7th Aug 2014, 02:04 PM #1331
Re: Health Bulletin
A simple mathematical equation can now correctly score how happy you are
The happiness of over 18,000 people worldwide has been predicted by a mathematical equation developed by researchers at UCL, with results showing that moment-to-moment happiness reflects not just how well things are going, but whether things are going better than expected.
The new equation accurately predicts exactly how happy people will say they are from moment to moment based on recent events, such as the rewards they receive and the expectations they have during a decision-making task.
Scientists found that overall wealth accumulated during the experiment was not a good predictor of happiness.
Instead, moment-to-moment happiness depended on the recent history of rewards and expectations.
The team used functional MRI to demonstrate that neural signals during decisions and outcomes in the task in an area of the brain called the striatum can be used to predict changes in moment-to-moment happiness.
The striatum has a lot of connections with dopamine neurons, and signals in this brain area are thought to depend at least partially on dopamine. These results raise the possibility that dopamine may play a role in determining happiness.
In the study, 26 subjects completed a decision-making task in which their choices led to monetary gains and losses and they were repeatedly asked to answer the question "how happy are you right now?"
The participant's neural activity was also measured during the task using functional MRI and from these data, scientists built a computational model in which self-reported happiness was related to recent rewards and expectations.
The model was then tested on 18,420 participants in the game "What makes me happy?" in a smartphone app developed at UCL.
Scientists were surprised to find that the same equation could be used to predict how happy subjects would be while they played the smartphone game, even though subjects could win only points and not money.
The study investigated the relationship between happiness and reward and the neural processes that lead to feelings that are central to our conscious experience, such as happiness. Before now, it was known that life events affect an individual's happiness but not exactly how happy people will be from moment to moment as they make decisions and receive outcomes resulting from those decisions, something the new equation can predict.
Scientists believe that quantifying subjective states mathematically could help doctors better understand mood disorders, by seeing how self-reported feelings fluctuate in response to events like small wins and losses in a smartphone game. A better understanding of how mood is determined by life events and circumstances, and how that differs in people suffering from mood disorders, will hopefully lead to more effective treatments.
Research examining how and why happiness changes from moment to moment in individuals could also assist governments who deploy population measures of wellbeing to inform policy, by providing quantitative insight into what the collected information means.
Lead author Dr Robb Rutledge said "We expected to see that recent rewards would affect moment-to-moment happiness but were surprised to find just how important expectations are in determining happiness. In real-world situations, the rewards associated with life decisions such as starting a new job or getting married are often not realized for a long time, and our results suggest expectations related to these decisions, good and bad, have a big effect on happiness".
"Life is full of expectations - it would be difficult to make good decisions without knowing, for example, which restaurant you like better. It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower. We find that there is some truth to this: lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact
7th Aug 2014, 02:35 PM #1332
Re: Health Bulletin
Threefold surge in male teenage drinking in India: Study
Revealing an alarming trend, a team led by an Indian-origin researcher has reported a threefold surge in the number of male teenagers drinking alcohol in India, especially in urban cities and poorer households.
"The proportion of men who started drinking in their teenage rose from 19.5 percent for those born between 1956 and 1960 to 74.3 percent for those born between 1981-85 - a more than threefold rise," said lead researcher Aravind Pillai from Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.
Those living in urban areas and poorer households are more likely to start drinking at an early age, the findings showed.
To reach this conclusion, the team questioned 2,000 randomly selected 20-49 year old men from rural and urban areas in northern Goa.
They were asked to reveal the age at which they first started to drink alcohol, how much they drank, and whether they had sustained any injuries as a result of their drinking.
Levels of psychological distress were also assessed using a validated questionnaire (GHQ).
"Teenage drinkers were more than twice as likely to be distressed and alcohol dependent as those who did not start drinking early in life," researchers added.
They were three times as likely to have sustained injuries as a result of their drinking.
Studies from high-income countries have shown that starting drinking early in life is a consistent predictor of alcohol-related harm across the life course.
"But whether this association also exists in low and middle-income countries, such as India, was not clear," they said.
Consistent with studies from high-income countries, this study found that starting to drink alcohol during the teenage years was associated with a greater likelihood of developing lifetime alcohol dependence, hazardous or harmful drinking, alcohol related injuries, and psychological distress in adulthood.
"Alcohol consumption and its harmful effects are emerging as a major public health problem in India and the trend is alarming," Pillai added.
The findings highlight the importance of generating public awareness about the hazards of starting to drink early in life, and of enforcing regulations designed to limit underage drinking.
The study appeared online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
8th Aug 2014, 12:03 AM #1333
Re: Health Bulletin
Human milk acts as medicine for critically ill babies: Study
While human milk is the best food for infant, a new study has revealed that it can also work as a medicine for critically ill babies.
According to Diane L Spatz, director of the lactation programme at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP): “The immunological and anti-inflammatory properties of human milk are especially important for the critically ill infants in our intensive care units.”
The hospital has used donor human milk since 2006 for at-risk infants to supplement a mother's own milk supply if it is insufficient or if the mother is unable to provide milk for her infant.
This week, CHOP has also announced plans to launch a non-profit milk bank with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America within an year.
Multiple public health and professional medical associations - from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the American Academy of Paediatrics - have endorsed the widespread advantages of human milk and breastfeeding for all infants.
Spatz argues that under the “best interest principle”, the infant's best interest, not parental authority, should have priority in guiding infant feeding practices - particularly for critically ill babies.
Spatz is the key figure behind a series of articles in a neonatal nursing journal's special issue focused on human milk for sick newborns and published by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.
In the special issue, Spatz and her colleagues cover a variety of topics on the provision of human milk in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), including original research articles, ethical rationales for the provision of human milk, and evidence-based methods for implementing particular programs.
8th Aug 2014, 12:05 AM #1334
Re: Health Bulletin
Low levels of Vitamin D doubles dementia, Alzeimer's risk
A new study suggests that older adults with Vitamin D deficiency are twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
In addition to being essential for maintaining bone health, newer evidence shows that Vitamin D serves important roles in enhancing the immune system`s ability to clear the brain of amyloid plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer`s disease.
The study has found that adults who were moderately deficient in Vitamin D, had a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia of any kind, and the risk increased to 125 per cent in those who were severely deficient.
The results recorded for Alzheimer's disease have shown that moderately deficient group 69 per cent more likely to develop this type of dementia, jumping to a 122 per cent increased risk for those severely deficient.
The study was published in the online issue of Neurology.
8th Aug 2014, 12:07 AM #1335
Re: Health Bulletin
Stress may shorten pregnancy in coming generations
Have you experienced childbirth complications and delivered a premature baby even after taking all de-stressing measures during pregnancy?
This could well be owing to stress in your mothers, grandmothers and beyond, suggests a study.
Inherited epigenetic effects of stress could affect pregnancies for generations.
"We show that stress across generations becomes powerful enough to shorten pregnancy length in rats and induce hallmark features of human preterm birth," said Gerlinde Metz from University of Lethbridge in Canada.
"A surprising finding was that mild to moderate stress during pregnancy had a compounding effect across generations. Thus, the effects of stress grew larger with each generation," Metz added.
For the study, the researchers examined the length of pregnancies in rats because in general there is very little variation between them.
A first generation of rats were subjected to stress late in pregnancy. The following two generations were then split into two groups that were either stressed or not stressed.
The daughters of stressed rats had shorter pregnancies than the daughters of those who had not been.
Remarkably, the grand-daughters of stressed rats had shorter pregnancies, even if their mothers had not been stressed.
The researchers believe that these changes are due to epigenetics - the arrangement and expression of our genes.
The study appeared in the journal BMC Medicine.
8th Aug 2014, 03:34 PM #1336
Re: Health Bulletin
High caffeine may lower ear ringing sensation in women
If you are a woman and suffering from ringing or buzzing sound in the ear when there is no outside source of the sounds, increase your tea and coffee intake.
According to new research, women with a higher intake of caffeine had a lower incidence of unexplained ear ringing.
Higher caffeine intake is associated with lower rates of tinnitus in younger and middle-aged women, it added.
The study followed more than 65,000 women. Researchers tracked self-reported results regarding lifestyle and medical history from these women, aged 30 to 44 years and without tinnitus in 1991.
After 18 years of follow up, researchers identified 5,289 cases of reported incident tinnitus.
“We observed a significant inverse association between caffeine intake and the incidence of tinnitus among these women,” said Gary Curhan, a physician-researcher at the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts.
Significantly, researchers found that when compared with women with caffeine intake less than 150 milligrams/day (one and a half 8-ounce cups of coffee), the incidence of reported tinnitus was 15 percent lower among those women who consumed 450 to 599 mg/day of caffeine.
The majority of caffeine consumed among the women was from coffee and the results did not vary by age.
“We know that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and previous research has demonstrated that caffeine has a direct effect on the inner ear in both bench science and animal studies,” Curhan noted.
Researchers note that further evidence is needed to make any recommendations about whether the addition of caffeine would improve tinnitus symptoms.
The research appeared in the journal American Journal of Medicine.
9th Aug 2014, 12:41 PM #1337
Re: Health Bulletin
New study claims physically fit adolescents' are less depressed
A new study has shown that physically fit sixth graders especially girls are less depressed when they reach in seventh grade.
The study conducted at the American Psychological Association's 122nd Annual Convention demonstrated that existing symptoms of depression and weight, sixth-grade girls who performed better on a cardiorespiratory fitness test were less likely to feel depressed when they were surveyed again in seventh grade.
Camilo Ruggero, PhD, of the University of North Texas said that a student's physical activity level may change from week to week, whereas fitness was a result of more prolonged physical activity and assessing the students' body mass index, how well they performed on a shuttle-run test and their own feelings of personal fitness helped to give them a more complete picture of each student's fitness level.
Ruggero added that depression that begins at this time could lead to chronic or recurring depression in later years and fitness programs were one way to help prevent depression in middle-schoolers, but schools should also use other interventions, such as one-on-one or group therapy, that more directly address symptom treatment among depressed adolescents.
9th Aug 2014, 12:42 PM #1338
Re: Health Bulletin
Largest ever genomic study set to revolutionize cancer treatment
A new 'largest-of-its-kind' genomic study has offered a new cancer classification system, which could help provide different and better treatment to the patients.
Scientists suggests that one in 10 cancer patients would be more accurately diagnosed if their tumors were defined by cellular and molecular criteria rather than by the tissues in which they originated, and that this information, in turn, could lead to more appropriate treatments.
The study was conducted as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) initiative spearheaded by the National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute, both part of the National Institutes of Health.
Cancers traditionally have been categorized by their "tissue of origin" such as breast, bladder, or kidney cancer. But tissues are composed of different types of cells, and the new work indicates that in many cases the type of cell affected by cancer may be a more useful guide to treatment than the tissue in which a tumor originates.
Striking results were seen particularly in bladder and breast cancers. At least three different subtypes of bladder cancer were identified, one virtually indistinguishable from lung adenocarcinomas, and another most similar to squamous-cell cancers of the head and neck and of the lungs.
Christopher Benz, professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, said that this genomic study not only challenged the existing system of classifying cancers based on tissue type, but also provided a massive new data resource for further exploration, as well as a comprehensive list of the molecular features distinguishing each of the newly described cancer classes.
He further added that the findings might help explain why patients with bladder cancer often respond very differently when treated with the same systemic therapy for their seemingly identical cancer type.
The study would fuel clinical trial designs based on genomic reclassification of tumors whereby patients become eligible for novel therapeutics. Although follow-up studies are needed to validate and refine this newly proposed cancer classification system and it would ultimately provide the biologic foundation for that era of personalized cancer treatment that patients and clinicians eagerly wait.
The study is published in the online edition of Cell.
9th Aug 2014, 10:43 PM #1339
Re: Health Bulletin
Best way to brush teeth still unknown
Every morning when you brush your teeth, do you remember your dentist's advice? No worries as even he may be wrong about the best way to brush.
According to new a research by University College London, the advice on how we should brush our teeth from dental associations and toothpaste companies is "unacceptably inconsistent".
The study looked at the brushing advice given by dental associations across 10 countries, toothpaste and toothbrush companies and in dental textbooks.
The researchers found no clear consensus between the various sources, and a "worrying" lack of agreement between advice from dental associations compared with dental textbooks.
"The public needs to have sound information on the best method to brush their teeth," said Aubrey Sheiham, emeritus professor of dental public health at UCL.
The most commonly-recommended technique involves gently jiggling the brush back and forth in small motions, with the intention of shaking loose any food particles, plaque and bacteria.
However, no large-scale studies have ever shown this method to be any more effective than basic scrubbing.
"Brush gently with a simple horizontal scrubbing motion, with the brush at a 45 degree angle to get to the dental plaque," Sheiham advised.
To avoid brushing too hard, hold the brush with a pencil grip rather than a fist.
This simple method is perfectly effective at keeping your gums healthy.
There is little point in brushing after eating sweets or sugary drinks to prevent tooth decay.
"It takes bacteria from food about two minutes to start producing acid, so if you brush your teeth a few minutes after eating sugary foods, the acid will have damaged the enamel," researchers claimed.
The study appeared in the British Dental Journal.
10th Aug 2014, 12:15 PM #1340
Re: Health Bulletin
Ebola vaccine to trial next month, may be ready by 2015: UN
Clinical trials of a preventative vaccine for the Ebola virus made by British pharma company GlaxoSmithKline may begin next month and made available by 2015, the World Health Organisation said on Saturday.
"We are targeting September for the start of clinical trials, first in the United States and certainly in African countries, since that's where we have the cases," Jean-Marie Okwo Bele, the WHO's head of vaccines and immunisation, told French radio.
He said he was optimistic about making the vaccine commercially available. "We think that if we start in September, we could already have results by the end of the year.
"And since this is an emergency, we can put emergency procedures in place ... So that we can have a vaccine available by 2015."
There is currently no available cure or vaccine for Ebola, a virus that causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.
It has claimed close to 1,000 lives in the latest epidemic to spread across west Africa this year. Fatality rates can approach 90 percent, although the latest outbreak has killed around 55 to 60 percent of those infected.
Several vaccines are being tested, and a treatment made by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, ZMapp, has shown promising results on monkeys and may have been effective in treating two Americans recently infected in Africa.