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Fri, 22 Sep 2017
The World for People who Think

Health & Wellness


People with schizophrenia live shorter lives and have higher risks of health complications

A packet of pills. The health care system may be failing those with schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition affecting the ability to think clearly and manage emotions. Now, new research suggests it may also eliminate up to eight years from the life span of people living with the diagnosis.

The study, published online in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looked at all deaths in Ontario from 1993 to 2012. At each year of their lives, individuals with schizophrenia have a mortality rate three times higher than those without the condition, according to the report. Ultimately, this results in a life span eight years shorter than average - 64.7 versus 67.8.

Certain demographics were affected more than others. For example, women, young people, and individuals from lower-income neighborhoods who were living with schizophrenia were more likely experience these life-expectancy discrepancies than other patients. Although living in a lower-incomes neighborhood is often associated with reduced mortality, lead author Paul Kurdyak, a clinician at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, told Newsweek that he's not sure why women have the lowest life span.

Although these specific numbers were collected in Canada, Kurdyak told Newsweek that similar trends have also been observed in other parts of the world, including the United States.


Study shows fluoride exposure in utero linked to lower IQ in children

About 75% of Americans are exposed to fluoride through public water, but Mexico does not have a fluoridation program.
Increased levels of prenatal fluoride exposure may be associated with lower cognitive function in children, a new study says.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, evaluated nearly 300 sets of mothers and children in Mexico and tested the children twice for cognitive development over the course of 12 years. Fluoride is not added to public water supplies in Mexico, but people are exposed through naturally occurring fluoride in water and fluoridated salt and supplements.

The study found a drop in scores on intelligence tests for every 0.5 milligram-per-liter increase in fluoride exposure beyond 0.8 milligrams per liter found in urine. However, although the researchers found a potential connection to a child's exposure to fluoride in utero, they found no significant influence from fluoride exposure on brain development once a child was born.

"Childhood exposure to fluoride is safer than prenatal. There is pretty good science now to support the fact that the fetal system tends to be more sensitive to environmental toxicants than once the child is born," said the study's lead author, Howard Hu, founding dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Comment: There are the dubiously questionable health claims used to justify forced fluoridation, but little is mentioned of the fact that there is no consent involved in the public water fluoridation programs. The government is fluoridating your water, without your permission, and without any presentation of proof that it is safe or effect. That alone should give one pause. See also:

Life Preserver

Serum Ferritin and GGT: Two important markers of iron and liver toxicity

While many health screens and lab tests are overrated or unnecessary, there are a few that are vitally important, such as vitamin D. I recommend checking your vitamin D level at least twice a year.

Two other really important tests are serum ferritin (which measures stored iron) and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase or sometimes called gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT; a liver enzyme correlated with iron toxicity, disease risk and all-cause mortality). By monitoring your serum ferritin and GGT levels and taking steps to lower them if they're too high, you can avoid serious health problems.

For adults, I strongly recommend getting a serum ferritin test and GGT on an annual basis. When it comes to iron overload, I believe it can be every bit as dangerous to your health as vitamin D deficiency. In this interview, Gerry Koenig,1 former chairman of the Iron Disorders Institute and the Hemochromatosis Foundation, explains the value of these two tests.

Comment: The iron elephant - The dangers of iron overload

Green Light

The healing potential of different light wavelengths now being studied for treating numerous conditions

University of Arizona surgical specialist Kerry Gilbraith holds a clear plastic container affixed with green LED strips that was used in the migraine study.
In the 30 years since Donna Keller-Ossipov had her first migraine, she's tried everything from pills to Botox to keep the crushing headaches at bay. They've come every few days anyway, forcing her to retreat to a dark room, nauseated and incapacitated.

So when Keller-Ossipov learned of a clinical trial testing "green light therapy" for migraine, she didn't hesitate to sign up. Months after the study ended, she still bathes herself in the green glow of a portable LED light 2 hours per day, setting it next to her as she winds down at night. She hasn't had a migraine since spring.

"I don't know how it works," says the retired 61-year-old nurse. "But it works."

The trial, at the University of Arizona, is among dozens of ongoing studies exploring whether exposing the skin or eyes to specific wavelengths of light can help treat health problems. At Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers are studying whether a red light-emitting helmet can help traumatic brain injury patients recover. At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists are studying whether a similar device can stall mental decline in people with Alzheimer's disease. Dermatology offices and high-end spas routinely use light therapy to ease skin problems. And thanks to the recent availability of low-cost, heat-free (and thus safer) light-emitting diodes (LEDs), there are more do-it-yourself gadgets for treating acne, depression, and pain online.


Protein that stimulates brown fat could aid other weight loss strategies

© Toni Vidal-Puig
Scientists have discovered a protein that activates brown fat (pictured) in mice
For most of us fighting the battle of the bulge, fat is an enemy that must be reigned in to a healthier - and less noticeable - level. But there are actually two types of fat - or adipose tissue - found in mammals: white and brown. While white fat stores calories and is the culprit behind love handles, brown fat's primary function is to generate heat to keep the body warm through the burning of fats in a process known as thermogenesis. Therefore, the ability to activate brown fat in the body could provide a means to fight obesity and keep the weight off. Now scientists have discovered a protein that could allow them to do just that.

