• Mental Illness and Covid-19

    Mental Illness and Covid-19

    A topic less discussed is mental illness and Covid-19. Covid-19 has been noticeably around us since March of 2020. With the various social distancing and quarantining methods people become more or less isolated emotionally. Social gatherings are outlawed depending on where you live. This helps to interrupt the … [Read More...]

  • Antibody Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Was Superior

    Antibody Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Was Superior

    Researchers found that antibody treatment for rheumatoid arthritis was superior to conventional therapy. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where autoantibodies attack the synovial lining of joints. In this case, subsequently macrophages are activated, which attack joint surfaces. As an … [Read More...]

  • Why We See More Food Allergies

    Why We See More Food Allergies

    A recent review in a BBC article explained why we see more food allergies. It is important to note that one of the more important food allergies are peanut allergies. Certainly, they have risen from 1 in 250 children in 1997 to 1 in 70 children in 2008. By all means, allergies come in various degrees of severity; … [Read More...]

  • Removal of Senescent Cells Can Extend Life

    Removal of Senescent Cells Can Extend Life

    Several animal and human studies by the Mayo Clinic showed that removal of senescent cells can extend life. Researchers Xu et al. showed in 2018 that senescent cells weaken the body. Senescent cells are damaged cells that are still living. They can cause the release of inflammatory cytokines. The researchers showed … [Read More...]

  • Blood Type Has Some Bearing on the Severity of Covid-19 Coronavirus

    Blood Type Has Some Bearing on the Severity of Covid-19 Coronavirus

    Two independent research publications concluded that blood type has some bearing on the severity of Covid-19 coronavirus infections. One was published in Denmark, the other one in Canada. In the US the 4 common blood types occur with this frequency: group O: 45% (O positive 38%, O negative 7%); group A:  40% (A … [Read More...]

  • Irregular Periods are Linked to Premature Deaths

    Irregular Periods are Linked to Premature Deaths

    A review in CNN describes that irregular periods are linked to premature deaths. This review is based on the original publication in the British Medical Journal published on September 30, 2020. Essentially, the researchers followed 79,505 premenopausal women without a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or … [Read More...]

    Nov
    28
    2020

    Mental Illness and Covid-19

    A topic less discussed is mental illness and Covid-19. Covid-19 has been noticeably around us since March of 2020. With the various social distancing and quarantining methods people become more or less isolated emotionally. Social gatherings are outlawed depending on where you live. This helps to interrupt the spread of the virus, but it makes people feel more stressed as their relationships get interrupted.

    Symptoms of stress

    The CDC sums up that stress during a pandemic can cause the following:

    • Fear of your own health and the health of your loved ones
    • Loss of your job or financial support
    • Changes in eating habits
    • Changes in sleep pattern with lack in concentration
    • Increase in use of tobacco, alcohol or other substance consumption
    • Chronic health problems may deteriorate
    • Worsening of Mental health conditions

    The more isolated we are, the more stress we feel. This undermines our stress coping mechanisms, makes us more anxious and more depressed.

    Develop coping skills

    Taking care of your family and friends may relieve your stress, but it needs to be balanced by taking care of yourself. Although you are physically isolated from others when you are in quarantine, you can stay in contact with others by phone or video chats. This makes you less lonely and isolated.

    Take care of yourself. This includes eating well balanced meals, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. Avoid the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Share with a family member or friend how you feel. Maintain friendships through the phone, emails, social media and computer chats. This builds a strong support system for you.

    Avoid too much exposure to news stories. Seeing negative stories about Covid-19 over and over again can be undermining, so take a break from the news media. Go for a walk. Take a nap.

    Suicide

    Sometimes depression can get out of control to the point of driving a person to the brink of suicide. In the US major depression is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44.  At any given year 16.1 million American adults (about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older) suffer from major depression. 10.3% of Americans have thought about suicide. If you feel that way, do not act on this impulse. Call 1-800-799-4889. That is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline & Chat.

    Medical literature about the psychological impact of Covid-19

    In a July 2020 publication the authors pointed out that Covid-19 infection is a significant psychological stressor. There is the fear of getting the virus and uncertainty about the future. Pre-existing anxiety and depression disorders get accelerated from the stress. In addition, mental disorders like schizophrenia with psychosis may worsen. This may require more antipsychotic medication to control it.

    A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found in March 2020 that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a major impact on US citizens. 45% of respondents said that the pandemic has affected their mental wellbeing significantly. If you are scared, depressed or anxious, you are tense and you have problems falling asleep, you are not alone. You can seek and receive help!

    Prevention of mental disease from Covid-19

    Here is some practical advice from the World Health Organization.

    • Stay informed.
    • Have a daily routine. Get up and go to sleep at regular times. Eat healthy balanced meals. Exercise regularly. Have your work routine and also find time to rest. Do things that you enjoy.
    • Watch the news only to be informed, but limit news watching to a minimum. This will keep anxiety and depression in check.
    • Stay in contact with close friends by phone and computer technology.
    • Keep your alcohol consumption low. If you did not drink before at all, don’t start drinking in an attempt to deal with boredom, fear, anxiety or social isolation.
    • Take breaks from screen time. This reduces tension.
    • Video games: doing this may relax you for a short time. But longer video game activities can make you tense; you should balance this with the rest of your daily activities.
    • Social media. Use this for honest communication. Keep it brief. If you see misinformation, point out the truth.
    • Helping others: if you can, help others in the community with shopping or other chores.

    Treatment for Mental disease from Covid-19

    When you notice anxiety, depression or a flare-up of psychotic symptoms from schizophrenia, it is important to see your health professional right away. You may need some counselling. Others may need an antidepressant (for depression) or an adjustment to your antipsychotic medication. Some patients with milder depression or anxiety may benefit from cognitive/behavioral therapy. Most importantly, know that help is available! More info about cognitive therapy for suicide prevention.

    Mental Illness and Covid-19

    Mental Illness and Covid-19

    Conclusion

    Mental illness and Covid-19 is a huge topic. People definitely have experienced more anxiety and depression since the Covid-19 epidemic. This is because our lifestyle is suddenly restricted. We may have to go through a 14-day quarantine. But we also cannot participate in large gatherings with more than 50 people. Often, we have to wear masks in stores. In areas with high cases of Covid-19 there is also a severe restriction regarding with whom you can visit, leading to feelings of isolation. All of this can lead to mental illness. Essentially there are two ways of coping with this. First, we need to get a routine that makes us more resistant to mental illness. Secondly, if this fails, seek the advice of a health professional right away.

    Seek mental illness treatment right away

    When you catch mental illness early, it is much easier to treat. Milder cases of depression or anxiety may benefit from cognitive/behavioral therapy. More severe cases often require medication. In this outline I have discussed mental illness during the Covid-19 epidemic. I have not discussed the cases where people came down with Covid-19 coronavirus and got affected in their brain function from the virus. These cases need treatment by a neurologist and psychiatrist, and they are much more complicated.

    Nov
    21
    2020

    Antibody Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Was Superior

    Researchers found that antibody treatment for rheumatoid arthritis was superior to conventional therapy. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where autoantibodies attack the synovial lining of joints. In this case, subsequently macrophages are activated, which attack joint surfaces. As an illustration, this process leads to crippling joint deformities.

    The original study was published in June, 2019, but this is difficult to understand. The magazine Sciworthy published a review article on August 24, 2020 with more understandable language.

    To emphasize, in mouse experiments the researchers found that only a small subfraction of activated macrophages caused symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. They were folate receptor beta (FR-β) positive macrophages. It is important to realize that the researchers found them both in mice with rheumatoid arthritis and in man. The evidence in humans were the same findings in human tissue samples of people with autoimmune diseases.

    Details of mouse experiments

    Folate receptor beta (FR-β) positive macrophages are key in mouse model of RA

    Explicitly, the researchers started experiments with a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis, because it is easier to do than human research. They found that the key to developing rheumatoid arthritis was the presence of folate receptor beta (FR-β) positive macrophages. Chiefly, macrophages remove cell debris, bacteria or viruses from the blood. However, once they are activated and they carry FR-β receptors on their surface, they destroy joints. Certainly, in the mouse model monoclonal F3 antibodies were developed that kill activated macrophages. On the contrary, the human equivalent for the F3 antibodies is monoclonal antibodies with the name m909. They are directed at the FR-β receptors on the surface of activated macrophages. But first to the mouse experiments.

    Inflammation from intraperitoneal injection of thioglycollate

    In the first place, the researchers created an inflammatory condition by injecting thioglycollate into their peritoneal cavity. They could demonstrate that inflammation did occur. With this in mind they found macrophages in the peritoneal fluid. There were a lot of activated macrophages in it. Histological slides were analyzed with the help of F3 antibodies. In this case they visualized the activated macrophages. Subsequently the researchers treated mice with varying concentrations of monoclonal F3 antibodies. They found that the higher concentrations cured intraabdominal inflammation of the mice.

    Researchers used monoclonal F3 antibodies to treat mouse model of RA

    The researchers treated collagen-induced arthritis next in a number of experiments. Several concentrations of monoclonal F3 antibodies were given to these mice. Other experiments showed that monoclonal F3 antibodies specifically attacked only the activated macrophages and killed them. The killing of the activated macrophages in the mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis cured the arthritis. Fig. 5 shows this.

    Mice treated with maximum concentrations of monoclonal F3 antibodies showed decrease in bone density

    Next the researchers treated rheumatoid arthritis mice with maximum concentrations of monoclonal F3 antibodies to treat the arthritis. The swelling of their paws went down completely. CT scans of the bone in the paws showed decrease in bone density, while untreated controls showed significant loss of bone density. Monoclonal F3 antibodies were indeed a cure for RA in mice (Fig. 6).

    Human experiments

    Researchers confined human experiments to tissue samples from patients with various autoimmune diseases. Skin biopsies from patients with psoriasis, scleroderma, and sarcoidosis showed the distribution of FR-β-positive macrophages by special staining. This staining technique used human monoclonal antibodies (m909) against human FR-β receptors on activated macrophages. The publication depicts images that show abundant activity in all three autoimmune diseases (Fig. 1).

    Researchers examined tissue samples from other autoimmune diseases with monoclonal antibodies (m909) against human FR-β receptors. The activated macrophages including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis lit up on fluorescence microscopy. In addition, nonspecific interstitial pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, and scleroderma tested positive as well.

    Future therapy possibilities of rheumatoid arthritis with monoclonal antibodies

    A series of experiments showed that two mechanisms can eliminate FR-β-positive macrophages: complement-dependent cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity. It means that there is a strong possibility that autoimmune diseases may be treatable with monoclonal antibodies. Fig. 2 summarizes these experiments.

    Conventional therapy for rheumatoid arthritis

    To explain, the conventional treatment approach of rheumatoid arthritis is to induce a disease remission with drugs. To this effect doctors use anti-inflammatory drugs like ANSAIDs, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). For example, drugs like methotrexate and sulfasalazine belong into this category. Unfortunately, the conventional drugs have many serious side effects that often make the rheumatoid arthritis patient’s condition worse.

    In contrast, the integrative medicine approach to rheumatoid arthritis is to use dietary measures to reduce the inflammation. The fasting mimicking diet is able to reduce the severity of the inflammation in RA patients.

