Trace Elements of Lithium in Drinking Water Linked to Longer Life in Alzheimer’s Patients

From IOS Press . . . . . .

Trace elements of lithium in drinking water may slow death rates from Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests. Rates of diabetes and obesity, which are important risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, also decrease if there is a particular amount of lithium in the water, says the study, published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Postdoctoral fellow Val Fajardo and Rebecca MacPherson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, collected statistics on various lithium levels in drinking water in 234 counties across Texas.

Lithium is a water-soluble alkali metal found in igneous rocks and mineral springs. It is commonly used to treat bipolar and other mood disorders, but at much higher doses than what occurs naturally in drinking water.

The research team, which included Associate Professor of Health Sciences Paul LeBlanc, compared lithium levels naturally found in tap water with Alzheimer’s disease mortality rates, along with the incidence of obesity and diabetes, in the Texas counties.

“We found counties that had above the median level of lithium in tap water (40 micrograms per litre) experienced less increases in Alzheimer’s disease mortality over time, whereas counties below that median level had even higher increases in Alzheimer’s deaths over time,” says Fajardo.

The frequency of obesity and Type 2 diabetes also went down when the drinking water contained similar lithium levels, the researchers found.

Fajardo says he and his team focused on Texas because data on lithium levels were “freely available.”

Previous studies have demonstrated lithium’s ability to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes.

“However, we are one of the first groups to show that lithium’s potential protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes may translate to the population setting through very low levels of lithium in tap water,” says Fajardo.

The Brock research comes on the heels of an August study from the University of Copenhagen linking high lithium levels in drinking water to decreases in dementia rates.

But Fajardo warns it’s too early to start advising authorities to add lithium to drinking water.

“There’s so much more research we have to do before policy-makers look at the evidence and say, OK, let’s start supplementing tap water with lithium just like we do in some municipalities with fluoride to prevent tooth decay,” he says.

Source: Science Daily


Women Are Naturally More Fit than Men

When it comes to getting and staying fit, women may have an aerobic edge over men, new research suggests.

In a small new study, investigators compared oxygen uptake and muscle oxygen extraction in 18 young men and women while they worked out on a treadmill. Oxygen uptake is an important measure of aerobic fitness.

Women consistently processed oxygen about 30 percent faster than men, according to researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

“The findings are contrary to the popular assumption that men’s bodies are more naturally athletic,” study author Thomas Beltrame said in a university news release.

Another researcher put it this way.

“We found that women’s muscles extract oxygen from the blood faster, which, scientifically speaking, indicates a superior aerobic system,” said Richard Hughson. He is a professor with the faculty of applied health sciences at Waterloo and is also an expert in vascular aging and brain health.

Because women process oxygen faster, women are less likely to accumulate molecules linked with muscle fatigue, effort perception and poor athletic performance, the researchers explained.

The findings were published recently in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

“While we don’t know why women have faster oxygen uptake, this study shakes up conventional wisdom,” Beltrame said. “It could change the way we approach assessment and athletic training down the road.”

Source: University of Waterloo

Today’s Comic

Six Reasons Why Someone Might be a Neat Freak

JR Thorpe wrote . . . . . . .

Excessive neatness isn’t a problem — right? Wanting a clean floor and a well-organized sock drawer isn’t the end of the world. Well, neat-freakery may be more complex, and possibly less useful, than it seems. We tend to think of extremely neat people as good organizers and high achievers, but psychological evidence has begun to show that messy environments are better for creative thinking. So is a neat freak born or made — and is it ever something to be worried about?

Neatness, when it extends into compulsion, becomes the better-known obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD — a serious anxiety disorder in which compulsive behaviors, like washing hands, straightening pens, or counting buttons over and over, become crippling in their domination of everyday life. A person with OCD — which, it seems, is produced by a combination of genetics and environmental factors — is controlled by their compulsions, and neatness isn’t actually the point in the slightest. But the neat freaks we’re talking about aren’t at this point: they just really, really like things to be in order.

We tend to look at neat freaks with awe and a little bit of confusion. What’s so terrible about a little bit of dust, and why does everything need to be immaculate all the time? The answer lies in psychological and genetic factors — and neatness may actually be more of a tyrant than it seems. Let’s take a look at six reasons why someone might be a neat freak.

A Pathological Need For Control

Psychology is keen to make a connection: neat freak is essentially the same thing as control freak, just with a very specific pattern of behavior attached. Now, a desire for control isn’t an inherently bad thing. A 2010 study even says it’s evolutionarily necessary for us to feel as if we control our environments — otherwise we’re scared all the time, and too frightened to take necessary risks — and being clean and neat is an evolutionary benefit too, because it keeps us protected from diseases. But neat freaks often take the desire to an extreme.

This specific need for control often comes from a deep sense that control is inherently lacking in the world, and needs to be asserted. Control freaks generally believe they have to create order themselves, as they can’t trust anybody else to provide that stability for them.

A Tendency To Experience Anxiety

As you may have picked up, neat freakery — and its controlling aspects — is a deeply anxious thing. The fact that OCD is classified as an extreme anxiety disorder is no accident; a serious need for neatness, anywhere on the spectrum, is actually a way of calming serious anxiety about the world and your place in it.

Anxiety can come from a huge range of places: entrenched stress, trauma, substance abuse, even genetics — if a close family member has anxiety, you’re likely to suffer from it too. The genetics aren’t fully understood, and it’s not yet clear if specific types of anxious behavior are encoded in DNA, but if a deep thread of anxiety is the core of neat-freak thinking.

A Possible Phobia

Controlling behavior doesn’t make you Darth Vader. It usually develops from an inherent vulnerability — and one of those vulnerabilities may actually be a phobia. Whether it’s simple (a phobia of dust) or more complex (a serious aversion to a messy bedroom), a phobia — classified as an extreme anxious reaction to a situation, causing serious aversive behavior — can be the key to a neat freak’s motivation.

One of these, mysophobia, is the pathological fear of germs and contamination, and while it’s often linked to OCD in an extreme form, it can also be the key to milder anxious neat-freakery. Phobias, interestingly, seem to be partially genetic — but they’re also possible to treat with therapy.

A Perfectionist Streak

There’s a strong tie in case studies between perfectionism and neat-freakery — and given what we know thus far, that’s not surprising. Perfectionism, even though it usually has a good reputation (wanting to do everything 100 percent can’t be that bad, right?), can actually be a seriously crippling voice in your head, demanding absolute excellence and delivering horrible punishment if that standard isn’t reached. Which it never is. (Trust me: I am one.)

Cleanliness is yet another challenge for the perfectionist, an aspect that must be “completed” to a Himalayan standard or else mark them as a catastrophic failure. Perfectionism is knotted together in a triangle with anxiety (I will never achieve 100 percent) and depression (I did not achieve 100 percent and therefore am a failure), so its link to neat-freakery isn’t surprising.

A Neat-Freak Or Chaotic Parent

The family backgrounds of neat freaks can often go in one of two directions. One is that their behavior is actually patterned on a neat freak parent, who instilled values about the necessity of serious neatness in them — usually as a response to some fear, compulsion, or vulnerability of their own. To that extent, it’s classified as a learned behavior.

The other direction, however, is a bit more distressing. Chaotic parents, who don’t provide stability or a sense of control for their children, can also produce neat freak or controlling kids, according to Psychology Today. That kind of neat freak is reacting against the chaos of their childhood by creating a safe, soothing, controlled space for themselves in adulthood — and reassuring themselves through cleaning. A clean kitchen means everything’s OK and nothing unexpected is going to happen.

Childhood Routine Triggers

Interestingly, according to another article in Psychology Today, a neat freak’s particular focuses — their “hot spots,” or the areas that absolutely need to be clean — are closely related to childhood routines of cleaning. Cleaning in particular areas is something that, for a neat freak, has been done since a young, vulnerable age, and has been a consistent routine for years — and that consistency makes them feel safe.

Neat freaks, according to this theory, are not all the same. Their particular patterns of neatness are based on the things they’ve always wanted to clean: it’s what’s called, in anxiety disorders, a reassurance-seeking behavior. Cleaning the sink makes them feel stable.

The key for neat freaks who want to feel safer outside of detergent is often, through therapy, to find that reassurance in other things, to trust the world not to hurt them, and finally, to let go of the scared kid who needs so badly to feel safe.

Source: Bustle

Researchers Identify Gene Variation that Protects Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Todd Hollingshead wrote . . . . . . .

Brigham Young University (BYU) researcher published in Genome Medicine details a novel and promising approach in the effort to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

BYU professors Perry Ridge and John Kauwe have discovered a rare genetic variant that provides a protective effect for high-risk individuals — elderly people who carry known genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s — who never acquired the disease.

In other words, there’s a specific reason why people who should get Alzheimer’s remain healthy. Study authors believe this genetic function could be targeted with drugs to help reduce the risk of people getting the disease.

“Instead of identifying genetic variants that are causing disease, we wanted to identify genetic variants that are protecting people from developing disease,” said Ridge, assistant professor of biology at BYU. “And we were able to identify a promising genetic variant.”

