October 31, 2017

The Importance of Mothering

The Politicization of Motherhood

Ms. Komisar, 53, is a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. If that biographical thumbnail leads you to stereotype her as a political liberal, you’re right. But she tells me she has become “a bit of a pariah” on the left because of the book she published this year, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.”....

The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that “mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” Ms. Komisar says. She cites the view of one neuroscientist, Nim Tottenham of Columbia University, “that babies are born without a central nervous system” and “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth....

Ms. Komisar’s interest in early childhood development grew out of her three decades’ experience treating families, first as a clinical social worker and later as an analyst. “What I was seeing was an increase in children being diagnosed with ADHD and an increase in aggression in children, particularly in little boys, and an increase in depression in little girls.” ....
As Ms. Komisar “started to put the pieces together,” she found that “the absence of mothers in children’s lives on a daily basis was what I saw to be one of the triggers for these mental disorders.”

These two brains both belong to three-year-olds, so why is one so much bigger?

 Brain Images 3 Years Old

To neurologists who study the brain, and who have worked out how to interpret the images, the difference between these two brains is both remarkable and shocking. The brain on the right lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left. Those deficits make it impossible for that child to develop capacities that the child on the left will have: the child on the right will grow into an adult who is less intelligent, less able to empathize with others, more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crime than the child on the left. The child on the right is much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on welfare, and to develop mental and other serious health problems.

The primary cause of the extraordinary difference between the brains of these two three-year-old children is the way they were treated by their mothers. The child with the much more fully developed brain was cherished by its mother, who was constantly and fully responsive to her baby. The child with the shrivelled brain was neglected and abused. That difference in treatment explains why one child’s brain develops fully, and the other’s does not.....

There is now a very substantial body of evidence that shows that the way a baby is treated in the first two years determines whether or not the resulting adult has a fully functioning brain.  The damage caused by neglect and other forms of abuse comes by degrees: the more severe the neglect, the greater the damage. Eighty per cent of brain cells that a person will ever have are manufactured during the first two years after birth. If the process of building brain cells and connections between them goes wrong, the deficits are permanent....

The only thing that appears to work is  - “Early intervention”, as the policy is called, has been tried in parts of the US for more than 15 years. It consists in ensuring that mothers identified as “at risk” of neglecting their babies are given regular visits (at least once every week) by a nurse who instructs them on how to care for the newborn child.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 PM | Permalink

Happy Halloween

First, a visit to Pumpkin Land at the Dallas Arboretum

 Pumpkin-Land Dallas Arboreatum

Then, hats off for some of the best costumes I've seen this year, all worn by people with disabilities

 Halloween Disabled Costumes 1 
 Halloween Disabled Costumes 2

 Halloween Disabled Costumes 4

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:58 PM | Permalink

October 30, 2017

Health Roundup: Lungs

'My mysterious, incurable lung condition was mistaken for asthma'

All the while, Phillips’s breathing inhibited his lifestyle more and more. Doctors had their theories, but eventually a CT scan revealed the true cause: Phillips had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a vicious and terminal condition in which the lungs build up scar tissue, restricting a person’s breathing as lung capacity shrinks. Anybody, asthma sufferer or not, can get it, and there is no known cure, explanation, nor many effective treatments. Its existence baffles doctors.

Toby Maher, Professor of Respiratory Research at Imperial College.  "For sufferers of IPF, the scar tissue builds up and refuses to heal, so become constantly, progressively injured. It is almost a premature aging of the lungs, and we believe analogous to Alzheimer’s. With IPF, your lungs are dying and your breath is lost. But we don’t know why.”

Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a respiratory disease characterized by the presence of scarred tissue in the lungs. The disease starts to cause the thickening and stiffening of the tissue, which ends up turning into fibrosis and causing difficulties in the lungs to properly transport the oxygen into the bloodstream. The lack of oxygen is responsible for symptoms like shortness of breath, a persistent dry and hacking cough, fatigue and weakness, discomfort in the chest, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and clubbing of the fingers.

Pulmonary Fibrosis Prognosis

According to the study “Clinical Course and Prediction of Survival in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis,” median survival of patients who suffer from pulmonary fibrosis is 2.5 years, but some patients live much longer than that. The most common cause of death among patients is respiratory failure.

Breathlessness and Cough Signal Pulmonary Fibrosis Years Before Diagnosis, Study Reports

University of Nottingham researchers analyzed symptoms in the medical charts of newly diagnosed patients.  A key underpinning of the study is that by the time a lot of people with IPF are diagnosed, the disease has already reached an advanced stage.  The team tracked all doctor consultations that the patient and control groups had for The team tracked all doctor consultations that the patient and control groups had for breathlessness, cough, fatigue, and weight loss. They also noted which patients had consultations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure — because IPF is often mistaken for these conditions. They also noted which patients had consultations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure — because IPF is often mistaken for these conditions...Early diagnosis of IPF can improve patients’ survival by allowing them to start treatment early.

Agonizing mystery lung disease twice more widespread than previously thought

The number of people suffering from an agonising mystery lung disease responsible for 1 per cent of all UK deaths is more than double what was previously feared, new research reveals....While some clinicians speculate that the debilitating disease may be down to a combination of genetic predisposition and exposure to pollution such as dust, no causal link has been definitively proved. The average life expectancy following a diagnosis is three years, although two drugs, each with significant side-effects, have recently come on the market which extend patients' post-diagnosis life-span by an average of two years compared to no treatment. Currently the only way of surviving an IPF diagnosis is a lung transplant.

People with arthritis are nearly 50% more likely to develop a deadly lung disease,

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term illness in which the immune system causes the body to attack itself, causing painful, swollen and stiff joints. The 400,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis in Britain, and 50 million in the US, are almost 50 per cent more likely to end up with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the results of a new study.  COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs and is the umbrella term for diseases from emphysema to acute bronchitis.  These are the findings of a study of almost 25,000 people with arthritis, monitored over a decade by Canadian researchers.

Taking a vitamin D supplement 'can halve the risk' of an asthma sufferer having a severe attack

The British study, funded by the research arm of the NHS, found people who took the daily tablets alongside their normal asthma treatment were 50 per cent less likely to suffer attacks so severe that they had to be taken to A&E. And they saw a 30 per cent reduction in attacks requiring treatment with steroids. Lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau of Queen Mary University London, said: ‘These results add to the ever growing body of evidence that vitamin D can support immune function as well as bone health.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Cancer Edition

A Nine-Year Collaboration Has Just Shown How Sugar Influences Cancer Cell Growth

We know that almost all the cells in the human body require energy, and they derive this energy from the sugars in the food we eat. Cancer cells also require sugars to grow. But their glucose intake is a lot higher than that of healthy cells, as is the rate at which they ferment that glucose into lactic acid. This is known as the Warburg effect, and it may, scientists have hypothesized, have something to do with cancer's rapid growth rate. Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth," said researcher Johan Thevelein from KU Leuven in Belgium. "Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness. This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences."

Aspirin 'cuts risk of several types of cancer by up to half':

A trial involving more than half a million people found long-term aspirin users cut their risk of liver and esophageal cancer by almost half, while their odds of getting bowel cancer fell by a quarter. Aspirin, already known to protect against heart attacks and strokes, is thought to block enzymes which help cancer tumous to grow.

The study, which followed patients for 14 years, was led by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Lead author Professor Kelvin Tsoi said: ‘The findings demonstrate that the long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing many major cancers."

Aspirin may reduce risk for liver cancer in hepatitis B patients, study says

Immunotherapy Treatments for Cancer Gain Momentum (WSJ)

The National Cancer Institute's prominent cancer researcher and chief of surgery, Steven A. Rosenberg, detailed for the first time an immunotherapy success against metastatic breast cancer, in a talk earlier this month. In the lecture at a Boston meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, Dr. Rosenberg reported on the first patient with metastatic breast cancer who is disease-free nearly two years after her first immunotherapy treatment. In the therapy, a person’s own cells are multiplied billions of times and reinfused into the patient. Dr. Rosenberg’s lab has already reported successes in treatment of melanoma, lymphoma, colorectal cancer and bile-duct cancer....“Our hypothesis,” says Dr. Rosenberg, “is that immunotherapies work because they target unique mutations in that person’s cancer.”

Immunotherapy, or immune-cell therapy, describes a range of treatments that harness a patient’s own immune system to target cancer. The approach doesn’t work in all patients, but its success against some hard-to-treat cancers makes it the most closely watched area in cancer pharmaceuticals. Underscoring the rapid advances, the National Institutes of Health and the NCI Thursday announced a $215 million medical collaboration with 11 medical companies, including AbbVie , Novartis AG and Johnson & Johnson . The NIH will contribute $160 million over five years to the research, and the companies will contribute $55 million.

Treatment causes cancer to self-destruct without affecting healthy cells

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have discovered a compound that makes cancer cells self-destruct while sparing healthy cells. Acute myeloid leukemia accounts for nearly one-third of all new leukemia cases and kills more than 10,000 Americans each year.

The new compound fights cancer by triggering apoptosis, the process that rids the body of unwanted or malfunctioning cells. Some chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells by indirectly inducing apoptosis by damaging DNA. Apoptosis happens when BAX, the "executioner protein" in cells, is activated by pro-apoptotic proteins. BAX molecules punch lethal holes in mitochondria once activated, but cancer cells produce anti-apoptotic proteins that prevent BAX from killing them.

"Our novel compound revives suppressed BAX molecules in cancer cells by binding with high affinity to BAX's activation site," Gavathiotis said. "BAX can then swing into action, killing cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed."

FDA approves second ever gene therapy to fight aggressive form of blood cancer

The new therapy, called Yescarta uses the same CAR-T technology as the first to fight an non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The therapy uses a patient's own immune system cells and reprograms them to find and fight aggressive cancers. Yescarta was approved on Wednesday and will cost $373,000 per patient In tests, Yescarta shrunk cancer for 72 percent of patients, and about half of those treated were disease-free eight months later. This approval comes two years after the FDA approved the first gene therapy to fight leukemia.

Both gene therapies are approved to treat cancers that have been virtually unresponsive to all other treatments.  CAR-T treatment uses gene therapy techniques not to fix disease-causing genes but to turbocharge T cells, immune system soldiers that cancer can often evade. The T cells are filtered from a patient's blood, reprogrammed to target and kill cancer cells, and then hundreds of millions of copies are grown. Returned to the patient, all the revved-up cells can continue multiplying to fight disease for months or years. That's why these immunotherapy treatments are called 'living drugs.'

An Unprecedented Study Has Revealed 72 New Breast Cancer Gene Variants

Two genes already commonly associated with breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2.  Mutations in these genes prevent them from repairing changes in other sections of DNA in breast tissue, raising the risk of further mutation. In what's being billed as the world's largest collective study on the genetics of breast cancer, researchers have discovered 72 new gene variants that appear to be responsible for increasing the risk of developing the disease.

The additions nearly double the number of genetic markers known to scientists, providing a trove of data for future studies to investigate in search of better understanding, new detection methods, and potentially more effective treatments.  More than 300 research groups were involved in the analysis, which pooled the genetic data of over 275,000 women from all around the globe. By comparing the genes of those diagnosed with the condition with those who had no history of breast cancer, the researchers were able to identify 65 variations of genes that contributed to the disease's development.

Ovarian cancer starts developing in the fallopian tubes 6 YEARS before it becomes deadly,

A new study from Johns Hopkins Medicine has found that ovarian cancers begin in the fallopian tubes and take 6.5 years to develop. This could change the way the disease, which is the fifth deadliest cancer among women, is diagnosed. It could also lead to more women getting their fallopian tubes rather than their ovaries removed to prevent the illness.  But once the cancers reached their ovaries the progression of the disease was estimated to have occurred within two years.

Dr Velculescu said: 'This aligns with what we see in the clinic, that newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer patients most often already have widespread disease.'  He said bigger studies are required to validate the new findings before there can be a change in clinical practice. There are already ongoing trials involving the removal of fallopian tubes instead of ovaries in women with the cancer-causing BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

Eating Brussels sprouts and drinking green tea could make aggressive breast cancers treatable by 'turning off' tumor genes,

Eating sprouts and drinking green tea could make aggressive breast cancers treatable, new research suggests. Compounds in cruciferous vegetables, such as sprouts, and the traditional herbal drink 'turn off' genes for ER-negative forms of the disease, which is notoriously unresponsive to therapy, a study found. Study author Professor Trygve Tollefsbol from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said: 'Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and science now tells us she was right.

'Unfortunately, there are few options for women who develop ER-negative breast cancer.' Study author Yuanyuan Li added: 'The results of this research provide a novel approach to preventing and treating ER-negative breast cancer, which currently takes hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.'

New lung cancer cure fixes patients in just four days

Advanced technique to remove tumors via a matchstick-sized incision in the chest is hailed by NHS surgeons as an effective alternative to risky open surgery. A small tube – known as a port – is inserted to allow access to the lungs, through a gap in the rib cage. Surgeons are then able to carefully remove the part of the lung containing the tumor without causing damage to surrounding tissue. The procedure replaces older methods which involve a large incision in the chest, or a keyhole operation that uses three separate incisions, and the advance has slashed time spent in hospital from two weeks to as little as four days for some, as patients recover faster and are in less pain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

October 28, 2017

Health Roundup: Aussie flu and more

No border can protect against viruses.  Australia is in the grip of its worst season on record with more than 70,000 cases of flu and standing room only in some emergency departments.  Great Britain and North America likely to be hit by the Aussie flu.

What Australia's bad flu season might mean for us and other flu facts you need to know

The culprit in Australia is the H3N2 strain of flu, which is included in this year’s vaccine and dates back to Hong Kong in 2014,  H3N2 strains are the hardest ones for the flu vaccine to combat. All flu viruses make frequent genetic changes that help them slip around a vaccine. Influenza H3N2 viruses are particularly adept at changing as the vaccine is being made, rendering the vaccine less effective against them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You should get the flu shot—even if it won’t keep you from getting sick 

Get it for all the people who can’t. Even if you are healthy, you can still become ill. And if you do become ill and are around someone who is at higher risk — such as a baby too young for vaccination or a person with a compromised immune system — you could put them at risk.  Vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months.

Cheap yoghurt drinks can make the flu jab work better:

Taking probiotic supplements when you get home from having your flu jab could make it work better, research suggests. University of Melbourne researchers reviewed 26 trials to make the conclusion. The review, which involved 3,812 participants, highlighted benefits of probiotics in around half of the studies. Scientists claim the yoghurt drinks offer a cheap boost, as the dreaded Aussie flu begins its journey in time for Britain's winter.

Advice to patients to fast before surgery may be scrapped after pilot scheme finds drinking tea, coffee or juice helps recovery

Current guidelines were developed by the Royal College of Nursing in conjunction with the Royal College of Anesthetists in 2005 after a major review examined evidence from 22 studies and found that healthy patients fasting for shorter periods and given drinks just a few hours before surgery were at no greater risk.Official guidance states that healthy adults having elective surgery can drink water up to two hours before anesthesia, and should not have food, including solids, milk and milk-containing drinks for at least six hours before.

Staff at Nottingham University NHS Trust began pioneering a new approach in 2014 after a survey revealed patients fasted for an average of nine hours, and overwhelmingly disliked the experience which left them anxious and thirsty.Patients on the pilot scheme were allowed liquids – including tea and coffee with no more than a fifth milk, diluted squash and still energy drinks – until up to two hours before surgery. Solid food could be eaten up to six hours before, and if patients had an afternoon operation this meant they were allowed a light breakfast.

Dr Arani Pillai, consultant anesthetist at Nottingham who is involved in the pilot, said: 'Fasting really was a belt and braces approach. If there were delays with an operation, it could mean patients went for hours without a drink.This can leave them dehydrated, nauseous and anxious, and with low blood sugar and increases the risk of electrolyte imbalance and kidney injury."

Antihistamine shown to improve function in MS patients

Taking statins raises the risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly a third

A decade-long study of more than 3,200 patients found those who took statins were 30 per cent more likely to develop the condition...The researchers, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, think this may be because statins impair insulin production. These findings reopens the debate about the benefits and side effects of statins.

One in nine American men has oral HPV

Researchers from the University of Florida analyzed data of people who contracted HPV in the United States. They found an estimated 11.5 million men had oral HPV compared to 3.2 million women. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Washington D.C. ranked at the top of the list for the highest rate of STDs based on population according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

'Never thought a stupid lil wrist computer would save my life':

Apple Watch notification spots 28-year-old’s life-threatening blood clot.

Men are at-risk of an early death if they receive blood from mothers - but experts are clueless as to why

The most common cause of such death is transfusion-related acute lung injury. Women are unaffected by receiving blood from females who have been pregnant. Researchers are unsure why such blood donations solely cause male mortality
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink

New Med research and Tech: Pasta, diabetes Type 3c, blindness breakthrough, new pneumonia vaccine, OCD genes and more

Italian researchers have created a pasta that could help us survive heart attacks

In a newly published study, medical researchers at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s Institute of Life Sciences in Pisa developed a special kind of pasta enriched with barley flour. The barley contains a substance called beta-glucan that is known to help the body form new blood vessels – which could serve as a “natural bypass” in the event of a heart attack, the researchers said.

Wanted: 1 million people to study genes, habits and health

U.S. researchers are getting ready to recruit more than 1 million people for an unprecedented study to learn how our genes, environments and lifestyles interact — and to finally customize ways to prevent and treat disease....The NIH's massive "All Of Us" project will push what's called precision medicine, using traits that make us unique in learning to forecast health and treat disease. Partly it's genetics. What genes do you harbor that raise your risk of, say, heart disease or Type 2 diabetes or various cancers? But other factors affect that genetic risk: what you eat, how you sleep, if you grew up in smog or fresh air, if you sit at a desk all day or bike around town, if your blood pressure is fine at a check-up but soars on the job, what medications you take.

Pilot testing is under way and if it  goes well, NIH plans to open the study next spring to just about any U.S. adult who's interested, with sign-up as easy as going online. It's a commitment. The study aims to run for at least 10 years.
The goal is to enroll a highly diverse population, people from all walks of life — specifically recruiting minorities who have been under-represented in scientific research. And unusual for observational research, volunteers will get receive results of their genetic and other tests, information they can share with their own doctors.

There's a Totally New Type of Diabetes And It's Being Misdiagnosed as Type 2

Type 3c diabetes might be surprisingly widespread.  Researchers from the University of Surrey studied medical records on people diagnosed with pancreatic diseases.  They found that most were misdiagnosed and actually had type 3c diabetes. The records used were taken from the Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Database (RCGP RSC). This database, mainly used for flu surveillance, contains the anonymized healthcare records of people of all ages for a sample of GP practices spread out across England..... In adults, type 3c diabetes was more common than type 1 diabetes. We found that 1 percent of new cases of diabetes in adults were type 1 diabetes compared with 1.6 percent for type 3c diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is where the body's immune system destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. It usually starts in childhood or early adulthood and almost always needs insulin treatment.  Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas can't keep up with the insulin demand of the body. It is often associated with being overweight or obese and usually starts in middle or old age, although the age of onset is decreasing. Type 3c diabetes is caused by damage to the pancreas from inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), tumors of the pancreas, or pancreatic surgery. The onset of type 3c diabetes could occur long after the onset of pancreas injury. In many cases more than a decade later. This type of damage to the pancreas not only impairs the organ's ability to produce insulin but also to produce the proteins needed to digest food (digestive enzymes) and other hormones.  However, our latest study has revealed that most cases of type 3c diabetes are being wrongly diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Only 3 percent of the people in our sample – of more than 2 million – were correctly identified as having type 3c diabetes.

FDA approves first blood sugar monitor for diabetics that DOESN'T need a finger prick

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Abbott Laboratories' glucose monitoring device for adults with diabetes, allowing millions of people to track their blood sugar levels without having to prick their fingers. The Abbott's FreeStyle Libre Flash uses small sensor wire inserted below the skin that continuously measures and monitors glucose levels throughout the day.  The device can be worn for up to 10 days before being replaced

Blindness breakthrough: Single gene injected into the back of the eye reverses retinitis pigmentosa

Scientists have used gene therapy to reverse one of the most common causes of blindness. A single gene injected into the back of the eye restores vision, by fixing a problem which stops the retina detecting light. The breakthrough, in mice experiments, saw the animals' blindness cured so that they again responded to beams of light and could see objects placed in their cage. Crucially, the eye continued to make a vital protein which restores sight for 15 months after the initial injection. Researchers at the University of Oxford says the gene therapy goes further than other work on retinitis pigmentosa. It could be available for patients in five to 10 years. The results lasted into old age, although trials on humans are needed to ensure the results are permanent, and are hoped to go ahead within five years.

Scientists may have found a cause of dyslexia

A duo of French scientists said Wednesday they may have found a physiological, and seemingly treatable, cause for dyslexia hidden in tiny light-receptor cells in the human eye.  In non-dyslexic people, the cells are arranged asymmetrically, allowing signals from the one eye to be overridden by the other to create a single image in the brain.  In non-dyslexic people, the blue cone-free spot in one eye -- the dominant one, was round and in the other eye unevenly shaped.In dyslexic people, both eyes have the same, round spot, which translates into neither eye being dominant, they found.

