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Tue, 22 May 2018
The World for People who Think

Health & Wellness


Brain freeze: Adapting to life in the frigid north may have been a real headache

A genetic analysis by latitude reveals variation in a cold-sensing protein linked to migraines
Genetic variation cold sensitive protein
© Viktor La/Shutterstock
A certain genetic variation in a cold-sensitive protein is far more common in people of northern European ancestry than in Asians or Africans. This variation has also been linked to migraine headaches, which occur more frequently in this population.

In Finland, 88 percent of people have a genetic variation that increases their risk for migraines. But in people of Nigerian descent, that number drops to 5 percent.

Coincidence? Maybe. But a new study suggests that, thousands of years ago, that particular genetic mutation increased in frequency in northern populations because it somehow made people better suited to handle cold temperatures. That change may have had the unfortunate consequence of raising the prevalence of these severe headaches in certain populations, researchers report May 3 in PLOS Genetics.

The mutation is in a stretch of DNA that controls the behavior of TRPM8, a protein that responds to cold sensation. People with the older version of this DNA snippet seems less susceptible to migraines than people with the mutated version, previous studies have shown.

Using a global database of human genetic information, evolutionary geneticist Aida Andres and her colleagues showed a correlation between the frequency of the mutation in a given population and that population's latitude. It's rare in Africa, for example, but fairly common across Europe.


More reasons why you should take a nap

© Penn State
Naps can protect your health and boost your waking performance.

Naps are not an indulgence or a sign of laziness, but a powerful means of rejuvenating your mental and physical well-being. Here are four reasons why you should try to find the time and place for a brief daytime snooze.

You probably need it.

Many people today are sleep deprived at moderate to severe levels. Long work hours, busy personal lives, noisy urban environments, and the stimulation of multiple electronic devices are all making it harder than ever to get as much sleep as our minds and bodies require. A quick siesta cannot make up for all the sleep you've lost, but taking a nap whenever you have the chance will protect your health and diminish the long-term effects of sleep deprivation.

Comment: More reasons to take a daily nap:


The dangers of chemical based sunscreen: Oxybenzone & Octinoxate

On Wednesday, Hawaiian lawmakers passed a bill banning the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, chemicals thought to be harmful to the ocean's coral reefs. The ingredients can potentially increase coral's susceptibility to bleaching, and up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen reportedly end up in coral reefs every year.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are two of the most popular ingredients in chemical sunscreens ― that is, sunscreens that use chemicals as the active ingredient. Chemical sunscreens dominate the shelves at most drugstores and rely on a chemical reaction to protect skin from the sun's rays.

That got us thinking: If oxybenzone and octinoxate can cause harm to coral, what are they doing to our bodies?

Comment: There is evidence that toxic chemicals in sunscreen can be harmful. Chemicals like Oxybenzone & Octinoxate can disrupt the endocrine system - endocrine disruptors - and cause DNA mutation. Read more about debunking the myths surrounding sun exposure and sunscreen:

Wine n Glass

Yet again: Study confirms repeated alcohol consumption damages the brain

alcohol brain stem cells

The study found that repeated alcohol consumption damages many parts of the brain and the areas most susceptible are in two regions that are responsible for the production of new brain cells.
Study found thinning in areas of the brain important for memory, language, awareness, consciousness and attention.

Binge drinking of alcohol is linked to brain damage in young people, new research finds.

Binge drinking is defined in the US as four or more standard alcoholic drinks for women or five or more for men in two hours.

Using alcohol in this way was linked to thinning in areas of the brain important for memory, language, awareness, consciousness and attention.

For example, binge drinking is associated with problems learning new words in young people.

Comment: More on the effects of alcohol:


Worse than sugar: Artificial sweeteners alter metabolic processes at the cellular level making you fat and sick

artificial sweeteners
If you're still holding out hope that science will eventually prove artificial sweeteners to be beneficial, or at the very least harmless, you're likely to be disappointed. Again and again, research shows no-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose cause the same problems as excess sugar, and then some.

According to the latest statistics1 nearly 40 percent of American adults, over 18 percent of teens and nearly 14 percent of young children are now obese, not just overweight, and processed foods and sweetened beverages are clearly driving factors. Unfortunately, many make the mistake of thinking artificially sweetened products are a healthier option as it cuts down your calories, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The international trend of taxing sugary beverages to discourage sugar consumption has also had the unfortunate side effect of causing beverage makers to switch to artificial sweeteners rather than sugar and other calorie-rich sweeteners. However, when it comes to health, artificial sweeteners cause just as many health problems as sugar does.

Comment: See also:


Yellow fever threatens South Florida after Zika scare

mosquito-transmitted Zika virus
© Paulo Whitaker / Reuters
The Zika scare of 2016 could lead to a yellow fever panic this year if South Florida residents let down their guard when it comes to protecting themselves from disease-carrying mosquitoes.

There hasn't been a yellow fever outbreak in the United States in more than 100 years, but state health officials are concerned that a large outbreak in Brazil and others in South and Central America could lead to infected travelers bringing the disease to South Florida, which has the right mosquitoes and climate for it to spread.

The disease is deadlier than the Zika virus. Zika raised alarms because many infected pregnant women gave birth to infants having microcephaly, a condition that causes abnormally small heads and developmental defects. Yellow fever can kill. Brazil reported 1,131 cases and 338 deaths attributable to yellow fever from July to March.

Most people infected with yellow fever will get symptoms so minor they won't realize they have been infected. Even for those who do notice, the symptoms such as fever, chills and headaches don't make it stand out from many other illnesses.

Bad Guys

Federal court rules CBD oil has no medicinal value, proving government loyalty to the pharmaceutical cartel

CBD oil schedule 1 drug

A federal appeals court ruled against the thousands of people who have experienced the life-saving effects of CBD oil by upholding the decision that the substance is a Schedule 1 drug.
The United States hemp industry was dealt a major blow on Monday after the federal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the Drug Enforcement Agency to list cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, which is a non-psychoactive cannabis derivative, as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

The hemp industry brought a lawsuit against the government in 2016, when the DEA issued a "clarifying rule" that claimed CBD was an illicit drug, due to it being a byproduct of cannabis flowers. A report in the Denver Post explained:
Represented by Denver-based cannabis law firm Hoban Law Group, the Hemp Industries Association and other hemp businesses challenged the DEA's rule and alleged the agency overstepped its bounds by essentially scheduling substances - notably cannabinoids - that were not classified as illicit in the Controlled Substances Act. Additionally, they argued, the hemp-derived extracts rich in CBD, or cannabinol, are protected under state laws and Farm Bill provisions.

The rule could be misinterpreted by other federal and local agencies, lead to unlawful product seizures and chill a booming multibillion-dollar hemp products industry, Hoban attorneys had said.

Comment: Those in government aren't likely to bite the hand that feeds them. BigPharma will fight tooth and nail to keep any profits in their own coffers by insuring that only prescription based cannabis products are legal and available, so it's a sure bet that benefits from naturally derived cannabis won't be officially recognized - ever!


Out of Sight and Beyond Scrutiny: Big Pharma's stranglehold on Europe's vaccination policy

European Union (EU) residents have less confidence in vaccine safety than people in any other region in the world. From the perspective of the powerful pharmaceutical industry and its bought politicians, this growing skepticism about vaccine orthodoxy cannot be permitted to gain further momentum. Ignoring massive protests by citizens and municipal authorities, the governments of France, Italy and other EU nations have begun methodically and paternalistically enacting new vaccine laws that seek to erase any remaining ability for citizens to weigh risk-benefit information and make vaccine decisions for themselves.

And now, the European Parliament (the EU's law-making body) has thrown its considerable weight into the fray to promote EU-wide coordination of vaccination policies and programs. Not content to let vaccination policy remain "a competence of national authorities," the Parliament's committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted a resolution in March 2018 to promote stricter policies both "within and outside the EU." To carry out this aim, the European Commission (the EU's executive arm) will present, in 2018, a Joint Action to increase vaccination coverage and address "vaccine hesitancy."


Proper hydration is more than drinking water: How to hydrate your body at the cellular level

hydration, water
Dr. Zach Bush is a physician and researcher with a practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bush is triple board-certified in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism, as well as hospice and palliative care, giving him an unusually broad range of expertise. Before he switched his focus to nutrition and natural medicine, he was a cancer researcher.

In our last interview, we discussed intracellular communication and the importance of soil microbes in the growing of food. Here, our focus is on hydration.
"A lot of our discussion last time was around the gut. There's rising awareness in the medical industry, as well as in the lay public, of the importance of gut health for human health.

However, even though this general correlation has now been largely assumed, if not proven, there remains a disconnect between understanding why gut health is so important and how it impacts so many phases of health and disease. Hydration, this topic we're covering today, is a huge piece of that puzzle," Bush says.
Redefining Hydration

Your gut is an important part of the hydration cycle. The question is, how do you move water from the intestinal lining into your bloodstream and, more importantly, into your cells? As noted by Bush, when we talk about hydration, we're not simply talking about drinking enough water throughout the day but, more specifically, getting water inside your cells.

"That's two vastly different things," he says. A common recommendation to ensure hydration is to drink water until your urine runs clear. Unfortunately, even most medical professionals are stuck in this simplified mindset. "It's not unusual to put 5 liters of water into somebody's vein in a matter of hours in the operating room or the emergency room,"

Bush says, "And so, we have this huge infusion into the bloodstream, but unfortunately, that does not necessarily translate into water inside the cell. That, as it turns out, is really a crux of what we call the aging process."

About two-thirds of your body is composed of water, and a majority of that water - about 66 to 70 percent - is within your cells and lymph system. With age, your body tends to lose its ability to get water from the vasculature, the extracellular environment, to the inside of your cells. "If we could stay perfectly hydrated in the intracellular environment, our aging would slow down if not reverse," Bush says. The reason is because water is an important mechanism by which you remove toxins and naturally-produced oxidants from your body.

Life Preserver

Low-carb diet helps people with type 1 diabetes

keto diet
Like many children, Andrew Hightower, 13, likes pizza, sandwiches and dessert.

But Andrew has Type 1 diabetes, and six years ago, in order to control his blood sugar levels, his parents put him on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. His mother makes him recipes with diabetic-friendly ingredients that won't spike his blood sugar, like pizza with a low-carb, almond-flour crust; homemade bread with walnut flour instead of white flour; and yogurt topped with blueberries, raspberries and nuts.

Andrew's diet requires careful planning - he often takes his own meals with him to school. But he and his parents say it makes it easier to manage his condition and, since starting the diet, his blood sugar control has markedly improved and he has not had any diabetes complications requiring trips to the hospital.

"I do this so that I can be healthy," Andrew, who lives with his parents in Jacksonville, Fla., said of his diet. "When I eventually move out and go to college, I'm going to keep up what I'm doing because I'm on the right path."

Most diabetes experts do not recommend low-carb diets for people with Type 1 diabetes, especially children. Some worry that restricting carbs can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels, a condition known as hypoglycemia, and potentially stunt a child's growth. But a new study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday suggests otherwise.

Comment: See also: