Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

Diabetes Risk May Be Predicted By Intestinal Bacteria, Says Researchers

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gut bacteria diabetes

More than being natural agents for metabolism in the digestive system, your gut bacteria could be used to determine your likelihood of developing diabetes.

This was discovered by a team of researchers from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and Chicago’s Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center, after studying more than a hundred African-American veterans who took part in the D Vitamin Intervention program. “Your gut bacteria could predict your risk of diabetes,” said study senior author Elena Barengolts in a news release.

Bacteria intrinsically found in the human intestinal tract are composed of several microorganisms, called collectively as “gut microbiota”. The study found out that certain changes and conditions in the gut bacteria composition may trigger an increase in the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, the researchers were able to find signs of alterations in the gut bacteria as early as pre-diabetes stages.

Results of the study showed that individuals who were diagnosed with pre-diabetes have more harmful bacteria in their gut, compared to those with normal blood sugar levels whose gut bacteria composition has more of the beneficial kind. Meanwhile, patients whose blood sugar control improved ove the course of one year were found to have more healthy bacteria than those with normal or unchanged glycemic levels.

The researchers were not able to pinpoint which bacteria could have caused this increased risk of diabetes, and they recommend more studies about this. However, the team believes that early intervention on diet changes may already create a significant impact on the health of people. “(Doctors) have additional reasons to recommend foods, such as prebiotics, which improve the growth and activity of helpful gut bacteria,” Barengolts added.

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Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Video: The Truth About E-Cigarettes, From American Chemical Society

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e-cigarette safe

The American Chemical Society just released an informational video that discusses some truths about electronic cigarettes and whether they are what manufacturers claim them to be: safer alternatives to tobacco smoking.

Here are some of the highlights from the entertaining and highly informative video:

  • 42 million people in the U.S. are still hooked onto cigarettes.
  • Each puff of a cigarette exposes the smoker’s body to more than 7,300 compounds, 70 of which are known carcinogens.
  • Despite the fact that e-cigarette companies have different ways of manufacturing their products, electronic cigarettes contain cancer-causing substances, albeit less than the amount in tobacco cigarettes.
  • Some of the harmful compounds found in e-cigarette vapor include formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
  • Scientists are still in the process of identifying electronic cigarette compounds in their full extent, but it’s safe to say that e-cigarettes are not a completely healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes.

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Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

E-cigarettes Easily Accessible To Teenagers Online

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e-cigarette

It might be best to check what your teenagers are purchasing over the Internet, as a new study reveals an almost-unrestricted access of teens to electronic cigarettes.

A group of researchers led by Rebecca Williams of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill discovered that most young individuals between the ages of 14 and 17 were able to buy e-cigarettes through online shops without being required to divulge their age. The study involved teenagers who were monitored during a simulated purchase of electronic cigarettes from online establishments, to check if the stores would restrict them from buying.

The study revealed that as high as 94 percent of attempts to buy e-cigarettes by the teenagers resulted to a successful sale and delivery of the goods, according to a story in USA Today. Researchers believe that the age verification system supposedly implemented by online shops are not effective to prevent teenagers from buying electronic cigarettes. Worse, about 95 percent of deliveries were left at the destination without the need to personally receive them.

Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association president Phil Daman believes that more stringent measures must be put in place to avoid teenage procurement of e-cigarettes. “We certainly don’t want teenagers to have access to them,” Daman said. “Implementing the use of age verification software is a reasonable, highly effective and cost-efficient way for the vapor products industry to prevent minors from making unauthorized purchases online.”

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Health & Wellness

Exposure To E-Cigarette Vapor Increases Risk Of Viral Infections

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e-cigarette

Electronic cigarettes have been tagged as the answer to the harmful effects of traditional tobacco products, but a recent study discovered that the newfangled products may not be as safe as many people think.

A research from Johns Hopkins University conducted on mice discovered that being exposed to e-cigarette vapor may lead to a higher likelihood of getting infected by viruses and bacteria. The study involved two groups of lab mice, one exposed to vapor from electronic cigarettes for two weeks, and the other taken away from exposure. The mice exposed to the vapors were found to have decreased immunity and weaker lungs, according to a news release.

