Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Should Your Boss Encourage You to Take Drugs?

And if so, is the workplace still drug free??? And if an employee would prefer not to follow advice on using a drug??

From the 6 June 2012 article at The Health Care Blog

A top executive I know recently decided to takeInderal before making high-pressure/high-anxiety presentations. The impact was immediate. She felt more relaxed, confident and effective. Her people agreed.

Would she encourage a comparably anxious subordinate to take the drug? No. But if that employee’s anxiety really undermined his or her effectiveness, she’d share her story and make them aware of the Inderal option. She certainly wouldn’t disapprove of an employee seeking prescription help to become more productive.

No one in America thinks twice anymore if a colleague takes Prozac. (Roughly 10% of workers in Europe and the U.K. use antidepressants, as well). Caffeine has clearly become the (legal) stimulant of business choice and Starbucks its most profitable global pusher (two shots of espresso, please).

Increasingly, prescription ADHD drugs like Adderall, dedicated to improving attention deficits, are finding their way into gray market use by students looking for a cognitive edge. When one looks at existing and in-the-pipeline drugs for Alzheimer’s and other neurophysiological therapies for aging OECD populations with retirements delayed, the odds are that far more employees are going to be taking more drugs to get more work done better….

June 8, 2012 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Complex World of Gut Microbes Fine-Tune Body Weight

More research needed, still these scientists may be on to a contributing factor in weight control…

From the 6 June 2012 article at Science Daily

Microorganisms in the human gastrointestinal tract form an intricate, living fabric made up of some 500 to 1000 distinct bacterial species, (in addition to other microbes). Recently, researchers have begun to untangle the subtle role these diverse life forms play in maintaining health and regulating weight….

Research conducted by the authors and others has demonstrated that hydrogen-consuming methanogens appear in greater abundance in obese as opposed to normal weight individuals. Further, the Firmicutes — a form of acetogen — also seem to be linked with obesity. Following fermentation, SCFAs persist in the colon. Greater concentration of SCFAs, especially propionate, were observed in fecal samples from obese as opposed to normal weight children. (SCFAs also behave as signaling molecules, triggering the expression of leptin, which acts as an appetite suppressor.)

While it now seems clear that certain microbial populations help the body process otherwise indigestible carbohydrates and proteins, leading to greater energy extraction and associated weight gain, experimental results have shown some inconsistency. For example, while a number of studies have indicated a greater prevalence of Bacteroidetes in lean individuals and have linked the prevalence of Firmicutes with obesity, the authors stress that many questions remain.

Alterations in gut microbiota are also of crucial concern for the one billion people worldwide who suffer from undernutrition. Illnesses resulting from undernutrition contribute to over half of the global fatalities in children under age 5. Those who do survive undernutrition often experience a range of serious, long-term mental and physical effects. The role of gut microbial diversity among the undernourished has yet to receive the kind of concentrated research effort applied to obesity — a disease which has reached epidemic proportions in the developed world.

Exploiting microbes affecting energy extraction may prove a useful tool for non-surgically addressing obesity as well as treating undernutrition, though more research is needed for a full understanding of regulatory mechanisms governing the delicate interplay between intestinal microbes and their human hosts….

June 8, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Statistical Model Developed To Predict Future Medical Conditions

Please remember, just because something is predicted doesn’t mean it is going to happen!

Still, this seems to be a good “tool”.

 

From the 6 June 2012 article at Medical News Today

Analyzing medical records from thousands of patients, statisticians have devised a statistical model for predicting what other medical problems a patient might encounter.

Like how Netflix recommends movies and TV shows or how Amazon.com suggests products to buy, the algorithm makes predictions based on what a patient has already experienced as well as the experiences of other patients showing a similar medical history.

“This provides physicians with insights on what might be coming next for a patient, based on experiences of other patients. It also gives a predication that is interpretable by patients,” said Tyler McCormick, an assistant professor of statistics and sociology at the University of Washington.

The algorithm will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Annals of Applied Statistics. McCormick’s co-authors are Cynthia Rudin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and David Madigan, Columbia University.

McCormick said that this is one of the first times that this type of predictive algorithm has been used in a medical setting. What differentiates his model from others, he said, is that it shares information across patients who have similar health problems. This allows for better predictions when details of a patient’s medical history are sparse.

June 8, 2012 Posted by | health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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