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Anchor lead: Should the high fat content of certain diets be a concern? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Eating a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates helped people with mild cognitive impairment improve on tests of cognition, a Johns Hopkins study led by Jason Brandt has shown. Brandt says recruiting participants to the study was quite a challenge.

Brandt: When we talk to people about going on a high fat diet the first reaction that we got was what are you talking about? My doctor has been saying for years that I should go on a low fat diet. The problem with the typical American diet is we eat a lot of fat and we eat a lot of carbohydrates and so the fat gets stored. In our bellies, in our blood vessels, and it causes all the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular problems that a high fat diet causes. But if you keep your carbohydrates very low, you burn fat for fuel. And that’s what we were counting on in this study.  :32

Brandt says motivating dieticians were key to helping study participants initiate and maintain this diet. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Can eating a high fat diet help you think better? Elizabeth Tracey reports

People with mild cognitive impairment who ate a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates for a few months improved cognitive testing scores, a Johns Hopkins study led by Jason Brandt has shown. Brandt says the key seemed that participants produced ketones, indicating that they were using fats as an energy source.

Brandt: For those who were generating at least a trace amount of ketones there was a significant improvement in our cognitive measurement seen at six weeks. Both groups, the group on the modified Atkins diet and the group on the control NIH diet, which is sort of a Mediterranean style diet, both lowered their carbohydrates so we don’t think it’s the carbohydrate reduction that resulted in the improvement in the modified Atkins group but it was the amount of ketones generated by eating the high fat diet.  :32

Brandt says a longer study with more participants is clearly needed. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Can eating a diet that reduces inflammation reduce your risk for cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Foods that promote inflammation can increase your risk for cancer while those that decrease inflammation can reduce it. That’s the conclusion of a Spanish study following several thousand people over many years. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Nelson: What they did is they took a dietary pattern and defined it an inflammatory, refined carbohydrates, red or processed meats and saturated fats, that combination. They also tried to define an antioxidant diet. This one had vegetables and legumes and fruits and nuts. What they found was an increased risk, 90+ percent increased risk for colorectal cancer, a small but not significant increased risk for breast cancer, for intake of an inflammatory type of diet.  :30

Nelson says cancer risk notwithstanding, an antioxidant diet is also known to decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Canada says it won’t formalize drug sales to the US, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Insulin is just one example of a drug Americans regularly travel to Canada to purchase in order to save money. Now the Canadian government has stated it will not formalize this practice. Jeremy Greene, a pharmaceutical pricing activist and physician at Johns Hopkins, says this is perfectly understandable.

Greene: Canada has its own regulatory process and its own drug pricing process which is geared towards the needs of the Canadian public. They only have so much insulin which is available at the price they sell it and its intended to be targeted towards the public health needs of Canada. The idea of formalizing a long term relationship of sending Americans to Canada or shipping insulin to the United States as a way of dealing with the failure of the United States own pharmaceutical policy to insure affordable insulin for our constituents, that would be a nonstarter for the Canadian government and I can understand why they would take that position.  :32

Greene says our own federal government needs to step in, as insulin is just one example of a drug that’s increasingly unaffordable for many Americans. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Is it possible to help regenerate parts of the body without painful procedures? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Something called double stranded RNA can help the body initiate regeneration, research by Luis Garza, a dermatologist at Johns Hopkins, has shown. Garza’s research looking at what’s going on in the skin after laser treatment of skin lesions points toward this form of RNA beginning the regenerative process.

Garza: There could be a way rather than give people these painful treatments they’re getting now, I joke that these cosmetic dermatologists love to torture their patients in any way they can with needles or lasers, all those materials have in common is damage response and double stranded RNA release but what if you could circumvent the need to do damage and just directly give the double stranded RNA signal that could lead to all these benefits without these painful treatments? Those same signals could be used for healing a burn scar, helping chronic wounds, healing diabetic ulcers in the foot, so there’s a lot of different potential applications.  :31

Garza says observations in mice have validated these observations and hopes further research will show how to induce the process. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Is there a way to help the body regenerate? Elizabeth Tracey reports

RNA is the acronym for a molecule usually used to make proteins from a DNA code, but it’s also used by viruses to help invade them control cells. Now research by Luis Garza, a dermatologist at Johns Hopkins, has shown that a two-stranded version of the molecule known as double stranded RNA is also important in regeneration.

Garza: Formerly double stranded RNA are viruses. It was first conceived that double stranded RNA sensing was a way that you would fight off viruses. When you did detect double stranded RNA that was a trigger to turn on your immune system to fight off the virus. More recently we’ve discovered that its not just viruses, that double stranded RNA are probably released during damage, and that damage  is sensed by your body, and instead of just sending up an immune reaction to fight off infection it actually sets up a whole kind of program to initiate regeneration.  :28

Garza’s research looked at people who’d recently been treated with lasers for skin conditions. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Soaring pharmaceutical prices have prompted state action, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Maryland is poised to begin scrutinizing pharmaceutical prices and investigating price hikes with a board of experts appointed by the governor. Jeremy Greene, a pharmaceutical pricing activist and physician at Johns Hopkins, says such action in needed with our current absence of transparency.

Greene: When a prescription drug price jumps by a certain amount now this board can compel a justification for the drug price increase. To date part of the problem of understanding increasing prescription drug prices is that there’s no ability for anybody to compel information about why prices are going up or who actually sets prices. So I’m all for a system in which if prices are going to go up there has to be a compelling reason why rather than simply because people will pay what the market will bear.   :32

Greene notes that a federal policy on pharmaceutical pricing is what’s really needed to protect consumers. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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