September 22, 2017

Miscellany #84

Inventor Stephen Davies is creating prosthetic arms for children in his garden shed

Hidden within the most ordinary of garden sheds is a state- of-the-art workshop where a brilliant designer makes prosthetic arms to help scores of children.  Inventor Stephen Davies was himself born without a left lower arm and never forgot the stigma of the NHS-issue prosthetic he wore as a child....Having learned how far lighter limbs could be created on a 3D printer, he began to experiment in his garden shed. He has now set up Team UnLimbited, which creates customized ‘cool’ limbs for children, featuring their choice of color and pattern.  The father of three said: ‘We’ve done Iron Man designs, Harry Potter, Lego and Spider-Man. The key is making something the child actually wants to wear and feels is cool enough to show their friends. The limbs work for children born without a lower arm. When the wearer moves their elbow, the fist closes, enabling objects to be grasped. Each arm costs about £30 to make, and takes a few days to print and assemble. All are made in the shed which is insulated with solar-powered air-conditioning to keep it within the very narrow temperature range needed for the 3D printer to work. 

 Inventor Stephen Davies+Garden Shed
Video interview at his shed.

People who came Face to Face with themselves in a museum

 Museum-Lookalikes #1

The world's favorite color is a rich teal

U.K. Papermakers GF Smith conducted an online global survey of over 30,000 people from 100 countries to determine which color people loved the most. An explosion of paper helicopters in Hull revealed the results. They named the shade Marrs Green in honor of survey participant Annie Marrs from Dundee, who chose the shade closest to the winning hue who said, 'The color was inspired by the landscape that surrounds me at home in Scotland and that deep green hue with a tinge of blue has always been a favorite of mine.'

 Revealed Marrs Green-1

 Marrs-Green Favorite Color
Marrs Green
Hex triplet #008C8C
sRGBB  (r, g, b) (0, 140, 140)

Incredible Coincidences - This Bird Landed On The Page About Itself

 Bird On Page

Photographer Niaz Uddin and his Aerial Lanscape Images

 Niazuddin Yellowstone
The Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park

Octlantis - the underwater "octopus city" discovered off the coast of Australia.  Short video at link.

This discovery of octopuses interacting in a high-density den challenges scientists' previously held belief that octopuses are solitary and antisocial creatures.

This 500 year old machine makes enchanting music.

A carillon is a large musical instrument typically housed in a bell tower. It spins a large wheel with spokes set at deliberate intervals, which strike pegs connected to bells. You can listen to Martin Molin and the 500 year old machine in the Speelklok museum, the Netherlands, at the link.

The Hobbit Churches.  Only six of the Icelandic 'Turf Churches' still stand.

 Hobbit Churches

Very funny video - The  Ultimate Dog Tease

 Dog Tease Funny Video

Beauty most of us will never see

Photographer, vlogger and a sailor, that’s how you can describe JeffHK, the author of this incredible 30-days timelapse which he took on a cargo ship en route from the Red Sea to Hong Kong.  Stitched together from 80,000 photos and 1500GB of project files, this journey takes viewers across the Indian Ocean and major ports around it. Showing not only the intricacies of a cargo ship operation but also the incredible natural shows like lightning storms or the incredible stars displays along the way.

 4K Timelapse Cargo
YouTube link

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:35 PM | Permalink
Categories: Miscellany

The Afterlife of Our Words

Marilynne Robinson on Finding the Right Word

In almost every major literature there are works that make you love being human, and make you love and revere the humanity of other people. That is the great potential of any art.

Viewed this way, our language — and especially literature, that special, potent case — has incredible power. I was very struck by something that I came across in my reading of Jonathan Edwards. I recall him quoting a writer who talks about how whatever we say lives on after us, that we continue to exist so long as any word we say exists in a living mind. And that there should be two judgments: one when we die, and one when the full impact of our lives has played itself out. That is, when every word that we’ve said, for good or ill, basically ceases to be active.

We’re not in the habit of thinking of ourselves as people of influence in this way. We don’t think that if we say something cruel and destructive now, it can go down generations in terms of its consequences. But it strikes me that this is true — and the thought makes me experience a certain fear and trembling about our political life at the moment. When we speak, we should ask ourselves: How will this ultimately play out? What will be the moral consequence of the fact that so many people have resorted to such crude, cruel language? We know it won’t be neutral. We know it won’t evaporate. It’ll be in people’s minds for generations.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:37 PM | Permalink
Categories: Wise Words and Quotations

September 19, 2017

Love Hacks

John Tierney suggests you Try These ‘Love Hacks’ to Fix Your Marriage

Many people are looking to their partners to replace the companionship and emotional support once provided by extended families and local institutions like churches, bowling leagues, bridge groups, fraternal lodges and garden clubs. Meanwhile, though, many couples are so busy with their jobs and parenting that they’re actually spending less time together by themselves.

Psychologist Eli Finkel, After studying thousands of couples, suggests these love hacks. “It’s a quick-and-dirty option that can take just a few minutes a month,” he says. “It’s not going to give you a great marriage, but it can certainly improve things. After all, simply allowing the relationship to slip off the priority list will probably yield stagnation, or worse.”

Touch Your Partner.....
Don’t Jump to Bad Conclusions....
Picture a Fight From the Outside....
Make a Gratitude List....
Accept a Compliment....
Celebrate Small Victories....
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 PM | Permalink
Categories: Love, Marriage and Weddings

September 14, 2017

Roundup: Medical Research and Technology

A 25-year-old student has come up with a way to fight drug-resistant superbugs without antibiotics.

The new approach has so far only been tested in the lab and on mice, but it could offer a potential solution to antibiotic resistance, which is now getting so bad that the United Nations recently declared it a "fundamental threat" to global health.  Antibiotic-resistant bacteria already kill around 700,000 people each year, but a recent study suggests that number could rise to around 10 million by 2050.

But Shu Lam, a 25-year-old PhD student at the University of Melbourne in Australia, has developed a star-shaped polymer that can kill six different superbug strains without antibiotics, simply by ripping apart their cell walls.  Before we get too carried away, it's still very early days. So far, Lam has only tested her star-shaped polymers on six strains of drug-resistant bacteria in the lab, and on one superbug in live mice. But in all experiments, they've been able to kill their targeted bacteria - and generation after generation don't seem to develop resistance to the polymers.  The polymers - which they call SNAPPs, or structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers - work by directly attacking, penetrating, and then destabilizing the cell membrane of bacteria.

Scientists honor Chad Carr, 5, who died of incurable brain tumor as tests on his donated tissue lead to major cancer research breakthrough

Chad died in 2015 aged 5, just 14 months after he was diagnosed with DIPG. Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a lethal and untreatable brain tumor which predominantly affects children under the age of nine.  An analysis of his brain has led to a major breakthrough in understanding the genetic mutations that drive DIPG. Experts say the unprecedented finding is the first concrete result of any study into the little-understood disease. 

Zika virus used to treat aggressive brain cancer

Using viruses to fight cancer is not a new idea, but using Zika as the weapon of choice is. But the latest research shows the virus can selectively infect and kill hard-to-treat cancerous cells in adult brains. Zika injections shrank aggressive tumors in fully grown mice, yet left other brain cells unscathed.  While human trials are still a way off, experts believe Zika virus could potentially be injected into the brain at the same time as surgery to remove life-threatening tumors.  The Zika treatment appears to work on human cell samples in the lab.

New device accurately identifies cancer in seconds

A team of scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has invented a powerful tool that rapidly and accurately identifies cancerous tissue during surgery, delivering results in about 10 seconds— more than 150 times as fast as existing technology. The MasSpec Pen is an innovative handheld instrument that gives surgeons precise diagnostic information about what tissue to cut or preserve, helping improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence.

New class of drugs targets aging to help keep you healthy

The researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, are calling for senolytic drugs to make the leap from animal research to human clinical trials.  As we age, we accumulate senescent cells, which are damaged cells that resist dying off but stay in our bodies. They can affect other cells in our various organs and tissues. Senolytic drugs are agents capable of killing problem-causing senescent cells in your body without harming your normal, healthy cells. Senescent cells play a role in many age-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, most cancers, dementia, arthritis, osteoporosis and blindness.

Gut germs play role in multiple sclerosis, studies show

Two teams of scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that intestinal bacteria play a role in multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin coating on neurons, causing tremors, fatigue, cognitive problems, and more.

Gut germs that were unusually abundant in people with MS changed white blood cells in a way that made them more likely to attack the body’s own cells, including neurons, one study reported on Monday; the other experiment found that gut germs from people with MS made mice more likely to develop the disease than did gut germs from their identical but healthy twins.
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Together, the two studies advance the idea that gut microbes play a role in turning the immune system against nerve cells, causing MS. It will take a lot more work to develop cures or preventive strategies based on that, but the research raises the intriguing possibility of treating an often-devastating disease with something as low-tech as fecal transplants or probiotics.

