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Oct 11

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  • Vitamin D Deficiency Leads to Dementia – Neuroscience News Wednesday June 15th, 2022

    Summary: Researchers found an association between low vitamin D levels and reduced brain volume. Lower vitamin D was also linked to an increased risk of stroke and dementia. Up to 17% of dementia cases could be prevented by increasing vitamin D.

    Source: University of South Australia

    Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide, affecting thinking and behaviors as you age. But what if you could stop this degenerative disease in its tracks?

    A world-first study from the University of South Australia could make this a reality as new genetic research shows a direct link between dementia and a lack of vitamin D.

    Investigating the association between vitamin D, neuroimaging features, and the risk of dementia and stroke, the study found:

    • low levels of vitamin D were associated with lower brain volumes and an increased risk of dementia and stroke
    • genetic analyses supported a causal effect of vitamin D deficiency and dementia.
    • in some populations as much as 17 percent of dementia cases might be prevented by increasing everyone to normal levels of vitamin D (50 nmol/L).

    Dementia is a chronic or progressive syndrome that leads to deterioration in cognitive function. About 487,500 Australians live with dementia and it is the country’s second leading cause of death. Globally, more than 55 million people have dementia with 10 million new cases diagnosed every year.

    Supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the genetic study analysed data from 294,514 participants from the UK Biobank, examining the impact of low levels of vitamin D (25 nmol/L) and the risk of dementia and stroke. Nonlinear Mendelian randomisation (MR) – a method of using measured variation in genes to examine the causal effect of a modifiable exposure on disease – were used to test for underlying causality for neuroimaging outcomes, dementia, and stroke.

    Senior investigator and Director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, Professor Elina Hyppönen, says the findings are important for the prevention of dementia and appreciating the need to abolish vitamin D deficiency.

    “Vitamin D is a hormone precursor that is increasingly recognised for widespread effects, including on brain health, but until now it has been very difficult to examine what would happen if we were able to prevent vitamin D deficiency,” Prof Hyppönen says.

    “Our study is the first to examine the effect of very low levels of vitamin D on the risks of dementia and stroke, using robust genetic analyses among a large population.

    “In some contexts, where vitamin D deficiency is relatively common, our findings have important implications for dementia risks. Indeed, in this UK population we observed that up to 17 per cent of dementia cases might have been avoided by boosting vitamin D levels to be within a normal range.”

    The findings are incredibly significant given the high prevalence of dementia around the world.

    “Dementia is a progressive and debilitating disease that can devastate individuals and families alike,” Prof Hyppönen says.

    “If we’re able to change this reality through ensuring that none of us is severely vitamin D deficient, it would also have further benefits and we could change the health and wellbeing for thousands.”

    “Most of us are likely to be ok, but for anyone who for whatever reason may not receive enough vitamin D from the sun, modifications to diet may not be enough, and supplementation may well be needed.”

    About this vitamin D and dementia research news

    Author: Annabel Mansfield
    Source: University of South Australia
    Contact: Annabel Mansfield – University of South Australia
    Image: The image is in the public domain

    Original Research: Open access.
    Vitamin D and brain health: an observational and Mendelian randomization study” by Elina Hyppönen et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


    Vitamin D and brain health: an observational and Mendelian randomization study

    Higher vitamin D status has been suggested to have beneficial effects on the brain.


    To investigate the association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], neuroimaging features, and the risk of dementia and stroke.


    We used prospective data from the UK Biobank (37–73 y at baseline) to examine the association between 25(OH)D concentrations with neuroimaging outcomes (N = 33,523) and the risk of dementia and stroke (N = 427,690; 3414 and 5339 incident cases, respectively). Observational analyses were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, month, center, and socioeconomic, lifestyle, sun behavior, and illness-related factors. Nonlinear Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses were used to test for underlying causality for neuroimaging outcomes (N = 23,901) and dementia and stroke (N = 294,514; 2399 and 3760 cases, respectively).


    Associations between 25(OH)D and total, gray matter, white matter, and hippocampal volumes were nonlinear, with lower volumes both for low and high concentrations (adjusted P-nonlinear ≤ 0.04). 25(OH)D had an inverse association with white matter hyperintensity volume [per 10 nmol/L 25(OH)D; adjusted β: –6.1; 95% CI: –11.5, –7.0]. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with an increased risk of dementia and stroke, with the strongest associations for those with 25(OH)D <25 nmol/L (compared with 50–75.9 nmol/L; adjusted HR: 1.79; 95% CI: 1.57, 2.04 and HR: 1.40; 95% CI: 1.26, 1.56, respectively).

    Nonlinear MR analyses confirmed the threshold effect of 25(OH)D on dementia, with the risk predicted to be 54% (95% CI: 1.21, 1.96) higher for participants at 25 nmol/L compared with 50 nmol/L. 25(OH)D was not associated with neuroimaging outcomes or the risk of stroke in MR analyses. Potential impact fraction suggests 17% (95% CI: 7.22, 30.58) of dementia could be prevented by increasing 25(OH)D to 50 nmol/L.


