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Sunday, 11 Jan, 2009

Health & Fitness

By 2010 Tumors Will Be World's Disease Number One

By the year 2010, cancer will be the lethal disease number one in the world, experts on Health Services prognosticate. According to the International Health Organization, only during the past year there were 12.4 million people all over the world diagnosed with tumors and 7.6 million of them will soon die because of this disease, Reuters reports. Every eighth person on Earth dies today because of cancer.

"In the last 30 years the number of patients with tumors in the world doubled, by 2020 it will double once more, and by 2030 it will be triple", the report says. By 2030 approximately 26.4 million people will be finding out they have cancer and 17 million of them will die.

Among men the most wide-spread is pulmonary cancer (mainly among smokers). Breast cancer is the most wide-spread among women. Recent statistics show that cancer kills more men than women.

Scientists consider that the main causes of cancer are the general ageing of the population (cancer is more often found among old people), the spreading of obesity, excessive exposure to the open sun rays and the increased number of smokers (this is characteristic especially for poor countries). Thus, according to the leader of the Cancer Fighting American Society, John Seffrin, circa 40 percent of the world's smokers live in China and India. An interesting fact is that 10 years ago cancer was considered to be a disease of the rich, industrialized, western countries. Nowadays, the situation is totally different – poor countries are the main centers of tumor diseases. Cancer treatment is very expensive too (not counting the fact that it doesn't always give proper results) and only wealthy people can afford it. Scientists say that if there was a new cheap way of tumors' treatment, the mortality would significantly decrease.


Sunday, 11 Jan, 2009

Health & Fitness

Cigarette Smoke Changes Heart's Shape

American biologists have determined that cigarette smoke influences the cell division in the cardiac muscle and changes heart's shape.

Previous experiments have proved that smoke from one cigarette increases all of a sudden the normal quantity of corticosteroids, and also the quantities of adrenalin and noradrenalin. These biological active substances enhance the heart rate, increase the cardiac volume by raising the blood pressure and by intensifying the speed of myocardial contractions.

The heart of a smoker makes 12-15 thousand contractions more than the heart of a non-smoker does, which leads to a hyperfunction of the cardiac muscle. In the same time the heart is not saturated with the necessary quantity of oxygen because of the constricted vessels of the smoker. Moreover, 10 percent of the blood hemoglobin is excluded from the respiratory process by adding molecules of carbon dioxide.

Cigarette smoke contains not only nicotine, but also other 4.000 chemical components, whose effects are still not clear.

Scientists have studied thoroughly the effect of the cigarette smoke on the heart of rats. A group of animals had been breathing air mixed with cigarette smoke for 5 weeks, another group of rats had been breathing normal air. At the end of the experiment the rats were examined by the means of echocardiography and microscopy, and were also taken analysis on the enzyme content in the cardiac tissue.

The rats from the first group were found to have a modified shape of the left ventricle – the main blood pump in the cardiac muscle. An active form of enzyme, controlling the cardiac muscle cell division was also determined in the "smoking" rats. Another change in them was the increased level of norepinephrine, a hormone which takes part in the blood pressure and peripheral vascular resistance regulation. This hormone is also responsible for dealing with stress.

The article published in the European Journal of Heart Failure also mentions other dangerous biochemical changes in the heart under the influence of cigarette smoke.


Wednesday, 07 Jan, 2009

Health & Fitness

Genes or Ecology?

What influences our health the most – genes or the surrounding medium? This is the question that has been discussed in science for years. Recently some researches in this domain showed stunning results.

Mario Fraga and his colleagues from the Spanish National Oncological Center have studied the genes of 40 pairs of monozygotous twins, from 3 to 74 years old.

As it is known, the genetic codes of such twins are identical, thus, according to this theory, the twins should both tend to develop certain diseases and bad habits, such as smoking or alcohol addiction.

In reality, it turned out that the more the living conditions of the twins from the same pair differed, the more differences there were in their health, including diseases traditionally determined by genetic factors. After the age of 28, 60 percent of these pairs had the genes structure modified.

If the twins had been separated from each other from early childhood and if they had lived in different places, then the modifications in the genes would've been even more obvious.

According to Mario Fraga, the surrounding medium (or the ecology) can influence genetics by causing chemical reactions in the cells, which, in their turn, modify the structure of DNA and of the proteins linked to it (histones). These modifications influence the so-called phenotype – a complex of genetic manifestations, responsible for our health.

