As if a runny nose and red eyes weren’t enough to ruin your warm weather look, summer allergies can gift you with even more than you’ve bargained for this year. In fact, some unusual symptoms can leave you looking like you lost a round in a boxing ring.”Summer allergies can cause severe symptoms for some sufferers, and can be just as bad as the spring and fall seasons,” said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Symptoms aren’t always limited to the hallmark sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Black eyes, lines across the nose and other cosmetic symptoms can occur.”Even if you’ve never before had allergies, they can suddenly strike at any age and time of year. You might want to consider visiting your board-certified allergist if these undesirable signs accompany your sniffle and sneeze.Allergic Shiner: Dark circles under the eyes which are due to swelling and discoloration from congestion of small blood vessels beneath the skin in the delicate eye area. Allergic (adenoidal) Face: Nasal allergies may promote swelling of the adenoids (lymph tissue that lines the back of the throat and extends behind the nose). This results in a tired and droopy appearance. Nasal Crease: This is a line which can appear across the bridge of the nose usually the result of rubbing the nose upward to relieve nasal congestion and itching. Mouth Breathing: Cases of allergic rhinitis in which severe nasal congestion occurs can result in chronic mouth breathing, associated with the development of a high, arched palate, an elevated upper lip, and an overbite. Teens with allergic rhinitis might need braces to correct dental issues. …Read more
OMGOSH I CAN’T WAIT FOR SPRING. No, seriously. This winter has been brutal, right?!?!?! 27 DAYS TILL SPRING, but who’s counting We’re usually looking at dead grass, which isn’t pretty, but this winter we haven’t seen the grass at all. Not since before Christmas! We’re just buried over here and when you have two toddlers at home…. phew. That’s all I have to say To get me through this cold weather, I’ve been thinking about spring… planning what I want to do outside once the weather is finally nice enough, looking at old photos of summer fun, working out to get in better shape, and–of course–shopping for new clothes! I’ve been scoping out some spring styles. Remember those huge catalogs your mom would get when you were a …Read more
Unique and irreplaceable Arctic wildlife and landscapes are crucially at risk due to global warming caused by human activities according to the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), a new report prepared by 253 scientists from 15 countries under the auspices of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council.”An entire bio-climatic zone, the high Arctic, may disappear. Polar bears and the other highly adapted organisms cannot move further north, so they may go extinct. We risk losing several species forever,” says Hans Meltofte of Aarhus University, chief scientist of the report.From the iconic polar bear and elusive narwhal to the tiny Arctic flowers and lichens that paint the tundra in the summer months, the Arctic is home to a diversity of highly adapted animal, plant, fungal and microbial species. All told, there are more than 21,000 species.Maintaining biodiversity in the Arctic is important for many reasons. For Arctic peoples, biodiversity is a vital part of their material and spiritual existence. Arctic fisheries and tourism have global importance and represent immense economic value. Millions of Arctic birds and mammals that migrate and connect the Arctic to virtually all parts of the globe are also at risk from climate change in the Arctic as well as from development and hunting in temperate and tropical areas. Marine and terrestrial ecosystems such as vast areas of lowland tundra, wetlands, mountains, extensive shallow ocean shelves, millennia-old ice shelves and huge seabird cliffs are characteristic to the Arctic. These are now at stake, according to the report.”Climate change is by far the worst threat to Arctic biodiversity. Temperatures are expected to increase more in the Arctic compared to the global average, resulting in severe disruptions to Arctic biodiversity some of which are already visible,” warns Meltofte.A planetary increase of 2 C, the worldwide agreed upon acceptable limit of warming, is projected to result in vastly more heating in the Arctic with anticipated temperature increases of 2.8-7.8 C this century. …Read more
Since the end of 2011 when the scientific work of Professor Don Poldermans was first scrutinized there has been controversy in the medical world about the use of beta blockers in perioperative care.The recent publication — and retraction for proper peer reviewing and revision — in the European Heart Journal (EHJ) of a paper by Professors Cole and Francis from Imperial College, questioning whether beta blockers in perioperative care could lead to a mortality increase brought the topic back into the public eye.The EHJ has published an editorial today addressing these questions.In the editorial, Professors Thomas Lscher, Bernard Gersh, Ulf Landmesser and Frank Ruschitzka highlight, among other points, that jumping to conclusions may be particularly dangerous for both physicians and patients. In this respect, they pointed out that:The meta analysis is mainly driven by the POISE trial that used very high dosages of metoprolol immediately before surgery with further uptitration, which is not recommended by the ESC Guidelines Different dosing and starting time of betablockade before surgery may importantly determine outcome A registry published in 2013 in JAMA supports the use of perioperative blockade, at least in non-vascular surgery Until today, only one of Prof Poldermans’ manuscripts has been retracted, so the validity of his large beta blocker DECREASE trial published in the NEJM remains uncertain (3) A proper clinical trial is needed in order to assess whether the use of beta blockers starting at a low dose several days before surgery — as has been recommended by the ESC Guidelines of 2009 — might be beneficial or harmful The ESC Task Force led by Professors Steen Dalby Kristensen and Juhani Knuuti, is carefully revising all existing evidence and will present a new version of the ESC Guidelines on “Pre-operative Cardiac Risk Assessment and Perioperative Cardiac Management in Non-Cardiac Surgery” by this summer. These will try to answer two major issues: 1 Should beta blockers be continued in patients scheduled for surgery who are already on them? 2 Should beta blockers be started in patient undergoing surgery who have never received them previously? Whether beta blockers in perioperative care are protective, safe or harmful continues to be a subject of debate. The new ESC Guidelines will try to clarify some of the controversial issues. As stated jointly by ACC/AHA/ESC (4), in the meantime, the current position is that “the initiation of beta blockers in patients who will undergo non-cardiac surgery should not be considered routine, but should be considered carefully by each patient’s treating physician on a case-by-case basis.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by European Society of Cardiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Read more
by Dan StoriesA few years ago I was in a dead end job and I was looking for a change.I set out to search, network, and if I had to, bribe (I was desperate..) my way into a new situation. I struck gold when I had coffee with a guy named Jim Grafas.After one or two more of these caffeine rendezvous, things were looking up. It seemed I had a new job and a new friend. Little did I know I was about to witness him go through one of the most incredible transformations I’ve ever seen.After a turning point moment Jim decided to change his life for the better and as a result he’s lost 88 pounds (40 kgs) and most importantly, kept …Read more
Last night in Melbourne I was very honoured to be able to attend this beautiful gala event with my husband Keith and Rod Smith/Karen Banton all representing Bernie Banton Foundation.A black tie event, it was a good excuse to dress up, kick our heels up and enjoy a spectacular night with other like minded people who were there for a good cause – raising much needed funds for mesothelioma research.http://www.oliviaappeal.com/About-Us/Appeal-Committees/Associate-Professor-Paul-Mitchell.aspxAssociate Professor Paul Mitchell, Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre spoke on the aggressive and deadly nature of mesothelioma and how much needed funds are very vital. I spoke to him after his speech and about me being past my use by date as there …Read more
Sometimes Arlene Delman still sees glimmers of her previous life when she least expects it. Like when a stranger pays her a compliment on her hairstyle at the grocery store which she adds, isn’t the first time, she can’t help but feel good. “I never got this much attention with my real hair,” she giggles. These moments of normalcy most resemble her old life before she was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in October 2012. Now she admits to shedding more than a few tears when she removes her wig at the end of the day. She has always been an attractive woman with big twinkling blue eyes, but her vanity has been rendered insignificant in the way she has tackled her treatment both aggressively and optimistically.Prior …Read more
Sep. 9, 2013 — Biologists and physicists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, found out that not all of the Southern Hemisphere humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrate towards the equator at the end of the Antarctic summer. Part of the population remains in Antarctic waters throughout the entire winter. The scientists report this in a current issue of scientific journal PLOS ONE. This surprising discovery based on underwater recordings from the Antarctic acoustic observatory PALAOA. It is located near the research base Neumayer Station III on the ice shelf and regularly records underwater sounds of humpback whales even in the austral winter months.Sometimes even scientists need the crucial little quantum of luck to obtain new research ideas. For instance Ilse Van Opzeeland, a marine biologist and expert on large whales at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). As she unlocked the door to her office one April morning and, as usual, switched on the live stream of PALAOA, the underwater acoustic observatory, the loudspeakers suddenly resounded with the calls of humpback whales — and this at a time during which the marine mammals should long have been swimming 7,000 kilometres further away in the warmer waters off Africa. “I was totally surprised, because the textbook-opinion until that day was that humpback whales migrate to Antarctic waters only in the austral summer months. And even then, standing believes were that they would only be feeding on krill in the ice-free regions around 60 degrees south latitude. …Read more
