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Fungal Invasion May Drive Some Pancreatic Cancers

By EJ Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Fungi living in the gut can move into the pancreas, triggering changes to normal cells that can result in cancer, a new study suggests.

The finding could advance the prevention and treatment of pancreatic cancer, which is usually fatal because it’s often detected too late. The disease has been in the news lately because “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek is waging a battle against an advanced form of the illness.

The new research focuses on a particular form of the cancer, called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, which can be fatal within two years.

While the exact causes of pancreatic cancer remain unclear, the American Cancer Society has long recognized that viruses, bacteria and parasites can help spur pancreatic tumors, the authors of the new study noted.

But fungi haven’t been shown to play a role — until now.

“While past studies from our group have shown that bacteria travel from the gut to the pancreas, our new study is the first to confirm that fungi, too, make that trip, and that related fungal population changes promote tumor inception and growth,” study co-author Dr. George Miller said in a news release from NYU Langone Health.

Miller is co-leader of the Tumor Immunology Research Program at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health, in New York City.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is cancer of the tube in the pancreas where digestive juices drain into the intestines. This exchange causes fungal populations in the gut and pancreas — the “mycobiome” — to become abnormal, the NYU team explained. That change may cause pancreatic cells to turn malignant.

In the new study, the researchers first looked at fungal transfer from the gut to the pancreas in mice that already had pancreatic tumors.

In those experiments, the researchers found that treating the rodents with an antifungal drug shrunk the weight of tumors from between 20% to 40% over 30 weeks.

Investigating further, the team catalogued the species of fungi in the poop of mice with or without pancreatic cancer. They even tagged the fungi with “glowing” proteins to watch the microbes travel from the gut to the pancreas.

Continued

Certain patterns emerged, with some populations of fungal species increasing at a far higher rate in the cancerous pancreases versus the non-cancerous ones.

One such cancer-linked species is called Malassezia.

“We have long known that Malassezia fungi — generally found on the skin and scalp — are responsible for dandruff and some forms of eczema, but recent studies have also linked them to skin and colorectal cancer,” study senior co-author Deepak Saxena noted in the news release.

“Our new findings add evidence that Malassezia is abundant in pancreatic tumors as well,” said Saxena, who is professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at NYU College of Dentistry. Pancreatic cancers in the mice grew about 20% faster when Malassezia was allowed to grow unchecked, the team noted.

The researchers theorized that fungi spur growth of the cancer by affecting immune system mechanisms that lead to abnormal tissue growth.

Study co-first author Smruti Pushalkar, a research scientist at NYU College of Dentistry, added, “Moving forward, one goal for our team is to determine which species are most relevant to cancer, as doing so could guide future attempts to slow tumor growth with targeted antifungal medications, and to avert side effects.”

The results of the study add evidence to the theory that fungi increase the risk for cancer by activating an ancient part of the immune system, the researchers said. This immune response fights infections but also increases cell growth as the infection is cured. Past studies have shown that aggressive tissue growth can cause cancer when it’s combined with genetic flaws.

The report was published Oct. 2 in the journal Nature.

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SOURCE:Nature,  news release, Oct. 2, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Did Brexit Vote Drive Man to Psychotic Episode?

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 2, 2019 — Brexit has thrown the United Kingdom into political and economic uncertainty, but it might have actually triggered a psychotic break in one man, a new report suggests.

The 2016 Brexit referendum started the process of the U.K. leaving the European Union.

Three weeks after the referendum, a middle-aged man was taken by paramedics to the hospital in an acute psychotic state.

He was confused, agitated and had disordered thoughts and speech. He was hearing voices and was delusional and paranoid, believing people were spying on him and planning to kill him, and radio/TV discussions were targeting him.

Since the referendum, his wife said, the man had found it difficult to cope with the politics around him and became increasingly worried and had difficulty sleeping.

Although he took drugs to deal with his anxiety and agitation, he got worse.

After two weeks in the hospital, he was sent home on tranquilizers and antipsychotic drugs.

He made a full recovery and has had no further episodes as of his last checkup in June.

There was no history of mental illness in his family. But before the referendum, he had experienced work and family pressures, the report noted. It was published Oct. 1 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

And the man had experienced a psychotic episode 13 years earlier, following work stress. That episode had been much less severe, but it suggests that he may have been psychologically vulnerable, his doctor said.

“Political events can be a source of significant psychological stress,” wrote Dr. Mohammad Zia Ul Haq Katshu, from the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham, in the report. “And those who are already prone to mental illness may be especially vulnerable.”

More information

For more on psychotic episodes, head to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Ask a Stoner: Waiting to Drive After Smoking Pot

Dear Stoner: How many hours after smoking marijuana does it take for you to be able to drive?
Dewayne

Dear Dewayne: This isn’t an answer we can just pull out of our butt cracks for you. There isn’t enough science to sit on in order to give you an exact time frame, but our asses aren’t completely bare, either. Because cannabis impairment isn’t as easy to determine through breath and blood levels, law enforcement still doesn’t have an exact way of determining how high you really are, though advancements are being made in breath and blood testing to detect THC levels and determine when a driver last consumed.

A Colorado county sheriff measures a driver's impairment levels during a 2018 driving experiment that measures the skills of alcohol and cannabis users.

A Colorado county sheriff measures a driver’s impairment levels during a 2018 driving experiment that measures the skills of alcohol and cannabis users.

Thomas Mitchell

Most state laws surrounding cannabis DUIs focus on the amount of THC in the blood, measuring it in nanograms (Colorado’s limit is 5 nanograms). However, daily users are likely to have high levels of THC even if they last smoked the day before, while novice and new users will have low levels of THC in their blood several hours after consumption, despite still being baked.

It all comes down to your tolerance and the potency of the cannabis. Still, we’d recommend waiting at least a couple hours after you toke before you think about driving, no matter what.

Send questions to marijuana@westword.com.


Toke of the Town

DHX Appoints Key Execs to Drive Original Animation Output

DHX Media announces that Stephanie Betts has been promoted to the role of Executive Vice President, Content, and will be responsible for development and production of DHX Media’s slate of original animated content, reporting to Josh Scherba, President. In addition, Todd Brian has joined the Company in the newly created role of Director of Development, Animation, reporting to Betts.

“We’re producing an amazing slate of original content for the world’s top streaming platforms and broadcasters, and our development pipeline is rich with exciting new projects,” said Scherba. “Stephanie has been integral to the DHX Media story for many years, and as we increase our focus on high-quality original content, her vision and expertise in development and production make her an ideal leader for our talented content team.”

Betts added, “I’m excited to continue finding new approaches to developing our evergreen brands for a contemporary kids and family audience, while expanding our slate of original content by collaborating with the creative community to develop ideas into the next big global franchises.”

As Executive Vice President, Content, Stephanie Betts applies her many years of experience in kids’ and family content, fostering, managing and expanding DHX Media’s animated content slate. Betts’ expertise lies in building strong, creatively-driven teams, and in developing series that kids around the world love. Drawing on more than 16 years’ experience developing and producing award-winning series, Betts has spearheaded numerous DHX Media shows, including new Peanuts content, Strawberry Shortcake, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Inspector Gadget, Teletubbies, Polly Pocket and Chip and Potato. Prior to joining DHX Media, Betts worked as a Producer and Development Executive at Breakthrough Films and Television, and previously at Atomic Cartoons.

A graduate of Ryerson University’s Film Studies program and the Canadian Film Centre, Todd Brian has spent years building strong industry relationships while working in various senior creative positions on both animation and live-action productions. A few of his notable past roles have included time spent at Corus Entertainment as a Production Executive/Corus Kids (YTV, Teletoon, Treehouse), where he oversaw a robust slate of projects in development and production; Development Executive/Kids & Family at Toronto-based marblemedia; Senior Writer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); and multiple credits as a writer/story editor ranging from preschool to tween/family co-view programming. Brian is thrilled to join the DHX Media team and share his passion for kids and family content.

Animation Magazine

Don’t Drink and Drive on the Fourth

THURSDAY, July 4, 2019 — The Fourth of July holiday is one of the most deadly times on America’s roads, so Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is urging everyone to avoid drinking and driving.

“Celebrating our nation’s independence with backyard barbecues, fireworks displays and other festivities should be fun, not dangerous,” said Bob Garguilo, executive director of MADD Connecticut.

“Celebrate safely by designating a non-drinking driver every time plans include alcohol,” Garguilo said in a MADD news release.

Police will be setting up sobriety checkpoints during the holiday. These checkpoints allow officers to stop vehicles to check to see if drivers have been drinking.

July has more drunk driving deaths than any other month, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the toll over the July 4 weekend is particularly high.

Drunk driving accounts for about 40% of all traffic deaths during July 4 and the weekends before and after.

From 6 p.m. Friday, June 30, 2017, to 5:59 a.m. Wednesday, July 5, 2017, 39% of all traffic deaths were alcohol-related, and drunk driving killed 237 people during that time period, according to the NHTSA.

Drunk driving is the leading cause of death on U.S. roads, yet is completely preventable, MADD notes.

The group urges Americans to take personal responsibility year-round, not just on holidays. If you drink, use taxis, public transportation, rideshare services, or get a ride with a non-drinking friend.

More information

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more on drunk driving.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Tinnitus May Drive Some to the Brink of Suicide

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Imagine a ringing in your ears so intense and unrelenting that you become desperate enough to try to kill yourself.

That is a reality for some — women in particular — who suffer from severe tinnitus, new research shows.

The survey of 72,000 Swedish adults found that 9% of women who suffered from severe tinnitus had attempted suicide, as had 5.5% of men.

After analyzing the data, European researchers found that the association between ringing ears and risk for attempted suicide was only significant for women.

“It is important to say that an increased risk of suicide attempts does not mean an increased risk in suicide events,” said lead researcher Christopher Cederroth, from the laboratory of experimental audiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Also, only an association and not a cause-and-effect link was observed.

Cederroth added that he isn’t aware of any completed suicides related to tinnitus.

“Our results reflect more the sex-specific psychological impact of tinnitus rather than a risk of committing suicide,” he said.

On the plus side, Cederroth said that the risk for suicide isn’t significant for people who have had their tinnitus treated.

“Medical attention by a specialist may help decrease tinnitus-related distress,” he said. “Even though there are currently no treatments to get rid of tinnitus, seeing a specialist may help decrease the distress and diminish the risk of suicide attempts.”

Dr. Darius Kohan, director of otology/neurotology at Lenox Hill Hospital and the Manhattan Eye Ear and Throat Hospital in New York City, reviewed the study. He said that although the cause of most tinnitus isn’t known, ways to help people cope with the condition are available.

“Tinnitus can be very severe and debilitating,” Kohan said, noting that it’s a very common condition, affecting about 20% of the population. He isn’t sure why the association between tinnitus and suicide risk appears more serious in women than men. Perhaps it’s just the way the study was done, he said.

“It’s old age and degeneration of the blood supply to the inner ear, plus hearing loss as the nerve cells die off,” said Kohan. In addition, stress, caffeine and aspirin can cause tinnitus, he said.

Continued

Treatment usually involves helping people cope with the condition, Kohan said. Treatments can include cutting out caffeine and aspirin and also taking supplements such as ginkgo biloba or B vitamins.

In addition, patients can use various devices to provide a background sound to mask the ringing in their ears. These can include white noise generators, an air conditioner, or even the TV, Kohan said. This can be especially effective at night when tinnitus can be at its worst.

Other treatments that may work are acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy, Kohan said. Patients can be taught to ignore the sound. Some patients may also need antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, he added.

Richard Tyler, an audiologist and professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Iowa, said that most insurance doesn’t cover treatment for tinnitus.

“It certainly is true that many tinnitus sufferers have severe problems with thoughts and emotions, hearing, sleep and concentration,” Tyler said. “Unfortunately, there is no reimbursement to the hearing health care field for counseling and sound therapy. This is a major obstacle.”

The report was published online May 2 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Christopher Cederroth, Ph.D., laboratory of experimental audiology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; Darius Kohan, M.D., director, otology/neurotology, Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye Ear and Throat Hospital, New York City; Richard Tyler, Ph.D., audiologist and professor, department of communication sciences and disorders, University of Iowa, Iowa City; May 2, 2019,JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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White House Plan to Disclose Drug Prices May Not Drive Down Costs: Study