henry copeland @hc

having fun with people and pixels, via racery, pullquote, twiangulate, improv, running

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Sunflowers found to share nutrient-rich soil with others of their kind

In the first study, the researchers placed isolated sunflower plants near a rich food source and watched how it behaved. As expected, the plant sent more roots into the area, allowing it to consume more nutrients. But they also found that when they placed two sunflower plants an equal distance from the same food source, both sent fewer roots than they would have were they alone. This was a clear sign that the plants were not only aware of the presence of the other, but were working together to allow both of them to gain the greatest benefit. In another experiment, the researchers placed sunflower plants at different distances from the rich soil patch and found that the sunflower nearest the soil patch sent out just as many new roots as if it were isolated. In other experiments, the researchers planted multiple plants at different distances from the nutrient-rich patch to see how they would respond. They report that plants that were growing with a neighbor actually decreased root length in such shared patches—and they did not increase them when they were close to very high-quality soil areas. The researchers conclude that sunflowers work together to gain the most benefit from the soil for themselves and for those around them.

Researchers alter mouse gut microbiomes by feeding good bacteria their preferred fibers -- ScienceDaily

"Fiber is understood to be beneficial. But fiber is actually a very complicated mixture of many different components," says senior author Jeffrey Gordon, a microbiologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Moreover, fibers from different plant sources that are processed in different ways during food manufacturing have different constituents. Unfortunately, we lack detailed knowledge of these differences and their biological significance. We do know that modern Western diets have low levels of fiber; this lack of fiber has been linked to loss of important members of the gut community and deleterious health effects." The researchers started by testing 34 food-grade fiber preparations, many purified from byproducts of food manufacturing such as peels from fruits and vegetables that are thrown out during production of processed foods and drinks. They used mice initially raised under sterile conditions and then colonized with human gut microbes. The animals were fed a high-fat, low-fiber diet representative of diets typically consumed in the United States, with or without different types of supplemental fibers. The goal was to identify those fibers that were best at boosting the levels of key fiber-degrading bacterial species and promoting the expression of beneficial metabolic enzymes in the microbiome.

Sauna Use as an Exercise Mimetic for Heart and Healthspan

Some of the positive benefits of the sauna on heart health may have to do with similar physiological changes that also occur during physical exercise. For example, there is a 50-70% redistribution of blood flow away from the core to the skin to facilitate sweating. You start to sweat. Heart rate increases up to 150 beats per minute which correspond to moderate-intensity physical exercise. Cardiac output (which is a measure of the amount of work the heart performs in response to the body’s need for oxygen) increases by 60-70%. Immediately after sauna use, blood pressure and resting heart rate are lower than baseline similar to physical activity.

Debunking a study by citing zero studies

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It is well-established that it often takes a while for patients to feel the full benefits of modern antidepressants and that they work best when taken for significant periods of time, which is one reason why doctors will often review patients after several weeks of use and then prescribe a fairly long course of the drugs, if they appear to be beneficial.”

Cannabinoid May Be First Drug for Sleep Apnea

"Based on a series of animal investigations, we proposed that drugs which dampen afferent vagal feedback to the medulla may be effective in stabilizing respiratory pattern generation and increasing activation of upper airway dilating muscles during sleep," the authors note. Dr Zee added that larger studies will be necessary to shed more light on dronabinol's specific clinical applications in sleep apnea. "Due to the phase 2 study, it would be premature to comment on how the compound will be used in clinical settings. Larger studies that can be generalized to the obstructive sleep apnea population are needed. It could conceivably be used in patients who fail CPAP, [and] other approved therapies, such as oral appliances or as adjunctive therapy," she said.

Cannabinoid May Be First Drug for Sleep Apnea

The primary endpoint was change from baseline in AHI after 6 weeks of treatment. The study showed significant improvements in the 2.5-mg group, with a reduction of 10.5 events per hour (P = .02), and in the 10-mg group, with a reduction of 12.9 events per hour (P = .004), in rapid eye movement (REM) as well as non-REM sleep, after adjustment for factors including age, race, ethnicity, and baseline AHI. No significant changes were observed in the placebo group after adjustment, and the differences in improvement between the 2.5- and 10-mg groups were not statistically significant.

Medicine as a turtle

In medicine, good ideas still take an appallingly long time to trickle down. Recently, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society released new guidelines for migraine-headache-treatment. They recommended treating severe migraine sufferers—who have more than six attacks a month—with preventive medications and listed several drugs that markedly reduce the occurrence of attacks. The authors noted, however, that previous guidelines going back more than a decade had recommended such remedies, and doctors were still not providing them to more than two-thirds of patients. One study examined how long it took several major discoveries, such as the finding that the use of beta-blockers after a heart attack improves survival, to reach even half of Americans. The answer was, on average, more than fifteen years.

