American Society of Nephrology study: Sugar-sweetened beverage pattern linked to higher kidney disease risk

30 Dec

Kerry Torrens, nutritional therapist wrote in The truth about sugar:

The instant ‘lift’ we get from sugar is one of the reasons we turn to it at times of celebration or when we crave comfort or reward. However, even those of us without a sweet tooth may be eating more than we realise because so many everyday processed foods, from cereals and bread to pasta sauce and soups contain sugar…. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/truth-about-sugar
There are many medical reasons for reducing sugar in one’s diet. The issue for many reduced or sugar free products is can palates educated to the taste of sugar adapt to a different option?

An American Society of Nephrology study reported that a sugar-sweetened beverage pattern was linked to a higher risk of kidney disease.

Science Daily reported in Sugar-sweetened beverage pattern linked to higher kidney disease risk:

Higher collective consumption of sweetened fruit drinks, soda, and water was associated with a higher likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) in a community-based study of African-American adults in Mississippi. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), contribute to the growing body of evidence pointing to the negative health consequences of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages.
Certain beverages may affect kidney health, but study results have been inconsistent. To provide more clarity, Casey Rebholz PhD, MS, MNSP, MPH (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and her colleagues prospectively studied 3003 African-American men and women with normal kidney function who were enrolled in the Jackson Heart Study.
“There is a lack of comprehensive information on the health implications of the wide range of beverage options that are available in the food supply,” said Dr. Rebholz. “In particular, there is limited information on which types of beverages and patterns of beverages are associated with kidney disease risk in particular.”
For their study, the investigators assessed beverage intake through a food frequency questionnaire administered at the start of the study in 2000-04, and they followed participants until 2009-13.
Among the 3003 participants, 185 (6%) developed CKD over a median follow-up of 8 years. After adjustment for confounding factors, consuming a beverage pattern consisting of soda, sweetened fruit drinks, and water was associated with a higher risk of developing CKD. Participants in the top tertile for consumption of this beverage pattern were 61% more likely to develop CKD than those in the bottom tertile.
The researchers were surprised to see that water was a component of this beverage pattern that was linked with a higher risk of CKD. They noted that study participants may have reported their consumption of a wide variety of types of water, including flavored and sweetened water. Unfortunately, the investigators did not collect information about specific brands or types of bottled water in the Jackson Heart Study.
In an accompanying editorial, Holly Kramer, MD, MPH and David Shoham, PhD (Loyola University Chicago) noted that the findings hold strong public health implications. “While a few select U.S. cities have successfully reduced SSB [sugar sweetened beverage] consumption via taxation, all other municipalities have resisted public health efforts to lower SSB consumption,” they wrote. “This cultural resistance to reducing SSB consumption can be compared to the cultural resistance to smoking cessation during the 1960s after the Surgeon General report was released. During the 1960s, tobacco use was viewed as a social choice and not a medical or social public health problem….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181228091642.htm

Citation:

Sugar-sweetened beverage pattern linked to higher kidney disease risk
Date: December 28, 2018
Source: American Society of Nephrology
Summary:
In a study of African-American men and women with normal kidney function, a pattern of higher collective consumption of soda, sweetened fruit drinks, and water was associated with a higher risk of developing kidney disease.
Journal Reference:
Casey M. Rebholz, Bessie A. Young, Ronit Katz, Katherine L. Tucker, Teresa C. Carithers, Arnita F. Norwood, Adolfo Correa. Patterns of Beverages Consumed and Risk of Incident Kidney Disease. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 2018; CJN.06380518 DOI: 10.2215/CJN.06380518

Here is the press release from American Society of Nephrology:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 27-DEC-2018
Sugar-sweetened beverage pattern linked to higher kidney disease risk
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF NEPHROLOGY
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• In a study of African-American men and women with normal kidney function, a pattern of higher collective consumption of soda, sweetened fruit drinks, and water was associated with a higher risk of developing kidney disease.
Washington, DC (December 27, 2018) — Higher collective consumption of sweetened fruit drinks, soda, and water was associated with a higher likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) in a community-based study of African-American adults in Mississippi. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), contribute to the growing body of evidence pointing to the negative health consequences of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages.
Certain beverages may affect kidney health, but study results have been inconsistent. To provide more clarity, Casey Rebholz PhD, MS, MNSP, MPH (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and her colleagues prospectively studied 3003 African-American men and women with normal kidney function who were enrolled in the Jackson Heart Study.
“There is a lack of comprehensive information on the health implications of the wide range of beverage options that are available in the food supply,” said Dr. Rebholz. “In particular, there is limited information on which types of beverages and patterns of beverages are associated with kidney disease risk in particular.”
For their study, the investigators assessed beverage intake through a food frequency questionnaire administered at the start of the study in 2000-04, and they followed participants until 2009-13.
Among the 3003 participants, 185 (6%) developed CKD over a median follow-up of 8 years. After adjustment for confounding factors, consuming a beverage pattern consisting of soda, sweetened fruit drinks, and water was associated with a higher risk of developing CKD. Participants in the top tertile for consumption of this beverage pattern were 61% more likely to develop CKD than those in the bottom tertile.
The researchers were surprised to see that water was a component of this beverage pattern that was linked with a higher risk of CKD. They noted that study participants may have reported their consumption of a wide variety of types of water, including flavored and sweetened water. Unfortunately, the investigators did not collect information about specific brands or types of bottled water in the Jackson Heart Study.
In an accompanying editorial, Holly Kramer, MD, MPH and David Shoham, PhD (Loyola University Chicago) noted that the findings hold strong public health implications. “While a few select U.S. cities have successfully reduced SSB [sugar sweetened beverage] consumption via taxation, all other municipalities have resisted public health efforts to lower SSB consumption,” they wrote. “This cultural resistance to reducing SSB consumption can be compared to the cultural resistance to smoking cessation during the 1960s after the Surgeon General report was released. During the 1960s, tobacco use was viewed as a social choice and not a medical or social public health problem.”
In an accompanying Patient Voice editorial, Duane Sunwold explained that he is a patient with CKD who changed his eating and drinking patterns to put his disease in remission. As a chef, he offers a number of recommendations to fellow patients trying to decrease their consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.
###
Study co-authors include Bessie Young, MD, MPH, Ronit Katz, PhD, Katherine Tucker, PhD, Teresa Carithers, PhD, RD, LD, Arnita Norwood, PhD, MPH, RD, and Adolfo Correa, MD, PhD, MPH.
Disclosures: The authors reported no financial disclosures.
The article, entitled “Patterns of Beverages Consumed and Risk of Incident Kidney Disease,” will appear online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on December 27, 2018, doi: 10.2215/CJN.06380518.
The accompanying editorial, entitled “The Millennial Physician and the Obesity Epidemic: A Tale of Sugar Sweetened Beverages,” will appear online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on December 27, 2018.
The Patient Voice editorial, entitled “Diet and Risk for Developing Kidney Disease,” will appear online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on December 27, 2018.
The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.
Since 1966, ASN has been leading the fight to prevent, treat, and cure kidney diseases throughout the world by educating health professionals and scientists, advancing research and innovation, communicating new knowledge, and advocating for the highest quality care for patients. ASN has more than 20,000 members representing 131 countries. For more information, please visit http://www.asn-online.org or contact the society at 202-640-4660.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

The Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health reported about the effects of sugary drinks in Soft Drinks and Disease.

According to the Chan School:

Soft drinks are the beverage of choice for millions of Americans, but sugary drinks increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
• People who consume sugary drinks regularly—1 to 2 cans a day or more—have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks. (46)
• A study that followed 40,000 men for two decades found that those who averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than men who rarely consumed sugary drinks. (47) A related study in women found a similar sugary beverage–heart disease link. (48)
• A 22-year-long study of 80,000 women found that those who consumed a can a day of sugary drink had a 75% higher risk of gout than women who rarely had such drinks. (49) Researchers found a similarly-elevated risk in men. (50)
• Dr. Frank Hu, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, recently made a strong case that there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases. (51)…. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/soft-drinks-and-disease/

Each individual should consult competent medical professionals about their individual dietary needs.

Resources:

Diabetes Myths                                                                                  http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/myths/

Does Eating Sugar Cause Diabetes?                         https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/video/kahn-eating-sugar-cause-diabetes

Diabetes                                                                                         https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444

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University of California Berkeley study: Chemicals used in personal care products linked to early puberty in girls

23 Dec

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. Science Daily reported in Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ:

Children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home–di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP)–had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The study is the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and IQ in school-age children. Results appear online in the journal PLOS ONE.
PSYBLOG lists common household items in 8 Household Items Newly Found to Lower Children’s IQ Significantly:
Avoiding phthalates
While it is impossible to avoid phthalates completely, they are found in these common products, amongst others:
• Hairspray.
• Plastic containers used for microwaving food.
• Lipstick.
• Air fresheners.
• Dryer sheets.
• Nail polish.
• Some soaps.
• Recycled plastics labelled 3,6 or 7.
http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/12/8-household-items-newly-found-to-lower-childrens-iq-significantly.php

A University of California Berkeley study found chemicals in personal care products could be linked to early puberty in girls.

