The heights of Parkinson’s

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Being tall is considered desirable in many cultures.

Recent research suggests that height may be associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s.

In today’s post, we will review this new research and try to understand what it could mean.

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Wadlow (back row on the left). Source: Telegraph

Robert Pershing Wadlow was always in the back row of school photos.

Born February 22nd 1918, Wadlow’s birth certificate indicated that he was “normal height and weight“, but from that point onwards, there was nothing normal about his rate of growth.

By the time, Robert was 8 years old, he was taller than his father (he was 6 foot/183cm). And eight years later when he turned 16, Robert was 8 foot 1 (2.47 m)… and he was still growing.

Here is a picture of him with his family at 19 years of age:

Source: Businessinsider

Robert was the tallest person in recorded history, and at the time of his death – at the tragically young age of 22 – Robert was almost 9 feet tall (8 ft 11; 2.72 m)… and still growing! (due to hyperplasia)

While not quite reaching the same lofty heights as Robert, I can sort of relate to his situation. You see, in addition to being freakishly good looking, I’m also on the tall side side of things.

On a good day, I am 6 foot 8 (207cm), but often 6 foot 7 around bed time (gravity is a drag!).

Whoa, that’s tall. But what does any of this have to do with Parkinson’s?

Continue reading “The heights of Parkinson’s”

Finding religion

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According to collected statistics, about 85% of the world’s people identify with a religion (Source). 

Curiously, new research suggests that people in the remaining “non-religious” 15% may be at higher risk of developing Parkinson’s.

In today’s post, we will review the new research and try to understand this strange association.

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Source: Gotquestions

Before we start, I think that it is only fair to state that while I fully respect the rights of others to believe and practice what they want in terms of philosophical/religious beliefs (as long as it does not harm), I am an apatheist.

Pray tell, what is an apatheist? Is that like an atheist?

No.

The apatheist position holds that the existence or non-existence of God(s) is utterly irrelevant. We are apathetic towards the question of “God”.

It is not a stance based on skepticism (like atheists or agnostics), but rather a lack of interest in the subject matter itself. Basically, the big picture question does not warrant any time or effort in the life of an apatheist. We simply do not care.

(I say “we”, but I am not a card-carrying member of any formal group, it is simply the designation that I can define myself by when folks come knocking on my door)

And for the record, my daughter is a practicing Christian, and I support her in her faith.

Ok, very nice, thanks for sharing, but…uh,… what does this have to do with Parkinson’s?

Actually, new research suggests quite a lot.

What do you mean?

Continue reading “Finding religion”

Monthly Research Review – June 2022

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At the end of each month the SoPD writes a post which provides an overview of some of the major pieces of Parkinson’s-related research that were made available during June 2022.

The post is divided into 10 parts based on the type of research:

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So, what happened during June 2022?

In world news:

June 9th – researchers reported that Zophoba Morio “superworms” were perfectly happy to eat plastic. The worms could partially digest foamed polystyrene (Styrofoam) and gain weight, suggesting they were able to attain some nutrition from the material (Source).

 

June 13th – A senior software engineer at Google named Blake Lemoine was suspended after sharing transcripts of a conversation with an artificial intelligence known as  LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) that Lemoine claimed to be “sentient”.

 

June 14Canada and Denmark ended their competing claims for Hans Island. The island lies in the middle of the Kennedy Channel between Greenland and Ellesmere Island. By dividing the island roughly in half, the two countries peacefully ended the 40+ years “Whisky War“.

 

June 24th  – The US Supreme Court overruled Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on the grounds that the substantive right to abortion was not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history or tradition“, nor considered a right when the Due Process Clause was ratified in 1868, and was unknown in U.S. law until Roe (Source).

 

June 29th – Scientists (at the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service – an organization in charge of global timekeeping) recorded the shortest day on Earth since the invention of the atomic clock. Our planet’s rotation measured in at 1.59 milliseconds short of the normal 24-hour day (Source).

In the world of Parkinson’s research, a great deal of new research and news was reported:

In June 2022, there were 864 research articles added to the Pubmed website with the tag word “Parkinson’s” attached (6,209 for all of 2022 so far). In addition, there was a wave to news reports regarding various other bits of Parkinson’s research activity (clinical trials, etc).

The top 7 pieces of Parkinson’s news

Continue reading “Monthly Research Review – June 2022”

Does Yerbe Mate matter?

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For a long time we have known that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s (Click here to read a previous SoPD post on this topic)

What is under appreciated, however, that that there are other beverages that display similar effects (both in epidemiological studies and preclinical models).

One interesting example is Yerba Mate.

In today’s post, we will discuss what Yerba Mate is, and explore how it could be beneficial for people with Parkinson’s. 

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Source: Googlemaps

Question: What is the national drink of Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay?

Uuuh, I don’t know. But what does this have to do with a blog about Parkinson’s research?

The answer to my question is Yerba Mate.

And we’ll get to the answer to your question in one moment.

Ok, so what is Yerba Mate?

Continue reading “Does Yerbe Mate matter?”

The modification of acidification

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In Parkinson’s research, a great deal of the attention is focused on a handful of proteins that are associated with Parkinson’s. The majority of this knowledge has come from the discovery of genetic variations being apparent in some member of the PD community.

The proteins (and biological pathways) underlying these genetic variations include alpha synuclein, LRRK2, PARKIN and GBA – all of which have been discussed on this website. But scientists have identified over 80 different regions of DNA that are associated with Parkinson’s and only recently have some of the proteins associated with these other regions of DNA been investigated.

One of these proteins is particularly interesting. It’s called TMEM175. And recently published research has provided new insights into this protein.

In today’s post, we will look at what is known about TMEM175 and discuss how biotech companies are therapeutically modulating it as a potential novel treatment for Parkinson’s.

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Source: Sciencetrends

Lysosomes are a key component of the waste disposal/recycling system of our cells.

They are small bags that are full of digestive enzymes that help to break down material inside of cells. Sometimes that material is newly imported from outside of the cell, while other times it may be old proteins that need to be disposed of.

Lysosomes provide the digestive enzymes for the job of breaking down the material.
Lysosomes

How lysosomes work. Source: Prezi

We haver discussed lysosomes in previous posts in more depth (Click here to read that SoPD post) – but understand that they are an absolutely critical component of normal biological function inside of cells.

Got it. What do they have to do with Parkinson’s?

Continue reading “The modification of acidification”

Planning ahead

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The old Benjamin Franklin adage reads “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”

Today’s post is all about planning for the unknown future.

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Source: Reddit

I would like to share something with you.

As some readers will be aware, last year I inherited an elderly care situation.

With an aging population, it is not a unique circumstance. And like many who find themselves in this role, I was definitely not ready for it.

It’s been a continuous and humbling learning experience, but increasingly it has been an all consuming task that has left little time for other matters (think: blogging). And while it has taken a toll in many different ways, perhaps it has left me a better person.

Regardless, there is an important purpose to sharing this otherwise very private matter.

There was a recent event that I would like to tell you about, for reasons that will become clearer as we go along.

Let’s begin:

Continue reading “Planning ahead”

Finding a talisman

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Experiential observations and anecdotal insights from the patient community have generated many key discoveries for the field of Parkinson’s research. A chance question (“Why do people with Parkinson’s smell different?” – click here to read more about that) or random interaction have opened doors to entirely new realms of research.

An good example of this are numerous reports of symptomatic relief at high altitudes. Some people with Parkinson’s find that when they are above a certain altitude, they are almost symptom free.

The mechanism of this phenomenon is unknown, but a new study in the Netherlands is hoping to help us better understand it.

In today’s post, we will discuss the Talisman study.

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Source: theplanetd

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked nation of 755,000 people in the Eastern Himalayas. It is embedded in the mountainous region between China and India, and it is one of the highest countries in the world – sitting at an average land elevation of 10,760 feet above sea level (Source).

Source: Koryogroup

Interesting facts about Bhutan (Source):

  1. Bhutan was the first country in the world to have specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment. Among the requirements, at least 60% of the nation must remain under forest cover at all times.
  2. One-third of Bhutan’s population is under the age of 14 (its median age is 22.3 years).
  3. It is the only nation in the world where the sale of tobacco is completely banned.
  4. The capital (and largest) city, Thimpu (pop.: 114, 551), does not have a single traffic light.
  5. It was one of the last countries in the world to introduce television. The government lifted a ban on TV—and on the Internet—in 1999.

Interesting, but what does any of this have to do with Parkinson’s?

Continue reading “Finding a talisman”

Monthly Research Review – May 2022

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At the end of each month the SoPD writes a post which provides an overview of some of the major pieces of Parkinson’s-related research that were made available during May 2022.

The post is divided into 10 parts based on the type of research:

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So, what happened during May 2022?

In world news:

May 6th – The 2022 monkeypox outbreak began when the first case was reported in London (United Kingdom).

 

May 12th – The Event Horizon Telescope collaboration revealed its first image of Sagittarius A*, a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

 

May 12th – Researchers announced that they were able to grow plants in soil samples from the moon collected by the Apollo astronauts in the 1970s (Click here to read more about this).

 

May 17th – Angel Alvarado (aged 19) set a new world record of four and a half minutes — breaking his own record by 20 seconds – for solving three Rubik’s Cubes at the same time while juggling them:

 

May 24th – I don’t care what anyone says, school shootings really upsets me – and this only happens in the USA (the length of the Wikipedia page on US school shooting statistics truly defies belief – it is utterly incomprehensible – but the fact that nothing is going to change in the wake of the latest tragic situation is the part that is really shameful).

 

May 25th – Engineers present a submillimeter-scale multimaterial remote-controlled walking robot. At only a half-millimeter wide, these tiny ‘crabs’ can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump (Click here to read their report and click here to read the press summary).

 

In the world of Parkinson’s research, a great deal of new research and news was reported:

In May 2022, there were 825 research articles added to the Pubmed website with the tag word “Parkinson’s” attached (5,345 for all of 2022 so far). In addition, there was a wave to news reports regarding various other bits of Parkinson’s research activity (clinical trials, etc).

The top 5 pieces of Parkinson’s news

Continue reading “Monthly Research Review – May 2022”

Oh, you sweet thing

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Sugar provides an easy and immediate source of energy for our bodies. It also helps to make things taste good, and we probably eat too much of it as a result.

Recently researchers have reported a curious association between Parkinson’s and sugar: People with Parkinson’s consume more sugar

In today’s post, we will review some of this new research and speculate on the potential implications of the findings.

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Today’s post needs music and the video above feels appropriate.

I have a rather sweet tooth.

In fact, if we are being completely honest: I am definitely addicted to sugar.

It started young for me Source: Mamanatural

On any given day of the week, in the late afternoon, my brain will begin screaming at me to start the mass consumption of sugar. On good days, a single chocolate cookie can satisfy the urge. On a bad day, however,… well, let’s not talk about the bad days…

An example of my bad days. Source: Madefromchocolate

Several years ago I tried a week of no processed sugar.

It was harder than you think, because sugar is basically in everything we eat in the modern western world. And I mean everything.

Source: Youtube

But I was really shocked that on day two of my little experiment, I was having what felt like withdrawal symptoms in the late afternoon when my brain began “screaming at me to start the mass consumption of sugar“.

It was a real struggle to get through the week, but I made it. And to reward myself,… I had… a piece of… my favourite chocolate cake.

And I was shocked at how sugary it tasted! Sickly sweet.

But it didn’t take me long to get back into my bad old habits. 2 or 3 days perhaps.

We eat way too much sugar in western society and we could all do very well by eating a lot less of it (Source). And now recent research points towards people with Parkinson’s having a higher level of sugar intake.

What?!?

Continue reading “Oh, you sweet thing”

Oh dear: Dairy?

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Dairy-based products make up a significant portion of the world’s diet and represent a fundamental component of most western cuisine.

Previous research has, however, pointed towards an association between consumption of dairy and risk of Parkinson’s.

New research provides further support for this connection.

In today’s post, we will look at the mysterious bond between dairy intake and Parkinson’s.

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Me and Brie. Source: Wikipedia

When I turned 25, I realised that my body no longer accepted cheese.

This represented a very serious problem for me.

You see, I still really loved cheese. A bottle of red wine, a baguette and a chunk of brie – is there any better combination in life?

Heaven. Source: Healthylivingpc

My body and I had a really bad falling out about this. And yes, it got ugly. I wanted things to keep going the way they had always been, so I tried to spice things up by introducing new and exotic kinds of cheeses, which my body didn’t want to know about it. It rejected all of my efforts. And after a while, I gradually started resenting my body for not letting me be who I was.

We sought help. We tried some interventions. But sadly, nothing worked.

And then things got really bad: My body decided that it didn’t have room in my life for yogurt, milk or even ice cream anymore (not even ice cream!!!).

Basically no dairy what so ever.

There’s something’s missing in my life. Source: Morellisices

OMG! How did you survive without ice cream?

Well, I’ll tell ye – it’s been rough.

All silliness aside though, here is what I know: It is actually very common to develop a lactase deficiency as we age – lactase being the enzyme responsible for the digestion of whole milk. In fact, about 65% of the global population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy (Source: NIH – more on this in a moment).

I am not lactose intolerant (one of the few tests that I actually aced in my life), but I do have trouble digesting a particular component of dairy products – which can result in discomfort… and let’s just say socially embarrassing situations (one day over a drink I’ll tell you the ‘summer afternoon cheese fondue story’).

If one is forced to drop a particular food group, dairy is not too bad (but if I am ever forced to give up wine, I swear I’ll go postal).

And some new Parkinson’s-related research has indicated that more of us should possibly be avoiding dairy.

What is the new research?

Continue reading “Oh dear: Dairy?”