Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Study shows how social media engages people with chronic diseases

Study shows how social media engages people with chronic diseases.

From the 27 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

Using Facebook chats to convey health information is becoming more common. A study at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City set out to find the best way to boost participation in the chats to raise awareness of lupus, an autoimmune disease.

Specifically, investigators at HSS wanted to see if collaboration with a community-based lupus organization would increase patient awareness and participation. They found that the number of people participating in the chat tripled when the hospital joined forces with the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation to publicize the chat.

“The Facebook chats provide a new venue to get information from rheumatologists and other health professionals who understand this complex disease. Lupus patients are hungry for information, and with social media, we can address their specific concerns in real time,” said Jane Salmon, M.D., director of the Lupus Center of Excellence and senior author of the study.

“The Facebook chats provide a new venue to get information from rheumatologists and other health professionals who understand this complex disease. Lupus patients are hungry for information, and with social media, we can address their specific concerns in real time,” said Jane Salmon, M.D., director of the Lupus Center of Excellence and senior author of the study.

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January 6, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smoking changes our genes

Smoking changes our genes.

From the 17 December 2013 ScienceDaily article

The fact that smoking means a considerable health risk is nowadays commonly accepted. New research findings from Uppsala University and Uppsala Clinical Research Center show that smoking alters several genes that can be associated with health problems for smokers, such as increased risk for cancer and diabetes.

We inherit our genes from our parents at birth. Later in life the genetic material can be changed by epigenetic modifications, i.e. chemical alterations of the DNA the affect the activity of the genes. Such alterations are normally caused by aging but can also result from environmental factors and lifestyle.

In a study recently published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics the researchers have examined how the genes are changed in smokers and users of non-smoke tobacco. They could identify a large number of genes that were altered in smokers but found no such effect of non-smoke tobacco.

t has been previously known that smokers have an increased risk of developing diabetes and many types of cancer, and have a reduced immune defence and lower sperm quality. The results from the study also showed that genes that increase the risk for cancer and diabetes, or are important for the immune response or sperm quality, are affected by smoking.

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January 6, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finnish research team reveals how emotions are mapped in the body

Finnish research team reveals how emotions are mapped in the body.

From the 31 December 2013 ScienceNewsline Biology article

Published: December 31, 2013. By Aalto University
http://www.aalto.fi/en/

Researchers Aalto University have revealed how emotions are experienced in the body.

Emotions adjust our mental and also bodily states to cope with the challenges detected in the environment. These sensations arising from the bodily changes are an important feature of our emotional experiences. For example, anxiety may be experienced as pain in the chest, whereas falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body. New research from Aalto University reveals, how emotions are literally experienced through the body.

The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions and their corresponding bodily sensation patterns have a biological basis.

Emotions adjust not only our mental, but also our bodily states. This way the prepare us to react swiftly to the dangers, but also to the opportunities such as pleasurable social interactions present in the environment. Awareness of the corresponding bodily changes may subsequently trigger the conscious emotional sensations, such as the feeling of happiness, tells assistant professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Aalto University.

The findings have major implications for our understanding of the functions of emotions and their bodily basis. On the other hand, the results help us to understand different emotional disorders and provide novel tools for their diagnosis.

The research was carried out on line, and over 700 individuals from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan took part in the study. The researchers induced different emotional states in their Finnish and Taiwanese participants. Subsequently the participants were shown with pictures of human bodies on a computer, and asked to colour the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing.

he research was funded by European Research Council (ERC), The Academy of Finland and the Aalto University (aivoAALTO project)

The results were published on 31 December (U.S. Eastern time) in the scientific journal Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS).

Original publication: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/26/1321664111.full.pdf+html?with-ds=yes

Figure summarizing the main findings of the study http://becs.aalto.fi/~lnummen/Emotionbodies.pdf
Participate in the ongoing experiment : http://becs.aalto.fi/~lnummen/participate.htm
emotionbodies.pdf (2M)
Figure caption: Different emotions are associated with discernible patterns of bodily sensations.
Contact information:
Assistant Professor Lauri Nummenmaa
Aalto University and Turku PET Centre
lauri.nummenmaa@aalto.fi
p. +358 50 431 9931
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January 6, 2014 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Slower-paced meal reduces hunger but affects calorie consumption differently

Slower-paced meal reduces hunger but affects calorie consumption differently.

From the 30 December 2013 EurkAlert

According to new study of normal-weight and overweight or obese individuals published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Philadelphia, PA, December 30, 2013 – Obesity rates in the United States increased from 14.5% of the population in 1971-1974 to 35.9% of the population in 2009-2010. It’s believed that one contributing factor to expanding waistlines is the reported increase in energy intake. Research suggests that the ability to control energy intake may be affected by the speed at which we eat, and a high eating rate may impair the relationship between the sensory signals and processes that regulate how much we eat.

In order to learn more about the relationship between eating speed and energy intake, a team of researchers in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University took a look at how eating speed affects calories consumed during a meal in both normal weight subjects as well as overweight or obese subjects. The investigators also collected data on feelings of hunger and fullness before and after the fast-paced and slow-paced meals and water consumption during the meals. Their results are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

While previous studies have reviewed the relationship between eating speed and body weight, most of those studies were conducted with normal-weight individuals. In this new study, investigators asked a group of normal-weight subjects and a group of overweight or obese subjects to consume two meals in a controlled environment. All subjects ate one meal at a slow speed, for which they were instructed to imagine that they had no time constraints, take small bites, chew thoroughly, and pause and put the spoon down between bites, and a second meal at a fast speed, for which they were instructed to imagine that they had a time constraint, take large bites, chew quickly, and not pause and put the spoon down.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that only normal-weight subjects had a statistically significant reduction in caloric consumption during the slow compared to the fast meal: 88 kcal less for the normal weight group, versus only 58 kcal less for the overweight or obese group.

“Slowing the speed of eating led to a significant reduction in energy intake in the normal-weight group, but not in the overweight or obese group. A lack of statistical significance in the overweight and obese group may be partly due to the fact that they consumed less food during both eating conditions compared to the normal-weight subjects,” explained lead author Meena Shah, PhD, professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University. “It is possible that the overweight and obese subjects felt more self-conscious, and thus ate less during the study.”

Despite the differences in caloric consumption between the normal-weight and overweight and obese subjects, the study found some similarities. Both groups felt less hungry later on after the slow meal than after the fast meal. “In both groups, ratings of hunger were significantly lower at 60 minutes from when the meal began during the slow compared to the fast eating condition,” added Dr. Shah. “These results indicate that greater hunger suppression among both groups could be expected from a meal that is consumed more slowly.”

Also, both the normal weight and overweight or obese groups consumed more water during the slow meal. During the fast condition, participants across the study only consumed 9 ounces of water, but during the slow condition, that amount rose to 12 ounces. “Water consumption was higher during the slow compared to the fast eating condition by 27% in the normal weight and 33% in the overweight or obese group. The higher water intake during the slow eating condition probably caused stomach distention and may have affected food consumption,” said Dr. Shah.

With obesity rates continuing to rise among the adult population in the United States, information about how different weight groups approach and consume food will be helpful in crafting strategies to lower energy intake, but for now, Dr. Shah suggested, “Slowing the speed of eating may help to lower energy intake and suppress hunger levels and may even enhance the enjoyment of a meal.”

 

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January 6, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

   

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