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Source: Trinity University, Dublin - Ireland


Researchers from Trinity College Dublin are calling on the government in Ireland to change recommendations for vitamin D supplements.

A new publication from Dr. Eamon Laird and Professor Rose Anne Kenny, School of Medicine, and the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), in collaboration with Professor Jon Rhodes at University of Liverpool, highlights the association between vitamin D levels and mortality from COVID-19.


The authors of the article, just published in the Irish Medical Journal, analyzed all European adult population studies, completed since 1999, which measured vitamin D and compared vitamin D and death rates from COVID-19.


Vitamin D is produced in the skin from UVB sunlight exposure and is transported to the liver and then the kidney where it is changed into an active hormone that increases calcium transport from food in the gut and ensures calcium is adequate to keep the skeleton strong and free of osteoporosis.

Related: Vitamin D Linked to Low Coronavirus Death Rate

But vitamin D can also support the immune system through a number of immune pathways involved in fighting SARS-CoV-2. Many recent studies confirm the pivotal role of vitamin D in viral infections.


This study shows that, counter intuitively, countries at lower latitude and typically sunny countries, such as Spain and Northern Italy, had low concentrations of vitamin D and high rates of vitamin D deficiency. These countries also experienced the highest infection and death rates in Europe.


The northern latitude countries of Norway, Finland, and Sweden, have higher vitamin D levels despite less UVB sunlight exposure, because supplementation and fortification of foods is more common. These Nordic countries have lower COVID-19 infection and death rates. The correlation between low vitamin D levels and death from COVID-19 is statistically significant.


The authors propose that, whereas optimizing vitamin D levels will certainly benefit bone and muscle health, the data suggests that it is also likely to reduce serious COVID-19 complications. This may be because vitamin D is important in regulation and suppression of the inflammatory cytokine response, which causes the severe consequences of COVID-19 and ‘acute respiratory distress syndrome’ associated with ventilation and death.


Professor Rose Anne Kenny said:

“In England, Scotland and Wales, public health bodies have revised recommendations since the COVID-19 outbreak. Recommendations now state that all adults should take at least 400 IU vitamin D daily. Whereas there are currently no results from randomized controlled trials to conclusively prove that vitamin D beneficially affects COVID-19 outcomes, there is strong circumstantial evidence of associations between vitamin D and the severity of COVID-19 responses, including death.”


“This study further confirms this association. We call on the Irish government to update guidelines as a matter of urgency and encourage all adults to take supplements during the COVID-19 crisis. Deficiency is frequent in Ireland. Deficiency is most prevalent with age, obesity, in men, in ethnic minorities, in people with diabetes, hypertension and in nursing homes.”


Dr. Eamon Laird added:

“Here we see observational evidence of a link of vitamin D with mortality. Optimizing vitamin D intake to public health guidelines will certainly have benefits for overall health and support immune function. Research like this is still exploratory and we need further trials to have concrete evidence on the level of vitamin D that is needed for optimal immune function. However, studies like this also remind us how low our vitamin D status is in the population (even in sunny countries) and adds further weight to some sort of mandatory vitamin D fortification policy. If the Nordic countries are allowed to do this, there is no reason Ireland, the UK or rest of Europe can’t either.”


Reference: “Vitamin D and Inflammation: Potential Implications for Severity of Covid-19” by E. Laird, J. Rhodes and R.A. Kenny, 11 May 2020, Irish Medical Journal.
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Source: Rice University


What do stress, loneliness and lack of sleep have in common? They are all factors that can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to COVID-19, according to Rice University’s Christopher Fagundes, an associate professor in the department of psychological sciences who studies the link between mental and immune health.

Fagundes is available to discuss this timely topic as people across the world are socially distancing themselves from others and face stress and uncertainty.

“In my field, we have conducted a lot of work to look at what predicts who gets colds and different forms of respiratory illnesses, and who is more susceptible to getting sick,” Fagundes said. “We’ve found that stress, loneliness and lack of sleep are three factors that can seriously compromise aspects of the immune system that make people more susceptible to viruses if exposed. Also, stress, loneliness and disrupted sleep promote other aspects of the immune system responsible for the production of proinflammatory cytokines to over-respond. Elevated proinflammatory cytokine production can generate sustained upper respiratory infection symptoms.

And while this previous research has centered on different cold and upper respiratory viruses, he said “there is no doubt” that these effects would be the same for COVID-19.

