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News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

New research suggests that excess sugar—especially the fructose in sugary drinks—might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus—an area of the brain important for learning and memory. But before you chuck your sweet tea and reach for a diet soda, there’s more: a follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not. Researchers are quick to point out that these findings, which appear separately in the journals Alzheimer’s & Dementia and Stroke, demonstrate correlation but not cause-and-effect. While researchers caution against over-consuming either diet soda or sugary drinks, more research is needed to determine how—or if—these drinks actually damage the brain, and how much damage may be caused by underlying vascular disease or diabetes. “These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion,” says Sudha Seshadri, a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and a faculty member at the university’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn’t seem to help.” “Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to,” adds Seshadri, who is senior author of both papers. Excess sugar has long been associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, but little is known about its long-term effects on the human brain, says Matthew Pase, a fellow in the university’s neurology department, an investigator at the FHS, and lead author of both papers. He chose to study sugary drinks as a way of examining overall sugar consumption. “It’s difficult to measure overall sugar intake in the diet,” he says, “so we used sugary beverages as a proxy.” For the first study, researchers examined data, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and cognitive testing results, from about 4,000 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study’s Offspring and Third-Generation cohorts. (These are the children and grandchildren of the original FHS volunteers enrolled in 1948.) The researchers looked at people who consumed more than two sugary drinks a day of any type—soda, fruit juice, and other soft drinks—or more than three per week of soda alone. Among that “high intake” group, they found multiple signs of accelerated brain aging, including smaller overall brain volume, poorer episodic memory, and a shrunken hippocampus, all risk factors for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also found that higher intake of diet soda—at least one per day—was associated with smaller brain volume. In the second study, the researchers, using data only from the older Offspring cohort, looked specifically at whether participants had suffered a stroke or been diagnosed with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. After measuring volunteers’ beverage intake at three points over seven years, the researchers then monitored the volunteers for 10 years, looking for evidence of stroke in 2,888 people over age 45, and dementia in 1,484 participants over age 60. Here they found, surprisingly, no correlation between sugary beverage intake and stroke or dementia. However, they found that people who drank at least one diet soda per day were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. Although the researchers took age, smoking, diet quality, and other factors into account, they could not completely control for preexisting conditions like diabetes, which may have developed over the course of the study and is a known risk factor for dementia. Diabetics, as a group, drink more diet soda on average, as a way to limit their sugar consumption, and some of the correlation between diet soda intake and dementia may be due to diabetes, as well as other vascular risk factors. However, such preexisting conditions cannot wholly explain the new findings. “It was somewhat surprising that diet soda consumption led to these outcomes,” says Pase, noting that while prior studies have linked diet soda intake to stroke risk, the link with dementia was not previously known. He adds that the studies did not differentiate between types of artificial sweeteners and did not account for other possible sources of artificial sweeteners. Pase says that scientists have put forth various hypotheses about how artificial sweeteners may cause harm, from transforming gut bacteria to altering the brain’s perception of sweet, but “we need more work to figure out the underlying mechanisms.”


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Americans love sugar. Together we consumed nearly 11 million metric tons of it in 2016, according to the US Department of Agriculture, much of it in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks and soda. Now, new research suggests that excess sugar -- especially the fructose in sugary drinks--might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus -- an area of the brain important for learning and memory. But before you chuck your sweet tea and reach for a diet soda, there's more: a follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not. Researchers are quick to point out that these findings, which appear separately in the journals Alzheimer's & Dementia and Stroke, demonstrate correlation but not cause-and-effect. While researchers caution against over-consuming either diet soda or sugary drinks, more research is needed to determine how -- or if -- these drinks actually damage the brain, and how much damage may be caused by underlying vascular disease or diabetes. "These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it's strong data and a very strong suggestion," says Sudha Seshadri, a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (MED) and a faculty member at BU's Alzheimer's Disease Center, who is senior author on both papers. "It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn't seem to help." "Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to," she adds. Matthew Pase, a fellow in the MED neurology department and an investigator at the FHS who is corresponding author on both papers, says that excess sugar has long been associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, but little is known about its long-term effects on the human brain. He chose to study sugary drinks as a way of examining overall sugar consumption. "It's difficult to measure overall sugar intake in the diet," he says, "so we used sugary beverages as a proxy." For the first study, published in Alzheimer's & Dementia on March 5, 2017, researchers examined data, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and cognitive testing results, from about 4,000 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study's Offspring and Third-Generation cohorts. (These are the children and grandchildren of the original FHS volunteers enrolled in 1948.) The researchers looked at people who consumed more than two sugary drinks a day of any type -- soda, fruit juice, and other soft drinks -- or more than three per week of soda alone. Among that "high intake" group, they found multiple signs of accelerated brain aging, including