Category Archives: Uncategorized

What’s in tattoo ink?

I saw my first tattoo on a baseball field in Chicago 70 years ago as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I think it was an anchor or something seafaring as the fellow had been in the Navy.

From life-like faces to elaborate nature scenes, tattoos are a true art form. Although people have decorated their bodies for millennia for ceremonial and religious reasons, many people today adorn themselves with these images as a form of self-expression. But the inks used for tattoos are unregulated in the U.S., resulting in products whose components are largely a mystery. Now, researchers have analyzed almost 100 inks and report that even when these products include an ingredient label, the lists often aren’t accurate. The team also detected small particles that could be harmful to cells.

The researchers presented their results at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Fall 2022 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person Aug. 21–25, with on-demand access available Aug. 26–Sept. 9. The meeting features nearly 11,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SuperAger brains contain ‘super neurons’ – NW

·  SuperAger neurons are even larger than those in individuals 20 to 30 years younger
·  These neurons do not have tau tangles that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s
·  Larger neurons in the brain’s memory region are a biological signature of SuperAging trajectory

Neurons in an area of the brain responsible for memory (known as the entorhinal cortex) were significantly larger in SuperAgers compared to cognitively average peers, individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and even individuals 20 to 30 years younger than SuperAgers — who are aged 80 years and older, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

These neurons did not harbor tau tangles, a signature hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The remarkable observation that SuperAgers showed larger neurons than their younger peers may imply that large cells were present from birth and are maintained structurally throughout their lives,” said lead author Tamar Gefen, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We conclude that larger neurons are a biological signature of the SuperAging trajectory.”  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stress has an odor and dogs can smell it …

Dogs can smell stress from human sweat and breath, a new study by Queen’s University Belfast researchers has found.

The study involved four dogs from Belfast – Treo, Fingal, Soot and Winnie – and 36 people.

This is my new dog, Boots, helping to keep my stress levels down.

Researchers collected samples of sweat and breath from participants before and after they did a difficult maths problem. They self-reported their stress levels before and after the task and researchers only used samples where the person’s blood pressure and heart rate had increased.

The dogs were taught how to search a scent line-up and alert researchers to the correct sample. The stress and relaxed samples were then introduced but at this stage the researchers didn’t know if there was an odour difference that dogs could detect.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My Ticket to Ride …

I am thrilled to report that today marks the 22nd anniversary of my retirement. On October 2 of 2000, I bade the financial world adieu and started my life as a guy who didn’t have to get up for work every morning.
I got my first job at the age of 10 sweeping the floor of a dry cleaner and continued to work till I reached 60. Although my degree is in Finance, I went into the publishing world writing and editing. I liked markets, but always knew I would write. I wrote and practiced journalism for most of my career, spending 20 years working for Reuters covering international markets and then teaching journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University for several years. Because I had written about markets for 30 years, my boss at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation asked me if I would like to manage some money So, I managed $900 million in bond investments for the final five years of my working life.

No mas. I thought I would celebrate with this biking post. When I was working I used to tell my friends at the office that when I retired I was going to ride my bike on the Chicago lakefront every day. They thought that was funny. I was never more serious.
You all know how I ride my bike nearly every day year ’round here in Chicago. I do it because I love it. Period. Everything else is gravy. As you know from my numerous posts on exercise and the brain I absolutely believe that my riding aids in my still thinking straight at the ripe of age of 82. For the record, my family has five cases of Alzheimer’s on both sides – my father’s father, my father’s sister and her daughter. On my mother’s side, she and her sister.

Tony

24 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

How Does What We Eat Affect Our Healthspan and Longevity?

The answer to a relatively concise question – how does what we eat affect how we age — is unavoidably complex, according to a new study at the Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. While most analyses had been concerned with the effects of a single nutrient on a single outcome, a conventional, uni-dimensional approach to understanding the effects of diet on health and aging no longer provides us with the full picture: healthy diet needs to be considered based on the balance of ensembles of nutrients, rather than by optimizing a series of nutrients one at a time. Until now little was known about how normal variation in dietary patterns in humans affects the aging process. The findings are published online in the journal BMC Biology.


“Our ability to understand the problem has been complicated by the fact that both nutrition and the physiology of aging are highly complex and multidimensional, involving a high number of functional interactions,” said Alan Cohen, PhD, associate professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia Mailman School. “This study therefore provides further support to the importance of looking beyond ‘a single nutrient at a time’ as the one size fits all response to the age-old question of how to live a long and healthy life.” Cohen also points that the results are also concordant with numerous studies highlighting the need for increased protein intake in older people, in particular, to offset sarcopenia and decreased physical performance associated with aging.
 
Using multidimensional modelling techniques to test the effects of nutrient intake on physiological dysregulation in older adults, the researchers identified key patterns of specific nutrients associated with minimal biological aging. “Our approach presents a roadmap for future studies to explore the full complexity of the nutrition-aging landscape,” observed Cohen, who is also affiliated with the Butler Columbia Aging Center.

The researchers analyzed data from 1560 older men and women, aged 67-84 years selected randomly between November 2003 and June 2005 from the Montreal, Laval, or Sherbrooke areas in Quebec, Canada, who were re-examined annually for 3 years and followed over four years to assess on a large-scale how nutrient intake associates with the aging process. 

Aging and age-related loss of homeostasis (physiological dysregulation) were quantified via the integration of blood biomarkers. The effects of diet used the geometric framework for nutrition, applied to macronutrients and 19 micronutrients/nutrient subclasses. Researchers fitted a series of eight models exploring different nutritional predictors and adjusted for income, education level, age, physical activity, number of comorbidities, sex, and current smoking status.

Four broad patterns were observed:

    •    The optimal level of nutrient intake was dependent on the aging metric used. Elevated
protein intake improved/depressed some ageing parameters, whereas elevated carbohydrate levels improved/depressed oth
 
    •    There were cases where intermediate levels of nutrients performed well for many outcomes (i.e. arguing against a simple more/less is better perspective);
 
    •    There is broad tolerance for nutrient intake patterns that don’t deviate too much from norms
(‘homeostatic plateaus’).
 
    •    Optimal levels of one nutrient often depend on levels of another (e.g. vitamin E and vitamin C). Simpler analytical approaches are insufficient to capture such associations.
 
The research team also developed an interactive tool to allow users to explore how different combinations of micronutrients affect different aspects of aging.

The results of this study are consistent with earlier experimental work in mice showing that high-protein diets may accelerate aging earlier in life, but are beneficial at older ages.

“These results are not experimental and will need to be validated in other contexts. Specific findings, such as the salience of the combination of vitamin E and vitamin C, may well not replicate in other studies. But the qualitative finding that there are no simple answers to optimal nutrition is likely to hold up: it was evident in nearly all our analyses, from a wide variety of approaches, and is consistent with evolutionary principles and much previous work,” said Cohen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

COVID-19 infections increase risk of long-term brain problems

Strokes, seizures, memory and movement disorders among problems that develop in first year after infection

If you’ve had COVID-19, it may still be messing with your brain. Those who have been infected with the virus are at increased risk of developing a range of neurological conditions in the first year after the infection, new research shows. Such complications include strokes, cognitive and memory problems, depression, anxiety and migraine headaches, according to a comprehensive analysis of federal health data by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care system.

People who have had COVID-19 are at an elevated risk of developing neurological conditions within the first year after infection, according to a detailed analysis of federal data by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Movement disorders, memory problems, strokes and seizures are among the complications.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Frivolous Friday …

Are you ready for October? Suddenly we have Fall weather here in Chicago. Have some frivolity….

Have a great weekend!

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Black tea drinking associated with reduced deaths – NIH

Tea is a popular beverage around the world. Previous studies have shown an association between tea drinking and reduced mortality. But these studies have mostly looked at Asian populations who typically drink green tea. In places such as Europe and the United States, black tea is more common. The few studies done on black tea-drinking populations have produced mixed results.

Photo by Anna Pou on Pexels.com

A research team led by Dr. Maki Inoue-Choi of NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) investigated the association between tea drinking and mortality in the United Kingdom, where black tea is popular. The team used data on nearly half a million people, ages 40-69, who enrolled in the UK Biobank study between 2006 and 2010.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Machine learning gives glimpse of how a dog’s brain represents what it sees

Okay, this doesn’t have any obvious connection to living a long and healthy life, but I am a dog-lover and believe that there are more connections between our two species than meets the eye.

Scientists have decoded visual images from a dog’s brain, offering a first look at how the canine mind reconstructs what it sees. The Journal of Visualized Experiments published the research done at Emory University. 

Credit: Emory Canine Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

The results suggest that dogs are more attuned to actions in their environment rather than to who or what is doing the action.

The researchers recorded the fMRI neural data for two awake, unrestrained dogs as they watched videos in three 30-minute sessions, for a total of 90 minutes. They then used a machine-learning algorithm to analyze the patterns in the neural data.

