Does Psoriasis Put Me at Risk for Heart Disease?

The risk to your heart from psoriasis may be greater than you think. Here's how to lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Scientists Discover 'Ultra-Bad' Cholesterol

FRIDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) — A new, "ultra-bad" form of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol has been discovered in people with a high risk for heart disease, according to British researchers.

They found that the cholesterol, called MGmin-LDL, is super-sticky, making it more likely to attach to the walls of arteries and form fatty plaques, which could lead to heart attacks and stroke.

The discovery provides a possible explanation for the increased risk of coronary heart disease in diabetics and could help researchers develop new anti-cholesterol treatments, the researchers suggested.

In the study, which was funded by the British Heart Foundation, University of Warwick researchers created MGmin-LDL in a lab through glycation, which is the adding of sugar groups to normal LDL cholesterol, commonly referred to as "bad" cholesterol. The process changed the cholesterol's shape, making it stickier and more likely to build fatty plaques, narrow arteries and reduce blood flow and turning it into what they called "ultra-bad" cholesterol.

The findings, released online May 26 in Diabetes, could have significant implications for the treatment of coronary heart disease, particularly in older people and those with type 2 diabetes. Specifically, the researchers said, the results of their study shed light on how a common type 2 diabetes drug, metformin, fights heart disease by blocking the transformation of normal LDL into the super-sticky LDL.

"We're excited to see our research leading to a greater understanding of this type of cholesterol, which seems to contribute to heart disease in diabetics and elderly people," the study's lead researcher, Naila Rabbani, an associate professor of experimental systems biology at Warwick Medical School, said in a university news release.

"The next challenge is to tackle this more dangerous type of cholesterol with treatments that could help neutralize its harmful effects on patients' arteries," she said.


Is Your Sunscreen More Harmful Than Being in the Sun?

Martha Rosenberg

Most people have enough fear of skin cancer and photo-aging to give tanning salons wide berth, pun intended. But how safe are sunscreens themselves? Weeks after the New York Times exposed the caprice in assignment of sun protection factors (SPF) last year, Sen. Charles Schumer (D- New York) called on the FDA to investigate reports that an ingredient in most sunscreens — retinyl palmitate – actually causes cancer.

In one FDA study on animals, dismissed by a dermatologist consultant to sunscreen companies as “very premature to even cast doubt about the safety of this chemical,” retinyl palmitate accelerated tumors and lesions in the sun by 21 percent! (Similar studies on humans not animals would be “unethical” say scientists)

Hospitals hunt substitutes as drug shortages rise

A growing shortage of medications for a host of illnesses - from cancer to cystic fibrosis to cardiac arrest - has hospitals scrambling for substitutes to avoid patient harm, and sometimes even delaying treatment.

"It's just a matter of time now before we call for a drug that we need to save a patient's life and we find out there isn't any," says Dr. Eric Lavonas of the American College of Emergency Physicians.


Exercise and Erectile Dysfunction

To avoid ED problems before they start, regular exercise is essential. Find out what you need to add to your routine.

Exercise may be the ticket to a more active sex life, but we’re talking about regular cardio and strength workouts, not targeted “penis exercises.” Research shows that even a little bit of physical activity — the equivalent of walking 30 minutes a day a few times a week — may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Why is exercise such an effective remedy for preventing erectile dysfunction?

“For men who have failing erections, the penis is a barometer of what’s happening in the rest of the body,” explains urologist Wayne Hellstrom, MD, professor of urology at the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

The key to all of this is the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels that helps blood flow smoothly. Regular exercise has been shown to improve the way the endothelium works. The endothelium lines the blood vessels in the heart and the penis, explains Dr. Hellstrom, but the blood vessels in the penis are about one-third the size of those in the heart. So if you fail to have erections due to vascular problems, that indicates that you’re at risk for heart problems as well.

The bottom line is that taking steps to keep your endothelium healthy will help you prevent or reduce your erectile dysfunction risk. Being more physically active is important to the health of your endothelium and, therefore, to the health of your heart and your penis.

