Recent information from a 20 year study confirms what Mom told you about fish being good for the brain . Using MRI studies of the brain researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that the size of certain brain regions crucial to intelligence were bigger in those who ate baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis. In Alzheimer’s Disease these same areas shrink as the disease progresses. Intelligence and memory testing by the researchers confirmed that having more brain volume in these areas correlated with better brain function. For fish eaters the rate of progressing to Alzheimer’s disease during this study was only 8% while non-fish eaters went on to Alzheimer’s 38% of the time. The researchers concluded that the benefit of fish eating probably results from the protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the brain. Omega-3 fatty acid contains high concentrations of EPA as well as another benefical nutrient DHA.
Fish oil is known to have other benefits as well, such as reducing certain fats in the blood, particularly triglycerides. In another recently released study those with high triglycerides taking 1.8 grams of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) for twelve weeks showed a 22% reduction in triglyceride levels . The EPA in this study was derived from the omega-3-fatty acids in fish oil. The researchers point out that there is still limited proof that lowering triglycerides leads to a reduction in heart attack risk, although reducing irregular heart beat after heart attack may be reduced by consuming nutrients such as EPA.
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Due to the potential for abuse and high cost, growth hormone treatment in adults is the subject of much controversy. I believe that treating adults with growth hormone deficiency is many times an appropriate and beneficial choice. Firming up my conviction for treating adult growth hormone deficiency is a recent study conducted in the Netherlands and UK published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM 95:3664-3674, 2010). The researchers compared Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, triglycerides, and HDL (good cholesterol), between normal adults and those with low growth hormone levels due to deficient pituitary function (hypopituitarism). All measurements of obesity and lipid metabolism were significantly worse in the young adults (younger than 57 years) with growth hormone deficiency compared to normal adults of a similar age.
As I pointed out in previous articles at metabolism.com, growth hormone levels naturally decline as we get older. The authors of the present study note that growth hormone levels decline 14% per decade in adults. I conceive of this as one of the ways nature gets rid of us after we complete our biological/reproductive functions, since without growth hormone our muscles, immune and nervous systems, decline, leading to death. Itâ€™s planned obsolescence… what is typically referred to as aging. In the recent study senior citizens have equivalent levels of obesity and abnormal lipid metabolism as young adults with growth hormone deficiency. The authors note the effect on the body of growth hormone deficiency in young adults is equivalent to 40 years of aging. The theory that growth hormone functions to preserve our tissues during youth and aging results from its absence, appears confirmed by these results.
Most normal young adults arenâ€™t growth hormone deficient and the population that would qualify for growth hormone treatment from this group is small. What about older adults with low growth hormone who are troubled by the â€œnaturalâ€ decline in their body function? Should or could we treat this much larger population with growth hormone? It is my experience that private and federal insurers will not pay for this treatment regarded as â€œcosmeticâ€. On the other hand, there will be physicians who will comply with a request for growth hormone treatment from individuals who possess enough cash and motivation. Less affluent or determined individuals will have to contend with natural aging just as our ancestors have done for thousands of years.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or treatment.
Gary Pepper, M.D.
Large Neck Size Equals Big Metabolic Problems:
A bulging stomach is widely accepted as a sign of poor metabolic health. A recent study published in the August Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (95:3701, 2010), finds a chubby neck is likely to hold even a worse prognosis for metabolic health.
The research team evaluated the relationship between waist circumference and neck circumference with levels of blood sugar, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides, and insulin resistance, as well as blood pressure. What was found was that neck circumference was a better predictor than waist circumference of elevated blood pressure, LDL, triglycerides and insulin resistance, with lower levels of HDL. All this amounts to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease as neck size increases. As an example, an increase in neck circumference of about one inch is expected to result in a 2.5 point rise in blood pressure.
The authors point out that the neck circumference was a more accurate predictor of cardiovascular risk in women than men. The average neck size for men in this study was about 16 inches (40.5 cm) and about 13.7 inches for women (34 cm).
Alfred Hitchcock, the famous director of suspense movies, made a trademark of his corpulent silhouette with bulging chin and abdomen. Thanks to this research we know his silhouette can signify more than a movie that will thrill you but also a metabolism that will kill you.
Gary Pepper, M.D.
A new class of experimental drugs known as oral selective thyroid hormone receptor agonists (also known as STORMS) has shown remarkable ability to lower cholesterol levels as well as cause weight loss. These drugs were originally targeted at improving heart function in heart failure patients but failed to achieve the desired results. During these studies researchers noted that subjects treated with the experimental STORM drug DITPA, lost 15% of body weight and body mass index along with achieving a substantial drop in cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
DITPA is one of the new STORM drugs. These drugs work by mimicking thyroid hormone action on certain tissues in the body such as the liver and blood vessels.Their effect on the liver is thought to be responsible for the beneficial effects on cholesterol and triglycerides.
Another promising STORM drug is eprotirome being studied by the Swedish drug firm Karo Bio. This drug has also shown remarkable ability to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in human studies. Subjects with high triglyceride levels saw levels fall by up to 40% when receiving eprotirome.
Weight loss associated with STORM agents is thought to as a result of increase in metabolism as well as possible central nervous system effects to reduce food consumption (appetite suppression).
Researchers are quick to point out that high doses STORMâ€™s cause unpleasant side-effects such as racing heart, tremor, irritability, diarrhea and sweating. These side-effects are similar to symptoms experienced by people with hyperthyroidism (excess levels of thyroid hormone).
Many more studies are in progress to try to find ways to harness the benefits of STORMs while minimizing side-effects. No drugs of this class are presently approved for use in humans.
Only you and your medical professional can decide which treatment is appropriate for you. If you have more questions about these drugs consult your health care professional or post your inquiry at metabolism.com.
Gary Pepper, M.D.