    Other authors described the use of the Mediterranean diet to reduce inflammation. In addition, there are a number of regenerative methods that help improve the condition of RA patients. Research described here proved that antibody treatment for rheumatoid arthritis was superior to conventional therapy in a mouse model.

    Discussion

    Monoclonal antibodies (m909) against human FR-β receptors targeting activated macrophages opened up a new therapy method against rheumatoid arthritis. The equivalent F3 antibodies in mice were a useful tool to expedite research in this field. The publication that I reviewed here was able to combine mouse experiments and work on human tissue samples essentially showing the same results . Monoclonal antibodies (m909) against human FR-β receptors work potentially like a broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory drug. The monoclonal antibodies reduce the accumulation of inflammatory immune cells, which treats the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. This will likely be the future cure of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. We urgently need clinical trials to prove in humans that the findings from a mouse model and human tissue samples are correct.

    Antibody Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Was Superior

    Antibody Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Was Superior

    Conclusion

    Researchers recently showed in a mouse model that a small portion of activated macrophages cause rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But they also examined many biopsies from patients with autoimmune diseases. The findings in human tissue samples were identical to the findings in a mouse model. Activated macrophages are sensitised to attack the linings of joints as is the case with rheumatoid arthritis. These macrophages develop special receptors, called folate receptor beta (FR-β), and the macrophages release cytokinins. The cytokinins (TNFα, IL-1, IL-6, IL-12 and others) cause inflammation and make the RA worse. They also recruit more neutral macrophages and convert them into activated macrophages. The research group found that monoclonal antibodies against human or mouse FR-β receptors killed the activated macrophages. This alleviated the arthritic symptoms and after enough antibody treatments cured the RA. There were no negative effects on the rest of the immune system.

    Physicians will cure human autoimmune diseases with monoclonal antibodies in the future

    Researchers demonstrated this mostly in a mouse model. But the authors have manufactured human monoclonal antibodies against the FR-β receptors of activated macrophages. This has set the stage for curing human autoimmune diseases with monoclonal antibodies as well. At this point there is a need for clinical trials with various autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis with monoclonal antibodies against activated macrophages.

    Nov
    14
    2020

    Why We See More Food Allergies

    A recent review in a BBC article explained why we see more food allergies. It is important to note that one of the more important food allergies are peanut allergies. Certainly, they have risen from 1 in 250 children in 1997 to 1 in 70 children in 2008.

    By all means, allergies come in various degrees of severity; an anaphylactic reaction is the most severe form. Notably, in England there was a rise of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis from 1,015 in 2013 to 1746 in 2019. This is a 72% increase in 6 years!

    Theories why there may be more food allergies now

    There are a number of theories why food allergies have been on the rise. There is a consensus now that the right composition of the gut bacteria is important for normal immune reactions to take place.

    Hygiene theory

    David Strachan proposed the hygiene theory of allergies in 1989. Briefly, his observation was that children of larger families were less likely to develop allergies. He interpreted this to mean that infections among siblings stabilized the immune system. In the meantime, it has become obvious that the gut plays an important role for the immune system.

    Graham Rook’s “old friends” theory

    Graham Rook’s “old friends” theory came out in 2003. This theory states that friendly microbes in the environment are mixing with the gut flora. This trains the immune system to balance.

    Gut bacteria theory

    There is good evidence that the more a child is given antibiotics as a child, the more likely it is that the person develops a food allergy later. The mechanism seems to go via the gut flora. In a way this is the other coin of Graham Rook’s “old friends” theory. If you kill the “good friends” bacteria in the gut by antibiotics, the immune system strikes back with allergic reactions.

    Dual-allergen exposure

    By exposing the child at 4 to 11 months to peanuts or peanut butter, the immune system develops tolerance to the peanut protein (LEAP=learning early about peanut). A study showed that by doing this 80% of 5-year and older children and adults do not have a peanut allergy.

    Prenatal vitamin D and food allergies

    A German study found that prenatal exposure to higher amounts of vitamin D resulted in a higher risk of developing food allergies before the age of two.

    Use antibiotics only when necessary

    Gut biome studies showed that the use of antibiotics can have long lasting effects on the composition of the gut flora. A patient in sepsis may require antibiotics. But when the patient has recovered it is important that the bowel flora is restored with probiotics. This balances the immune system and avoids allergic reactions.

    Immunotherapy for food allergies

    Allergists have long used desensitisation techniques to deal with inhalant allergies. Allergy shots every two or three weeks can be very helpful to suppress immune reactions to inhalants. The same technique works also for many food allergies. The allergist tests the patient’s skin on the forearm to see what positive reactions occur. Based on these findings an allergy serum is composed. A small amount is injected in intervals. The smallest amount is given first and the concentration is gradually increased until the maintenance dose is reached. This causes the immune system to produce competing antibodies that reduce the antibody-mediated reaction to the food allergies.

    Why We See More Food Allergies

    Why We See More Food Allergies

    Conclusion

    Food allergies are increasing in frequency and severity. There are several theories why food allergies develop. The most likely one is that friendly bacteria in the environment become part of the gut environment in the newborn. If we have the right composition of gut bacteria our immune system reacts normally. Administering antibiotics frequently and overcleaning our kitchens with too many cleaning agents affects our bowel flora negatively. This disbalance can cause allergic reactions. On the other hand, exposing a newborn between the age of 4 and 11 months to a variety of adult foods including peanut products will desensitize the child to peanut protein and prevent future allergies. Those who are severely affected by food allergies can see an allergist for allergy testing and consider desensitisation through allergy injections.

