Chief Coca-Cola Scientist Leaves Amid Criticism Over Obesity Research

Rhona Applebaum, Coca-Cola’s chief scientist and health officer, is stepping down from the company.

The news follows reports that Applebaum helped set up a nonprofit research group tasked with downplaying the role of sugary drinks in the obesity epidemic and highlighting the benefits of exercise.

Source: Chief Coca-Cola scientist leaves amid criticism over obesity research

Excessive sugar consumption is basically the new health crisis, as smoking was in the 20th century.

We all know it’s harmful, and sugar consumption is getting out of control. But with enough uncertainty, doubt and ambivalence, the purveyors of sugary products will continue to thrive without needing to alter their products.

The exercise debate is a pure distraction. For the average person, burning off the 150 calories in a can of Coke or Pepsi would require 20 minutes of circuit training. Most people are going to be better off just cutting out their daily can of Coke than trying to fit in an extra 20 minutes of exercise per day to compensate.

It Turns Out That GMO Warning Labels Didn’t Work

A new study released just days after the U.S. House passed a bill that would prevent states from requiring labels on genetically modified foods reveals that GMO labeling would not act as warning labels and scare consumers away from buying products with GMO ingredients.

Source: New Study: Consumers Don’t View GMO Labels as Negative ‘Warnings’

Can’t say I’m surprised.  Most don’t know or care about additives

I don’t mind eating genetically modified foods but I was for the GMO labels because I think we have a right to know what our food is. Eat GMO foods if you want. But you should always know what your eating and whats in it. That goes for all food GMO or not.

How Drug Companies Seek To Exploit Rare DNA Mutations

Steven Pete can put his hand on a hot stove or step on a piece of glass and not feel a thing, all because of a quirk in his genes. Only a few dozen people in the world share Pete’s congenital insensitivity to pain. Drug companies see riches in his rare mutation. They also have their eye on people like Timothy Dreyer, 25, who has bones so dense he could walk away from accidents that would leave others with broken limbs. About 100 people have sclerosteosis, Dreyer’s condition.

Source: These Superhumans Are Real and Their DNA Could Be Worth Billions

I don’t have a problem with the pharmaceutical companies trying to maximize profits. Profits are necessary to help the market determine how to allocate resources. When a company makes “obscene” profits that is a signal to everyone else that resources should be taken from those enterprises incurring loses and invested in the more profitable ventures.

One the people whose mutation is highlighted in the article reminds me of a character from the book “The Girl Who Played with Fire“, the second part of the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson.  I haven’t seen the American version of the movie for the first book, but enjoyed the books & Swedish movies.

Why Your Brain Is Obsessed With Food at Night

It happens to all of us: You’re at home at night when suddenly a craving hits. Never mind that you’re not actually famished — you need food now. And, unfortunately, you’re probably going to eat more than you should.

According to new research from Brigham Young University, there’s science behind this phenomenon. In a new study published in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, researchers discovered that some areas of the brain don’t get the same “food high” at night as they do during the day.

Source: Why Your Brain Is Obsessed With Food at Night

This is not something I’ve experienced.  I have woken to pain/discomfort from being hungry.  Not often, and I started to eat more.  I didn’t like the experience, but also was concerned about too much weight loss.

Study: This Type Of Sugar Will Make You Choose Food Over Money

A small new study out of the University of Southern California shows that people are more willing to choose high-calorie foods over money after ingesting a certain type of sugar.

…This isn’t the first research to show that fructose negatively affects our hunger response. A 2013 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that fructose only weakly stimulates the body’s secretion of insulin, which works to increase feelings of fullness and blunt the reward value of food. A study from Harvard Medical School that was published last year in the journal Molecular Metabolism also found that fructose may promote obesity and diabetes by overstimulating a hormone that helps to regulate fat accumulation.

… fructose in processed foods like soda, packaged foods, prepackaged meals, junk food, and processed sauces is another story. That fructose is often highly concentrated and, after it’s metabolized by the liver, can end up as fat that collects around your midsection and organs.

Source: This Type Of Sugar Will Make You Choose Food Over Money

Agave nectar is something like 90% fructose.  Honey is around 40% fructose, so also about the same sugar makeup as high-fructose corn syrup.

