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ALMA Detects Circumplanetary Disk around Young Exoplanet PDS 70c

ALMA Detects Circumplanetary Disk around Young Exoplanet PDS 70c

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected a circumplanetary disk — a ring-shaped area where moons and other satellites may form — around a protoplanet in the PDS 70 system.

PDS 70 is a K7-type star located 370 light-years away in the constellation of Centaurus. Also known as V* V1032 Cen and IRAS 14050-4109, the star is only 5.4 million years old.

It hosts two protoplanets and a huge circumstellar disk of dust and gas in which a large region from 20 to 40 AU is cleared of dust.

The inner planet, PDS 70b, is located within the disk gap at a distance of about 22 AU from the star, similar to the orbit of Uranus in our Solar System.

The outer planet, PDS 70c, is located near the outer edge of the disk gap at 34 AU from the star, similar to Neptune’s distance from our Sun.

“Our work presents a clear detection of a disk in which satellites could be forming,” said Dr. Myriam Benisty, an astronomer at the University of Grenoble and the University of Chile.

“The new ALMA observations were obtained at such exquisite resolution that we could clearly identify that the disk is associated with PDS 70c and we are able to constrain its size for the first time.”

Dr. Benisty and colleagues also found that PDS 70c’s disk has about the same diameter as the distance from our Sun to the Earth and enough mass to form up to three satellites the size of the Moon.

“These new observations are also extremely important to prove theories of planet formation that could not be tested until now,” said Dr. Jaehan Bae, an astronomer in the Earth and Planets Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Planets form in dusty disks around young stars, carving out cavities as they gobble up material from this circumstellar disk to grow.

In this process, a planet can acquire its own circumplanetary disk, which contributes to the growth of the planet by regulating the amount of material falling onto it.

At the same time, the gas and dust in the circumplanetary disk can come together into progressively larger bodies through multiple collisions, ultimately leading to the birth of moons.

But astronomers do not yet fully understand the details of these processes.

“In short, it is still unclear when, where, and how planets and moons form,” said Dr. Stefano Facchini, an astronomer at ESO.

“More than 4,000 exoplanets have been found until now, but all of them were detected in mature system,” added Dr. Miriam Keppler, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

“PDS 70b and PDS 70c, which form a system reminiscent of the Jupiter-Saturn pair, are the only two exoplanets detected so far that are still in the process of being formed.”

“This system therefore offers us a unique opportunity to observe and study the processes of planet and satellite formation,” Dr. Facchini said.

The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

_____

Myriam Benisty et al. 2021. A Circumplanetary Disk around PDS 70c. ApJL 916, L2; doi: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac0f83

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How Eggs Have Become a Disaster

Omega-3 fats are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Your body uses these fats for a variety of functions, such as blood clotting, brain and eye health, digestion and muscle activity.1,2,3

Humans evolved on a diet of omega-6 to omega 3 fats in a ratio of close to 1-to-1.4 However, in the past several decades, the ratio in the stand Western diet measured between 15-to-1 and 16.7-to-1 in 20065 and 10 years later measured at 20-to-1 or greater.6 This shift began during the Industrial Revolution when people began eating foods rich in vegetable oils and cereal grains were fed to livestock, raising the levels of omega-6 fats in meat.7

Omega-3 fats can be broken down into three main categories — alpha linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).8 ALA is a precursor to EPA and DHA, but it can only be converted in amounts less than 5%.9 DHA and EPA are long-chain omega-3 fats.

You must get each form of omega-3 fat from foods or dietary supplements. ALA is plant-based and found mostly in flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds.10 Bioavailable DHA and EPA are found in fish and other marine-based foods.11

There is mounting research that drives home the importance of animal-based omega-3 fats for heart health.12 Deficiency can leave you vulnerable to chronic disease and may increase your risk of poor outcomes in COVID-19.

As I mentioned, the objective is to bring your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids as close to 1-to-1 as possible. Many foods have omega-3 fats, but the ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 is high, so foods other than marine-based fish cannot effectively raise your omega-3 levels.

Omega 3-to-6 Levels in Conventional Eggs Have Plummeted

Farmers used to harvest their eggs from chickens that were free ranging and allowed to forage for their food. For the most part, consumers today have the option of buying four different types of eggs at the grocery store.13,14 They are:

  • Conventional — These eggs are produced by cage-raised or cage-free chickens that are grain-fed. Cage-free means the chickens are not in cages, but still are packed into a large room with little space.
  • Organic — Hens that produce certified organic eggs receive organic feed and are not treated with hormones. The certification does not necessarily mean they are allowed to forage.
  • Pastured or free-range Hens have some access to the outdoors where they may also have access to their natural food such as plants and insects. The pasture-raised claim15 can be made if there is just a small, bare dirt area, and the free-range claim16 can be made if there is a door that the farm could at some point open. This designation does not indicate what the hens are fed.
  • Omega-3 enriched — The hens are raised like conventional chickens and the feed is supplemented with an omega-3 source like flax seeds.

Analysis and comparison of fatty acid composition in conventionally raised and outdoor chickens allowed to forage for insects and plants is vastly different.17 One study published by Cambridge University18 analyzed the difference in the eggs of hens allowed to forage for insects and plants against those fed a commercial diet and kept in cages.

The researchers controlled for the differences in chicken breeds by using sister hens and splitting them into groups. The hens were fed over six weeks before the eggs were analyzed. The researchers split the hens allowed to forage into three groups where one group had access to alfalfa, the second to red-and-white clover and the third to a mix of cool-season grasses.

At the end of the study, they found the concentrations of fatty acids and vitamin A did not differ in the three pastured groups, but those that foraged on grass had 23% more vitamin E then those that foraged on clover.

When they compared the eggs from the caged hens against the pastured eggs they found the hens allowed to forage had “twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, 2.5-fold more total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids.”19

A later study20 also demonstrated that hens allowed to forage outdoors laid eggs with vitamin D content that was up to four times higher than those who were kept indoors. They compared vitamin D content from the hens exposed to sunlight against free-range eggs purchased at the supermarket and found those from the grocer had relatively low vitamin D content.

Consequences of the Dramatic Shift in Omega Fats

Scientific evidence shows that there have been significant consequences as humans began to eat a diet rich in omega-6 fats and low in omega-3s. The majority of omega-6 fats used to come from nuts and seeds. However current intake comes from processed foods and oxidized vegetable oils.21

This imbalance in omega fats is one route to inflammatory disease, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. One primary source of omega-6 fats in the American diet is soybean oil, which accounts for 60% of all vegetable oils found in processed foods, salad dressings, snacks and margarine.22

Researchers have linked diets high in soybean oil with Type 2 diabetes and obesity.23 Both of these health conditions are associated with heart disease, impaired cognition, neuropathy and early death.

In recent years it has become increasingly clear that one of the most damaging components in the modern diet is processed vegetable oils, including soybean oil. The biological damage they cause may be even worse than that triggered by refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, researchers say.24

The reason is because the oils trigger mitochondrial dysfunction that drives disease processes and several studies25,26,27 have provided scientific evidence of this. The good news is that replacing dangerous oils with healthy saturated fats can go a long way towards boosting your health and reducing your risk of chronic disease.

Unfortunately, many health authority authorities insist that omega-6 rich oils like soybean, corn and canola oil are healthier than saturated animal fats such as pasture-raised butter and lard. This myth has been a tough one to dismantle, despite the evidence against it. To learn more about how processed vegetable oils can harm your health see, “The Case Against Processed Vegetable Oils.”

Many Benefits of Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6 Ratio

There are significant benefits to balancing your omega-6 and omega-3 ratio. For example, research28 published in 2018 confirmed omega-3 fat can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality. Participants with an omega-3 index in the highest quintile had a total mortality 34% lower than those in the lowest quintile, and a 39% lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

As detailed in “More Data Support Heart Healthy Benefits of Omega-3s,” research has found fish oil consumption lowered the risk of all-cause mortality by 13% and cardiovascular mortality by 16%.

