Gum disease reduces fertility and other health news

GUM DISEASE CAN AFFECT FERTILITY: New research has found a strong link, primarily for non-Caucasian women, between periodontal disease and impaired fertility, and has confirmed known links between impaired fertility and being overweight, smoking, and being over the age of 35.

(With impaired fertility, it takes months longer to achieve pregnancy. Periodontitis is caused by microorganisms that adhere to, and grow on, the tooth surface, combined with an overly aggressive immune response against these microorganisms.) The underlying reason for the difficulty, among those suffering from periodontal disease, to become pregnant is believed to be the inflammatory response that develops in response to the disease. Non-Caucasian women were far more likely to have impaired fertility as a response to gum disease than Caucasian women because these women have a higher degree of inflammatory response. It was suggested that non-Caucasian women see a dentist to have periodontal disease treated prior to attempting pregnancy. (Treatment does not affect the health of the baby and often requires about four dentist visits.) This study was presented July 6, 2011 in Stockholm at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. It has not yet been published, or posted online.

Your body makes better use of vitamin D supplements if you take them with your largest meal.
According to a Cleveland Clinic study reported in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of Bone
and Mineral Research, this will boost its uptake, over a three-month period, by up to 56 percent.
research has found that deficient and insufficient vitamin D
levels in the blood may increase the risk of muscle injuries
among athletes. The study analyzed levels in the blood of 89
professional NFL football players, and found their vitamin D
concentrations broke down this way: 16 had sufficient levels,
defined by the researchers as more than 32 nanograms per
milliliter (32 ng/ml); 45 had insufficient (sub-optimum) levels,
defined as 20-31.9 ng/ml; and 27 had deficient levels, defined as
less than 20 ng/ml. Sixteen of the 89 players suffered a muscle
injury and the average vitamin D level for these injured players
was 19.9 ng/ml, suggesting that both insufficiency and deficiency
raised the risk of muscle injury. The study recommended screening
for vitamin D insufficiency among professional athletes to help
prevent injuries. However, further research would be needed to
determine whether increasing vitamin D levels would lead to
improved muscle function. This study was presented July 10, 2011
in San Diego at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic
Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM). It has not yet been
published in print or online.

suggests that a higher intake of the element potassium lowers by
20 percent, the risk of dying from any cause; and that compared
to the quarter of the population with the lowest sodium-topotassium
intake ratio, the quarter with the highest sodium-topotassium
intake ratio has a 46 percent greater risk of dying
from any cause and more than double the risk of dying from
ischemic heart disease. The research confirms known links between
higher sodium intake and cardiovascular disease (CVD), but also
suggests that maintaining a higher ratio of potassium to sodium
may reduce the risk of CVD and all-cause mortality. The results
of this 15-year, 12,267-participant study were consistent
regardless of race, body mass index, age, blood pressure, or
physical activity. (In a varied diet, fruit is the greatest
source of potassium. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine
recommended 4,700 mg of potassium daily; most Americans consume
only half that amount; US law limits the amount of potassium that
non-prescription supplements can contain to 99 mg.) This study
was published July 11, 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine
and is available online at with subscription
or fee.

Your odds of getting skin cancer are greater if you have had other cancers, according to the
American Academy of Dermatology, or if you can count more than 50 moles on your body.

Researchers have concluded that vitamin D sufficiency helps remove amyloid-beta plaque from the aging brain, across the blood-brain barrier, helping to prevent the excessive buildup that causes Alzheimer’s disease. (The buildup in the brain, of amyloid-beta plaque is ordinarily controlled by transporter proteins and vitamin D. Although levels of these protein transporters increase with age, production tends to fail eventually. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with accelerated declines in memory and cognition, and with an increased
risk of Alzheimer’s.) The team found that vitamin D injections in mice appear to help regulate protein expression and cell signaling, which helps prevent plaque buildup and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The implication is that maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels with advancing age may provide some preventive benefit, and a potential therapy, for these brain disorders. This newly released study will be
published in a future issue of the journal, Fluids and Barriers of the CNS. It is available early at without fee.

