Posts Tagged ‘National Institutes of Health’
Adding omega-3 fatty acids did not improve a combination of nutritional supplements commonly recommended for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of vision loss among older Americans, according to a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The plant-derived antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin also had no overall effect on AMD when added to the combination; however, they were safer than the related antioxidant beta-carotene, according to the study published online today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Millions of older Americans take nutritional supplements to protect their sight without clear guidance regarding benefit and risk,” said NEI director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. “This study clarifies the role of supplements in helping prevent advanced AMD, an incurable, common, and devastating disease that robs older people of their sight and independence.”
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), which was led by NIH’s National Eye Institute and concluded in 2001, established that daily high doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and the minerals zinc and copper — called the AREDS formulation — can help slow the progression to advanced AMD. The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends use of the AREDS formulation to reduce the risk of advanced AMD. However, beta-carotene use has been linked to a heightened risk of lung cancer in smokers. And there have been concerns that the high zinc dose in AREDS could cause minor side effects, such as stomach upset, in some people.
In 2006 the NEI launched AREDS2, a five-year study designed to test whether the original AREDS formulation could be improved by adding omega-3 fatty acids; adding lutein and zeaxanthin; removing beta-carotene; or reducing zinc. The study also examined how different combinations of the supplements performed. Omega-3 fatty acids are produced by plants, including algae, and are present in oily fish such as salmon. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, a class of plant-derived vitamins that includes beta-carotene; both are present in leafy green vegetables and, when consumed, they accumulate in the retina. Prior studies had suggested that diets high in lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids protect vision. Before the AREDS2 study finished, manufacturers began marketing supplements based on the study design.
In AREDS2, participants took one of four AREDS formulations daily for five years. The original AREDS included 500 milligrams vitamin C, 400 international units of vitamin E, 15 milligrams beta carotene, 80 milligrams zinc, and two milligrams copper. Other groups took AREDS with no beta-carotene, AREDS with low zinc (25 milligrams), or AREDS with no beta-carotene and low zinc. Participants in each AREDS group also took one of four additional supplements or combinations: These included lutein/zeaxanthin (10 milligrams/ 2 milligrams), omega-3 fatty acids (1,000 milligrams), lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids, or placebo. Progression to advanced AMD was established by examination of retina photographs or treatment for advanced AMD.
AMD breaks down cells in the layer of tissue called the retina in the back of the eye that provide sharp central vision, which is necessary for tasks such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces. Advanced AMD can lead to significant vision loss and, in the United States, is the leading cause of blindness. About 2 million Americans have advanced AMD; another 8 million are at risk.
In the first AREDS trial, participants with AMD who took the AREDS formulation were 25 percent less likely to progress to advanced AMD over the five-year study period, compared with participants who took a placebo. In AREDS2, there was no overall additional benefit from adding omega-3 fatty acids or a 5-to-1 mixture of lutein and zeaxanthin to the formulation. However, the investigators did find some benefits when they analyzed two subgroups of participants: those not given beta-carotene, and those who had very little lutein and zeaxanthin in their diets.
“When we looked at just those participants in the study who took an AREDS formulation with lutein and zeaxanthin but no beta-carotene, their risk of developing advanced AMD over the five years of the study was reduced by about 18 percent, compared with participants who took an AREDS formulation with beta-carotene but no lutein or zeaxanthin,” said Emily Chew, M.D., deputy director of the NEI Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and the NEI deputy clinical director. “Further analysis showed that participants with low dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin at the start of the study, but who took an AREDS formulation with lutein and zeaxanthin during the study, were about 25 percent less likely to develop advanced AMD compared with participants with similar dietary intake who did not take lutein and zeaxanthin.”
Because carotenoids can compete with each other for absorption in the body, beta-carotene may have masked the effect of the lutein and zeaxanthin in the overall analysis, Chew said. Indeed, participants who took all three nutrients had lower levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in their blood compared to participants who took lutein and zeaxanthin without beta-carotene
Removing beta-carotene from the AREDS formulation did not curb the formulation’s protective effect against developing advanced AMD, an important finding because several studies have linked taking high doses of beta-carotene with a higher risk of lung cancer in smokers. Although smokers were not given a formulation with beta-carotene in AREDS2, the study showed an association between beta-carotene and risk of lung cancer among former smokers. About half of AREDS2 participants were former smokers. “Removing beta-carotene simplifies things,” said Wai T. Wong, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the NEI Neuron-Glia Interactions in Retinal Disease Unit and a co-author of the report. “We have identified a formulation that should be good for everyone regardless of smoking status,” he said. Adding omega-3 fatty acids or lowering zinc to the AREDS formulation also had no effect on AMD progression.
