Cannabis Triggers Cardiovascular Disease But There Is A Fix
Those who smoke marijuana more than once of month are more likely to suffer a heart attack and frequent users are more likely than non-users to have their first heart attack before the age of 50. Stanford University cardiologists now report these sobering facts following their analysis of half-million persons with clinical data and blood samples in the UK Biobank.
Their study revealed that THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of cannabis, binds to CB1 receptors in blood vessel linings and creates inflammatory damage of the sort associated with atherosclerosis. These damaged blood vessels nourishing the heart and brain block leading to heart attacks and strokes.
The researchers used AI techniques to search for molecules capable of blocking CB1 receptors and found one called genistein. Using a mouse model, they showed that genistein blocked THC-induced vessel damage while failing to interfere with THC’s beneficial, pain-moderating properties. Clinical studies lie ahead in order to prove the value of genistein in humans.
Meanwhile, know that marijuana is not entirely harmless. Those with other factors predisposing them to vessel damage including high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, should be particularly wary about use and overuse of marijuana.
Walking Faster Makes Aging Slower
Those who consistently walk at a brisk pace have cells that are measurably 53% younger compared with those who walk at an average pace. British researchers studied data from nearly 406 middle-aged persons with data in the UK Biobank and correlated self-reported walking speeds with a quantitative measure of cellular aging, the white cell telomere length. The longer the telomere, the younger the cell.
Of the entire group, 52.3% reported walking at average speeds, 41.1% at brisk speeds, and 6.6% at slow walking paces. Compared with slow walkers, those walking at an average speed had telomeres 66 units longer and the brisk walkers had telomeres that were 101 units longer.
The investigators emphasize that habitual brisk walking not only keeps your cells younger but makes your body as a whole less susceptible to all diseases.
Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Associated with Eye Disorders
Men taking phosphodiesterase inhibitors for ED including sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, or avanafil, better known as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or Stendra, are about twice as likely to develop potentially blinding eye disease. Canadian ophthalmology researchers performed a case-control study using a large cohort of more than 213 thousand men (213, 033) using ED drugs to determine the association of retinal detachment, retinal vascular occlusion, and ischemic optic neuropathy with the use of these drugs.
Compared with non-users of these ED drugs, users were 85% more likely to suffer one of these 3 eye disorders. Specifically, drug users were nearly 2.6 times more likely to have a retinal detachment, twice as likely to experience optic neuropathy, and 44% more likely to have retinal vascular occlusion.
So listen up guys. If you are regularly using Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or Stendra or the generics, you’d better be seeing an ophthalmologist regularly to check for these sight-robbing ocular diseases. You don’t want the old saw “doing it till you go blind” to become a reality.
Severe CoVid Ages Brains Some 20 Years
Survivors of severe CoVid infections suffer deficits in their cognitive functions equivalent to 20 years of aging or the loss of 10 IQ points. British researchers at the Cambridge NeuroCOVID Group compared the cognitive functioning of 46 persons 6 months following a bout of severe CoVid with the performance of 460 healthy, matched controls.
Those who were CoVid-infected mounted slower and more incorrect responses than the matched healthy controls on computerized cognitive tests measuring reasoning, attention, and memory. The deficits were markedly worse for those who had required mechanical ventilation. When followed out to 10 months, some but not many evidenced slow improvement.
Blueberry Consumption Could Thwart Dementia
Daily consumption of blueberries may help keep you not only mentally sharp but metabolically healthy. University of Cincinnati neuroscientists studied an admittedly small group of 33 persons 50-65 years of age who were suffering early mental decline and were overweight. In a randomized, controlled trial, half the group consumed powders containing one-half cup of blueberries over 3 months. The other half acting as controls received placebo powder.
When their cognitive abilities and metabolic characteristics were tested at the trial’s conclusion, the blueberry consumers trended better in word finding, memory performance, and executive functions but also demonstrated less insulin resistance and were better able to burn fat for energy.
The blueberry’s magic? Blueberries contain a high level of anthocyanins, the class of flavonoids that are excellent antioxidants. They offer protection against cancer, heart disease as well as, yes, Alzheimer’s dementia and type 2 diabetes.
Sperm Age Marker Predicts Pregnancy Success
Those men whose sperm were in younger epigenetic age categories were 17% more likely to successfully father children. This the finding of researchers at Wayne State’s Center for Human Growth and Development.
They studied 379 male partners of couples actively trying to get pregnant. The epigenetic age of their sperm was determined by DNA methylation patterns, and the sperm were placed in several age categories. While the sperm genetic age advancement was often closely tied to a man’s chronological age, other factors including smoking serve to genetically age sperm faster. After data tabulation, those men with sperm in younger epigenetic age categories were more successful at impregnating their partners.
With couples waiting longer to become parents, epigenetic sperm aging joins other tests to not only predict the chances of getting pregnant but also risks that the developing fetus may harbor problematic or even life-threatening genetic defects.
Intense Athletic Training May Be A Downer
The greater the intensity of road cycling training on a given day, the lower the moods of those cyclists the following day. Researchers at Barcelona’s Laboratory of Sports Psychology and Sport Research Institute carefully monitored 5 recreational road cyclists over a 6 week period. Captured was data that reflected the cyclists actual and perceived physical exertion and their cardiovascular responses on the training day and the day after. Their mood was quantitated using a 10-point scale.
The morning after a day of intense cycling and exertion, the mood of the trainees tended to be low as did their heart rate variabilities. This was particularly true if a trainees felt that the level of required physical exertion was beyond their capacities.
This model provides a framework for tailoring the progressive intensity of athletic training to the capabilities and needs of the trainees. This strategy is incorporated into a number of smartphone apps.
LongCoVid After Omicron Subvariants
Your chance of developing LongCovid is about 21% greater after an Omicron BA.2 infection compared with a Delta infection. The UK’s Office for National Statistics surveyed 6631 persons infected with either the CoVid Delta variant or one of the Omicron subvariants after 3 shots of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZenaca CoVid vaccines. The survey asked participants if they experienced any symptoms of LongCovid from 4 to 8 weeks after their infections. If so, did their LongCovid symptoms interfere with their daily activities.
When the numbers were crunched, the incidence of LongCovid for the triple vaccinated was about 8 to over 9%. Unlike the situation for Delta, the addition of the 3rd shot did not measurably decrease the LongCovid incidence after the Omicron subvariants. In general, the incidence of any LongCovid trended higher after Omicron BA.2 than after either Omicron BA.1 or Delta. The incidence of activity-limiting LongCovid was no higher after BA.2 than after BA.1.
Bottom line: the organ-rotting effects of LongCovid do occur in up to 1 in every 11 persons infected with the current CoVid Omicron subvariants.
PREGNANT WOMEN’S COSMETICS SKEW DAUGHTERS DEVELOPMENT
We’ve heard it before: what mom’s and dad’s eat, sniff, and do with their bodies will affect their offspring. The latest shows that the soap, makeup, shampoos, and even the toothpaste a pregnant woman uses can trigger an earlier puberty for her daughter many years later.
Researchers at UC-Berkeley’s School of Public Health studied the blood and urine from pregnant women in California’s Salinas Valley and tested them for common chemicals found in cosmetics including the scented phthalates, the preservative parabenzoic acid, and the antibacterial and antifungal phenol triclosan. Then they began studying their daughters and sons beginning at age 9 and continuing through age 13 to track their development of puberty.
The urine sample assays revealed that 90 percent of mothers tested during their pregnancy and children tested at age 9 years did have phthalates and parabens, and 70 percent had the phenols. Higher levels of these chemicals were associated with earlier puberty in girls only. If you’re pregnant or considering becoming so, be very careful about using any personal care products. Check the labels and look for natural alternatives.
Kim G Harley, Kimberly P Berger, Katherine Kogut, Kimberly Parra, Robert H Lustig, Louise C Greenspan, Antonia M Calafat, Xiaoyun Ye, Brenda Eskenazi. Association of phthalates, parabens and phenols found in personal care products with pubertal timing in girls and boys. Human Reproduction, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/humrep/dey337
SEEING YOUR ROTTING BLOOD VESSELS DRIVES HEALTHIER BEHAVIORS
From “a picture is worth a thousand words” department, a Swedish study published in the journal Lancet demonstrates that ultrasound pictures showing the formation of life-threatening and brain-threatening carotid artery plaques will drive middle-aged people toward healthier eating and more exercise.
Investigators studied more than 3,000 Swedes ages 40 to 60 years. The entire group received motivational health education but half also received ultrasound pictures of their own partially blocked neck arteries as well as data demonstrating that their blood vessels were comparable to those of older and possibly sicker individuals.
One year later, the participants were examined once again. This time, the cardiovascular risk scores as well as the levels of total and LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, were healthier in the group viewing their blood vessels than those who received only health education. This same effect was seen in study subjects no matter their level of formal education.
Concrete data and even better, pictures, are powerful motivators for us all to live healthier. Following your blood pressure, your weight, your cholesterol numbers, and your daily calories burned as well as steps taken will motivate you to live healthy and will go a long way toward lengthening your “HealthSpan,” those years that you are able to lead a happy and productive life.
Ulf Näslund, Nawi Ng, Anna Lundgren, Eva Fhärm, Christer Grönlund, Helene Johansson, Bernt Lindahl, Bertil Lindahl, Kristina Lindvall, Stefan K Nilsson, Maria Nordin, Steven Nordin, Emma Nyman, Joacim Rocklöv, Davide Vanoli, Lars Weinehall, Patrik Wennberg, Per Wester, Margareta Norberg. Visualization of asymptomatic atherosclerotic disease for optimum cardiovascular prevention (VIPVIZA): a pragmatic, open-label, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32818-6
VAPING MARIJUANA MAY BE DANGEROUS
Vaping marijuana compared with smoking it releases significantly higher doses of the intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
A study of seventeen 27 yr old men and women by the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Centers behavioral pharmacology unit showed that vaping a controlled 25 mg sample of THC versus smoking it leads to a 17% greater general drug effect, 7% more anxiety and paranoia, and 60 % higher levels of dry mouth and dry eyes. Those vaping marijuana compared with smoking it experienced a drop in their ability to accurately complete a computer task by 170%.
If you are going to use marijuana and want to vape it, reduce the amount you are using in the device to account for the more efficient delivery of THC.
Tory R. Spindle, Edward J. Cone, Nicolas J. Schlienz, John M. Mitchell, George E. Bigelow, Ronald Flegel, Eugene Hayes, Ryan Vandrey. Acute Effects of Smoked and Vaporized Cannabis in Healthy Adults Who Infrequently Use Cannabis. JAMA Network Open, 2018; 1 (7): e184841 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4841
TEAM POWER OUTFLANKS STAR POWER
How team players work together and their history of shared victories is more important to an athletic team’s success than the cadre of star players who may be recruited to join the team. That’s the conclusion reached by industrial engineers at Northwestern University after analyzing a mountain of data from professional sports leagues and even organized online gaming.
Published it last week in the journal Nature Human Behavior, statistical data were drawn from the NBA, Major League Baseball, the English Premier Soccer League, the Indian Premier Cricket League, and the online battle game Defense of the Ancients. The researchers tabulated individual players skill statistics and used sophisticated linear regression modeling to quantitate the teams’ track records.
The team chemistry, frank evident teamwork, and cooperative strategies were more predictive of overall success than individual statistics for so-called “star” players. This trend was true for all of the analyzed sports and even for the online games. You can likely extrapolate this principle to business and healthcare.
Northwestern University. "In team sports, chemistry matters: Sports analytics analysis reveals that past shared success among team members improves odds of future wins." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181204095355.htm>.
LIVING IN GREEN SPACES REDUCES HEART DISEASE
If you live in or frequently visit places with trees and shrubbery, you’re less likely to fall victim to heart disease. So says the data gathered in the University of Louisville’s outpatient cardiology clinic.
Over a 5 year study period, more than 400 people with a greater than normal risk of cardiovascular disease underwent blood and urine testing. At the same time, their homes’ proximities to green spaces were quantitated with a vegetation index based on satellite imagery and their exposure to air pollution was assessed using EPA data.
Those with greener environments demonstrated biomarkers indicating less stress, more beneficial body oxidation, and a higher capacity for blood vessel repair. The age, gender, ethnicity, smoking status, and proximity to roadways made no difference.
So, if you can, avoid living in a concrete jungle. If you can’t, visit green spaces such as urban parks, think Central Park you New Yorkers, botanical gardens, zoos, and take trips to the wide open spaces as often as you can..
Ray Yeager, Daniel W. Riggs, Natasha DeJarnett, David J. Tollerud, Jeffrey Wilson, Daniel J. Conklin, Timothy E. O'Toole, James McCracken, Pawel Lorkiewicz, Zhengzhi Xie, Nagma Zafar, Sathya S. Krishnasamy, Sanjay Srivastava, Jordan Finch, Rachel J. Keith, Andrew DeFilippis, Shesh N. Rai, Gilbert Liu, Aruni Bhatnagar. Association Between Residential Greenness and Cardiovascular Disease Risk. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2018; 7 (24) DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.118.009117
STOMACH ANTACIDS REDUCE BLEEDING FROM BLOOD THINNERS
Many of us regularly take blood thinners. A huge group uses low dose aspirin daily to reduce the risk of second heart attacks or stroke. The problem is that any blood thinning medication, not just aspirin, may lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.
Clinicians at Vanderbilt University studied a huge group, some 1.6 million patients, and found that adding treatment with a proton-pump inhibitor, a so-called PPI, reduced the risk of hospitalization for gastrointestinal bleeding by 34%. These medications include Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, and their generic equivalents.
If you are on long-term blood thinners and tend to experience stomaches, ask your doctor about using one of these medications or trying a milder form of antacid therapy such as acid neutralizers like Tums or Alka-Seltzer chewies or H2 blockers such as Axid, Pepcid, Zantac, or Tagamet. We don’t yet know if the non-proton pump inhibitors will give the same results, but they may well do so and they have a longer-term safety record that the PPIs.
Ray WA, Chung CP, Murray KT, et al. Association of Oral Anticoagulants and Proton Pump Inhibitor Cotherapy With Hospitalization for Upper Gastrointestinal Tract Bleeding. JAMA. 2018;320(21):2221–2230. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.17242
INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASES MAY PREDISPOSE TO PROSTATE CANCER
Northwestern University urologists just completed a 20 year study and report that men with inflammatory bowel disease have a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
Their study reviewed data from nearly 10,000 men, one thousand of whom had IBD. They found that the IBD-affected men tended to not only have higher levels of circulating PSA, prostate-specific antigen, but also a 4 times higher incidence of frank prostate cancer as the study monitoring continued. In the past, the prevailing opinion was that men with IBD had high PSAs only due to their bowel inflammation.
If you or someone you love has IBD, be certain that he receives comprehensive surveillance for prostate cancer until additional research explains the link between these two conditions. Good prospective management includes periodic PSA testing but also digital prostate exams and ultrasound-guided biopsies when necessary.
Jacob A. Burns, Adam B. Weiner, William J. Catalona, Eric V. Li, Edward M. Schaeffer, Stephen B. Hanauer, Scott Strong, James Burns, Maha H.A. Hussain, Shilajit D. Kundu. Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the Risk of Prostate Cancer. European Urology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.eururo.2018.11.039
HOW THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET PREVENTS HEART DISEASE
The Mediterranean diet consists of plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, and nuts rather than meat as preferred protein sources, healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil rather than butter as a fat source, and herbs and spices rather than salt for flavoring. You can have some meat, but red meat should be consumed only several times a month, but fish and chicken can be eaten twice a week.
Harvard Medical School researchers have previously reported a 25% reduction in the risk of heart and stroke for persons on this diet. Their latest study focused on 25,000 women and measured some 40 biomarkers in each subject’s blood in an effort to understand just how the diet works.
The results show that adherance to the Mediterranean diet reduces general inflammation, improves glucose metabolism, reduces insulin resistance, and normalizes body weight. So go Mediterranean! It’s easy due to an explosion of mediterranean cookbooks and restaurants. You’ll find that the food is tasty, and eating it regularly may just save your life.
Shafqat Ahmad, M. Vinayaga Moorthy, Olga V. Demler, Frank B. Hu, Paul M Ridker, Daniel I., Samia Mora. Assessment of Risk Factors and Biomarkers Associated With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Women Consuming a Mediterranean Diet. JAMA Network Open, 2018; 1 (8): e185708 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5708
DRAWING BESTS WRITING FOR MEMORY RETENTION
If you want to remember a new fact, scribbling a representation of it rather than writing a phrase works better. Neuroscientists at Canada’s University of Waterloo tested groups of university students and senior citizens, and the results showed that drawing was superior for both groups but the differences were particularly dramatic for the older subjects.
It seems that drawing leads to better memory formation since it includes a variety of formats for the core information including visual and spacial as well as verbal. So if you want to take effective notes, you may wish to refine your drawing and cartooning skills.
University of Waterloo. "Drawing is better than writing for memory retention." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181206114724.htm>.
FDA APPROVES A MOBILE APP FOR OPIOD WITHDRAWAL
We are all well aware of the current opioid epidemic. Just released is an app for smartphones of the Apple and Android variety that helps guide those with an opioid use disorder as they work to discontinue these addicting medications.
The app requires a doctors prescription for registration and linkage of the app to an online database. It includes a reminder function for medication timing, an educational component, and a compliance reward program.
A study of 170 patients receiving buprenorphine therapy and behavioral therapy with or without the app revealed that app use was associated with greater retention in the treatment program.
RECALL OF KOTEX TAMPONS
Kimberley-Clark, makers of Kleenex, today announced the recall of its U BY KOTEX SLEEK TAMPONS, REGULAR. Product in manufacturing lots sold between October, 2016 and October, 2018 tend to shred and disintegrate.
The fragmented absorbent material may be retained inside the vagina requiring professional intervention for removal. These deposits left behind may also trigger both bacterial and yeast vaginal infections.
For specific information about the affected lots of this product, check the manufacturer’s website: https://www.ubykotex.com/en-us/pressrelease