A study has found that current recommendations for alcohol consumption are inappropriate for cancer prevention, and should be changed to reflect the fact that any amount of alcohol involves some cancer risk. (The World Health Organization, or WHO, and other groups have designated alcohol as cancer-causing
in both animals and humans. However, extensive evidence links moderate alcohol consumption with greatly lowered risks of virtually all age-related diseases: coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, diabetes, dementia, and osteoporosis.) The study points to conclusions by the WHO, the World Cancer Research Fund, and the American Institute for Cancer Research, that alcohol raises risks of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and breast. The new study suggested guidelines are based on only short-term effects of alcohol, such as hospital admissions and psychological effects, but ignore long-term chronic disease. Also, alcohol producers were often part of the working groups that defined safe drinking. Despite other benefits, the researchers stressed that when it comes specifically to cancer risk, there is no safe alcohol intake.
This study was published in the July 11, 2011 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal and is accessible at with subscription or fee.

has found that when those on a high-fat diet ingested extract of
molasses, there was a reduction in body weight, in body fat, and
in blood levels of leptin (a hormone produced by fat cells), and
an increase in energy excretion (calories lost in feces), and in
gene expression for certain biomarkers of energy metabolism.
(Molasses extract is high in polyphenols, plant-based chemical
compounds known for their beneficial antioxidant properties.)
Despite ingesting the same number of calories in identical highfat
diets, surprisingly, the group receiving the extract ended
the study with less weight and less body fat. Further
investigation found that the molasses extract reduced absorption
of calories, and enhanced energy metabolism (the burning of
calories). The research was conducted on mice, but clinical
trials on humans are planned for next year, which may confirm
molasses extract as a novel approach for weight management. This
study was presented in Clearwater at the annual meeting of the
Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), which ended
July 16, 2011. It is available online at for

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 50 million
unnecessary antibiotic courses are prescribed in the U.S. annually for viral respiratory infections.
However, antibiotics have no impact on viral respiratory infections, and excess use can result in
strains of bacteria, normally susceptible to antibiotics, that are antibiotic resistant.

study has found that grapeseed polyphenol, a natural antioxidant,
suppresses the creation of a specific form of beta-amyloid
peptide – a substance in the brain long known to cause the
neurotoxicity associated with Alzheimer’s disease – and therefore
confirms, according to the researchers, previous research
suggesting that grapeseed polyphenol may be an effective
treatment for people at risk for the disease to prevent its
development or retard its progression. The authors stress that
for grape-derived polyphenols to be effective, it will be
necessary to find a biomarker for those at risk, although it may
also be beneficial for those in the early stages of this memoryrobbing
disease. The study is significant because it is the first
to examine the effect of this substance on these destructive
peptides, illustrating the mechanism behind the apparent
protective benefit, and because it was conducted on living
subjects, namely mice. However, research is now being conducted
to confirm that the results hold true for humans. The full-text
of this just-released study is not yet available but will be
published in a future issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

It is extremely difficult to spread a cold or the flu by kissing, even kissing babies. Saliva in the
mouth harbors very little virus material. However, coughing is a different matter, because it
brings forth virus-laden fluids from deep within the lungs. Cover your mouth when you cough.

COMPARED TO SHELLED, IN-SHELL PISTACHIOS CUT CALORIES SUBSTANTIALLY: In two separate studies in the same journal, researchers have concluded that shelling and eating pistachios reduces calorie intake by 41 percent compared to eating pistachios that have already been shelled, suggesting that the sight of, and opening of, the shells themselves give visual clues that serve as a mindful benefit that curbs overeating. In one
study, those who ate shelled pistachios consumed an average of 211 calories while those who ate the in-shell nuts took in only 125 calories. In the second study, more pistachios were eaten by those whose discarded shells were removed every two hours, than by those whose discarded shells were left in sight all day.
(Another study released in June 2011 found that the fat in pistachios is not fully absorbed by the body, meaning that they may involve ingestion of fewer calories than previously thought. At 160 calories per ounce, or per 30 grams, pistachios are lower in calories compared to other nuts.) This just-released study will not be published in print until the October 2011 issue of the journal, Appetite. However, it is available online now at with subscription or study access fee.