How infection can trigger autoimmune disease

Australian scientists have confirmed a ‘weak link’ in the immune system – identifying the exact conditions under which an infection can trigger an autoantibody response, a process not clearly understood until now.

We May Have Finally Discovered The Trigger That Starts Autoimmune Diseases

The chain reaction, discovered after four years of research in mice, has been described as a "runaway train" where one error leads the body to develop a very efficient way of attacking itself.  The study focused on B cells gone rogue. Ordinarily these cells produce antibodies and program the immune cells to attack unwanted antigens (or foreign substances), but scientists found an 'override switch' in mouse B cells that distorted this behavior and caused autoimmune attacks.

"Once your body's tolerance for its own tissues is lost, the chain reaction is like a runaway train," says one of the team, Michael Carroll from Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS). "The immune response against your own body's proteins, or antigens, looks exactly like it's responding to a foreign pathogen."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink
Categories: Health | Categories: Technology

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's Edition

A healthy lifestyle builds brain resilience and really WILL keep dementia at bay

Alzheimer's disease really can be avoided by following a healthy lifestyle - even if you're predisposed to get it, the largest study of its kind has revealed. Exercising, monitoring blood pressure and watching less TV are the three key factors that will help build brain resilience and keep the disease at bay.  

Researchers at the University of California in Irvine began the '90+ Study' in 2003. Tests were carried out on the 1,700 participants every six months to monitor their cognitive ability. Post-mortems were conducted upon their death. Astonishingly half of the dementia-free patients had the hallmark brain plaques - which lead to memory loss and dementia - when they died.  Meanwhile half of the dementia patients did develop symptoms of memory loss - even without having these build-ups in their brain.

Professor Claudia Kawas, lead researcher, suggested the reason for such 'cognitive resilience' in those who should have developed dementia but remained free of it was down to a healthy lifestyle. It follows Cambridge University research three years ago which found just one hour's exercise a week cuts the chance of Alzheimer's by almost half.  And earlier this year a study suggested more than a third of dementia cases could be avoided by exercising more and controlling blood pressure.

Those with a higher level of education were found to have greater protection even if OET scans revealed plaque in the brain typical of Alzheimer's. People with a low level of education had quadruple the risk of contracting dementia, the researchers said. But among those without plaque in the brain, the educational difference was irrelevant....There's currently no evidence of the efficacy of commercial computer-based brain training exercises.

An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis—Before Any Symptoms in the WSJ

An effort is under way that could redefine the way Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, putting the focus on biological changes in the brain rather than on symptoms such as confusion and forgetfulness. Supporters say if their plan moves forward, it could help ensure that experimental therapies are tested on the correct population, accelerating research. Earlier detection also one day could make it easier to target people with more effective therapies.

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has long hinged on a doctor’s assessment of a person’s cognitive skills and symptoms. But in a recent report, a committee convened by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association recommended that researchers instead use tests of the biological markers of disease, such as brain imaging and the measurement of substances in cerebrospinal fluid, when seeking to study participants.

A Case of Rapidly Progressive Dementia--and the Surprisingly Easy Fix

The daughter went into the hall closet and brought out this bag of medicines. There were 21 different bottles of 14 different medications, including multiple antipsychotics and anticholinergics, as can be seen in the handwritten list shown above. I had been unaware that she had been taking any of these. For reference, in the right-hand column, I have included the list that was in her electronic medical record the day I last saw her in clinic. I performed a full medication reconciliation and left her with only three medications, plus insulin, at her home. I took all of the others back to the hospital, called her pharmacy, and stopped those prescriptions.

Three months later, Ms R followed up with me in clinic and reported that she was feeling great. Her daughter said that she is doing wonderfully at home and has returned to her baseline. Both of them felt that she was back to her normal self. We repeated the MoCA, which was a 17 out of 30. She had increased from a 6 to a 17 over the course of 3 months, with the only intervention being a home visit with the removal of medications from her house.