  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is not common corn syrup.  Corn syrup is actually a family of ingredients made up only of glucose.  But HFCS and sucrose aren’t significantly different, and HFCS is not sweeter than sucrose.
  • HFCS is not uniquely obesity promoting

Fat or Stupid? Study Say You Must Choose

A surprising study contradicting all previous research found that being fat in middle age appears to cut the risk of developing dementia rather than increase it, the Lancet scientific journal has reported.

A study of two million people found that the underweight were far more likely to develop dementia, a growing problem among the elderly in the Western world.

Underweight people had a 34 percent higher risk of developing dementia than those of a normal weight, the study found, while the very obese had a 29 percent lower risk of becoming forgetful and confused and showing other signs of senility.

Source: Being fat in middle age reduces risk of developing dementia, researchers say

Obesity or dementia? Superficial outward beauty accompanied by the brain of a mouse, or a healthy mind that shall not know happiness due to the cruel world’s shallow condemnation of your size? Total satisfaction is as impossible as squeezing a slippery water balloon—whichever side you get a solid grasp on will only cause the opposite side to swell in grotesque proportion.

There is some belief that dementia may be caused by a lack of myelin (fatty substance) covering the meninges in the brain/CNS. I think it’s also true that children with a certain degenerative brain disease (can’t remember what it’s called) are told to eat a ketogenic diet (fatty foods, specifically olive oil) to slow the destruction of the myelin and therefore the meninges.

Study: “Power poses” Might Not Be so Powerful After All

In 2010, researchers at Harvard Business School claimed to have found (PDF) that striking powerful poses caused hormonal and behavioral changes. “Power poses” seemed to raise testosterone, lower cortisol, and increase risk-taking behavior.

As with all research, replication was needed to check the validity of the results. An attempt at replication using additional controls, published recently in Psychological Science, found no behavioral or hormonal effects of “power poses,” although they did result in a boost in subjective perception of power. In other words, the original research did not hold up.

Source: “Power poses” might not be so powerful after all

For some reason, when I think “Power Pose” I think of:

Zoolander: Magnum

Study: Cannabinoid CBD “Enhances Bone Fracture Healing” in Rat Model

Cannabinoid ligands regulate bone mass, but skeletal effects of cannabis (marijuana and hashish) have not been reported. Bone fractures are highly prevalent, involving prolonged immobilization and discomfort. Here we report that the major non-psychoactive cannabis constituent, cannabidiol (CBD), enhances the biomechanical properties of healing rat mid-femoral fractures.

Source: Cannabidiol, a Major Non-Psychotrophic Cannabis Constituent Enhances Fracture Healing and Stimulates Lysyl Hydroxylase Activity in Osteoblasts.

Bone Fracture Healing 101

Basically, after a fracture you get an initial cartilaginous callus that forms across the gap. That callus then mineralizes, and is replaced by a bony callus, which is remodeled into mature bone. It is fairly well known that there are cannabinoid receptors that are involved in picking up the endocannibinoids (the cannabinoid molecules that your body produces) and have an effect in bone fracture healing.

CBD 101

  1. Cannabidiol/CBD is a key component in cannabis
  2. CBD is non-psychoactive, and the active compound in medical marijuana
  3. CBD reduces the negative effects of THC
  4. CBD is illegal, classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States and a Schedule II drug in Canada

What this Paper Did

They performed three experiments.

The first experiment was testing the effects of administering:

  • just THC
  • just CBD
  • or a control

…on structural and mechanical properties of the fracture healing. These rats received femoral fractures following having a pin put in place to stabilize the fracture. They then began receiving 5 mg/kg/day doses of THC, CBD, or just the delivery solution. They then sacrificed the rats at various time points (2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks), and examined the fracture using microcomputed tomography and mechanical testing. At 4 weeks, it looks like this: figure, caption, where you can see callus formation. They found that the callus size in rats administered either THC or CBD was ~26% smaller than the control rats at the 4 week time point, but this was not present in the 6 or 8 week time points. This can be seen in this figure, caption. They then performed mechanical testing on the bone and found an enhancement of ~35% maximal force and ~50% work to failure in the CBD treated bones at the 8 week time point, but not in THC or control bones. The ultimate displacement at failure was not increased (how much the bone bends before it breaks), which indicates that the improvement in work to failure (basically, how tough the bone is) was due to strength improvements.

In the second experiment, they were testing the effect of delivery a mixture of equal amounts of THC and CBD on the mechanical properties of the callus because that is about the ratio recommended in most therapeutic cannabis. In this experiment, they only looked at the mechanical properties. The results can be seen here: figure, caption, but basically they found that the addition of THC slightly improved the maximal force, but eliminated the increased work to failure at 8 weeks. There were improvements at 6 weeks. I personally have problems with this comparison, because they were comparing the results from this 2nd experiment directly to the prior experiment, rather than adding additional groups to the 2nd experiment. It may be valid, but if there were odd changes they didn’t realize between experiments it could have an effect here.

Next, they wanted to assess the effects of THC and CBD on bone material properties so they could figure out what the mechanism of action of the CBD fracture healing effect. They analyzed the material density of the mineralized matrix, and found no differences between the treatment groups (see figure, caption), and found that there was no change in the actual mineralization. That means the effects of the CBD were coming from changes to the organic component of bone.

To show this, they cultured osteoblasts (the cells that produce bone), and administered CBD to the osteoblasts. They looked at the expression of PLOD1, which is an gene that creates an enzyme that plays a role in collagen crosslinking. The results are here: figure, caption. Basically, they found that there was an increase in expression for CBD at moderate levels, but decreased at higher concentrations (fairly expected). THC showed an increase at high levels of the PLOD2 gene, but didn’t show an effect on PLOD1.

They then performed spectroscopy on the callus tissue of the specimens from the first 2 experiments, and found the degree of collagen crosslinking was greater in samples that had been treated with CBD alone, but did not see any increase in either THC, or CBD+THC. I can’t post the figures with the data, because they appear to have forgotten to include them (I assume the publishers will catch this prior to full publication).

Summary

They found that delivery of CBD alone promoted improvement in some of the mechanical properties in fracture healing. The actual amount is a bit hard to tell, but it was enough to be statistically significant (P<0.05) using a very nonconservative test (Fisher’s LSD, which is commonly used, and in my opinion, overused). Their results also indicated that the impact comes during the late stages of bone healing (I would be curious to see a test with injections starting at 5 weeks or so), and they believe it may be due to increased collagen crosslinking. Further research is needed because this is very preliminary. There was no evidence that smoking cannabis (or vaping, or eating) would provide the benefits that they saw here, because they were testing using injections under the skin.

TLDR

Cannabinoid, but not THC provides some improvement in mechanical properties during fracture healing, maybe due to increased collagen crosslinking. More research is necessary. This does not recommend smoking cannabis.

Supposition

Maybe this could be used to stave off osteoporosis?

The Diet That’s Better For Your Heart Than Exercise

In recent years, science has proven that the Mediterranean diet is key to longevity time and time again — and we now have even more conclusive proof.

Adults who follow the Mediterranean diet closely can slash their risk of heart disease by a whopping 47 percent. What’s equally, or more, impressive (depending on your love/hate relationship with working out) is that this eating plan has an even greater protective effect on the heart than regular exercise.

Both findings were gleaned from an eleven-year study of the Mediterranean diet, presented Wednesday at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.

…As an interesting side note, women tended to be better at following the diet than men, even though it seems to work equally well for everyone.

Source: The Diet That’s Better For Your Heart Than Exercise

I’m loosing count at how many studies support the Mediterranean diet.  And we know that diet is more important than exercise for weight loss

The Game You Can Play to Help Cancer Research

In recent years, many scientists have turned to crowdsourcing as a way to outsource some of the more tedious aspects of their research. To make the work less monotonous for laypeople, they often develop games to distract citizen scientists from mind-numbing reams of data large amounts of data. Cancer Research U.K. has done this with its Play to Cure: Genes in Space and Cell Slider games. Their latest is Reverse The Odds, which encourages citizen scientists to help a group of colorful creatures known as the “Odds,” whose world is falling into decline. By completing mini puzzle games and upgrading their land, volunteers can restore the Odds back to their lively selves.

…Citizen science is all about getting as many people involved as possible, so don’t worry if you’re not always 100% sure about what cells you can see. Sometimes even researchers disagree! That’s why they have back up mechanisms in place and we do too. Lots of other people will see the same pictures as you, and we have checks in place to spot wayward analysis.

Source: Reverse the Odds

You can also contribute to the Mapping Cancer Markers project.