smaller overall brain volume, poorer episodic memory, and a shrunken hippocampus, all risk factors for early-stage Alzheimer's disease. Researchers also found that higher intake of diet soda--at least one per day--was associated with smaller brain volume. In the second study, published in Stroke on April 20, 2017, the researchers, using data only from the older Offspring cohort, looked specifically at whether participants had suffered a stroke or been diagnosed with dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. After measuring volunteers' beverage intake at three points over seven years, the researchers then monitored the volunteers for 10 years, looking for evidence of stroke in 2,888 people over age 45, and dementia in 1,484 participants over age 60. Here they found, surprisingly, no correlation between sugary beverage intake and stroke or dementia. However, they found that people who drank at least one diet soda per day were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. Although the researchers took age, smoking, diet quality, and other factors into account, they could not completely control for preexisting conditions like diabetes, which may have developed over the course of the study and is a known risk factor for dementia. Diabetics, as a group, drink more diet soda on average, as a way to limit their sugar consumption, and some of the correlation between diet soda intake and dementia may be due to diabetes, as well as other vascular risk factors. However, such preexisting conditions cannot wholly explain the new findings. "It was somewhat surprising that diet soda consumption led to these outcomes," says Pase, noting that while prior studies have linked diet soda intake to stroke risk, the link with dementia was not previously known. He adds that the studies did not differentiate between types of artificial sweeteners and did not account for other possible sources of artificial sweeteners. He says that scientists have put forth various hypotheses about how artificial sweeteners may cause harm, from transforming gut bacteria to altering the brain's perception of "sweet," but "we need more work to figure out the underlying mechanisms." Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University's research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank artificially-sweetened beverages less than once a week, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke. The authors caution that the long-term observational study was not designed or able to prove cause and effect, and only shows a trend among one group of people. “Our study shows a need to put more research into this area given how often people drink artificially-sweetened beverages,” said Matthew Pase, a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and the Framingham Heart Study. “Although we did not find an association between stroke or dementia and the consumption of sugary drinks, this certainly does not mean they are a healthy option. We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages.” The researchers analyzed the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort of 2,888 people, primarily Caucasian, over the age of 45 for the stroke study and 1,484 people over the age of 60 for the dementia arm of the study. Over a period of seven years, the researchers reviewed what people were drinking at three different points in time. Participants reported their eating and drinking habits by responding to food frequency questionnaires. The researchers then followed up with the study subjects for the next 10 years to determine who developed stroke or dementia, then compared the dietary information to the risk of developing stroke and dementia over the course of the study. The data collected did not distinguish between the types of artificial sweeteners used in the beverages. At the end of the 10-year follow-up period, the researchers noted 97 cases (three percent) of stroke, 82 of which were ischemic (caused by blockage of blood vessels), and 81 (five percent) cases of dementia, 63 of which were diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers used statistical models, adjusted for various risk factors such as age, sex, caloric intake, education, diabetes mellitus and the presence of a variant of the Alzheimer’s risk gene apolipoprotein E, to determine potential links between artificially-sweetened drink consumption and the risk of stroke or dementia. They found that people who drank at least one artificially-sweetened beverage a day were three times as likely to develop ischemic stroke and 2.9 times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease dementia. Although the prospective nature of the study design increases the reliability of its findings, there are limitations. The participants were overwhelmingly white, and it is possible that ethnic preferences may influence how often people select sugary or artificially sweetened drinks, Pase said. People did not drink sugary sodas as often as diet sodas, which Pase said could be one reason the researchers did not see an association with regular soda since the participants may have been health conscious and just not consuming them as frequently. The main limitation, Pase said, is the important point that an observational study like this cannot prove that drinking artificially-sweetened drinks is linked to strokes or dementia, but it does identify an intriguing trend that will need to be explored in other studies. “Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate,” Pase said. “In our study, three percent of the people had a new stroke and five percent developed dementia, so we're still talking about a small number of people developing either stroke or dementia.” According to an accompanying editorial, the current body of scientific research is inconclusive regarding whether or not drinking artificially sweetened beverages can actually lead to stroke, dementia or other cardiovascular conditions. However, there are a growing number of population based studies, such as this study by Pase, et.al, that show associations between frequent consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and undesirable effects on blood vessels throughout the body. This suggests that it may not be advisable to substitute or promote artificially sweetened drinks as healthier alternatives to sugar-sweetened drinks. “Both sugar and artificially sweetened soft drinks may be hard on the brain,” said senior editorial author Ralph Sacco M.D., a former president of the American Heart Association and the chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Miller School of Medicine at University of Miami in Florida. “We know that limiting added sugars is an important strategy to support good nutrition and healthy body weights, and until we know more, people should use artificially sweetened drinks cautiously. They may have a role for people with diabetes and in weight loss, but we encourage people to drink water, low-fat milk or other beverages without added sweeteners,” said Rachel K. Johnson, past chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.


