Category Archives: Health

Good News Monday: Start Wining!

Admittedly, it’s pretty difficult these days to think of any good news. My brain is consumed with thoughts of Ukraine, as I’m sure yours is as well.

But if drinking a little wine is helping the world seem a little less terrifying, apparently there’s a health benefit as well. Read on, and sip with impunity.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Having a glass of wine with dinner may help you avoid diabetes, study says

by Study Finds

NEW ORLEANS — Enjoy a glass of vino with your meal every now and again? Turns out you might be doing your body good. Researchers from Tulane University report that drinking wine with dinner could help stave off diabetes.

Compounds in grape skin combat the metabolic disease by reducing blood sugar levels, say scientists. But drinking beer or liquor with food increases the risk.

The finding is based on data from 312,000 British residents who describe themselves as regular drinkers. Those who had a glass of wine or two — particularly red — at mealtimes were 14 percent less likely to develop the metabolic disease over the next decade.

“Drinking moderate amounts of wine with meals may prevent Type 2 diabetes if you do not have another health condition that may be negatively affected by moderate alcohol consumption and in consultation with your doctor,” says lead author Dr. Hao Ma, a biostatistical analyst at the Tulane University Obesity Research Center, in a statement.

Good news for wine drinkers

Wine is rich in healthy plant chemicals including resveratrol, which acts like an antioxidant. Red varieties are particularly abundant in the compound.

“The effects of alcohol consumption on health have been described as a double-edged sword because of its apparent abilities to cut deeply in either direction – harmful or helpful, depending on how it is consumed,” says Ma. “Previous studies have focused on how much people drink and have had mixed results. Very few studies have focused on other drinking details, such as the timing of alcohol intake.”

Moderate drinking is defined as a small glass of wine (150ml) or other alcoholic beverage daily for women, and up to two for men.

“Clinical trials have also found that moderate drinking may have some health benefits, including on glucose metabolism,” adds Ma. “However, it remains unclear whether glucose metabolism benefits translate into a reduction of type 2 diabetes. In our study, we sought to determine if the association between alcohol intake and risk of type 2 diabetes might differ by the timing of alcohol intake with respect to meals.”

The participants were tracked for about eleven years on average. They did not have diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or cancer at the outset. Their average age 56, slightly more than half were women and 95 percent were white. Those who reduced alcohol consumption due to illness, doctor’s advice or pregnancy were excluded.

During the follow-up period about 8,600 developed Type 2 diabetes. Those who drank with their meal — rather than without eating food — cut their risk by 14 percent. The potential benefit was evident only among the former group. Specific times were not collected. It was also mainly among those who drank wine rather than other types of alcohol.

Alcohol still raises risks of many other conditions

While the finding is good news for wine lovers, researchers still say consuming alcohol is best in moderation. That’s because it’s also linked to high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, liver disease, depression, suicide, accidents, alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The risks increase as the amount of alcohol an individual drinks rises. For some cancers and other health conditions, the risk increases even at very low levels of alcohol consumption – less than one drink daily.

The American Heart Association and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults who do not drink alcohol should not start. Among those who drink alcohol regularly, they should talk with their doctors about the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.

Some people should not drink at all, including women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, people under the age of 21 and people with certain health conditions.

Professor Robert Eckel, of the University of Colorado, who was not involved in the study, says the relationship between alcohol and Type 2 diabetes remains controversial. Eckel is a former president of the American Heart Association. “These data suggest that it is not the alcohol with meals but other ingredients in wine, perhaps antioxidants, that may be the factor in potentially reducing new-onset type 2 diabetes,” he notes. “While the type of wine, red versus white, needs to be defined, and validation of these findings and mechanisms of benefit are needed, the results suggest that if you are consuming alcohol with meals, wine may be a better choice.”

The study was presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference in Chicago.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

Good News Monday: Universal Transplants?

Universal blood type organs
Universal blood type organs (Credit: UHN)

Universal blood type organs created in groundbreaking procedure, making transplants available for all patients

TORONTO, Ontario — A revolutionary procedure could make donor organs available for more patients — regardless of their blood type. Researchers from the University Health Network in Toronto have proven that it’s possible to convert the blood type of an organ, creating a universal organ that would avoid rejection during transplants.

The procedure, conducted at the Latner Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratories and UHN’s Ajmera Transplant Centre, changed the lungs from a donor with type A blood into an organ with type O blood. Scientists consider type O the universal donor type. The breakthrough may significantly cut down on the disparity in organ transplant availability and shorten transplant waiting lists worldwide.

“With the current matching system, wait times can be considerably longer for patients who need a transplant depending on their blood type,” explains senior author Dr. Marcelo Cypel, Surgical Director of the Ajmera Transplant Centre, in a media release.

“Having universal organs means we could eliminate the blood-matching barrier and prioritize patients by medical urgency, saving more lives and wasting less organs,” adds Dr. Cypel, who is also a thoracic surgeon at UHN’s Sprott Department of Surgery.

Why is blood type so important?

A person’s blood type is dependent upon the antigens sitting on the surface of their red blood cells. People with type A blood have A antigens on their cells, while type B has B antigens and type AB has both. People with type O blood, however, have no antigens on the surface of their cells.

The reason this is important is because these antigens trigger an immune response if they’re foreign to a person’s body. This is also why patients needing a blood transfusion can only receive blood from donors with the same blood type — or from universal type O donors.

This problem also complicates organ donations. Researchers explain that antigens A and B are present on the surfaces of organs as well. Even people with type O blood have problems receiving transplants from type A or B donors. Since type O patients have anti-A and anti-B antibodies in their blood, receiving an organ from a type A donor will likely result in rejection.

For these reasons, doctors have to match up organs according to blood type as well as many other factors — leading to a wait for the perfect organ which can last several years. On average, type O patients actually have the longest wait for lung transplants — sometimes twice as long as type A patients. Kidney transplant patients can also end up waiting up to five years for a compatible donor.

“This translates into mortality. Patients who are type O and need a lung transplant have a 20 percent higher risk of dying while waiting for a matched organ to become available,” says explains study first author Dr. Aizhou Wang. “If you convert all organs to universal type O, you can eliminate that barrier completely.”

Universal blood type organs
Universal blood type organs (Credit: UHN)

How did scientists make a universal organ?

In the proof-of-concept study, Dr. Cypel’s team used the Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion (EVLP) System to pump nourishing fluids through human donor lungs from a type A patient. This process allowed the researchers to warm the lungs up to body temperature so the team could convert the organs for transplantation.

Before the procedure, the donor’s lungs were not considered suitable for an organ transplant. During the experiment, study authors treated one lung with a group of enzymes to flush out the A antigens, while leaving the other lung untreated.

From there, they tested the conversion by adding type O blood with large concentrations of anti-A antibodies to the EVLP circuit. This simulated the conditions of an ABO-incompatible transplant. Results show that the treated lung was well tolerated, meaning the lung would likely be safe from rejection if the team placed it in a human patient. Meanwhile, the untreated lung showed signs of rejection, meaning such a transplant in a human would likely fail.

Gut enzymes are key to universal organs

Dr. Stephen Withers, a biochemist at the University of British Columbia, found a group of gut enzymes in 2018 which became the first step in creating these universal organs. Researchers used the EVLP circuit to deliver these enzymes to the lungs during the new experiment.

“Enzymes are Mother Nature’s catalysts and they carry out particular reactions. This group of enzymes that we found in the human gut can cut sugars from the A and B antigens on red blood cells, converting them into universal type O cells,” Dr. Withers explains. “In this experiment, this opened a gateway to create universal blood-type organs.”

“This is a great partnership with UHN and I was amazed to learn about the ex vivo perfusion system and its impact [on] transplants. It is exciting to see our findings being translated to clinical research,” Dr. Withers adds.

The study authors are working on a proposal to begin a clinical trial on this new technique. They hope that the trial could begin within the next 12 to 18 months.

The study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Article by Chris Melore, Studyfinds.com

Is Health Also in the Eye of the Beholder?

A fascinating study.

Photo by Luis Ruiz on Pexels.com

FORT WORTH, Texas — The beautiful people get all the breaks. A new study finds an interesting link between how attractive someone is and the strength of their immune system.

A team at Texas Christian University found that when people had to rate a group of photos based on the attractiveness of each person’s face, they consistently rated individuals with stronger immune health as more attractive than other photos in the study.

Although beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, researchers say there has been a historical link between what societies consider attractive and reproductive success. The TCU team theorized that, because certain evolutionary traits tie into more mating success, people who seem more attractive to others may also appear healthier to the opposite sex.

