correction of the autistic symptoms in the mice, but the clues the study provided about how the gut’s microbial population may affect the brain and behavior. The researchers found that levels of a substance called 4-ethylphenylsulfate that is produced by gut bacteria increased 46-fold in the mice with autistic symptoms, but returned to normal after treatment with B. fragilis. When the team isolated that chemical and injected it into healthy mice, the rodents showed increased anxiety, another autismlike symptom, she says. Although the substance did not provoke the symptoms seen in the previous experiment, Hsiao says that the animals’ altered response suggests that the substance could play a role in the disorder. Hundreds of other metabolic byproducts also changed in quantity after B. fragilis was administered and could have an effect, she adds.

By demonstrating that a widely used mouse model of autism does have gastrointestinal problems, and that these problems are associated with behavioral symptoms, the new research “shows us something fabulous,” says Betty Diamond, an immunologist at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York. She cautions, however, that it would be premature to use B. fragilis or another probiotic as a treatment in humans. “We don’t really understand” which bacterial species are important or how they colonize the gut, she says.

Although the findings are interesting, the study does not establish that the changing levels of microbes and the chemicals they produce caused any of the behavioral changes seen in the mice, says Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, a neuroscientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “I’d want to know more about the mechanism” by which the bacteria altered behavior in the mice before beginning to translate the findings to humans, he says. The group also didn’t investigate how the bacteria affect a normal animal, because the microbes were administered only to autistic mice, he says. It’s possible that B. fragilis could have a deleterious effect that the study didn’t detect, he says. Combined with the inherent difficulty of extrapolating findings about human autism from a mouse, he says, “I think this is less well-established than it appears.”

“We propose that after the repair of the leaky gut, neurotoxic molecules do not get into the system and cause behavioral abnormalities,” Mazmanian says. But he agrees with DiCicco-Bloom that there are alternative explanations for why the mice changed their behavior—for example, “maybe bacteria are activating nerves in the gut that are communicating with the brain,” he says. After resolving some of these questions, the group plans to initiate clinical trials in humans, Hsiao says. “We don’t want people to start applying this to humans” just yet, but “this opens the door to future research” in people.

Article retrieved from: http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2013/12/gut-microbes-linked-autismlike-symptoms-mice

Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors December 5, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Dreamhealer, Emotion, Genetics, Health, Integrative Medicine, Research.
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Article by: Richard Gray

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Memories may be passed down through generations in DNA in a process that may be the underlying cause of phobias

Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop.

Scientists have long assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience.

However, new research has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA.

Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, found that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.

The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.

So a fear of spiders may in fact be an inherited defence mechanism laid down in a families genes by an ancestors’ frightening encounter with an arachnid.

Dr Brian Dias, from the department of psychiatry at Emory University, said: “We have begun to explore an underappreciated influence on adult behaviour – ancestral experience before conception.

“From a translational perspective, our results allow us to appreciate how the experiences of a parent, before even conceiving offspring, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations.

“Such a phenomenon may contribute to the etiology and potential intergenerational transmission of risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

In the study, which is published in the journal of Nature Neuroscience, the researchers trained mice to fear the smell of cherry blossom using electric shocks before allowing them to breed.

The offspring produced showed fearful responses to the odour of cherry blossom compared to a neutral odour, despite never having encountered them before.

The following generation also showed the same behaviour. This effect continued even if the mice had been fathered through artificial insemination.

The researchers found the brains of the trained mice and their offspring showed structural changes in areas used to detect the odour.

The DNA of the animals also carried chemical changes, known as epigenetic methylation, on the gene responsible for detecting the odour.

This suggests that experiences are somehow transferred from the brain into the genome, allowing them to be passed on to later generations.

The researchers now hope to carry out further work to understand how the information comes to be stored on the DNA in the first place.

They also want to explore whether similar effects can be seen in the genes of humans.

Professor Marcus Pembrey, a paediatric geneticist at University College London, said the work provided “compelling evidence” for the biological transmission of memory.

He added: “It addresses constitutional fearfulness that is highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, plus the controversial subject of transmission of the ‘memory’ of ancestral experience down the generations.

“It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously.

“I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach.”

Professor Wolf Reik, head of epigenetics at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, said, however, further work was needed before such results could be applied to humans.

He said: “These types of results are encouraging as they suggest that transgenerational inheritance exists and is mediated by epigenetics, but more careful mechanistic study of animal models is needed before extrapolating such findings to humans.”

It comes as another study in mice has shown that their ability to remember can be effected by the presence of immune system factors in their mother’s milk

Dr Miklos Toth, from Weill Cornell Medical College, found that chemokines carried in a mother’s milk caused changes in the brains of their offspring, affecting their memory in later life.

Article retrieved from:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10486479/Phobias-may-be-memories-passed-down-in-genes-from-ancestors.html

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Turmeric Extract Kills Highly Lethal Pancreatic Tumors, Preclinical Study Reveals November 28, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Healing, Health, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Research.
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Article written by: Sayer Ji

Considering that the conventional treatment of advanced stage pancreatic cancer can result in as little as a 1% 5-year survival rate, new preclinical research on a liposomal turmeric extract that inhibits pancreatic tumor growth by 42% is all the more amazing.

A promising new study published in the journal Anticancer Research, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the International Institute of Anticancer Research, reveals a unique turmeric extract known as liposomal curcumin may provide an ideal chemotherapy alternative in the treatment of highly lethal pancreatic cancers.

Curcumin is the primarly polyphenol in turmeric, and has been the subject of extensive research demonstrating its ability to kill cancer cells, with over 1,500 studies available to view on Greenmedinfo.com relevant to over 100 distinct cancer types, including 24 studies demonstrating its anti-pancreatic cancer properties.

Liposomal curcumin utilizes a successful lipid-based drug delivery system, with some liposomal formulations having already received FDA approval. Owing to curcumin’s low water solubility and subsequent low systemic bioavailability, its encapsulation into liposomes (artificially-prepared vesicle composed of a lipid bilayer) greatly improves its ability to gain entry into the body by passing through the ‘glucoronidation barrier’ in the liver.

Exocrine pancreatic cancer is notorious for responding poorly to conventional treatment, with American Cancer Society statistics promising only a 14% 5-year survival rate in Stage IA cancers, spiraling down to only 1% for Stage IV types. Moreover, even when chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy results in the successful debulking of the tumor, and the patient manages to survive past 5 years, recurrence is still common; this often occurs as a direct result of conventional treatment, which damages the immune system and enriches the treatment-resistance tumorigenic cancer stem cell population within the post-treatment cancer survivor’s body.

The new study was performed by researchers at the Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology, and Institute for Cancer Research, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, Texas. They determined the antitumor effects of a liposomal curcumin formulation against human pancreatic cancer cells through in vitro and xenograft studies, where the cells were implanted into mice to form tumors.

The liposomal curcumin formulation was found to inhibit pancreatic cancer cell proliferation in vitro, and when administered to the animals intraperitoneally at a dose of 20 mg/kg, three-times a week for four weeks, a 42% suppression of tumor growth was observed compared to untreated controls. This would be the equivalent of 1,360 mg for a 150 lb adult. Note, the 20 mg/kg dose given to the test animals is 100 times lower than the LD50 for mice (i.e. the dose that would take to kill 50% of a test group).

Additionally, researchers observed “A potent antiangiogenic effect,” characterized by a reduced number blood vessels and other pro-angiogenic factors associated with the growth of the tumor’s blood supply.

The researchers concluded, “These data clearly establish the efficacy of liposomal curcumin in reducing human pancreatic cancer growth in the examined model. The therapeutic curcumin-based effects, with no limiting side-effects, suggest that liposomal curcumin may be beneficial in patients with pancreatic cancer.”

Considering the relatively high safety margin, affordability, accessibility and effectiveness (as demonstrated by pre-clinical research and a vast body of anecdotes) of turmeric extracts in fighting highly lethal cancers, we can only hope the medical establishment begins to incorporate these medicinal spices into their treatment protocols.

Article retrieved from http://www.undergroundhealth.com/turmeric-extract-kills-highly-lethal-pancreatic-tumors-preclinical-study-reveals/

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Flu Deaths reality check November 21, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Dreamhealer, Healing, Healthcare, Research.
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By: Kelly Crowe, CBC News

Do thousands of Canadians really die every year from the flu? The flu folks keep saying so. I’ve already heard it repeated several times this year and flu season has just started. This is what the Public Health Agency of Canada said in a recent press release: “Every year, between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and its complications.”

In a CBC interview a few weeks ago an editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal said: “Four thousand to 8,000  people die every year of influenza.”

It comes directly from the desk of Canada’s chief public health officer. “The flu is serious,” he tells us from his website. “Every year, between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and its complications.”

Did you ever wonder how they know that? The fact is, they don’t know that. “This is a scientific guess. This is not the truth,” Dr. Michael Gardam, director of the infection prevention and control unit at the University Health Network in Toronto and a longtime flu watcher, told me.

