“Our Data Strongly Support The Claim That Exercise Is An Evidence-Based Treatment For Depression”

Exercise As A Treatment For Depression: A Meta-Analysis Adjusting For Publication Bias, Journal of Psychiatric Research, June 2016

From the abstract:

The effects of exercise on depression have been a source of contentious debate.

I did not know that. I thought the evidence for benefits of exercise vis-a-vis depression was relatively strong. Although, if I was a big pharmaceutical company for which antidepressants brought in a fair share of revenue, I’d make sure there were studies published that countered benefits.

We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of exercise interventions in people with depression (including those with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) or ratings on depressive symptoms), comparing exercise versus control conditions. … Twenty-five RCTs were included.

Overall, exercise had a large and significant effect on depression.

Previous meta-analyses may have underestimated the benefits of exercise due to publication bias.

Our data strongly support the claim that exercise is an evidence-based treatment for depression.

Publication bias. I wonder how that happened. You know who benefits from publication bias here? BigPharma.

I liked this graphic:

Source: How to Exercise to Help Treat Depression, Healthy Place, 29 March 2018

The Mouse In The Maze Experiment (How Creativity Dies In Caution)

Girl painting mosquito. Photo source: OpenIDEO

The Mouse In The Maze experiment:

Some years ago, psychologists used a maze puzzle in an intriguing experiment with college students.* A cartoon mouse was shown trapped inside a picture of a maze, and the task was to help the mouse find the way out. There were two different versions of the task. One was positive, approach-oriented; the other was negative or avoidance-oriented. In the positive condition, there was a piece of Swiss cheese lying outside the maze, in front of a mouse hole. In the negative condition, the maze was exactly the same, but instead of the Swiss cheese feast at the finish, an owl hovered above the maze, ready to swoop down and capture the mouse in its talons at any moment.

The maze takes less than two minutes to complete, and all the students who took part in the experiment solved their maze. But the contrast in the aftereffects of working on different versions of the maze was striking. When the participants later took a test of creativity, those who had helped their mouse avoid the owl turned in scores that were fifty percent lower than the scores of students who had helped their mouse find the cheese. The state of mind elicited by attending to the owl had resulted in a lingering sense of caution, avoidance, and vigilance for things going wrong. This mind-state in turn weakened creativity, closed down options, and reduced the students’ flexibility in responding to the next task.

This experiment tells us something very important: the same action (even something as slight as solving a simple maze puzzle) has different consequences depending on whether it is done to move toward something we welcome (activating the brain’s approach system) or to avoid something negative (activating the brain’s avoidance system). In the maze experiment, aversion was triggered by something as minor as the sight of a cartoon owl. It led to reductions in exploratory, creative behaviors. This is dramatic evidence that the avoidance system can narrow the focus of our lives, even when triggered by a purely symbolic threat.
The Mindful Way Through Depression, Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2007

* The Effects Of Promotion And Prevention Cues On Creativity, Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, December 2001

This was just a puzzle. It wasn’t even real. Yet it had real-life effects on the students.

Originally posted 2 June 2019.

A 5-Month Old Bird Just Flew 8,400 Miles Nonstop, Breaking World Record

The five-month-old bar-tailed godwit smashed the record for long-distance migration following a non-stop, 11-day flight from Alaska to Tasmania.

Birdlife Tasmania convenor Eric Woehler said the bird probably lost “half or more of its body weight” during “continuous day and night flight”.

“If a godwit lands on water, it’s dead. It doesn’t have the webbing in its feet, it has no way of getting off the water.”

“So if it falls into the water from exhaustion, if bad weather forces it onto the ocean surface, that’s it.”

11 days. No rest. No food. Flying, flying flying. Tell me birds don’t have it all over humans.

Source: Massimo, Neatorama, ABC News Australia

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (The Stated Cause Of Justin Beiber’s Facial Paralysis) Is Caused By Chicken Pox Virus Reactivation

I enjoyed listening to this doctor, Andrew Mester MD, describe Ramsay Hunt syndrome, similar to Bell’s Palsy but usually accompanied by rashes. Ramsay Hunt syndrome and Bell’s Palsy are one-sided facial paralysis involving the 7th cranial nerve or facial nerve. The facial nerve has a cervical branch which reaches down into the neck area. Both syndromes are caused by reactivation of a virus, varicella zoster virus (VZV) for Ramsay Hunt (that’s the virus that causes chicken pox) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) for Bell’s Palsy. The two conditions may present as indistinguishable.*

11 June 2022

What causes reactivation of chicken pox virus?

