Bacteria in poo determines fat percentage!

A study published in the Journal Genome Biology has found strong associations between the type of bacteria in human faeces and the amount of total and visceral fat (excess abdominal fat that is a critical risk factor for cardiovascular and metabolic disease) stored in the body. The study has identified a high heritability for visceral fat levels and an association with mother-child transmission of microbes and genetic variants that may influence the interaction between the gut microbiome, obesity and the associated metabolic consequences.

Women on the pill are more likely to be treated for depression

A large study of more than 1 million women living in Denmark, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has suggested a link between the use of hormonal contraceptive pills in women (especially adolescents) and an increased risk of depression leading to the prescription of anti-depressants. Before puberty boys and girls have the same risk of becoming depressed, however after puberty girls are more likely to suffer from emotional issues often leading to a diagnosis of depression and subsequent prescription of anti-depressants. Teenage users of progestin only contraceptives have been found to have a higher usage of anti-depressants that non users or hormonal contraception. Further studies are warranted to examine depression as a potential adverse effect of the use of hormonal, drug-based, contraception.

Faecal transplants effective at dealing with Clostridium difficile

Researchers in Germany have concluded that faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is a safe and effective treatment option for dealing with C. difficile infections. The study looked at 133 patients and the research team reported a primary cure rate (resolution of the infection) following FMT of 84.2% on day 30 and 78.3% on day 90. No serious adverse effects or deaths related to FMT were reported within 30 days of the treatment, which is extremely promising for the resolution of antibiotic resistant strains of C. difficile infection that can be fatal.

Glyphosate found in infant oat based foods

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been testing foods in America for traces of glyphosate. The pesticide, which has been linked to cancer, has been found in a variety of oat products designed for babies. The data compiled by an FDA chemist showed traces of the chemical in several infant oat cereal products using standard oats (up to 1.67ppm), but did not find traces in organic oat products. Tolerance levels of 30ppm for oats, have been set by the US Environmental Protection Agency who maintain that glyphosate is “not likely” to cause cancer (in Europe tolerance levels in oats are lower at 20ppm). It is worth noting that Monsanto has helped to set these tolerance levels. Crops are sprayed just before being harvested in order to help dry them out and increase yields. There is much debate as to the safety of glyphosate in food with many believing that any amount is unsafe. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

Lower sperm quality in males conceived using fertility treatment

A study in the journal Human Reproduction has suggested that the semen quality of young males conceived through Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI - a process where sperm is injected into an egg) is significantly lower than their counterparts who were conceived naturally. Because these children were conceived using ICSI due to fertility issues in their fathers, there has already been concern that this problem may be passed from father to child. The new study was conducted at UZ Brussel as part of a large follow up project focusing on the reproductive health of young adults conceived via ICSI. Researchers found that young males conceived through ICSI had a significantly lower median sperm concentration and total motile sperm count. ICSI born males were found to be nearly three times more likely to have sperm concentrations below the WHO reference value of 15 million/ml. It should be noted that the research only looked at a small study population, but it does raise concern for future generations’ ability to conceive naturally.

Farmed salmon contain lower levels of EPA and DHA than their wild counterparts

The journal Nature has published a study which found that the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in farmed salmon has reduced significantly in the last 10 years. Average omega 3 content in farmed salmon in 2006 was 2.74g per 100g, which dropped to 1.36g per 100g in 2015. However, omega 6 content has increased due to the change in feedstuff being given to farmed fish. Feedstuff previously contained a high content of marine ingredients, but due to the problems with over fishing wild stocks, farmed fish are now commonly being fed food based on plant sources, many from oilseed origin. This is not their natural diet or an evolutionary norm. Consequently the fatty acid composition of the fish is changed making them richer in pro-inflammatory omega 6 oils and much lower in the essential, anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils.