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Archive for 'Health'

Women’s immune system stronger than men

A Canadian study from McGill University has found that the female hormone Estrogen gives women more powerful immune system, boosts their ability to fight bacterian viruses, and blocks the inflammation process. As such, the lack of estrogen makes men more sick.

Avis Favaro from CTV discusses this in her Mednews Express report below along with other studies such as the new simple test to predict Alzheimer’s disease.

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Ecstasy could be used to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by Canadian Forces

Suddenly, I feel like joining the army.

On August 5th, Lt. Col. Rakesh Jetly, a psychiatrist and senior health adviser for the Canadian Forces, said Canada’s military would use the illicit dance-floor drug Ecstasy to treat soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder if it’s proven safe and effective.

A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology shows a small clinical trial found 80% of chronic patients treated with psychotherapy and MDMA - called Ecstasy on the street - no longer showed signs of t-traumatic stress disorder if (PTSD) and had no serious side effects. Three patients once so debilitated by the disorder they couldn’t work were able to return to their jobs after treatment.

MDMA was used by psychiatrists and psychotherapists to aide treatment before it was outlawed in the 1970s and 1980s.

More info on this in the Toronto SUN article here.

Ecstasy pills

Ecstasy pills

Recall of product Tahini from Cedar brand in Canada as it may contain Salmonella bacteria

As of July 19th, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Lebanese company Produits Phoenicia Inc. are warning the public not to consume the Cedar brand Tahini described below because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The affected product, Cedar brand Tahini is sold in 450 mL jars, bearing UPC 0 62356 50178 5. There is no lot code on the packages. This product has been distributed nationally, but there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

The manufacturer, Produits Phoenicia Inc., Saint Laurent, Quebec, is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

for more information on this, you may refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency health hazard alert here.

Tahini product by Cedar

Tahini product by Cedar

Happy Glasses: another solution for the Canadian “winter depression”

The weather in Canada is starting to get cold, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - also known as “winter depression” or “winter blues” - is at the doorsteps. As I have brought to you last Winter a simple solution to combat SAD, I now introduce a new solution: the happy glasses.

Developed in 2006 at the Liege University physics department in Belgium, the glasses are designed to stop the production of sleep hormone melatonin by shining light rays into the retina.

Check them out in the video below:

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Research shows fast cars boost men’s testosterone levels

Testosterone is what drives men’s desire to own fast cars, according to a study published in the journal Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes.

Researchers at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Montreal took 39 willing young men and let them take a cruise in a $150,000 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. The men were then asked to drive a 16-year-old Toyota Camry. They drove each vehicle once on a busy street where they would be seen by women, and then again on a quiet road. After one hour, the men’s saliva was tested for testosterone. The researchers found that in the sedan, the men’s hormone levels remained low, but in the sports car, testosterone levels stayed high — with or without an audience.

Gad Saad, the study’s lead researcher, said the study is evidence of “sexual signaling,” similar to animals in the wild, where males try to prove to females they’re the best breeding stock.

Fore more information, watch the video below by CBC:

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“Medical Myths That Can Kill You” by Nancy Snyderman

We sometimes throw advices here and there without really knowing if they are true or not. The reason for that is that those advices were fed to us by our parents or friends without us questioning their legitimacy. But now NBC News chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman wrote a book called “Medical Myths That Can Kill You” that busts a lot of those medical myths through medical proof and explanation.

After ruling out some myths, here are examples of correct statements:

  • you cannot get the H1N1 virus from the water in the water fountain,
  • the HPV vaccine is not only for girls,
  • reading in dim light does not ruin your eyesight,
  • energy drinks do not give you energy,
  • university grads live longer than those who stick only to high school.

An explanation is found in the video below by NBC Today Show:

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Children who are spanked have lower IQs

Spanking can get kids to behave in a hurry, but new research suggests it can do more harm than good to their brains. The study, involving hundreds of U.S. children, showed the more a child was spanked, the lower his or her IQ compared with others.

The research was conducted by Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire and his colleague Mallie Paschall of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland, and was presented last Friday at the 14th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, in San Diego, Calif.

