Botox injections may reduce depression, study finds

Fox News Flash top headlines for July 31

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on Foxnews.com.

People who received Botox (botulinum toxin) injections for certain conditions reported less depression less often compared to patients who did not receive the injections for similar diagnoses, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

“For years, clinicians have observed that Botox injected for cosmetic reasons seems to ease depression for their patients,” said Ruben Abagyan, Ph.D., professor of pharmacy and one of the lead researchers of the study, in a statement.

“It’s been thought that easing severe frown lines in the forehead region disrupts a feedback loop that reinforces negative emotions. But we’ve found here that the mechanism may be more complex because it doesn’t really matter where the Botox is injected," the author stated in a news release.

GOOD SENSE OF SMELL MAY INDICATE LOWER RISK OF DEMENTIA IN OLDER ADULTS: STUDY

The research team at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego combed through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Adverse Effect Reporting System (FAERS) database to see the side effects reported by nearly 40,000 people who received Botox injections for various reasons, according to a news release by the university.

The treatments were not just in the forehead but included several different sites, including the neck, limbs and forehead. The release stated the researchers used an algorithm to find significant statistical differences between patients who used Botox and those who did not for the same issue.

The treatments were not just in the forehead but included several different sites, including the neck, limbs, and forehead. (iStock)

The researchers found depression was reported 40 to 88 percent less often by Botox users for six of the eight conditions and injection sites, according to the release.

“This finding is exciting because it supports a new treatment to affect mood and fight depression, one of the common and dangerous mental illnesses — and it’s based on a very large body of statistical data, rather than limited-scale observations,” Tigran Makunts, PharmD, one of the researchers in the study, stated in the release.

More research is needed to determine how Botox potentially acts as an antidepressant, according to the study. The researchers have a few theories that need further investigation. For instance, Botox being absorbed systemically to the central nervous system, which is involved in mood or emotions, they hypothesized, or possibly Botox indirectly affecting a person’s depression because the Botox helped relieve an underlying chronic condition that may have been a contributing factor to the patient’s depression.

Health experts say Botox is commonly used not only for cosmetic reasons, such as combatting wrinkles but also for muscle spasms, tight muscles, migraines, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, as well as other conditions including excessive sweating and bladder conditions.

DIETS HIGHER IN PROTEIN, PARTICULARLY PLANT PROTEIN, LINKED TO LOWER RATES OF EARLY DEATH: STUDY

The FAERS data used in this study was not exclusively gathered for the purpose of investigating the link between Botox and depression, according to the news release.  The data represents only a subgroup of Botox users who reported experiencing negative side effects. The authors note they excluded data from patients who were taking antidepressants; however, in some of the cases, the use of medications could have been underreported.

The release stated there is a clinical trial underway that is directly investigating Botox treatment for people with depression, but it is only testing forehead injection sites,. The authors said additional clinical trials are necessary to investigate which site is best to specifically inject to treat depression.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated more than 264 million people worldwide experience depression.

Source: Read Full Article

To reduce world hunger, governments need to think beyond making food cheap

According to a new United Nations report, global rates of hunger and malnutrition are on the rise. The report estimates that in 2019, 690 million people—8.9% of the world’s population—were undernourished. It predicts that this number will exceed 840 million by 2030.

If you also include the number of people who the U.N. describes as food insecure, meaning that they have trouble getting access to food, over 2 billion people worldwide are in trouble. This includes people in wealthy, middle-income and low-income countries.

The report further confirms that women are more likely to face moderate to severe food insecurity than men, and that little progress has been achieved on this front in the past several years. Overall, its findings warn that eradicating hunger by 2030—one of the U.N.’s main Sustainable Development Goals – looks increasingly unlikely.

COVID-19 has only made matters worse: The report estimates that the unfolding pandemic and its accompanying economic recession will push an additional 83 million to 182 million people into undernourishment. But based on our work serving as independent experts to the U.N. on hunger, access to food and malnutrition, under the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, it’s clear to us that the virus is only accelerating existing trends. It is not driving the rising numbers of hungry and food-insecure people.

How much should healthy food cost?

Experts have debated for years how best to measure hunger and malnutrition. In the past, the U.N. focused almost exclusively on calories—an approach that researchers and advocacy groups criticized as too narrow.

This year’s report takes a more thoughtful approach that focuses on access to healthy diets. One thing it found is that when governments primarily focused on making sure people had enough calories, they did so by supporting large transnational corporations and by making fatty, sweet and highly-processed foods cheap and accessible.

This perspective raises some important issues about the global political economy of food. As the new report points out, people who live at the current global poverty level of US$1.90 per day cannot feasibly secure access to a healthy diet, even under the most optimistic scenarios.

More broadly, the U.N. report addresses one of the longest-running debates in agriculture: What is a fair price for healthy food?

One thing everyone agrees on is that a plant-heavy diet is best for human health and the planet. But if prices for fruits and vegetables are too low, then farmers can’t make a living, and will grow something more lucrative or quit farming altogether. And costs eventually go up for consumers as the supply dwindles. Conversely, if the price is too high, then most people can’t afford healthy food and will resort to eating whatever they can afford—often, cheap processed foods.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=iteCytv0RqY%3Fcolor%3Dwhite

The role of governments

Food prices don’t just reflect supply and demand. As the report notes, government policies always directly or indirectly influence them.

Some countries raise taxes at the border, making imported food more expensive in order to protect local producers and ensure a stable supply of food. Rich countries like the U.S., Canada, and in the EU heavily subsidize their farming sectors.

Governments can also spend public money on programs like farmer education or school meals, or invest in better roads and storage facilities. Another option is to grant people living in poverty food vouchers or cash to buy food, or to ensure everyone has a basic income that allows them to cover their fundamental spending. There’s a host of ways in which governments can make sure food prices allow producers to make a living and consumers to afford healthy meals.

The human cost of cheap food

The U.N. report focuses on trying to make sure that food is as cheap as possible. This is limited in a number of ways.

New research highlights that mostly focusing on cheap prices can promote environmental damage and brutal economic systems. That’s because only large corporations can afford to compete in a market committed to cheap food. As our research has shown, today and in the past, people’s access to food is usually determined by how much power is concentrated in the hands of the few.

One current example is meatpacking plants, which have been coronavirus transmission centers in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Europe. To keep prices low, people work shoulder-to-shoulder processing meat at an incredible speed. During the pandemic, these conditions have enabled the virus to spread among workers, and outbreaks in factories have then spread the virus to nearby communities.

New international standards allow factories to continue to operate, but in a way that protects workers. In our view, governments are not adequately enforcing these safety standards to stop the spread of the virus. Globally, four corporations—Brazil’s JBS, Tyson and Cargill in the United States, and Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods—dominate the meat-producing sector. Studies have shown that they are able to lobby and influence government policy in ways that prioritize profit over worker and community safety.

Source: Read Full Article

Bacterial predator could help reduce COVID-19 deaths

A type of virus that preys on bacteria could be harnessed to combat bacterial infections in patients whose immune systems have been weakened by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, according to an expert at the University of Birmingham and the Cancer Registry of Norway.

Called bacteriophages, these viruses are harmless to humans and can be used to target and eliminate specific bacteria. They are of interest to scientists as a potential alternative to antibiotic treatments.

In a new systematic review, published in the journal Phage: Therapy, Applications and Research, two strategies are proposed, where bacteriophages could be used to treat bacterial infections in some patients with COVID-19.

In the first approach, bacteriophages would be used to target secondary bacterial nfections in patients’ respiratory systems. These secondary infections are a possible cause of the high mortality rate, particularly among elderly patients. The aim is to use the bacteriophages to reduce the number of bacteria and limit their spread, giving the patients’ immune systems more time to produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Marcin Wojewodzic, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow in the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham and now researcher at the Cancer Registry of Norway, is the author of the study. He says: “By introducing bacteriophages, it may be possible to buy precious time for the patients’ immune systems and it also offers a different, or complementary strategy to the standard antibiotic therapies.”

Professor Martha R.J. Clokie, a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Leicester and Editor-in-Chief of PHAGE journal explains why this work is important: “In the same way that we are used to the concept of ‘friendly bacteria’ we can harness ‘friendly viruses’ or ‘phages’ to help us target and kill secondary bacterial infections caused by a weakened immune system following viral attack from viruses such as COVID-19”.

Dr. Antal Martinecz, an expert in computational pharmacology at the Arctic University of Norway who advised on the manuscript says: “This is not only a different strategy to the standard antibiotic therapies but, more importantly, it is exciting news relating to the problem of bacterial resistance itself.”

In the second treatment strategy, the researcher suggests that synthetically altered bacteriophages could be used to manufacture antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus which could then be administered to patients via a nasal or oral spray. These bacteriophage-generated antibodies could be produced rapidly and inexpensively using existing technology.

“If this strategy works, it will hopefully buy time to enable a patient to produce their own specific antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and thus reduce the damage caused by an excessive immunological reaction,” says Dr. Wojewodzic.

Professor Martha R.J. Clokie’s research focuses on the identification and development of bacteriophages that kill pathogens in an effort to develop new antimicrobials. “We could also exploit our knowledge of phages to engineer them to generate novel and inexpensive antibodies to target COVID-19. This clearly written article covers both aspects of phage biology and outlines how we might use these friendly viruses for good purpose.”

Dr. Wojewodzic is calling for clinical trials to test these two approaches.”This pandemic has shown us the power viruses have to cause harm. However, by using beneficial viruses as an indirect weapon against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other pathogens, we can harness that power for a positive purpose and use it to save lives. The beauty of nature is that while it can kill us, it can also come to our rescue.” adds Dr. Wojewodzic.

Source: Read Full Article