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Jan 15
Using e-cigarettes can harm your liver, says study
For most people, the topic of e-cigarette safety is of constant debate. Is it safer than normal cigarettes or is it more harmful? Does it induce the habit of smoking tobacco or increase the chances of fatality?

Many studies on these vaping pens have shown contradictory results while some say, it reduces the impulse to smoke cigarettes as well as the risk of death, others have said the complete opposite.

Two studies carried out last year, for instance, had contradictory evidence to show. While one said that vaping could reduce mortality rate, the other said that the practice may double the risk of smoking.

Now, as the government continues to caution people against tobacco and e-cigarettes, a new study has suggested that the use of e-cigarettes may lead to an accumulation of fat in the liver.

The study exposed mice to the devices to come to the conclusion.

"The popularity of electronic cigarettes has been rapidly increasing in part because of advertisements that they are safer than conventional cigarettes. But because extra fat in the liver is likely to be detrimental to health, we conclude that e-cigarettes are not as safe as they have been promoted to consumers," said lead author Theodore C. Friedman of Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, Calif. "This has important public health and regulatory implications."

E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which Dr Friedman and other researchers have reported is associated with non-alcohol fatty liver diseases. However, the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on liver disease, diabetes, heart disease or stroke are unknown.

In the 12-week study, Friedman and colleagues studied mice missing the gene for apolipoprotein E, which makes them more prone to developing heart disease and fat in the liver. All of the mice were fed a diet relatively high in fat and cholesterol.

One group of mice was put in a chamber that exposed them to e-cigarette aerosol so that their blood nicotine levels were similar to that of smokers and e-cigarette users. The second group of mice were exposed to saline aerosol.

The researchers collected liver samples and looked at genes in the liver affected by e-cigarettes using a technique called RNA sequence analysis. They found changes in 433 genes that were associated with fatty liver development and progression in the mice exposed to e-cigarettes.

The researchers also found that genes related to circadian rhythms (the body clock) were changed in mice exposed to e-cigarettes. Circadian rhythm dysfunction is known to accelerate the development of liver disease including fatty liver diseases.

"Our experimental results will provide support to policymakers and federal and state regulatory bodies to take preventive measures to stop the increasing use of e-cigarettes among both children and adults," Friedman said.

The research was presented at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago, Ill.

Jan 15
Self-esteem key to treat mental health patients: Study
Improving how mental health patients perceive themselves can be critical in treating them, a first of its kind study has claimed.

The findings of the study suggest that youths with psychiatric disorders, currently receiving inpatient services, reported lower self-concept, particularly global self-worth, compared to those receiving outpatient services.

"This was the first study that examined youth with a psychiatric disorder by comparing what type of service they were receiving and whether that was associated with self-concept," said Mark Ferro, Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo.

"We know that global self-worth is lower in the inpatient group and we know from other research that lower self-concept is a precursor to other more serious mental health problems," Ferro said.

For the study, published in the Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers examined a group of youth aged between 8-17 years who were receiving inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services.

The participants' self-concept was measured using the Self-Perception Profile for Children and Adolescents.

According to the researchers, self-concept might be an important aspect to consider when implementing treatment programmes to improve the mental health of youth who are hospitalized.

"Because youths who are in the inpatient service have a lower self-concept, therapies within their overall treatment program aiming to improve self-worth might be worthwhile," the researcher noted.

Jan 15
Monthly dose of new antibody may halve migraine attacks
In a breakthrough, scientists have found an antibody, a monthly dose of which could halve the number of debilitating attacks of migraine on patients who have exhausted all other treatments.

The findings showed that people treated with erenumab were nearly three times more likely to have reduced their migraine days by 50 percent or more than those treated with placebo.

Those treated with erenumab also had a greater average reduction in the number of days they had headaches and the number of days they needed to take drugs to stop the migraines.

"Our study found that erenumab reduced the average number of monthly migraine headaches by more than 50 percent for nearly a third of study participants. That reduction in migraine headache frequency can greatly improve a person's quality of life," said Uwe Reuter from The Charite - University Medicine Berlin in Germany.

Erenumab is a monoclonal antibody that blocks pain signals by targeting a receptor for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).

This peptide transmits migraine pain signals. Erenumab occupies the nerves to which CGRP would usually bind.

"Our results show that people who thought their migraines were difficult to prevent may actually have hope of finding pain relief," Reuter added.

The preliminary results will be presented at the forthcoming American Academy of Neurology's 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

For the study, 246 people who had episodic migraine were given injections of either 140 milligrams of erenumab or a placebo once a month for three months.

Of the participants, 39 per cent had been treated unsuccessfully with two other medications, 38 per cent with three medications and 23 per cent with four medications.

A total of 30 per cent of the people treated with erenumab had half the number of headaches compared to 14 per cent on placebo.

For those on erenumab, there was an average 1.6 times greater reduction in migraine days and a 1.7 times greater reduction in acute medication days compared to those on placebo.

In addition, the safety and tolerability of erenumab was similar to placebo. However, more research is now needed to understand who is most likely to benefit from this new treatment, Reuter said.

Jan 15
Sleep problems may indicate multiple
Scientists have found that multiple sclerosis (MS) may be identified at least five years earlier as the patients were more likely to undergo treatments for nervous system disorders like pain or sleep problems, according to a study.

MS results from the body's immune system attacking myelin -- fatty material that enables rapid transmission of electrical signals -- which disrupts the communication between the brain and other parts of the body, leading to vision problems, muscle weakness, difficulty with balance and coordination, and cognitive impairments.

"The existence of such `warning signs` are well-accepted for Alzheimer`s disease and Parkinson`s disease, but there has been little investigation into a similar pattern for MS," said lead researcher Helen Tremlett from the Division of Neurology at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"We now need to delve deeper into this phenomenon, perhaps using data-mining techniques. We want to see if there are discernible patterns related to sex, age or the `type` of MS they eventually develop," Tremlett added.

For the study, published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, the team examined health records of 14,000 people with multiple sclerosis and compared them to the health records of 67,000 people without the disease.

Fibromyalgia -- a condition involving widespread musculoskeletal pain -- was found more than three times in people who were later diagnosed with MS as compared to those who did not.

Irritable bowel syndrome was almost twice as common in people who developed the disorder. Migraine headaches and any mood or anxiety disorder, which includes depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder were also found in higher rates among the group.

Further, higher rates of these illnesses also correspond with higher use of medications for musculoskeletal disorders, nervous system disorders, and disorders of the genito-urinary tract, along with antidepressants and antibiotics.

The findings may enable physicians to diagnose the disease earlier and start the treatment, thus possibly slowing the damage it causes to the brain and spinal cord.

Jan 15
Smelling coffee may boost your analytical skills for GMAT
If you love the fragrance of coffee, there are high chances of better performance in analytical tasks, a new study has found.

According to the researchers, smelling a coffee-like scent -- which has no caffeine in it -- has an effect similar to that of drinking coffee, suggesting a placebo effect of coffee scent.

The findings also suggested that the scent of coffee alone may help people perform better on the analytical portion of the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) -- a computer adaptive test required by many business schools.

"It`s not just that the coffee-like scent helped people perform better on analytical tasks, which was already interesting," said co-author Adriana Madzharov from the Stevens Institute of Technology in the US.

"But they also thought they would do better, and we demonstrated that this expectation was at least partly responsible for their improved performance," Madzharov added.

For the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the research team administered a 10-question GMAT algebra test in a computer lab to about 100 undergraduate business students.

The participants were divided into two groups. One group took the test in the presence of an ambient coffee-like scent, while a control group took the same test -- but in an unscented room.

The researchers found that the group in the coffee-smelling room scored significantly higher on the test.

The team also designed a follow-up survey -- conducted among more than 200 new participants -- quizzing them on beliefs about various scents and their perceived effects on human performance.

The participants believed they would feel more alert and energetic in the presence of a coffee scent, versus a flower scent or no scent; and that exposure to coffee scent would increase their performance on mental tasks.

The results suggest that expectations about performance can be explained by beliefs that coffee scent alone makes people more alert and energetic.

Previous studies have also suggested that coffee may lessen the risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia.

Jan 15
Tiny Robotic Thread Can Slip Through Brain's Blood Vessels
Researchers have developed a magnetically steerable, thread-like robot that may actively glide through narrow, winding pathways like the brain's tiny blood vessels.

The study, published in the journal Science Robotics, revealed that the magnetically controlled device could one day deliver clot-reducing therapies in response to strokes or other brain blockages, Xinhua reported.

"If acute stroke can be treated within the first 90 minutes or so, patients' survival rates could increase significantly," said Xuanhe Zhao, Associate Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

"If we could design a device to reverse blood vessel blockage within this 'golden hour,' we could potentially avoid permanent brain damage. That's our hope."

To clear blood clots in the brain, surgeons currently need to insert a thin wire through a patient's main artery, usually in the leg or groin, and manually rotate the wire up into the damaged brain vessel, guided by a fluoroscope that images the blood vessels using X-rays.

However, the procedure is physically taxing, requiring surgeons who must be specifically trained in the task, to endure repeated radiation exposure.

The researchers from MIT created a robotic thread core made from bendy, springy nickel-titanium alloy, and they coated the wire core in a rubbery paste filled with magnetic particles.

They then bonded the magnetic covering with a kind of hydrogel that gives the thread a slippery, friction-free surface but does not affect the responsiveness of the magnetic particles, according to the study.

The researchers tested the thread in a life-size silicone replica of the brain's major blood vessels modeled after scanning an actual patient's brain. Those silicone vessels also have clots and abnormal sacs.

They filled the vessels with a liquid simulating the viscosity of blood, then successfully manipulated a large magnet around the model to steer the robot through the vessels' winding, narrow paths.

The team demonstrated that the thread's wire core can also be replaced with an optical fiber that can activate the laser once the robot reached a target region to clear blockages.

They are preparing to test the robotic thread in vivo, according to the researchers.

Jan 15
Married People Less Likely To Experience Dementia
A new study has found that married people are less likely to experience dementia as they age.
On the other hand, divorcees are about twice as likely as married people to develop dementia, the study indicated, with divorced men showing a greater disadvantage than divorced women.

"This research is important because the number of unmarried older adults in the US continues to grow. As people live longer and their marital histories become more complex, marital status is an important but overlooked social risk/protective factor for dementia," said Hui Liu, Professor at Michigan State University.

For the study, published in The Journals of Gerontology, the researchers analysed nationally-representative data from the Health and Retirement Study, from 2000-2014.

The researchers analyzed more than 15,000 respondents aged 52 and older and measured their cognitive function every two years.

They categorized people into four groups: divorced or separated, widowed, never married, and cohabiters. Among them, the divorced had the highest risk of dementia.

The researchers also found differing economic resources only partly account for higher dementia risk among divorced, widowed and never-married respondents but did not account for higher risk in cohabiters.

In addition, health-related factors such as behaviors and chronic conditions slightly influenced risk among the divorced and married, but did not seem to affect others.

Jan 15
Erectile Dysfunction Linked To Poor Work Productivity In Men
Men suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) are more likely to be less productive at work and maintain a lower health-related quality of life, says a study.

The study, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, showed that erectile dysfunction in men significantly impacts work productivity and adversely affects the quality of life.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the persistent inability to achieve and/or maintain penile erection sufficient for performing sexual intercourse.

For the study, the researchers analysed data of more than 52,000 men aged between 40 to 70 years from eight countries -- Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.

The study showed that the overall ED prevalence was 49.7 per cent, with Italy reporting the highest rate (54.7 per cent).

Men with ED reported significantly higher rates of staying home from work (7.1 per cent versus 3.2 per cent), working while sick (22.5 per cent versus 10.1 per cent), work productivity impairment (24.8 per cent versus 11.2 per cent), and activity impairment (28.6 per cent versus 14.5 per cent) than men without ED.

They also had lower measures of health-related quality of life.

"This study shows that ED remains a prevalent concern, one that impacts work productivity and absenteeism," said co-author Wing Yu Tang, a researcher from Pfizer Inc, New York.

The researchers suggested that better management and earlier detection may help reduce this burden, especially in comparative countries where there is a strong association between erectile dysfunction and these implications for the workplace and overall quality of life.

Jan 15
Over 3 Cups of Coffee Per Day May Trigger Migraine
Coffee lovers, please take note. Drinking three or more servings of caffeinated beverages a day increases the risk of migraine.

In a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers evaluated the role of caffeinated beverages as a potential trigger of migraine.

They found that, among patients who experience episodic migraine, one to two servings of caffeinated beverages were not associated with headaches on that day, but three or more servings of caffeinated beverages may be associated with higher odds of migraine headache occurrence on that day or the following day.

"While some potential triggers - such as lack of sleep - may only increase migraine risk, the role of caffeine is particularly complex, because it may trigger an attack but may also help control symptoms, caffeine's impact depends both on dose and on frequency," said Elizabeth Mostofsky from Harvard University.

During the study, 98 adults with frequent episodic migraine completed electronic diaries every morning and every evening for at least six weeks.

Every day, participants reported the total servings of caffeinated coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks they consumed, as well as filled out twice daily headache reports detailing the onset, duration, intensity, and medications used for migraines since the previous diary entry.

Participants also provided detailed information about other common migraine triggers, including medication use, alcoholic beverage intake, activity levels, depressive symptoms, psychological stress, sleep patterns and menstrual cycles.

To evaluate the link between caffeinated beverage intake and migraine headache on the same day or on the following day, researchers used a self-matched analysis, comparing an individual participant's incidence of migraines on days with caffeinated beverage intake to that same participant's incidence of migraines on days with no caffeinated beverage intake.

The researchers further matched headache incidence by days of the week, eliminating weekend versus week day habits that may also impact migraine occurrence.

Self-matching also allowed for the variations in caffeine dose across different types of beverages and preparations.

"One serving of caffeine is typically defined as eight ounces or one cup of caffeinated coffee, six ounces of tea, a 12-ounce can of soda and a 2-ounce can of an energy drink," Mostofsky said.

"Those servings contain anywhere from 25 to 150 milligrams of caffeine, so we cannot quantify the amount of caffeine that is associated with heightened risk of migraine. However, in this self-matched analysis over only six weeks, each participant's choice and preparation of caffeinated beverages should be fairly consistent," Mostofsky added.

Jan 15
Stress In Middle Age Increases Alzheimer Risk In Women
Stressful life experiences such as divorce, death of a loved one or job loss may lead to a greater memory decline and raise the risk of Alzheimer's disease among the middle-aged women, says a new study.

The study's findings, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry journal, showed that stress hormones play an uneven gender role in brain health and align with well-documented higher rates of Alzheimer's disease in women than men.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in 6 women over age 60 will get Alzheimer's disease, compared with 1 in 11 men. At present, there are no proven treatments that prevent or halt progression of the disease.

"We can't get rid of stressors, but we might adjust the way we respond to the stress, and have a real effect on brain function as we age," said Cynthia Munro, Professor at Johns Hopkins University, US.

"Although our study did not show the same for men, it sheds further light on the effects of the stress response on the brain with potential application to both men and women," she added.

For the study, Munro and her team used data collected on over 900 participants, 63 per cent of the participants were women. Participants were of an average age of 47.

The researchers suggested that the ongoing stress may have more of a negative impact on brain functioning than distinct traumatic events.

"A normal stress response causes a temporary increase in stress hormones like cortisol, and when it's over, levels return to baseline and you recover. But with repeated stress, or with enhanced sensitivity to stress, your body mounts an increased and sustained hormone response that takes longer to recover," said Munro.

"We know if stress hormone levels increase and remain high, this isn't good for the brain's hippocampus -- the seat of memory," Munro added.

The researchers say that stress reduction has not received a whole lot of attention compared with other factors that may contribute to dementia or Alzheimer's, and that it might be worth exploring the stress management techniques as a way to delay or prevent disease.

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