Health

(Reuters Health) – – Recreational drugs like “MDMA” and amphetamines have long been linked to a variety of movement disorders, and a new study suggests that basic motor skill impairment may linger even among former users. For the study, researchers tested how well current and former amphetamine users could hold their arms in a variety of positions, an indicator of basic motor skills, and compared their abilities to people who had never used these drugs. Both drooping arms and tremors were more common in current stimulant users than in people who never used the drugs. Former users also had more tremors than non-users. “Holding your arms out for one minute should not be seen as difficult – yet regular stimulants users showed significant deficits in this very simple and basic human skill,” said senior study author Andrew Parrott of Swansea University in the UK. “It was previously known that regular central nervous system stimulant use …

(Reuters Health) – – A new type of “heat-not-burn” cigarette releases some of the same cancer-causing chemicals found in traditional cigarette smoke, a recent experiment suggests. Researchers analyzed the chemical compounds and nicotine in smoke from traditional cigarettes and from the new devices, which are designed to heat disposable tobacco sticks and give users the taste of tobacco without the smoke or ash. The smoke released by this “heat-not-burn” cigarette had 84 percent of the nicotine found in traditional cigarettes, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine. Heat-not-burn cigarettes also released chemicals linked to cancer including carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The research team was surprised to find that heat-not-burn cigarettes “released some of these chemicals in much higher concentrations that conventional cigarettes,” said lead study author Dr. Reto Auer of the University of Bern in Switzerland. “We need more studies to find out about the health consequences” of smoking …

(Reuters Health) – – There is little or no evidence to support many popular therapies that aim to help children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), according to two new reviews of existing research. ASDs are developmental disorders that can lead to social, communication and behavioral challenges. One review found some evidence that therapies targeting sensory issues provided at least short-term benefits, but the second review found little evidence to support the use of special diets or nutritional supplements for children with ASDs. “I think they show how scattered the information we have is,” said Catherine Lord, who directs the NewYork-Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain in White Plains, New York. “We need better ways of collecting systematic data about the treatments,” said Lord, who was not involved with either review. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 68 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with an ASD. Amy …

Non-drug approaches that work best at relieving cancer-related fatigue may differ during and after cancer treatment, according to an analysis of past trials. During treatment, relaxation practices had the strongest fatigue-reducing effect, but after cancer treatments are complete, yoga provided the biggest benefit. “During and after cancer therapy, fatigue is one of the most frequent and distressing symptoms,” said lead author Richard Hilfiker of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland Valais in Leukerbad. Cancer-related fatigue is considered a “distressing, persistent, subjective sense of physical, emotional, or cognitive tiredness or exhaustion related to cancer or cancer treatment that is not proportional to recent activity and interferes with usual functioning,” the authors write in British Journal of Sports Medicine. Depending on the types of cancer patients have and the treatments they receive, more than a quarter experience this kind of severe fatigue, and it can last for five years or more after treatment, the …

Older people who eat the most fiber are at lower risk of developing knee pain and stiffness due to osteoarthritis (OA), new research shows. Diets rich in fiber from plant-based foods have clear health benefits, such as lower cholesterol, better-controlled blood sugar, and a healthier weight, but most people in the U.S. don’t eat enough fiber, lead author Dr. Zhaoli Dai of Tufts University in Boston told Reuters Health. The current average fiber intake among U.S. adults is about 15 grams, she noted. “This is far below the recommended level, which is 22.4 grams for women and 28 grams per day for men 51 years and above,” Dai said. OA, which occurs when wear and tear on the joints degrades cartilage and leads to bone abnormalities, is extremely common in people 60 and older. It can be painful, and is also a leading cause of disability. There is no treatment for OA, aside from joint …

SHANGHAI April Zhang, a 21-year-old student from Shanghai, reflects the fast-shifting attitudes of China’s younger generations toward sex. She’s confident to talk about a topic once taboo here and is well educated about the risks. Zhang and her young contemporaries – though far from uniform in their views – are much more open in their attitudes to sex than their conservative parents and increasingly aware of the need for protection against sexually-transmitted diseases. This sex savvy generation is set to spur sharp growth of the country’s condom market, a key driver behind a deal by Chinese investors to buy the world’s no. 2 condom business for $600 million from Australia’s Ansell Ltd. “Attitudes are certainly changing. We’re increasingly open,” said Zhang, adding her friends mostly chose brands like Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc’s Durex and Japan’s top-selling brand Okamoto due to their reputation for high quality as well as their visible marketing campaigns. “This is a …

It’s obvious that youngsters who harm themselves need psychiatric care, but drugs, alcohol, and violent injuries should set off similar mental-health alarm bells, researchers say. In a study from the UK, the risk of suicide 10 years after adolescents were hospitalized for drug problems, alcohol abuse or violent injury was similar to the risk among those hospitalized for self-harm. “All of these kids should be having a psychological assessments,” said lead author Annie Herbert, of University College London. Herbert and colleagues write in The Lancet that substance abuse, violence and self-inflicted injuries are all forms of self-harm that likely share underlying psychological issues related to adversity, poor mental health and poor social circumstances like poverty. For the new study, Herbert’s team tracked adolescents who were hospitalized between 1997 and 2012 for accidental injuries or for “adversity-related injuries” (i.e., self-inflicted, drug-related or alcohol-related, or violent injuries). The children were 10 to 19 years old at the …

A moderate-intensity walking regimen may reduce symptoms of mild cognitive impairment that are linked to poor blood vessel health in the brain, a small study suggests. Participants with vascular cognitive impairment, sometimes called vascular dementia, who walked three hours per week for six months had improved reaction times and other signs of improved brain function, the Canadian team reports in British Journal of Sports Medicine. Vascular cognitive impairment, or VCI, refers to mildly impaired thinking or more advanced dementia that’s due to the same kinds of blood vessel damage seen with heart disease elsewhere in the body. It is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. “It is well established that regular aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health and cerebrovascular health,” the study’s senior author Teresa Liu-Ambrose told Reuters Health in an email. “More specifically, it reduces one’s risk of developing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes (type II), and high …

Eating more red meat is associated with an increased risk of dying from eight common diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as “all other causes” of death, according to a recent U.S. study. Researchers examined data on almost 537,000 adults aged 50 to 71 and found the people who consumed the most red meat had 26 percent higher odds than those who ate the least of dying from a variety of causes. But people who ate the most white meat, including poultry and fish, were 25 percent less likely to die of all causes during the study period than people who consumed the least, researchers report in The BMJ. “Our findings confirm previous reports on the associations between red meat and premature death, and it is also large enough to show similar associations across nine different causes of death,” said lead study author Arash Etemadi of the National Cancer Institute. “We also …

LOS ANGELES Nearly three dozen consumer, environmental and public health groups on Thursday pressed privately held In-N-Out Burger to make good on its vow to set time lines for phasing out the use of beef raised with antibiotics vital to human health. Some 70 percent of antibiotics needed to fight infections in humans are sold for use in meat and dairy production. Medical researchers say overuse of the drugs may diminish their effectiveness in fighting disease in humans by contributing to the rise of dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria often referred to as “superbugs.” Restaurant chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc, Panera Bread Co, McDonald’s Corp and Subway already have joined the fight against superbugs by working with their meat suppliers to curb the use of important human antibiotics. In-N-Out last year told Reuters it was “committed to beef that is not raised with antibiotics important to human medicine and we’ve asked our suppliers to accelerate …

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