    Low vitamin D status was associated with neuroimaging outcomes and the risks of dementia and stroke even after extensive covariate adjustment. MR analyses support a causal effect of vitamin D deficiency on dementia but not on stroke risk.

    Source: Neuroscience News

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  • The mystery of why most life-long smokers don’t get lung cancer is solved Tuesday May 31st, 2022
    Cigarette smoking is overwhelmingly the main cause of lung cancer, yet only a minority of smokers develop the disease. A study led by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and published online today in Nature Genetics suggests that some smokers may have robust mechanisms that protect them from lung cancer by limiting mutations. The findings could help identify those smokers who face an increased risk for the disease and therefore warrant especially close monitoring.

    “This may prove to be an important step toward the prevention and early detection of lung cancer risk and away from the current herculean efforts needed to battle late-stage disease, where the majority of health expenditures and misery occur,” said Simon Spivack, M.D., M.P.H., a co-senior author of the study, professor of medicine, of epidemiology & population health, and of genetics at Einstein, and a pulmonologist at Montefiore Health System.

    Overcoming Obstacles to Study Cell Mutations

    It’s long been assumed that smoking leads to lung cancer by triggering DNA mutations in normal lung cells. “But that could never be proven until our study, since there was no way to accurately quantify mutations in normal cells,” said Jan Vijg, Ph.D., a study co-senior author and professor and chair of genetics, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and the Lola and Saul Kramer Chair in Molecular Genetics at Einstein (also at the Center for Single-Cell Omics, Jiaotong University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China). Dr. Vijg overcame that obstacle a few years ago by developing an improved method for sequencing the entire genomes of individual cells.

    Single-cell whole-genome sequencing methods can introduce sequencing errors that are hard to distinguish from true mutations—a serious flaw when analyzing cells containing rare and random mutations. Dr. Vijg solved this problem by developing a new sequencing technique called single-cell multiple displacement amplification (SCMDA). As reported in Nature Methods in 2017, this method accounts for and reduces sequencing errors.

    The Einstein researchers used SCMDA to compare the mutational landscape of normal lung epithelial cells (i.e., cells lining the lung) from two types of people: 14 never-smokers, ages 11 to 86; and 19 smokers, ages 44 to 81, who had smoked a maximum of 116 pack years. (One pack year of smoking equals 1 pack of cigarettes smoked per day for one year.) The cells were collected from patients who were undergoing bronchoscopy for diagnostic tests unrelated to cancer.

    “These lung cells survive for years, even decades, and thus can accumulate mutations with both age and smoking,” said Dr. Spivack. “Of all the lung’s cell types, these are among the most likely to become cancerous.”

    Mutations Caused by Smoking

    The researchers found that mutations (single-nucleotide variants and small insertions and deletions) accumulated in the lung cells of non-smokers as they age—and that significantly more mutations were found in the lung cells of the smokers. “This experimentally confirms that smoking increases lung cancer risk by increasing the frequency of mutations, as previously hypothesized,” said Dr. Spivack. “This is likely one reason why so few non-smokers get lung cancer, while 10% to 20% of lifelong smokers do.”

    Another finding from the study: The number of cell mutations detected in lung cells increased in a straight line with the number of pack years of smoking—and, presumably, the risk for lung cancer increased as well. But interestingly, the rise in cell mutations halted after 23 pack years of exposure.

    “The heaviest smokers did not have the highest mutation burden,” said Dr. Spivack. “Our data suggest that these individuals may have survived for so long in spite of their heavy smoking because they managed to suppress further mutation accumulation. This leveling off of mutations could stem from these people having very proficient systems for repairing DNA damage or detoxifying cigarette smoke.”

    The finding has led to a new research direction. “We now wish to develop new assays that can measure someone’s capacity for DNA repair or detoxification, which could offer a new way to assess one’s risk for lung cancer,” said Dr. Vijg.

    The study is titled, “Single-cell analysis of somatic mutations in human bronchial epithelial cells in relation to aging and smoking.” Additional Einstein authors include: Zhenqiu Huang, Ph.D., Shixiang Sun, Ph.D., Moonsook Lee, M.S., Yakov Peter, Ph.D., Ali Sadoughi, M.D., Chirag Shah, M.D., and Kenny Ye, Ph.D., Miao Shi, Ph.D., Spencer Waldman, B.S., Ava Marsh, B.A., Taha Siddiqui, M.B.B.S., Alexander Y. Maslov, M.D., Ph.D. (also at Voronezh State University of Engineering Technology, Voronezh, Russia), and Xiao Dong, Ph.D. (also at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN).

    Note: Materials provided above by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Content may be edited for style and length.