VZV reactivation frequently arises under immune-exhaustion, such as aging, or immunocompromised conditions caused by immunosuppressive drugs, HIV infection, or malignancies.
Persistent Varicella Zoster Virus Infection Following mRNA Covid-19 Vaccination Was Associated With The Presence Of Encoded Spike Protein In The Lesion, Cutaneous Immunology and Allergy, 25 August 2022

Could the COVID-19 vaccine suppress the immune response? Yes, if this paper is anything to go by:
Innate immune suppression by SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccinations: The role of G-quadruplexes, exosomes, and MicroRNAs, Food and Chemical Toxicology, June 2022

I talked about that here: Paper: mRNA Vaccine Suppresses Immune Response: Increasing Risk For Infections, Bell’s Palsy, Shingles, Cancer.

A case study:
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Following COVID-19 Vaccination, BMJ Postgraduate Medical Journal, 5 January 2022

* Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, BMJ Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychology, 1 August 2001

Canadian singer Justin Beiber was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome in June 2022:

Institute Of Medicine Set “Arbitrary” Value For Vitamin D Blood Levels

I happened to see something in that New York Times article about the vitamin D study. The article…

Study Finds Another Condition That Vitamin D Pills Do Not Help, New York Times, 27 July 2022

Said this…

Dr. Rosen said those concerns led him and the other members of the National Academy of Medicine’s expert group to set* what he called an “arbitrary value” of 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood as the goal for vitamin D levels and to advise people to get 600 to 800 international units of vitamin D supplements to achieve that goal.

*Here’s that report:
The 2011 Report On Dietary Reference Intakes For Calcium And Vitamin D From The Institute Of Medicine: What Clinicians Need To Know, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, January 2011

Which also says…

The Committee finds that the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy in the North American population has been overestimated by some groups due to the use of inappropriate cut-points that greatly exceed the levels identified in this report.

Back to the NYTs article:

Labs in the United States then arbitrarily set 30 nanograms per milliliter as the cutoff point for normal vitamin D levels, a reading so high that almost everyone in the population would be considered vitamin D deficient.

All this “arbitrary.”

There are real problems with taking too much vitamin D, as I’ve posted about:

The problems don’t end with bone. Vitamin D is a hormone after all, with far-reaching effects. I used to trust people in the health heirarchy.

Big Study Finds Vitamin D Doesn’t Lower Risk Of Fractures

This came out over the summer and I was meaning to get to it. It used the big VITAL cohort. (VITAL was studying vitamin D3 and omega-3 for cancer and heart disease. They found them not useful for those conditions.)

Here’s the fracture study:
Supplemental Vitamin D and Incident Fractures in Midlife and Older Adults, New England Journal of Medicine, 28 July 2022

Background: Vitamin D supplements are widely recommended for bone health in the general population, but data on whether they prevent fractures have been inconsistent.

Results: Among 25,871 participants (50.6% women [13,085 of 25,871] and 20.2% Black [5106 of 25,304]), we confirmed 1991 incident fractures in 1551 participants over a median follow-up of 5.3 years. Supplemental vitamin D3, as compared with placebo, did not have a significant effect on total fractures (which occurred in 769 of 12,927 participants in the vitamin D group and in 782 of 12,944 participants in the placebo group; hazard ratio, 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.89 to 1.08; P=0.70), nonvertebral fractures (hazard ratio, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.87 to 1.07; P=0.50), or hip fractures (hazard ratio, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.70 to 1.47; P=0.96).

Supplementing with vitamin D3 at 2000 IU per day for about 5 years did not result in a lower risk of fractures.

From media articles:
Study Finds Another Condition That Vitamin D Pills Do Not Help, New York Times, 27 July 2022

The results, published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, hold for people with osteoporosis and even those whose blood tests deemed them vitamin D deficient.

Dr. Manson [lead researcher on VITAL study] said. “But we seem to need only small-to-moderate amounts of the vitamin for bone health. Larger amounts do not confer greater benefits.”

Vitamin D Supplements Fail To Lower Risk Of Fractures In Healthy Adults, Study Says, UPI, 27 July 2022

“Overall, the results from this large clinical trial do not support the use of vitamin D supplements to reduce fractures in generally healthy U.S. men and women,” Dr. Meryl LeBoff, the study’s lead author, said in the release.

I still hear doctors recommending vitamin D for bone health. It’s going to be hard to change people’s minds about this.