“We showed that we can monitor the activity in a dog’s brain while it is watching a video and, to at least a limited degree, reconstruct what it is looking at,” says Gregory Berns, Emory professor of psychology and corresponding author of the paper. “The fact that we are able to do that is remarkable.”

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mental health tips for seniors – NIA

As people age, changes such as hearing and vision loss, memory loss, disability, trouble getting around, and the loss of family and friends can make it difficult to maintain social connections. This makes older adults more likely to be socially isolated or to feel lonely. Although they sound similar, social isolation and loneliness are different, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Loneliness is the distressing feeling of being alone or separated, while social isolation is the lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly.

Photo by Hasan Albari on Pexels.com

Several recent studies show that older adults who are socially isolated or feel lonely are at higher risk for heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline. A 2021 study of more than 11,000 adults older than age 70 found that loneliness was associated with a greater risk of heart disease. Another recent study found that socially isolated older adults experienced more chronic lung conditions and depressive symptoms compared to older adults with social support.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What about seniors drinking alcohol? -NIA


Like all adults, older adults should avoid or limit alcohol consumption. In fact, aging can lead to social and physical changes that make older adults more susceptible to alcohol misuse and abuse and more vulnerable to the consequences of alcohol. Alcohol dependence or heavy drinking affects every organ in the body, including the brain.

Photo by Prem Pal Singh Tanwar on Pexels.com

comprehensive study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that alcohol consumption among older adults, especially women, is on the rise. The researchers also found evidence that certain brain regions show signs of premature aging in alcohol-dependent men and women. In addition, heavy drinking for extended periods of time in older adults may contribute to poor heart health, as shown in this 2016 study. These studies suggest that stopping or limiting the use of alcohol could improve heart health and prevent the accelerated aging seen with heavy alcohol use.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Learning a musical instrument may confer lifelong cognitive benefits

Musical training has long been linked to better general cognitive functioning. Studies investigating everything from the cognitive skills of adult musicians vs non-musicians to the effects of instrument lessons on children’s cognition has come out in support of the idea, according to the British Psychological Society.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

However, relatively few studies have explored whether the benefits last — if, as a child, you have piano lessons, for example, does this have any impact on your cognitive abilities in later life? The results of a new longitudinal study, in Psychological Science, which tested the same people at the ages of 11 and 70, suggest that it does. Cognitive benefits of musical training seem to be evident even decades later.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Leisure activities may improve seniors’ longevity – NIH

Eat less; move more; live longer … How many times have you read that on these pages? Now comes the National Institutes of Health with more of the same.

Physical activity is vital for your health. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases ranging from heart disease to diabetes. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get a minimum of 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, or at least half that amount of vigorous-intensity activity.

Photo by Leandro Boogalu on Pexels.com

Previous studies have found that a wide variety of leisure-time physical activities can provide health benefits. But these studies have largely been done in younger adults. And many did not track different levels of various types of activities.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Daytime eating may benefit mental health

Beating the blues with food? A new study adds evidence that meal timing may affect mental health, including levels of depression- and anxiety-related mood. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, designed a study that simulated night work and then tested the effects of daytime and nighttime eating versus daytime eating only. The team found that, among participants in the daytime and nighttime eating group, depression-like mood levels increased by 26 percent and anxiety-like mood levels by 16 percent. Participants in the daytime-only eating group did not experience this increase, suggesting that meal timing may influence mood vulnerability. Results are published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Photo by Flo Dahm on Pexels.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Frivolous Friday …

Having retired 22 years ago, I know that I am out of the ‘flow’ of office and work experience. A lot of folks don’t even go in to the office any more. Nonetheless, I would have thought that being a librarian was one of the most tranquil jobs imaginable. Looking at these faux paperback book covers, however, I realize how wrong I would be.

Tony

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Can the Flu Shot Reduce Your Risk of Stroke? 

For the record, I get a flu shot every year and encourage readers to do the same. Check out My post It’s Time to Get that Flu Shot.

Getting an annual flu shot may be associated with a lower risk of stroke, according to a study published in the September 7, 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

“Studies have shown that getting the flu increases your risk of having a stroke, but research is still being collected on whether getting the flu vaccine can help protect against a stroke,” said study author Francisco J. de Abajo, MD, MPH, PhD, of the University of Alcalá in Madrid, Spain. “This observational study suggests that those who have a flu shot have a lower risk of stroke. To determine whether this is due to a protective effect of the vaccine itself or to other factors, more research is needed.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized