WHERE YOU LIVE MAY BE PUTTING YOU AT RISK FOR FOODBORNE ILLNESS, RESEARCHER FINDS

WHERE YOU LIVE MAY BE PUTTING YOU AT RISK FOR FOODBORNE ILLNESS, RESEARCHER FINDS

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton                            Released: 28-Aug-2014
Source  Kansas State University Citations Foods

Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kansas — Improving education about risky food handling behaviors would reduce the amount of foodborne illness and help improve food security around the world, according to Kansas State University research.

For their study, the university’s Kadri Koppel, assistant professor of human nutrition, and Edgar Chambers IV, university distinguished professor and director of the Sensory Analysis Center, worked with around 100 consumers from India, Korea, Thailand, Russia, Estonia, Italy, Spain and two cities in the United States. The consumers completed questionnaires about their purchase, storage, handling and preparation practices of poultry and eggs. It is one of the only studies to use the same questionnaire to collect data between different countries and is part of a larger project to develop science-based messages for consumers about food safety practices.

The study produced the article “Eggs and Poultry: Purchase, Storage and Preparation Practices of Consumers in Selected Asian Countries,” which was published in the journal Foods.

“We really wanted to know how consumers in different countries are actually handling raw eggs and poultry because these products are the source of two main bacteria: salmonella and campylobacter,” Koppel said.

“These bacteria lead to many cases of foodborne illness and we need a better understanding of food handling practices to find the risky behaviors that may lead to contamination.”

Food safety regulations vary by country. The research found that most consumers purchase their eggs from the supermarket, with the exception of Argentina, where consumers get their eggs from the regular open-air market. However, the way the eggs were stored at the supermarkets varied. While some countries kept the eggs refrigerated, most eggs in Thailand, India, Spain, Italy and Colombia were stored at room temperature.

“When you think about the range of countries that we had and you compare the annual average temperatures in those countries, they can vary by about 50-degrees Fahrenheit — and that is a pretty big range,” Koppel said. “A lot can happen to eggs if they are stored at room temperature in a country where the climate may be somewhat tropical.”

The researchers found the majority of consumers store their eggs in the refrigerator once they brought them home.

Another similar finding was that the majority of consumers in these countries buy raw poultry and meats, but how they store those meats varies. Fifty percent or more of the consumers in Russia, India, Thailand, Colombia and the U.S. would freeze the meat right away, although these consumers often would improperly store the meat.

“If you think about the typical refrigerator and the air movement within the fridge, warmer air typically rises higher,” Koppel said. “If you put the meat in a place where the temperature is warmer, then it is more likely to spoil. Raw meats also may have juices that leak and there is a possibility that the juices may cross-contaminate ingredients on lower shelves.”

The safest place to store raw meat in the refrigerator is on the bottom shelf. The research found mixed results on this, with most of the consumers in Argentina and Colombia storing meat on higher shelves, putting them at a higher risk for contamination.

The riskiest behavior was exhibited in preparing the eggs and poultry. About 90 percent of consumers in Colombia and 70 percent of consumers in India washed these products in the sink before preparation. In the U.S., about 40 percent did.

“If you think about washing something in the sink, typically water splatters on the surface around the sink,” Koppel said. “If you have some other ingredients near the sink that you are about to use for your meal, all that water splattering around the sink could cross-contaminate the other ingredients you are about to use.”

The researchers found consumers also need to improve their cutting board cleanliness. About 40 percent of Colombian consumers reported using the same cutting board for multiple ingredients without washing or wiping it down between each use. While most other consumers reported cleaning the board between ingredients, Koppel said that not all forms of cleaning are effective.

“This may seem like a safe behavior, but it really depends on the wiping agent,” Koppel said.

“If you are using a kitchen towel, it may not remove a lot of the material that is come into contact with the cutting board. If you use the sponge that you use to wash dishes, research has shown that those sponges actually contain a lot of other bacteria and that may contaminate your other ingredients in addition to what is already on the cutting board.”

The safest practice is to use a different cutting board for different ingredients, she said.

 

NEW GLUTEN-FREE INGREDIENT MAY CAUSE ALLERGIC REACTION

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 25-Aug-2014
Source Newsroom: Kansas State University

 

Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kansas — A popular new ingredient in gluten-free products could be causing an allergic reaction, according to a Kansas State University food safety specialist.

Lupin, a legume belonging to the same plant family as peanuts, is showing up as a wheat replacement in an increasing number of gluten-free products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now issuing an alert, urging consumers with peanut and soybean allergies to read labels before buying these products.

“Lupin is a yellow-colored bean that is very popular in Europe, Mediterranean countries, Australia and New Zealand,” said Karen Blakeslee, Kansas State University extension specialist in food science and coordinator of the Rapid Response Center.

“However, it is new to the United States and because of that, many consumers have never heard of it and may not realize that lupin has the same protein that causes allergic reactions to peanuts and soybeans.”

Allergic reactions can have various symptoms, including hives, swelling of the lips, vomiting, breathing difficulties and anaphylactic shock. Even those without allergies to legume products need to be aware of the ingredient.

“You can become allergic to something at any point in your life,” Blakeslee said. “If you do start seeing any symptoms of an allergic reaction, stop eating the food immediately and contact your doctor.”

The FDA expects lupin to become a popular product in the gluten-free arena because of its many health qualities. It is high in protein and in dietary fiber — which helps lower cholesterol — and is low in fat.

Manufacturers are required to list lupin on the food label. The FDA is actively monitoring complaints of lupin allergies by U.S. consumers.

 

RESEARCHERS FIND UP TO 3,000 TIMES THE BACTERIAL GROWTH ON HOLLOW-HEAD TOOTHBRUSHES

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 28-Aug-2014                  Citations Journal of Dental Hygiene
Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

 

Newswise — HOUSTON – (Aug. 28, 2014) — Solid-head power toothbrushes retain less bacteria compared to hollow-head toothbrushes, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry.

The results of the study are published in the August issue of the Journal of Dental Hygiene. Lead author and professor at the UTHealth School of Dentistry, Donna Warren Morris, R.D.H., M.Ed., notes that microbial counts were lower in the solid-head toothbrush group than in the two hollow-head toothbrush groups in 9 out of 10 comparisons.

“Toothbrushes can transmit microorganisms that cause disease and infections. A solid-head design allows for less growth of bacteria and bristles should be soft and made of nylon,” Morris said. “It is also important to disinfect and to let your toothbrush dry between uses. Some power toothbrushes now include an ultraviolet system or you can soak the head in mouthwash for 20 minutes.”

The study was conducted over a three-week period where participants brushed twice daily with one out of three randomly assigned power toothbrushes. Participants used non-antimicrobial toothpaste and continued their flossing routine throughout the study, but refrained from using other dental products like mouthwash.

“The packaging on most power toothbrushes would not distinguish between a hollow-head and a solid-head design,” Morris said. “The best way to identify a solid-head design is through the connection to the body of the power toothbrush. Naturally, there will be some space to connect the two parts but a significant portion will be solid, up to the bristles or brush head.”

During the study the brush heads were exposed to five categories of oral microorganisms: anaerobes and facultative microorganisms, yeast and mold, oral streptococci and oral enterococci anaerobes, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium species.

The article also states that there is no present or published study that has demonstrated that bacterial growth on toothbrushes can lead to systematic health effects, but as Morris stated, several microorganisms have been associated with systemic diseases.

“We do know and there are studies that have linked Fusobacterium to colorectal cancer. Some of these other bacteria have been linked with cardiovascular disease,” Morris said.

“There is a high association with gum disease and cardiovascular disease. Researchers have been able to culture the same bacteria around the heart that causes gum disease. ”

This study was funded in part by the Advanced Response Corporation. Other researchers include Millicent Goldschmidt, Ph.D., M.S., professor emerita at the UTHealth School of Dentistry; Harris Keene, D.D.S., retired professor from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; and Stanley Cron, M.S.P.H., research instructor at the UTHealth School of Nursing.

Back tomorrow Jeanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUDY SHOWS PROMISE FOR BLOOD TEST FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

NIH-SUPPORTED STUDY SHOWS PROMISE FOR BLOOD TEST FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
National Institute of Aging August 15, 2014

Preliminary findings from a study by National Institute on Aging (NIA) scientists and colleagues showed that a blood test for Alzheimer’s-related proteins may accurately predict who might be at risk for the disease years before symptoms develop. The test measured the levels of several tau and amyloid proteins—the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease—in exosomes, microscopic organelles shed by brain cells.

The study by Dimitrios Kapogiannis, Ph.D., and Edward Goetzl, M.D., both of the NIA Intramural Research Program, Baltimore, and researchers at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; University of Kentucky, Lexington; Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; University of California, San Francisco; and the University of Rochester, N.Y., appeared online in the August 15, 2014 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia. The work was funded by NIA, the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and Nanosomix, Inc.

Compared to those free of the disorder, the blood test showed people with Alzheimer’s had higher elevations of three proteins (p-5396-tau, p-181 tau, and Ab42) in exosomes. The test was 96 percent accurate in distinguishing between these two groups. Significantly, the investigators also found elevated levels of these proteins in blood samples collected from cognitively healthy older people who later developed dementia within one to ten years.

While this case-controlled study needs to be replicated, it offers intriguing insights into novel ways to detect Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest stages. The work was funded by NIA, the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and Nanosomix, Inc.

 

SMARTPHONE BEATS PAPER FOR SOME WITH DYSLEXIA

Seeing words two and three at a time improves focus, helps with comprehension

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton August 25, 2014                          National Science Foundation – Science Nation

Matthew Schneps is a researcher at Harvard University with a doctorate in physics from the  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also happens to have dyslexia, so reading has always been a challenge for him. That is, until he got a smartphone. Schneps soon found that for him, a smartphone was easier to read than a paper or a book. But, was it just him? Or, had he stumbled onto something that could help others with dyslexia?

Schneps was at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics at the time, specializing in how people learn science. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), he decided to put his smartphone theory to the test. The faculty and about 100 students at the Landmark School near Boston volunteered to take part. The high school specializes in helping students overcome learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.

Schneps and his team monitored students with dyslexia while the students read to see if reading off smartphones and tablets would improve the students’ comprehension of STEM subjects–science, technology, education and math. He found that reading off an iPod benefitted those dyslexic students who exhibit signs of visual attention deficits. What helped was to show only two or three words on a line. Schneps says that in this age of electronic publishing, his research lends new hope to one out of every five people who currently struggles with reading. For many, simply reconfiguring the layout of the text on an electronic reader may make all the difference.

“NSF’s investment in this educational research project reflects our commitment to advancing the learning and participation of students with disabilities in the STEM fields,” says Mark Leddy, a program director, who manages NSF research on disabilities and STEM education within the agency’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources.

Schneps is now the director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning, a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The results of his research are available on the web at http://readeasy.labvislearn.org, as well as in two papers in the open access journal PLOS One: E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia and Shorter Lines Facilitate Reading in Those Who Struggle.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1131039, Investigating a Framework for STEM-Reading to Support Secondary School Students with Reading Disabilities.

Miles O’Brien, Science Nation Correspondent Ann Kellan, Science Nation Producer

 

BABIES ARE BORN SCIENTISTS

New research methods reveal that babies and young children learn by rationally testing hypotheses, analyzing statistics and doing experiments much as scientists do

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton  National Science Foundation Science Nation

Babies Scientists

Encouraging play and asking for explanations prompts scientific thinking in young children.

Very young children’s learning and thinking is strikingly similar to much learning and thinking in science, according to Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. Gopnik’s findings are described in an issue of the journal Science.

New research methods and mathematical models provide a more precise and formal way to characterize children’s learning mechanisms than in the past. Gopnik and her colleagues found that young children, in their play and interactions with their surroundings, learn from statistics, experiments and from the actions of others in much the same way that scientists do.

“The way we determine how they are learning is that we give them, say, a pattern of data, a pattern of probabilities or statistics about the world and then we see what they do,” said Gopnik.

For example, in a series of experiments Gopnik and her colleagues used machines with the ability to light up and play music and asked young children to make them go.

“We found that like scientists, they tested hypotheses about the machines and determined which one was more likely,” said Gopnik.

But before we rush to put toddlers on an earlier academic track, Gopnik’s research shows that encouraging play, presenting anomalies and asking for explanations prompts scientific thinking more effectively than direct instruction.

“Everyday playing is a kind of experimentation–it is a way of experimenting with the world, getting data the way that scientists do and then using that data to draw new conclusions,” said Gopnik.

“What we need to do to encourage these children to learn is not to put them in the equivalent of school, tell them things, or give them reading drills or flash cards or so forth. What we need to do is put them in a safe, rich environment where these natural capacities for exploration, for testing, for science, can get free rein.”

Gopnik’s research was supported by NSF through the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate. In her paper Gopnik described the work of Laura Schulz of MIT, also supported by NSF through the Education and Human Resources directorate. Schulz’s studies show that children’s play involves a kind of intuitive experimentation where they examine things and events to discover cause and effect underlying them. She published  her paper in Science last year, 16-Month-Olds Rationally Infer Causes of Failed Actions.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 

BRAIN BENEFITS FROM WEIGHT LOSS FOLLOWING BARIATRIC SURGERY

BRAIN BENEFITS FROM WEIGHT LOSS FOLLOWING BARIATRIC SURGERY

Researchers theorize procedure could reduce risk of Alzheimer’s in obese people

From  FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Embargoed:26Aug-2014  Source: Endocrine SocietyCitations Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

 

Newswise — Washington, DC—Weight loss surgery can curb alterations in brain activity associated with obesity and improve cognitive function involved in planning, strategizing and organizing, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Obesity can tax the brain as well as other organs. Obese individuals face a 35 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to normal weight people.

Bariatric surgery is used to help people who are dangerously obese lose weight. Bariatric surgery procedures are designed to restrict the amount of food you can eat before you feel full by reducing the stomach’s size or limit the absorption of nutrients by removing part of the small intestine from the path food takes through the digestive tract. Some procedures, such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYBG) surgery, use a combination of these methods. This study was the first to assess brain activity in women before and after bariatric surgery.

“When we studied obese women prior to bariatric surgery, we found some areas of their brains metabolized sugars at a higher rate than normal weight women,” said one of the study’s authors, Cintia Cercato, MD, PhD, of the University of São Paolo in São Paolo, Brazil.

“In particular, obesity led to altered activity in a part of the brain linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease – the posterior cingulate gyrus. Since bariatric surgery reversed this activity, we suspect the procedure may contribute to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”

The longitudinal study examined the effect of RYBG surgery on the brain function of 17 obese women. Researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) scans and neuropsychological tests to assess brain function and activity in the participants prior to surgery and six months after the procedure. The same tests also were run once on a control group of 16 lean women.

Before they underwent surgery, the obese women had higher rates of metabolism in certain areas of the brain, including the posterior cingulate gyrus. Following surgery, there was no evidence of this exacerbated brain activity. Their brain metabolism rates were comparable to the activity seen in normal weight women.

After surgery, the obese women also performed better on a test measuring executive function – the brain’s ability to connect past experience and present action – than they did before the procedures. Executive function is used in planning, organizing and strategizing. Five other neuropsychological tests measuring various aspects of memory and cognitive function showed no change following the surgery.

“Our findings suggest the brain is another organ that benefits from weight loss induced by surgery,” Cercato said.

