Health & Wellness


The Stunning Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

Nothing feels worse than hearing your alarm clock ring in the morning when your body is screaming for a few extra hours of rest. Given the opportunity, who wouldn't get more sleep? If I had a choice between a year of unlimited Easter candy and a year of unlimited sleep, I'd say "Bye-bye Cadbury" and "Hello, bed!"

Many people don't get as much sleep as they should. Since the invention of the light bulb, people sleep about 500 hours per year less than they used to. Whether we're kept awake by our partner's snoring or we stay up too late watching TV, we wake up tired, groggy, and cranky. No wonder the coffee industry does so well. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation has some side effects and they can't all be remedied with a little extra caffeine.


Scientists do marriage survival math

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Scientists believe a mathematical model can determine whether a couple will live happily ever after or end up seeking a divorce.

Researchers claim that their technique has an accuracy of 94 percent and can predict the length of a marital relationship long before problems arise.

Developed by a team of British and American mathematicians, the formula has been tested on 700 newlyweds so far.

The team filmed couples while they discussed contentious issues such as money or in-laws - for 15 minutes and then scored their statements using a points system.


The hidden dangers of 'safe surgery'

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Keyhole surgery causes less pain and has quicker recovery times than traditional surgery but is harder to learn
Surgeons require 750 operations to perfect keyhole technique, study finds

Surgeons may take as many as 750 operations to learn how to perform keyhole surgery safely. Those who used the keyhole technique took three times as long to acquire the necessary skills compared with the traditional open operation, a study has found.

No patient wants to be the first to go under the surgeon's knife but the discovery that it is wise to wait until the 750th place on the list will alarm those who find themselves at the front of the queue.

In keyhole surgery, the instruments are introduced via tiny incisions in the abdomen and monitored via a camera. In traditional prostate surgery, the abdomen is opened and the prostate gland exposed and surgically removed.

Keyhole surgery causes less pain and has quicker recovery times than traditional surgery but is harder to learn. Surgeons who began using the traditional technique and switched to the keyhole technique found the transition the hardest to make.


Sick Building Syndrome: Floods, Mold, Cancer, and the Politics of Public Health

It's spring, and flooding is again making headlines, although the 'sick building' and mold dangers following in the flood's wake are becoming better appreciated. But disturbingly highlighting the imperatives of such awareness, recently published research has - for the first time - shown the high cost of what the sickness that comes of 'sick buildings' can mean, with the potential for long-lasting disability now being a documented fact.

According to a ground breaking Swedish study appearing in The International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 45% of so-called 'Sick Building Syndrome' (SBS) victims - treated at hospital clinics - no longer have the capacity to work. Twenty percent of these sufferers are receiving disability pensions, 25% are "on the sick-list". Emphasizing SBS's devastating potential, the study warned that the possibilitiy "of having no work capabilities at follow up was significantly increased if the time from (SBS) onset to first visit at the hospital clinic was more than 1 year. This risk was also significantly higher if the patient at the first visit had five or more symptoms."


Modified tobacco plant may block HIV

Owensboro, Kentucky-- A gel derived from a close relative to the tobacco plant is being tested as an affordable preventative measure for HIV, U.S. researchers said.

Kenneth Palmer, a senior scientist in the University of Louisville's Owensboro Cancer Research Program, has published research that suggests growing large quantities of the protein griffithsin found in the transgenic plant Nicotiana benthamiana can prevent human immunodeficiency virus from infecting cells of the immune system, the university's James Graham Brown Cancer Center said in a release.


Cancer, Vitamin D, and Sunshine

Vitamin D From Sun Exposure Reduces Cancer Risk, Ecological Studies Find

Getting enough vitamin D can significantly reduce the risk of several different types of cancer, and ecological studies done over the past decade have confirmed that sun exposure is a critical source of this vitamin, according to a recent report in Annals of Epidemiology.

Researchers have been looking at the connection between vitamin D from sunlight and cancer risk since 1980, when researchers Cedric and Frank Garland looked at geographic maps of cancer deaths and found that mortality from colon cancer was highest in places where residents got the least amount of sun exposure (such as in high latitudes).


Genes May Time Loss of Virginity

Sexual precociousness is in our genes, new research suggests. A unique study of twins separated at birth finds a genetic link to the age at which a person first engages in sexual intercourse.

"It's not like there's a gene for having a sex at a certain date," says Nancy Segal, a psychologist at California State University in Fullerton who led the new study. Instead, heritable behavioural traits such as impulsivity could help determine when people first have sex, she says.

As genetic determinism goes, the new findings are modest. Segal's team found that genes explain a third of the differences in participants' age at first intercourse - which was, on average, a little over 19 years old. By comparison, roughly 80% of variations in height across a population can be explained by genes alone.


How Does Microglia Examine Damaged Synapses?

Microglia, immune cells in the brain, is suggested to be involved in the repair of damaged brain, like a medical doctor. However, it is completely unknown how microglia diagnoses damaged circuits in an in vivo brain. Japanese group led by Professor Junichi Nabekura and Dr Hiroaki Wake of National Institute for Physiological Sciences, NIPS, Japan, successfully took a live image how microglia surveys the synapses in the intact and ischemic brains of mice by using two-photon microscopic technology. They report their finding in Journal of Neuroscience on April 1, 2009.

They took an intense tune-up of their two-photon microscopy and achieved to visualize the fine structures of neurons and glias of mice in the range of 0 to 1 mm from the brain surface (world-leading deep imaging technology).

Surprisingly even in the normal (intact brain), microglias actively reached out their processes selectively for neuronal synapses at an interval of one hour with a contact duration of 5 minutes. More frequently microglias contacted on more active synapses. Once the brain received the damage such as ischemic infarction, microglial surveillance of synapses was much prolonged in duration, up to 2 hours. Frequently after the prolonged survey by microglia, damaged synapses were eliminated. This is the first report to show how microglia actively surveys the synapses in vivo and determines the fate of synapses, remained or eliminated.


Low Amino Acids Linked to Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia (FM) may suffer from the inability to absorb amino acids. Significantly low amino acid levels have been found in the blood patients with fibromyalgia.

In malabsorption, nutrients are not absorbed into the body for utilization. This results in a deficiency which is not linked to poor diet.

Overall amino acid levels in test subjects were very low, especially those of taurine, alanine, tyrosine, valine, methionine, phenylalanine, and threonine.

Scientists have also linked certain amino acids to the clinical symptoms of fibromyalgia. The lower the level of these certain amino acids, the more pain the patient reports.


US: Pistachio company: Raw nuts may be bacteria source

Terra Bella, California - The salmonella scare that prompted a blanket federal warning against eating pistachios may have erupted because contaminated raw nuts got mixed with roasted nuts during processing, the company at the center of the nationwide recall said Tuesday.

Lee Cohen, the production manager for Setton International Foods Inc., said the company does not believe pistachios were contaminated by a human or animal source in its plant. He said the company suspects that roasted pistachios sold to Kraft Foods Inc. may have become mixed at Setton's plant with raw nuts that could have contained traces of the bacteria.

The pistachios were processed at central California-based Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc., which is in the corporate family of Commack, N.Y.-based Setton International Foods Inc. Cohen is in California to help as the Food and Drug Administration inspects the nation's second-largest pistachio processor.