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How Just Half a Tablespoon of Olive Oil a Day Can Improve Heart Health

oilve-oil-heart-health
Researchers say olive oil, as well as certain vegetable oils, are healthier for your heart than animal-based fats. Getty Images
  • New research shows that adding olive oil to a diet leads to improved cardiovascular outcomes.
  • While the health benefits of olive oil are well known, researchers found similarly positive results with other healthy vegetable oils.
  • Across the board, vegetable oils represent a healthier form of fat than animal-based fats.
  • Olive oil is a major component of the Mediterranean diet, one of the healthiest overall diets.

It’s long been known that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest overall diets.

Now, research shines new light on the ways that one of the diet’s main components — olive oil — helps boost heart health.

Researchers presented their findings today at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions in Phoenix.

Their analysis of long-term data, dating back to 1990, shows that eating more than 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil per day lowers one’s risk of cardiovascular disease by 15 percent and the risk of coronary heart disease by 21 percent.

While consumption of olive oil has been associated with improved heart health for years, the new research shows these associations with a U.S.-based population for the first time.

“Mostly, these associations have been shown in the past in Mediterranean and European populations,” Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD, lead author of the study and a research scientist in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told Healthline. “But until now, there was no previous study that showed results in a U.S. population.”

 

New wrinkles

The health benefits of olive oil are well understood, according to Dr. Benjamin Hirsh, director of preventive cardiology at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, New York.

“Olive oil is a simple way to replace unhealthy, saturated, and trans-fatty acids of animal fats with a source of omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol,” Hirsh told Healthline. “It has also been associated with improved vascular function, heart health, and survival.”

Animal-based fats such as margarine, butter, dairy fat, and mayonnaise are less healthy than olive oil when it comes to supporting heart health.

An intriguing detail uncovered in the new study shows that olive oil isn’t the only oil that contains these benefits.

Guasch-Ferre said that researchers also saw positive associations with other plant oils, such as corn or safflower oil, although more research is needed to confirm the effects of plant oils on health outcomes.

“While olive oil was better than animal fat when we did the substitution analysis, they were not superior to vegetable oils,” she explained. “This means that other vegetable oils could be a healthy alternative compared to animal fat, especially because they tend to be more affordable in the U.S. compared to olive oil.”

Guasch-Ferre also pointed out that these findings are consistent with current recommendations that highlight the quality, rather than the quantity, of fat intake.

She adds that the study led to new questions, and more data will undoubtedly add to the overall understanding of the relationship between olive oil and heart health.

“One thing that we couldn’t analyze here was the different types of olive oil — whether it was common olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. There’s some evidence showing that extra virgin olive oil varieties have higher amounts of polyphenols that are associated with better lipid profiles and less inflammation,” she said.

“It would be interesting to see the effects of different varieties, along with the effects of different vegetable oils on health outcomes, along with defining the underlying mechanisms of these associations,” Guasch-Ferre added.

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Well-rounded approach

While replacing animal fats with healthier alternatives such as olive or vegetable oil is a strong step toward improved cardiovascular health, it’s hardly the be-all and end-all.

Good heart health also includes physical activity, a balanced diet and, ideally, visits with a doctor to stay on track.

Hirsh cautioned that olive oil by itself is not a miracle cure.

“I believe that focusing on one component of nutrition misses the benefits that derive from the change in the overall dietary pattern,” he said. “It is likely that those [in the study] who switched to consuming more olive oil as a substitute for unhealthy fats probably also enacted changes in their lifestyles to consume healthier food and be more active.”

Anyone who wants to change their diet to promote better heart health can start by adopting the Mediterranean diet. This diet focuses on unrefined, plant-based foods, along with fish, and — of course — plenty of olive oil.

A final note pointed out by both Guasch-Ferre and Hirsh is that the study’s findings are observational. This means that researchers can’t prove cause and effect.

Still, the findings are supported by long-standing medical knowledge surrounding the health benefits of olive oil while adding an intriguing wrinkle surrounding the benefits of other vegetable oils.

“There’s a lot of research showing that plant-based foods, including healthier vegetable oils like olive oil, can have benefits for heart health,” Guasch-Ferre said. “Butter or other fats, which are high in saturated fats, can be harmful for the heart. It’s better to use olive oil for cooking than other animal fat and it’s also better to have olive oil in ingredients rather than other animal fats.”

The eyes are the window to spotting early signs of dementia

As the population of the West ages. New innovations in detecting early signs of Dementia are being explored.

early-signs-dementia-eyes
A look within. (Reuters/Noor Khamis)

As our body’s central control center, the brain has to keep going at all costs. It makes sense that it’s surrounded by biological safeguards: a bony skull, a sack of tissue, and blood vessels that filter out most infectious bugs. When neurons start to decline—as some do naturally with age—the brain can even quickly rewire networks before we notice anything is amiss.

But these same safeguards are a huge obstacle for scientists trying to study the brain’s decline—specifically dementia. Grey matter is excellent at adapting to the slow buildup of abnormal proteins, the cause of several forms of dementia, and it lacks the same pain receptors as the rest of our body. So by the time a patient starts becoming forgetful, or having trouble concentrating, the cellular damage is already substantial—and usually irreversible.

In order to slow or prevent dementia, scientists will have to be able to spot it before cognitive systems collapse. Current diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, can confirm the build-ups of misshapen amyloid-beta or tau, the hallmarks of the condition. But they are both expensive (PET scans) and painfully invasive (spinal taps). Blood tests are a promising strategy, though after years of research scientists are still struggling to distinguish the chemical signs of normal aging from the signs of dementia.

So a smaller contingent of researchers are trying a novel strategy. They’re looking instead at changes in our sight—a complex sense with several processing steps, each one providing an opportunity for scientists to capture a blip that signals impending doom for the brain. This research is in its infancy. But with the population of aging adults at risk for dementia increasing daily, it’s a critical route of exploration.

The eyes have it

Vision requires our eyes to collect information and send it to the brain, where an entire region works to interpret it in fewer than 120 milliseconds (paywall) by some estimates.

The first stop is the eye—specifically the retina, which picks up images for the brain to interpret. “The retina is a direct extension of your brain,” says Sandra Weintraub, a neurologist at Northwestern University’s School of Medicine. “It actually has neuronal cells.” When something is wrong in the brain, the retina could reflect that damage as inflammation damages tiny blood vessels, called capillaries, around its neuronal cells.

Weintraub thinks that lower capillary counts could help indicate the early signs of dementia. In April of this year, she and her colleague Amani Fawzi, an ophthalmologist also at Northwestern, published work showing noticeable differences in the retinal blood vessels of individuals with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer’s disease and healthy individuals. People with cognitive impairment had fewer capillaries in their retina than those who did not.

It was a small study: just 32 people total, half of them with symptoms of cognitive decline and the others healthy. That’s not enough data to predict if a person is in the early stages of dementia. In order to strengthen this research, Weintraub’s team will next look at a larger group of individuals—preferably with a wider set of ages, and at different stages of progressing dementia.

Making sense of sight

In addition to the eye itself, the brain’s interpretation of images could also serve as an indication of brain health. “The eye isn’t a camera,” says Alyssa Brewer, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine. “The brain fills in all kinds of info based on prior experience and expectation about how things normally look.” This trick likely has an evolutionary purpose: It makes it much easier for us to quickly suss out our environment, and in particular to pick out faces. (This is also why it’s common for us to find faces in objects that are not human, or even animals.)

 

Changes in the way our brains make sense of the visual world can indicate a larger neurological change. That’s why Brewer studies the brain’s visual cortex, where the bulk of our image processing happens. In particular, she looks at the way regions of the visual cortex are organized into so-called visual field maps. In a small study published in 2014, she and her team used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the visual cortices of a handful of college students, healthy older adults, and two adults of the same age who had been diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease. Although the participants with Alzheimer’s had normal vision, “their maps were completely disordered,” Brewer says. “We were definitely surprised the level of changes that were happening very early on in Alzheimer’s.”

That work measured participants’ visual status quo. By extension, one way to detect early changes in the brain’s visual capacity would be to challenge the system with a hard task—like spotting animals in black and white images flashed for a hundredth of a second on screen.

That’s the idea that London-based start-up Cognetivity is betting on. In January of this year, their research team published work in the journal Nature Scientific Reports showing that their technique could be used as part of cognitive health assessments given in doctors’ offices, although they have yet to be given clearance for clinical use. Tom Sawyer, Cognetivity’s chief operating officer, told Quartz that the company is hoping to run the test on larger populations, including people who have depression or multiple sclerosis, to try to identify subtle changes in visual cognition common among neurological conditions.

Although these are all good leads for better diagnostic tests, they have one problem in common: There’s too much person-to-person variability in eye structure, cortex organization, and visual processing to create a static metric for brain health, the way there is for blood pressure. “We don’t have a good enough handle of what ‘normal’ is in many aspects, even in vision,” says Brewer.

That said, simpler ways of taking snapshots of the brain’s health could make it easier for health care providers to track their patients’ progress over time—and note any seriously concerning dips in cognitive abilities. Even if these tests couldn’t diagnose a specific form of dementia, they could cue health care providers to order tests like PET scans or spinal taps for their patients sooner. Having an earlier diagnosis before their symptoms progress makes it easier for patients and loved ones to plan for the care they’ll need, and it opens the door for them to be enrolled in potentially beneficial clinical trials.

via – Quartz | Source – Quartz | Search  》Dementia Alzheimers Diagnosis

Before Prostate Surgery, Consider ‘Active Surveillance’

Not to be confused with “watchful waiting,” active surveillance is not a do-nothing approach.

psa-test-tube
Alternatives to the common PSA Test are now being considered. (Source - National Cancer Institute)

Howard Wolinsky is a medical journalist in Flossmoor, Ill., who knows better than to go forward with potentially life-changing surgery without first seeking a second opinion.

Nine years ago, at age 63, when a PSA blood test followed by a biopsy revealed cancer in his prostate gland, the diagnosing urologist said he could operate to remove the offending organ the following week.

Not so fast, Mr. Wolinsky thought, knowing this was not a minor operation that often left men temporarily or permanently impotent, incontinent or both. So, before going under the knife, he consulted Dr. Scott Eggener, a University of Chicago urologist, who reviewed the test results and proposed an alternative strategy called active surveillance.

Not to be confused with “watchful waiting,” active surveillance is not a do-nothing approach. Rather, patients are routinely monitored and referred for surgery or radiation therapy only if their cancer begins to grow or show molecular signs of aggression.

Current estimates are that about half of men found to have prostate cancer could avoid radical treatment and its potential side effects if they were willing to live with having a cancer, albeit a seemingly benign one, in their bodies. These are men whose cancer is deemed, based on its biological characteristics, to be low-risk of progressing to a potentially life-threatening state.

 

Only if periodic exams reveal that a man’s cancer is shown to be progressing to a more aggressive state would more radical treatment be considered. Within a decade, this generally affects about 5 percent of men who choose active surveillance, Dr. Eggener told me.

Other reasons for abandoning active surveillance and undergoing radical treatment include the patients’ growing anxiety about living with cancer and pressure from family members, and sometimes even from their doctors, to “get it out,” clinicians report.

Watchful waiting, which involves little or no monitoring, is still sometimes suggested but mainly reserved for men with a limited life expectancy for other reasons or those whose health status makes surgery inadvisable.

Based on his PSA of less than 4 and a Gleason score of 6, Mr. Wolinsky said, “Dr. Eggener told me ‘You’re the perfect candidate — the poster child for active surveillance.’” The Gleason score is a measure of the cancer’s aggressiveness, and a composite score of less than 7 is generally deemed low-risk disease.

So starting in 2010 Mr. Wolinsky had a PSA test and digital rectal exam every six months and an annual biopsy of the prostate, which was eventually lengthened to every three years. It’s now been four years since the last biopsy and chances are, unless a worrisome rise in the PSA occurs and other tests indicate an aggressive cancer, he may never need another.

Given the now rapidly changing methods of monitoring and diagnosing the lethality of prostate cancer, it behooves every man told he has cancer in this gland to explore the most currently available management options before deciding on treatment. There are now even support groups to help reassure men with a low-risk cancer who choose active surveillance.

“The field is on fire,” said Dr. Laurence Klotz, a leading expert on urological cancer and pioneer of active surveillance. “Within a few years, we’ll have urine and blood tests that are so reliable we’ll know which men don’t even need a biopsy. Instead of a biopsy, there are now at least five biomarkers and more being developed that can be used as an initial test.”

Even the process of biopsy has changed. For decades, when a possible cancer was suspected based on the PSA test or digital rectal exam, doctors blindly took 12 core samples from the prostate to search for a malignancy. Now an M.R.I. can be done first and a biopsy performed only if and when a potentially serious lesion is revealed. High-resolution ultrasound may even become a simpler and less expensive alternative to an M.R.I., Dr. Klotz said.

To avoid the need for a biopsy altogether, Dr. Klotz is leading a large Canadian clinical trial, called Precise, to determine if an M.R.I. is sufficiently accurate in detecting dangerous cancers and distinguishing them from harmless ones. He estimates, based on early data, that as many as 250,000 men a year in Canada and the United States could avoid unnecessary biopsies without compromising the ability to identify clinically significant cancers.

This approach results in the diagnosis of many fewer indolent cancers that would likely never threaten a man’s life, said Dr. Klotz, a professor of surgery at the University of Toronto and a mentor in the field of prostate cancer diagnosis. “With an M.R.I. we find fewer of these low-grade cancers, and fewer men will be overtreated,” he said.

If Dr. Eggener had his way, he would not even call it cancer for men who are given a Gleason score of 6 or lower, because “it fails to meet the clinical definition of cancer: the ability to cause symptoms, metastasize or lead to death,” he wrote in an email. “Removing the cancer label has been done in other cancers, most notably a subtype of thyroid and bladder cancers. I predict this will eventually happen for Gleason 6 prostate cancer, and in my opinion will be reason for celebration.”

As he has reported, “A high proportion of screen-detected cancers are Gleason 6, and their metastatic potential is negligible.” On biopsy, a cancer may contain cells with different Gleason grades, most commonly a mix of 3 and 4, and the total score adds together the most common ones found in order of their frequency. A pattern 3 has no ability to metastasize, but a 4 is aggressive, Dr. Klotz explained. Thus, a Gleason score of 3 plus 4 is considered less aggressive than 4 plus 3.

There are now genetic tests under study that could help identify the occasional prostate cancers with a low Gleason score that “are bad actors,” Dr. Klotz said. And Dr. Brian Helfand of NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Ill., and colleagues are studying genetic tests based on more than 100 variants of DNA that may enable men with a high PSA to skip biopsy altogether. At a meeting of the American Urological Association, European researchers described six proteins in the blood that can serve as biomarkers to identify men with an elevated PSA who can safely avoid a biopsy. Of 474 men in their study, 60 percent of the negative biopsies could have been avoided, they reported.

via – NYTimes | Source – NYTimes | Search  》Cancer Research Tests

Women can fall pregnant in swimming pools ‘even without penetration’ if men with ‘strong sperm’ ejaculate in the water, says Indonesian child protection boss

  • Sitti Hikmawatty, commissioner for health, made the claims during an interview
  • Hikmawatty – whose surname translates as wisdom – has been ridiculed online
  • Doctors have said it is impossible to get pregnant in the way she described

Women can fall pregnant in swimming pools ‘even without penetration’ if men with ‘strong sperm’ ejaculate into the water, an Indonesian child protection boss has claimed.

Sitti Hikmawatty, the comissioner for health, narcotics and addictive substances at the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), made the extraordinary claims in an interview with the Tribun Jakarta last week.

Ms Hikmawatty – whose surname translates as ‘wisdom’ – has apologised for her comments, saying they were made in a ‘personal capacity’, after she faced backlash on social media. 

Doctors in Indonesia have said it would be impossible for women to get impregnated in this way.

Sitti-Hikmawatty
Sitti Hikmawatty - whose surname translates as 'wisdom' - made the comments in an interview with the Tribun Jakarta last week

‘There is an especially strong type of male sperm that may cause pregnancy in a swimming pool,’ said Ms Hikmawatty.

‘Even without penetration, men may become sexually excited (by women in the pool) and ejaculate, therefore causing a pregnancy.

‘If women are in a phase where they are sexually active, (such a pregnancy) may occur. No one knows for sure how men react to the  sight of women in a swimming pool.’

The Indonesian Doctors Association told the Jakarta Post that women cannot be impregnated in swimming pools. 

Indonesian blogger doctor, called Blog Dokter, said in response to her claims: ‘Once again, I remind you, if you do not understand health problems, it’s better to be quiet. Instead of your comments causing anxiety and panic.

‘I will emphasise here, swimming with the opposite sex will not cause pregnancy. Not all men who swim ejaculate and sperm cannot live in chlorinated pool water, let alone swim into the vagina.’

the-Indonesian-Child-Protection-Office
The head office of the Indonesian Child Protection Office (KPAI) pictured in the capital Jakarta

She has faced ridicule on social media. Photos have been uploaded of her shaking hands with a senior commissioner with the reflection of pool water pasted over the top.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘When there is a flood. Ordinary people: Save ourselves and other valuables. Sitti Wisdom: Please separate men and women so that no one gets pregnant.’

A cartoon strip has also been posted online showing a women getting pregnant after she enters flood waters with a man.

The chairman of the KPAI, Susanto, has issued a statement saying her claims do not represent the views of the organisation.

‘We hereby state that KPAI’s understanding and attitude are not reflected in the online news narrative.’

Ms Hikmawatty issued an apology on Sunday. ‘I apologise to the publi for giving an incorrect statement,’ she said. ‘It was a personal statement and not from KPAI. I hereby revoke the statement. I plead with all parties not to disseminate it further or even make it available.’

via – Daily Mail

Good Advice in Taking Care Of Frail, Aging Parents

Judith Graham of Kaiser Health News offers this very helpful article on the difficult & challenging subject of caring for a parent, or parents, facing the inevitable.

caring-for-aging-mother
The difficulties & challenges of caring for an elderly parent. (iStock/Getty Images)

“This won’t go on for very long,” Sharon Hall said to herself when she invited her elderly mother, who’d suffered several small strokes, to live with her.

That was five years ago, just before Hall turned 65 and found herself crossing into older age.

In the intervening years, Hall’s husband was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and forced to retire. Neither he nor Hall’s mother, whose memory had deteriorated, could be left alone in the house. Hall had her hands full taking care of both of them, seven days a week.

As life spans lengthen, adult children like Hall in their 60s and 70s are increasingly caring for frail, older parents — something few people plan for.

“When we think of an adult child caring for a parent, what comes to mind is a woman in her late 40s or early 50s,” said Lynn Friss Feinberg, senior strategic policy adviser for AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “But it’s now common for people 20 years older than that to be caring for a parent in their 90s or older.”

A new analysis from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College is the first to document how often this happens. It found that 10 percent of adults ages 60 to 69 whose parents are alive serve as caregivers, as do 12 percent of adults age 70 and older.

The analysis is based on data from 80,000 interviews (some people were interviewed multiple times) conducted from 1995 to 2010 for the Health and Retirement Study. About 17 percent of adult children care for their parents at some point in their lives, and the likelihood of doing so rises with age, it reports.

That’s because parents who’ve reached their 80s, 90s or higher are more likely to have chronic illnesses and related disabilities and to require assistance, said Alice Zulkarnain, co-author of the study.

The implications of later-life caregiving are considerable. Turning an elderly parent in bed, helping someone get into a car or waking up at night to provide assistance can be demanding on older bodies, which are more vulnerable and less able to recover from physical strain.

Emotional distress can aggravate this vulnerability. “If older caregivers have health problems themselves and become mentally or emotionally stressed, they’re at a higher risk of dying,” said Richard Schulz, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, citing a study he published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Socially, older caregivers can be even more isolated than younger caregivers. “In your 60s and 70s, you may have recently retired and friends and family members are beginning to get sick or pass away,” said Donna Benton, research associate professor of gerontology and director of the Family Caregiver Support Center at the University of Southern California.

Caregiving at an older age can put hard-earned savings at risk with no possibility of replacing them by re-entering the workforce. Yvonne Kuo, a family care navigator at USC’s caregiver support center, has been helping an 81-year-old woman caring for her 100-year-old mom with vascular dementia in this situation.

“There’s no support from family, and she’s used up her savings getting some paid help. It’s very hard,” Kuo said.

Judy Last, 70, a mother of three adult children and grandmother of six youngsters, lives with her mother, Lillian, 93, in a mobile home park in Boise, Idaho. Last moved in three years ago, after her mother had a bout of double pneumonia, complicated by a difficult-to-treat bacterial infection that put her in the hospital for eight weeks.

“You don’t know if it’s going to be permanent at the time,” said Last, whose father died of dementia in January 2016 after moving to a memory care facility. “Mom had asked me several years before if I would be there when she needed help and I told her yes. But I didn’t really understand what I was getting into.”

Feinberg said this isn’t uncommon. “People in their 90s with a disability can live for years with adequate support.”

Last doesn’t find caregiving physically difficult even though she’s had two hip replacements and struggles with arthritis and angina.   Her mother has memory problems and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, relies on oxygen, uses a walker, has lost most of her hearing, and has poor eyesight.

But things are hard, nonetheless. “I had plans for my retirement: I imagined volunteering and being able to travel as much as my bank account would allow,” Last said. “Instead, I don’t take time off and leave my mother. A big thing I deal with is the loss of my freedom.”

Hall, who’s turning 70 in September and who lives in Cumming, Ga., managed her mother’s and husband’s complex needs for years by establishing a strict routine. Monday and Friday they went to a dementia respite program from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On other days, Hall cooked, shopped, did laundry, helped them with personal tasks, made sure they were well occupied, provided companionship and drove them to medical appointments, as necessary.

“I did not expect this kind of life,” said Hall, who has had two knee replacements and a broken femur. “If someone had told me it would be years caring for my mother and your husband is going to get dementia, I would have said ‘No, just no.’ But you do what you have to do.”

A few weeks after our conversation, Hall’s mother entered hospice following a diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia and life-threatening swallowing difficulties. Hall said she has welcomed the help of hospice nurses and aides, who ask her at each visit, “Is there anything else you need from us that would make it easier for you?”

Though older caregivers get scant attention, resources are available. Over the years, Hall has shared caregiving ups and downs at CareGiving.com — a significant source of information and comfort. Across the country, local chapters of Area Agencies on Aging run caregiver support programs, as do organizations such as the Caregiver Action Network, the Family Caregiver Alliance, the National Alliance for Caregiving and Parenting Our Parents, an outfit focused on adult children who become caregivers. A helpful list of resources is available here.

Sometimes, caring for a parent can be a decades-long endeavor. In Morehead City, N.C., Elizabeth “Lark” Fiore, 67, became the primary caregiver for her parents when they moved around the corner from her, in a mobile home park, in 1999. “My dad took me for a walk one day and asked if I could look after them as they got older and I said yes. I’m the oldest child and the oldest assumes responsibility,” she said.

For years her father — a difficult man, by Fiore’s account — had heart problems; her mother had a nervous breakdown and a slow, extended recovery. “They wanted me to be in their lives and I wanted to do for them — I’m a Christian — but it was killing me. My heart was in the right place but emotionally, I was a wreck,” Fiore said.

After her father’s death from kidney cancer in 2010, her mother became even more needy and Fiore found herself spending more time responding to calls for assistance — often about suspected medical emergencies. “My mom had a way of acting as if something was horribly wrong and then it turned out it wasn’t,” she explained.

Fiore’s health isn’t good: She says she has chronic fatigue syndrome and thyroid problems, among other issues. But she didn’t know how to ask for help and no one volunteered it, even when her husband, Robert, was diagnosed six years ago with dementia. “I always expected myself to handle everything,” she said.

Finally, the stress became unbearable last year and Fiore’s mother moved to a senior living community close to Fiore’s 62-year-old sister, 400 miles away. Now, Fiore spends more time attending to her husband’s needs and tries to support her sister as best she can.

“At 90, my mom is healthy as a horse, and I’m glad of that but it’s been a long time caring for her,” she said. “I’ve changed a lot as a result of caregiving: I’m more loving, more aware of people who are suffering. I’ve found out that I am willing to go the extra mile. But I have to admit what I feel is tired — just tired.”

This Simple Math Problem Supposedly Almost Fooled Einstein Himself

The famous physicist was very nearly defeated by this question from Max Wertheimer.

simple-math-problem-amost-foofled-albert-einstein-
How a math equation almost fooled Albert Einstein himself!

In 1934, psychologist Max Wertheimer sent a letter to his friend, the physicist Albert Einstein, with the following puzzle enclosed.

There’s an old car that needs to go up and down a hill. The hill is 1 mile going up, and 1 mile going down . Because the car is old, it can only average a speed of 15 mph during the ascent, but may be able to go faster during the descent.

The question is: how fast must the car be going downhill, in order for its speed to reach an average of 30 mph for the entire 2-mile journey?

At the time Einstein received the letter, he had already been honored with the Nobel Prize for Physics, and come up with his famous E = mc2 equation. So this should have been super simple for him to figure out, right? Apparently not. According to German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer’s book Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions, Einstein wrote that he didn’t see the “trick” until he had already calculated the answer.

This Simple Riddle Almost Fooled Einstein - How To Solve It
Watch this video on YouTube.

YouTuber Presh Talwalkar breaks down the solution to the puzzle in a video, starting by working backwards, and calculating what is the necessary time for a car to average 30 mph on a 2-mile journey. By dividing the journey length, 2, by the speed, 30, you get the time: 1/15 of an hour, or 4 minutes.

Next, Talwalkar figures out how long the car takes going up the hill by dividing the length of that portion of the journey, 1, by its average speed, 15, which simplifies again to 1/15 of an hour, or 4 minutes.

So the car takes 4 minutes to climb the hill, but it must also take 4 minutes for the entirety of the trip, meaning there is no time to get down the other side. The conclusion, then, is that there is no right answer: Wertheimer sent Einstein a trick question.

French Hospital announces – First Baby From Immature Egg Born to Patient With Cancer

February 20, 2020 //  In a world first, a breast cancer survivor has successfully given birth after having immature eggs harvested, matured in the laboratory, and then frozen.

first-baby-born-from-human-immature-egg
Illustration of sperm swimming towards human egg. (Source Unknown.)

The procedure was carried out by a team of French doctors.

The now 34-year old woman was diagnosed at age 29 with grade III hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative invasive ductal carcinoma of the left breast, and was also found to have a positive lymph node.

She was scheduled for adjuvant chemotherapy, placing her at risk of becoming infertile, and she could not undergo ovarian stimulation because of the potential risk for the hormones on the cancer spreading.

 

So the team extracted immature oocytes, put them through in vitro maturation (IVM), and then through vitrification (rapid freezing in liquid nitrogen), so they could be cryopreserved.

Five years later, the eggs were unfrozen, inseminated, and implanted.

“We were delighted that the patient became pregnant without any difficulty and successfully delivered a healthy baby at term,” commented lead author Michaël Grynberg, MD, PhD, head of reproductive medicine and fertility preservation at Antoine Béclère University Hospital, Clamart, France.

The case was described in a letter and published online today in Annals of Oncology.

“This success represents a breakthrough in the field of fertility preservation,” Grynberg commented in a press release.

His team had been using the technique for some time. “We have accumulated lots of eggs that have been vitrified following IVM for cancer patients and we expected to be the first team to achieve a live birth this way,” he said.

“We continue offering IVM to our patients in combination with ovarian tissue cryopreservation when ovarian stimulation cannot be considered,” he added.

While acknowledging that eggs matured in this way are of “lower quality” than those obtained after ovarian stimulation, Grynberg added that their success “shows that this technique should be considered a viable option for female fertility preservation, ideally combined with ovarian tissue cryopreservation as well.”

 

He also acknowledged that “egg or embryo vitrification after ovarian stimulation is still the most established and efficient option” for fertility preservation for young patients with cancer. “However, for some patients, ovarian stimulation isn’t feasible due to the need for urgent cancer treatment or some other contraindication,” he pointed out.

 

Experts welcomed the announcement.

 

“Getting eggs to mature successfully after removal from the ovary has been a challenge, so this is a very welcome positive step,” commented Richard Anderson, MD, PhD, head of section of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Although the technique is not “widely available,” Anderson said the report “shows it can work, when time is very short.”

 

“Freezing eggs at this stage also means that they remain the woman’s own property, without the complication that using a partner’s sperm to fertilize them brings, in that embryos are then the couple’s joint property,” he said.

 

This technique is “particularly important for cancer patients,” he said. “but it’s also a step toward easier and less invasive IVF for other women and couples needing assisted reproduction.”

 

However, another expert emphasized that this is a “single case study.”

 

Alastair Sutcliffe, MD, PhD, University College London and Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London, UK, added that “caution must be considered in any new advance.”

Nevertheless, Sutcliffe commented that “this new technique could in future be an additional tool for women who have the tragedy of cancer before reproduction to have their own genetic child.”

Details of the Case Report

After surgery for her breast cancer, the patient was scheduled to have adjuvant chemotherapy three weeks later.

 

“I saw the 29-year-old patient following her diagnosis of cancer and provided fertility counseling,” Grynberg said.

 

Due to the positive lymph node, she could not undergo ovarian stimulation, so “I offered her the option of egg freezing after IVM and also freezing ovarian tissue,” Grynberg continued. “She rejected the second option, which was considered too invasive.”

 

A transvaginal ultrasound showed that there were 17 small, fluid-filled sacs containing immature eggs in her ovaries. However, using hormones to stimulate her ovaries to ripen the eggs would have taken too long and also carried the risk of stimulating cancer growth and recurrence.

 

Therefore, an emergency procedure was scheduled 6 days later without ovarian stimulation, and the team retrieved seven immature oocytes before her chemotherapy started.

 

These seven immature oocytes were then matured in IVM medium, and six underwent successful vitrification. This involves rapidly freezing the eggs in liquid nitrogen, reducing the chances of ice crystals forming and damaging the cells. The six eggs were then cryopreserved.

 

Five years later, the woman tried to conceive for a year but was unsuccessful. She was advised by oncologists that she should avoid ovarian stimulation, so the decision was taken to reuse her cryopreserved oocytes.

 

Following estradiol simulation of the endometrium, six oocytes were successfully thawed and inseminated using intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

 

From five zygotes obtained, one Cleavage-stage embryo was transferred to the uterus and the patient became pregnant, delivering a healthy baby boy at term.

 

An American expert welcomed the news, and also placed it into context, noting that the technique has already been used in non-cancer patient populations.

 

“We certainly celebrate the technology of in vitro maturation of oocytes as an alternative to standard, non-experimental means of fertility preservation, because it represents a potential option for selected cancer patients who might not have sufficient time to undergo non-experimental means of fertility preservation (ovarian stimulation and egg freezing or embryo freezing),” commented Jovana Lekovich, MD, director of the Oncofertility Program for Reproductive Medicine Associates in New York City.

 

“That being said, for the average patient, experimental advances in precision medicine should be taken with caution, given that we don’t have enough data at this time,” she added.

 

“Since the first live birth from IVM oocytes in 1994 (for a non-cancer indication) over 5000 IVM babies have since been born. What makes this case report so special is the fact that the patient underwent IVM of oocytes in the setting of cancer (whereas all the other cases in the past have been pursued for other indications, including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and PCOS), and that the eggs have been frozen upon IVM,” she pointed out. Lekovich is also assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

 

“We sincerely look forward to further evaluating the efficacy of this technology in cancer patients,” Lekovitch said. “As you can imagine, this is a fragile patient population that we always strive to treat using proven, as opposed to experimental, methods whenever possible, but this sentinel case report opens the door for new strategies.”

via – Medscape

Coronavirus – There’s a Gender Gap!

Women mount stronger immune responses to infection, scientists say. And in China, men smoke in much greater numbers.

coronavirus-gender-gap

The coronavirus that originated in China has spread fear and anxiety around the world. But while the novel virus has largely spared one vulnerable group — children — it appears to pose a particular threat to middle-aged and older adults, particularly men.

This week, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention published the largest analysis of coronavirus cases to date. Although men and women have been infected in roughly equal numbers, researchers found, the death rate among men was 2.8 percent, compared with 1.7 percent among women.

Men also were disproportionately affected during the SARS and MERS outbreaks, which were caused by coronaviruses. More women than men were infected by SARS in Hong Kong in 2003, but the death rate among men was 50 percent higher, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Some 32 percent of men infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome died, compared with 25.8 percent of women. Young adult men also died at higher rates than female peers during the influenza epidemic of 1918.

A number of factors may be working against men in the current epidemic, scientists say, including some that are biological, and some that are rooted in lifestyle.

When it comes to mounting an immune response against infections, men are the weaker sex.

“This is a pattern we’ve seen with many viral infections of the respiratory tract — men can have worse outcomes,” said Sabra Klein, a scientist who studies sex differences in viral infections and vaccination responses at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“We’ve seen this with other viruses. Women fight them off better,” she added.

Women also produce stronger immune responses after vaccinations, and have enhanced memory immune responses, which protect adults from pathogens they were exposed to as children.

“There’s something about the immune system in females that is more exuberant,” said Dr. Janine Clayton, director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health.

But there’s a high price, she added: Women are far more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, in which the immune system shifts into overdrive and attacks the body’s own organs and tissues.

Nearly 80 percent of those with autoimmune diseases are women, Dr. Clayton noted.

The reasons women have stronger immune responses aren’t entirely clear, and the research is still at an early stage, experts caution.

One hypothesis is that women’s stronger immune systems confer a survival advantage to their offspring, who imbibe antibodies from mothers’ breast milk that help ward off disease while the infants’ immune systems are still developing.

A stew of biological factors may be responsible, including the female sex hormone estrogen, which appears to play a role in immunity, and the fact that women carry two X chromosomes, which contain immune-related genes. Men, of course, carry only one.

Experiments in which mice were exposed to the SARS coronavirus found that the males were more susceptible to infection than the females, a disparity that increased with age.

The male mice developed SARS at lower viral exposures, had a lower immune response and were slower to clear the virus from their bodies. They suffered more lung damage, and died at higher rates, said Dr. Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology at the University of Iowa who was the senior author of the study.

When researchers blocked estrogen in the infected females or removed their ovaries, they were more likely to die, but blocking testosterone in male mice made no difference, indicating that estrogen may play a protective role.

“It’s an exaggerated model of what happens in humans,” Dr. Perlman said. “The differences between men and women are subtle — in mice, it’s not so subtle.”

cigarette-smoking-china-higher-rate-men

Health behaviors that differ by sex in some societies may also play a role in disparate responses to infections.

China has the largest population of smokers in the world — 316 million people — accounting for nearly one-third of the world’s smokers and 40 percent of tobacco consumption worldwide. But just over 2 percent of Chinese women smoke, compared with more than half of all men.

Chinese men also have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure than women, both of which increase the risk of complications following infection with the coronavirus. Rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are almost twice as high among Chinese men as among women.

In the United States, women are more proactive about seeking health care than men, and some small studies have found the generalization applies to Chinese students at universities in the United States, as well.

In unpublished studies, Chinese researchers have emphasized that patients whose diagnoses were delayed, or who had severe pneumonia when they were first diagnosed, were at greatest risk of dying.

One study of 4,021 patients with the coronavirus emphasized the importance of early detection, particularly in older men. And men have been turning up in hospitals with more advanced disease.

But in areas of China outside Hubei Province, the disease’s epicenter and where the majority of those affected are concentrated, the patterns are different: The disease appears to have dramatically lower mortality rates, and men are being infected at much higher rates than women, according to the Chinese C.D.C. analysis.

Men may have a “false sense of security” when it comes to the coronavirus, said Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunology at Yale University who studies why some viruses affect women more severely.

Gathering and analyzing data about the new virus by sex is important both for the scientists studying it and for the general public, experts said.

Since the start of the outbreak, for example, public health officials have emphasized the importance of washing hands well and often, to prevent infection. But several studies have found that men — even health care workers — are less likely to wash their hands or to use soap than women, Dr. Klein said.

“We make these broad sweeping assumptions that men and women are the same behaviorally, in terms of comorbidities, biology and our immune system, and we just are not,” Dr. Klein said.

via – NYTimes

3 Brothers Have the Same Rare Cancer

The-Rush-brothers
The Rush Brothers

Feb. 11, 2020 — The Rush brothers — 5-year-old Tristen, 4-year-old Caison, and 7-month-old Carter — are like most siblings — playing and laughing together one minute and fighting the next.

But they have another bond that most brothers don’t: All three boys have bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer. It begins in the back part of the eye, in an area called the retina.

Their mother, Angie Rush, 38, was also born with the disease — she was the first one in her family to have it. But doctors didn’t diagnose her until she was 6 weeks old. By that time, the tumors had grown so much that doctors had to remove her left eye.

The disease often has a genetic link, so Rush knew there was a chance she might pass it to her children, but she never thought all three of them would get it. Because of their mother’s history with retinoblastoma, all three boys were screened for the disease at birth.

Tristen started chemotherapy when he was just 3 weeks old. Angie and her husband, Aaron, were a little fearful at first.“We did not know what would happen next — how would he handle treatments being so young, what would this mean for his future,” she says.Caison started chemotherapy when he was just 1 week old.

Even though Carter wasn’t diagnosed until he was 6 months old, he got regular screenings, which eventually showed the cancer. Retinoblastoma usually affects infants and young children, though adults can get it, too. One of the most common early symptoms is a white color in the center of the eye — the pupil — when a light shines on it, like when someone takes a flash photograph. Other signs include eyes that seem to look in different directions, eye redness, and eye swelling.

Chemotherapy is one of the main treatments for retinoblastoma, along with surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, and laser therapy. Tristen and Caison each had 6 rounds of chemotherapy and laser treatment, and are doing well. Baby Carter just had his first treatment.

Thomas Olson, MD, director of the Solid Tumor Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, says there’s a chance the cancer might come back or another type of cancer could form, so the boys will get regular screenings as they grow.

The family has moved in with Angie’s parents to cut expenses and for help with child care.Angie says she and Aaron work well together on their sons’ medical care, balancing doctor appointments and treatments with the normal parts of family life.

A day in the life of the Rush household is like most others with young children: busy. Angie says Tristen and Caison are both early birds, ready to go as soon as they wake up.“I’ve heard many times that these younger years with children go by so fast, and I try hard to remember that one day I will miss this busy stage in life,” Angie says. “I keep a written record of important events in the boys’ life both for my own memory and for theirs in the future.”

via – WebMD

1918 Spanish Flu historical documentary | Swine Flu Pandemic | Deadly plague of 1918

1918 Spanish Flu historical documentary | Swine Flu Pandemic | Deadly plague of 1918
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1918 Spanish Flu historical documentary | Swine Flu Pandemic | Deadly plague of 1918

Summary.

An in-depth documentary which examines the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. It’s causes, origin, transmission & treatment

Topics Covered.

Spanish Flu pandemic. Historical pandemics. World War 1. Army living conditions. Civilian living conditions. Troop movements, War machine. Disease contagion. Epidemiology. Civilian population. Civilization. Southeast Asia origin of flu pandemics. Incubation. Public health issues. Food shortages. Viral mutation. Viral species transfer. Flu symptoms. Secondary infections. Pneumonia. Controversy. Political mismanagement. American Medical Association. Dengue. Vertigo. Headaches. Blindness. Double vision. Mucus excretions. Poison gas. Hemorrhagic fever. Oxygen starvation. Delirium. The ‘Blue Death’. Speed of death. High death rate. Hospital overcrowding. Quarantine. Philadelphia. San Francisco. Avian flu. H1N1. John Hopkins Center. Immunization. 2009 Swine flu.

Quote.

“I had a little bird. Its name was Enza.
I opened the window & in-flu-Enza”

Children’s rope jumping song. 1918

Publisher.

Chromosome8. Youtube. Oct 1, 2018