“The increased brain activity the obese women exhibited before undergoing surgery did not result in improved cognitive performance, which suggests obesity may force the brain to work harder to achieve the same level of cognition.”

Other authors of the study include: Emerson Leonildo Marques, Alfredo Halpern, Marcio Corrêa Mancini, Maria Edna de Melo, Nídia Celeste Horie, Carlos Alberto Buchpiguel, Artur Martins Novaes Coutinho, Carla Rachael Ono, Silvana Prando, Marco Aurélio Santo, Edécio Cunha-Neto and Daniel Fuentes of the University of São Paolo.

The study, “Changes in Neuropsychological Tests and Brain Metabolism after Bariatric Surgery,” was published online, ahead of print.

Founded in 1916, the Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, the Endocrine Society’s membership consists of over 17,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Washington, DC.

 

GP-LED TAI CHI CLASS REDUCES FALLS IN ELDERLY

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton PULSE 22 August 2014 | By David Brill

A GP-led program has successfully boosted physical activity levels and reduced falls among the elderly by teaching them tai chi, researchers have found.

One year after taking part in the ProAct65+ trial, patients were exercising for an extra 15 minutes per day on average compared to a usual-care control group, according to an evaluation published in the Health Technology Assessment journal.

They also experienced a 26% reduction in the incidence of falls 12 months after participating in the program, which was run through general practices in London, Nottingham and Derby and involved 1256 patients aged 65 and older.

Participants attended a one-hour group exercise class at a local community centre comprising tai chi, leg muscle strengthening and balance and flexibility training. They were also advised to complete two 30-minute home exercise sessions and to go for two moderate-paced walks per week over a 24-week period.

One-year follow-up results showed 49% of participants were completing the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, up from 40% before the trial began.

The intervention, known as Falls Management Exercise (FaME), cost around £269 per patient in London and £218 in Nottingham.

It is one of only two evidence-based programs designed specifically to increase physical activity among over-65s living in the community. The other, the home-based Otago Exercise Programme, was also tested in the trial but did not deliver statistically significant benefits.

The ProAct65+ trial was designed to provide patient-friendly alternatives to ‘exercise on prescription’ – the mainstay of the NHS’s approach to falls prevention in the elderly. This is offered by 89% of Primary Care Trusts but typically involves referral to leisure centres, which are more intimidating and less appealing to the elderly than community centres or home-based exercise programs, according to the study authors.

Tai chi meanwhile has been shown to reduce the risk of falls in older adults by as much as 29%, according to a 2012 Cochrane Review.

DNA TEST FOR CONGENITAL CATARACTS LEADS TO FASTER, MORE ACCURATE DIAGNOSES OF RARE DISEASES LINKED TO CHILDHOOD BLINDNESS

Study shows targeted next-generation gene sequencing can identify cause of inheritable syndromes, allowing earlier treatment and genetic counseling

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne HambletonReleased: 21-Aug-2014            Citations OphthalmologySource : American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)

 

Newswise — SAN FRANCISCO – Aug. 21, 2014 – Researchers in the United Kingdom have demonstrated that advanced DNA testing for congenital cataracts can quickly and accurately diagnose a number of rare diseases marked by childhood blindness, according to a study published online today in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Using a single test, doctors were able to tailor care specifically to a child’s condition based on their mutations reducing the time and money spent on diagnosis and enabling earlier treatment and genetic counseling.

Each year, between 20,000 and 40,000 children worldwide are born with congenital cataracts, a disease that clouds the lens of the eye and often requires surgery and treatment to prevent blindness.[1] The disease can arise following a maternal infection or be inherited as an isolated abnormality. Congenital cataracts can also appear as a symptom of more than 100 rare diseases, making mutations in the 115 genes associated with congenital cataracts useful as diagnostic markers for the illnesses.

Diagnosing these rare diseases previously proved a lengthy, costly and inconclusive process involving numerous clinical assessments and taking a detailed family history. DNA testing, one gene at a time, would have taken years to complete. Employing new DNA sequencing technology, called targeted next-generation sequencing, researchers at the University of Manchester sped up diagnosis to a matter of weeks by testing for mutations in all 115 known congenital cataracts genes at one time.

In 75 percent of the 36 cases tested, the DNA test determined the exact genetic cause of congenital cataracts. In one case, the DNA test helped diagnose a patient with Warburg Micro syndrome, an extremely rare disease that is marked by an abnormally small head and the development of severe epilepsy, among other medical issues. Having a clear diagnosis allowed for genetic counseling and appropriate care to be delivered quicker than previously possible without the test.

“There are many diseases that involve congenital cataracts but finding the exact reason was always difficult,” said Graeme Black, DPhil., professor of genetics and ophthalmology at the University of Manchester and strategic director of the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine.

“Even with a family history, diagnosing these rare diseases was always a bit of a shot in the dark.”

In the course of their work, done in collaboration with Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, researchers also found previously undescribed mutations linked to cataract formation.

“There is hope that our work may one day provide more insight into the development and treatment of age-related cataracts, a leading cause of blindness worldwide,” said Rachel Gillespie, MSc, lead author of the study who designed and developed the test.

The test was made available to U.K. patients through the country’s National Health Service in December 2013. Infants and children who have congenital cataracts can be tested as well as prospective parents with a history of the condition who wish to evaluate the risk to their child. Results generally take about two months. While only available in the U.K., the congenital cataract DNA test can be requested by registered medical facilities through international referral.

As with all genetic testing, the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages clinicians and patients to consider the benefits as well as the risks. Ophthalmologists who order genetic tests either should provide genetic counseling to their patients themselves, if qualified to do so, or should ensure that counseling is provided by a trained individual, such as a board-certified medical geneticist or genetic counselor. For more information, please see the Academy’s recommendations on genetic testing for inherited eye diseases.

Notable studies published in the August 2014 print issue of Ophthalmology include:
Detection of Early Glaucoma via Macular Ganglion Cell Analysis
Can macular ganglion cell analysis (GCA) maps developed with Cirrus high-definition optical coherence tomography be used to detect early glaucoma? Hwang et al. investigated this question and found that while GCA maps were able to detect early glaucoma, this ability was affected by the angular distance between the fovea and retinal nerve fiber layer defect.

Systemic Medication and Intraocular Pressure in a British Population: the EPIC-Norfolk Eye Study
This is the first population-based study to demonstrate and quantify clinically significant differences in intraocular pressure (IOP) among participants using systemic beta blockers or nitrates. Lower IOP observed in participants using statins or aspirin was explained by concurrent systemic beta blocker use.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, serving more than 32,000 members worldwide. The Academy’s mission is to advance the lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care.

The Academy is also a leading provider of eye care information to the public. The Academy’s EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program.

About Ophthalmology
Ophthalmology, the official journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, publishes original, peer-reviewed, clinically-applicable research. Topics include the results of clinical trials, new diagnostic and surgical techniques, treatment methods, technology assessments, translational science reviews and editorials.

[1]Epidemiology of cataract in childhood: a global perspective, J Cataract Refract Surg. 1997;23 Suppl 1:601-4.

 

My Comment

Yes I am having another silly moment to brighten my day

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY?

Who do you marry

  1. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY? (written by children)

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.

– Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.

– Kristen, age 10

  1. WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED? 

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.

– Camille, age 10

  1. HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.

– Derrick, age 8

  1. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MUM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?

Both don’t want any more kids.

– Lori, age 8

  1. WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE? 

Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.

– Lynnette, age 8 (isn’t she a treasure)

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.

– Martin, age 10

  1. WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE? 

When they’re rich.

– Pam, age 7

The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.

– Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It is the right thing to do.

– Howard, age 8

  1. IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED? 

It is better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.

– Anita, age 9 (bless you child )

  1. HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED? 

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there?

– — Kelvin, age 8

AND NUMBER ONE FAVOUITE IS…….

  1. HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK? 

Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.

– Ricky, age 10

Back soon Jeanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEDICAL MAYHEM

PATIENTS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN TO STOP NORTH EAST PRACTICE CLOSURE

From The FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton                                                                        Pulse Today 26 August 2014 | By Christina Kenny

A group of patients and residents in Hartlepool has launched patients and residents in Hartlepool patients and residents in Hartlepool, claiming that NHS managers’ arguments for closing the practice are ‘unadulterated rubbish’.

The Fens Residents’ Association have distributed posters in the town’s shopping parade and in a popular local pub calling for residents to take action against the proposed closure of the Fens Medical Practice.

The posters read: ‘The NHS has done enough damage to our town already by stripping Hartlepool Hospital of essential services. Enough is enough, this time they have to be stopped.’

The news comes as Pulse has launched a campaign to Stop Practice Closures after revealing that more than 100 practices across the UK had either closed or were actively considering closing as a result of funding cuts and a recruitment crisis.

The Fens Medical Practice has a list of nearly 3,000 patients and opened in 2009 as part of a national initiative aimed at improving access and choice of GP services for local communities.

The practice’s APMS contract comes to an end on 31 March 2015 and residents fear that the surgery will be merged with a nearby practice on Wynyard Road (which is also under review) and the Fens premises closed.

The NHS England local area team for Durham, Darlington & Tees say that there are five other primary care providers within a two-mile radius that have ‘limited capacity’ to accept new patients. They argue that the practice’s current premises, a converted dentist practice, is neither accessible nor visible due to its position behind a row of shops and a stairwell.

However, the Fens Residents’ Association described the area team’s assessment as ‘unadulterated rubbish’, arguing that the premises are ‘superbly accessible’ with free parking and access to public transport. They suggest instead that additional signage should be provided at nearby roads and pathways.

NHS England’s local area team have opened a survey to get residents’ views, which closes on 29 September. In a statement put out alongside the survey, NHS England said: ‘The information that we have reviewed to date suggests that we need to consider setting up a new contract for a provider within the local area from 1 April 2015 to replace Fens Medical Practice and Intrahealth Wynyard Road.

‘It costs more to provide services to a smaller number of registered patients, and the type of contract that this GP practice operates under often costs more per patient than other local GP service contracts for the same or a very similar level of service. This does not represent the value for money that we aim to achieve.

‘Should a new contract be introduced, it may be with the existing provider or a new provider. We would not expect the change in contract to significantly alter the current GP services that are offered.’

The Fens Medical Practice and Wynyard Road practices are two of nine across Teeside and Hartlepool that NHS England has announced could close when their APMS contracts expire in late 2014 or early 2015.

An APMS practice at a nearby retirement village has also recently been threatened with closure as it has not reached the level of patients needed to fulfil its contract. The Hartfields Medical Centre is situated on-site at the Hartfields Retirement Village, but many of its 2,000 patients come from the surrounding area.

A spokesman from the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, who run the retirement village, said that closing the practice would have a ‘detrimental effect’ on residents, the vast majority of whom are registered with the practice.

They said: ‘The trust does not want to see Hartfields lose the GP surgery located here. Hartfields is an innovative model of how we can provide quality care and support for the future, linked to essentials services like the on-site GP surgery. Closure could mean our residents lose some of their independence, and it could also result in residents requesting more home visits from GPs, which may have higher financial costs for the NHS.

‘Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust is formulating a formal response to the consultation being conducted by the Durham, Darlington and Tees area team of NHS England.’

 

SCORES OF PRACTICES TEETERING ON THE BRINK OF CLOSURE

Practices across the country face imminent closure, but the NHS seems happy for them to go to the wall. The time is right to fight back, argues Jaimie Kaffash
From The FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton                                             PULSE TODAY 15 August 2014 3:18pm By Jaimie Kaffash

Practices across the country face imminent closure, but the NHS seems happy for them to go to the wall. The time is right to fight back, argues Jaimie Kaffash

General practice is heading towards a precipice. Scores of GPs across the country are facing such hardship that they may be forced to shut their practice doors altogether.

LMC leaders have told Pulse they are aware of more than 100 practices that have either closed or face imminent closure – and this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

Local GP leaders say they have ‘not seen anything like it’ and warn of a ‘domino effect’ on surrounding practices if closures cannot be avoided.

‘I think mergers are the only way to keep practices in the hands of the profession’ said Dr Robert Morley, West Midlands

Some practices say they have ‘exhausted all other options’ and have no choice but to close, while others are preparing to merge with others in order to continue providing services.

Either way, the grim reality is that, before the year is out, the profession could face an unprecedented mass closure of practices across the UK, unless the NHS steps in with emergency help.

The warning signs were there several months ago. Former GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden warned in April that there was ‘a year to save general practice’ predicting the profession would see practices going bust within months.

Since January at least 13 have closed, many of which were single-handed practices that had been unable to find anyone to take over their lists. And there are many more that are very close to dropping over the edge.

Pulse asked 47 LMC leaders from across the UK whether they had been contacted by practices that were considering closing. More than half (24) said practices in their area were considering closing, identifying a total of 96 practices.

Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, chair of Devon LMC, says the situation in his area is unprecedented: ‘We have on our radar at least half a dozen practices that we are very concerned about. It is highly likely a good number will end up closing by the end of the year.

‘I’ve been involved with the LMC for 20 years and I’ve never seen this before. For this to start happening now is significant.’

It could get even worse as trainees shun partnerships, Dr Sanford-Wood suggests: ‘I see a lot of bright, young, highly talented GPs. They see a workforce that is chained to the wheel, and they do not want in.’

Join the fight to protect your patients

Scores of practices across the country face closure and many more are likely to follow unless better support is given to GPs. If these closures go ahead it will be a disaster for patients struggling to find a new GP – and for all the remaining neighbouring practices who will be left to mop up the mess. Pulse is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the growing crisis in general practice and to help practices fight for the support they need.

As part of the campaign, Pulse will:
  • Lobby ministers to ensure practices facing closure are given emergency support to help them restructure and protect their patients;
  • Begin an e-petition calling for a parliamentary debate on the threat of practice closures across the UK; http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67648
  • Bring GP leaders together to discuss ideas on how the morale of general practice can be improved and GPs can be funded more sustainably to prevent more practices going to the wall;
  • And create resources for practices to share ideas and campaign locally for better support so that practices and patient services are protected.
We are calling on GPs to:
  • Let us know if you are struggling. From your stories we can build up a picture of what is happening across the UK. Email us in confidence at feedback@pulsetoday.co.uk;
  • Sign our e-petition calling for a parliamentary debate on practice closures here;
Out of options

London has the highest number of practices in danger – with up to 30 practices contacting their LMC regarding closure. In Wales at least 14 practices are preparing to close, while Wessex, Northamptonshire and Devon each have six practices on the brink.

One GP partner, who wished to remain anonymous, says her high-achieving practice has run out of options following struggles with recruitment.

She says:  ‘Despite all efforts to recruit or merge over a two-year period, there is currently one faint hope left. If this goes the way of all past hopes then closure beckons in the next few months.’

She adds that this is not because the practice has failed in any way: ‘This is because of the starvation and withdrawal of primary care funding and resources in the face of the relentless increase in unfunded and underfunded workload.’

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of the Welsh GPC, says four practices in her area have given notice that they will give up their contract to health boards, while there are ‘more than 10… examples of surgeries that are struggling and for whom the next steps may be that they have to close’.

She adds: ‘Sometimes practices are reluctant to voice concerns; some keep on working over and above what is safe.’

‘I have spoken to about six practices who are considering resigning their contract. It is a mix of practices and areas – it is a universal problem’ – Dr Nigel Watson, Wessex

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Cornwall, says there are a clutch of familiar problems that lie behind the closures. She says: ‘I am hearing about more and more practices considering their options.