To test that theory, researchers gathered 159 men and women and photographed each one without makeup and while displaying a neutral expression on their face. Study authors then took blood samples from each person to measure their levels of white blood cells — which battle disease and infections.

The team then brought in 492 other people to rate members of the opposite sex in these photos based on their attractiveness. The volunteers did not have any information on each person’s immune health and only had that one neutral photo to base their rating on. Results show people with stronger immune systems were rated as being more attractive by the 492 volunteers.

“The current research suggests that a relationship between facial attractiveness and immune function is likely to exist,” corresponding author Summer Mengelkoch and her team write in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Opposites attract

Interestingly, the study finds men and women have very different ideas about what makes a face attractive and healthy. Researchers found that, on average, women rated men with higher levels of NK (natural killer) cells as more attractive. These cells play a key role in fighting off and killing bacteria.

Men, on the other hand, found women with lower NK cell levels in their blood more attractive. Study authors believe the reason for this is women with lower NK levels generally have higher estrogen levels — a hormone important to sexual reproduction.

As for which features are likely to stand out and attract attention, researchers found a not-so-surprising list of qualities people look for in a pretty face.

“Features such as clear skin, prominent cheekbones, bright eyes, and full, red lips have been deemed attractive throughout recorded human history,” the researchers write.

The Worst Foods For Your Brain

Not bacon, cream, or the usual suspects. I’m talking about a steady diet of negative influences that makes us feel lousy to the core. Such as:

  1. Fake news in all its mean, snarky iterations
  2. By extension, only getting news from one point of view. It’s important to hear what the other side is thinking, too — but not so much that we start hurling things at the TV
  3. Following the minutiae of celebrities’ pretend-perfect lives
  4. Inactivity
  5. Living in the past, whether you have good memories (those glory days as a high school athlete) or bad (your dysfunctional family)
  6. Envy
  7. Social media that makes us feel our lives aren’t as glamorous, exciting, happy, or satifying as other people we know
  8. Obsessing. Make a plan, take action, move on
  9. Seeing the glass half-empty
  10. Tunnel vision
  11. Influencer unboxings. Hey, many times they didn’t even PAY for the stuff!
  12. Holding on to anger
  13. Not cutting ourselves enough slack : our finances, weight, wrinkles, job, house, parenting skills etc.
  14. Forgetting that you are good enough just as you are
Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Good News Monday: Yes, They Work

From today’s New York Times (with apologies for wonky formatting.)