Healio reported in Chemicals used in personal care products linked to early puberty in girls:

Prenatal exposure to chemicals found in toothpaste, fragrances and makeup may cause girls to enter puberty at an earlier age, according to a study published in Human Reproduction….
“We also found that girls who had higher levels of parabens (used as preservatives in makeup and other personal care products) in their urine at age 9 also entered puberty about 6 months earlier than those with lower levels.”
Harley and colleagues used data from the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) — a longitudinal birth cohort study of pesticides and other environmental exposures among children in a farmworker community — to follow 338 children (179 girls) from birth to adolescence. Pregnant women were enrolled in CHAMACOS between 1999 and 2000, and most were Latina, living below the federal poverty line and had not graduated from high school. The researchers measured concentrations of chemicals in urine collected from the mothers during pregnancy and children aged 9 years.
Harley and colleagues used Tanner staging to measure pubertal timing among the children every 9 months between the ages of 9 and 13 years.
The researchers noted an association between earlier onset of pubic hair development in girls and prenatal urinary monoethyl phthalate concentrations, and earlier menarche and prenatal triclosan and 2.4-dichlorophenol concentrations. Methyl paraben was associated with earlier breast and pubic hair development and menarche; probyl paraben was associated with earlier menarche; and 2.5 dichlorophenol was associated with later pubic hair development.
The researchers found no associations between prenatal urinary biomarker concentrations and the early onset of puberty in boys, and only one association with peripubertal concentrations: propyl paraben was linked to earlier genital development.
The study results are “important because earlier puberty in girls is associated with an increased risk for mental health and behavior problems in childhood and increased risk for breast cancer later in life,” Harley said. “These chemicals are suspected endocrine disruptors and appear to act as weak estrogens in some circumstances, which may explain why we found the associations in girls but not boys…. https://www.healio.com/pediatrics/endocrinology/news/online/%7B85201e95-39e6-4ff1-a642-9806d8c4cac9%7D/chemicals-used-in-personal-care-products-linked-to-early-puberty-in-girls

Citation:

Harley KG, Berger KP, Kogut K, et al. Association of phthalates, parabens and phenols found in personal care products with pubertal timing in girls and boys [published online December 4, 2018]. Hum Reprod. doi:10.1093/humrep/dey337

Here is the press release from University of California Berkeley:

Prenatal exposure to chemicals in personal care products may speed puberty in girls
By Kara Manke| December 3, 2018
Many personal care products contain chemicals that are known endocrine-disruptors. A new study shows that prenatal exposure to two common chemicals, diethyl phosphate and triclosan, may be linked to earlier puberty in girls.
Girls exposed to chemicals commonly found in toothpaste, makeup, soap and other personal care products before birth may hit puberty earlier, according to a new longitudinal study led by researchers at UC Berkeley.
The results, which were published Dec. 4 in the journal Human Reproduction, came from data collected as part of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study, which followed 338 children from before birth to adolescence to document how early environmental exposures affect childhood development.
Over the past 20 years, studies have shown that girls and possibly boys have been experiencing puberty at progressively younger ages. This is troubling news, as earlier age at puberty has been linked with increased risk of mental illness, breast and ovarian cancer in girls and testicular cancer in boys.
Researchers in the School of Public Health found that daughters of mothers who had higher levels of diethyl phthalate and triclosan in their bodies during pregnancy experienced puberty at younger ages. The same trend was not observed in boys.
Diethyl phthalate is often used as a stabilizer in fragrances and cosmetics. The antimicrobial agent triclosan — which the FDA banned from use in hand soap in 2017 because it was shown to be ineffective — is still used in some toothpastes.
“We know that some of the things we put on our bodies are getting into our bodies, either because they pass through the skin or we breathe them in or we inadvertently ingest them,” said Kim Harley, an associate adjunct professor in the School of Public Health. “We need to know how these chemicals are affecting our health.”
Researchers suspect that many chemicals in personal care products can interfere with natural hormones in our bodies, and studies have shown that exposure to these chemicals can alter reproductive development in rats. Chemicals that have been implicated include phthalates, which are often found in scented products like perfumes, soaps and shampoos; parabens, which are used as preservatives in cosmetics; and phenols, which include triclosan.
However, few studies have looked at how these chemicals might affect the growth of human children. “We wanted to know what effect exposure to these chemicals has during certain critical windows of development, which include before birth and during puberty,” Harley said.
The CHAMACOS study recruited pregnant women living in the farm-working, primarily Latino communities of Central California’s Salinas Valley between 1999 and 2000. While the primary aim of the study was to examine the impact of pesticide exposure on childhood development, the researchers used the opportunity to examine the effects of other chemicals as well.
The team measured concentrations of phthalates, parabens and phenols in urine samples taken from mothers twice during pregnancy, and from children at the age of 9. They then followed the growth of the children — 159 boys and 179 girls — between the ages of 9 and 13 to track the timing of developmental milestones marking different stages of puberty.
The vast majority — more than 90 percent — of urine samples of both mothers and children showed detectable concentrations of all three classes of chemicals, with the exception of triclosan which was present in approximately 70 percent of samples.
The researchers found that every time the concentrations of diethyl phthalate and triclosan in the mother’s urine doubled, the timing of developmental milestones in girls shifted approximately one month earlier. Girls who had higher concentrations of parabens in their urine at age 9 also experienced puberty at younger ages. However, it is unclear if the chemicals were causing the shift, or if girls who reached puberty earlier were more likely to start using personal care products at younger ages, Harley said.
“While more research is needed, people should be aware that there are chemicals in personal care products that may be disrupting the hormones in our bodies,” Harley said.
Consumers who are concerned about chemicals in personal care products can take practical steps to limit their exposure, Harley said.
“There has been increasing awareness of chemicals in personal care products and consumer demand for products with lower levels of chemicals,” Harley said. “Resources like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database or the Think Dirty App can help savvy consumers reduce their exposure.”
Co-authors include Kimberly P. Berger, Katherine Kogut, Kimberly Parra and Brenda Eskenazi of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health; Robert H. Lustig of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco; Louise C. Greenspan of the Department of Pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente; and Antonia M. Calafat and Xiaoyun Ye of the National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This research was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) grants R21 ES024909, P01 ES009605, R01 ES017054, RC2 ES018792, R01 ES021369, and R24 ES028529 and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) grants R82670901, RD83171001, and RD83451301.
RELATED INFORMATION
Association of phthalates, parabens and phenols found in personal care products with pubertal timing in boys and girls (Human Reproduction)
CHAMACOS study website

Saundra Young of CNN wrote about toxic chemicals in ‘Putting the next generation of brains in danger.’

According to Young there are several types of chemicals which pose a danger:

The best example of this, he said, is cosmetics and phthalates. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products from cosmetics, perfume, hair spray, soap and shampoos to plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, miniblinds, food containers and plastic wrap.
You can also find them in plastic plumbing pipes, medical tubing and fluid bags, vinyl flooring and other building materials. They are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.
In Europe, cosmetics don’t contain phthalates, but here in the United States some do.
Phthalates previously were used in pacifiers, soft rattles and teethers. But in 1999, after a push from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, American companies stopped using them in those products.
“We certainly have the capability, it’s a matter of political will,” Landrigan said. “We have tried in this country over the last decade to pass chemical safety legislation but the chemical industry and their supporters have successfully beat back the effort.”
However, the Food and Drug Administration said two of the most common phthalates, — dibutylphthalate, or DBP, used as a plasticizer in products such as nail polishes to reduce cracking by making them less brittle, and dimethylphthalate, or DMP used in hairsprays — are now rarely used in this country.
Diethylphthalate, or DEP, used in fragrances, is the only phthalate still used in cosmetics, the FDA said.
“It’s not clear what effect, if any, phthalates have on human health,” according to the FDA’s website. “An expert panel convened from 1998 to 2000 by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the National Institute for Environmental Safety and Health, concluded that reproductive risks from exposure to phthalates were minimal to negligible in most cases….” http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/14/health/chemicals-children-brains/

See, Helping to protect children from the harmful effects of chemicals http://www.who.int/ipcs/highlights/children_chemicals/en/

Children will have the most success in school, if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family.