The fact is, no one knows how many people die after being infected with the flu virus. The death estimates are not based on body counts, lab tests or autopsies.

“I think people may have the misconception that every person who dies from the flu is somehow counted somewhere, and they’re not,” Gardam said.

The “2,000 to 8,000” numbers are based on computer models — a statistical guess that comes out of the end of a mathematical formula that makes a range of assumptions about death and flu.

“They’re tossing it into a big computer and they’re churning out estimates,” Gardam said as he scribbled numbers on a white board to show me how the models work.

One model counts all respiratory and circulatory deaths — that’s death from heart and lung failure — as flu deaths.

“As an upper limit, they are looking at everybody who died of a heart and lung problem,” Gardam said. “So you could imagine this could include people who died of a heart attack that had nothing to do with flu, but the feeling is that anybody who died of flu should be captured in there, plus a lot of other people.”

At the lower end of that model they count the number of deaths officially listed as “influenza” on the death certificate, plus all deaths from pneumonia — even though not all pneumonia is caused by flu.

“That is going to include obviously people who died specifically of those, but it might miss people who died of influenza but who didn’t get tested, for example,” Gardam said.

Data can include deaths by poison

Another model assumes that every extra death that happens in the winter is a flu death. At the risk of oversimplifying, this is the basic formula of that model: winter deaths (minus) summer deaths = death by flu virus.

That includes winter deaths from slippery sidewalks, snowy roads, freezing temperatures, plus all the winter heart failure, lung failure and deaths from cancer. In the language of the computer model, all excess mortality in winter is considered “death by flu.”

The model extrapolates that the flu virus will cause more deaths across all causes, including “disorders of the nervous system,” stroke and “disorders of the digestive system.” Which means that according to the model, flu causes 33 more “accidental falls” every year, 18 more “accidental poisonings,” and 68 more deaths from “psychotic conditions.” But what does flu have to do with deaths from accidental poisonings or accidental falls?

‘If they don’t collect that information, how do they know that their policies will work? This is called faith-based medicine.’— Dr. Tom Jefferson

How reliable are the computer model estimates? “I don’t think they’re reliable at all,” Dr. Tom Jefferson told me. He is a Rome-based researcher with the Cochrane Collaboration, and he spends his days reviewing all the research on acute respiratory infections and vaccines. He said hard data on flu deaths “are difficult to get hold of for obvious reasons. So enter modelling, which is nothing more than guesswork, highly sensitive to the assumptions you feed into the model. ‘Give me a model and I will make it say whatever you want,’ a colleague of mine always repeats.”

The models are only as good as the data sets that are fed into them. And death can be complicated. If someone already extremely fragile with heart or lung disease is tipped over the edge with a flu infection, is that a flu death, or a heart death or a lung death? Which database gets to claim it?

“The only mortality estimates which have any credibility are those based on post mortem examinations and tests which were done before death,” Jefferson said.

Flu death statistics not collected

In a perfect world, the flu death statistic would be based on an actual count of confirmed deaths after infection with the flu virus. But that’s difficult to do, because autopsies are almost never done, lab tests for the flu virus are rarely done, and someone could die from the complications of flu even though the virus is no longer detectable in their bodies.

The numbers we do have don’t even come close to the computer estimates. In Statistics Canada’s “deaths and mortality” table, under “cause of death: influenza,” there were only about 300 deaths a year between 2000 and 2008. Public health officials don’t trust that number. They believe it underestimates the true death toll from flu.

But Jefferson believes the models overstate the risk from influenza. “There are no real figures on deaths from influenza. They don’t collect that information,” he said. “So if they don’t collect that information, how do they know it’s a threat? And if they don’t collect that information, how do they know that their policies will work? This is called faith-based medicine, not evidence-based medicine.”

Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease expert at Toronto’s University Health Network, says estimates of the number of flu deaths each year “vary a great deal depending on which research paper you read.” (CBC)

“Could the deaths be being caused by other pathogens? It’s an important question,” Dr. Kumanan Wilson told me. He holds the Canada Research Chair in public health policy at the University of Ottawa. He’s also a hospital clinician who has seen many flu seasons.

“We see lots of people coming in with upper respiratory infections and we don’t know what causes it. Sometimes if they are really sick, we’ll test for influenza. We rarely test for anything else.”

One of the few attempts to check the accuracy of the models in assessing flu deaths was done by one of Wilson’s master’s students, and her thesis is interesting reading.