The Heroism of Incremental Care | The New Yorker

Instead of once-a-year checkups, in which people are like bridges undergoing annual inspection, we will increasingly be able to use smartphones and wearables to continuously monitor our heart rhythm, breathing, sleep, and activity, registering signs of illness as well as the effectiveness and the side effects of treatments. Engineers have proposed bathtub scanners that could track your internal organs for minute changes over time. We can decode our entire genome for less than the cost of an iPad and, increasingly, tune our care to the exact makeup we were born with. Our health-care system is not designed for this future—or, indeed, for this present. We built it at a time when such capabilities were virtually nonexistent. When illness was experienced as a random catastrophe, and medical discoveries focussed on rescue, insurance for unanticipated, episodic needs was what we needed. Hospitals and heroic interventions got the large investments; incrementalists were scanted. After all, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, they had little to offer that made a major difference in people’s lives. But the more capacity we develop to monitor the body and the brain for signs of future breakdown and to correct course along the way—to deliver “precision medicine,” as the lingo goes—the greater the difference health care can make in people’s lives, as well as in reducing future costs. This potential for incremental medicine to improve and save lives, however, is dramatically at odds with our system’s allocation of rewards. According to a 2016 compensation survey, the five highest-paid specialties in American medicine are orthopedics, cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, and radiology. Practitioners in these fields have an average income of four hundred thousand dollars a year. All are interventionists: they make most of their income on defined, minutes- to hours-long procedures—replacing hips, excising basal-cell carcinomas, doing endoscopies, conducting and reading MRIs—and then move on. (One clear indicator: the starting income for cardiologists who perform invasive procedures is twice that of cardiologists who mainly provide preventive, longitudinal care.)

The Heroism of Incremental Care | The New Yorker

In the United Kingdom, where family physicians are paid to practice in deprived areas, a ten-per-cent increase in the primary-care supply was shown to improve people’s health so much that you could add ten years to everyone’s life and still not match the benefit.

The Heroism of Incremental Care | The New Yorker

We have a certain heroic expectation of how medicine works. Following the Second World War, penicillin and then a raft of other antibiotics cured the scourge of bacterial diseases that it had been thought only God could touch. New vaccines routed polio, diphtheria, rubella, and measles. Surgeons opened the heart, transplanted organs, and removed once inoperable tumors. Heart attacks could be stopped; cancers could be cured. A single generation experienced a transformation in the treatment of human illness as no generation had before. It was like discovering that water could put out fire. We built our health-care system, accordingly, to deploy firefighters. Doctors became saviors. “Let me preface my remarks by saying that the chain is a lot longer than it looks.” But the model wasn’t quite right. If an illness is a fire, many of them require months or years to extinguish, or can be reduced only to a low-level smolder. The treatments may have side effects and complications that require yet more attention. Chronic illness has become commonplace, and we have been poorly prepared to deal with it. Much of what ails us requires a more patient kind of skill.

Child's gluten intake during infancy, rather than mother's during pregnancy, linked to increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes -- ScienceDaily

New research presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain (16-20 September) shows that a child's intake of gluten at age 18 months is associated with a 46% increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes for each extra 10g of gluten consumed per day.

Handheld device to diagnose skin cancer -- ScienceDaily

The team's technology uses millimeter-wave radiation -- the same shortwave rays used in cellphones and airport security scanners. Millimeter-wave rays penetrate certain materials and bounce off others, which is how airport security knows if you leave your keys in your pocket as you walk through a scanner. Just as metal reflects more energy than your body, so cancerous tumors reflect more calibrated energy than healthy skin, making it possible to identify diseased tissue by looking for reflectivity hotspots. The latest tests were conducted on biopsies collected by surgeons from Hackensack University Medical Center. Tavassolian and Mirbeik-Sabzevari custom built antennae to generate high-resolution images of this biopsied tissue, and found they could map the tiny tumors as accurately as lab-based testing. Cancerous cells reflected around 40 percent more calibrated energy than healthy tissue, showing that millimeter-wave reflectivity is a reliable marker for cancerous tissue.

Treatment Benefits of the remedē® System Sustained Through 36 Months in Patients with Central Sleep Apnea | Respicardia

The latest results build upon prior published data in The Lancet and the American Journal of Cardiology which demonstrated that the remedē System significantly reduces the severity of CSA and improves sleep, quality of life and patient satisfaction,3 and the benefits are sustained.4

Central Sleep Apnea – Sleep Apnea

CSA frequently occurs among people who are seriously ill from other causes: chronic heart failure; diseases of and injuries to the brainstem, the upper terminus of the spine, which controls breathing; Parkinson’s disease; stroke; kidney failure; even severe arthritis with degenerative changes to the cervical spine and base of the skull. It is seen among users of opiates. And there is idiopathic CSA, which simply means the cause is unknown. “For idiopathic apnea, the outlook is generally favorable,” notes Medline Plus, an online information service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

How happy couples argue: Focus on solvable issues first -- ScienceDaily

When researchers observed couples discussing marital problems, all couples focused on issues with clearer solutions, such as the distribution of household labor and how to spend leisure time. "Rebalancing chores may not be easy, but it lends itself to more concrete solutions than other issues," Rauer said. "One spouse could do more of certain chores to balance the scales." The couples rarely chose to argue about issues that are more difficult to resolve. And Rauer suggests that this strategic decision may be one of the keys to their marital success. "Focusing on the perpetual, more-difficult-to-solve problems may undermine partners' confidence in the relationship," Rauer said. Instead, to the extent it is possible, focusing first on more solvable problems may be an effective way to build up both partners' sense of security in the relationship. "If couples feel that they can work together to resolve their issues, it may give them the confidence to move on to tackling the more difficult issues," Rauer said.

Microbiome may be involved in mechanisms related to muscle strength in older adults -- ScienceDaily

To gain insight into this population, the researchers compared bacteria from the gut microbiomes of 18 older adults with high-physical function and a favorable body composition (higher percentage of lean mass, lower percentage of fat mass) with 11 older adults with low-physical function and a less favorable body composition. The small study identified differences in the bacterial profiles between the two groups. Similar bacterial differences were present when mice were colonized with fecal samples from the two human groups, and grip strength was increased in mice colonized with samples from the high-functioning older adults, suggesting a role for the gut microbiome in mechanisms related to muscle strength in older adults. Specifically, when compared to the low-functioning older adult group, the researchers found higher levels of Prevotellaceae, Prevotella, Barnesiella, and Barnesiella intestinihominis -- all potentially good bacteria -- in the high-functioning older adults and in the mice that were colonized with fecal samples from the high-functioning older adults.

Light drinking may be beneficial in type 2 diabetes: Further research needed -- ScienceDaily

The authors found ten relevant RCTs involving 575 participants that were included in this review. Meta-analysis showed that alcohol consumption was associated with reduced triglyceride levels and insulin levels, but had no statistically significant effect on fasting blood glucose levels, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c, a measure of blood glucose control), or total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol, and high density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol. Subgroup analysis indicated that drinking light to moderate amounts of alcohol decreased the levels of triglycerides (blood fats) and insulin in people with T2DM. Light to moderate drinking was defined by the authors as 20g or less of alcohol per day. This translates to approximately 1.5 cans of beer (330ml, 5% alcohol), a large (200ml) glass of wine (12% alcohol) or a 50ml serving of 40% alcohol spirit (for example vodka/gin).

Short-term study suggests vegan diet can boost gut microbes related to body weight, body composition and blood sugar control -- ScienceDaily

The study included 147 participants (86% women and 14% men; mean age was 55.6±11.3 years), who were randomised to follow a low-fat vegan diet (n=73) or to make no changes to their diet (n=74) for 16 weeks. At baseline and 16 weeks, gut microbiota composition was assessed, using uBiome kits. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to measure body composition. A standard method called the PREDIM index was used to assess insulin sensitivity. Following the 16-week study, body weight was reduced significantly in the vegan group (treatment effect average -5.8 kg), particularly due to a reduction in fat mass (average -3.9 kg) and in visceral fat. Insulin sensitivity also increased significantly in the vegan group. The relative abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii increased in the vegan group (treatment effect +4.8%). Relative changes in Faecalibacterium prausnitzii were associated with decreases in body weight, fat mass and visceral fat. The relative abundance of Bacteoides fragilis also increased in the vegan group (treatment effect +19.5%). Relative changes in Bacteroides fragilis were associated with decreases in body weight, fat mass and visceral fat, and increases in insulin sensitivity.

The Association of Testosterone Levels with Overall Sleep Quality, Sleep Architecture, and Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Thus, it remains unclear whether restoration to young adult testosterone levels is protective or harmful to sleep patterns in elderly men. No large population-based studies have reported the association of endogenous testosterone levels with objectively measured sleep parameters in older community-dwelling men or examined whether any observed associations are independent of age, body mass index (BMI), and other potential covariates. We report here the independent association of baseline endogenous total and bioavailable testosterone levels in 1312 relatively healthy community-dwelling older men who had overnight sleep duration, sleep architecture, and sleep-disordered breathing measured objectively an average of 3.4 yr later.

