10 new genes linked to 7 diseases

The largest study ever conducted on genes and disease turned up 10 new genes that may predispose someone to 7 of the most highly acclaimed disease conditions. Diseases include type 1 and type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and bipolar disorder. More at: Biggest ever haul of genes linked to diseases.

Today’s Healthy Picks

A few headlines today demonstrate some beneficial foods to keep you healthy.
Eat pistachios, and macadamia nuts … also, drink your daily cup of coffee – or five! Picstachios were found to lower cholesterol and provide antioxidants, macademia nuts were shown to reduce cardiovascular disease (according to researchers) and coffee was shown (in moderate consumption) to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease in addition to previous studies showing it reduces kidney stones, gallstones, depression and suicide.

Exercising: your Heart and Brain

Okay … this isn’t so much about genetics or biotech, but these articles are ones I came across and said “wow, I have to tell people about this” — so here it is!

These articles discuss the scientific reasons why going to the gym makes you feel more alert, and how cardiovascular exercise helps your heart.

The first study shows a correlation between exercise and better results on memory tests. The study done by the Columbia University Medical Center explains specifically what exercise does within the brain:

This finding is significant because it was accomplished via the first-ever observation of neurogenesis, the growth of neurons, within a living brain. Using an MRI imaging technique developed at Columbia, the researchers were able to identify neurogenesis within the dentate gyrus region following exercise.

“No previous research has systematically examined the different regions of the hippocampus and identified which region is most affected by exercise,” said Scott A. Small, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center and the study’s lead author.

See more at: New Reason To Hit The Gym: Fighting Memory Loss (ScienceDaily)

The second study, also from the Columbia University Medical Center shows that aerobic exercise is good for the heart, but why? Here is what they found:

Whole blood samples were taken from 46 healthy young adults (20-45 years old) both before and after participating in moderate or high intensity aerobic exercise, over a 12-week period.

The blood samples were stimulated with the infectious agent lipopolysaccharide (LPS) – gram negative bacteria – and then analyzed for levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) – an initial step in the inflammatory cascade. Substantially lower levels of TNF were found after aerobic training, in both the moderate and high intensity groups.

“These findings suggest strongly that exercise reduces the systemic inflammation that can lead to heart disease,” said Dr. Sloan. “This study is especially significant because the value of exercise has never before been shown in TNF, and never in healthy adults who were not at high-risk for heart disease.”

See more at: Why Aerobic Exercise Is Good For The Heart (ScienceDaily)

Vitamin Cocoa?

Kids have vitamins that taste like candy, might we soon see vitamins tasting like chocolate? Cocoa butter? Maybe!

Recommendations have been made by Dr. Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Marina Murphy from Chemistry & Industry magazine that the benefits of epicatechin (a compound found in cocoa) are so important that it should be considered a vitamin and rival penicillin in terms of importance. As reported on ScienceDaily, Cocoa ‘Vitamin’ Health Benefits Could Outshine Penicillin, Dr. Hollenberg found that benefits of cocoa drinking in Panama reduced the risk to less than 10% for 4 of the top 5 killer diseases which include cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart failure. Want a chance of living a few extra years? Consider changing your drinking habits: the Kuna people drink approximately 40 cups of cocoa per week. Watch-out Starbucks, you may be usurped by cocoa!

If these theories are correct, we are going to see a revolution in nutraceuticals, health foods, specialty drinks, and a staggering increase in price of cocoa futures! Hopefully these trends will be complemented by a decline in the number of deaths due to these diseases.

So indulge yourself. Have a piece of chocolate, and a glass of wine (some varieties of each contain epicatechin)!