Researchers have linked artificially sweetened sodas to increased risk of dementia and stroke in two studies published in the journals Stroke Alzheimer’s & Dementia The observational studies were based on 2,888 people from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort, who have been providing data since 1971. The researchers found those who drank at least one diet soda a day were three times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke or to develop Alzheimer’s. Importantly, such studies can only suggest an association, and do not mean that diet sodas actually cause dementia or stroke. An editorial accompanying the Stroke study noted the results could be due to reverse causality, “whereby sicker individuals consume diet beverages as a means of negating a further deterioration of health”. Although the statistics suggest a possible link between diet soda and health risks, they do not necessarily draw a straight line from sweetener to stroke or dementia.  Experts were quick to repeat the “correlation isn’t causation” mantra and called for caution when interpreting these studies. They highlighted several flaws, including that the researchers themselves admit when other factors like diabetes, genes and overweight are taken into account, the association with dementia disappears. They also found no association between consumption of sugary drinks and stroke risk – despite this being a well-established link. It is possible people who are already in ill health, particularly those suffering with diabetes, are more likely to choose zero-calorie drinks, thereby skewing these results. In the meantime, many experts suggest all fizzy drinks, however they are sweetened, should be consumed in moderation. Scientists have long been researching the health risks of soda, and some have suggested a link with weight gain. In response to this latest study, the American Beverage Association issued a statement highlighting international organizations, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization and European Food Safety Authority, repeatedly have reviewed the safety status of artificial sweeteners, and concluded they are safe. Whether artificially sweetened drinks carry a health risk or not, consumers increasingly are looking for alternatives, including naturally sweetened low-calorie drinks and bottled water. Bottled water sales overtook those of carbonated soft drinks in the U.S. last year to become the largest beverage category by volume. Soda sales nationally have been declining as consumers shun sugary drinks in favor of healthier, better-for-you beverages. Taxes slapped on sugary drinks in Berkeley cut sales 21% last year, while in Philadelphia PepsiCo said it would need to lay off 80 to 100 workers after sales dropped 40% following the city's tax. The latest studies are unlikely to noticeably hurt soda sales in the near-term without more definitive proof linking the drink to dementia and stroke, but given the challenges plaguing the beverage lately it's hardly welcomes news.


Artificially sweetened beverages like diet soda are strategically positioned in the market to provide a healthful alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks, which are traditionally linked to a greater risk for conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. A new study, however, links diet soda to an increased risk for stroke and dementia, adding to the growing list of health perils associated with the beverages. According to the new research published in the journal Stroke, people who drank at least one diet soda every day maintained nearly three times the risk of suffering from stroke or dementia. The findings were based on 4,300 subjects of the Framingham Heart Study. Over the next decade, subjects who consumed one artificially sweetened soft drink each day had almost three times the risk of having ischemic stroke - the condition when an artery to the brain becomes blocked -compared to those who never drank these soda products. At least one diet soda a day, too, translated to 2.89 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of dementia that is characterized by memory and cognitive skill decline. "We know that sugary and artificially sweetened beverages are not great for us. This study adds strength to that, and also says they may not be great for your brain, specifically," said Heather Snyder, Alzheimer’s Association senior director in a CNN report. Snyder pointed to alternatives such as cardiovascular fitness to elevate heart rate and enhance blood flow, as well as mental games and puzzles to keep challenging the mind. A 2016 study warned that babies born to mothers consuming diet soda while pregnant were at a greater risk of developing childhood obesity. According to researchers from the University of Manitoba in Canada, pregnant women consuming artificially sweetened liquids every day predispose their children to a higher body mass index during childhood. Of the 3,033 pregnant subjects included in the study, the team saw that 29.5 percent drank these diet drinks while 5.1 percent of kids born to them became overweight by their first year. "To our knowledge, our results provide the first human evidence that artificial sweetener consumption during pregnancy may increase the risk of early childhood overweight," concluded the authors. Diet soda contains high levels of artificial sweeteners, including a form known as aspartame. Early this year, a study argued that there exists no evidence that artificially sweetened drinks are better options for staying slim than sugar-laden versions. Diet drinks are deemed unable to slash the risk for obesity-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Experts even raise a red flag: Diet drinks can actually cause one to gain weight, mainly through stimulating one’s sweet cravings and leading one to overeat. Aspartame is low-calorie yet up to 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. It is used worldwide as a sugar substitute in cereals, chewing gum, soft drinks, and thousands of other food and drinks, yet it is not immune to controversy. Reports linked aspartame to a greater chance of brain tumors and cancer, premature birth, allergies, and liver damage. Artificial sweetener sucralose, marketed under the brand name Splenda, had also been tied to a significantly increased risk of leukemia and other cancers. In 2013, it was downgraded from a "safe" to "caution" standing because of earlier research also from the Ramazzini Institute. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank artificially-sweetened beverages less than once a week, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke. The authors caution that the long-term observational study was not designed or able to prove cause and effect, and only shows a trend among one group of people. “Our study shows a need to put more research into this area given how often people drink artificially-sweetened beverages,” said Matthew Pase, a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and the Framingham Heart Study. “Although we did not find an association between stroke or dementia and the consumption of sugary drinks, this certainly does not mean they are a healthy option. We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages.” The researchers analyzed the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort of 2,888 people, primarily Caucasian, over the age of 45 for the stroke study and 1,484 people over the age of 60 for the dementia arm of the study. Over a period of seven years, the researchers reviewed what people were drinking at three different points in time. Participants reported their eating and drinking habits by responding to food frequency questionnaires. The researchers then followed up with the study subjects for the next 10 years to determine who developed stroke or dementia, then compared the dietary information to the risk of developing stroke and dementia over the course of the study. The data collected did not distinguish between the types of artificial sweeteners used in the beverages. At the end of the 10-year follow-up period, the researchers noted 97 cases (three percent) of stroke, 82 of which were ischemic (caused by blockage of blood vessels), and 81 (five percent) cases of dementia, 63 of which were diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers used statistical models, adjusted for various risk factors such as age, sex, caloric intake, education, diabetes mellitus and the presence of a variant of the Alzheimer’s risk gene apolipoprotein E, to determine potential links between artificially-sweetened drink consumption and the risk of stroke or dementia. They found that people who drank at least one artificially-sweetened beverage a day were three times as likely to develop ischemic stroke and 2.9 times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease dementia. Although the prospective nature of the study design increases the reliability of its findings, there are limitations. The participants were overwhelmingly white, and it is possible that ethnic preferences may influence how often people select sugary or artificially sweetened drinks, Pase said. People did not drink sugary sodas as often as diet sodas, which Pase said could be one reason the researchers did not see an association with regular soda since the participants may have been health conscious and just not consuming them as frequently. The main limitation, Pase said, is the important point that an observational study like this cannot prove that drinking artificially-sweetened drinks is linked to strokes or dementia, but it does identify an intriguing trend that will need to be explored in other studies. “Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate,” Pase said. “In our study, three percent of the people had a new stroke and five percent developed dementia, so we're still talking about a small number of people developing either stroke or dementia.” According to an accompanying editorial, the current body of scientific research is inconclusive regarding whether or not drinking artificially sweetened beverages can actually lead to stroke, dementia or other cardiovascular conditions. However, there are a growing number of population based studies, such as this study by Pase, et.al, that show associations between frequent consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and undesirable effects on blood vessels throughout the body. This suggests that it may not be advisable to substitute or promote artificially sweetened drinks as healthier alternatives to sugar-sweetened drinks. “Both sugar and artificially sweetened soft drinks may be hard on the brain,” said senior editorial author Ralph Sacco M.D., a former president of the American Heart Association and the chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Miller School of Medicine at University of Miami in Florida. “We know that limiting added sugars is an important strategy to support good nutrition and healthy body weights, and until we know more, people should use artificially sweetened drinks cautiously. They may have a role for people with diabetes and in weight loss, but we encourage people to drink water, low-fat milk or other beverages without added sweeteners,” said Rachel K. Johnson, past chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.