Sep. 3, 2013 — Low-income communities have particular problems getting adequate fruits and vegetables because of limited access to supermarkets and farmers markets. A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs may be a feasible approach for providing fresh fruits and vegetables to under-resourced communities.Lead author Sara A. Quandt, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest Baptist, said that CSAs, which link consumers to a local farm’s produce over a growing season, have been proposed as a solution for disparities in fruit and vegetable consumption, though evaluation of such efforts has been limited. The typical U.S. diet fails to meet daily recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption.This CSA program, Farm Fresh Healthy Living of Forsyth County, N.C., was developed, administered, and evaluated by a partnership of university researchers, Experiment in Self Reliance Inc., a community nonprofit agency, and Harmony Ridge Farms, a Forsyth County, N.C., farm using organic practices.”Expanding access to healthful foods is an important step in reducing health disparities,” said Quandt. “The objective of this study was to test the feasibility of a CSA program for low-income families in Forsyth County.”The study appears last month in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal Preventing Chronic Disease.For a small randomized, controlled feasibility study, Quandt and fellow researchers recruited 50 low income women with children, then divided them into an intervention group and a control group of 25 each. The participants ranged in age from 24 to 60; most were African-American and unmarried.Intervention participants received a free box of fresh produce for 16 weeks from May through August 2012. They were also offered five educational sessions, including cooking classes, a farm tour and a grocery store tour with a dietitian that focused on healthful eating on a budget. The control participants did not receive education or the produce boxes.The researchers observed a significant increase over the summer in the number of different fruits and vegetables in the households of the intervention group compared with the control group. …Read more
July 19, 2013 — During heat waves — when ozone production rises — plants’ ozone absorption is curtailed, leaving more pollution in the air.This resulted in the loss of an estimated 460 lives in the UK in the hot summer of 2006.Vegetation plays a crucial role in reducing air pollution, but new research by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York shows that they may not protect us when we need it most: during extreme heat, when ozone formation from traffic fumes, industrial processes and other sources is at its worst.The reason, explained lead author Dr Lisa Emberson, is that during heat waves — when the ground is especially dry — plants become stressed and shut their stomata (small pores on their leaves) to conserve water. This natural protective mechanism makes them more resilient to extreme heat and high ozone levels, but it also stops them from absorbing ozone and other pollutants.”Vegetation can absorb as much as 20 per cent of the global atmospheric ozone production, so the potential impact on air quality is substantial,” says Dr Emberson, a senior lecturer in the Environment Department at the University of York and director of SEI’s York Centre. “What we set out to do in this study was to quantify that impact in terms of increased ozone levels and the toll on human life.”The research team, which also included scientists at King’s College, London, focused on the summer of 2006, when a heat wave and drought occurred across the UK and much of Europe. They combined two models used for human health and ecosystem risk assessment to compare two scenarios, one with perfect ozone uptake by plants, and one with minimal ozone absorption.The difference between perfect and minimal uptake was equivalent to 16 days of ozone levels above the threshold for human safety across the entire UK — and as many as 20 days in the East Midlands and eastern UK. Using these same scenarios, the team also estimated that 970 premature deaths due to ozone would have occurred under minimal plant ozone uptake conditions over the June to July period; of these 460 could have been avoided if plants had been absorbing ozone at full capacity. All estimated premature deaths are in addition to human health and mortality impacts from the heat itself.”The most vulnerable people to ozone pollution are those with existing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases,” explains Dr Emberson. “For example, ground-level ozone can lead to lung inflammation, decreased lung function, and an increase in asthma attacks. That is why, during high ozone episodes, especially in urban areas, people are generally advised not to do physical activity.”The study findings were published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The research was financed by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).The timing of the publication coincides with yet another major heat wave in the UK, and Dr Emberson says it is likely that ozone uptake by vegetation is once again curtailed. The extent of the problem, however, will depend on how dry the soil is, since it is the combination of heat and drought that stresses plants the most.Dr Emberson says the study highlights the importance of understanding the frequency with which such heat waves and droughts will occur in the future as well as how ozone uptake by vegetation is affected by droughts, extreme heat, and interaction with other pollutants.”The more we know, the better we will be able to judge how successful our emission reduction efforts have been so far, and whether we need additional efforts — in the UK, across Europe and beyond, since we know that pollutants such as ozone and its precursors can carried around the globe,” she says.The research can also inform public-health responses, Dr Emberson says. …Read more
