Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Studying How Body Rhythms Can Help Diagnose Diseases

Studying How Body Rhythms Can Help Diagnose Diseases 

Excerpts from the 3 July 2012 Wall Street Journal article

In an effort to develop new ways of diagnosing and treating diseases, scientists are increasingly tracking the various patterns by which the body senses and reacts to stimuli.

Such patterns, commonly referred to as body rhythms, are a constant dynamic. A foot senses a crack in the sidewalk and the brain instructs the muscles to compensate so the person doesn’t fall down. Within the body, when cells detect too much carbon dioxide, the lungs respond by taking a breath. To get the right response, neurons, or nerve cells, communicate by emitting electrical impulses that are picked up by other neurons.

Researchers are finding that measuring these electrical impulses can reveal the presence of disease. Recent studies have shown that children with autism have significantly different brain-wave patterns than children without the disorder. Other studies have found that brain waves in people with epilepsy behave differently shortly before a seizure.

James Collins, a researcher at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, in Boston, has been investigating what he calls balance-control rhythms to understand why people are less steady on their feet as they get older and what can be done to correct that.

 

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

2012 Global Ranking of Countries by Environmental Performance

Pollution Free Cities

The 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) (99 page pdf, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Yale University, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University, 2012)

Also discussed here: New Rankings on Environmental Performance (The Dirt, ASLA, Jun. 5, 2012)

The Environmental Performance Index assesses the relative progress of 132 countries with 22 performance indicators. The 2012 ranking showed Switzerland, Latvia and Norway at the top, Canada in 37th position and the USA, 49th. Rising greenhouse gas emissions are a particular challenge for developed countries while safe drinking water is the biggest one for developing countries. Major data gaps exist for monitoring air pollution and greenhouse gas with the notable exception of the European Union(which had 20 of the top ranked 22 countries overall).

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, clickHERE

View original post

July 3, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

Day Dreaming Good for You? Reflection Is Critical for Development and Well-Being

Attention

Attention (Photo credit: aforgrave)

Now I understand the sign outside a co-worker’s cubicle….Please do not disturb now, I am thinking…

 

From the 2 July 2012 article at Science News Daily

As each day passes, the pace of life seems to accelerate — demands on productivity continue ever upward and there is hardly ever a moment when we aren’t, in some way, in touch with our family, friends, or coworkers. While moments for reflection may be hard to come by, a new article suggests that the long-lost art of introspection — even daydreaming — may be an increasingly valuable part of life…

“Balance is needed between outward and inward attention, since time spent mind wandering, reflecting and imagining may also improve the quality of outward attention that kids can sustain,” says Immordino-Yang.

She and her colleagues argue that mindful introspection can become an effective part of the classroom curriculum, providing students with the skills they need to engage in constructive internal processing and productive reflection. Research indicates that when children are given the time and skills necessary for reflecting, they often become more motivated, less anxious, perform better on tests, and plan more effectively for the future.

And mindful reflection is not just important in an academic context — it’s also essential to our ability to make meaning of the world around us. Inward attention is an important contributor to the development of moral thinking and reasoning and is linked with overall socioemotional well-being.

Immordino-Yang and her colleagues worry that the high attention demands of fast-paced urban and digital environments may be systematically undermining opportunities for young people to look inward and reflect, and that this could have negative effects on their psychological development. This is especially true in an age when social media seems to be a constant presence in teens’ day-to-day lives…
According to the authors, perhaps the most important conclusion to be drawn from research on the brain at rest is the fact that all rest is not idleness [my emphasis!]

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Psychology, Workplace Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking the Skin Barrier: Drugs Topically Deliver Gene Therapy Via Commercial Moisturizers for Skin Disease Treatment

Drugs are first to topically deliver gene regulation via commercial moisturizers for skin disease

Hand Cream With Nanoparticles

© Kristen Bonardi Rapp via Flickr
Hand Cream – A new class of nanoparticles inside skin lotion could penetrate the skin for gene therapy.

From the 2 July 2012 article at Science News Daily

Getting under your skin” takes on a brave new meaning thanks to Northwestern University research that could transform gene regulation.

A team led by a physician-scientist and a chemist — from the fields of dermatology and nanotechnology — is the first to demonstrate the use of commercial moisturizers to deliver gene regulation technology that has great potential for life-saving therapies for skin cancers.

The topical delivery of gene regulation technology to cells deep in the skin is extremely difficult because of the formidable defenses skin provides for the body. The Northwestern approach takes advantage of drugs consisting of novel spherical arrangements of nucleic acids. These structures, each about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, have the unique ability to recruit and bind to natural proteins that allow them to traverse the skin and enter cells.

Applied directly to the skin, the drug penetrates all of the skin’s layers and can selectively target disease-causing genes while sparing normal genes. Once in cells, the drug simply flips the switch of the troublesome genes to “off.”

A detailed study of a method that could dramatically redefine the field of gene regulation will be published online during the week of July 2 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)….

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Uncontrollable Anger Prevalent Among U.S. Youth: Almost Two-Thirds Have History of Anger Attacks

Although not addressed in this study, I couldn’t help but wonder if anger is “fed” by factors not easily determined as how we think about and treat people on an everyday basis.
This morning on Facebook, a friend posted an item about snarkiness and how this affects one’s productivity.  However, I think snakiness not only affects oneself but the thoughts and actions of others.I couldn’t help but think that maybe snarky attitudes can somehow draw out anger in others. Yes, we are all ultimately responsible for our actions and thoughts. But we are also “our brother’s keeper”.

This article made me more aware of how I think and act towards teens, and how I need to rethink my thoughts and actions.

 

From the 2 July 2012 ScienceDaily article

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adolescents have experienced an anger attack that involved threatening violence, destroying property or engaging in violence toward others at some point in their lives. These severe attacks of uncontrollable anger are much more common among adolescents than previously recognized, a new study led by researchers from Harvard Medical School finds.

Image not available.

The study, based on the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement, a national face-to-face household survey of 10,148 U.S. adolescents, found that nearly two-thirds of adolescents in the U.S. have a history of anger attacks. It also found that one in 12 young people — close to six million adolescents — meet criteria for a diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), a syndrome characterized by persistent uncontrollable anger attacks not accounted for by other mental disorders.

The results were published July 2 inArchives of General Psychiatry.
[Full Text of the Report here

IED has an average onset in late childhood and tends to be quite persistent through the middle years of life. ..

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: