Alternative to surgery for Graves’ eye disease: Low-carb, gluten-free diet may help

Don Parker was facing a second surgery to treat the bulging eyes and double vision he was experiencing due to Graves’ eye disease.But then ophthalmologist James McDonnell, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center recommended an alternative therapy that did not involve surgery or medication.McDonnell told Parker to change his diet, lose weight and take a nutraceutical (natural food product) that’s designed to restore proper immune and digestive function.Parker followed McDonnell’s regimen. He lost more than 35 pounds by giving up soda pop and eating a low-carb, gluten-free diet with lots of vegetables. Each day, he takes 12 capsules of the nutraceutical.“My double vision is almost gone and there is so little bulging in my eyes that they look almost completely normal,” he said.Graves’ eye disease, also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, is present in about half of people who have Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder. In Graves’ eye disease, the immune system attacks muscles and other tissues around the eye. This can cause the eyes to bulge out and become misaligned.Bulging eyes can be treated with orbital decompression surgery. The surgeon removes bone and/or fat from behind the eye, allowing the eye to move back into its socket. Double vision can be treated with a different surgery, which straightens the eyes by adjusting the eye muscles.When Parker came to see McDonnell, he already had undergone one orbital decompression, and was facing a possible second surgery for his double vision. But rather than recommending surgery, McDonnell suggested a holistic approach.“Once you clear up and balance your body, a whole raft of problems can go away,” McDonnell said.Parker said his doctor’s appointment with McDonnell served as a wake-up call. “I was at a crossroads in my life,” Parker said. “I would have to either change my ways or die. …

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Fewer children at risk for deficient vitamin D

Under new guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, the estimated number of children who are at risk of having insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D is drastically reduced from previous estimates, according to a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study.The study, led by Holly Kramer, MD, MPH, and Ramon Durazo-Arvizu, PhD, is published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism.New Institute of Medicine guidelines say most people get sufficient vitamin D when their blood levels are at or above 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The Pediatric Endocrine Society has a similar guideline. However, other guidelines recommend vitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL.Loyola researchers studied vitamin D data from a nationally representative sample of 2,877 U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 18 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.The study found that under the Institute of Medicine guidelines, 10.3 percent of children ages 6 to 18 are at risk of inadequate or deficient vitamin D levels. (This translates to an estimated 5.5 million children.)By comparison, a 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics, which defined sufficient vitamin D levels as greater than 30 ng/mL, found that an estimated 70 percent of people ages 1 to 21 had deficient or insufficient vitamin D levels.Under previous guidelines, millions of children who had vitamin D levels between 20 and 30 ng/mL would have needed supplementation. Under the Institute of Medicine guidelines, children in this range no longer need to take vitamin D supplements.The new study found that children at risk of vitamin D deficiency under the Institute of Medicine guidelines are more likely to be overweight, female, non-white and between the ages of 14 and 18.The Institute of Medicine’s new vitamin D guidelines are based on nearly 1,000 published studies and testimony from scientists and other experts. The IOM found that vitamin D is essential to avoid poor bone health, such as rickets. But there have been conflicting and mixed results in studies on whether vitamin D can also protect against cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. Moreover, excessive vitamin D can damage the kidneys and heart, the IOM found.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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What falling in love does to your heart and brain

Getting struck by Cupid’s arrow may very well take your breath away and make your heart go pitter-patter this Valentine’s Day, reports sexual wellness specialists at Loyola University Health System.”Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions,” said Pat Mumby, PhD, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM). “This internal elixir of love is responsible for making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race.”Levels of these substances, which include dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, increase when two people fall in love. Dopamine creates feelings of euphoria while adrenaline and norepinephrine are responsible for the pitter-patter of the heart, restlessness and overall preoccupation that go along with experiencing love.MRI scans indicate that love lights up the pleasure center of the brain. When we fall in love, blood flow increases in this area, which is the same part of the brain implicated in obsessive-compulsive behaviors.”Love lowers serotonin levels, which is common in people with obsessive-compulsive disorders,” said Mary Lynn, DO, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, SSOM. “This may explain why we concentrate on little other than our partner during the early stages of a relationship.”Doctors caution that these physical responses to love may work to our disadvantage.”The phrase ‘love is blind’ is a valid notion because we tend to idealize our partner and see only things that we want to see in the early stages of the relationship,” Dr. Mumby said. “Outsiders may have a much more objective and rational perspective on the partnership than the two people involved do.”There are three phases of love, which include lust, attraction and attachment. Lust is a hormone-driven phase where we experience desire. Blood flow to the pleasure center of the brain happens during the attraction phase, when we feel an overwhelming fixation with our partner. This behavior fades during the attachment phase, when the body develops a tolerance to the pleasure stimulants. …

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Antibacterial products fuel resistant bacteria in streams and rivers

Sep. 19, 2013 — Triclosan — a synthetic antibacterial widely used in personal care products — is fueling the development of resistant bacteria in streams and rivers. So reports a new paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, which is the first to document triclosan resistance in a natural environment.Invented for surgeons in the 1960s, triclosan slows or stops the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mildew. Currently, around half of liquid soaps contain the chemical, as well as toothpastes, deodorants, cosmetics, liquid cleansers, and detergents. Triclosan enters streams and rivers through domestic wastewater, leaky sewer infrastructure, and sewer overflows, with residues now common throughout the United States.Emma Rosi-Marshall, one of the paper’s authors and an aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York explains: “The bacterial resistance caused by triclosan has real environmental consequences. Not only does it disrupt aquatic life by changing native bacterial communities, but it’s linked to the rise of resistant bacteria that could diminish the usefulness of important antibiotics.”With colleagues from Loyola University and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Rosi-Marshall explored how bacteria living in stream and river sediments responded to triclosan in both natural and controlled settings. Field studies were conducted at three sites in the Chicago metropolitan region: urban North Shore Channel, suburban West Branch Dupage River, and rural Nippersink Creek.Urbanization was correlated with a rise in both triclosan concentrations in sediments and the proportion of bottom-dwelling bacteria resistant to triclosan. A woodland creek had the lowest levels of triclosan-resistant bacteria, while a site on the North Shore Channel downstream of 25 combined sewer overflows had the highest levels.Combined sewers deliver domestic sewage, industrial wastewater, and storm water to a regional treatment plant using a single pipe. Overflows occur when a pipe’s capacity is exceeded, typically due to excessive runoff from high rainfall or snowmelt events. The result: untreated sewage flows directly into rivers and streams.The research team found that combined sewer overflows that release untreated sewage are a major source of triclosan pollution in Chicago’s North Shore Channel. …

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Fish oil could help protect alcohol abusers from dementia

Sep. 8, 2013 — A Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study suggests that omega-3 fish oil might help protect against alcohol-related dementia.Previous studies have shown that long-term alcohol abuse increases the risk of dementia. The Loyola study found that in the brain cells of rats exposed to high levels of alcohol, a fish oil compound protected against inflammation and cell death.The study by Michael A. Collins, PhD, and colleagues was reported Sept. 8 at the 14th Congress of the European Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism in Warsaw.An earlier analysis by Collins and Loyola colleague Edward J. Neafsey, PhD, which pooled the results of 143 studies, found that moderate social drinking may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment. (Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.)It appears that small amounts of alcohol might, in effect, make brain cells more fit. Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses down the road that could cause dementia. But too much alcohol overwhelms the cells, leading to inflammation and cell death.In the new study, Collins and colleagues exposed cultures of adult rat brain cells to amounts of alcohol equivalent to more than four times the legal limit for driving. These cell cultures were compared with cultures of brain cells exposed to the same high levels of alcohol, plus a compound found in fish oil called omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). …

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Gene that causes devastating mitochondrial diseases identified

Aug. 29, 2013 — Researchers have identified a novel disease gene in which mutations cause rare but devastating genetic diseases known as mitochondrial disorders.Nine rare, disease-causing mutations of the gene, FBXL4, were found in nine affected children in seven families, including three siblings from the same family. An international team of researchers report the discovery in the American Journal of Human Genetics.The lead author is Xiaowu Gai, PhD, director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.Mitochondrial diseases are caused by defects in mitochondria, the cell’s energy plants. Malfunctions in mitochondria lead to multi-systemic defects in the brain, heart, muscles, kidney and endocrine and respiratory systems. The many possible clinical symptoms include loss of motor control, muscle weakness, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, seizures, vision and hearing problems, diabetes and developmental delays.Mitochondrial diseases are caused by mutations in either mitochondrial DNA or in genes in the nucleus that encode for proteins that function in the mitochondria. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the mother. Thus, a child can inherit a mitochondrial disease either from the mother alone or from both parents carrying mutations in the same nuclear gene. Mitochondrial diseases affect between 1 in 4,000 and 1 in 5,000 people.FBXL4 is a nuclear gene that encodes for a protein called F-Box and Leucine-Rich Repeat Protein 4. The study found that mutations of this gene lead to either truncated or altered forms of the protein. This results in cells having less mitochondrial DNA, decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and a faulty process in cell metabolism called oxidative phosphorylation. …

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Why kids should not be allowed on trampolines

Aug. 7, 2013 — Less than two weeks after getting a new trampoline, 12-year-old Abbey Creamean broke her ankle when she landed awkwardly.She wore a cast up to her mid-thigh. She had to cancel a dance recital, quit her softball team and give up swimming.Abbey is among the more than 100 young patients that Dr. Terri Cappello of Loyola University Medical Center has treated during her 15 years as a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon.”A trampoline puts a child at risk for serious injuries,” Cappello said. “Kids sustain broken arms, legs and even break their necks which can lead to paralysis. Just as you would not let your child jump into a shallow swimming pool, you should not let them jump on a trampoline.”Cappello agrees with a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that says safety measures such as enclosure nets and padding have not substantially reduced the risk. “Therefore, the home use of trampolines is strongly discouraged,” the Academy statement said.The AAP estimated that in 2009, there were nearly 98,000 trampoline-related injuries in the United States. And injuries peak during the summer months.Cappello said trampolines might be worth the risk only when used for training purposes by gymnasts and divers, under careful supervision.The Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America said trampolines and moon bouncers are among the four main areas of preventable injuries in children. (The other areas are skateboards, ATVs and lawnmowers.)Cappello said injuries typically occur when trampoline users land awkwardly. Common injuries include a broken ankle or a fracture of the tibia (shinbone) just below the knee. …

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New surgical technique for Bell’s palsy facial paralysis

June 11, 2013 — A Loyola University Medical Center surgeon is using electrical stimulation as part of an advanced surgical technique to treat Bell’s palsy. Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes paralysis on one side of a patient’s face.During surgery, Dr. John Leonetti stimulates the patient’s damaged facial nerve with an electric current, helping to jump-start the nerve in an effort to restore improved facial movement more quickly.Leonetti said some patients who have received electrical stimulation have seen muscle movement return to their face after one or two months — rather than the four-to-six months it typically takes for movement to return following surgery.A virus triggered Bell’s palsy in Audrey Rex, 15, of Lemont, Ill. Her right eye could not close and her smile was lopsided, making her feel self-conscious. She had to drink from a straw, and eating was frustrating — she would accidentally bite her bottom lip when it got stuck on her teeth.She was treated with steroids, but after six weeks, there were no improvements. So Audrey’s mother did further research and made an appointment with Leonett Leonetti recommended surgery with electrical stimulation, followed by physical therapy. Today, Audrey’s appearance has returned to normal, and she has regained nearly all of the facial muscle movements she had lost.”I feel very blessed that we were referred to Dr. Leonetti,” said Deborah Rex, Audrey’s mother.Bell’s palsy is classified as an idiopathic disorder, meaning its cause is not definitely known. However, most physicians believe Bell’s palsy is caused by a viral-induced swelling of the facial nerve within its bony covering. Symptoms include paralysis on one side of the face; inability to close one eye; drooling; dryness of the eye; impaired taste; and a complete inability to express emotion on one side of the face.Bell’s palsy occurs when the nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face becomes swollen, inflamed or compressed. …

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