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Are You Lonely? Your Tweets Offer Important Clues, Experts Say

MONDAY, Nov. 4, 2019 — Analyzing people’s tweets could reveal if they’re lonely, researchers say.

Loneliness — which has been linked with depression, heart disease, dementia and other health problems — affects about 1 in 5 adults in the United States.

Researchers analyzed public accounts of Twitter users in Pennsylvania and identified more than 6,200 who used words like “lonely” or “alone” more than five times from 2012 to 2016.

The lonely users tweeted nearly twice as much as others and were more likely to do so at night.

Lonely users’ language showed more anger, depression and anxiety than that of other users, according to the team from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

They also reported that lonely users often tweeted about relationship problems, substance use and difficulty controlling their emotions.

The study was published Nov. 4 in the journal BMJ Open.

“Loneliness can be a slow killer, as some of the medical problems associated with it can take decades to manifest,” said lead author Sharath Chandra Guntuku, a research scientist at Penn’s Center for Digital Health.

“If we are able to identify lonely individuals and intervene before the health conditions associated with the themes we found begin to unfold, we have a change to help those much earlier in their lives,” he added in a university news release. “This could be very powerful and have long-lasting effects on public health.”

Study co-author Rachelle Schneider, a research coordinator at the center, said social media could be a valuable tool.

“Social media has the potential to allow researchers and clinicians to passively measure loneliness over time,” she said in the news release. “Through validating our data, we can develop a reliable and accurate tool to do this monitoring.”

Once lonely people are identified, they can be helped in several ways, according to study senior author Dr. Raina Merchant, director of the Center for Digital Health.

“It’s clear that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model,” she said in the news release. “Some interventions include buddy systems, peer-to-peer networks, therapy, and skill development for navigating day-to-day interactions with others.”

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on loneliness.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Childhood TB Shot May Offer Long-Term Protection from Lung Cancer

TUESDAY, Oct. 1, 2019 — A tuberculosis vaccine commonly used in other parts of the world might reduce a person’s risk of developing lung cancer if given early in childhood, a six-decade-long study reports.

The Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine is the only vaccine approved for preventing tuberculosis (TB) — a potentially fatal infectious disease that typically attacks the lungs. Because TB risk is low in the United States, the vaccine isn’t often given to American children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the new study suggests the vaccine may have some positive side effects.

“BCG-vaccinated participants had a significant 2.5-fold lower rate of lung cancer,” said study senior author Dr. Naomi Aronson, director of infectious diseases at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md.

She said lower lung cancer rates persisted in those who received the vaccine no matter where they lived, and whether they smoked, drank alcohol or had tuberculosis.

Aronson said BCG affects the immune system somehow and may provide even more benefit in the lungs.

The initial study was conducted in 3,000 American Indian and Alaska Native children in the 1930s. If the findings are confirmed in different groups, Aronson said the use of BCG vaccine in childhood “might be considered for risk reduction for lung cancer over a lifetime.”

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, interim chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, reviewed the study and called the findings fascinating. “And you rarely see this duration of follow-up,” he added. “The authors went to great lengths to validate their information.”

But, he said, it’s unlikely that BCG will be used for lung cancer prevention. While the study found a statistically significant reduction in the rate of lung cancer, the actual number of cases was very low. Just 42 people in the study were diagnosed with lung cancer.

There’s also a serious, ongoing shortage of BCG vaccine that would limit any such efforts, Lichtenfeld said. The vaccine is an effective treatment for a certain type of bladder cancer, and doctors find it hard to get enough for that purpose.

In addition, the BCG vaccine has been tested as a treatment in a number of other cancers with mixed results. In some cases, it looked as if lesions had shrunk, but the vaccine didn’t prolong survival, he explained.

Plus, Lichtenfeld said, there’s a very effective way to prevent many cases of lung cancer — don’t smoke. And, if you do, quit. “Tobacco causes most, but not all lung cancers. Not smoking helps prevent many cancers,” he said.

The initial study was conducted between 1935 and 1938. About 3,000 children from nine American Indian and Alaska Native tribes at multiple U.S. sites were randomly given the BCG vaccine or a placebo.