    Nov
    07
    2020

    Removal of Senescent Cells Can Extend Life

    Several animal and human studies by the Mayo Clinic showed that removal of senescent cells can extend life. Researchers Xu et al. showed in 2018 that senescent cells weaken the body. Senescent cells are damaged cells that are still living. They can cause the release of inflammatory cytokines. The researchers showed in mouse experiments that intermittent senolytics increased life expectancy by 36%. Senolytics are drugs that dissolve senescent cells; the senolytic cocktail consisted of dasatinib plus quercetin.

    In these mouse experiments their risk of dying was reduced by 65% compared to control mice that did not take senolytics.

    Senescent cells causing premature aging

    In the past 5 years research on aging and on chronic diseases made a lot of progress. Researchers realized that the accumulation of senescent cells is what causes both. All this happens because the process of apoptosis, the removal of dead cells, is impaired in the aging person. It appears that in older age there is a problem with dying cells and their removal. Instead they linger on and start producing cytokines, which cause inflammation. This can damage other cells and lead to organ failures. All this explains why older people often get chronic diseases and do not reach their normal lifespan. The accumulation of senescent cells also blocks regenerative factors that improve one’s health.

    Senolytics

    Dasatinib is a kinase inhibitor that was developed to treat acute myelogenous leukemia in adults and children. Researchers did animal experiments with a combination of dasatinib and quercetin for several years. They also have started smaller pilot clinical trials in humans. It appears that the human findings are very similar to the animal findings. But more research is needed to answer questions about side-effects and effects of removal of senescent cells.

    Details about animal experiments with senolytics

    The Mayo Clinic research showed that old mice treated with senolytics (dasatinib and quercetin) live 36% longer than controls that did not receive senolytics. Another part of this series of experiments showed that senescent cells are indeed what kills prematurely. They took senescent cells from old mice and transplanted them into young mice. Soon the young animals showed deterioration health wise and they died prematurely. Another control group were older mice that received senescent cells from old mice. They too died prematurely. Treatment with senolytics (dasatinib and quercetin) improved physical functioning and also survival.

    Details about human trials regarding senolytics

    For three days 11 participants received senolytics (dasatinib and quercetin). The effect of the drugs was evident for 11 days. The subjects took 100 mg of dasatinib daily and 500 mg of quercetin twice per day for 3 consecutive days. This dose was repeated twice more on a weekly basis for a total of 3 weeks. These patients had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. This is an incurable disease where senescent cells accumulate. These patients showed significantly improved gait speed, walking endurance, chair rise test performance and scores of other physical performances. All this occurred on day 5 after the initial dose of senolytics.

    Alternative senolytics, so removal of senescent cells can extend life

    Dasatinib as a senolytic has significant side effects.

    For this reason, researchers looked for alternatives. Theaflavins, isolated from black tea fits this bill. It is non-toxic, but it is also effective as a senolytic. Researchers from Life Extension have developed a senolytic product containing theaflavins and quercetin. Instead of regular quercetin they included quercetin phytosome, which has 50-times more potent bioavailability. One capsule contains 74 mg of quercetin phytosome (the equivalent of 1250 mg of regular quercetin) and 275 mg of theaflavins.

    Discussion

    Future research needs to show whether or not the Life Extension senolytic indeed does what it promises. It claims that only one capsule per week stimulates apoptosis, reduces cytokines and increases longevity. I would like to see a clinical study that examines all these parameters. One measure of longevity is to determine the length of leukocyte telomeres. All the other laboratory tests are readily available. Research in this field will certainly continue and scientists will likely develop other senolytics.

    Removal of Senescent Cells Can Extend Life

    Removal of Senescent Cells Can Extend Life

    Conclusion

    The accumulation of senescent cells causes both aging and chronic diseases. Research showed that in older age the process of apoptosis, the removal of dying cells, is incomplete. As a result dying cells accumulate. They produce inflammatory cytokines, can damage other healthy cells and lead to chronic organ failure. In addition, cancer cells can develop and the patients can die prematurely. Senolytics are substances that clear out senescent cells. In mouse experiments they have already led to improved survival and health. Clinicians performed a clinical trial on patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is an incurable disease where senescent cells accumulate. They showed significantly improved gait speed, walking endurance, chair rise test performance and scores of other physical performances. One pill once per week with dasatinib and quercetin can achieve this. More research in this area can clarify why senolytics work and what the side effects are.

    Oct
    31
    2020

    Blood Type Has Some Bearing on the Severity of Covid-19 Coronavirus

    Two independent research publications concluded that blood type has some bearing on the severity of Covid-19 coronavirus infections. One was published in Denmark, the other one in Canada.

    In the US the 4 common blood types occur with this frequency: group O: 45% (O positive 38%, O negative 7%); group A:  40% (A positive 34%, A negative 6%); group B: 11% (B positive 9%, B negative 2%) and group: AB 4% (AB positive 3%, AB negative 1%). Positive and negative stands for the Rh group (the rhesus factor, which is another type of blood group).

    Two separate publications

    Denmark study

    Briefly, the Denmark study showed that when positive and negative tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus were checked in relationship to blood groups, blood group O had 13% less coronavirus infections, group A had 9% more infections, group B had 6% more infections and group AB had 15% more infections than negative controls. This means that blood group O is relatively protected from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The investigators were fast to add that this does not give people with a group O blood type a licence to go to the pub and celebrate.

    Canadian study

    The Canadian study looked at 125 critically ill people with positive SARS-CoV-2 virus tests. Of these 95 had ABO blood types available. All these patients were admitted to the ICU. Here are the significant findings: 32% of blood group A required intubation versus 84% of AB patients, 35% of O group patients and 61% of B patients required intubation. 12% of A patients and 32% of AB patients, but only 5% of blood group O patients and 9% of B patients required kidney support (continuous renal replacement therapy). In addition, group O and group B patients required a median ICU stay of only 9 days. In contrast, group A and AB had to stay in the ICU for 13.5 days.

