World Health Organization researchers are reporting an apparent spike in Australia in the number of seasonal influenza cases resistant to Tamiflu, the most commonly used antiviral drug.
The jump in such cases involving the pandemic 2009 A(H1N1) flu strain, also known as swine flu, took place during Australia’s most recent winter: May through August of 2011.
“In 2007/2008, a different A(H1N1) influenza virus developed Tamiflu-resistance,” explained WHO research scientist Aeron C. Hurt, who reported the spike. “On that occasion, it was first detected in large numbers in Europe. However, within 12 months the virus had spread globally, such that virtually every A(H1N1) virus around the world was resistant to this drug,” he explained.
“This previous situation demonstrated the speed and potential for a Tamiflu-resistant virus to spread worldwide,” Hurt added. “Our concern is that this current pandemic 2009 A(H1N1) Tamiflu-resistant virus may also spread globally.”
Hurt, who is based in the Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in North Melbourne, outlined his observations in the Dec. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
To explore the question of H1N1-drug
The immune therapy drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) may extend the lives of people with advanced lung cancer, a new study finds.
Keytruda is commonly used to treat other tumor types, and made headlines recently after it helped former President Jimmy Carter fight off brain cancer.
In this study, researchers compared Keytruda to the chemotherapy drug docetaxel in more than 1,000 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. All of the patients were battling tumors that had progressed even after chemotherapy.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the leading form of the disease.
All of the patients’ tumors produced a protein called PD-L1, which can shield the tumor from immune system attack, according to a team led by Dr. Roy Herbst, professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.
Among patients with the highest amounts of PD-L1, those who received Keytruda lived twice as long as those who received docetaxel alone — 14.9 months vs. 8.2 months, Herbst’s team found. Patients with low levels of PD-L1 also benefited from Keytruda.
Treatment-linked side effects were less in patients given Keytruda versus those who took docetaxel, the study found.
There might be one drawback to Keytruda,
Exercising more and smoking less are two of the main reasons why residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul find their city is now the top-ranked in the United States for healthy living.
Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) ranks the 50 healthiest and fittest metropolitan areas in the United States, using the American Fitness Index (AFI). Although kicking the habit was a big part of why the Twin Cities unseated Washington D.C. from the No. 1 spot in 2011, moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, heart disease and diabetes also factored into the city’s high score (77.2 out of 100 possible points).
Moreover, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s percentage of park land is above average, as is its share of recreational facilities. More farmers markets also popped up in the city this past year. These trends tend to indicate residents there are moving towards healthier lifestyles and eating habits, the ACSM noted.
Trailing behind Minneapolis-St. Paul to round out the AFI’s top five slots are the following cities:
- Washington D.C., with a score of 76.8
- Boston, with a score of 69.1
- Portland, Ore., with a score of 67.7
- Denver, with a score of 67.6
Influenza, commonly known as “the flu,” is a viral infection of the respiratory tract that affects the nose, throat, and sometimes lungs.
Outbreaks of flu tend to happen annually, at about the same time every year. This period is commonly referred to as “cold and flu season.”
However, each outbreak may be caused by a different subtype or strain of the virus, so a different flu vaccine is needed to prevent the flu each year.
For most people, a bout of flu is an unpleasant but short-lived illness.
For others, however, flu can pose serious health risks, particularly if complications such as pneumonia develop.
Every year, thousands of Americans die from the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of deaths caused annually by flu in the United States ranged from 3,000 to 49,000 between 1976 and 2006, with an annual average of 23,607 flu-related deaths.
The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination, encourage the people you live and work with to do likewise, stay away from people who are sick, and wash your hands frequently.
As March Madness sweeps the nation, fans everywhere may be surprised to learn that the NCAA tournament isn’t just fun and games — it can actually have a significant impact on your health.
Most of the effects seem positive. “Being involved in a social group with shared values and interests is demonstrably healthy,” says Chris Peterson, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Being a sports fan is an excellent example of that.”
But the tourney may not be a health slam dunk. Certain factors, such as whether your team wins or loses or how riled up you get during games, can take a negative toll on your health and safety too.
So will this year’s tournament be a boost or bust your health? Read on to find out.
