Illegal party drug may be treatment for depression

May 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Health News 

Ketamine, better known as a prohibited party drug, represents a ‘dramatic’ new treatment for patients with depression, according to doctors who have carried out the first such trial in the UK. Low doses of ketamine were administered to patients who have had incurable depression for decades and within hours their symptoms had disappeared. The study of 28 people, which was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, found that the benefits seen can last for months.

Depression is so common that it is said to affect one in every ten people at some stage in life. Antidepressant medication, including Prozac, and the use of behavioural therapies, provide help for some, but a significant percentage of patients continue to show resistance to any type of treatment.

In the research with ketamine, a team working at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust administered ketamine over a 40-minute period to patients on as many as six occasions. Of the patients studied, eight experienced improvements in the levels of depression reported and four showed so much improvement that they could no longer be classified as depressed. Some patients showed a response within six hours of getting their first infusion of the drug.

Dr Rupert McShane, the lead researcher, says that the group of patients included some who had been living with depression for as long as 20 years.

The research into ketamine, however, has found some notable side effects. In one case, the supply of blood into the brain was interrupted. Doctors have warned that patients should not consider self-medicating, owing to the substantial risk to a patient’s health outside of a controlled, hospital environment.

David Taylor, a professor of psychopharmacology working at London’s Maudsley Hospital, says that the treatment with ketamine illustrates “that depression is something chemical” and so “can be reversed with chemicals,” rendering obsolete the idea that people should just get on with it. Taylor does suggest, however, that the possibility of adverse psychological effects, and the administration of the drug intravenously, mean that ketamine is restricted to a small number of patients.

The Home Office is undertaking a reclassification of ketamine to make it a class B drug, but it is already in use medically for treatment of such conditions as back pain, and is also used as an anaesthetic.

head-in-hands

Picture: Jenny Kaczorowski

Health issues arising from alcoholism

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Health News 

The dangers from alcohol abuse are frequently referred to and people tend to be able to name some off their top of their heads, from liver disease to increased blood pressure, but the potential fallout from alcoholism stretches across a range of different conditions.

Cancer

The risk of developing cancer increases as the result of habitual drinking.  Scientists are of the view that the increased risk is attributable to the body’s conversion of alcohol into what is known as acetaldehyde, a carcinogen.  The risk from cancer in those who are heavy drinkers increases again if combined with tobacco use.  Cancer sites commonly associated with the abuse of alcohol include the liver, the colorectal region, the mouth, the throat, and the oesophagus.

Cardiovascular disease

Alcohol abuse, and binge drinking especially, increases the likelihood of platelets clumping together, resulting in blood clots and leading to stroke or heart attack.  A Harvard University study from 2005 reported that binge drinking increased twofold the risk of death among those patients who had initially survived a heart attack.  Drinking heavily can also result in someone developing cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle weakens and then fails.

Dementia

The human brain shrinks in size at a rate of around one per cent a decade as people age.  If someone is a heavy drinker, the rate of shrinkage in certain key areas of the brain increases, leading to loss of memory and other symptoms associated with dementia.  Heavy drinking can result in nutritional deficiencies that become so severe that they result in other forms of dementia.

Depression

The idea that people suffering from depression turn to drink in order to ‘self-medicate’ is one that has been spoken of in detail, but a large research study in New Zealand found that it is heavy drinking that leads to depression.

Gout

This condition is the result of uric acid crystals forming in the joints.  Some instances of gout are, to a large extent, hereditary, but alcohol appears to be a factor and it can also make existing cases worse.

Seizures

Abuse of alcohol can lead to epilepsy and even cause seizures in those who do not have epilepsy.  Heavy drinking can also undermine the effectiveness of medications administered as a treatment for convulsions.

BeersPicture: Cambridge Brewing Co.

Eating fish is good for you

March 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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It has long been argued that a fish diet is better for you than a meat diet and a recent study carried out over a period of five years has confirmed that people living in Japan, where fish is a staple diet have less incidence of heart disease than middle aged men in America. The value of omega3 has been known for many years and marine derived omega3 fatty acids that are found in fish may help to reduce the formation of fatty plaques in a person’s arteries.

The kind of fish that has the highest quantities of omega3 is salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. All fish has some quantities of omega3 but, not in such high quantities as some others. On the whole the Japanese eat far more fish than either the Americans or many Europeans’ the Japanese consumption is around 100 gram every day, compared with American consumption which is in the region of between 7 and 13.

The leading cause of death in the western world is heart disease; in Japan it is low on the cause of mortality, cancer being top of the list with them. It is not being suggested that everyone should start to eat massive quantities of fish, but it may be considered worth a second look at the way omega3 fatty acids effect heart disease.

 

World Health Organization predicts a ‘tidal wave’ of cancer in the future

February 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Health News 

World Health Organization scientists have announced that there could be a ‘tidal wave’ of cancer in the future if restrictions on smoking, obesity and drinking isn’t considered. They predict that the number of cancer cases will increase to 24 million a year by 2035, but that nearly half of those cases could be prevented.

14 million people are diagnosed with cancer worldwide every year, and the World Health Organization says that they estimate it to grow to 19 million by 2025 and 24 million by 2035 unless there was a dramatic change of the naivety about diet’s role in cancer.

Director of the organisations Research on Cancer, Chris Wild told the press, “The global cancer burden is increasing and quite markedly, due predominately to the ageing of the populations and population growth”. Adding, “If we look at the cost of treatment of cancers, it is spiralling out of control, even for the high-income countries. Prevention is absolutely critical and it’s been somewhat neglected.”

The World Health Organization’s 2014 Cancer Report highlighted the main sources of preventable cancer. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity or inactivity
  • Radiation (from the sun and medical scans)
  • Air pollution
  • Delayed parenthood and not breastfeeding

Meanwhile, the World Cancer Research Fund advises that a lifestyle change can help prevent cancer. A diet full of vegetables, fruit, and wholegrain is a good start and cutting down on alcohol and red meat. Regular exercise was also mentioned as a possible factor in the prevention of cancer.

predicted cancer cases

Reducing obesity can be achieved

January 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General Health, Health News 

A person who is obese is likely to have a BMI of around 30 or more and it is a known fact that they will suffer serious health problems that can include heart disease which can lead to a fatal heart attack. This is not scaremongering, it is a medical fact and anyone who is overweight should make an effort to reduce their weight as it is sure to increase; they will then become obese. Your BMI is your weight in relation to your height and is calculated by dividing you weight in metric or imperial, by the square of your height again in either metric or imperial, which should ideally be between 20 and under 25.

To put it in simple terms you will lose weight by basically by consuming less energy each day than you burn, it is how you do that seems to defeat most overweight people. There are other factors that have to be considered, metabolism, hormones, what kind of body you have and what foods you eat or have always eaten.

Now there are thousands of diet plans, all claiming to be the panacea and the best, but health professionals will tell you that to succeed you need a sensible diet with physical activity. Some people are active at work in non-sedentary positions; these will usually all be a healthy weight.

How much you should eat depends upon a number of factors, for an average male who is moderately active, about 2,500 calories should be the amount he should be taking in during a day. A female in the same category would only require 2,000, so you can see immediately portion size here would be a factor for a man and woman living and eating together.

To lose weight you should be taking in slightly below these figures and when your ideal weight is achieved, gradually increase the amount to about the above figures. It is worth pointing out that a little exercise each day will help you and a golden rule, never ever miss breakfast; it is the most important meal of the day and helps to stave of hunger and snacking which is the biggest culprit of weight increase.

Picture: Rick

The problem of baldness

January 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General Health, Hair Loss Treatment, Health News 

Male-pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, affecting 6.5 million men in the UK. It generally starts with a little thinning of the hair, followed by wider hair loss, allowing more of the scalp to become visible. For a few men, this process starts as early as the late teens. By the age of 60, most men have some degree of hair loss.

However there is the possibility that a new breakthrough to find a cure may have been found by researchers at Durham University and also from Columbia University Medical Center in the US. There are medications that are available and these are known to work quite well, but another method is transplantation the current hair transplant treatments relocate hair follicles from one part of the head to another, usually from the back to the front. This redistributes rather than increases hair follicles and is a lengthy process that can take all day in the clinic and leaves a large scar.

The team, from Durham University in the UK, says their technique generates new human hair growth, rather than simply redistributing hair follicles from one part of the scalp to another. This new approach would actually increase the number of hair cells able to produce hair. It would take fewer hair cells and would leave a much smaller scar, grow them in a lab culture, then transplant the multiplied cells back into the bald or thinning parts of the patient’s scalp.

Clearly the new method is a long way from being available and so before these trials are completed and the method approved, men and women suffering from the problem with have to continue with medications such as Propecia.

Picture: Alexander Edward

Child-allergy diagnosis can drive parents’ nuts

December 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General Health, Health News 

We are all concerned as parents’ for our children and as we know food allergies are one area as it is estimated one child in 20 is affected by this. For example may are affected by milk, eggs, wheat, soya, nuts cod fish, shrimp amongst many.

Parents’ have to be particularly cautious if there is any history in their families of problems such as hay fever, any food allergy, asthma or eczema, as it has been established that their baby is highly likely to suffer from allergies and as always, it is recommended that for the first six months at least, the child should be breastfed. If you are not breast feeding it is wise to consult your doctor and ask his advice on which formula would be best for your baby.

Another good medical tip is to only feed your child when weaning or introducing it to solids to feed them the above list of foods one at a time and see if you can spot any reaction to one or more of them. If you do you should go to your GP and he will arrange an allergy test.

Food can contain additives and this is for a variety of reasons usually to preserve it or give colour, these go through rigorous assessments for safety before they can be used. A few people have adverse reactions to some food additives, but reactions to ordinary foods, such as milk or soya, are much more common.

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Avian influenza A (H7N9) virus passed from father to daughter

December 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Health News 

Reports from China are suggesting that the deadly avian influenza A (H7N9) virus is thought to have been transmitted between father and daughter in eastern China; this has been revealed and published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ). Importantly these findings are proof positive that this is very strong evidence that it is possible for the transmission of the H79N virus between people but as yet no evidence that it is limited.

This latest report comes about when it was revealed that a 60-year-old father who regularly visited a live poultry market and became ill five to six days after his last visit in March. He had the usual symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath but, despite intensive care treatment, died of multiple organ failure on May 4. He had been cared for by his 32-year-old daughter, who was previously healthy, before the father was admitted to intensive care. She developed symptoms six days after her last contact with her father and was admitted to hospital but died multiple organ failure.

She had no known exposure to live poultry before falling ill and most cases have been among people visiting markets selling live birds or among those who had contact with live poultry in the seven to 10 days before becoming ill.

A high-calorie breakfast protects against diabetes

November 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General Health 

It has always been said over many years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why do so many people skip it? However a Tel Aviv university researches has come out and said that it does not matter whether you hope to lose weight or just stay healthy, what you eat is a crucial factor it’s not just what you eat, but when. The researcher has discovered that those who eat their largest daily meal at breakfast are far more likely to lose weight and waist line circumference than those who eat a large dinner but, importantly the benefits went far beyond pounds and inches!

During the research, it was found that a participant who had an a high calorie item at breakfast time such as a piece of chocolate cake, was found to have very much lower levels of insulin, as well as glucose and triglycerides during the rest of the day. This meant that they were at a lower risk of diabetes as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Those in the study who had a big breakfast showed a more significant decrease in insulin, glucose, far greater than participants who indulged in a large dinner and they did not experience the high spikes in blood glucose levels that typically occur after a meal, which are proved to be more harmful than sustained high blood glucose levels.

Cut out the so called mindless evening snacking in front of the television this is a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic, she believes. It increases not only poundage, but the risk of cardiovascular disease, leading to a midnight sugar rush.

Picture: Mark

Glandular fever – the facts

November 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General Health 

Affecting mostly young adults, glandular fever is a viral infection that can cause fatigue, swollen glands in the neck, a sore throat and fever. Although glandular fever is not normally a threat to the sufferers’ health, it is an unpleasant condition and can last for several weeks.

Your local doctor can diagnose glandular fever either through a physical examination or by means of a blood test. Unfortunately there is no cure for glandular fever, instead treatments focus on relieving the symptoms; these include painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications.

Most symptoms of glandular fever will pass after a couple of weeks without treatment, however fatigue can last longer sometimes up to six months.

The majority of cases of glandular fever are caused by the Epstein – Barr virus (EBV), which is one of the most common viruses to affect humans. It usually affects children, but when it affects young adults they can develop glandular fever.

Glandular fever is spread through saliva and is sometimes referred to as the kissing disease, although it can be contracted from exposure to coughs or sharing drinking utensils and unwashed cutlery.

People who have suffered from glandular fever before are highly unlikely to develop it for a second time; this is because the body builds up a lifelong immunity to the glandular fever virus.

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