Preparing vaccines in Rochester Hills, Mich. Emily Elconin for The New York Times
The C.D.C. has begun to publish data on Covid outcomes among people who have received booster shots, and the numbers are striking:
Based on 25 U.S. jurisdictions. | Source: C.D.C.
As you can see, vaccination without a booster provides a lot of protection. But a booster takes somebody to a different level.
This data underscores both the power of the Covid vaccines and their biggest weakness — namely, their gradual fading of effectiveness over time, as is also the case with many other vaccines. If you received two Moderna or Pfizer vaccine shots early last year, the official statistics still count you as “fully vaccinated.” In truth, you are only partially vaccinated.
Once you get a booster, your risk of getting severely ill from Covid is tiny. It is quite small even if you are older or have health problems.
The average weekly chance that a boosted person died of Covid was about one in a million during October and November (the most recent available C.D.C. data). Since then, the chances have no doubt been higher, because of the Omicron surge. But they will probably be even lower in coming weeks, because the surge is receding and Omicron is milder than earlier versions of the virus. For now, one in a million per week seems like a reasonable estimate.
That risk is not zero, but it is not far from it. The chance that an average American will die in a car crash this week is significantly higher — about 2.4 per million. So is the average weekly death rate from influenza and pneumonia — about three per million.
With a booster shot, Covid resembles other respiratory illnesses that have been around for years. It can still be nasty. For the elderly and immunocompromised, it can be debilitating, even fatal — much as the flu can be. The Omicron surge has been so terrible because it effectively subjected tens of millions of Americans to a flu all at once.
For the unvaccinated, of course, Covid remains many times worse than the flu.
‘Heartbreaking’
I’m highlighting these statistics because there is still a large amount of vaccine skepticism in the U.S. I have heard it frequently from readers in the past week, after our poll on Covid attitudes and partisanship, as well as the “Daily” episode about the poll.
This vaccine skepticism takes two main forms. The more damaging form is the one that’s common among Republicans. They’re so skeptical of vaccines — partly from misinformation coming from conservative media figures and Republican politicians — that many remain unvaccinated.
Look at this detail from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest portrait of vaccination: Incredibly, there are more unvaccinated Republican adults than boosted Republican adults.
From a survey of 1,536 adults in Jan. 2022. | Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
This lack of vaccination is killing people. “It’s cost the lives of people I know, including just last week a friend of 35 years, a person I met on one of the first weekends of my freshman year of college,” David French, a conservative writer who lives in Tennessee, wrote in The Atlantic. “I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to see person after person fall to a virus when a safe and effective shot would have almost certainly not just saved their life but also likely saved them from even having a serious case of the disease.”
Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine, estimates that in the second half of last year, 200,000 Americans needlessly lost their lives because they refused Covid vaccines. “Three doses of either Pfizer or Moderna will save your life,” Hotez told me. “It’s the only way you can be reasonably assured that you will survive a Covid-19 infection.” (Young children, who are not yet eligible for the vaccines, are also highly unlikely to get very sick.)
The vaccines don’t prevent only death. Local data shows the risks of hospitalization are extremely low, too. Vaccination also reduces the risk of long Covid to very low levels.
Healthy and anxious
The second form of vaccine skepticism is among Democrats — although many would recoil at any suggestion that they are vaccine skeptics. Most Democrats are certainly not skeptical about getting a shot. But many are skeptical that the vaccines protect them.
About 41 percent of Democratic voters say they are worried about getting “seriously sick” with Covid, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last week. That’s a very high level of anxiety for a tiny risk.
Here’s the proof that much of the fear is irrational: Young Democrats are more worried about getting sick than old Democrats, even though the science says the opposite should be true.
From a survey of 1,536 adults in Jan. 2022. | Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
The most plausible explanation for this pattern is political ideology. Younger Democrats are significantly more liberal than older Democrats, according to the Pew Research Center (and other pollsters, too). Ideology tends to shape Covid views, for a complex mix of often irrational reasons. The more liberal you are, the more worried about Covid you tend to be; the more conservative you are, the less worried you tend to be.
I know that many liberals believe an exaggerated sense of personal Covid risk is actually a good thing, because it pushes the country toward taking more precautions. Those precautions, according to this view, will reduce Covid’s death toll, which truly is horrific right now. In a later newsletter this week, I will consider that argument.
For now, I’ll simply echo the many experts who have pleaded with Americans to get vaccinated and boosted.
Answers and convenience
What might help increase the country’s ranks of vaccinated? Vaccine mandates, for one thing — although many Republican politicians, as well as the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court, oppose broad mandates. Private companies can still impose mandates on their employees and customers.
Without mandates, the best hope for increased vaccination is probably community outreach. While many unvaccinated Americans are firmly opposed to getting a shot, others — including some Democrats and independents — remain agnostic. If getting a vaccination is convenient and a nurse or doctor is available to answer questions, they will consider it.
“I cannot count how many people I’ve spoken to about the Covid vaccine who have been like, ‘No, I don’t think so. No,’” Dr. Kimberly Manning of Emory University told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Then I run into them two weeks later and they tell me they got vaccinated.”
Related: “You have to scratch your head and say, ‘How the heck did this happen?’” Dr. Anthony Fauci told Michael Barbaro on today’s episode of “The Daily,” about the partisan gap in Covid attitudes. Fauci also predicted that people who were anxious about Covid would become less so as caseloads fell.
In Times Opinion, James Martin, a Jesuit priest, argues that schadenfreude over vaccine skeptics’ suffering warps the soul.

Latest Dispatch From the “You Can’t Make This S*** Up” Department

Thanks to TheEnlightenedMind622 for bringing this to my attention. My jaw is still on the floor.

Desperate No-Vaxxers Paying COVID-Positive People $150 for Dinner and COVID Infection

PARTY LIKE IT’S 2019

A new vaccination mandate in Italy requires everyone over 50 to be vaccinated or pay a hefty fine. Some are opting to pay to get infected with COVID instead.

ROME—The messages started popping up on Telegram a few days after Italy announced a new vaccine mandate requiring everyone over age 50 to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk hefty fines and even termination from their jobs.

Here in the first epicenter of the pandemic outside of China, Italy has paid a hefty price with lockdowns that have crippled the economy and the deaths of more than 140,000 people. Vaccine mandates have become the primary strategy in moving forward, yet a small number of people continue to resist.

