Thursday, September 06, 2012

Study links high-sugar diet to brain shrinkage

Stupid logic.  Just because high blood sugar was correlated with brain shrinkage does not mean high blood sugar caused brain shrinkage.  If  "age, high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol use and other factors" were also correlated, there could have been many other factors as well.  Maybe it was just that poor people had more sugary diets, for instance

NEW research linking a diet high in sugar and processed foods to brain shrinkage has prompted a rethink on safe blood sugar levels.

People with blood sugar levels of 4ml-6.1ml were found to have a greater risk of the brain atrophy that occurs with ageing and dementia, researchers at the Australian National University's College of Medicine found.

These blood sugar levels are not high enough to meet the clinical definition for type 2 diabetes and are at the upper end of the normal range, which has surprised researchers.

The research may force doctors to redefine what blood glucose levels are dangerous.

The study found that the loss of brain volume affected mostly memory and cognitive skills.

Dr Nicolas Cherbuin, who conducted the study, said the research suggested long-term exposure to  foods like sugary drinks and white flour were responsible for the problem.

Previous medical research found higher levels of brain shrinkage among the obese and patients with type 2 diabetes.

"These findings suggest that even for people who do not have diabetes, higher blood sugar levels could have an impact on brain health," Dr Cherbuin said.

"More research is needed, but these findings may lead us to re-evaluate the concept of normal blood sugar levels and the definition of diabetes," he said.

After controlling for age, high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol use and other factors the study found blood sugar accounted for six to ten per cent of the brain shrinkage.

The study involved  249 Canberra residents aged 60-64 who had an MRI scan of the brain and a blood glucose test and  were then retested four years later.

The shrinkage of the brain was measured by comparing brain size in the two MRIS.

Dr Cherbuin says he is now undertaking new research to see whether people aged in their 40's and 50's experience the same brain shrinkage.

The best way to avoid brain shrinkage was to eat low- glycaemic foods and avoid sugary soft drinks and highly processed foods that used sugar, white flour and fat, he said. Physical activity also helped lower blood sugar levels.


Frozen embryos better for IVF treatment

Surprising but there's some logic to it

Using frozen embryos in all IVF treatments rather than as a last resort could lower the risk to both mother and baby, a study claims.

Babies which grow from frozen embryos are less likely to be born preterm or underweight and have a lower risk of dying in the days after their birth, a study found.

Using embryos which have been frozen and then thawed, rather than being implanted shortly after being created, also reduced the risk of bleeding in the mother during pregnancy.

Researchers said the increased reliability of frozen embryos could be down to the delay between removing the eggs from the mother and implanting it back in the mother after fertilisation.

In IVF treatment, doctors stimulate the ovaries to produce a number of eggs, and remove and fertilise them all. The healthiest-looking ones are implanted three to six days later, and the remainder are frozen for future use.

Fresh embryos can be implanted a matter of days after they are removed from the mother, meaning the lining her womb may not have fully recovered from the invasive procedure and could be damaged, researchers said.

The fact that only the healthiest embryos survive the freezing and thawing process could also increase the likelihood of the pregnancy going according to plan, it was claimed.

Previous studies have suggested that drugs used to stimulate egg production which would still be circulating in the mother's body at that stage could have a harmful effect on the pregnancy.

Existing research has also shown there is no difference in pregnancy rate whether fresh or frozen embryos are used.

Experts from Aberdeen University reviewed 11 previous studies which followed more than 37,000 pregnancies from implantation of either fresh or thawed embryos to birth.

When frozen embryos were used, there was a 30 per cent lower risk of bleeding during pregnancy, 30 to 40 per cent less chance of the baby being born underweight, 20 per smaller risk of it being born preterm and 20 per cent less likelihood of it dying shortly after birth.

The study by Dr Abha Maheshwari of Aberdeen University was published in the Fertility Sterility journal and will be presented at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen today (TUES).

Speaking ahead of the festival Dr Maheshwari said: "We found pregnancies arising from the transfer of frozen thawed embryos seem to have better outcomes both for mothers and babies when compared to those after fresh embryo transfer."

Although no changes in fertility practice should be made until the study's findings have been backed up by a controlled trial, the findings could one day lead to a shift in clinical practice to improve the chance of success at the first attempt, she added.

"Our results question whether one should consider freezing all embryos and transfer them at a later date rather than transferring fresh embryos. This represents a major paradigm shift in assisted reproduction.

"We are all very aware that a postcode lottery still exists [in NHS fertility treatment]. Most clinics only provide one cycle and that does not include the frozen treatment, only the fresh treatment."


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