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Thu, 17 Oct 2019
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Brain

Study finds neurofeedback therapy for depression boosts self-esteem and increases brain connectivity

Human Brain
© SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY - ROGER HARRIS/GETTY IMAGES
A neurofeedback study published in the journal Neuroimage: Clinical has found that patients in recovery from depressive disorder symptoms are able to strengthen some of their brain connections while evoking guilt-related memories, which leads to increased self-esteem. Research has shown that certain brain regions - which commonly have poor connectivity in people with depression - could be strengthened in a single neurofeedback session, a result that was proven by comparing functional magnetic resonance imaging. The study was conducted by the D'Or Institute for Research and Teaching (IDOR), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the Federal University of ABC, in collaboration with King's College in London.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), also known as depression, is a disorder caused by a set of social, psychological and biological factors. Its symptoms are characterized by the continuous loss of interest or pleasure in daily life and the prevalence of negative feelings such as deep sadness, guilt and low self-esteem. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), last year depression affected more than 300 million people worldwide. Considering the seriousness of the problem in world public health, the medical and scientific communities are increasingly seeking to understand depressive disorder, aiming at the development of new treatments and the improvement of patients' quality of life.

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Brain

New evidence suggests link between vegetarianism and depression

depression
A strict vegetarian diet has long been scrutinized for the toll it can take on a person's physical wellbeing, but a new scientific report raises another important question: what about a vegetarian's mental wellbeing?

There's a good deal of medical literature associating deficiencies of B12 and omega-3 with depression. These essential nutrients are most commonly found in meat, fish, and other animal products. So it's not necessarily surprising to hear that vegetarianism is linked with depression.

Even so, the report details a number of worrisome findings, citing data from a compilation of surveys examining different groups in different countries but with similar findings: vegetarians are significantly more prone to depression than the omnivorous majority of the population. A sample of the findings is below.

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Syringe

New evidence that steroid injections of hip and knee may damage joints

hip steroid injection
© Radiological Society of North America
Corticosteroid injections used to treat osteoarthritis pain in the hip and knee may be more dangerous than previously thought, according to a special report published in the journal Radiology. Researchers suggested that injection-associated risks like rapid progressive osteoarthritis, which eventually may lead to joint collapse, should be integrated into consent forms so that patients are aware of the potential risks associated with these treatments.

Osteoarthritis of the hip and knee are common and debilitating joint disorders. Physicians often inject anti-inflammatory corticosteroids into the joint to treat the pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis. The procedure is widely viewed as safe, and patient consent forms mainly mention the risks of hemorrhage and infection among more rare side effects associated with most needle-based procedures.

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Alarm Clock

The disease that kills by stealing sleep - fatal familial insomnia

Fatal familial insomnia
© Rachata Teyparsit/Shutterstock
A brief bout of insomnia can be maddening. You know what it feels like. We all do. Lying awake chasing feverish thoughts from our minds while the slow tick of passing minutes compounds sleep-stealing anxiety.

For most of us, these episodes are a brief interruption to our sleep schedules. Others experience more persistent insomnia, but at a level that's often manageable. But for a very rare group of people with a frightening disease called fatal familial insomnia (FFI), the sleep loss can be deadly.

When Sleep Deprivation Kills

Medical reports of the disease first surfaced in the 1980s, after an Italian man named Silvano presented himself to neurologists with a dire prediction: He was going to die soon, and he knew how it would happen.

It was no hyperbole — Silvano's two sisters had recently died from a strange disease that robbed them of their ability to sleep. He had just experienced the same symptoms that kicked off his siblings' spirals into fatal insomnia.

The hallmark of FFI is contained in the name. What starts as difficulty sleeping gradually progresses to a complete inability to fall asleep. Sleeping medications don't seem to help much — even with a pharmaceutical push, the brain cannot cross the threshold into sleep.

Silvano's pronouncement turned out to be true; he was soon dead. As writer D.T. Max chronicles in his book The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery, subsequent studies of Silvano and his family members revealed crucial similarities to a seemingly unrelated disorder: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

CJD is characterized by memory problems, personality changes and involuntary movements, among other things, and it is eventually fatal. The disease shows up later in life, typically in a person's 50s or later. It's caused by a quirk of biology known as a prion, a misfolded protein, and that's what eventually tipped Silvano's doctors off to the nature of his family's curse.

Hearts

Breastfeeding benefits mom, baby and the environment: Formula's environmental impact

Mother and baby breastfeeding
© STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
A mother breastfeeds her baby
Breastfeeding is not only good for mothers and their babies, but it also protects the environment according to an editorial in the British Medical Journal.

"It benefits all of society," Natalie Shenker, Ph.D., a research fellow at Imperial College, who was involved with the study, told ABC News.

"Breastfeeding does not require the energy needed to make and use formula. It doesn't create waste or air pollution," said Dr. Laura Teisch, a pediatrician from Las Vegas.

Formula produces significant waste during its production, distribution and use. "As with all products, infant formula has an environmental footprint," says Andrea Riepe, a representative for Reckitt Benckiser Group which has infant formula Enfamil in its product portfolio. The company works to minimize the waste associated with Enfamil, she added.

It's known that breastfeeding protects both women and children. However, recent studies have highlighted that breastfeeding is also good for the Earth. Supporting mothers to breastfeed more would reduce the same amount of carbon emissions as removing nearly 77,500 cars from the UK's roads each year, asserts the editorial's authors.

Pills

Pensioners taking anti-depressants doubles in two decades, amid warnings they 'may not need them'

pensioner senior
© Joe Giddens /PA
Number of over-65s taking anti-depressants has doubled between the early 1990s and lates 2000s.
The number of over-65s taking anti-depressants has doubled in two decades, amid warnings the elderly are being given pills they don't need.

Charities have called the rise "alarming", and raised concerns that pills are frequently "doled out" when other "extremely effective" treatments are not being offered.

The increase is even more prominent among care home residents, with the number taking the medication four times higher over the period.

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Pills

Citizen researchers: fighting for truth about treatments

supplements vitamins
Rufus Greenbaum, a retired electronics engineer, has what many might consider, a highly quixotic hobby. Every few months for the last 10 years he has been attending the semi-public meeting of the two big UK government organisations whose job it is to advise official bodies on such public health issues such as how much fat or carbohydrates we should be eating or what are the best treatments for conditions as varied as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and macular degeneration.

He had made himself an expert on two nutritional supplements - omega 3 oil and vitamin D - since he considered that "adequate levels of both could help most people live 10 years longer in better health". Then once he had signed up as a stakeholder, he followed the standard procedure for getting advice changed when there is good, new evidence. The two organisations were SACN (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) and NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). Since the UK government spends taxpayer money on the National Health Service, their findings are used to determine the sort of lifestyle treatment that clinicians can recommend across the UK.

So far, however, he has had no success at all. In 2008 when he started the recommended daily amount of vitamin D was 10mcgs or 400 IUs. It's still is. But he doesn't believe it has been a waste of time. He has become convinced by his experience that both of these organisations have such a biased and limited understanding of non-drug treatments and what they can contribute to our health, that they are "not fit for purpose" and he is planning to publicise how they work and to campaign for urgent reform.

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Shoe

Slow walking at 45 'a sign of faster aging'

people walking busy
© Getty Images
Slow walkers have 'older' brains and bodies, the study found.
How fast people walk in their 40s is a sign of how much their brains, as well as their bodies, are ageing, scientists have suggested.

Using a simple test of gait speed, researchers were able to measure the ageing process.

Not only were slower walkers' bodies ageing more quickly - their faces looked older and they had smaller brains.

The international team said the findings were an "amazing surprise".

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Biohazard

Global pandemics: Do we escape to some island - or prepare right where we are

global pandemics
Ever wonder, if your town or state was slammed with an epidemic, what you would do? Where you would go if you could even get out? What if the whole planet was affected by a global pandemic?

Remember that an epidemic affects, or tends to affect, a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time, while a global pandemic is an epidemic of disease that's spread worldwide. I've personally noticed a lot of reports and articles lately on the likelihood of a very real possibility of a coming global pandemic. I take that to mean it's either just a new focus to the 'fad' of prepping or that more people are paying attention; hopefully the latter. In either case, it appears to be a very real, and close, threat.

Are there any safe places to go during a global pandemic?

In a recent article written by Matt Boyd and Nick Wilson and posted in Risk Analysis, the official journal for the Society of Risk Analysis, right up front you read that it's "suggested to rank island nations as potential refuges for ensuring long-term human survival in the face of catastrophic pandemics" or other possible threats. In fact, in the introduction of the article is the suggestion that the risk of human extinction is most likely rising and could be driven by factors like weapons of mass destruction, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Of course, we knew this already.

Comment: Perhaps just as important (if not more so) in mitigating the effects of any kind of pandemic would be to detoxify one's self of toxins and heavy metals, fortifying one's natural ability to fight pathogens by enhancing one's diet, getting enough sleep, getting vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals through supplementation, and avoiding vaccinations that quite usually lower our body's natural defenses.

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Bacon n Eggs

Nina Teicholz: The latest flip-flop on red meat uses best science in place of best guesses

steaks
© William Thomas Cain
A review of red meat research published last week concluded that “low- or very-low certainty” evidence exists to link red meat consumption to any kind of disease. A file photo of a grocery store butcher’s case is pictured.
Eggs are bad; eggs are good. Fat is bad; fat is good. Meat is bad; meat is... OK?

That last food flip-flop made big headlines last week. It was a "remarkable turnabout," "jarring," "stunning." How, it was asked, could seemingly bedrock nutrition advice turn on a dime?

The answer is that many of the nation's official nutrition recommendations — including the idea that red meat is a killer — have been based on a type of weak science that experts have unfortunately become accustomed to relying upon. Now that iffy science is being questioned. At stake are deeply entrenched ideas about healthy eating and trustworthy nutrition guidelines, and with many scientists invested professionally, and even financially, in the status quo, the fight over the science won't be pretty.

Comment: Considering the dietary guidelines are built on lies (it's far too lenient to give them "best guesses") it's little wonder that actual science causes such an uproar. The truth hurts, especially when one is financially benefiting from lies.

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