Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News release] Tox Town Town neighborhood now has a new photo-realistic look

NLM Toxicology and Environmental Health Info

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Tox Town Town neighborhood now has a new photo-realistic look. The location and chemical information remains the same, but the new graphics allow users to better identify with real-life locations.

The Town scene is available in HTML5, allowing it to be accessed on a variety of personal electronic devices, including cell phones (iphones and androids), ipads, ipad minis, and tablets. 

Tox Town uses color, graphics, sounds and animation to add interest to learning about connections between chemicals, the environment, and the public’s health. Visit the updated Town neighborhood and learn about possible environmental health risks in a typical town.

http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/flash/town/flash.php    Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 6.29.20 AM

May 16, 2015 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

[News release] How your brain reacts to emotional information is influenced by your genes

How your brain reacts to emotional information is influenced by your genes.

770brain

Image shows increased activity in the brains of ADRA2b deletion carriers.

From the 6 May 2015 University of British Columbia  news release

Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information, according to new research by a UBC neuroscientist. The study, recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions.

“People really do see the world differently,” says lead author Rebecca Todd, a professor in UBC’s Department of Psychology. “For people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more.”

The gene in question is ADRA2b, which influences the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Previous research by Todd found that carriers of a deletion variant of this gene showed greater attention to negative words. Her latest research is the first to use brain imaging to find out how the gene affects how vividly people perceive the world around them, and the results were startling, even to Todd.

Rebecca Todd

“We thought, from our previous research, that people with the deletion variant would probably show this emotionally enhanced vividness, and they did more than we would even have predicted,” says Todd, who scanned the brains of 39 participants, 21 of whom were carriers of the genetic variation.

Carriers of the gene variation showed significantly more activity in a region of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and evaluating both pleasure and threat. Todd believes this may help explain why some people are more susceptible to PTSD and intrusive memories following trauma.

“Emotions are not only about how feel about the world, but how our brains influence our perception of it,” says Adam Anderson, professor of human development at Cornell University and senior author of the study. “As our genes influence how we literally see the positive and negative aspects of our world more clearly, we may come to believe the world has more rewards or threats.”

Todd points out there are also benefits to carrying the gene variant. “People who have the deletion variant are drawing on an additional network in their brains important for calculating the emotional relevance of things in the world,” she says. “In any situation where noticing what’s relevant in the environment is important, this gene variation would be a positive.”

Todd says a prime example of a carrier of this variation was French novelist Marcel Proust: “He bit into the Madeleine cookie and then wrote seven volumes of memoirs,” she says. “He probably was emotionally sensitive too and he was certainly creative. He’s a classic deletion carrier.

 

May 16, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

You may be travelling less – and that’s a good thing

You may be travelling less – and that’s a good thing.

From the 28 April 2015 article at The Conversation

Traffic death rates are falling in OECD countries, but generally rising elsewhere as mass car ownership spreads to other countries. For this reason, the WHO forecast traffic fatalities moving up to the fifth leading cause of death globally by 2030.

Paradoxically, fatality rates (deaths per 100,000 people) are far higher in low-income countries, despite their low levels of vehicle ownership. The main reason? Pedestrian and cyclist deaths can be as high as two-thirds of those killed, compared with 16% in Australia.

Tens of millions are also injured each year on the world’s roads. Particularly in low-income countries, this can mean a double catastrophe: loss of earnings and high medical costs for the affected families.

Air pollution also results in millions of premature deaths, especially in Asian megacities, and the rapid rise in vehicular traffic is an important cause. Further, a recent Chinese studyhas found that children’s school performance was adversely affected by living in traffic-polluted areas.

What’s the alternative?

For some time in OECD countries—and even elsewhere, when we consider traffic casualties and air pollution health effects—the societal costs of extra mobility have been rising faster than the benefits obtained. We must now focus on accessibility —the ease with which people can reach various activities — rather than vehicular mobility.

When access replaces mobility, we can finally start designing our cities for humans rather than cars. We’ll need to design our cities and towns to encourage an attachment to place, rather than endlessly trying to be someplace else. Excess mobility can destroy this sense of place.

….

 

May 16, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

[Magazine article]The Atlantic: Health: Family

The Atlantic: Health: Family

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/category/family/

For readers fascinated by the intricacies and ins and outs of domestic life in 21st century America, the Atlantic has gathered together its articles on family in a handy, easily accessible – and free – webpage. The articles run from serious investigations of How Nurses Can Help Low-Income Mothers and Kids to entertaining ones exploring The Psychological Reason ‘Billie Jean’ Kills at Weddings. Along the way, readers may explore the pros and cons of apps that help parents track their baby’s napping cycles, why it is that pretending to understand what a baby says can help it learn, and the research-confirmed importance of making deliberate choices in love relationships.[CNH]

 

 From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2015. https://www.scout.wisc.edu

May 16, 2015 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Health Education (General Public), Health News Items, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Walking after meals could save older people from a fall

Walking after meals could save older people from a fall.

From the 25 March 2015 University of Adelaide news release

Going for a walk instead of resting after eating could help to save older people from some falls caused by a sudden loss in blood pressure, according to new research.

Post-prandial hypotension is a fall in blood pressure seen within two hours of eating a meal. This health condition commonly affects older people – after a meal (usually breakfast), an older person may feel tired, dizzy or even experience a fall.

“Although this condition is common in older people, many are not aware of it,” says the University of Adelaide’s Professor Renuka Visvanathan, Director of the Adelaide Geriatrics Training and Research with Aged Care (G-TRAC) Centre, and Director of Aged and Extended Care Services at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“Falls among older people often result in fractures, and those who experience a fall may lose confidence as well as lose their independence.  Falls can also be fatal for older people,” she says.

Professor Visvanathan says researchers have been trying to better understand the reasons as to why this condition occurs, in the hopes of developing improved treatments or preventing post-prandial hypotension.

Research by University of Adelaide student Dr Shailaja Nair and University of South Australia student Ms Zoe Kopsaftis, working under the supervision of Professor Visvanathan and Dr Diana Piscitelli from the University of South Australia, has now confirmed that older people with post-prandial hypotension should be encouraged to walk intermittently at a normal pace for at least 120 minutes after a meal, as a means of reducing the fall in bloodpressure.

“This advice, coupled with other practical strategies, such as drinking a glass of water with meals, may help older people avoid the consequences of post-prandial hypotension,” Professor Visvanathan says.

“Much of the research conducted to date has been undertaken in healthy older people, but this new research has involved people with a confirmed diagnosis of the condition,” she says.

Professor Visvanathan says the University of Adelaide is considered a world leader in this field, but much more work is needed.  “Simple, practical and cheap lifestyle interventions that older people can implement are highly desirable. The results showing that walking can be an effective strategy are pleasing, and will help in better understanding the overall picture of this common problem,” she says.

This research is supported by The Hospital Research Foundation and a RM Gibson Scientific Research Grant from the Australian Association of Gerontology.

May 16, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

   

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