The cost of this? The base Medicare reimbursement for her multiple hospital admissions was more than $30,000. The cost of the home visits, including billing for the visit, gas to and from, and a couple of lattes for my mentor and me: $127. Patient-centered care? Priceless.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink
Categories: Health

Miscellany #83

The Strange History of the Sunflower

Sunflowers originate from North America but would travel to the Old World and back – and back again - in their centuries old journey to become the plant we know today. They were probably one of the first crops to be grown in the Americas. Before this they were picked by hunter gatherers as a natural source of fat. The seeds could be ground up and mixed with flour to make bread much like the pita variety we eat today.

 Sunflower

Balmy 77-Degree Oasis Found In Antarctica

....in a web of hidden ice caves beneath Ross Island’s Mount Erebus where the air temperature hovers around 77 degrees Fahrenheit.  “You could wear a T-shirt in there and be pretty comfortable,” said lead researcher Ceridwen Fraser.

Has the mystery of the 600-year-old Voynich manuscript been solved?

For more than a century, researchers have been trying to decipher ancient texts found in the Voynich manuscript, discovered in an Italian monastery in 1912 and preserved at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.  The 600-year-old document, described as 'the world's most mysterious medieval text,' is full of illustrations of exotic plants, stars, and mysterious human figures, as well as many pages written in an unknown text.  Now, one British academic, Nicholas Gibbs, an expert on medieval medical manuscripts, claims the document is in fact a health manual for a 'well-to-do' lady looking to treat gynecological conditions.

 Voynich Manuscript

Ancient Ruins Older Than The Pyramids Discovered In Canada

When researchers were searching Triquet Island, an island located about 300 miles north of Victoria, British Columbia, they found ancient fish hooks and spears, as well as tools for make fires as well as an ancient cooking hearth, from which they were able to obtain flakes of charcoal burnt by prehistoric Canadians. Using carbon dating on the charcoal flakes, the researchers were able to determine that the settlement dates back 14,000 years ago, making it significantly older than the pyramids of Ancient Egypt, which were built about 4,700 years ago....

To understand how old that truly is, one has to consider that the ancient ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra lived closer in time to you than she did to the creation of the pyramids. This newly discovered settlement dates back more than three times older than the pyramids.

Bird Photographer of the Year 2017 awards

 Flamingos Photy
Alejandro Prieto Rojas for Feeding Flamingos
Best Portrait 2017
 Bird Photy
Bret Charman for Australian Pelican landing on water
Gold Category Birds in Flight 2017

Watch this mesmerizing GIF to see what happens to pills after they enter your body

The Hidden Memories of Plants

Biologists have shown that certain plants in certain situations can store information about their experiences and use that information to guide how they grow, develop, or behave. Functionally, at least, they appear to be creating memories....  scientists have found that certain plants can remember experiences of drought and dehydration, cold and heat, excess light, acidic soil, exposure to short-wave radiation, and a simulation of insects eating their leaves. Faced with the same stress again, the plants modify their responses.

The Menorah Panel of The Arch of Titus in Color

One of the most famous monuments in ancient Rome is the Arch of Titus, constructed by Roman emperor Domitian around 81 C.E. after the death of his brother and predecessor, emperor Titus. The arch celebrates Titus’s military victories during the First Jewish-Roman War (66–74 C.E.)—when the Romans infamously burned the Temple in Jerusalem. One of the arch’s panels depicts Roman soldiers carrying captured treasures from Jerusalem’s Temple, including a large menorah, through the streets of Rome.  Once brightly colored, today, all the colors have faded, so that it looks colorless.

This digital reconstruction shows the Arch of Titus’s menorah panel after it has been restored and colored by the Arch of Titus Project and the Institute for the Visualization of History. A glimpse of what ancient Rome looked like.

 Colorized Arch-Of-Titus-Restoration

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 AM | Permalink
Categories: Miscellany

September 13, 2017

"Emotional intelligence starts with emotional granularity"

I've long been fascinated by certain words that can't be translated into English because they describe with precision an emotional state that we all can recognize but never had a word for.  That's why I have a whole category for new words for emotions.  Little did I know that these words can increase my emotional intelligence until now.

New Neuroscience Reveals 3 Secrets That Will Make You Emotionally Intelligent

Emotional Intelligence. It’s everywhere. They won’t shut up about it. And yet nobody seems to be able to explain what it really means or how you develop it.  The latest research shows that the little we know about emotions is actually all wrong. And I mean really wrong. ....[For example, the idea that} emotions are hardwired and universal. And research pretty convincingly shows they’re not. There is no set crayon box. Emotions aren’t hardwired or universal. They’re concepts that we learn. And so they can differ from culture to culture.
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In sum: Here’s how to be more emotionally intelligent:
Emotions are concepts: They’re not hardwired or universal. They’re learned.
Emotional intelligence starts with emotional granularity: If your doctor came back with a diagnosis of “you’re sick”, you’d sue the quack for malpractice. Doctors need to be able to distinguish between “chancre” and “cancer.” And you need to know the difference between “sad” and “lonely.”
Emotional intelligence is in the dictionary: You can’t feel Fremdschämen* if you don’t know what it is. So learn new emotion words so you can feel new emotions and increase your emotional granularity.
Create new emotions: We could all use a little more “passion-o-rama” in our lives. Name those unnamed feelings you have and share them with others to make them real.

* Fremdschämen:  to feel ashamed about something someone else has done; to be embarrassed because someone else has embarrassed himself (and doesn't notice)

A fascinating article by Daniel Tammet about how differently he is depending on the language he is speaking. Languages revealing worlds and selves

I have multiple lives: my life in French, in Icelandic, in Spanish, in German, in Esperanto. English, the language in which I was raised and schooled, and today write, is also the one that makes me feel most foreign. I am most fluent in English, and yet least myself. In my mind, I am forever slipping in and out of it, thriving on other words, in other worlds.

I was not born a polyglot; I was born autistic, high-functioning.....Whenever I sat reading an English book, however, its words would glow and shimmer on the page, and if I closed its covers and my eyes, the words would stay with me, as shapes and textures and colored letters (a neurological phenomenon called synesthesia)...

I feel myself to be a better reader in French, more attentive and more scrupulous. Its grammar has made me more patient, has taught me the virtue of diligence...My Icelandic has continued to grow.... I have become more confident, outgoing, even chatty, than I ever was growing up in English....every time I speak with my friend Leandro, an Argentinian expat, I can see Latin America’s vivid colors with my tongue....I blush more frequently in German. I’m told I smile more broadly and nod more too. And nothing, in my experience, becomes my voice so much as saying aloud, Gemütlichkeit*, cosiness.

* Gemütlichkeit a German-language word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include coziness, peace of mind, and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance.  There is no English synonym for Gemütlichkeit. Cosy captures an element of it but crucially lacks those of friendliness and belonging.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:14 PM | Permalink
Categories: New words for emotions and new words

More useful tips

Why you should use natural products for cleaning.

Using bleach and household cleaning products can increase your chances of fatal lung disease by a third. A study led by Dr Orianne Dumas from the French National Institute of Health found that cleaning chemicals increase the risk of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)  which includes bronchitis and emphysema.  Breathing in bleach ups the chances of smoking-related conditions by a third.

Some years ago after a friend complained about the harsh smell of a counter cleaner I was using, I happened upon a product review of cleaners in Cook's Illustrated.  The best and the one they highly recommended was a natural product called Method.  I immediately switched and couldn't be more pleased.  All the Method Cleaning products work very well and smell delicious.

Stay in shape simply by doing your own housework

Why two hours of cleaning is better than a 5km run  The Good Housekeeping Institute tested how many calories are burned doing chores.  Participants burned roughly 600 calories by doing just two hours of housework which is nearly twice as much as the 374 lost during a 5km run.  Research reveals that the most intense activity was window cleaning with 115 calories burned in 20 minutes

Trouble sleeping?

Listen to a story 'Insomnia is a modern epidemic and tens of millions of prescriptions for sleeping pills are written every year,' said Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm. 'Mixing scent with storytelling is a powerful and natural new way to help racing minds drift off to sleep.' Calm.com is a popular meditation app that has launched a bedtime story read by Stephen Fry they say it will have you sleeping soundly in minutes.  They also sell a lavender spritz.

I've found that listening to an audiobook in a dark room with eyes closed is the very best way to fall asleep or fall back asleep if you wake in the middle of the night.  I just have to be careful not to choose a thriller with cliff hangers at the every chapter end or I'll be up all night to find out what's happened next.

Feeling stuck on a problem? 

Having a beer might help get your creative juices flowing. This study suggests that having a drink might help! Here, scientists gave one group of volunteers beer, and another group non-alcoholic beer. They then tested the creative thinking ability of each group. Turns out that very light drinking (about one beer) improved creative thinking, but made other cognitive abilities worse or unchanged. So the next time you find yourself really stuck, consider having a small drink.

If you're considering getting a tattoo,

Investigate the chemicals in the ink  Toxins in inkings stay in your bloodstream for LIFE and accumulate in lymph nodes which may become swollen and therefore less able to fight off infections.  Titanium dioxide is added to ink to create colors but also dyes lymph nodes and the controversial chemical is linked to cancer, itching and delayed healing.

Grow a beard if you are a man with a high risk of skin cancer.

Facial hair blocks up to 95% of harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer, Australian researchers found.

Stop smoking marijuana to avoid fertility problems

Canadian scientists reveal that cannabis leaves sperm 'mellow' causing it to 'lazily swim in circles' . Regular use of the drug cuts sperm counts.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink
Categories: Organizing and Practical Tips

The cognitive differences between men and women

From Stanford Medicine Two minds,  The cognitive differences between men and women

Over the past 15 years or so, there’s been a sea change as new technologies have generated a growing pile of evidence that there are inherent differences in how men’s and women’s brains are wired and how they work.....Not how well they work

There was too much data pointing to the biological basis of sex-based cognitive differences to ignore.  For one thing, the animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people. These findings continue to accrue. In a study of 34 rhesus monkeys, for example, males strongly preferred toys with wheels over plush toys, whereas females found plush toys likable......

Women excel in several measures of verbal ability — pretty much all of them, except for verbal analogies. Women’s reading comprehension and writing ability consistently exceed that of men, on average. They out­perform men in tests of fine-motor coordination and perceptual speed. They’re more adept at retrieving information from long-term memory.

Men, on average, can more easily juggle items in working memory. They have superior visuospatial skills: They’re better at visualizing what happens when a complicated two- or three-dimensional shape is rotated in space, at correctly determining angles from the horizontal, at tracking moving objects and at aiming projectiles.

Navigation studies in both humans and rats show that females of both species tend to rely on landmarks, while males more typically rely on “dead reckoning”: calculating one’s position by estimating the direction and distance traveled rather than using landmarks. Many of these cognitive differences appear quite early in life.

Why our brains differ

1. The sex-steroid hormones. In female mammals, ...estrogens, along with ... progesterone; and in males, testosterone and ...androgens. Importantly, males developing normally in utero get hit with a big mid-gestation surge of testosterone...
2. The sex chromosomes, which form one of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes in each cell. Generally, females have two X chromosomes in their pair, while males have one X and one Y chromosome.  Every cell in a man’s body (including his brain) has a slightly different set of functioning ​sex-​chromosome genes from those operating in a woman’s.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink
Categories: Health | Categories: The Sexes

September 12, 2017

Health Roundup: Vaccines, heart disease, stroke victims, melanoma, hormone therapy, osteoarthritis, COPD, Suramin + autism

Vaccines Have Saved Nearly 20 Million Children's Lives in Poor Countries Since 2001

Researchers investigated the impact of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance - a global organization whose explicit goal is to improve access to vaccination in world's poorest countries. By 2020, vaccines for just 10 diseases will have saved 20 million lives, prevented 500 million cases of illness, and 9 million cases of long-term disability.  The researchers even put a dollar figure on that value  - for all the countries in the study, by 2020 vaccination will have brought a benefit that can be equated to US $820 billion.

Rivaroxaban, when taken with aspirin slashes the risk of death from heart disease by 22%

The 'ground-breaking' trial, based on 27,000 patients from 33 countries, has since been halted - 12 months ahead of schedule....In clinical experiments, the tablet, which is already used for other cardiovascular problems, also reduced strokes by 42 per cent.

Stroke survivors are at DOUBLE the risk of cancer:

Doctors say patients should be closely monitored for 18 months after having a blood clot.

Immune-focused drug may be new weapon against advanced melanoma

New research suggests that Opdivo -- a drug that works with the immune system to fight melanoma -- is more effective than the current standard of care for patients who've had surgery to remove advanced tumors.  The international study was funded by Opdivo's maker, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and included more than 900 patients with stage III and stage IV melanoma.

Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City,  said any advance in the care of aggressive melanomas is welcome news for patients."It is amazing that there is now an alternative that is superior to conventional chemotherapy for advanced metastatic disease," Green said after reviewing the new study findings. "With these advanced melanomas -- that have high risks of recurrences and have poor outcomes -- it is vital to look at alternative treatments. The future in cancer treatments lies in immunotherapy and other targeted options."

Hormone therapy does NOT increase risk of cancer, heart disease or premature death in menopausal women

A study in the 90s showed women having an increase in diseases after taking hormonal therapy drugs for five to seven years.  Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston analyzed mortality rates for more than 27,000 women aged 50 to 79 in the United States who were part of the original research in the 1990s.  That research showed that women are at equal risk to develop these disease as those who don't take the hormones -  close to 27 percent died in the group that took the dummy pills and those who took the hormones.  Experts say hormones are safe to take to relieve symptoms of menopause.

Australian scientists discover new drug to help cure osteoarthritis

The medication, called Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium, is being hailed as a breakthrough to those suffering from the degenerative disorder of osteoarthritis, an illness that causes a person pain when the cartilage in bones begins to wear thin and the leading cause of hip and knee replacement surgery.  A new study, to be published in the BioMed Central's Journal of Musculoskeletal Disorders shows a 70 per cent reduction in pain using the new medication. Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium has been prescribed by doctors for years, however it is usually used to treat blood clots and urinary tract infections.  Australian scientist Dr Jegan Krishnan helped discover the new use for the drug and said it could work by looking at the cause of osteoarthritis. "'It may have anti-inflammatory activities, it seems addressing the bone marrow lesions gives symptomatic relief."

Relief for victims of lung disease is found in a ketchup bottle

Breathlessness caused by long-term lung disease can be crippling, leaving patients housebound and unable to take even a few steps without gasping for air.  But now those blighted by the distressing condition could see their lives transformed – thanks to a tiny valve implant which works in a similar way to easy-squeeze ketchup bottle tops. The alloy and silicone device is being offered to NHS patients with emphysema and other incurable respiratory problems, collectively known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.  In these patients, deformity and loss of elasticity in lung tissue means that air enters the lung but cannot be pushed back out.

The valve, placed deep in the tiny branches within the lungs known as bronchioles, allows air to flow but in one direction only. The concept is similar to the way rubber tops of ketchup bottles work.  This effectively cuts off the diseased areas of the lungs. Despite the volume of the lungs being smaller, the valve actually improves breathing because air flows through the healthy areas of the organ only.  The new procedure allows surgeons to close off damaged sections of lung without removing or causing further harm to tissue.

The Zephyr valves consist of a collapsible nickel and titanium alloy wire outer 'basket' – not unlike a stent used in heart surgery – which surrounds the silicone inner valve.  The flexible material is constructed in such a way as to form a one-way valve. The implantation takes about 45 minutes and the procedure may be done under sedation or general anesthetic.

A 100-Year-Old Drug Shows Extremely Promising Results For Treating Autism Symptoms

Suramin has been around since 1916, and is used in the treatment of the parasitic disease African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).  The first promising results came in pre-clinical mouse studies, when the researchers successfully reversed autism-like symptoms with a single dose of the drug. These studies paved the way to the first human trial, and the results are now in.

This pilot study was double-blinded and placebo-controlled, and involved 10 boys with diagnosed ASD aged 5-14 years, each of whom received a single dose of either suramin or a placebo.  All five boys who received the drug showed a steady improvement of symptoms within just seven days, while the placebo group showed no change at all.  "The 6- and 14-year-old who received suramin said their first sentence of their lives about one week after the single suramin infusion," says Naviaux. "This did not happen in any of the children given placebo."

"We have plans for five additional studies over the next five years to collect all the data the FDA will need to decide about the approval of suramin for autism," says Naviaux. Unfortunately, these improvements were only temporary - as the drug gradually left their systems over the course of six weeks, the severity of the symptoms returned, which the participating families had been warned about. But apart from the dramatic improvement of symptoms, what's most important to the researchers is that the positive results further bolster the hypothesis that metabolic dysfunction contributes to autism, and that this dysfunction is treatable.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:54 PM | Permalink
Categories: Health | TrackBack (0)

September 9, 2017

"Never shake a man’s hand sitting down"

Rules For My Son by Aaron Conrad

1. Never shake a man’s hand sitting down.

2. There are plenty of ways to enter a pool. The stairs ain’t one.

6. Request the late check-out.

7. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.

9. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.

10. Don’t fill up on bread.

12. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.

13. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.

14. Carry two handkerchiefs. The one in your back pocket is for you. The one in your breast pocket is for her.

15. You marry the girl, you marry her whole family.

25. Eat lunch with the new kid.

26. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink
Categories: Rules of Life/Lessons Learned
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