Men DO have a ticking fertility clock: New ‘sperm age calculator’ reveals how lifestyle and ageing crushes a man’s capacity to conceive

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Researchers from the University of Utah have developed a tool to test the age of a male’s sperm

Factors such as age and smoking can influence the quality of the sperm

Experts say older sperm could potentially cause genetic mutations such as schizophrenia and autism

A new ‘sperm age calculator’ shows how a father’s lifestyle and ageing can impact their ability to conceive children.

Researchers have long known about how a woman’s age and lifestyle choices can impact her fertility.

Despite research efforts, it has remained unclear how the age of male sperm can change an offspring’s genetics.

But this calculator tool is tipped as a concrete way for researchers to determine the precise age of the sperm and how it alters a man’s fertility.

Experts say this tool can be used to determine the father’s ability to conceive children and if they are putting them at an increased risk of developing a genetic mutation.

Researchers from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City have used the sperm age calculator to better understand how the father’s lifestyle can change the health of the offspring they conceive.

Tim Jenkins, an assistant professor of surgery at the university, and his team studied the sperm in 350 males to see how age impacted their genetics.

They first assessed how the DNA in men changes as they age.

With this data, they found 147 sites on the genome that should be looked at to see if the sperm changes as well.

Jenkins and his team then created the sperm calculator to determine how a sperm has aged and if it impacts the father’s ability to conceive.

This calculator can assess what age the man is and if his sperm has changed at an abnormal rate.

The researchers found that smoking is one factor that significantly ages the sperm in a male’s body.

‘For a 40-year-old man who smokes, our calculator would calculate him to be 44 or so,’ Jenkins said to New Scientist.

The goal of the calculator is to be able to screen men before the decide to have children.

This could tell them how old their sperm is and what the genetic risks could be for their future offspring.

Autism and schizophrenia are two disorders that have been hypothesized to be linked to a mutation in the father’s sperm.

Experts have found these mental disorders to be hereditary and develop while the child is growing in their mother’s womb.

There is no clear evidence to prove the link yet to the father’s sperm, but experts say this sperm calculator could be an important step towards finding those genetic links.

Source: Daily Mail

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Dyslexia link to eye spots confusing brain, say scientists

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French scientists say they may have found a potential cause of dyslexia which could be treatable, hidden in tiny cells in the human eye.

In a small study they found that most dyslexics had dominant round spots in both eyes – rather than in just one – leading to blurring and confusion.

UK experts said the research was “very exciting” and highlighted the link between vision and dyslexia.

But they said not all dyslexics were likely to have the same problem.

People with dyslexia have difficulties learning to read, spell or write despite normal intelligence.

Often letters appear to move around and get in the wrong order and dyslexic people can have problems distinguishing left from right.

Human beings have a dominant eye in the same way that people have a dominant left or right hand.

Shape of spots

In the University of Rennes study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists looked into the eyes of 30 non-dyslexics and 30 dyslexics.

They discovered differences in the shape of spots deep in the eye where red, green and blue cones – responsible for colour – are located.

In non-dyslexics, they found that the blue cone-free spot in one eye was round and in the other eye it was oblong or unevenly shaped, making the round one more dominant.

But in dyslexic people, both eyes had the same round-shaped spot, which meant neither eye was dominant.

This would result in the brain being confused by two slightly different images from the eyes.

Researchers Guy Ropars and Albert le Floch said this lack of asymmetry “might be the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities”.

They added: “For dyslexic students, their two eyes are equivalent and their brain has to successively rely on the two slightly different versions of a given visual scene.”

No single cause

Prof John Stein, dyslexia expert and emeritus professor in neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said having a dominant spot in one eye meant there were better connections between the two sides of the brain and therefore clearer vision.

He said the study was “really interesting” because it stressed the importance of eye dominance in reading.

But he said the research gave no indication of why these differences occurred in some people’s eyes.

He said the French test appeared to be more objective than current tests, but was unlikely to explain everyone’s dyslexia.

Dyslexia is usually an inherited condition which affects 10% of the population, but environmental factors are also thought to play a role.

“No one problem is necessary to get dyslexia and no one problem is behind it,” Prof Stein said.

Source: BBC

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Sprinkling This Powder Into Your Smoothies Might Help You Lose Weight

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Research

This swap will make your smoothie so much more filling:

Moringa Powder Benefits

Moringa powder has two huge perks: It’s ridiculously nutritious and packed with antioxidants, so it offers a ton of disease protection.

According to the USDA, one cup of fresh, chopped moringa leaves contains two grams of protein, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B2, vitamin A, and magnesium. Compared to kale, moringa powder can have twice the amount of protein, four times more calcium, six times more iron, 1.5 times more fiber, 97 times more B2, and five times more B3, says Manuel Villacorta, R.D.

It can be especially helpful for women who tend to need more iron and calcium, he adds. And research in PLoS ONE even shows moringa has such high levels of minerals that the powder could help reduce micronutrient deficiencies in malnourished populations.

It’s also jam-packed with antioxidants. In fact, a study analysis in Phytotherapy Research reports that because of its levels and variety of polyphenols, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, moringa leaf extract can help protect tissue, including the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, act as a pain reliever, protect against ulcers, protect against hypertension, and boost immune function.

Villacorta says there is no research to suggest the powder can actually help people lose weight. But, he adds, the nutrition content, particularly high levels of B vitamins, can boost your metabolism. “B vitamins act as co-enzymes, so they help foster a more efficient metabolism. A more efficient metabolism burns more calories, which can in turn help with weight loss,” he explains.

Another huge plus? A study analysis in Phytotherapy Research reports that of the research we have, none have found any adverse effects in people consuming the extract, a stance Villacorta echoes.

(Learn how bone broth can help you lose weight with Women’s Health’s Bone Broth Diet.)

How To Use It

Moringa comes packaged a few different ways. It can be extracted into an oil, which you can cook with to score a dose of nutrients. In addition to a tasty, mild nutty flavor, moringa oleifera oil ($19.99, amazon.com) is also extremely stable, so it doesn’t lose its antioxidant capacity after sitting on the shelf like other good-for-you oils, according to a report in Lipids in Health and Diseases.

The other most accessible form is a moringa powder ($29.99, amazon.com). Look for leaf powder specifically, as research shows extracts from this part of the plant exhibit the greatest antioxidant activity. Villacorta recommends sprinkling it your smoothie. “I use one tablespoon of moringa powder in my smoothies three times a week for the high amounts of nutrients,” he adds.

Source: WHblogs

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Alzheimer’s could be tackled by stimulating older people’s sense of smell: New study offers hope for sufferers as scientists discover this could help protect brain cells

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Study found that when worms were taught to sniff danger it protected neurons

With dementia and Huntington’s, nerve cells lose function and ultimately die

Although treatments may help relieve symptoms, there is currently no cure

Could lead to non-pharmaceutical treatment for neurodegenerative diseases

The humble roundworm may offer clues in the fight against dementia and Huntington’s disease.

Scientists discovered that when the creature is taught to sniff danger, this triggered a defence mechanism that protects its neurons from degeneration.

Those exposed to a certain odour were shown in experiments to have significantly higher rates of brain cell survival.

The discovery opens the doors to a new, non-pharmaceutical treatment for neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Huntington’s, say experts.

These diseases occur when nerve cells in the brain or peripheral nervous system become damaged, lose function over time and ultimately die.

Although treatments may help relieve some of the symptoms, there is currently no way to slow the progression.

Professor Veena Prahlad, of the University of Iowa, said: ‘Theoretically, it should be possible to treat these types of diseases if we can figure out how to stimulate that defence mechanism in people and have it activated more consistently to fix damaged cells.

‘We would need to find the same sensory triggers in humans as we have demonstrated… in worms.’

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and affects around 5.5 million people in the US and 850,000 in the UK.

Around 127,000 people in the UK are believed to have Parkinson’s, which causes tremors, slow movements and muscle rigidity. Worldwide, more than 10 million are believed to be affected.

Key findings

Roundworms are among the most abundant animals on Earth. They have only 302 neurons, compared to the billions in humans, making them a good animal to study in neurological disease.

The research, published in the journal Science Signaling, analysed how the creatures reacted to stress after exposing a group to the scent of a lethal bacterium.

Their defences were triggered more quickly and cells had a 17 per cent higher survival rate after 18 hours than those given the odour of a benign bacterium.

Professor Prahlad believes the worms exposed to the deadly bacterium ‘learned’ the smell – and the threat it presents – and stored that memory.

Dementia involves the accumulation of protein damage in cells that the human central nervous system does not address, for reasons largely unknown.

DIABETES DRUG CUTS PARKINSON’S RISK

A drug prescribed for diabetes patients reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by more than a quarter, a major study found.

Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway discovered glitazones (GTZs) had a protective effect against the degenerative neurological disease.

GTZs users saw a 28 percent drop in their chances of developing it compared with people on metformin, which is the most common medication for type 2 diabetes.

GTZs – also known as thiazolidinediones – are approved in the US and the UK for the metabolic disorder, but are not the primary treatment.

They are thought to work by helping the body to self-clean damaged or ageing brain cells.

The research team zeroed in on a defence mechanism common to all plants and animals, known as the heat shock response.

This mechanism – activated by changes in temperature, salinity and other stressors – triggers the production of ‘molecular chaperones’, which repair or get rid of damaged proteins that have become toxic to the cell.

In humans, as in the roundworms, a key gene involved in synthesising molecular chaperones is HSF1 (heat shock transcription factor) which prevents protein damage that can lead to neurodegenerative diseases.

The roundworms exposed to the odour of the deadly bacterium, called PA14, activated twice the number of molecular chaperones.

Professor Prahlad added: ‘We show the HSF1 response is not a reaction. The animal turns it on in anticipation, and it does that by learning about the threat in its environment.’

The question is whether a similar trigger can be found in humans to boost the ‘feelgood’ chemical serotonin, a shortage of which can cause Alzheimer’s, and is required to put HSF1 on alert.

Source: Daily Mail

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Eating Brussels sprouts and drinking green tea could make aggressive breast cancers treatable by ‘turning off’ tumor genes, a study has found

Herbs and Helpers

Compounds in cruciferous vegetables influence tumor response to treatment

Such compounds can ‘turn off’ cancerous genes, changing therapy outcomes

Sufferers of aggressive breast cancer, known as ER-negative, have few options

Thousands of women die every years from ER-negative forms of the disease

University of Alabama researchers analyzed mice with ER-negative cancer

Eating sprouts and drinking green tea could make aggressive breast cancers treatable, new research suggests.

Compounds in cruciferous vegetables, such as sprouts, and the traditional herbal drink ‘turn off’ genes for ER-negative forms of the disease, which is notoriously unresponsive to therapy, a study found.

Study author Professor Trygve Tollefsbol from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, said: ‘Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and science now tells us she was right.

‘Unfortunately, there are few options for women who develop ER-negative breast cancer.’

Study author Yuanyuan Li added: ‘The results of this research provide a novel approach to preventing and treating ER-negative breast cancer, which currently takes hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.’

TEST PERSONALIZES BREAST CANCER CARE AND COULD SPARE LOW-RISK PATIENTS CHEMOTHERAPY

A test pinpoints breast cancer patients with a low-risk of their tumor returning, allowing them to avoid aggressive treatments, research revealed in June.

The test correctly identified 15 percent of the study’s participants as being of a low-risk of their cancer coming back.

Such patients had a strong prognosis after their initial treatment regardless of whether they were given additional therapy to prevent their tumor returning, the research adds.

Lead author Dr Laura Esserman from the University of California in San Francisco. said: ‘This is an important step forward for personalizing care for women with breast cancer.

‘We can now test small node-negative breast cancers, and if they are in the ultra-low risk category, we can tell women that they are highly unlikely to die of their cancers and do not need aggressive treatment, including radiation after lumpectomy.’

How the research was carried out

The researchers analyzed mice with ER-negative breast cancer.

They gave the mice two compounds found in common foods that work together to prevent cancer and could transform tumors into a more treatable form of cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as sprouts, were selected as they contain a compound, known as sulforaphane, that ‘turns off’ genes that influence cancer’s development.

Polyphenols in green tea have previously been shown to prevent and treat ER-negative breast cancer in mice that are genetically programmed to suffer from such tumors.

Vegetables and green tea make breast cancer treatable

Results reveal feeding mice compounds found in cruciferous vegetables and green tea converts aggressive breast cancers into more treatable tumors.

Professor Tollefsbol said: ‘Unfortunately, there are few options for women who develop ER-negative breast cancer.

‘Because of the poor prognosis this type of cancer carries, new advances in prevention and treatment for ER-negative breast cancer have particular significance.

‘Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables and science now tells us she was right.’

Dr Li added: ‘The results of this research provide a novel approach to preventing and treating ER-negative breast cancer, which currently takes hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.’

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: Daily Mail

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What your ARMPITS say about your health

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The smell of your armpits comes from bacteria that live there

These bacteria are part of the same microbial system in your gut, that keeps you healthy

Research shows how quickly your underarm microbiome can be changed by deodorant and antiperspirants

How your armpits smell – and what you do about it – interacts with the same system of microbes in your gut that protects you from pathogens.

Just like in your gut, a diverse community is living under your armpit, and your deodorant and antiperspirant may be changing more than your smell.

The microbes under our arms, on our skin, and in our guts and saliva play an important in protecting us from other microorganisms that don’t belong in our bodies.

A growing body of research shows just how important maintaining the microbiota under your arms and in this entire system is to protecting your overall health.

Recent research has shown that preventing body odor can significantly, and quickly, alter that microbiome.

Everyone has a unique microbiome that fluctuates with our environments. Our particular biomes protect us from pathogens and are part of what create our body odors.

Some have claimed that deodorants and antiperspirants may be carcinogenic, while others have said that there is not enough evidence to prove this.

Breast cancers often develop in the upper, outer region of the breast, and one study suggested that this could be linked both to the amount of tissue in the area and to the application of deodorants and antiperspirants there.

One argument is that the presence of aluminium in antiperspirants, used to stop the secretion of sweat, could be carcinogenic because the metal acts similarly to estrogen.

Currently, the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health provide some documentation of research on the subject on its website, but says that the results are inconclusive.

Deodorant and antiperspirants change your microbiome

Researchers at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh found that the microbes under peoples’ armpits varied widely depending on whether they wore deodorant, antiperspirant, or nothing.

They found that both deodorant and antiperspirants suppressed the number and diversity of microbes in armpits.

This study comes as evidence builds that much of our physical health is related to the microbes in our guts, and raises questions about whether products like these could affect not only skin microbes, but those that grow throughout our bodies.

The study analyzed samples from the armpits of 17 participants, grouped by what kind of products (if any) they used to keep their body odor under control.

Over the course of six days, the researchers swabbed the participants’ more or less sweaty armpits.

On the first day, everyone followed their usual hygiene practices. The people that wore antiperspirants had the least number of microbes, and deodorant-wearers had more microbes, but less diversity.

The types of bacteria found in each pair of pits also varied based on the kinds of products used.

The two most common bacteria in armpits are Corynebacterium and Staphylococcaceae. People that didn’t use products had more of the Corynebacterium, which is the primary cause of unpleasant armpit stench.

Those that used a product had more Staphylococcaceae in their subdued microbiomes. Staphylococcaceae can be good and bad for our systems, depending on how it’s balanced out by other microbes.

Corynebacterium, on the other hand, are more protective of our systems. Antiperspirant-wearers had a greater variety of microbes but fewer overall. Since variation has been proven to be important to our overall microbiome health, both forms of smell-prevention had advantages and disadvantages.

After that first day, the participants were asked to stop using their respective body odor-blocking products.

By the sixth and final day of the study, everyone’s microbiomes were all essentially the same, matching up with those of the people that had not used any product to begin with, though everyone’s microbiotic make up – and therefore, smell – is slightly different.

The study concluded that there is simply much more research to be done about our armpits, their smells and what they tell us about our health and ability to fight off environmental pathogens.

Source: Daily Mail

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Magic mushrooms can ‘reset’ depressed brain

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A hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms can “reset” the brains of people with untreatable depression, raising hopes of a future treatment, scans suggest.

The small study gave 19 patients a single dose of the psychedelic ingredient psilocybin.

Half of patients ceased to be depressed and experienced changes in their brain activity that lasted about five weeks.

However, the team at Imperial College London says people should not self-medicate.

There has been a series of small studies suggesting psilocybin could have a role in depression by acting as a “lubricant for the mind” that allows people to escape a cycle of depressive symptoms.

But the precise impact it might be having on brain activity was not known.

The team at Imperial performed fMRI brain scans before treatment with psilocybin and then the day after (when the patients were “sober” again).

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed psilocybin affected two key areas of the brain.

The amygdala – which is heavily involved in how we process emotions such as fear and anxiety – became less active. The greater the reduction, the greater the improvement in reported symptoms.

The default-mode network – a collaboration of different brain regions – became more stable after taking psilocybin.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, said the depressed brain was being “clammed up” and the psychedelic experience “reset” it.

He told the BBC News website: “Patients were very ready to use this analogy. Without any priming they would say, ‘I’ve been reset, reborn, rebooted’, and one patient said his brain had been defragged and cleaned up.”

However, this remains a small study and had no “control” group of healthy people with whom to compare the brain scans.

Further, larger studies are still needed before psilocybin could be accepted as a treatment for depression.

However, there is no doubt new approaches to treatment are desperately needed.

Depression: A revolution in treatment?
Prof Mitul Mehta, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “What is impressive about these preliminary findings is that brain changes occurred in the networks we know are involved in depression, after just a single dose of psilocybin.

“This provides a clear rationale to now look at the longer-term mechanisms in controlled studies.”

Source: BBC

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