They studied nationally representative samples of two age groups: 806 children ages 2 to 4, and 704 ages 5 to 9. The researchers tested the kids’ IQs initially and then four years later. Both groups of kids got smarter after four years. But the 2- to 4-year-olds who were spanked scored 5 points lower on the IQ test than those not spanked. For children ages 5 to 9, the spanked ones scored on average 2.8 points lower than their unspanked counterparts

More on this in the video below by NBC Today:

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Experimental drug shrinks skin cancer tumors

Scientists have discovered a drug which significantly shrinks skin cancer tumors, which let some doctors to call it “startling and unprecedented”. The drug works differently than conventional treatment; it directly blocks one of the genes involved in the spread of skin cancer. They claim that the treatment has the potential to extend the lifespan and quality of life of patients who would otherwise have little chance of survival.

More about this in the video below by BBC:

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Seasonal flu shot may increase the risk of H1N1

It’s the flu season and people usually prevent it through the flu shot, but now they should think twice. Four Canadian studies involving about 2,000 people found that those who have received the seasonal flu vaccine in the past seem to be more likely to get sick with the swine flu. Research has not been peer-reviewed or collaborated with other studies, but theoretically experts say the risk is there.

More on this in the video below by CBC:

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First artificial heart implant in Lebanon performed by AUB doctors

An American University of Beirut (AUB) medical team successfully performed the first “artificial heart” implant in Lebanon, thus saving the life of a 37-year-old man suffering from terminal heart failure, the AUB said in a statement issued on Thursday.

It said the six-hour operation led by two AUB doctors took place at the American University of Beirut Medical Center Aug. 28. AUB deemed the operation “successful” as the patient survived the first critical 72 hours, showing improvements in all his vital signs.

The “artificial heart” implant operation involves the insertion of a device called a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) that takes over the functions of the left ventricle of the heart, the dominant chamber which is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood via the aorta to the rest of the body. The LVAD used in this surgery is called Heartmate II. It is manufactured by the U.S. medical technology company, Thoratec.

The two AUB doctors, Dr. Pierre Sfeir and Dr. Hadi Skouri, were assisted by a multidisciplinary medical team, including the leading expert on LVAD operations, Dr. Latif Arusoglu, a German surgeon, as well as a clinical specialist, both dispatched by Thoratec.

Lebanon's first artifical heart implant performed at AUB - Naharnet

Lebanon's first artifical heart implant performed at AUB - Naharnet

Mediterranean diet can help people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes

Mediterranean diet has been found to drastically reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. In fact, a study published in May 2008 in the online edition of The British Medical Journal showed that people who adhered to Mediterranean diet had an 83% reduction in their risk of developing diabetes, while those who moderately followed the diet had their risk reduced by 59%. But now, a new research found that it can help those who are newly diagnosed as well.

The study split over 200 overweight people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes into two diets. One with low fat and the other one with Mediterranean diet, and the findings were quite remarkable. After four years, only 44% of those who followed the Mediterranean diet needed medications, compared to 70% who followed a low fat diet.

More about this and the Mediterranean diet below with Monica Matys:

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Some people may be genetically programmed to need less sleep

The common belief nowadays is that eight hours of sleep at night is the optimal level for most people, but other knowledge literature such as the Vedas claim that it depends on the type of body, which could result in more or less than eight hours. But now, a new research suggests that some people may be genetically programmed to need less sleep, and as a result are able to get by only six hours of sleep.

More about this in the video below by Rhonda Low from CTV:

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Marijuana smoke could be more harmful than tobacco

While many people believe smoking marijuana is less harmful than smoking tobacco, a new Canadian study proves otherwise. In their tests, Health Canada researchers found that marijuana causes significantly more damage to cells than tobacco smoke. However, tobacco smoke caused damage to chromosomes while marijuana did not. Another research showed that marijuana may amplify the effect of tobacco smoke.

More about this in the video below by Rhonda Low from CTV:

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Positive thinking can help patients with whiplash injuries recover much faster

The idea of positive thinking might not be new to you, and they even did a documentary about it (The Secret), but it seems that it does work. Researchers in Alberta looked at a group of 6,000 adults traffic related whiplash injuries and found that those who had positive outlooks towards their recovery actually recovered three times faster than those who did not. They also found that 42% of those who had positive thinking returned faster to work.

You can watch the video below from CTV for more information:

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How does male contraceptive injection work?

Birth control has long been for women only, but soon there will be a new form of birth control for men other than condoms and vasectomy. A new research, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, could revolutionize contraception. It found that an injection for men appears to be just as effective at preventing pregnancy as the birth control pill.

The contraceptive is a form of testosterone that is injected into the buttocks once a month. It works by temporarily blocking sperm production. Chinese researchers injected 1,045 healthy Chinese men aged 20 to 45 years with a 500 mg of testosterone undecanoate in oil, once a month for 24 months. All of the study participants had had at least one child and all their female partners, aged 18 and 38 years, also had normal reproductive function. They found the contraceptive was almost 99 per cent effective, with a failure rate of only 1.1 per 100 men.

More about this in the video below with Dr. Rhonda Low from CTV:

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Acupuncture helps relieve back pain

A new and large study has found that acupuncture, and even simulated acupuncture using toothpicks, appears to relieve symptoms of chronic low back pain better than the standard treatment. The study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and was published in last week’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study which was done on 683 adults aged 18 to 70 with chronic lower back pain, found that 60 per cent of participants who received any one of three types of acupuncture - customized, standard and simulated acupuncture - reported they had improved function after eight weeks of treatment. That compares to just 39 per cent of those who received standard care of their choice, which could include a doctor’s visit, chiropractic treatment or massage. A follow-up one year later showed 59 per cent to 65 per cent of those in the acupuncture groups were still experiencing improvement, compared with 50 per cent of those in the usual-care group.

The fact that the simulated acupuncture had the same effect as the real acupuncture raises questions about how acupuncture works to relieve pain, the authors note.

More about this in the video below with Dr. Rhonda Low from CTV:

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Canada’s first same-day breast cancer diagnosis

Canada’s biggest cancer hospital announced that it expanded a clinic that can offer what no other hospital in this country can: same-day breast cancer diagnosis. The rapid diagnostic breast clinic at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital will be able to provide a patient a diagnosis in a matter of hours instead of the more typical five-week wait.

Patients also receive an immediate treatment plan based on their diagnosis, which explains their treatment options: surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. Women in Canada typically wait weeks for a diagnosis after finding a suspicious lump in their breast. But at Princess Margaret, almost 500 patients have quietly been undergoing rapid testing at the clinic as part of a pilot project that began in the fall of 2006.

More about this in the video below by CTV:

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Ribavirin: the antiviral drug becomes promising cancer-fighter

A commonly used antiviral drug that’s already used to fight hepatitis C and HIV could also be used to treat 30% of cancer types, according to a new study conducted on patients in Canada.

Doctors in Montreal tested the antiviral drug Ribavirin on 11 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), who had undergone several other treatments that had previously failed. Nine of the patients saw their conditions improve within a matter of months, with one achieving complete remission and two achieving partial remission, all with few side effects. The results are published online in the journal, Blood.

The researchers, led by Dr. Katherine Borden, at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal, say that ribavirin works by suppressing activity of the eIF4E gene, which becomes overactive in 30 per cent of cancer types and overproduces a protein that helps turn cells cancerous.

More about this in the video below by CTV:

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Breakthrough in how to treat insomnia

Persistent insomnia affects about 10% of adults, and the resulting fatigue can significantly impair how someone functions during the day. If left untreated, chronic insomnia may also increase the risk for major depression and hypertension. But now Quebec researchers have found that combining therapy and medication may help people with insomnia to sleep more soundly.

Charles Morin - a clinical psychologist at Laval University in Quebec City - and his colleagues reported that a psychological treatment called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helped people with insomnia in the long term. They published their study in Wednesday’s issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included 160 adults who were randomly assigned to receive CBT alone or CBT plus the drug zolpidem for six weeks, followed by six months of therapy. After six weeks, Morin said that what the results showed is that it’s best to discontinue the medication and keep people in therapy with CBT. The therapy teaches people not to worry obsessively about their insomnia, since going to bed worried tends to perpetuate sleeplessness. According to Dr. Rhonda Low, stress is the most common problem that is stopping Canadians from sleeping well so relaxation therapy and meditation are other types of CBT.

More about this in the video below by Dr. Rhonda Low from CTV:

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Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes): an alternative for smokers ?

My first and only experience with e-cigarettes was last year because I was very curious in this small device when I first saw it with my friend Joumana. For those of you who do not know, an electronic cigarette (or “e-cigarette”) is an alternative to smoked tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It is a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine by delivering a vaporized propylene glycol/nicotine solution. In addition to nicotine delivery, this vapor also provides a flavor and physical sensation similar to that of inhaled tobacco smoke, while no tobacco, smoke, or combustion is actually involved in its operation.

When I tried the e-cigarette last year, I thought it was cool in the beginning, but turned out to be a hassle in the end. It didn’t give quite the feeling of smoking, and it wasn’t practical at all since I needed a couple of spare batteries for my night out. I am not sure how well they improved these devices, but I recently heard they are becoming more and more popular, and a wide variety of them exists now in the market.

The video below by the Daily Planet talks more on e-cigarettes and their risks:

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Second-hand smoke causes breast cancer in young women

Before now, most breast cancers were believed to be related to hormones, but now researchers are looking at tobacco as well. In an new analysis of hundreds of studies and thousands of patient histories, an international expert panel announced a week ago that smoking does increase the risk of breast cancer. The panel looked at second-hand smoke too and concluded that it’s a factor in breast cancer in younger pre-menopausal women, but not necessarily in older post-menopausal women.

CBC’s Nancy Wood has the details in the video below:

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Diet away your allergies through Mediterranean diet

Since it’s Spring time, many experience seasonal allergies this time of the year. The Mediterranean diet could help those with allergies such as hay fever by boosting their immune system. The Mediterranean diet is chock full of healthy foods like grapes, tomatoes, and nuts. These foods provide the most benefits based on their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are known for their disease-fighting ability. They work to sop-up the so-called free radicals left over in the body as a byproduct of a cell’s day-to-day functions.

In 2007, British scientists surveyed the parents of nearly 700 children in the Greek island of Crete to assess their respiratory symptoms and dietary habits. They found that at least twice a day, eight out of 10 children ate fresh fruit, and two-thirds ate fresh vegetables. The health benefits appeared to be strongest in terms of respiratory problems. Children who followed this healthy diet were less likely to develop air or skin allergies, or asthma symptoms.

Watch the video below by CTV’s health reporter Monica Matys:

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New study shows benefits of Mediterranean diet for heart health

A new study supported by The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health concluded that eating a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables and nuts helps protect the heart. The research, which was led by Dr. Sonia Anand of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, analyzed almost 200 studies, involving millions of people, which were published from 1950 till June 2007. The study was published last Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The Mediterranean diet involves high consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts that are not roasted or salted, cheese or yogurt, whole grains, fish, and monosaturated fats such as olive oil and avocados. The research also confirmed that trans-fatty acids are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Starchy carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and white potatoes that are high on the glycemic index were also linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

More information about this in the interview below by CBC with Dr. Sonia Anand:

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Scientists uncover how caffeine boosts athletes’ performance

In a study published in Friday’s online issue of the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers from McMaster University Medical Centre found that caffeine tricks an athlete’s brain into delaying the perception of pain and fatigue. More importantly, it also tricks muscles into releasing more of the calcium needed to contract and relax.

“The caffeine is allowing a little bit more calcium to be released into that muscle,” said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky. “It would make that muscle contraction a little bit stronger, so you can actually either run at the same pace with less input, or run at a faster pace for the same input.” Research from the University of Guelph showed caffeine in high concentrations can actually have the opposite effect, which is one of the reasons it is no longer banned at the Olympics.

Ron Charles from CBC talks about it in the video below:

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Exercise program may help migraine sufferers

While physical exercise has been shown to trigger migraine headaches among sufferers, a new study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain describes an exercise program that is well tolerated by patients. The findings show that the program decreased the frequency of headaches and improved quality of life.

The study used a sample of migraine sufferers who were examined before, during and after an aerobic exercise intervention. The program was based on indoor cycling (for continuous aerobic exercise) and was designed to improve maximal oxygen uptake without worsening the patients’ migraines.

After the treatment period, patients’ maximum oxygen uptake increased significantly. There was no worsening of migraine status at any time during the study period and, during the last month of treatment, there was a significant decrease in the number of migraine attacks, the number of days with migraine per month, headache intensity and amount of headache medication used.

An abstract of the publication can be found at the Wiley InterScience website. More about this in the video below by Dr. Rhonda Low from CTV:

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