Building Your Exercise Program

The benefits of exercise for your blood vessels last only as long as you keep exercising on a regular basis. Experts recommend that men who want to prevent impotence make a long-term commitment to exercise. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Choose activities you enjoy. Your exercise program doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, studies have shown that just walking briskly every day for at least three months significantly improves the health of your blood vessels. Aim to be active most days of the week. If you prefer basketball, that’s fine — just keep up the full-court press.
  • Spice it up with weight training. Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, and jogging, is good for your blood vessels, but resistance training has been shown to improve endothelial function as well. A mix of both can help improve your overall health and keep you interested in your workout routine.
  • Don’t let your age stop you. Erectile dysfunction is more common as men get older, but at the same time, habitual exercise has been shown to fight the effects of age on blood vessels.
  • Check in with your doctor if you haven’t been physically active in a while. It’s a good idea to get your doctor’s approval — and maybe some additional exercise tips — if you’re starting an exercise program from scratch.

The Dubious Claims of So-Called Penis Exercise

As you seek solutions to impotence, you will undoubtedly run into male enhancement recommendations, possibly suggesting penis exercise to improve your erections.

Penis exercise “may sound good,” says Hellstrom, “but I don’t think there are data to support it.”

The phrase “penis exercise” actually refers to exercises known as pelvic floor or Kegel exercises, in which a man focuses on strengthening the muscles that control the flow of urine and ejaculation. These exercises are often recommended to men who are recovering from prostate cancer treatment, have problems with ejaculation, or have a hard time holding their urine, but they do not appear to help erectile dysfunction.


Scientists find "master switch" gene for obesity

Scientists have found that a gene linked to diabetes and cholesterol is a "master switch" that controls other genes found in fat in the body, and say it should help in the search for treatments for obesity-related diseases.

In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the British researchers said that since fat plays an important role in peoples' susceptibility to metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease and diabetes, the regulating gene could be target for drugs to treat such illnesses.

"This is the first major study that shows how small changes in one master regulator gene can cause a cascade of other metabolic effects in other genes," said Tim Spector of King's College London, who led the study.

More than half a billion people, or one in 10 adults worldwide, are obese and the numbers have doubled since the 1980s as the obesity epidemic has spilled over from wealthy into poorer nations.

In the United States, obesity-related diseases already account for nearly 10 percent of medical spending -- an estimated $147 billion a year.

Type 2 diabetes, which is often linked to poor diet and lack of exercise, is also reaching epidemic levels worldwide as rates of obesity rise.

Scientists have already identified a gene called KLF14 as being linked to type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels, but until now they did know what role it played.

Spector's team analyzed more than 20,000 genes in fat samples taken from under the skin of 800 British female twin volunteers. They found a link between the KLF14 gene and the levels of many other distant genes found in fat tissue, showing that KLF14 acts as a master switch to control these genes.

They then confirmed their findings in 600 fat samples from a separate group of people from Iceland.

In a report of their study, the researchers explained that other genes found to be controlled by KLF14 are linked to a range of metabolic traits, including body mass index, obesity, cholesterol, insulin and glucose levels.

"KLF14 seems to act as a master switch controlling processes that connect changes in the behavior of subcutaneous fat to disturbances in muscle and liver that contribute to diabetes and other conditions," said Mark McCarthy from Britain's Oxford University, who also worked on the study.

"We are working understand these processes and how we can use this information to improve treatment of these conditions."


New test that tells you how long you'll live

DNA breakthrough heralds new medical era – and opens ethical Pandora's box

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

A blood test that can show how fast someone is ageing – and offers the tantalising possibility of estimating how long they have left to live – is to go on sale to the general public in Britain later this year.

How the test works: Click here to upload graphic (120kb)


Substance in Tangerines Blocks Diabetes in Mice Fed High-Sugar, High-Fat Diets

Canadian scientists have found that nobiletin, a substance found in high concentrations in tangerines, thwarted obesity and the onset of diabetes in lab mice. The researchers at the University of Western Ontario fed the mice a high-sugar, high-fat diet that mimicked the diet of many people in Western societies. One group of animals became obese, developing fatty livers and elevated levels of cholesterol and insulin-typical precursors to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But a second group of mice, given the flavonoid nobiletin, did not develop the symptoms of the first group. The nobiletin prevented fatty buildup in the liver by blocking the genes that control the production of fat.

Flavonoids are compounds found in plants, often as pigments, that are highly anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory. Nobiletin, which is found in citrus fruits, occurs in its highest concentration in tangerines. The Canadian scientists also found that nobiletin protected the lab mice from atherosclerosis, arterial plaque build-up that can lead to heart attack or stroke.

