Category: Health & Medicine

If Your Pet Has This Tapeworm, It Could Kill You

By Emily J. Jenkins, University of Saskatchewan | December 4, 2017 12:35 pm
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A coyote cools off in the shade of a leafy suburb. Wildlife interactions with pets and humans can transfer disease, including the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. (Winston Wong/flickr)

Dogs are sending us an early warning signal about the spread of a potentially deadly tapeworm in North America.

The tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis, is normally found in rodents and other wild animals, including coyotes and foxes, but can spill over into cats and dogs — and even humans. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts

Signatures of Alzheimer’s Disease Discovered in Dolphins

By Maria Carolina Gallego-Iradi and David Borchelt | November 15, 2017 1:17 pm
dolphin

(Credit: Shutterstock)

A team of scientists in the United Kingdom and the U.S. recently reported the discovery of pathological signs of Alzheimer’s disease in dolphins, animals whose brains are similar in many ways to those of humans.

This is the first time that these signs – neurofibrillary tangles and two kinds of protein clusters called plaques – have been discovered together in marine mammals. As neuroscience researchers, we believe this discovery has added significance because of the similarities between dolphin brains and human brains. Read More

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Is Cannabis an Effective Sleep Aid?

By Deirdre Conroy | November 10, 2017 10:27 am
man smoking a marijuana cigarette

(Credit: Shutterstock)

If you speak to someone who has suffered from insomnia at all as an adult, chances are good that person has either tried using marijuana, or cannabis, for sleep or has thought about it.

This is reflected in the many variations of cannabinoid or cannabis-based medicines available to improve sleep – like Nabilone, Dronabinol and Marinol. It’s also a common reason why many cannabis users seek medical marijuana cards. Read More

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MORE ABOUT: personal health

Marie Curie: Iconic Scientist, Nobel Prize Winner…War Hero?

By Timothy J. Jorgensen, Georgetown University | October 11, 2017 2:32 pm
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Marie Curie in one of her mobile X-ray units in October 1917. (Credit: Eve Curie)

Ask people to name the most famous historical woman of science and their answer will likely be: Madame Marie Curie. Push further and ask what she did, and they might say it was something related to radioactivity. (She actually discovered the radioisotopes radium and polonium.) Some might also know that she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. (She actually won two.)

But few will know she was also a major hero of World War I. In fact, a visitor to her Paris laboratory in October of 1917 – 100 years ago this month – would not have found either her or her radium on the premises. Her radium was in hiding and she was at war. Read More

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MORE ABOUT: medical technology

Acupuncture Works by ‘Re-Wiring’ the Brain, Evidence Suggests

By Vitaly Napadow | October 6, 2017 11:13 am
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(Credit: Shutterstock)

Acupuncture is a form of traditional medical therapy that originated in China several thousand years ago. It was developed at a time bereft of tools such as genetic testing or even a modern understanding of anatomy, so medical philosophers did the best they could with what was available – herbs, animal products and rudimentary needles. In the process, perhaps, they stumbled on an effective medical approach.

In the past century, some modernization has taken place. For instance, acupuncture has been paired with electrical currents, allowing for stimulation to be more continuous and to penetrate deeper into the body. This approach was termed electro-acupuncture and represents a convergence between the ancient practice of acupuncture therapy and modern forays into targeted electrostimulation delivered to the skin or nerves. Such approaches have attracted the attention of the pharmaceutical industry and are part of a growing class of neuromodulatory therapies. Read More

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Eat Less, Age Less?

By Mark Barna | September 29, 2017 1:52 pm
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(Credit: Shutterstock)

Eating is one of the great pleasures of life. But eating too much places people at risk for chronic illnesses and shortens life expectancy. Seven of 10 Americans are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Being overweight is so common, people don’t recognize when they’ve crossed the belt line; only 36 percent of overweight/obese people think they weigh too much, says a recent Gallup poll.

People want to feel healthy and most want to live a long time. But practically speaking, the price may be too high. It means pushing away that extra plate of food, and perhaps more. Read More

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MORE ABOUT: personal health

Can Breathing Like Wim Hof Make Us Superhuman?

By Nathaniel Scharping | July 6, 2017 11:24 am
(Credit: Innerfire BV)

(Credit: Innerfire BV)

Take a deep breath. Feel the wave of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide press against the bounds of your ribcage and swell your lungs. Exhale. Repeat.

Before consciously inhaling, you probably weren’t thinking about breathing at all. The respiratory system is somewhat unique to our bodies in that we are both its passenger and driver. We can leave it up to our autonomic nervous system, responsible for unconscious actions like our heartbeat and digestion, or we can seamlessly take over the rhythm of our breath.

To some, this duality offers a tantalizing path into our subconscious minds and physiology. Control breathing, the thinking goes, and perhaps we can nudge other systems within our bodies. This is part of the logic behind Lamaze techniques, the pranayamic breathing practiced in yoga and even everyday wisdom — “just take a deep breath.”

These breathing practices promise a kind of visceral self-knowledge, a more perfect melding of mind and body that expands our self-control to subconscious activities. These may be dubious claims to some.

For Wim Hof, a Dutch daredevil nicknamed “The Iceman,” it is the basis of his success. Read More

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Memory Repression: A Dubious Theory That’s Sticking Around

By Ian Graber-Stiehl | July 6, 2017 10:34 am
memories

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Compared to the other generational tragedies of the late ’80s and early ’90s, the rise of memory repression cases is hardly remembered. But nevertheless, during that time hundreds of abuse cases in the courts hinged on unproven theories of Sigmund Freud, tearing hundreds of families asunder and solidifying memory repression in clinical lore. Harvard University psychologist Richard McNally famously called repressed memories “the worst catastrophe to befall the mental health field since the lobotomy.”

For journalist Mark Pendergrast, it was the start of his career as a science writer. Falling into a rabbit hole of research on Freud for another book on Coca Cola, he began investigating memory recovery therapy. The resulting book, “Victims of Memory,” debunked many of the claims buttressing memory repression, and he painted an uncomfortable picture of a justice system that filed an some 800 criminal cases based on what may amount to pseudoscience.

But far from being a one-time phenomenon, belief in memory repression remains a prevalent notion. So Pendergrast has written two new books on the subject: ‘Memory Warp: How the Myth of Repressed Memory Arose and Refuses to Die,’ and an academic textbook ‘The Repressed Memory Epidemic: How It Happened and What We Need to Learn from It.’ He incorporated new incorporated new research, conducted in partnership with Southern Mississippi University’s Lawrence Patihis, in his new work. Discover spoke with Pendergrast about why he decided to revisit a topic he dug into more than two decades ago.


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts

The Dark Side of Laughter

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(Credit: durantelallera/Shutterstock)

When you hear someone laugh behind you, you probably picture them on the phone or with a friend – smiling and experiencing a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Chances are just the sound of the laughter could make you smile or even laugh along. But imagine that the person laughing is just walking around alone in the street, or sitting behind you at a funeral. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so inviting.

The truth is that laughter isn’t always positive or healthy. According to science, it can be classified into different types, ranging from genuine and spontaneous to simulated (fake), stimulated (for example by tickling), induced (by drugs) or even pathological. But the actual neural basis of laughter is still not very well known – and what we do know about it largely comes from pathological clinical cases. Read More

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Malaria During Pregnancy Could Bolster Babies’ Immunity

By Kim Smuga-Otto | June 5, 2017 3:27 pm
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A mother and baby from the village of Pomerini, Tanzania. It’s estimated that the disease kills 60,000 to 80,000 people there annually. (Credit: Franco Valpato/Shutterstock)

You have a bit of your mother in you, literally.

When scientists performed biopsies of young adults’ organs, they’ve found maternal cells embedded in hearts, kidneys, and liver. This phenomenon, called microchimerism, is caused by a small number of cells passing through the placenta during pregnancy. The transfer goes both ways, and scientists think it’s like a meet-and-greet between mom and fetus, preventing their immune systems from treating each other’s cells as dangerous invaders. But that doesn’t explain why these cells stick around long after birth. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
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