Using data from three Ottawa hospitals over seven flu seasons, Tiffany Smith did two things. First, she counted the patients who died from flu, according to a doctor’s diagnosis. Then, using one of the official flu modelling methods, she ran a computer model to see how close the actual body count matched the statistical estimates. Her result? The statistical model predicted eight times as many deaths from flu as there were actual clinical cases.

“I have found evidence to suggest that point estimates of influenza burden generated using statistical models may not be reliable,” she concluded, “and that more research is required to understand the limitations of this methodology.”

Remember, that’s an unpublished thesis, not a peer-reviewed study. But Wilson said it was a well done paper that posed some important questions.

Flu models versus counts

Getting back to the question of how deadly influenza really is, fate did offer up a chance to check the model predictions when the flu pandemic hit in 2009, and the world faced a new influenza threat called H1N1.

Back then a flu expert told me that the pandemic would be a rare opportunity to check the true death toll from flu, because, for the first time, there was widespread lab testing, a national reporting system, and all eyes were on potential flu-related deaths. The final count: 428 deaths, which is much closer to the seasonal average of around 300 recorded in the vital statistics tables than to the 2,000 to 8,000 deaths estimated for the average flu season by the computer models.

So how did the models rate after a real life test? “The predictive models of 2009 of influenza have actually been a complete failure,” respiratory-infection expert Jefferson said.

“Ranges like 2,000 to 4,000 or even 8,000 influenza-related deaths a year are thrown around each flu season, and policy decisions and flu shot campaigns are based on these numbers,” Michael Gardam told me. “I think it is important for us to remember that these numbers are estimates and certainly not written in stone. These numbers vary a great deal depending on which research paper you read.”

There’s another point to consider here. Using death estimates is the scariest way to talk about the risk from flu, because 8,000 thousand sounds like a lot of deaths. But if you ask, “8,000 deaths out of how many people?” suddenly the risk seems much smaller. In fact, it would be 8,000 deaths among 35 million Canadians. In other words, in a normal flu season, about  0.02 per cent of Canadians are in danger of dying from the flu, using the highest estimate. Another way to look at it is this: 99.98 per cent of Canadians will not die of flu this year.

Undermining flu campaigns

So are the statistical models exaggerating the death toll from flu? “Not enough people have been asking these questions,”  the University of Ottawa’s Wilson said. “These are complicated models. There are multiple ways to calculate the information. Five different analysts with the same data can come up with five different estimates. It depends on how they calculate base line risk, how they define when the season begins, how to run the model. There are lots of potential variables in the model that will influence your answer.”

Influenza prevention has become an industry fuelled by poor science, says Dr. Tom Jefferson. (CBC)

For proof of how models keep changing their estimates, look back at Canada’s flu files. More than a decade ago, flu was estimated to kill about 500 to 1,500 Canadians every year. But in 2003 Health Canada changed models, and the estimates jumped to “700 to 2,500 per annum.” The 2,500 deaths at the upper end of that range quickly became the lower end, when an even newer model was tried in 2007, pushing the upper limit to 8,000 based on the severe flu seasons of 1997 to 1999.

“Influenza prevention has become an industry fuelled by poor science and propelled by conflicted decision makers,” Jefferson said. “This is the significance of the upward creep that you have been witnessing and the chasm that now exists between policy makers and evidence.

“The proof of what I am saying is in the answer to the question: How many die every year? Answer: maybe 300 or maybe 9,000. We are not sure. If you do not know, how can you have such a costly policy and most of all how can you evaluate it?”

When I asked him if there are consequences from over-stating the mortality impact of flu, Jefferson answered: “Yes. Scaring people justifies evidence-free policies. Yes, no one knows exactly what the threat is. The only certainty are the returns for industry.”

Wilson is concerned that overstating deaths could undermine the annual flu campaign. “I think this is a potential risk,” he said. “It’s a good idea to try to capture the number of deaths. People just need to reflect the fact that there is a lot of uncertainty in these numbers and that has not necessarily been conveyed. Even if the estimate is 1,000 or 2,000, it’s a big number. A more conservative approach might be better to convince people it’s a real disease that we have to take seriously.”

One expert I talked to suggests that at least some of the cost of the annual flu campaign should be directed at finding out how much death the virus actually causes every year, by using a system of doctors and hospitals to track laboratory confirmation of flu infections and flu mortality.

The flu virus has lots of ugly company in the winter — less famous viruses such as RSV (respiratory syncytial virus); the ubiquitous cold bugs, including the coronavirus and the adenovirus; as well as Streptococcus pneumonia and all of its bacterial friends. Influenza is certainly one of the nastiest viruses in the group. It also happens to be the only one with a vaccine.

“You’ve got to wonder: The stuff we’re attributing to influenza, how much of that is actually true and how much of that is other viruses? We don’t know because they haven’t been studied,” University Health Network’s Gardam said.

Just 1 death this year

For the record, how many official deaths from flu have been reported so far this year? One.

And finally, as promised, here’s the official response I received  from the Public Health Agency of Canada:

Q1. How are the numbers derived? (i.e., how is it counted? are there any statistical models?) The number of flu related hospitalizations and deaths is not a straightforward estimate, given that influenza is such a non-specific illness and its diagnosis is under-reported. Patients with influenza complications or an exacerbation of their underlying chronic medical condition are often not reported as influenza related.

PHAC has taken data collected by Statistics Canada and hospital discharge records from the Canadian Institute of Health Information and applied statistical techniques to provide an estimate of influenza related deaths.

Q2. Are the numbers an average over the last 10 years? Have the numbers stabilized?

As previously indicated, it is difficult to assess the true burden of influenza in terms of incidence, deaths and hospitalization. However, it is estimated that, on average, the flu and its complications send about 20,000 Canadians to hospital every year, and between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die.

Q3. Why is it important to inform Canadians about  these death statistics?

Reporting on these death statistics informs Canadians that infection with influenza can be severe and in some cases result in death. Hence, Canadians should get their seasonal flu shot to prevent infection and to practice infection control measures such as hand washing, cough etiquette and staying home when sick to prevent spread.

Article retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/health/story/1.1127442

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Low Omega-3 Could Explain Why Some Children Struggle With Reading October 12, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Healing, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Research, vitamins.
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An Oxford University study has shown that a representative sample of UK schoolchildren aged seven to nine years had low levels of key Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Furthermore, the study found that children’s blood levels of the long-chain Omega-3 DHA (the form found in most abundance in the brain) ‘significantly predicted’ how well they were able to concentrate and learn.

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Oxford University researchers explained the findings, recently published in the journal PLOS One, at a conference in London on 4 September.

The study was presented at the conference by co-authors Dr Alex Richardson and Professor Paul Montgomery from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention. It is one of the first to evaluate blood Omega-3 levels in UK schoolchildren. The long-chain Omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) found in fish, seafood and some algae, are essential for the brain’s structure and function as well as for maintaining a healthy heart and immune system. Parents also reported on their child’s diet, revealing to the researchers that almost nine out of ten children in the sample ate fish less than twice a week, and nearly one in ten never ate fish at all. The government’s guidelines for a healthy diet recommend at least two portions of fish a week. This is because like vitamins, omega-3 fats have to come from our diets — and although humans can in theory make some EPA and DHA from shorter-chain omega-3 (found in some vegetable oils), research has shown this conversion is not reliable, particularly for DHA, say the researchers.

Blood samples were taken from 493 schoolchildren, aged between seven and nine years, from 74 mainstream schools in Oxfordshire. All of the children were thought to have below-average reading skills, based on national assessments at the age of seven or their teachers’ current judgements. Analyses of their blood samples showed that, on average, just under two per cent of the children’s total blood fatty acids were Omega-3 DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and 0.5 per cent were Omega-3 EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), with a total of 2.45 per cent for these long-chain Omega-3 combined. This is below the minimum of 4 per cent recommended by leading scientists to maintain cardiovascular health in adults, with 8-12 per cent regarded as optimal for a healthy heart, the researchers reported.

Co-author Professor Paul Montgomery said: ‘From a sample of nearly 500 schoolchildren, we found that levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in the blood significantly predicted a child’s behaviour and ability to learn. Higher levels of Omega-3 in the blood, and DHA in particular, were associated with better reading and memory, as well as with fewer behaviour problems as rated by parents and teachers. These results are particularly noteworthy given that we had a restricted range of scores, especially with respect to blood DHA but also for reading ability, as around two-thirds of these children were still reading below their age-level when we assessed them. Although further research is needed, we think it is likely that these findings could be applied generally to schoolchildren throughout the UK.’

Co-author Dr Alex Richardson added: ‘The longer term health implications of such low blood Omega-3 levels in children obviously can’t be known. But this study suggests that many, if not most UK children, probably aren’t getting enough of the long-chain Omega-3 we all need for a healthy brain, heart and immune system. That gives serious cause for concern because we found that lower blood DHA was linked with poorer behaviour and learning in these children. ‘Most of the children we studied had blood levels of long-chain Omega-3 that in adults would indicate a high risk of heart disease. This was consistent with their parents’ reports that most of them failed to meet current dietary guidelines for fish and seafood intake. Similarly, few took supplements or foods fortified with these Omega-3.’

The current findings build on earlier work by the same researchers, showing that dietary supplementation with Omega-3 DHA improved both reading progress and behaviour in children from the general school population who were behind on their reading. Their previous research has already shown benefits of supplementation with long-chain omega-3 (EPA+DHA) for children with ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and related conditions. The DHA Oxford Learning and Behaviour (DOLAB) Studies have now extended these findings to children from the general school population.

‘Technical advances in recent years have enabled the measurement of individual Omega-3 and other fatty acids from fingerstick blood samples. ‘These new techniques have been revolutionary — because in the past, blood samples from a vein were needed for assessing fatty acids, and that has seriously restricted research into the blood Omega-3 status of healthy UK children until now,’ said Dr Richardson.

The authors believe these findings may be relevant to the general UK population, as the spread of scores in this sample was within the normal population range for both reading and behaviour. However, they caution that these findings may not apply to more ethnically diverse populations as some genetic differences can affect how Omega-3 fatty acids are metabolised. Most of the children participating in this study were white British.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Alexandra J. Richardson, Jennifer R. Burton, Richard P. Sewell, Thees F. Spreckelsen, Paul Montgomery.Docosahexaenoic Acid for Reading, Cognition and Behavior in Children Aged 7–9 Years: A Randomized, Controlled Trial (The DOLAB Study)PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (9): e43909 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043909

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Healthy lifestyle ‘slows cellular ageing’ September 25, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Aging, Alternative medicine, Dreamhealer, Energy Healing, exercise, Experiments, Healing, Health, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Research.
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Written by: Nick Collins

Healthy lifestyle changes such as eating whole foods and practising yoga could reverse the ageing of the body’s cells, a new study suggests.

Doctor Dreamhealer, Healer, Adam McLeod, DreamhealerPatients who adopted healthy diets, exercise regimes and “stress management” techniques such as meditation or yoga for five years developed younger-looking chromosomes.

The type of change seen in their chromosomes, the structures which house our genetic code, has previously been linked to a lower risk of age-related disease and greater life expectancy.

The findings, from a pilot study of prostate cancer patients, could equally apply to women and healthy men although larger studies are needed to confirm the results, researchers said.

They studied data on 35 patients who had a non-aggressive form of prostate cancer and had chosen to be regularly assessed by doctors rather than undergoing conventional treatment.

Ten of the men adopted a “lifestyle change intervention” which included eating a plant-based diet of whole foods, moderate exercise, stress management and regular group support classes, while the other 25 made no change to their lifestyle.

The scientists, from the University of California, San Francisco, examined changes in the men’s telomeres, structures which sit at the ends of chromosomes like the protective caps on the end of a shoelace.

Telomeres prevent the DNA within our chromosomes from being damaged, but as we grow older they become shorter and cells begin to age and die more rapidly.

Previous studies have linked the shortening of telomeres to a decrease in life expectancy and a greater risk of age-related diseases such as heart disease, vascular dementia, obesity, stroke, diabetes and various cancers.

But the new research found that in the group who adopted strict and comprehensive healthy changes to their diet and lifestyle, telomeres lengthened by an average of 10 per cent over five years.

The more positive changes the men made, the greater the increase in telomere length. In contrast, among those who did not alter their way of life, telomeres decreased in length by three per cent on average.

Although it is well known that a healthy diet and plenty of exercise can result in a host of medical befits, the findings published in The Lancet Oncology journal, are the first evidence of such an effect on telomeres.

Prof Dean Ornish, who led the study, said: “The implications of this relatively small pilot study may go beyond men with prostate cancer.

“If validated by large-scale randomised controlled trials, these comprehensive lifestyle changes may significantly reduce the risk of a wide variety of diseases and premature mortality. Our genes, and our telomeres, are a predisposition, but they are not necessarily our fate.”

Dr Lynne Cox, a Biochemistry lecturer at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the study, said the findings “support the calls for adoption of and adherence to healthier lifestyles”.

It is “perhaps too soon to judge whether this increase in telomere length will correlate with increased longevity or healthspan”, she added.

Four lifestyle improvements which could lengthen telomeres

Diet

Participants adopted a diet high in whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains. They cut down on refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, and lowered their fat intake to less than 10 per cent of all the calories in their diet.

Exercise

The men were asked to undertake “moderate” levels of aerobic exercise for the duration of the study, for example walking for half an hour a day, six times per week.

