Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Mobile Devices Were Wrecking My Health. Here’s How I Plan to Change That (One Person’s Self Diagnosis)

Person with PDA handheld device.

Person with PDA handheld device. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a posting at The Health Care Blog

’m the first guy to extol the fruits of mobile technology. The flexibility and power they provide, the productivity they can enhance. But every sword has two edges (unless it’s a sabre or scimitar, but I digress).

My eyesight – stuck at the same prescription for more than a decade – began worsening again about a year ago. I noticed I was sleeping less and less well, routinely waking up unrefreshed and with a sore lower back.

Mentally, I felt foggy in a way that a shot of Peet’s Coffee or 5-Hour Energy could only temporarily cure. My once-infallible memory gave way to struggles to remember routine facts and names.

At first, I blamed other factors: parenting two young boys, crossing the big 4-oh, even a saggy mattress.

But there’s increasing evidence that being unable to put down your mobile device after work can wreak havoc on your eyesightsleeppostureability to converse, even yourbasic sense of decency.

I don’t expect the Surgeon General to start Warning that the Kindle Fire is Hazardous for One’s Health. Still, it’s clear that something so right can also be so wrong…

 

[I found these excerpts a bit startling]

39% said they wake up in the middle of the night to check e-mail (8% do it every night). When asked how their device keeps them awake at night, 47% said it made them think about work, while 36% said it wakes them with sounds at night.

elite consultants don’t just send one another emails at 1 a.m. They expect answers by 3 a.m.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Hormones, Elvis, and human emotion

Promotional photograph of Elvis Presley, taken...

Promotional photograph of Elvis Presley, taken in 1954. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 12 June 2012 EurekAlert

Shedding light on what makes people feel and act the way they do

(SALT LAKE CITY)—The velvety voice of Elvis Presley still makes hearts flutter—and in a new study with people who have the rare genetic disorder Williams syndrome, one of the King’s classics is among a group of songs that helped to cast light on part of the essence of being human: the mystery of emotion and human interaction.

In a study led by Julie R. Korenberg, Ph.D., M.D., University of Utah/USTAR professor, Circuits of the Brain and pediatrics, people with and without Williams syndrome (WS) listened to music in a trial to gauge emotional response through the release of oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP), two hormones associated with emotion. The study, published June 12, 2012, in PLoS ONE, signals a paradigm shift both for understanding human emotional and behavioral systems and expediting the treatments of devastating illnesses such as WS, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and possibly even autism, according to Korenberg, senior author on the study and one of the world’s leading experts in genetics, brain, and behavior of WS.

“Our results could be very important for guiding the treatment of these disorders,” Korenberg says. “It could have enormous implications for personal the use of drugs to help people.”

The study also is the first to reveal new genes that control emotional responses and to show that AVP is involved in the response to music…

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Huge Increase In Radiation Exposure From Diagnostic Imaging

From the 13 June 2012 Medical News Today article

As imaging technology advances and medical devices improve, healthcare professionals are more inclined to use these state-of-the art scanners to look inside patients’ bodies. Computed tomography usage, for example, more than tripled between 1996 and 2010. Over the same period, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) usage increased fourfold. It is not surprising, therefore, that patient radiation exposure has also risen.

An article in JAMA, published today, asks the question to see if this technological dependance is going too far or even putting patients in danger with too many scans. Some people are worried about raditation from mobile phones, so stepping inside a multi-million dollar machine that blasts the body with one type of electromagnetic resonance or another, is going to draw warranted safety questions…

..One of the main points made in the article is that there has never been a comprehensive study of how much use healthcare providers are making of imaging technology. The studies that have been done are usually based around private practices and done for insurance purposes, and in these cases, imaging is usually encouraged. Looking at a wider range of patients and facilities enables the authors to provide us with a clear picture.

The authors summarize the use of various imaging techniques:

  • Radiography and angiography/fluoroscopy rates were relatively stable over time: radiography increased 1.2 percent per year, and angiography/fluoroscopy decreased 1.3 percent per year.
  • Computed tomography examinations tripled (52/1000 enrollees in 1996 to 149/1000 in 2010, 7.8 percent annual growth)
  • MRIs quadrupled (17/1000 to 65/1000,10 percent annual growth)…

…while healthcare has obviously improved with the use of technology, given the high costs of imaging, some $100 Billion annually, combined with the cancer risks and other possible side effects, the benefits of sending patients for scans, should be balanced by weighing the medical needs against both financial and heath risks of the technology itself.

Related Resource

   Choosing Wisely (US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

Choosing Wisely™ aims to get physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders thinking and talking about the overuse or misuse of medical tests and procedures that provide little benefit, and in some instances harm.
Includes tips,scenarios, and information to get the most out of doctor visits.

 

English: Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) resea...

English: Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) researchers at Ohio State University look through the opening of an MRI machine, used to image the knees of patients. The OAI, a public-private partnership, led by NIAMS and the National Institute on Aging with additional support from five other Institutes and Centers, funds research and information sharing resources to aid in the identification of biological markers for osteoarthritis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Harmful Bacteria Live In Healthy Bodies Without Causing Disease

Depiction of the human body and bacteria that ...

Depiction of the human body and bacteria that predominate     Larger Image at http://www.genome.gov/Images/press_photos/highres/20169-300.jpg(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Somehow I always felt this to be true…

Many scientists now regard human bodies as “supra-organisms”, collections of communities made up of human and microbial cells coexisting in a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

From the 14 June 2012 Medical News Today article

Scientists working on a huge project that has mapped all the different microbes that live in and on a healthy human body have made a number of remarkable discoveries, including the fact that harmful bacteria can live in healthy bodies and co-exist with their host and other microbes without causing disease.

This week sees the publication of several papers from the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), including two in Nature and two inPLoS ONE.

The Microbiome

The microbiome is the sum of all the microbes that colonize the body: it comprises trillions of microorganisms that outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. The microbes inhabit every nook and cranny of the body, and most of     the time the relationship is a friendly one, because they help digest food, strengthen the immune system and fight off dangerous pathogens.

Colorado University (CU)-Boulder Associate Professor Rob Knight of the BioFrontiers Institute is co-author on the two Nature papers. He told the press that the microbiome may only make up 1 to 3% of human body mass, but it plays a key role in human health.

One of the fascinating features of the microbiome is that different body sites have different communites of microorganisms that are as different from each other as the differences between microbial communities in oceans and deserts.

Knight said:

“By better understanding this microbial variation we can begin searching for genetic biomarkers for disease.”

Another of the curious features the HMP has discovered is that even healthy people carry low levels of harmful bacteria, but as long as the body remains healthy, they don’t cause disease, they just coexist alongside beneficial microbes. …

The HMP researchers established that more than 10,000 microbial species inhabit the human “ecosystem”. Knight said they believe they have now found between 81 and 99% of all genera of microorganisms in healthy adult Americans.

One of the key findings was the stark differences in microbial communities across the human body. For instance, the microbial communities that live on the teeth are different from those in saliva. …

…Another interesting discovery is that of the genes that influence human metabolism, most of them are in the microbiome and not in the human genome

…gut bacteria do more than break down food and its constituents like proteins, fats and carbohydrates, they also produce beneficial compounds like vitamins and anti-inflammatories.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Kids With Asthma Are Stigmatized By The Media

Asthma in America

Larger image at http://www.flickr.com/photos/43157614@N06/4071755333                                                       Asthma in America (Photo credit: GDS Infographics)

 

 

 

My consciousness has been raised…

If anyone has a related story/personal account to share, please do!

From the 14 June 2012 Medical News Today article

This summer, superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman, and even Snow White will showcase their staggering strengths on the big screen.

A Rutgers-Camden professor says that children with asthma are the real-life superheroes, facing down breathlessness and operating life-saving devices whenever and wherever asthma attacks strike.

Cindy Dell Clark, who teaches anthropology at Rutgers-Camden, recently published research that analyzes Hollywood’s portrayal of children with asthma in the journal Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

According to Clark, Hollywood often depicts children with asthma, the leading chronic illness of U.S. children, as vulnerable characters, not heroes. Showcasing asthma as a form of weakness adds drama to action films and levity to comedies. The habit of stereotyping asthma in movies, her research suggests, should be rethought by Hollywood and its writers.

Clark says the media, as well as other social contexts like school and peers, matter significantly for how the 9% of Americans under 18 with asthma view their illness and commit to its treatment…

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

   

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