None of the youngsters had had tuberculosis. They were vaccinated between 5 and 11 years of age, with a median age of 8 years. Half were younger when they got the shot, half were older.

From 1992 to 1998, researchers reviewed health information from the trial participants.

There was no statistically significant differences in overall cancer rates between the vaccine and placebo groups. But the odds of lung cancer were significantly lower, the study found.

Researchers noted that lung cancer is a leading cause of death for Alaska Natives and Native Americans.

The study was published Sept. 25 in the journal JAMA Open.

More information

Read more about ways to prevent lung cancer from the American Cancer Society.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Walgreens Set to Offer CBD Products in 1,500 Stores

Walgreens is set to sell CBD patches, sprays, creams and other products in at least 1,500 of its store locations in select states. The company revealed this information to CNBC recently.

The well-known drugstore chain will carry cannabis-based products in Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. The company has declined to comment on which brand of CBD products it will sell.

Breaking News:  Walgreens Jumps into the CBD Business

In an interview to CNBC, the spokesperson of Walgreens, Brian Faith revealed that the CBD products carried by Walgreens will reflect their efforts to provide a wide range of accessible health and wellbeing products and various services in order to meet the demands and preferences of their current customers.

Walgreens is following in the footsteps of its rival CVS, a drugstore chain that recently started selling CBD infused products including creams, salves, and more in at least eight states under 800 locations in early March after partnering up with marijuana based company Curaleaf.

Since then, many retailers have started carefully evaluating the market after CBD, which is a non-psychoactive cannabis compound, became one of the most sought out ingredients in consumer products.

Customers are increasingly becoming curious about CBD which has shown proof to help with problems like chronic pain, anxiety, anti-aging, and more. Even though there is still a lot of evidence missing to back up the claims, it is still something everyone wants to try out these days.

The Farm Bill the Congress passed last year has allowed many manufacturers to extract CBD from the hemp plant and use it as an ingredient in health and wellness products. But the FDA has clearly said that CBD can’t be added to food or sold as a dietary supplement, so manufacturers are now adding it in topicals, creams, salves, oils, vape juices, and other products.

The regulatory authority’s comment about CBD has left many companies confused and the only safe way to market and sell it is through infusing it with beauty and skin care products. This is not only less risky for companies but is the obvious first step for them to make the ingredient come under mass appeal.

With big-name retailers jumping in on the CBD bandwagon, it is only a matter of time when these products will become so common that they will be available nearly everywhere in the United States.

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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.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times

Kaiser Permanente Med School to Offer Free Tuition

Feb. 20, 2019 — Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, in Pasadena, CA, will waive tuition for all 4 years for the school’s first five classes of students, the school announced Tuesday.

The private, nonprofit medical school, which is not affiliated with any university, has received initial accreditation and will begin accepting applications from prospective students in June 2019 for admission to the school’s first class in the summer of 2020.

The inaugural class will have 48 students.

Kaiser Permanente is not the first medical school to offer free tuition.

In July 2018, the University of Houston announced that all 30 medical students in the first class of the university’s new College of Medicine will receive free tuition when the school opens in the fall of 2020.

In August, New York University (NYU) School of Medicine announced that it, too, would offer free tuition to all current and future students regardless of need or merit. NYU officials said they hoped to attract a more diverse group of students who will no longer have to fear that medical school is out of reach because of high tuition and resulting debt.

Debt is perhaps one of the biggest barriers to entering medical school. The Medscape Residents Salary and Debt Report for 2018 found that more than a quarter of medical residents report having between $ 200,000 and $ 300,000 in medical school debt. The Association of American Medical Colleges found that of all American doctors who graduated in 2017, 75% owed money.

Medscape Medical News

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

‘); } else { // If we match both our test Topic Ids and Buisness Ref we want to place the ad in the middle of page 1 if($ .inArray(window.s_topic, moveAdTopicIds) > -1 && $ .inArray(window.s_business_reference, moveAdBuisRef) > -1){ // The logic below reads count all nodes in page 1. Exclude the footer,ol,ul and table elements. Use the varible // moveAdAfter to know which node to place the Ad container after. window.placeAd = function(pn) { var nodeTags = [‘p’, ‘h3′,’aside’, ‘ul’], nodes, target; nodes = $ (‘.article-page:nth-child(‘ + pn + ‘)’).find(nodeTags.join()).not(‘p:empty’).not(‘footer *’).not(‘ol *, ul *, table *’); //target = nodes.eq(Math.floor(nodes.length / 2)); target = nodes.eq(moveAdAfter); $ (”).insertAfter(target); } // Currently passing in 1 to move the Ad in to page 1 window.placeAd(1); } else { // This is the default location on the bottom of page 1 $ (‘.article-page:nth-child(1)’).append(”); } } })(); $ (function(){ // Create a new conatiner where we will make our lazy load Ad call if the reach the footer section of the article $ (‘.main-container-3’).prepend(”); });
WebMD Health

Adult Swim, Crunchyroll to Offer New ‘Blade Runner’ Toon

The Replicants are back in town. Alcon TV Group is partnering with Adult Sim and Crunchyroll to produce and distribute a new anime series inspired by Oscar-winning movie Blade Runner 2049. The new animated series is titled Blade Runner — Black Lotus and features thirteen 30-minute episodes. It will be produced by animation studio Sola Digital Arts (Ultraman). Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed) and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) will direct all episodes of the premiere season, which will follow their current directorial work on the upcoming Ghost in the Shell series reboot.  Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) is a creative producer.

The series storyline is under wraps, but producers have confirmed the story will take place in 2032 and will include some familiar characters from the beloved Blade Runner universe, based on the story by Philip K. Dick.

Adult Swim will have the worldwide rights (excluding Asia) to distribute the English dubbed versions of the series and will air the English dubbed episodes on the network’s popular anime programming block Toonami.  Crunchyroll will handle worldwide streaming for its community of more than 45 million registered users and 2 million subscribers.

“I first saw Blade Runner in 1982, at age 11. It has remained one of the defining films of my life,” sys Jason DeMarco, senior VP and creative director of Adult Swim on-air. “To be able to explore more of this universe, with the incredible talent we have on board, is a dream come true.”

Alcon’s Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Laura Lancaster, Al-Francis Cuenca, and Sola Digital Art’s Joseph Chou will executive produce the project.  Alcon exec Ben Roberts will serve as co-executive producer. Production IG’s Mitsuhisa Ishikawa is participating as production advisor.

Animation Magazine

Southern Illinois U. Planning to Offer Courses in Cannabis

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois University is creating new programs for students who want to know more about cannabis. The school announced in late October 2018 that it’s creating programs at the Carbondale campus to study medical marijuana and industrial hemp. Officials hope the programs will give students and farmers a chance to earn […]
Marijuana

Warner to Offer Definitive ‘Matrix’ Trilogy 4K Blu-Ray in Oct.

Here’s some early Halloween news delivered to you in the middle of summer. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced today that The Matrix Trilogy, featuring 1999’s acclaimed sci-fi action classic The Matrix along with the sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (both 2003) will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital HD on October 30th, 2018.

Written and directed by the Wachowskis (The Matrix TrilogyCloud AtlasJupiter Ascending, Sense8) and starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, The Matrix Trilogy is widely considered to be one of the most influential film franchises in recent history and offers some of the best vfx sequences of the period. The Matrix was released on 4K UHD in May 2018.

The Matrix Trilogy 4K UHD release, along with the 4K UHD releases of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, are from a new scan of the original camera negative and is the first remaster of the films in nearly 15 years.  The 4K UHD remasters were supervised by director of photography Bill Pope (The Matrix Trilogy, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Baby Driver). 4K Ultra HD** showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, and more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs of The Matrix TrilogyThe Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions will feature Dolby Vision HDR that dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen, frame by frame. All discs also include 5.1 audio.

The Matrix Trilogy will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack for $ 70.99 SRP and features Ultra HD Blu-ray discs with the feature films in 4K with HDR and remastered Blu-ray discs of The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix RevolutionsThe Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack for $ 29.99 SRP each and feature an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature films in 4K with HDR and remastered Blu-ray disc of the films. Fans can also own The Matrix Trilogy, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on October 30.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray include written intro by the Wachowskis, commentaries by Cornel West and Ken Wilbur, critics commentaries by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thompson, cast and crew commentary, teasers, trailers and TV spots, music videos and much more.

