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Tue, 22 May 2018
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Health & Wellness


California sees a 45% increase in STDs

lab test
© Examiner
STD rates have reached record highs in California and in San Francisco and vulnerable residents are being encouraged to get tested regularly, according to state and city health officials.
California's rates for sexually transmitted diseases have hit record highs and San Francisco's numbers are even worse, according to recent data released by the California Department of Public Health.

In the last five years, California's rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have increased 45 percent.

In 2017, the number of people in The City affected by syphilis increased 25.5 percent, which translates to 292 new cases in The City, compared to 20 percent statewide. The 970 new chlamydia cases in The City resulted in a 12 percent increase compared to the state's 9 percent jump. However, the local increase in the number of gonorrhea cases, 10.7 percent, to 554 new cases, was not as dramatic as the state's 16 percent spike.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health is pushing for people to use more condoms and working to increase access to screenings, according to Dr. Susan Philip, director of the department's disease prevention and control branch.

"We're going to have to be really innovative," Philip said. "Remind people about the basics like condom use and also offer new ways for people to access that screening and treatment if needed."

Comment: School sex education with it's emphasis on recreation while de-emphasizing morality along with the ubiquity of easily accessible porn surely couldn't have anything to do with this STD phenomenon, could it?


Scientists stop rhinovirus in its tracks, but a cure for common cold still a long way off

common cold, allergies
It's a conundrum that has stumped scientists for centuries, but now researchers say they have taken a tantalising step forward in the quest to tackle the common cold.

The scourge of workplace, home and school playground, the common cold is predominantly caused by the rhinovirus. But attempts to thwart the pathogen by vaccination or antiviral drugs face a number of difficulties - not least because the virus comes in many forms and can mutate rapidly leading to drug resistance.

But now scientists say they have discovered a way to nobble the virus that could one day help those with conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis, for whom a cold is not merely a nuisance but a serious health risk.

The trick, the authors say, is to develop drugs that interact with one of the enzymes within our cells - an approach that makes it harder for the virus to become drug-resistant.

"Viruses hijack the host to make more copies of themselves. This enzyme is one of the host enzymes that the virus hijacks," said Roberto Solari, visiting professor at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, and a co-author of the study.


Alarm Clock

The relationship between disturbed sleep, mental disorders & suicide

© Van Winkle's
This past March, Graham Mitchell, a 48-year-old British psychiatric nurse, hanged himself in his garden. During the subsequent inquest, family members expressed surprise at Mitchell's decision to commit suicide, as reported by the Macclesfield Express. They knew Mitchell's mental health had deteriorated, as he'd become noticeably depressed in the wake of a few personal setbacks. During the weeks before his death, Mitchell's sister said he seemed shell-shocked.

But the inquest revealed issues of which Mitchell's family was unaware, including his longtime struggle with chronic insomnia. In recent years, his shift-work schedule had apparently amplified his battle with rest.

The story mentioned Mitchell's insomnia several times, but didn't flesh out the dialectical relationship between disturbed sleep, mental disorders and suicide, perhaps understandably.

Comment: More isn't always better: Disrupted sleep is worse for your mood than less sleep that's uninterrupted


Ghee or butter? Which is better?

ghee vs butter
For anyone unfamiliar with the term ghee, another name for it is clarified butter. One difference between ghee and regular butter is that the former doesn't have as many dairy proteins, and there are a host of health advocates who maintain that ghee is the healthier option. Starting with pure butter made from cow's milk, the ghee-making process involves heating and separating liquid fats from the milk solids, which become caramelized, and removing the milk solids (which also removes most of the lactose).

Ghee has been used in traditional cooking in India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia for eons, as an oil and as an ingredient, but it's also an Ayurvedic go-to for herbal ointments, massage and as a medicinal to remedy rashes and burns. While butter isn't bad for you (especially in comparison with vegetable oil, margarine and the multitude of erroneous, mass-marketed options introduced in the 1960s), ghee, which started as butter, may be the better choice.

For one thing, ghee, heated longer than most clarified butter, is darker and has a nuttier flavor, as well as a higher smoke point, making it easier and healthier for sautéing. In fact, including ghee in your diet may bring benefits for several areas, including your heart. Ghee is made up of about 50 percent saturated fat, which was considered a bad thing until the medical community and nutritionists began realizing that fat - including saturated fat - is good for you.

Interestingly, breast milk contains 54 percent saturated fat. Good fat like this is vital to proper development and your body can't function without it. Even the American Heart Association recommends that people get 5 or 6 percent of their daily food intake from saturated fat, which is still far too low (you actually need upward of 50 to 70 percent healthy fat in your diet for optimal health), but butter deliciously helps to fulfill that requirement.1

So the "clarified" part is at least part of what makes ghee better than butter, but still, there are caveats. It's also helpful to understand that "milk," produced as it typically is in the U.S. today, contains elements that weren't (or shouldn't be) meant for human consumption. To explore all the facets of what ghee is, you must first start with milk.


Work less - our lives may depend on it

over worked
© Big Think
The May bank holiday is intimately linked to labour history and to struggles over time spent at work. In the US, May Day has its origins in the fight for an eight-hour work day at the end of the 19th century. This fight was - and remains - a quest for a broader ideal, namely the achievement of a life beyond work.

Yet, on this May bank holiday, we are struck by the lack of progress towards this ideal. Work has not diminished in society. Rather, it has continued to dominate our lives, often in ways that are detrimental to our health and well-being. Many US workers have found themselves working more than eight hours a day - the dream of working less promoted by their forebears has turned into a nightmare of long hours of work, for no extra pay. UK workers have not fared much better, at least in recent years, facing lower real pay for the same or longer hours of work.

Comment: Less is more: Swedish experiment finds 6-hour working day 'boosts productivity and makes people happier'


Corn: What you may not know about this ancient grain

© Massive Science
Corn (also known as maize) is among the oldest of cultivated grains, dating back 10,000 years to pre-Mayan times in South America. But corn didn't make it onto European menus until 1493 when Christopher Columbus brought seeds to Spain. Corn was rapidly embraced, largely replacing barley and millet due to its spectacular yield per acre.

Widespread, habitual consumption of cornbread and polenta resulted in deficiencies of niacin (vitamin B3) and the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, causing epidemics of pellagra, evidenced as what physicians of the age called "The Four Ds": dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and death. Even today, pellagra is a significant public health issue in rural South America, Africa, and China. Meanwhile, in coastal Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, and the Andes mountain highlands, increased corn consumption led to increased tooth decay, tooth loss, anemia, and iron deficiency, as well as loss of height in children and adults.

Comment: Corn (Maize) Gluten is Harmful - Not Safe For Those With Gluten Sensitivity


The eating window: Having all your meals before 3pm could be good for your health

giant sandwich
© flashpop/Getty
Is it worth squeezing all your food into just 6 hours?
Not eating carbs after 6pm is a common diet tip, but here's a new idea. A small study of overweight men suggests that not eating anything at all after 3pm reduces appetite, cuts blood pressure, and may prevent diabetes.

Time-restricted eating has been found to stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes risk in mice, but rigorous studies in people have been lacking. To address this, Courtney Peterson at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her colleagues tested a diet in 8 overweight men who were all on the threshold of developing type 2 diabetes.

For five weeks, the volunteers ate identical breakfasts, lunches and dinners under supervision. Half were assigned to eat all three meals within a 6-hour period ending no later than 3pm, while the other four ate theirs within a more normal 12-hour time frame. After five weeks, the groups swapped for a further five weeks.

Comment: Time-restricted eating is being uncovered to be a rather remarkable way of boosting health, in the form of weight loss, blood sugar control and even controlling for neurodegenerative disease. See also:


Sugar may be a leading cause of kidney stones - not salt

If you're at risk for or have had a kidney stone, you have probably been advised to cut your salt intake. Consuming a high-salt diet causes an increased loss of calcium in the urine, so the theory is that cutting salt will reduce the amount of calcium in the urine, in turn decreasing the risk of kidney stones. It's a theory that has been promoted for years.

However, long forgotten is that salt has been known for decades to reduce the risk of kidney stones in animals. When consuming more salt, animals will increase their intake of water, which dilutes the urine and reduces the risk of kidney stone precipitation. And the same thing occurs in humans.

Comment: What really causes kidney stones (and why vitamin C does not)


Europe: Cases of measles have quadrupled in just one year

Measles is making a return in Europe. More than 21,000 cases were reported in the region in 2017 - a 300 per cent increase on 2016, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Measles cases dipped to a record low in Europe in 2016. But last year saw large outbreaks in 15 countries that resulted in 35 deaths. Romania, Italy and Ukraine had the most cases, but outbreaks affecting more than 100 people were also seen in the UK, Germany and France, among others.

Comment: See also:


Fasting gives neurons more energy, boosting brainpower

walnut on spoon
© Gergely Kishonthy / Alamy Stock Photo
Fasting diets may make you smarter.
Could regular fasting make you smarter? People following regimes like the popular 5:2 diet usually do so for weight loss, but some who try it say it makes them mentally sharper too.

If this is true, experiments in mice may have explained why. In these animals, fasting has been found to cause changes in the brain that likely give neurons more energy, and enable them to grow more connections.

Mark Mattson of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Maryland and his team looked at 40 mice, which were given regimes in which they either ate nothing every other day, or ate normally - but consumed the same total calories as the fasting mice.

Comment: The benefits of fasting are numerous, as well as being pretty amazing. Boosting brainpower is one of them, but the benefits for overall health, energy, weight loss, immunity and more make it a true healing modality.

See also: