Traditionally, bitter melon has helped treat many health concerns, and it has recently gained some popularity as a natural remedy against diabetes. Bitter gourd, which is considered the traditional Indian treatment method for a wide range of diseases. Recently, Prof. Ratna Ray from Saint Louis University in Missouri and her colleagues made an intriguing find. In experiments using mouse models, bitter melon extract appeared to be effective in preventing cancer tumors from growing and spreading. Living a major part of her life growing up in India, she is well aware of the fame bitter gourds have gained in Indian cuisines and as a local remedy for a range of illnesses. Her curiosity was on the rise on this topic for the very same reason which led her to more research and study on the same. She and her colleagues decided to put this to the test in a preliminary study by using bitter melon extract on various types of cancer cells including breast, prostate, and head and neck cancer cells. Laboratory tests showed that the extract stopped those cells from replicating, suggesting that it might be effective in preventing the spread of cancer. So, in their new study, Prof. Ray and the team tried to find out what might give bitter melon compounds an edge against cancer cells. Natural products play a critical role in the discovery and development of numerous drugs for the treatment of various types of deadly diseases, including cancer. Therefore, the use of natural products as preventive medicine is becoming increasingly important. Prof. Ratna Ray. Prof. Ray seems convinced that the plant is, if nothing else, at least a positive contributor to personal health. All animal model studies that we've conducted are giving us similar results, an approximately 50% reduction in tumor growth, says Prof. Ray. It remains unclear whether or not bitter melon would have the same effect in humans, but Prof. Ray and colleagues explain that going forward, this is what they are aiming to find out.
To what extent do factors such as education and socioeconomic position affect our thinking skills and memory over time? Not as much as one might think, a new study suggests. The study set out to investigate what influences a person's cognitive ability that is, their ability to think, reason, and remember over a lifetime. The researchers hoped that by getting an insight into what impacts people cognitive ability, they might be able to shed some light on factors that lead to cognitive decline in later life, including Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia. Dementia, which affects around 5.8 million people in the United States, can cause a decline in a person ability to solve problems, remember, speak, and think. In its most severe form, dementia has a significant impact on a person ability to carry out daily tasks. But what if there was a way to understand the factors that may affect cognitive decline? Predicting what may influence cognitive health in later life could help stave off cognitive impairment. The results of the study now appear in the journal Neurology. Its authors set out to compare the results of thinking and memory tests in people at 8 years old and 70 years old.
Kratom, which is a plant-derived supplement, is growing in popularity. A new report provides further evidence of its adverse effects and calls for more research. Historically, manual laborers in Southeast Asia have used the compound either chewing the leaves or making them into tea to soothe aches and pains and boost energy levels. It is most commonly available in the form of a green powdered supplement. Although manufacturers market kratom extract as safe and natural, it is far from inert. Scientists have carried out limited studies on its effects, but it appears to act as a stimulant at lower doses and has a sedative effect at higher doses. Over recent years, usage in the U.S. has increased sharply. The researchers took data from between January 1, 2011, and July 31, 2018. In total, they identified 2,312 reports that mentioned kratom exposure. The data describe a worrying trend: In the whole of 2011, there were 18 exposures, but, in just the first 7 months of 2018, there were 357 exposures. More than half of the events (56.5%) involved taking kratom as a powder, capsule, or tablet, with 86.2% of users taking kratom orally. In four cases, the reports listed kratom as either a contributing factor or a cause of death. In two of these cases, the reports identified kratom alone; in the other two cases, additional compounds played a role. Although kratom is less potent than other opioids, it can still have significant negative effects on the body. In larger doses, it can cause slowed breathing and sedation, meaning that patients can develop the same toxicity they would if using another opioid product. It is also reported to cause seizures and liver toxicity. Says, lead author Prof. William Eggleston.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. Affecting millions of people in the United States, this progressive condition has no proven cause, treatment, or cure. What researchers do know, however, is that women bear the brunt of the condition. For reasons as yet unknown, Alzheimer's disease is more likely to affect women. However, new research sheds light on the potential impact of stress on their cognitive functioning. Previous research has shown that age can have a significant impact on women's stress response, and that a stressful life experience can cause memory and cognitive issues. However, these problems tend to be short term. Researchers have now decided to look at the relationship between stress and the long term cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's. Stopping stress is an almost impossible task, but it may be possible to change the way the body reacts to it. Munro explains that medications that could change how the brain copes with stressful events are in the development stage. Combining these with well-known stress relieving techniques may help as people, particularly women, age. The team found a link between an increased number of midlife psychosocial stressors — such as divorce, problems with children, and mental illness in a close relative and an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. Further studies will need to examine if there is a cause and effect relationship between stress and cognitive decline. If this is the case, altering the body's stress response may be even more imperative.
Nilvadipine is a drug used for treatment of hypertension and researchers have found a link that relates nilvadipine slow down progression of Alzheimer’s. It has been a while since researchers started looking into curing treatments for Alzheimer’s when they came across Nilvadipine. Studies were conducted on nilvadipine, which is used to treat hypertension due to its blood pressure lowering properties to check whether they can treat Alzheimer’s. The findings showed a 20% increase in blood flow to the hippocampus, the brain area linked to memory and learning, among the group who took nilvadipine in comparison to the placebo group. The treatment did not have any effects on the blood flow to other regions on the brain. In the future, we need to find out whether the improvement in blood flow, especially in the hippocampus, can be used as a supportive treatment to slow down progression of Alzheimer's disease, especially in earlier stages of [the] disease.", says Dr. Jurgen Claassen.
E-cigarettes are no less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Since they have gained so much popularity in recent years, the rates of diseases related to them have also risen. In December 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 2,500 individuals from the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands were hospitalized or died as a result of using vapes, e-cigarettes, or associated products. Using data from the 2016-17 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the study examined smoking-related responses from a total of 161,529 people aged between 18 and 44. Just over half of the respondents were female, with 50.6% identifying as white and just under a quarter identifying as Hispanic. The team calculated the adjusted odds ratios for strokes among those who currently smoked, former smokers who now used e-cigarettes, and people who used both. However, people using e-cigarettes who had never smoked before did not display an increased stroke risk. This may be down to factors including young age and normal heart health. This study relied on self-reported data, which is a limitation. However, the findings prove the need for large-scale, long-term studies to confirm which detrimental health effects e-cigarettes are causing and which ingredients are responsible.