We recently covered the discovery at the US San Francisco Diabetes Center that a protein called PRDM16 appears to regulate the development of brown fat and could be used to promote the conversion of white fat cells to brown fat. Now scientists at the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories at the Institute of Metabolic Science have discovered that another protein, called BMP8B, also plays a role in the regulation of brown fat and is also a potential therapeutic target in the fight against obesity.


How to change the way you eat

Treat or health threat? A poor diet contributes to one in five deaths, a study has revealed.
A comprehensive study of global disease has found that a poor diet now contributes to one in five deaths around the world. Unhealthy eating was shown to kill more people than smoking, while obesity and excess weight was revealed to be the fastest growing cause of death in the world.

The Global Burden of Diseases study, published in The Lancet, also showed that while people are living longer, they're also spending more years in ill health.

While the average man can expect to live until 79, he can only expect to enjoy good health up to the age of 69. The average woman lives to 83, but maintains good health only until the age of 71, it was reported.

John Newton of Public Health England, who worked on the study, highlighted that people in developing countries are successfully minimising the health risks associated with infectious diseases, malnutrition and dirty water - only to then turn to junk food in lieu of fruit and vegetables.

So, if overeating is the biggest risk to our health today, how can we cut back? According to Alison Whitworth, a state registered dietician, the Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good way to ascertain whether you are overeating or obese.

Comment: The obesity "epidemic" is a bit more complicated than people eating too much, and simply eating less isn't a guarantee of weight loss or improved health. Consider, also, the studies that show "overweight" people live the longest. This topic is fraught with bias and twisted science, but one of the main points of the article that a poor diet can lead to poor health later in life still stands and the advice given could be applied to changing one's diet to something that promotes wellness and not suffering.


WHO issues warning on antibiotic crisis, says drug development lagging as antibiotics are unprofitable for Big Pharma

© Getty
Concern about growing global antibiotic resistance has come to a head: The World Health Organization is now warning that the world is running out of antibiotics.

There aren't enough truly new antibiotics being developed, especially for the most concerning antibiotic-resistant infections, according to a WHO report released Tuesday.

The United Nations health agency has aired its concerns about antibiotic resistance, which makes it more difficult to treat infections, for some time. Some of the group's latest moves included updating guidelines for treating sexually transmitted infections and cautioning that just three antibiotics are being developed to treat gonorrhea, a "fairly grim" situation.

But the latest WHO report takes a broad and prospective look at antibiotic development, and what it describes is not a pretty picture.

Comment: Antimicrobial resistance - The looming medical apocalypse

Snowflake Cold

Two ways to increase brown fat cells

© Gregory Nemec
They're the hot ticket in warding off weight gain, but is there a formula for making brown fat cells? Yes, according to recent research.

1. Exposure to cold could cause adults to generate new brown fat cells, according to research reported in journal Nature Medicine. Unlike ubiquitous white fat cells, which lounge around storing fat, rarer brown ones burn fat at a higher rate as part of a duty to keep us warm.

2. Consuming sleep hormone melatonin may control weight gain by stimulating 'beige fat', suggests a study published in the Journal of Pineal Research. In a study of rats, long-term melatonin consumption appeared to alter the white-to-brown fat ratio in thin subjects. It also synced with production of beige fat in obese diabetic subjects.

That doesn't mean eating foods containing melatonin will turn you into Miranda Kerr, but hey, can't hurt. (How's a sandwich with mustard, goji berry, almonds, sunflower seeds, cardamom, fennel, coriander and cherries sound?).


Better Earth

Separating the wheat from the chaff: As EU embraces GMO frankenfoods, Russia set to become leading organic food producer

© Eduard Korniyenko / Reuters
Last week, an EU court ruled Italy cannot ban the cultivation of an EU-approved genetically modified crop, thus publicly supporting GMO. At the same time, Russia has been ramping up production and export of organic food. "Recently the organic food market has definitely expanded in Russia. The organically produced food industry held a market valuation of $178 million in 2015, an increase from 2010's $116 million total," economist Iryna Kobuta at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia told RT.

"Euromonitor has also noticed increased spending on pre-packaged organic food and drink in Russia. 2015 saw consumers purchase close to $12 million worth of packaged eco-foods. Russia exports organic buckwheat, millet, alfalfa, flax, and wildly grown products - including wild berries, mushrooms, cedar nuts, and herbs - to a variety of countries. Russia also exports organic wheat to the EU," she added. In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to make the country the largest supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food which Western producers "have long lost."

Comment: Medvedev said in 2014: "If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don't need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food."

See also:


Many patients thought to be in 'vegetative' states may still be conscious and can recover over time

Some experts say 40 percent of people believed to be in vegetative states may actually be minimally conscious. A correct diagnosis could save their lives.
Traumatic brain injuries aren't created equal.

Many patients once thought to be in unconscious vegetative states are actually minimally conscious, say experts, and they can recover over time.

But wrong diagnoses are rampant, according to studies.

In fact, researchers say more than 40 percent of patients with traumatic brain injuries have been wrongly labeled as vegetative.

And that diagnosis hasn't changed much in many years.

The message, say researchers, is that there's hope for patients in minimally conscious states (MCS).

But first, the diagnosis must be correct.