A brain scan, such as those which confirm Alzheimer's.
Research just published Sept. 20 in the American Academy of Neurology journal looked at the link between diabetes and the development of Alzheimer's (may be found here).
There was over 1,000 research participants of both sex, all age 60. They were measured for the presence of diabetes or pre-diabetes then followed for 15 years. Those who were diabetic were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's and more likely (1.75x) to develop dementia of any type (Alzheimer's is a specific type which irreversibly forms plaques in brain tissue).
So what's the proposed link? Well, in diabetes, glucose remains in the bloodstream for a long time, waiting to be taken into cells but in the meantime floating around the bloodstream. Glucose which remains too long in the bloodstream leads to oxidative damage, hardening of the blood vessels (atherosclerosis) and glycosylation (think candied fruit but with blood vessels instead). All of this directly and indirectly compromises the body's ability to break down proteins, such as the amyloid protein which form the plaques found in Alzheimer's.
People with or at risk for diabetes now have one more reason to keep a close eye on their blood sugar levels and do what they can to keep them in healthy ranges. Diabetes is a complex, difficult disease. Bringing about positive change often means significant lifestyle changes and an ever-changing regimen of drugs.
Two positive things have come of this research. One is that those with pre-diabetes did not show as significant a correlation with the development of Alzheimer's, so encourage your friends and family members in this situation to not wait for until pre-diabetes becomes diabetes. The second is that the research authors have already begun follow-up research looking at what Alzheimer's rates they find in diabetics who then control their blood sugar levels and risk factors. I'll keep you posted on the developments.
Glucometer measuring a diabetic level of glucose in the blood.
The International Diabetes Federation met two weeks ago to document current cases of diabetes and what unified proposals they agreed upon to recommend to last week's UN meeting. This federation represents associations from 160 countries, all of whom are finding ever more increasing and concerning numbers of diabetics in their healthcare systems (information from their symposium may be found here).
So what's the current picture? There are now an estimated 366 million people with diabetes (data combines types 1 and 2). Their total estimated yearly financial impact on healthcare systems is $465 billion. Annually. That's a huge number of people and a huge financial impact- both on larger systems and on a personal level.
To put this number into perspective, there are 54 million more diabetics in the world than the entire U.S. population combined. Although this is far from an American problem, many chronic non-communicable diseases rise in countries in proportion to their adoption of industrialized (American) culture and food (diabetes, heart disease and cancer are a few).
Type 2 diabetes has been around for some time but has been rapidly growing from the 174 million diabetics estimated worldwide 30 years ago. What was at one time termed "Adult Onset Diabetes" can now be found affecting grade-school children. Type 1 or "Juvenile Onset Diabetes" was a rare disease to my knowledge as a child, and I knew of no children with Type 2. I'm thinking that this is not the case with today's children.
So where does this all end? Personal choices, government choices and companies' influence impacts all our lives. Whether it's diabetes, cancer, lung disease, an autoimmune disease or some other chronic non-communicable disease, it's a long and difficult path towards continual improvement of one's health. Our modern medical establishment it not set up to optimally serve people in a preventative and health-supporting manner, so check out what the Naturopathic profession can do for you if you have one of these or a similar concern.
New research from the journal Epidemiology (found here), shows that women not taking a prenatal vitamin around and during pregnancy are twice as likely to have a child with autism compared to those taking prenatal vitamins.
The surprising thing to me in this research is the comparison of effectiveness in timing of the vitamin. Differences in rates of autistic children born (as diagnosed when five-year olds) was only significantly less in those mothers taking the prenatals during the first month of pregnancy.
By the second month, there was no difference in autism between the groups. So by the time many mothers find out they are pregnant, particular if the pregnancy was not planned, taking a prenatal vitamin is not effective in this regard- though it may be helpful in covering other nutritional needs during this time.
As another aspect of this research project, they studied two genetic mutations which have been previously correlated with the development of autism: MTHFR and COMT. Among mothers positive for one of these variants who did not take a prenatal vitamin, their rates for having an autistic child were 4.5 and 7 times the background (normal population) levels, respectively.