In addition, the researchers also found free radicals in the vapor. These compounds are considered harmful to human health, and may cause cancer.

The study team recommends further studies on the matter. They said the simulation on mice may not have the exact same factors as human use of electronic cigarettes, because the rodents cannot smoke the electronic products the same way human beings do.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Proposed California Bill Bans Baseball Practice of Chewing Tobacco

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major league baseball chewing tobacco

Baseball has long welcomed the notorious habit of “dipping” tobacco in chewing gum, defined in Wikipedia as “placing a lump or ‘dip’ of tobacco between the lip and the gum.”

As part of the government’s actions to clean up the sport, California State Assembly member Tony Thurmond forwarded a bill that seeks to prohibit Major League Baseball (MLB) players from chewing tobacco during games. The proposed bill also includes banning smoking of tobacco and use of e-cigarettes in MLB venues.

One of the most famous baseball players who were confirmed to have enjoyed dipping tobacco is San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn, who succumbed to cancer of the salivary glands last year. “I’m hopeful that this bill will lend to his legacy, that it will help to prevent illness for young people and young athletes,” Thurmond said in a news item. “Tony Gwynn was somebody I thought was a spokesman for baseball, a great role model as a person.”

MLB released a statement last February 24 as a support to Thurmond’s bill. “We ardently believe that children should not use or be exposed to smokeless tobacco, and we support the spirit of this initiative in California and any others that would help achieve this important goal,” a statement from the league said.

Health & Wellness

Got The Munchies? Scientists Prove Marijuana-Triggered Food Cravings

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fatty food craving due to marijuana

The idea that smoking pot makes a person hungrier than usual has been portrayed in TV and movies, and was regarded as a myth — until now.

A group of neurobiologists conducted a study that looks into the effect of marijuana use on appetite for food. Study lead author Tamas Horvath of Yale University said that “marijuana fools the brain’s feeding system” by disrupting the normal function of appetite-suppressing neurons. The scientists attribute this phenomena to cannabinoids, marijuana’s active ingredient.

The study involved testing mice exposed to marijuana and looked into the animals’ brain receptor molecules where cannabinoids bind to. The hypothesis was that the active ingredient caused a suppression of the receptors to send signals to the brain saying that the stomach is already full. Instead, the team was surprised to discover that cannabinoids boosted the activity of the neurons, but this time emitting endorphins that enhance appetite. “Neurons that normally shut down eating instead promoted it, even when the mice were full,” said Horvath in a news item.

In addition, the study also discovered that the altered brain mechanism caused by marijuana use triggers a desire for foods rich in calories, thereby supporting the age-old and pop-culture myth.

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Health & Wellness

Cancer Risk Aggravated By Drinking Too Much Soda, Study Claims

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soda cancer risk

You might want to think twice about grabbing the next can of soda, after reading this new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

A compound called 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), identified as a potential cancer-causing chemical, was found in several soft drink products according to an earlier research, which served as the basis for the new study. The research team, led by study senior author Keeve Nachman of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) Food Production and Public Health Program, discovered that roughly half of U.S. residents older than six drink one or more soda cans daily.

“Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes,” Nachman said in a news release. “This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel coloring in soda.”

What makes matters worse is that 4-MEI is not a controlled food ingredient according to Food and Drug Administration rules. However, California is already in the front of the race, as its Proposition 65 has required food companies to limit 4-MEI to a set limit. The study team revealed that “some of the soft drink products sold in California that we sampled had lower levels of 4-MEI than the samples we looked at of the same beverages sold outside the state, particularly in our earlier rounds of testing. It appears that regulations such as California’s Proposition 65 may be effective at reducing exposure to 4-MEI from soft drinks, and that beverages can be manufactured in ways that produce less 4-MEI.”

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Sprout Pharmaceuticals Trying Again with “Female Viagra”

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female health

Even though it’s been rejected twice, Sprout Pharmaceuticals is giving their female libido booster another shot at approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Aided by a recent lobbying blitz by politicians, women’s groups and consumer advocates, Sprout Pharmaceuticals said recently it is refiling its application for the drug, flibanserin, adding new information requested by the FDA about how the drug affects driving ability.

The FDA most recently rejected the drug after nearly 10% of women in company trials reported sleepiness as a side effect.

If approved, the pill would be the first drug for women who report a lack of libido. But, it has already faced an uphill battle to get FDA approval because of lackluster effectiveness and side effects including fatigue, dizziness and nausea.

However, the recent lobbying efforts led by groups sponsored by Sprout and other drugmakers have begun publicizing the lack of a “female Viagra” as a women’s rights issue.

“Women deserve equal treatment when it comes to sex,” states an online petition to the FDA organized by the group Even the Score. The petition garnered almost 25,000 supporters.

The FDA first rejected flibanserin in 2010 after a panel of expert advisers unanimously voted against the drug, saying its benefits did not outweigh its risks. The drug’s initial developer, Boehringer Ingelheim, abandoned work on the drug in 2011 and sold it to Sprout.

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Health & Wellness

Teen Marijuana Use Linked To Heavy Sleepiness During Daytime

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sleep teenage marijuana use

A new study found a link between sleepiness during the day and marijuana use among teenagers.

According to a team of researchers led by Dr. Mark L. Splaingard of Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, use of marijuana by teens could be the culprit for excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), a symptom linked to narcolepsy. The study looked into diagnostic data of more than 380 youngsters to check for possibility of narcolepsy using multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), and cross-checked use of marijuana by the young patients.

Results of the study showed that 43 percent of adolescents who tested positive for cannabis were found to have symptoms of narcolepsy. Because of this, the researchers recommend that drug screening be included as part of the tests for narcolepsy. “Our findings highlight and support the important step of obtaining a urine drug screen, in any patients older than 13 years of age, before accepting test findings consistent with narcolepsy, prior to physicians confirming this diagnosis. Urine drug screening is also important in any population studies looking at the prevalence of narcolepsy in adolescents, especially with the recent trend in marijuana decriminalization and legalization,” Splaingard said in a news item.

Narcolepsy is a chronic medical condition characterized by uncontrolled sleeping patterns even though the individual has had enough sleep. It is usually developed early in life, most commonly during puberty stage. Apart from EDM, other symptoms of narcolepsy include hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and cataplexy.

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Health & Wellness

Study: Vegan Diet Lowers Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases in Obese Kids

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childhood obesity

As we head into Valentine’s Day, let’s focus on matters of the heart — particularly cardiovascular health.

A research team from Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic Children discovered that treating obese children to a diet consisting of plant-based food may decrease their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The four-week research was conducted on 28 children between the ages of 9 and 18 and were diagnosed with obesity or hypercholesterolemia. With the consent and participation of the parents, children included in the study must eat only plant-based food such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. They may eat nuts and avocado in limited quantities, and absolutely no animal-based foods and added fat was allowed. Health diagnostics were taken from the kids, such as body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin, among others.

Results of the study showed that kids that followed the vegan diet experienced positive changes in health parameters that would have otherwise become triggers of heart diseases. A significant percentage of the test group also exhibited improved metabolism, waist circumference and waistline measurement.

Study co-author Dr. Michael Macknin said that changing the dietary practices at an early age can make a big difference in preventing cardiovascular diseases. “As the number of obese children with high cholesterol continues to grow, we need to have effective lifestyle modifications to help them reverse their risk factors for heart disease,” Macknin discussed in a news item.

One of the complications encountered during the study was the availability of plant-based foods in the market. “Most families in the study were able to follow these dietary guidelines for the four-week study, but we found that they had difficulty purchasing the food necessary for a balanced plant-based diet. So we know that plant-based diets are effective, but if they are to be widely used, we need to make access to plant-based, no-added-fat foods easier and more affordable,” Macknin added.

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