"The lack of asymmetry might be the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities," said the study authors. Dyslexic people make so-called "mirror errors" in reading, for example confusing the letters "b" and "d". The team used an LED lamp, flashing so fast that it is invisible to the naked eye, to "cancel" one of the images in the brains of dyslexic trial participants while reading. In initial experiments, dyslexic study participants called it the "magic lamp," said Ropars, but further tests are required to confirm the technique really works.

In development - New Vaccine promises to wipe out pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis

The current pneumonia vaccine targets only 32 forms of bacteria, with others causing death.  The new jab destroys 72 of the 90 known strains, including the 32 most deadly. In many instances, the vaccine in development outperformed existing injections. Yet, the new vaccine does not target all of the gut's bacteria; therefore keeps healthy strains.  By targeting pneumonia bacteria, it protects against septicemia and meningitis. Study author Dr Blaine Pfeifer from the University at Buffalo, said: 'We can potentially provide universal coverage against bacteria that cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other types of pneumococcal disease. It holds the promise of saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year."

Researchers Have Finally Discovered Genes That Are Linked to OCD

We were seeking ways to take advantage of information from other species in order to inform and focus the study in humans," says computational biologist Hyun Ji Noh from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Noh's team compiled a list of genetic associations observed in previous studies of human OCD, and also analyzed the results of research into compulsive behavior in mice, and in dogs, where it's called canine compulsive disorder (CCD).

They ended up with an array of around 600 genes that looked to be tied to OCD or its variants, which can urge people to do things like obsessively check or clean items around the house, or wash their hands – and, in animals like dogs, it provokes similarly compulsive acts.  "Dogs, it turns out, are surprisingly similar to people," one of the researchers, geneticist Elinor Karlsson told NPR.  This helped them to cull the list down to just four genes expressed in the brain – called NRXN1, HTR2A, CTTNBP2, and REEP3 – which, when they undergo mutations, are significantly associated with human OCD.

Teens who suffer concussions are 22% more likely to develop multiple sclerosis,

Scientists at Orebro University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied every person in the country who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) between 1964 to 2012.  They found 7,292 patients in the national database who were diagnosed with the autoimmune disease.  The findings showed that adolescents increased their risk of having multiple sclerosis as adults and adds to the growing evidence about the dangers of high-impact sports.

Evidence Is Mounting That The Drug Ketamine Can Actually Treat Chronic Migraines

The latest study focussed on 61 patients, all male, who had been suffering chronic migraines that did not respond to any of the treatments available. This type of migraine is known as a refractory headache or intractable migraine. Even though it only affects less than 1 percent of all migraine sufferers, this version tends to be an especially severe form, causing debilitating episodes that last for days at a time or even longer.  Using an intravenous ketamine infusion for stubborn migraines is not an entirely new concept, but it's considered to be a "last resort" treatment and is not widely available. It does make sense, though, because research has indicated that ketamine infusions can help with other stubborn pain conditions that don't respond to more conventional treatments.  Patients in this study all received ketamine infusions at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, a hospital that not only offers this option to patients, but also works to investigate its clinical benefits.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

October 24, 2017

Health Roundup: Obesity consequences, belly fat and 'magic' pills

40 percent of US cancers linked to excess weight

The findings by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "are a cause for concern," said the agency's director Brenda Fitzgerald....Carrying excess weight has been shown to boost the risk of 13 types of tumors, including cancers of the esophagus, thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus, colon and rectum.

Being overweight makes your heart larger and heavier

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London and the University of Oxford examined MRI scans for 4,561 people from the UK Biobank database.  They found an increase of 4.3 in BMI, which could take someone from a healthy weight to the brink of obesity, made their heart substantially heavier, raising the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.  A bigger, heavier heart raises the risk of conditions from an irregular heartbeat to a heart attack, and the organ should in fact grow smaller with age. A larger heart stretches its upper chambers, disrupting the electrical signal needed to keep it beating regularly.

Experts Raise Red Flag over Fatty Liver Disease

An increasing epidemic of fatty liver disease in the U.S. is likely to ruin the health of millions and cost billions of dollars a year, experts said here. Some 65 million Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and that number will reach 100 million by 2030,.  Rising rates of obesity are the force behind the epidemic of NAFLD, an umbrella term covering a spectrum that begins with accumulation of fat in the liver, followed by ballooning, scarring, cirrhosis, and eventually liver failure, cancer, and death.

Yale University researchers have found that belly fat is linked to inflammation

They discovered a new type of macrophage that resides on the nerves in belly fat, which becomes inflamed with age. These inflamed cells do not allow signals to be sent to fat cells telling them to burn their stored energy. The report's researchers concluded that drugs that target this inflammation could spike their metabolism and help them burn more fat, which decreases their risk of chronic illnesses.  Study author Christina Camell said: 'The purpose of our research is to achieve greater understanding of immune cell interactions with nerves and fat cells to potentially reduce belly fat, enhance metabolism and improve performance in the elderly.'

This Needle-Covered Patch Dissolves Excess Body Fat Wherever You Stick It

Developed by researchers at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina, the medicated patch uses an array of skin-piercing microneedles to deliver nanoparticles of drugs to the body, and while it hasn't yet been tested on humans, trials with mice show it reduces fat by as much as 20 percent in treated areas by converting energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat.

Is this exercise pill the real deal?

Biologist claims he has found the only formula to burn fat and grow muscle with one tablet.  Ronald Evans developed a drug to stimulate what the body feels during aerobic endurance. The chemical PPARD is released during aerobic exercise. Sedentary mice were injected with the chemical and 70 percent experienced a decrease in fat and an increase in stamina. Athletes have previously abused earlier forms of this drug to boost their endurance levels

Too much exercise can kill you - especially if you're a white man

Researchers in Chicago assessed exercise patterns over the course of 25 years. They found that very active white men are 86 percent more likely to experience a buildup of plaque in the heart arteries by middle age. This was not the case in black men, based on 3,175 participants. They found that  7.5 hours a week of fitness DOUBLES your risk of heart disease.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Health roundup of the latest news for expectant and new mothers UPDATED

Take vitamins to cut autism risk, mothers-to-be are told

Supplements could halve chance of children developing the condition.  Scientists from Philadelphia, Stockholm and Bristol, examined data for 273,107 mothers. But the team cautioned that although they had found a possible association, more research was needed.

Pregnant vegetarians are three times more likely to have kids who abuse drugs and alcohol, study finds

A new study has found that the children of pregnant women who are vegetarian have a higher risk of struggling with addiction....A study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism For the study researchers analyzed the habits of 5,109 women and their offspring. The report's researchers observed 15-year-old children whose mothers did not eat meat during their pregnancies and found those children were twice as likely to engage in underage drinking and smoking.  Most vegetarians have a B12 deficiency while pregnant. Vitamin B12 is essential for the body to metabolize folic acid, a nutrient vital for the development of a healthy fetus. The vitamin is mainly available from meats and shellfish.

Paracetamol in pregnancy could DOUBLE a child's risk of ADHD, major study finds

Norwegian researchers analyzed data on 113,000 child and parent pairs.  Mothers who took paracetamol for 29 days had a 220% increased risk of having a child with ADHD, the study found.  One limitation of the study is that long-term use of acetaminophen during pregnancy might indicate a more serious illness or injury.

Using the drug during just one trimester was associated with 7 percent higher odds of having a child with ADHD, while the increased risk was 22 percent for women who used acetaminophen in two trimesters and 27 percent with use in all three trimesters, the study found.  Short-term use didn't appear to increase the risk for ADHD. In fact, when women took acetaminophen for less than eight days, they were 10 percent less likely to have kids with ADHD than mothers who didn't use the drug at all during pregnancy, the study found.
Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen is used to mild to moderate pain and is the most commonly used medication for pain and fever in both the United States and Europe. Paracetamol is available as a generic medication with trade names including Tylenol and Panadol among others.  Paracetamol is classified as a mild analgesic. It does not have significant anti-inflammatory activity and how it works is not entirely clear.

Mother shares astonishing photo showing how her body turned her breast milk YELLOW in order to protect her baby as she battled a fever

Ashlee Chase, from the US, posted a photo of a pouch containing her milk three days before baby Elliot became ill next to an image of her milk the day after she had 'comfort nursed' all night. Her pediatrician says baby's fever prompted an immune response from mother as her body made milk with 'more fat and antibodies' to help infant fight infection. Says she's asked why she's still nursing seven-month-old and says '100% why'...'It is medicine at its finest'

 Breast Milk-Color Change

The benefits of breast feeding

Breastfeeding has long-term benefits for your baby, lasting right into adulthood. Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits. Breastfeeding reduces your baby's risk of:
  • Infections, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
  • Diarrhea and vomiting, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease in adulthood
Breastfeeding and making breast milk also has health benefits for you. The more you breastfeed, the greater the benefits. Breastfeeding lowers your risk of:
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Osteoporosis (weak bones)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity

BPA, a chemical found in everyday products from baby bottles to banknotes could increase children's risk of obesity,

BPA exposure also raises fat levels in the blood, the research adds -  previous studies have found this increases the risk of heart disease. These results occur even when BPA exposure occurs in amounts below the recommended levels. Known as the gender-bending chemical for its effects on male breast growth, the researchers believe BPA may cause obesity by altering the hormones responsible for fat metabolism.  Researchers from Brunel University London, New York University and Vrije University in Amsterdam analyzed 61 studies investigating the link between BPA exposure and weight, fat deposition and circulating lipid levels in mice and rats.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of endometriosis by up to 40%:

Natural feeding alters hormones associated with the painful gynecological disorder that affects 10% of women in the US.  Breastfeeding for three years across a woman's life reduces risk by nearly 40%. Every three additional months of natural feeding lowers the risk by 8% and exclusive breastfeeding reduces a diagnosis risk by 14% per pregnancy. The hormonal changes that occur during breastfeeding as women temporarily stop having periods are likely responsible.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink

October 22, 2017

More tips you can use

12 Things Only Professional Cleaners Know
Drop of Olive Oil
“I use a drop of oil (olive oil or even baby oil will work) on a paper towel to shine stainless steel to get rid of any fingerprints I missed in cleaning and to keep the surface cleaner for longer. Buff the oil in—going with the grain of the stainless—and wipe off any excess with a clean paper towel. This trick is magic.”

Pull the Vacuum Cleaner Slowly
Pushing the vacuum forward is mostly about getting it into the right position. It's pulling it that actually removes any soil. “So slow down on the pull pass for cleaner carpets!”

Fight bedbugs especially when you're traveling  Keep soiled laundry in a closed bag and away from your bed.

Stubborn seborrheic dermatitis? This woman swears by raw honey and has the progress photos to prove it/
She explained: 'After washing with mild cleanser, I massaged a thin layer of raw honey into the affected area and left it for three hours, simple as that.  Honey's healing properties are backed up by serious research. Studies show it helps acne, eczema and psoriasis, and aids the treatment of deep wounds.

Food that should never go in a Disposal according to the Good Housekeeping Institute.
1. Celery and other fibrous foods like asparagus and corn husks.
2. Coffee grounds. They can build up and cause a huge sludgy mess in your drain.
3. Grease and Oil.  Do you want to create your own fatberg in your pipes?  Collect your drippings in an empty jar with a cover to toss away when full.
4.  Pasta and rice.  If they are put down the drain or get into a waste disposal unit, they will swell in size and could cause a blockage.
5. Potato peelings. Same goes for peeling from any starchy vegetable as I learned last year when I made a big pot of "Root Soup".  Too many peelings said the plumber I called often cause blockages.
6. Bones.  Wrap them up in a grocery bag and toss them.

The best way to get ketchup out of a glass bottle.
Banging on the end of a glass bottle will make the ketchup inside too runny which is why it will inevitably spurt out all over your meal. Instead, [the professor] says tapping on the neck of the bottle will give you much better control over the flow of ketchup.

How to lower the volume of a sneeze
Put your index finger at the base of your nose and push up slightly. (Dr. Nayak calls this the Three Stooges method.) This can suppress a sneeze or reduce its severity.

How to beat ANY stain using 10 everyday items you already have at home (including ice cubes for candle wax and rubber gloves for removing pet hair from upholstery from the Good Housekeeping Institute

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2017

Miscellany #86

The science behind Mona Lisa’s smile.  How Leonardo da Vinci engineered the world’s most famous painting

-Monalisa

His greatest triumph of combining art, science, optics, and illusion was the smile of the Mona Lisa, which he started working on in 1503 and continued laboring over nearly until his death 16 years later. He dissected human faces, delineating the muscles that move the lips, and combined that knowledge with the science of how the retina processes perceptions. The result was a masterpiece that invites and responds to human interactions, making Leonardo a pioneer of virtual reality.

The magic of the Mona Lisa’s smile is that it seems to react to our gaze...In no other painting are motion and emotion, the paired touchstones of Leonardo’s art, so intertwined. The Mona Lisa’s smile came not from some divine intervention. Instead, it was the product of years of painstaking and studied human effort involving applied science as well as artistic skill. Using his technical and anatomical knowledge, Leonardo generated the optical impressions that made possible this brilliant display of virtuosity.

One mom’s ingenious way of getting her kids off their phones and into books.

“This week’s wifi password is the color of Anna Karenina’s dress in the book. I said the book, not the movie!! Good luck!

Contenders in the annual Sony photography awards next year. 
Photographer Diego Faus Momparler from Spain submitted this photograph of Cap de Formentor in Mallorca, taken with a  long exposure just before sunset.

 Mallorca Photo Winner

Solzhenitsyn’s cathedrals  Gary Saul Morson on the literary works of Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

In Russia, history is too important to leave to the historians. Great novelists must show how people actually lived through events and reveal their moral significance. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn explained in his 1970 Nobel Prize lecture, literature transmits “condensed and irrefutable human experience” in a form that “defies distortion and falsehood. Thus literature . . . preserves and protects a nation’s soul.”

How would you walk down this hallway?

