Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

The science of acupuncture.

Does acupuncture stand up to scientific scrutiny?

According to the work of Prof Maiken Nedergaard, “Adenosine A1 receptors mediate local anti-nociceptive effects of acupuncture.” Wow!

Let’s try plain English.

The study was in mice. Which means the results should work in humans.

Acupuncture in mice released 24 times the amount of a normal painkiller called adenosine.

Artificially boosting the effects of adenosine, the scientists found the pain killer worked 3 times longer.

In short, acupuncture works by tapping into a natural painkiller. According to science.

Nature Neuroscience artice in full here.

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May 31, 2010 Posted by | Acupucture, Maiken Nedergaard, Pain | Leave a comment

Fat v fit: sarcopenia

There is an ongoing debate as to whether public health campaigns should involve cutting fat, getting fit, or both. A number of recent scientific studies have have looked at these issues.

Dr Preethi Srikanthan looked at over 14,500 people, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, with regard to the impact of sarcopenia, which is low skeletal muscle mass.

Muscle is the primary tissue contributing to insulin dependent glucose disposal, hence sarcopenia (a lack of muscle) might be expected to lead to greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

Srikanthan found this to be true, and to work independently of obesity (so thin people with little muscle were also at risk). The effect was more marked in those under 60 (as age-related muscle decline kicked in beyond this age).

The team found that dieting to be thin is on its own not enough to stave off diabetes. It is also important to have good muscle mass.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Diabetes, Diet, Exercise, Health, Obesity, Preethi Srikanthan, Success, Weight management | Leave a comment

Generation Me!

Prof Sara Konrath presented results of a meta-analysis of 72 studies on US college students over the last 30 years, at the annual meeting in Boston of the Association for Psychological Science.

Over the last decade, Twenge and others have reported increases in narcissism, individualism, self-esteem and positive self-views. Konrath wondered if this meant a fall in how the students react to others.

The team found empathy, the ability to see things from another person’s point of view, had declined by about 40% in this period, especially after 2000.

Konrath noted – “Many people see the current group of college students, sometimes called ‘Generation Me’, as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history.”

The team hope to find out the reasons for the changes, and whether the results are repeated outside the US.

May 28, 2010 Posted by | Change, Psychology, Sara Konrath, United States | Leave a comment

FDA adds warning to Xenical/Alli.

The FDA announced yesterday that the weight-loss medication orlistat, marketed both by prescription as Xenical (120 mg) and over-the-counter as Alli (60 mg), will carry a warning about the potential for severe liver injury.

This follows a review by the FDA of 32 reports of serious liver injury, all but 2 outside the US.

An estimated 40 million people worldwide have used the two drugs.

“Patients should stop use of orlistat and contact their healthcare professional if they develop the signs and symptoms of liver injury, including itching, yellow eyes or skin, dark urine, light-colored stools, or loss of appetite,” the announcement read.

In a comment on the announcement, Dr Peter Anyakora recommended that liver and pancreas tests should be done before prescription, then monthly.

May 27, 2010 Posted by | FDA, Obesity, Orlistat, Weight management | Leave a comment

Is indoor tanning safe?

Prof DeAnn Lazovitch reported on a tanning study claimed to cater for sun exposure and dose response, and looked at a range of tanning devices.

The research found people who used any type of tanning bed for any amount of time are 74% more likely to develop melanoma.

Frequent users of indoor tanning beds are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop melanoma than those who never use tanning devices. The study defined frequent users as people who used indoor tanning for 50 plus hours, more than 100 sessions, or for 10-plus years.

According to Lazovitch “Risk rises with frequency of use, regardless of age, gender, or device.” Melanoma risk was about 3 times greater among users of UVB devices and 4.4 times greater for UVA devices.

The tanning industry’s highly critical response to the survey is here.

May 27, 2010 Posted by | DeAnn Lazovitch, Health, Melanoma - skin cancer, Success | Leave a comment

Sugar and exercise.

Independent nutritionist Sigrid Gibson analysed the diets of schoolchildren in the UK, comparing national surveys in 1983 and 1997. (Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics).

The increase in sugar intake was marginal – 122g/day to 127g/day, while the total daily energy intake actually dropped by 3% over the period.

However, body mass index increased by around 1 unit, and average weight increased by 2-3 kg (around 5-6lb).

The results suggest that in the UK, the increase in schoolchidlren’s weight isn’t due to an increase in sugar, or to diet in general, which leaves a reduction in exercise as the likely cause.

The pattern also changed. “Sugar sources showed a marked shift away from table sugar with smaller falls in milk, biscuits and cakes, counterbalanced by a significant increase in sugar from soft drinks and, to a lesser extent, fruit juice and breakfast cereals.”

May 27, 2010 Posted by | BMI - body mass index, Child Health, Diet, Exercise, Obesity, Sigrid Gibson, Soft drinks, Success, Sugar, Weight management | Leave a comment

Environment v diabetes.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are standard ways to seach through all the literature on a given condition and find which genetic conditions relate to it.

Prof Atul J Butte has published the first EWAS (environment-wide association study). In this case, type 2 diabetes was studied.

The team found the following environmental factors increased the risk of getting type 2 diabetes
– exposure to heptachlor epoxide. (This results when bacteria and animals break down heptachlor, which was used in a number of pesticides until banned in 1986)
– gamma-tocopherol. This is one of 8 compounds that may be called vitamin E. According to Wikipedia, alpha-tocopherol is the main source found in supplements, and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol is the most common form in the American diet.
– PCBs.

A protective factor was beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, found in carrots etc.

May 26, 2010 Posted by | Atul J Butte, Diabetes, Diet, Health, Vitamin A, Vitamin E | Leave a comment

Defying aging.

Dr Christiaan Leeuwenburgh studied a supplement in rats to defy aging and found that the product worked, but you would need to start before age 65.

The product was Eufortyn, which contains 6.3% terclarated coenzyme Q10 (an anti-oxidant sold as Q-ter), 67.7% creatine (improves muscle performance) and the rest mainly ginseng (an anti-oxidant).

Rats of age equivalent to 50-65 in humans increased their grip strength by 12%, and showed reduced oxidative damage. In rats older than this, the oxidative improvement was there, but grip strength did not improve.

The authors concluded – “the Eufortyn supplementation may be particularly beneficial when initiated prior to major biological and functional declines that appear to occur with advancing age.”

May 26, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Diet, Ginseng, Health, Success | 4 Comments

Sugar raises blood pressure.

Prof Liwei Chen studied the blood pressure of 810 adults, with mild to moderately elevated blood pressure, over a period of 18 months. After stripping out other factors, she found that cutting sugar-sweetened drinks lowered blood pressure.

One drink per day equated to 1.8mm systolic and 1.1mm diastolic. Part of this effect was due to weight loss, but when that was factored out, the results remained significant. This level represents a 5% change in risk of death by stroke and a 3% change in risk of death by heart attack.

One drink is 12oz US, pretty close to a 330ml can size in the UK.

According to Chen – “We found no association for diet beverage consumption or caffeine intake and blood pressure, suggesting that sugar may actually be the nutrient that is associated with blood pressure and not caffeine which many people would suspect.”

Sugar-sweetened drinks were defined as those sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup including regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, lemonade and fruit punch.

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Coffee, CVD - cardiovascular disease, Diet, Health, HFCS - high-fructose corn syrup, High blood pressure, Liwei Chen, Soft drinks, Stroke, Success, Sugar | Leave a comment

Turbocharge your kids’ brain.

Do kids’ brains have to develop in time sequenced manner, with little that can be done to speed this up, as many experts say, or can you actually tune their brains so they work better at any given stage?

Dr Madeleine Portwood, an educational psychologist in Durham, England, has some experience in an approach that takes the brain training route.

The basic idea is deceptively simply. Every child develops a brain region over time that controls the so-called executive functions. By using structured play, the kids get train this region to work sharper.

These executive functions have only a limited link to IQ or what we traditionally think of as education.

What they cover includes key skills we need to be good at learning – for example the ability to focus, to ignore distractions, to concentrate.

And superior ability to focus, to pay attention plus ‘traditional’ learning delivers big gains in the latter.

Portwood tested a single aspect of this – structured storytelling – in 130 nursery children for 6 months, and found that the average gain in vocabulary was 18 months.

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Brain, Fun, Learning, Madeleine Portwood, Success | Leave a comment