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Sun, 14 Feb 2016
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Health & Wellness


Levels of B12 in the brain found to be significantly lower in the elderly and those with autism or schizophrenia

A new study published in the online journal, Public Library of Science One (PLOS One) found that Vitamin B12 levels in the brain are significantly decreased in the elderly and are much lower in individuals with autism or schizophrenia, as compared to their peers at similar ages. For example, children with autism under the age of 10 were found to have three times lower brain B12 levels, which is similar to levels for generally healthy adults in their 50s, indicating a premature decrease.

The international research team led by Richard Deth, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) College of Pharmacy, analyzed tissue from otherwise healthy deceased donors along with tissue from donors who had autism or schizophrenia to make the comparisons.

"These are particularly significant findings because the differences we found in brain B12 with aging, autism and schizophrenia are not seen in the blood, which is where B12 levels are usually measured." said Dr. Deth. "The large deficits of brain B12 from individuals with autism and schizophrenia could help explain why patients suffering from these disorders experience neurological and neuropsychiatric symptoms."

Comment: B12 deficiency is far more common than most health care practitioners and the general public realize. One study suggests that 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have plasma B12 levels in the low normal range - a range at which many experience neurological symptoms. It is possible that at least some of the symptoms we attribute to "normal" aging - such as memory loss, cognitive decline, decreased mobility are in part caused by B12 deficiency. As well as cognitive decline, many diseases may be caused by Vitamin B12 deficiency, including neurological disorders such as MS, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, learning and developmental disorders in children, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

The best dietary sources of B12 include meat, poultry fish and eggs, which is one reason why B12 deficiency is particularly common in vegetarians and vegans. The most recent studies using more sensitive techniques for detecting B12 deficiency have found that 68% of vegetarians and 83% of vegans are B12 deficient, compared to just 5% of omnivores.


As the Zika virus rages, El Salvador asks women not to get pregnant until 2018

South America’s biggest country has seen a rise in cases of a disease triggered by the little-known Zika virus being linked to a surge in congenital brain malformations.
The rapid spread of the Zika virus has prompted Latin American governments to urge women not to get pregnant for up to two years, an extraordinary precaution aimed at avoiding birth defects believed to be linked to the mosquito-borne illness.

What until recently was a seemingly routine public health problem for countries that are home to a certain type of mosquito has morphed into a potentially culture-shaping phenomenon in which the populations of several nations have been asked to delay procreation. The World Health Organization says at least 20 countries or territories in the region, including Barbados and Bolivia, Guadeloupe and Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Panama, have registered transmission of the virus.

Comment: For more see:


Is your shrimp mislabeled, contaminated and laced with antibiotics? Survey says, 'yes'

A survey by the Oceana group found that up to 30 percent of America's favorite seafood is being misrepresented and the practice may extend to the rest of the world.

In the only known study of its kind in the U.S. DNA testing confirmed that 30 percent of the 143 shrimp products tested from 111 grocery stores and restaurants were misrepresented. Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation, found that consumers are often provided with little information about the shrimp they purchase, including where and how it was caught or farmed, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to make informed choices.

"The results are not suprising," said marine biologist Nancy Bailey. "We've been tracking farmed shrimp for years and it's some of the most unregulated and mislabeled seafood in the world."


Leukaemia halted in the lab by targeting Hhex

Melbourne researchers have shown they can stop leukaemia in its tracks by targeting a protein that puts the handbrake on cancer cell growth.

The researchers discovered that targeting a protein called Hhex could cure acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in preclinical disease models, and could be a key target for new therapies for human leukaemia.

Dr Ben Shields and Dr Matt McCormack from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Cancer and Haematology division discovered that loss of the Hhex protein put the handbrake on leukaemia cell growth and division. The protein is a critical factor enabling AML cells to grow uncontrollably, a hallmark of cancer.


Zika virus: Information about the latest global health scare

© Ma Qiang / Southern Metropolis Daily / Reuters
It is not known if the infected are currently in the UK
You may not have heard of it until very recently, but new cases of the Zika virus continue to pop up around the world. Spreading mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, the virus has now been confirmed in three travelers from the UK.

A statement from Public Health England said those infected had recently traveled through South America, but it is not clear if the people involved have since returned to the UK.

The Britons travelled to Colombia, Suriname and Guyana, where they are suspected of contracting the mosquito-borne disease. Public Health England has not confirmed if any of the three are pregnant.

Why is Zika dangerous?

There is no vaccine for the virus, which can cause fever, rashes, joint pains, and conjunctivitis within days of being contracted. For most of those infected, the virus causes a short illness lasting between two and seven days. However, in some rare cases, it can result in serious illness and death.

Infants are most at risk from Zika, as mothers can pass the infection on to their fetus, leading to microcephaly - a rare birth defect where babies are born with abnormally small heads and developmental delays.

Treatment for the Zika virus focuses on pain relief and fever reduction, with some patients also given antihistamines for itchy skin rashes.

Preventative measures focus on general mosquito bite prevention, such as using insecticides, and special nets and screens.

Comment: See these related articles for further information on the Zika virus:


Healthy ways to increase your brain's dopamine levels

"Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional response, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them." - Psychology Today

There are a lot of articles on the internet about dopamine and how it affects your mood, behavior, energy, and focus. What's not commonly spoken about, however, is how dopamine is affected by your perception. Discussed more rarely still is the reason why your dopamine levels may be low. Below are 10 ways to increase your dopamine levels, courtesy of Power of Positivity, as well as my own observations regarding the underlying issues which may have led to each situation, and how to tackle them.


Activist uses spy drone to expose the truth about factory farming

Factory farming is quite possibly the most horrific and destructive practice we humans engage in today. It sacrifices billions of lives each year and serves to pollute, not protect, the environment of our planet. According to the animal rights group, Last Chance for Animals, "97% of the 10 billion animals tortured and killed each year are [factory] farm animals." So why is it that when most people look at their plates they don't see the real story behind what they're eating?

Pollution and Environmental Damage

Let's take a look at a video published by Factory Farm Drones about a man who infiltrated factory farm territory with a surveillance drone. In the video, you see a glimpse of how devastating factory farming can be on the environment as well as on neighboring communities who happen to be down-wind of one of these facilities.


Correlation or causation?: The link between diet soda consumption and coronary problems

One of the largest studies of its kind recently examined the link between diet drinks and cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and stroke in healthy, postmenopausal women. The research took place at the University of Iowa, and the findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session in Washington, D.C.

60,000 women participated in the study, and it found that women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day are 30 percent more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, and 50 percent more likely to die from a related disease. (source)

These are huge numbers, even if you are thinking correlation does not mean causation. When using theBradford Hill criteria to evaluate the relationship between diet drinks and human health, it becomes quite clear that the danger is at least worth considering. It's a great example of how potentially deadly, unhealthy products are marketed to us as a "better alternative" and completely safe.

Comment: Diet soda drinkers aren't just at increased risk for heart troubles. Migraines, seizures, vision problems and cancer have all been linked to aspartame consumption as well.


Whole stevia leaf more effective than antibiotics in treating Lyme disease, says study

Lyme disease is exceedingly difficult to treat, due to its well-known shape-shifting (pleomorphic) abilities, with conventional antibiotics often failing to produce a long-term cure. Could the commonly used natural plant Stevia provide a safer, and more effective means to combat this increasingly prevalent infection?

A promising new preclinical study has revealed that whole stevia leaf extract possesses exceptional antibiotic activity against the exceedingly difficult to treat pathogen Borrelia Burgdorferi known to cause Lyme disease. The study found,
Stevia whole leaf extract, as an individual agent, was effective against all known morphological forms of B. burgdorferi."
At present, the CDC acknowledges that at least 300,000 are infected with Lyme disease, annually, with the conventional standard of care relying on antibiotics that are not only toxic but increasingly coming under scrutiny for addressing only surface aspects of the infection, often leaving antibiotic-resistance Lyme disease deep within the system to continue to cause harm.

Comment: This research is promising. Hopefully, it will be fully investigated.


Natural approaches for cramps and PMS

Menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can be debilitating for some women and make them feel very uncomfortable at "that time of the month." Our ancestors have utilized a variety of very effective herbal solutions to address every kind of pain associated with monthly cycles.

Restoring your menstrual cycle can be done naturally and effectively with herbs, nutrition and exercise. Here are 15 very effective herbs for menstrual pain.

These are probably the most effective herbs for reducing uterine spasm and cramping. These sister herbs bring relief of pain and muscle spasm in the uterus. Cramp bark and Black haw have been shown safe for use for several days prior to onset on menses in anticipation and prevention of painful cramps.

Comment: Some women report a decrease or complete cessation of menstrual problems and PMS symptoms when dropping gluten from their diets.