The Matrix Trilogy

The Matrix Trilogy

Animation Magazine

‘Big City Greens’ to Offer Two Special Episodes

Big City Greens

Big City Greens

Disney Channel’s hot new series Big City Greens has a couple of exciting new episodes debuting in the next couple of weeks. On Monday (July 2), at 10 a.m. (PT), fans can enjoy a special backstory episode titled “Welcome Home.” The episode explores how Cricket Green and his family moved from the country to the Big City to live with Gramma.

Then, on Monday July 9 at 10 a.m. (PT) the show welcomes guest stars Jim Rash (Community) as a wise fish and Grammy-nominated performer Busta Rhymes as a waiter. In the episode, Bill feels that he has to prove to a waiter that he is a sophisticated local, while Cricket and Tilly hope to rescue a live octopus.

You can read Animag’s behind-the-scenes look at the the making of this fun show here.

Big City Greens

Big City Greens

Big City Greens

Big City Greens

Big City Greens

Big City Greens

Animation Magazine

Disney Family Museum to Offer ‘Nine Old Men’ Exhibit

Nine Old Men

Nine Old Men

Fans of classic Disney art have one more reason to travel to San Francisco’s Walt Disney Family Museum in May. The org is offering the much-anticipated show Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: Masters of Animation beginning May 17 through January 7, 2019. The special exhibit is guest curated by iconic Oscar-nominated producer Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King) and will showcase the works of Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Frank Thomas.

Masters of Animation will feature beloved artwork and family mementoes from each of the Nine Old Men, including sketchbooks, caricatures, and snapshots, as well as original art from the classic films Pinocchio (1940), Bambi (1942), Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955), and Sleeping Beauty (1959).

Personal art, paintings, sculptures, flip-books, and hundreds of original animation drawings will all be on display, alongside documentary interviews with these masters of animation as well as rarely seen pencil tests and final color scenes that showcase their genius. In conducting his extensive research on the Nine Old Men, Hahn sat down with each of the animators’ families for in-depth discussions, unearthing details about the unique backgrounds and personalities of the men behind iconic Disney characters and films.

“This exhibition presented a rare chance to work with the families of the Nine Old Men, who opened their homes and collections to us,” said Hahn. “This gives us a chance to show a spectacular collection of personal artifacts and ephemera—items never seen by the public—that help tell each animator’s individual story and reveal how they collectively elevated character animation to an art form.”

With hundreds of objects on display, most of which have been generously loaned to the museum by the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, by Disney Legend and animator Andreas Deja, or are from the museum’s own extensive collection of artwork, visitors will have the opportunity to view rarely exhibited and never-before-seen artworks.

The work of the Nine Old Men helped nurture a new generation of animators and filmmakers, including Don Hahn and Andreas Deja, and others such as Brad Bird, Tim Burton, Brenda Chapman, Ron Clements, Glen Keane, John Lasseter, John Musker, and Floyd Norman.

General admission ticket are $ 25 (adults), $ 20 (seniors & students), $ 15 youth (ages 6 to 17). For more info, visit waltdisney.org.

Nine Old Men

Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men

Pinocchio

Pinocchio

Pinocchio

Pinocchio

The Band Concert

The Band Concert

Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Animation Magazine

Rhode Island Governor Not Inclined to Take Offer From Dispensary

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo says she’s not inclined to accept an offer from the state’s largest medical marijuana dispensary to help plug a $ 5 million budget hole. The Democratic governor’s budget proposal includes a plan to hike the number of dispensary licenses from three to 15, which would create $ 5 […]
Marijuana

McDonald’s to Offer Burgers Made With Fresh Beef

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 — Quarter Pounders made with fresh beef will be offered at about 3,500 McDonald’s restaurants across the United States, the company says.

The products will first be available in Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City and five other cities, and then in most McDonald’s nationwide by May, the Associated Press reported.

The company has relied on frozen beef patties since the 1970s.

The move to fresh beef is among a number of changes made by McDonald’s in response to a growing number of people wanting to avoid processed foods, the AP reported.

WebMD News from HealthDay

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WebMD Health

San Francisco, San Diego Offer Thousands of Marijuana Convicts a Clean Slate

As the marijuana industry goes through its growing pains across the country, many have questioned whether lawmakers will make things right with the people affected most by decades of cannabis prohibition: those who were handed criminal charges for what is now legal in many places. Two California cities have made steps to address that: San […]
Marijuana

Vme Kids to Offer Big Bad Boo’s ’1001 Nights’

1001 Nights

1001 Nights

Big Bad Boo Studios’ popular animated show 1001 Nights, will debut on U.S. Spanish-language network Vme Kids this December. The animated tales, featuring Shahrzad as the determined storyteller, have seen success around the world, currently airing in over 120 countries, in 15 languages, from Brazil and Canada, to Jamaica, India, Spain, Austria and Africa. Broadcasters include Cartoon Network, CBC, Disney Channel, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, and over 25 PBS channels in the United States.

Based on the original tales, 1001 Nights targets viewers 6-9 year olds, and has won many awards including the Kids First Choice Award, 4 Leos (13 noms) and a Platinum Pixie Award. The series features an educational curriculum companion series of books that reaches over half a million children in developing countries through schools and refugee camps through partners such as UNICEF. Big Bad Boo is in process of starting production on Season 3. The brand also has associated comic books and licensing and merchandising deals in several territories.

“We are beyond excited to have 1001 Nights airing on a Spanish-language network in the United States, reaching brand new audiences,’ says Shabnam Rezaei, president and co-founder of Big Bad Boo. “Hispanic-American kids and their families will be able to enjoy these classic tales, on Vme Kids which is a premium channel.”

Vme Kids will begin airing the program December 1, at 9:15 a.m. at 8 p.m. EST.

1001 Nights

1001 Nights

Animation Magazine

Botox May Offer New Hope for Young Migraine Sufferers

FRIDAY, Oct. 27, 2017 — Botox injections may help bring relief to children suffering from migraines, a small study suggests.

Botox (botulinum toxin) appears to reduce the frequency of migraines and shorten the length of episodes when they do occur, while also diminishing migraine pain.

At the moment, Botox is only approved as an adult migraine treatment. And the new findings are based on testing among just nine children, aged 8 to 17.

But the results raise hope that a new alternative therapy for pediatric migraines is on the horizon, given that only a single preventive migraine medication — topiramate — is currently approved for the treatment of adolescent patients.

“When children and teens have migraine pain, it can severely affect their lives and ability to function,” said study author Dr. Shalini Shah, chief of the division of pain medicine at the University of California, Irvine,

“They miss school, their grades suffer and they are left behind, often unable to reach their full potential,” she added explained in an American Society of Anesthesiologists’ news release. “Clearly, there is a need for an alternative treatment for those who haven’t found relief.

Shah said that after treatment with Botox, “we saw improvement in functional aspects in all of the children and teens. In fact, one patient was hospitalized monthly for her migraine pain prior to Botox treatment and was expected to be held back in school. After treatment, she only has one or two migraines a year, and is excelling in college.”

The study team said that prior to Botox injections, the participating patients experienced migraines between roughly eight and 30 times per month.

The kids and teens were given Botox shots to the front and back of the head and the neck every 12 weeks for five years. Once treated, the study volunteers had migraines between two and 10 times a month.

Migraine duration also fell from between a half hour and a full day, to 15 minutes to seven hours. Reported pain also fell significantly, the researchers said.

Though no severe side effects were reported, another study is already being launched.

Shah presented the findings this week at a meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Boston. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary if they haven’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

There’s more on migraines U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

©2017 HealthDay.

All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2017

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

New Tests Could Offer Early Alzheimer’s Warning

The hunt is on for new and earlier ways to detect Alzheimer’s.

Scientists are looking for clues in your eyes, your speech — even the way you smell as they try to uncover possible ways to identify early warning signs of the disease, the most common form of dementia.

There is no cure for this debilitating and life-altering disease, which erodes a person’s memory, thinking and behavior.

But scientists believe if they can figure out how to identify it sooner, they may be able to use medications, lifestyle changes, or other strategies to fight it before it has caused irreversible brain damage.

