Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Why sitting for too long is killing you, with tips for all (including those with health & mobility issues)

From the 26 January 2015 post at the National Posture Institute Posture Correction and Resistance Training Blog

Well, by now you’ve heard of this…right? If not, this brief video is a must watch on the reasons why sitting too much is a killer.
[Don’t see the video? Try this–> https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1422327029&x-yt-cl=84838260&v=dnVmeaYjdrs ]

 

While viewing this video I wondered how those who are unable to follow the tips. So I did a little Web surfing and came across this page from a reputable source.

Some tips for those wheelchair bound or with serious health or mobility issues
Excerpts from Helpguide.org

If you have a disability, severe weight problem, chronic breathing condition, diabetes, arthritis, or other ongoing illness you may think that your health problems make it impossible for you to exercise effectively, if at all. Or perhaps you’ve become frail with age and are worried about falling or injuring yourself if you try to exercise. The truth is, regardless of your age, current physical condition, and whether you’ve exercised in the past or not, there are plenty of ways to overcome your mobility issues and reap the physical, mental, and emotional rewards of exercise.

What types of exercise are possible with limited mobility?

It’s important to remember that any type of exercise will offer health benefits. Mobility issues inevitably make some types of exercise easier than others, but no matter your physical situation, you should aim to incorporate three different types of exercise into your routines:

  • Cardiovascular exercises that raise your heart rate and increase your endurance. These can include walking, running, cycling, dancing, tennis, swimming, water aerobics, or “aquajogging”. Many people with mobility issues find exercising in water especially beneficial as it supports the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort. Even if you’re confined to a chair or wheelchair, it’s still possible to perform cardiovascular exercise.
  • Strength trainingexercises involve using weights or other resistance to build muscle and bone mass, improve balance, and prevent falls. If you have limited mobility in your legs, your focus will be on upper body strength training. Similarly, if you have a shoulder injury, for example, your focus will be more on strength training your legs and abs.
  • Flexibility exercises help enhance your range of motion, prevent injury, and reduce pain and stiffness. These may include stretching exercises and yoga. Even if you have limited mobility in your legs, for example, you may still benefit from stretches and flexibility exercises to prevent or delay further muscle atrophy.

http://youtu.be/dnVmeaYjdrs

 

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Vapor from e-cigarettes triggers changes to cells in lab study

From the 27 January 2015 article at Covering Health – Monitoring the Pulse of Health Journalism by Mary Otto

https://i2.wp.com/healthjournalism.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/vaping.jpg

Photo: Jonny Williams via Flickr
This image is released under Creative Commons. If used, please attribute to http://www.ecigclick.co.uk

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes are growing in popularity among American adults, and while some states restrict their use by minors, nearly 1.8 million American middle and high school students reported using them one recent year, a federal study found.


Manufacturers promote e-cigarettes as safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes and as tools for smoking cessation. Yet researchers point out that there is a dearth of scientific evidence regarding the effects of e-cigarette vapors on the lungs.

A laboratory study published in September suggests vapor from e-cigarettes may cause damage and raise the risk for respiratory infections among young people. In the lab, the vapor triggered a strong immune response in the epithelial cells of tissue samples donated by deceased children and the exposed cells appeared to be more vulnerable to infection by cold-causing rhinovirus, according to the research article, published in PLOS One. According to the study, even nicotine-free vapor increased the risk of infection.

HealthDay News reporter Dennis Thompson, who has been following the research on e-cigarette safety, took a look at the findings this month in a story posted on WebMD.

“Epithelial cells are the first line of defense in our airways,” the study’s lead author, Qun Wu, a lung disease researcher at National Jewish Health in Denver explains in Thompson’s article.

“They protect our bodies from anything dangerous we might inhale. Even without nicotine, this liquid can hurt your epithelial defense system and you will be more likely to get sick.”

Wu and his team placed the human cells in a sterile container in one end of a machine with an e-cigarette at the other end, Thompson notes. “The vapor spurred the release of IL-6, a signalling protein that promotes inflammation and an immune system response. This occurred whether or not the vapor contained nicotine, although nicotine appeared to slightly enhance the release of IL-6, the researchers said.”

An industry group representing e-cigarette manufacturers is stressing the limits of the study, pointing out that the tests involved cells in a lab, not actual e-cigarette users.

“Many in public health agree that the risks of vaping must always be considered in the context of the risks of cigarette smoking and traditional stop-smoking therapies,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association observes in Thompson’s article.

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January 28, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] That’s using your head: Brain regulates fat metabolism, potentially stopping disease

[Press release] That’s using your head: Brain regulates fat metabolism, potentially stopping disease
Jessica Yue poses in her lab.

Jessica Yue

 

From the University of Alberta press release By Cait Wills on January 26, 2015

Recent research into brain control of liver lipid production could cause break in obesity and diabetes treatment

Ways of keeping the heart healthy has widened, with the discovery that the brain can help fight off hardening of the arteries.

Atherosclerosis—hardening and narrowing of the arteries—can be caused by fat build up that causes plaque deposits, and is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease. Jessica Yue, a newly recruited researcher in the Department of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, has shown a link between how the brain can regulate fat metabolism, potentially stopping the development of this disease risk factor in obesity and diabetes.

Her findings, published this month in Nature Communications, the online version of the high-impact Nature publication, outlines how the brain can use the presence of fatty acids, which are building blocks of fat molecules, to trigger the liver to reduce its own lipid production.

“We know that when there is dyslipidemia, or an abnormal amount of fat in the bloodstream, it’s dangerous for health—largely because this can lead to obesity, obesity-related disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, and atherosclerosis,” says Yue, and that “if you can find ways to lower fats in the bloodstream, it helps to lower these chances of diabetes and cardiovascular disease as a result of this atherosclerosis.”

Yue trained at the Toronto General Research Institute under Tony Lam, where she was a recipient of fellowships from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Diabetes Association. With her associates in Toronto and with Peter Light, professor of pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, she looked at how the infusion of oleic acid, a naturally occurring monounsaturated fatty acid, in the brain “triggers” a signal from the hypothalamus to the liver to lower its fat secretion, which Yue says is a “triglyceride-rich, very-low-density lipoprotein. Light is the co-author of Yue’s paper in Nature Communications and is the director of the Alberta Diabetes Institute (ADI), where Yue is applying for membership.

“This fat complex is the kind of lipoprotein that is dangerous when its levels in the blood are elevated because it promotes atherosclerosis,” she says.

The catch, though, is that this “trigger” doesn’t work in obesity, a setting in which blood lipid levels are usually high. “In a model of diet-induced obesity, which then leads to insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, oleic acid no longer provides the fat-lowering trigger to the liver.” Yue’s findings, though, demonstrate how this faulty signal can be bypassed, unveiling potentially other ways to trigger this same function in obese patients.

This study could potentially impact how obesity and diabetes are treated, says Yue, which is the focus of her future research.

The next steps, she says, will be to look at how the brain can sense other compounds to regulate not only liver secretion of fats, but also liver glucose production, a significant contributing factor to diabetes. As a member of the Group on Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids and with the strength of the ADI, she feels enthusiastic and inspired by her new research environment at the University of Alberta.

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] People can be induced to remember crimes they never committed | Ars Technica

People can be induced to remember crimes they never committed | Ars Technica.

Implanting a false memory of committing a crime is easier than you think.

2383172328_a708fee546_zAlejandro Mejía Greene (flickr user: ·júbilo·haku·)

From the 26 January 2015 article

The idea that memories are not as reliable as we think they are is disconcerting, but it’s pretty well-established. Various studies have shown that participants can be persuaded to create false childhood memories—of being lost in a shopping mall or hospitalized, or even highly implausible scenarios like having tea with Prince Charles.

The creation of false memories has obvious implications for the legal system, as it gives us reasons to distrust both eyewitness accounts and confessions. It’s therefore important to know exactly what kinds of false memories can be created, what influences the creation of a false memory, and whether false recollections can be distinguished from real ones.

A recent paper in Psychological Science found that 71 percent of participants exposed to certain interview techniques developed false memories of having committed a crime as a teenager. In reality, none of these people had experienced contact with the police during the age bracket in question.

A number of tactics were used to induce the false memory. Social pressure was applied to encourage recall of details, the interviewer attempted to build a rapport with the participants, and the participants were told that their caregivers had corroborated the facts. They were also encouraged to use visualization techniques to “uncover” the memory.

In each of the three interviews, participants were asked to provide as many details as they could for both events. After the final interview, they were informed that the second memory was false, and asked whether they had really believed the events had occurred. They were also asked to rate how surprised they were to find out that it was false. Only participants who answered that they had genuinely believed the false memory, and who could give more than ten details of the event, were classified as having a true false memory. Of the participants in the group with criminal false stories, 71 percent developed a “true” false memory. The group with non-criminal false stories was not significantly different, with 77 percent of participants classified as having a false memory. The details participants provided for their false memories did not differ significantly in either quality or quantity from their true memories.

This study is only a beginning, and there is still a great deal of work to be done. There are a number of factors that couldn’t be controlled for but which may have influenced the results.

 

 

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Are medications’ adverse cognitive effects reversible?

Are medications’ adverse cognitive effects reversible?

From the 26 January 2015 University of Indiana press release

INDIANAPOLIS — Whether the adverse cognitive effects of medications can be reversed is of significant importance to an aging population, their caregivers and their families, as well as to an overburdened health care system.

In a commentary in JAMA Internal Medicine, Noll Campbell, Pharm.D., and Malaz Boustani, M.D., MPH, of the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University Center for Aging Research, probe the possibility of reversing the adverse cognitive effects of medications frequently prescribed to older adults for chronic conditions including depression, anxiety and incontinence and sold over the counter as allergy and sleep aids.

It is not unusual for older adults to take two, three or more drugs that have a negative impact on their brain function. Over the past decade, Drs. Boustani and Campbell and colleagues have conducted several studies that have found associations between exposure to anticholinergic medications, which block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, and the clinical diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Low levels of acetylcholine have long been implicated in patients with dementia.

In a 2013 study, they reported that drugs with strong anticholinergic effects were associated with a clinical diagnosis of cognitive impairment when taken continuously for as few as 60 days over a one-year period. A similar impact was seen with 90 days of continuous use over a year when taking multiple drugs with weak anticholinergic effect.

In “Adverse Cognitive Effects of Medications: Turning Attention to Reversibility” published in the Jan. 26, 2015, issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, Drs. Campbell and Boustani call for further research to determine whether cognitive impairment caused by the adverse effects of medications can be reversed and to establish the safety risks of discontinuing these medications.

Their commentary accompanies a 10-year observational study by Shelly Gray, Pharm.D., M.S., of the University of Washington and colleagues that reports a higher risk of dementia with increasing dose and duration of exposure to medications with strong anticholinergic activities.

“While the Gray study suggests that adverse cognitive effects of medications were permanent, this may represent the use of dementia as the outcome — a non-reversible condition — rather than a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment which may be reversible in some older adults. Our previous studies have shown a stronger association of these harmful medications with the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment than with dementia,” Dr. Campbell said.

“We also differed in populations studied. The Gray study was 91 percent Caucasian, and 66 percent were college educated. Fewer than half had hypertension, and only 8 percent were diabetic. Our study subjects were 60 percent African-American, and nearly all subjects were treated for hypertension, and 3 in 10 had a history of stroke. Higher rates of comorbid disease may explain some of the differences between these studies.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5 million people with dementia lived in the United States in 2013, accounting for an estimated $214 billion in care costs. With the growth of the aging population, the association estimates that the number of older adults with dementia will be approximately 16 million by 2050, with $1.2 trillion expected in costs of care.

“While the scientific community is actively engaged in the quest, no drugs currently exist to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other dementing disorders. However, our IU and Regenstrief Institute group has focused on stopping cognitively harmful medications as a safe and cost-effective Alzheimer’s disease prevention,” said Dr. Boustani, who directs the Eskenazi Health Center Healthy Aging Brain Center.

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Chemists find a way to unboil egg whites: Ability to quickly restore molecular proteins could slash biotechnology costs

From the 23 January 2015 University of California- Irvine press release

UC Irvine and Australian chemists have figured out how to unboil egg whites – an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry, according to findings published today in the journal ChemBioChem.

uci_news_image_download

Chemistry major Stephan Kudlacek and professor Greg Weiss have developed a way of unboiling a hen egg.
Credit: Steve Zylius / UC Irvine

“Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,” said Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry. “In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order.”

Like many researchers, he has struggled to efficiently produce or recycle valuable molecular proteins that have a wide range of applications but which frequently “misfold” into structurally incorrect shapes when they are formed, rendering them useless.

“It’s not so much that we’re interested in processing the eggs; that’s just demonstrating how powerful this process is,” Weiss said. “The real problem is there are lots of cases of gummy proteins that you spend way too much time scraping off your test tubes, and you want some means of recovering that material.”

But older methods are expensive and time-consuming: The equivalent of dialysis at the molecular level must be done for about four days. “The new process takes minutes,” Weiss noted. “It speeds things up by a factor of thousands.”

To re-create a clear protein known as lysozyme once an egg has been boiled, he and his colleagues add a urea substance that chews away at the whites, liquefying the solid material. That’s half the process; at the molecular level, protein bits are still balled up into unusable masses. The scientists then employ a vortex fluid device, a high-powered machine designed by Professor Colin Raston’s laboratory at South Australia’s Flinders University. Shear stress within thin, microfluidic films is applied to those tiny pieces, forcing them back into untangled, proper form.

“This method … could transform industrial and research production of proteins,” the researchers write in ChemBioChem.

For example, pharmaceutical companies currently create cancer antibodies in expensive hamster ovary cells that do not often misfold proteins. The ability to quickly and cheaply re-form common proteins from yeast or E. coli bacteria could potentially streamline protein manufacturing and make cancer treatments more affordable. Industrial cheese makers, farmers and others who use recombinant proteins could also achieve more bang for their buck.

UCI has filed for a patent on the work, and its Office of Technology Alliances is working with interested commercial partners.

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Research article summary] First major analysis of Human Protein Atlas published, could explain many drug side effects

From the 23 January 2015 KTH article

A research article published today in Science presents the first major analysis based on the Human Protein Atlas, including a detailed picture of the proteins that are linked to cancer, the number of proteins present in the bloodstream, and the targets for all approved drugs on the market.

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The Human Protein Atlas, a major multinational research project supported by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, recently launched (November 6, 2014) an open source tissue-based interactive map of the human protein. Based on 13 million annotated images, the database maps the distribution of proteins in all major tissues and organs in the human body, showing both proteins restricted to certain tissues, such as the brain, heart, or liver, and those present in all. As an open access resource, it is expected to help drive the development of new diagnostics and drugs, but also to provide basic insights in normal human biology.

The analysis shows that almost half of the protein-coding genes are expressed in a ubiquitous manner and thus found in all analysed tissues.

The analysis suggests that approximately 3,000 proteins are secreted from the cells and an additional 5,500 proteins are located to the membrane systems of the cells.

“This is important information for the pharmaceutical industry. We show that 70% of the current targets for approved pharmaceutical drugs are either secreted or membrane-bound proteins,” Uhlén says. “Interestingly, 30% of these protein targets are found in all analysed tissues and organs. This could help explain some side effects of drugs and thus might have consequences for future drug development.”

The analysis also contains a study of the metabolic reactions occurring in different parts of the human body. The most specialised organ is the liver with a large number of chemical reactions not found in other parts of the human body.
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The study has been carried out by researchers in Sweden at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Uppsala University, Karolinska Institute, Chalmers University of Technology, Lund University, and Stockholm University.

 

 

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] For university students, walking beats sitting

For university students, walking beats sitting

Published Jan 22, 2015 at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Walking classrooms are better for not only for students’ physical health, but classroom engagement, a study from KTH Royal Institute of Technology shows.

What began in a response to a physical activity challenge for the computer science faculty at KTH has become a study in how education and fitness can be combined to improve both physical well-being, and classroom discussions.

Instructor Olle Bälter improvised his “walking seminar” in media technology at KTH during the spring of 2014, in response to a competition in which staff were recording the number of hours they and their students spent sitting, as opposed to being active.

Taking his group of 10 students for a stroll through a wooded park near the Stockholm campus, Bälter immediately began to see results.

“Students feel freer to talk when they are outdoors than when they are in the classroom,” Bälter says.  His experience seemed consistent with a paper that he cites as an inspiration — a Stanford University study linking creativity with physical activity.

Now Bälter and his colleagues are adding their experience to the body of knowledge supporting more activity in education. In an article  presented at the Lund Institute of Technology eighth pedagogical inspiration conference in December, Bälter and coauthors Björn Hedin and Helena Tobiasson reported that a significant majority of the students surveyed preferred the walk seminars over traditional seminars.

Notably, 21 of 23 students surveyed said that after the workshops they felt better than after typical, sedentary seminars; and no one thought they felt worse. Furthermore, 17 of the 23 students believed that communication was better.

“It is noticeable how much easier it is for individual students to express their views on these walking seminars, particularly when the class is split into smaller groups,” Bälter says.

Second-year student Frida Haugsbakk agrees. “Everyone chipped in, even those who were too shy to speak in larger groups,” he says. “On the walk, students can address another student directly, while the others simply listen and enter the discussion later on.”

Peter Larsson, Christer Gummeson and David Callahan 

 

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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