Stress management

Exercises participants carried out to lower their stress levels were gentle yoga-based stretching routines, breathing exercises, meditation and “progressive relaxation”, a technique which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in turn.

Social support

The men were asked to attend one hour-long group “social support” session each week, led by a clinical psychologist.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10312716/Healthy-lifestyle-slows-cellular-ageing.html

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Incense Smoke Causes Human Lung Cell Inflammation, say Researchers August 8, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Asthma, Dreamhealer, Healing, Health, Lung Cancer, Pollution, Polutants, Research.
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BURNING incense, a popular cultural practice in Arabian Gulf countries and elsewhere, generates indoor air pollutants that may cause inflammation in human lung cells, say researchers in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States.

“Hazard assessment of United Arab Emirates (UAE) incense smoke” appears in the August 2013 issue of Science of the Total Environment. Rebecca Cohen, master’s student in environmental sciences and engineering (ESE), her adviser, Kenneth G. Sexton, now retired ESE research assistant professor and Karin B. Yeatts, research assistant professor of epidemiology, co-authored the study.

Previous studies, some by Yeatts and other UNC colleagues, have associated incense smoke with a number of health problems, including eye, nose, throat and skin irritation, respiratory symptoms, including asthma, headaches, exacerbation of cardiovascular disease and changes in lung-cell structure.

Indoor air pollution is an international health concern. The World Health Organization estimates that more than one million people a year die from chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD), primarily a result of exposure to pollutants from cook stoves and open hearths. Burning incense releases similar pollutants, including carbon monoxide.

In the current study, the authors identified and measured the particles and gases emitted from two kinds of incense typically used in UAE homes. The testing was done over three hours, the typical timeframe during which incense is burned, in a specially designed indoor environmental chamber with a concentration of smoke that might be present in a typical UAE living room.

The researchers analysed both particulate concentrations and levels of gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and formaldehyde.

Human lung cells were placed in the chamber to expose them to the smoke, then incubated for 24 hours to allow particulates to settle and the cells to respond. The resulting inflammatory response, a hallmark of asthma and other respiratory problems, was similar to that of lung cells exposed to cigarette smoke.

Article retrieve from: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/natural-health/129255-incense-smoke-causes-human-lung-cell-inflammation-say-researchers


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Processed Meats Declared Too Dangerous for Human Consumption May 16, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Animals, Diet, Dreamhealer, Government, Health, Longevity, Research.
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Written by INH

*Update: The WCRF issued a press release in response to this article. You can read the response here.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has just completed a detailed review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer. Its conclusion is rocking the health world with startling bluntness: Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption. Consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products for the rest of their lives.

Processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, sandwich meat, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami and virtually all red meat used in frozen prepared meals. They are usually manufactured with a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite. This is used as a color fixer by meat companies to turn packaged meats a bright red color so they look fresh. Unfortunately, sodium nitrite also results in the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the human body. And this leads to a sharp increase in cancer risk for those who eat them.

A 2005 University of Hawaii study found that processed meats increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67 percent. Another study revealed that every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. These are alarming numbers. Note that these cancer risks do not come from eating fresh, non-processed meats. They only appear in people who regularly consume processed meat products containing sodium nitrite.

Sodium nitrite appears predominantly in red meat products (you won’t find it in chicken or fish products). Here’s a short list of food items to check carefully for sodium nitrite and monosodium glutamate (MSG), another dangerous additive:

  • Beef jerky
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Hot dogs
  • Sandwich meat
  • Frozen pizza with meat
  • Canned soups with meat
  • Frozen meals with meat
  • Ravioli and meat pasta foods
  • Kid’s meals containing red meat
  • Sandwich meat used at popular restaurants
  • Nearly all red meats sold at public schools, restaurants, hospitals, hotels and theme parks

If sodium nitrite is so dangerous to humans, why do the FDA and USDA continue to allow this cancer-causing chemical to be used? The answer, of course, is that food industry interests now dominate the actions by U.S. government regulators. The USDA, for example, tried to ban sodium nitrite in the late 1970′s but was overridden by the meat industry.5 It insisted the chemical was safe and accused the USDA of trying to “ban bacon.”

Today, the corporations that dominate American food and agricultural interests hold tremendous influence over the FDA and USDA. Consumers are offered no real protection from dangerous chemicals intentionally added to foods, medicines and personal care products.

You can protect yourself and your family from the dangers of processed meats by following a few simple rules:

  1. Always read ingredient labels.
  2. Don’t buy anything made with sodium nitrite or monosodium glutamate.
  3. Don’t eat red meats served by restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels or other institutions.

And finally, eat more fresh produce with every meal. There is evidence that natural vitamin C found in citrus fruits and exotic berries (like camu camu) helps prevent the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines, protecting you from the devastating health effects of sodium nitrite in processed meats. The best defense, of course, is to avoid eating processed meats altogether.

Article retrieved from: http://institutefornaturalhealing.com/2012/04/processed-meats-declared-too-dangerous-for-human-consumption/

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Paralyzed Patient Moves Prosthetic Arm with her Mind May 7, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Dreamhealer, exercise, Experiments, Health, Research.
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Experimental robotic technology may also someday help people with amputations as well, experts hope.

The technology, known as brain-computer (or brain-machine) interface, is in its infancy as far as human use—though scientists have been studying the concept for years. But experts say that people with paralysis or amputations could be using the technology at home within the next decade.

It basically boils down to people using their thoughts to control a robot arm that then performs a desired task, like grasping and moving a cup. That’s done via tiny electrode “grids” implanted in the brain that read the movement signals firing from individual nerve cells, then translate them to the robot arm.

“We have the ability to capture information from the brain and use it to control the robotic arm,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, who presented her team’s latest findings on the technology Tuesday, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, in New Orleans.

However, she stressed, “we still have a ton to learn.”

Right now, the robot arm is confined to the lab. After getting their electrodes implanted, study patients come to the lab to work with the robotic limb under the researchers’ supervision. So far, Tyler-Kabara and her colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have tested the approach in one patient. Researchers at Brown University in Providence, R.I., have done it in a handful of others.

One of the big questions, Tyler-Kabara said, is “how much control is enough?” That is, how well does the mind-controlled arm need to work to bring real everyday benefits to people?

At the meeting on Tuesday, Tyler-Kabara presented an update on how her team’s patient is faring. The 53-year-old woman had long-standing quadriplegia due to a disease called spinocerebellar degeneration—where, for unknown reasons, the connections between the brain and muscles slowly deteriorate.

Tyler-Kabara performed the surgery, where two tiny electrode grids were placed in the area of the brain that would normally control the movement of the right hand and arm. The electrode points penetrate the brain’s surface by about one-sixteenth of an inch.

“The idea is pretty scary,” Tyler-Kabara acknowledged. But her team’s patient had no complications from the surgery and left the hospital the next day. There’ve been no longer-term problems either, she said—though, in theory, there would be concerns about infection or bleeding over the long haul.

The surgery left the patient with two terminals that protrude through her skull. The researchers used those to connect the implanted electrodes to a computer, where they could see brain cells firing when the patient thought about moving her hand.

She was quickly able to master simple movements with the robotic arm, like high-fiving the researchers. And after six months, she was performing “10-degrees-of-freedom” movements, Tyler-Kabara reported at the meeting.

That includes not only moving the arm, but also flexing and rotating the wrist, grasping objects and affecting several different hand “postures.” She has accomplished feats like feeding herself chocolate.

The researchers initially used a computer in training sessions with the patient, but after that the robot arm is directly linked to the electrodes—so there is no need for “computer assistance,” according to Tyler-Kabara.

Still, before the technology can ultimately be used at home, she said, researchers have to devise a “fully implanted” wireless system for controlling the robot arm.

Another expert talked about the new technology.

“This is one more encouraging step toward developing something practical that people can use in their daily lives,” said Dr. Robert Grossman, a neurosurgeon at Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, who was not involved in the research.

It’s hard to put a time line on it all, Grossman said, since technological advances could changes things. He also noted that several research groups are looking at different approaches to brain-computer interfaces.

One, Grossman said, is to do it noninvasively, through electrodes placed on the scalp.

Study author Tyler-Kabara said that noninvasive approach has met with success in helping people perform simple tasks, like moving a cursor on a computer screen. “But I don’t think it will ever be good enough for performing complicated tasks,” she said, noting that it can’t work as precisely as the implanted electrodes.

A next step, Tyler-Kabara said, is to develop a “two-way” electrode system that stimulates the brain to generate sensation—with the aim of helping people adjust the robot’s grip strength.

She said there is also much to learn about which people will ultimately be good candidates for the technology. There may, for example, be some brain injuries that prevent people from benefiting. Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The research is being funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the University of Pittsburgh.

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Article retrieved from: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-paralyzed-patient-prosthetic-arm-mind.html?utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer:%2BWardPlunet%2Bon%2Btwitter&buffer_share=1f91a

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