-Illusion Hallway Tile

British tile company Casa Ceramica have designed a novel optical illusion flooring system that uses real tiles to create a vertigo-inducing warped floor. The skewed checkerboard floor functions as the entryway to their showroom in Manchester, lending an Alice in Wonderland atmosphere to a generally traditional medium.

Dr. Robert Liston is famous for performing the only operation with a 300 percent mortality rate.

In the days before anesthesia, surgeons had to get creative with their surgeries in an attempt to save lives while minimizing a patient’s pain. One of the most effective ways was to perform the surgery as quickly as possible, sometimes in under five minutes.  There was an upside to this method, of course, as the less time a surgery took, the less likely the patient was to bleed out and the less likely they were to feel pain. However, there was also a downside, as accuracy would usually be sacrificed in favor of speed....Liston was particularly skilled at quick amputations. Where most surgeons at that time lost one in four patients, due to his speed and skill, Liston only lost about one in ten.

Robert Liston was performing a leg amputation on a patient who was lying flat on his table. As he brought down his knife, he was so focused on his speed that he took his surgical assistant’s fingers off along with the patient’s leg. As he swung the knife back up, it clipped a spectator’s coattails, and he collapsed, dead.  The patient and Liston’s assistant both died after their wounds became infected, and the spectator who collapsed was later discovered to have died of fright. The three death’s made Liston’s surgery the only one on record with a 300 percent mortality rate.

Migrating Painted Ladies Over Denver
Large quantities of migrating painted lady butterflies show up on radar over Denver on October 4, 2017.  Call them a swarm, a flutter, a rabble or a kaleidoscope of  butterflies, there's no collective noun big enough.

 Migrating Butterflies Denver



Entries to the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition
Harry Collins captured this photo of an Atlantic Puffin on the remote nesting island of Machias Seal Island off the coast of Maine.

 Atlantic Puffin By Harry Collins


Giant Straw Animals Invade Japanese Fields After Rice Harvest  Repurposing rice straw left over from the harvest.

 Straw Lion Japan-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

"Restraint in public life is not a foundation of civilization. It is civilization"

One would not expect an article about manners in Geopolitical Futures.  But George Friedman makes the very good case that manners are very much a geopolitical matter.

Manners and Political Life  Restraint in public life is not a foundation of civilization. It is civilization.

I married a woman born in Australia, of that class that emulated English culture...Meredith, my wife, grew up elegant and restrained. The enormous body of rules she called good manners rigidly shaped and controlled her passions, which were many. She followed the rules she learned as a child partly out of a desire for others to think well of her, partly because she regarded these manners as the laws of nature. Restraint and propriety were the outward sign of a decent life. ... Good manners allowed her to be both free and civilized, in the English manner. Her obsession with manners imposed a civility that shaped the way in which people disagreed....

I learned from her that there was a time and place for everything. I learned that without manners, however arbitrary they might be, life was chaos. I learned that combat, in speech and deed, might sometimes be necessary, but that it must be bound by the rituals of civility, or everything is destroyed....Manners make it possible to disagree within a framework of ritual that the disagreement does not lead to unhealable breaches.

I grew up in the 1960s, when manners were held to be a form of hypocrisy, the sign of a false and inauthentic time.  The argument was that honesty was the highest virtue. Manners restrained honest expression and therefore denied us our authenticity. What came of this was an assault on the distinction between what we are in private and what we are in public. The great icon of this was Woodstock, where the music was less important than the fact that things that had been ruthlessly private had become utterly public. The shame that is attached to bad manners was seen as dishonesty, and unrestrained actions as honesty. The restraint of manners became mortally wounded....

Today, we are surrounded by politicians who have decided that honesty requires that they show how deeply they detest each other, and a public that feels free to display its contempt for any with whom it disagrees. Our opponents have become our enemies, and our enemies have become monsters. This has become true for all political factions, and all political factions believe it is true only for their opponents. The idea that it is proper to hide and suppress our malice because not doing so is bad manners has been lost on all levels. With this has been lost the idea that it is possible to disagree on important matters, yet respect and even honor your opponent. Or, put another way, what has been lost is the obligation to appear to feel this way. Manners, after all, do not ask you to lie to yourself, but merely to the rest of the world.

The idea that manners create inauthentic lives, lives in which true feelings are suppressed, is absolutely true. But it forgets the point that many of the things we feel ought to be suppressed, and many of the truths we know ought not to even be whispered. Indeed, the whisperer, when revealed, should feel shame. Without the ability to feel shame, humans are barbarians. It is manners, however false, that create the matrix in which shame can be felt. When we consider public life today, the inflicting of shame has changed from the subtle force of manners, to the ability to intimidate those you disagree with. As Francois de La Rochefoucauld said, “Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.” Today, vice feels little need to apologize.
....
What I have written here would seem to have little to do with geopolitics. It has everything to do with it. A nation has as its foundation the love of one’s own. That isn’t a saccharine concept. It is the idea that we are born in or come to a country and do not merely share core values with each other, but honor each other for being our fellow citizens, that our mutual bond is the fellowship of the nation. Underneath there may be much malice, but good manners require it be hidden. The collapse of manners undermines the love of one’s own and weakens the foundation of the nation. And since nations rise and fall, this is very much a geopolitical question.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

Growing Older - the beauty, the realizations and some horrifying stories

Usula K. Le Guin on Growing Old

One rule of the game, in most times and places, is that it’s the young who are beautiful. The beauty ideal is always a youthful one. This is partly simple realism. The young are beautiful. The whole lot of ’em. The older I get, the more clearly I see that and enjoy it....And yet I look at men and women my age and older, and their scalps and knuckles and spots and bulges, though various and interesting, don’t affect what I think of them. Some of these people I consider to be very beautiful, and others I don’t. For old people, beauty doesn’t come free with the hormones, the way it does for the young. It has to do with bones. It has to do with who the person is. More and more clearly it has to do with what shines through those gnarly faces and bodies.....

As her mother lay dying

I glimpse what no mirror can reflect, the spirit flashing out across the years, beautiful.  That must be what the great artists see and paint. That must be why the tired, aged faces in Rembrandt’s portraits give us such delight: they show us beauty not skin-deep but life-deep.

What Does It Feel Like To Be 80 Years Old Knowing That Death Is Imminent?  by Stan Hayward.

I am in my 80s. To be this age is largely luck. To be this age and reasonably healthy with peace of mind is even luckier. To be this age, be healthy, and not lonely makes one feel so lucky that you want to gulp the moments down like a drowning man reaching air....I regret much but also realize that having regrets meant that I had opportunities to regret; I was lucky to have those opportunities....

When friends pass away, it is not just their presence that is lost, it is also the memories they have of you. The “Do you remember when…?” conversations that pepper the elderly reminiscences. Fear of death is actually rare and is commonly a joke. On the other hand, fear of losing one’s memories, faculties, or independence is real. We put a great value on having people who we can trust — especially to carry out wishes when we are gone. Making final decisions can be upsetting, particularly if they relate to young people who are distant in age and lifestyle yet close in relationship....

So, what is it like to be in your eighties? It is really not much different from being any age where your concerns are getting through the day. On the other hand, people have more importance than possessions; comfort more worth than ambition; trust more value than money; love more satisfying than immortality. Perhaps in some ways, one wants to leave the world as one entered it; without fear or pain; without anger or distrust; without possessions or debts; without demands or expectations; in innocence.

How the Elderly Lose Their Rights by Rachel Aviv in the New Yorker
Horrifying stories of how 'guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens without their consent—and reap a profit from it'.

“The families were devastated that they couldn’t know if the residents were in surgery or hear anything about their health. They didn’t understand why they’d been taken out of the picture. They’d ask, ‘Can you just tell me if she’s alive?’ ” Liebo tried to comply with the rules, because she didn’t want to violate medical-privacy laws; as guardian, Parks was entitled to choose what was disclosed...

One senior  said that "strangers were making decisions about her fate. She felt as if she were frozen: she couldn’t influence what was happening. “I didn’t know what to do,” she told Scott. “I think I yelled for help. Help me.” The worst part, she said, was that she couldn’t find her family. “Honest to God, I thought you guys left me all alone.”
---
Approximately ten per cent of people older than sixty-five are thought to be victims of “elder abuse”—a construct that has yet to enter public consciousness, as child abuse has—but such cases are seldom prosecuted. People who are frail or dying don’t make good witnesses—a fact that Shafer once emphasized at a 1990 U.S. congressional hearing on crimes against the elderly, in which he appeared as an expert at preventing exploitation. “Seniors do not like to testify,” he said, adding that they were either incapable or “mesmerized by the person ripping them off.” He said, “The exploitation of seniors is becoming a real cottage industry right now. This is a good business. Seniors are unable to fend for themselves.”...

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink

October 11, 2017

Health Roundup: Food Edition

Low-Carbohydrate Diet Superior to Antipsychotic Medications - Two remarkable personal stories, as told by their Harvard psychiatrist.

Ketogenic diets are special low-carbohydrate diets that have been used to treat epilepsy for almost 100 years and show great promise in the management of a wide variety of other brain disorders.

Want to make your salad healthier? Add FAT! Just a drizzle of oil could DOUBLE the absorption of 8 nutrients

Adding fat to your salad makes it healthier, new research reveals.Tucking into a plate of lettuce and cucumber with a drizzle of oil could increase the absorption of eight nutrients that are linked to human health, a study found. Such nutrients include vitamins A, E and K, which have previously been associated with cancer prevention and improved vision, the research adds.
Lead author Professor Wendy White from Iowa State University, said: 'The best way to explain it would be to say that adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption.'  Maximum absorption occurs when around two tablespoons of oil is added.  Previous research reveals oil boosts the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients

It really IS the most important meal of the day!

Skipping breakfast 'leads to increased risk of heart attacks', study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds. Those skipping breakfast were 25.7 times more likely to have atherosclerosis, or stiff and narrow arteries and were more likely to be obese and to suffer high blood pressure and cholesterol.  Participants who skipped breakfast were also more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking.  The study by researchers from Tufts University was carried out on a group of 4000 people in Spain free from cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease.

Saving carbs for last at mealtime may help control blood sugar levels for diabetics  Don't eat the bread first.

Diabetics should save bread for last at mealtime to keep their blood sugar under control, new research suggests. Weill Cornell Medicine researchers said adopting this technique and saving carbs for last is comparable to the effects of insulin.  Carbohydrates trigger a surge in blood sugar levels in sufferers - hence many avoid such foods completely. But scientists have found that leaving bread, potatoes and pasta til the end helps to control these spikes after eating. The carbohydrate-last meal was also associated with lower insulin secretion and higher levels of a gut hormone that helps regulate glucose and satiety.

Just ONE extra banana or avocado a day could prevent heart attacks and stroke

It's all down to one key nutrient - potassium -  reveals study author Dr Paul Sanders from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Potassium-rich foods may stop fatal blockages from occurring by preventing arteries from hardening and maintains artery flexibility.  Previous research reveals stiff, inflexible arteries increase a person's risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.  The researchers studied mice and found the animals given high potassium had substantially less artery hardening and reduced stiffness in their aorta, the body's main artery.  This is thought to be due to low-potassium levels in the blood preventing the expression of genes that maintain artery flexibility.

English breakfast tea may aid weight loss by boosting metabolism - so long as it's drunk without milk.

Black tea molecules are larger and therefore less well absorbed by the intestine.  This encourages the growth of metabolism-boosting bacteria in mice studies. They reduce intestinal bacteria associated with obesity and boost lean mass. Black and green tea extracts cause weight loss similar to following a low-fat diet. Experts believe both teas are prebiotics that feed wellbeing-related organisms.

Boy, 11, is left blind after following a strict diet of potato, meat, apples, cucumber and Cheerios due to his allergies and eczema

The Canadian child, who remains anonymous, suffered irreversible damage to his vision from a lack of vitamin A. Alongside his progressive vision loss, the boy also suffered from dry eyes and night blindness - both hallmarks of a vitamin A deficiency.  By the time the boy was taken to hospital, eight months after his eye sight began to falter, he was only able to see 30cm from his face. Doctors gave the patient three super-strength doses of the vitamin over the course of two weeks, they wrote in the journal JAMA Pediatrics Clinical Challenge. The boy's vision improved to 20/800 within six weeks, but it means he is still legally blind.

Do YOU need more zinc? From brittle nails to dry skin - this body map shows the warning signs and how you can fix it.

 Bodymap Zinc Deficiency

‘Signs of low zinc status include a weakened immune system, more colds and poor wound healing, tiredness, and low sex drive’. Zinc deficiency could be the reason your hair isn’t as thick as it used to be.  Zinc is not called the beauty vitamin for nothing. It’s second only to iron as the most abundantly found mineral in the human body and among its key functions are keeping skin, hair, teeth and nails healthy, not to mention the functioning of our libidos and immune systems. ‘Zinc is required for the activity of over 300 body enzymes, and these enzymes help to bring about biochemical reactions in the body that are essential to protein synthesis, hormone production, as well overall radiance and wellbeing,’ says public health nutritionist Emma Derbyshire. Most at risk: ‘Strict vegetarians and vegans, Other people at risk could be those who drink lots of alcohol.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2017

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's edition

FIVE key smells? It could mean you have dementia

Scientists at the University of Chicago develop a new diagnosis test to spot symptoms before they develop.  Those who can't identify 4 out of 5 common odors are twice at risk of dementia. The worse someone's sense of smell, the greater their risk of being diagnosed. The aromas in order of increasing difficulty were: peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather.  .....'Loss of the sense of smell is a strong signal that something has gone wrong and significant damage has been done."

A good night's rest is your best defense against dementia

All this week, a pair of Alzheimer’s researchers have been sharing their expertise with Mail readers and revealing how simple lifestyle tweaks can help fend off the disease.  We have seen hundreds of patients use our simple plan of lifestyle changes to reverse what seemed to be an imminent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and our findings have formed the basis of our life-changing new book, The Alzheimer’s Solution. .. This is when the brain undergoes its routine repairs, and the regeneration of neurons and their supporting cells can occur. The cocktail of chemicals released during sleep calm inflammation and bolster immunity — better sleep leads to fewer colds and immune-related disorders, and even a lower risk of cancer.  The ‘brain fog’ you might get after a really bad night’s sleep is the same in early Alzheimer’s. Lack of sleep impairs your ability to function during the day, slowing your focus, your processing speed and your short-term memory.

Women in their 40s with high blood pressure face dementia danger

The risk of dementia increased 73 per cent among women who started having blood pressure problems in their 40s . There was no evidence that having high blood pressure in one’s 30s or 40s increased the risk of dementia for men. The findings, based on a study of more than 7,200 people in the US by Kaiser Permanente research institute in California, reinforces growing evidence that lifestyle in middle age has a marked impact on health in retirement.  The study involved 7,238 people, tracked from the mid-1960s...They found women who already had high blood pressure in their 30s were at 31 per cent increased risk of dementia, when compared to women with stable, normal blood pressure. But among those who developed it in their 40s, the increased risk soared to 73 per cent.  The results were the same when researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect risk of dementia, such as smoking, diabetes and body mass index.

Alzheimer's sufferer, 55, describes agony of becoming violent and losing his memories because of the disease

Greg O'Brien is a former newspaper editor who has early-onset Alzheimer's. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife and three children. O'Brien wrote an essay in Psychology Today that details what it is like to live with a disease that hijacks his emotions and induces fits of rage. He describes the heartbreak that comes with this, as, at times, this anger is unintentionally directed at his family members.

A List of The Most Hopeful Alzheimer's Treatments Currently in The Works  After many failures, there's still hope.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

October 4, 2017

Miscellany #85

All History in a Nutshell

Good Times

Scientists confirm the obvious: drinking beer makes you happy

Scientists in Germany looked at 13,000 different food components to find out which were the most effective at stimulating the reward center in the brain. And they were surprised to find beer topped the list. The feel-good effect is caused by the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Tempting foods and, it turns out, beer, stimulate the reward center in the brain where the dopamine D2 receptor is located.  Hordenine, which is found in malted barley and beer, does the job of cheering us up pretty well. The new findings were reported in the journal Scientific Reports....Professor Monika Pischetsrieder said “It came as a bit of surprise that a substance in beer activates the dopamine D2 receptor, especially as we were not specifically looking at stimulant foodstuffs.”

‘How do you thank someone for saving your life?’

Professor Jill Brown was giving a lecture when a member of the audience, Dr. Iris Jaffe, a cardiologist at Tufts Medical Center, realized that Brown was showing the classic signs of a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal blood clot in the lung. ‘What am I going to do?’ Who am I? I’m somebody in her class. Should I say something? Maybe it’s none of my business.”  Jaffe decided to risk embarrassment and tell Brown about her concerns, “I’m a physician, but I’m not your physician, and I know nothing about your medical history, but I’m concerned you have a blood clot in your lungs and you need to be seen right away.”  Brown shocked said, “What are you talking about?”  But she went to the hospital after the lecture and was diagnosed with multiple blood clots in her lungs and deep vein thrombosis — a blood clot — in her lower right leg. There the doctors kept telling me, ‘That woman probably saved your life,’ because I would have just ignored my symptoms because I thought they were normal after surgery.”  Brown emailed Jaffe, “How do you thank someone for saving your life?”

List of countries by firearm-related death rate per 100,000  in one year

 Edited Gun Deaths Per Capita

American gun ownership and American murder rate

 Gun Ownership+Gun Death Rate

The invisible world of WiFi signal bombardment

Have you ever wondered what the electromangetic fields (EMFs) that surround virtually every person carrying a mobile device with WiFi or data capability look like?  Visual artist Luis Hernan at Digital Ethereal uses a Kirlian Device, which transforms signal strength in light color (reds for high intensity, blues for low intensity) and couples it with long exposure photography to register the changing qualities of wireless networks.

 Wifi Bombardment

9-Year-Old Boy Asks For Dessert, School Calls Him Racist and Calls the Cops
All he asked for was 'brownies" at the end-of-the-year class party at an elementary school in New Jersey.Update at the Philadelphia Inquirer

Wolves changed the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park and the park's physical geography

Watch this remarkable video, a little over 2 minutes long, to see how.  A longer, narrated video, How Wolves Change Rivers explaining the trophic cascade, has amassed 38 million views.

 Wolves+Yellowstone

Man’s Tumor Turns Out To Be A Playmobil Traffic Cone

A 47-year-old man from Preston went to a respiratory clinic complaining of a cough. As the man admitted to having smoked for most of his life, the doctors feared the worst– lung cancer. The doctors then took x-rays, which revealed a spot on his right lung, something they feared was a tumor. They operated immediately, hoping to remove the tumor and begin treatments. However, when they removed the mass, they realized it was not a tumor but in fact a Playmobil traffic cone. The man recalled receiving the cone, along with the rest of the playset, on his seventh birthday over 40 years ago. Doctors concluded that because he was so young, his lung tissue simply grew around it.

Mobile Micro-Lending: 17th-Century Book-Shaped Library Hides 50 Tiny Books
This Jacobean traveling library, bound in leather over a wooden shell, housed dozens of small books. In theory the books could be swapped out for different journeys, much like loading up a Kindle with books to read before heading off to the airport.

Vintage-Book-Case 50 Tiny Books

Holloways: Roads Tunneled into the Earth by Time

They are centuries-old thoroughfares worn down by the traffic of time....The name “holloway” is derived from “hola weg,” meaning sunken road in Old English....No one ever engineered a holloway — erosion by human feet, and horses or cattle driven alongside, combined with water then flowing through the embankments like a gully, molded the land into a tunneled road. It’s hard to date them, but most are thought to go back to Roman times and the Iron Age.

 Holloway2

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 PM | Permalink

October 3, 2017

Jordan Peterson's rules for being a man

Quora: If you could write a rule book for being a man, what "man law" would you write?  Jordan Peterson replied

  1. Encourage children through play.
  2. Promote the best in people.
  3. Keep the sacred fire burning.
  4. Guard the women and children from harm.
  5. Confront the eternal adversary.
  6. Build the crystal palace.
  7. Confront death with courage and return.
  8. Dare to cut down a tree.
  9. Offer your sons up as a sacrifice to God.
  10. Protect your daughters from exploitation.
  11. Store up wealth for the future.
  12. Consult the ancestral spirits.
  13. Read great books.
  14. Speak the truth about unpleasant things.
  15. Pay close attention.
  16. Make a worthy temple for the Lord.
  17. Keep the howling winds of winter at bay.
  18. Stand up for the oppressed.
  19. Be a prince of peace.
  20. Don’t be too civilized.
  21. Organize yourself with other men
  22. Be faithful to your wife.
  23. Be hospitable to friends and strangers.
  24. Rout the wolves and chase the lions so the shepherds can eat.
  25. Establish a destination – and a path.
  26. Bring heaven to earth.
  27. Take on the sins of the world.
  28. Dig the wells and mine the gold and copper.
  29. Gather everyone to the banquet.
  30. Grow up and take responsibility.
  31. Resist pride in all things.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:24 AM | Permalink