People with Red Meat Allergies Might Have Greater Heart Disease Risk

By jeremyc | June 17, 2018

Red meat increases the risk of heart disease, a fact that’s well-known. However, now researchers have found that this risk is not the same for all of those who eat red meat. Some red meat eaters are more at risk, and these are people with red meat allergies. In the new study, the researchers have found that allergy to red meat leads to an immune response which might increase the risk of developing heart disease.

Now considered a nutritional pariah, red meat is linked to stroke, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. You would do well to completely avoid it. If you must have it, consume it in moderation. Red meat is high in saturated fat, which puts us at greater risk to heart disease.

Now, a new study states that some are at greater risk than others. Not too long ago, the chief allergen present in red meat was identified. In past few years, scientists have come to believe that allergies might trigger an immune reaction which could cause atherosclerosis, a condition marked by plaque buildup in arteries. When plaque buildup occurs, the arteries become narrower and harder, and as a result, the blood supply is reduced.

In this study, the researchers tested whether this allergen puts certain people at greater risk of developing heart disease or not. The researchers enrolled 118 participants for their study.

Participants having red meat allergies were found to have significantly more plaque—about 30 percent—in their arteries than those participants who had no such allergies. Moreover, in case of people who had red meat allergies the plaque was more unstable. Both these factors increased their risk of stroke and heart attack.

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Low levels of Vitamin D Linked to Increased Colorectal Cancer Risk

By jeremyc | June 16, 2018

It has come to light that low vitamin D levels might increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer. Conversely, people with higher than recommended levels of this vitamin are likely to be at less risk.

The primary source of vitamin D is, of course, sunlight. We also get this vitamin from certain dietary sources, like fatty fish and fortified foods.

For long vitamin D was thought to play a crucial role in bone maintenance only. However, recent research shows that vitamin D influences many key processes. Its deficiency has been associated with obesity, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and several other health conditions.

Relatively recently, scientists have also started probing whether it plays a role in cancer development or not. The aim of this new study was to find if vitamin D affects the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is ranked at the third place in the list of most common cancers in the U.S. Data suggests that over 50,000 people would die from it this year.

Identifying the factors which increase its risk is crucial for developing new treatments. If vitamin D is found to play a role, it might be possible to come up with affordable and simple intervention.

Several studies in the past have investigated if a link between vitamin D and colorectal cancer exists. However, the results have been mixed. While some point toward a link between the two, others refute this suggestion. To settle the debate, the researchers pooled data of several previous studies and analyzed it.

The researchers have noticed a 31 percent greater risk of developing colorectal cancer among participants with vitamin D level lower than present guidelines. On the other hand, people with higher-than-normal levels of vitamin D were found to be 22 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer.

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Women with Lower Vitamin D Levels Might Be Have Increased Breast Cancer Risk

By jeremyc | June 15, 2018

In recent years, Vitamin D has been the subject of many studies, thanks to more research being done to identify factors influencing cancer risk. Now a new study suggests that high vitamin D levels are linked with reduced breast cancer risk.

This is not the first study to link vitamin D with cancer risk. For instance, some time back a study had suggested that individuals with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to develop bladder cancer than those with normal or higher vitamin D levels. Another study, which was published this year, claimed low levels of vitamin D were associated with increased bladder cancer risk.

While it is true that some previous studies have not found any correlation between vitamin D and cancer risk, studies like the two listed before make good case for ensuring we get adequate vitamin D. The latest study further strengthens this claim. Furthermore, previous research had suggested that among breast cancer patients undergoing treatment those with higher blood levels of vitamin D have improved survival rates.

In this study the researchers set out to find how the levels of an important vitamin D biomarker, 25(OH)D, affects breast cancer risk. The researchers checked data of 2 separate clinical trials. In one trial, 3,325 women participated while in the other 1,713. The average age of the group was 63 years.

The researchers noted that the risk of developing breast cancer was 20 percent lower among women with 25(OH)D blood levels of more than 60 ng/ml, compared to women with 25(OH)D blood levels of lower than 20 ng/ml.

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Protein-Rich Diets Might Not Be Good For Heart Health

By jeremyc | June 14, 2018

Diets that are high in protein, like keto and Atkins diet, are more popular today than ever before. One reason behind this is that they are often said to aid weight loss. However, a new study suggests there might a high cost attached to losing weight by following a high-protein diet.

In this new study, the researchers found that men who adhere to high-protein diets are 33 percent more likely to develop heart failure.

The researchers collected data on approximately 2,500 men. The participants were in the age group of 42-60 years and the follow-up period was 22 years. The number of people who experienced heart failure during this period was 334.

The researchers noted that eating high amounts of protein was linked to increased heart failure risk. The correlation varied from one source of protein intake to another.

Men with highest protein intake from animal sources were found to have a 43 percent increased risk of experiencing heart failure. On the other hand, the risk of heart failure was 49 percent greater among men with high intake of protein from diary sources and 17 percent among men with high intake of protein from plant sources.

In spite of overall high protein consumption being linked to greater heart failure risk, protein from fish and eggs wasn’t found to increase the risk.

Different experts have posited different theories regarding why high protein intake might be linked with greater heart failure risk. One explanation is that a high-protein diet means a diet that is not well balanced, and as we know, a balanced diet is best for overall good health. Another explanation is that high protein-sources have higher amounts of trans fats and saturated fats, both of which are known to increase heart disease risk. According to one cardiologist, intake of dietary protein in high amounts will lead to spike in blood sugar, which in turn will increase risk of heart-related conditions.

With all said and done, sticking to a well-balanced diet is the best—and perhaps the healthiest—option, even when you are desperate to lose those extra pounds.

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Diabetes & Smoking Increases Risk of Hippocampal Calcification

By jeremyc | June 13, 2018

A recently-published study gives another reason to quit smoking and watch blood sugar levels. According to it, diabetes and smoking are linked to buildup of calcium in the hippocampus, the part of the brain which is vital for memory, both short-term memory and long-term memory.

It is a known fact that calcium buildup in the hippocampus increases as we age. However, this study shows that aging is not the only contributing factor; diabetes and smoking play a role here, too.

Dementia is said to affect about 50 million individuals worldwide. Given the importance of hippocampus in memory-building, the scientists studying dementia have focused much on it over the years.

Previous research shows that when the Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is in its nascent stage, the hippocampus is particularly susceptible to damage. Insufficient blood supply to brain, inflammation, and buildup of unnatural proteins are other commonly identified risk factors for dementia.

However, the researchers who did this study point out that previous research has focused mainly on degeneration of tissues and cells in the brain rather than on defectiveness in blood supply.

In this study, the researchers analyzed CT scans of about 2000 people. The average age of the group was 78 years. The researchers noted that 19 percent of participants showed calcifications in the hippocampus region of their brain. They also found that aging, diabetes and smoking were linked to hippocampal calcifications.

 

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Erectile Dysfunction Might Double the Risk of Heart Disease

By jeremyc | June 11, 2018

Men with erectile dysfunction would do well to get their heart checked. A new study has come up with this suggestion after it found that erectile dysfunction may be an early indicator of heart disease.

No other disease causes more deaths in both the sexes than heart disease. However, the risk factors for heart disease and its symptoms among men are different than women.

For example, hormonal changes, depression, emotional stress, and contraceptive pills affect women more compared to men. On the other hand, the common risk factors for heart disease among men are obesity, hypertension, smoking, and metabolic syndrome. Incidentally, all these risk factors are also linked to erectile dysfunction.

Even though many risk factors are common for both heart disease and erectile dysfunction, no previous study has analyzed the linked between the two.

For this study, the researchers checked the data of over 1,900 men. The researchers noted that the risk of heart problems, like stroke, cardiac arrest and others, are two times greater among men with erectile dysfunction, compared to those without.

This increased risk was found to be independent of hypertension, smoking, hypertension, and other heart disease risk factors.

This evidence is the most conclusive so far regarding erectile dysfunction being an independent heart disease risk factor.

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Too Much Salt in Diet Might Destroy Good Gut Bacteria

By jeremyc | June 10, 2018

According to a new study, consuming high amounts of salt might prove deadly for specific gut bacteria. This in turn can contribute to hypertension, as well as health conditions which affect our immune system.

It is a common knowledge that high salt intake is a risk factor for hypertension. Research has shown that high intake of salt might also contribute to multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders.

In this new study, the researchers have tried to identify the mechanism that links high salt intake to these conditions.

Different types of bacteria are present in our gut. One such type is Lactobacillus¸ found commonly in cheese, yogurt, and sauerkraut and some other fermented foods. Lactobacillus is referred as “good” bacteria as it is believed that they help keep certain diseases at bay.

For instance, according to a study published last year, Lactobacillus might help reduce the risk of kidney inflammation in women who have lupus.

The researchers of the latest study have suggested that eating salt in high quantity can kill Lactobacillus and put us at greater risk to disease. In this study, the researchers fed mice a high-salt diet and noted that this killed Lactobacillus, increased blood pressure, and set off the release of pro-inflammatory TH17 cells.

