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Fabulous news for those persons wanting to reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease as they age - get a flu vaccine, especially annually. A recent large study found that with each annual vaccine received in adults 65 years and older, the protective effect increases. That's it! So simple.

The study authors compared 935,887 flu-vaccinated patients and 935,887 non-vaccinated patients. At the start of the study, no one had an Alzheimer's diagnosis. They found a 40% lower risk of an Alzheimer's diagnosis in those receiving flu vaccines compared to individuals not receiving a flu vaccine in the following 4 years.

Other studies have had similar findings, as well as that getting other vaccines in adulthood also reduce the risk of dementia, such as pneumonia, tetanus, polio, and herpes vaccines. Current thinking is that this protective effect from vaccines is due to their immunological effects - that they boost the immune system in a good way.

From Science Daily: Flu vaccination linked to 40% reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease

People who received at least one influenza vaccine were 40% less likely than their non-vaccinated peers to develop Alzheimer's disease over the course of four years, according to a new study from UTHealth Houston. ...continue reading "The Flu Vaccine is Linked to a Lower Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease"

Another recent study gave support to what has been known for decades - the youngest children in a class, especially boys, are most likely to be diagnosed and treated medically for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other behavioral problems.

Of course the youngest children in a class are - it's called immaturity. In a class there can be a 12 months age difference between the oldest and youngest children. Younger, more immature children have a harder time sitting still and focusing for hours, plus all those worksheets.... No wonder they are at increased risk for ADHD diagnoses and having to take medications.

The large study conducted in Scotland in Wales found that flexibility in when a child starts school helps lower the risk of an ADHD diagnosis. And if necessary, a child should stay back a year (repeat the school year)

Another thing to keep in mind -  it's especially hard for active children when recesses are eliminated, as so many schools are now doing.

From Medical Xpress: Youngest children within their school year are more likely to be treated for ADHD, says new study

New research involving experts from the University of Nottingham shows that children younger than their classmates within a school year are more likely to be treated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), suggesting immaturity may influence diagnosis. ...continue reading "Youngest Children in a Class Are At Increased Risk of ADHD Diagnosis and Medication"

More and more research over the past decade has stressed the importance of exercise for our health, but it turns out it is also important in slowing down tumor development. Yes - it actually reduces the growth of cancer.

During a presentation at a 2022 medical conference in Spain, researcher Adrián Castillo García stated that a prescription for exercise (physical activity) should be part of cancer treatment.

Physical exercise also works to make cancer treatments more effective. For example, physical exercise (physical activity), in combination with chemotherapy, reduces the progression of cancer and on tumor volume (doesn't grow as much). Garcia thought that resistance exercise, such as cycling, was especially effective.

Other studies also find that exercise slows down tumor growth (e.g., colon cancer growth in persons with colorectal cancer is reduced by high intensity interval training), and lowers the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Bottom line: View exercise as anti-cancer.

From Medscape: Nutrients and Exercise Affect Tumor Development

Researchers discussed an update on the latest evidence regarding the cancer-lifestyle link as part of the Precision Health session: Oncology, held during the 7th International Congress of the Spanish Society of Precision Health (SESAP). The role that certain nutrients can have on tumor development was analyzed, along with the most recent data justifying the idea that the prescription of physical exercise should not be optional, but rather integrated into oncological treatment.

Exercise as Oncological Therapy

In the same session, Adrián Castillo García, graduate in physical activity and sports sciences and a researcher at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute (IIBB) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), reviewed the latest studies that showed evidence of the importance of physical exercise during cancer treatment and its potential role in modulating the tumor microenvironment and immune function. 

...continue reading "Exercise Slows Down Tumor Development"

Americans spend enormous amounts of money on vitamins and mineral supplements in an effort to stay healthy or to improve their health. Unfortunately, unless a person has an actual vitamin or mineral deficiency, studies are just not finding health benefits. Sometimes there are even harms.

Physicians at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine weighed in on this issue. Their view: For most non-pregnant healthy Americans vitamin and mineral supplements are a "waste of money". There is no "magic set of pills to keep you healthy". Instead, a healthy diet and exercise are key.

However, they also say a pregnant women should consider taking a prenatal vitamin, especially folic acid. There are health benefits to folic acid supplements during pregnancy.

Basic conclusions: For non-pregnant persons without vitamin or mineral deficiencies, there is no evidence supporting the consumption of vitamin and mineral supplements in preventing cancer or cardiovascular (heart) health. Avoid beta carotene supplements (health harms) and vitamin E supplements.

