Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

A clinical trial wants your DNA – what should you do?

Via https://theconversation.com/a-clinical-trial-wants-your-dna-what-should-you-do-96327

 

On May 6, the “All of Us” study started enrolling participants. This national study will be one of the largest ever examining the connection between genetics, behavior and medical outcomes, with a goal of 1 million or more participants. Anyone over the age of 18 in the U.S. can join.

As a researcher who studies personalized medicine, I believe it’s important for Americans to be able to make an informed decisions in their quest for cutting-edge health care, but it does raise important questions over privacy. Given modern concerns about data security, I see positives and negatives to participating in trials like All of Us.

 

More at https://theconversation.com/a-clinical-trial-wants-your-dna-what-should-you-do-96327

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May 23, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chimpanzees eat plants that point to new ways of treating diseases

Via May 20, 2018 article at The Conversation

As cancer and other non-infectious diseases continue to rise all over the world it’s become harder for scientists to find safe, effective treatments. In addition, bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to drugs and synthetic medicines have become harsher.

These challenges have led to searches for new solutions, including natural substances, like medicinal plants. Plant based medicines are known to have more benefits because they are less poisonous than synthetic versions. They also have compounds that compliment each other that help in disease prevention.

People have been using plants to make medicines for thousands of years. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 75% and 80% of the world’s population uses at least some plant based medicines.

Africa has its own store of medicinal plants, such as those used in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

I have been working with a group of scientists to find new ways to exploit plants for medicinal purposes. As part of the process we studied the eating habits and behaviour of some wild chimpanzees based at the Taï National Park in the south western region of Côte d’Ivoire. We identified what they ate, which included leaves, fruit and the stems of the plants. We then tested these in a laboratory.

Our idea followed on from a previous study on the park’s chimpanzees which focused on the energy and protein balance in their diets. Our study focused on the medicinal properties of what they ate.

Our results suggest that the diets of chimpanzees are made up of plants that are a rich source of compounds that improve their immune systems and protect them from certain diseases. Our findings have opened the door to exploring the properties of these plants to test their ability to treat disease in humans.

Tolerance to disease

Chimpanzees are the closest animal to humans genetically, sharing 98% of the human DNA. This genetic closeness means that these great apes share certain diseases with humans. These include yeast infections (candidiasis), Ebola and HIV/AIDS. Chimpanzees are also able to get cancer.

Our hypothesis was that some plants in the chimpanzees’ diet might be keeping them healthy and that this could be useful in developing medicine for humans too.

We tested about 132 extracts from 27 plants chosen based on:

  • how frequently they consumed the plants
  • the time of consumption
  • the quantity eaten

The plants were analysed for their ability to prevent the development of cancer and to inhibit cell damage, bacterial and fungal growth. Their nutritional benefits were also analysed.

The preventive diet

Some of the plants we analysed are already used by people as medicinal plants. But the parts extracted to make medicines are different to those eaten by the chimps. The plant Nauclea diderrichii is a good example. The fruits and leaves are eaten by chimps but the stem bark is used by people to treat fever and jaundice.

Promising plants such as Tristemma coronatum, whose leaf extract is known to induce sleep in humans, and Beilschmiedia mannii, which is already used to treat lung diseases, were identified.

The leaves of the Tristemma coronatum plant are known to induce sleep. Author provided.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Statistics on Mental Illness

mentalIllness

Looking for statistics on Mental Illness? Check out the UToledo Libraries Guide “Diseases and Conditions” section through “Locating Health Statistics”.  http://libguides.utoledo.edu/health_stats/diseases

 

For example, Go to the Specific Diseases/Conditions “box” and select
Mental Health & Substance Abuse
Mental Health (US National Center for Health Statistics) has national
statistics on the prevalence and treatment of mental illnesses among
the U.S. population.Includes mental illness, ADHD, Bipolar disorder,
eating disorders, PTSD, suicide

In addition, information is provided about possible consequences of
mental illnesses, such as suicide and disability.

 

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Health Statistics, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Sleep Probelms and Complementary Approaches

From the US National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) – part of NIH

What’s the Bottom Line?

sleepdisorder_ThinkstockPhotos-526393059_square[1]

What do we know about the usefulness of complementary approaches for sleep disorders?

  • Relaxation techniques can be helpful for insomnia.
  • Melatonin supplements may be helpful for sleep problems caused by shift work or jet lag. Melatonin may also be helpful for people with insomnia, but its effect is small.
  • The evidence for other complementary approaches is either inconsistent or too limited to draw conclusions about whether they are helpful for sleep disorders.

What do we know about the safety of complementary approaches for sleep disorders?

  • Relaxation techniques are generally considered safe.
  • Melatonin appears to be relatively safe for short-term use, but its long-term safety has not been established.
  • There are serious safety concerns about kava products (which have been linked to severe liver damage) and L-tryptophan supplements (which may be associated with a potentially serious disorder called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome).
  • If you use a complementary approach for a sleep problem, tell your health care providers. They can do a better job caring for you if they know what you’re using.

What Are Sleep Disorders and How Important Are They?

There are more than 80 different sleep disorders. This fact sheet focuses on insomnia—difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders.

More information

Chronic, long-term sleep disorders affect millions of Americans each year. These disorders and the sleep deprivation they cause can interfere with work, driving, social activities, and overall quality of life, and can have serious health implications. Sleep disorders account for an estimated $16 billion in medical costs each year, plus indirect costs due to missed days of work, decreased productivity, and other factors.

To learn more about sleep disorders, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Web site.

Is It a Sleep Disorder or Not Enough Sleep?

Some people who feel tired during the day have a true sleep disorder, but for others, the real problem is not allowing enough time for sleep. Adults need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to be well rested, but the average adult sleeps for less than 7 hours a night.

More information

Sleep is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing, and is vital to good health and well-being. Shortchanging yourself on sleep slows your thinking and reaction time, makes you irritable, and increases your risk of injury. It may even decrease your resistance to infections, increase your risk of obesity, and increase your risk of heart disease. To learn more about healthy sleep and what happens when you don’t get enough sleep, visit NHLBI’s Your Guide to Healthy Sleep and What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?.

What the Science Says About Complementary Health Approaches and Insomnia

Research has produced promising results for some complementary health approaches for insomnia, such as relaxation techniques. However, evidence of effectiveness is still limited for most products and practices, and safety concerns have been raised about a few.

Mind and Body Practices

  • There is evidence that relaxation techniques can be effective in treating chronic insomnia.

    More information

    • Progressive relaxation may help people with insomnia and nighttime anxiety.
    • Music-assisted relaxation may be moderately beneficial in improving sleep quality in people with sleep problems, but the number of studies has been small.
    • Various forms of relaxation are sometimes combined with components of cognitive-behavioral therapy (such as sleep restriction and stimulus control), with good results.
    • Using relaxation techniques before bedtime can be part of a strategy to improve sleep habits that also includes other steps, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule; avoiding caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals, and strenuous exercise too close to bedtime; and sleeping in a quiet, cool, dark room.
    • Relaxation techniques are generally safe. However, rare side effects have been reported in people with serious physical or mental health conditions. If you have a serious underlying health problem, it would be a good idea to consult your health care provider before using relaxation techniques.
  • In a preliminary study, mindfulness-based stress reduction, a type of meditation, was as effective as a prescription drug in a small group of people with insomnia.

    More information

    • Several other studies have also reported that mindfulness-based stress reduction improved sleep, but the people who participated in these studies had other health problems, such as cancer.
  • Preliminary studies in postmenopausal women and women with osteoarthritis suggest that yoga may be helpful for insomnia.
  • Some practitioners who treat insomnia have reported that hypnotherapy enhanced the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques in their patients, but very little rigorous research has been conducted on the use of hypnotherapy for insomnia.
  • A small 2012 study on massage therapy showed promising results for insomnia in postmenopausal women. However, conclusions cannot be reached on the basis of a single study.
  • Most of the studies that have evaluated acupuncture for insomnia have been of poor scientific quality. The current evidence is not rigorous enough to show whether acupuncture is helpful for insomnia.

For more information on mind and body practices.

Dietary Supplements

Melatonin and Related Supplements

  • Melatonin may help with jet lag and sleep problems related to shift work.
  • A 2013 evaluation of the results of 19 studies concluded that melatonin may help people with insomnia fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and sleep better, but the effect of melatonin is small compared to that of other treatments for insomnia.

    More information

    • Studies of melatonin in children with sleep problems suggest that it may be helpful, both in generally healthy children and in those with conditions such as autism or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, both the number of studies and the number of children who participated in the studies are small, and all of the studies tested melatonin only for short periods of time.
    • Melatonin supplements appear to be relatively safe for short-term use, although the use of melatonin was linked to bad moods in elderly people (most of whom had dementia) in one study.
    • The long-term safety of melatonin supplements has not been established.
  • Dietary supplements containing substances that can be changed into melatonin in the body—L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)—have been researched as sleep aids.

    More information

    • Studies of L-tryptophan supplements as an insomnia treatment have had inconsistent results, and the effects of 5-HTP supplements on insomnia have not been established.
    • The use of L-tryptophan supplements may be linked to eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), a complex, potentially fatal disorder with multiple symptoms including severe muscle pain. It is uncertain whether the risk of EMS associated with L-tryptophan supplements is due to impurities in L-tryptophan preparations or to L-tryptophan itself.

Herbs

  • Although chamomile has traditionally been used for insomnia, often in the form of a tea, there is no conclusive evidence from clinical trials showing whether it is helpful. Some people, especially those who are allergic to ragweed or related plants, may have allergic reactions to chamomile.
  • Although kava is said to have sedative properties, very little research has been conducted on whether this herb is helpful for insomnia. More importantly, kava supplements have been linked to a risk of severe liver damage.
  • Clinical trials of valerian (another herb said to have sedative properties) have had inconsistent results, and its value for insomnia has not been demonstrated. Although few people have reported negative side effects from valerian, it is uncertain whether this herb is safe for long-term use.
  • Some “sleep formula” dietary supplements combine valerian with other herbs such as hops, lemon balm, passionflower, and kava or other ingredients such as melatonin and 5-HTP. There is little evidence on these preparations from studies in people.

For more information on dietary supplements.

Other Complementary Health Approaches

  • Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils from plants. It is uncertain whether aromatherapy is helpful for treating insomnia because little rigorous research has been done on this topic.
  • A 2010 systematic review concluded that current evidence does not demonstrate significant effects of homeopathic medicines for insomnia.

NCCIH Research on Sleep Disorders

NCCIH funds research on complementary health approaches for sleep disorders.

More information

Recent projects include studies on:

  • How mindfulness meditation training may affect the amount and quality of sleep
  • The effect of blue-white light on sleep disorders in patients with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Whether acupuncture can help insomnia
  • How two forms of mindfulness-based therapy compare with behavior therapy for treating insomnia.

Could You Have Sleep Apnea?

Do you snore loudly? Does your bed partner say that you make gasping or snorting sounds during the night? Do you fight off sleepiness during the day?

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your health care provider. You might have sleep apnea—a condition in which sleep is disrupted because of pauses in breathing. For more information, visit the NHLBI Web site.

If You’re Considering Complementary Health Approaches for Sleep Problems

  • Talk to your health care providers. Tell them about the complementary health approach you are considering and ask any questions you may have. Because trouble sleeping can be an indication of a more serious condition, and because some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can contribute to sleep problems, it is important to discuss your sleep-related symptoms with your health care providers before trying any complementary health product or practice.
  • Be cautious about using any sleep product—prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, or homeopathic remedies. Find out about potential side effects and any risks from long-term use or combining products.
  • Keep in mind that “natural” does not always mean safe. For example, kava products can cause serious harm to the liver. Also, a manufacturer’s use of the term “standardized” (or “verified” or “certified”) does not necessarily guarantee product quality or consistency. Natural products can cause health problems if not used correctly. The health care providers you see about your sleep problems can advise you.
  • If you are pregnant, nursing a child, or considering giving a child a dietary supplement or other natural health product, it is especially important to consult your (or your child’s) health care provider.
  • If you are considering a practitioner-provided complementary health practice, check with your insurer to see if the services will be covered, and ask a trusted source (such as your health care provider or a nearby hospital or medical school) to recommend a practitioner.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

For More Information

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
1-866-464-3615

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

The NHLBI Health Information Center provides information to health professionals, patients, and the public about heart, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders and accepts orders for publications.

National Center on Sleep Disorders Research

MedlinePlus

To provide resources that help answer health questions, MedlinePlus (a service of the National Library of Medicine) brings together authoritative information from the National Institutes of Health as well as other Government agencies and health-related organizations.

Information on sleep disorders

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Key References

All Other References

Top

Acknowledgments

NCCIH thanks Ronald Glick, M.D., University of Pittsburgh; Nalaka Gooneratne, M.D., University of Pennsylvania; Michael Twery, Ph.D., National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and D. Lee Alekel, Ph.D., and John (Jack) Killen, Jr., M.D., NCCIH, for their contributions to the 2014 update of this publication.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Cancer Care Gets Personal How Tumor Treatments Are Changing

From the January 2018 NIH News in Health article

illustration-people-holding-medication

Last year more than 1.7 million people were diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Cancer can be difficult to treat because each tumor is unique. Scientists are now gaining a better understanding of the changes that lead to cancer—and figuring out how to target them for personalized treatments.

“Cancer treatment is changing at a very fast pace,” says Dr. Patricia M. LoRusso, an NIH-funded cancer treatment expert at Yale Cancer Center. “What somebody got a year ago may not necessarily be the same treatment recommended for another person today.”

For decades, doctors have treated cancers based on where a tumor first started, such as in the lung or colon. But often, a treatment that works well for one person doesn’t work as well for another.

Read the entire article at https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/01/cancer-care-gets-personal

 

February 7, 2018 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

[Repost] The Power of Pets Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions

From the Feb 2018  NIH News in Health

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Cloning?

What Is Cloning?

Enlarge the illustration

Scientists can produce genetically identical copies of genes, cells, and tissues. They can also clone entire organisms, such as deer, sheep, and monkeys. (From NIH’s NHGRI)

From the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) fact sheet (https://www.genome.gov/25020028/cloning-fact-sheet/)
The fact sheet includes links to the following areas

 

For example

What is cloning?

The term cloning describes a number of different processes that can be used to produce genetically identical copies of a biological entity. The copied material, which has the same genetic makeup as the original, is referred to as a clone.

Researchers have cloned a wide range of biological materials, including genes, cells, tissues and even entire organisms, such as a sheep.

Do clones ever occur naturally?

Yes. In nature, some plants and single-celled organisms, such as bacteria, produce genetically identical offspring through a process called asexual reproduction. In asexual reproduction, a new individual is generated from a copy of a single cell from the parent organism.

Natural clones, also known as identical twins, occur in humans and other mammals. These twins are produced when a fertilized egg splits, creating two or more embryos that carry almost identical DNA. Identical twins have nearly the same genetic makeup as each other, but they are genetically different from either parent.

 

Read the entire fact sheet here –> https://www.genome.gov/25020028/cloning-fact-sheet/

 

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Music Is Good for Your Health

illustration-classroom-kids-playing-music
Check out the ways that playing an instrument or listening to tunes can boost your health.
(From NIH News in Health –> https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/01/sound-health )
Conditions and areas that may benefit include Parkinson’s diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, traumatic brain injury, stroke, aphasia, autism, and hearing loss.
A research team found that music has positive effects on kids’ learning abilities, even when the training starts as late as high school. And “music therapists are trained in how to use music to meet the mental, social, and physical needs of people with different health conditions.”

PubMed references are included!

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Health News Items, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Investigating the Safety of the Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri in Infants With Colic

From the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health
[This page last modified January 24, 2018]
Baby Crying

Findings from a recent preliminary trial, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, suggest that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri strain DSM 17938 may be safe for use in infants with colic. These results, however, must be interpreted with caution because of the small study size. The study, funded in part by NCCIH, was led by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Colic is a condition that results in inexplicable and severe crying in otherwise healthy newborns. The causes of this condition are unknown, but researchers suspect the gut is involved because symptoms usually worsen after feedings. An emerging body of evidence suggests that colicky infants may have an abnormal microbiome (community of microorganisms) in the gut, which may lead to inflammation, causing discomfort.      

In this study, 21 infants were randomly assigned into two groups in a 2:1 ratio: a probiotic group and a placebo group. A total of 16 infants completed the study. The infants received a daily dose of either L. reuteri strain DSM 17938 or placebo (sunflower oil) for 42 days. The goals of the study were to determine the safety of administering L. reuteri strain DSM 17938 to infants while also exploring its effects on crying, inflammation, and other biomarkers that may be useful in future studies; the study was not designed to assess the probiotic’s efficacy.

During the trial, no severe adverse events were observed, nor were there any major differences between the two groups in blood indicators of safety. Thus, the study suggests that L. reuteri strain DSM 17938 may be safe for infants with colic. The researchers did not observe a significant difference in colic symptoms between the two groups but did identify findings that may suggest gut inflammation. At the beginning of the study, blood from over 50 percent of the colicky infants contained low concentrations of neutrophils, a type of white blood (immune) cell. This is consistent with an infection or inflammation. Interestingly, the blood level of neutrophils increased in the probiotic-treated but not the placebo-treated infants, an observation that warrants future investigation.

Reference

Publication Date:
September 29, 2017

January 26, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Integrating approaches to heal, not just cure

Via an item from a January item at Healthcetera

Personally I believe there is much truth to this. Have found that a combination of Tai Chi,
swimming, and working out at the gym works for me.

“Prescription drugs are a $425 billion business in the United States, and growing. A good chunk of that goes towards prescription pain medication to help alleviate chronic pain. More than 25 million of us report having daily chronic pain, and 23 million say they’re in a lot of pain, according to a study from The National Institutes of Health.

About one in five adults are prescribed opioids to manage chronic pain says the CDC. We all know about the high rate of substance use disorder in the U.S., and while opioids certainly have a place, especially for managing acute pain, they’re not an ideal long-term option.

So what can we do to help people with persistent pain?

Wayne Jonas, M.D., former head of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine and a practicing family physician, said we should be looking at alternative and complementary options, like acupuncture, yoga, meditation and other less traditional approaches. In his new book, How Healing Works, he advocates an integrative approach, combining elements of Western and complementary medicine into a person-centered health plan. He believes this will significantly reduce our national dependence on prescription drugs, lower health costs, and improve patients’ quality of life.”

More at http://healthmediapolicy.com/2018/01/20/integrating-approaches-to-heal-not-just-cure/

 

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Email Topic on ‘Know the Science’. Sign up & gain a better understanding of complex scientific topics.

From the US Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (a US government agency)

 

NCCIH
NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health banner image
Health and Wellness Information banner image

We appreciate your interest in NCCIH and our work! As a current subscriber, you are invited to be among the first to learn about our newest email topic, “Know the Science.”

This new e-mail will feature tools to help you understand complex scientific topics related to health research. It will help you distinguish facts from myths so you’ll be better prepared to make well-informed health decisions, especially about complementary and integrative health approaches.

Topics will include drug-supplement interactions, the placebo effect, levels of evidence, the science behind complementary approaches for pain, evaluating online health information, and much more.

You can subscribe now by clicking on the below button, and then expect to receive your first email within a week or so!

Click here to subscribe

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sleeping for longer leads to a healthier diet

Sleeping for longer leads to a healthier diet

Excerpts from the article in Science Daily
(Granted this is a small study, only 21 people. Still it is food for thought (pun intended!))

Young woman asleep in bed

Date: January 9, 2018: King’s College London
Summary: Sleeping for longer each night is a simple lifestyle intervention that could help reduce intake of sugary foods and lead to a generally healthier diet, according to a new study.

The principal investigator, Dr Wendy Hall, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences observed: ‘The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars, by which we mean the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home as well as sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice, suggests that a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets.’

Lead researcher, Haya Al Khatib, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences commented: ‘Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions. We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalised approach.

‘Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices. This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies.

‘We hope to investigate this finding further with longer-term studies examining nutrient intake and continued adherence to sleep extension behaviours in more detail, especially in populations at risk of obesity or cardio-vascular disease.’

Story Source:

Materials provided by King’s College London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

 

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Wellness tips throughout January (Twitter chat on Jan 16 and tips via Twitter)

From the NIH news item , January 2018

Throughout January, many agencies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including NCCIH, are sharing information about health and wellness on Twitter. We are covering a broad range of topics, including general wellness, healthy eating, disease prevention, physical activity, managing stress and anxiety, quitting smoking, and healthy aging

NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health banner image
Health and Wellness Information banner image

Join us and other @NIH agencies for #NIHHealthy2018 chat on January 16 from 12 noon-4 p.m. ET. We’re sharing information on managing #stress and anxiety, quitting #smoking, #mindfulness, weight control, and more! The schedule follows (all times are Eastern Standard):

 

  • 12-12:20 p.m. ET:  Live Periscope panel with experts from @NIMHgov, @NIDDKgov, and @NIH_NHLBI
  • 12:20-1p.m.:  Managing Stress and Anxiety Twitter Chat
  • 1-2 p.m.:  Healthy Eating, Exercise, & Healthy Aging Twitter Chat
  • 2-3 p.m.:  Health, Wellness, & Disease Prevention Twitter Chat
  • 2:30-3 p.m.:  Live Q&A with Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., @NIHDirector
  • 3-4 p.m.: Kicking Habits Twitter Chat

 

Click on the link below to see the wellness tips that agencies throughout NIH have shared on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23NIHHealthy2018&src=typd

 

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Has an Alternative to Table Sugar Contributed to the C. Diff. Epidemic?

Excerpts from the  post on

Ice cream sundae

Most of us know how hard it is to resist the creamy sweetness of ice cream. But it might surprise you to learn that, over the past 15 years or so, some makers of ice cream and many other processed foods—from pasta to ground beef products—have changed their recipes to swap out some of the table sugar (sucrose) with a sweetening/texturizing ingredient called trehalose that depresses the freezing point of food. Both sucrose and trehalose are “disaccharides.” Though they have different chemical linkages, both get broken down into glucose in the body. Now, comes word that this switch may be an important piece of a major medical puzzle: why Clostridium difficile (C. diff) has emerged as a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections.

A new study in the journal Nature indicates that trehalose-laden food may have helped fuel the recent epidemic spread of C. diff., which is a microbe that can cause life-threatening gastrointestinal distress, especially in older patients getting antibiotics and antacid medicines [1, 2]. In laboratory experiments, an NIH-funded team found that the two strains of C. diff. most likely to make people sick possess an unusual ability to thrive on trehalose, even at very low levels. And that’s not all: a diet containing trehalose significantly increased the severity of symptoms in a mouse model of C. diff. infection.

What has changed is the recent addition of man-made trehalose into the food supply, often in large quantities. This shift was prompted by a new method to manufacture trehalose from cornstarch, which made the sugar much less costly.

This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to start worrying about trehalose. In fact, Britton says the sugar does have some advantages. For instance, because it’s harder to break down, trehalose doesn’t cause blood glucose to spike in the way some other sugars do.

 

 

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Recap of clinical trial on skin cancer treatment includes both strengths and weaknesses of the findings

From the January 8, 2018 HealthNewsReview article by Earle Holland, Dan Mayer, and Kathlyn Stone

Our Review Summary

This release reports on a large multi-center clinical trial intended to gauge the preventative value of using a cream containing 5 percent fluorouacil as a means of reducing the occurrence of both squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinomas. It says that the cream appears to reduce the risk of squamous cell carcinomas among the elderly veterans in the trial by 75 percent, although it has no statistically significant effect on reducing basal cell carcinomas. The release also states that the protection appears to only extend for the first year.

The release omits mention of the drug’s hefty price tag but it does clearly state both the benefits and the risks of using the medicinal cream.

More at https://www.healthnewsreview.org/news-release-review/clearly-state-both-the-benefits-and-the-risks-of-using-the-medicinal-cream/

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

How to evaluate complementary health approaches reported in the news

From an article at the US National Institutes of Health (a US government agency)

News stories about complementary approaches to health are often on television, the Internet, and in magazines and newspapers.

Health news headlines from newspapers, magazines, and websites

In fact, the media is one of our main sources of information when we make decisions about complementary health approaches. While many news reports are reliable, some are missing important information, and some are confusing, conflicting, or misleading.

The 11 points include Missing Information From Health Stories,  What’s Missing: Information on Side Effects!, and Is It Real Online News? Or Just Advertising?

 

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Accessing your own genomic data is a civil right but requires strategies to manage safety [this right does not include most non-HIPPA collected as 23&me, Ancestry.com]

From 4 January 2018 Science Daily news item

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 expanded individuals’ access to genetic information by forcing changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule. These amendments gave Americans a civil right to obtain copies of their own genetic test results stored at HIPAA-regulated laboratories. Researchers describe how civil rights and safety concerns collided after these changes and offers strategies to reconcile the two…….

…..”You only have an access right if the party that stores your data happens to be HIPAA-regulated. Most direct-to-consumer testing [as Ancestry.com and “23 & me”  and cloud data storage services are not HIPAA-regulated, so you may not have an access right if your data are there…

…..Giving people access to data from research laboratories is controversial because the genomic data they produce do not always contain clinically relevant information (only about 200 gene sequences have known clinical significance). Someone could misinterpret the data to pursue needless medical treatment or waste healthcare resources to clarify findings that they misunderstand.Giving people access to data from research laboratories is controversial because the genomic data they produce do not always contain clinically relevant information (only about 200 gene sequences have known clinical significance). Someone could misinterpret the data to pursue needless medical treatment or waste healthcare resources to clarify findings that they misunderstand……

……..”Having access to your own genomic data also lets you exercise important constitutional rights, such as your First Amendment rights to assemble and petition the government. You can go on social media and assemble groups of people with genes like yours and lobby Congress to spend more research dollars studying how those genes affect your health,” says Evans. “Like the right to vote, access to one’s own genomic data is a foundational civil right that empowers people to protect all their other civil rights.”

 

 

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Seven highly effective portable heater safety habits

January 4, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

DASH diet – news story, recipes, and a systematic review

Recently US News and World Report ranked the DASH diet as the best diet overall for the 8th year in a row. DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension . Government funded researchers developed DASH to prevent and treat high blood pressure, but the diet also has proven highly effective in lowering blood cholesterol.

Image of an empanapita
Empanadas are a great staple of Latino cuisine. Empanapitas, a new take with pita bread, are a DASH healthier, but just as tasty.NHLBI

High blood pressure is the most common chronic condition worldwide. It is a major risk factor for heart disease, affects 1 billion people, and accounts for 1 in 8 deaths each year.
And according to the  NIH news release “dietary interventions can be as effective as – or more effective than – antihypertensive drugs in those at highest risk for high blood pressure, and should be a routine first-line treatment option for such individuals”

The  NIH news release states that “DASH is not a fad diet, but a healthy eating plan that supports long-term lifestyle changes. It is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, and includes whole grains, poultry, fish, lean meats, beans, and nuts. It is rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber. However, it calls for a reduction in high fat red meat, sweets, and sugary beverages.”

Scientific evidence seems to back the claims of the DASH diet.  A recent systematic review thoroughly analyzed 34 news reports investigating diet quality with mortality.  Diets were scored using three indexes – including DASH.  High scoring diets had a “significant reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease by 22%, 22%, 16%, 18%, and 15%, respectively.”

Interested in learning more about the DASH diet?
Great description with tips may be found here

Many recipes may be found here 

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January 4, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

HealthNewsReview.org – unbiased site which critically analyzes claims about health care interventions

Have you ever read a health news story and wondered if it was really based on science?
Would you like to see health news items objectively discussed?
Would you like to learn how to analyze news stories on your own?

Look no further than HealthNewsReview.org This site’s reviewers includes physicians and heath care journalists who rate stories on objective criteria.

HealthNewsReview.org

  • Reviews health stories (granted not all of them, but most ones widely covered
  • Posts weekly reviews which are also available for free through subscription
  • Podcasts covering in-depth discussion on health care and news media messaging
  • A toolkit to help journalists and consumers evaluate claims about health care interventions.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Here’s a summary of a  current story covered by HealthNewsReview

“LA Times provides strong overview on study showing vitamin D and calcium supplements don’t prevent fractures

Our Review Summary

“Reporting on a large review study, this Los Angeles Times article walks readers through the conflicting advice and evidence about calcium and vitamin D supplements. Both compounds play roles in bone health and the routinely accepted claim is that supplementation can help prevent bone breaks in older people. This new meta-analysis shows that claim is not supported by evidence: not for calcium pills, vitamin D pills, or the two in combination.

The story is well-done on several points, particularly on explaining how this study worked and what it found. The story would have been stronger if it had included some commentary from experts in the field who were not associated with the study to help put this recent, apparently strong finding, into context for readers.”

The review goes on to rate the story on criteria as adequately covering costs, benefits, potential harm, evidence, and conflict of interest.

I am not sure how I learned about this site.  It was included in a recent webinar I took
from the US National Library of Medicine (part of the US government).

 

January 3, 2018 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Health News Items, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Tai Chi and Your Health – A Modern Take on an Ancient Practice

From NIH News in Health, Dec 2016
  https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2016/12/tai-chi-your-health

“You may have seen the flowing postures and gentle movements of tai chi and wondered what it’s all about. Tai chi is an ancient mind and body practice. While more research is needed, studies suggest that it may have many health benefits.

illustration-adults-tai-chi_0

Tai chi is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation.” There are many types of tai chi. They typically combine slow movements with breathing patterns and mental focus and relaxation. Movements may be done while walking, standing, or sitting.

“At its root, tai chi is about treating the whole person and enhancing the balance and crosstalk between the body’s systems,” says Dr. Peter Wayne, a longtime tai chi researcher at Harvard Medical School. “It’s a promising intervention for preserving and improving many areas of health, especially in older adults.”

Several studies have found evidence that tai chi can increase balance and stability in older people and reduce the risk and fear of falls. Each year, more than 1 in 4 older adults falls, and 1 out of 5 of these falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.

“Trying to be careful can make you more prone to falls,” Wayne says. “Tai chi may help you move more confidently and safely again.” Some NIH-funded research suggests that tai chi may also improve balance and prevent falls in people with mild-to-moderate Parkinson’s disease.

Research suggests that practicing tai chi might help improve posture and confidence, how you think and manage emotions, and your quality of life. Studies have found that it may help people with fibromyalgia sleep better and cope with pain, fatigue, and depression. Regular practice may also improve quality of life and mood in people with chronic heart failure or cancer. Older adults may find that tai chi can help improve sleep quality and protect learning, memory, and other mental functions.

Further study will be needed to fully evaluate and confirm the potential benefits of tai chi. But since the practice involves moving slowly and mindfully, there’s little chance of harm when done correctly.

“Whether you’re interested in trying tai chi to help with a chronic health issue or the stresses of everyday life, tai chi—if taught properly—can be a great complement to other ways of healthy living and rehabilitation,” Wayne says. “I think we’re all looking for tools to help us live productive, long lives with a little more grace and ease.”

There are different styles and ways to practice tai chi, Wayne says. If you’re interested in trying it, you can start simply. For instance, try standing behind and holding onto a sturdy chair for support, then mindfully rock back and forth to build awareness of all the parts of your body and their connections. Eventually, you might move on to practice more complex movements or sequences.

Want to learn more? Read the Wise Choices box to consider whether tai chi might be right for you. And watch NIH’s online tai chi videos at nccih.nih.gov/video/taichidvd-full.

    Read about the science behind Tai Chi at https://nccih.nih.gov/health/taichi

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Health Information You Can Trust (via the US National Institutes of Health)

Excerpts from the September NIH News in Health
https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/09/health-information-you-can-trust

“When you’re searching online for answers to your health questions, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of websites you come across. How do you know which ones to trust? Which websites have reliable and up-to-date information?

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First, consider the source. Government websites end in “.gov” and university or other educational institution websites end with “.edu.” These are online sources that you can usually trust. If you see “.org” or “.com” at the end of a web address, it may also be a trusted site. However, check it closely to make sure. The information may not be evidence-based. Or, the site may be trying to sell you a drug or service.Also, find out who is reviewing the health information before it’s published.”

To read more about trusted resources, visit www.cancer.gov/using-trusted-resources.

————————–
I’ve collected some reputable resources at my Google Health Information site
https://sites.google.com/site/healthnewsresources/
A guide to select resources for all with an emphasis on personal health and wellness, help from others, interactive tools, and health news”

January 1, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Medicines and Me – Lesson Plans about Safely Using OTC meds

Via the Scout Report —https://scout.wisc.edu/report/current

MEDICINES AND ME
HEALTH
Developed by the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Life Science Learning Center, Medicines and Me is a series of lesson plans about safely using over-the-counter (OTC) medications. These lessons are designed for young learners and intended to be incorporated into science, health, or family and consumer science classes. These lessons may also be of interest to Adult Basic Education (ABE) instructors leading Life Skills classes. Individual lessons address topics including reading and understanding medicine labels, choosing medicine safely, and knowing what to do in the case of an accidental overdose. Each lesson, which can be downloaded for free, includes a detailed lesson plan along with links to additional resources. [MMB]

January 1, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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March 14, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Consumer Reports Uses AHRQ’s Evidence Reports in Drug Comparisons

Featured Case Study: Consumer Reports Uses AHRQ’s Evidence Reports in Drug Comparisons

Consumer Reports magazine and affiliated publications use evidence reports from AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Centers Program to inform consumers and clinicians about prescription drugs’ effectiveness and safety. Read the case study.

(From the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

sleep

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Advocacy research” not necessarily scientific

russian

A recent article in the National Review used the term “advocacy research” to describe unscientific articles published in predatory journals to promote a social or political agenda.

I have been observing and blogging about this for some time and wish I had come up with the term “advocacy research,” for it fits the concept perfectly.

The National Review article says,

Another trend, related and equally worrisome, is the increasing frequency of publication of the results of flawed “advocacy research” that is designed to give a false result that supports a certain cause or position and can be cited by activists long after the findings have been discredited. The articles are often found in the predatory open-access journals.

Because journals with an honest peer review process won’t publish unscientific advocacy research, predatory journals have become the venue of choice for people promoting unscientific agendas.

Here’s an example — illustrated in the screenshot above — with both a political and commercial motive. The article, “Asbestos-Related Research: First Objectivity then Conclusions,” (HTML, PDF) tries to make the case that government regulations prohibiting the manufacture and sale of asbestos products are “excessive.”

 

Read the entire blog post here

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s how one journalist discovered the rush to robotic surgery was ahead of the evidence

What does it take to write an award-winning article? For Richard Mark Kirkner, the process involved finding the right idea, pursuing the reporting doggedly, and then putting it together in one comp…

“In a new How I Did It, Kirkner explains his thinking: “Whenever new medical technology is put to use, hospitals and specialty clinics like to put the best spin on it. But it can take years for such new medical equipment to prove its mettle compared with existing methods.””

Source: Here’s how one journalist discovered the rush to robotic surgery was ahead of the evidence

March 4, 2016 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Supplements and Safety (PBS)

For those who missed it and are interested. Also see supplementary materials (bad pun).

Supplements and Safety

February 7, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

downloadapple

 

December 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

test

December 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The risks of electronic health records

Source: The risks of electronic health records

November 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

JCO   JCO.2015.61.1301, Fig 1

October 29, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Source: September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ending medical reversal

Source: Ending medical reversal

From the book review

Guest post by Vinayak K. Prasad, MD, MPH, and Adam S. Cifu, MD

prasadFor doctors, it is common to have some doubt about a new medical test, procedure or drug—even one which is widely hailed as remarkable or a game changer. It is not cynicism but a healthy skepticism towards marketing over substance. Doctors want to see the evidence that a drug actually works rather than just a good story about why it should work.

Often, however, this skepticism does not last. After a few months, still without any evidence, the doctor finds herself buying in, just a little, to the hype. OK, let me just see what everyone is talking about, she thinks. She begins recommending the drug herself. She still thinks of herself as cautious and conservative—while her colleagues use the treatment widely, she thinks it has a more narrow and defined role. Probably the pill does not work for everyone, but in a select group of people.

A few more years go by, and she gets comfortable with the once-hyped treatment. She now knows how to manage its complications; she thinks she has a good sense of who it benefits; and she considers it a part of her practice.

Then, one day, she opens one of the nation’s top medical journals and discovers that the treatment she was once skeptical of, but slowly grew to accept, simply does not work. A well-done clinical trial, probably the one which should have been done before the treatment even came to market, compared the treatment to the prior therapy, and found no benefit.”

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

JoVE

September 16, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bad for your health: What can be done about Britain’s long hours’ culture?

Source: Bad for your health: What can be done about Britain’s long hours’ culture?

September 15, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Public Health 24/7 or Using Twitter to Advance Public Health

Innovations in Health Communications

Smartphones changed the way we connect with the world: most U.S. smartphone owners check their phone at least hourly.

Essentially we are staying in constant touch with each other through our handheld devices. According to recent Gallup report, 72 percent of the respondents claim to check their smartphone at least once an hour, most of them several times. Young Americans are the most frequent smartphone checkers. 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds peek at their phone every few minutes and another 51 percent check it a few times an hour.1 Could it be due to socializing on Twitter, a powerful networking service with more than 500 million active users who generate more than 58 million tweets and 2.1 billion search queries every day?2

I think that Twitter’s concept: access to information in real time on a global scale is an important way for public health professionals to improve…

View original post 539 more words

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

Can social isolation fuel epidemics? [news release]

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?
F
rom the 21 July 2015 MedicalExpress news release

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according to two SFI researchers, and the consequences could reach far beyond epidemiology.

In a paper published in the July 20 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne and Benjamin Althouse show that when two separate diseases interact with each other, a population clustered into relatively isolated groups can lead to epidemics that spread like wildfire.

“We thought we understood how clustering works,” Hébert-Dufresne says,”but it behaves exactly opposite to what we thought once interactions are added in. Our intuition was totally wrong.”

At the heart of the new study are two effects that have had a lot of attention in recent years—social clustering and coinfection, in which one disease can change the infection dynamics of another—but haven’t been studied together. That, Hébert-Dufresne and Althouse say, turns out to be a major omission

Ordinarily, the pair say, clustering limits outbreaks. Maybe kids in one preschool get sick, for example, but since those kids don’t see kids from other preschools as often, they’re not likely to spread the disease very far. Coinfection often works the other way. Once someone is sick with, say, pneumococcal pneumonia, they’re more likely than others to come down with the flu, lowering the bar for an epidemic of both diseases.

But put the effects together, Hébert-Dufresne and Althouse discovered, and you get something that is more—and different—than the sum of its parts. While clustering works to prevent single-disease epidemics, interactions between diseases like pneumonia and the flu help keep each other going within a social group long enough that one of them can break out into other clusters, becoming a foothold for the other—or perhaps a spark in a dry forest. Both diseases, Althouse says, “can catch fire.” The end result is a larger, more rapidly developing, epidemic than would otherwise be possible.

That conclusion has immediate consequences for , whose worst-case scenarios might be different or even tame compared with the outbreaks Hébert-Dufresne and Althouse hypothesize. But there are equally important consequences for network scientists and complex systems researchers, who often think in epidemiological terms. Two ideas, for example, might interact with each other so that both spread more rapidly than they would on their own, just as diseases do.

Now that they’ve realized the importance of such interactions, “we hope to take this work in new and different directions in epidemiology, social science, and the study of dynamic networks,” Althouse says. “There’s great potential.”

More information: “Complex dynamics of synergistic coinfections on realistically clustered networks.”PNAS 2015 ; published ahead of print July 20, 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1507820112

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

3 types of social media that can change your life

Innovations in Health Communications

Considering that I’m not much of a social media user, I have not been paying particular attention to all the changes going on around me with the level of activity that has increased using these types of platforms.  A little bit of searching on the web has changed my perspective quite a bit.  Not that I didn’t believe that social media was taking flight and soaring at heights that have never been seen before, but my perspective on believing that this type of communication tool could be used to make a positive change!  I first consulted Statista, a credible source of statistical data across many different disciplines, and learned that the results of a 2013 U.S. survey demonstrated that almost 85% of grocery retailers with a registered dietician on staff promote health and nutrition by using social media.  Times have changed!

Statista graph

A little closer look at the social media platforms being used and I soon came to realize…

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July 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Asthma attack! Nosy bacteria could be to blame [Reblog]

From a July 2015 post at Public Health, FYI

Asthma attack! Nosy bacteria could be to blame

You have been colonized by bacteria since the day you were born. Yes, you are the breeding ground for a multitude of tiny organisms. In fact, bacteria outnumber your own cells by 10 to 1!

But before you drench yourself in hand sanitizer to get rid of these little beings, it’s important to note that not all bacteria are bad.

Some good bacteria that live in your gut actually help you digest food. Other good bacteria also live in food like yogurt and milk.

But in a world of good and evil, we do have bacteria that rather complicate our lives and cause us more harm than good.

Meet Staphylococcus aureus, a seemingly innocent-looking bacterium. S aureuslikes to live on your salty skin and in mucosal membranes like your nostrils. This bacterium isn’t always pathogenic, which means it doesn’t always cause disease; however, it can secrete a toxin called that could be the true culprit for causing illness.

These enterotoxins can be found in undercooked or mishandled food, which can cause food poisoning. Beyond causing explosive bowel movement due to a bad burrito, enterotoxins can actually be inhaled, especially if a colony of S aureus lives in your nose.

Herein lies the newest medical mystery – can S aureus enterotoxins cause some kind of respiratory damage like asthma?

Science says… maybe!

 

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Nutrition expert discusses how research changes food policy, politics [Q & A]

Nutrition expert discusses how research changes food policy, politics.

Related Web sites

Marion Nestle thinks the new U.S. dietary guidelines might be on to something
Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University, is very knowledgeable about “food politics” – how thefood industry and powerful lobbying groups have more influence over what Americans eat than science does – and has written a book by the same …

The intersection of food, sustainability and politics
Marion Nestle, a New York University nutrition professor and author of “Food Politics,” said she thinks it’s about time the committee consider the American diet’s impact on the world. Calling the draft guidelines “groundbreaking,” Nestle said they were scientifically sound.

“The committee said the healthiest diet has a lot of plant foods in it,” Nestle says. “And guess what? The most sustainable diet you can possibly eat is exactly the same.”

Dairy is included in the picture to look like a glass of milk. Marion Nestle, author of “Food Politics,” “Eat, Drink, Vote,” and other leading books on the intersection of policy and agriculture, explains that the recommendations shifted from focusing on …

 

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Recalling happier memories can reverse depression

Recalling happier memories can reverse depression 

From the 17 June 2015 MIT news release

MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can cure the symptoms of depression in mice by artificially reactivating happy memories that were formed before the onset of depression.

The findings, described in the June 18 issue of Nature, offer a possible explanation for the success of psychotherapies in which depression patients are encouraged to recall pleasant experiences. They also suggest new ways to treat depression by manipulating the brain cells where memories are stored. The researchers believe this kind of targeted approach could have fewer side effects than most existing antidepressant drugs, which bathe the entire brain.

“Once you identify specific sites in the memory circuit which are not functioning well, or whose boosting will bring a beneficial consequence, there is a possibility of inventing new medical technology where the improvement will be targeted to the specific part of the circuit, rather than administering a drug and letting that drug function everywhere in the brain,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and senior author of the paper.

Memory control

In 2012, Tonegawa, former MIT postdoc Xu Liu, Ramirez, and colleagues first reported that they could label and reactivate clusters of brain cells that store specific memories, which they called engrams. More recently, they showed that they could plant false memories, and that they couldswitch the emotional associations of a particular memory from positive to negative, and vice versa.

In their new study, the researchers sought to discover if their ability to reactivate existing memories could be exploited to treat depression.

To do this, the researchers first exposed mice to a pleasurable experience. In this case, all of the mice were male and the pleasurable experience consisted of spending time with female mice. During this time, cells in the hippocampus that encode the memory engram were labeled with a light-sensitive protein that activates the neuron in response to blue light.

After the positive memory was formed, the researchers induced depression-like symptoms in the mice by exposing them to chronic stress. These mice show symptoms that mimic those of human sufferers of depression, such as giving up easily when faced with a difficult situation and failing to take pleasure in activities that are normally enjoyable.

However, when the mice were placed in situations designed to test for those symptoms, the researchers found that they could dramatically improve the symptoms by reactivating the neurons that stored the memory of a past enjoyable experience. Those mice began to behave just like mice that had never been depressed — but only for as long as the pleasant memory stayed activated.

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry, Psychology, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

European Americans embrace positive feelings, while Chinese prefer a balance

European Americans embrace positive feelings, while Chinese prefer a balance.

From the 6 July 2015 article at San Diego Newscape

“Culture teaches us which emotional states to value, which can in turn shape the emotions we experience,” said Stanford psychology Professor Jeanne Tsai, director of the Culture and Emotion Lab on campus. Stanford psychology postdoctoral fellow Tamara Sims was the lead author on the research paper, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Sims noted that a number of studies by other researchers have shown that people from Chinese and other East Asian cultures are more likely to feel both negative and positive – or “mixed emotions” – during good events, such as doing well on an exam.

On the other hand, Americans of European descent are more likely to just feel positive during good events. Tsai said this is explained by cultural differences in models of the “self.” Americans tend to be more individualistic and focus on standing out, whereas Chinese tend to be more collectivistic, focusing on fitting in.

“In multicultural societies like ours, this can lead to deep misunderstandings,” Tsai said.

For instance, Americans might view Chinese who feel bad during good events as being depressed, when in fact they are feeling how their culture expects them to feel.

In an interview, Sims said, “Although Americans know what it’s like to look for the good in the bad – the silver lining – they are less likely to see the bad in the good, compared to Chinese.”

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Psychology, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Finding and Using Health Statistics : A Tutorial

Finding and using health statistics has become requisite for a number of careers in the past several decades. It’s also a worthwhile skill for anyone navigating the increasingly complex world of health care and medicine. This free online course from the U.S. National Library of Medicine is divided into three related parts: About Health Statistics, Finding Health Statistics, and Supporting Material. Selecting any of these tabs opens to a table of contents. From there, readers can follow the course page by page. For instance, About Health Statistics begins by reviewing the importance of health stats, moves on to their uses, and then speaks about sources for the gathering of statistics, such as population surveys and registers of diseases.
Copyright © 2013 Internet Scout Research Group – http://scout.wisc.edu

Related Resources

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Health Statistics, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Shouldn’t Docs And Cops Work Together When It Comes To Guns?

Still believe physicians and other health care professionals should legally be able to ask if there are guns in the household. The presence of guns in a household does factor into increased accidents and injuries. Also, patients can refuse to answer the question if they so desire.

mikethegunguy

Down in Brazos, Texas, two ER doctors made local headlines by donating a pair of Mossberg shotguns to the local County Constable office.  The guns were donated in memory of Constable Brian Bachmann, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, who was killed while attempting to serve an eviction notice onan enraged individual, the latter after shooting Bachmann then shot and killed a civilian, and wounded two other police officers before being killed himself.

What caught my eye about this story was the fact that it highlighted the relationship between law enforcement and medicine when we think about violence perpetrated with guns.  After all, if we use a phrase like ‘gun violence’ to cover every incident in which someone suffers an injury from a gun, then three-quarters of all violence involving guns also happen to be crimes. In 2013, hospitals treated roughly 60,000 people who were victims of shootings and treated 135,000…

View original post 527 more words

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

eht

May 26, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[News article] The Darker Side of the ‘Love Hormone’

From the 21 May 2015 Discover article

Oxytocin in Humans

In our own species, oxytocin has been shown to inhibit men already in relationships from approaching other attractive women; enhance activation of the brain’s reward systems when they see their partner’s face compared to other attractive women and help couples deal positively with conflict.

Along with other functions, mainly in the formation of mother-infant bonding, the rosy glow of the “love hormone” seems to know no bounds – and its potential application for helping to cement and maintain loving relationships is clear. Its effects on facilitating social interaction have made it an appealing possible therapeutic tool in patients who struggle with social situations and communication, including in autism, schizophrenia and mood or anxiety disorders.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 6.06.09 AM

Even better, it is very easy to use. All the human studies on it use intranasal sprays to boost oxytocin levels. These sprays are readily available, including through the internet, and appear safe to use, at least in the short term – no one yet knows whether there is any long-term harm.

Adverse Effects

In the past few years, however, concerns expressed by some researchers have begun to rein in the enthusiasm about the potential applications of oxytocin as a therapeutic tool.

Recent studies are showing that the positive effects can be much weaker – or even detrimental – in those that need it the most. In contrast to socially competent or secure individuals, exposure can reduce cooperativeness and trust in those prone to social anxiety. It also increases inclination for violencetowards intimate partners. Although this is seen only in people who tend to be more aggressive in general, these would be the same people who might have most to gain from such a treatment, were it available.

These apparently paradoxical effects are hard to explain, particularly since the brain mechanisms responsible are still poorly understood. But a new study may help to provide the answer. A team from the University of Birmingham decided to tackle the issue by comparing studies on the effects of oxytocin with those of alcohol and were struck by the incredible similarities between the two compounds.

Alcohol and Oxytocin

Like oxytocin, alcohol can have helpful effects in social situations. It increases generosity, fosters bonding within groups and suppresses the action of neural inhibitions on social behavior, including fear, anxiety and stress.

But, of course, acute alcohol consumption also comes with significant downsides. Aside from the health implications of chronic use, it interferes with recognition of emotional facial expression, influences moral judgementsand increases risk-taking and aggression. And as with oxytocin, the increase in aggression is limited to those who have an existing disposition to it.

The researchers argue that the striking similarities in behavioral outcome tell us something about the biological mechanisms involved. Although oxytocin and alcohol target different brain receptors, activation of these receptors appear to produce analogous physiological effects. Indeed, they also note similarities with how other compounds work, including benzodiazepines, which are commonly used to treat anxiety. Our understanding of how one chemical elicits its effects might thus help us to understand the action of the others.

But, if this new interpretation is correct, it may presage further bad press for the love hormone. It may be that the darkening clouds that threaten to tarnish its reputation are only just beginning to gather. At the very least, it should give us cause for careful evaluation before we rush into using it as a remedy.

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] NSF supports projects to design virtual heart models and robot-cell hybrids

From a May National Science Foundation news release

Exploring a new frontier of cyber-physical systems: The human body
[Series of videos follows, unfortunately unable to insert videos]

Simulation of electrical impulse propagation through the heart during ventricular fibrillation. Colour represents the transmembrane potential–i.e. the voltage across the cell membrane–on the surface of the heart. Yellow indicates largest potential values while dark red represents resting level. This simulation was performed by Pras Pathmanathan and Richard A. Gray at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), using the software package Chaste, together with a high-resolution anatomically-detailed computational mesh of the rabbit ventricles, and was run on FDA’s high performance computing resources in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH).

Credit: Pras Pathmanathan and Richard A. Gray, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

May 21, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

“Electronic cigarette flavourings alter lung function at the cellular level” – AMERICAN THORACIC SOCIETY

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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