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Fri, 29 May 2020
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Magic Wand

How pain distracts the brain

Anybody who's tried to concentrate on work while suffering a headache knows that pain compellingly commands attention - which is how evolution helped ensure survival in a painful world. Now, researchers have pinpointed the brain region responsible for pain's ability to affect cognitive processing. They have found that this pain-related brain region is distinct from the one involved in cognitive processing interference due to a distracting memory task.

Ulrike Bingel and colleagues at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf published their discovery in the July 5, 2007 issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

To search for the region responsible for pain's ability to usurp attention, the researchers asked volunteers to perform a cognitive task involving distinguishing images, as well as a working memory task involving remembering images. The researchers asked the volunteers to perform the tasks as they experienced different levels of pain caused by the zapping of their hands by a harmless laser beam.

During these tests, the volunteers' brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this widely used analytical technique, harmless magnetic fields and radio waves are used to scan the brain to determine blood flow across regions, which reflects brain activity.

Light Saber

Apple consumption during pregnancy reduces risk for childhood wheezing and asthma

Eating apples while pregnant may give new meaning to an apple a day keeping the doctor away. Compelling new research has concluded that mothers who eat apples during pregnancy may protect their children from developing asthma later in life. The study was published in Thorax online.

This unique longitudinal study tracked dietary intake by nearly 2000 pregnant women, then examined the effects of the maternal diet on airway development in more than 1200 of their children five years later. Among a wide variety of foods consumed and recorded by the pregnant women, the researchers concluded that the children of mothers who ate apples had a significantly reduced risk for the development of asthma and childhood wheezing.

This study focuses on medical evaluations for asthma and related symptoms (i.e., wheezing) when the children were five years old. As a result of the evaluations cited in this research, other than apples, there were no consistent associations found between prenatal consumption of a range of healthful foods and asthma in the 1253 children who were evaluated.

Magic Wand

New 'asthma gene' could lead to new therapies

A gene that is strongly associated with a risk of developing childhood onset asthma was identified by an international team of scientists, whose findings are published today in the journal Nature.

In a genetic study of more than 2,000 children, scientists from the University of Michigan and colleagues from London, France and Germany found genetic markers that dramatically increase a child's risk for asthma. These markers are located on chromosome 17, and children with this marker had higher levels of a new gene called ORMDL3 in their blood, which occurs in higher amounts in children with asthma. The presence of the disease-associated version of ORMDL3 increases the risk of asthma by 60-70 percent, the study suggests.

"In terms of an asthma gene, there have been quite a few reports but not one that can be clearly reproduced in samples," said Goncalo Abecasis, associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health. "I think eventually it will lead to new therapies because it points to a specific biological molecular pathway. Once we understand the biology and we know the players, it's possible to target with specific drugs."

Childhood asthma treatments are heavily focused on allergic responses, since most children with asthma also have many allergies. The discovery of a so-called 'asthma gene' would provide a new set of mechanisms to try and modify and manage childhood asthma, Abecasis said.

"Before we finished the paper, we would have guessed (ORMDL3) would be a gene with a well-understood role in allergic responses, but that is not what we found," said Abecasis, noting that the gene has no known relation to allergic responses.

Asthma, a complex disease caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Asthma occurs in 7-10 percent of children in the United States and one child in seven in the United Kingdom. Its prevalence differs widely among different geographic areas.

Attention

Scotland: Doctor 'hastened babies' deaths'

A doctor's administration of drugs hastened the deaths of two terminally ill babies and was "tantamount to euthanasia", an inquiry has heard.

Consultant neonatologist Michael Munro, 41, gave 23 times the normal dose of a muscle relaxant at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, medical watchdogs were told.

The General Medical Council (GMC) fitness to practise panel heard the doctor failed to record his actions.

Dr Munro denies his conduct was below standard, dishonest or inappropriate.

Dr Munro was working in the neonatal unit of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital on 5 December, 2005, when a child - known only as Baby X - was born more than three months premature.

The panel heard that the child suffered a brain haemorrhage and the decision was taken to withdraw treatment after its condition worsened.

Magic Wand

Weekend lie-in fails to make up for long hours in the week

Workaholics are fooling themselves if they think a weekend lie-in can make up for lost sleep.