Why the world is becoming more allergic to food - BBC News

But it is thought that eating trigger foods during weaning can lead to a healthy response and prevent the allergy developing, because the gut's immune system is prepared to tolerate bacteria and foreign substances, such as food. This was the basis for King's College London's LEAP Study, which showed about an 80% reduction in peanut allergy in five-year-old children who regularly ate peanut from the year they were born.

Treatment for chronic neuropathic pain gets to the brain via a novel route, without surgery - ScienceBlog.com

“We previously showed that in neuropathic pain, the accumulation of TNF in the brain, specifically the hippocampus, causes the dysregulation of the normal analgesic response,” said Ignatowski. “We propose that enhanced levels of TNF in the brain inhibit the release of norepinephrine. Normally, norepinephrine would activate the descending inhibitory pain pathway that projects to the spinal cord, thereby alleviating pain. But when activation of this inhibitory pathway is lost, pain may transition to a chronic state.” The new method originated with the UB researchers’ discovery in 1999 of TNF, a novel therapeutic target, specifically in the brain. They previously demonstrated that peripheral nerve injury—injury to the nerves connecting the spinal cord to the rest of the body—boosts levels of this protein in the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for learning and memory, and which they have recently found to be involved in the experience of chronic pain.

Orbán, the new Jesus, delivers his Sermon on the Mount – Hungarian Spectrum

Given the superiority of Christian liberty over liberal liberty, western Europe can be saved, in Orbán’s view, only by abandoning traditional liberal concepts and turning to its Christian heritage, which is alive and well in East-Central Europe, mainly because these countries managed to keep migrants threatening European culture out of their countries. And in that region Orbán’s Hungary has a very special place. Let me quote this much-debated passage verbatim: “We shouldn’t be afraid to declare that Hungary is a city built on a hill, which, as is well known, cannot be hidden. Let’s embrace this mission, let’s create for ourselves and show to the world what a true, deep, and superior life can be built on the ideal of Christian liberty. Perhaps this lifeline will be the one toward which the confused, lost, and misguided Europe will stretch its hand. Perhaps they will also see the beauty of man’s work serving his own good, the good of his country, and the glory of God.” First, let’s go to the original, which Orbán failed to identify, the Gospel of Matthew, (5:13-15). 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.” 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” 15 “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

Hungarian architect, dissident Laszlo Rajk dies at 70 - The Washington Post

Rajk turned his own home into a “samizdat boutique,” where issues of the clandestine journals could be purchased. Rajk was blacklisted in 1981 by Hungary’s communist regime and mostly banned from working under his own name for a decade. The same year, he co-founded AB Fuggetlen Kiado, an independent publisher of mostly Hungarian and Eastern European dissident authors but also works by anti-authoritarian writers like George Orwell, or those writing about the region, like British historian Timothy Garton Ash. Miklos Haraszti, a fellow dissident and former Representative on Freedom of the Media at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said Rajk was a “pioneer” in the launch and strengthening of Hungary’s democratic opposition. “Rajk was a pioneer in making Hungary the second strongest country, after Poland, in the production and dissemination of opposition ideas,” Haraszti said. “It was his authority, enterprise, diligence and talent which guaranteed their continued existence.”

Why grandmasters like Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana lose weight playing chess

In 2004, winner Rustam Kasimdzhanov walked away from the six-game world championship having lost 17 pounds. In October 2018, Polar, a U.S.-based company that tracks heart rates, monitored chess players during a tournament and found that 21-year-old Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess -- or roughly what Roger Federer would burn in an hour of singles tennis.

Microbiota-Nourishing Immunity: A Guide to Understanding Our Microbial Self - ScienceDirect

Here we discuss the concept of microbiota-nourishing immunity, a host-microbe chimera composed of the microbiota and host factors that shape the microbial ecosystem, which functions in conferring colonization resistance against pathogens. We propose that dysbiosis is a biomarker of a weakening in microbiota-nourishing immunity and that homeostasis can be defined as a state of immune competence.

Mapping human microbiome drug metabolism by gut bacteria and their genes | Nature

Individuals vary widely in their responses to medicinal drugs, which can be dangerous and expensive owing to treatment delays and adverse effects. Although increasing evidence implicates the gut microbiome in this variability, the molecular mechanisms involved remain largely unknown. Here we show, by measuring the ability of 76 human gut bacteria from diverse clades to metabolize 271 orally administered drugs, that many drugs are chemically modified by microorganisms.