What to do to maintain or improve health? Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans), seeds, and nuts. Get enough exercise or physical activity. Don't smoke. Maintain a healthy weight.

Doing these things will also improve the gut microbiome (the community of microbes living in the gut), which is so important for good health.

From Science Daily: Vitamins, supplements are a 'waste of money' for most Americans

Drawn to the allure of multivitamins and dietary supplements filling nutritional gaps in their diet, people in the U.S. in 2021 spent close to $50 billion on vitamins and dietary supplements. ...continue reading "Focus On Eating Healthy Food, Not Vitamin Supplements"

The bacteria (next to a dime), are about human eyelash size. Credit: Tomas Tyml/The Regents of the University of California, LBNL

Some bacteria are visible to the naked eye and as long as human eyelashes! The recently discovered centimeter long bacteria, now called Thiomargarita magnifica, live on sunken leaves in Caribbean mangrove swamps.

I don't know whether to shudder or to be excited by the amazing large size of the bacteria. These bacteria are the largest ever found, and are about 5000 times the size of most bacteria (which can only be seen under a microscope).

In fact, Dr. Levin of Washington Univ. pointed out that these bacteria can't even rightly be called microbes, because microbes are by definition microscopic! (She wrote a commentary accompanying the research report in the journal Science). A number of things are amazing about the huge bacteria!

Excerpts from NPR: Think all bacteria are microscopic? Tell that to these centimeter-long monsters

Bacteria typically live out their teeny-tiny lives in the microscopic realm, but now scientists have found a gargantuan one the size and shape of a human eyelash. ...continue reading "Largest Bacteria Ever Found Are Size Of Eyelashes"

The long awaited results are finally in from the Tick Project, which tested two different environmentally safe tick treatments in suburban yards to see if they reduced deer tick numbers and the incidence of tick-borne diseases in people and pets. Unfortunately, the results of this multi-year project (2017 to 2020) are not as good as hoped.

What they did: The Tick Project was a four year study in 24 New York neighborhoods with a high incidence of Lyme disease. They tested 2 products - either together or separately, as well as having yards that were not treated (the placebo group).

One treatment was spraying Met52 on low vegetation. This spray is made up of water and the fungi Metarhizium brunneum (formerly Metarhizium anisopliae), which is naturally found in forest soils and is non-toxic to humans and pets. Studies had shown that ticks die within 3 to 7 days after being exposed to Met52.

Tick Control System (TCS) Credit: The Tick Project

Tick bait boxes placed on properties was the second treatment tested. The Tick Control system or TCS is a small bait box that attracts rodents. When an animal enters the box, it receives a small dose of fipronil, the active ingredient in many tick treatments used on dogs and cats. Fipronil kills ticks on animals like chipmunks and mice, which are largely responsible for infecting ticks with the Lyme bacterium.

Results: The researchers found that the numbers of ticks decreased by about half on the properties with the TCS bait boxes, but found no reduction in tick numbers from the Met52 fungal spray. Unfortunately, there were just as many cases of tick borne diseases in the humans living on properties treated with either treatment (when compared to no treatment).

Even though human encounters with ticks was about 20% lower in neighborhoods treated with both treatments, the difference was not statistically significant. But you can say it was trending that way.

However, the incidence of tick-borne disease in pets went down significantly, lower by about half - on properties treated with either treatment or both treatments. ...continue reading "Reducing Tick Numbers Is Tough"

Deer tick Credit: Wikipedia

Summer is here, people are spending outdoors, and so there is concern about ticks and the diseases that they carry. New research (an analysis of existing data and studies) determined that more than 14% of the world's population now has or had Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis)! They can tell from antibodies in the blood. Yikes!

Here in the United States people tend to think of Lyme disease as an increasingly common disease spreading from the northeast US to other parts of the country. But in reality the incidence of the tick-borne disease is highest in central and western Europe, as well as eastern Asia. In fact, Lyme disease or Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) infection is the most frequent tick transmitted disease world wide.

The researchers found that some factors associated with higher incidence of Lyme disease is being male, 50 years and older, living in a rural area, and having had tick bites. In the northeast US infected deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) are responsible for most cases of Lyme disease. [Other Lyme disease and tick articles, including treatments and controls.]

From Medical Xpress: More than 14% of world's population likely has (had) tick-borne Lyme disease

More than 14% of the world's population probably has, or has had, tick-borne Lyme disease, as indicated by the presence of antibodies in the blood, reveals a pooled data analysis of the available evidence, published in the open access journal BMJ Global Health.  ...continue reading "Lyme Disease Is Common Throughout Parts of the World"

Well, these were surprising study results, given that so many studies find that eating fish has such beneficial health effects. A recent large study of US adults found that higher fish consumption was associated with melanoma (when compared to persons who hardly eat fish).

