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Study questions benefits of fish oil supplements
Study questions benefits of fish oil supplements
August 27, 2015

If your daily routine involves taking a fish oil pill for your brain health, you may want to rethink that. In the largest and longest in duration study of its kind, researchers found that taking omega-3 supplements did not slow cognitive decline, The Washington Post reported.

The study included 4,000 participants at risk for developing age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of vision loss among older Americans. They found omega-3 supplements had no statistically significant effect on cognitive function.

"The supplements just don't cut it," Emily Chew, deputy clinical director at the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, told The Washington Post. "If people are thinking [taking them] is going to help cognitive function, it's not going to do so among the older age group."

Researchers added that eating foods naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseed and walnuts, was a better choice for all-around brain and heart health.

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups and were tested on their immediate recall, attention and memory at the beginning of the study, then two and four years later.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Sleeping with contact lenses could lead to vision loss
Sleeping with contact lenses could lead to vision loss
August 27, 2015

Chad Groeschen was working on an outdoor deck for a client a few weeks ago when his left eye started itching. He chalked it up to allergies at first, and then to a sinus infection after his eye got goopy and he could not see out of it. He had no idea his contact lenses were the problem.

Doctors at Cincinnati Eye Institute diagnosed Groeschen with a bacterial infection that was quickly destroying his cornea, the eye's protective outer layer. "It was basically that if I hadn't had contacts [the bacteria] might not have incubated," said Groeschen, a 39-year-old builder and sculptor in Cincinnati.

Groeschen had been using extended wear contact lenses, and only taking them out every week to clean. Even though these lenses are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for overnight wear, the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that this type of use increases the risk of infection.

Groeschen is one of many Americans who use contacts in ways that could jeopardize their eyes. A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, among the 41 million adults in the United States who wear contacts, 99% of them wear, wash or store their lenses in unhygienic ways.

The most common mistakes were sleeping or napping in contacts, which 50% and 87% of wearers were guilty of. Other mistakes that people reported were failing to replace contacts (50%) and cases (82%) as often as recommended; showering with their lenses in, which can allow bacteria from the water to get onto the lenses (85%); keeping old contact lens solution in the case, which loses its disinfecting power, and just topping it off with fresh solution (55%).

"Individuals are likely doing at least one, if not more, of these behaviors," said Dr. Jennifer R. Cope, medical epidemiologist at the CDC and lead author of the report.

Committing more than one of these unhygienic acts can probably further increase a person's risk of infection.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

First Near-Fully Formed Brain Grown In Lab
First Near-Fully Formed Brain Grown In Lab
August 20, 2015

Scientists at Ohio State University say they've grown the first near-complete human brain in a lab.

The brain organoid, if licensed for commercial lab use, could help speed research for neurological diseases and disorders, like Alzheimer's and autism, Rene Anand, an Ohio State professor who worked on the project, said in a statement Tuesday.

"We will have [a] more precise prediction of efficacy of therapy and possible side effects before we do clinical trials," Anand told The Huffington Post via email, explaining how his model is a more ethical alternative to trials that use rodent specimens. Anand said reducing the use of animals improves research as they're "not as likely to predict clinical outcomes as human brain models."

The brain, engineered from adult human skin cells and grown in a dish for 15 weeks, is about the size of a pencil eraser, according to the university. It has the maturity of a 5-week-old fetal brain, and contains 99 percent of the genes in a fully developed human fetal brain.

"If we let it go to 16 or 20 weeks, that might complete it, filling in that 1 percent of missing genes," Anand said. "We don't know yet."

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Head Lice Now Resistant to Common Meds in 25 States
Head Lice Now Resistant to Common Meds in 25 States
August 20, 2015

Drug-resistant head lice are very likely coming to a school near you, U.S. investigators warn.

At least 25 states host lice populations that don't respond to common over-the-counter treatments, a new analysis reveals.

Permethrin, part of the pyrethroid class of insecticides, has long been the go-to weapon against head lice, mosquitoes, bedbugs and other insects.

But continued exposure to permethrin has caused a huge swath of the dreaded insects to develop genetic mutations that render such drugs useless.

"It's a very classic resistance story," said study lead author Kyong Yoon, an assistant professor in the biological sciences and environmental sciences program at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

"Permethrin products were introduced to U.S. consumers in the early '90s," Yoon said. "But the first registered problem was reported from Israel in 1995, probably because they had it in use even earlier. Then in 2000 we found genetic mutations causing resistance in head lice here."

Head lice, which can't jump or fly, transmit by direct physical contact. They quickly infest the neck and head, feeding on blood and attaching their eggs to the base of hair shafts.

"They itch, but they do not transmit disease," said Yoon. "So it's not at all life-threatening, even if it's very frustrating and uncomfortable."

Six million to 12 million U.S. children are infested with head lice every year, "with parents spending about $350 million dollars annually on permethrin-laced over-the-counter and prescription treatments," Yoon said. Lice infestations occur in rich neighborhoods as well as poor ones.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Jimmy Carter says he has cancer, revealed by recent surgery
Jimmy Carter says he has cancer, revealed by recent surgery
August 13, 2015

Former President Jimmy Carter, who at age 90 still travels the world supporting the humanitarian endeavors that have consumed his time in the decades since he left office, announced Wednesday he has cancer that has spread to other parts of his body.

"Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body," Carter said in the statement released by the Carter Center. "I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare."

The statement makes clear that Carter's cancer is widely spread but not where it originated, or even if that is known at this point. The liver is often a place where cancer spreads and less commonly is the primary source of it. The statement said further information will be provided when more facts are known, "possibly next week."

Carter announced on Aug. 3 that he had surgery to remove a small mass from his liver.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Screen Depressed Teens for Heart Disease
Screen Depressed Teens for Heart Disease
August 13, 2015

Depression and bipolar disease can put teens at a significantly higher risk of heart disease, so adolescents with mood disorders need to get extra screening, the American Heart Association said Monday.

Having depression or bipolar disease can mean anyone eats poorly and fails to exercise properly - both of which can raise heart disease risks. But even independently of this, depression and bipolar disease can raise the risks, a Heart Association review found.

So it's issuing new guidelines saying doctors need to keep an eye on even the youngest patients with these two mood disorders.

"These disorders indicate an increased risk of heart disease that requires increased vigilance and action at the earliest possible stage," said Dr. Benjamin Goldstein, a child-adolescent psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto in Canada.

"Youth with mood disorders are not yet widely recognized as a group at increased risk for excessive and early heart disease. We hope these guidelines will spur action from patients, families and healthcare providers to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among these youth," added Goldstein, who led the team writing the new guidelines.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

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