research

Pesticide residue on produce may affect fertility


Eating more fruits and vegetables with high-pesticide residue was associated with a lower probability of pregnancy and live birth following infertility treatment for women using assisted reproductive technologies, report researchers.
The JAMA Network Journals reports that eating more fruits and vegetables with high-pesticide residue was associated with a lower probability of pregnancy and live birth following infertility treatment for women using assisted reproductive technologies, report researchers.
Is preconception intake of fruits and vegetables with pesticide residues associated with outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies?

Animal studies suggest ingestion of pesticide mixtures in early pregnancy may be associated with decreased live-born offspring leading to concerns that levels of pesticide residues permitted in food by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may still be too high for pregnant women and infants.

325 women who completed a diet questionnaire and subsequently underwent cycles of assisted reproductive technologies as part of the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study at a fertility center at a teaching hospital in Boston between 2007 and 2016 by Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D., of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues.

Researchers categorized fruits and vegetables as having high or low pesticide residues using a method based on surveillance data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They counted the number of confirmed pregnancies and live births per cycle of fertility treatment.

This is an observational study. In observational studies, researchers observe exposures and outcomes for patients as they occur naturally in clinical care or real life. Because researchers are not intervening for purposes of the study they cannot control natural differences that could explain study findings so they cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Results of the study indicate that eating more high-pesticide residue fruits and vegetables (for example, strawberries and raw spinach) was associated with a lower probability of pregnancy and live birth following infertility treatment. Eating more low-pesticide residue fruits and vegetables was not associated with worse pregnancy and live birth outcomes.

Limitations of the study include that the study estimated exposure to pesticides based on women’s self-reported intake combined with pesticide residue surveillance data rather than through direct measurement. The study also cannot link specific pesticides to adverse effects.

“In conclusion, intake of high-residue FVs [fruits and vegetables] was associated with lower probabilities of clinical pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing infertility treatment. Our findings are consistent with animal studies showing that low-dose pesticide ingestion may exert an adverse impact on sustaining pregnancy. Because, to our knowledge, this is the first report of this relationship to humans, confirmation of these findings is warranted.”


Story Source:Materials provided by The JAMA Network Journals. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yu-Han Chiu, Paige L. Williams, Matthew W. Gillman, Audrey J. Gaskins, Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Irene Souter, Thomas L. Toth, Jennifer B. Ford, Russ Hauser, Jorge E. Chavarro. Association Between Pesticide Residue Intake From Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables and Pregnancy Outcomes Among Women Undergoing Infertility Treatment With Assisted Reproductive Technology. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5038

Read this article on sciencedaily.com www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171030112401.htm

How do women stay heart healthy? Go bananas!

Bananas and avocados -- foods that are rich in potassium -- may help protect against pathogenic vascular calcification, also known as hardening of the arteries.

Bananas and avocados — foods that are rich in potassium — may help protect against pathogenic vascular calcification, also known as hardening of the arteries.

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have shown, for the first time, that reduced dietary potassium promotes elevated aortic stiffness in a mouse model, as compared with normal-potassium-fed mice. Such arterial stiffness in humans is predictive of heart disease and death from heart disease, and it represents an important health problem for the nation as a whole.

The UAB researchers also found that increased dietary potassium levels lessened vascular calcification and aortic stiffness. Furthermore, they unraveled the molecular mechanism underlying the effects of low or high dietary potassium.

Such knowledge of how vascular smooth muscle cells in the arteries regulate vascular calcification emphasizes the need to consider dietary intake of potassium in the prevention of vascular complications of atherosclerosis. It also provides new targets for potential therapies to prevent or treat atherosclerotic vascular calcification and arterial stiffness.

A UAB team led by Yabing Chen, Ph.D., UAB professor of pathology and a Research Career Scientist at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, explored this mechanism of vascular disease three ways: living mice fed diets that varied in potassium, mouse artery cross-sections studied in culture medium with varying concentrations of potassium, and mouse vascular smooth muscle cells grown in culture medium.

Working from living mice down to molecular events in cells in culture, the UAB researchers determined a causative link between reduced dietary potassium and vascular calcification in atherosclerosis, as well as uncovered the underlying pathogenic mechanisms.

The animal work was carried out in the atherosclerosis-prone mouse model, the apoliprotein E-deficient mice, a standard model that are prone to cardiovascular disease when fed a high-fat diet. Using low, normal or high levels of dietary potassium — 0.3 percent, 0.7 percent and 2.1 percent weight/weight, respectively, the UAB team found that the mice fed a low-potassium diet had a significant increase in vascular calcification. In contrast, the mice fed a high-potassium diet had markedly inhibited vascular calcification. Also, the low-potassium mice had increased stiffness of their aortas, and high-potassium mice had decreased stiffness, as indicated by the arterial stiffness indicator called pulse wave velocity, which is measured by echocardiography in live animals.

The different levels of dietary potassium were mirrored by different blood levels of potassium in the three groups of mice.

When researchers looked at arterial cross-sections in cultures that were exposed to three different concentrations of potassium, based on normal physiological levels of potassium in the blood, they found a direct effect for the potassium on arterial calcification within arterial rings. Arterial rings in low-potassium had markedly enhanced calcification, while high-potassium inhibited aortic calcification.

“The findings have important translational potential,” said Paul Sanders, M.D., professor of nephrology in the UAB Department of Medicine and a co-author, “since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice, and the adverse effect of low potassium intake.”

Mechanistic details

In cell culture, low potassium levels in the culture media markedly enhanced calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells. Previous research by several labs including Chen’s group has shown that calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells resembles the differentiation of bone cells, which leads to the transformation of smooth muscle cells into bone-like cells.

So the UAB researchers tested the effect of growing vascular smooth muscle cells in low-potassium cell culture. They found that the low-potassium conditions promoted the expression of several gene markers that are hallmarks of bone cells, but decreased the expression of vascular smooth muscle cell markers, suggesting the transformation of the vascular smooth muscle cells into bone-like cells under low-potassium conditions.

Mechanistically, they found that low-potassium elevated intracellular calcium in the vascular smooth muscle cells, via a potassium transport channel called the inward rectifier potassium channel. This was accompanied by activation of several known downstream mediators, including protein kinase C and the calcium-activated cAMP response element-binding protein, or CREB.

In turn, CREB activation increased autophagy — the intracellular degradation system — in the low-potassium cells. Using autophagy inhibitors, the researchers showed that blocking autophagy blocked calcification. Thus, autophagy plays an important role in mediating calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells induced by the low-potassium condition.

The roles of the CREB activation and autophagy signals were then tested in the mouse artery cross-section and living-mouse models, with low, normal or high levels of potassium in the media or diet. Results in both of those systems supported the vital role for potassium to regulate vascular calcification through calcium signaling, CREB and autophagy.

Besides Chen and Sanders, co-authors of the paper, “Dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness,” published in JCI Insight, are Yong Sun, Chang Hyun Byon and Youfeng Yang, UAB Department of Pathology; Wayne E. Bradley, Louis J. Dell’Italia and Anupam Agarwal, UAB Department of Medicine; and Hui Wu, UAB Department of Pediatric Dentistry. Sanders, Agarwal and Chen are also members of the Research Department, Veterans Affairs Birmingham Medical Center.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yong Sun, Chang Hyun Byon, Youfeng Yang, Wayne E. Bradley, Louis J. Dell’Italia, Paul W. Sanders, Anupam Agarwal, Hui Wu, Yabing Chen. Dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness. JCI Insight, 2017; 2 (19) DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.94920

Read this article on ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171005102712.htm.

New Study Concludes: Women have more active brains than men

Largest functional brain imaging study to date identifies specific brain differences between women and men, according to a new report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

 In the largest functional brain imaging study to date, researchers compared 46,034 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women.

The study findings explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and concern.
Side view of the brain summarizing blood flow results from tens of thousands of study subjects shows increased blood flow in women compared to men, highlighted in the red colored areas of the brain: the cingulate gyrus and precuneus. Men in this image have higher blood flow in blue colored areas — the cerebellum.
Credit: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

The study findings of increased prefrontal cortex blood flow in women compared to men may explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and appropriate concern. The study also found increased blood flow in limbic areas of the brains of women, which may also partially explain why women are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders.

In the largest functional brain imaging study to date, the Amen Clinics (Newport Beach, CA) compared 46,034 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Lead author, psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder of Amen Clinics, Inc., commented, “This is a very important study to help understand gender-based brain differences. The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using functional neuroimaging tools, such as SPECT, are essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future.”

The brains of women in the study were significantly more active in many more areas of the brain than men, especially in the prefrontal cortex, involved with focus and impulse control, and the limbic or emotional areas of the brain, involved with mood and anxiety. The visual and coordination centers of the brain were more active in men. SPECT can measure blood perfusion in the brain. Images acquired from subjects at rest or while performing various cognitive tasks will show different blood flow in specific brain regions.

Subjects included 119 healthy volunteers and 26,683 patients with a variety of psychiatric conditions such as brain trauma, bipolar disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A total of 128 brain regions were analyzed for subjects at baseline and while performing a concentration task.

Understanding these differences is important because brain disorders affect men and women differently. Women have significantly higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, depression, which is itself is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and anxiety disorders, while men have higher rates of (ADHD), conduct-related problems, and incarceration (by 1,400%).

Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dean of the College of Sciences at The University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. George Perry said, “Precisely defining the physiological and structural basis of gender differences in brain function will illuminate Alzheimer’s disease and understanding our partners.”

Story Source: Materials provided by IOS Press. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel G. Amen, Manuel Trujillo, David Keator, Derek V. Taylor, Kristen Willeumier, Somayeh Meysami, Cyrus A. Raji. Gender-Based Cerebral Perfusion Differences in 46,034 Functional Neuroimaging Scans. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-170432

Read this article on Science Daily: IOS Press. “Women have more active brains than men: Largest functional brain imaging study to date identifies specific brain differences between women and men, according to a new report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2017.


The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Call for an appointment today: (707) 579-1102. Visit our website: www.womensobgynmed.com#womenhearthealth

BMI determines risk of heart disease in middle-aged women

A woman’s race and where on her body she packs on pounds at midlife could give her doctor valuable clues to her likelihood of having greater volumes of heart fat, a potential risk factor for heart disease, according to new research.

BMI determines risk of heart disease in middle-aged women

A woman’s race and where on her body she packs on pounds at midlife could give her doctor valuable clues to her likelihood of having greater volumes of heart fat, a potential risk factor for heart disease, according to new research led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

The findings, published online today in the journal Menopause, show that black women who put on fat around their midsection during midlife are more likely to accumulate fat around their hearts, whereas white women’s risk of fatty hearts is higher when they add weight all over. The results echo the findings of a Pitt Public Health study three years ago in men.

BMI determines risk of heart disease in middle-aged women

“Excess fat around the heart, in both men and women, is an evolving risk factor for heart disease. But how can clinicians see it at a regular physical? They can’t without a special heart scan,” said senior author Samar El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. “This study, coupled with our previous study in men, gives doctors another tool to evaluate their patients and get a better sense of their heart disease risk. It also may lead to suggestions for lifestyle modifications to help patients lessen that risk.”

El Khoudary and her team evaluated clinical data, such as CT scans and blood pressure, on 524 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women were in varying stages of menopause, averaged 51 years old and were not on hormone replacement therapy.

The bottom line on BMI and heart disease

After accounting for the potential health effects of lifestyle and socioeconomic factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and financial strain, the researchers determined that, not surprisingly, the more fat a women carries overall, the higher her risk for a fatty heart.

However, white women with higher body mass indexes, or BMI, which is a measure of overall body fat, had significantly more heart fat, as measured by a CT scan, than black women with the same BMI. BMI determines risk of heart disease in middle-aged women

For black women, the levels of heart fat were greater if they carried more fat in their midsection, as measured by a cross-sectional CT scan, compared with white women with the same volume of fat in their midsection.