Previous studies have indicated that healthy, nonimmunocompromised people who spend less time around others and are exposed to the cold virus are significantly more likely to get sick and experience worse symptoms than those people who get out and socialize.

Fagundes said this can be explained by the way positive emotions buffer against stressors and evoke a favorable immune response, even while extroverted individuals are more likely to be around more people, possibly those who are carrying germs that could make them sick.

It’s an interesting paradox during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Fagundes said, when people are strongly encouraged and in some places required to stay at home to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Another major factor that impacts immune health is sleep deprivation, Fagundes said, which he noted has been demonstrated over and over in previous study of the topic.

“The overwhelming consensus in the field is that people who do not consistently get a good night’s sleep — 7-9 hours for adults, with variation on what is optimal — makes a person more likely to get sick,” he said.

Fagundes said that although alcohol use, certain jobs and other factors make some people more likely to have poor sleep, psychological stress has a tremendous impact on a person’s quality of sleep.

“It’s important also to note that when we talk about stress, we mean chronic stress taking place over several weeks, not a single stressful incident or a few days of stress,” Fagundes said. “An isolated stressful incident does not seem to make a person more susceptible to a cold or the flu.”

However, even absent of poor sleep, chronic stress alone is disruptive enough to the immune system to make people more likely to get sick, Fagundes said.

“Without question, previous work on this topic clearly demonstrates that chronic stress affects our immune system in a way that makes us more susceptible to viruses and colds,” he said. “Just think about college students who get sick after weeks of stress while studying for a big exam.”

Fagundes said the best ways to mitigate the harmful health effects of loneliness and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic are to stay connected with others through communication, particularly video calls.

“There is some evidence that it may be better to video conference versus having a regular phone call to reduce feelings of isolation,” he said. “There’s something about chatting with people and having them visually ‘with’ you that seems to be more of a buffer against loneliness.

Fagundes also noted that it is important to keep a routine during stressful times.

“This will regulate your sleep and allow you to focus on immediate goals and plans,” he said. “In turn, you will overthink things less and feel more accomplished.”

And if you find yourself worrying nonstop about the situation, it can be helpful to set aside specific “worry times,” Fagundes said.

“People often worry and overthink things because their brain is telling them there is something to solve,” he said. “However, it can be counterproductive after a while. A good technique is to set aside 15 minutes a day where you allow yourself to worry, preferably with a pen and paper. After that, you aren’t allowed to think about the issue for the rest of the day.”

Fagundes said it is also sometimes helpful for people to identify inaccurate thoughts that reinforce negative thinking and emotions.

“People often convince themselves that a situation is much worse than it is by telling themselves things that are not true,” he said. “We call these cognitive distortions. For example, it is common to catastrophize a situation by convincing themselves that the worst-case scenario is the most likely scenario. When people learn to identify and then refute these thoughts, they often feel much better.”

An expert in the field of psychoneuroimmunology, Fagundes studies how stress “gets under the skin” to impact diseases of older adulthood such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive decline. He is also interested in the link between mood and health behaviors and the immune system. He has been quoted in local, national and international media outlets about these topics. More information about him is available at https://psychology.rice.edu/christopher-fagundes.

Source: Dr. Mehmet OZ


Dr. Mehmet Oz, 59, is encouraging couples to have sex while quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic, saying it's 'the best solution' for depression.

He noted that physical intimacy is better than 'getting on each other's nerves'.

Dr. Oz explained that what they have learned from the coronavirus outbreak in China is that 'people get really depressed when they're quarantined'.

He advised that people should use the time at home to pick up a hobby or find something that they wished they had time to learn such as a new language.

Dr. Mehmet Oz has the cure for fighting the coronavirus quarantine blues: sex.

At a time when most couples are working at home and likely getting on each other's nerves, the 59-year-old talk show host recommends regular physical intimacy to stave off fights and combat depression while trapped inside.

'The best solution, if you're holed up with your significant other quarantined, is have sex. You'll live longer, get rid of the tension,' he told TMZ while walking the empty streets of New York City on Tuesday.

'It certainly gets some stories. Maybe you'll make some babies,' he added. 'It's certainly better than staring at each other and getting on each other's nerves.'

Dr. Oz explained that what they have learned from the coronavirus outbreak in China is that 'people get really depressed when they're quarantined.'

He advised that people should use the time at home to pick up a hobby or find something that they wished they had time to learn such as a new language, a musical instrument, or computer programming.

'Just do something you never thought possible. Read philosophy and get smart,' he said. 'Don't just watch escapism television and become braindead and numb to the world.'

And, of course, he believes couples should use the time to have sex while making the best of a bad situation.

Source: MedicalXpress


Older people who regularly walk, garden, swim or dance may have bigger brains than their inactive peers, according to a preliminary study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020. The effect of exercise was equal to four fewer years of brain aging.


The study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to measure the brains of people with a range of activity levels, including those who were inactive to those who were very active. The scans showed less active people had smaller brain volume.


"These results are exciting, as they suggest that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by becoming more active," said study author Yian Gu, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.


"Recent studies have shown that as people age, physical activity may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Our study used brain scans to measure the brain volumes of a diverse group of people and found that those who engaged in the top third highest level of physical activity had a brain volume the equivalent of four years younger in brain aging than people who were at the bottom third activity level."


The study involved 1,557 people with an average age of 75. None had dementia, but 296 people had mild cognitive impairment and 28% had the APOE gene that is linked to a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease.


Participants were given physical exams, thinking and memory tests, and were asked about their daily tasks and other physical activities. Researchers then calculated how much time and energy each person spent on those tasks and activities.


Researchers divided people into three groups: those who were inactive; those who were somewhat active meaning each week they either had roughly two-and-a-half hours of low-intensity physical activity, one-and-a-half hours of moderate physical activity or one hour of high-intensity physical activity; and those who were most active meaning each week they either had seven hours of low-intensity physical activity, four hours of moderate physical activity or two hours of high-intensity physical activity.


Researchers then reviewed MRI brain scans of all participants and found that when compared to the people in the inactive group, those who were most active had larger total brain volume.


After adjusting for age, sex, education, race/ethnicity and APOE gene status, the average brain size for those who were inactive was 871 cubic centimeters compared to 883 cubic centimeters for those who were most active, a difference of 12 cubic centimeters, or 1.4%, or the equivalent of nearly four years of brain aging. The results remained similar even after excluding people who had mild cognitive impairment.


"Our results add to the evidence that more physical activity is linked to larger brain volume in older people," said Gu. "It also builds on evidence that moving your body more often throughout one's life may protect against loss of brain volume."


A limitation of the study was that information on physical activity relied on a person's ability to remember how often and for how much time they were active. Additionally, Gu noted that due to the particular study design, this study does not prove that exercise prevents brain shrinkage; it shows an association.


Source: British Medical Journal


A history of 10 or more lifetime sexual partners is linked to a heightened risk of being diagnosed with cancer, reveals research published online in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

And among women, a higher number of sexual partners is also linked to heightened odds of reporting a limiting long term condition, the findings indicate.

Few studies have looked at the potential impact of the number of sexual partners on wider health outcomes.

To try and plug this knowledge gap, the researchers drew on information gathered for the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a nationally representative tracking study of older adults (50+) living in England.

In 2012-13, participants were asked how many sexual partners they had had. Complete data were provided by 5722 of the 7079 people who responded to this question: 2537 men and 3185 women. Responses were categorized as 0-1; 2-4; 5-9; and 10 or more sexual partners.

Participants were also asked to rate their own health and report any long standing condition or infirmity which impinged on routine activity in any way.

Other relevant information obtained included: age; ethnicity; marital status; household income other than a pension; lifestyle (smoking, drinking, physical activity); and presence of depressive symptoms.

The average age of participants was 64, and almost three out of four were married. Some 28.5% of men said they had had 0-1 sexual partners to date; 29% said they had had 2-4; one in five (20%) reported 5-9; while 22% reported 10 or more.

The equivalent figures for women were: just under 41%; 35.5%; just under 16%; and just under 8%.

In both sexes, a higher number of sexual partners was associated with younger age, single status, and being in the highest or lowest brackets of household wealth.

Those who reported a higher tally of sexual partners were also more likely to smoke, drink frequently, and do more vigorous physical activity on a weekly basis.

When all the data were analyzed, a statistically significant association emerged between the number of lifetime sexual partners and risk of a cancer diagnosis among both sexes.

Compared with women who reported 0-1 sexual partners, those who said they had had 10 or more, were 91% more likely to have been diagnosed with cancer.

Among the men, those who reported 2-4 lifetime sexual partners were 57% more likely to have been diagnosed with cancer than were those who reported 0-1. And those who reported 10 or more, were 69% more likely to have been diagnosed with the disease.

While the number of sexual partners was not associated with reported long standing conditions among the men, it was among the women.

Women who reported 5-9 or 10+ lifetime sexual partners were 64% more likely to have a limiting chronic condition than those who said they had had 0-1.

This is an observational study, and as such, can't establish cause. Nevertheless, the findings chime with those of previous studies, implicating sexually transmitted infections in the development of several types of cancer and hepatitis, suggest the researchers.

They didn't obtain information on the specific types of cancer participants reported, but speculate: "...the heightened risk of cancer might be driven by those types known to be associated with [sexually transmitted infections]."

And they suggest that inquiring about the number of sexual partners might complement existing cancer screening programmes by helping to identify those at risk, if further research can establish a causal association between the number of sexual partners and subsequent ill health.

But an explanation for the gender difference in long term condition risk remains "elusive," they write, especially given that men tend to have more lifetime sexual partners than women, while women are more likely than men to see a doctor when they feel ill, so potentially limiting the associated consequences for their long term health.

Source: Harvard University


One long-ago summer, I joined the legion of teens helping harvest our valley’s peach crop in western Colorado. My job was to select the best peaches from a bin, wrap each one in tissue, and pack it into a shipping crate. The peach fuzz that coated every surface of the packing shed made my nose stream and my eyelids swell. When I came home after my first day on the job, my mother was so alarmed she called the family doctor. Soon the druggist was at the door with a vial of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) tablets. The next morning I was back to normal and back on the job. Weeks later, when I collected my pay (including the ½-cent-per-crate bonus for staying until the end of the harvest), I thanked Benadryl.


Today, I’m thankful my need for that drug lasted only a few weeks. In a report published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers offers compelling evidence of a link between long-term use of anticholinergic medications like Benadryl and dementia.


Anticholinergic drugs block the action of acetylcholine. This substance transmits messages in the nervous system. In the brain, acetylcholine is involved in learning and memory. In the rest of the body, it stimulates muscle contractions.


Anticholinergic drugs include some antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, medications to control overactive bladder, and drugs to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.


What the study found regarding Benadryl and dementia

A team led by Shelley Gray, a pharmacist at the University of Washington’s School of Pharmacy, tracked nearly 3,500 men and women ages 65 and older who took part in Adult Changes in Thought (ACT), a long-term study conducted by the University of Washington and Group Health, a Seattle healthcare system. They used Group Health’s pharmacy records to determine all the drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, that each participant took the 10 years before starting the study. Participants’ health was tracked for an average of seven years. During that time, 800 of the volunteers developed dementia. When the researchers examined the use of anticholinergic drugs, they found that people who used these drugs were more likely to have developed dementia as those who didn’t use them. Moreover, dementia risk increased along with the cumulative dose. Taking an anticholinergic for the equivalent of three years or more was associated with a 54% higher dementia risk than taking the same dose for three months or less.


The ACT results add to mounting evidence that anticholinergics aren’t drugs to take long-term if you want to keep a clear head, and keep your head clear into old age. The body’s production of acetylcholine diminishes with age, so blocking its effects can deliver a double whammy to older people. It’s not surprising that problems with short-term memory, reasoning, and confusion lead the list of side effects of anticholinergic drugs, which also include drowsiness, dry mouth, urine retention, and constipation.


The University of Washington study is the first to include nonprescription drugs. It is also the first to eliminate the possibility that people were taking a tricyclic antidepressant to alleviate early symptoms of undiagnosed dementia; the risk associated with bladder medications was just as high.


“This study is another reminder to periodically evaluate all of the drugs you’re taking. Look at each one to determine if it’s really helping,” says Dr. Sarah Berry, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “For instance, I’ve seen people who have been on anticholinergic medications for bladder control for years and they are completely incontinent. These drugs obviously aren’t helping.


Many drugs have a stronger effect on older people than younger people. With age, the kidneys and liver clear drugs more slowly, so drug levels in the blood remain higher for a longer time. People also gain fat and lose muscle mass with age, both of which change the way that drugs are distributed to and broken down in body tissues. In addition, older people tend to take more prescription and over-the-counter medications, each of which has the potential to suppress or enhance the effectiveness of the others.


What should you do about Benadryl and the risks of dementia?