On an academic note, the last doctor who I observed in private practice is a self-taught enthusiast of using neurotransmitter and biochemistry knowledge in her clinical practice. She often tests for and uses targeted nutritional supplementation for women with MTHFR gene variants as it is disproportionately higher in women. Autism is one issue correlated with this gene defect; others are depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease and some neurological diseases.
Genetic variants are not usually life sentences, but under the influence of a whole host of environmental influences. The realm of genetics if vastly fascinating to me, so please write with any medical genetics questions and I will look into writing up a little something on it. Thank you for reading!
Is that enough calcium for the day?
Women commonly take calcium supplements (especially when entering middle age and beyond), but dosage and reasoning is often not well described. How much information out there is research based, and how much is fear based?
Recent research from the British Medical Journal (article here), followed women for 19 years and compared calcium supplement dosages to rates of development of fractures. The results? Calcium supplementation maxes out its benefit around 750mg, with more not translating to better in terms of fracture rates.
Another piece of the women-calcium-fracture puzzle is that massively increasing calcium supplementation later in life (such as after an initial osteopenia or osteoporosis diagnosis) has minimal impact on bone density and fracture prevention by that point.
The authors' conclusions are that in terms of public health focus, attention should be paid to younger women with low dietary calcium intake, and away from loading up older women on calcium megadoses. So their take home advice is to start early, with diet, to prevent chronic disease later in life. Makes sense, I like it.
The last piece I can offer to this topic here is for interested readers to consult a Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor, as there are many dietary, supplementary and lifestyle variables to consider for one concerned about personal or family history of low bone density. Thank you for reading.
A 15-year old high school student's science fair project got the ball rolling. Alexa Dantzler wondered what chemicals remained in clothing after dry cleaning. She called around and got a willing chemistry department from Georgetown on board. They tested cotton, wool, polyester and silk from one to six cleanings. Their results were published in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, and can be found here.
So what did they find? As can be expected, there were elevated levels of known dry cleaning solvents left on the fabric tested. One of the more concerning is perchloroethylene, also known as PCE or perc. This chemical is associated with cancer and neurological damage, though no toxicity has been proven by (or for) the FDA, so it is not highly regulated (OSHA regulates amounts found in the air of related businesses such as dry cleaners, but no regulations for consumers).
Where was the PCE found in highest concentrations? In the wool fabrics, increasing after each subsequent dry cleaning. Other fabrics such as cotton and polyester leveled off in terms of their PCE after a few washes. And silk did not appear to take any PCE home with it.
How about "Green Cleaners?" Well, some use hydrocarbons instead of PCE. Hydrocarbons are petroleum based, like a relative to kerosene and gasoline. For this research two "green cleaners" were tested, both negative for PCE, one with and one without hydrocarbons. What was the last one using, if not PCE and not hydrocarbons? This industry really isn't regulated near enough for a consumer to understand all the chemicals being used and their potential health implications.
Some conclusions and suggestions implied from this research is that wool adheres the most chemicals and silk the least, amounts of washing has a cumulative effect on chemical exposure and that green cleaners may be better options but this is unknown. As an aside to their research, dry cleaned wool left in a car was found to release a lot of its chemicals into the air- so avoid leaving dry cleaned garments in a closed air space for long.
Any additional information you may have on this topic is greatly appreciated. I personally rarely make use of dry cleaning services, and am inherently skeptical of how "green" the "green ones" are- so let me know if you are knowledgeable on this subject. Thank you for reading.
Chinese herbal preparation.
A new report from the Health Services Research Journal showed that 75% of healthcare workers use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This is great, because integrating and facilitating a working relationship between healthcare fields works in the patient's benefit.
The report included in this statistic such areas as dieting, supplements, yoga, Pilates and massage, which helps explain such as large number (the general population usually scores about 31% in these statistics). But even when looking exclusively at healthcare services (alternative Western, Chinese, Chiropractic and Ayurvedic medicine practices), the number still holds firmly above the general population at 41%.
So this goes to show that when looking broadly, many healthcare workers are open to and most likely accessing CAM care or following a naturally-inclined diet/lifestyle program. The most popular reasons for seeking natural treatments and therapies was for neck, back and joint pain. And since there's many, many natural treatment options for these very common ailments, there's a lot of room for integrative care to step in this realm and provide some real, long-lasting benefits.
This report may be found on the hsr.org site. Thank you for reading!