DHA is crucial for your brain health. Without enough, your nerve cells become stiff and more prone to inflammation as omega-3 fats are substituted with omega-6. Nerve cells that are rigid and inflamed have lower levels of proper neurotransmission and cells become compromised.29

Low levels of DHA have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease,30 and some studies suggest degenerative brain diseases may potentially be reversible with sufficient DHA.31,32 Other health benefits include:

Reducing inflammation — This can be helpful for those suffering with rheumatoid arthritis by reducing stiffness and pain.33 Women who suffer from menstrual pain may also experience milder symptoms.34,35

Optimizing muscle building and bone strength — Omega-3 fats help your body build healthy muscle mass, including people suffering from cancer who may experience cachexia.36 Omega-3 fats can also help improve your bone strength by improving the utilization of calcium in your body. This may lead to a reduction in the development of osteoporosis.37,38

Improving metabolic syndrome39 and insulin resistance.40

Improving mental health and behavior — Demonstrated benefits have been shown for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), including reduced aggression, hyperactivity,41 impulsivity,42 oppositional behavior43 and restlessness.44 Omega-3 is associated with lowered risk for other neurological/cognitive dysfunction as well, including: memory loss, brain aging, learning disorders and ADHD,45 autism and dyslexia.46

Protecting your vision — DHA is a major structural element in your eye and brain.47 Low levels of DHA may increase your risk for age related macular degeneration.48

Reducing your risk of kidney disease49 and colon cancer.50

Importance of Omega-3 Testing

Like with most other biomarkers, it’s impossible to know your omega-3 fatty acid index without testing. The omega-3 index provides the most accurate measurement in the body and should ideally be above 8%.51 The test measures the amount of omega-3 in the red blood cells as a reflection of how much is found in the rest of the body.

Basically, the test measures the average of your intake based on the lifespan of a red blood cell over 120 days. This means it is not influenced by recent meals, but rather an average of the past months. Researchers have used it as an index to analyze data, including that of the Framingham study52 and the Women’s Health Initiative.53

Maintaining a level in the range that is associated with low risk can reduce your potential chance of heart disease. An index below 4% has a high risk of heart disease, those with an index from 4% to 8% have an intermediate risk and those with an index greater than 8% have the lowest risk for coronary heart disease.54

Another study55 used randomized control trial results to assess the effects of supplementation on telomere length and oxidative stress. The data suggested that telomere length increases with a decreasing ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. The researchers concluded that even over a short time, a change in the ratio has an impact on cell aging, inflammation and oxidative stress.

Safely Raise Your Omega-3 Intake

If you discover you need more omega-3 after getting tested, consider the different ways you can raise your level without adding toxins. Strategies include reducing or eliminating processed foods as they are high in omega-6 fats and switching to foods that have a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats, such as locally raised, outdoor eggs. These are also great sources of omega-3:

Fish — Small, cold-water fatty fish such as mackerel, anchovies and sardines are excellent sources that have a low risk of hazardous contamination. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is also low in mercury and other environmental toxins.

Unfortunately, much of the fish supply is heavily polluted with industrial waste, so it is extremely important to be selective, choosing fish high in healthy fats and low in contaminants, such as those mentioned above.

Krill oil — Krill oil is my preferred choice as a supplement because it has the indispensable animal-based DHA and EPA your body needs, and in a form that’s less prone to oxidation.

With the help of phospholipids, the nutrients in krill oil are carried directly to your cell membranes where they are more readily absorbed. Additionally, they may cross your blood-brain barrier to reach important brain structures.

While the following sources may be tempting because they are readily available and cost less than the ones mentioned above, I strongly advise avoiding:

Farmed salmon — It contains about half the omega-3 levels of wild salmon, is often given antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, and fed a genetically engineered diet of corn and soy products and feed that also may contain or contaminated with pesticides and chicken feathers, poultry litter, genetically modified yeast, chicken fat and dyes.56

Large carnivorous fish — Marlin, swordfish and tuna (including canned tuna), for example, tend to contain some of the highest concentrations of mercury,57 a known neurotoxin.58

Fish oil — While fish oil may appear to be a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to increase your intake of omega-3 fats, it typically delivers insufficient antioxidant support. It is also highly prone to oxidation,59 leading to the formation of harmful free radicals.

Statins Double Risk of Dementia, Are Linked to COVID Deaths

The use of statin cholesterol-lowering medications has been on the rise for decades1 and they are among the most widely used drugs in the world. In the U.S., close to 50% of U.S. adults over 75 years old take a statin2 to lower their cholesterol in the misguided hope of preventing heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

Not only is there strong evidence suggesting that statins are a colossal waste of money, but their use may also harm your brain health — more than doubling your risk of dementia in some cases.3

The benefit must clearly outweigh the risk when it comes to any drug treatment, but this is rarely the case with statins, which do not protect against cardiovascular disease and are linked to a number of health conditions4,5 including dementia, diabetes6 and even increased risk of death from COVID-19.7

Statins Doubled Risk of Developing Dementia

Statins’ effects on cognitive performance have previously been called into question, since lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are linked to a higher risk of dementia.8 The featured study, published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine,9 involved people with mild cognitive impairment and looked into the effects of two types of statins: hydrophilic and lipophilic.

Hydrophilic statins, which include pravastatin (Pravachol) and rosuvastatin (Crestor), dissolve more readily in water, while lipophilic statins, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), Fluvastatin (Lescol), and lovastatin (Altoprev), dissolve more readily in fats.10 Lipophilic statins can easily enter cells11 and be distributed throughout your body, whereas hydrophilic statins focus on the liver.12

According to study author Prasanna Padmanabham of the University of California, Los Angeles, “There have been many conflicting studies on the effects of statin drugs on cognition. While some claim that statins protect users against dementia, others assert that they accelerate the development of dementia. Our study aimed to clarify the relationship between statin use and subject’s long-term cognitive trajectory.”13

Subjects were divided into groups based on cognitive status, cholesterol levels and type of statin used, and followed for eight years. Those with early mild cognitive impairment and low to moderate cholesterol levels at the start of the study who used lipophilic statins had more than double the risk of dementia compared to those who did not use statins.14

Further, this group also had significant decline in metabolism of the brain’s posterior cingulate cortex, which is the brain region that declines most significantly in early Alzheimer’s disease.15

Your Brain Needs Cholesterol

About 25% to 30% of your body’s total cholesterol is found in your brain, where it is an essential part of neurons. In your brain, cholesterol helps develop and maintain the plasticity and function of your neurons,16 and data from the Shanghai Aging Study revealed that high levels of LDL cholesterol are inversely associated with dementia in those aged 50 years and over.

“High level of LDL-C may be considered as a potential protective factor against cognition decline,” the researchers noted.17 They compiled a number of mechanisms on why lower cholesterol may be damaging for brain health, including the fact that lower cholesterol is linked with higher mortality in the elderly and may occur alongside malnutrition and chronic diseases, including cancer. As it specifically relates to brain health, however, they suggested:18

  • Decreasing cholesterol levels in the elderly may be associated with cerebral atrophy, which occurs with dementia
  • High LDL cholesterol may be beneficial by reducing neurons’ impairments or helping repair injured neurons
  • Acceleration of neurodegeneration has occurred when neurons were short on cellular cholesterol or cholesterol supply
  • Cholesterol plays an important role in the synthesis, transportation and metabolism of steroid hormones and lipid-soluble vitamins, and both of these are important to synaptic integrity and neurotransmission

Lower cholesterol levels were also associated with worse cognitive function among South Korean study participants aged 65 and over, and were considered to be a “state marker for AD [Alzheimer’s disease].”19

A U.S. study of more than 4,300 Medicare recipients aged 65 and over also revealed that higher levels of total cholesterol were associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, even after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and other related variables.20

Statins Increase Death Risk From COVID-19

The risks to brain health are only one red flag tied to statins. A concerning link was also uncovered among statins, diabetes and an increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19.21 Among patients with Type 2 diabetes admitted to a hospital for COVID-19, those taking statins had significantly higher mortality rates from COVID-19 within seven days and 28 days compared to those not taking the drugs.

The researchers acknowledged those taking statins were older, more frequently male and often had more comorbidities, including high blood pressure, heart failure and complications of diabetes. However, despite the limitations, the researchers found enough evidence in the over 2,400 participants to conclude:22

“… our present results do not support the hypothesis of a protective role of routine statin use against COVID-19, at least not in hospitalized patients with T2DM (Type 2 diabetes mellitus).

Indeed, the potentially deleterious effects of routine statin treatment on COVID-19-related mortality demands further investigation and, as recently highlighted, only appropriately designed and powered randomized controlled trials will be able to properly address this important issue.”

Statins Double — or Triple — Diabetes Risk

A connection already exists between statins and diabetes, to the extent that people who take statins are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those who do not, and those who take the drugs for longer than two years have more than triple the risk.23,24

“The fact that increased duration of statin use was associated with an increased risk of diabetes — something we call a dose-dependent relationship — makes us think that this is likely a causal relationship,” study author Victoria Zigmont, a graduate researcher in public health at The Ohio State University in Columbus, said in a news release.25

The data also indicated that individuals taking statin medications had a 6.5% increased risk of high blood sugar as measured by hemoglobin A1c value,26 which is an average level of blood sugar measuring the past 60 to 90 days.

Researchers with the Erasmus Medical Center in The Netherlands also analyzed data from more than 9,500 patients, finding those who had ever used statins had a 38% higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, with the risk being higher in those with impaired glucose homeostasis and those who were overweight or obese.27

The researchers concluded, “Individuals using statins may be at higher risk for hyperglycemia, insulin resistance and eventually Type 2 diabetes. Rigorous preventive strategies such as glucose control and weight reduction in patients when initiating statin therapy might help minimize the risk of diabetes.”

But a far better strategy may be preventing insulin resistance in the first place, by avoiding statin drugs and eating a healthy diet. According to Dr. Aseem Malhotra, an interventional cardiologist consultant in London, U.K. — who has been attacked for being a “statin denier” after calling out the drugs’ side effects28 — and a colleague:29

“In young adults, preventing insulin resistance could prevent 42% of myocardial infarctions, a larger reduction than correcting hypertension (36 %), low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (31 %), body mass index (BMI) (21 %) or LDL-C (16 %).30

It is plausible that the small benefits of statins in the prevention of CVD come from pleiotropic effects which are independent of LDL-lowering. The focus in primary prevention should therefore be on foods and food groups that have a proven benefit in reducing hard endpoints and mortality.”

The Statin Scam

Even as saturated fats and cholesterol have been vilified, and statin drugs have become among the most widely prescribed medications worldwide, heart disease remains a top killer.31 Today, statin drugs to reduce cholesterol levels are recommended for four broad patient populations:32

  1. Those who have already had a cardiovascular event
  2. Adults with diabetes
  3. Individuals with LDL cholesterol levels ?190?mg/dL
  4. Individuals with an estimated 10-year cardiovascular risk ?7.5% (based on an algorithm that uses your age, gender, blood pressure, total cholesterol, high density lipoproteins (HDL), race and history of diabetes to predict the likelihood you’ll experience a heart attack in the coming 10 years)

Despite statins being prescribed for these sizable groups, and “target” cholesterol levels being achieved, a systematic review of 35 randomized, controlled trials found that no additional benefits were gained. According to an analysis in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine:33

“Recommending cholesterol lowering treatment based on estimated cardiovascular risk fails to identify many high-risk patients and may lead to unnecessary treatment of low-risk individuals. The negative results of numerous cholesterol lowering randomized controlled trials call into question the validity of using low density lipoprotein cholesterol as a surrogate target for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.”

Even in the case of recurrent cardiovascular events, despite the increase in statin use from 1999 to 2013, researchers writing in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders noted, “there was only a small decrease in the incidence of recurrent CVD, and this occurred mainly in older patients without statins prescribed.”34

Statins Won’t Protect Your Heart Health

Statins are effective at lowering cholesterol, but whether this is the panacea for helping you avoid heart disease and extend your lifespan is a topic of heated debate. Again in 2018, a scientific review presented substantial evidence that high LDL and total cholesterol are not an indication of heart disease risk, and that statin treatment is of doubtful benefit as a form of primary prevention for this reason.35

In short, these drugs have done nothing to derail the rising trend of heart disease, while putting users at increased risk of health conditions like diabetes, dementia and others, such as:

  • Cancer36
  • Cataracts37
  • Triple risk of coronary artery and aortic artery calcification38
  • Musculoskeletal disorders, including myalgia, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis and autoimmune muscle disease39
  • Depression40

In the event you’re taking statins, be aware that they deplete your body of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2. The risks of CoQ10 depletion can be somewhat offset by taking a Coenzyme Q10 supplement or, if you’re over 40, its reduced form ubiquinol. But ultimately, if you’re looking to protect both your brain and heart health, avoiding statin drugs and instead optimizing your diet may be the answer.

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