Health & Wellness


Anti-anxiety and sleeping drugs found to double the risk of death

risk anxiety sleeping drugs

Massive study of 100,000 people finds evidence for long-suspected danger of anxiety and sleeping drugs.
Like many drugs, those prescribed for anxiety disorders, like diazepam and temazepam, have a number of known side-effects like daytime sleepiness, falls, an increased risk of dementia - and they are also addictive.

Now, though, a new study has found evidence for a long-suspected danger of these drugs as well as common sleeping pills: an increased risk of death.

The large study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at data from over 100,000 patients who had been to their family doctors across seven years (Weich et al., 2014).

It found that taking anti-anxiety drugs (like diazepam) or sleeping pills (like zolpidem/Ambien) doubled the risk of death.

Comment: There are numerous studies showing that natural methods such as supplements, exercise and meditation are far better at combating anxiety and sleeplessness. The problem is that BigPharma has been too successful in pushing drugs as the cure-all for everything, because there is no money to be made from natural cures.

Sleep Deeper With Better Nutrition
Meditation is an effective treatment for depression, anxiety and pain
Aerobic Exercise Relieves Insomnia
Sleep, Stress and Cancer: How to Get a Better Night's Sleep


NBC cameraman tested positive for Ebola, entire crew to return to U.S., and quarantined

NBC ebola
NBC News says a freelance cameraman working for the network has tested positive for Ebola and will be flown back to the United States for treatment.

The network reported the freelancer, identified as Ashoka Mukpo, was just hired Tuesday to be a second cameraman for its medical editor, Nancy Snyderman, a physician. It said the freelancer, who has been working in Liberia for some time, showed symptoms Wednesday, and was feeling "tired and achy" before being tested.

The network said the 33-year old cameraman, who is also a writer, was taken to a Doctors Without Borders treatment center and that the positive result came back 12 hours later.

He is the fourth American known to have contracted Ebola in Liberia, according to NBC. Another physician, reportedly American and working for the World Health Organization, was flown back to the United States after testing positive in Sierra Leone.
Wall Street

Faux News host to CDC director: Obama misled Americans about 'a lot of things' how can we trust him on Ebola?

© Fox News/screen grab
Fox News host Steve Doocy
News host Steve Doocy on Wednesday asked CDC Director Dr. Tim Frieden how he could be trusted to tell the country the truth about Ebola when President Barack Obama had misled Americans about "a lot of things." Following the news that a case of Ebola had been diagnosed in Texas, Doocy told Frieden that his own daughter thought she might be at risk to contract the disease.

"I know you say the public does not need to worry about it," Doocy said. "But I've got to tell you something, my daughter works in the building directly across the street from the hospital, and I talked to her last night. She's a little freaked out."

Frieden assured Doocy that his daughter was safe because she had not come in contact with the patient.

"Let's go back and look at the plain truth of how Ebola spreads, it only spreads through someone who's sick," the CDC director explained. "And only spreads from direct contact with the person or their body fluids."

Doocy said that Fox News viewers had written in expressing doubts about Frieden and the CDC because they were "part of the administration."

"They feel that the administration has misled a lot of people on a lot of things," Doocy remarked. "Why should we believe you when you're telling us this stuff?"

Comment: While Faux News is known for being a tool of the neo-conservatives, they have a point. When the government lies, consistently, about pretty much everything, how can we believe anything they say.


American mother threatened with child endangerment for using medicinal cannabis oil on child who has severe brain disorder

A Minnesota prosecutor will proceed with a child endangerment case against a mother who provided medical marijuana to her son to treat symptoms of a traumatic brain injury - despite the fact that Minnesota recently passed a law allowing cannabis oil to be used for medical purposes - ThinkProgress reports. That law, however, will not go into effect until 2015. Angela Brown's son, Trey, suffered the injury at a baseball game three years ago.

"It just hurts in my brain everywhere," Trey said. "I really can't explain the pain." Along with the pain, he suffers from uncontrollable muscle spasms and seizures so severe that he had to stop attending school and caused him to be suicidal.

"I was afraid to go to the bathroom," his mother Angela Brown said, because "he'd be harming himself."

Last winter, she took Trey to Colorado, where they found a doctor who prescribed a particular strain of cannabis oil to treat him. "Within an hour of him taking it, we could tell a difference," Angela Brown said. When he returned to school, teachers and administrators wondered about his seemingly miraculous recovery. When Trey informed them, however, they were less than pleased.

Comment: It's a shame that people can't get the medicine they require, that works, because bureaucracy comes first.


Vitamin D significantly improves symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis in children

Vitamin D
© Stock Photo
Vitamin D
A study conducted in more than 100 Mongolian schoolchildren found that daily treatment with a vitamin D supplement significantly reduced the symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema. Led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) physician, the report in the October issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology supports the results of a preliminary study that showed similar results in a small group of children in Boston.

"While we don't know the exact proportion of patients with atopic dermatitis whose symptoms worsen in the winter, the problem is common," says Carlos Camargo, MD, DrPH, MGH Department of Emergency Medicine. "In this large group of patients, who probably had low levels of vitamin D, taking daily vitamin D supplements - which are inexpensive, safe and widely available - proved to be quite helpful." Camargo led both the earlier Boston pilot study and the current investigation, which was performed in collaboration with investigators from the Health Sciences University of Mongolia.

A chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin, atopic dermatitis is uncomfortable and makes patients more vulnerable to bacterial infection. Symptoms of the disorder - most commonly seen in children - often worsen during wintertime. While controlled administration of ultraviolet light, which can stimulate the production of vitamin D in the skin, is a common treatment for severe atopic dermatitis, the possibility that vitamin D deficiency contributes to the seasonal worsening of symptoms had received little consideration prior to the Boston study. That investigation involved only 11 children but provided preliminary support for the hypothesis.

Loss of smell may be predictor of death in older adults

© melpomenem/iStockphoto
Researchers tested the study participants' ability to identify five different odours (in order of difficulty): peppermint, fish, orange, rose or leather.
Being unable to smell the roses may be far more dire than simply missing out on one of life's pleasures.

In older adults, it could be a predictor of increased risk of death within five years.

In a study of more than 3,000 people aged 57 to 85, 39 per cent of subjects who failed a simple smelling test died within five years, according to results published in the journal PLOS One.

That compared with a 19 per cent death rate within five years for those with moderate smell loss, and 10 per cent for those deemed to have a healthy sense of smell.

"Compared to a person with a normal sense of smell, a person with an absent sense of smell has three times greater risk of dying within a five-year span," says the study's lead author Dr Jayant Pinto of the University of Chicago .

"What this tells us is your sense of smell is a great indicator of your overall health," says Pinto, who specialises in genetics and treatment of olfactory and sinus disease.

He likens the loss of smell to a canary in a coal mine.

Health fiasco: Ebola patient vomited in ambulance, five children exposed, took at least three flights

Eric Duncan
Eric Duncan, Liberian national, under quarantine in Dallas hospital for Ebola.
Five students, who attended four different Dallas schools, are being monitored this week after possibly being in close contact with the Ebola patient over the weekend. At a news conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, the state's governor Rick Perry said parents were concerned but he allayed fears of contagion.

Officials said they are monitoring up to another dozen people who may have come into contact with the man. Thomas Eric Duncan is thought to have contracted the virus in Liberia. The Liberian national came to the U.S. nearly two weeks ago to visit relatives and he is the first man to be diagnosed with Ebola while in the US. Mr. Duncan is now in a serious condition, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.

A nurse had asked him on his first visit to the hospital when he felt ill if he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak. He told them he had been to Liberia but the "information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team," according to hospital officials. Mr. Duncan was then sent home with antibiotics - a decision hospital bosses have described as a matter of "regret" - but he was admitted when he returned two days later. Mr. Duncan's family are among up to 18 people being monitored after exposure to the man along with the ambulance crew who transported him to hospital.

According to The New York Times, Mr. Duncan worked moving cargo for Fedex in the Liberian capital Monrovia but had recently quit his job and gotten a visa to come to the U.S. where his son reportedly lives.

The Times
also revealed that Mr. Duncan may have contracted Ebola while helping carry his landlord's seriously ill, pregnant daughter to hospital. The woman, named by The Times as 19-year-old Marthalene Williams was taken to a hospital on September 15, but turned away because there was no room to treat her. She died the following day.

Comment: It is widely suspected that the number of Ebola cases and the death statistics from Africa are grossly understated. Mr. Duncan may well have infected passengers on his three flights if his symptoms were far enough along to be contagious. It is widely publicized that Ebola is only transmitted through bodily fluids, however there is a good chance it has already gone airborne. If so, the United States has a big problem on its hands. Despite the bravado of Rick Perry to the contrary, the medical infrastructure--both internationally and in Texas--was negligent and unprepared. Ambulance personnel, flight passengers including children, neighborhood residents, and who knows whom else, may have been unwittingly exposed because the emphasis of this threat has not been taken seriously. It is spokesmen, like Perry, who do not understand the complexity and potential of this disease, think optimism outranks protocol, twist the facts to match the message and try to camouflage its severity that are the catalysts for insufficient preparation while cautionary measures are ignored. We need more from our medical experts and half-ass politicians than crossed fingers on this one.

And United Airlines THINKS he was on those two particular flights...what is wrong here?


Ebola nightmare in Sierra Leone: 'Five infected every hour' in a terrifying new rate of acceleration

Adult 2 kids
A leading charity has warned that a rate of five new Ebola cases an hour in Sierra Leone means healthcare demands are far outstripping supply. Save the Children said there were 765 new cases of Ebola reported in the West African state last week, while there are only 327 beds in the country.

Experts and politicians are set to meet in London to debate a global response to the crisis. It is the world's worst outbreak of the virus, killing 3,338 people so far. There have been 7,178 confirmed cases, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea suffering the most. The number of people infected and dying from the disease is being vastly underreported.

Save the Children says Ebola is spreading across Sierra Leone at a "terrifying rate," with the number of new cases being recorded doubling every few weeks. It said that even as health authorities got on top of the outbreak in one area, it spread to another.

The scale of the disease is also "massively unreported" according to the charity, because "untold numbers of children are dying anonymously at home or in the streets." Earlier this month, Britain said it would build facilities for 700 new beds in Sierra Leone but the first of these will not be ready for weeks, and the rest may take months.

Comment: According to other sources, the outbreak's unprecedented scale and geographic spread have pushed governments to impose severe measures, cordoning off of entire towns or regions. Last week, Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown, confining its six million people to their homes while health teams took on the task to look for the sick and educate people about the disease. The exercise revealed the outbreak is worse than thought with 160 Ebola cases found during the shutdown. The risk of infection among health workers is also much higher than previously thought. A recount in Sierra Leone revealed a 72 per cent death rate, instead of a 40 per cent rate previously reported. The WHO said its latest data did not yet include the cases and deaths found during a three-day lockdown in Sierra Leone.

Alert: Potential Ebola patient currently in isolation and undergoing testing and evaluation in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Resistance exercise to enhance episodic memory

Here's another reason why it's a good idea to hit the gym: it can improve memory. A new Georgia Institute of Technology study shows that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic memory, also known as long-term memory for previous events, by about 10 percent in healthy young adults.

The Georgia Tech research isn't the first to find that exercise can improve memory. But the study, which was just published in the journal Acta Psychologica, took a few new approaches. While many existing studies have demonstrated that months of aerobic exercises such as running can improve memory, the current study had participants lift weights just once two days before testing them. The Georgia Tech researchers also had participants study events just before the exercise rather than after workout. They did this because of extensive animal research suggesting that the period after learning (or consolidation) is when the arousal or stress caused by exercise is most likely to benefit memory.

Comment: The study has been published in: Acta Psychologica Volume 153, November 2014, Pages 13 - 19 and can be found here.


Chikungunya virus continues to spread in U.S. - 11 confirmed cases now in Florida

© New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board via Getty Images
A mosquito-borne virus that can cause debilitating joint pain lasting for years has spread to the continental U.S. after infecting hundreds of thousands of people in the Caribbean and Central America.

The virus is called Chikungunya, an African name meaning "to become contorted." While the illness, first identified in Tanzania in 1952, has long bedeviled Africa and Asia, the only recorded cases in the U.S. before July involved patients who contracted the virus abroad.

Now, 11 cases have been confirmed as originating in Florida, spurring concern this may be the beginning of the type of explosive growth seen elsewhere from a disease that has no vaccine or cure. Medical and environmental experts are debating how best to quell the outbreak before it takes off.

"In a way it's surprising it hasn't been here yet," said Scott Weaver, a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Patients who contract Chikungunya have joint swelling and pain, fever, headache and rash for about a week, though some symptoms last months or years in some patients, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the disease generally isn't fatal, more than 100 people have died in the Western Hemisphere since December, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Treatment includes hydration, rest and medicine that reduces fever or pain such ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Comment: In July 2014, 2 cases were reported in Florida:

Reports of individuals contracting mosquito virus chikungunya confirmed by health officials in Florida

More from around the world:
  • Killer mosquito virus arrives in Europe
  • 4,600 affected by untreatable virus spreading through Caribbean islands
  • Incurable mosquito-borne chikungunya virus now found in six US states
  • Reports of individuals contracting mosquito virus chikungunya confirmed by health officials in Florida
  • Malaysia: Health ministry keeping a tab on Chikungunya virus
  • Indian Ocean virus infections climb in Mauritius
  • Puerto Rico declares epidemic of mosquito-borne virus chikungunya; 200 confirmed cases
  • Number of Chikungunya cases in El Salvador tops 16,000, Virgin Islands declare epidemic, 113 dead total in the Americas
  • Mosquito-borne virus Chikungunya found in Kentucky; 9 possible cases