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and the Alzheimer’s Association says that number could be as high as 16 million by 2050. That means every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops the disease.

There’s no one test to diagnose Alzheimer’s. But changes in the brain related to the disease can begin years before any signs of it, and there is now a focus on looking for those early warning signs.

Be Aware of Warning Signs

Doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles have developed the first eye test for Alzheimer’s.

Sense of Direction

A study published in August 2017 says losing the ability to navigate could be another early sign of Alzheimer’s.

In the study, researchers showed patients a route and asked them to reproduce it while remembering turns and places.

“These assessments have included real-world navigation tasks out on the street or in hospital corridors and also using virtual environments — computer mock-ups of real world environments,” says Scott Moffat, PhD, who co-authored the paper. He is an associate professor in the school of psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

From Smelling … to Speech

Testing the sense of smell by identifying and naming odors might also give an early warning sign of progressing to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal tested older people thought to be more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease either because a parent or several siblings had been diagnosed with it.

Using a scratch-and-sniff booklet, they associated odor identification to Alzheimer’s disease-related proteins in brain and spinal fluid. The research found that a lessened ability to identify odors was associated with lower thinking and memory skills, older age, and brain shrinkage.

Researcher Marie-Elyse Lafaille-Magnan, a doctoral candidate involved in the study, says odor identification is helpful to study because it involves many parts of the brain.

The Alzheimer’s Association cites promise in other studies identifying possible precursors to Alzheimer’s disease, including:

  • Hearing loss could show that thinking abilities are worsening in older adults, including processing new information, thinking flexibly, and brain, eye, and hand coordination while processing information.
  • Another study showed that changes in everyday speech — including the use of short sentences, more pronouns, and pauses like “um” and “ah” –were connected to early mild impairment in thinking skills, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • And another study found that older adults have a high risk for memory and thinking problems after being hospitalized in emergency or urgent admissions, but not for elective or scheduled surgeries.

Value in Early Diagnosis

There isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, so what is the value of knowing you might get the disease — years before you actually do?

For researchers, it’s about prevention.

“The better we understand the sequence of how things change over time and can identify biomarkers that are early markers of brain changes, the better we can take advantage of them in prevention trials,” Lafaille-Magnan explains.

The Alzheimer’s Association says early detection allows people a better chance of benefiting from treatment, more time to plan for the future, more chances to take part in clinical drug trials, and a chance to decide about care, living options, and financial and legal matters.

Black says Alzheimer’s disease develops about 20 years before you lose memory and have thinking and behavior problems. So by the time you show symptoms, you have already lost brain cells and brain connections.

“If you could intervene with a drug earlier, before you have lost those brain cells, you may actually be able to have a better therapeutic outcome,” he says.

But Jeffrey Sherman, MD, a family practice doctor in Washington, D.C., says in the real world, testing for early signs of Alzheimer’s could be complicated.

“It’s complex,” he says. “Would the knowledge of having an increased risk change what they want to accomplish in the next 5 years of their life? It’s not guaranteeing that they will develop it, but if they do, would they change their family situation or how they set up their finances or their general plans in some other way? If so, then we could look at it.”

Sherman says he likes to talk with patients about ways to make the most of their mental capacities. Stressing there are no guarantees, he says he talks about advantages of exercising and keeping minds active with crossword puzzles, sudoku games, playing bridge, or working.

Researchers in the study about navigational abilities recommend that people don’t always rely on GPS systems to get them where they need to go, but instead use their own navigation ability to exercise that part of their brain.

Black agrees that lifestyle habits can play an important role in the progression of the disease.

“If a patient knows they are on the road to develop Alzheimer’s, we know modifying diet to a Mediterranean diet, exercising, moderating stress, getting 8 hours sleep a night — all of these things are now showing in more and more scientific studies that they may play a very important role in slowing progression to the symptomatic phase of the disease,” he says.

Micronutrients like curcumin, omega-3s, and flavonoids could also help, he says.

If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia research studies in your area that are recruiting volunteers, visit www.alz.org/research/clinical_trials/find_clinical_trials_trialmatch.asp

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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