This Is How Little You Need to Exercise to Keep Depression at Bay

Young women exercising on a beachA recent study involving 34,000 adults shows that you don’t have to do much to dramatically curb the risk for depression. Researchers found that just one to two hours of exercise per week can cut the risk in half.

Participants who exercised on a weekly basis were healthy and in a good mood after eleven years of follow-up. Volunteers who failed to exercise were 44 percent more likely to suffer from depression.

Another piece of good news is that the workout was low to moderate intensity. Researchers found that none of the subjects had to sweat and get fatigued as long as they kept a constant weekly pace.

Study authors couldn’t tell why exercising helps against the depression, but they have some theories. They explained that after exercise, the brain releases endorphins, i.e. hormones that boost the general mood. As a result, participants tend to have a better self-esteem. These factors paired with constant peer support and social interaction may explain the positive health outcomes.

Peer Support is Critical

Experts recommend additional steps to stave off depression, which can be a debilitating disease. First, you should keep stress in check. Stress can easily lead to depression especially over prolonged periods of time.

Ensure you have enough peer support, be it family or friends. When you feel gloomy you can always call a loved one for an instant mood booster.

What’s more, don’t forget to exercise 150 minutes per week. You can dance, bike, walk, or o whatever activity that makes you move.

If you suspect you may be depressed you should seek medical help immediately. Depression is often paired with a sense of hopelessness and sadness, and in most severe cases with suicidal thoughts. Psychotherapy is the best option to go, but in severe cases, your psychiatrist may prescribe medication too.
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The Secret to an Effective Flu Shot Might Be a Good Mood

Nurse giving a woman a flu shot

The flu shot might work better if you’re in a good mood when you’re getting it

If you are afraid of the flu, it makes perfect sense to go and get vaccinated against it. However, a new research found there are cases when a flu shot works better. Scientists discovered the shot was more effective if people were in a good mood when they got vaccinated. This was the most powerful factor which influenced the shot, as it worked better than good sleep, exercise, or proper diet.

The flu shot works better for younger people

Researchers have observed how the flu shot works for older patients between 17 and 53 percent of the cases. In contrast, the vaccine is more effective in younger people, since it works in almost 90 percent of the cases. Therefore, they wanted to see what makes it work better for younger people, and how they could use this to increase its efficacy for older people.

They started monitoring a group of 138 older people six weeks before getting their vaccines. Among the things they looked at, there were these people’s sleep patterns, diet, exercising schedule and, finally, mood. Then, after they got the flu shot, researchers kept monitoring the levels of antibodies they produced 16 weeks after the vaccination.

Being in a good mood increases the production of antibodies

They were surprised to discover only one of these factors actually had an impact on the effectiveness of the flu shot, namely the mood. Those participants who had been in a good mood for most of the six-week period prior vaccination produced more antibodies. Also, being in good spirits when getting the shot increased the antibody levels even more.

However, it’s hard to say that good mood was definitely the thing which increased effectiveness. There are many factors which make the flu shot work, and a stronger immune system might be among them. Even so, being positive when you get the vaccine would definitely not hurt. All the details of the study have been published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
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New Study Suggests Link Between Lack Of Vitamin D And MS

daffodil in sunshine and vitamin d

A new study suggests that the lack of vitamin D or the ‘sunshine vitamin’ might be tied to MS.

According to the results of a new study, low levels of vitamin D might possibly be linked and act as a potential prediction method for multiple sclerosis or MS.

Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for the human body in that it is essential for the health of its bones. Sometimes also called ‘the sunshine vitamin’, it is produced by the skin in response to its exposure to sunshine. It can also come from foods that are naturally rich in it.

Vitamin D, a Useful Tool in Spotting or Preventing MS?

Multiple sclerosis, a neurological condition, affects the nerves and causes the immune system to stop working properly. In doing so, it disrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and affects the motor functions.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston researchers are behind a new study on the matter. This analyzes the disease’s connection to the so-called sunshine vitamin. Research was based on a repository of blood samples from over 800,000 living in Finland and which took part in a prenatal testing.

An average nine years later, 1,092 women were identified to have developed MS. Information from them was compared to that from 2,123 participants that were disease-free.

Based on this, the study team noted that some 58 percent of the patients that had the disease also presented a vitamin D deficit. This lack of the sunshine vitamin was somewhat lower in the other group, with only 52 percent of them presenting a deficit.

A deficit of vitamin D was determined as having fewer than 30 nanomoles/liter or nmol/L. Adequate levels were defined as being 50 nmol/L or higher.

The researchers established that each 50 nmol/L increase in the vitamin levels in the blood could lead to a 39 percent lowering of the risks of developing the disease later in life. Women with a vitamin D deficit also reportedly presented a 43 percent higher risk of having MS than participants with lower or adequate levels.

“More research is needed on the optimal dose of vitamin D for reducing the risk of MS,” said Kassandra Munger, the study author. “But striving to achieve vitamin D sufficiency over the course of a person’s life will likely have multiple health benefits.”

Still, researchers point out that more, larger and more diverse studies are needed to analyze this possible relationship between multiple sclerosis and a vitamin D deficit.

Current research findings are available in a paper in the journal Neurology.

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A Cancer Pen Can Reportedly Detect The Disease In Seconds

surgical instruments including cancer pen scissors and wires

A team of scientists invented a cancer pen which can place a diagnose in just 10 seconds.

A team of researchers recently presented its latest invention, a so-called cancer pen named the MasSpec Pen which can reportedly diagnose the disease in just a number of seconds.

This handheld device is presented as being both fast and accurate, as it could help improve cancer treatment methods and reportedly reduce its risks of recurrence.

The Cancer Pen Can Place a Diagnosis in 10 Seconds

University of Texas, Austin scientists are behind this new invention, which was designed and led by Livia Schiavinato Eberlin. Their device, the MasSpec Pen, can rapidly and accurately diagnose cancer during surgery. It can reportedly do so in just 10 seconds or some 150 faster than the existing technologies.

The handheld device was already tested on tissue samples removed from 253 human patients diagnosed with cancer. According to reports, the cancer pen was capable of detecting the disease even in marginal regions. Located between cancer tissue and normal one, these presented mixed cellular composition. The pen was also noted to have been 96 percent accurate during these tests.

MasSpec works by releasing a tiny drop of water from its tip to the patient’s tissue. This is quickly recaptured and then sent to a mass spectrometer in the pen. A scientific device, this helps analyze the mass, and chemical composition of the molecules soaked up from the tissue.

“When designing the MasSpec Pen, we made sure the tissue remains intact by coming into contact only with water and the plastic tip of the MasSpec Pen during the procedure,” state the scientists.

The mass spectrometer then helps establish if the tissue is cancerous or not, and returns its results in just ten seconds on a computer screen.

The MasSpec Pen to Begin Real-Time Testing?

This cancer pen can reportedly identify even subtypes of cancer, besides the different types of the disease itself. It can do so as each one of them produces its unique set of biomarkers. Ones that are considered a sort of molecular “fingerprints”.

The team is hoping to start testing their new device during oncological surgeries by 2018. However, they also point out that it might still be years before the MasSpec Pen will start being regularly used.

A paper with the study results and the pen’s specifications is available in the journal Science Translational Medicine.


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Music Teacher Hummed During His Brain Surgery To Ensure Its Success

music teacher hummed and played the held a saxophone

A music teacher hummed during his tumor-removal brain surgery, all part of a cutting edge research.

A music teacher and professional musician named Dan Fabbio was asked to hum during his tumor-removal brain surgery to ensure the surgery’s success. This is because his tumor grew in the brain area responsible for music function. Fabbio’s surgery is part of a larger project, a cutting-edge research targeting brain mapping.

Dan Fabbio recounted how he was 25 years old when he found out that he had a tumor growing on his brain, and also how he took the news. However, the doctors had some good news as well, besides the bad ones. The tumor was benign but had been probably growing since childhood in the area of the brain responsible for music function.

So Fabbio was involved in a cutting edge-research currently being conducted by a team of surgeons and physicians from the University of Rochester Medical Center. This project is named the Translational Brain Mapping Program. It seeks to carefully map out the brain of each patient which “comes to URMC for surgery” as explained by Professor Bradford Mahon.

“This type of personalized brain mapping is important because, while everyone’s brain is organized in more or less the same way, there is inter-individual variability in the precise location of specific functions,” continued the professor.

So the investigators designed a series of fMRI experiments which were used to “map the music in Dan’s brain”. The team was keen on finding a way of removing the tumor without affecting their patient’s musical abilities.

By creating and completing a detailed map of Fabbio’s brain, the surgeons knew exactly both where the tumor was located and the particular place of his music function.

Music Teacher Hummed Simple Warming Exercises

The map was then used as a guide during surgery, and the extra assurance came from Fabbio himself. During the operation, he was awake and humming.

Besides the fact that the music teacher hummed during surgery, he also repeated a series of language exercises especially learned before the surgery. This helped the operating team know if they were potentially disrupting a music processing brain part.

The music teacher hummed during operation and then demonstrated the success of the surgery by starting to play the saxophone right in the operating room after the end of the procedure. Reports state he has recovered and is back to teaching music.

A research paper with the full details of the surgery and its required work is available in the journal Current Biology.

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Peanut Allergy Is Curable, Finally!

peanuts in white bowl on table

Peanut allergy is among the most common, and deadliest, allergy in the US.

Read the back of any food label, and there is a good chance that you will find a notice on it saying that the ingredients of the product were processed in a factory with peanuts. This isn’t normally a problem, unless you happen to be allergic to them.

Some people are so sensitive to this type of snack food that they can go into immediate anaphylactic shock from just the powdery residue of a peanut touching their lips. And unlike other types of allergies, it doesn’t get better over time. So the recent discovery of a cure for peanut allergies is a big deal for those who have suffered from the condition for years.

Probiotics Are the Key

When children with peanut allergies were given a special blend of probiotics that contained a small amount of peanuts mixed in, over 80% of them no longer had an allergic reaction to them. So the treatment acted in a similar way to how immunizations defend the body from diseases. But the most amazing part is that the resistance to peanuts didn’t wear off afterward. When the children were checked four years later, they were still able to eat peanuts without the usual shortness of breath, swelling, and difficulty swallowing that they would normally struggle with.

To be sure of the accuracy of the study, researchers did double-blind testing. And they varied the amount of peanuts that each child ate. This allowed them to see if higher amounts of peanuts could possibly trigger a reaction.

Since the results of this medical research were so impressive, there is a chance that it could be used to help people suffering from other types of allergies too. However, further testing is still needed to know if the results are truly permanent. The data was only collected for four years. So only time will tell if the children in the study will become re-sensitized to peanuts.

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The FDA Gave Its Mark OF Approval For A New Drug For ALL

syringe with drug for all

The FDA announced that it has approved a new drug for ALL, a rare form of leukemia.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has approved the commercialization and use of a new drug, one that will target ALL.

ALL or B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a rare and rapidly progressing form of blood cancer. It is caused by the bone marrow producing too many B-cell lymphocytes, which are a type of immature blood cells.

According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 6,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with all this year alone. Some 1,440 will possibly die because of it.

ALL Patients Will Have A New Drug Variant

The FDA approved the use of a new drug for this type of blood cancer, one that can be utilized by adult patients. It was approved for those that tried other treatments that ultimately failed. The medicine can be used by adults with a relapsed or refractory ALL.

“These patients have few treatments available and today’s approval provides a new, targeted treatment option,” stated Richard Pazdur.

An M.D., he is the FDA director of the Oncology Center of Excellence. Dr. Pazdur underlines that patients whose disease returned or did not respond to treatment typically have a low life expectancy.

The newly approved drug is Bespona, and Pfizer Inc. commercializes it. Before receiving the mark of approval, this medicine’s effects were tested in a trial involving almost 220 patients.

Among those given Bespona, 36 percent saw their blood cancer for a period of eight months, on average. Among those to receive chemotherapy, 17 percent saw their disease in complete remission for an average of five months.

This new drug is believed to work by binding to the surface of the cancerous cells and as such, blocking its growth.

The medicine is injectable, but it also carries the most stringent warning from the FDA as it could cause severe adverse reactions.

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Scientists Are Using Micromotors To Fight Bacteria In The Stomach

micromotors scheme of the stomach illustrated

Scientists are testing the efficiency of micromotors in treating stomach bacterial infections.

A team of scientists is using tiny, autonomous vehicles or micromotors to test the delivery of drugs to try and clear bacterial infections in the stomach.

University of California, San Diego, Moores Cancer Center Department of Nanoengineering researchers led this new study. They have been conducting trials on mice to tests the utility of their autonomous vehicles.

Micromotors to be Used to Fight Stomach Infections

The micromotors produced by the team are no wider than a human hair and are autonomous. These tiny vehicles were used to clear stomach bacterial infections by delivering the necessary drugs.

The tiny robots were constructed with a magnesium core, which then reacts with the gastric acid after being swallowed. After no more than 20 minutes, the micromotors should release a stream of hydrogen bubbles. These propel the tiny vehicles and send them where they need to go.

The antibiotics released by the vehicles are set to be released as the stomach’s level of acidity diminishes thanks to oxygen. This ensures the medicine’s effectiveness. The micromotors are biodegradable, so they do not require removal or extraction.

For their study, the team tested the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. It then used the clarithromycin as its model antibiotic. The tiny robots were then used over a period of five days in treating the affected mice.

According to results, having them administer the medicine resulted in a noticeable reduction of the stomach bacteria levels. Also, no side-effects or adverse reactions of the stomach function were recorded.

The research team stated that the standard stomach PH level was restored in 24 hours.

Researchers believe that these tiny vehicles show real promise for future treatments. Ones that make use of them in treating bacterial infections and also diseases.

“There is still a long way to go, but we are on a fantastic voyage,” stated Joseph Wang, a professor and nanoengineer.

The team released their study results in a paper in the journal Nature Communications.

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Binge Drinking In America At Critical Levels This Century

glass of beer next to a full plate

The increase in the drinking habits of Americans can have dire consequences in the future of healthcare

On Wednesday, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry reported that almost 30 million adults in the U.S engage in binge drinking at least once a week. An almost same number reported alcohol abuse or dependency. The study highlights a trend that could have great implications for the costs of the U.S’s future healthcare.

The Rise in Numbers Includes All Demographics

The study shows that there has been a decrease in the numbers of young adults who drink. However, binge drinking in adults increased significantly and encompasses all demographics. What stood out the most were older Americans, citizens of lower incomes and education and minorities. Lead researcher from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Bridget Grant said that such jumps have not been seen in the last three or four decades.

A survey in 2001 first recorded the increase in alcohol drinking. A follow-up survey in 2012 resulted in an even bigger increase in risky drinking habits. The 2001 survey noted that 9.7% of adults engage in heavy drinking. The follow-up reported a 12.6%. This means that the limits set by the government of four drinks for women per day and five for men were exceeded at least once a week. The new study shows that women engaged more in binge drinking than men.

Alchohol abuse or dependence is roughly coming up to the same percentage. The 2001 survey reported 8.5% of responders admitting such behavior while the follow-up survey reported 12.7%. The surveys all featured standard questions regarding drinking habits and the difficulty of giving up these habits.

So far there is no certain explanation for the increase. The economic stress that followed the Great Recession might be a factor. At the same time, taxes on alcohol have been reduced and alcohol is available in any restaurant or retail store. Alcohol abuse can have dire consequences on health, including the risk of drunk-driving deaths and alcohol related violence.

Image source: Pixabay.

Scientists Implanted Stem Cells In The Hypothalamus To Slow Aging

brain implanted stem cells

Scientists implanted stem cells in a specific brain region to see if it could slow down aging.

A team of researchers found evidence that a particular brain region, the hypothalamus, might be involved in the aging process through the presence of neural stem cells. As these were noted to disappear with time, the scientists implanted stem cells to see if this could help expand the lifespan.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx scientists led by Dongsheng Cai, a molecular pharmacologist, are behind this new study. Back in 2013, the team detected that the hypothalamus could be playing a role in aging. They also concluded that reducing the inflammation in the brains of the mice might also help extend the animals’ lives.

Implanted Stem Cells to Help Extend the Lifespan?

Cai and his team conducted a follow-up study. Through it, they tried to pinpoint the exact stem cells involved in the aging process. According to the study, these could be the neural stem cells, which help generate replacements for damaged or dead cells.

The study, which was conducted on mice, noted that neural stem cells start disappearing as the animal is middle aged (around ten months old). They are also seemingly completely gone as the mouse reached old age (two years old).

To analyze if neural stem cells are actually involved in the aging process, the team carried out two separate tests. In one of them, they disrupted these cells in a group of mice. These rodents were then noted to be aging faster than normal, and to live less than the others.

“There was a decline in learning and memory, coordination, muscle mass, endurance, and skin thickness,” explained Cai.

The researchers also tested the opposite. They implanted stem cells into the hypothalamus of another group of mice. Follow-ups showed that these animals lived significantly longer than the others. For example, their lifespan was 15 percent longer than that of the control group of mice.

Although the technique and the results have been described as being “totally novel and quite unexpected”, this does not guarantee them as being applicable to humans as well.

It remains to be determined through follow-up research if this is similar or the same in people, as they are more complex. Now, the researchers will be looking to conduct a trial study on the matter.

Research findings are available in the Nature journal.

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