Depression Leads to Protein Linked to Heart Disease

BLOOMINGTON – Depression leads to elevated inflammatory proteins in the human body, according to researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Led by Dr. Jesse Stewart, researchers found that depressive symptoms are associated with increases over time in interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that predicts cardiovascular events.

On the other hand, levels of interleukin-6 were not linked to subsequent increases in depressive symptoms.

The new study is the first to examine both directions of the depression-inflammation connection and to measure the physical symptoms of depression, such as fatigue and sleep disturbance, in addition to the cognitive-emotional symptoms, such as pessimism and sadness.

While many previous studies have linked depression to increased inflammatory protein levels measured at the same time, but they couldn’t speak to which is the cause and which is the effect.

“There is two-way communication between the brain and the immune system, so we had to determine whether activation of the body’s immune system sent a signal to the brain to affect mood and behavior or whether the depression activated the immune system,” said Dr. Stewart.

The participants in the study consisted of 263 healthy men and women aged 50-70 years at the start of the study.

They were tested at baseline and again six years later to determine their levels of depressive symptoms and interleukin-6.

Levels of C-reactive protein, another inflammatory protein, were also measured but were not related to depression.

Stewart said that the strength of the association of depression with future heart disease is similar to that of traditional risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.

“Promotion of inflammation may be one pathway through which depression may ‘get under the skin’ to negatively influence cardiovascular health. The link to cardiovascular disease demonstrates that there may be physical as well as mental health reasons to treat depression,” said Stewart.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Large Thighs May Protect Heart

COPENHAGEN – Men and women with thighs over 60cm (23.6in) in circumference have a lower risk of heart disease and early death, a study of 3,000 people suggests.

The relationship remains even when body fat, smoking and blood cholesterol are taken into account, a Danish team says.

Those with narrow thighs may not have enough muscle mass to deal with insulin properly, raising the risk of diabetes and, in turn, heart disease, they say.

Experts cautioned that the research needed corroborating.

Some said it was too early to change current advice on eating and exercise for heart health, but the researchers said thigh size could be used as a marker for at-risk patients.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, followed men and women in Denmark for more than 10 years.

They were measured for height, weight and thigh, hip and waist circumference and their overall percentage of body fat was calculated.

It’s a very simple, very crude measure but it seems to have an individual effect. And it may be a way for doctors to assess risk

The thigh measurement was taken just below the gluteal fold, which is the crease caused by your buttocks.

Researchers also looked at the activity levels of the participants, whether they smoked, their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

They then monitored incidence of heart disease over 10 years and death rates over 12-and-a-half years.

During this time, 257 men and 155 women died, 263 men and 140 women developed cardiovascular disease and 103 men and 34 women suffered from heart disease.

The team at the Copenhagen University Hospital found that those with the smallest thighs – below 55cm – had twice the risk of early death or serious health problems.

Professor Berit Heitmann, who led the research, said: “The increased risk was independent of abdominal and general obesity and lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure.

“Additionally we found that the risk was more highly related to thigh circumference than to waist circumference.

“It’s a very simple, very crude measure but it seems to have an individual effect. And it may be a way for doctors to assess risk.

“The nice thing is that if you have a small thigh you can do something about it through exercise.”

Previous studies have suggested that a waist circumference of over 35in (88.9cm) for a woman and 40in (101.6cm) for a man indicated a high risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

Professor Heitmann‘s team says the risk of narrow thighs could be associated with too little muscle mass.

They say this can lead to the body not responding to insulin properly, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and, in the long-run, heart disease.

Too little fat can also lead to adverse changes in the way the body breaks down food.

British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse Judy O’Sullivan said: “There is insufficient evidence to confirm that a low thigh circumference affects a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

“However, low muscle mass is associated with low levels of physical activity which is an established risk factor for developing heart disease.”

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, agreed that the research needed further corroboration, saying: “This is a very interesting and slightly counter-intuitive piece of work but it has to be respected because of the numbers looked at and the duration of the research.

This must be great news for people with larger thighs. What I find fascinating is that researchers are now going back to the drawing board and looking for every possible way of mitigating obesity.”

Comprehensive Eating Disorders Dictionary for Parents Launched by F.E.A.S.T.

Comprehensive Eating Disorders Dictionary for Parents Launched by F.E.A.S.T.

F.E.A.S.T. has launched a free online dictionary for parents that explains the complex terms and concepts used in the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders, eating disturbances and a wide range of co-existing conditions.

 An international eating disorders organization has launched the world’s first comprehensive dictionary on eating disorders for parents and caregivers.

The F.E.A.S.T. Eating Disorders Glossary  provides definitions and explanations for more than 400 terms and concepts used in the eating disorders field. F.E.A.S.T. (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders Treatment) is an international non-profit organization supporting parents and caregivers of children suffering from eating disorders.

The new free online reference — — contains entries for 35 different eating disorders and disturbances, along with 25 disorders or conditions that often are associated or co-exist with a clinical eating disorder. In addition, detailed explanations are provided for hundreds of terms used in the modern science of eating disorders, including diagnosis, psychological and therapeutic approaches, medical management of symptoms and complications, biology, pharmacology and clinical research.

The aim of the glossary is to give parents facing an eating disorders crisis an authoritative, easy-to-use reference that will help them quickly “get up to speed” on the technical terms and concepts they will encounter as they consider various treatment options for their child or adolescent, said Laura Collins, executive director of F.E.A.S.T.

“The eating disorders field is filled with arcane vocabulary and very complex concepts,” Ms. Collins said. “Parents need to understand these terms and concepts so they can understand what their doctors are telling them. This will enable them to ask the right questions and will ultimately empower them to play a productive role as a key member of the treatment team they put together to manage their child’s recovery.”

Though edited for a lay public, the F.E.A.S.T. eating disorders dictionary may also prove useful to non-specialist professionals and general practitioners, Ms. Collins said, noting that many nutritionists, psychologists and generalist doctors have not received formal training in the modern science of eating disorders.

Among the eating disorders explained in the glossary are: Anorexia Nervosa, Binge eating disorder, Bulimia nervosa , Compensatory Behaviors, Compulsive or compensatory exercise, Compulsive Overeating , Diabulimia, Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), Extreme exercising, Feeding Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood , Female Athlete Triad , Food avoidance emotional disorder, Food refusal , Functional dysphagia, Hyperphagia, Marasmus , Muscle dysmorphia (also called Reverse anorexia or Bigorexia), Night Eating Syndrome (NES), Obesity, Orthorexia, PANDAS , Pathorexia, Pervasive refusal syndrome, Pica, Picky eating, Prader Willi syndrome (PWS), Purging disorder, Restrictive eating, Rumination disorder, and Selective eating.

The Cause and Treatment of Heart Disease

The Cause and Treatment of Heart Disease

The cause of heart disease is not animal fats and cholesterol but rather a number of factors inherent in modern diets, including excess consumption of vegetables oils and hydrogenated fats; excess consumption of refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar and white flour; mineral deficiencies, particularly low levels of protective magnesium and iodine; deficiencies of vitamins, particularly of vitamin C, needed for the integrity of the blood vessel walls, and of antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E, which protect us from free radicals; and, finally, the disappearance of antimicrobial fats from the food supply, namely, animal fats and tropical oils. These once protected us against the kinds of viruses and bacteria that have been associated with the onset of pathogenic plaque leading to heart disease.

While serum cholesterol levels provide an inaccurate indication of future heart disease, a high level of a substance called homocysteine in the blood has been positively correlated with pathological buildup of plaque in the arteries and the tendency to form clots—a deadly combination. Folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and choline are nutrients that lower serum homocysteine levels. These nutrients are found mostly in animal foods.

The best way to treat heart disease, then, is not to focus on lowering cholesterol—either by drugs or diet—but to consume a diet that provides animal foods rich in vitamins B6 and B12; to bolster thyroid function by daily use of natural sea salt, a good source of usable iodine; to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies that make the artery walls more prone to ruptures and the buildup of plaque; to include the antimicrobial fats in the diet; and to eliminate processed foods containing refined carbohydrates, oxidized cholesterol and free-radical-containing vegetable oils that cause the body to need constant repair.