SENSE OF OPTIMISM PROTECTS ELDERLY FROM STROKE: Researchers have found that, among people aged 50 years and older, every unit higher that an individual scores on an optimism scale ranging from 3 to 18 (with higher scores indicating greater optimism) results in a 10 percent lower risk of having a stroke. In other words, if one person scored 7 and another, more optimistic person scored 12, the second person would have, compared to the first, a 50 percent lower risk of having a stroke. In the two-year study, the researchers accounted for psychological, biological and behavioral differences, as well as age and health, so that the
stroke-protective effect was due strictly to the sense of optimism itself. The results suggest that the effect that
optimistic attitude has on health is distinctly separate from any other psychological element such as happiness or emotional wellbeing. The scientists believe corroborating studies could lead to optimism interventions as a stroke prevention therapy. Optimism was assessed by employing the Life Orientation Test-Revised. This study was released late on July 21, 2011; it will be published in the October 2011 issue of the journal Stroke and is available online now at without charge.

A federal study found 40 percent of heat-related deaths occur in those 65 or over. Other research
concluded that recommendations for older people for dealing with extremely hot weather often
go unheeded by over-65s because they do not see themselves as old. They should drink more
fluids than younger people, avoid strenuous outdoor activity, and seek air-conditioning.

POTENT NEW ANTIOXIDANT DISCOVERED: Researchers have discovered a
unique, tomato-plant-based phenolic compound (a phenylpropanoid)
with about 14 times as much antioxidant power as resveratrol, the
well-known antioxidant believed to have sufficient power to
retard cellular aging. (Antioxidants render harmless, otherwise
risky, electrically charged particles that result from the
actions of oxygen in the body. They have the ability to damage
the cardiovascular system, trigger cancer, and promote aging.)
The never-before-known antioxidant is synthesized by the tomato
plant when it is under attack by a specific bacterium. It ability
to mop up dangerous free oxygen radicals is about 10 times the
antioxidant ability of vitamin C, and about 4 times the potency
of vitamin E. Patents have been registered on the unique new
antioxidant. Synthesizing the compound, which does not yet have
an official name, is a very simple procedure, and it may be
incorporated into supplement form in the future. This justreleased
study will be published in a future issue of the
journal, Environmental and Experimental Botany. It is accessible
online now at with subscription or fee.

MUSCLE MASS TRAINING LOWERS DIABETES RISK: A landmark study has concluded that the greater the muscle mass of an individual, the lower is his risk of developing insulin resistance and pre- or overt diabetes mellitus. This study underscores a little known fact: despite the truth that obesity is extremely common among
patients when they are first diagnosed with diabetes, many thin people do get diabetes, especially among the elderly. This study has shown that low muscle mass, which is common to both the obese and the slender, is the actual risk factor, not weight. In this research on 13,644 people, scientists grade subjects by their
degree of insulin resistance, prediabetes, or diabetes. The grading up the scale from healthy to fully diabetic corresponded well with decreasing levels of overall muscle mass. In fact, every increase of 10 percent in muscle mass produced an 11 percent reduction in insulin resistance, and a 12 percent reduction in diabetes. This relationship held even after accounting for other factors. This suggests that it is muscle training that lowers diabetes risk, not the aerobic exercise often advised for cardiovascular benefit, and it is possible at
any age, to use muscle mass training to lower diabetes risk, and to improve existing diabetes. Also, it is not overall weight that counts, but ratio of muscle to weight: you can be overweight and still muscled enough to avoid diabetes. This study was released early and will not appear in print until a future issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. It is available online now at with subscription or access fee.

of past studies has found that, depending on the ingredients,
dosage and specific individual zinc lozenges can shorten the
duration of the common cold up to 40 percent. (This effect is not
the same as that from swallowing zinc supplements; absorption by
mouth is required for benefit against colds.) Past studies
reported conflicting results and the current researchers
evaluated differences between the lozenges studied. Generally,
studies of dosages less than 75 mg of zinc did not have any
effect. Among those containing over 75 mg, lozenges containing
zinc salts other than zinc acetate shortened cold duration by
only 20 percent. But lozenges that provided over 75 mg of zinc as
zinc acetate produced an average 42 percent reduction in cold
duration. Researchers cautioned that individual differences play
some role however, because a recent study of lozenges containing
92 mg of zinc as zinc acetate found no difference between zinc
and placebo groups. Still, aside from bad taste, no harmful
effects were noted. This study is published in the current issue
of the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal and is available online
at in full-text format without cost.

