Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

New Study Finds No Link Between Transgender and Hormone Imbalance

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Transgendered youth are not suffering from hormone imbalances a new study has claimed.

“We’ve now put to rest the residual belief that transgender experience is a result of a hormone imbalance,” study author Dr. Johanna Olson of the Center for Transyouth Health at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) said. “It’s not.”

Olson and colleagues conducted the study to assess the safety and effectiveness of treatments that would help transgender patients bring their bodies closer in alignment to their gender identity. It has long been theorized that transgender youth might just be suffering from some kind of hormone imbalance that caused them gender confusion.

The researchers studied 101 transgender young people, ages 12 to 24. More than 50 percent of the participants were assigned male at birth, and 48 percent were assigned female at birth.

After measuring a number of physiological parameters, the researchers discovered that the participants’ hormone levels were in line with the normal ranges of the same assigned sex nontransgender youth population.

According to the researchers, the average age that participants discovered a gender discrepancy was the age of 8, but they did not tell their families about this until reaching, on average, the age of 17.

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Health & Wellness

New Fat Blocker Foreseen As Antiobesity Drug

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Micelle sequestrant polymers. Remember that term because this might hold the key towards addressing the long-standing problem on obesity.

The term describes a specific group of compounds that aim to prevent the absorption of fat particles. These fat-blocking compounds could be the potential answer to uncontrolled weight gain, according to a research team led by Cory Berkland of the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy. The researchers explained in a news release that the polymers bind with intestinal fat globules — called micelles — and prevent them from getting absorbed through the intestinal tract. The bind complex is instead excreted from the body.

Initial trials were conducted on lab mice, which were found to have up to ten times the amount of fat in their fecal matter than the control group. The researchers believe that this class of compounds could pave the way for more long-term methods for treatment of obesity. Antiobesity drugs currently in the market are known to have major side effects such as depression and heart ailments.

The study was published in Biomacromolecules, a journal by the American Chemical Society.

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Health & Wellness

Americans Want Medicare to be Able to Negotiate Better Drug Prices: Poll

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Americans want Medicare to have the ability to negotiate for lower drug prices, according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The poll found that 87% of people surveyed want Medicare to have the authority to press drugmakers for greater discounts.

“People don’t understand why these drugs cost so much, and they don’t understand why, in America, you can’t negotiate for a better price,” said Mollyann Brodie, executive director of public opinion and survey research at Kaiser Family Foundation.

Currently, it is against the law for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.  Drug manufacturers say their prices reflect the billions of dollars they spend in research and development. This includes treatments that are approved and many more that fail.

Drug prices are a top priority for Americans, as a June poll revealed 73% of participants thought prescription drug prices were unreasonable, with over three-quarters of those people saying they believe it’s because manufacturers set prices too high.

Public dissatisfaction has been on the rise since a controversy last year over Gilead Sciences Inc’s novel hepatitis C cure, Sovaldi, which came with a list price of over $80,000, or $1,000 for a single pill.

Insurers and state health officials warned that treating a majority of U.S. hepatitis C patients could cost several hundred billion dollars and bankrupt local budgets. When a competing medicine from AbbVie Inc was approved late last year, private health insurers pressured both companies to lower prices significantly.

“Sovaldi got people so up in arms about pricing where you even have Republican members of Congress saying it’s ridiculous,” said Ipsita Smolinski, managing director of healthcare consulting firm Capitol Street.

The latest Kaiser poll was conducted between April 23 to May 31 among 1,849 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

For nearly 50 years, Medicare has provided insurance coverage for Americans from age 65 and the disabled. Medicaid, a joint state and federal program, helps people with low incomes. Combined, they provide coverage for over 111 million people.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Doctors Defend Tobacco Companies Sued By Cancer Patients

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It’s a general notion that doctors are after the physical well-being of the general public, but this recent revelation seems to point to the contrary.

Stanford University School of Medicine researcher Robert Jackler discovered through his study that a number of otolaryngologists — a physician specializing in conditions of the ear, nose and throat — are defending tobacco companies from cancer patients who filed lawsuits. The study, published in the Laryngoscope online journal, exposed six doctors who were paid by tobacco manufacturers to testify on their behalf that heavy smoking did not cause the cancers of the plaintiffs.

According to the findings of the study as reported in a news release, the doctors mentioned other factors that could have led to the development of cancers in the victims’ necks and heads: salted fish, mouthwash, and cleaning chemicals. “Evidence shows that this testimony, which was remarkably similar across cases, was part of a defense strategy shaped by tobacco’s law firms… By highlighting an exhaustive list of potential risk factors, such as alcohol, diesel fumes, machinery fluid, salted fish, reflux of stomach acid, mouthwash and even urban living, they created doubt in the minds of the jurors as to the role of smoking in the plaintiff’s cancer,” according to the research.

Cancer cells were found in the plaintiffs’ esophageal area, larynx, and mouth, all of which they claim to have acquired from prolonged heavy smoking. “”I was shocked by the degree to which these physicians were willing to testify, in my opinion in an unscientific way, to deny a dying plaintiff — suffering the aftermath of a lifetime of smoking — of a fair trial,” Jackler said.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Teenager Continues To Survive HIV Even Without Treatment For 12 Years

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A rare case of someone diagnosed with HIV has been trending since the news broke out yesterday because of one significant detail: The patient has survived even without medication or therapy for 12 years.

The female patient, now 18 years of age, was born with the virus because her mother had HIV while carrying her in the womb. The first six years of the patient’s life involved antiretroviral therapy, as reported in a news release. Despite having stopped therapy at the request of the family, she has been in remission for the past 12 years.

Medical experts are surprised by these new findings, but say that it’s too early to say that a cure has been found. The French National Agency for Research on AIDS director Professor Jean-François Delfraissy said that this development “should not be equated with a cure.” In fact, the patient is still diagnosed as HIV-positive, based on progress monitoring over the years. “This young woman is still infected by HIV and it is impossible to predict how her state of health will change over time.”

What’s clear at this point, though, is the importance of immediate medical attention upon the discovery of HIV in a person’s body. “Her case, though, constitutes a strong additional argument in favor of initiation of antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible after birth in all children born to [HIV positive] mothers,” added Delfraissy.

The discovery was revealed through a study by the Institut Pasteur in Paris as presented during the 8th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference.

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Health & Wellness

Weight Gain in Kids Most Influenced by Poor Eating Habits

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In light of the increasing number of obesity cases in children, a study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology revealed that the occurrence may have something to do with how kids eat.

Professor Lars Wichstrøm and Assistant Professor Silje Steinsbekk investigated the matter through a survey looking into three possible factors for weight gain in children: eating practices, TV watching, and lack of physical movement. “Our study shows that BMI increases more in children where food especially triggers their eating behaviour. Their food intake is controlled more by the sight and smell of food, and less by an inner experience of hunger,” said the researchers via a news item.

In addition, the situation of poor eating habits being a trigger of weight gain is actually a cyclical process. “Our results show that in relative terms, the BMI of children who are particularly triggered by food increases more when compared with others. But we also found the opposite effect: a high BMI leads to children becoming even more triggered by food over time (at around 6 to 8 years old). As they get older, they are even less able to stop eating when they’re full,” Steinsbekk added.

The study is part of a bigger research that investigates how kids develop their psychological and social makeup over a long period of time. Results of this part of the study were published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

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Health & Wellness

Prolonged Sitting May Lead to Higher Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer

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A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention said that a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer may be caused by sitting for long periods of time.

Close to 150,000 individuals — 47 percent men and 53 percent women — were picked out from the list of entries in the nutrition cohort study of the American Cancer Society. Behaviors of the respondents were investigated and cross-referenced with their health conditions. It was through the study that the research team discovered a link between sitting time and likelihood of developing cancers.

“Longer leisure-time spent sitting was associated with a higher risk of total cancer risk in women, and specifically with multiple myeloma, breast and ovarian cancers, but sitting time was not associated with cancer risk in men. Further research is warranted to better understand the differences in associations between men and women,” the researchers said in a news report.

Results of the study support long-standing findings that relate sedentary living to poor health. Although the American Cancer Society cannot pinpoint the exact reason behind lack of exercise and movement as a cancer risk, this latest study confirms that it is a very serious health issue. That’s why the group recommends regular movement in adults — that is, a weekly dose of at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise and roughly 75 minutes of more intensive activity.

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Marijuana Could be a Replacement for Alcohol for Teens, Study Finds

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Young people could be smoking marijuana because it’s easier to access than alcohol for those under 21, a new study suggests.

Using five years’ worth of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, University of Illinois economist Ben Crost and colleague Santiago Guerrero determined that there was a stark difference between marijuana usage in people who hadn’t yet turned 21-year-old those who had just turned 21.

“Alcohol appears to be a substitute for marijuana,” Crost said. “This sudden decrease in the use of marijuana is because they suddenly have easy access to alcohol.”

Crost and Guerrero also studied men and women separately, to see which gender was more affected by the sudden change in their ability to legally purchase alcohol. They found the change was greater in women than men. Women’s frequency in marijuana use dropped 15 percent after turning 21, while men’s frequency dropped seven percent.

“Whenever there is a discontinuous threshold where something changes, it provides a way to identify a causal effect,” Crost said. “You can compare people right above and right below the threshold. They should be very similar in all other respects, except for that one difference.”

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Health & Wellness

Mammography Does Not Guarantee Fewer Breast Cancer Deaths

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Women who often undergo mammography may be exposed to more harm than good, according to a new study.

Mammography remains as the most popular method of breast cancer screening, and women who undergo the procedure heighten their chances of detecting the disease early on. However, a team of researchers from Harvard University discovered that an increase in the number of breast cancer screening procedures didn’t result to reduction in fatalities associated with breast cancer.

The study involved analysis of data of at least 16 million females 40 years old and above from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry across 547 U.S. counties. More than 53,000 women were found with breast cancer, and were monitored for the next 10 years.

Results of the study showed that a 10-percent increase in the number of mammogram procedures was linked to a 16-percent rise in identification of breast cancer. But despite having more breast cancer screening, deaths due to the disease did not decrease. Meanwhile, the rise in screening procedures resulted to a significant 25 percent increase in detection of small tumors that led to breast cancer. “Across US counties, the data show that the extent of screening mammography is indeed associated with an increased incidence of small cancers but not with decreased incidence of larger cancers or significant differences in mortality,” said study co-author Richard Wilson in a news release.

The research team explained that having too many screenings may have affected the relationship between breast cancer detection and mortality rate. “The simplest explanation is widespread overdiagnosis, which increases the incidence of small cancers without changing mortality, and therefore matches every feature of the observed data,” Wilson added.

More details about the study were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Health & Wellness

Cure For Obesity? Diabetes Drug Helps People Lose Almost 6 Kg More In A Year

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Diabetics who are also diagnosed with obesity may find a solution to their weight problem in a drug that they may already be taking.

The Type 2 Diabetes drug liraglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor compound, was found to aid diabetic patients in losing an average of 5.6 kilograms more than those who didn’t take the medication at higher dosage. The study, conducted by a team of researchers including Dr. Elias Siraj and Dr. Kevin Williams, was implemented over a course of 56 weeks. A group of patients diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes were asked to take 3 milligrams of the drug every day, and compared with a placebo group.

“The mean differential weight loss of 5.6 kg between the liraglutide group and the placebo group is more than what was observed in previous studies of GLP-1 mimetics,” according to an editorial statement as reported in a news release. According to the accompanying editorial, the drug is able to decrease glucagon levels after eating, increase production of insulin, and lowers appetite.

However, the researchers were quick to note that liraglutide is not an actual solution to get rid of obesity. “Still, liraglutide is no cure. Most obese participants stayed obese, reversal of the metabolic syndrome was not quantified, and liraglutide may be required indefinitely, like statins, but with delivery by injection and at a nontrivial cost,” the researchers added.

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