‘It’s a perfect storm of problems: the contract imposition from 2013, funding swings as a result of MPIG redistribution and difficulty recruiting. That, alongside spiralling workload and increasing demand… is having a catastrophic effect and practices are struggling to cope.’

If significant numbers of practices hit the wall, the level of destruction to the NHS would be unprecedented, with the likelihood of a ‘domino effect’ on nearby practices, GPs say.

Dr Chris Hewitt, chief executive Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland LMC, says two practices in his region ‘have decided that if their financial situation gets any worse they will formally ask NHS England to take over their contracts’.

But the region is already under strain from branch surgeries closing. He adds: ‘In the past six months, 10 surgeries (out of 152 practices) have been tasked with dealing with a sizeable influx of patients as lists are disbursed as a result of surgeries or branch surgeries closing.

‘The very real threat of practice closures due to retirements or loss of financial viability will start a chain reaction, which impacts on surrounding practices that are only just coping with the demand from their current patient list.’

NHS England unconcerned

But managers seem to be taking a relaxed response. A spokesperson from NHS England tells Pulse that it did not have any intelligence centrally regarding practice closures, as this was a matter for area teams working with CCGs and LMCs.

She says: ‘Practices close – and open – all the time and it should not be assumed that this is a problem or a reduction of service; it needs to be seen in the context of local provision.’

In Wales, on the other hand, the Government is working with the RCGP, the GPC, health boards and deaneries to try to ease recruitment problems.

In Scotland, the Government is directly tackling the problems for dispensing practices with new regulations brought in from last month.

But in England, on the various issues of recruitment, MPIG withdrawal and PMS reviews, local leaders are receiving patchy help from area teams.

‘There are only three health boards where practices are not closing. It is due to an inability to recruit partners – and remaining partners cannot cope’ – Dr Charlotte Jones, Wales

Dr Robert Morley, chair of the GPC contracts and regulations subcommittee and executive secretary of Birmingham LMCs, whose area has already seen two practices close this year, says the only way for many practices to survive will be to merge with others.

He says: ‘The only way to safeguard the profession and safeguard these practices is for partners to merge. [It’s] the only way forward to keep these practices in the hands of the profession, but also, from a business perspective, to try and work within a business model that allows general practice to continue.’

Other practices have used their relationship with patients to campaign for better support. The Jubilee Practice in Tower Hamlets, east London, has been at the centre of a major campaign in the borough to prevent practices going under.

The ‘Save Our Surgeries’ campaign has already seen marches organised with neighbouring practices, articles in The Guardian, a meeting with health minister Earl Howe and co-ordinated actions with MPs – all with little help from BMA or RCGP. They have managed to win some guarantee of emergency payments from NHS England to protect them from the withdrawal of MPIG, but are continuing their campaign for more sustainable funding in the future.

‘There are several practices that are in trouble and threatened with closure, because of dispensing being withdrawn’ – Dr Alan McDevitt, Scotland

Dr Naomi Beer, a partner at the practice, says: ‘We are having to do the co-ordinating for ourselves – working to get the message across to practices, developing tools for practices to do up to a seven-year forecast on income, pushing for co-ordinated action by local MPs and councillors to press for meetings, raising questions in Parliament and delivering a petition to Downing Street.

‘These ideas all come from us and we have little communication from the BMA or GPC except during an event such as the marches we organised in Tower Hamlets.’

It may be that galvanising local patients in this way can help practices fight back against the threat of closure, and that is why Pulse is launching a campaign to help practices do just this.

For many practices, this could be the last resort.

  • Additional reporting by Christina Kenny

 

DR NAOMI BEER: ‘WE CANNOT LET PRACTICES BE FORCED TO CLOSE’

From The FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton                                  PULSE TODAY 22 August 2014
Dr Naomi Beer’s anger at Government policy on struggling GP practices saw her lead a campaign forcing a crucial concession from NHS England. But, as she tells Sofia Lind, the battle to prevent closures goes on.

CV….Age: 51

Family: Four children of ages ranging from 16 to 24, the youngest aspiring to be a doctor herself

Education: Trained at Guy’s Hospital and did her general practice vocational training scheme at the Royal London Hospital and at Jubilee Street Practice.

Career: 1992 – present: GP at Jubilee Street Practice, including being a GP tutor. Elected to Tower Hamlets LMC, effective this month

Career high: Leading the east London Save Our Surgeries campaign alongside Jubilee Street practice manager Virginia Patania to secure funding for 22 GP practices at risk of closure because of MPIG funding withdrawal. The campaign has won the support of local patients, MPs and Tower Hamlets Council as well as the RCGP and BMA

Other interests: Frequent attender at the National Theatre, enjoys the ‘rare treat’ of reading a book and is an active member at the local church, where music is ‘another passion’

In the space of just a few months, east London GP Dr Naomi Beer has gone from being a low-profile, hard-working GP partner to spearheading the fight against the destabilisation of general practice in England.

In that time, Dr Beer’s impassioned campaigning has succeeded where official GP representatives have failed since the announcement almost two years that the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) would be withdrawn over seven years, in winning support for practices faced with funding cuts.

By mobilising patients onto the streets of the London borough of Tower Hamlets and leading a rally to 10 Downing Street, the Save Our Surgeries campaign has challenged the portrayal of GPs as overpaid profiteers. And it has prompted the Government to take real action, with NHS England last month offering a two-year reprieve to those practices most heavily affected by the seven-year phase-out of the MPIG.

With her dignified and determined approach, Dr Beer has become the human face behind that success – helping the public to understand the plight of practices and how it will eventually affect their ability to see a doctor when they need one.

Concession

While the concession is not exactly what Dr Beer was fighting for – her campaign specifically calls for a long-term funding solution and not a ‘sticking plaster’ – this represents an undeniable victory for GPs and patients in Tower Hamlets.

Dr Beer particularly believes it sends a message to those disheartened GPs  who argued when Pulse launched its Stop Practice Closures campaign last month that ‘we should let practices close’ to make the Government learn the hard way how their policies affect their voters.

‘GPs have been backed against the wall and are angry at the position we have all been put in and the way we have been treated. I can understand some people saying, out of desperation, that isn’t it better that some practices fail,’ she says.

‘But I would argue so strongly against that because the practices that initially are going to be affected are serving very vulnerable populations.

‘If you let those practices go you cannot replace the level of care that we are giving and that means that you are condemning a whole group of the population to having a lesser standard of care than they are receiving at the moment. I think that is totally irresponsible and we cannot let it happen.’

With admirable calm, Dr Beer explains how she and her practice manager had to move quickly when they discovered in March – three weeks before she was due to sign her new contract – that the practice would be forced to close within a year on its current level of funding.

They secured a meeting with the NHS England local area team, at which the stark truth emerged that the area team could do nothing at all to help.

‘It was very clear that there was no money and no support because we had already done everything they considered relevant to support ourselves.

‘We are a practice that is already working in a network and that has already trimmed down a lot of our staff to create a good skill-mix and reduce the cost of having a lot of GPs. We have invested heavily in our staff to have a physician’s assistant, a healthcare assistant and highly trained nurses. So we have done pretty much everything we could have done to ensure efficiency.’

Drastic action

Faced with two options of either closing or drastically reducing staff, the practice went with a third – to make as much noise as it could.

After approaching local Labour MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, Dr Beer was amazed when he was able to organise a meeting with health minister Earl Howe and NHS England.

Dr Beer recalls: ‘We presented our very detailed position papers, and Earl Howe was very sympathetic. He said: “Clearly you are an excellent practice, clearly you are delivering a high quality of care. No, I am not sending you back to make more efficiencies because I can see that there aren’t any to be made. I am committed to finding a solution for you”.’

