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There has been significant public debate about the susceptibility of research to biases of various kinds. The dialogue has extended to the peer-reviewed literature, scientific conferences, the mass media, government advisory bodies, and beyond. Whereas biases can come from myriad sources, the overwhelming focus of the discussion to date has been on industry-funded science.

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A large body of literature suggests that higher intakes of omega-6 (or n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) reduce risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). However, for the reasons outlined below, some individuals and groups have recommended substantial reductions in omega-6 PUFA intake. The purpose of this advisory is to review evidence on the relationship between omega-6 PUFAs and the risk of CHD and cardiovascular disease.

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Maternal infection during pregnancy increases the risk of schizophrenia and other brain disorders of neurodevelopmental origin in the offspring. A multitude of infectious agents seem to be involved in this association. Therefore, it has been proposed that factors common to the immune response to a wide variety of bacterial and viral pathogens may be the critical link between prenatal infection and postnatal brain and behavioural pathology.

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Comment: An herb recently found to kill pancreatic cancer cells also appears to inhibit development of pancreatic cancer as a result of its anti-inflammatory properties, according to researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. The data were presented at the AACR 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver.

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Comment: Mouse studies with human antibodies at Hopkins Children’s add weight to earlier research. A report on the research from investigators at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre published online in the Journal of Neuroimmunology expands on a 2008 report from the same team showing that mothers of autistic children tested positive for foetal brain antibodies.

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Regular consumption of fermented foods containing lactic acid bacteria, such as yoghurt has been found to have a beneficial effect on immune function. In human studies, yoghurt intake has been shown to stimulate the response of systemic natural killer cells when presented with their targets and enhance phagocytic activity of monocytes. In other studies, the stimulation of immune function by probiotic bacteria and classical yoghurt starter cultures has been demonstrated.

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A new study indicates there may be yet another reason to reduce childhood obesity — it may help prevent allergies. The study published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that obese children and adolescents are at increased risk of having some kind of allergy, especially to a food. The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), both parts of the National Institutes of Health.

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The swine flu outbreak that began in Mexico and continues to spread around the globe may be particularly dangerous for young, otherwise healthy adults because it contains genetic components of the H5N1 avian influenza virus, which can induce a “cytokine storm,” in which a patient’s hyper-activated immune system causes potentially fatal damage to the lungs. Research studies and review articles exploring the regulation of cytokine responses in the lung and how infection-related dysregulation can cause a cytokine storm have been published in Viral Immunology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

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An early analysis of the H1N1 swine-associated flu virus outbreak suggests that the virus spreads at a rate comparable to that of previous influenza pandemics. The results, published online today by Science and compiled by the World Health Organization Rapid Pandemic Assessment Collaboration, support the designation of swine flu as a pandemic but also indicate

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Abstract: Exercise promotes longevity and ameliorates type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. However, exercise also increases mitochondrial formation of presumably harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS). Antioxidants are widely used as supplements but whether they affect the health-promoting effects of exercise is unknown. We evaluated the effects of a combination of vitamin C (1000 mg/day) and vitamin E (400 IU/day) on insulin sensitivity as measured by glucose infusion rates (GIR) during a hyperinsulinemic, euglycemic clamp in previously untrained (n = 19) and pretrained (n = 20) healthy young men. Before and after a 4 week intervention of physical exercise, GIR was determined, and muscle biopsies for gene expression analyses as well as plasma samples were obtained to compare changes over baseline and potential influences of vitamins on exercise effects.

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