Berries May Activate Brain's 'Housekeeper' Mechanism


“Scientists have reported the first evidence that eating blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries may help the aging brain stay healthy in a crucial but previously unrecognized way. Their study, presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), concluded that berries, and possibly walnuts, activate the brain’s natural “housekeeper” mechanism, which cleans up and recycles toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other mental decline.

Shibu Poulose, Ph.D., who presented the report, said previous research suggested that one factor involved in aging is a steady decline in the body’s ability to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative damage. This leaves people vulnerable to degenerative brain diseases, heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders. “The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline,” said Poulose, who is with the U. S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston. Poulose did the research with James Joseph, Ph.D., who died June 1. Joseph, who headed the laboratory, pioneered research on the role of antioxidants in fruits and nuts in preventing age-related cognitive decline. Their past studies, for instance, showed that old laboratory rats fed for two months on diets containing 2 percent high-antioxidant strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract showed a reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior that involves learning and remembering.

In the new research, Poulose and Joseph focused on another reason why nerve function declines with aging. It involves a reduction in the brain’s natural house-cleaning process. Cells called microglia are the housekeepers. In a process called autophagy, they remove and recycle biochemical debris that otherwise would interfere with brain function. “But in aging, microglia fail to do their work, and debris builds up,” Poulose explained. “In addition, the microglia become over-activated and actually begin to damage healthy cells in the brain. Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect. They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries.”

The findings emerged from research in which Joseph and Poulose have tried to detail factors involved in the aging brain’s loss of normal housekeeping activity. Using cultures of mouse brain cells, they found that extracts of berries inhibited the action of a protein that shuts down the autophagy process. Poulose said the study provides further evidence to eat foods rich in polyphenolics. Although berries and walnuts are rich sources, many other fruits and vegetables contain these chemicals – especially those with deep red, orange, or blue colors. Those colors come from pigments termed anthocyanins that are good antioxidants. He emphasized the importance of consuming the whole fruit, which contains the full range of hundreds of healthful chemicals. Frozen berries, which are available year round, also are excellent sources of polyphenolics, he added.”

NDM-1: New, Drug Resistant Superbacteria Spreading

“NDM-1: New, Drug Resistant Superbacteria Spreading”
By Clay Dillow

“Hello, readers. Settled in, ready to take on the day? Great, we hope you have a good one. Also, FYI, a new mutation that makes bacteria resistant to pretty much every antibiotic known to man has become increasingly prevalent on the Indian subcontinent and has made the leap to both the UK and the United States, according to a new report in the Lancet. Because there’s nothing modern medical science can do to stop it, the NDM-1 “superbug” may spread globally. Anyhow, enjoy your day.

superbugNDM-1 (or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase) is a gene mutation that arms many common and harmful bacteria like E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae with a resistance that can even withstand carbapenems, the antibiotics used as a last resort when more common drugs have no effect. What’s worse, the gene has been found on plasmids – particularly promiscuous bits of mobile DNA that can move easily between strains of bacteria. The details of the study tracking NDM-1’s transcontinental jump (most plausibly via medical tourism, in case you were curious) are described in this article by Tim Walsh in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. “In many ways, this is it,” Walsh told the Guardian. “This is potentially the end. There are no antibiotics in the pipeline that have activity against NDM 1-producing Enterobacteriaceae. It is the first time it has got to this stage with these type of bacteria.”

But now that we’ve sufficiently participated in the fearmongering, let’s put NDM-1 in some kind of perspective. There are many highly resistant bugs out there (MRSA comes to mind), and each time a new one arrives on the bacterial scene, doomsday is declared only to later be downgraded to a threatening but not critical medical situation. A different mutation ravaged NYC hospitals a decade ago, and while officials were deeply concerned about that infectious strain the city and the larger world did not suffer a public health disaster.

What is troubling is that the gene is highly mobile and there aren’t really any treatments in the works to combat NDM-1 or to slow its spread. In hospital environments that’s very troubling, akin to being in the trenches with plenty of rifles but no ammunition. Alternatives to antibiotics like bacteriophages might be effective in putting the brakes on NDM-1-reinforced bacteria, but in standard medical practice antibiotics are the way we treat bacterial infections and even if an experimental treatment is found to be effective it will take a good deal of time to get it approved for widespread use.”

The Fluoride Fraud

When was the last time you stopped to think about the one thing you can’t live without? I don’t mean the Internet – I’m talking about water. Without clean drinking water, life could not go on. This is why it’s so important that we know what is in our water. For the past sixty-five years, city governments nationwide have been adding a controversial substance called fluoride to municipal water supplies.