Brown School of Health researchers found that a higher intake of fish (all kinds), tuna, and non-fried fish were all associated with a higher risk  of both malignant melanoma and melanoma in situ (stage 0). Interestingly, fried fish intake was inversely associated with risk of malignant melanoma - that is, the more fried fish is eaten, the lower the risk of melanoma.

The group with the highest fish intake ate about 10 ounces per week or 3 servings, and had about 22% higher rate of melanoma.

They speculate that this cancer association could be due to the contaminants in fish, such as PCBs, dioxins, arsenic, and mercury. Other research has found that higher fish intake is associated with higher levels of these contaminants in the body, and that there are associations between these contaminants and a higher risk of skin cancer.

But the researchers also said people should keep eating fish for all their other health benefits (e.g., for heart health). In other words, don't panic. There are other known risk factors for melanoma such as repeated sunburns in childhood.

From Science Daily: Higher fish consumption may be associated with increased melanoma risk

Eating higher levels of fish, including tuna and non-fried fish, appears to be associated with a greater risk of malignant melanoma, suggests a large study of US adults published in Cancer Causes & Control. ...continue reading "High Fish Intake and Melanoma"

Chromosomes, incl. XXY (Klinefelter Syndrome). Credit: Wikipedia

A recent study from the UK of more than 207,000 adult men revealed something surprising - about 1 in 500 men did not have the typical XY sex chromosomes, but instead have XXY (Klinefelter Syndrome) or XYY. And only 23% of those with XXY and 0.7% with XYY actually knew it or this was recorded in their medical records!

This means that most of the men did not have any obvious reason to do genetic screening. The men, all of European ancestry and between the age of 40 and 70 years, participated in the UK Biobank (so these adults were considered healthier than the general public).

One finding is that the XYY and XXY men tended to have more health problems than typical XY men, more lived alone or without a partner than XY men, and more reported loneliness.

Some of the XXY men had received the XXY diagnosis during adolescence for delayed puberty, or later for infertility or lower testosterone levels. Other features can include tall adult stature, high body fat percentage, poor muscle tone, low bone mineral density, and increased risks of neurocognitive disability, psychoses, and disorders of personality.

On the other hand, XYY men tended  to have normal sexual development and fertility. Features can include being tall, scoliosis, learning difficulties, poor muscle tone, increased central fat (abdominal fat), seizures, asthma, and emotional and behavioral problems (e.g., attention deficit disorder).

But what was surprising was that both XXY and XYY men were similarly at higher risk for several conditions: type 2 diabetes, venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. [See tables in study.]

Even though XXY and XYY can result in learning difficulties, also note that while 40.4% of XY men had graduated college, 16.3% of XXY, and 20.2% of XYY also had. In other words, there are heightened risks of certain problems (including diseases), but that doesn't mean it definitely results in problems. As the researchers point out: there are increased risks of "potentially preventable diseases", including the "metabolic and vascular diseases".

One question comes to mind: If there is no obvious reason, should a person (even babies) receive genetic screening to see what their sex chromosomes are? Does everyone really want to know? Is there really a need to always know by the person or others? Employers? To be labeled by insurance companies? Especially if there is no obvious reason to test.

From Medical Xpress: One in 500 men carry extra sex chromosome, putting them at higher risk of several common diseases

Around one in 500 men could be carrying an extra X or Y chromosome—most of them unaware—putting them at increased risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and thrombosis, say researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter. ...continue reading "Extra Sex Chromosomes In Men More Common Than Many Realize"

Walking for exercise has another great health benefit - this time for the knees. A study found that frequent walking reduces frequent knee pain in people already diagnosed with knee arthritis (osteoarthritis), but not yet experiencing daily knee pain. It may also be a good way to slow damage from arthritis that occurs within the joint.

Frequent walkers reported 40% less new frequent knee pain (compared to persons who didn't walk for exercise). All the 1212 study participants were 50 years or older.

In other words, get out there and walk, preferably every day - it helps the knees!

From Science Daily: Walking Towards Healthier Knees

A new study published today in Arthritis & Rheumatology led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine reveals that walking for exercise can reduce new frequent knee pain among people age 50 and older diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Additionally, findings from the study indicate that walking for exercise may be an effective treatment to slow the damage that occurs within the joint. ...continue reading "Walking Benefits the Knees"