Health & Wellness


The Origins of Suicidal Brains

Certain life experiences may lead to brain changes in suicide victims.

Suicide rates in the U.S. have increased for the first time in a decade, according to a report published in October by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. But what leads a person to commit suicide? Three new studies suggest that the neurological changes in a brain of a suicide victim differ markedly from those in other brains and that these changes develop over the course of a lifetime.

The most common pathway to suicide is through depression, which afflicts two thirds of all people who kill themselves. In October researchers in Canada found that the depressed who commit suicide have an abnormal distribution of receptors for the chemical GABA, one of the most abundant neurotransmitters in the brain. GABA's role is to inhibit neuron activity. "If you think about the gas pedal and brakes on a car, GABA is the brakes," explains co-author Michael Poulter, a neuroscientist at the Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario.


Cell phone use linked to brain tumors - Russian scientist

Moscow - A leading Russian scientist said on Thursday, citing a Swedish study, that the use of cell phones from an early age could lead to brain tumors.

"We have a very cautious attitude as regards children, our future generation. There is data suggesting that brain tumors could develop," Yury Grigoryev, a leading scientist at the Burnazyan medical biophysical center, told a RIA Novosti press conference.

Grigoryev cited Swedish research data, which he said showed that if a child uses a cell phone from 8 to 12, then the risk of developing a brain tumor by the age of 21 increases fivefold.


Young teens really are shortsighted, but don't blame impulsivity

According to popular stereotype, young teenagers are shortsighted, leaving them prone to poor judgment and risky decision-making when it comes to issues like taking drugs and having sex. Now a new study confirms that teens 16 and younger do think about the future less than adults, but explains that the reasons may have less to do with impulsivity and more to do with a desire to do something exciting.

The study, by scientists at Temple University, the University of California, Los Angeles, Georgetown University, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Colorado, is published in the January/February 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.


Playing violent video games has risks: study

New York - Among young college students, the frequency and type of video games played appears to parallel risky drug and alcohol use, poorer personal relationships, and low levels of self-esteem, researchers report.

"This does not mean that every person who plays video games has low self-worth, or that playing video games will lead to drug use," Laura M. Padilla-Walker told Reuters Health.

Rather, these findings simply indicate video gaming may cluster with a number of negative outcomes, "at least for some segment of the population," said Padilla-Walker, an associate professor at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

She and colleagues examined the previous 12-months' frequency and type of video game and Internet use reported by 500 female and 313 male undergraduate college students in the United States.

The students, who were 20 years old on average and mostly received course credit for their study participation, also recounted their drug and alcohol use, perceptions of self-worth and social acceptance, and the quality of their relationships with friends and family.


Study: 9/11 lung problems persist years later

Researchers tracking Sept. 11 responders who became ill after working at the World Trade Center site found many had lung problems years later in a study the authors said proves persistent illness in people exposed to toxic dust caused by the twin towers' collapse.

The study by the Mount Sinai Medical Center's medical monitoring program examined more than 3,000 responders between 2004 and 2007, repeating exams conducted between the middle of 2002 and 2004. Slightly more than 24 percent of the patients had abnormal lung function, the study found. In the earlier examinations, about 28 percent of the patients had similar results.

"We know people we are following are still sick. It's confirming what we've been seeing clinically," said Dr. Jacqueline M. Moline, who treats ailing responders and co-authored the study.


India: 14 people die of mysterious disease in Tripura

Agartala - At least 14 people died and several more were taken ill after a mysterious disease struck Tripura in the past one week, officials said here Thursday. "After getting reports of death due to some mysterious disease during the past one week, we have sent medical teams to the affected Longtharai valley areas of Dhalai district to find out the cause," a Tripura health department spokesman said.


Injured man dies after rejection by 14 hospitals

Tokyo - After getting struck by a motorcycle, an elderly Japanese man with head injuries waited in an ambulance as paramedics phoned 14 hospitals, each refusing to treat him.

He died 90 minutes later at the facility that finally relented - one of thousands of victims repeatedly turned away in recent years by understaffed and overcrowded hospitals in Japan.

Paramedics reached the accident scene within minutes after the man on a bicycle collided with a motorcycle in the western city of Itami. But 14 hospitals refused to admit the 69-year-old citing a lack of specialists, equipment and staff, according to Mitsuhisa Ikemoto, a fire department official.


Vitamin D And Gene Variant Affect Multiple Sclerosis Risk

Researchers in the UK and Canada have discovered that vitamin D and a particular gene variant interact to increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), and suggested that vitamin D deficiency during fetal growth and early childhood may increase the risk of developing MS in later life.

The research was done by scientists at Oxford University in the UK and the University of British Columbia in Canada and is published as an open access article in the 6 February issue of the Public Library of Science. The research was funded by the UK's MS Society, the MS Society of Canada, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.


Roundup's "Cocktail effect"? Nothing to worry about for Monsanto

French academics have highlighted the dangerousness on the human health of the world number one weed-killer, Roundup, even with extremely weak doses. Published in the American scientific magazine Chemical Research in Toxicology at the end of December, the study undertaken by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, helped by his colleague Nora Benachour, has made a world premiere: for the first time, a study on the effects of Roundup (a range of very powerful weed killers that are the center of the American firm's GM strategy) has reached very worrying conclusions for the Human Being.


Scientists Find that Low Self-Esteem & Materialism Goes Hand in Hand

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."

~From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Researchers have found that low self-esteem and materialism are not just a correlation, but also a causal relationship where low self esteem increases materialism, and materialism can also create low self-esteem. The also found that as self esteem increases, materialism decreases. The study primarily focused on how this relationship affects children and adolescents. Lan Nguyen Chaplin (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Deborah Roedder John (University of Minnesota) found that even a simple gesture to raise self-esteem dramatically decreased materialism, which provides a way to cope with insecurity.