The findings are based on data collected during 1991-2001 as part of the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort study, which examined various health outcomes including incidence of stroke and dementia during a 10 year follow-up period. The current study suffers from several major limitations, including: All no- and low-calorie sweeteners used in diet beverages have routinely been reviewed and deemed safe by numerous regulatory agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration. Furthermore, healthcare experts, including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, acknowledge the role that no- and low-calorie sweeteners can have in managing health concerns, such as diabetes and obesity. The American Heart Association states, "Replacing sugary foods and drinks with sugar-free options containing NNSs [no- and low-calorie sweeteners] is one way to limit calories and achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Also, when used to replace food and drinks with added sugars, it can help people with diabetes manage blood glucose levels.2" "Individuals can choose to modify their lifestyle to reduce their risk of stroke by participating in more physical activity, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, and smoking cessation. Beverages are an important consideration and diet beverages provide safe, reduced calorie options that people can enjoy while working towards achieving their healthy lifestyle goals," says Robert Rankin, President of the Calorie Control Council, "Rather than focusing on results from observational studies, which cannot establish cause and effect, individuals should talk to their healthcare team to address known risks for stroke and dementia." Keri Peterson, MD and medical advisor to the Calorie Control Council added, "This study design has significant limitations and is unable to prove a causal relationship between artificial sweeteners and stroke or dementia. Known risk factors for stroke and dementia such as high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight. Swapping out sugary drinks and foods for those containing no- and low-calorie sweeteners remains a valuable tool for people looking to cut calories in order to reach their weight loss goals." 1. Rogers, P.J, Hogenkamp, P.S., de Graaf, C., Higgs, S., Lulch, A., Ness, A.R., Penfold, C., Perry, R., Putz, P., Yeomans, M.R., Mela, D.J. (2016). Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. International Journal of Obesity, 40, 381–394. doi:10.1038/ijo.2015.177. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/observational-study-linking-no--and-low-calorie-sweetened-beverages-with-stroke-and-dementia-not-based-on-cause-and-effect-does-not-represent-risk-to-americans-300442908.html


Alphabet’s Google division is, fundamentally, in the business of selling data. That is a useful thing to keep in mind when Alphabet’s Verily comes calling for your medical data. But Google is also inarguably useful; this is why, despite knowing that my every move is being tracked by the company, I still make use of Google search, Gmail, and Google Docs, among its other myriad services. Verily’s Project Baseline is, in some sense, the health equivalent of those kinds of services — it has the potential to greatly expand our knowledge about what human health looks like. Not incidentally, the project will be of service to Verily as well. Researchers will collect genetic data, blood samples, medical images, and other information. In 2014, Verily — then a division of Google X — announced the Baseline Project, a collaboration with Duke University and Stanford University to try to get a sense of what a “normal” human looks like. Today, the group announced it will begin enrolling 10,000 healthy people, following a pilot in about 200 people that began in 2014. Over the course of four years, researchers will collect genetic data, blood samples, medical images, and other information from the study participants. That “other information” might include environmental data, as well as responses to phone surveys, and data from sensors in the Study Watch, a sensor-packed smartwatch announced last week. The studies are starting in the San Francisco Bay Area and North Carolina, though the scientists behind the effort hope to expand the areas surveyed. And because the program is meant to be nationally-representative, recruitment may be a little slow. When it’s over, there will be a database of anonymized data that plenty of researchers — including those from the pharmaceutical industry — will have access to. This style of study isn’t unprecedented; in fact, it’s been a feature of medical discovery for quite some time. The most famous example is the Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 with about 5,000 patients. At the time, doctors didn’t know much about heart attack and stroke, except that they were common and often deadly. So the Framingham study was devised in order to follow people ages 30 to 62 from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts for years and see if there were clues to those ailments. In 1948, and every two years afterwards, the study participants checked in. A second generation was added in 1971, and a third in 2002. Framingham has provided clues to most major cardiovascular risk factors Over the course of decades, Framingham has provided clues to most major cardiovascular risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle, among others. Framingham alone wasn’t enough to identify all these contributors, of course — but it told other scientists where to look. Something like 1,200 articles have been published in academic health journals over the last 50 years on Framingham alone. Project Baseline is twice the size of the original Framingham study population and is attempting more comprehensive measurement. And unlike Framingham, which was funded primarily by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, this study is funded by Verily. Government spending on science has stagnated over the last decade, and Framingham has been among its casualties; the study lost 40 percent of its funding in 2013 as a result of the budget sequester. In fact, it would be a lot harder to get a publicly-funded study like Framingham off the ground today — both because it’s expensive and because it’s hard to predict what studies like this will find. Verily’s Project Baseline, then, is a mightily ambitious piece of basic science, and one that could prove useful. Advisory board member Adrian Hernandez, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Duke, says the Project Baseline group is “aiming to build an early discovery platform.” It’s possible subtle changes occur in some areas — biomarkers, behavior, anything really — before a disease takes hold, Hernandez notes. Discovering what those changes are may lead to earlier and better treatment. Beyond those broad brushstrokes, it’s a bit difficult to say what a study like this is for until well after the fact, points out Stanford’s Sam Gambhir, who also sits on the advisory board. With a cohort study like this one — or like Framingham — it’s impossible to know the medical impact until well afterward. It is, however, possible to take an educated guess at what Verily gains by running the study. The point of a publicly-traded company is to make money for its shareholders, and Verily is owned by Alphabet, which is a publicly-traded company. So Verily stands to make money — the question is how. Verily, according to Alphabet’s investor documents, sells R&D services and licenses. This is worth keeping in mind; the data generated by Project Baseline will be shared with “qualified researchers.” Duke and Stanford are the two obvious places where the data will be shared, and the researchers there are likely to use Project Baseline data just as they’d use other data. When I asked about the possibility for pharmaceutical companies to access this data, Jessica Mega, the chief research officer at Verily, got squirrely. Here’s her initial reply: “There's a scientific executive committee that will review every request and the composition includes individuals with a leadership from Duke and Stanford, so it would need to be in line with the overall mission of the study.” Many companies sell their large databases of customer information I asked again, if someone who worked at a company like Pfizer would be able to gain access to the data, and Mega said, “Yes, as long as the intent is try to improve medical discovery.” Verily doesn’t yet figured out what “access” to the data will look like, I was told, but “the philosophy of the study is to make this information broadly available to qualified researchers.” Verily declined to comment on the possibility of fees for accessing its data. Many companies sell their large databases of customers’ information for discovery research. 23andMe, for instance, sells de-identified data from its genetic tests to researchers (such as Stanford), drug companies (Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche), and other entities (including the Michael J Fox Foundation, which does Parkinson’s research). In fact, the data is 23andMe’s moneymaker, not the tests it sells. Ancestry LLC, which also sells genetic test kits, does the same. It stands to reason Project Baseline could create similar revenue opportunities for Verily. There is also the matter of the Study Watch, which provides Verily with a number of opportunities. The most obvious is a consumer version of the Study Watch, though Mega says the company doesn’t currently plan to make the watch commercially available. The watch could also be used as a platform other researchers license in order to gather fairly continuous data. As it happens, the Study Watch is being used in the Personalized Parkinson’s Project — another Verily study, taking place in the Netherlands. That trial and Project Baseline may serve as trial runs for future research uses. Those two studies may also provide some sense of how reliable the data from the watch is, as well. (The Study Watch wasn’t used in the Project Baseline initial pilot run of about 200 patients.) Most wearables don’t require FDA approval, as long as they are marketed as “wellness devices.” But any kind of specific medical claim would probably require the regulators’ sign-off. Verily declined to comment on any regulatory plans for the watch. At this stage, it’s too early to speculate about what public good might come from Project Baseline, though it does seem likely there will be advantages to the work. It’s even possible that Project Baseline will be as useful to research as Framingham was 50 years ago. It may provide — as Framingham did before it — clues to the roots of common ailments. There may even be new drugs developed out of it. One thing is nearly certain, though: Project Baseline is meant to benefit Verily, too.


Xanthakis V.,Framingham Heart Study
Journal of the American Heart Association | Year: 2013

Currently available screening tools for left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy (LVH) and systolic dysfunction (LVSD) are either expensive (echocardiography) or perform suboptimally (B-type natriuretic peptide [BNP]). It is unknown whether newer biomarkers are associated with LVH and LVSD and can serve as screening tools. We studied 2460 Framingham Study participants (mean age 58 years, 57% women) with measurements of biomarkers mirroring cardiac biomechanical stress (soluble ST-2 [ST2], growth differentiation factor-15 [GDF-15] and high-sensitivity troponin I [hsTnI]) and BNP. We defined LVH as LV mass/height(2) ≥the sex-specific 80th percentile and LVSD as mild/greater impairment of LV ejection fraction (LVEF) or a fractional shortening <0.29. Adjusting for standard risk factors in logistic models, BNP, GDF-15, and hsTnI were associated with the composite echocardiographic outcome (LVH or LVSD), odds ratios (OR) per SD increment in log-biomarker 1.29, 1.14, and 1.18 (95% CI: 1.15 to 1.44, 1.004 to 1.28, and 1.06 to 1.31), respectively. The C-statistic for the composite outcome increased from 0.765 with risk factors to 0.770 adding BNP, to 0.774 adding novel biomarkers. The continuous Net Reclassification Improvement was 0.212 (95% CI: 0.119 to 0.305, P<0.0001) after adding the novel biomarkers to risk factors plus BNP. BNP was associated with LVH and LVSD in multivariable models, whereas GDF-15 was associated with LVSD (OR 1.41, 95% CI: 1.16 to 1.70), and hsTnI with LVH (OR 1.22, 95% CI: 1.09 to 1.36). ST2 was not significantly associated with any outcome. Our community-based investigation suggests that cardiac stress biomarkers are associated with LVH and LVSD but may have limited clinical utility as screening tools.


News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Seniors taking over nine hours of sleep each night may be facing a higher risk of dementia in later years, a new study has warned. Boston University researchers found that the risk increased by nearly 2.5 times for those who saw themselves needing extra sleep per night, and the chances actually ballooned six times for those without a high school degree who, fairly recently, needed a shut-eye of more than nine hours. Dementia patients often already suffer from disturbed sleep, and it remains unknown whether the changes come first. In these new findings, education appeared to offer some protection from the disease. Study co-author and neurology fellow Matthew Pase said they embarked on a simple question in this new study. “How does one’s sleep duration relate to being diagnosed with clinical dementia in the future?” he said in a HealthDay report. The team pored over data from the Framingham Heart Study, which followed individuals and their descendants in Massachusetts since 1948. There were two groups of almost 2,500 elderly or people over age 60 in the research: those from 1986 to 1990, and 1998 to 2001 onward. In a 10-year period, 10 percent of the subjects developed dementia, with a great majority believed to have Alzheimer’s disease. The team saw no increased dementia risk in individuals who had been sleeping nine hours or more a night for more than a 13-year average. But there’s another discovery: elderly people who recently started sleeping over nine hours almost doubled their dementia risk versus others. Twenty percent of those who recently started sleeping in were diagnosed with dementia — and demonstrated smaller brain volumes. According to the author, it seems that the added sleep signals something else and does not cause dementia directly. For instance, it probably reflects chemical changes occurring in the subjects’ brains. That or the onset of dementia simply makes the patients more tired, Pase added, who clarified they only saw an association and not a cause-and-effect relationship between prolonged sleep and dementia. He recommended tracking sleep habits, where recent long sleepers could be given memory assessment tests. The findings were discussed in the journal Neurology. A separate study published this month hinted that people who maintain risk factors for heart disease during middle age are also at a greater risk for dementia in later years. Analyzing data from over 15,000 adults in the United States who participated when they were 45 to 64 years old, the study saw around 1,500 subjects develop dementia. Those who had hypertension or diabetes at the beginning of the research — as well as those who smoked — had an elevated dementia risk about 25 years later. A study in January also provided a link between tiny air pollutants and dementia and cognitive decline. The team explained that the microscopic particles produced by fossil fuels enter the body and into the brain via the nose. The cells in the brain consider these particles invaders, thus they react with inflammatory responses that worsen over time and promote Alzheimer's. Dementia covered a range of symptoms resulting from brain changes, including memory loss and communication problems. Alzheimer’s is a condition that can cause dementia to occur. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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