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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University of Alberta study: Scientists pave the way for saliva test for Alzheimer’s disease

17 Dec

The National Institute on Aging described Alzheimer’s disease in What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?:

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with the disease—those with the late-onset type—symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s occurs between a person’s 30s and mid-60s and is very rare. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.
The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).
These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Another feature is the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body. Many other complex brain changes are thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s, too.
This damage initially appears to take place in the hippocampus, the part of the brain essential in forming memories. As neurons die, additional parts of the brain are affected. By the final stage of Alzheimer’s, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.
How Many Americans Have Alzheimer’s Disease?
Estimates vary, but experts suggest that as many as 5.5 million Americans age 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s. Many more under age 65 also have the disease. Unless Alzheimer’s can be effectively treated or prevented, the number of people with it will increase significantly if current population trends continue. This is because increasing age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
What Does Alzheimer’s Disease Look Like?
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s, though initial symptoms may vary from person to person. A decline in other aspects of thinking, such as finding the right words, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition that can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, but not everyone with MCI will develop the disease.
People with Alzheimer’s have trouble doing everyday things like driving a car, cooking a meal, or paying bills. They may ask the same questions over and over, get lost easily, lose things or put them in odd places, and find even simple things confusing. As the disease progresses, some people become worried, angry, or violent…. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-alzheimers-disease

Artificial Intelligence (AI) might provide clues to the early detection of Alzheimer’s. See, McGill University study: AI could predict cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s disease in the next five years https://drwilda.com/tag/alzheimers-disease/

Science Daily reported in Scientists pave the way for saliva test for Alzheimer’s disease:

University of Alberta scientists have identified three biomarkers for detecting mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in saliva samples. The research has promising results for application in a clinical setting.
The research team combines expertise in metabolomics from Liang Li, professor in the Department of Chemistry, and neurodegenerative disorders from Roger Dixon, professor in the Department of Psychology. “All projections point to an impending and staggering global impact of neurodegenerative disease and dementia,” said Dixon of the critical importance of this research.
Li and Dixon examined saliva samples from three sets of patients, those with Alzheimer’s disease, those with mild cognitive impairment, and those with normal cognition. Using a powerful mass spectrometer, the pair examined more than 6,000 metabolites — compounds that are part of our body’s metabolic processes — to identify any changes or signatures between groups.
“In this analysis, we found three metabolites that can be used to differentiate between these three groups,” said Li. “This is preliminary work, because we’ve used a very small sample size. But the results are very promising. If we can use a larger set of samples, we can validate our findings and develop a saliva test of Alzheimer’s disease.”
A saliva test would prove useful in clinical settings for its ease and non-invasive nature. It also has the potential to detect neurodegenerative diseases earlier on, allowing for early intervention.
“So far, no disease-altering interventions for Alzheimer’s disease have been successful,” explained Dixon. “For this reason, researchers are aiming to discover the earliest signals of the disease so that prevention protocols can be implemented….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181212121904.htm

Citation:

Scientists pave the way for saliva test for Alzheimer’s disease
Date: December 12, 2018
Source: University of Alberta
Summary:
Scientists have identified three biomarkers for detecting mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in saliva samples. The research has promising results for application in a clinical setting.
Journal Reference:
Shraddha Sapkota, Tao Huan, Tran Tran, Jiamin Zheng, Richard Camicioli, Liang Li, Roger A. Dixon. Alzheimer’s Biomarkers From Multiple Modalities Selectively Discriminate Clinical Status: Relative Importance of Salivary Metabolomics Panels, Genetic, Lifestyle, Cognitive, Functional Health and Demographic Risk Markers. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2018; 10 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2018.00296

Here is the press release from the University of Alberta:

Scientists pave the way for saliva test for Alzheimer’s disease
UAlberta researchers have identified biomarkers for identifying Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment in saliva samples.
By Katie Willis on December 5, 2018
University of Alberta scientists have identified three biomarkers for detecting mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in saliva samples. The research has promising results for application in a clinical setting.
The research team combines expertise in metabolomics from Liang Li, professor in the Department of Chemistry, and neurodegenerative disorders from Roger Dixon, professor in the Department of Psychology. “All projections point to an impending and staggering global impact of neurodegenerative disease and dementia,” said Dixon of the critical importance of this research.
Li and Dixon examined saliva samples from three sets of patients, those with Alzheimer’s disease, those with mild cognitive impairment, and those with normal cognition. Using a powerful mass spectrometer, the pair examined more than 6,000 metabolites—compounds that are part of our body’s metabolic processes—to identify any changes or signatures between groups.
“In this analysis, we found three metabolites that can be used to differentiate between these three groups,” said Li. “This is preliminary work, because we’ve used a very small sample size. But the results are very promising. If we can use a larger set of samples, we can validate our findings and develop a saliva test of Alzheimer’s disease.”
A saliva test would prove useful in clinical settings for its ease and non-invasive nature. It also has the potential to detect neurodegenerative diseases earlier on, allowing for early intervention.
“So far, no disease-altering interventions for Alzheimer’s disease have been successful,” explained Dixon. “For this reason, researchers are aiming to discover the earliest signals of the disease so that prevention protocols can be implemented.”
Another added benefit of identifying these biomarkers is the ability to conduct efficacy testing for treatments. “Using the biomarkers, we can also do testing to see what types of treatments are most effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease—from diet to physical activity to pharmaceuticals,” added Li.
The research has been published in two papers. The first, “Metabolomics Analyses of Saliva Detect Novel Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease,” was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (doi: 10.3233/JAD-180711). The second, “Alzheimer’s Biomarkers From Multiple Modalities Selectively Discriminate Clinical Status: Relative Importance of Salivary Metabolomics Panels, Genetic, Lifestyle, Cognitive, Functional Health and Demographic Risk Markers,” was published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2018.00296).

In order for the U.S. to control health care costs, diseases such as Alzheimer’s which are costly end of life diseases must be managed.

Resources:

What Is Alzheimer’s?                                                                           https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease: the Basics https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/understanding-alzheimers-disease-basics

What’s to know about Alzheimer’s disease? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159442.php

Alzheimer’s Disease                                          https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm

What is Artificial Intelligence? https://www.computerworld.com/article/2906336/emerging-technology/what-is-artificial-intelligence.html

Artificial Intelligence: What it is and why it matters https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/analytics/what-is-artificial-intelligence.html

Alzheimer’s Disease                                                                        https://drwilda.com/tag/alzheimers-disease/

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University of California San Diego study: Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia

8 Dec

Bethany Yeiser wrote in the Psychology Today article, Schizophrenia and Homelessness: Paranoia drove me to sleep outside:

Over the past few years, I have been contacted by several families who have a loved one struggling with schizophrenia. Many of these people with schizophrenia are homeless.
For me, becoming homeless was a direct result of schizophrenia. Because of the illness, I could not work the easiest job or focus enough to take even one class. The illness brought on a paranoia which led me to cut off all my family members and my closest friends.
While homeless, I badly wanted a place to sleep, as I was tired of sleeping outside in a churchyard. Remarkably, I was given plenty of opportunities to leave my homeless life, and I rejected every one of them…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/recovery-road/201807/schizophrenia-and-homelessness

SARDAA has information about schizophrenia.

In Quick Facts About Schizophrenia, SARDAA reported:

Quick Facts About Schizophrenia
• Schizophrenia can be found in approximately 1.1% of the world’s population, regardless of racial, ethnic or economic background
• Approximately 3.5 million people in the United States are diagnosed with schizophrenia and it is one of the leading causes of disability.
• Three-quarters of persons with schizophrenia develop the illness between 16 and 25 years of age.
• The disorder is at least partially genetic.
• To be diagnosed as having schizophrenia, one must have associated symptoms for at least six months.
• Studies have indicated that 25% of those having schizophrenia recover completely, 50% are improved over a 10-year period, and 25% do not improve over time.
• Treatment and other economic costs due to schizophrenia are enormous, estimated between $32.5 and $65 billion annually.
• Between one-third and one-half of all homeless adults have schizophrenia.
• 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have received no treatment.
To learn more, we invite you to view a presentation by Linda Whitten Stalters, APRN, BC, FAPA, SARDAA Board of Directors. https://www.slideshare.net/SARDAA https://sardaa.org/resources/about-schizophrenia/

The University of California San Diego reported that cognitive training might aid those suffering from schizophrenia.

Science daily reported in Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia is among the most difficult mental illnesses to treat, in part because it is characterized by a wide range of dysfunction, from hallucinations and mood disorders to cognitive impairment, especially verbal and working memory, which can be explained in part by abnormalities in early auditory information processing.
In recent years, targeted cognitive training (TCT) has emerged as a promising therapeutic intervention. TCT uses computerized training, such as sophisticated brain games, to target specific neural pathways, such as memory, learning and auditory-based senses, to beneficially alter the way they process information.
But while TCT has proven effective for mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia under carefully controlled conditions, it remains unclear whether the approach might benefit patients with chronic, refractory schizophrenia treated in non-academic settings, such as those cared for in locked residential rehabilitation centers.
In a study published in the December print issue of Schizophrenia Research, senior author Gregory A. Light, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center at Veterans Affaris San Diego Healthcare System, and colleagues investigated whether TCT improved auditory and verbal outcomes among the most difficult of schizophrenia patients.
“Chronic, treatment-refractory patients mandated to locked residential care facilities make up just a small subgroup of persons with schizophrenia, but they consume a disproportionately large share of mental health care resources,” said Light. “Finding an effective therapy for them is critical.”
Light’s team studied 46 patients with schizophrenia psychosis recruited from a community-based residential treatment program, each following acute hospitalization. All were deemed “gravely disabled,” unable to care for themselves, and under the guardianship of a private party or government agency. Participants were randomized to either standard treatment-as-usual (TAU) or TAU plus TCT, in which they used laptop computers to perform various learning and memory game exercises, often involving auditory cues.
The researchers found that among participants who completed the roughly three months of TAU-TCT treatment, verbal learning and auditory perception scores improved; and severity of auditory hallucinations lessened. Of note: The benefits were not negatively impacted by age, clinical symptoms, medication or illness duration. “Our results suggest that chronically ill, highly disabled patients can benefit from TCT,” said Light. “That contradicts current assumptions.”
Light cited some caveats. “We’re somewhere between the Wild West and golden age of cognitive training for schizophrenia patients. There is much still to be learned and done,” he said. Patients in this study represented some of the most difficult patients to treat, with therapy regimens that are highly complex. “We need to do a lot more research….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181207112759.htm

Citation:

Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia
Study participants improved auditory and verbal outcomes
Date: December 7, 2018
Source: University of California – San Diego
Summary:
Researchers find that patients with severe, refractory schizophrenia benefit from targeted cognitive therapy, improving auditory and verbal outcomes and the way they process information.
Journal Reference:
Michael L. Thomas, Andrew W. Bismark, Yash B. Joshi, Melissa Tarasenko, Emily B.H. Treichler, William C. Hochberger, Wen Zhang, John Nungaray, Joyce Sprock, Lauren Cardoso, Kristine Tiernan, Mouna Attarha, David L. Braff, Sophia Vinogradov, Neal Swerdlow, Gregory A. Light. Targeted cognitive training improves auditory and verbal outcomes among treatment refractory schizophrenia patients mandated to residential care. Schizophrenia Research, 2018; 202: 378 DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.07.025

Here is the press release from University of California San Diego:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 6-DEC-2018
Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia
Study participants improved auditory and verbal outcomes
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – SAN DIEGO
Schizophrenia is among the most difficult mental illnesses to treat, in part because it is characterized by a wide range of dysfunction, from hallucinations and mood disorders to cognitive impairment, especially verbal and working memory, which can be explained in part by abnormalities in early auditory information processing.
In recent years, targeted cognitive training (TCT) has emerged as a promising therapeutic intervention. TCT uses computerized training, such as sophisticated brain games, to target specific neural pathways, such as memory, learning and auditory-based senses, to beneficially alter the way they process information.
But while TCT has proven effective for mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia under carefully controlled conditions, it remains unclear whether the approach might benefit patients with chronic, refractory schizophrenia treated in non-academic settings, such as those cared for in locked residential rehabilitation centers.
In a study published in the December print issue of Schizophrenia Research, senior author Gregory A. Light, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center at Veterans Affaris San Diego Healthcare System, and colleagues investigated whether TCT improved auditory and verbal outcomes among the most difficult of schizophrenia patients.
“Chronic, treatment-refractory patients mandated to locked residential care facilities make up just a small subgroup of persons with schizophrenia, but they consume a disproportionately large share of mental health care resources,” said Light. “Finding an effective therapy for them is critical.”
Light’s team studied 46 patients with schizophrenia psychosis recruited from a community-based residential treatment program, each following acute hospitalization. All were deemed “gravely disabled,” unable to care for themselves, and under the guardianship of a private party or government agency. Participants were randomized to either standard treatment-as-usual (TAU) or TAU plus TCT, in which they used laptop computers to perform various learning and memory game exercises, often involving auditory cues.
The researchers found that among participants who completed the roughly three months of TAU-TCT treatment, verbal learning and auditory perception scores improved; and severity of auditory hallucinations lessened. Of note: The benefits were not negatively impacted by age, clinical symptoms, medication or illness duration. “Our results suggest that chronically ill, highly disabled patients can benefit from TCT,” said Light. “That contradicts current assumptions.”
Light cited some caveats. “We’re somewhere between the Wild West and golden age of cognitive training for schizophrenia patients. There is much still to be learned and done,” he said. Patients in this study represented some of the most difficult patients to treat, with therapy regimens that are highly complex. “We need to do a lot more research.”
Light and others are doing so. In a recent paper published in Neuropsychopharmacology, for example, he and colleagues described the underlying mechanism involved in TCT to improve auditory function. And in past work, schizophrenia-and-auditory-cues.aspx Light and others have shown that deficiencies in the neural processing of simple auditory tones can evolve into a cascade of dysfunctional information processing in the brains of patients with schizophrenia.
###
This study was made available online in July 2018 ahead of peer-review and publication this month.
Co-authors include: Michael L. Thomas, Andrew W. Bismark, Yash B. Joshi, Melissa Tarasenko, Emily B.H. Treichler, William C. Hochberger, Joyce Sprock, David L. Braff and Neal Swerdlow, UC San Diego and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System; Wes Zhang, SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology; John Nungaray, UC San Diego; Lauren Cardoso, UC San Diego and Alpine Special Treatment Center; Mouna Attarha, Alpine Special Treatment Center; and Sophia Vinogradov, University of Minnesota.
Disclosures: Dr. Greg Light has been a consultant to Astellas, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Dart Neuroscience, Heptares, Lundbeck, Merck, NeuroSig, Neuroverse and Takeda. Dr. Mouna Attarha is a research scientist and stock holder at Posit Science Corporations, which developed the computerized brain training program used in the study.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Science Daily reported in Roots of schizophrenia: Excess of methionine during pregnancy?

An abundance of an amino acid called methionine, which is common in meat, cheese and beans, may provide new clues to the fetal brain development that can manifest in schizophrenia, University of California, Irvine pharmacology researchers report in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The findings point to the role methionine overload can play during pregnancy and suggest that targeting the effects of this amino acid may lead to new antipsychotic drugs….
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170816100305.htm

Citation:

Roots of schizophrenia: Excess of methionine during pregnancy?
Date: August 16, 2017
Source: University of California – Irvine
Summary:
An abundance of an amino acid called methionine, which is common in meat, cheese and beans, may provide new clues to the fetal brain development that can manifest in schizophrenia, pharmacology researchers report.
Journal Reference:
1. A Alachkar, L Wang, R Yoshimura, A R Hamzeh, Z Wang, N Sanathara, S M Lee, X Xu, G W Abbott, O Civelli. Prenatal one-carbon metabolism dysregulation programs
schizophrenia-like deficits. Molecular Psychiatry, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2017.164

Here is the press release from UC Irvine:

Public Release: 15-Aug-2017
UCI study uncovers possible roots of schizophrenia
Excess of methionine during pregnancy alters prenatal brain development related to the psychiatric disease
University of California – Irvine
Irvine, Calif., Aug. 15, 2017 – An abundance of an amino acid called methionine, which is common in meat, cheese and beans, may provide new clues to the fetal brain development that can manifest in schizophrenia, University of California, Irvine pharmacology researchers report in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The findings point to the role methionine overload can play during pregnancy and suggest that targeting the effects of this amino acid may lead to new antipsychotic drugs.
The UCI study also provides detailed information on the neural developmental mechanisms of the methionine effect, which results in changes in the expression of several genes important to healthy brain growth and, in particular, to one linked to schizophrenia in humans.
Amal Alachkar and colleagues based their approach on studies from the 1960s and 1970s in which schizophrenic patients injected with methionine experienced worsened symptoms. Knowing that schizophrenia is a developmental disorder, the UCI team hypothesized that administering three times the normal daily input of methionine to pregnant mice may produce pups that have also schizophrenia-like deficits, which is what occurred.
The pups of the injected mothers displayed deficits in nine different tests encompassing the three schizophrenia-like symptoms behaviors – “positive” symptoms of overactivity and stereotypy, “negative” symptoms of human interaction deficits, and “cognitive impairments” memory loss.
The research team treated the mice with anti-schizophrenic drugs well used in therapy. A drug that in schizophrenics treats mostly the positive symptoms (haloperidol) did the same in the mice, and a drug that treat preferentially the negative symptoms and the cognitive impairments (clozapine) did the same.
Alachkar, an associate adjunct professor of pharmacology, said that the study is the first to present a mouse model based on methionine-influenced neural development that leads to schizophrenic-like behaviors.
“This mouse model provides much broader detail of biological processes of schizophrenia and thus reflect much better the disorder than in the animal models presently widely used in drug discovery,” said Olivier Civelli, chair and professor of pharmacology and an author on the paper.
“Our study also agrees with the saying, ‘we are what our mothers ate’,” Alachkar added. “Methionine is one of the building blocks of proteins. It is not synthesized by our bodies, and it needs to be ingested. Our study points at the very important role of excess dietary methionine during pregnancy in fetal development, which might have a long-lasting influence on the offspring. This is a very exciting area of research that we hope can be explored in greater depth.”
###
The study received support from the National Institutes of Health (DA024746), the UCI’s Center for Autism Research & Translation, the Eric L and Lila D Nelson Chair of Neuropharmacology, and the Institute of International Education.
Link to study: http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2017164a.html?foxtrotcallback=true
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.
Media Contact
Tom Vasich
tmvasich@uci.edu
949-824-6455
@UCIrvine
http://www.uci.edu
University of California – Irvine
Journal
Molecular Psychiatry
Funder
National Institutes of Health
Original Source
http://www.som.uci.edu/news_releases/uc-irvine-study-finds-possible-roots-of-schizophrenia.asp

Related Journal Article
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mp.2017

Learn more about prenatal and preconception care.
http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preconceptioncare/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/Pages/prenatal-care.aspx

See, Prenatal care fact sheet http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/prenatal-care.html

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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Northwestern University study: Why we shouldn’t like coffee, but we do

2 Dec

David DiSalvo wrote in the Forbes article, Drinking Coffee May Lower Risk Of Early Death, According To New Study:

A new study is adding to the good news about coffee, finding that drinking two to four cups a day is associated with overall lower risk of death, particularly among middle-age drinkers.
The findings, presented at the European Cardiac Society Congress 2017, are the result of a long-term observational study of nearly 20,000 people in Spain. The average age of participants was 37, and they were followed for about ten years. During that time, 337 participants died. The researchers found that participants who consumed at least four cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower risk of death than those who infrequently or never consumed coffee. They also found a 22% lower risk of death for participants who drank two cups a day.
Lower risk was especially strong for older participants, with two cups a day linked to a 30% reduction in mortality.
“We found an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people aged 45 years and above. This may be due to a stronger protective association among older participants,” says Dr. Adela Navarro, study co-author and a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.
That’s the good news. The qualifier is that this was an observational study, and several other factors could come into play. The researchers report that they accounted for factors including age, sex and whether the participants predominantly ate a Mediterranean Diet, which has also been linked to a list of health benefits. The correlation between coffee consumption and lower risk of death appears to stand out, but it’s important to note that it’s a correlation – not proof of causation…. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2017/08/27/drinking-coffee-may-lower-risk-of-death-in-healthy-people-according-to-new-study/#7a1c1924f82a

Citation:

Higher coffee consumption associated with lower risk of early death
Date: August 27, 2017
Source: European Society of Cardiology
Summary:
Higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of early death, according to new research. The observational study in nearly 20 000 participants suggests that coffee can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170827101750.

The Harvard Gazette reported in How coffee loves us back: Health benefits a recurring theme in Harvard research:

Coffee is everywhere, through history and across the world. And increasingly, science is demonstrating that its popularity is a good thing.
Harvard scientists have for years put coffee under the microscope. Last year, researchers announced they had discovered six new human genes related to coffee and reconfirmed the existence of two others. The long-running Nurses’ Health Study has found that coffee protects against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Researchers are continuing to follow up on 2001 findings that it protects against Parkinson’s disease.
The work at Harvard is just part of an emerging picture of coffee as a potentially powerful elixir against a range of ailments, from cancer to cavities.
Sanjiv Chopra, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has been so impressed he’s become something of a coffee evangelist. The author of several books, Chopra included a chapter on coffee in his 2010 book, “Live Better, Live Longer.”
Chopra first became aware of the potentially powerful protective effects of coffee when a study revealed that consumption lowers levels of liver enzymes and protects the liver against cancer and cirrhosis. He began asking students, residents, and fellows on the liver unit to quiz patients about their coffee habits, finding repeatedly that none of the patients with liver ailments drank coffee.
Chopra himself makes sure to have several cups a day, and encourages others to do the same. Though other researchers are less bold in their dietary recommendations, they’re convinced enough to continue investigations into the benefits…. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/09/how-coffee-loves-us-back/

Northwestern University researchers studied why people like coffee.

Science Daily reported in Why we shouldn’t like coffee, but we do: Weirdly, people with a higher sensitivity to bitter caffeine taste drink more coffee:
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.
But, it turns out, the more sensitive people are to the bitter taste of caffeine, the more coffee they drink, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia. The sensitivity is caused by a genetic variant….
In other words, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee’s bitterness — and particularly the distinct bitter flavor of caffeine — learn to associate “good things with it,” Cornelis said.
Thus, a bigger tab at Starbucks.
The study will be published Nov. 15 in Scientific Reports.
In this study population, people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea. But that could just be because they were too busy drinking coffee, Cornelis noted.
The study also found people sensitive to the bitter flavors of quinine and of PROP, a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables, avoided coffee. For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.
“The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol,” Cornelis said.
For the study, scientists applied Mendelian randomization, a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology, to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 400,000 men and women in the United Kingdom. The genetic variants linked to caffeine, quinine and PROP perception were previously identified through genome-wide analysis of solution taste-ratings collected from Australian twins. These genetic variants were then tested for associations with self-reported consumption of coffee, tea and alcohol in the current study…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181115104603.htm

Citation:

Why we shouldn’t like coffee, but we do
Weirdly, people with a higher sensitivity to bitter caffeine taste drink more coffee
Date: November 15, 2018
Source: Northwestern University
Summary:
The more sensitive people are to the bitter taste of caffeine, the more coffee they drink, reports a new study. The sensitivity is based on genetics. Bitterness is natural warning system to protect us from harmful substances, so we really shouldn’t like coffee. Scientists say people with heightened ability to detect coffee’s bitterness learn to associate good things with it.
Journal Reference:
Jue-Sheng Ong, Daniel Liang-Dar Hwang, Victor W. Zhong, Jiyuan An, Puya Gharahkhani, Paul A. S. Breslin, Margaret J. Wright, Deborah A. Lawlor, John Whitfield, Stuart MacGregor, Nicholas G. Martin, Marilyn C. Cornelis. Understanding the role of bitter taste perception in coffee, tea and alcohol consumption through Mendelian randomization. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-34713-z

Here is the press release from Northwestern University:

Why we shouldn’t like coffee, but we do
Weirdly, people with a higher sensitivity to bitter caffeine taste drink more coffee s
More
November 15, 2018 | By Marla Paul
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.
But, it turns out, the more sensitive people are to the bitter taste of caffeine, the more coffee they drink, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia. The sensitivity is caused by a genetic variant.
“You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee,” said senior author Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (i.e. stimulation) elicited by caffeine.”
In other words, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee’s bitterness — and particularly the distinct bitter flavor of caffeine — learn to associate “good things with it,” Cornelis said.
Thus, a bigger tab at Starbucks.
The study was published Nov. 15 in Scientific Reports.
In this study population, people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea. But that could just be because they were too busy drinking coffee, Cornelis noted.
The study also found people sensitive to the bitter flavors of quinine and of PROP, a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables, avoided coffee. For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.
“The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol,” Cornelis said.
For the study, scientists applied Mendelian randomization, a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology, to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 400,000 men and women in the United Kingdom. The genetic variants linked to caffeine, quinine and PROP perception were previously identified through genome-wide analysis of solution taste-ratings collected from Australian twins. These genetic variants were then tested for associations with self-reported consumption of coffee, tea and alcohol in the current study.
“Taste has been studied for a long time, but we don’t know the full mechanics of it,” Cornelis said. “Taste is one of the senses. We want to understand it from a biological standpoint.”
The paper is titled “Understanding the role of bitter taste perception in coffee, tea and alcohol consumption through Mendelian randomization.”
Topics: Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Medicine https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2018/november/bitter-coffee/

Joseph Nordqvist reported in the Medical News article, Coffee: Health Benefits,

Nutritional Information:
Possible health benefits of coffee
The potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee include: protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.3
1) Coffee and diabetes
Coffee may be protective against type 2 diabetes. Researchers at UCLA identified that drinking coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.4
Dr. Simin Liu, one of the authors of the study, said that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes….
2) Coffee and Parkinson’s disease
Researchers in the U.S. carried out a study that assessed the link between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease risk. The authors of the study concluded that “higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease”.5
In addition, caffeine in coffee may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson’s, according to a study conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) that was published in the journal Neurology.6
3) Coffee and liver cancer
Italian researchers found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of liver cancer by about 40%. In addition, some of the results suggest that if you drink three cups a day, the risks are reduced by more than 50%.7
The lead author of the study, Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, from Milan’s Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, said “our research confirms past claims that coffee is good for your health and particularly the liver.”
4) Coffee and liver disease
Regular consumption of coffee is linked to a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare autoimmune disease of the bile ducts in the liver.8
In addition, coffee consumption can lower the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver for alcohol drinkers by 22%, according to a study at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, California, USA.
The authors of the study concluded that the results “support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis.”9
Research published in the journal Hepatology in April 2014, suggested that drinking coffee is linked to a decreased liver cirrhosis death risk. The researchers suggested that drinking two or more cups of coffee every day can reduce the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%.16
A study published in the journal Hepatology indicates that drinking decaf coffee also lowers liver enzyme levels, suggesting the benefits are not linked to caffeine content.
5) Coffee and heart health
Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that drinking coffee in moderation protects against heart failure. They defined ‘in moderation’ as 2 European cups (equivalent to two 8-ounce American servings) per day.10
People who drank four European cups on a daily basis had an 11% lower risk of heart failure, compared to those who did not.
The authors stressed that their results “did show a possible benefit, but like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much coffee you drink.”
Recent developments on the benefits of coffee from MNT news
Moderate coffee drinking may prevent premature death
Incredible volumes of black gold are poured into our collective bodies on a daily basis, which makes the medical effects of coffee drinking a perpetual area of study. Now, new research points to some interesting positive health benefits of moderate consumption.
Study provides more evidence that coffee may reduce mortality
A new study adds to growing evidence that coffee is good for us, finding that consuming four to five cups daily may reduce the risk of early death – even for those who drink decaf.
Coffee may protect against liver cirrhosis
Drinking coffee every day is linked to a reduced risk of liver cirrhosis, according to a new review of published evidence that also suggests drinking two extra cups a day may nearly halve the risk of dying from the disease.
Drinking more coffee may stave off multiple sclerosis
Research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry indicates that caffeine’s neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties may lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
Daily coffee, even decaf, may protect against colorectal cancer
Researchers from the US and Israel found that drinking coffee every day – even decaffeinated coffee – may lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270202.php

As with anything, coffee should be consumed in moderation.

Resources:

Online Courses for Coffee Professionals: Master roasting coffee, cupping, coffee quality evaluation and understand the path of the coffee from the farm to cup. https://bootcampcoffee.com/

Learn About Coffee                                                  http://www.coffeeteawarehouse.com/coffee.html

The NCA Complete Guide to Coffee
We believe that coffee is more than just a drink: It’s a culture, an economy, an art, a science — and a passion. Whether you’re new to the brew or an espresso expert, there’s always more to learn about this beloved beverage. http://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee
coffeeresearch.org

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Colorado State University study: An understudied form of child abuse and ‘intimate terrorism’: Parental alienation

28 Nov

Psychology Today defined child neglect:

Definition
Child neglect is defined as a type of maltreatment related to the failure to provide needed, age-appropriate care. Unlike physical and sexual abuse, neglect is usually typified by an ongoing pattern of inadequate care and is readily observed by individuals in close contact with the child. Once children are in school, personnel often notice indicators of child neglect such as poor hygiene, poor weight gain, inadequate medical care, or frequent absences from school. Professionals have defined four types of neglect: physical, emotional, educational, and medical.
More children suffer from neglect in the United States than from physical and sexual abuse combined. The US Department of Health and Human Services found that in 2007 there were 794,000 victims of child maltreatment in the US, of those victims 59% were victims of neglect. Some researchers have proposed 5 different types of neglect: physical neglect, emotional neglect, medical neglect, mental health neglect, and educational neglect. States may code any maltreatment type that does not fall into one of the main categories—physical abuse, neglect, medical neglect, sexual abuse, and psychological or emotional maltreatment—as “other.”
In spite of this, neglect has received significantly less attention than physical and sexual abuse by practitioners, researchers, and the media. One explanation may be that neglect is so difficult to identify. Neglect often is an act of omission. But neglecting children’s needs can be just as injurious as striking out at them.
Additional Information
For 2003, 47.3 percent of child victims were boys, and 50.7 percent of the victims were girls. The youngest children had the highest rate of victimization. The rate of child victimization of the age group of birth to 3 years was 16.5 per 1,000 children. The victimization rate of children in the age group of 4-7 years was 13.5 per 1,000 children. Nearly three-quarters of child victims (73.1 percent) ages birth to 3 years were neglected compared with 52.7 percent of victims ages 16 years and older…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/child-neglect

Child neglect occurs in all societies.

Science Daily reported in An understudied form of child abuse and ‘intimate terrorism’: Parental alienation:

The scene: a bitter divorce, and a custody battle over the couple’s 7-year-old son. Awarded full custody, the mother — perhaps seeking revenge? — sets out to destroy the son’s relationship with his father. The mother tells the son lies about the father’s behavior, plants seeds of doubt about his fitness as a parent, and sabotages the father’s efforts to see his son. The son begins to believe the lies; as he grows up, his relationship with his father becomes strained.
According to Colorado State University social psychologist Jennifer Harman, about 22 million American parents, like that fictional father, have been the victims of behaviors that lead to something called parental alienation. Having researched the phenomenon for several years, Harman is urging psychological, legal and child custodial disciplines to recognize parental alienation as a form of both child abuse and intimate partner violence.
An associate professor in CSU’s Department of Psychology, Harman has authored a review article in Psychological Bulletin defining the behaviors associated with parental alienation and advocating for more research into its prevalence and outcomes. She and her co-authors explain how these behaviors are the source of long-term negative consequences for the psychological health and well-being of children and adults all over the world.
“We have to stop denying this exists,” said Harman, who previously co-authored a book about parental alienation with Zeynep Biringen, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “You have to treat an alienated parent like an abused person. You have to treat the child like an abused child. You take the child out of that abusive environment. You get treatment for the abusive parent, and you put the child in a safe environment — the healthier parent.”
In their new paper, Harman and co-authors Edward Kruk of University of British Columbia and Denise Hines of Clark University categorize parental alienation as an outcome of aggressive behaviors directed toward another individual, with the intent to cause harm. They draw direct lines between widely recognized patterns of abuse, like emotional or psychological aggression, and the behavior of alienating parents.
For example, psychological aggression is a common form of child maltreatment that involves “attacking a child’s emotional and social well-being.” In a similar manner, alienating parents terrorize their children by targeting the other parent, purposely creating fear that the other parent might be dangerous or unstable — when no evidence of such danger exists. Alienating parents will further reject, shame or guilt-trip their children for showing loyalty or warmth to the other parent.
The authors also argue that such alienating behaviors are abusive to the targeted parent, and they liken these behaviors to more familiar forms of intimate partner violence between spouses or dating partners…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181127171419.htm

Citation:

An understudied form of child abuse and ‘intimate terrorism’: Parental alienation
Researchers are urging psychological, legal and child custodial disciplines to recognize parental alienation as family violence
Date: November 27, 2018
Source: Colorado State University
Summary:
According to Colorado State University social psychologist Jennifer Harman, about 22 million American parents have been the victims of behaviors that lead to something called parental alienation. Having researched the phenomenon for several years, Harman is urging psychological, legal and child custodial disciplines to recognize parental alienation as a form of both child abuse and intimate partner violence. Harman has authored a review article in Psychological Bulletin defining the behaviors associated with parental alienation and advocating for more research into its prevalence and outcomes.

Journal Reference:
Jennifer J. Harman, Edward Kruk, Denise A. Hines. Parental alienating behaviors: An unacknowledged form of family violence. Psychological Bulletin, 2018; 144 (12): 1275 DOI: 10.1037/bul0000175