 

 

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Gut Bacterium Might Help Stave Off Stress

By jeremyc | June 9, 2018

Is it possible to tweak gut microbiome to ward off stress? According to the latest research, the answer might well be ‘yes’. In the latest study done on mice, the researchers identified a gut bacterium that blocked the bad effects of stress on the brain. If these results are replicated in humans, it could change the way we treat stress-associated mood disorders.

Many studies in the recent past have probed the connection between the gut and the brain. Several of these studies have found a link between the two. For instance, one study stated that when certain gut bacteria are absent, it could lead to alteration in those parts of the brain which play a part in depression and anxiety.

Researchers of another study have hinted at a link between use of stomach acid drugs and depression. They believe that these medications disrupt the connection between the gut and the brain.

It is important to note that the link run both ways. On one hand, the risk of mood disorders increases when certain gut bacteria are absent while, on the other hand, stress has as big a negative effect on the gut microbiome as junk food.

In a previous study, the researchers have identified a microbiome, known as M. vaccae, which is anti-inflammatory. This finding led the current researchers to believe that they could use M. vaccae to ward off stress.

Previous research has shown that inflammation in brain is linked to mood disorders related to stress.

In the recent study done, the researchers noted that when mice were administered M. vaccae, the level of interleukin-4, a protein with anti-inflammatory properties, in the hippocampus increased. Hippocampus is that part of the brain which regulates our fear responses and anxiety. What’s more, the levels of a particular stress-reduced protein, called alarmin, were found to decrease.

These findings are indeed encouraging. The next step is to test whether M. vaccae can produce similar results in humans. If it could, this would change the way we treat stress-related mood disorders.

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Increasing Physical Activity Levels In Middle-Age Decreases Heart Failure Risk

By jeremyc | June 8, 2018

There’s some good news for middle-aged individuals who at present are living a sedentary lifestyle. According to a new study, they can lower their chances of experiencing heart failure in old age by increasing their physical activity levels.

In this new study, the researchers found that by increasing exercise levels over a period of 6 years, middle-aged individuals can reduce their heart failure risk later in life. However, the opposite also holds true. Going 6 years without exercise in middle-age can increase the risk of suffering a heart failure in old age.

Heart failure affects no fewer than 6.5 million people in the U.S. In heart failure, the blood circulated by the heart is not sufficient to completely meet the needs of the body. This condition causes more hospitalization in people over 65 than any other condition.

In the new research, the study authors considered data of a previous study in which 11,351 people participated. The participants were monitored for heart-related diseases like stroke, heart failure, and heart attack, and the average follow-up period was 19 years.

The participants were asked to fill a questionnaire to assess how much exercise they did on a weekly basis at the start of the study and also after every six years. The participants were divided into 3 groups.

Poor – In this group came all those people, who didn’t exercise at all.

Intermediate – People who did vigorous exercise for 1-74 mins a week or moderate-intensity exercise for 1-149 mins a week were assigned to this group.

Recommended – These were those people who exercised vigorously for a minimum of 75 mins a week or did moderate exercise for a minimum of 150 mins a week.

People who fell in the “recommended” group both at the start of the study and then 6 years later recorded the sharpest fall in their risk of heart failure. The risk of heart failure of this group was reduced by 31 percent.

Doing more physical activity was also found to diminish heart failure risk. The heart failure risk of people who at the start of the study were in the “poor” group but then jumped to the “recommended” or “intermediate” group or who jumped from the “intermediate” group to the “recommended” group was decreased by approximately 12 percent.

However, people who reported reduced physical activity over a period of 6 years recorded an increment of 18 percent in their heart failure risk.

 

 

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Total Diet & Eating in Moderation Reduce Death Risk Among Cancer Survivors

By jeremyc | June 6, 2018

According to a new study, cancer survivors who follow a diverse diet and eat everything in moderation live longer than those who don’t. The researchers noted that following a total-diet approach and consuming different foods in moderation was linked to 65 percent lower death risk among cancer survivors.

In recent years, several studies have shown that diet plays an important role in the survival rate of cancer survivors. Just recently, one study revealed that breast cancer patients might be able to extend their life by eating a diet that’s low in fat. Another study, in which the researchers meta-analyzed several existing studies, found that western diet is damaging for breast cancer patients.

However, this study is slightly different than previous ones done on this subject. Previous studies looked into specific foods that are regarded as healthful or unhealthful for cancer patients. The latest dietary guidelines, on the other hand, puts a lot of emphasizes on eating an overall healthful diet.

So in this study the researchers wanted to check if the total diet concept and eating foods in moderation is beneficial for cancer survivors as well. Their findings confirm that this indeed is the case.

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