Fish oils could help in the battle against prostate cancer, new research suggests. Scientists have discovered a mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acids prevent the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells. Working with prostate cell cultures, Professor Meier and two students found the fatty acids bind to a receptor called FFA4, for ‘free fatty acid receptor 4.’ Rather than stimulating cancer cells, the receptor acts as a signal to prevent growth factors, suppressing proliferation of the cancer cells. ‘But we’re the first to show that they work this way in cancer,’ said Kathryn Meier, a professor of pharmacy at Washington State University. ‘The attention has mostly been on inflammation and diabetes but there has always been an interest in cancer, and we were the first to show this mechanism in any cancer cell at all. ‘This kind of knowledge could lead us to better treat or prevent cancer because now we know how it works,’ Professor Meier said. The study also found that a drug mimicking the action of omega 3s can work as well or better than fatty acids in suppressing the cancer cells.
A fifth of all servicemembers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered concussions, mainly from being close to explosive blasts from roadside bombs. Doctors often refer to sports injuries to seek treatment options for the so-called signature wound of the long wars. But new research signals that war-zone concussions are much different from concussions than happen playing football or hockey. Most athletes quickly recover brain function. Most soldiers and Marines do not, according to a study released Wednesday in Brain: A Journal of Neurology.
The findings will likely add to military discussions about who is fit to go back into the fight after suffering a concussion. And perhaps the recognition could lessen the stigma of mental illness in the military. Unlike most athletes, normal brain function didn’t return back to normal within six to 12 months of injury for most of those studied. Compared to the controls, those who survived blasts had greater bouts of depression and more severe post traumatic stress.
March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, and as promised, I [author, Amy Zellmer] am writing a series of blogs to help educate others and bring awareness to traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
1. Our brains no longer work the same. We have cognitive deficiencies that don’t make sense, even to us.
2. We suffer a great deal of fatigue. Every single thing we do, whether physical or mental, takes a toll on our brain.
3. We live with fear and anxiety. Many of us live in a constant state of fear of hurting ourselves again.
4. We deal with chronic pain. Once the broken bones are healed, and the bruises and scars have faded, we still deal with a lot of chronic pain.
5. We often feel isolated and alone. Because of all the issues stated above, we sometimes have a hard time leaving the house. Sensory stimulation overload from lights and noise is a significant problem.
Parents throughout the country are questioning whether it’s safe for their children to play youth football and seeking safer options like soccer and lacrosse — and researchers at the University of North Carolina are trying to answer those questions. Starting this season, researchers at UNC are partnering with the North Carolina men’s lacrosse and women’s soccer teams to study how much force players endure on the field and how much force causes a concussion. Jason Mihalik, assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science and co-director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, is leading the research.
Taking omega-3 fatty acids appeared to lower inflammation and guard against further declines in heart function among recent heart attack survivors already receiving optimal standard care, according to results from a randomized, controlled trial to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.
“Giving a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids soon after a heart attack appears to improve cardiac structure and heart functioning above and beyond the standard of care,” said Raymond W. Kwong, M.D., M.P.H, director of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the study’s senior author.
A model has been proposed to explain the influence of inadequate vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids on brain dysfunction via serotonin levels, according to a review published online Feb. 24 in The FASEB Journal.
The researchers note that brain serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan by tryptophan hydroxylase 2, which is transcriptionally activated by vitamin D, and that given the prevalence of inadequate levels of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, brain serotonin synthesis may not be optimal. They propose mechanisms by which eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) increase serotonin release from presynaptic neurons and influence serotonin receptor action, respectively, by reducing E2 series prostaglandins and increasing cell membrane fluidity in postsynaptic neurons. The model proposed explains how inadequate levels of vitamin D, EPA, or DHA, together with genetic factors and at key developmental periods, could trigger dysfunctional serotonin activation and function, contributing to neuropsychiatric disorders and depression.
They say laughter is the best medicine. When it comes to your brain, you might add sleep, eating right, exercise or even changing your mind.
Scientists are finding that behaviors affect our neurology — our brain chemistry and brain activity — in profound ways that can replace or supplement pharmacological treatments of even serious mental and physical disorders.
This isn’t about thinking happy thoughts or eating a particular superfood to boost your memory, but experts say there are many specific choices we can make that will physically affect our brains and our mental health.
This week the Huffington Post published an article: “Diet may be as important to mental health as it is to physical health.” This comes on the heels of an opinion piece written by the executive of ISNPR (International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research) published in one of the most esteemed journals, Lancet Psychiatry (Sarris et al., 2015), entitled: “Nutritional Medicine as Mainstream in Psychiatry: A Consensus Position Statement from The International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research.” That same month, our article on “The Emerging Field of Nutritional Mental Health” (Kaplan et al., 2015) was published in Clinical Psychological Science. And, just this week, a report written by a task force advising on new dietary guidelines commissioned by the US departments of Health and Human Service and Agriculture recognized the importance of nutrition in mental health outcomes for the first time.
So, with all of these exciting developments, we [the authors] are both wondering, are we at a Tipping Point? We think that the public is ready to accept the importance of nutrition for mental health. Can we take on the challenges outlined above? How should our health care systems deal with these challenges?
Although essential marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D have been shown to improve cognitive function and behavior in the context of certain brain disorders, the underlying mechanism has been unclear. In a new paper published inFASEB Journal* by Rhonda Patrick, PhD and Bruce Ames, PhD of Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), serotonin is explained as the possible missing link tying together why vitamin D and marine omega-3 fatty acids might ameliorate the symptoms associated with a broad array of brain disorders.
Many clinical disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression share as a unifying attribute low brain serotonin. “In this paper we explain how serotonin is a critical modulator of executive function, impulse control, sensory gating, and pro-social behavior,” says Dr. Patrick. “We link serotonin production and function to vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, suggesting one way these important micronutrients help the brain function and affect the way we behave.”
This publication suggests that optimizing intakes of vitamin D, EPA, and DHA would optimize brain serotonin concentrations and function, possibly preventing and ameliorating some of the symptoms associated with these disorders without side effects.
We know that food affects the body — but could it just as powerfully impact the mind? While the role of diet and nutrition in our physical health is undeniable, the influence of dietary factors on mental health has been less considered. That may be starting to change. For the first time, a report by a task force advising on new dietary guidelines, commissioned by the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, included a point considering the possible role of diet in mental health outcomes. The USDA and HHS report notes, for example, that the American Psychiatric Association classifies omega-3 fatty acids (which are most commonly found in oily fish) as a complementary treatment for depression. However, the advisory panel concluded, for now, that the research was too limited to make policy suggestions.
Some psychiatrists, too, have recently launched a rallying cry for a more integrative approach to mental health care — one that takes diet and other lifestyle factors into account in diagnosing, treating and preventing mental illness. In a paper recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry, an international group of scientists (all members of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research) argue that diet is “as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.”
“A well-nourished brain is going to be more resilient,” says Ramsey. “Being a modern human is stressful. There are a lot of demands for our attention and we’re exposed to a lot more trauma … Through diet, over time you make the brain more resilient.”
I [author Amy Zellmer] find it strangely interesting that this time last year, as I was enduring the beginning of my life with a TBI, I had no idea that March was National Brain Injury Awareness Month. This year I feel compelled to shout it from the rooftops (or the computer screen)! Over the next few weeks, I intend to share with you stories and journeys of those living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or caring for a loved one who is recovering from one. My hope is to educate those who aren’t familiar with TBI, and to help other TBI-ers understand that they are not alone, and that their symptoms are not just “in their head” (pun intended).
A TBI changes you. Literally and figuratively. My personality is different. My energy levels and sleep patterns are foreign to me. The confused woman in the kitchen staring at the oven is someone I am just now starting to understand. The woman who has to write a Post-it note for every single task on her to-do list is no longer the multi-tasker she once was. The woman who used to type at 100 words per minute with zero mistakes now has to take her time and correct many keystroke errors as she goes because her brain gets confused with letters.
If you think you understand concussions well enough, you are probably wrong. Unfortunately, I myself [author Jennie Shulkin] am overly informed. By sharing my own experiences with TBI, I hope to educate others on its potential graveness, as well as eradicate certain concussion misconceptions.
1. A minor impact cannot cause a concussion. My major concussion resulted from being struck in the head by a volleyball. Yes, a volleyball. I learned the hard way that there is no relationship between the severity of the collision and the magnitude of the resulting concussion.
2. A concussion can only occur in conjunction with loss of consciousness. Unlike in the movies, I remained alert and awake following my accident. Because of this, nobody around me even asked if I was okay. Despite common belief, most concussion sufferers never lose consciousness and are therefore not given immediate medical attention.
3. Symptoms cease after a short period of rest. One head injury may heal in a few days, but another may last several months or longer. My own concussion persisted for three grueling months — one of which I was completely inactive, and two of which I fought through the pain and confusion to continue my life.
The Everyday Reality of TBI…
Eggs and coffee are in, sugar is out and vegetables will always be good for you, according to a committee of top nutrition experts tasked with advising the federal government. Their recommendations reflect the latest and greatest in food and nutrition research, and will help update the nation’s dietary guidelines — something they have to do every five years.
“The [advisory committee] has produced an honest, straightforward, courageous report thoroughly based on research and at long last without mincing words,” NYU professor Marion Nestle told The Huffington Post. “Whether the agencies — USDA and HHS — will accept its recommendations remains to be seen.”
Here’s what a panel of experts had to say about the report:
1. The focus on foods, not nutrients, is a good thing.
2. Cholesterol limits are gone, but that won’t change much.
3. Sustainability is also part of good nutrition.
4. There need to be real limits on sugar.
5. Research about the link between food and mental health is still emerging.
6. These suggestions need your support.
Although researchers have made remarkable advances in studying comas and other disorders of consciousness, doctors say a great deal remains unknown. When a doctor walks into an exam room, for example, the tools available for determining the prognosis of a patient in a coma are limited — and far from an exact science. In fact, there are more reliable markers of which patients will do poorly, the researchers said.
That gave the researchers an idea: Using one of the most well-known tests for poor outcomes, they decided to test the reverse. A shift of the brain from its usual midline position is associated with loss of consciousness and poor outcome. Geocadin and lead author Robert Kowalski, decided to measure whether patients whose brains shifted back toward midline had a better prognosis. Now, researchers think they’ve found a measurement that will help doctors assess whether a patient will emerge from a coma.
Author of National Geographic’s February cover story discusses the ravages of traumatic brain injury from battlefield blasts. “Healing Our Soldiers,” the cover story of the February issue of National Geographic, is a searching inquiry into blast-induced traumatic brain injury—the signature injury suffered by American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.
Story author Caroline Alexander explains her interest in the subject, responds to questions raised by the radio audience, and shares advice with veterans who worry that they may be suffering from the syndrome.
After the highly charged Super Bowl, two sobering studies emerged. One unveiled an improved molecular imaging technology that verified—and precisely identified—brain damage in some National Football League (NFL) players. The other study revealed that brain damage can be more severe in NFL players who start playing football before age 12.
(1) “The most critical take-home message is that we now have this molecular imaging technology to visualize and quantify brain injury at the molecular level and in real-time in the living human brain,” the lead author, Johns Hopkins University behavioral psychiatrist Jennifer Coughlin, M.D., told Bioscience Technology. “With this technology we can begin to design research studies to test for signs of brain injury immediately after concussion, in the period following concussion, over the course of each year of NFL play, and in the years after cessation of play.”
(2) Another study equated brain damage with age. In the January 28th Neurology, a team led by Boston University (BU) neurologist Robert Stern, Ph.D., found that NFLers who played tackle football before age 12 were more likely to have memory and thinking difficulties as adults. The team tested 42 former NFL players who were an average age of 52. All had memory and thinking problems for at least six months. Half played tackle football before age 12; half did not. Both groups suffered a similar number of concussions.
Twenty years ago this year, former Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Dr. Barry Sears published Enter the Zone: A Dietary Road Map, a book that helped change the discussion about diet and health. Against the established nutritional powers–still clutching the “high carb, low-fat” mantra–Sears championed what he called an “anti-inflammatory” dietary approach to undermining obesity and a host of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and brain-based diseases. At the time, little was being said about the connection between diet and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but Sears pointed to trends in the modern American diet that were fueling the expansion of these and other conditions.
A number of children who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been analyzing the role of diet and nutrition in an effort to help lessen the symptoms of hyperactivity. ADHD is a brain-based medical disorder caused by faulty connections between nerve cells that regulate attention. According to the CDC, 11 percent of children were diagnosed with ADHD and about two-thirds of those kids are on some form of prescription medication. While not the cause of the disorder, many researchers suggest that modifying your diet may alleviate some of the symptoms of ADHD. Although more studies are needed to make definitive claims, it’s suggested that eating a diet high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and complex carbohydrates can help to ease hyperactivity.
Additionally, foods that may exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD should be avoided. This includes artificial dyes and sweeteners, preservatives, sugars and allergens. Foods that contain artificial dyes in The European Union are required to include a label warning that this color “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” When trying to avoid food dyes, it’s necessary to read the ingredients of processed foods, medications and personal care products, especially those marketed toward children. As an example, yellow #6, banned throughout parts of the world, can be found in Eggo, Kraft, Frito-Lay, Betty Crocker, JELL-O and Mars candy products. Furthermore, avoid preservatives where possible. Sodium benzoate, a popular preservative, can be found in many acidic foods (think salad dressings and condiments), medicines and cosmetics and has been linked to increased hyperactivity.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is not just a health condition, it’s a disease. Blood pressure is the body’s reflection of the tension in the blood vessels— the more tense they are, the higher your blood pressure is and harder the heart has to work, said Dr. Vincent Bufalino, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart attack and stroke, and if it’s not well-controlled, kidney failure can result as well. It’s in the same group of other serious risk factors including high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, smoking and family history. Here are 13 ways to prevent and control high blood pressure: