Japan creates method for effective cancer detection

Tokyo, Nov 25 (Prensa Latina) A clinical method with 99 percent effectiveness in detecting the presence of 13 types of cancer through a blood test was created in Japan, a local scientific spokesperson reported today.

According to the source, this method can diagnose gastric, esophageal, pulmonary, hepatic, biliary tract, pancreas, intestinal, ovarian, prostate, bladder, breast, sarcomas and glioma cancers in less than two hours.

The technology was devised by the Toshiba corporation, the National Cancer Center Research Institute (NCCRI) and the Tokyo Medical University.

The detection tool analyzes micromolecules of ribonucleic acid (or micro-RNA) and that the objective of this diagnostic system is to carry out further research in 2020 to then implement this scientific novelty.

The new breakthrough should allow, once in practice, early treatment for this illness and favor survival rates and patient quality of life.

How climate change affects us physically, emotionally and socially

As a cold snap grips the Northeast, you are likely to reach for your coat, hat, and gloves before leaving the house in the morning. An anti-pollution mask with a 5-layer HEPA filter and built-in fan is typically not on your checklist.

This, however, is one of the items that residents of New Delhi, India need as they battle a smog crisis, which for the past 2 weeks has endangered the respiratory health of millions. Last week, the government ordered schools closed for a second time as a result of severely poor air quality. SAFAR, India’s pollution monitoring agency, advised everyone to close all their windows and avoid going outside. If people had to go outdoors, SAFAR recommended they wear N-95 or P-100 respirators. These are the kind of masks used on construction sites.

India is not alone in its struggle to breathe. According to the World Health Organization, nine out of 10 people worldwide are exposed to air containing high levels of pollutants. A staggering 7 million people die each year as a result of dangerous outdoor and household air quality. The statistics also hit close to home. Based on the 2018 American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report, Philadelphia ranks as the 12th worst city in the country in terms of its year-round air pollution.

How we reached this environmental emergency is fairly clear. Climate scientists from around the world agree that greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels have made our planet warmer. Heat waves and stagnant air worsen air pollution, along with the industrial emissions themselves. The United Nations’ 2018 IPCC report on climate change concluded that global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees C between 2030 and 2052, impacting health, livelihoods, water supply, human security, and economic growth. Children, older adults, and other vulnerable populations will bear the brunt of it, especially those living in poverty.

The climate crisis does not just affect us physically, but emotionally and socially as well. It can disrupt our most basic sense of safety, taking away routines and choices that are critical for wellness. Where before, we might have taken for granted living in a hospitable environment, our relationship with nature seems more threatened than ever by anxiety and mistrust.

Emerging data supports the connection between climate change and increasing emotional distress. A 2018 study of 2 million people living in the U.S. found that exposure to more extreme weather was associated with worse mental health. A 1 degree C increase in temperature over five years coincided with a 2-percentage point increase in mental health issues.

Some studies have focused on specific weather events. Their results link depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms to hurricanes and floods. The risk of suicide increases with heat waves and drought. Other consequences of climate change may include sleep disturbance, negative mood expressed on social media, and diminished cognitive performance among children. Experts also fear that social upheaval and intergroup conflict due to weather-related migration will further contribute to poor mental health outcomes.

In recent years, alarm over the earth’s vital signs has sounded throughout the world’s political, scientific, and medical communities. Political will and corporate change have not always followed. In fact, we have seen regression in the form of President Trump announcing his intentions of pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, which would make the United States stand apart from nearly 200 other nations committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In spite of this looming policy barrier, there are steps that individuals, corporations, and countries can take to address climate change.

A study of the world’s largest and most environmentally friendly corporations, published this July, found that top-performers adopt proactive, detail-oriented strategies to improve sustainable practices, as opposed to simply managing risk. This pre-emptive stance includes exceeding regulatory standards, being vocal about their efforts to help the environment, and a willingness to devote resources to ease the consequences of global warming.