NHS England had originally promised to support practices as it phased in changes to the MPIG, but Pulse later learned that area teams had failed to offer any extra funding to those affected by the swingeing cuts. Dr Beer said a representative from NHS England visited the practice but was only interested in what made their surgery unique.

She says: ‘We felt that this was potentially a rather divisive manoeuvre but we agreed to describe what our practice did, and we let other practices in our area know what was going on.’

That was the last the practice heard from NHS England until last month’s announcement of the two-year reprieve. Despite the U-turn, however, Dr Beer is clear that the fight is not over.

High on her agenda, she says, is to ensure the Government sorts out the Carr-Hill formula, which decides weighting of GP funding based on demographics.

‘Equity is a meaningless word when you are talking just about age and numbers of patients, because that is clearly not the whole picture. Healthcare needs surely depend on how sick your population is. If you’re only basing it on age, and especially patients over 75, and our patients are dying 15 years younger than that, it is very clear that we will be massively disadvantaged.

‘None of this formula actually makes sense.’

Foot-dragging

While the Government began working on the Carr-Hill formula to take account of deprivation back in 2007 and announced a fresh review in 2012, nothing has yet happened to change it and the latest review group had yet to commence its work in earnest on Pulse’s last check.

‘This evidence has been around for some time but, for whatever reason, nothing has changed as yet,’ says Dr Beer. ‘Frankly the Government has shown no interest in areas of deprivation because they have allowed this to happen. They have done nothing until we pushed them, absolutely nothing.’

So with one win under her belt, Dr Beer is determined to pursue her battle. Asked if she wishes to add any other messages, she fixes her gaze earnestly and says: ‘I would like to encourage people that it is possible.’

PLEASE Sign our e-petition calling for a parliamentary debate on practice closures here –    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67648

WELL DONE DR. BEER. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.   Back tomorrow. Jeanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHIVERING TRIGGERS BROWN FAT TO PRODUCE HEAT AND BURN CALORIES

SHIVERING TRIGGERS BROWN FAT TO PRODUCE HEAT AND BURN CALORIES

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton February 24, 2014         NIH Research Matters National Institute of Health-Cell Metabolism.

 

Shivering, like exercise, triggers muscles to secrete a hormone that stimulates energy use in brown fat cells. The findings hint at new ways to alter the body’s energy balance and treat conditions such as obesity.

During exercise, contracting skeletal muscles release the hormone irisin into circulation. Irisin can induce energy-storing white fat cells to take on characteristics of brown fat (or adipose) cells, which burn energy by generating heat. This muscle-fat crosstalk has intrigued scientists because it is unclear why muscle tissue, which generates heat when active, would also stimulate fat cells to produce heat.

A team led by Dr. Francesco S. Celi, who is now at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, wondered whether cold exposure could also trigger irisin secretion in order to prompt the body to produce heat. The study was conducted at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), where Celi was staff clinician.

The researchers had 10 people (4 females, average age 27 years) ride a stationary bike. During a brief ride to maximal capacity, irisin levels tended to increase. During a 1-hour ride at an easier level, irisin levels rose about 3-fold, confirming the ability of exercise to increase irisin secretion in humans.

The team next looked at the impact of cold exposure on irisin levels. The participants rested in water-infused thermoblankets that were gradually cooled from 80 to 53°F. The participants’ energy expenditure increased 48%. While their core temperature was maintained, their skin temperature dropped. Measurement of muscle activity via electromyography showed an 88% increase in the 7 participants who shivered and a 13% increase in those who didn’t. Irisin secretion increased proportionally to shivering intensity. The increase was similar in magnitude to the exercise-stimulated secretion.

The team also found that the secretion of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), a hormone associated with brown fat activation, was affected by exposure to cold.

The researchers next tested human fat cells taken from biopsies of the neck area. This region is rich in “brown-like” or beige cells, which develop within white fat. Treatment with a chemical precursor of irisin and/or FGF21 caused the cells to burn energy, release heat, and adopt molecular characteristics of brown fat cells. These changes were not noted in fat cells taken from other regions of the body that tend to be rich in white fat.

“Cold-induced shivering, which is an energy-inefficient mechanism, stimulates the highly efficient brown adipose tissue to maintain the core temperature of the organism,” Celi says.

“From an evolutionary standpoint, this system assures the most efficient means of maintaining core temperature and minimizing the loss of energy stores compared to shivering alone.”

Although this was a small clinical study, the findings suggest that exercise-induced irisin secretion could have evolved from shivering-related muscle contraction. The results also suggest that since activation of these pathways results in greater energy expenditure, the pathways may serve as potential therapeutic targets for obesity and related conditions.—by Carol Torgan, Ph.D.

 

A WAY TO BURN MORE CALORIES?

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton July 18, 2011 NIH Research Matters National Institute of Health

Scientists have uncovered a pathway in mice that allows white fat—a contributor to obesity and type 2 diabetes—to burn calories as if it were brown fat or muscle.

The body uses white fat to store extra energy. Too much white fat (obesity) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and other diseases. Brown fat, in contrast, generates heat to maintain body temperature and, like muscle, has lots of calorie-burning mitochondria.

Brown fat is found in small mammals like rodents throughout their lives. Humans have it at birth, but we lose it as we age. Researchers once thought that our brown fat was essentially nonexistent by adulthood. Recent studies found that not only do adults have brown fat but it also may play an important role in weight control. Boosting the activity of brown fat, or converting white fat to brown fat, could be potential strategies for fighting obesity.

A team of NIH researchers led by Dr. Sushil G. Rane of NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) were studying a protein called TGF-beta. TGF-beta and its related factors are known to control the development, growth and function of many different cell types. Blood levels of TGF-beta have been linked to obesity in both mice and humans. In previous work, the team found that the TGF-beta pathway plays an important role in regulating insulin genes. To further investigate, the researchers studied mice deficient in the protein Smad3, which regulates gene expression in response to TGF-beta signals.

The researchers reported in the July 6, 2011, edition of Cell Metabolism that Smad3-deficient mice developed significantly less fat mass. The mice also had enhanced glucose uptake in their white fat. This observation prompted the scientists to examine the mice’s white fat more closely. They discovered that, without the influence of TGF-beta, the white fat became browner with more mitochondria. The increased metabolic activity due to the mitochondria burned more calories, lessening obesity.

To test whether blocking TGF-beta might help combat obesity, the scientists tested an antibody that neutralizes TGF-beta. The antibody suppressed fat formation and weight gain in 2 well-characterized mouse models of obesity. Similar to the Smad3-deficient mice, the antibody-treated mice showed an increase in mitochondrial activity.

“We were not looking to have white fat acquire the properties of brown fat, but that is what we found, with the fat getting browner from increased mitochondria and displaying genes typically expressed in muscle. It was a striking difference,” Rane says.

These findings suggest a potential new approach to treating obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, this research is a long way from being applicable to people. A TGF-beta blocking antibody is currently being tested as a cancer treatment in a clinical trial at NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). Due to the potential side effects of the antibody, it has not yet been tested for treatment of human obesity. The researchers are working to design a more targeted approach to transform the white fat of mice into a brown fat or muscle-like state.

“Efforts to reduce obesity by dieting are mostly unsuccessful in the long term, so finding ways to prevent excess fat storage is an urgent medical need,” Rane says.

“Our discovery that white fat can be reduced by partially transforming it to brown fat and muscle opens up new avenues to combat the obesity epidemic.”

 

IMPROVE DRIVING SKILLS NOW BEFORE THE SNOW FLIES

Save Money on Insurance With Driving Course Completion

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 18-Aug-2014
Source:
Loyola University Health System

 

Newswise — This last winter was extreme and put many drivers’ skills to the test. Now many seniors can take a driving refresher course that can increase their driving skills and also lower their insurance rates before the snow flies.

“Driving is a privilege that most adults value the most and view as key to their independence,” said Janette Johns, activity director, Transitional Care Unit, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.

“Being a safe and competent driver not only safeguards the privilege of driving, but makes the roads safer for everyone.”

Gottlieb Memorial Hospital is just one of dozens of organizations to partner with the AARP to offer a two day driving course.

The cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers. The eight-hour course is taught in two consecutive four-hour sessions. To receive the completion certificate that potentially entitles the participant to an insurance discount, class must be attended both days.

Did You Know?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35 percent of traffic violations for drivers older than age 55 are for a failure to yield the proper right of way.

Your hands should be placed in the 8 and 4 o’clock or 9 and 3 o’clock position on the steering wheel.

Vision starts to change at age 40 in ways that affect driving.

While driving, there should be 10 to 12 inches between your chest and the steering wheel.

You should remain three seconds or more behind the car you are following.

To earn an AARP course completion discount in Illinois, drivers have to be 55 to be eligible and it is up to the insurance company to determine the amount.

In 2013, 15,225 drivers participated in the course, which is offered in English and Spanish, throughout the U.S.

Approximately 80 percent of AARP course graduates report that taking the course has resulted in a positive change in their driving behavior.

My comments

Back home in the UK  it might be worth looking at the Green Flag website http://www.greenflag.com/help/drivingguide-older-drivers.html

This makes sense and might be worth considering.  The Green Flag site suggests:        Drivers aged 70 or over were only involved in 10,465 out of the 212,685 reported accidents in Great Britain in 2010, according to Department for Transport statistics. The group with the most accidents was 40 to 49-year-olds. (Glad I am not one of those – so life  begins at 50 if you are a driver).

Talking about driving if you need your spirits lifting you should spare five minutes to watch this video to the end. I had tears running down my cheeks with laughter.   I do understand the frustration of the drivers. ENJOY. There is no catch – it is  just a bit of fun.  Share it if you enjoyed it.   Back tomorrow Jeanne

http://biggeekdad.com/2013/08/geriatric-traffic-jam/

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU ARE AS OLD AS WHAT YOU EAT

YOU ARE AS OLD AS WHAT YOU EAT

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 24, 2014                 By Stone Hearth News University College, London, UK The Journal of Clinical Investigation,

 

Researchers from UCL (University College London) have demonstrated how an interplay between nutrition, metabolism and immunity is involved in the process of ageing.

The two new studies, supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), could help to enhance our immunity to disease through dietary intervention and help make existing immune system therapies more effective.

As we age our immune systems decline. Older people suffer from increased incidence and severity of both infections and cancer. In addition, vaccination becomes less efficient with age.

In previous BBSRC funded work, Professor Arne Akbar’s group at UCL showed that ageing in immune system cells known as ‘T lymphocytes’ was controlled by a molecule called ‘p38 MAPK’ that acts as a brake to prevent certain cellular functions.

They found that this braking action could be reversed by using a p38 MAPK inhibitor, suggesting the possibility of rejuvenating old T cells using drug treatment.

In a new study published today in Nature Immunology the group shows that p38 MAPK is activated by low nutrient levels, coupled with signals associated with age, or senescence, within the cell.

It has been suspected for a long time that nutrition, metabolism and immunity are linked and this paper provides a prototype mechanism of how nutrient and senescence signals converge to regulate the function of T lymphocytes.

The study also suggests that the function of old T lymphocytes could be reconstituted by blocking one of several molecules involved in the process. The research was conducted at UCL alongside colleagues from Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.

The second paper, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed that blocking p38 MAPK boosted the fitness of cells that had shown signs of ageing; improving the function of mitochondria (the cellular batteries) and enhancing their ability to divide.

Extra energy for the cell to divide was generated by the recycling of intracellular molecules, a process known as autophagy. This highlights the existence of a common signaling pathway in old/senescent T lymphocytes that controls their immune function as well as metabolism, further underscoring the intimate association between ageing and metabolism of T lymphocytes.

This study was conducted by researchers from UCL, Cancer Research UK, University of Oxford and University of Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.

Professor Arne Akbar said: “Our life expectancy at birth is now twice as long as it was 150 years ago and our lifespans are on the increase. Healthcare costs associated with ageing are immense and there will be an increasing number of older people in our population who will have a lower quality of life due in part to immune decline. It is therefore essential to understand reasons why immunity decreases and whether it is possible to counteract some of these changes.

“An important question is whether this knowledge can be used to enhance immunity during ageing. Many drug companies have already developed p38 inhibitors in attempts to treat inflammatory diseases. One new possibility for their use is that these compounds could be used to enhance immunity in older subjects. Another possibility is that dietary instead of drug intervention could be used to enhance immunity since metabolism and senescence are two sides of the same coin.”

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £484M in world-class bioscience in 2013-14. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

About UCL (University College London)

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has almost 29,000 students from 150 countries and in the region of 10,000 employees. Our annual income is more than £900 million.

 

CODEINE-CONTAINING COUGH SYRUPS CAUSE IMPULSIVITY, LESS WHITE MATTER IN BRAIN

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 20, 2014                       By Stone Hearth News – American Society of Neuroradiology –  Eureka Alert

 

An imaging study of chronic users of codeine-containing cough syrups (CCS) has found deficits in specific regions of brain white matter and associates these changes with increased impulsivity in CCS users.

Researchers used diffusuion tensor imaging (DTI) (an MR imaging technique), coupled with fractional anisotropy, to investigate the white matter integrity of chronic CCS users. Deficits were found in multiple regions of the brain, including the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, which other studies have found to be abnormal in other forms of addiction, such as addiction to the Internet, alcohol and heroin.

The study found the white matter deficits in CCS users also correlated with increased impulsivity traits in the subjects, as measured by the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. These findings were consistent with results of previous studies of heroin and cocaine addicts. White matter disruptions also correlated with the duration of CCS use.

Codeine-containing cough syrups have become one of the most popular drugs of abuse in young people around the world. Progressive changes in the white matter of users’ brains may cause greater impulsivity in CCS users.

The study, titled “Abnormal White Matter Integrity in Chronic Users of Codeine-Containing Cough Syrups: A Tract-Based Spatial Statistics Study,” was published this month on the website of the American Journal of Neuroradiology and will be available in print in the January 2015 issue of the AJNR.

The American Journal of Neuroradiology (AJNR) is published by the American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR), a professional association of more than 5,000 members who specialize in diagnostic radiology of the central nervous system, brain, head and neck through the use of X-ray, MRI, CT and angiography. The ASNR was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois.

 

VISION LOSS ADVERSELY AFFECTS DAILY FUNCTION, WHICH CAN INCREASE RISK FOR DEATH

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 21, 2014                       By Stone Hearth News- Eureka Alert-AAAS, The Science Society-Ophthalmol. 

Bottom Line: Vision loss can adversely affect the ability of older adults to perform instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), such as using the telephone, shopping and doing housework, which are all measures of an individual’s ability to live independently, and that subsequently increases the risk for death.

Author: Sharon L. Christ, Ph.D., of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., and colleagues.

Background: Visual impairment (VI) can have negative effects on a person’s physical and psychosocial health. VI is associated with a variety of functional and health outcomes.

How the Study Was Conducted: The authors used data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation study to examine the extent to which visual acuity (VA) loss increased the risk for death because of its effect on functional status over time. The study included 2,520 older adults (65 to 84 years) from September 1993 through July 2003 from the greater Salisbury, Md., area. Study participants were reassessed at 2, 6 and 8 years after baseline.

Results: Declines in VA acuity over time were associated with increased mortality risk in part because of decreasing levels of IADL over time. Individuals who experienced increasing difficulty with IADL had an increase in mortality risk that was 3 percent greater annually and 31 percent greater during the 8-year study period than individuals with a stable IADL difficulty level. Participants who experienced the decline in VA of one letter on an acuity chart were expected to have a 16 percent increase in mortality risk during the 8-year study because of associated declines in IADL levels.

Discussion: “Our findings have multiple implications. First, these findings reinforce the need for the primary prevention of VI. …Moreover, the early detection of disabling eye diseases is suboptimal in the U.S. health care system, leading to otherwise preventable VI. Finally, many Americans live with VI that is correctable through the proper fitting of glasses or contact lenses. A second implication of our findings suggests that when uncorrectable VI is present, helping affected individuals maintain robust IADL is important.”

This study was supported by a grant from the National Eye Institute.

 

 

 

 

ONCE A CHEATER, ALWAYS A CHEATER?

ONCE A CHEATER, ALWAYS A CHEATER?

The adage might be true, a new study suggests

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 21-Aug-2014                   Source: Dick Jones Communications                                                                                                       Citations American Psychological Association Convention, August 2014

 

Newswise — Once a cheater, always a cheater? The adage might be true, suggests a University of Denver study.

According to research led by psychology graduate student Kayla Knopp, people who had sex outside their relationships once were 3.7 times more likely to report sexual infidelity again in their next relationships. Victims of infidelity in the past were also more likely to report being cheated on again.

The study, which examined 484 unmarried 18-to-34-year-olds who were in at least two relationships during the time of the study, was presented earlier this month at the American Psychological Association Convention in Washington, D.C.

Knopp also found patterns within physically or psychologically aggressive relationships.

“Respondents who reported being aggressive in relationships were three times more likely to be aggressive in their next relationship – regardless of how aggressive their partner is,” says Knopp.

“We were surprised to see that it was not something you could blame on the couple’s relationship, that they were just in an unhealthy mutual conflict style. Mutuality is not the important component; it is the behavior on its own.”

Victims of aggression in previous relationships were five times more likely to report being victims again in their next relationship.

We like to think we can learn from our mistakes, Knopp says, but this study shows it is hard to do. More research is needed to develop interventions to help couples learn from past experiences and make better relationship choices, she says.

“In the meantime,” she says, “couples can help avoid these patterns in their own lives by talking to one another about their relationship histories, and deciding which behaviors they do – and do not – want to bring with them into the future.”

 

WHEN IT COMES TO HOW PIZZA LOOKS—CHEESE MATTERS

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 21-Aug-2014                 Citations Journal of Food Science
 Source  Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)   Wiley On Line Library              

 

Newswise — CHICAGO—Most consumers have an idea what they want their pizza slice to look like. Golden cheese with that dark toasted-cheese color scattered in distinct blistery patches across the surface with a bit of oil glistening in the valleys.

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), evaluated the pizza baking performance of different cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, colby, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere, and provolone) in conjunction with a new quantifiable evaluation technique to see how their composition and functional differences affected browning and blistering.

The study found that the elasticity, free oil, moisture, water activity and transition temperature all influence the color uniformity of cheeses. Blisters were not formed for cheddar, colby, and Edam cheeses because of their small elasticity.

A sufficient amount of free oil prevents moisture evaporation, and thus less intensive browning on Gruyere and provolone, and hardly at all with Emmental. Therefore, these cheeses can be combined with the easily blistering mozzarella to create a gourmet pizza with a less burnt appearance.

This study is unique because the researchers did not rely on human sensory assessment. Instead, they developed a machine vision technique coupling careful imaging with quantified image analysis to help quantify a description that can be used by pizza manufacturers to make an appealing product for consumers.

Abstract

The aim of this study is to quantify the pizza baking properties and performance of different cheeses, including the browning and blistering, and to investigate the correlation to cheese properties (rheology, free oil, transition temperature, and water activity). The color, and color uniformity, of different cheeses (Mozzarella, Cheddar, Colby, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere, and Provolone) were quantified, using a machine vision system and image analysis techniques. The correlations between cheese appearance and attributes were also evaluated, to find that cheese properties including elasticity, free oil, and transition temperature influence the color uniformity of cheeses.

Practical Application

Different cheeses can be employed on “gourmet” style pizzas in combination with Mozzarella. Based on the findings, cheeses with some attributes can be used to cook pizzas to meet the specific preferences of consumers.

About IFT
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.

 

LEARNING TO PLAY THE PIANO?      SLEEP ON IT!

Subcortical brain regions play a key role in the memorization process during sleep

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton    Released: 21-Aug-2014
Source :
Universite de Montreal Citations NeuroImage, May-2014

 

Newswise — According to researchers at the University of Montreal, the regions of the brain below the cortex play an important role as we train our bodies’ movements and, critically, they interact more effectively after a night of sleep.

While researchers knew that sleep helped us the learn sequences of movements (motor learning), it was not known why.

“The subcortical regions are important in information consolidation, especially information linked to a motor memory trace. When consolidation level is measured after a period of sleep, the brain network of these areas functions with greater synchrony, that is, we observe that communication between the various regions of this network is better optimized. The opposite is true when there has been no period of sleep,” said Karen Debas, neuropsychologist at the University of Montreal and leader author of the study. A network refers to multiple brain areas that are activated simultaneously.

To achieve these results, the researchers, led by Dr. Julien Doyon, Scientific Director of the Functional Neuroimaging Unit of the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal Research Centre, taught a group of subjects a new sequence of piano-type finger movements on a box. The brains of the subjects were observed using functional magnetic resonance imaging during their performance of the task before and after a period of sleep. Meanwhile, the same test was performed by a control group at the beginning and end of the day, without a period of sleep.

The researchers had already shown that the putamen, a central part of the brain, was more active in subjects who had slept. Furthermore, they had observed improved performance of the task after a night of sleep and not the simple passage of daytime. Using a brain connectivity analysis technique, which identifies brain networks and measures their integration levels, they found that one network emerged from the others—the cortico-striatal network—composed of cortical and subcortical areas, including the putaman and associated cortical regions.

“After a night of sleep, we found that this network was more integrated than the others, that is, interaction among these regions was greater when consolidation had occurred. A night of sleep seems to provide active protection of this network, which the passage of daytime does not provide. Moreover, only a night of sleep results in better performance of the task,” Debas said.

These results provide insight into the role of sleep in learning motor skills requiring new movement sequences and reveal, for the first time, greater interaction within the cortico-striatal system after a consolidation phase following sleep.

“Our findings open the door to other research opportunities, which could lead us to better understand the mechanisms that take place during sleep and ensure better interaction between key regions of the brain. Indeed, several other studies in my laboratory are examining the role of sleep spindles—brief physiological events during non-rapid eye movement sleep—in the process of motor memory trace consolidation,” Doyon said.

“Ultimately, we believe that we will better be able to explain and act on memory difficulties presented by certain clinical populations who have sleeping problems and help patients who are relearning motor sequences in rehabilitation centres,” Debas said.

About the study:
The article Off-line consolidation of motor sequence learning results in greater integration within a cortico-striatal functional network was published in the journal NeuroImage on May 17, 2014 (online publication). The study was led by Karen Debas, under the supervision of Julien Doyon. Both are affiliated with the Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal. Julie Carrier, Marc Barakat, Guillaume Marrelec, Pierre Belec, and Abdallah Hadj Tahar, researchers at the University of Montreal; Avi Karni, researcher at the University of Haifa; Leslie G. Ungerleider, researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health (USA); and Habib Benali, researcher at the Université Paris VI, also contributed to these studies. Their research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de recherche du Québec en santé.

 

(Can this be why I always ‘sleep on’ important emails and letters before sending them next day. They make  more sense the next morning and this must be due to my brainwaves. Fancy that.)  Back tomorrow all being well. Jeanne