March 19, 2010 at 7:18 pm Comments (0)
Having a cup or more of green tea a day could help prevent the risk of developing cancer (especially in those who have no risk factors for the disease)for smokers according to a new study.
”The antioxidants may inhibit tumor growth,” I-Hsin Lin, a master’s degree student at Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan who presented her findings at the American Association of Cancer Research — International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer meeting in Coronado, Calif.
This protective effect was especially evident in a group of smokers who had specific genotypes that have been linked to cancer risk in other studies. Lin’s team evaluated 170 patients who had lung cancer and 340 healthy patients. These patients were asked to describe their smoking habits, green tea drinking habits, and other lifestyle factors on the last five years. Genotyping was also done with the participants to see if they had any of the genotypes found to be associated with cancer risk in other cancer studies. These include IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), IGF2, and IGFBP3.
Those in the study who didn’t drink tea had a more than 5 times greater risk of developing lung cancer compared to those who had at least a cup of green tea each day. Those smokers who weren’t green tea drinkers had that risk factor increased by as much as 13 times over the smokers who did have green tea daily. Among those that had the protective genotype the difference was even greater. Green tea drinkers who didn’t have a genotype seen as susceptible had a 66% reduced risk in lung cancer over those who were susceptible. Heavy smokers had an even higher risk.
According to the findings the best way to avoid lung cancer is to stop smoking but green tea does appear to reduce risk. As many as 23% of U.S. adults are smokers.
March 15, 2010 at 7:51 pm Comments (0)
Extended exposure to cocaine can actually cause permanent changes to how genes are switched on and off in the brain and the finding could help lead to effective addiction treatment according to the same research. Ian Maze of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and colleagues established their finding utilizing mice. In the study it was found that continual cocaine dependence prevented a specific enzyme from shutting off other genes in the pleasure circuits of the brain causing the mice’s craving for the drug to increase.
During the study the group gave one grouping of young mice frequent doses of cocaine and another group repeated doses of saline, then a single dose of cocaine. This lead to the discovery that cocaine alters the reward circuits in the brain by inhibiting gene 9A, which makes an enzyme that plays a critical role in switching genes on and off. This isn’t the only study to link cocaine to gene changes and intensified drug addiction symptoms but it is the first time that the way these changes occurred could be documented.
The study also lead to the discovery that the effects could be reversed by increasing the activity of gene 9A. The increase completely reversed the effects of chronic cocaine use in the test mice, leading to the belief that the same method could help human addicts of the drug and could even help with other forms of addiction including nicotine and alcohol.
February 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm Comments (0)
Recent research into the connection between marijuana abuse and the munchies that often follow its use have netted a cause for the interesting phenomena. Apparently the THC which produces the high associated with the drug is also responsible for the urge to eat large quantities of snack foods, especially those that are sweet. This is because THC has a similar reaction to that of substances found in the brain known as endocannabinoids which enhance the perception of sweet foods.
“Our taste cells may be more involved in regulating our appetites than we had previously known.” said Dr Robert Margolskee, a molecular biologist at Monell Chemical Senses Centre. “Better understanding of the driving forces for eating and overeating could lead to interventions to stem the burgeoning rise in obesity and related diseases.”
Endocannabinoids act in the brain to amplify appetite and also adapt taste receptors on the tongue to increase the response to sweets. This response from THC means that the user learns to eat these foods when they’re high to further enjoy their heightened taste and texture. This increases the desire to ingest these foods to recreate the experience, effectively putting the eating experience over the body’s sense of fullness.
During the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers performed experiments on mice and found that endocannabinoids enhanced the perception of sweetness, but not other kinds of taste like salty and sour.
February 7, 2010 at 11:29 am Comments (3)
According to a new study a fifth of all infants born in the state of West Virginia are born having been exposed by their mothers to drugs and alcohol all throughout the pregnancy. Umbilical cord tissues revealed that marijuana, opiates and alcohol were all found to be commonly used by 19% of pregnant women in the study. 7% had exposed their children to marijuana, 5% to alcohol and 5% to opiates including painkillers. Many of these women had used a combination of harmful substances.
While the numbers may be startling to those outside the state’s drug care programs for those who are inside the situation it’s a relief to finally have the decade long problem made clear to the public. The problem has been steadily increasing in that time. Dr. Chaffin, a doctor who was a part of the study, has seen babies “zonked out on Valium”, drowsy, frail, and fighting to breathe, vomiting and crying as the small baby fights the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
Between 10 and 14 % of US babies are exposed to drugs and alcohol during their mother’s pregnancy. The mother’s drug and alcohol addiction affects the baby long after it is born and often leads to mental retardation in babies affected by alcohol. Even infants who show no obvious signs at birth can later have learning and social development difficulties.
759 umbilical cord samples from infants born this August were analyzed during the study. Early intervention is pivotal to resolving the problem and reducing the potential damage to the baby, but many mother’s don’t admit to their use out of fear of being judged for it. Many skip pre-natal checkups to avoid being caught. West Virginia lawmakers passed the “Uniform Maternal Screening Act this year which requires all maternity health providers to screen for pregnancy risks such as substance abuse. If substance abuse is present the use is to be kept from authorities until the pregnancy is over. 20,000 babies are born each year in the state and addiction could be hurting up to 4,000 babies annually.
February 4, 2010 at 10:22 am Comments (4)
According to research at least half of teenage girls who become sexual active have developed STD within two years of having started, and for many of these girls the infection occurs by the time they’re 15 years of age.
Researchers followed the habits of 386 urban teens between the ages of 14 and 17 for as many as 8 years. Within 2 years of beginning to have sex half of these girls had become infected with one of many common sexually transmitted diseases. Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, or Trichomonas vaginalis (the organisms that cause Chlamydia), gonorrhea and trichomoniasis were most common. A full quarter of these girls had already had the infection by the them they were 15, most commonly Chlamydia.
“Repeated infections were very common. Within 4 to 6 months (depending on the organism) after treatment of the previous infection, a quarter of the women were re-infected with the same organism.”
As soon as these girls are becoming sexually active they’re susceptible to infection from these diseases. Unfortunately these girls are often going untested because the age of the girl is often lower than that of the age of consent. “These young women are vulnerable to STIs, but because of their younger age, they may not be perceived by health care providers as having STI risk, and thus are not screened in a timely manner. For urban adolescent women, STI screening (especially for chlamydia) should begin within 1 year after first intercourse and infected individuals should be retested frequently, preferably every 3 to 4 months. To my knowledge, this study provides the first data on the timing of the initial STI and subsequent STIs following the onset of sexual activity in urban adolescent women.”
January 23, 2010 at 10:01 am Comments (0)
Mothers who are painkiller abusers in their adolescent years are more likely to bear children who are also users according to a biomedical researcher at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. The research (which could lead to a better understanding of familial patterns of drug abuse) effects as many as 1 million Americans who are addicted to opiates, which relieve pain by binding to receptors in the brain and spinal cord.
The research is particularly important now when teen girls are abusing prescription drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin regularly. From the ages of 12 to 17 the rate of drug abuse in boys and girls is about the same, but girls tend to abuse painkillers more at a time when their reproductive systems are undergoing rapid change. Using drugs in adolescence may affect fertility and maternal behavior later on, a history of drug abuse in the mother could increase the chances that her offspring will also abuse drugs.
For the research Byrnes exposed laboratory rats to opiates during puberty. They were then weaned from the drugs and allowed to grow into adulthood without those drugs before they were mated and they had children. When the offspring were given the same painkillers as their mothers had during puberty they were found to be more sensitive them than those whose mother had no such exposure. Somehow the mother transmits that sensitivity from her exposure as an adolescent.
This research could tell us a great deal about the way drug abuse may affect genetics and in turn the line of addiction that tends to go through families.
October 31, 2009 at 5:43 pm Comments (0)
By researching and studying waiters and waitresses who work in bars, clubs and restaurants who have been affected by the no smoking ban in Spain it’s been found that the restriction as a method of encouraging cessation has had some success. 5% of those who smoked in 2006 when the law was passed have since quit and 9% have reduced the amount and frequency of smoking they’ve taken part in since that time. Researchers from the Catalan Institute of Oncology have proven through their study that thus method does have some success at reducing nicotine addiction. In fact it’s believed that the law has halved the number of smokers in Spain since the law first took effect three years ago.
The greater rate of smoking cessation and reduction is among those who work in businesses that no longer allow smoking on the premises and conduct nicotine testing on the regular basis. 431 employees were studied in the three years since the ban started all of whom worked in the restaurant and bar trades and half of which were smokers.
September 27, 2009 at 10:43 pm Comments (0)
Some rather frightening news has come to light about older shower heads and it isn’t pretty.
Apparently bacteria grows inside the head and the space inside is a great place for it to develop and grow, getting worse. When researchers tested the germ levels of the gunk that sits inside the head and the water both before and after it went through it they found that the levels of Mycobacterium avium was at least 100 fold higher than any other bacteria in the water. While there isn’t much known about the microorganism it does pose a threat to patients with illnesses that affect the immune system such as AIDS and lung diseases like emphysema.
One of the larger concerns is that many of these microorganisms (along with pathogens and microbes) are small enough to be breathed in, an issue that becomes twice as worrisome when you consider that the shower makes them aerosolized making it even easier for them to get into the body as we shower.
Researchers suggest that if you’re concerned about these contaminants you should take down your showerhead and look for higher levels of grit and grime. If you find that there’s a lot then it’s a wise idea to buy and install a new head. While healthy people aren’t likely to developed problems, those with lung and immune diseases should skip showers all together taking baths instead. The study was conducted in an effort to see what household factors could be affecting the health of those that lived there.
September 25, 2009 at 10:38 pm Comment (1)
Drinking early has been found to have an effect on the genes related to alcoholism, increasing the likelihood of the subject developing a serious drinking problem later in life. Using twins, a researcher in Australia analyzed the affects of early drinking on heritable genes. When these subjects began drinking at an early age it increased the likelihood of their developing alcoholism by as much as 90% among the youngest drinkers. Those who drank at older ages were not affected in this way. While genetic changes occurred for the younger subjects for the older subjects factors like environment were much more likely to influence them in their drinking habits. The reason for this age difference having different effects isn’t clear but if a younger drinking age is responsible for changing genetic traits related to alcoholism as the study shows then it does become even more important to prevent such habits from developing at a young age.
The twins in the study were between the ages of 24 and 36 at the time of interview but some of the subjects reported drinking ages as young as 5 or 6. Those who were 15 or younger when they began drinking were more likely to develop drinking problems than those who were older. Twins offered the researchers an opportunity to study behavioral differences in two people with the exact same DNA. Differences in things like drinking between the pair are concluded to be caused by environmental factors for this reason.
September 10, 2009 at 6:55 pm Comments (0)
Have you ever experienced a “runner’s high”? As it turns out the title might be all that inaccurate. Humans must run a certain distance to achieve this feeling of euphoria, having to increase and maintain the amount of running they must do to reach it over and over. When the process is stopped the runner is likely to experience the symptoms and signs of depression. This process led researchers to study the process likening it to the behavior and symptoms of addiction to illegal substances.
During research rats were given a wheel on which to run for 9 days, over the course of those days they increased the amount of time they spent on the wheel. Researchers then began to offer only one portion of food to the rats (they had previously had unlimited access) for only an hour a day. The rats reacted to this by running more. This reaction matches symptoms of anorexia athletic, a condition that also occurs in humans. Noting the addictions symptoms in the rats the researchers then treated then with naloxone, a drug typically used to treat drug addiction in humans and which causes withdrawal symptoms. The rats that used the wheel most had the highest occurrence of these withdrawal symptoms seeming to show that it was indeed addictive. While this proved that exercise could be addictive it’s not seen as a negative thing. In fact it led to another theory, that exercise could be used as an effective form of rehab.