KEY CAUSE OF AGING DETERIORATION CAN BE CORRECTED: A study has found a diminished capacity to manufacture glutathione (GSH) explains the observed lower levels in, and is a key factor in, age-related deterioration – and that supplementation with two GSH precursors restores normal levels, diminishing age-related damage. (GSH is a primary antioxidant, crucial to completing the antioxidant process started by other antioxidants, and without which, half-finished metabolism of free radicals causes a chain reaction of cell destruction.) Reduced GSH levels occur with age, damaging cells, but the reason for the drop has been unclear. The study showed age-related reductions in GSH levels stem from diminished ability to synthesize GSH. Supplementing with the GSH precursors cysteine and glycine fully restored normal GSH production, largely restored normal GSH concentration levels, and significantly reduced oxidative stress and the cellular damage of
aging. The report suggested supplementation with cysteine and glycine may be a safe and effective way to lower age-related free radical damage. (The body cannot directly absorb GSH well.) This study was released July 27, 2011 by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition but will not be published until a future issue. It is online at with subscription or fee.

In at least one study, alcohol was only barely related to the risk of cirrhosis. Being overweight (a
BMI of 28 or more) and having high triglycerides were each far greater risk factors. This
research was published in the June 2011 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology.

MOST 8-MONTH-OLDS CONSUMING EXCESSIVE SALT: A study reports that 70 percent of babies who are just 8 months old are already consuming levels of sodium chloride (salt) that exceed the dietary recommendations, at least in the UK where the study was completed, and the problem may be establishing a lifelong taste for salty foods in these children, and could damage young kidneys. (Babies up to 12 months should not ingest more than 400 mg of sodium daily.) The report found that 70 percent of 8-month olds are primarily getting excess salt due to consumption of processed adult foods and cow milk. Cow milk contains more sodium, at 55 mg per 100gm, than breast milk, which contains only 15 mg per 100 gm, or formula, which holds 15 to 30 mg per 100 gm, and the research team stressed that milk from cows not be given prior to 2 years of age. Also, adult processed foods are regularly given to babies, according to the report, in the form of a large amount of bread, gravy, canned spaghetti, and baked beans. The study used figures on babies born in 1991 and 1992, but scientists doubt that wholesale changes have since taken place in the feeding of 8-month olds. Just released by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this study is available online by logging in at, searching study doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.137, and paying the access fee.

The risk of hyperthermia, the condition in which the body overheats in hot weather, increases as
we age, due to age-related changes in the skin, such as decreased functioning of the sweat glands
and small blood vessels. This reminder and tips to avoid hyperthermia were issued by the
National Institutes of Health, and are available at

motorcyclists may be contributing to hearing loss, suggests a new
study by scientists who have mapped the airflow and noise
patterns to discover the reason for this risk. Scientists report
that it is not the noise of a loud engine that is behind the
increased risk of hearing loss. It is the sound generated by air
whooshing over the helmet, a sound which exceeds safe hearing
levels even at legal road speeds. In the new study, the team
identified a key source of the rushing-air din. The researchers
found that an area underneath the helmet and near the chin bar is
a significant source of the noise that reaches sensitive
eardrums. The team also investigated how helmet angle and wind
speed affected the loudness. Future tests will move beyond the
wind tunnel to real-life riders on the open road. The findings
may be used to design quieter helmets, but meanwhile riders
should monitor their speed and have hearing checked. This study
was released by the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
and is not available online.

A number of studies link sufficient levels of vitamin D with a reduced risk of colorectal, breast,
prostate, and pancreatic cancers, although some large studies have shown conflicting results.
About one-third of Americans are not getting enough vitamin D, according to a March 2011
report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the elderly are often vitamin-D
deficient. Canadians have higher rates of deficiency as well as a higher cancer rate.