Here is the press release from Colorado State University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 27-NOV-2018
An understudied form of child abuse and intimate terrorism: Parental Alienation
Researchers are urging psychological, legal and child custodial disciplines to recognize parental alienation as family violence
COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
The scene: a bitter divorce, and a custody battle over the couple’s 7-year-old son. Awarded full custody, the mother – perhaps seeking revenge? – sets out to destroy the son’s relationship with his father. The mother tells the son lies about the father’s behavior, plants seeds of doubt about his fitness as a parent, and sabotages the father’s efforts to see his son. The son begins to believe the lies; as he grows up, his relationship with his father becomes strained.
According to Colorado State University social psychologist Jennifer Harman, about 22 million American parents, like that fictional father, have been the victims of behaviors that lead to something called parental alienation. Having researched the phenomenon for several years, Harman is urging psychological, legal and child custodial disciplines to recognize parental alienation as a form of both child abuse and intimate partner violence.
An associate professor in CSU’s Department of Psychology, Harman has authored a review article in Psychological Bulletin defining the behaviors associated with parental alienation and advocating for more research into its prevalence and outcomes. She and her co-authors explain how these behaviors are the source of long-term negative consequences for the psychological health and well-being of children and adults all over the world.
“We have to stop denying this exists,” said Harman, who previously co-authored a book about parental alienation with Zeynep Biringen, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “You have to treat an alienated parent like an abused person. You have to treat the child like an abused child. You take the child out of that abusive environment. You get treatment for the abusive parent, and you put the child in a safe environment – the healthier parent.”
In their new paper, Harman and co-authors Edward Kruk of University of British Columbia and Denise Hines of Clark University categorize parental alienation as an outcome of aggressive behaviors directed toward another individual, with the intent to cause harm. They draw direct lines between widely recognized patterns of abuse, like emotional or psychological aggression, and the behavior of alienating parents.
For example, psychological aggression is a common form of child maltreatment that involves “attacking a child’s emotional and social well-being.” In a similar manner, alienating parents terrorize their children by targeting the other parent, purposely creating fear that the other parent might be dangerous or unstable – when no evidence of such danger exists. Alienating parents will further reject, shame or guilt-trip their children for showing loyalty or warmth to the other parent.
The authors also argue that such alienating behaviors are abusive to the targeted parent, and they liken these behaviors to more familiar forms of intimate partner violence between spouses or dating partners.
Harman is an expert in power dynamics in human relationships. Her research has found that parental alienation is similar to what’s known as “intimate terrorism.” Intimate terrorism is chiefly characterized by a lopsided power dynamic, in which one partner subjugates the other through intimidation, coercion, or threats of (or actual) physical violence. Such a scenario is distinct from situational couple violence, in which both partners have relatively equal power in the relationship but cannot get along and resort to physical or emotional violence.
Analogously, children are used as weapons in the form of intimate terrorism known as parental alienation, Harman argues. The power imbalance in such intimate terrorism can be seen in custody disputes, in which one parent is awarded full custody of a child. This parent wields that court-ordained power to subjugate the other parent by withholding contact or actively seeking to destroy the other parent’s relationship with the child.
The family court systems see these situations every day, Harman says, but judges, lawyers and social workers aren’t attuned to the prevalence of parental alienation as child abuse or intimate partner abuse. Instead, such situations are regarded as simple custody disputes, or the inability of the parents to get along.
Harman says she’s hopeful her reframing of parental alienation will spur other social scientists to continue studying the problem. More research into this particular form of family violence will bring greater awareness, and may marshal resources to better identify and stop such behaviors.
###
Link to paper: http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2018-58808-004
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Strategies to identify child neglect must be researched and refined.

Prevent Child Abuse America described strategies for preventing child neglect:

Prevent Child Abuse America advocates for:
• Increasing services to families such as home visiting, early childhood education, and parent education.
Child neglect often occurs when parents are overwhelmed with an array of stressors, including the difficulties of coping with poverty and its many associated burdens, single parenthood, limited parenting skills, depression, substance abuse, interpersonal violence, as well as the daily stressors most parents face.1 Services such as home visiting, early childhood education, and parent education provide emotional support, knowledge, and guidance on how to provide a nurturing environment for children. In addition, ensuring that all children have a quality education will help ensure this important need is met. Other services can assist potential parents in considering their readiness for a family, the number of children they wish to have, and appropriate spacing between births. These services can also help parents effectively care for the children they already have. In sum, services that strengthen families and support parents should in turn enhance children’s development, health and safety, and help prevent child neglect.
• Providing mental health services to parents and neglected children and youth.
Many neglected children have parents who are emotionally unstable or depressed.2 Mental health services can assist such parents to become emotionally healthier and better able to adequately care for their children. In addition, children often face adverse and potentially long-term psychological consequences due to neglect. Mental health services, especially at an early point, can help mitigate these consequences and can help ensure that neglect is not transmitted to the next generation.
• Ensuring access for all children to affordable, quality health care, including prenatal, dental, and mental health services.
Access to health care is critical to child and family well-being and helps protect against neglect. Without health insurance, families are less likely to seek timely and preventive health care. When they do, the cost of that care contributes to a family’s economic insecurity. Both of these are risk factors for neglect. In addition, children’s health care providers are a valuable source of support and advice for parents as they raise their children. They inform parents about community resources such as home visiting programs and parent support groups that can help prevent child abuse before it happens and provide information about child development and strategies for dealing with a variety of parenting challenges.
• Increasing efforts to address social problems such as poverty, substance abuse, and family violence which contribute to neglect.
Neglect is often intertwined with social problems, such as poverty, substance abuse, and family violence. It is crucial that greater resources be allocated to reduce these major problems that contribute to neglect. Such efforts must include the prevention of child neglect as an explicit goal.
• Increasing public awareness efforts to educate the public about child neglect, its seriousness, and how they can help prevent it, as well as foster a shared sense of societal responsibility.
Raising public awareness of the serious and pervasive nature of child neglect is essential in order for real change to occur. Children interact with an array of people in their community who play a vital role in their development. We need to recognize this and mobilize significant financial and human resources to address the problem. A public that appreciates the serious and pervasive nature of child neglect should be a crucial ally for necessary changes. They can help advocate for and support the policies and programs needed to enhance children’s development, health and safety, and help prevent their neglect.
• Increasing research efforts to improve our understanding of child neglect abuse – its nature, extent, causes, and consequences, as well as what helps prevent and address it.
Our current understanding of child neglect is limited. A better understanding is essential to guide policymakers and practitioners to develop policies and programs to tackle neglect. A variety of programs have been developed aiming to optimize children’s development, health and safety. Careful evaluation is needed to learn what works, and to replicate effective programs. It is also likely that new policies and programs addressing child neglect need to be developed and evaluated….. http://preventchildabuse.org/resource/preventing-child-neglect/

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy social in a healthy neighborhood (c)

Resources:

Chronic Child Neglect
https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/chronic-neglect/

Chronic Neglect Can Lead to Aggression in Kids
https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/04/22/chronic-neglect-can-lead-to-aggression-in-kids/83788.html

Child Neglect
https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/child-neglect

Neglect
https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/neglect/

Child Abuse                                                                                                      https://drwilda.com/tag/child-abuse/

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Michigan State University study: Healthcare providers — not hackers — leak more of your data

22 Nov

Lucas Mearian reported in Hackers are coming for your healthcare records — here’s why:

Data stolen from a bank quickly becomes useless once the breach is discovered and passcodes are changed. But data from the healthcare industry, which includes both personal identities and medical histories, can live a lifetime.
Cyberattacks will cost hospitals more than $305 billion over the next five years and one in 13 patients will have their data compromised by a hack, according to industry consultancy Accenture….
The Brookings research demonstrates that the healthcare sector is uniquely vulnerable to privacy breaches. For one thing, government regulations forced healthcare operations to adopt electronic health records (EHR) and other advances under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) even if they weren’t ready to adequately invest in security.
Healthcare records also contain the most valuable information available, including Social Security numbers, home addresses and patient health histories — making them more valuable to hackers than other types of data, according to the study by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation. Since cybercriminals can sell data for a premium on the black market, hackers have a big incentive to focus their attacks on the healthcare industry.
With the push toward more integrated care, “medical data are now being shared with many different types of entities in which many employees have access to patient records,” the study said. “Extended access to medical records increases the potential for privacy breaches.”
To comply with legal requirements, healthcare organizations often store detailed medical information for many years. The probability of a breach — and the potential severity of the consequences — increases according to the amount of data stored and the length of time it is stored….
The greatest threat to the healthcare industry today, Safavi said, is not from one-off hackers seeking quick paydays, but from foreign governments that can store intimate personal health data for future use against individuals.
For example, hackers last year stole the records of about 80 million customers of Anthem Inc., the second largest U.S. health insurer.
“The presumption was that they were state actors,” Safavi said. “The purpose of the state actor was to harvest the database in order to create a dossier of individuals that they could use for social engineering for future attacks….” https://www.computerworld.com/article/3090566/healthcare-it/hackers-are-coming-for-your-healthcare-records-heres-why.html

A Michigan State University study highlighted the risks of inadequate security by medical providers against hackers.

Science Daily reported in Healthcare providers — not hackers — leak more of your data:

Your personal identity may fall at the mercy of sophisticated hackers on many websites, but when it comes to health data breaches, hospitals, doctors offices and even insurance companies are oftentimes the culprits.
New research from Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University found that more than half of the recent personal health information, or PHI, data breaches were because of internal issues with medical providers — not because of hackers or external parties.
“There’s no perfect way to store information, but more than half of the cases we reviewed were not triggered by external factors — but rather by internal negligence,” said John (Xuefeng) Jiang, lead author and associate professor of accounting and information systems at MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business.
The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, follows the joint 2017 study that showed the magnitude of hospital data breaches in the United States. The research revealed nearly 1,800 occurrences of large data breaches in patient information over a seven years, with 33 hospitals experiencing more than one substantial breach.
For this paper, Jiang and co-author Ge Bai, associate professor at the John’s Hopkins Carey Business School, dove deeper to identify triggers of the PHI data breaches. They reviewed nearly 1,150 cases between October 2009 and December 2017 that affected more than 164 million patients.
“Every time a hospital has some sort of a data breach, they need to report it to the Department of Health and Human Services and classify what they believe is the cause,” Jiang, the Plante Moran Faculty Fellow, said. “These causes fell into six categories: theft, unauthorized access, hacking or an IT incident, loss, improper disposal or ‘other.'”
After reviewing detailed reports, assessing notes and reclassifying cases with specific benchmarks, Jiang and Bai found that 53 percent were the result of internal factors in healthcare entities.
“One quarter of all the cases were caused by unauthorized access or disclosure — more than twice the amount that were caused by external hackers,” Jiang said. “This could be an employee taking PHI home or forwarding to a personal account or device, accessing data without authorization, or even through email mistakes, like sending to the wrong recipients, copying instead of blind copying or sharing unencrypted content.”
While some of the errors seem to be common sense, Jiang said that the big mistakes can lead to even bigger accidents and that seemingly innocuous errors can compromise patients’ personal data….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181120073655.htm

Citation:

Healthcare providers — not hackers — leak more of your data
Date: November 20, 2018
Source: Michigan State University
Summary:
New research found that more than half of the recent personal health information, or PHI, data breaches were because of internal issues with medical providers — not because of hackers or external parties.