The first hard evidence has emerged that we are unable to catch up on lost sleep if it happens night after night - increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and depression, while cutting mental dexterity.

While our bodies try to catch up on occasional loss by making us sleep more and/or more deeply the following night, this mechanism breaks down when there is chronic deprivation, say researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois.

They report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that when rats are partially sleep deprived over consecutive days they no longer attempt to catch up, despite an accumulating sleep deficit. "The ability to compensate for lost sleep is itself lost, which is damaging both physically and mentally," said Prof Fred Turek.

Scientists estimate that in the 1960s people slept for more than eight hours. Now we are sleeping for about six. Symptoms of deprivation include weight gain, irritability, hallucinations and depression, said Prof Russell Foster, of Oxford University. It also impairs the ability of the brain to innovate.

Health

'New', (meaning now being reporting in MSM), fears over Aspartame

Two years ago, Italian researchers at the prestigious Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences published a study that showed feeding rats aspartame at levels per body weight close to those of humans led to an increase in brain tumors, lymphomas and leukemia in the females.

Aspartame, familiar to consumers as brand names NutraSweet and Equal, is an artificial sweetener found globally in approximately 6,000 products.

Comment: Splenda is the newest in a long line of artificial sweetners. Here is some information on it. In short Splenda is chlorinated sugar. Umm Umm Good!


Bizarro Earth

Girl could give birth to her sister

A seven-year-old girl could one day give birth to her biological half-brother or half-sister after her mother became the first woman to donate eggs to her infertile daughter.

Melanie Boivin, 35, from Montreal, has placed 21 of her eggs on ice for Flavie Boivin to use when she grows up.

Flavie has Turner syndrome, a condition in which one of the two X chromosomes normally carried by women is missing. It almost always causes infertility, though women who have the condition can conceive with donated eggs.

The mother-to-daughter donation is thought to be the first of its kind. Although many infertile women have been given eggs by their sisters, cousins, nieces and even daughters, biology has always prevented mothers from helping their daughters so far. Even if an infertile woman were just 20 years younger than her mother, the donor would likely be in her forties and have poor-quality eggs.

Health

Study: Chocolate lowers blood pressure

Here's some good and bad news for chocoholics: Dark chocolate seems to lower blood pressure, but it requires an amount less than two Hershey's Kisses to do it, a small study suggests. The new research from Germany adds to mounting evidence linking dark chocolate with health benefits, but it's the first to suggest that just a tiny amount may suffice.

Magic Wand

Whew! Atlanta Lawyer Has Less Severe Form TB

DENVER - New tests show the globe-trotting American lawyer who caused an international health scare by traveling with a dangerous form of tuberculosis has a less severe form of the disease, doctors said Tuesday.

Attention

Disturbing! War trauma set to increase in the UK

The number of UK veterans suffering the debilitating effects of war trauma is set to increase, according to a University of Nottingham academic.

Research by Dr Nigel Hunt, Associate Professor in the Institute of Work, Health and Organisations, shows that, with no end in sight for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, more and more veterans will return home suffering the effects of war trauma. The condition covers a variety of problems relating to stress and emotion, and memory, social, work and family difficulties.

Comment: Of course. Because normal people can't be forced to kill or witness atrocities without facing their conscience. You know... this thing that their leaders lack.

But by looking at the varying ways that different countries cope with their afflicted veterans, Dr Hunt hopes to identify the most effective ways of treating the condition. He has already visited Finland to examine the country's well-established infrastructure for supporting veterans. And after speaking at Tehran's First Annual Congress of Social Security and Justice in May, Dr Hunt hopes to further explore support networks in Iran.

War trauma is a psychological condition caused by experiencing a traumatic event during conflict. The memory of the event triggers strong emotions, causing any number of reactions - from depression and self-harm to anger, violence and drug addiction. Often, the symptoms will be so extreme that the veteran will be unable to live a normal life. Work prospects, family life and other relationships may be affected, exacerbating the symptoms and leading to an ever-increasing sense of isolation and worthlessness.

Comment: Maybe there is a good reason for lack of support "back home". Don't you think, Dr Hunt? This war is illegal. And there is no justified reason for murdering 1 million Iraqis. Those veterans suffer for nothing. And there is no plausuble solution beside dealing with the cause of the problem - psychopaths in power.