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Loneliness Increases Dementia Risk

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In a survey of 20,000 U.S. adults, 46 percent said they sometimes or always feel alone.1 While on the surface this may seem to be a mental health issue, it’s one that’s intricately tied to physical health as well. Increasingly, research is showing that loneliness exacts a significant toll on your health, one that’s equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day2 and increases your risk of premature death.3

Your brain health may also suffer as a result of feeling lonely, with a recent study — including the largest sample to date — showing loneliness is associated with increased risk of dementia.4 While this association has been revealed previously, the latest study is unique in that it included a diverse sample of more than 12,000 individuals with a long 10-year follow-up time.

The results showed that feeling lonely is a strong predictor of dementia, and one modifiable risk factor that can potentially be improved to reduce dementia risk.

Loneliness Is Associated With a 40 Percent Increased Dementia Risk

For the study, researchers from Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee used data from a sample of people aged 50 and older. Telephone interviews had been conducted measuring loneliness and social isolation and participants had also conducted assessments of cognitive ability every two years during the 10-year study.

Loneliness was associated with a 40 percent increased risk of dementia over the study period, and the link was independent of other risk factors including gender, education, race, ethnicity and even social isolation. Social isolation is an important distinction, as it is an objective measure that refers to the number of contacts a person has socially.

A person can have a large quantity of social contacts yet still feel lonely, or have a low number of social contacts and feel fulfilled, so social isolation is not always the best measure of how a person is feeling internally. This is where loneliness comes in, as it refers to the subjective experience of social isolation.

Only people who felt lonely had an increased dementia risk. They were also more likely to have other dementia risk factors, including depression, high blood pressure, diabetes and a history of smoking and less physical activity. However, the loneliness/dementia link remained even when these factors were accounted for.5

Study author Angelina Sutin, an associate professor at FSU in the college’s department of behavioral sciences and social medicine, explained the difference between loneliness and social isolation, and how it’s not always readily apparent who’s lonely and who’s not:6

“It’s a feeling that you do not fit in or do not belong with the people around you … You can have somebody who lives alone, who doesn’t have very much contact with people, but has enough — and that fills their internal need for socializing. So even though objectively you might think that person is socially isolated, they don’t feel lonely.

The flip side is that you can be around a lot of people and be socially engaged and interactive and still feel like you don’t belong. From the outside it looks like you have great social engagement, but the subjective feeling is that you’re not part of the group.”

Past Research Links Loneliness to Double the Risk of Alzheimer’s

In 2007, research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry also revealed that people who felt lonely had double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who did not.7 Study author Robert S. Wilson, Ph. D., explained in a news release:8

“Humans are very social creatures. We need healthy interactions with others to maintain our health … The results of our study suggest that people who are persistently lonely may be more vulnerable to the deleterious effects of age-related neuropathology …

If loneliness is causing changes in the brain, it is quite possible that … changes in behavior could lessen the effects of these negative emotions and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Indeed, yet another study looking into the link between loneliness and dementia revealed that feeling lonely, but not necessarily being alone, is associated with an increased risk of dementia in later life.

The association was so strong that researchers concluded feelings of loneliness may be a prodromal stage of dementia and noted, “A better understanding of the background of feeling lonely may help us to identify vulnerable persons and develop interventions to improve outcome in older persons at risk of dementia.”9

Loneliness may affect dementia risk in multiple ways, including by increasing inflammation in the body along with blood pressure, both of which may affect dementia risk.

Feeling lonely may also encourage you to engage in unhealthy behaviors linked to dementia, including excessive drinking or not exercising. Further, if you’re lonely, you may not be engaging in social activities or challenging your mind, which can further affect your cognitive function.10

Strong Social Networks With Friends Are Important for Health and Memory

While social isolation hasn’t been linked to dementia the way loneliness has in the featured study, strong social networks are still an important factor for your overall health. Further, different types of social networks, such as those involving friends, children or other relatives, may have different effects on your health.

In one study, it was revealed that having a large network of good friends may have significant benefits for your memory later in life, much more so than social networks with children, relatives or confidants.11 The researchers suggested that friends may encourage healthy behaviors, such as physical activity, and that health advice from friends may be better received than that coming from family.

Further, strong friendships may be beneficial for other factors that influence brain health, including depression, self-efficacy, self-esteem, coping and morale and a sense of personal control.

“It is possible that these effects are due to the reinforcement of social roles, or because interactions with friends can become increasingly discretionary with age. The friendship networks that are retained in late life may offer high levels of socioemotional support, and thus confer benefit to individuals,” the researchers explained.12 As for why social networks benefit memory, specifically, the researchers noted:13

“Social networks are the basis for social engagement, which is cognitively stimulating and may enhance neural plasticity in aging, thereby maintaining cognitive reserve. Thus better social networks might lead to continued psychological stimulation, delaying cognitive decline, or impairment.

An alternative possible mechanism is that the stronger social networks may serve to buffer against stress, through modifying its effects on the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of the central nervous system.

This affects neuronal functioning, and in this way individuals with better social networks are protected from some of these neuroendocrine processes. Another possibility is that social networks facilitate access to health care, indirectly forestalling brain pathology and other disease processes that affect cognition.”

Dr. Kristen Fuller, a clinical mental health writer for Center for Discovery, added several other reasons why healthy friendships are so good for you:14



Friends encourage you and are there for you in good times and bad

Friends may push you outside your comfort zone, helping you develop social skills and grow as a person

Friends can give you a healthy reality check by being truthful

Friends help you learn how to communicate and compromise, which helps you develop healthy romantic relationships

Being friends with other couples can provide support during life transitions like engagement, marriage and having children


Loneliness and Social Isolation May Be Worse Than Smoking and Obesity

Loneliness affects your health in myriad ways. Two meta-analyses presented at the 2017 Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association even concluded loneliness and social isolation pose greater threats to public health than obesity, raising your risk for premature death by as much as 50 percent.

The first analysis, which looked at 148 studies involving more than 300,000 adults, found social isolation increased the risk of premature death by 50 percent. The second, which evaluated 70 studies that included more than 3.4 million individuals, found social isolation, loneliness and living alone correlated with a 29 percent, 26 percent and 32 percent increased risk of mortality respectively.

This is comparable to the risk of premature death associated with obesity and other risk factors for mortality, including smoking. In fact, loneliness has been linked to a host of mental and physical health problems, including an increased risk of:





Metabolic syndrome

High blood pressure

Coronary heart disease

Psychosis

Suicide

Depression

Obesity

Unhealthy lifestyle

Feeling Lonely? Make Sure You’re Sleeping Well

Lack of sleep has been identified as a public health crisis much like loneliness, and it turns out the two may be related. Research suggests loneliness may be tied to lack of sleep, as the more sleep deprived you are, the less social you become, and others pick up on the cue that you want to be left alone.

It’s a vicious cycle, as people who struggle with loneliness also tend to have trouble sleeping. For example, a 2011 study found that for each 1-point increase on the UCLA loneliness scale, an individual is 8 percent more likely to experience some sort of sleep disruption.

Researchers have suggested that sleep loss actually causes loneliness by instigating “a propagating, self-reinforcing cycle of social separation and withdrawal.” There are many causes of loneliness, however, above and beyond lack of sleep. Common reasons include:

  • Long work hours
  • Use of social media surpassing face-to-face interaction
  • Frequent travel for work
  • Living far from family
  • Delaying and/or forgoing marriage

With that in mind, if you’re feeling lonely, be sure to tend to your sleep hygiene habits for a better night’s rest. In addition, tend to the other underlying factors that may be contributing to your emotional state. The following strategies can help you to make meaningful connections with others in your community to help address feelings of loneliness and social isolation:






Join a club that interests you

Volunteer for a cause you believe in

Enroll in a class to learn a new skill or hobby

Create rituals of connection, such as calling a certain friend every Monday

Join a gym or sign up for a fitness class so you can exercise with others

Frequent local shops and markets, where you can build relationships with shop owners and other regular customers

Talk to strangers during your daily commute, at the grocery store and while walking your dog

Consider adopting a pet, such as a dog, which can provide companionship and a source of unconditional love

Move to be closer to your friends and family

Attend religious services or support groups

Simple Trick to Reduce Your Dementia Risk by 90 Percent

Addressing loneliness is an important strategy for reducing your dementia risk, but it’s not the only one. In addition to improving this facet of your emotional and physical health, you’ll also want to be sure you’re paying attention to your cardiovascular fitness.

In fact, researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden revealed that women with the highest cardiovascular fitness had an 88 percent lower risk of dementia than those with moderate fitness. Further, even maintaining average fitness is worthwhile, as women with the lowest fitness had a 41 percent greater risk of dementia than those of average fitness.

Fitness, in this case, is not the same as exercise, and the study did not measure how often the women exercised. Instead, it focused on cardiovascular fitness, as measured by a stepwise-increased maximal ergometer cycling test. Cardiovascular fitness can be a measure of how well blood is circulating to your heart and brain.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an important component of reaching high levels of fitness, and it requires only a fraction of the time compared to typical moderate or low-intensity gym workouts. Restoring mitochondrial function is another cornerstone of successful dementia prevention and treatment. In addition to exercise, one of the most powerful ways to optimize mitochondrial function is cyclical ketosis.

The upside of using exercise as a tool to reduce your dementia risk is that it may also improve your sleep and mood, which in turn may make it easier to get motivated to build new connections and relationships, alleviating loneliness and slashing your dementia risk even more.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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