At a personal level, you should not underestimate the positive impact you could have by reducing your carbon footprint. According to 2017 data from the University of Oxford’s Global Change Lab, each person in the U.S. produces an average of 16 tons of CO2 a year. It takes approximately 229 trees to absorb that amount of carbon dioxide. Conservation.org offers a free carbon footprint calculator to spark ideas around lifestyle changes that could help offset these emissions. Areas include transportation, diet, and energy use.

Any action to support the environment can boost a sense of well-being and contribute to your carbon offset. The University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems offers some suggestions:

  • Eat local, vegetarian, or organic foods
  • Buy energy-efficient appliances, especially refrigerators, which are responsible for large amounts of energy consumption
  • Walk, bike, carpool, and use mass transit whenever possible
  • Turn off electronics when not in use
  • Recycle and buy products with minimal packaging

Environmental awareness, altruistic intent, and future-orientation are key. As French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry once wrote, “As for the future, it is not a question of foreseeing it, but of making it possible.”

Scott Glassman is a clinical assistant professor and associate director of the MS program in mental health counseling at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Heart disease and cancer risk may be linked

Heart attack survivors may have an increased risk of developing cancer compared to people without cardiovascular disease, according to research to be presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2019 -- November 16-18 in Philadelphia.

People with more risk factors for cardiovascular diseases were also at higher risk for developing cancer compared to people with lower cardiovascular disease risk.

"It's a double whammy. Heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death in the United States. We now recognize that they are intimately linked. This tells us that we, as physicians, should be aggressive in trying to reduce cardiovascular risk factors not only to prevent heart disease, but also to consider cancer risk at the same time," said study lead author Emily Lau, M.D., a cardiology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Using data from the Framingham Heart Study, researchers evaluated data from 12,712 participants (average age 51) without cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of the study. The American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology's Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) Risk Estimator and biomarkers (substances released into the bloodstream when the heart is damaged) were used to measure cardiovascular risk. The ASCVD risk estimator is a tool to help predict a person's risk of developing heart disease within ten years.

During the study period of nearly 15 years, 1,670 cancer cases occurred (19% gastrointestinal; 18% breast; 16% prostate; 11% lung). The researchers found:

  • Cardiovascular risk factors, including age, sex, high blood pressure and smoking status, were independently associated with cancer.
  • Those with a 10-year ASCVD risk of 20% or higher were more than three times as likely as those with 10-year ASCVD risk of 5% or lower to develop any type of cancer.
  • People who developed cardiovascular disease (a heart attack, heart failure or atrial fibrillation) during the study period had more than a sevenfold increased risk for subsequent cancer compared to those who did not experience any cardiac event.
  • Similarly, those with high levels of BNP, a biomarker frequently elevated in heart failure, were more likely to get cancer during the 15-year follow-up period than participants with low levels of BNP.

"I think it's interesting that BNP, a cardiac marker linked to heart failure risk, was associated with the risk of cancer in the future. Currently we use BNP to determine if a person has developed heart failure from chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer," said Tochi M. Okwuosa, D.O., Vice Chair, American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology and Genomics and Precision Medicine Cardio-Oncology Subcommittee and associate professor at Rush University, Chicago. "This is the first study that has shown that BNP that's elevated at baseline is associated with the future risk of cancer."

"Cancer and cardiovascular disease share many of the same risk factors, such as tobacco use, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. The next step is to identify the biological mechanisms driving the link between cardiovascular disease and cancer," said Lau.

Many of the same lifestyle habits that reduce the risk of heart disease also reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer; so following the American Heart Association Life's Simple 7 may help prevent both diseases. Life's Simple Seven includes recommendations to eat a healthy diet (more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein), be physically active; avoid all tobacco/nicotine products and attain and maintain a healthy body weight, cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure," said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical officer for prevention for the American Heart Association.

Lau said this was an observational study, so it doesn't prove cause and effect, but it does shed light on the connection between heart disease and cancer.


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One avocado a day helps lower 'bad' cholesterol for heart healthy benefits

Move over, apples -- new research from Penn State suggests that eating one avocado a day may help keep "bad cholesterol" at bay.

According to the researchers, bad cholesterol can refer to both oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and small, dense LDL particles.

In a randomized, controlled feeding study, the researchers found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lower levels of LDL (specifically small, dense LDL particles) and oxidized LDL in adults with overweight or obesity.

"We were able to show that when people incorporated one avocado a day into their diet, they had fewer small, dense LDL particles than before the diet," said Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition, who added that small, dense LDL particles are particularly harmful for promoting plaque buildup in the arteries. "Consequently, people should consider adding avocados to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip."

Specifically, the study found that avocados helped reduce LDL particles that had been oxidized. Similar to the way oxygen can damage food -- like a cut apple turning brown -- the researchers said oxidation is also bad for the human body.

"A lot of research points to oxidation being the basis for conditions like cancer and heart disease," Kris-Etherton said. "We know that when LDL particles become oxidized, that starts a chain reaction that can promote atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the artery wall. Oxidation is not good, so if you can help protect the body through the foods that you eat, that could be very beneficial."

While previous research demonstrated that avocados could help lower LDL cholesterol, Kris-Etherton and her colleagues were curious about whether avocados could also help lower oxidized LDL particles.

The researchers recruited 45 adult participants with overweight or obesity for the study. All participants followed a two-week "run-in" diet at the beginning of the study. This diet mimicked an average American diet and allowed all participants to begin the study on similar nutritional "footing."

Next, each participant completed five weeks of three different treatment diets in a randomized order. Diets included a low-fat diet, a moderate-fat diet, and a moderate-fat diet that included one avocado a day. The moderate-fat diet without avocados were supplemented with extra healthy fats to match the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids that would be obtained from the avocados.

After five weeks on the avocado diet, participants had significantly lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol than before the study began or after completing the low- and moderate-fat diets. Participants also had higher levels of lutein, an antioxidant, after the avocado diet.

Kris-Etherton said there was specifically a reduction in small, dense LDL cholesterol particles that had become oxidized.

"When you think about bad cholesterol, it comes packaged in LDL particles, which vary in size," Kris-Etherton said. "All LDL is bad, but small, dense LDL is particularly bad. A key finding was that people on the avocado diet had fewer oxidized LDL particles. They also had more lutein, which may be the bioactive that's protecting the LDL from being oxidized."

The researchers added that because the moderate-fat diet without avocados included the same monounsaturated fatty acids found in avocados, it is likely that the fruit has additional bioactives that contributed to the benefits of the avocado diet.

Kris-Etherton said that while the results of the study -- published in the Journal of Nutrition -- are promising, there is still more research to be done.

"Nutrition research on avocados is a relatively new area of study, so I think we're at the tip of the iceberg for learning about their health benefits," Kris-Etherton said. "Avocados are really high in healthy fats, carotenoids -- which are important for eye health -- and other nutrients. They are such a nutrient-dense package, and I think we're just beginning to learn about how they can improve health."

Soft drinks found to be the crucial link between obesity and tooth wear

A new study published today in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations, has found that sugar-sweetened acidic drinks, such as soft drinks, is the common factor between obesity and tooth wear among adults.

Scientists from King's College London found that being overweight or obese was undoubtedly associated with having tooth wear. Significantly, they also found that the increased consumption of sugary soft drinks may be a leading cause of the erosion of tooth enamel and dentine in obese patients.

Drawing on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004, they analysed a representative sample of survey participants of 3,541 patients in the United States. Patient BMI and the level of tooth wear were the exposure and outcome measurements in the analysis. The intake of sugar-sweetened acidic drinks was recorded through two non-consecutive 24-hour recall interviews where the patients were asked to provide details of diet intake across these two days.

"It is the acidic nature of some drinks such as carbonated drinks and acidic fruit juices that leads to tooth wear," said lead author Dr Saoirse O'Toole from King's College London.

Tooth wear is ranked as the third most important dental condition, after cavities and gum disease and the consumption of acidic food and drink is a leading cause of this. Obese patients also have other risk factors such as increased likelihood of gastric reflux disease (heartburn) which was controlled for in this study.

"This is an important message for obese patients who are consuming calories through acidic sugar sweetened drinks. These drinks may be doing damage to their body and their teeth. There is also an important message for dentists. We should be asking our patients who are obese and have tooth wear what calories they are drinking as this may be having an effect on their full bodies -- not just their teeth," Dr O'Toole added.

Previous research from King's has found that tooth wear affects up to 30% of European adults. It is the premature wearing of teeth due to the softening of the dental enamel from dietary or gastric acids, combined with wear and tear. It occurs when the outer layer (enamel) of the tooth slowly dissolves. This can lead to changes in the shape or appearance of teeth, and they can become sensitive when eating or drinking cold food and drinks. At its worst, the tooth structure can gradually wear away. Severe Erosive Tooth Wear reduces quality of life and can mean complex and costly procedures, costing up to £30,000 per patient. Tooth wear is preventable and changes to consumption habits can help stop people from getting it or making it worse.

 

Mysterious newly discovered virus DEFIES EVOLUTION, current scientific understanding

Scientists in Japan have discovered a new type of virus which could redefine our understanding of viruses and how they propagate and spread, all while sifting through pig feces.

Unlike most other organisms which fall under the definition of ‘life,’ viruses have no cells: they are merely a particle of genetic material (RNA or DNA) within a protein shield that is capable of infecting a cell before replicating. 

While sifting through pig feces, as you do, researchers from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) came across a virus which defied everything we thought we knew about the infectious agents.

“The recombinant virus we found in this study has no structural proteins,” says virologist Tetsuya Mizutani from TUAT about the strain of a type of enterovirus G (EV-G) the team encountered. “This means the recombinant virus cannot make a viral particle.”

Also on rt.com Olympic fever? Tourists may be unaware Japan IMPORTED Ebola in preparation for 2020 games....

This particular "defective variant" of the virus the team uncovered lacked even the limited protein container found in other viruses, and instead merely had "flanking genes" in its structure. This means that the virus would not be able to invade a host on its own, which begs the question: how on Earth does it survive?

The team suggests that this virus, and any potential copycats it might have out there in the natural world, might exploit other viruses to do the heavy lifting of both transporting it around and helping it to infect host targets. 

A lot more research is required to fully understand what is going on here, but the discovery could upend our understanding of viruses in general while blasting open new doors of research into combatting some of humanity's greatest biological threats. 

“We may be facing an entirely new system of viral evolution,” Mizutani says.

We are wondering how this new virus came to be, how it infects cells or how it develops a viral particle. Our future work will be on solving this mystery of viral evolution.

Also on rt.com DNA ‘echoes’ of ancient viruses could help to kill cancer, new research finds

Stress during pregnancy may affect baby's sex, risk of preterm birth

It's becoming well established that maternal stress during pregnancy can affect fetal and child development as well as birth outcomes, and a new study from researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and NewYork-Presbyterian now identifies the types of physical and psychological stress that may matter most.

The study was published online in the journal PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The womb is an influential first home, as important as the one a child is raised in, if not more so," says study leader Catherine Monk, PhD, professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of Women's Mental Health in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Because stress can manifest in a variety of ways, both as a subjective experience and in physical and lifestyle measurements, Monk and her colleagues examined 27 indicators of psychosocial, physical, and lifestyle stress collected from questionnaires, diaries, and daily physical assessments of 187 otherwise healthy pregnant women, ages 18 to 45.

About 17% (32) of the women were psychologically stressed, with clinically meaningful high levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress. Another 16% (30) were physically stressed, with relatively higher daily blood pressure and greater caloric intake compared with other healthy pregnant women. The majority (nearly 67%, or 125) were healthy.

Fewer Baby Boys with Mental Stress?

The study suggested that pregnant women experiencing physical and psychological stress are less likely to have a boy. On average, around 105 males are born for every 100 female births. But in this study, the sex ratio in the physically and psychologically stressed groups favored girls, with male-to-female ratios of 4:9 and 2:3, respectively.

"Other researchers have seen this pattern after social upheavals, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, after which the relative number of male births decreased," says Monk. "This stress in women is likely of long-standing nature; studies have shown that males are more vulnerable to adverse prenatal environments, suggesting that highly stressed women may be less likely to give birth to a male due to the loss of prior male pregnancies, often without even knowing they were pregnant."

Other Impacts of Stress

  • Physically stressed mothers, with higher blood pressure and caloric intake, were more likely to give birth prematurely than unstressed mothers.
  • Among physically stressed mothers, fetuses had reduced heart rate-movement coupling -- an indicator of slower central nervous system development -- compared with unstressed mothers.
  • Psychologically stressed mothers had more birth complications than physically stressed mothers.

Social Support Matters

The researchers also found that what most differentiated the three groups was the amount of social support a mother received from friends and family. For example, the more social support a mother received, the greater the likelihood of her having a male baby.

When social support was statistically equalized across the groups, the stress effects on preterm birth disappeared. "Screening for depression and anxiety are gradually becoming a routine part of prenatal practice," says Monk. "But while our study was small, the results suggest enhancing social support is potentially an effective target for clinical intervention."

An estimated 30% of pregnant women report psychosocial stress from job strain or related to depression and anxiety, according to the researchers. Such stress has been associated with increased risk of premature birth, which is linked to higher rates of infant mortality and of physical and mental disorders, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety, among offspring.

How a mother's mental state might specifically affect a fetus was not examined in the study. "We know from animal studies that exposure to high levels of stress can raise levels of stress hormones like cortisol in the uterus, which in turn can affect the fetus," says Monk. "Stress can also affect the mother's immune system, leading to changes that affect neurological and behavioral development in the fetus. What's clear from our study is that maternal mental health matters, not only for the mother but also for her future child."


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Materials provided by Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Type 2 diabetes and obesity could be treated by new, less invasive procedure

New research from King's College London published in EBioMedicine, has found that a newly tested medical device, called Sleeveballoon, mimics the effects of traditional bariatric surgery in rodents and produces impressive results on body weight, fatty liver and diabetes control.

Sleeveballoon is a device that combines a balloon with a connected sleeve, which covers the initial parts of the small intestine. It is inserted into the stomach and bowel during minimally invasive surgery under general anaesthetic.

In this study, researchers compared the effects of the Sleeveballoon and traditional bariatric surgery on 30 rodents fed with a high-fat diet, achieving very similar results. Results were also compared to sham-operated rats, with the new device reducing food intake by 60% and resulting in a 57% reduction in fat mass. The effect on diabetes was similarly impressive with blood glucose levels dropping by 65%.

"Gastric bypass surgery is a highly effective treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, very few eligible patients, only around 1%, are offered surgery and some also prefer less invasive approaches," said lead author Professor Geltrude Mingrone from King's College London.

"We found that the metabolic effects of the Sleeveballoon device are similar to those of the gastric bypass but have distinct advantages over the traditional method. In both, insulin sensitivity and heart functions improved. However, while gastric bypass causes a rapid rise in post food blood glucose levels which can cause hypoglycaemia, the Sleeveballoon induces a slowing down of digestion which has a steadying effect on blood sugar levels. This helps control appetite and hunger, keeping the person fuller for longer and substantially reduces weight."

The device should be removed after 6 to 12 months, and the team are eager to test the device in say more research is needed to manage this process and avoid reversal of the positive effects on obesity and diabetes.

"About two billion adults, or 30% of the world's population, live with overweight or obesity according to the World Health Organisation," said Professor Mingrone.

"At present, 500 million people suffer from type 2 diabetes and about two billion people have fatty liver disease. We hope that our discovery will be tested in humans soon and revolutionise the way we tackle this epidemic."


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Materials provided by King's College London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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