Wake Up to Wellness: Issue #3

Health Newsletter

What’s new in the world of health and wellness this week?

We’ve got you covered:

  • One more reason to drink more water.
  • How a healthy BMI can lead to a longer life.
  • A new blood test for menopause.
  • How AI is helping detect Alzheimer’s.
  • How 23andMe is helping customers determine what drugs are safe for them.

A New Benefit of Drinking Water

We all know water is good for you. This Penn State study gives us yet another reason to drink up.

A new study that surveyed over 20,000 people about the connection between sleep and hydration found that those who only slept six hours were more likely to be “inadequately hydrated” with more concentrated urine than those that slept at least eight hours.

Why? The underlying reason has to do with hormones. The hormone vasopressin regulates your hydration levels. And, it’s released at night while you are sleeping and during the day so the number of hours you sleep affects the amount of vasopressin your body releases.

The author of the study, Asher Rosinger, an assistant professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, said, “Vasopressin is released both more quickly and later on in the sleep cycle.” He added, “So, if you’re waking up earlier, you might miss that window in which more of the hormone is released, causing a disruption in the body’s hydration.” Read the whole story here.

Your BMI Can Affect Your Lifespan

Two new studies give us another reason to reach and maintain a healthy weight. You can live a longer life. And who doesn’t want that?

The first study, published in “Obesity”, employs a method called Mendelian randomization, which uses genetic markers and crunches numbers similar to a clinical trial. The researchers examined the genomes and health status of over 500,000 participants in the U.K. They found that the “results support a causal role of higher BMI in increasing the risk of all-cause mortality and mortality from several specific causes.”

More specifically, they found that a five-point BMI increase is related to a 16 percent jump in mortality and a 61 percent increase in cardiovascular disease mortality.

The second study was released in “The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology,” and studied over 3.6 million participants in the U.K.

Researchers examined overall mortality and specific-cause mortality, and found the death rates were higher in both overweight and underweight adults. These studies contradict earlier research known as the “obesity paradox” that claims obesity may protect people with heart disease and allow them to live longer lives.

The short story? Live an active lifestyle and eat a healthy diet to increase your chances of living a long, healthy life. Read more here.

A Blood Test for Menopause?

Just last month, the FDA approved a blood test that can help determine if a woman has entered menopause, or when she will. It’s called the PicoAMH Elisa test.

The test measured something called the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), which measures ovarian function. The test was assessed with data from 690 women between the ages of 42 and 62. The results showed that it performed “reasonably well” at identifying AMH levels. It could tell when a woman had her last menstrual period, and if they were more than five years away from menopause.

Courtney Lias, PhD, director of the Division of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health said, “Diagnostic results about a woman’s menopausal status may prompt discussions about preventative care for women experiencing menopausal symptoms.”

She noted that the test aids doctors by giving them more information so they can talk with their patients about prevention and treatment.

For instance, if a doctor knows when a woman is likely to start menopause, they can educate the patient about bone mineral density loss and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, both of which are associated with menopause.

The FDA mentioned that doctors should consider the results of this test along with a full clinical workup to make sure contraceptives are not discontinued in women who have not yet reached menopause, and that uterine bleeding due to endometrial cancer is not dismissed as a diagnosis.

This test is beneficial for women with symptoms of perimenopause, which is associated with negative health impacts. Perimenopause happens when your ovaries begin producing less estrogen before you enter menopause. Early menopause is linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis and fracture, heart disease, cognitive changes, vaginal changes, mood changes, and disruption in libido. Read the full story here.

Can Artificial Intelligence Predict Alzheimer’s Disease?

Artificial intelligence is more than a nifty Google Home or Amazon Alexa device. It’s helping predict Alzheimer’s disease with brain scans several years before an official diagnosis.

While a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is extremely unfortunate and there is no way to prevent it, the team suggests this tool could significantly assist in the early detection, so doctors can prescribe treatments that slow disease progression.

University of California researchers used positron-emission tomography (PET) images of 1,002 participants’ brains to train the deep learning algorithm. Ninety percent of the images were then used to teach the algorithm how to detect Alzheimer’s disease features. The other 10 percent were used to qualify performance.

Next, the researchers tested the algorithm on PET images of the brains of another 40 people. Amazingly, the algorithm correctly predicted which people would eventually be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Typically, the diagnosis came more than six years after the scans.

Co-author Dr. Jae Ho Sohn said, “We were very pleased with the algorithm’s performance. It was able to predict every single case that advanced to Alzheimer’s disease.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 5.7 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States and it’s on the rise — it’s predicted to go up by 14 million by 2050. Early diagnosis not only helps the patient, it’s also estimated that it could save about $7.9 trillion in medical care and treatment costs in the long-term. Read the full story here.

23andMe to Predict How You Will Respond to Certain Drugs

23andMe is a genetics company that offers a $199 Health and Ancestry service to help people understand their genetic background. Just last week, they became the first company to receive FDA approval for a report that gives consumers information about how their genetics can affect the effectiveness of certain drugs.

Each individual’s genetic makeup can affect the effects of any particular drug, particularly blood thinners and antidepressants. 23andMe analyzes 33 genetic variants in a saliva sample that affect how you may metabolize some drugs.

Kathy Hibbs, chief legal and regulatory officer at 23andMe, commented, “Historically, there hasn’t necessarily been a convenient way to access that information. We want to make this proactively available to individuals so it will ultimately become convenient when, and if, they ever do need any of these medications.”

Want to learn more? Check out the full story here.

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