The only alternative to getting vaccinated is having recovered from the infection, which must be registered on a person’s national health card. “I am urgently looking for a positive and I am willing to pay,” one desperate anti-vaxxer wrote, according to Italian police who are cracking down on the clandestine COVID meetups and other scams ahead of the Feb. 1 deadline for the over-50 vaccine mandate.

Soon after the announcement of the new law, enterprising opportunists started offering COVID parties where people who tested positive for the disease mix and mingle with those who want to catch it—one racket in Tuscany even includes a truffle dinner with Barolo wine, along with a positive-testing infection for around $150.

Other scams have also emerged. Two people were arrested in Rome after one man who was COVID positive used the health card of someone who wanted to skirt the vaccines to get tested at a pharmacy. When the COVID-positive man opted to pay with his own credit card—which obviously did not match the health card of the man who wanted a positive COVID diagnosis attached to his—the pharmacy conducting the test reported them both.

Infectious-disease specialist Pier Luigi Lopalco said on Italian television that the COVID parties and other scams are against the law and people involved should be hunted down and arrested. “This uses the same logic as playing Russian roulette. For a person who has never had COVID, who has not been vaccinated, encountering this virus can mean a mild form of the disease, but it can also mean ending up in intensive care,” he said on Italian television. “The discriminating factor between these two occurrences, probably, lies in genetics. And there is nothing that can be done to know in advance.”

He added, “Nobody can know before getting infected if they belong to the lucky group that will not have serious consequences or to that less fortunate group that can end up being intubated.”

The trend is not so terribly different from anti-vax parents who held measles parties for their kids when vaccinations became mandatory in Italy—which led to legislation that made such practices illegal.

After an anti-vax nurse was arrested for hosting a COVID party in Milan last week, virologist Roberto Burioni tweeted his disgust. “I would pay any amount to get me (and my loved ones) the vaccine, instead there are people who pay not to have it,” he wrote. “It’s like paying to have airbags removed from your car.”

Good News Monday Bonus Round

Sharing some warm, fuzzy, anti-Omicron holiday news.

Photo by Heather White on Pexels.com

Dogs are boosting owners’ mental health during pandemic, making them less likely to be depressed

by Study Finds

ST. LOUIS — Dogs are the light of many pet owners’ lives and now a new study finds they’re also lighting the way out of depression for many Americans. Researchers found that dogs are boosting their owners’ mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Study authors say pets have also increased amounts of social support by fueling friendships. The findings come from a review of more than 1,500 people in the U.S. — half of whom own dogs.

Dog owners reported having significantly more social support available to them compared to potential dog owners, and their depression scores were also lower, compared to potential dog owners,” the study’s corresponding author Dr. Francois Martin of Nestle Purina Research writes in the journal PLOS One.

“There were no differences in anxiety and happiness scores between the two groups. Dog owners had a significantly more positive attitude towards and commitment to pets. Taken together, our results suggest that dog ownership may have provided people with a stronger sense of social support, which in turn may have helped buffer some of the negative psychological impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the researchers report.

Dog walking can be a stress reliever

Researchers defined potential dog owners as individuals interested in owning a dog in the future. Both groups answered an online survey during the study. Results show the dog owners also had a significantly more positive attitude towards and commitment to their pets. However, the team did not find any differences in anxiety and happiness scores between these groups.

“Dog walking during confinements may have alleviated stressors and motivated self-care,” Dr. Martin’s team writes.

Other recent studies suggest pet ownership improves mood, leads to less loneliness, greater social support, and less stress by increasing exercise. Owners also said their dogs helped them cope with emotional stressors (91%) and maintain physical activity (96%) during lockdown.

“However, recent studies have also reported that pet ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic may have negatively affected people because of limited availability to resources,” the researchers write, noting that these resources include veterinary care and pet supplies.

“The present study aimed to understand if pet dogs offered their owners social support and contributed to better wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic,” they continue. “It was hypothesized that pet dog ownership would act as a buffer against negative impacts caused by the pandemic.”

Each group answered validated “psychometric” questionnaires on depression, anxiety, and happiness.

“Other types of pets are also likely to provide social support to humans. However, it is unclear if this support is equivalent and if the psychological mechanisms involved are the same as human-dog relationships,” Dr. Martin writes.

Furry friends help during difficult times

In the context of the pandemic, there is emerging evidence the relationship and attitude of people towards their pets may vary according to the species. Therefore, the team only included dog and potential dog owners in the investigation. All the participants were over 18 years of age.

Study authors excluded people owning other types of pets or those who failed to complete the entire survey. Those who owned more than one dog were asked to answer for the pet they felt closest to. The final sample comprised 1,535 volunteers, including 768 and 767 dog and potential dog owners, respectively.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected diverse populations and our results provide evidence that pet owners and potential pet owners have also been impacted,” Dr. Martin concludes.

“Our results show that pet dog owners were significantly less depressed than non-pet owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are attached and committed to their dogs and they reported more social support available to them. Our work adds to the corpus of scientific literature demonstrating that pet dogs may positively contribute to the wellbeing of owners during difficult times.”

Study authors are calling for more work to better understand the relationship between pet ownership and well-being. Future research, the team says, would focus on people with low and moderate social support and include owners with diverse dog attachment level.

Good News Monday: Preventing Wrinkles AND Cancer?

Here’s another reason to take care of our complexions: New research finds that increased collagen helps fight cancer. While topical creams may or may not make much difference (dermal penetration is minimal), treatments that build collagen such as Genesis and IPL (intense pulsed light) may do more than keep that youthful glow. Schedule that derm appointment STAT!

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Anti-wrinkle cream ingredient collagen could hold the key to curing cancer

NEW YORK — A substance that the body creates naturally and is also an ingredient in anti-wrinkle creams could hold the key to stopping the spread of cancer. Researchers from The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai say cancerous tumors secrete a form of the protein collagen that keeps them quiet for years, even as they spread to other parts of the body. Their findings reveal that these tumor cells only turn malignant once their supplies of collagen run out.

Experiments involving mice and humans found increasing levels of type III collagen — the form of the protein cancer cells produce and cover themselves in — stops diseased cells from spreading. The collagen that surrounds the cells forces them to remain in a dormant state, preventing recurrence and metastasis — where they migrate to other organs.

“Our findings have potential clinical implications and may lead to a novel biomarker to predict tumor recurrences, as well as a therapeutic intervention to reduce local and distant relapses,” says senior author Professor Jose Bravo-Cordero in a media release.

Using state-of-the-art scanning techniques, the team tracked breast, head, and neck cancer cells implanted in mice. This enabled them to visualize the supporting “scaffold” as they became dormant and how this covering changed as the cells awoke.

Covering tumor cells in collagen could keep cancer asleep

In samples from cancer patients, researchers found type III collagen predicted tumor recurrence and metastasis. In the mice, infusions of collagen around cancer cells blocked their progression, forcing them back into dormancy.

“This intervention aimed at preventing the awakening of dormant cells has been suggested as a therapeutic strategy to prevent metastatic outgrowth,” Prof Bravo-Cordero says.

“As the biology of tumor dormancy gets uncovered and new specific drugs are developed, a combination of dormancy-inducing treatments with therapies that specifically target dormant cells will ultimately prevent local recurrence and metastasis and pave the way to cancer remission.”

How cancer cells remain inert for long periods before awakening to wreak havoc throughout the body has baffled experts for decades. The study, published in the journal Nature Cancer, solves a major mystery and opens the door to therapies using collagen as a cancer treatment.

From cosmetics to cancer research

Most people likely know collagen for its use in helping people look younger. However, the protein is also a natural building block for the skin, bones, and connective tissues throughout the body. It provides strength and elasticity, but women experience a dramatic drop in production after menopause.

In cosmetic products, collagen injections can improve the contours of the skin. Fillers that contain collagen remove lines and wrinkles from the face. It can also improve the appearance of scars.

Study authors note that collagen is present in the extracellular matrix, an intricate network that determines the physical properties of tissues — including tumors. Most cancer deaths are due to these harmful cells spreading throughout the body, which can still happen several years after surgical removal of the original tumor.

Previous research has shown collagen dressings heal chronic wounds that do not respond to other treatments. Encasing a tumor in collagen may have similarly dramatic success, Prof. Bravo-Cordero explains.

The study author adds that wound treatment with collagen scaffolds has displayed promising results and is a therapeutic alternative for people with complex skin wounds.

“Our studies demonstrate the potential therapeutic use of type III collagen to prevent the reawakening of cancer cells by inducing and maintaining cancer cell dormancy in the primary site,” researchers conclude in a statement to SWNS.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

Good News Monday: Bloody Marvelous

Whoops, almost missed Monday this week. That’s what I get for spending hours attempting to delete all the cyber-hysteria emails that pop up like whack-a-mole: Delete twenty and another thirty-five pop up, seemingly instantaneously.

Anyway. This is seriously cool stuff.

Test tubes with blood
(© jarun011 – stock.adobe.com)

HEALTH & MEDICALSCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

3D-printed blood? New process for creating plasma could revolutionize wound healing

by Chris Melore

DUBLIN, Ireland — Blood contains all sorts of life-giving components, from red blood cells that carry oxygen to white blood cells that fight off infections. However, our blood also works hard to repair wounds. Thanks to platelet-rich plasma (PRP), blood clots around scraps and scratches, allowing our bodies to heal and limit scarring. Now, researchers in Ireland have discovered an innovative way of improving the healing process even further — 3D printing!

A team from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences say replicating more blood plasma through 3D printing technology can help scientists create a PRP implant that speeds up healing. Platelet-rich plasma is the body’s natural healing substance and it makes up about half of a person’s blood.

The new study explored the possibility of extracting PRP from a patient with severe skin wounds and creating more of this substance in a 3D printer. Scientists would then use these platelets to form an implant doctors can place on difficult-to-heal skin wounds — like a scaffold — during surgery.

No more scars for serious wounds?

Tests by the RCSI team found that applying a PRP implant speeds up the healing process by triggering the development of new blood vessels (vascularization). The implant also inhibits scarring and the thickening of tissue around wounds (fibrosis). Researchers say both of these benefits are key for wounds to heal effectively.

“Existing literature suggests that while the PRP already present in our blood helps to heal wounds, scarring can still occur. By 3D-printing PRP into a biomaterial scaffold, we can increase the formation of blood vessels while also avoiding the formation of scars, leading to more successful wound healing,” says RCSI professor of bioengineering and regenerative medicine, Fergal O’Brien, in a university release.

“As well as promising results for skin wound healing, this technology can potentially be used to regenerate different tissues, therefore dramatically influencing the ever-growing regenerative medicine, 3D printing and personalized medicine markets.”

The findings appear in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Good News Monday: Easy Weight Loss

Prunes: they’re not just for old folks anymore! I’m giving this a try ASAP.

Prunes

(© Dionisvera – stock.adobe.com)

[Reprinted from studyfinds.com]

Prunes may be the secret weapon to prevent holiday weight gain

LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom — Has Thanksgiving already sent your diet spiraling off a cliff? You’re probably not alone. With holiday weight gain a major issue for many, a new study has found the one snack that may keep your holiday appetite (and your waistline) in check — prunes.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool discovered that eating more prunes helped a group of dieters control their appetite better, consume fewer calories, and even lose slightly more weight than people choosing others snacks during a 12-week test.

“These studies demonstrate that dried fruit can both produce satiety and be incorporated into the diet during weight management,” says Professor Jason C. G. Halford, President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), in a media release.

Researchers examined the impact of eating prunes in two phases. The first compared the reactions of participants who either ate prunes, raisins, or jelly bean-like candies during the experiment. The team found that people eating prunes generally consumed the fewest number of calories during their next meal. The prune snackers also reported feeling less hungry throughout the day, feeling fuller after eating, and feeling as though they couldn’t eat as much later on.

Prunes make it ‘easier’ to lose weight

In the second part, study authors examined the amount of weight each person lost after completing a 12-week weight loss program. They split the volunteers into two groups, one eating prunes as their daily snack and one who only received guidance on healthy snacking but could choose whatever snack they wanted.

Although researchers say the weight loss difference between the two groups was not significant in terms of total pounds lost, results show the prune group participants lost slightly more weight on average (4.4 pounds vs. 3.4 pounds). People eating prunes also told the team they felt it was easier to lose the weight than those eating other snacks.

“This study reveals that nutrient-dense prunes can provide an advantage over other snack choices due to their favorable effects on satiety and appetite control,” adds Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD Nutrition Advisor for the California Prune Board.

“These are the first data to demonstrate both weight loss and no negative side effects when consuming prunes as part of a weight management diet,” Halford concludes.

A recent poll found that Americans expect to gain eight pounds during the holiday season. Although prunes have a reputation of being a snack people only choose to relieve constipation, researchers say putting out a bowl at your next holiday party may cure you of festive overeating.

The findings appear in the journal Nutrition Bulletin.