Olfactory receptors in the skin: Sandalwood scent facilitates wound healing, skin regeneration

Skin cells possess an olfactory receptor for sandalwood scent, as researchers at the Ruhr-Universitt Bochum have discovered. Their data indicate that the cell proliferation increases and wound healing improves if those receptors are activated. This mechanism constitutes a possible starting point for new drugs and cosmetics. The team headed by Dr Daniela Busse and Prof Dr Dr Dr med habil Hanns Hatt from the Department for Cellphysiology published their report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.The nose is not the only place where olfactory receptors occurHumans have approximately 350 different types of olfactory receptors in the nose. The function of those receptors has also been shown to exist in, for example spermatozoa, the prostate, the intestine and the kidneys. The team from Bochum has now discovered them in keratinocytes — cells that form the outermost layer of the skin.Experiments with cultures of human skin cellsThe RUB researchers studied the olfactory receptor that occurs in the skin, namely OR2AT4, and discovered that it is activated by a synthetic sandalwood scent, so-called Sandalore. Sandalwood aroma is frequently used in incense sticks and is a popular component in perfumes. The activated OR2AT4 receptor triggers a calcium-dependent signal pathway. That pathway ensures an increased proliferation and a quicker migration of skin cells — processes which typically facilitate wound healing. In collaboration with the Dermatology Department at the University of Mnster, the cell physiologists from Bochum demonstrated that effect in skin cell cultures and skin explants.Additional olfactory receptors in skin detectedIn addition to OR2AT4, the RUB scientists have also found a variety of other olfactory receptors in the skin, the function of which they are planning to characterise more precisely. …

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Facial transplantation: Almost a decade out, surgeons prepare for burgeoning demand

Plastic and reconstructive surgeons leading the first retrospective study of all known facial transplants worldwide conclude that the procedure is relatively safe, increasingly feasible, and a clear life-changer that can and should be offered to far more carefully selected patients.Reporting in The Lancet online April 27, NYU Langone plastic and reconstructive surgeon and senior author Eduardo Rodriguez, MD, DDS, says results after nearly a decade of experience with what he calls the “Mount Everest” of medical-surgical treatments are “highly encouraging.”The review team noted that the transplants still pose lifelong risks and complications from infection and sometimes toxic immunosuppressive drugs, but also are highly effective at restoring people to fully functioning lives after physically disfiguring and socially debilitating facial injuries.Surgeons base their claims on the experience of 28 people known to have had full or partial face transplants since 2005, when the first such procedure was performed on a woman in France.Of the 22 men and six women whose surgeries were reported, including seven Americans, none have chronically rejected their new organs and tissues, says Dr. Rodriguez, chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center and director of its Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. All but three recipients are still living. Four have returned to work or school.Dr. Rodriguez, the Helen L. Kimmel Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone, in 2012 performed what is widely considered the most extensive facial transplant (when he practiced at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore). The patient was a Virginia man who had lost the lower half of his face in a gunshot accident 10 years earlier. Dr. Rodriguez is currently readying his new team at NYU Langone to perform its first facial transplantation, expected later this year.In The Lancet article, Dr. Rodriguez and his colleagues point out that although all recipients to date have experienced some complications from infection, and mild to moderate signs of rejection, the few deaths among patients were due to infection and cancer not directly related to their transplants. …

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Scientists grow cartilage to reconstruct nose

Scientists at the University of Basel report first ever successful nose reconstruction surgery using cartilage grown in the laboratory. Cartilage cells were extracted from the patient’s nasal septum, multiplied and expanded onto a collagen membrane. The so-called engineered cartilage was then shaped according to the defect and implanted. The results will be published in the current edition of the academic journal The Lancet.A research team from the University of Basel in Switzerland has reported that nasal reconstruction using engineered cartilage is possible. They used a method called tissue engineering where cartilage is grown from patients’ own cells. This new technique was applied on five patients, aged 76 to 88 years, with severe defects on their nose after skin cancer surgery. One year after the reconstruction, all five patients were satisfied with their ability to breathe as well as with the cosmetic appearance of their nose. None of them reported any side effects.Cells from the nasal septumThe type of non-melanoma skin cancer investigated in this study is most common on the nose, specifically the alar wing of the nose, because of its cumulative exposure to sunlight. To remove the tumor completely, surgeons often have to cut away parts of cartilage as well. Usually, grafts for reconstruction are taken from the nasal septum, the ear or the ribs and used to functionally reconstruct the nose. …

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Protein researchers closing in on the mystery of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe disease for which there is still no effective medical treatment. In an attempt to understand exactly what happens in the brain of schizophrenic people, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have analysed proteins in the brains of rats that have been given hallucinogenic drugs. This may pave the way for new and better medicines.Seven per cent of the adult population suffer from schizophrenia, and although scientists have tried for centuries to understand the disease, they still do not know what causes the disease or which physiological changes it causes in the body. Doctors cannot make the diagnosis by looking for specific physiological changes in the patient’s blood or tissue, but have to diagnose from behavioral symptoms.In an attempt to find the physiological signature of schizophrenia, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have conducted tests on rats, and they now believe that the signature lies in some specific, measurable proteins. Knowing these proteins and comparing their behavior to proteins in the brains of not-schizophrenic people may make it possible to develop more effective drugs.It is extremely difficult to study brain activity in schizophrenic people, which is why researchers often use animal models in their strive to understand the mysteries of the schizophrenic brain. Rat brains resemble human brains in so many ways that studying them makes sense if one wants to learn more about the human brain.Schizophrenic symptoms in ratsThe strong hallucinogenic drug phenocyclidine (PCP), also known as “angel’s dust,” provides a range of symptoms in people which are very similar to schizophrenia.”When we give PCP to rats, the rats become valuable study objects for schizophrenia researchers,” explains Ole Nrregaard Jensen, professor and head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.Along with Pawel Palmowski, Adelina Rogowska-Wrzesinska and others, he is the author of a scientific paper about the discovery, published in the international Journal of Proteome Research.Among the symptoms and reactions that can be observed in both humans and rats are changes in movement and reduced cognitive functions such as impaired memory, attention and learning ability.”Scientists have studied PCP rats for decades, but until now no one really knew what was going on in the rat brains at the molecular level. We now present what we believe to be the largest proteomics data set to date,” says Ole Nrregaard Jensen.PCP is absorbed very quickly by the brain, and it only stays in the brain for a few hours. Therefore, it was important for researchers to examine the rats’ brain cells soon after the rats were injected with the hallucinogenic drug.”We could see changes in the proteins in the brain already after 15 minutes. And after 240 minutes, it was almost over,” says Ole Nrregaard Jensen.The University of Southern Denmark holds some of the world’s most advanced equipment for studying proteins, and Ole Nrregaard Jensen and his colleagues used the university’s so-called mass spectrometres for their protein studies.352 proteins cause brain changes”We found 2604 proteins, and in 352 of them, we saw changes that can be associated with the PCP injections. These 352 proteins will be extremely interesting to study in closer detail to see if they also alter in people with schizophrenia — and if that’s the case, it will of course be interesting to try to develop a drug that can prevent the protein changes that lead to schizophrenia,” says Ole Nrregaard Jensen about the discovery and the work that now lies ahead.The 352 proteins in rat brains responded immediately when the animals were exposed to PCP. …

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Agroforestry systems can repair degraded watersheds

Agroforestry, combined with land and water management practices that increase agricultural productivity, can save watersheds from degradation.A study conducted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in the Gabayan watershed in eastern Bohol, Philippines, has shown that agroforestry systems create a more sustainably managed watershed that allows people living there to benefit from the ecosystem. The benefits include higher crop yields, increased income and resilience to climate change.Agroforestry is an integrated land-use management technique that incorporates trees and shrubs with crops and livestock on farms.The study, called “Modeling the effects of adopting agroforestry on basin scale surface runoff and sediment yield in the Philippines,” uses a computer-based Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to simulate the effects of different land uses on watershed hydrology and the ecosystem services provided by the Gabayan watershed. The tool predicts the environmental impact of land use, land management practices, and climate change.Watersheds are areas of land with streams and rivers that all drain into a larger body of water, such as a bigger river, a lake or an ocean. Watersheds not only supply water for domestic use but also provide a multitude of ecological and cultural services, including water for irrigation and industry, shelter, habitats for biodiversity and, in very poor areas, sources of livelihoods.Over the years, however, many watersheds throughout the world have suffered from intensive resource extraction and mismanagement. In countries like the Philippines, several watershed areas in the country are now degraded due to deforestation and soil erosion.The Gabayan watershed incorporates a heavily degraded, multi-use landscape covering over 5000 hectares hosting about 60,000 people whose livelihoods depend on subsistence agricultureFarmers here have reported environmental problems, such as floods, droughts, reductions in water quality and increases in soil erosion and downstream sedimentation of irrigation networks.”The degraded watershed has been largely deforested and replaced with extensive agricultural and grasslands over the last half century,” says David Wilson, the lead researcher. “It has disrupted the evenness of river flow, resulting in alternate flooding and drought episodes, an accelerated level of soil erosion as well as downstream sedimentation.”SWAT was used to simulate the impacts of current land-use practices and conservation agriculture with agroforestry in strategic locations. The study results showed a significant reduction in sediment yield (20%) and sediment concentration (35%)in the Gabayan watershed under agroforestry and conservation agriculture.The study was therefore able to provide scientific evidence that agroforestry, combined with improved land management practices, are an effective land-use strategy for the watersheds.”Specifically, the use of restored areas that have vegetation next to water resources and contour planting in grasslands appear to be the most effective techniques to reduce sediment transfer to the watershed river network,” says Wilson.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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We work harder when we are happy, new study shows

Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick. Economists carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. In the laboratory, they found happiness made people around 12% more productive.Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick led the research.This is the first causal evidence using randomized trials and piece-rate working. The study, to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics, included four different experiments with more than 700 participants.During the experiments a number of the participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were questioned about recent family tragedies, such as bereavements, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.Professor Oswald said: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”Dr Sgroi added: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”Dr Proto said the research had implications for employers and promotion policies.He said: “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”The report can be found online at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/academic/proto/workingpapers/happinessproductivity.pdfStory Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Makeup Minimalism: Achieving the natural beauty look

Learn more about Herbalife – Follow @Herbalife on Twitter- Like Herbalife on Facebook- What is Herbalife? More fitness advice – Watch ‘Fit Tips’ Videos on YouTube- Straightforward exercise advice- Get fit = be happy. Positivity advice Nutrition advice for you – Watch ‘Healthy Living’ on YouTube- Dieting advice you might like- Interesting weight loss articles Copyright © 2013 Herbalife International of America, Inc.

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Farm salmon pose clear reproductive threat to wild gene pools, researchers say

Findings published today reveal that, while farmed salmon are genetically different to their wild counterparts, they are just as fertile. This is important information because millions of farmed salmon escape into the wild — posing threats to wild gene pools.Lead Researcher Prof Matt Gage from UEA’s school of Biological Sciences said: “Around 95 per cent of all salmon in existence are farmed, and domestication has made them very different to wild populations, each of which is locally adapted to its own river system.”Farmed salmon grow very fast, are aggressive, and not as clever as wild salmon when it comes to dealing with predators. These domestic traits are good for producing fish for the table, but not for the stability of wild populations.”The problem is that farmed salmon can escape each year in their millions, getting into wild spawning populations, where they can then reproduce and erode wild gene pools, introducing these negative traits.”We know that recently-escaped farmed salmon are inferior to wild fish in reproduction, but we do not have detailed information on sperm and egg performance, which could have been affected by domestication. Our work shows that farm fish are as potent at the gamete level as wild fish, and if farm escapes can revive their spawning behaviour by a period in the wild, clearly pose a significant threat of hybridisation with wild populations.”Researchers used a range of in vitro fertilization tests in conditions that mimicked spawning in the natural environment, including tests of sperm competitiveness and egg compatibility. All tests on sperm and egg form and function showed that farmed salmon are as fertile as wild salmon — identifying a clear threat of farmed salmon reproducing with wild fish.”Some Norwegian rivers have recorded big numbers of farmed fish present — as much as 50 per cent. Both anglers and conservationists are worried by farmed fish escapees which could disrupt locally adapted traits like timing of return, adult body size, and disease resistance.”Salmon farming is a huge business in the UK, Norway and beyond, and while it does reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks, it can also create its own environmental pressures through genetic disruption.”A viable solution is to induce ‘triploidy’ by pressure-treating salmon eggs just after fertilisation — where the fish grows as normal, but with both sex chromosomes; this is normal for farming rainbow trout. The resulting adult develops testes and ovaries but both are much reduced and most triploids are sterile. These triploid fish can’t reproduce if they escape, but the aquaculture industry has not embraced this technology yet because of fears that triploids don’t perform as well in farms as normal diploid fish, eroding profits.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of East Anglia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Cosmetic treatment can open door to bacteria