In 2008, Indiana University School of Medicine geriatrician Malaz Boustani developed the anticholinergic cognitive burden scale, which ranks these drugs according to the severity of their effects on the mind. It’s a good idea to steer clear of the drugs with high ACB scores, meaning those with scores of 3. “There are so many alternatives to these drugs,” says Dr. Berry. For example, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like citalopram (Celexa) or fluoxetine (Prozac) are good alternatives to tricyclic antidepressants. Newer antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin) can replace diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton). Botox injections and cognitive behavioral training can alleviate urge incontinence.


One of the best ways to make sure you’re taking the most effective drugs is to dump all your medications — prescription and nonprescription — into a bag and bring them to your next appointment with your primary care doctor.

Source: Harvard University


October 17, 2019—Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, a research scientist and clinical psychologist at The Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness and in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is first author of a recent study that found a connection between greater “social integration” and longer life in midlife women.


What is social integration and how might it be beneficial for women’s health and longevity?

In our study, we found that women who were more socially integrated at around age 60 were living longer and were more likely to reach age 85 or older.

Social integration includes the number of people someone has in their network, and the frequency of their interactions with this network through varied activities. For example, having a spouse or partner, several close friends or relatives, and regularly participating in religious and non-religious activities are indicators of high social integration. For health and longevity, it’s generally understood that the higher the social integration, the better.


Having such a wide social network could be helpful for living a long and healthy life in a variety of ways, including providing encouragement to adopt healthier habits and follow medical recommendations, or simply having access to a ride to medical appointments. Studies have also shown that socially integrated individuals are less likely to be depressed or to have sustained levels of inflammation and high blood pressure. These factors in turn could contribute to longevity, as well.


Is it better to have a wide network or deep connections?

These are actually two different indicators of one’s social environment that researchers have been investigating in relation to physical health. On one hand, “social integration” refers to the structure of social relationships—the number of people in your network or the frequency of activities that you engage in that involve other people. It doesn’t talk about the quality of the relationships. “Social support,” on the other hand, refers to the strength of your emotional bond with someone and how well you can rely on them—for instance, for access to resources and information.


In general, research on social integration has shown associations that are a little more consistent for physical health outcomes compared to social support. But it’s complicated. One person could have a high level of social integration, but with mostly shallow connections that are not supportive. On the other side, you can have people who have fewer social relationships, but strong social support. They feel encouraged in their lives, and have someone they can turn to if they encounter challenges. The research now needs to go a little deeper into how interactions between social integration and social support influence physical health outcomes, including longevity.


What types of interventions might be helpful for socially isolated seniors?

More studies are needed on what could be done at a societal level, but there are some things that socially isolated seniors can do. People could join a new spiritual community, volunteer for a cause, try a new hobby, or reconnect with an old friend or family member. Even calling a free, confidential helpline can be beneficial. Just feeling that connection with someone can help people feel less isolated.


Studies looking at whether social media is beneficial for social integration have been mixed. It may make certain people feel more integrated and less isolated, therefore enhancing their emotional well-being, but it can also make other people feel lonely and depressed when they compare themselves to other people’s posts. Most seniors are not on social media, but for some it could be helpful. For example, seniors living apart from their family members might feel more socially integrated by looking at pictures of their grand kids on Facebook. As social media research is rapidly developing, researchers are increasingly using data from platforms like Facebook and Twitter to understand how the virtual social environment can impact one’s mental and physical health.


Amy Roeder

Source: Harvard University


For immediate release: September 5, 2019


Boston, MA – Women who experienced six or more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in life had a twofold greater risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women who never had any PTSD symptoms, according to a new study from researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Moffitt Cancer Center.


The findings indicate that having higher levels of PTSD symptoms, such as being easily startled by ordinary noises or avoiding reminders of the traumatic experience, can be associated with increased risks of ovarian cancer even decades after women experience a traumatic event. The study also found that the link between PTSD and ovarian cancer remained for the most aggressive forms of ovarian cancer.


The study was published in Cancer Research, on September 5, 2019.

“In light of these findings, we need to understand whether successful treatment of PTSD would reduce this risk, and whether other types of stress are also risk factors for ovarian cancer,” said co-author Andrea Roberts, research scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecologic cancer and the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death among U.S. women. Studies in animal models have shown that stress and stress hormones can accelerate ovarian tumor growth, and that chronic stress can result in larger and more invasive tumors. A prior study found an association between PTSD and ovarian cancer in humans, but the study included only seven women with ovarian cancer and PTSD.


