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Common Muscle Relaxant Could Pose Mental Dangers for Seniors

SATURDAY, Nov. 9, 2019 — A commonly prescribed muscle relaxant known as baclofen can leave older kidney patients so disoriented that they land in the hospital, a new study warns.

“It can present with acute stroke-like symptoms, even though it’s not a stroke,” said senior researcher Dr. Amit Garg, a professor of nephrology at Western University in Ontario, Canada. “It can present with dementia-like symptoms.”

About 1 in 25 people with low kidney function prescribed high doses of baclofen wound up being admitted to a hospital for severe confusion, according to a study of nearly 16,000 older Canadians with chronic kidney disease.

By comparison, only one in 500 kidney patients not prescribed baclofen wound up hospitalized for confusion.

“There was a pretty marked difference in risk,” Garg said, noting that these findings “highlight a potential risk associated with these drugs that hasn’t been fully appreciated.”

Other seniors might also face this risk, since kidney function often declines as people grow older, he added.

Baclofen is typically prescribed to people suffering muscle spasms, Garg said. Doctors hand out more than 8 million prescriptions of baclofen every year. It’s sold under a number of different brand names, including Lioresal, Gablofen and Kemstro.

The drug leaves the body when the kidneys filter it out of a person’s blood, Garg explained.

“If someone’s kidney function isn’t working very well, that means the drug is accumulating in the system,” he said.

Garg and other doctors had started noticing that kidney patients on baclofen sometimes became disoriented and dazed.

For example, nephrologist Dr. Holly Koncicki remembers some dialysis patients showing up with noticeably clouded mental capacity.

“Of those I can remember, they often presented with confusion or being very sleepy and lethargic,” said Koncicki, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

In the Canadian study, Garg and his colleagues combed the medical literature and found 30 prior case reports linking baclofen to hitches in brain function, so they decided to more closely study this potential problem.

The researchers pulled health data on nearly 16,000 older Ontario residents with chronic kidney disease who had been prescribed baclofen between 2007 and 2018.

The investigators compared those patients’ hospitalizations for mental conditions against those from a group of almost 300,000 kidney patients who’d not been prescribed the drug.

Patients were at greatest risk of hospitalization for confusion if their kidney function was very impaired — 30% or less — and they had been prescribed a high dose of baclofen, more than 20 milligrams (mg) per day.

But even patients with kidney function as high as 60% had an increased risk of confusion when prescribed high doses of baclofen, the findings showed. About 1 in 5 older adults live with kidney function of less than 60%.

Kidney patients prescribed baclofen at 20 mg/day or higher had nearly 20 times the relative risk of being hospitalized for an altered mental state, compared with patients not taking the drug, the researchers found.

Doses lower than 20 mg/day were associated with a nearly sixfold increase in kidney patients’ risk of hospitalization.

The results were published online Nov. 9 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, to coincide with a planned presentation at the American Society of Nephrology annual meeting, in Washington, D.C.

Koncicki, who was not involved with the study, said, “In our older patients with impaired kidney function, there should be cautious use of this medication.”

Garg added that the effect might be even more widespread than what was found in the study, which only considered people so severely affected that they landed in the hospital.

He said he’s concerned that many more people “might have more subtle changes in their thinking who we aren’t even picking up in this study.”

People already taking baclofen should keep taking the drug but ask their doctor about these possible mental side effects, Koncicki and Garg said.

Patients “should feel empowered to ask questions about the risks and benefits of medications,” Koncicki said, “and side effects to watch out for so they can make an informed decision about whether a medication is right for them.”

Dr. Teresa Murray Amato, director of geriatric emergency medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed.

“All patients should speak to their doctors regarding side effects of all medications,” Murray Amato said. “For patients over 65, make sure you understand your kidney function and ask about potential renal dosing on all medications. If you are on baclofen now, make sure you contact your health care provider so that you can have an expedited conversation.”

“Please seek emergency care if you or your family member is showing any signs of altered [mental activity] and you suspect medications may be involved,” Murray Amato said.

Regulatory agencies also might consider strengthening the drug warning for baclofen to include this potential effect, Garg said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about baclofen.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

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HIV Could Speed Menopause Onset

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Women with HIV experience menopause years sooner than other women — about three years earlier, on average, a new study finds.

Treatment advances are keeping people with the virus alive longer, and those who adhere to therapy are expected to live into their mid-70s or longer. That means they’ll face aging issues that affect sexual and reproductive health, including menopause, the study authors noted.

“Health care practitioners should be aware of the increased risk for premature and early menopause in their female patients living with HIV in order to provide appropriate counseling and management,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society.

Early menopause carries an increased risk for adverse long-term health consequences associated with early estrogen deprivation, she explained in a society news release.

The average age of menopause in the United States and Canada is between 50 and 52 years.

This study of more than 200 Canadian women found that women with HIV are more likely to have menopause at an average age of 48 years, three years younger than women in the general population.

Women with HIV also had higher rates of early (between ages 40 and 45) and premature (before age 40) menopause.

Lower education levels and hepatitis C infections also influenced the risk of early menopause, the researchers said. Other possible factors included marital status and region of birth.

Menopause is associated with changes in mood and sexual function, reduced quality of life, and increased risk of diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. That’s why a raised risk of early menopause should be taken into account by doctors caring for women with HIV, the researchers said.