Many people have ‘fillers’ injected into their facial tissue to give them ‘bee-stung lips’ or to smooth out their wrinkles. Unfortunately, a lot of cosmetic treatment customers experience unpleasant side effects in the form of tender subcutaneous lumps that are difficult to treat and which — in isolated cases — have led to lesions that simply will not heal. Research recently published by the University of Copenhagen now supports that, despite the highest levels of hygiene, this unwanted side effect is caused by bacterial infection.Injections of fillers were previously reserved exclusively for trauma treatment — when rebuilding a face disfigured in a traffic accident, for example. However, the jelly-like substances are increasingly being used in beauty treatments with the intention of making lips swell up and to erase the effects of ageing from the skin. Side effects in the form of stubborn, tender lumps or even lesions are becoming an increasing problem:”Previously, most experts believed that the side effects were caused by an auto-immune or allergic reaction to the gel injected. Research involving tissue from patients and mouse models has now shown that the disfiguring lesions are actually due to bacteria injected in connection with the cosmetic procedure. What is more, we have demonstrated that the fillers themselves act as incubators for infection, and all it takes is as few as ten bacteria to create an ugly lesion and a tough film of bacterial material — known as biofilm — which is impossible to treat with antibiotics,” says Morten Alhede, a postdoc at the Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen.The results have just been published in the journal Pathogens and Disease.Biofilm is resistant to antibioticsTreatment with fillers is very common. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), treatment with products based on hyaluronic acid — such as Restylane — constitutes the second-most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure in the United States. The precise figures for Denmark are not known, but there can be no doubt that the numbers are rising rapidly — and a rise in the number of treatments will inevitably make the side effects more evident.”Because a lot of cosmetic practitioners refuse to accept that side effects from filler procedures are caused by bacteria, claiming that such problems are caused by allergic reactions, the usual procedure has been to treat with steroids. This is actually the worst possible treatment because steroid injections exacerbate the condition and give the bacteria free rein. …

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Beneficial anti-inflammatory effects observed when plant extracts fed to sick pigs

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is the most expensive and invasive disease for pig producers on a global scale. Though it is not occurring on every farm, it is the biggest disease problem in the pig industry, said a University of Illinois animal sciences researcher.E. coli has also been a problem historically and continues to be on an industry-wide basis, said James Pettigrew. “Either disease can sweep through a farm so their alleviation would substantially reduce production costs. Even though many management practices have been used in the swine industry, these practices cannot guarantee freedom from disease for pigs,” he said.Consumer concerns about bacterial resistance to antibiotics have prompted the swine industry to seek additional methods to protect the health of pigs, including special feed additives. This interest led Pettigrew and his team to explore the potential benefits of selected plant extracts.The researchers conducted two experiments to test the beneficial effects of adding plant extracts to pig diets to combat PRRS and E. coli. In both experiments, researchers used four diets in weanling pigs, including a control diet and three additional diets that included garlic botanical extracted from garlic, turmeric oleoresin extracted from ginger, or capsicum oleoresin from pepper. In both experiments, half of the pigs in each dietary treatment were challenged with either E. coli or PRRS virus while the other half of the pigs were non-challenged.”We’ve known for a long time that plant extracts, also called essential oils or botanicals, have certain biological actions,” said Yanhong Liu, a doctoral student who led the studies. …

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Indications for prevention of sun damage associated with skin aging, non-melanoma skin cancer found