El Khoudary’s team found that the heart fat black women with larger waistlines accumulate is closer to their hearts than the fat the white women with higher BMI’s accumulate. Fat close to the heart secretes inflammatory markers directly to the heart tissue and produces a greater detrimental effect as it expands.

“We’ve now come to very similar conclusions that show excess abdominal fat is worse for both black men and women, and a higher BMI is worse for white men and women when it comes to their odds of having more fat around their hearts,” said El Khoudary, who noted that the current analysis could not assess changes over time. “There is something going on here that warrants further investigation to determine why it is happening and what tailored interventions doctors may prescribe to help their patients lower their risk.”


Story Source: Materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Read this article on ScienceDaily: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. “Risk of a fatty heart linked to race, type of weight gain in middle-aged women.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2017.


The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Call for an appointment today: (707) 579-1102. Visit our website: www.womensobgynmed.com

Breast Cancer Study Results: Put that glass of wine down and get jogging!

Breast Cancer Study indicates that drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer riskBreast Cancer Study Revelations

Drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, finds a major new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).The report also revealed, for the first time, that vigorous exercise such as running or fast bicycling decreases the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Strong evidence confirmed an earlier finding that moderate exercise decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.

“It can be confusing with single studies when the findings get swept back and forth,” said Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, a lead author of the report and cancer prevention expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“With this comprehensive and up-to-date report the evidence is clear: Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol — these are all steps women can take to lower their risk.”

Brisk Walking, Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Breast Cancer systematically collated and evaluated the scientific research worldwide on how diet, weight and exercise affect breast cancer risk in the first such review since 2010. The report analyzed 119 studies, including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer.

The breast cancer study and report found strong evidence that drinking the equivalent of a small glass of wine or beer a day (about 10 grams alcohol content) increases pre-menopausal breast cancer risk by 5 percent and post-menopausal breast cancer risk by 9 percent. A standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol.

For vigorous exercise, pre-menopausal women who were the most active had a 17 percent lower risk and post-menopausal women had a 10 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who were the least active. Total moderate activity, such as walking and gardening, linked to a 13 percent lower risk when comparing the most versus least active women.

In addition the report showed that:

  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.
  • Mothers who breastfeed are at lower risk for breast cancer.
  • Greater adult weight gain increases risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in US women with over 252,000 new cases estimated this year. AICR estimates that one in three breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented if women did not drink alcohol, were physically active and stayed a healthy weight.

Emerging Findings: Dairy and Veggies

The breast cancer study report points to links between diet and breast cancer risk. There was some evidence — although limited — that non-starchy vegetables lowers risk for estrogen-receptor (ER) negative breast cancers, a less common but more challenging to treat type of tumor.

Limited evidence also links dairy, diets high in calcium and foods containing carotenoids to lowering risk of some breast cancers. Carrots, apricots, spinach and kale are all foods high in carotenoids, a group of phytonutrients studied for their health benefits.

These links are intriguing but more research is needed, says McTiernan. “The findings indicate that women may get some benefit from including more non-starchy vegetables with high variety, including foods that contain carotenoids,” she said. “That can also help avoid the common 1 to 2 pounds women are gaining every year, which is key for lowering cancer risk.”

Steps Women Can Take

Aside from these lifestyle risk factors, other established causes of breast cancer include being older, early menstrual period and having a family history of breast cancer.

While there are many factors that women cannot control, says Alice Bender, MS, RDN, AICR’s Head of Nutrition Programs, the good news from this report is that all women can take steps to lower their breast cancer risk.

“Wherever you are with physical activity, try to nudge it up a bit, either a little longer or a little harder. Make simple food shifts to boost protection — substitute veggies like carrots, bell peppers or green salad for chips and crackers and if you drink alcohol, stick to a single drink or less,” said Bender.

“There are no guarantees when it comes to cancer, but it’s empowering to know you can do something to lower your risk.”


The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Call for an appointment today: (707) 579-1102. Visit our website: www.womensobgynmed.com


Read this article on Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170523084758.htm

Story Source: Materials provided by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Original written by Diane Mapes. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.