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Mon, 30 Mar 2020
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Question

Do fingernails reveal any information about a person's health?

To the extent that nails provide clues to health, these clues are usually too little, too late.

Years ago, when sophisticated diagnostic tests were not available, doctors sometimes looked to the appearance of nails for clues to a patient's health, said Dr. Howard Baden , a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "And the nails do change with some diseases. But by the time the nails are involved, the patient is pretty sick," he said.

Although not good for diagnostic purposes, fluctuations in health can show up as changes in nails. Many people, for instance, have longitudinal lines on the nails. But these occur with normal aging and "don't mean anything is wrong systemically," said Dr. Rebecca Kazin , associate professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University.

Question

Proposed Model: Competition, loss of selfishness mark shift to supersociety

How social or altruistic behavior evolved has been a central and hotly debated question, particularly by those researchers engaged in the study of social insect societies - ants, bees and wasps. In these groups, this question of what drives altruism also becomes critical to further understanding of how ancestral or primitive social organizations (with hierarchies and dominance fights, and poorly developed division of labor) evolve to become the more highly sophisticated networks found in some eusocial insect collectives termed "superorganisms."

In a paper published online May 21 before print by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a pair of researchers from Cornell University and Arizona State University propose a model, based on tug-of-war theory, that may explain the selection pressures that mark the evolutionary transition from primitive society to superorganism and which may bring some order to the conflicted thinking about the roles of individual, kin, and group selection that underlie the formation of such advanced eusocial groups.

Coffee

Sleep problems may affect a person's diet

Sleep problems can influence a person's diet. Those who don't get enough sleep are less likely to cook their own meals and, instead, opt to eat fast food. It is the lack of nutritional value of this restaurant-prepared food that may cause health problems for these people in the long-run, according to a research abstract that will be presented Monday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

Mindy Engle-Friedman, PhD, of the City University of New York, surveyed nine females and 12 males, all undergraduates who completed a "sleep and eating habits" questionnaire. For seven days, the participants completed diaries, with each entry detailing how much sleep they got the night before and what they ate the following day.

Preliminary findings showed that individuals reporting problems with total sleep time, sleep latency and awakenings were more likely to eat restaurant-prepared or fast food rather than food made at home on day two than were individuals with no reported sleep problems. Further, individuals with sleep problems were also less likely to eat food prepared at home on days four and seven.

Health

Gabapentin Shown Effective for Fibromyalgia Pain

New research supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) shows that the anticonvulsant medication gabapentin, which is used for certain types of seizures, can be an effective treatment for the pain and other symptoms associated with the common, often hard-to-treat chronic pain disorder, fibromyalgia.

In the NIAMS-sponsored, randomized, double-blind clinical trial of 150 women (90 percent) and men with the condition, Lesley M. Arnold, M.D., director of the Women's Health Research Program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and her colleagues found that those taking gabapentin at dosages of 1,200 to 2,400 mg daily for 12 weeks displayed significantly less pain than those taking placebo. Patients taking gabapentin also reported significantly better sleep and less fatigue. For the majority of participants, the drug was well tolerated. The most common side effects included dizziness and sedation, which were mild to moderate in severity in most cases.

NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz. M.D., Ph.D., remarked that "While gabapentin does not have Food and Drug Administration approval for fibromyalgia, I believe this study offers additional insight to physicians considering the drug for their fibromyalgia patients. Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition for which current treatments are only modestly effective, so a study such as this is potentially good news for people with this common, painful condition."

Health

Antihistamine Shows Promise in Treating Alzheimer's

A drug long used as an antihistamine in Russia is showing what some scientists characterize as surprisingly strong results in treating Alzheimer's disease.

Results of a midstage clinical trial are expected to be presented this week that will show that patients treated with the drug, Dimebon, did better than those receiving a placebo on all five measures of cognition and behavior.

Magic Wand

Scientists develop pill to delay the menopause

New drugs are being developed that could stave off the menopause, it has been revealed.

They could lead to a fertility revolution, allowing women to wait longer to have a child.

The dramatic news came from fertility expert Professor Robert Winston. He told a conference that researchers had found a protein which they believe could be developed into a pill or an injection to extend the life of women's eggs.

Health

Two more hospitalized for suspected bird flu - Indonesia

A teenager in Terengganu and a 31-year-old man in Selangor were warded yesterday for showing bird flu-like symptoms.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the 16-year-old youth was now being treated at the Kuala Terengganu Hospital after he had fever and coughing.

Health

Southeast Asia battles dengue surge, climate fears

Southeast Asian nations are battling a surge in dengue cases, amid signs that climate change could make 2007 the worst year on record for a disease that often gets less attention than some higher-profile health risks.

The spread of dengue, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is endemic in much of the region, has also accelerated in recent years due to increasing urbanization and travel or migration within the region, experts say.

Attention

Concerns grow about war veterans' misdiagnoses. Brain injuries can defy easy detection

As the medical community learns more about the brain impairments afflicting troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, concern is growing back home that these battle-weary soldiers may be facing yet another obstacle: misdiagnosis.

Traumatic brain injury has become a high-profile condition, thrust into the national spotlight now that thousands of troops who have left the war zone continue to struggle with the consequences of combat. Better known as TBI, the ailment is a physical wound caused by the head-rattling shockwaves associated with bomb explosions that tear brain cells apart.

But TBI shares many of the same symptoms with a common battlefield psychological condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Both are often marked by depression, mood swings, irritability, problems concentrating, and memory dysfunction. The similarities can cause healthcare professionals to overlook mild traumatic brain injuries, especially when a patient lacks visible wounds, according to doctors and veterans advocates familiar with the issue.

Light Saber

Cannabis compound reduces skin allergies in mice

Cannabis can reduce allergic skin reactions, a new study suggests. The findings may lead to new drugs based on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in the plant, to treat allergy and autoimmune disorders.

Andreas Zimmer at the University of Bonn in Germany, and colleagues created a group of mice that lack the receptor for endocannabinoids - forms of THC produced naturally in the body. The team noticed that the mice soon developed a severe skin allergy to the nickel in the metal tags the researchers had fastened to their ears.

Zimmer set up a series of experiments to test the anti-allergy effect of natural and synthetic THC compounds.