The more that researchers truly study the effects of antidepressant drugs on depression patients, the more it becomes painfully obvious that these mind-altering medications are utterly useless. A new study conducted by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has revealed that antidepressant drugs work no better than talk therapy, placebo pills, or basically anything else, at relieving depression.
Funded in part by the drug industry, the new study follows the same pattern as several other recent studies that, even though they were not intended to do so, actually expose antidepressant drugs as a scam. Though the study’s authors and various commentators were quick to dismiss the findings as not necessarily indicative of the fact that antidepressants provide no medical benefits, any reasonable person looking at the study with an open mind can clearly see that this is, in fact, the case.
For the study, which was published in theJournal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers randomly assigned 156 depression patients to either take the antidepressant drug Sertraline (Zoloft) daily for 16 weeks; a form of psychotherapy called supportive-expressive therapy twice a week for four weeks, then weekly for 12 weeks; or take inactive placebo pills for 16 weeks.
At the conclusion of the study period, researchers reported virtually no difference at all among the groups in how depression patients responded to their treatments — roughly 25 percent from each group saw an improvement in their depression symptoms, while the rest continued to struggle with their symptoms.
“I was surprised by the results,” said lead researcher Jacques P. Barber, dean of the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. “They weren’t what I’d expected.”
And to those who put their faith in Western medicine’s drug-based solutions for depression, how could the results not be surprising? After all, a study such as this one is an embarrassment to both the drug and mental health industries, as it shows that their so-called solutions are no better at treating depression symptoms than taking a sugar pill.
It’s not that the drug doesn’t work, it’s that everything works, including the drug!
And in trying to gloss over the results, some outside commentators inadvertently admitted that virtuallyanythingcan work to treat depression — yes, anything. Dr. David Mischoulon, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, for instance, actually told Reuters Health that, rather than disprove the effectiveness of antidepressants, the study actually shows that “everything seems to work to some degree.”
So when a scientific study proves that a certain pharmaceutical drug fails to live up to its hype, experts trying to defend that particular drug just have to claim thateverything, including that drug, can be helpful in treating a condition, and voila, it is still effective. This is, of course, an amazingly unscientific and absurd way of looking at the findings, but it is the only way apart from scrapping the useless drug that its defenders can (very poorly) try to justify its existence.
Sources for this article include:
Americans are using more alternative and preventive medicine as costs for traditional healthcare swells. 38 percent of American adults use alternative and complementary medicine, according to the National Institutes of Health. An increasing reliance on alternative and preventative medicine is not surprising when healthcare costs rise 8 percent each year, nearly three times the rate of inflation.
What may surprise some, though, is how effective alternative and preventative medicine can be. Elderberry, used medicinally in Europe for hundreds of years, received some long-overdue respect when researchers in Norway confirmed that it effectively relieves flu symptoms.¹ Even ardent fans of Dr. Oz may have a hard time pronouncing this funny-sounding herb after he featured it on one of his episodes, but Umckaloabo is gaining recognition as an immunity booster since The Journal of Family Practice cited four encouraging studies before saying that Umckaloabo “represents a promising treatment” for viral upper respiratory infections.² And while licorice may go down better than a spoonful of sugar, several studies show that it may be a promising treatment for ulcers as well.
While alternative treatments and herbs have shown promise when used in conjunction with traditional medicine for existing illnesses, the real promise in curtailing healthcare costs lies in prevention. According to the Prevention Institute, even a 5 percent reduction in preventable illnesses and injuries could mean substantial healthcare savings.
While genetics and lifestyle have long been the primary focus of preventative measures, recent science points to the immune system as a powerful predictor of illness. According to the Integrative Medicine Department at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, the immune system is the deciding factor between who gets sick and who doesn’t.
This newly published study by King’s College London establishes a more conclusive role for Essential Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Depression and Anxiety Disorders, from young to old.
The study by the King’s College London states Plasma linoleic acid (Omega-6) levels were found to have a negative linear relationship with depressive symptoms. (Negative association denotes factors that lead to various forms of mental disorder.)
The study, which included 130 participants, aged 60 to 86 years of age, from outpatient psychiatric services of four hospitals, concluded that the higher levels of Omega-6 are associated with higher residual Depression and Anxiety.
The results of another recent study by National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggested that a daily diet of Omega-3 fatty acids should be incorporated for the young and healthy individuals, since it has reduced their symptoms of anxiety.
According to the NCCAM study, a 12 week, double-blind study that included 68 healthy young medical students (38 men, 30 women), not only suggested that omega-3 fatty acids reduced the symptoms of Anxiety, and consistent with the previous studies of NCCAM, Omega-3 diet was suggested for reducing depressive symptoms in “clinically” depressed young subjects.
Moreover, another recent study by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of National Institutes of Health and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHA) recommended that 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day to reduce depression and anxiety scores among active service members with recurrent self-harm tendency.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are classified as Essential Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, both of which are only obtained through diet and they form an important part of all cellular membranes. Human body is incapable of producing either Omega-3 or Omega-6 and thus depends on the diet for their supply.
Omega-6 is found in most food but Omega-3 can only be attained from leafy green vegetables and cold-water fishes. Due to its scarcity in the diet, the deficiency of Omega-3 is substituted with readily available Omega-6, which explains the association between the higher residual depression / anxiety and the higher levels of Omega-6, as suggested by the King’s College study.
The higher levels of Omega-6 can only be reduced through higher dietary intake of Omega-3.
Higher intake of Omega-3, not only would reduce the high levels of Omega-6, determined to be the key focus of elderly depression and anxiety in the King’s College London study, but consistent with the various recent studies of NIH, higher intake of Omega-3 reduces the anxiety symptoms for the younger population.
The results of a recent study by National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that a daily diet of Omega-3 fatty acids should be incorporated for the young and healthy individuals, since it has reduced their symptoms of anxiety and inflammation, a process that plays a role in many other diseases.
A 12 week, double-blind, study that included 68 healthy young medical students (38 men, 30 women), not only suggests that omega-3 fatty acids reduced the symptoms of Anxiety, but consistent with the previous studies of NCCAM, Omega-3 diet is suggested for reducing depressive symptoms in “clinically” depressed subjects, young or old. However, the case may not be for less severely depressive individuals.
In previous studies, Anna-leila Williams, M.P.H., of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, reviewed evidence on Depression and Omega-3 in the general population. Out of five randomized controlled trials, all but one of these trials found some improvement from using Omega-3 for symptoms of Depression. (1)
The interest in Omega-3, as a clinical diet, dates back to 3 decades ago, when the Biological Psychiatry published the very first study setting apart the general vitamin diet from an Omega-3 diet, even though originally Omega-3 was considered to be a vitamin (Vitamin F). (2)
The first study incorporating an Omega-3 diet together with a Pharmaco-therapy was reported about a decade ago by the American Medical Association, in which 70 patients with persistent Depression, despite their current pharmaco-therapy, when a diet consisting of one (1) gram/per day of Omega-3 was added for a period of 12 weeks, 69% of the patients showed a 50% reduction in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD). (3)
Additionally, the role of Polyunsaturated fatty acids of Omega-3 in moderating stress has been well reported by The NIH and amazingly, in all age categories, the conclusion has been that the DHA of Omega-3 had unequivocal beneficial properties for Depression / Anxiety, young or old.
Notwithstanding this recent study on young medical student, but also, another recent study presented by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of NIH linked the stress to lack of DHA of Omega-3 in the active service members and, like this study, made the recommendation of an Omega-3 diet. (Our Press Release of 8/27/11)
Stress, be it psychological or physiological (age-related) produces a hormone called cortisol. Clinical studies have shown, going back to 1966, that cortisol increases the activity of an enzyme called “tryptophan pyrrolase”, which degrades tryptophan. (4)
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which is the raw material for the mood hormone (Serotonin). Lack of Serotonin has been implicated in Depression, bipolarity and anxiety. (5,6,7)
In addition to stress, higher inflammatory bio-markers have been associated with the degradation of tryptophan, as well. (8)
1. Journal of Affective Disorders, May 2006
2. Biological Psychiatry 1981 Sep;16(9):837-50.
3. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 59, Oct. 2002.
4. Biochemical Journal. 1972 November; 130(2): 74P.
5. Current Medicinal Chemistry. 2011 Aug 24
6. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Aug 16.
7. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2009 Jan;112(1-3):267-72.
8. Biological Chemistry Hoppe-Seyler. 1987 Oct; 368(10):1407-12.
Aaron’s Note: As some of you may know, I have been made editor of the Health Freedom Network Newsletter. Occasionally, I will reprint articles written by myself for inclusion in that newsletter. The newsletter is now available in PDF format by subscription through the Health Freedom Network website.
After a successful takeover of the American banking and automotive industries through bailouts, the U.S. government now appears ready to take over pharmaceuticals as well. Instead of direct bailouts, which angered the public, the plan this time is to quietly bail out Big Pharma by footing the bill for most of their research and development costs – by far the heaviest costs associated with patent medicines.
In the past couple of years, drug companies have scaled back their R&D funding because of cost setbacks and problems with recalls and legal costs. The companies are instead focusing on specific, accepted drugs and pushing to get the Food and Drug Administration to allow a broader accepted use for these pills to open their marketing to new sectors.
Many industry analysts are saying that the market for pharmaceuticals has been over-inflated and too heavily saturated and a scale back is required. A larger and larger chunk of pharma’s money is being spent on advertising rather than R&D now in order to keep the inflation happening. Most in the industry, however, realize that this is not sustainable and that things will have to be allowed to deflate. Cutting back research is a way to control that deflation.
Unless you’re in government. A tenet of bureaucracy is that it cannot shrink, it must continually grow or it will die. If drug companies scale back their production of new drugs, then bureaus like the FDA and the National Institutes of Health will also be required to scale back or show themselves irrelevant. To the bureaucrat, neither is an acceptable choice, so the third option is to increase relevance by creating new jobs for yourself.
Enter the NIH’s new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. This complicated name is the title of a new center for government-funded drug research. They’re trying to get $1 billion in annual funding for the NCATS with the excuse that the poor economy means drug companies are scaling back and American health will be at risk.
The silent bailout comes from the stated purpose of the NCATS. According to the NIH’s statements on why NCATS is being considered, “..the process of drug discovery remains a challenging and risk laden endeavor. These opportunities and challenges have prompted the National Institutes of Health to propose formation of a new center focused on accelerating the development and delivery of new, more effective therapeutics.”
The proposed center is expected to, among other things, provide research and “incentives” (read: money) for those developing “small-molecule compounds” (aka drugs) into a full range of products. In other words, they are going to provide R&D for new drugs either directly or by paying for the work being done by Big Pharma.
And, just like the current system, this new system will completely ignore non-patentable remedies and cures and continue to vilify them as “alternatives” suitable only for the insane and unenlightened.
I guess if they can get away with controlling the automotive and banking industries, they must think it’s OK for them to take over everything to do with healthcare too. Right? After all, the sick care industry is the biggest money maker on the planet and has little incentive to actually make people well.
Which is why those who espouse natural medicine, nutrition-based health, and other so-called “alternatives” are the true members of the wellness industry that promotes real healthcare.
As if anyone needed another reason to eat chocolate.. New research published in the August 2010 issue of the Annals of Epidemiology suggests that chocolate may be good for both gestational hypertension (GH) and for preeclampsia.1
This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with a lot of other research regarding chocolate, most of which has been featured here on NaturalNews in the past. Gestational hypertension is physiologically related to some forms of generalized high blood pressure and heart disease symptoms, which have been shown to be lowered beneficially through chocolate consumption (especially chocolates based on real cacao).2
This latest study was conducted by researchers from the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and from the Center for Perinatal, Pediatric, and Environmental Epidemiology at Yale University through grants from the National Institutes of Health. Subjects from 13 prenatal care practices in Connecticut were recruited and interviews were conducted within the first sixteen weeks of gestation.
A total of 2,567 women were included in the study, with most of their pregnancies (2,351) being normal without problems. 158 of the women were diagnosed as GH and 58 were preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition in which high blood pressure and protein in the urine develop after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can lead to serious problems for mother and baby, but instances of death and serious complication are rare in the U.S. as women are routinely monitored for this problem during pregnancy.3
In the study, chocolate was more commonly eaten by the normtive mothers during pregnancy than the others (80.7% or 5-15% higher). A control group of women who ate less than 1 serving of chocolate per week was used for comparison.
First trimester intake of chocolate was associated with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 0.65 (an aOR is a number between 0 and 1, the higher the better). This indicates a likely correlation.
Third trimester intake was associated with reduced odds of preeclampsia, but not conclusively (aOR 0.55) and the study’s authors call for more research.
“These findings provide additional evidence of the benefits of chocolate,” the study concludes.
This study wasn’t the first to examine the positive effects of eating chocolate duirng pregnancy. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Elizabeth W. Triche (PhD) of Yale University conducted a similar study in 2008 focused on preeclampsia.4
It’s known from other studies (which these studies cite) that the chemical theobromine in found in cacao-based chocolate. This chemical has many beneficial effects on the heart muscle and blood vessels. In fact, this latest research adds to the evidence already in hand for chocolate’s benefits during pregnancy.
This is good news for women everywhere and more evidence of the mounting tsunami of proof that chocolate is good for more than just an occasional treat.
1 – Does Chocolate Intake During Pregnancy Reduce the Risks of Preeclampsia and Gestational Hypertension? by Audrey F. Safftlas, PhD, MPH, et al, Annals of Epidemiology, August 2010
2 – Chocolate lowers blood pressure and slashes risk of heart disease by S.L. Baker, NaturalNews.com
3 – Preeclampsia, Google Health
Published on NaturalNews 08/10/10: http://www.naturalnews.com/029418_chocolate_pregnancy.html