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Wed, 23 Jun 2021
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Mental health needs of soldiers increase several months after returning from Iraq war

Compared to initial screening upon returning from the Iraq war, U.S. soldiers report increased mental health concerns and needs several months after their return for problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder and depression, according to a study in the November 14 issue of JAMA.

"Our previous article described the Department of Defense's (DoD) screening efforts to identify mental health concerns among soldiers and Marines as they return from Iraq and Afghanistan using the Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA). However, the article also raised concerns that mental health problems might be missed because of the early timing of this screening. It cited preliminary data showing that soldiers were more likely to indicate mental health distress several months after return than upon their immediate return. Based on these preliminary data, the DoD initiated a second screening similar to the first, to occur 3 to 6 months after return from deployment," the authors write.

Charles S. Milliken, M.D., of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Silver Spring, Md., and colleagues analyzed the mental health responses of the first cohort of soldiers (n = 88,235) to complete both the initial screening and the new later screening, with a median (midpoint) of six months between the two assessments. Both screenings included a self-report questionnaire and a brief interview with a clinician.

The researchers found that soldiers reported more mental health concerns, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression or alcohol misuse during the later screening. Of the 88,235 soldiers, 3,925 (4.4 percent) were referred for mental health care during the initial screening and 10,288 (11.7 percent) were referred during the later screening. Combined data from both screenings showed that the clinicians identified 20.3 percent of active and 42.4 percent of reserve soldiers as needing referral or already being under care for mental health problems.

Bomb

Virulent form of cold virus spreads in U.S.

A new and virulent strain of adenovirus, which frequently causes the common cold, has spread in parts of the United States, killing 10 people and putting dozens into hospitals, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report detailed cases of people ill since May 2006 with a strain of the virus called adenovirus 14 in New York, Oregon, Washington state and Texas.

©Reuters
An enlarged view of an adenovirus particle. The viral capsid is an icosahedron with 12 antenna-like fiber projections that function to attach the virus to the cell surface during infection. A new and virulent strain of adenovirus, which frequently causes the common cold, has spread in parts of the United States, killing 10 people and putting dozens into hospitals, health officials said on Thursday.

Health

We Can't Shop Our Way to Safety

Concerned with toxic chemicals, more people are buying products with labels like "organic," "green," and "natural." But a consumerist response to environmental threats is not only inadequate, it is dangerous.

Organic food has boomed in the last decade, moving from a tiny niche market to a $17 billion dollar industry. Those who can afford it are buying nontoxic and organic rugs, mattresses, and clothing. Almost half of all households in the US have purchased a water filter of one kind or another. Across the country, people are growing more concerned with the possibility that their food and water could actually make them sick -- and are responding by buying more products with labels like "organic," "green," and "natural."

Health

Can't Afford That Operation? Fly to Another Country

The congressional budget office (CBO) releases its updated long-term projections for Medicare and Medicaid this week. They will almost certainly show a frightening story.

Healthcare costs in the United States are expected to hugely outpace the growth in income and inflation. When these increases are projected out over 50 or 100 years, the picture is very frightening indeed. In fact, many prominent politicians and political pundits have made a career out of scaring the public with these projections, warning of long-term budget deficits in excess of $70tn (approximately 7% of future GDP). Of course the scare stories usually neglect to point out that the vast majority of the projected deficit is due to our broken healthcare system.

Magic Wand

Examining the healing mystery of Aloe

If grandma gets a bedsore, the best thing to put on it might be a plant that's been used for 5,000 years.

The mysterious Aloe vera has been a source for healing since Old Testament times, and a Texas A&M University researcher is trying to uncover just what the substances are in the plant that work wonders and how they do it so that more might be learned about treating wounds.

Dr. Ian Tizard, a professor of immunology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is studying a special polysaccharide, the substance that forms along cell walls of the Aloe vera, to see how it performs its healing tricks.

The Aloe vera is native to North Africa but now can be found almost worldwide, Tizard says. A succulent, it thrives in warm and dry climates very much like cactus does.

But unlike its prickly cactus cousin, Aloe vera is in a class by itself when it comes to certain healing properties.

There are more than 100 species of aloe, but Tizard says Aloe vera is the one that has drawn the most scientific interest.

Wine

Little evidence that binge drinking while pregnant seriously harms fetus

There is little substantive evidence that binge drinking while pregnant seriously harms the developing fetus, finds a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Consistently heavy drinking throughout pregnancy has been associated with birth defects and subsequent neurological problems. But it is not known what impact binge drinking, in the absence of regular heavy drinking, might have. And this drinking pattern is becoming increasingly common, particularly among women, say the authors.

Their findings are based on a comprehensive review of published research on binge drinking and women who were either pregnant or trying to conceive.

People

Brain differences in adolescents, psychopaths, lend to their impulsive, risk-taking behavior

The next time you find yourself wondering, "Teenagers! Why do they do that?", look to their adolescent brains. New research suggests that the risk-taking behaviors seen in adolescents may be attributed to their still developing brains. Another study explores the brain basis for the risk-taking behaviors of psychopaths.

The new research was presented at the 34th Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.

New research--in both humans and animals--shows differences in the structure and functioning of adolescent brains compared with preadolescents or adults that correspond to such teenage behaviors as immature decision making, increased risk taking, and impulsive behaviors. As a result of this research, scientists now urge that puberty be studied as a separate stage of development--one distinctly different from the life stages of children or adults.

Arrow Up

U.S. chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis rates rise

The rates of three leading sexually transmitted diseases -- chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis -- rose again in the United States last year, worried public health officials said on Tuesday.

It was the second year in a row of increases for all three of these sexually transmitted bacterial infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The rate of chlamydia, the most common infectious disease reported to the CDC, increased 5.6 percent in 2006 from 2005.

HAL9000

Voices inside and outside your head: Brain implant turn thoughts to words

Forty-one neurons is a drop in the ocean compared with the hundred billion or so cells that are present in our brains. But those few neurons could help Eric Ramsey talk again.

It is eight years since a car accident left Ramsey "locked-in" - aware but paralysed and unable to communicate other than through eye movements. By listening in on a tiny population of cells in his brain, neuroscientists hope to give him back his "voice" - a first for someone with his problems.

People

Now Doctors Say It's Good to be Overweight

A startling new study by medical researchers in the United States has caused consternation among public health professionals by suggesting that, contrary to conventional wisdom, being overweight might actually be beneficial for health.

The study, published yesterday in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association, runs counter to almost all other advice to consumers by saying that carrying a little extra flab -- though not too much -- might help people to live longer.