    Gene study to determine susceptibility for severe Covid-19 disease

    In a European genetic study from Italy and Spain 835 patients and 1255 control participants had genetic studies done. It turned out that the genetic loci that determined the severity of Covid-19 followed the blood groups. Blood group A patients had a 45% higher risk of developing severe Covid-19 disease, while group O patients had a 35% lesser risk compared to other blood groups of developing severe Covid-19.

    Discussion

    Dr. Mypinder Sekhon, an intensive care physician at Vancouver General Hospital stated that people with a blood group O make less of a key clotting factor, which makes them less prone to clotting problems in the blood. Clotting is a major driver in complications of Covid-19. Other possible explanations are the blood group antigens and how they interact with antibodies from the infection with Covid-19 coronavirus. Finally, it could be related to the genes of the blood groups and how they interact with receptors of the immune system. It is interesting to also note that there are genetically different risks that go along the line of the blood groups with group A having much higher risk than group O to develop severe Covid-19 disease.

    Blood Type Has Some Bearing on the Severity of Covid-19 Coronavirus

    Blood Type Has Some Bearing on the Severity of Covid-19 Coronavirus

    Conclusion

    Both research in Denmark and in Canada confirmed that blood group O had less coronavirus infections. In the Denmark study there were 13% less severe Covid-19 cases in people with the blood group O than in negative controls. In the Canadian study of 95 patients with severe Covid-19 physicians had to admit them into the ICU. They noted that 84% of blood group AB patients in the ICU required intubation. In contrast, only 35% of O group patients required intubation. With regard to kidney support, 32% of AB patients, but only 5% of O patients required this during their ICU stay.

    More research required to understand these findings

    The researchers added that it is not clear why there are such differences among patients with different blood groups. They mentioned that more research is necessary. This will reveal why group O has a milder course. It will also show why group O patients require less intubation and shorter ICU stays. Separate genetic studies showed that severe Covid-19 disease develops with blood group A patients (45% higher risk). In contrast group O blood group patients have milder Covid-19 disease (35% less risk). It is with these investigations that we can now understand some of the peculiarities regarding the Covid-19 disease.  It explains why some people develop severe Covid-19 disease while others develop only mild symptoms.

    Oct
    24
    2020

    Irregular Periods are Linked to Premature Deaths

    A review in CNN describes that irregular periods are linked to premature deaths. This review is based on the original publication in the British Medical Journal published on September 30, 2020.

    Essentially, the researchers followed 79,505 premenopausal women without a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes for 24 years. The researchers recorded 1975 premature deaths. The definition for a premature death was someone dying before the age of 70. There were three age groups that the researchers followed separately for 24 years.

    • ages 14-17 years
    • 18-22 years
    • 29-46 years

    The most common causes of death were 894 from cancer and deaths from 172 strokes and heart attacks.

    Death rates after 24 years for the three subclasses just mentioned

    The researchers noted that there were differences in survival for different age groups. But there were also differences in survival for irregular periods versus prolonged intervals between periods. Crude mortality rates for 1000 person years of follow-up for women with normal versus irregular periods were as follows.

    Normal periods                                  Irregular periods

    14-17 age :  1.05                                            14-17 age:    1.0

    18-22 age:  1.23                                            18-22 age:    1.37

    29-46 age:  1.0                                              29-46 age:    1.68

    Women with a cycle length of 40 days or more had a higher mortality rate. The researchers compared this to women with a normal cycle length (26-31 days). Here are the data in detail for two age groups at the outset of the study.

    Women with a cycle length of 40 days or more                 

    Age 18-22:    1.34

    Age 29-46:    1.40

    Heart attacks and strokes followed these death statistics closest.

    Discussion

    The researchers concluded that teenagers and women in their middle-age were at the highest risk. This risk was for premature mortality, if they had irregular periods or a cycle length of 40 days or more. There was also an association between irregular periods and a prolonged cycle length and type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and coronary heart disease. In addition, mental health problems were also related, the study said.

    Dr. Adam Balen, a professor of reproductive Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals in the UK said: “Young women with irregular periods need a thorough assessment not only of their hormones and metabolism, but also of their lifestyle so that they can be advised about steps that they can take which might enhance their overall health”.

    Too much estradiol in women and men can cause cancer

    In this context it is interesting that other studies have shown that unopposed estradiol may be the culprit for both irregular periods and larger intervals between periods. When estrogen is elevated in females, irregular periods can result. Unopposed estradiol can cause breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

    In males who also have a small amount of estrogen in their blood, it is important that a larger amount of testosterone balances the two hormones. Otherwise there is a risk of prostate cancer.

    In addition, cardiovascular disease has been described as a side effect of standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in women with synthetic hormones.

    The good news is that treatment with bioidentical hormones can treat these abnormal periods. This eliminates premature mortality and in many cases prolongs life.

    "<yoastmark

    Conclusion

    Researchers followed 79,505 premenopausal women without a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes for 24 years. They found that there is a linkage between irregular periods and premature deaths. There were three age groups that the researchers followed. Some of them suffered from irregular periods and others had periods that were 40 days or longer apart. The researchers recorded the premature mortalities. At an age of 29-46 there was a 68% higher mortality in women with irregular periods. The scientists compared this to women who had regular periods. In addition, women aged 29-46 with a cycle length of 40 days or more had a 40% higher mortality.

    Estrogen dominance could explain premature deaths

    The researchers compared this to women with a normal cycle length. It is possible that women who died prematurely were having too much estrogen in their system, which can produce cardiovascular disease and cancer of the breast, uterus and ovary. Further studies need to clarify the mechanism behind irregular periods and why a cycle length of 40 days or more causes mortality.

    Oct
    17
    2020

    What can Happen to Your Body Over Months of Isolation

    A recent article by CNN describes what can happen to your body over months of isolation at home. The article is rather negative showing all the possible things that can go wrong. I have been isolated as well since March 2020. I handle the isolation differently than described in the article. I will comment to each point what can be done differently to avoid the complications mentioned.

    Muscle loss

    The CNN article makes the point that inactivity can make you lose muscle bulk within only one week. A lack of exercise weakens your muscle strength. And muscle strength has been associated with longevity.

    My comment:

    I do a brisk walk of 5 to 7 kilometers daily. This maintains my muscle bulk. But I have a treadmill in the basement and a couple of weights that I can use, if it rains outside.

    There is a danger that heart and lungs get weaker

    You need to raise your heart rate and you also need to perfuse your lungs through exercise. Many people do not like exercise. They sit in front of the TV for hours or they surf the net on the computer. Even just reading a book does not give you enough exercise to get your heart rate up and increase your lung perfusion.

    My comment:

    A brisk walk with proper distancing gives you fresh air, exercises your muscles, your heart and your lungs. It maintains your cardiovascular fitness.

    Weight gain

    Being home all the time allows you to look into the fridge more often and eat snacks that are processed. People tend to eat more often than 3 times a day. The end result is that you gain weight. In the beginning of the epidemic people stocked up on non-perishable foods. Often they contain more sugar and carbohydrates. Consuming these foods leads to weight gain. Wearing masks, frequent hand washing, isolation practices and change of normal routines makes people get stressed. Stress leads to overeating and weight gain.

    My comment:

    In the last 6 months that I did home isolation my body mass index (BMI) stayed in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. I ate three meals a day. I avoided processed foods as they are overloaded with sugar, salt and refined carbs. Once a month I do a 5-day fasting mimicking diet according to Dr. Longo. This ensures that my BMI stays within the range I indicated. Otherwise I eat a Mediterranean diet, which is anti-inflammatory.

    Your posture could suffer

    When you are seated in front of the computer or the TV you tend to engage in poor postures. This can lead to strains of your back, neck, shoulders and hips. Staring at the computer screen or the TV can also give you eye strain.

    My comment:

    The key is movement, such as getting up and walking around; doing other activities like lawn mowing, weed eating or doing dishes. This interrupts any longer stretch of bad posture.

    Your sleep quality can suffer

    The more exposure to sunlight during the day you get, the more vitamin D you produce in the skin. Some people lack the necessary enzymes in the skin to convert cholesterol into vitamin D. But exposure to sunlight also helps to reinforce your diurnal hormone rhythm. This is also called circadian rhythm. Avoid blue lights (TV, computer, iPhones etc.) in the evening before bedtime as this can interfere with a deep sleep later. Also go to bed early enough (between 10 and 11 PM) to allow your circadian rhythm to take over.

    My comment:

    Some people (above the age of 60) benefit from 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime. After the age of 60 people no longer produce enough melatonin in the pineal gland. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I take another 3 mg of melatonin prior to 3AM. Caution: after 3 AM melatonin can give you a bit of a hangover in the morning.

    Your brain can slow down

    The brain needs nutrition and exercise. Exercise can eliminate certain amino acid by-products that otherwise turn into neurotoxins. With exercise you even prevent neurotoxins to enter the brain.

    My comment:

    I find that I must at least do a brisk walk of 4 kilometers a day. It prevents back pain, helps me sleep better and keeps my mind clear. But as mentioned earlier I prefer doing a brisk walk for 5 to 7 kilometers a day. In the past (prior to March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic started) I went to the gym every day. When it finally reopened, they had one Covid-19 case at the gym. I decided that it is too dangerous to go back to the gym until a safe Covid-19 vaccine is available in the summer of 2021. I feel the same way about flying. It is not worth the risk. I can just stay local and do my own program. The pleasure of traveling can wait until the summer of next year.

    What can Happen to Your Body Over Months of Isolation

    What can Happen to Your Body Over Months of Isolation

    Conclusion

    A recent CNN article described the dangers of passively staying in home isolation. I felt that this article was on the negative side. I found that by including a regular brisk walking program into my daily lifestyle the day got more structured. I felt I had more energy and I had no aches or pains. If I spent too much time watching TV or spending in front of the computer, I developed back aches and felt sluggish. I incorporated a 5-day fasting mimicking diet according to Dr. Longo once per month into my regular Mediterranean diet. This allowed me to keep my body mass index in the 21.0- 22.0 range. Doing what I described above I could continue to hold my weight, have energy and stay pain free for many more months. But when the Covid-19 vaccine arrives in spring/summer of 2021 I hope that things will return to normal.

    Oct
    10
    2020

    Medical Myths about Aging

    Medical myths about aging are easy to debunk. Many people believe that it is inevitable that they become disabled as they age, their lives become unbearable, without passion, boring and full of pain. Some aspects of your health may decline with age, none of the myths discussed below is inevitably happening in everyone. Studies showed that a positive outlook on aging and life in general will help you to live longer and stay healthier.  Here I discuss 7 common myths about aging.

    Myth 1: Everyone will experience physical deterioration

    It is common for people to experience reduced muscle strength, increased blood pressure, excessive fat accumulation and osteoporosis. A study with 148 older patients showed that an expectation of reduced fitness in older age actually resulted in less physical activity when older age arrived.

    But you can maintain good cardiovascular function and good muscle strength with a regular exercise program.  This study showed that men and women can reduce mortality by exercising regularly, even in older age.

    Myth 2: Older adults cannot exercise

    There are several reasons why older people stop exercising or are afraid to start exercising. People use the excuse of their arthritis getting worse from exercise. But studies showed the opposite: joint function improves and joint pains are getting better with exercise. Your muscles get stronger and you are less likely to fall. Your heart and lungs are improving their functions and your mentation improves. Exercise increases the HDL cholesterol, which reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

    Myth 3: As we age, we need less sleep

    For many years there was the notion that older people need less sleep. What was not known then was that people above the age of 60 have no appreciable secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland. But when they replace their melatonin deficiency by taking a nighttime dose of 3 mg at bedtime, they will sleep better and longer. They may need a second dose of melatonin in the middle of the night. We need 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night for our diurnal hormone rhythm.

    This will also slow down our aging clock.

    Myth 4: Your brain slows as you age

    Dementia is common when you get older. 13.9% have it at age 71 and older. 37.4% have dementia over the age of 90. But the majority, namely 86.1% in the 71+ age group and 62.6% above the age of 90 do not have dementia. A Mayo Clinic study showed that when the person engaged in artistic activities in midlife or later in life the risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) development was reduced by 73%, involvement in crafts reduced it by 45% and engagement in social activities by 55%. In a surprise finding the use of a computer late in life was associated with a 53% reduction in MCI development. These are very significant observations.

    Physical activity reduces risk for dementia

    Apart from stimulating your brain, physical activities also significantly reduce the risk for dementia. A synopsis of 11 such studies showed that dementia is reduced by 30% when physical activity is started in midlife and the person is aging compared to non-exercisers.

    Myth 5: Osteoporosis occurs only in women

    There is a serious misunderstanding about osteoporosis. Several factors work together that can cause osteoporosis. Women in menopause are more likely to develop it due to the missing ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work together and stimulate vitamin D induced calcium deposition into bone as well as decreasing bone resorption.

    Vitamin K2 also deposits calcium into the bone. In postmenopausal women who take bioidentical hormone replacement, vitamin D and K2 the bone density remains strong. Unfortunately, the opposite is true in postmenopausal women who take synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones have side chains that do not fit the natural hormone receptors of a woman. This is why osteoporosis persist. And, yes, men get osteoporosis, but typically 10 years later. Typically, they get into andropause where testosterone production declines 10 years later.

    Myth 6: People stop sex as they age

    With age men can develop erectile dysfunction (ED) and women vaginal dryness, both of which can interfere with having sex. A large study showed that only 0.4% of men in the age group 18-29 had ED. In the age group of 60-69 there were 11.5% who suffered from ED. What this means though is that 88.5% of men age 60-69 did not suffer from ED. Fortunately for those who have ED drugs like Cialis and Viagra can correct their problem and they can have regular sex. What a change from 25 years ago when none of these drugs were available (approval of Viagra by FDA in 1998 and of Cialis in 2003).

    Bioidentical hormone replacement beyond menopause and andropause preserves your normal sex drive as well. There are additional benefits of bioidentical hormones. They have positive effects on the heart, brain, bones and the muscle mass.

    Myth 7: It is too late to stop smoking now

    One of the myths that many older smokers like to say is that it would be too late to stop smoking. They think the damage to heart and lungs is permanent and quitting now is too late. Fact is that quitting smoking immediately improves your blood circulation and gives you more oxygen. In just 1 year the risk of getting a heart attack is cut into half. In 10 years, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is the same as that of non-smokers. There is a reduction of getting lung cancer by half.

    Medical Myths About Aging

    Medical Myths about Aging

    Conclusion

    There are all kinds of medical myths about aging. We may think that physical deterioration is inevitable. Or we believe that older people cannot exercise. And we cannot help it, but our brain slows down as we get older. And there is the question whether we need less sleep as we age. Osteoporosis is a disease of women, is it not? These older couples, they don’t have sex any more, do they? And is it too late to stop smoking now that I am 65 years old? All of these myths exist, but there is a need to debunk them.

    The truth behind the medical myths about aging

    I explained in detail what the medical truths are behind these questions. Many of these myths have developed in the past. But with regular exercise, balanced nutrition (Mediterranean diet) and a positive attitude much of these old myths can be overcome. Bioidentical hormone replacement when hormones are missing is another powerful tool. Yes, we all age. But we are still living and can enjoy life as long as it lasts.

    Oct
    03
    2020

    Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

    A new study from Mt. Sinai Hospital showed that fibrotic eye disease responds to nicotinamide (vitamin B3). In general, during wound healing there can be aggressive cell transformations.  This can cause scarring, retinal detachment and finally loss of vision and even blindness. Notably, the following pieces of evidence support the notion that vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) helps to make eye diseases better.

    Lab experiments made in Petri dishes

    Specifically, researchers performed experiments in Petri dishes with human adult cells. After adding nicotinamide, they found the following.

    • There were no harmful cell transformations
    • Membrane formation in conjunction with scar formation was reversed
    • There is a slow-down regarding the development of eye diseases that lead to loss of vision and blindness

    Vitamin B3 was first detected as a cure to Pellagra

    Pellagra, the vitamin B3 deficiency was first described by the Spanish physician, Don Gaspar Casal in 1763. Typically, pellagra presents with dermatitis, diarrhea and dementia. If left untreated it will lead to death. The skin showed inflammation, particularly in areas where there was exposure to the sun or to friction. Affected skin may be darker. Pellagra occurs mainly in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Experiments with vitamin B3 on mice curing eye disease

    In a mouse model researcher showed that vitamin B3 could largely prevent the development of glaucoma in aging mice. According to these researchers 93% of the mice with the higher dose of vitamin B3 did not develop glaucoma. Vitamin B3 (the precursor of nicotinamide) is important for the production of NAD+ and the phosphorylated form NADP, which are cofactors in the energy producing metabolism of mitochondria.  

    Experiments on rabbits showing a cure with nicotinamide

    In a 1985 publication rabbits were subjected to a vitamin B3 inhibitor, namely 6-aminonicotinamide. This is an antimetabolite of nicotinamide. It was given by intraabdominal injection. The rabbits developed diarrhea, ascending paresis/paralysis and death. They also developed vascular lesions in the eyes, particularly the iris with an acute inflammation of the iris, which physicians call iritis. The ocular lesions could be prevented by administering nicotinamide. The researchers concluded that vitamin B3 deficiency was responsible for the eye lesions.

    Clinical trials show a response of glaucoma to vitamin B3

    In a clinical trial physicians compared 34 primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) patients with a control group of 30 age- and sex-matched controls. The researchers measured plasma nicotinamide concentration in both groups. The POAG patients had on average 33% lower nicotinamide plasma levels than the control group. They concluded that glaucoma seems to be associated with lower plasma nicotinamide levels. The research team suggested that these findings need to be confirmed in a larger series of glaucoma patients. They also suggested that vitamin B3 therapy could become one of the treatment modalities.

    Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

    Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

    Conclusion

    We know vitamin B3 deficiency mainly as pellagra. It occurs mainly in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. But newer experiments in vitro, in mice and in rabbits showed that vitamin B3 deficiency can also cause eye disease. Other studies showed that fibrotic eye disease responds to nicotinamide (vitamin B3). In addition, a clinical trial in humans showed that glaucoma can develop as a result of a 33% lack of plasma nicotinamide (vitamin B3) level. Regular supplementation in those who are prone to vitamin B3 deficiency may be curative for eye disease.

    Sep
    26
    2020

    A New Antibiotic Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    A US study describes a new antibiotic against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a lysin-based antibacterial agent.

    Physicians have been looking for years for a solution regarding the increasing antibiotic resistance problem. But several attempts in the past have failed.

    Staphylococcus infections are the most common bacterial infections of human skin, of soft tissue, joints, bones, and pneumonia. In addition, it can cause endocarditis (=infection of heart valves) and lead to blood poisoning (septicemia).

    Staphylococcus aureus is the underlying bacterium behind staph infections. With the introduction of new antibiotics  it takes only 1 to 2 years before this bacterium learns to become resistant. Researchers noticed that the bacteria start to produce lysins and suddenly they are resistant to the latest antibiotic. Further research zeroed in on lysostaphin, which was active against resistant Staphylococcus bacterial strains.

    Deimmunized lysostaphin

    Lysostaphin is an antibacterial peptide described here in detail. But there still was some interference with immunologically active surface antigens that scientists were later able to overcome. Researchers succeeded lately in removing some of the surface antigens and develop deimmunized lysostaphin. This is what this publication is all about.

    It describes how T cells cannot detect the surface antigen properties of deimmunized lysostaphin. This way none of the strength of deimmunized lysostaphin gets lost in the fight against resistant staphylococcus that normally form anti-drug antibodies. Researchers pointed out the importance of the deimmunization process to make deimmunized lysostaphin invisible to the T cells of the immune system.

    Vigorous testing of deimmunized lysostaphin

    The researchers who investigated the efficiency and safety of deimmunized lysostaphin did the following tests.

    • Although lysostaphin was deimmunized, it retained potent in vitro and in vivo anti-staphylococcal activity. In vitro studies involving Petri dishes with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus showed the effectiveness of deimmunized lysostaphin. In vivo testing in a mouse and rabbit model also showed effectiveness.
    • Deimmunized lysostaphin showed reduced immunogenicity in vivo. Researchers tested this in mice and compared the results to regular lysostaphin, where there was a swift immunological response.

    More points regarding deimmunized lysostaphin

    • Immune evasion allows for repeated efficient dosing of deimmunized lysostaphin. This means that the physician can administer the antibiotic (the deimmunized lysostaphin) to fight the methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus with several daily doses.
    • The deimmunization process allows deimmunized lysostaphin to evade the immune response that occurs to regular lysostaphin. This prevents future resistance development. It also prevents that the immune responses weaken the anti-methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus response.
    • Researchers showed in a difficult rabbit endocarditis model that deimmunized lysostaphin treats MRSA infection successfully. Endocarditis is an infectious disease, which is both difficult to treat in rabbits, but also in humans. For this reason, rabbits are often used as a model when new antibiotics are developed. If they are successful in the rabbit model they often get approval later for human treatments.

    Deimmunized lysostaphin in humans

    Unfortunately, we are still a few years away from using deimmunized lysostaphin in humans. After successful use of lysostaphin in mice and rabbits the next logical application is to launch human clinical trials. I am convinced that this will be the next step and very likely will be successful.

    A New Antibiotic Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    A New Antibiotic Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Conclusion

    Researchers found a new antibiotic against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a lysin-based antibacterial agent. This peptide has surface antigens that scientists had to removed to make it more effective. The end result was a deimmunized lysostaphin. Researchers tested this new antibiotic that is effective against many antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria successfully in mice and rabbits. The next step is testing in humans. This involves several phases of clinical trials. These clinical trials have to show that there is a lack of toxicity. In addition, they have to show that the new antibiotic is effective against resistant bacteria. I estimate that this process can still take about 5 years from now before the clinician can use this antibiotic routinely. As the new antibiotic is a polypeptide, it the patient cannot take it orally, as the gut is digesting it. The patient has to take it by injection.