July 8, 2013 — Researchers from the University of Liverpool have found that people with depression have more generalised personal goals than non-depressed people.A study conducted by Dr Joanne Dickson, in the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, analysed the lists of personal goals made by people who suffered with depression and those who didn’t.List personal goalsThe participants were asked to list goals they would like to achieve at any time in the short, medium or long-term. The goals were categorised for their specificity — for example a global or abstract goal such as, ‘to be happy’ would represent a general goal, whereas, a goal such as ‘improve my 5-mile marathon time this summer’ would represent a more specific goal.Researchers found that whilst both groups generated the same number of goals, people with depression listed goals which were more general and more abstract. The study also found that depressed people were far more likely to give non-specific reasons for achieving and not achieving their goals.Having very broad and abstract goals may maintain and exacerbate depression. Goals that are not specific are more ambiguous and, therefore, harder to visualise. If goals are hard to visualise it may result in reduced expectation of realising them which in turn results in lower motivation to try and achieve them.Dr Joanne Dickson said: “We know that depression is associated with negative thoughts and a tendency to overgeneralise, particularly in reference to how people think about themselves and their past memories.””This study, for the first time, examined whether this trait also encompasses personal goals. We found that the goals that people with clinical depression listed lacked a specific focus, making it more difficult to achieve them and therefore creating a downward cycle of negative thoughts.Help to set specific goals”These findings could inform the development of effective new ways of treating clinical depression.”Helping depressed people set specific goals and generate specific reasons for goal achievement may increase their chances of realising them which could break the cycle of negativity which is coupled with depression.”Read more
June 29, 2013 — Summer means more hours of daylight and for many, it contributes to trouble falling asleep. More than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, resulting in $18 billion in cost to employers due to sleep loss issues.”The inability to get a good night’s sleep can be a complex issue, and is not as simple to cure as telling people to count sheep,” says John Wilson, MD, neurologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System. Wilson regularly works with the sleep lab to diagnose patients with chronic sleep issues.Omar Hussain, DO, pulmonologist at Gottlieb who is board certified in sleep medicine says, “Many societal trends such as working from home or swing shift workers have economic-based lifestyles that prevent regular sleep patterns.” Obesity, which was recently declared a disease by the American Medical Association, also has a direct link to poor sleep, says Ashley Barrient, RD, who counsels patients at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care. One-third of all Americans are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control.Here are some healthful tips from Loyola medical experts Wilson, Hussain and Barrient on how to get a better night’s sleep.Do this:Relax. “At least one hour before bedtime, start quieting down and relaxing. Don’t exercise or engage in vigorous acitvities,” says Wilson.Turn off the handheld devices. “The need to text and email is a real problem for many when it comes to sleep,” says Hussain. “Turn the electronic device off and put it in another room. That way, if you wake up in the middle of the night, you don’t automatically reach for the phone but instead turn over and fall back asleep.”Read a magazine. “Lighter content and shorter articles are ideal,” says Wilson. …Read more
June 19, 2013 — Mindfulness — a mental training that develops sustained attention that can change the ways people think, act and feel — could reduce symptoms of stress and depression and promote wellbeing among school children, according to a new study published online by the British Journal of Psychiatry.With the summer exam season in full swing, school children are currently experiencing higher levels of stress than at any other time of year. The research showed that interventions to reduce stress in children have the biggest impact at this time of year. There is growing evidence that mindfulness-based approaches for adults are effective at enhancing mental health and wellbeing. However, very few controlled trials have evaluated their effectiveness among young people.A team of researchers led by Professor Willem Kuyken from the University of Exeter, in association with the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the Mindfulness in Schools Project, recruited 522 pupils, aged between 12 and 16 years, from 12 secondary schools to take part in the study. 256 pupils at six of the schools were taught the Mindfulness in Schools Project’s curriculum, a nine week introduction to mindfulness designed for the classroom.Richard Burnett who co-created the curriculum said: “Our mindfulness curriculum aims to engage even the most cynical of adolescent audience with the basics of mindfulness. We use striking visuals, film clips and activities to bring it to life without losing the expertise and integrity of classic mindfulness teaching.”The other 266 pupils at the other six schools did not receive the mindfulness lessons, and acted as a control group.All the pupils were followed up after a three month period. The follow-up was timed to coincide with the summer exam period — which is a potential time of high stress for young people. The researchers found that those children who participated in the mindfulness programme reported fewer depressive symptoms, lower stress and greater wellbeing than the young people in the control group. Encouragingly, around 80% of the young people said they continued using practices taught in MiSP’s mindfulness curriculum after completing the nine week programme. Teachers and schools also rated the curriculum as worthwhile and very enjoyable to learn and teach.Lead researcher Professor Kuyken said: “Our findings provide promising evidence of the effectiveness of MiSP’s curriculum. …Read more
June 19, 2013 — Our internal circadian clock regulates daily life processes and is synchronized by external cues, the so-called Zeitgebers. The main cue is the light-dark cycle, whose strength is largely reduced in extreme habitats such as in the Arctic during the polar summer. Using a radiotelemetry system a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology have now found, in four bird species in Alaska, different daily activity patterns ranging from strictly rhythmic to completely arrhythmic. These differences are attributed to the species’ mating systems and behaviours. The study shows that activity patterns can change according to social and environmental factors, which suggests a remarkable plasticity in the avian circadian system.Biological rhythms are essential for the regulation of many life processes. During the annual cycle, seasonal rhythms regulate the timing of reproductive activities. In our latitudes this a relatively easy task, as the marked annual changes in a day-night cycle (the photoperiod) entrains the seasonal clock. At the equator, where there is almost no change in day length over the year the animals have to rely on cues other than the photoperiod to time reproduction. However, in order to adjust its circadian clock an organism needs a certain light-dark cycle as a Zeitgeber. In the absence of a suitable Zeitgeber animals run free, which means they develop their own rhythm that can substantially deviate from a 24 hours day. …Read more
Apr. 15, 2013 — The invasive kudzu bug has the potential to be a major agricultural pest, causing significant damage to economically important soybean crops. Conventional wisdom has held that the insect pests will be limited to areas in the southern United States, but new research from North Carolina State University shows that they may be able to expand into other parts of the country.
Kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria) are native to Asia, and were first detected in the U.S. in Georgia in 2009. They have since expanded their territory as far north as Virginia. The bugs have an interesting life cycle, which has been thought to be a limiting factor on far they can spread.
Eggs laid in the spring hatch into a first generation, which we’ll call “Generation A.” The immature bugs of Generation A normally feed on kudzu plants until they reach adulthood, when they have been known to move into commercial soybean fields. These mature adults lay eggs that hatch into Generation B during the summer months. Generation B kudzu bugs can feed on soybean crops during both their immature and adult life stages, causing significant crop damage.
Because the immature Generation A kudzu bugs have only been seen to feed on kudzu, researchers thought that the pest would not be able to migrate to northern and western parts of the United States, where kudzu doesn’t grow. But now it’s not so clear.
Under controlled conditions in a greenhouse laboratory, researchers at NC State found that immature Generation A kudzu bugs were not limited to feeding on kudzu — they were able to feed exclusively on soybeans, reach maturity and reproduce.
“Researchers began seeing some of this behavior in the wild in 2012 and, while those data aren’t quite ready for publication, our lab work and the field observations indicate that kudzu bugs are potentially capable of spreading into any part of the U.S. where soybeans are grown. And soybeans are grown almost everywhere,” says Dr. Dominic Reisig, an assistant professor of entomology at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research. “It also means that both annual generations of kudzu bugs could attack soybean crops in areas where the bug is already established, which would double the impact on farmers.”Read more