That former approach to Alzheimer’s disease has been generally effective in producing a list of genes that might impact risk for the disease, but it leaves researchers without sufficient data on what to do next. In this new approach, Ridge and Kauwe develop the biological mechanism by which a genetic variant actually impacts Alzheimer’s disease.

Using data from the Utah Population Database — a 20-million-record database of the LDS Church’s genealogical records combined with historical medical records from Utah — Ridge and Kauwe first identified families that had a large number of resilient individuals: those who carried the main genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s (E4 Allele) but remained healthy into advanced age.

Using whole genome sequencing and a linkage analysis methodology, they then looked for the DNA that those resilient individuals shared with each other that they didn’t share with loved ones who died of Alzheimer’s. They discovered the resilient subjects shared a variant in the RAB10 gene while those who got the disease did not share the genetic variant.

Once the researchers identified the potentially protective gene variant, they over expressed it in cells and under expressed it in cells to see the impact on Alzheimer’s disease related proteins. They learned that when this gene is reduced in your body, it has the potential to reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s.

“There are currently no meaningful interventions for Alzheimer disease; no prevention, no modifying therapies, no cure,” Kauwe said. “The discoveries we’re reporting in this manuscript provide a new target with a new mechanism that we believe has great potential to impact Alzheimer’s disease in the future.”

BYU was the lead institution on this research effort and collaborated with the University of Utah, Utah State University, the Mayo Clinic and the Washington University School of Medicine.

Source: Brigham Young University

Today’s Comic

Recognizing Common Features of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Everyone has their own way of doing things and sometimes this can interfere with the way others operate. Most of us are able to find common ground and compromise to work together in relationships, with friends or in the workplace. However, there may be times when you find someone, or maybe you find yourself, unable to understand why you or someone you know seems completely unable to change or compromise. It is possible that this person has Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). Only a trained mental health professional can diagnose OCPD, but you can learn to recognize some of its characteristics.

1. Look for an emphasis on efficiency, perfectionism, and rigidity.

People with OCPD are perfectionists. They are overly disciplined and preoccupied with processes, procedures and rules. They spend a great deal of time and energy in planning, but their perfectionism may keep them from actually accomplishing tasks.

People with OCPD have an eye for detail and their need to be perfect in each and every aspect pushes them to control every facet of their environment. They can micromanage people despite resistance.

They strongly believe in going by the book and also that rules, processes and procedures are meant to be followed and any deviation from them would result in producing imperfect work.

2. Observe how the person makes decisions and completes tasks.

Indecisiveness and an inability to complete tasks are hallmarks of people with OCPD. Because of his/her perfectionism, a person with OCPD has a strong urge to exercise caution in trying to decide what, when, and how things need to be done. S/he will often research the most minute of the details irrespective of relevance to the decisions at hand. People with OCPD are extremely averse to impulsivity or risk-taking.

This difficulty with decisions and tasks extends even to very small things. Precious time is lost in weighing the pros and cons of each proposition, no matter how minor.

The emphasis on perfection also causes people with OCPD to perform tasks repetitively; for example, a person might proofread a document for work 30 times and thus fail to get it in on time. This repetition and the person’s unreasonably high standards often cause dysfunction for them in the workplace.

3. Consider how the person interacts in social situations.

People with OCPD can often come across to others as “cold” or “heartless” because of their focus on productivity and perfection, to the exclusion of things like social and romantic relationships.

When a person with OCPD does go on a social outing, s/he will generally not appear to enjoy it, instead worrying about how it could be done better or that she or he is “wasting time” having fun.

People with OCPD may also make others uncomfortable during social events because of their focus on rules and perfection. For example, a person with OCPD might become extremely frustrated by “house rules” in Monopoly because they are not the written “official” rules. The person might refuse to play, or spend a lot of time criticizing others’ play or seeking ways to improve it.

4. Observe the person’s sense of morality and ethics.

An individual with OCPD is excessively concerned about morals, ethics and what is right and wrong. S/he is excessively concerned about doing the “right thing” and has very rigid definitions of what that means, with no room for relativity or mistakes. S/he is constantly worried about any rules he might have broken or which he might have to break. S/he is usually extremely deferential to authority and will comply with all rules and regulations, no matter how insignificant they may seem.

People with OCPD extend their concepts of morality and values to others. It is unlikely for a person with OCPD to accept that another person, for example from a different culture, could have a sense of morality if it is different from their own.

People with OCPD are often harsh on themselves as well as others. They may see even minor mistakes and infractions as moral failures. “Extenuating circumstances” do not exist for people with OCPD.

5. Look for hoarding behavior.

Hoarding is a classic symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but it can also affect people with OCPD. A person with OCPD may refrain from disposing of even those items that are useless or are of little or no worth. She or he may hoard with an intention that there is nothing that is of no use: “You never know when this might come in handy!”

This goes from old, leftover food to receipts to plastic spoons to dead batteries. If the person could imagine that there could ever be a reason it might be useful, it stays.

Hoarders truly value their “treasure” and any attempts by others to disturb their collection greatly annoys them. The inability of others to understand the benefits of hoarding surprises them.

Hoarding is very different from collecting. Collectors get enjoyment and pleasure out of the things they collect, and they don’t experience anxiety about getting rid of worn-out, useless, or unneeded items. Hoarders generally feel anxiety about discarding anything, even if it is no longer functioning (like a broken iPod).

6. Look for trouble delegating responsibility.

People with OCPD are often perceived as “control freaks.” They find it very hard to delegate responsibility for a task to others, because the task might not be performed in the way they believe it should be. If they do delegate tasks, they will often provide an exhaustive list of instructions on how to perform even simple tasks like loading the dishwasher.

People with OCPD will often criticise or attempt to “correct” others who are doing a task in a way other than they themselves would do it, even if the other technique is effective or makes no difference to the final result. They do not like to have others suggest different ways of doing things, and may react with surprise and anger if this happens.

7. Observe the person’s spending behaviors.

People with OCPD not only have trouble getting rid of useless things, they also are perpetually “saving for a rainy day.” They are usually reluctant to spend money even on necessities because they are worried about saving for a future catastrophe. They may live well below their means, or even in a standard of living that is lower than is healthy, in an attempt to save money.

This also means that they cannot even part from money by giving it to somebody in need. They will usually attempt to dissuade others from spending money too.

8. Consider how stubborn the person is.

People with OCPD are extremely stubborn and inflexible. They do not like and cannot take people questioning them, their intentions, actions, behaviors, ideas and beliefs. For them, they are always on the right side and there is no alternative to what they do and how they do things.

Whoever they feel opposes them and fails to submit to their dominance is not cooperative and responsible.

This stubbornness often makes even close friends and family unhappy to interact with the person. An individual with OCPD will not accept questioning or suggestions even from loved ones.

Recognizing OCPD in Relationships

1. Look for friction.

People with OCPD do not restrain themselves from imposing their ideas and views on others, even in situations where most other people would consider such behavior inappropriate. The idea that this kind of attitude and behavior could upset people and lead to friction in relationships often does not occur to them, nor will it stop them from doing what they intend to do.

A person with OCPD is not likely to feel guilty when crossing the boundaries even if it means monitoring, controlling, meddling and intruding into other people’s lives so that there is perfection and order in everything.

They get upset, angry and depressed if other people are not following their directions. They may become angry or frustrated if it seems like people are not aligned with them in their effort to bring everything under control and to make everything perfect.

2. Look for work-life imbalance.

People with OCPD generally spend a considerable part of their waking hours at work—and they do it by choice. They are hardly left with any time for leisure. Their leisure time, if any, is spent on trying to “improve” things. Because of this, the person may not have many (or any) friendships.

If a person with OCPD tries to spend his/her leisure time on a hobby or some activity such as painting or some sports such as tennis, she or he does not paint or play for the fun of it. She or he is constantly in the pursuit to master the art or the game.  She or he will apply the same theory to family members and expect them to set out on a pursuit to excel rather than trying to have fun.

This interference and meddling gets on the nerves of the people around them. This not only ruins the leisure time but can cause damage to relationships.

3. Observe how the person displays emotion to others.

For most people with OCPD, emotions are a waste of precious time that could be otherwise used in their quest for perfection. They are generally very tight-lipped when comes to expressing or displaying feelings.

This reticence is also due to a worry that any expression of emotion must be perfect; a person with OCPD will wait for an extremely long time to say anything to do with feelings in order to make sure that it is “just right.”

People with OCPD may come across as stilted or overly formal when they try to display their feelings. For example, they may try to shake hands when the other person goes in for a hug, or use overly stiff language in an effort to be “correct.”

4. Consider how the person responds to emotions in others.

People with OCPD not only have trouble expressing emotion, they also have difficulty tolerating its presence in others. People with OCPD may visibly display discomfort in a situation where people are emotional (such as at a sporting event or family reunion).

For example, most people would likely consider greeting a friend whom they haven’t seen in awhile as an exciting, emotional experience. A person with OCPD may not experience it this way, and might not even smile or offer a hug.

They may seem to feel “above” emotions and look down on people who display them as “irrational” or inferior.

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