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Cycling to work may reduce stress, a new study suggests

Throw away the car keys and forget about the mass transit; get a bicycle and ride to work, suggest researchers.

Researchers from Concordia University in Canada found that cycling to work makes people feel less stressed, compared with traveling to work by car.

One of the main sources of stress in the UK, and perhaps in other parts of the world, is work. Therefore, the researchers suggest people change their habits of driving to work and choose cycling to work in order to lower their stress levels.

The study was led by Stephane Brutus, of the John Molson School of Business at Concordia.

The team recently reported their findings in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.

To reach their findings, the team collected data from 123 employees at Autodesk, a software company in Ontario, Canada, using a web-based survey.

Read more 20 minutes of exercise may be enough to reduce inflammation in body

Participants were asked to respond to questions about their perceived mood, perceived commuting stress and mode of travel to work (whether they commuted to work using a bike, car, or method of public transport).

However, the team only evaluated the questionnaires which were completed within 45 minutes of arriving at work. This was done to get a more precise picture of stress levels and mood upon arrival at work. If the answers were completed later, other stressors that occurred during the day could affect the results.

“Recent research has shown that early morning stress and mood are strong predictors of their effect later in the day,” explains Brutus.

“They can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted, and acted upon for the rest of the day.”

The team found that cycling to work produced less stress levels. Within 45 minutes of arrival, employees who cycled to work reported much lower stress levels, compared with employees who traveled to work by car. [Read more Low-fat dairy linked to reduced depression risk, new study suggests]

The researchers, however, note that no differences in stress levels was observed between participants who traveled to work by car and those who traveled using public transport.

At the same time, employees’ mood were not affected by the mode of travel they used.

Why cycling to work produces less stress?

The study failed to explain why cyclists reported feeling less stressed than drivers, but according to previous research, it may be down to the physical activity involved in cycling, which is known to lower stress.

But it’s not just stress relief that cycling produces; the team point to a study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, which found that cycling could reduce CO2 emissions by 11%.

Brutus hopes that public policy-makers should take advantage of the benefits of cycling to encourage more people to get on their bike.

“With growing concerns about traffic congestion and pollution, governments are increasingly promoting non-motorized alternative modes of transport, such as walking and cycling,” he says.

“I can only hope that further studies will follow our lead and develop more precise and deliberate research into this phenomenon.”

24/06/2017 / by / in
Cholesterol-lowering vaccine could soon replace statins

Scientists are currently testing a cholesterol-lowering vaccine that could reduce LDL cholesterol and atherosclerosis in clinical trials.

A new study has shown how a vaccine successfully lowered “bad” cholesterol in mice and reduced atherosclerosis – narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque buildup.

Researchers are expecting results from the human trials for the vaccine called AT04A by the end of this year. If found safe and effective for human use, it would offer a long-term treatment strategy for high cholesterol, say scientists. Patients could simply have an injection, followed by an annual booster, rather than taking statins every day.

Dr Gunther Staffler, chief technology officer at the Austrian biotech company AFFiRis, which developed the vaccine, said:

“AT04A was able to induce antibodies that specifically targeted the enzyme PCSK9 throughout the study period in the circulation of the treated mice. As a consequence, levels of cholesterol were reduced in a consistent and long-lasting way, resulting in a reduction of fatty deposits in the arteries and atherosclerotic damage, as well as reduced arterial wall inflammation.”

“If these findings translate successfully into humans, this could mean that, as the induced antibodies persist for months after a vaccination, we could develop a long-lasting therapy that, after the first vaccination, just needs an annual booster. This would result in an effective and more convenient treatment for patients, as well as higher patient compliance.”

Read more Statins may heighten Parkinson’s disease risk

LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is also known as the “bad” cholesterol, because high levels of it causes atherosclerosis. Studies have shown that people with elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are twice as likely to develop heart disease, compared to those with low levels of LDL cholesterol.

Adhering to a healthy diet and taking part in regular exercise can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, however some patients require medications as well.

Statins are the ultimate choice for cholesterol-lowering treatment. Statins help to lower LDL cholesterol by inhibiting a cholesterol-producing enzyme in the liver called HMG-CoA reductase.

Statins also bring with it certain risks including muscle pain and liver damage. Also, these class of drugs need to be taken on a daily basis, a regimen that is not easy for everyone to follow.

Dr. Staffler and colleagues describe the development of a vaccine that targets and blocks the activity of an enzyme called Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9).

PCSK9 is produced in the liver, and is known to bind to LDL cholesterol receptors. This blocks these receptors from clearing LDL cholesterol from the blood. As such, blocking PCSK9 is perceived as a promising cholesterol-lowering strategy.

Dr. Staffler and colleagues tested the vaccine in mice that had high levels of LDL cholesterol and atherosclerosis, induced by consumption of a Western-style diet that is high in fat.

When injected under the skin of the mice, the researchers found that the rodents had their total blood cholesterol lowered by 53% by the vaccine.

The vaccine also reduced the damage from atherosclerosis by 64%, and biological markers of blood vessel inflammation by up to 28%.

What’s more important is that the researchers discovered the antibodies produced by the vaccine remained high and functional throughout the entire 18-week study period, suggesting that it has long-term benefits.

“As antibody concentrations remained high at the end of the study, it can be assumed they would continue to reduce cholesterol levels for some time afterwards, resulting in a long-lasting effect, as has been shown in previous studies,” says Dr. Staffler.

Based on the cholesterol-lowering effects of AT04A in mouse studies, scientists started a phase I clinical trial of the vaccine in 2015. The trial involves 72 healthy adults, and is due to be complete by the end of this year.

The study was published in the European Heart Journal.

Cholesterol-lowering foods

23/06/2017 / by / in
Eating grapes can reduce bowel cancer risk

If you love grapes, you should start eating them regularly, as a new study suggests that extracts found in grapes may help reduce bowel cancer. According to researchers at the College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State University in State College in the U.S., resveratrol – a compound found in grape – together with grape seed extract – may kill colon cancer stem cells.

“The combination of resveratrol and grape seed extract is very effective at killing colon cancer cells,” says lead researcher Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State.

“And what we’re learning is the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells.”

Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 12% of all cancer cases. In 2014, 41,265 new cases of bowel cancer were reported in the UK. It is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the country.

For their study, the researchers set out to investigate the effects of grape compounds on bowel cancer stem cells.

More specifically, they tested the effect of a combination of resveratrol – a polyphenolic compound found in grapes, red wine, some berries, and peanuts – and grape seed extract.

And the researchers wrote: “most, if not all, cancerous tumours are driven by [cancer stem cells].”

“Cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation, and maintain their stem cell-like characteristics even after invasion and metastasis,” explains Prof. Vanamala.

The team studied 52 mice with bowel cancer tumours. The rodents were divided into 3 groups. First group received the grape compound combination, the second group was fed sulindac (an anti-inflammatory drug previously found to reduce tumours in humans), and the third group – the control group – was fed normal diet.

Vanamala and colleagues discovered that the number of tumours were cut by half in the mice that ate the grape compound diet. This reduction was similar to the one observed in the sulindac group, but unlike the drug, the grape compound combination didn’t cause any gastrointestinal toxicity.

When the combination was tried in vitro in a petri dish, it yielded similar results.

bowel cancerThe study also found that when grape seed extract and resveratrol was taken separately and in small doses, it didn’t suppress cancer stem cells as effectively. So it seems that the combination of the two produces the best results.

The findings may make us better understand why prevalence of colon cancer is very low among cultures that traditionally consume more fruits and vegetables, says Prof. Vanamala.

Read more Study explains how broccoli helps prevent cancer

African countries, including Nigeria has the lowest cancer rates in the world. Some studies have hypothesised that the reason may lie in the West African diet.

Prof. Vanamala says plant-based diets may contain compounds that are crucial in killing off cancer stem cells. He also recommends eating a lot of colourful fruits and vegetables to prevent bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes.

“This also connects well with a plant-based diet that is structured so that the person is getting a little bit of different types of plants, of different parts of the plant, and different colors of the plant, he says.

“This seems to be beneficial for not only promoting bacterial diversity, but also preventing chronic diseases and eliminating the colon cancer stem cells.”

The team hope their findings will pave the way for human trials. And if the trials are successful then the combination diet could be made into pills.

The findings were published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

22/06/2017 / by / in
Extra virgin olive oil may prevent dementia and memory loss

Extra virgin olive oil may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, according to researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Pennsylvania in the U.S. Researchers found that extra virgin olive oil prompts the brain to clear out harmful debris, thereby preventing cognitive decline and preserve memories.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a key component of the Mediterranean diet – a diet that has been hailed as the healthiest.

The lead researcher of the study is Dr. Domenico Pratico, a professor in the departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at Lewis Katz School. He explained why numerous studies pointed to olive oil as the primary reason why Mediterranean diet is associated with so many health benefits.

Read more Consuming a Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil may protect the heart

“The thinking is that extra virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats,” he said.

Nearly 44 million people are affected by Alzheimer’s or related dementia worldwide. The disease is most common in Western Europe with North America close behind.

In the UK, around 850,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease and currently there is no cure for it.

A traditional Alzheimer’s transgenic mouse model was used by the researchers in order to study the effect of EVOO. The genetically modified mice bore the 3 main characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease: memory decline, the amyloid plaque buildup in the brain, and the buildup of neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.

Amyloid plaques are formed when there is an excess production and buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid. In the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, these plaques build up in the spaces between neurons.

Neurofibrillary tangles are the twisted strands of a protein called tau. Tau is crucial in transportation of nutrients and other molecules in a healthy brain. In Alzheimer’s disease, tau gets tangled up inside the brain cells, ultimately causing the death of cells.

extra virgin olive oilThe researchers divided the rodents into two groups: one group was given a chow diet which contained extra virgin olive oil, the other group acted as the control group and received a chow diet without the EVOO. [Read more Olive oil may reverse the damage caused by high-fat diet and CURE fatty liver disease]

In the rodents, characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease begin to develop quite early on, so in this experiment, the researchers added the oil to the diet when the mice were 6 months old, before any symptoms could have appeared.

The cognitive abilities of the mice were evaluated by administering tests for their working memory, spatial memory, and learning skills.

In general appearance, the team didn’t find any differences between the two groups.

But when the rodents reached the ages of 9 months and 12 months, the mice in extra virgin olive oil group performed far better in cognitive tests. Further examination of their brain tissues showed striking differences between the two groups. The mice in the extra virgin olive oil group had lower levels of amyloid plaques and there were big differences in nerve cell appearance and function.

The synapses – connections between neurons – were found to be better preserved in the EVOO group compared to the control group, and there was also an increase in nerve cell autophagy activation. This autophagy activation is a key discovery since this process helps clear debris and toxins, including amyloid plaques, from the brain. [Read more Olive oil may prevent brain cancer]

Scientists believe that the autophagy reduction is involved at the Alzheimer’s onset, therefore, a way to prevent it could help develop treatments to treat or even reverse the dreaded disease.

“This is an exciting finding for us,” Dr. Pratico said.

“Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study was published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

21/06/2017 / by / in
Meditation and yoga reverse stress-causing DNA reactions

As our lifestyles are becoming more and more hectic, many people are turning to meditation and yoga as a way to reduce stress and improve mental health. Now, a new study suggests that these mind-body interventions (MBIs) do not simply make us relaxed, they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause poor health and depression.

The study was led by Ivana Buric, of the Centre for Psychology at Coventry University in the United Kingdom. The study was conducted jointly by the universities of Coventry and Radboud.

A massive number of studies in the past have demonstrated the benefits of MBIs for stress relief. This is causing many people to turn to meditation, yoga, and other MBIs in order to alleviate stress.

However, the mechanisms behind this association hasn’t been clearly defined. Previous research mainly focused on MBI’s effect on the brain that relieves stress.

For this new study Buric and colleagues sought to find out whether or not there is a molecular explanation behind MBIs and stress relief.

The team reviewed 18 studies involving 846 participants over 11 years. These studies had examined the effects of countless MBIs – including meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and Tai Chi – on gene expression.

Read more An hour of yoga everyday may lower blood pressure, suggests new study

The studies revealed a pattern in the molecular changes which occur in the body as a result of MBIs, and how those changes benefit our mental and physical health.

The researchers found that people who practice MBIs experience reduced production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), which is known to regulate gene expression.

They explain that stressful events trigger activity in the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response. This activity triggers the production of NF-kB, which in turn produces molecules called cytokines that promote cellular inflammation. This molecular reaction, if persistent, can lead to serious physical and mental health problems, such as cancer and depression.

But, according to the study, MBIs lower the production of NF-kB and cytokines, which not only helps to ease stress, but it also helps to stave off other conditions associated with this. [Read more Jogging for 30 minutes each day could add 9 years to your lifespan]

“Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realize is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business,” says Buric.

“These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our well-being.”

While the researchers say future studies might reveal how the molecular effects of MBIs on stress compare with other lifestyle interventions, such as diet and exercise, Buric concludes:

“But this is an important foundation to build on to help future researchers explore the benefits of increasingly popular mind-body activities.”

The research was published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Benefits of meditation

18/06/2017 / by / in
Statins may heighten Parkinson’s disease risk

A new study has found that statins – a type of drug commonly prescribed to lower “bad” cholesterol – may raise the risk developing Parkinson’s in people who are susceptible to the disease.

While some previous research has suggested that statins may protect against Parkinson’s disease, the findings have been inconsistent. Some studies showed a lower risk, some showed no difference at all, and some studies showed a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease in people who use statins.

“One of the reasons that may have explained these prior inconsistent results is that higher cholesterol, the main indication to use statins, has been related to lower occurrence of Parkinson’s disease,” says Xuemei Huang, professor of neurology at the Penn State College of Medicine in the U.S.

“This made it hard to know if the statin protective effect was due to the drug or preexisting cholesterol status.”

Every year, thousands of people across the globe are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The prevalence of Parkinson’s in the UK is frightening. Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s. Approximately 127,000 people in the UK are living with Parkinson’s – that’s 1 in every 500 people.

While most people affected by the disease are over 50 years of age, younger people can get it too.

For their study, the researchers analysed medical insurance claim data of more than 50 million people. They identified nearly 22,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease, and narrowed the number to 2,322 patients who were newly diagnosed with the disease.

In a control group each Parkinson’s disease patient was paired with a person who did not have the disease. The team then determined which patients had been taking a statin and for how long before symptom of Parkinson’s appeared.

Read more Parkinson’s Dementia: Causes and symptoms

They found a correlation between use of the statin and a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The effect was stronger at the beginning of the statin treatment, or more specifically, for the drug use of under 2.5 years.

“Statin use was associated with higher, not lower, Parkinson’s disease risk, and the association was more noticeable for lipophilic statins, an observation inconsistent with the current hypothesis that these statins protect nerve cells,” Prof. Huang says.

“In addition, this association was most robust for use of statins less than two-and-a-half years, suggesting that statins may facilitate the onset of Parkinson’s disease.”

The researchers also found that the association was more robust for so-called lipophilic statins – the statins that diffuse in lipids. Most statins are lipophilic, and they include atorvastatin, cerivastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, simvastatin, and pitavastatin. Other type of statins are hydrophilic statins, which diffuse in water. [Read more How low-fat dairy could increase your Parkinson’s disease risk]

Pointing to previous research that suggested that ending statin treatment may cause Parkinson’s onset, Prof. Huang said that the current study suggests “use of statins may lead to new Parkinson’s disease-related symptoms, thus causing patients to stop using statins.”

Prof. Huang stressed that more studies need to be completed to better understand these findings, and he cautions that those on statins should continue to take the medication their health care provider recommends.

“We are not saying that statins cause Parkinson’s disease, but rather that […] statins should not be used based on the idea that they will protect against Parkinson’s. People have individual levels of risk for heart problems or Parkinson’s disease,” Prof. Huang concludes.

The researchers reported their results in the journal Movement Disorders.

18/06/2017 / by / in
Broccoli sprout extract may help treat type 2 diabetes

Scientists believe they may have found an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes, and it may lie in the vegetable that you always hated as a kid.

A substance found in broccoli sprout extract may help some people with diabetes better control their blood sugar. The compound called sulforaphane was found to significantly boost fasting blood glucose levels among obese people with type 2 diabetes.

The compound was also found to decrease the amount of glucose produced by cultured liver cells, and in rat study, it also appeared to reverse abnormal gene expression in the livers of the rodents.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for up to 95% of all diagnosed cases.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot use insulin effectively, causing blood glucose levels to shoot up. Lack of control in blood glucose levels causes a range of health complications, including stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and nerve damage.

People with type 2 diabetes are usually advised to change their diet to help control their blood sugar levels.

broccoli sprout extractFor medication, a drug called metformin is used. But the drug is not for all patients with the condition. About 15% of the patients with type 2 diabetes have reduced kidney function and taking metformin can cause damage to their kidneys.

Therefore, scientists are looking for safer alternatives.

For this study, the scientists led by Annika Axelsson, of Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden, created a genetic profile for type 2 diabetes, based on 50 key genes, changes in which are associated with the disease.

Read more Eating legumes daily may lower risk of diabetes

This signature was then applied to public gene expression data, allowing the researchers to screen 3,852 compounds on gene expression changes in liver cells that are associated with type 2 diabetes. They found one – sulforaphane – a broccoli sprout extract.

Broccoli sprout extract showed the strongest effect

The researchers discovered that sulforaphane, which is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli sprouts, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and watercress – demonstrated the strongest effects.

First, the team tested the compound in cells growing in lab dishes, and found that it reduced glucose production. Next, they tested it in rats, and found that it led to improvements in liver gene expression in the rodents that were on a high-fat or high-fructose diet.

Next, the researchers ran a 12-week randomised, placebo-controlled trial, where the broccoli sprout extract was tested on 97 obese adults. All subjects had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and had poor control of their blood glucose levels. [Read more Eating French fries regularly could kill you, new study reveals]

They found that adults who consumed the extract demonstrated a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose levels, compared with adults who did not consume it.

However, experts say further research is needed to confirm whether this broccoli sprout extract might benefit patients with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers conclude that by designing genetic signatures in order to analyse public gene expression data, they may effectively identify compounds that could help to treat diabetes and other illnesses.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

16/06/2017 / by / in
Diabetes drug may decrease risk of heart attack and kidney disease

A drug commonly used to lower blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes has been shown to reduce the risk of serious heart problems including stroke and heart attack, a new study suggests. According to the study, the drug – canagliflozin – may reduce the overall risk of heart disease by 14% and lower the risk of heart failure hospitalisation by 33%.

The study also found that the drug slows the progression of kidney disease.

Prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing around the world. Currently, the disease effects 450 million people worldwide. The condition increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

According to American Heart Association (AHA), compared with healthy people, individuals with diabetes are “two to four times more likely to die from some form of heart disease.”

“Type 2 diabetes is growing rapidly all over the world, and we need drugs that not only deal with glucose levels, but that also protect the many millions of people from the very real risks of stroke and heart attack,” says Prof. Bruce Neal of the George Institute for Global Health.

The researchers in this new study reviewed data on more than 10,000 diabetics. The patients came from 30 countries across the globe.

The drug canagliflozin – a so-called SGLT2 inhibitor – stops the body from reabsorbing sugar. This type of drug inhibits a protein called sodium-glucose transport protein.

Read more Trehalose may prevent atherosclerosis

Normally, this protein expedites the reabsorption of glucose into the bloodstream. But, when SGLT2 gets into action it prompts the kidneys to eject extra glucose through urine and prevent them from reabsorbing glucose. The other drugs for type 2 diabetes only manage insulin levels.

diabetesIn the study type 2 diabetes patients who took canagliflozin showed a 33% lower risk of being hospitalised for heart failure. Also, these individuals were 14% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and were 40% less likely to have “serious kidney decline.”

Moreover, the drug also showed to protect all people with type 2 diabetes, not only those who already had an incipient form of CVD. [Read more Olive oil may reverse the damage caused by high-fat diet and CURE fatty liver disease]

“Both patients and physicians should be tremendously reassured by the results. What we have done is show that the earlier results were not just a one off. This really is a game changer in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It not only reduces the risk of heart disease, [but] it also provides real protection against kidney decline which affects many people with diabetes,” says co-author Prof. Vlado Perkovic, executive director of the George Institute of Global Health.

On a gloomier side, the study showed a serious risk to the patients who took the drug – the patients were 50% more likely to have an amputation.

“We don’t know why there was an increased risk of amputation, and further work is needed in this area. But for now, we urge caution in prescribing this drug to people at increased risk of suffering amputation,” Prof. Neal explains.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

15/06/2017 / by / in
Vitamin C combined with antibiotics kills cancer stem cells

A new study has found that a combination of vitamin C and antibiotics could be crucial in killing cancer stem cells (CSCs). The findings could open new avenues to fight cancer recurrence and treatment resistance.

Researchers at the Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Salford in the UK, found that vitamin C was up to 10 times effective at killing CSCs than 2-DG, a pharmaceutical currently being studied; but when vitamin C was combined with an antibiotic, it became up to ten times more potent, making it nearly 100 times more powerful than 2-DG.

Stem cells are the types of cells that can reproduce and transform into other cell types. As shown in studies, some cancer cells act in a similar way, reproducing in order to form and sustain tumours.

Read more High doses of vitamin C could help treat cancer, new research suggests

Scientists believe among advanced stage cancer patients, cancer stem cells are the main culprits behind the growth, spread, and recurrence of tumours, and they also play a role in treatment resistance.

“Therefore, new therapeutic strategies are necessary to identify and eradicate CSCs,” say co-author Prof. Michael Lisanti of the Biomedical Research Centre.

Scientists may have found a way to just that with their new study.

Every year cancer claims the lives of close to 9 million people globally, making it the leading cause of mortality in the world. Exact cause of the disease is not known.

Earlier this year, another study from Prof. Lisanti and team showed how vitamin C is able to effectively kill CSCs.

This new study builds on those findings, showing that vitamin C’s potency of killing cancer stem cells can be boosted with the help of antibiotics.

cancer stem cellsFor their study, the researchers used Doxycycline – an antibiotic used to treat pneumonia, acne, and other infections, in combination with vitamin C to kill CSC. They administered it to CSCs in increasing doses over 3 months. [Read more Olive oil may prevent brain cancer]

According to the researchers, Doxycycline suppresses the cells’ ability to switch source of energy as a means of survival. As a result, the cells are left with only glucose as a fuel source.

However, the cells were hit with a “second punch” when the scientists administered doxycycline with doses of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), effectively starving the cells to death.