Date:March 4, 2014Source:Journal of Drugs in DermatologySummary:A clinical study highlighting the efficacy of Triple Protection Factor Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, TPF 50, to prevent skin sun damage and Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC) has been released. In this head-to-head comparison study, investigators found that TPF50 was more effective than both the main DNA repair and AO existing products.Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (JDD) released a clinical study highlighting the efficacy of Triple Protection Factor Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, TPF 50, to prevent skin sun damage and Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC). In this head-to-head comparison study, investigators Enzo Emanuele MD, PhD, James M. Spencer MD, MS and Martin Braun MD found that TPF50 was more effective than both the main DNA repair and AO existing products.Continued exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is one of the major risk factors for photo-aging and the development of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). Mainstream sunscreens cannot ensure a complete protection against all molecular lesions associated with UVR exposure, making the emergence of TPF 50 a significant advance in preventive science.”JDD offers one of the fastest routes for disseminating dermatologic information. The JDD is pleased to publish this relevant, timely breakthrough research for dermatologists. This new information is important, very beneficial and is another treatment in the dermatologist’s armamentarium in preventing skin cancers,” said Dr. Robins, Editor-in-Chief and Professor Emeritus of Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine.The study’s abstract can be accessed at: http://jddonline.com/articles/dermatology/S1545961614P0274X/1Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Journal Reference:Enzo Emanuele MD PhD, James M. Spencer MD MS, and Martin Braun MD. …

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New approach to breast reconstruction surgery reduces opioid painkiller use, hospital stays

A new approach to breast reconstruction surgery aimed at helping patients’ bodies get back to normal more quickly cut their postoperative opioid painkiller use in half and meant a day less in the hospital on average, a Mayo Clinic study found. The method includes new pain control techniques, preventive anti-nausea treatment and getting women eating and walking soon after free flap breast reconstruction surgery. It has proved so effective, it is now being used across plastic surgery at Mayo Clinic. The findings were being presented at the Plastic Surgery Research Council annual meeting March 7-9 in New York.Breast reconstruction surgery is common after breast tissue is removed to prevent or treat breast cancer; in free flap breast reconstruction, the plastic surgeon transfers a section of tissue from one part of the body to the chest. Using traditional care, the hospital stay averaged roughly four and a half days after that procedure. Using a new approach known as an “enhanced recovery pathway,” patients spent an average of three days in the hospital, the researchers found.Opioid painkiller use by patients in the hospital after surgery also declined with the new method, and those patients reported less pain at 24 hours after surgery than those who received the traditional approach. Calculated in oral morphine equivalents, opioid use averaged 142.3 milligrams over the first three days in the hospital, compared with an average of 321.3 milligrams over the same period with traditional care.Patients are giving the changes positive reviews, says senior author Michel Saint-Cyr, M.D., a plastic surgeon in the Breast Diagnostic Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.”I think it minimizes their apprehension and anxiety preoperatively and they go into surgery with a better mindset. The majority do not think it was as painful as they thought it would be after surgery,” Dr. Saint-Cyr says. “We’re seeing pain scales ranging from 0 to 4 out of 10, compared to 6 to 8 out of 10 before the pathway. …

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Reasons for becoming self-employed in later life vary by gender, culture

Self-employment can allow older workers to stay in the labor market longer and earn additional income, yet little research has addressed if reasons for self-employment vary across gender and culture. Now, University of Missouri researchers have studied factors that contribute to self-employment and found these factors differ for men and women in the United States and New Zealand.”Gender is one of the most enduring social factors in the U.S. and New Zealand, a fact that is particularly evident in differing economic opportunities for men and women and their decisions to be self-employed,” said Angela Curl, an assistant professor in the MU School of Social Work and the study’s lead author.Curl analyzed survey data from the 2010 Health and Retirement Study of U.S. adults and the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Aging and found that men in each country were more likely than women to be self-employed. Curl said this result could reflect a greater willingness of men to take on risks associated with self-employment, a larger savings to buffer business losses or failures, or more opportunities for men to engage in entrepreneurial ventures.In both countries, female workers who were self-employed appeared to have fewer economic resources, were less likely to receive pensions and were less likely to have employed spouses. These findings may suggest that older male workers may choose self-employment whereas women may be forced into self-employment because of financial necessity, Curl said.”The results seem to suggest a complex interplay between cultural norms and retirement policies in the two countries,”Curl said. “Self-employment may help older adults remain productively engaged in society and should be encouraged.”Curl said legislators and business leaders could create policies that promote flexible work situations, such as those offered by self-employment, that encourage and enable older adults to continue working later in life.”American policymakers could reduce barriers to self-employment by offering and promoting small business loans for start-up costs,” Curl said. “If older adults delay claiming Social Security benefits, remain in the labor force and continue paying taxes, some of the pressure on the Social Security retirement system would be reduced.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. The original article was written by Diamond Dixon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Almost 13 million smoking deaths could be prevented in China by 2050

China is home to about one third of the world’s smokers and reducing smoking in China could have an enormous public health impact, even on a global scale.Even though China raised the tax on tobacco products in 2009, this did not translate to higher retail prices for consumers and the only ban that has been enforced is on public transport. WHO went on to publish a report in 2011 which stated that there were multiple opportunities to improve tobacco control.Using a version of the SimSmoke Tobacco Control Policy model (a model of tobacco smoking prevalence and smoking-related deaths), populated with data from China, researchers from Spain, France and the US estimated the potential health impact of this programme in China from 2015 — 2050.Under current policies, a total of over 50 million deaths due to smoking were estimated from 2012 to 2050.Projecting the status quo scenario forward, the researchers estimate that active smoking in males would fall from 51.3% in 2015 to 46.5% by 2050 — and in females from 2.1% in 2015 to 1.3% in 2050In 2015, the estimated number of deaths from smoking was about one million (932,000 for males and 79,000 for females). In males, annual deaths were expected to peak at 1.5 million in 2040, but then drop to 1.4 million by 2050. In females, annual deaths from smoking were estimated to be 49,000 in 2040 and 42,000 by 2050.Relative to the status quo scenario, increasing cigarette taxes to 75% of the package price was estimated to reduce smoking prevalence by almost 10% for both males and females by 2015. By 2050, smoking prevalence showed a reduction of 13% for males and 12% for females. The researchers estimate that between 2015 and 2050, this tax would save approximately 3.5 million lives.Smoke-free air laws and a well enforced marketing ban also showed “potent and immediate” effects. Comprehensive smoke-free air laws were estimated to show a 9% reduction in smoking rates by 2015, increasing to about a 10% reduction in 2050, potentially averting around 3.4 million deaths. A comprehensive marketing ban would reduce smoking prevalence by about 4% and avert just over two million deaths by 2050.A high intensity tobacco control campaign would lead to a 2.5% relative decline in smoking rates by 2015 and prevent 1.1 million deaths due to smoking by 2050, while stronger health warnings were projected to yield a relative 2.3% reduction in smoking rates by 2050.The researchers estimate that complete implementation of the WHO framework “would lead to as much as a 34% relative reduction in male smoking prevalence by 2020, and a 41% reduction by 2050.” They say, despite the lag time expected between reductions in current smoking and declines in smoking attributable deaths, nearly half a million annual tobacco related deaths could be averted yearly by 2050.These estimates suggest that substantial health gains could be made, say the authors — a 40% relative reduction in smoking prevalence and almost 13 million smoking attributable deaths averted and more than 154 million life years gained by 2050 — by extending effective public health and clinical interventions to reduce active smoking. They add that these policies would be cost effective and say that “without the implementation of the complete set of stronger policies, the death and disability legacy of current smoking will endure for decades in China.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Can you boost your brain power through video?

Watching video of simple tasks before carrying them out may boost the brain’s structure, or plasticity, and increase motor skills, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014. Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to flex and adapt, allowing for better learning. The brain loses plasticity as it ages.For the study, 36 right-handed healthy adults participated in 40-minute training sessions five times a week for two weeks. Half the group watched videos of a specific task, such as writing with a pen, cutting with scissors or handling coins, then were asked to complete the task themselves. The other half watched videos of landscapes and then were asked to complete the same tasks.At the start of the study and again two weeks later, the groups were tested for strength and hand skills, and also underwent 3-D MRI brain scans. Scientists looked at brain volume changes in both groups.The study found that the group who completed the training along with watching the activity videos had 11 times greater improvement of motor skill abilities, mainly in terms of strength, compared to those who watched the landscape videos.”Our study lends credence to the idea that even as an adult, your brain is able to better learn skills just by watching the activity take place. With a dramatic increase of videos available through mobile phones, computers, and other newer technology, this topic should be the focus of more research,” said study author Paolo Preziosa, MD, with San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy. “The results might also contribute to reducing disability and improving quality of those who are impaired or who are undergoing physical rehabilitation.”The study was supported by the Italian Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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How our brain networks: White matter ‘scaffold’ of human brain revealed

For the first time, neuroscientists have systematically identified the white matter “scaffold” of the human brain, the critical communications network that supports brain function.Their work, published Feb. 11 in the open-source journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, has major implications for understanding brain injury and disease. By detailing the connections that have the greatest influence over all other connections, the researchers offer not only a landmark first map of core white matter pathways, but also show which connections may be most vulnerable to damage.”We coined the term white matter ‘scaffold’ because this network defines the information architecture which supports brain function,” said senior author John Darrell Van Horn of the USC Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics and the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at USC.”While all connections in the brain have their importance, there are particular links which are the major players,” Van Horn said.Using MRI data from a large sample of 110 individuals, lead author Andrei Irimia, also of the USC Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics, and Van Horn systematically simulated the effects of damaging each white matter pathway.They found that the most important areas of white and gray matter don’t always overlap. Gray matter is the outermost portion of the brain containing the neurons where information is processed and stored. Past research has identified the areas of gray matter that are disproportionately affected by injury.But the current study shows that the most vulnerable white matter pathways — the core “scaffolding” — are not necessarily just the connections among the most vulnerable areas of gray matter, helping explain why seemingly small brain injuries may have such devastating effects.”Sometimes people experience a head injury which seems severe but from which they are able to recover. On the other hand, some people have a seemingly small injury which has very serious clinical effects,” says Van Horn, associate professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “This research helps us to better address clinical challenges such as traumatic brain injury and to determine what makes certain white matter pathways particularly vulnerable and important.”The researchers compare their brain imaging analysis to models used for understanding social networks. To get a sense of how the brain works, Irimia and Van Horn did not focus only on the most prominent gray matter nodes — which are akin to the individuals within a social network. Nor did they merely look at how connected those nodes are.Rather, they also examined the strength of these white matter connections, i.e. which connections seemed to be particularly sensitive or to cause the greatest repercussions across the network when removed. …

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Young women continue using tanning beds, despite awareness of health risks

A survey of young women who use tanning beds found that despite being aware of the health risks associated with indoor tanning, they continue to take part in the activity, according to research conducted by University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.The study, co-authored by UNC Lineberger members Seth M. Noar, PhD, of the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Nancy Thomas, MD, of the UNC School of Medicine, aimed to understand what motivates young people to seek out tanning beds and how to develop messages to discourage their use among young people.In executing their survey, the researchers surveyed a population they believed were likely to be tanning bed users — members of college sororities.”We reached out to this population not only because we thought they might be tanning bed users, but also because young people are at the greatest risk of developing skin cancer as a result of tanning indoors,” said Noar. More than 28 million people use tanning beds each year, and the population most at risk from developing skin cancer as a result are users younger than 35.Results from the survey, published in JAMA Dermatology, found that 45 percent of the young women surveyed had used tanning beds, with 30 percent using one in the last year. The study also revealed that the majority of users started tanning indoors in their teens, indicating that health campaigns addressing the practice should target high school audiences.While the majority cited an improvement in appearance as a major reason for visiting a tanning parlor, the biggest factors cited by those taking the survey were the convenience of it and the way the practice makes them feel.”We found that appearance is important, but we found that other factors to be equally or even more important. For instance, many of these young women reported really enjoying the experience of tanning indoors. They reported that it reduces stress and is relaxing to them. In the study, we called this factor ‘mood enhancement'” said Noar.One of the more striking findings from the study — most who use tanning beds were aware of the health risks but did so anyway. Dr. Noar said this suggests that message designers will have to be very strategic in creating messages to impact this behavior. For example, messages could suggest alternatives — such as self-tanning products that do not rely on UV rays — instead of solely emphasizing the health risks. …

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Humans, urban landscapes increase illness in songbirds, researchers find

Humans living in densely populated urban areas have a profound impact not only on their physical environment, but also on the health and fitness of native wildlife. For the first time, scientists have found a direct link between the degree of urbanization and the prevalence and severity of two distinct parasites in wild house finches.The findings are published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.A team of researchers from Arizona State University made the discovery while investigating intestinal parasites (Isospora sp.) and the canarypox virus (Avipoxvirus) found in house finches. The group also studied the effects of urbanization on the stress response system of the finches.Specifically, the team studied male house finches found at seven sites throughout Maricopa County in central Arizona. Each site varied in the number of people living within one kilometer (about five-eighths of a mile) — from nearly a dozen to over 17 thousand.Researchers also considered whether the soil in each location had been disturbed and the vegetation cultivated or left in a natural state. In all, they quantified 13 different urbanization factors. They also assessed the potential relationship between oxidative stress, the degree of urbanization and parasitic infections to see whether increased infections are associated with increased stress levels.”Several studies have measured parasite infection in urban animals, but surprisingly we are the first to measure whether wild birds living in a city were more or less infected by a parasite and a pathogen, as well as how these infections are linked to their physiological stress,” said Mathieu Giraudeau, a post-doctoral associate who previously worked with Kevin McGraw, ASU associate professor with the School of Life Sciences. Giraudeau now works with the University of Zurich in Switzerland.”We also capitalized on data gathered by the Central Arizona Phoenix-Long Term Ecological Research program to accurately measure the degree to which the landscapes at each study site were natural or disturbed by humans,” added Giraudeau.House finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) are native to the desert southwest in the U.S., but are now found abundantly throughout North America. Male finches are five to six inches long and have colorful red, orange or yellow crown, breast and rump feathers.Emerging infectious diseases transmitted from animals to humansAccording to the study, more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Natural habitats and ecosystems have been dramatically altered from their original states, and there is rising concern about the spread of diseases that can be passed from urban wildlife to humans. …

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Innovative technique creates large skin flaps for full-face resurfacing

Patients with massive burns causing complete loss of the facial skin pose a difficult challenge for reconstructive surgeons. Now a group of surgeons in China have developed an innovative technique for creating a one-piece skin flap large enough to perform full-face resurfacing, reports The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.Dr. QingFeng Li and colleagues of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine describe their approach to creating “monoblock” flaps for use in extensive face skin resurfacing. In their successful experience with five severely disfigured patients, the full-face tissue flap “provides universally matched skin and near-normal facial contour.”New Technique Grows One-Piece Skin Flaps for Full-Face ResurfacingComplete destruction of the facial skin and underlying (subcutaneous) tissues presents “the most challenging dilemma” in facial reconstructive surgery. Multiple skin flaps and grafts are needed to provide complete coverage, creating a “patchwork” appearance. Standard skin grafts are also too bulky to provide good reconstruction of the delicate features and expressive movement of the normal facial skin.To meet these challenges, Dr. Li and colleagues have developed a new technique for creating a single, large skin flap appropriate for use in full-face resurfacing. Their approach starts with “prefabrication” of a flap of the patient’s own skin, harvested from another part of the body. The skin flap, along with its carefully preserved blood supply, is allowed to grow for some weeks in a “pocket” created under the patient’s skin of the patient’s upper chest.Tissue expanders — balloon-like devices gradually filled with saline solution — are used to enlarge the skin flap over time. While skin expansion is a standard technique for creation of skin flaps, Dr. …

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Research: It’s more than just the science

When putting together a team of scientists to work on a problem, it makes sense to bring together the best and brightest in the field, right?Well, maybe not.In a newly published paper, a team of researchers from institutions across the country, including Michigan State University, outline not only why it’s important to pursue science collaboratively, but how to create and maintain science teams to get better research results.Lead author Kendra Cheruvelil, an associate professor in MSU’s Lyman Briggs College and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said equally important to team members’ scientific knowledge is whether they can communicate well, are socially sensitive and emotionally engaged with each other.”In other words, better science gets done when people put their egos aside, when they like each other, when they come from a wide range of backgrounds, and when they know how to effectively talk to each other,” she said. “This may sound obvious to some, or not important to others. But based on the studies that we compiled, these factors are quite critical to the success of many types of teams.”Writing in the publication Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, published by the Ecological Society of America, the multi-institutional team says that scientists can learn much from the fields of business and education where researchers have studied how teams work for years.”We thought it was time to take what has been learned from studying business and education teams and apply it to science teams,” Cheruvelil said.So how should this happen? For starters, future scientists can learn the ways of collaboration when they start learning the intricacies of scientific research — in graduate school.”Students need to learn how to work with others in order to produce high-impact research products,” the team writes. “One way to meet this need is for graduate programs to offer seminars, workshops or entire courses on how to effectively collaborate in science.”The researchers also suggest that formal team-building exercises that focus on developing the skills needed to be a good team member and leader, such as conflict negotiation, effective communication, and time management, can promote collaborative scientific research.This paper is part of a special issue, co-edited by MSU fisheries and wildlife professor Patricia Soranno, that explores a new field of study known as macrosystems ecology and was a product of a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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