    Source: The Brighter Side of News

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  • Rosemary is Packed With Brain-Boosting Apigenin | Well+Good Sunday May 22nd, 2022

    Rosemary is an easy, delicious herb to have on hand at all times—you can use it as a garnish for herb-studded recipes, sprinkle it into marinades or over roasted veggies, or infuse it into a warm cup of tea, like chamomile. Since it’s super versatile and can be used fresh or dried, rosemary is a no-brainer pantry staple: It pairs well with everything from citrus fruits to poultry, fish, bread, and broth.

    But aside from rosemary’s delicious flavor, it’s also an herb rich in health perks: It’s been shown to help boost your immunity, cognitive health, memory, and focus, as well as your sleep. Many of the above—particularly the latter—is largely due to rosemary’s rich apigenin content.

    What is apigenin?

    “Apigenin is a form of flavonoid—a type of plant compound—which is often found in many herbs,” says registered dietitian Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD. “Flavonoids are phytochemicals, which are chemical compounds produced by plants. Once consumed, phytochemicals are able to provide protection against illness as well as many other health benefits.”

    According to Best, rosemary is among the richest food source of apigenin. When you consume foods with rosemary, its high apigenin content is able to provide antioxidant-like benefits: Think fighting free-radicals and inflammation in the body, which helps stave off chronic illness, supports your immune system, and boosts your mood. “Other top sources of apigenin include oregano, parsley, celery, artichokes, and chamomile,” Best adds. “The great news is that all of these foods taste delicious with rosemary, so you can easily double or triple your apigenin intake by pairing rosemary with another one of these all-star ingredients when cooking.”

    The health benefits of apigenin

    While more research is needed to fully explain the connection between apigenin content and improvements in health and wellness, emerging research shows high potential. “The nutrition science world is quickly learning more regarding the impact apigenin may have on chronic disease and health overall,” says Best.

    Related Stories

    There are several studies, conducted on both animals and humans, which show promising results regarding the link between apigenin content and improved brain health and cognitive functioning. “Rosemary has been shown to help protect brain cells from damage and death, thereby improving brain health,” says Best. Even its aroma can boost alertness, focus, and memory, for better productivity and working skills, as shown in recent research. “Rosemary is a known natural cognitive stimulant, meaning it can help to enhance alertness and improve your mood.”

    Lastly, anti-cancer benefits may also make the list of apigenin benefits, with the help of research, in time. “The impact of apigenin on cellular health has been shown to help slow and reverse damage, which may lower your risk of chronic diseases, like cancer and type 2 diabetes,” says adds. Apigenin may also play a role in slowing and preventing tumor growth at a cellular level, as shown in a 2017 study.

    Rosemary’s apigenin content may also help you sleep better

    “Some studies have shown that rosemary may have a secondary side effect of improving sleep, which this is due primarily to the impact rosemary has on anxiety and stress,” says Best.

    According to Best, new research suggests an association between apigenin content and improved relaxation and wellbeing, which may signify that apigenin has anti-stress and other holistic, therapeutic benefits that work to improve sleep quality and duration. “Rosemary can improve stress by dampening the body’s production of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as potentially—though mildly—slowing your heart rate” says Best. “These two impacts can result in better sleep, though more research is still needed to validate these findings.”

    4 delicious rosemary recipes packed with brain-boosting apigenin

    There are many delicious ways to incorporate rosemary into your diet: Think meals, snacks, bevvies, and baked goods. Here are a few apigenin- and rosemary-rich ways to get you started in the kitchen.

    1. Rutabaga and Rosemary Bread

    This lovely savory bread recipe can be enjoyed as part of a protein-packed breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We love that it fits within a variety of allergen-free meal plans: It even has no added sugar. Try spreading avocado or almond butter on top, or make a sandwich with turkey or chicken and other fiber-rich vegetables as fillings.

    Get the recipe: Rutabaga and Rosemary Bread

    2. Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup

    Chicken noodle soup is our favorite form of immune-booster: What can’t a bowl of this stuff fend off? It’s also easy to cook in bulk as part of your weekly meal prep, and has a pretty long shelf-life (especially when you freeze it). “This soup provides the added antimicrobial and antiviral benefits of rosemary to get you feeling better fast,” Best says. BTW, rosemary tastes delicious when infused into the broth.

    Get the recipe: Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup

    3. Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

    This mashed cauliflower recipe is a simple side dish packed with heart-healthy fiber and antioxidants. It is versatile and offers additional immunity benefits, thanks to its use of flavorful garlic, which provides anti-inflammatory properties to keep you healthy and strong.

    Get the recipe: Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

    4. Rosemary and Lemon Herbal Tea

    Enjoy a warm cup of this citrusy herbal tea before bed or when you’re feeling stressed and need to chill. Try adding a little bit of sweetness in the form of raw honey, which is antimicrobial by nature, and thus may further help to improve immunity and overall health. Plus, for sleep benefits in particular, a warm and cozy cup of this tea before bed is the ideal bedtime ritual for inducing drowsiness to help you fall asleep faster.

    Get the recipe: Rosemary and Lemon Herbal Tea

    Source: Well+Good

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