For the study, the investigators analyzed results of the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study, focusing on 229 postmenopausal women. The study was led by Dr. Nisha Andany, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto. The findings were published online Nov. 4 in Menopause.

Previous studies have found that women with HIV are at an increased risk of early and premature menopause. But the researchers believe this is the first study to determine the average age of menopause for HIV patients, and the prevalence of early menopause and premature menopause.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: North American Menopause Society, news release, Nov. 6, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Staying Slim After Weight-Loss Surgery Could Cut Cancer Risk in Half

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6, 2019 — The drastic weight loss that occurs with successful bariatric surgery could have an extra benefit — it may slash your risk of cancer.

People with severe obesity who dropped more than 20% of their total body weight following surgery wound up cutting their risk of cancer by more than half, compared with those who didn’t lose as much weight after the procedure, a new study reports.

“Those who lost more weight had a significantly reduced risk of cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Angela Stroud, an assistant professor with the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine’s division of bariatric surgery.

Previous studies have linked obesity to cancer, so these researchers set out to see exactly how much weight loss might protect a person.

Stroud and her colleagues turned to a long-term study of bariatric surgery, gathering data on more than 2,100 people treated at 10 medical centers across the United States. The type of surgery could either be gastric bypass or gastric banding.

People who underwent the surgery and didn’t lose weight had an overall higher risk of cancer during seven years of follow-up. Those whose body mass index (BMI) dropped under 30, the threshold for obesity, had a 40% reduced risk of cancer compared with those who remained obese.

Further, researchers found that the more weight a person lost, the less likely they were to develop cancer.

About 6.2% of those who lost less than 20% of their body weight received a cancer diagnosis within seven years of their surgery, compared with 3.6% of patients who lost 20% or more, researchers reported.

Those who lost between 20% and 35% of their total weight following bariatric surgery had a 56% reduction in their overall cancer risk, compared with those who lost less than 20% of their initial weight.

The results indicate that people who want to lower their cancer risk should opt for gastric bypass surgery, since the average person who underwent gastric banding did not lose anywhere near as much weight, Stroud said.

This also shows that obese people who are worried about cancer likely need weight-loss surgery to reduce their risk, said Dr. Eric DeMaria, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Diet and exercise likely can’t lead to the sort of dramatic weight loss that’s required.

“Here we have a study that says you’ve got to be more aggressive with the weight loss to really see the impact, and that really puts it in the terrain of bariatric surgery,” said DeMaria, chief of general and bariatric surgery at the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, N.C. He wasn’t involved with the study.

Breast cancer was the most common among the patients, followed by thyroid, melanoma, colon, kidney, uterine and lung.

Dramatic weight loss might be reducing cancer risk by lowering rates of type 2 diabetes, Stroud said.

“There’s definitely an association between type 2 diabetes and cancer, so if we’re making diabetes better that might be one of the bigger players in all of this,” she said.

People who lose more weight also might be benefitting from much lower levels of inflammation, as well as healthier gut bacteria, Stroud said.

But researchers also found that metabolic changes directly linked to weight and appetite were associated with lower cancer risk.

For example, for each 20% reduction in leptin — a hormone that decreases hunger — there was a 20% reduction in cancer, researchers said.

Decreases in diabetes-related fasting glucose and insulin also were associated with reduced cancer risk, as were increases in ghrelin, the “hunger hormone.”

Studies like this shine a light on an underappreciated risk associated with obesity, compared with the risk of heart disease or diabetes, DeMaria said.

The link between obesity and cancer “is not widely appreciated among the public, I think,” DeMaria said. “People don’t intuitively say you’re at high risk for cancer if you’re obese. They don’t think that way. It’s not as known. “

The new study was presented Tuesday at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery’s annual meeting, in Las Vegas. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about obesity and cancer.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

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Media Reports on Celeb Suicides Could Trigger Copycats

FRIDAY, Nov. 1, 2019 — How the media reports on celebrity suicides may increase the risk for copycats, a new study suggests.

But following guidelines on the reporting of these suicides can reduce the risk of others following suit, researchers added.

“Suicide needs to be reported on as a public health issue every single time, rather than a story focused on the celebrity’s death and the method of that death,” said researcher Arielle Sheftall, from the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

For the study, she and her team used 14 variables from recommendations by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on how to report on suicide, which include not sensationalizing the death and framing the report as a public health issue. The researchers looked at how the guidelines were used after the suicides of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain.

After reviewing newspaper articles from across the United States, they found that some media didn’t adhere to several of the suicide reporting guidelines.

On average, only seven of the 14 guidelines were followed and only two were followed by all the newspapers.

The two guidelines that were followed stress that suicide isn’t caused by a single factor and that suicide isn’t a growing epidemic.

Guidelines that weren’t followed by any of the papers included stressing that suicide is preventable and good treatment can reduce the risk of suicide.

It’s important to understand that many people are reading the story, including those at risk for suicide, Sheftall noted.

“People who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts could be exposed to these articles, and that is why it is so crucial to follow all of the suicide reporting guidelines. We are not pointing fingers at journalists or their newsrooms, but encouraging them to become aware of the guidelines and understanding their nuances,” she said in a hospital news release.

The report was published online Nov. 1 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

More information

For more on recommendations for reporting on suicide, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

For more on suicide prevention, head to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

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Could More Coffee Bring a Healthier Microbiome?

By Elizabeth Heubeck        
       HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Debating whether or not you should have that second cup of coffee?

New research that links caffeine consumption to a healthy gut microbiome — the trillions of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract and affect your overall health– may prompt you to pour generously.

In recent years, numerous studies have demonstrated associations between coffee consumption and lowered health risks of all sorts — from type 2 diabetes to certain cancers to Parkinson’s disease.

Simultaneously, accumulating evidence suggests that the makeup of your gut microbiome can affect your health, either by promoting or reducing the risk of diseases.

Connecting the dots between these two health premises, a new study found the microbiomes of regular coffee drinkers were considerably healthier than those who consumed little to no coffee.

“We still need to learn more about how the bacteria and the host [our bodies] interact to impact our health,” said lead study author Dr. Li Jiao, an associate professor of medicine-gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

But her advice for now? “If you love coffee, enjoy it. Follow your gut.”

The new findings were to be presented Monday at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, in San Antonio, Texas.

In the study, scientists for the first time ever took gut microbiome samples directly from various parts of the colon during colonoscopies. (Other studies have examined just stool samples).

Overall, the 34 participants who drank two or more cups of coffee daily throughout the previous year exhibited better gut microbiome profiles than those who consumed less or no coffee, Jiao’s team reported.

Heavy coffee drinkers’ bacterial species were more abundant and more evenly distributed throughout the large intestine, richer in anti-inflammatory properties, and considerably less likely to include Erysipelatoclostridium, a type of bacteria linked to metabolic abnormalities and obesity.

Jiao said it remains uncertain why coffee exerts such a positive influence on the gut microbiome. But she suggested that caffeine or other nutrients in coffee may impact the metabolism of bacteria and, in turn, how the bacterial metabolites — the end products of that metabolism — affect your body.

Continued

While scientists may not completely understand the mechanisms behind coffee’s impact on the microbiome, they are becoming increasingly convinced of the importance of gut contents to overall health.

“The gut microbiome seems to be the missing link between diet and the incidence of chronic diseases,” said Dr. Hana Kahleova, director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She was not involved with the study.

For instance, explained Kahleova, individuals who eat a typical Western diet high in fat and processed foods tend to house in their gut more endotoxins, toxic components of “bad” bacteria associated with obesity, insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Conversely, she suggested that coffee’s polyphenols and other antioxidants, compounds naturally found in plant foods, are likely what’s providing a healthier microbiome.

But you don’t have to rely on coffee for your gut to absorb these health benefits. “All plants in their natural state are rich in fiber, polyphenols and antioxidants that help us fight cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Kahleova said.

That’s good news for people who don’t drink coffee, and don’t plan to start. Benefits notwithstanding, coffee isn’t for everyone. It can aggravate a sensitive stomach, worsen insomnia or pose a danger to individuals with certain heart conditions.

But for the countless number of people who love coffee and can’t imagine cutting it out of their diet, this study may come as a relief. It turns out that drinking one or two cups of coffee a day probably won’t induce any harm, and may even provide some protective health benefits.

Because this research was presented at a medical meeting, it should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Li Jiao, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, medicine-gastroenterology, Baylor College of Medicine, and researcher, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston; Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director, clinical research, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; Oct. 28, 2019, presentation, American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, San Antonio, Texas

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Could AI Beat Radiologists at Spotting Bleeds in the Brain?

THURSDAY, Oct. 24, 2019 — Computer-driven artificial intelligence (AI) can help protect human brains from the damage wrought by stroke, a new report suggests.

A computer program trained to look for bleeding in the brain outperformed two of four certified radiologists, finding abnormalities in brain scans quickly and efficiently, the researchers reported.

“This AI can evaluate the whole head in one second,” said senior researcher Dr. Esther Yuh, an associate professor of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “We trained it to be very, very good at looking for the kind of tiny abnormalities that radiologists look for.”

Stroke doctors often say that “time is brain,” meaning that every second’s delay in treating a stroke results in more brain cells dying and the patient becoming further incapacitated.

Yuh and her colleagues hope that AI programmed to find trouble spots in a brain will be able to significantly cut down treatment time for stroke patients.

“Instead of having a delay of 20 to 30 minutes for a radiologist to turn around a CT scan for interpretation, the computer can read it in a second,” Yuh said.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, and is a leading cause of disability, according to the American Stroke Association.

There are two types of strokes: ones caused by burst blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic), and others that occur when a blood vessel becomes blocked (ischemic).

Yuh’s AI still needs to be tested in clinical trials and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but other programs are already helping doctors speed up stroke treatment, said Dr. Christopher Kellner. He is director of the Intracerebral Hemorrhage Program at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

“We are already using AI-driven software to automatically inform us when certain CAT scan findings occur,” he said. “It’s already become, in just the last year, an essential part of our stroke work-up.”

An AI created by a company called Viz.ai is being used at Mount Sinai to detect blood clots that have caused a stroke by blocking the flow of blood to the brain, Kellner said.

Yuh and her team used a library of nearly 4,440 CT scans to train their AI to look for brain bleeding.

These scans are not easy to read, she said. They are low-contrast black-and-white images full of visual “noise.”

“It takes a lot of training to be able to read these — doctors train for years to be able to read these correctly,” Yuh said.

Her team trained its algorithm to the point that it could trace detailed outlines of abnormalities it found, demonstrating their location in a 3-D model of the brain being scanned.

They then tested the algorithm against four board-certified radiologists, using a series of 200 randomly selected head CT scans.

The AI slightly outperformed two radiologists, and slightly underperformed against the other two, Yuh said.

The AI found some small abnormalities that the experts missed. It also provided detailed information that doctors would need to determine the best treatment.

The computer program also provided this information with an acceptable level of false positives, Yuh said. That would minimize how much time doctors would need to spend reviewing its results.

Yuh suspects radiologists always will be needed to double-check the AI, but Kellner isn’t so sure.

“There will definitely be a point where there’s no human involved in the evaluation of the scans, and I think that’s not too far off, honestly,” he said. “I think, ultimately, a computer will be able to scan that faster and send out an alert faster than a human can.”

The new study was published Oct. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The American Stroke Association has more about stroke.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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By Mid-Century, Heat Waves Could Cover Far Bigger Areas

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Climate change could trigger much bigger heat waves by mid-century, U.S. researchers report.

Previous research has predicted that the number and intensity of heat waves will increase, but this study is the first to examine changes in their potential physical size.

“As the physical size of these affected regions increases, more people will be exposed to heat stress,” said lead author Brad Lyon, an associate research professor at the University of Maine in Orono.

“Larger heat waves would also increase electrical loads and peak energy demand on the grid as more people and businesses turn on air conditioning in response,” he added.

The statistics are alarming.

With medium greenhouse gas emission levels, the average size of heat waves could grow 50% by mid-century, according to the study. With high emission levels, their average size could increase 80%, and more extreme heat waves could more than double in size, it predicted.

The study, published Oct. 7 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, was partly funded by the Climate Observations and Monitoring Program of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Program Office.

Predictions about the growing size of heat waves could help utilities plan for the future, according to the researchers.

“Heat wave size is another dimension of extreme heat that people don’t necessarily think of,” Lyon said in a NOAA news release. “It’s a different vantage point from which to view them and assess their impacts.”

The study also found that the length and severity of heat waves could increase substantially, which came as no surprise to the researchers.

“An increase in attributes like magnitude and duration is consistent with expectations of a warming climate,” Lyon said. “What is new in our study is the way we calculated them, which allowed us to consider size as a new heat wave dimension.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, news release, Oct. 7, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Sticking to One Sport Could Up Injuries Among Teen Athletes

SUNDAY, Sept. 29, 2019 — Here’s a good reason to encourage your teenager to play more than one sport: New research finds kids who concentrate on only one sport may be at risk for stress fractures, tendinitis and knee injuries.

“It’s wonderful for a child to love a sport and to want to engage in it, but we must keep in mind the number of hours spent playing,” said study author Alison Field, a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Brown University. “They add up pretty quickly.”

The findings are a result of following more than 10,000 older children throughout the United States. The bottom line is that kids who do the most hours of intense activity per week, and that happens to be those focusing on a single sport, are the most likely to be injured.

Field hopes that coaches, parents and doctors urge children to engage in less intense, less specialized training.

The best advice is that kids should spend only a moderate amount of time in vigorous physical activity. If they have to specialize, they should replace some training with different types of exercise, such as yoga and conditioning, she suggested.

The risk for injury differed for girls and boys. For girls, no sport stood out as being extra risky. Specializing, however, increased girls’ risk of injury by about 30%.

Specialization did not significantly increase boys’ risk of injury, but baseball, gymnastics or cheerleading did increase the risk, the findings showed.

“There’s been a lot of concern about females having a higher risk of certain injuries,” Field said in a university news release. “The question is: Is that risk highest just as they’re going through their pubertal growth spurt, and then does it come back down a bit? And then we need to talk to coaches and trainers and say, ‘What can we do to mitigate that risk?'”

The report was published online recently in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

More information

For more on children and sports, visit Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Later Bedtimes Could Mean Wider Waistlines for Teen Girls

MONDAY, Sept. 16, 2019 — Teenaged girls who stay up late every night could pay a price in added pounds, new research shows.

There could even be greater ramifications for girls’ health, with risks for “cardiometabolic” issues — such as heart disease and diabetes — rising with later bedtimes, the researchers said.

A similar trend was not shown for boys, although the research team stressed that that might be because the number of boys in the study was too low.

However, for teen girls at least, the researchers “found that ‘night owls,’ teenagers who prefer to go to bed late but have to get up early for school, had higher waist circumference and greater abdominal fat deposition (adiposity) than the ‘morning larks,’ those who prefer to go to bed early and get up early to begin their day,” said study senior investigator Dr. Elsie Taveras. She directs general academic pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, in Boston.

Prior studies have linked insufficient sleep in teens with obesity and poor cardiometabolic health, the study authors noted. However, less attention has been paid to the impact of when kids get their shut-eye.

The new research included data on more than 800 kids, aged 12 to 17, who were enrolled in a study that for 20 years has tracked the health of growing children.

Taveras’ group looked specifically at data on whether teens were “early birds” or “night owls,” and on something called “social jet lag” — differences in when teens went to sleep on school nights versus non-school nights.

Teen girls who tended to go to sleep later had an average waistline measurement that was about a quarter-inch higher than that of “early birds,” the findings showed. They also had a slightly higher amount of body fat, on average, according to the report published online Sept. 16 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The study couldn’t prove that bedtimes helped cause added weight gain, but one sleep specialist wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“We have known for some time that when humans are sleep-deprived, they tend to gain weight; this is likely an effect of sleep deprivation on two hormones that regulate appetite,” said Dr. Steven Feinsilver. He directs the Center for Sleep Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

And as Taveras noted in a university news release, “beyond [sleep] quantity and quality, timing is a vital component of sleep because it determines if an individual’s circadian clock — the internal sleep/wake schedule — is synchronized with the rhythms of their daily activities.”

She pointed out that “this is particularly important to adolescents whose evening preferences and academic demands often result in irregular sleep schedules that may cause circadian misalignment.”

The study authors stressed that maintaining a consistent bedtime seven days a week is crucial. Doing so can cut social jet lag, and perhaps also minimize risks for obesity and poor cardiometabolic health.

Dr. Michael Grosso, chief of pediatrics at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital, in Huntington, N.Y., agreed.

The study findings “make sense,” he said, “and may form the basis for good medical advice. The take-away: get enough sleep, and keep bedtimes regular.”

For her part, study lead author Elizabeth Cespedes Feliciano advised parents to “encourage consistency in their children’s sleep schedules and their bed and wake times, as well as improvements in their sleep hygiene by limiting electronic media and caffeine use in the evening.” Feliciano is a research scientist in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research.

Taveras said that schools can also help by having later morning start times. Schools can also make it easier for students to have time during the day to complete academic activities that might otherwise be done very late at night.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more on teens and sleep.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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HRT Could Benefit Younger Women After Hysterectomy

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Estrogen therapy may help younger women live longer after having their uterus and ovaries surgically removed, new research reports.

The study found that when women under 60 received hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after surgery, their risk of dying during the 18-year follow-up period decreased by almost one-third compared to women taking a placebo.

“In a young woman, it’s generally better to conserve the ovaries, because early removal of the ovaries induces early surgical menopause and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, fractures and osteoporosis. But if the ovaries are removed, and a woman is under 60, estrogen therapy gives them a more favorable risk profile,” said study lead author Dr. JoAnn Manson. She’s chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

About 425,000 women have a hysterectomy (uterus removal) every year in the United States. Between a third and a half also have their ovaries removed. This is done to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, according to the researchers.

Removing the ovaries is also known to reduce breast cancer risk. But when they are removed in younger women (around 45 to 50), the procedure is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death from any cause, the researchers noted.

“Women who have had their ovaries removed have an abrupt decline in their estrogen levels, more so than women with intact ovaries,” Manson explained.

Researchers had a hunch that replacing that lost estrogen might reduce the risk of heart disease and early death.

To see if that was the case, they recruited about 10,000 women who had a hysterectomy. They were between 50 and 79 years old. Just over 4,000 also had both ovaries removed.

The women were randomly assigned to receive either estrogen or a placebo for about seven years. Their health was followed for 18 years.

Women in their 50s who had their ovaries removed had a 32% lower risk of dying during the study if they took estrogen, the findings showed. Older women who had their ovaries removed and took estrogen didn’t have that same benefit.

Continued

Women who still had their ovaries didn’t seem to have any benefits or harms related to taking estrogen, the study found.

Dr. Meera Garcia, division chief of obstetrics and gynecology at New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., reviewed the study and welcomed the findings. “This study provides a great support and evidence to what’s going on in clinical practice,” she said.

“Everything has benefits and side effects, and with hormones, we’re coming more to the middle now,” Garcia added. “There’s a right time and a right place for medication, and when we’re continuing what the body has been doing [by replacing estrogen in younger women] — it seems to provide benefits.”

Both Manson and Garcia said there’s no absolute cut-off age for hormone therapy.

“The duration of estrogen therapy is an individual decision. Is a woman continuing to have hot flashes? What is her risk for breast cancer? What about cardiovascular disease risk? Or a risk of osteoporosis? All of these factors come into play when making the decision,” Manson explained.

Garcia said when women decide it’s time to come off of hormone therapy, it’s helpful to slowly lower the dosage over time.

The findings were published Sept. 9 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: JoAnn Manson, M.D., chief, division of preventive medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Meera Garcia, M.D., division chief, obstetrics and gynecology, New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.;Annals of Internal Medicine, Sept. 9, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Posting All Those Selfies Online Could Backfire, Study Finds

By Kayla McKiski
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Posting selfies on social media won’t do you any favors in terms of likability.

A small new study finds that many people take a dim view of others who post a lot of selfies on Instagram.

Researchers at Washington State University conducted an experiment to determine which posts lead to snap judgments about the user’s personality.

The upshot: People who posted lots of selfies were uniformly regarded as less likeable, less successful, less adventurous and more insecure than those who share photos taken by somebody else.

Lead author Christopher Barry, a professor of psychology at WSU, said the findings reveal more about perception than personality.

“Our research indicates that selfies are not necessarily a sign of self-absorption, but there is a chance that others may view us that way based on posting many selfies,” he said.

In the study, 119 college students were asked to rate the Instagram profiles of 30 students from another university.

Those who posted a posed photo taken by someone else — also known as a “posie” — were seen as more likeable, more successful, having greater self-esteem and being more outgoing. Viewers also saw them as having greater potential for being a good friend.

The reverse was true for students who had posted more selfies.

“It may be that posies seem more natural or realistic, that selfies have taken on a negative connotation in pop culture, or that people who post posies are viewed as more sociable,” Barry said. “People who post selfies may be judged as not having others around.”

Selfies that focused on physical appearance, like flexing in the mirror, drew particularly negative reactions. And the older the viewer, the more he or she tended to rate profiles negatively.

“To speculate, I would say that it’s probably a general tendency that we have to judge younger people or the next generation relatively negatively,” Barry said.

The study also found that students who were regarded as highly self-absorbed tended to have a bigger presence on the photo-sharing platform. They had more followers and followed more users.

Continued

Instagram has more than 100 million active users in the United States, and about 1,000 selfies are posted there every second.

Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, reviewed the study and explained the obsession.

“We want to feel like we matter, that we are appreciated [and] validated,” she said. “[We want] confirmation that we are attractive, to boost our confidence and self-esteem, to receive praise from others, generate attention … validate an experience.

“Because if the tree fell and no one was there to Instagram it, did it really happen?” Varma said.

Though the personality traits of selfie posters aren’t known, Varma wonders if the phenomenon reflects an era of self-absorption.

“The question becomes, ‘are we as a society more self-absorbed than before?'” she said. “It’s unclear — maybe we always have been but these tools allow us to express it and take it to the next level.”

For those in search of validation, Varma recommends looking offline, too.

“Engaging in hobbies, spending time with your loved ones, pursuing a passion project [and] giving back to your family or community all build self-esteem in a more permanent and less approval-dependent fashion,” she said.

Barry encourages users to be aware of the twofold nature of the online world.

“We should remember that despite our reasons for posting something, other people may perceive our posts in ways that are not intended,” he said. “The audience is an important part of social media.”

The study was published recently in the Journal of Research in Personality.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Christopher Barry, Ph.D., professor, psychology, Washington State University, Pullman; Sudeepta Varma, M.D., clinical assistant professor, psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City,Journal of Research in Personality, August 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Amazon Echo link could be turning UK parents off the name Alexa

FILE PHOTO: Prompts on how to use Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant are seen alongside an Amazon Echo in an Amazon ‘experience center’ in Vallejo, California, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – The number of parents in Britain calling their baby girls Alexa dropped by more than half last year, statistics showed on Thursday, possibly due to the link with Amazon Echo voice-controlled gadgets.

The Echo, a smart speaker that can perform household tasks such as adjusting lights, responds to the name Alexa.

“The growth in the use of technology assistants in our homes may help to explain why the number of baby girls named Alexa has more than halved compared with 2017,” said Nick Stripe of the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“Communicating with young children can be hard enough at the best of times.”

Alexa was the 380th most popular name for girls in England and Wales last year, with 118 newborns given the name – a sharp fall from 2017, when there were 301 Alexas.

Oliver and Olivia remained the most popular names for boys and girls, for the sixth and third year running.

Reporting by Molly Millar; editing by Stephen Addison

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Boom in Pot ‘Concentrates’ Could Pose Addiction Risk for Teens

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Wax. Honey oil. Budder. Shatter. Dabs. Black glass.

These are some of the names given to extremely potent marijuana concentrates, and don’t be surprised if you overhear your teens mentioning them.

A startling number of teenagers are using these marijuana concentrates, a new study reports.

About one in four Arizona teens have tried a marijuana concentrate at least once, survey data shows.

More alarming, more than seven out of 10 kids who use marijuana say they also use marijuana concentrates, said lead researcher Madeline Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University, in Tempe.

Marijuana concentrates contain between 40% and 70% higher levels of THC, the compound in pot that produces a high, researchers said in background notes.

“It is concerning because we think higher doses of THC might increase a person’s risk for addiction” Meier said. “If these kids are already at high risk for addiction, that combined with their use of very high THC cannabis could increase that risk.”

For this study, Meier and her colleagues questioned nearly 50,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12, who participated in the 2018 Arizona Youth Survey, about their pot use.

Marijuana concentrates are becoming more widely used across the United States, particularly in states that have legalized recreational and medical pot, Meier said.

For example, sales data from Washington state shows that concentrates accounted for 21% of all pot purchases in 2016, a 146% increase from 2014, the study authors said.

“More and more people are purchasing cannabis concentrates year after year. It’s making up a higher proportion of the market,” Meier said.

However, previous surveys examining pot use among teens have not asked them about concentrate use, she noted. Because of that, Meier’s team included specific questions about marijuana concentrates in the Arizona survey.

The researchers found that 33% of students said they’d tried some form of marijuana, and 24% had tried marijuana concentrate.

Of the one-third of kids who’d used marijuana, 72% had tried a pot concentrate, the findings showed.

Continued

“Most adolescents who’ve used cannabis have used a cannabis concentrate,” Meier said.

Parents might not know their kids are using these concentrates because they look nothing like leaf marijuana, she explained.

The concentrate can look like a soft wax or butter, or like hardened and brittle pieces of glass.

Concentrate also isn’t imbibed the same way as pot. The substance can be sprinkled across leaf marijuana in a bong or pipe bowl, but it also can be vaped in a modified e-cigarette device or “dabbed” — heated with a blowtorch to produce inhalable smoke.

“This concentrate does not look or smell like the flower, and parents might not know that what their kid has is a drug,” Meier said. “Try to be aware of the fact there are these new cannabis products that don’t look like marijuana, and kids might not be smoking it.”

Teens who reported using concentrates also had more risk factors for addiction, such as a low perceived risk of marijuana’s potential harm, substance abuse by their peers or parents, poor grades in school, and greater availability of drugs in their community. In fact, the teenagers who’d used concentrates were worse off on every addiction risk factor.

The findings were published online Aug. 26 in the journal Pediatrics.

Experts are concerned exposure to such high-potency pot products could make these teens more likely to fall into addiction in the future.

“The expansion of recreational products, from edibles to concentrates, continues to far outpace rigorous assessment and regulations,” said Dr. Harshal Kirane, medical director of Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research in Calverton, N.Y. “Importantly, the dramatic increase in teen vaping appears to be rapidly accelerating the uptake of cannabis concentrates.”

Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., said marijuana concentrates “have prompted public health concern due to increased rates of THC and subsequent risk of psychosis, medical comorbidities, cognitive [mental] deficits and dependence to the agent itself.”

And, Krakower added, “The younger the age of exposure may exacerbate the risk and may expose youth to additional substance use disorders.”

Kirane agreed. “High-potency cannabis is associated with concerning medical and psychiatric consequences, particularly in early brain development,” he said.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Madeline Meier, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.; Scott Krakower, D.O., assistant unit chief, psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, N.Y.; Harshal Kirane, M.D., medical director, Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research, Calverton, N.Y.; Aug. 26, 2019,Pediatrics, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Your Chocolate Pot ‘Edible’ Could Hold a Hidden Danger

SUNDAY, Aug. 25, 2019 — A quirk in quality testing could mean that pot-laced chocolates are more potent than their label indicates, researchers report.

Many states that allow the sale of marijuana-infused edibles — gummy bears, cookies and chocolates — require package labeling that shows the products’ level of THC, the compound that gets you high.

But potency testing on chocolate products appears to be slightly skewed, said David Dawson, a research principal with CW Analytical Laboratories, one of California’s longest-operating marijuana testing labs.

It turns out that larger samples of chocolate used in testing actually produce less accurate results than smaller samples, Dawson said.

“It’s pretty striking and definitely goes against your basic gut instinct,” Dawson said.

“As the amount of sample you are testing increases, it should be more representative of the whole of the product. Thus, you should be getting more solid values,” Dawson said. “We saw the opposite here, where we actually start getting less accurate and precise values the more actual product we are testing at a given moment.”

The testing flaw tends to cause a chocolate product’s THC levels to be reported as lower than they actually are, Dawson said. For example, a bar containing 97 milligrams of THC might test at 93 milligrams.

The variance “isn’t enough to truly pose a danger to consumers, but it is enough to possibly make a good product fail compliance testing,” Dawson explained.

However, other experts are concerned that consumers might get in over their heads if they purchase a pot-infused chocolate bar that’s more powerful than its label says.

Imbibing too much THC “can result in not only longer-lasting sedative and depressant effects, but a greater potential for paradoxical central nervous system toxicity in the form of psychotic behavior and seizures,” said Dr. Robert Glatter. He’s an emergency medicine physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

California law states that edibles can contain a maximum 100 milligrams of THC in a given package, Dawson said.

An edible cannabis product fails testing if its THC levels vary 10% or more from the labeled amount, Dawson added. Products containing too little THC must be relabeled, and a batch containing too much THC must be destroyed.

Recreational pot markets are hot these days, and testing labs are struggling to keep up, Dawson noted.

“Everyone is trying to come out with a new product, develop a new product type,” Dawson said. “We’re really awash in different products we need to be able to test to the fullest.”

Dawson and his colleagues decided to test whether chocolate edibles were being accurately assessed by altering sample conditions to see if they got the same results time and again. Turns out, they didn’t.

“When we had less cannabis-infused chocolate in the sample vial, say 1 gram, we got higher THC potencies and more precise values than when we had 2 grams of the same infused chocolate in the vial,” Dawson said.

Dawson is not yet sure what’s causing the inaccuracies, but he suspects it has to do with the fat content of chocolate. THC is fat-soluble, and many chocolate products contain large amounts of fat.

“We found we had the lowest recovery of THC from a standard solution with products that are more fatty,” Dawson said. “The white chocolate and baking chocolate gave lower results than cocoa powder, which seems to suggest it is not the actual cocoa solid having an effect. It seems to be more tied to the presence of the fatty, creamy chocolate.”

Dawson expects that such testing issues will continue to surface as recreational pot markets mature in the legalized states.

“Commercial cannabis testing has to really blossom for us to get the most precise and accurate results on the products we are testing,” Dawson said. “As the industry settles in, I do anticipate there will be little testing quirks and inefficiencies that are discovered, because that’s how the scientific method works.”

But the stakes are high and the science needs to advance quickly, said Dr. Harshal Kirane, medical director of Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research in Calverton, N.Y.

“As recreational cannabis becomes more available across the country, it is essential that we are able to accurately and reliably test the make-up of these products,” Kirane said. “Hand in hand with increased access to recreational cannabis is an expectation that such products are used responsibly, which means consumers must be provided accurate product information.”

In the meantime, Glatter recommends that consumers exercise caution when using pot edibles.

“If you choose to partake, it’s imperative to adhere to the serving size recommended by the manufacturer, which is usually a very small amount of the entire product,” Glatter said. “There is a delayed effect with edibles, typically one to two hours after ingestion, which may lead to unintentional overdose and prolonged effects.”

Dawson presented the results Sunday at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in San Diego. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the health effects of marijuana.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Could CBD be the Answer for Those Suffering from Opioid Withdrawal?

What is this CBD thing everyone’s talking about?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a naturally-occurring chemical compound that is found in the cannabis sativa plant.  CBD is extracted from the cannabis sativa plant and converted into certain industrial products – – such as CBD oils, hemp clothing, edibles, topicals, pet foods, etc.  Hemp is taking the world by storm as a healthy, natural alternative to things like medicine and clothing.  Growth of the hemp plant requires no pesticides, and it actually eliminates carbon dioxide from the air.

Is CBD the same thing as Marijuana?

The short answer is no.  CBD is a chemical compound that can be found in marijuana, yes.  However, the hemp plant contains much higher levels of CBD than the marijuana plant does.  For this reason, it is the hemp plant from which CBD is extracted.  What are the differences between the marijuana plant and the hemp plant? 

The hemp plant is similar to marijuana because they both come from the cannabis sativa plant.  Marijuana is the dried flower of the female cannabis plant, and it can come from two different species – – cannabis sativa and cannabis indica.  Hemp only comes from the cannabis sativa species.  Hemp leaves tend to be shiny and slim compared to bushy and thick marijuana leaves. 

( Marijuana plant on the left, Hemp plant on the right )

However, the main difference is the simple fact that CBD does not get you high.  The chemical compound that produces psychoactive effects, and therefore gets you high, is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  While the marijuana plant contains high levels of THC, the hemp plant contains approximately .3% THC.  Remember that CBD is mainly extracted from the hemp plant, which does not contain enough THC to get you high. 

If CBD doesn’t get you high, why is it so popular?

It has only been legal to buy since 2018

Everyone wants to get their hands on CBD.  Retail shops are opening up everywhere to take advantage of the legalization of hemp products.  Consumers are buying CBD like crazy.  Business is booming in the hemp industry!

In 2014, the Farm Bill was passed by the federal government, legalizing hemp use for research – – this was a good first step, but it was the Farm Bill’s revision in 2018 that really changed the game.  In 2018, the Farm Bill was revised, and hemp products were suddenly legal to buy and sell on a federal level. 

CBD is a member of the cannabis sativa species

Let’s be honest.  CBD is extremely popular for the same reason it is still illegal in some states – – It’s close relationship with marijuana.  CBD and marijuana are sort of like brothers.  CBD is the brother that gets good grades in school and goes to church every Sunday.  Marijuana is the brother that hangs out with a wild bunch and sometimes gets into trouble.  However, both brothers have good hearts.

Our country has been divided on the legalization of marijuana issue for some time now.   In 1988, only 24 percent of United States citizens supported legalization. Oh, how the tide has changed since then.  In the last 30 years, we have seen the stigma associated with smoking marijuana almost completely disappear.  Medical marijuana is being prescribed by doctors in 22 states, and weed is being legally-smoked for recreational purposes in 10 states!  In 2018, nearly 70% of Americans approve legalization.

( Original infographic available at https://disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state )

CBD is proven to have many health benefits

Studies show that CBD has many health benefits.  We know that CBD affects the human body by attaching itself to receptors in the human endocannabinoid system.  Most scientists say that this reaction results in positive effects.  Some scientists still say that CBD causes negative effects.  Just like with legalization, we seem to be split on the matter.  However, just like with legalization, the tide is shifting towards conclusive scientific evidence, conveying CBD as a healthy alternative medicine.   CBD has been said to improve the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea and Vomiting 
  • Acne
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Severe Pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Insomnia
  • Mood Swings
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Stress
  • Epilepsy
  • & More!

However, what we don’t talk about very often, is how CBD can relieve opiate withdrawal symptoms. This could be huge!

The Opiate Epidemic

 In 2017, we saw 70,000 drug overdose deaths. A large majority of these deaths have been attributed to synthetic opiates.  We all know somebody that has been affected by this.  Whether we’ve lost a loved one, or we know somebody that’s lost a loved one, we have all been affected.  The Opiate Epidemic has plagued the entire United States, along with the rest of the world.  The afore-mentioned death rate shrunk by 5% in 2018 – – the same year that CBD became legal to buy and sell.  Is there a correlation between the two?  Well, that’s hard to say. 

What’s Not Hard to Say

Pharmaceutical companies are not your friend!  Need proof?  Just turn on the news!  Over the last year, the Feds have been indicting and arresting former top officials of pharmaceutical companies.  The charge – – distributing deadly opiates to the masses for profit.  These are the same pharmaceutical companies that created methadone and suboxone, the two most popular forms of treatment for opiate addiction.  Both of these treatments have a long list of negative side effects and are addictive.  Yet, the government prefers these treatments over kratom and CBD – – two naturally-occurring medicines that are known to help relieve opiate withdrawal symptoms.  It makes no sense!

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle Aches
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Digestive Issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Low Appetite
  • Rapid Heart Beat
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Lacrination (tearing up of the eyes)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Runny Nose
  • Chills
  • Excessive Sweating

If you refer back to the health benefits of CBD, you’ll notice that CBD provides relief for many of the symptoms of opiate withdrawals. 

Talk to your Doctor

Opiate addiction is different for different people.  Withdrawal treatment drugs like suboxone and methadone save thousands of lives every year.  However, they are not meant to be permanent solutions.  It is beneficial for anyone taking suboxone or methadone to have a plan for getting off of these drugs.  Some addicts don’t even have access to suboxone and methadone.  Luckily, there are natural alternatives – – Kratom and CBD.  Talk to your doctor.  Bring up CBD as an alternative to your current treatment.  CBD could provide the relief that you’ve been looking for!

Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

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