“In this scenario, vitamin C behaves as an inhibitor of glycolysis, which fuels energy production in mitochondria, the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell,” explains study co-author Dr. Federica Sotgia, also of the Biomedical Research Center at the University of Salford.

Furthermore, the researchers identified eight more compounds that could be administered in combination with Doxycycline to deliver the “second punch” to CSCs. [Read more Pancreatic cancer: The hidden danger that lurks deep in the abdomen]

“This is further evidence that vitamin C and other non-toxic compounds may have a role to play in the fight against cancer,” says Prof. Lisanti.

“Our results indicate it is a promising agent for clinical trials, and as an add-on to more conventional therapies, to prevent tumor recurrence, further disease progression, and metastasis.”

The findings were published in the journal Oncotarget.

14/06/2017 / by / in
When eating alone, look in a mirror to make your meal taste better

Eating alone can be a painful and unsavory experience. We humans as social animals, usually eat more and find the meal more enjoyable when we eat with others. Now, a new study suggests the same effect can be achieved while eating alone. The trick? Sit in front of a mirror.

People rate food as more enjoyable, and eat more of it, when they eat with others compared to when they eat alone. This is called “social facilitation of eating.” It is a well-established phenomenon. However, exactly what it is about company of others that produces this effect is not clear.

A team of scientists from Nagoya University in Japan wanted to find out whether or not this interaction can be manipulated.

Although the effect might seem rather insignificant in the scientific world as a whole, the results could have positive consequences for the lonely people, especially the elderly in our society.

“We wanted to find out what the minimum requirement is for the social facilitation of eating,” says Ryuzaburo Nakata, from Nagoya University in Japan.

“Does another person have to actually be physically present, or is information suggesting the presence of others sufficient?”

Read more Delaying meal times can affect our biological clock

Many adults, especially older people, eat alone. As corresponding author Nobuyuki Kawai explains:

“Studies have shown that, for older adults, enjoying food is associated with quality of life, and frequently eating alone is associated with depression and loss of appetite.”

Therefore, simple tweaks that could boost people’s enjoyment of food might significantly impact their quality of life.

One theory that tries to explain the social facilitation of eating involves mood. According to this theory, when we eat with friends and family, our mood is uplifted, and that alone explains the phenomenon.

Again, there were other studies which showed that when people ate with close relatives or friends, they found their food tastier and ate more of it as opposed to eating with strangers.

However, this theory has been questioned by others. For example, one study showed that two strangers found chocolate more enjoyable and flavourful when they ate it together, and without any communication. Also, changes in their mood didn’t seem to add to the effect.

The scientists in this new study wanted to see if the greater enjoyment and consumption could be replicated without another person being present at all.

At the start of their study, the researchers focused on a group of older adults, as this group is most commonly affected by eating alone. The participants were asked to eat popcorn either in front of a mirror or in front of a monitor that displayed an image of a wall.

eating alone

Eating alone in front of a mirror makes people eat more

The researchers found that people eating alone reported food as tastier and ate more of it, when they sat in front of a mirror, compared with when they ate in front of a monitor displaying a wall.

Next, the same experiment was carried out on a younger set of participants, and they observed the same social facilitation of eating in front of a mirror, suggesting that the effect is not limited to older individuals. [Read more Avoid obesity: Have home-cooked meals, turn off the TV while eating]

When the researchers replaced the mirror with photos of the participants eating, they found that the individuals ate greater amounts and enjoyed it more. Thus, only an image of a person eating seems enough to produce the social facilitation of eating.

“Our findings, therefore, suggest a possible approach to improving the appeal of food, and quality of life, for older people who do not have company when they eat – for example, those who have suffered loss or are far away from their loved ones,” says Kawai.

The researchers hope future research will shed more light on this phenomenon. They would like to know whether the photos need to feature people eating, and whether images of people not eating might still return similar results.

The study was published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

Eating alone at work

11/06/2017 / by / in