Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

Scientists Invent Chemical to Help People Feel Full

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obesityScientists have created a chemical that can be added to food to make people feel full and initial tests have shown it’s helped people to eat less and slow weight gain.

The chemical has harnessed the power of a proprionate, which naturally makes us feel full when it is produced by breaking down fibre in the gut.

Writing in the journal Gut, the UK researchers said the chemical — a foul-tasting soluble powder — would have to be eaten regularly to have an effect. The scientists,  from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow, are trying to incorporate it into bread and fruit smoothies.

The tricky part of the research was finding a way to deliver the proprionate into the colon, where it triggers the release of hormones that control appetite. Adding it on its own to food would not work because it would be absorbed by the intestine too early, so the team found a way to bind it to a natural carbohydrate found in plants, called inulin.

Once bound, the proprionate can safely make its way through the digestive system before being freed from the inulin by bacteria in the colon.


Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Boston University Publishes Alcohol Stats to Curb Student Binge Drinking

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alcohol misuseIn a bid to cut down on student binge drinking, Boston University’s online newspaper is publishing weekly statistics about how many students had been hospitalized for alcohol-related issues the previous week.

BU Today displays the numbers on its first page, with bold graphics, including:

  • students transported to the hospital,
  • students who received citations from campus police for alcohol related infractions,
  • students placed in protective custody.

Publishing the numbers is part of a program to raise awareness about the effects of alcohol abuse and to decrease this type of behavior. This initiative began in 2011 when approximately 250 students were hospitalized for alcohol related problems at the university and alcohol abuse caused multiple problems at other Boston area schools.

“The reality,” says Leah Barison, a Wellness & Prevention Services counselor at Student Health Services (SHS), “is that one in three BU students chooses not to drink. And among those who do drink, two out of three do so responsibly. For the most part, people are not massively overdoing it, but they tend to think that others are doing it more.”

Each year an estimated 1,825 college students die from alcohol related causes. An estimated 97,000 are victims of alcohol related assault or date rape. More than 100,000 students have reported they were too intoxicated to recall if they consented to a sexual encounter. 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.


Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Survey Shows Troubling Trend Among Connecticut Youth

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Photo courtesy of Grenco Science

Photo courtesy of Grenco Science

A new survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Tobacco Products reveals that some youths who haven’t tried regular cigarettes have already tried e-cigarettes or plan to try them.

The survey was conducted in four Connecticut high schools and two middle schools and it found that one in four high school students and 3.5% of middle school students have tried an e-cigarette. Among the students who said they had not used e-cigarettes, 26% of these youths said they might try them in the future.

The study was published Dec. 9 in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

“We were surprised so many kids were using these products,” study lead author Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, said. Krishnan-Sarin is an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University. “The other thing which both surprised and worried me is that adolescents who have never smoked cigarettes are initiating use of e-cigarettes.”

Health & Wellness

Substance Created by Bees Could be Answer to Fighting Baldness

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While honey is the most widely known substance bees make, propolis, which bees make to line the interiors of their hives, might just overtake it. A new study conducted by researchers in Japan found propolis encouraged hair growth in mice.bald head

The team of researchers investigated whether the substance could actually create new locks of hair. They prepped mice by either shaving or waxing them. After receiving a topical application of propolis, both groups of mice grew their fur back faster than mice not given propolis. Though the researchers only tested propolis on mice capable of growing fur (and not balding mice) the research team did note that hair loss is often the result of inflammation. Plus, the number of cells involved in hair growth increased after propolis had been applied to the skin.

“These results indicate that propolis stimulates hair growth by inducing hair keratinocyte proliferation,” wrote the authors in the conclusion to their study.


Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

New App Claims to be Able to Diagnose Ear Problems

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San Francisco startup CellScope has created a case that slides over the iPhone and transforms it into an otoscope, the device doctors use to peer into patients’ ears. The gadget, which is already selling in California, comes with a lens that enables the smartphone to film quality videos of the ear canal and eardrum.hearing loss

Once users have filmed their ear, using CellScope’s secure app, they can then e-mail the videos to a doctor and get a diagnosis back within two hours.

The company believes its on-demand service will appeal to parents whose children wake up with mysterious earaches in the middle of the night. More than 75% of children get ear infections, most commonly between the ages of 6 to 11 months.

“We realized that there was a huge gap, a huge need,” said Amy Sheng, co-founder of CellScope. “Parents were taking time off work and trying to squeeze in a last-minute visit to the pediatrician’s office or on weekends or after hours. We decided, let’s build something for families to use.”

With its app and device, collectively known as the Oto and priced at $79, CellScope joins a growing number of startups that want to make health care more digital, efficient, accessible and inexpensive.

Health & Wellness

Thirdhand Smoke Produces Harmful Substances That Linger For Hours

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secondhand smoke at homeMany of us are aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes and inhaling secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, the concept of thirdhand smoke is still largely misunderstood. Thirdhand smoke is the residue of cigarette smoke that gets deposited on exposed objects. In a smoker’s house, for instance, objects that absorb the most thirdhand smoke pollutants include upholsteries, curtains and clothes.

A new study recently shed light on the dangers of thirdhand smoke, saying that its adverse effects are up to 60% as potent as regular tobacco smoke. Researchers from California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory led by Hugo Destaillats investigated the components of thirdhand smoke as it seeped through the contents of a chamber for 18 hours.

The results revealed close to 60 various chemicals inside the room, and the researchers discovered airborne particles that could possibly get lodged into the lungs of anyone inside the chamber. Although many of the chemicals dissipated in a matter of minutes, other chemicals stayed in the room at high concentrations. Some of the harmful chemicals that were found to have lingered as the hours ran include acetonitrile and 2-butanone, as published in a news article.

The study, published last October in Environmental Science & Technology, showed that thirdhand smoke can produce more harmful substances than regular tobacco emission. “These compounds are quite reactive and they’re quite dangerous… And they’re not mentioned very often in secondhand smoke,” said Lara Gundel, one of the study’s researchers.

Health & Wellness

Study: Coffee Drinkers Have Lower Risk Of Diabetes and Obesity

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If you’re not yet drinking coffee on a regular basis, this bit of news may give you the perfect motivation to do so.

coffeeA recent study finds coffee drinking to be a good way to prevent diabetes and obesity. The discovery was based on a study conducted by researchers from University College London, which further confirmed previous studies that looked into the beneficial effects of coffee on the human body.

According to a news item, the study involved almost 9,000 people who were assessed for their coffee consumption as well as their body diagnostics. Results showed that people who drank at least 3 cups of coffee were found with lower body mass indices (BMI) and thinner waistlines, both of which are significant risk factors for diabetes. The advantage of drinking coffee extends even to better blood circulation, as the study revealed lower blood pressure in coffee drinkers.

Waist circumference, BMI and blood pressure are all risk factors for metabolic syndrome, which is a large group of symptoms linked to higher likelihood of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and diabetes. According to the researchers, the polyphenols in coffee is the most likely active component behind the reduction in risk of metabolic syndrome for regular coffee drinkers because of the compound’s natural anti-inflammatory properties.

Health & Wellness

CDC Issues Warning For Americans To Prepare For Flu Season

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Expectations for the upcoming flu season may not indicate the level of severity, but U.S. residents are urged to prepare for the worst.

flu seasonThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently sent out a warning to Americans about the influenza virus, saying that everyone should get vaccinated. CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a news release that “it’s too early to say for sure that this will be a severe flu season, but Americans should be prepared.”

The flu virus has evolved in the past few years into various versions, some of which may not be covered by the current crop of vaccines available in the market. The health agency said that the H3N2 virus has been found to have “drift variants” that will most probably dominate this season. Still, the CDC encourages people to get vaccinated immediately, before the virus season is full-blown.

The agency does not intend to create mass panic. In fact, the virus activity in the country is still low, although some states have logged growing spread of the virus. Still, Frieden said it’s not too late to get vaccinated. The agency recommends any person as early as 6 months old should receive a flu shot. CDC records show that some of the most vulnerable people include the elderly aged 65 or above, children below 5 years old, and those with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.

Furthermore, CDC advised anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms — runny nose, cough, fever, sore throat, body aches, or fatigue — to seek immediate medical attention.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

CDC Releases List of Healthcare Facilities Equipped to Fight Ebola

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ebola virus africaThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a list of healthcare centers that are able to fight ebola in the United States and plans on keeping the list updated as more hospitals become equipped to fight the disease. As of this writing, there are 35 hospitals equipped to handle ebola cases.

The list of hospitals that are equipped to fight ebola can be found here.

The CDC has also released guidelines for preparing to admit a patient diagnosed with ebola for state and local health departments, acute care hospitals, and other emergency care settings, including urgent care clinics. This newly released set of guidelines serves as an overarching framework for three other specific CDC guidance documents:

  • Interim Guidance for Preparing Frontline Healthcare Facilities for Patients with Possible Ebola Virus Disease;
  • Interim Guidance for Preparing Ebola Assessment Hospitals; and
  • Interim Guidance for Preparing Ebola Treatment Centers.

The new guidance framework for handling ebola patients can be found here.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Dec. 2 is National Mutt Day!

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December 2 is National Mutt Day (again).

Photo courtesy of Kerri Lee Smith on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Kerri Lee Smith on Flickr

National Mutt Day was created in 2005 by animal welfare advocate, Colleen Paige, and is celebrated on both July 31st and December 2nd. It’s all about embracing, saving and celebrating mixed breed dogs, as they represent the largest percentage of dogs euthanized in pet shelters thanks to people’s penchant for purebred and designer dogs.

The goal is to save 10,000 mutts from shelters over the two days. For more information about National Mutt Day, click here.

Once you have adopted your mutt, it’s important to find out what breeds your mutt consists of. Different breeds have different illnesses and conditions they are susceptible to and knowing what breeds your mutt consists of will go a long way to keeping your pooch healthy and happy.

Click here to find out how you can easily find out your dog’s breeds. And happy National Mutt Day!