Sunday, February 11, 2018

Study: 'Some Evidence' Cellphones Cause Tumors

Scientists with the National Toxicology Program say there is some evidence that the radiation from cellphones can increase the chance of having a rare type of nerve tumor, at least in male rats.

What this means for people is still up for debate.

As cellphone use climbs, questions about the safety of these common devices have lingered. About 80% of Americans over the age of 13 have a smartphone, and adults spend an average of nearly 3 hours a day using one, according to a 2017 report from comScore, a data review company.

The tumors that showed up in the rats are called schwannomas. They grew in the hearts of male rats, but not female rats, perhaps because the males’ larger bodies absorbed more radiation than the females, said lead researcher John Bucher, PhD. He is a senior scientist with the National Toxicology Program.

Even though the tumors were in the rats’ hearts, the scientists said the finding was intriguing because previous studies have noted a higher chance of having schwannomas in the inner ears of heavy cellphone users.

In humans, schwannomas are incredibly rare and usually benign.

They were rare in the rats, too. Only 6% of the animals in the most highly exposed group got them.

The studies also found other biological effects. Pups born to exposed rats weighed less than those born to unexposed animals, for example; and they saw evidence of DNA damage in some tissues in some animals, though Bucher said he and his team didn’t fully understand the significance of those results.

In a surprise finding, radiation exposure appeared to have some positive effects. Male rats that were exposed lived longer than those that weren't. Researchers think that may be because the radiation prevented a kidney disease that’s common in these kinds of rats.

Testing Cellphone Radiation

 The findings come from a 10-year, $25 million investigation by the National Toxicology Program.

Researchers used a format common in toxicology studies, where they expose living things to more and more amounts of an agent to try to find out two things:

o    Whether it has any biological effects
o    If it does, at what dose it creates those effects

It’s well-known that ionizing radiation -- the kind produced by X-rays and atomic bombs -- can cause harm.

But scientists haven’t understood whether much weaker non-ionizing radiation -- the kind given off by cellphones and microwaves -- could cause any damage.

Even the largest and best studies in humans have had important limits that made it difficult to know for sure.

For the study, more than 3,000 male and female rats and mice were housed in specially designed chambers where they could be blasted with the same kinds of radiation that are emitted by mobile phones.

The animals were exposed to the radiation before birth and for as long as 2 years afterward. A 2-year-old rat is about the same biological age as a 70-year-old human.

Bucher called the studies “some of the most comprehensive and technically challenging” that the agency has ever tried.

The researchers tested the same kinds of radiofrequency waves used in 2G and 3G wireless networks. In 4G networks, these are the same kinds of waves used to make voice calls and send texts.

The doses they tested were higher than the amount people are exposed to during a typical phone call.

Researchers said they tested these extreme doses to try to find out if the radiation could cause any biological effects.

They chose the highest doses of radiation they could expose the animals to without dangerously increasing their body temperatures.

Study Takeaways

In the end, Bucher said that they did see some biological effects from the radiation, but they still don’t really understand the importance of everything they found.

The studies will be reviewed by scientific experts in March.

Federal agencies like the FDA will then meet to talk about the studies and what they might mean for people.

Bucher told reporters he hasn’t changed his cellphone habits based on the study findings, nor has he tried to change his children’s cellphone habits.

“I think everybody would classify radiofrequency radiation as a weak carcinogen, if in fact, it is a carcinogen,” he said.

The FDA also weighed in, saying the findings gave it further confidence that cellphones were safe to use.

“Even with frequent daily use by the vast majority of adults, we have not seen an increase in events like brain tumors. Based on this current information, we believe the current safety limits for cellphones are acceptable for protecting the public health,” said Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Still, other experts say these new findings, taken together with previous research, point to a need for caution.

“There have been a number of studies that have consistently shown damage to DNA from cellphone radiation,” says Devra Davis, PhD. “Animal testing is done to predict effects in humans.”

Davis is a toxicologist who once reviewed studies for the National Toxicology Program. She now runs the nonprofit Environmental Health Trust in Teton County, WY, which works to educate people about the risks of using cellphones.

She says the fact that the radiation from cellphones can change DNA means that they should be handled with care.

“Distance is your friend with cellphones. Even a short distance away gives you substantially less exposure,” she says. Using the phone with a headset or on speaker is safer, she says.

Davis tells people if they’re going to carry their cellphone next to their body, put it in airplane mode, which drops the radiation.

Parents need to be especially cautious letting kids play with their phone. Kids’ growing tissues are more vulnerable to damage.

“We have to stop thinking of these things as toys and playthings for kids,” she says. “These are bad ideas.”

Lastly, she says the most dangerous time to use a phone is when the signal is weak. Phones are smart, so they’ll boost their energy output to try to connect to a base tower.

“Only use it for a true emergency when the signal is weak,” she says.

Source: Web MD

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Why Can’t I Remember Anything?

Faulty memory happens to us all. You can't find your car keys -- again. You meet someone at a party, and 5 minutes later you forget her name. You leave the grocery store and have no idea where your car is parked.

Relax. No one has a perfect memory, and it's OK to have some lapses, even if you're still young.

What’s Normal?

Things you learned only recently -- like a name at a party -- are the hardest to remember, because they haven’t yet taken root in your mind.

Also, your brain has only so much storage space. It needs to make room for new, useful items. And to do that, it has to get rid of less important details, as well as those that you don't call on often.

It’s also common to forget where you put something or an appointment that was on your schedule. Most of the time that happens because you weren’t paying close attention in the first place. Maybe you were focused on not spilling your glass of wine instead of learning that new person’s name, or you might have been thinking about your grocery list instead of where you left your car. You also tend to forget things when you're tired, sick, or stressed out.

Quick Tricks

There are things you can do to improve your recall day to day. You may have to organize (or reorganize) your life a little:

o    Get organized. Stash the items you misplace often in the same spot, and they'll be less likely to go missing in the future. Install a key hook and cell phone charging station so they have dedicated places.

o    Write it down. When it comes to keeping track of your schedule, phone numbers, and birthdays, put pen to paper. Even if you don't look at your notes, the act of writing them down can help you recall things.

o    Consult your calendar. Get a date book or wall calendar and write meetings, appointments, family outings -- and everything else -- in it. Look at your next day’s schedule before you go to bed to help keep events fresh in your mind.

o    Play word games. Create an online password you’ll never forget by using an acronym. Come up with an easy-to-recall sentence or phrase. For example, you could use the year your favorite sports team won big: SSSBC14 could stand for Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Champions in 2014. It means something to you, so you’ll remember it, but isn’t easy for a hacker to figure out. If the password was assigned, make up a sentence that fits it.

o    Repeat, repeat, repeat. From a name of someone you just met to an address you need to get to, saying something again can help it stick with you.

o    Work at it. Do something to challenge your brain -- learn a new language, discuss books with your friends, or curl up with a crossword puzzle.

o    Get social. People who volunteer, or just keep up with friends and family, are more likely to stay alert.

Lifestyle and Memory

Lifestyle affects memory. For example, your diet plays a role. If your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar are too high, the blood vessels in and around your brain can get clogged or damaged. A Harvard study showed that people who eat more saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) do worse on memory tests than those who eat less. If you're trying to make better food choices, consider the Mediterranean diet. This way of eating -- which features omega-3-rich fish, heart-healthy olive oil, and plenty of fresh produce -- has been linked with protecting thinking and memory.

Guess what else is just as good for your memory as for the rest of your body? Regular exercise. It promotes blood flow to the brain. You should be getting 30 minutes each day. And you need regular sleep, which helps your brain file memories so you can access them later on.

If you smoke, stop. It damages blood vessels. If you’re a heavy drinker, lighten your intake. Research shows heavy drinking will mess with your memory. Moderate drinking (no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 for men), though, might actually protect it.

Memory and Aging

Memory slips do seem to get worse through the years. You slowly start losing brain cells beginning in your 20s, and certain chemicals that these cells need also decline. It makes sense that your memory is sharper at 25 than at 55 or 75.

Major memory changes don't always signal Alzheimer's disease. They can be caused by strokes, head injuries, lack of vitamins in your diet, or sleep trouble. They might even be a side effect of one of the drugs you’re taking. When in doubt, see a doctor to sort it out.

There are red flags that might reveal a more serious problem. If your slipups happen often (you forget where you parked every day) or get in the way of daily life (you can’t balance a checkbook or you don't remember where you live), see a doctor. Get checked out if your family or friends tell you that you weren’t sure who someone was -- and it was a person you know well, such as a close friend or relative.

And if you live with someone whose personality has changed or seems confused -- he's not sure where he is or what year it is -- get him to a doctor.

Source: WebMD

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Are There Health Downsides To Vegetarian Diets

Are There Health Downsides To Vegetarian Diets?

It's becoming more popular to eat meat-free at least part of the time.

While more than 3% of Americans are full-time vegetarians, a recent poll by the Vegetarian Resource Group found that 37% of respondents say they always or sometimes eat vegetarian meals when dining out. The top reason? Health.

Although vegetarian eating does have a stellar health reputation, recent news has focused on what could be bad about vegetarian diets and more stringent vegan plans, including reports of hair loss and depression.

So, are there downsides to these supposedly healthy eating patterns?

"For generally healthy people, I don't see any reason that eating a vegetarian diet is risky to health," says Qi Sun, MD, assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

However, Sun’s recent research and that of others strongly suggest that the quality of plant-based food matters when it comes to health benefits. As in: vegetables, yes; french fries, no.

A vegetarian diet excludes meat, fish, and poultry always, according to the definition used by the Vegetarian Resource Group. A vegan plan also doesn't allow dairy products such as milk, eggs, cheese, as well as animal-based products like gelatin, and followers do not use other animal products including honey, wool, silk, and leather.

There are potential pitfalls to meatless eating, Sun says, but nutrition education and using supplements when needed can help people overcome them.

A Closer Look at Hair Loss

So can giving up meat lead to hair loss? A recent report found that severe lack of protein, among other diet shortcomings, can lead to it. That’s because meat contains iron, vitamin B, and zinc, which are all important for hair growth.

While iron is found in foods like dried beans and dark green, leafy vegetables, it’s harder to absorb iron from a pure vegetarian diet, Sun says. However, it is easy to take supplements, he says. Vegetarians and vegans must take special care to get enough iron. Supplements should be needed only if they don’t.

Zinc is found in grains, legumes, and nuts. B12 is in dairy products, eggs, and fortified soy milk and cereals.

Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, gives nutritional advice to people on a variety of eating plans

She tells vegetarians and vegans that protein deficiency can be a hazard, especially for vegans.

But in real life, "I have not had anyone complain about hair loss on a vegetarian diet," Weinandy says. “It has to be a protein deficiency going on for a while [to lead to hair loss]."

Vegetarians and vegans can get enough protein by eating a varied diet with enough calories. For vegans, good protein sources include soy, quinoa, whole wheat bread, broccoli, peanut butter, beans, kale, lentils, and almonds. Vegetarians can eat eggs a few times a week, or Greek yogurt and can be fine, Weinandy says.

People who eat no meat should know about the risk of low iron, vitamin B, and zinc levels, and be on the alert for symptoms that may point to a lack of those, Sun says. "The typical zinc deficiency symptoms include loss of appetite, hair loss, diarrhea, eye and skin lesions, weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, and taste abnormalities," he says. But these symptoms may also point to other health issues, he says.
Iron deficiency can cause fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, a fast heart rate, or palpitations, he says.

A range of symptoms may point to low levels of the various forms of B vitamins. Fatigue and loss of balance, for instance, could mean a B12 deficiency, Sun says. If you are concerned you may be deficient, he says, ask your doctor about getting blood tests to check your levels.

Mood Problems?

Can vegetarian and vegan diets sour your mood? Research on this is mixed, with some research finding going meatless improves mood and other studies finding the opposite. In one study of 400 new mothers, 80 reported postpartum depression. A vegetarian diet was one thing that seemed to make it more likely to be depressed.

In another study, researchers compared vegetarians, vegans, and people who eat both plants and animals, and found the vegans had lower anxiety and stress levels than the meat eaters.

Other researchers looked at mental health problems in vegetarians and concluded they are more likely to have them, but on average, the mental problems were there before the people started eating a vegetarian diet. And they emphasize they found no cause-and-effect link.  

Benefits of a Meatless Lifestyle

Some health benefits of eating vegetarian or vegan are well-documented. Among the most solid perks:

Heart Health 

In one recent report, vegetarian and Mediterranean plans were linked with better heart health.

The quality of the plant-based foods matters, however, says Sun, citing recent research from Harvard. Researchers tracked about 200,000 men and women enrolled in several different studies for more than 2 decades.

They assigned positive scores to plant-based foods and negative ones to animal foods. They scored healthy plant-based foods such as whole grains higher than unhealthy plant foods, such as french fries.

People who ate healthier plant-based foods had a 25% lower chance of heart disease, while those who ate unhealthy plant foods had a 32% higher chance.

Avoiding Diabetes

Several studies have found that vegetarians are up to 2 times less likely to have type 2 diabetes than non-vegetarians.

In studies comparing vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets, those on the vegetarian plans had better blood sugar levels and more weight loss.

Sun and his colleagues found that a diet that emphasized plant foods and was low in animal foods was linked with about a 20% lower chance of getting diabetes.

However, when they looked more closely, they found that diets that emphasized healthy plant foods cut the chance of having diabetes by 34%, while diets with less healthy plant foods actually raised the risk of diabetes by 16%.

Healthy plant foods include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils, and tea and coffee. Less healthy: fruit juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains, pasta, potatoes, sweets, and desserts.

Caution: Don't Be a Junk Food Vegetarian

While people often view vegan or vegetarian diets as automatically healthy, that's not so, Sun says. He cautions people not to become junk food vegetarians.

"If you eat a vegan diet, but eat a lot of french fries, refined carbs like white bread, white rice," he says, that's not healthy. Besides avoiding those foods, he suggests ''emphasizing fruits and vegetables. Not fruit juice but whole food. And nuts."

A meatless plan isn't palatable to everyone, Ohio State’s Weinandy says. She encourages people to borrow the benefits of vegan and vegetarian eating, such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, to get some health benefits.

As research by Sun and others shows, eating more healthy plant foods, while not cutting out meat, still has benefits for heart health and for avoiding diabetes.

Source: WebMD

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

When Your Partner Has a Sleep Disorder

Does your mate toss and turn? Then you're probably not sleeping well, either.

Lost sleep can take a toll on how you feel during the day and also on your relationship. Those are good reasons to start taking action, so you both have restful nights.

What's Causing It?

The first step is to figure out why your partner isn't sleeping well. He may have already tried doing the most obvious things, such as:

o    Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, allowing for 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
o    Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, restful, and comfortable.
o    Limit alcohol and caffeine.
o    Take time to relax before going to bed.

If sleep problems still keep happening, it may be time to see a doctor.

Snoring, for instance, is common and often harmless. But it can be due to obstructive sleep apnea, which causes people to stop breathing briefly during sleep.

Likewise, insomnia often happens for simple reasons, like stress or jet lag. But it can also be a symptom of another medical condition, such as heart disease or depression.

Get a Good Night's Sleep

Simple lifestyle changes can make a difference with many sleep disorders, including insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea.

Exercise daily for at least 20 minutes. Try to finish up at least 4 to 5 hours before you go to bed. It leads to better sleep.

Eat dinner several hours before you and your partner go to bed.

Switch to decaf drinks and skip alcohol.

Don’t smoke. Nicotine is a stimulant.

Make your bedroom better. Save it for sleep and sex. You'll both sleep better if you keep your room cool and dark overnight.

Does Your Partner Snore?

You can help quiet the noise. Since many people snore the most when they lay on their backs, gently nudge your partner to roll onto his side and prop a pillow behind him.

Handy with a needle and thread? You could try another fix. Sew a small pocket of cloth onto the back of a pajama top or T-shirt. Put a small ping pong ball in the pocket, and sew it shut. Because the ball won't be comfortable, your partner will want to sleep on their side, which usually means less snoring.

Has a doctor prescribed a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine? Encourage your mate to use it. If the CPAP machine's noise keeps you up, consider moving the base unit somewhere else in the room. You can also use a white noise machine or wear earplugs.

Source: WebMD

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

5 Signs That You're Burned Out

5 Signs That You're Burned Out

Burnout has become one of the buzzwords for the 21st century. People from all walks of life are talking about burnout and its impact. Those who experience burnout report a loss of enthusiasm, feelings of pessimism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. These feelings can show up in a work or home environment, or both.

Research tells us that burnout negatively impacts both mental and physical health – and that the problem is widespread. A 2007 study from the American Psychological Association revealed that 75% of Americans suffer from stress-related symptoms, both physical and psychological, in any given month.

Does any of this ring a bell? If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from burnout, here are 5 signs to look for (complete with handy acronym):

o    Pain – Multiple recurring physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, muscle aches
o    Anger – Feeling angry and irritable
o    Indifferent – Loss of motivation, drive, and interest
o    Negative – Feeling pessimistic, cynical
o    Tired – Physical and emotional fatigue

If you’re not sure but concerned, take a moment and, using the PAINT acronym, think about your level of stress at home, work, school, and social settings.

If you believe you are burned out, you may want to seek professional help. See your family healthcare provider or a mental health specialist if any of the PAINT symptoms have been present for more than two weeks and if the symptoms have impaired your ability to function normally. No matter what, you should evaluate your level of self-care: how well are you taking care of yourself and your personal needs?

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel your self-care routine is lacking. Most of us leave plenty of room for improvement in this department. If you have no idea how to improve your self-care practices, start by focusing on these main areas: exercise, mindfulness, sleep, socialization, and nutrition.

Research has shown that healthy habits in these areas can have both physical and mental benefits.
To combat burnout, here are specific practices in each of the 5 key self-care areas:

o    Exercise – at least 30-minutes per day (it’s okay to break it down into smaller blocks of time)
o    Mindfulness – at least 10-minutes per day (consider using an app as there are many available)
o    Sleep – set and abide by a regular bedtime even on the weekends
o    Socialization – connect with family and/or friends daily
o    Nutrition – eliminate processed foods and keep a food diary

Be careful not to pick and choose from this list – do your best to implement all five of these wellness practices to improve your wellness and decrease your level of stress. Keep PAINT in mind when you feel stressed and put your wellness practices into action.

Source: WebMD

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

How to optimize your memory?

Every day, and throughout our lives, we ask for our memory: conversations, intellectual work, and preparation for exams ... Memory is the key to learning since it allows the recording, storage and retrieval of information.

But with the aging of the population, more and more people are prone to memory problems. This phenomenon affects more than 850 000 people with 200 000 new cases per year *. The causes are multiple: age, heredity, unbalanced diet, lack of cognitive stimulation...

The memory is a function to maintain daily to preserve and optimize its performance. There are some tricks to increase memory capacities (memorization capabilities):

  • A good sleep: essential to the preservation of cognitive abilities, sleep is essential to strengthen and consolidate memory.
  • Regular sport practice: good memorization is directly linked to good oxygenation of the brain. To optimize memory abilities, it is essential to practice a sport activity that stimulates the brain, attention and neuronal communication.
  • A biological rhythm respected: certain moments of the day are more conducive to learning and concentration. The middle of the morning and the middle of the afternoon are periods of quality for the process of memorization.
  • A healthy and diversified diet: the brain consumes about 20% of the energy provided by the diet. A major consumer of glucose, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, it needs a varied and balanced supply to support its cognitive functions. Consumption of fruits, vegetables, cereals and fish is preferred.
  • Targeted supplementation: Any impairment can impair the functioning of the nervous system. Targeted supplementation is recommended to help maintain brain function, promote deep, restorative sleep, and cope with the stress experienced during exam periods.

 * Helmer C et al. MEDICINE / SCIENCES 2006; 22: 288-96.

The memorization factors

Revisions are often characterized by an active effort of repetition of information. This mental work would transfer knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory, for more sustainable storage. 

Nevertheless, the consolidation of knowledge seems to be easier and more lasting when the memory is associated with knowledge previously acquired; making it meaningful.

The process of memorization is also sensitive to 4 other essential factors:
  • Attention: the degree of concentration
  • The emotional state: the affective values attributed to the material to be memorized
  • Motivation: the interest or the need to memorize
  • The context: lighting, noise, smell, place...