Consulo Indicium - 12/4/23

Information for your Consideration…

The Continuing Coffee Health Saga – I know, I know – it’s another Kevy story about the continuing saga of coffee. But, it’s exciting! A new study at the University of Tsukuba in Japan has identified a naturally occurring compound found in coffee that seems to improve age-related cognitive decline, memory and spatial learning. The compound is trigonelline. It’s a substance that is found in multiple neurologic pathways throughout the nervous system. It’s also a substance that increases neurotransmitter levels while simultaneously decreasing inflammation. The only problem is that the studies – so far – have been on mice. So, the next step is to determine their application to the human brain but all human brain studies seem to start with mouse brains so the resulting studies will be important.

But, that’s not all. I learned something new this past week. There is “natural” caffeine and then, there’s also “synthetic” caffeine. The coffee giants and the energy drink resources that have become ubiquitous purchases for many of us on our way to work (e.g. Starbucks, Aroma Joes, etc.) as well as the caffeinated drinks (e.g. Red Bull, Coke, etc.) are mostly saturated with “synthetic” caffeine. The interesting finding is that research is now becoming available that shows the not all caffeine is created equal. Emerging research is demonstrating that synthetic caffeine may actually accelerate aging while naturally occurring caffeine slows the age-related decline. With more than 60% of the caffeine we consume coming from the synthetic side, the issue of which type we are consuming becomes quite important. The ongoing research is important for understanding the difference. In a study reported in Nutrition and Metabolism, high caffeine content was associated with shorter telomeres – a marker for cellular aging in adults versus an increase in coffee consumption associated with longer telomeres. That finding would suggest that something other than caffeine is at work… Since this report, there have been a number of studies reporting the same essential findings. Hmmm? What to do? One analysis suggests that because coffee and tea contain not only caffeine but also any number of polyphenols with anti-oxidative properties, it’s likely that the telomere effect is multi-factoral. So, for the moment, I would hang in there and continue with my favorite caffeinated drink as long as it's a natural occurring compound or, chocolate, of course – the other natural source 😊.

Speaking Of Dementia – There is a growing body of evidence revealing that generalized Covid-19 infections can cause neurogenerative decline, especially among the elderly. Based on a review in the Journal of Neurochemistry the problem seems to stem from neuro-inflammation.  For example, in one study there was a 69% increase in onset of Alzheimer’s type dementia for those over the age of 65 who experienced a Covid-19 infection. And, increasingly a number of viruses are showing up associating infections of varying intensity with onset of early dementia. So, to prevent the problem keep up the vaccinations and keep your ear to the ground. When warnings are issued, stay alert, wear your masks and be prudent. The long-term effects could be more of a bummer than the short-term.

Making Travel Safer – The CDC recently announced that it is partnering with Gingko Bioworks to expand the Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance Program which will be testing for more than 30 priority pathogens in airports across the USA. The testing program will include voluntary nasal swabs, sampling of wastewater both in airports and from planes, testing of international travelers from high infection rate nations, and other testing functions. We should not be surprised if testing for flu, RSV and other fall-related pathogens were to begin over the holiday season. Just remember, it’s good for the nation and helps everyone. You’re not being singled out if asked for a swab…you’re part of a group… The major international airports will be the primary targets = JFK, SFO, IAD and others. 

What Are We Doing? – The rate of vaccinations among kindergarteners is declining!! In fact, the rate of vaccine exemptions for children reached the highest level ever reported in the USA according to the CDC. That means kids are not receiving their measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines as well as their poliovirus and chickenpox vaccines. Ay Yi Yi!!! In many cases, parents are seemingly less concerned about these infections because there are no reported cases in their communities. The reason? Because kids have gotten vaccines!! I believe the medical community needs to become more aggressive about advocating the need for vaccinations. The reason these diseases have declined is because of “safe” vaccines. The diseases are still around and lurking in the background only to arise again when a sufficient number of the community lack the vaccines. Take note…

Cyberthreats Abound In Healthcare – The healthcare community is experiencing a plethora of cyberthreats across the board from business email compromise (BEC), to supply chain problems, to cloud compromise, to ransomware. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that 88% of the 653 health care organizations surveyed had experience a cyberattack in the last 12 months!! The average cost of each of those cyberattacks was $4.99 million dollars which represented a 13% increase over 2022. At the top of the list according to the security analysts who participated in the study was cloud compromise with 74% of respondents indicating their organization was “at risk”. In many respects that’s not unexpected since “the cloud” is where most organizations now host their healthcare information rather than on server farms within their own organizations. But, while ransomware attacks are still a concern, the degree of concern has decreased somewhat from 2022 by 12%. Long story short, diligence on the part of the IT teams at healthcare organizations across the board is essential in today’s world of digital care delivery.

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