Brain Continues Producing Neurons Until Late 70s, But There’s A Catch, Columbia Study Finds

Artist rendition of neurons in the brain

A new study by Columbia University reveals that the brain continues to make hundreds of neurons, a process called neurogenesis, even after a person reaches their late 70s.

In the study published in Cell Stem Cell, lead author Dr. Maura Boldrini, of the university’s psychiatry department, and her colleagues, looked into the process of neurogenesis by studying the brains of deceased individuals with ages ranging from 14 to 79.

The main goal of the research was to see how aging affects the production of neurons, a subject which has been up for much scientific debate for years.

Aging And Brain Cell Production

The brain’s function has been a significant point of interest, notably the creation of new neurons. Animal studies made on primates and mice revealed a slowing down of neurogenesis as the organisms aged. Boldrini and her colleagues wanted to see if the same phenomenon exists in humans.

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More Americans Now Aware Of The Seriousness Of Opioid Misuse In The Country, Study Reveals

A man using heroin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More Americans now see opioid misuse as a major issue for their community, according to the latest survey carried out by the Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. According to the survey, 43 percent of Americans now see abuse of prescription pain drugs as a serious issue in their community, up from 33 percent in 2016.

The nationwide survey of 1,054 adults was conducted last month to find out what Americans think of the opioid misuse in their communities. Participants were contacted through the internet, cell phones, and landlines and were asked several questions about their experiences with opioid addiction, the impact of drug misuse on their local communities, and what they believe needs to be done to address the issue.

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California judge rules that coffee requires cancer warning

Scientists haven’t rendered a verdict on whether coffee is good or bad for you but a California judge has. He says coffee sellers in the state should have to post cancer warnings.

The culprit is a chemical produced in the bean roasting process that is a known carcinogen and has been at the heart of an eight-year legal struggle between a tiny nonprofit group and Big Coffee.

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics wanted the coffee industry to remove acrylamide from its processing — like potato chip makers did when it sued them years ago — or disclose the danger in ominous warning signs or labels. The industry, led by Starbucks Corp., said the level of the chemical in coffee isn’t harmful and any risks are outweighed by benefits.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said Wednesday that the coffee makers hadn’t presented the proper grounds at trial to prevail.

“While plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the fetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants’ medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation,” Berle wrote in his proposed ruling. “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving … that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”

The suit was brought against Starbucks and 90 companies under a controversial law passed by California voters in 1986 that has been credited with culling cancer-causing chemicals from myriad products and also criticized for leading to quick settlement shakedowns.

The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known as Proposition 65, requires warning labels for about 900 chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. It allows private citizens, advocacy groups and attorneys to sue on behalf of the state and collect a portion of civil penalties for failure to provide warnings.

“This lawsuit has made a mockery of Prop. 65, has confused consumers, and does nothing to improve public health,” said William Murray, president and CEO of the National Coffee Association, who added that coffee had been shown to be a healthy beverage.

Scientific evidence on coffee has gone back and forth for a long time, but concerns have eased recently about possible dangers of coffee, with some studies finding health benefits.

In 2016, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization moved coffee off its “possible carcinogen” list.

Studies indicate coffee is unlikely to cause breast, prostate or pancreatic cancer, and it seems to lower the risks for liver and uterine cancers, the agency said. Evidence is inadequate to determine its effect on dozens of other cancer types.

Coffee companies have said it’s not feasible to remove acrylamide from their product without ruining the flavor.

But attorney Raphael Metzger, who brought the lawsuit and drinks a few cups of coffee a day, said the industry could remove the chemical without impairing taste.

“I firmly believe if the potato chip industry can do it, so can the coffee industry,” Metzger said. “A warning won’t be that effective because it’s an addictive product.”

Many coffee shops have already posted warnings that say acrylamide is cancer-causing chemical found in coffee. But signs that are supposed to be posted at the point of sale are often found in places not easily visible, such as below the counter where cream and sugar are available.

Customers at shops that post warnings are often unaware or unconcerned about them.

Afternoon coffee drinkers at a Los Angeles Starbucks said they might look into the warning or give coffee drinking a second thought after the ruling, but the cup of joe was likely to win out.

“I just don’t think it would stop me,” said Jen Bitterman, a digital marketing technologist. “I love the taste, I love the ritual, I love the high, the energy, and I think I’m addicted to it.”

Darlington Ibekwe, a lawyer in Los Angeles, said a cancer warning would be annoying but wouldn’t stop him from treating himself to three lattes a week.

“It’s like cigarettes. Like, damn, now I’ve got to see this?” he said. “Dude, I’m enjoying my coffee.”

The defendants have a couple weeks to challenge the ruling before it is final and could seek relief from an appellate court.

If the ruling stands, it could come with a stiff financial penalty and could rattle consumers beyond state lines.

The judge can set another phase of trial to consider potential civil penalties up to $ 2,500 per person exposed each day over eight years. That could be an astronomical sum in a state with close to 40 million residents, though such a massive fine is unlikely.

California’s outsized market could make it difficult to tailor packaging with warning labels specifically to stores in the state.

That means out-of-state coffee drinkers could also take their coffee with a cancer warning. Cream and sugar would still be optional.

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Associated Press writer Amanda Lee Myers in Los Angeles and AP Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee contributed to this story.

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Scientists Discovered A New Human Organ, Possibly The Biggest In Your Body, And Named It ‘Interstitium’

An illustration of the human organs and the anatomy of the human body.

Move over skin, there’s a new largest human organ in town, and it comes with a fancy name to boot: the interstitium. This newfound organ has been identified for the first time by researchers from New York University’s School of Medicine, who just published a study in the journal, Scientific Reports, detailing its anatomy and functions.

The paper defines the newly discovered organ as a “fluid-filled space within and between tissues” that spreads throughout the body and can be found nearly everywhere: under the skin, between our organs, around arteries and veins, along the fibrous tissue between muscles, and even around the digestive tract and urinary system.

Medicine is already acquainted with interstitial tissue (the tissue found between our cells) and interstitial fluid (the liquid that fills the space between the cells), but the interstitium ties everything together in a network of fluid-filled compartments strung together by collagen and elastin, the study explains.

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Nuts Such As Pecans Help Weight Loss & Heart Health, Reduce Cancer & Diabetes Risk In Diet Studies

Add pecans to your diet to boost weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease, say health researchers.

It’s time to go nuts, according to the newest diet studies. Eating nuts such as pecans offers a tasty way to improve the health of your heart, boost weight loss by burning fat faster, and even reduce the risk of diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes.

Multiple health concerns, such as obesity and diabetes, have been shown to be impacted by diet. Those who struggle with obesity and diabetes, in turn, face increased risks of heart disease, which Medical News Today reports is one of the leading causes of death. In the search to find ways to use food as medicine, nuts have emerged as one of the tiniest foods with the biggest diet benefits.

Going Nuts Have Multiple Diet Benefits, Say Researchers

Small but mighty, nuts are packed with nutrients such as “good” fats, omega-3s. One recent diet study revealed the multiple benefits of nuts.

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4-year-old reunited with stranger who donated part of his liver for transplant

When Zanyah Brown was 2 years old, her mother noticed that something wasn’t right.

“It went from her having cold symptoms — just runny nose, small fevers — just not wanting to eat, things like that, to her actually being in severe pain,” said Yvonne Huggins of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “It was very scary.”

Medical tests later revealed in 2015 that Brown had a rare liver condition, and she would require a liver transplant. At first, Huggins told ABC News recently, she did not have much hope.

“I’m not going to lie,” the mom said. “My first thought was, ‘God, this is going to take forever for her to get a liver.'”

Brown was put on the transplant list in July 2017.

In November 2017, Kristian Vaughn, a 27-year-old stranger, was determined to be a perfect match for the now 4-year-old.

Vaughn had gotten tested after learning that a family friend’s son needed a liver transplant. He was a match but the child ended up getting a liver from another donor.

Vaughn then asked whether another child was in need of a transplant. The hospital alerted him to Brown, and they were ultimately matched.

The two met on Dec. 11, the night before the surgery. Only 30 percent of his liver was removed, but his partial piece of liver constituted a full liver transplant for Brown.

Their surgeons at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin ran back and forth through tunnels connecting the two medical facilities.

“It was the right thing to do,” Vaughn said about his decision to donate. “All I had to do was hit the pause button on my life… for 8 weeks and then this child could just open a brand new chapter in her life because I was willing to donate and when I had that realization, I just knew that this was really, truly, the right thing to do.”

Brown and Vaughn also met in March, three months after the surgery. Vaughn said he’d been told by doctors that his results were perfect and that his liver had achieved full function.

“Right there in front of me, that little girl was what life is about. It’s about that joy. It’s about that happiness,” he said. “I feel very much privileged to have been able to be a part of all this.”

Brown is doing well, and she’s home from the hospital. The two continue to be in touch.

“Kristian was a blessing,” Huggins said. “He changed Zanyah’s life completely.”

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