You probably recognize the word fluoride from the back of your toothpaste tube or from your visits to the dentist. But the fluoride added to our water is not the same as that in our toothpaste. The chemical added to our water is a fluorine compound called hexafluorosilicic acid that is generated as a by-product from the phosphate fertilizer industry.

Phosphates are minerals that are used to make fertilizer, and phosphate mining industry is a giant moneymaker. Fluoride is created by the production of fertilizer as well as in the manufacturing of steel, aluminum, glass, and cement. Previously, the lack of government regulation allowed gaseous fluoride to move through factory smokestacks and straight into our atmosphere. Now, environmental regulations require giant filtration systems called ‘scrubbers’ atop the stacks to keep these toxic chemicals from escaping into the air. Fluorosilicic acid is then extracted from these scrubbers and condensed to a water-based solution which is packaged unrefined and sold to city governments for the purpose of water fluoridation.

By selling the fluoride byproducts for this purpose, companies avoid the huge cost of disposing of these chemicals in the environment safely, and according to regulation. Back in the 1930’s, a band of industrial corporations – including Monsanto, U.S. Steel, Union Carbide, and Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), the leading producer of aluminum – had been cheaply disposing of their fluoride byproducts into the environment for years. This changed when their toxic waste became the target of negative press in the local news. A 1933 toxicology report by the USDA had warned of fluoride’s toxicity, singling out the aluminum industry as the biggest culprit.

The new potential of legal liability due to the exposure of workers and communities to industrial fluoride scared these corporations. Knowing that disposing of industrial fluoride waste safely was expensive, ALCOA employed biochemist Gerald Cox in 1936, to argue for fluoride’s dental benefits through experimentation on rats. Cox, neither a doctor nor a dentist, concluded that fluoride strengthened and protected teeth against decay and began to tour the country promoting water fluoridation on behalf of his employers. Interestingly, Cox’s findings ran contrary to the position originally held by the American Dental Association (ADA) on water fluoridation.

In 1944, the Journal of the American Dental Association published the following statement:

We do know that the use of drinking water containing as little as 1.2 to 3.0 parts per million of fluoride will cause such developmental disturbances as osteosclerosis, spondylosis, and osteopetrosis, and we cannot afford to run the risk of producing such serious systemic disturbances…

In spite of this warning by the ADA, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first community to fluoridate its drinking water the very next year.

In 1947 Oscar R. Ewing, a paid attorney for ALCOA, was picked to head the Federal Security Agency. In this position he oversaw the Public Health Service or PHS (which is now the Department of Health and Human Services). This enabled him to change the Code of Federal Regulations, and place all control of drinking water fluoridation in the hands of his own department. Making clear his lingering ties to the aluminum industry and their expensive toxic waste, Ewing made fluoridation promotion one of the first official policies of the PHS. Over the next three years, 87 additional American cities began fluoridating their water.

The study that is often referred to in fluoride’s defense was conducted by the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) of the United States Public Health Service (PHS). It sought to determine whether there was a relationship between fluoridation and tooth decay. Released in 1988, the multi-million dollar nationwide survey examined 39,000 U.S. school children aged 5-17 from 84 different fluoridated and non-fluoridated geographical areas.

Surprisingly, the study uncovered a declining trend in tooth decay rates in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas, mostly due to overall better hygiene. The overriding conclusion from the extensive study was that there is no relationship between tooth decay and fluoride ingestion. Despite this consensus, this study is still commonly cited to link lowered decay rates in fluoridated areas. A seldom-reported fact is that the same trend was found in non-fluoridated areas too.

Fluoride overexposure can bring serious health risks. The most common affliction due to over consumption is called fluorosis, a condition characterized by a discoloration of teeth or changes in bone density. An excess of fluoride eats away at the enamel of your teeth, causing craters and surface discoloration. Dental fluorosis is the first clear and obvious sign that your body is being poisoned by too much fluoride, and cases can range from mild to severe. This occurs because only 50% of all fluoride taken in by the body is excreted. The remaining fluoride is disseminated throughout the body, accumulating in our bones, pineal gland and other tissues. In Karnataka, India, an excess of fluoride has turned the ground water into a slow poison, crippling at least 10,000 people.

The Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Dr D Nagaraj, says that

“due to fluoride concentration in water, many people in districts [in Karnataka, India] like Dharwad and Tumkur have spinal cord diseases. These are progressive diseases, after decades of consumption. People are battling with permanent disabilities.”

Alarmingly, a 1991 study by the U.S. Public Health Service found that the rates of osteosarcoma, a deadly type of bone cancer, were significantly higher in fluoridated communities than in non-fluoridated communities. The Harvard School of Dental Medicine found the same link in study done ten years later. Additional studies have associated fluoride ingestion with other serious health problems, including chromosomal damage, morphological changes to their kidneys and brain, hypo activity (or inactivity), damage to the thyroid gland, skeletal fluorosis, osteoporosis, liver cancer, and fertility problems.

The most distressing findings come from 18 human studies done in China, India, Iran and Mexico that show a substantial lowering of IQ in fluoridated areas. The ingestion of fluoride has been shown to increase the gastrointestinal absorption of aluminum by over 600%, and the absorption of heavy metals like aluminum is speculated to have a direct correlation to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological brain disorders. Although a direct correlation between Alzheimer’s disease and fluoride ingestion is inconclusive, it is interesting to note that the rate of Alzheimer’s is twice as high in America than in Europe, where many countries have banned fluoridation.

Many countries around the world are skeptical of the benefits of adding fluoride to drinking water. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and China have all ruled out water fluoridation as a safe and fair practice.

If you want to find out whether you’re drinking fluoridated water, the first thing you can do is access your city’s fluoridation status on the Center for Disease Control’s website in its oral health section.

If your water is fluoridated, it’s not a lost cause. You can speak out in your community or at city council meetings to let your local representatives know your concerns. To remove fluoride from your water you have a couple of options. You can equip your home with water filtration systems like those at Equinox or Burkey. Filters like Pur and Brita do not remove fluoride. If you buy bottled drinking water, reverse osmosis and distillation remove almost all fluoride.

If your city is planning to fluoridate you can stop it! Activists in Pennsylvania have successfully fought off fluoridation legislation since 1987 and they’re at it again. There is still a chance to put a halt to the fluoridation process in your own city.

Whether or not you support water fluoridation, the real issue here is having a choice. No chemical, no matter what its supposed benefits are, should be forced upon the public without their consent. Having access to clean water should be a fundamental right for every human being.

“Water is the lifeblood of our bodies, our economy, our nation and our well-being.”
– Stephen Johnson

Aspirin "cuts prostate cancer risk by 30%": A tablet a day helps stop killer tumours forming

Men who take a low dose of aspirin every day could cut their risk of developing prostate cancer by almost 30 per cent, research shows.

A 75mg tablet taken on a daily basis has a powerful protective effect against the disease, according to scientists.

The painkiller appears to work by blocking the effect of enzymes which cause inflammation thought to be a key factor in the development of prostate cancer.

The study, by specialists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, is the latest in long line of investigations into whether aspirin can help prevent prostate tumors from forming.

It examined and compared two groups of men – 1,001 prostate cancer sufferers and 942 cancer free volunteers of a similar age.

When the experts looked at how often men in both groups took aspirin, they found higher usage among the cancer-free volunteers.

Men who had used aspirin at any point in the previous 12 months were 21 per cent less likely to develop a tumor.

Those who had taken aspirin frequently for five years or more saw a 24 per cent decline in risk. But the biggest benefits appeared to be among those regularly taking a low daily dose of 75mg.

Among this group, the chances of developing prostate cancer dropped by 29 per cent.

Other pain-killing medications similar to aspirin, which are known as non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, did not have the same effect.

Prostate cancer kills 10,000 men each year in the UK – the equivalent of more than one an hour.

Nearly 32,000 cases a year are diagnosed. The risks increase with age, with men aged over 50 more likely to develop a prostate tumor, and there is also a strong genetic link.

The results of previous studies on aspirin and the disease have been mixed. Some have found that the drug can reduce risk, others that it has no effect at all, while other studies suggest it could even increase the risk.

Reporting on the latest study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the Seattle researchers said that aspirin appears to dampen the effects of two particular enzymes that stimulate inflammation in the prostate.

They wrote: “The anti-cancer effects are thought to occur primarily-through the direct inhibition-of enzymes called PTGS1 and PTGS2.”

They added: “Aspirin is a widely used and inexpensive medication. The potential public health implications of an effective preventive agent for prostate cancer are considerable.”

Their findings are likely to be controversial because of ongoing concerns that frequent aspirin use can increase risk of life- threatening stomach bleeding.

Although doctors often recommend a low daily dose to heart disease patients to help thin the blood and reduce the risk of clots, some studies suggest that even taking small amounts can increase the chances of stomach bleeding.

Regular use of aspirin has already been linked to a lower risk of other types of cancers. A 2007 study at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota found that, as well as prostate cancer, the risk of developing breast, ovarian and lung cancer was slashed by taking aspirin several times a week.

A common skin cancer was 90 per cent less likely among regular aspirin users, it found.