Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Why synthetic drugs are as scary as you think (video)

From the March 16, 2016 American Chemical Society news release 

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2016 — Synthetic drugs such as “bath salts,” “K2” or “Spice” have made unsettling headlines lately, with reports of violent, erratic behavior and deaths after people have used the substances. Why are these synthesized drugs so dangerous, and why aren’t there more regulations? In this week’s Reactions, we answer these questions by examining the chemistry of two kinds of synthetic drugs: bath salts and synthetic marijuana. Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/83gIiBD365E.

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School) | , , , | Leave a comment

Someone misunderstanding your SocialMedia post? It could be your Emoji !

Our cultural backgrounds influence how we interpret emojis, U of Toronto study finds (July 22, 2020)



Excerpt

“Working under the supervision of Doug VanderLaan, an assistant professor in the department of psychology, Gao recently published a study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking that looked at how different cultures interpret emojis – “paralinguistic cues” used to express thoughts and emotions in communication platforms such as email, texts, and social media.

The study built on previous research that shows people from Western cultures pay more attention to in-person cues from the mouth when gauging emotion compared to those from Eastern cultures, who focus more on the eyes.

“Communication using emojis or emoticons may be considered more effective than using words alone because they deliver emotions in a more visually direct manner,” says Gao. “However, emojis are not usually labelled with a fixed meaning and are subject to interpretation, which can vary depending on a person’s cultural background.”

Read the whole summary here

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beyond the garnish: Will a new type of produce get the microgreen light?

Microgreens may be the answer. Quicker to grow than baby greens.
Does not have the bitter roots of sprouts.

Great informative yet entertaining tutorial from the Tennessee State Extension Office at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfX59p_E2tw&feature=youtu.be



Accompanying PDF at https://mastergardener.osu.edu/sites/mgv/files/imce/MISC/Resources/microgreens%20handout.pdf

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Creative (“traditional”) swearing may help one tolerate pain

Do you want to swear when facing a shot by a healthcare provider? But don’t want to resort to four letter words? Here’s an idea!



https://www.keele.ac.uk/research/researchnews/2020/june/traditional-swearing/tolerate-pain.php

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Mind-altering drugs could treat mental disorders

This is an “old” 2016 article, but still under discussion in biomedical circles

https://cen.acs.org/articles/94/i13/Psychedelic-compounds-like-ecstasy-just.html

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

For anyone interested – Music blog

Top Benefits of Taking Music Lessons for Young Adults

I don’t know much about this blog, to be honest. But am posting upon request.
It seemed interesting, but am posting with disclaimer that I am not associated with this.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What We Know About Possible COVID-19 Treatments And Vaccines So Far

Confused about the current science regarding drugs as hydroxychloroquine and Remesivir? Treatments as convalescence plasma? If Vitamin C works?

The Huffington Post has a good overview of a few treatments and vaccines recently in the news.

Additional Resources

June 12, 2020 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public), Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Patients with Type 1 Diabetes Spend About $2,500 a Year in Health Care Costs

While insulin comprises a big part of diabetes expenses for children and adults, diabetes-related supplies can cost even more.

From the Jun 1, 2020 University of Michigan Health Lab News Release

diabetes monitor, syringe and bottle

Adults and children with type 1 diabetes will spend an average of $2,500a year out-of-pocket for health care – but insulin isn’t always the biggest expense – new research suggests.

While out-of-pocket costs for insulin was substantial, it accounted for just 18% of total out-of-pocket expenses for health care, according to the findings in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In fact, insulin accounted for less out-of-pocket spending than diabetes-related supplies, such as insulin pumps, syringes and continuous glucose monitors.”

Removing barriers to high-value care

 “Several states and insurers imposed monthly caps on these [out-of-pocket] costs [for insulin] earlier in 2020. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services just announced that many elderly Medicare beneficiaries will soon pay no more than $35 for a one-month supply of insulin. “

More at the news release

Help for paying for diabetes medicine and supplies

June 4, 2020 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

As hospitals walk the tightrope of patient data-sharing, one system offers a new balance

Sharing of one’s personal health and medical data with researchers and industry raises issues of trust and privacy.
For example one might wonder if one’s health issues will be shared with advertisers or one’s health insuance. Or one might concerned that a company would profit from one’s medical record.

As hospitals walk the tightrope of patient data-sharing, one system offers a new balance

From the May 28, 2020 University of Michigan HealthLab News Release
Industry wants access to massive data troves, but patients deserve transparency and privacy; Michigan Medicine approach offers a path forward.

Tight rope


Every major medical center in America sits on a gold mine. The data they hold about their patients and research participants could be worth millions of dollars to companies that would explore it for clues that could lead to new medicines, medical technologies, health apps and more…

The crux of the [University of Michigan] system, launched in 2018, is an easy-to-understand informed consent document that research participants can choose to sign, in addition to the forms that they sign to take part in a U-M-run research project. The additional consent focuses on sharing their information, and any samples taken from them, outside the university.

They must first discuss the special outside-sharing consent form with research staff, who assess each participant’s understanding of what giving the additional consent means.

The critical passage in the form reads: “You give permission to share your samples and information with researchers around the world including those working for companies. Researchers and their organizations may potentially benefit from the sale of the data or discoveries. You will not have rights to these discoveries or any proceeds from them.”

More than half of research volunteers asked for such consent have given it. Once they do so, it opens up the possibility (with additional legal and ethical steps) for companies, foundations, medical specialty societies and nongovernmental agencies to access their samples and data to move innovation forward.

If their samples are being sought for a project with a specific company, they will be told about the project and company, though their consent applies to all approved industry use. They’re told they can revoke their consent in the future, stopping their data from being shared further.
More at the news release

June 4, 2020 Posted by | Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond the garnish: Will a new type of produce get the microgreen light? [News Release]

No fam of sprouts because of the roots and safety concerns? But like their nutritional value? Microgreens may be worth looking into. They are nutritious, taste good, and can be home grown. They are somewhere in-between sprouts and baby greens.

Two excerpts from the May 31st news release

Microgreens are young and tender leafy greens of most vegetables, grains, herbs and flowers that are harvested when their first leaves appear. Their rapid maturity of a few weeks and affinity for controlled-environment agriculture (also known as indoor farming) means they use very little water and can be harvested quickly. It makes them a model of sustainability: They can be grown indoors, year-round, in cities and rural communities, in greenhouses, warehouses, vertical farms and even homes.

Johnson described them as leafy greens that pack a punch. They carry fewer food safety concerns than sprouts because they are grown in an environment with less moisture and, unlike sprouts, the roots of microgreens are removed during harvest. Nutritionally, they have been shown to have higher concentrations of phytochemicals** and nutrients like beta-carotene (which can be converted to Vitamin A) than mature plants.

** Photo means plant in Greek
The Harvard Health Newsletter published a article in 2019 on the health benefits of phytochemicals. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/fill-up-on-phytochemicals

How to grow microgreens

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Gratitude is good for mental health

We’ve all heard about the importance of gratitude, here’s a study that shows its good for you! Scientific studies as this one with a control group and experimental group are good because only one variable is being tested.
However, it is only one study, and conclusions are best drawn by different researchers which are then compared.
Links to Web sites on evaluating health information and health news below**

From the May 25, 2020 University of Twente news release

Research shows that people who live their lives with a sense of gratitude are happier and less likely to suffer from psychological issues. A study by the University of Twente shows that training yourself to be more thankful can help people to feel better and increase mental resilience. This is the first time that this has been demonstrated convincingly. Professor of Positive Mental Health Ernst Bohlmeijer explains: ‘Previously, research into exercises  to train people’s sense of gratitude had not been able to discern much effect. So we decided to study the effect of a six-week training. The results of the study were published today in the Journal of Happiness Studies.’ “

….
“The participants in the gratitude group were given a different exercise to develop their sense of gratitude every week. These included actively focusing on feeling appreciative, keeping a gratitude journal, expressing gratitude to others, writing positively about their own lives and reflecting on the positive effects of adversity. The participants were asked to do these exercises for about 10 to 15 minutes every day. ‘It is important to say that the idea is not to ignore negative experiences. Acknowledging difficulties and psychological distress, while also appreciating the good things in life, is possible. In fact, that’s the essence of psychological resilience,’ says Professor Bohlmeijer. “


“In September 2020, the intervention will become available as an app. It will be a free app that anyone can use”


**Some resources on how to read health news and evaluate health information

How to read health news (UK National Health Service blog item, 12/23/2014)
8 questions to ask


–How to read health news (PubMedHealth via the Wayback Machine, 07/12/2012)
Similar to above

Evaluating medical research and clinical trials (Family Caregiver Alliance)
Tips on evaluating health news as well as research

Evaluating health information (Univ of California San Francisco)
Includes red flags

How to spot fake news (Infographic from International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions )

— A few more at How to evaluate health information on the Internet (University of Toledo Libraries)

I was looking for a Web page that explained levels of evidence for “all of us”. So far, this was the best I could do.
Evidence-Based Medicine Resource Guide (Georgetown University)
Two points from the pyramid below
Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) are better than observations.
RCTs study two groups of people. One group receives the intervention, the
other does not. People are assigned to the groups randomly.
Systematic Reviews are better than RCTs. They summarize all the
literature on the topic and draw conclusions about the intervention.


More about this pyramid at http://guides.dml.georgetown.edu/ebm/ebmclinicalquestions

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Learn About the Science of Health through videos, interactive modules, and more


From the US government agency – National Institute of Health , specifically the Know the Science

Learn About the Science of Health

There’s a lot of health information out there, and not all of it’s accurate. The more you know about the science of health, the better prepared you can be to evaluate health information and make well-informed decisions. NCCIH’s Know the Science toolkit, available in both English and Spanish, can help. It features a variety of interactive modules, quizzes, and other tools to help you better understand complex scientific topics that relate to health research. You can also subscribe to NCCIH’s Know the Science email update for monthly bulletins about helpful resources. Dive in and get to know the science!

February 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Safe Use of Complementary Health Products and Practices

Excerpt from NIH article, dated Sept 27, 2017

“As with any treatment, it is important to consider safety before using complementary health products and practices. Safety depends on the specific therapy, and each complementary product or practice should be considered on its own.”

patient_HCP_chart.jpg

Two of the main safety concerns for dietary supplements are

  • The possibilities of drug interactions—for example, research has shown that St. John’s wort interacts with drugs such as antidepressants in ways that can interfere with their intended effects
  • The possibilities of product contamination—supplements have been found to contain hidden prescription drugs or other compounds, particularly in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, sexual health including erectile dysfunction, and athletic performance or body-building.Two of the main safety concerns for dietary supplements are
    • The possibilities of drug interactions—for example, research has shown that St. John’s wort interacts with drugs such as antidepressants in ways that can interfere with their intended effects
    • The possibilities of product contamination—supplements have been found to contain hidden prescription drugs or other compounds, particularly in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, sexual health including erectile dysfunction, and athletic performance or body-building.”

:

How Safe Is This Product or Practice?

Find safety information from a list of complementary health products and practices

Find FDA and FTC notices about recalls, tainted products, and other alerts and advisories

January 30, 2019 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Financial help with prescription drug/medical costs through the government, nonprofits, and corporations

Low income people may qualify for assistance through government, nonprofit, or corporate programs. Check out the Financial Help section of the UT Library Consumer Health Library Guide.

http://libguides.utoledo.edu/ConsumerHealth/financial_help

For general health information, check out Health Information for All
by the author of this blog.

Cannot find what you are looking for through the above links? Feel free to email me and
I will do my best to reply within 48 hours.  jmflahiff at yahoo dot com

 

 

October 28, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, 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] 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

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] 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

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

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

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?

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 11.45.04 AM

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

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

“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

The risks of electronic health records

Source: The risks of electronic health records

November 2, 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

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…

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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

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.

Mike The Gun Guy™

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…

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

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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.

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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

‘Non-Profit IDNs’: Where’s Da Beef?

By Gregg A. Masters, MPH

I have followed this narrative for quite some time albeit inside the industry contained debate of whether so-called ‘non-profit’ [501(c)3] hospitals or their parent systems (really more aptly characterized as “tax exempt”) actually earn this financial advantage via material ‘returns’ to the communities they serve.

NASI_Goldsmith studyAs can be expected you have the party line of the American Hospital Association (AHA) a trade group of predominantly non-profit members vs. that of it’s for-profit brethren The Federation of American Hospitals (FAH). You can guess which side of the argument each of them favor.

Now thanks to a recently published landmark study ‘Integrated Delivery Networks: In Search of Benefits and Market Effects’ by Healthcare Futurist Jeff Goldsmith, PhD et al, of the 501(c)3 cast of characters in the related but more often than not distinctly different ‘IDN culture’ we extend that line of inquiry into what has been a somewhat conversational ‘safe…

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

US Government Admits Americans Have Been Overdosed On Fluoride

I’ve come across similar articles. Perhaps fluoridation is OK, but one size fits all (public water supplies) is not the best route. Individuals vary in their needs for (added) fluoride.

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

Design and Best Use of mHealth Apps

How to Choose A Better Health App [http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/08/choose-health-app.html}(by LEXANDER V. PROKHOROV, MD, PHD at KevinMD.com on August 8, 2011) contains advice in the following areas
Set realistic expectations
Avoid apps that promise too much
Research the developers
Choose apps that use techniques you’ve heard of
See what other users say
Test apps before committing

—-
I’ve collected a guide to health/medical apps at https://sites.google.com/site/healthnewsresources/home/health-apps

DolleCommunications Blog

Chosing the right mHealth App can be confusing. Chosing the right mHealth App can be confusing.

Chosing the right mHealth app can be confusing. Today, we see an array of health & mHealth mobile apps designed for consumers. But are you using them correctly, or are you wasting your precious time and money?

Whether it be for monitoring of exercise, fitness, or weight loss, or for more serious conditions like diabetes, sleep disorders, or shunt malfunction in hydrocephalus, consumers and developers would be wise to better understand how health and mHealth apps can benefit one’s health. The biggest problem I see is how health and mHealth apps are categorized, which then determines how they will be used. So I have written up a few suggestions to better help consumers and developers in selecting their mHealth apps. I have grouped health and mHealth apps into three (3) categories.

mHealth Technology, are we there yet? mHealth Technology, are we there yet?

First, a little info about me. I am an early designer and pioneer of a 1997 neuromonitoring app, the DiaCeph Test, intended to run as a dedicated PDA…

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

Different Chronic Illnesses Demand Different Connected Health Strategies

The cHealth Blog

One possibility is that when I write about chronic illness, I am largely focusing on those conditions that are silent in nature (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity). We made a decision some years ago to build the case for connected health around the management of these illnesses because:

  1. They are costly. By some estimates these chronic diseases account for 70% of U.S. health care costs.
  2. They have a significant lifestyle component. This backdrop seems an ideal canvas for connected health interventions because they involve motivational psychology, self-tracking and engagement with health messages. These chronic illnesses pose a unique challenge in that the lifestyle choices that accelerate them are for the most part pleasurable (another piece of cheese cake? spending Sunday afternoon on the couch watching football, smoking more cigarettes and drinking more beer.) In contrast, the reward for healthy behavior is abstract and distant (a few more minutes of…

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

Foods You Can Count on for Health

FOOD, FACTS and FADS

LOVE THIS SLIDESHOW – GREAT PICTURES AND GOOD INFORMATION!

CLICK HERE

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

[Reblog] Inderscience news: Unhealthy information remedy

Inderscience news: Unhealthy information remedy.
Liu has developed a simple metric that can be used to analyse a document or website and ascertain just how reliable the medical information in it might be. The metric counts the number of different health or medical terms in the longest passage of a given document

From the 2 April 2015 post

A little health knowledge can be a very dangerous thing, especially if the information comes from the Internet. Now, research published in the International Journal of Intelligent Information and Database Systems, describes a new quality indicator to remedy that situation.

Rey-Long Liu of the Department of Medical Informatics, at Tzu Chi University, in Hualien, Taiwan, explains how the internet has in many cases replaced one’s physician as the primary source of health information, particularly when someone is faced with new symptoms. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and disinformation readily available on the internet via myriad websites and networking groups that might, at first sight, offer a cure, but may lead to a putative patient following a hazardous route to health.

Liu has developed a simple metric that can be used to analyse a document or website and ascertain just how reliable the medical information in it might be. The metric counts the number of different health or medical terms in the longest passage of a given document. In experiments on thousands of real web pages evaluated manually and with this “health information concentration” metric, Liu has been able to validate with precision those pages that have genuine medical information and revealed the quackery and ill-advised health pages. The approach is much more accurate than conventional web-ranking by search engines and precludes the need for natural-language comprehension by the system.

“High-quality health information should be focused on specific health topics and hence composed of those text areas that are large enough and dedicated to health topics,” explains Liu. “The empirical evaluation reported in the paper justifies the hypothesis. The result also shows that a web page that happens to have many health terms does not necessarily contain quality health information, especially when the health terms are scattered in separate areas with a lot of non-health-related information appearing among them,” he adds. “Quality health information should be written by healthcare professionals who tend to provide both detailed and focused passages to present the information.”

The metric could readily be incorporated into search engine ranking algorithms to help healthcare consumers find high-quality information working alongside more conventional, general quality ranking parameters devised by the search engine companies for detecting relevance, importance, source and author of each webpage.

Liu, R-L. (2014) ‘Automatic quality measurement for health information on the internet’, Int. J. Intelligent Information and Database Systems, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.340–358.

Unhealthy information remedy is a post from: David Bradley’s Science Spot

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

[National Geographic blog post] Could mothers’ milk nourish mind-manipulating microbes?

From the 8 April 2015 post

Breast milk seems like a simple nutritious cocktail for feeding babies, but it is so much more than that. It also contains nutrients that feed the beneficial bacteria in a baby’s gut, and it contains substances that can change a baby’s behaviour. So, when a mother breastfeeds her child, she isn’t just feeding it. She is also building a world inside it and simultaneously manipulating it.

To Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University who specialises in milk, these acts are all connected. She suspects that substances in milk, by shaping the community of microbes in a baby’s gut, can affect its behaviour in ways that ultimately benefit the mother.

It’s a thought-provoking and thus far untested hypothesis, but it’s not far-fetched. Together with graduate student Cary Allen-Blevins and David Sela, a food scientist at the University of Massachussetts, Hinde has laid out her ideas in a paper that fuses neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and microbiology.

It begins by talking about the many ingredients in breast milk, including complex sugars called oligosaccharides. All mammals make them but humans have an exceptional variety. More than 200 HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides) have been identified, and they are the third most common part of human milk after lactose and fat.

Babies can’t digest them. Instead, the HMOs are food for bacteria, particularly the Bifidobacteria and Bacteroides groups. One strain in particular—Bifidobacterium longum infantis—can outcompete the others because it wields a unique genetic cutlery set that allows it to digest HMOs with incredible efficiency.

Why would mothers bother producing these sugars? Making milk is a costly process—mums quite literally liquefy their own bodies to churn out this fluid. Obviously, it feeds a growing infant, but why not spend all of one’s energy on filling milk with baby-friendly nutrients? Why feed the microbes too? “To me, it seems incredibly evident that when mums are feeding the microbes, they are investing on a greater return on their energetic investment,” says Hinde. By that, she means that setting up the right communities of microbes provides benefits for the baby above and beyond simple nutrition.

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

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