1. Health Boost: Self-Esteem Spike
Among garden-variety (as opposed to hardcore) fans, cheering on your alma mater can lift your self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and depression — regardless of whether the team wins or loses, says Daniel Wann, PhD, a sports psychologist at Murray State University in Kentucky. “Research shows that identifying with a team helps you
If previous years are any indication, many of these games will contain images of cigarettes and tobacco use. Experts worry they could lead young people, who clock hours a day playing video games, to start smoking.
Some 42% of video games featured characters smoking cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes and other products or made references to these products and smoking equipment, according to a study published in September.
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco found that limited their search to the 118 games released between 1994 and 2015 that were rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, an independent regulatory body that makes age recommendations for games.
Although there is ample research showing that images of smoking in movies influences young people, much less is known about the effect of tobacco references in video games. Adolescents from 12 and 17 who see the greatest amount of smoking in movies are about twice as likely to start smoking as those with the least exposure, according to a U.S. surgeon general’s report.
Video games could be even more influential than movies, said Robin Koval, chief executive officer and president of
In the aftermath of Japan’s devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and terrifying tsunami, people everywhere are wondering how they can support the numerous relief efforts under way. Many international relief groups are working to relieve suffering in the increasingly dire situation.
The Japanese government has so far confirmed that more than 3,500 people have died and more than 17,000 remain missing. These numbers are likely to rise once emergency service teams are able to reach all of the affected disaster areas. Nearly 530,000 Japanese have been evacuated from their homes so far, and shortages of food, water, and medical supplies are widespread.
Here’s an important way you can contribute to relief efforts: Donate to AmeriCares, a non-profit relief organization that saves lives and restores health in response to natural disasters, conflict, and chronic poverty. Everyday Health is partnering with AmeriCares to support its efforts on the front lines in Japan. For more than 25 years, AmeriCares has been delivering humanitarian aid, medical supplies, medicines, and other relief directly to disaster areas. One of those disasters AmeriCares responded to was the 1995 Kobe earthquake that struck Japan, leaving massive destruction and more than 300,000 homeless.
After observing Sheen’s rants on radio shows and in the press, Drew Pinsky, MD, addiction specialist and host of Celebrity Rehab, suggested the star was bipolar. “These are bipolar, manic symptoms. The irritability, the agitation, the pressure in his speech, the anger and the aggression; that’s all manic symptoms, ” Pinsky told TMZ. “The thought process is unraveling. It’s derailed. It’s loosened. That’s a serious symptom.”
Sheen, however, disagrees with the allegation he has bipolar symptoms. “Wow, what does that mean? Wow, and then what? What’s the cure — medicine? Make me like them? Not gonna happen,” a chain-smoking Sheen said in an ABC News interview that aired this morning on Good Morning America. “I’m bi-winning. I win here and I win there.”
Related: Could Sheen Be Bipolar? Top Symptoms to Look For
Meanwhile, his family has taken a different tack. “He’s an extraordinary man,” his father, Martin Sheen, told the UK’s Sky News. “If he had cancer, how would we treat him? The disease of addiction is a form of cancer, and you have to have an equal measure of concern and love and lift them up, so
Most of us know that smoking is unhealthy. So why do so many people still do it? The answers are complex. Researchers have found effective ways to help people quit smoking—or prevent them from starting in the first place. The tricky part is putting these tools to use. We can all take steps to help stamp out smoking.
Fifty years ago, the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health revealed that smoking cigarettes raises your risk of developing several diseases. Since then, smoking rates have declined, saving millions of lives. But at the same time, more than 20 million Americans have died too soon because of smoking. And more than 3,200 children under age 18 smoke their first cigarette every day as a result of tobacco industry marketing and other influences.
We know a lot more than we used to about the dangers of tobacco smoke. “When you smoke, you inhale thousands of hazardous chemicals,” explains Dr. Michele Bloch, a tobacco control expert at NIH. “They travel all around inside your body and cause damage to numerous parts.”
Cigarette smoke can quickly damage delicate lung tissue. It doesn’t have a chance to heal when
Among smokers, lung function may decline faster in those who have a vitamin D deficiency than in those with normal vitamin D levels, a new study suggests.
However, although boosting levels of vitamin D may offer some protection to the lungs from the effects of smoking, it won’t prevent deteriorating lung function or smoking-related health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and cancer, the researchers warned.
“Vitamin D, possibly due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, could provide a small amount of protection against lung damage that occurs from smoking,” said lead researcher Dr. Nancy Lange, of the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“If these findings are replicated in other studies and interventional trials, vitamin D supplementation could have the potential to provide some protection against the damage to lung function that is due to smoking,” she said.
Lange emphasized that the effect was small and “the most important intervention, for both lung and overall health, is for people to stop smoking.”
The report was released online July 19 in advance of print publication in the American Journal of
In a randomized study involving men and women in their mid-60s, walking three times a week for a year led to increases in the volume of the hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory, according to Dr. Arthur Kramer, of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Ill., and colleagues.
On the other hand, control participants who took stretching classes saw drops in the volume of the hippocampus, Kramer and colleagues reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The findings suggest that it’s possible to overcome the age-related decline in hippocampal volume with only moderate exercise, Kramer told MedPage Today, leading to better fitness and perhaps to better spatial memory. “I don’t see a down side to it,” he said.
The volume of the hippocampus is known to fall with age by between 1 percent and 2 percent a year, the researchers noted, leading to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia.
But animal research suggests that exercise reduces the loss of volume and preserves memory, they added.
To test the effect on humans, they enrolled 120 men and
Two new studies have implicated smoking in the development of psoriatic arthritis and inflammatory back pain.
“Taken together, the interactions between environmental factors and the onset, the course, and outcomes of rheumatic diseases are getting increasingly complex, and it is becoming increasingly clear how detrimental the influence of smoking is on most of these diseases,” wrote Jürgen Braun, MD, of Rheumatology Medical Center Ruhrgebiet in Herne, Germany, and colleagues in an accompanying editorial.
The studies and editorial were published in the June Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The study from Qureshi and colleagues examined the incidence of the condition among 95,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study over 14 years, identifying 157 cases.
The likelihood of developing psoriatic arthritis increased with the duration and intensity of smoking.
Moreover, the risks of severe disease were “remarkably elevated” among smokers with a 25-year history and with 20 or more pack-years, according to Qureshi’s group.
Among the possible mechanisms by which smoking could influence the incidence and course of psoriatic arthritis are through the induction of oxidative stress, and effects on inflammation and the immune system, the researchers noted.
“The mechanisms underlying the
Nicotine is a drug naturally present in tobacco. When you smoke a cigarette, the nicotine enters your lungs. From there, nicotine is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. Within eight seconds, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it reaches your brain.
“How you get a drug into your system has a lot to do with how addictive it is,” Seidman explains. “And inhaling tobacco smoke is one of the fastest ways to get any drug into your system because it goes directly to your brain.”
Nicotine affects you physiologically, psychologically, and socially, which gives momentum to your nicotine addiction and makes it that much more difficult to quit. “You can’t separate those three things,” Seidman says.
Physiological Effects of Nicotine
Once nicotine reaches your brain, it causes adrenaline to be released. A rise in adrenaline causes:
- Your heart to beat faster
- Your blood pressure to rise
- Your pulse to quicken
- Your veins to constrict
- The electrical activity in your brain to change
At first, these changes may not be pleasant and can cause coughing, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. However, if you continue to smoke, you learn
Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks
The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should ea
- 6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save fat-laden baked goods such as croissants, muffins, and donuts for an occasional treat.
- 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, making them a great addition to your healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables also provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need for your body’s systems to function at peak performance. Fruits and vegetables also will add flavor to a healthy diet. It’s best to serve them fresh, steamed, or cut up in salads. Be sure to skip the calorie-laden toppings,
A large number of studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Moderate drinking means one drink per day for women and one to two for men, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “The difference in amounts is because of how men and women metabolize alcohol,” Dr. Novey explains.
“When you say one drink, the size of that drink matters,” Novey adds. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture one drink is equal to:
- 12 ounces of beer or
- 5 ounces of wine or
- 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof)
The Dangers of Drinking Too Much
Unfortunately, some people can’t stop at just one or two drinks. Too much alcohol can result in serious health consequences. Heavy alcohol intake can damage the liver, causing cirrhosis, a fatal disease. Excessive drinking also can raise blood pressure and damage the heart, and is linked to many different cancers, including mouth, esophagus, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. The health risks are even greater for those who not only drink but smoke as