“Ovarian cancer has been called a ‘silent killer’ because it is difficult to detect in its early stages; therefore identifying more specifically who may be at increased risk for developing the disease is important for prevention or earlier treatment,” said co-author Laura Kubzansky, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School.


To better understand how PTSD may influence ovarian cancer risk, researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which tracked the health of tens of thousands of women between 1989 and 2015 through biennial questionnaires and medical records. Participants were asked about ovarian cancer diagnosis on each questionnaire, and information was validated through a review of medical records.


In 2008, 54,763 Nurses’ Health Study II participants responded to a supplemental questionnaire focused on lifetime traumatic events and symptoms associated with those events. Women were asked to identify the event they considered the most stressful, and the year of this event. They were also asked about seven PTSD symptoms they may have experienced related to the most stressful event.


Based on the responses, women were divided into six groups: no trauma exposure; trauma and no PTSD symptoms; trauma and 1-3 symptoms; trauma and 4-5 symptoms; trauma and 6-7 symptoms; and trauma, but PTSD symptoms unknown.


After adjusting for various factors associated with ovarian cancer, including oral contraceptive use and smoking, the researchers found that women who experienced 6-7 symptoms associated with PTSD were at a significantly higher risk for ovarian cancer than women who had never been exposed to trauma. Women with trauma and 4-5 symptoms were also at an elevated risk, but the risk did not reach statistical significance.


The study also showed that women who experienced 6-7 symptoms associated with PTSD were at a significantly higher risk of developing the high-grade serous histotype of ovarian cancer—the most common and aggressive form of the disease.


“Ovarian cancer has relatively few known risk factors – PTSD and other forms of distress, like depression, may represent a novel direction in ovarian cancer prevention research,” said Shelley Tworoger, associate center director of population science at Moffitt. “If confirmed in other populations, this could be one factor that doctors could consider when determining if a woman is at high risk of ovarian cancer in the future.”


Other Harvard Chan School researchers who contributed to the study included Karestan Koenen and Yongjoo Kim. Tianyi Huang of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School was also a co-author.


Funding for this study came from DOD grant W81XWH-17-1-0153.

“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer: a prospective and retrospective longitudinal cohort study,” Andrea L. Roberts, Tianyi Huang, Karestan C. Koenen, Yongjoo Kim, Laura D. Kubzansky, Shelley S. Tworoger, Cancer Research, online September 5, 2019 doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-1222


Source: Harvard University


Published: September, 2019


Gingivitis (gum disease) has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, but a recent study says that the bacteria that cause gingivitis also may be connected to Alzheimer's disease. The study was published Jan. 23, 2019, in Science Advances.


Scientists have previously found that this species of bacteria, called Porphyromonas gingivalis, can move from the mouth to the brain. Once in the brain, the bacteria release enzymes called gingipains that can destroy nerve cells, which in turn can lead to memory loss and eventually Alzheimer's.


In this study, researchers looked for evidence of this process in human brains. They examined the brains of 53 deceased people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and found high levels of gingipain in almost all of them. They also noted that the amount of gingipain tended to rise over time, which suggests there may be a tipping point when dementia symptoms first begin.


The next research step is to see if a drug can block these harmful bacterial enzymes and possibly stop Alzheimer's from developing or at least slow its progression. Until then, you can do your part by fighting gingivitis with strong oral health habits, including daily flossing and brushing twice a day and staying current on regular dental check-ups.


Source: Harvard University


Artificial light at night may lead to weight gain

Published: September, 2019

If you leave lights shining or keep the television on while you sleep, it could affect your waistline, according to a study published online June 10 by JAMA Internal Medicine. The study found an association between exposure to artificial light during sleep and weight gain in women.

The research team looked at questionnaires completed by more than 40,000 women, which asked, among other things, whether the women slept with lights on nearby or in the same room. The researchers also recorded the women's height, body mass index (a measure of weight in relation to height), and waist size at the time they entered the study and then five years later. They found that women who slept with a light or television on in the room were 17% more likely to have gained 11 pounds or more during the course of the study. They did not find a similar effect when women used a small night light or had a light on outside the room that shone in. It's not clear why exposure to artificial light was linked with weight gain, but researchers speculated that it might affect sleep quality.


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