The research leader, Murray Huff, a vascular biologist at the university, had previously found a flavonoid in grapefruits, naringenin, that offered lab mice protection against obesity. Huff said, however, that nobiletin offers 10 times the level of protection against obesity that naringenin does.

Results of the Canadian study, published in the medical journal Diabetes, open the door for studies on nobiletin's effects on human test subjects.


What you need to know about GMO "Franken-Foods" and where to get more information

Dees Illustration
Dr. Debra F. Hobbins

Genetically-modified foods (GMOs) have been commercially available since the first transgenic tomato was approved in 1994. It’s estimated that 70-75% of supermarket processed foods—soda, soup, corn chips, veggie burgers, pizza, baby food and infant formula—contain GMO ingredients of which we are completely unaware. GMOs approved for human consumption include: corn, rice, soy, wheat, alfalfa, flax, barley, apples, papaya, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, sweet peppers, peanuts, canola oil, cow, pig, cow’s milk. A cow was recently developed to produce human breast milk.

The WHO stated that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are "organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way that does not occur naturally." Genetic engineering, biotechnology or recombinant DNA technology are other GMO terms. This technology consists of randomly inserting genetic fragments of DNA from one organism to another, usually from a different species, to modify plants, grains, and animals. These different species have included viruses, bacteria, parasites, grains, flowers, animals, and humans.

Bedbugs with 'superbug' germ found

Bed Bugs Wikimedia Commons image
Mike Stobbe, Medical Writer
AP/USA Today

Canadian scientists detected drug-resistant MRSA bacteria in bedbugs from three hospital patients from a downtrodden Vancouver neighborhood.

Bedbugs have not been known to spread disease, and there's no clear evidence that the five bedbugs found on the patients or their belongings had spread MRSA or a second less dangerous drug-resistant germ.

However, bedbugs can cause itching that can lead to excessive scratching. That can cause breaks in the skin that make people more susceptible to these bacteria, noted Dr. Marc Romney, one of the study's authors.

The study is small and very preliminary, "But it's an intriguing finding" that needs to be further researched, said Romney, medical microbiologist at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

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5 Simple Ways to Eat Like a Human

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Wiki image
Activist Post

What could be more important than what we put into our bodies? Yeah, yeah that's how all these preachy "health" posts begin. But really, stop and think about what you eat and absorb, and ask yourself on the most basic level if it is fit for a human being.

How many levels of processing is required from the food's raw materials to get it to the form that you call it food? Does it have engineered chemicals designed to glue it together? What do these chemicals do to the human body? Ask why do you eat what you eat? Is it for comfort, convenience, conformity, value, or genuine nutrition?

If we're honest with ourselves, we all have food vices or desires that may push us outside the realm of human food. It's also the nature of our society of unlimited colorful packaging and intense marketing -- not to mention the addictive quality of Doritos and Diet Coke.

rBGH Milk Production: Animal Cruelty, Genetically Modified Hormones and E. Coli

Updated excerpt from Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom

Brandon Turbeville

With the current controversy surrounding the government crackdown on wholesome, organic, and locally produced milk, it is important to understand the products we are being pushed toward, as well as those we are being pushed away from. While the benefits of organic and raw milk is largely undeniable when compared to the industrially produced substitute, the dangers of the latter are not discussed quite as frequently. Of these dangers, rBGH is a central figure.

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (also known as Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin) is a genetically engineered hormone that is injected into cows for the purpose of increasing milk production.[1] It is derived from bovine somatotropin (bST) which is a hormone that is produced naturally in the cattle by the pituitary gland. This hormone is very important for growth and development, as well as other functions of the animal’s body.

Sometime in the 1930s it was discovered that injecting cattle with bST increased milk production. However, because bST is produced in the animal itself, the only source available was in the pituitary glands of the slaughtered cattle. Genetic engineering thus came into play.

Coca-Cola Sides With Regulatory Agencies Over Consumer Concern About Bisphenol A

John Galt
Activist Post

Corporate-regulatory lockstep is a growing trend that has been made most obvious through the recent EPA cover-up of the ongoing impact of the Fukushima disaster. However, the nefarious connections between large corporations and regulatory agencies are patently obvious across the board.

The latest example of disregard for public health in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of guaranteed harm comes from Coca-Cola. Despite concerns from 26 percent of its own shareholders, as well as shareholder advocacy groups and the world's largest pension fund, Coca-Cola chiefs said, "it backs the consensus among regulatory agencies across the globe that BPA in epoxy linings does not pose a human health risk."