Here is the press release from Michigan State:
Published: Nov. 16, 2018

HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS – NOT HACKERS – LEAK MORE OF YOUR DATA
Contact(s): Caroline Brooks , Xuefeng Jiang

Your personal identity may fall at the mercy of sophisticated hackers on many websites, but when it comes to health data breaches, hospitals, doctors offices and even insurance companies are oftentimes the culprits.
New research from Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University found that more than half of the recent personal health information, or PHI, data breaches were because of internal issues with medical providers – not because of hackers or external parties.
“There’s no perfect way to store information, but more than half of the cases we reviewed were not triggered by external factors – but rather by internal negligence,” said John (Xuefeng) Jiang, lead author and associate professor of accounting and information systems at MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business.
The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, follows the joint 2017 study that showed the magnitude of hospital data breaches in the United States. The research revealed nearly 1,800 occurrences of large data breaches in patient information over seven years, with 33 hospitals experiencing more than one substantial breach.
For this paper, Jiang and co-author Ge Bai, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, dove deeper to identify triggers of the PHI data breaches. They reviewed nearly 1,150 cases between October 2009 and December 2017 that affected more than 164 million patients.
“Every time a hospital has some sort of a data breach, they need to report it to the Department of Health and Human Services and classify what they believe is the cause,” Jiang, the Plante Moran Faculty Fellow, said. “These causes fell into six categories: theft, unauthorized access, hacking or an IT incident, loss, improper disposal or ‘other.’”
After reviewing detailed reports, assessing notes and reclassifying cases with specific benchmarks, Jiang and Bai found that 53 percent were the result of internal factors in health care entities.
“One quarter of all the cases were caused by unauthorized access or disclosure – more than twice the amount that were caused by external hackers,” Jiang said. “This could be an employee taking PHI home or forwarding to a personal account or device, accessing data without authorization, or even through email mistakes, like sending to the wrong recipients, copying instead of blind copying or sharing unencrypted content.”
While some of the errors seem to be common sense, Jiang said that the big mistakes can lead to even bigger accidents and that seemingly innocuous errors can compromise patients’ personal data.
“Hospitals, doctors offices, insurance companies, small physician offices and even pharmacies are making these kinds of errors and putting patients at risk,” Jiang said.
Of the external breaches, theft accounted for 33 percent with hacking credited for just 12 percent.
Some data breaches might result in minor consequences, such as obtaining the phone numbers of patients, but others can have much more invasive effects. For example, when Anthem, Inc. suffered a data breach in 2015, 37.5 million records were compromised. Many of the victims were not notified immediately, so weren’t aware of the situation until they went to file their taxes only to discover that a third-party fraudulently filed them with the data they obtained from Anthem.
While tight software and hardware security can protect from theft and hackers, Jiang and Bai suggest health care providers adopt internal policies and procedures that can tighten processes and prevent internal parties from leaking PHI by following a set of simple protocols. The procedures to mitigate PHI breaches related to storage include transitioning from paper to digital medical records, safe storage, moving to non-mobile policies for patient-protected information and implementing encryption. Procedures related to PHI communication include mandatory verification of mailing recipients, following a “copy vs. blind copy” protocol (bcc vs cc) as well as encryption of content.
“Not putting on the whole armor opened health care entities to enemy’s attacks,” Bai said. “The good news is that the armor is not hard to put on if simple protocols are followed.”
Next, Jiang and Bai plan to look even more closely at the kind of data that is hacked from external sources to learn what exactly digital thieves hope to steal from patient data. https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2018/health-care-providers-not-hackers-leak-more-of-your-data/

Protecting vital information from hackers of all types is constantly chasing a moving target.

Medical providers range from small offices to large institutions and university departments. Wendy Zamora wrote in 10 ways to protect against hackers:

What can you do to protect it against cybercriminals? Instead of sitting back and waiting to get infected, why not arm yourself and fight back?
Bad guys, beware. We’ve got 10 ways to beat you.
1. Update your OS and other software frequently, if not automatically. This keeps hackers from accessing your computer through vulnerabilities in outdated programs (which can be exploited by malware). For extra protection, enable Microsoft product updates so that the Office Suite will be updated at the same time. Consider retiring particularly susceptible software such as Java or Flash, especially as many sites and services continue to move away from them.
2. Download up-to-date security programs, including anti-malware software with multiple technologies for protecting against spyware, ransomware, and exploits, as well as a firewall, if your OS didn’t come pre-packaged with it. (You’ll want to check if your OS has both firewall and antivirus built in and enabled by default, and whether those programs are compatible with additional cybersecurity software.)
3. Destroy all traces of your personal info on hardware you plan on selling. Consider using d-ban to erase your hard drive. For those looking to pillage your recycled devices, this makes information much more difficult to recover. If the information you’d like to protect is critical enough, removing the platters where the information is stored then destroying them is the way to go.
4. Do not use open Wi-Fi on your router; it makes it too easy for threat actors to steal your connection and download illegal files. Protect your Wi-Fi with an encrypted password, and consider refreshing your equipment every few years. Some routers have vulnerabilities that are never patched. Newer routers allow you to provide guests with segregated wireless access. Plus, they make frequent password changes easier.
5. Speaking of passwords: password protect all of your devices, including your desktop, laptop, phone, smartwatch, tablet, camera, lawnmower…you get the idea. The ubiquity of mobile devices makes them especially vulnerable. Lock your phone and make the timeout fairly short. Use fingerprint lock for the iPhone and passkey or swipe for Android. “It’s easy to forget that mobile devices are essentially small computers that just happen to fit in your pocket and can be used as a phone,” says Jean-Philippe Taggart, Senior Security Researcher at Malwarebytes. “Your mobile device contains a veritable treasure trove of personal information and, once unlocked, can lead to devastating consequences.”
6. Sensing a pattern here? Create difficult passwords, and never use the same ones across multiple services. If that’s as painful as a stake to a vampire’s heart, use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password. For extra hacker protection, ask about two-step authentication. Several services have only recently started to offer 2FA, and they require the user to initiate the process. Trust us, the extra friction is worth it. Two-factor authentication makes taking over an account that much more difficult, and on the flip side, much easier to reclaim should the worst happen.
7. Come up with creative answers for your security questions. People can now figure out your mother’s maiden name or where you graduated from high school with a simple Google search. Consider answering like a crazy person. If Bank of America asks, “What was the name of your first boyfriend/girlfriend?” reply, “Your mom.” Just don’t forget that’s how you answered when they ask you again.
8. Practice smart emailing. Phishing campaigns still exist, but cybercriminals have become much cleverer than that Nigerian prince who needs your money. Hover over links to see their actual URLs (as opposed to just seeing words in hyperlink text). Also, check to see if the email is really from the person or company claiming to have sent it. If you’re not sure, pay attention to awkward sentence construction and formatting. If something still seems fishy, do a quick search on the Internet for the subject line. Others may have been scammed and posted about it online.
9. Some websites will ask you to sign in with a specific service to access features or post a comment. Ensure the login option isn’t a sneaky phish, and if you’re giving permission to an app to perform a task, ensure you know how to revoke access once you no longer need it. Old, abandoned connections from service to service are an easy way to see your main account compromised by spam.
10. Keep sensitive data off the cloud. “No matter which way you cut it, data stored on the cloud doesn’t belong to you,” says Taggart. “There are very few cloud storage solutions that offer encryption for ‘data at rest.’ Use the cloud accordingly. If it’s important, don’t.”
Honorable mentions: Alarmist webpages announcing that there are “critical errors” on your computer are lies. Microsoft will never contact you in person to remove threats. These messages come from scammers, and if you allow them to remotely connect to your computer, they could try to steal your information and your money. If that’s not a Nightmare on Elm Street, then we don’t know what is. https://blog.malwarebytes.com/101/2015/10/10-ways-to-protect-against-hackers/

Hacking of medical records is cyber warfare and the best defense is a good offense.

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