More than that, specialists from a medical college in Darmut have made an experiment that showed how much does parents' lifestyle influence the lifestyle of their children. Such experiments were made earlier, but, only teenagers were involved. This time, the study analyzed children from 2 to 6 years old, who didn't have any bad habits developed yet.

Scientists asked children to play a "shop-game" and observed the products chosen by them. It resulted that children were choosing cigarettes 4 times more often if their parents were smokers, and they were also "buying" alcohol 3 times more often if their parents were permanent drinkers.

Moreover, if the child watched at least once movies forbidden for children under 13 years old, then he or she would "buy" alcohol 5 times more often than children who didn't watch such movies, Euroleb reports.

"It is widely known that children learn to smoke from their parents and the probability that your child will smoke is 2-4 times increased if you smoke", says Amanda Sanford from the British organization Action on Smoking and Health.

Thus, the tendency to a healthy or an unhealthy lifestyle may be the result of genes' modifications, but these modifications may be produced under the influence of surrounding factors. Heredity is a complicated thing. Children always try to copy their parents, even if they do it subconsciously, so if the parents' lifestyle is not healthy, no prohibitions will ever make children give up bad habits in this case.


Tuesday, 06 Jan, 2009

Health & Fitness

Hate Area Discovered in the Brain

Scientists managed to determine the area of the brain that is being activated when one sees a hated person. The found area does not coincide with the areas of fear, feeling of danger and threatening, though it often crosses with the area of aggression.

The authors of the article, professors Semir Zeki and John Romiah from the University College of London previously studied the processes that occur in the brain when a person is in love and have decided to continue their work by studying the opposite feelings.

Like love, hate often looks irrational and it can lead people to heroic and malicious actions. "How can two opposite feelings lead to a similar behaviour?" professor Zeki asks.

Scientists have studied the feeling of hate towards other people. Seventeen volunteers have taken part in the experiment.

The brain activity of the participants was being measured while they were viewing photos of people whom they hated and photos with known people, whom they didn't hate. Thus scientists managed to identify the areas of the brain related with the feeling of hate.

As it turned out, these areas include the structures of the brain cortex and subcortical systems linked with aggressive behaviour and movement co-ordination.

Other areas of the brain were also linked with the feeling of hate, such areas as the areas responsible for the ability to predict the actions of other people.

The feeling of hate has also activated the so-called insular lobe of the brain, which is also active when one is in love, as Zeki reports.


Saturday, 03 Jan, 2009

Health & Fitness

Old People's Brain Capable of Blocking Negative Memories And Emotions

Old people's brain is capable of blocking negative memories more than the brain of young people, American researchers report.

Scientists have come to the conclusion that old people use their brain differently than the young one when it comes to keeping memories and, mainly, memories related to negative emotions.

Specialists have found volunteers for their experiment, the average age of whom was 70, and also 24-years-old boys and girls. All the participants in the experiment were shown images with unpleasant content: violence, snakes' attacks and so on. While watching photos scientists performed a functional Magnetic-Nuclear Resonance tomography in order to determine the brain activity of participants when they watched the images.

They found that old people have less links between the brain's area responsible for the control of emotions and the area that is responsible for regulating memory and study abilities. But they also have strong links in the frontal area, responsible for complex processes of behaviour and choice manifestations. Young people mostly use the areas that are linked with emotions and memories – the majority of volunteers from this group could remember the photos with negative content in comparison with the group of old people.

Scientists assume that, in an older age, the brain can concentrate on thinking and not on emotions. A surprising fact for the scientists was that the emotional center of old people's brain was as active as the one in young people, but the activity of neuronal networks in this area was different. According to specialists, the brain of old people suffers less from negative information in order to maintain a stable emotional level.


Tuesday, 30 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

Woman's Waist Depends On Her Personality

It is widely known that a lot of factors influence the size and the shape of a woman's waist, including diet, physical exercises, hormones and even the woman's personality. Cylinder-shaped waists are characteristic for strong and independent women. And, on the contrary, the so much loved by men pear-shaped figures tell about the softness and gentleness of the woman's personality.

The American anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan has minutely studied and analyzed the types of women's figures in 33 non-western and 3 western populations. She found that the proportion of the waist to the hips is in average 0.8. At first such a tendency seems to oppose the evolution theory, since the most attractive women in men's eyes are the ones whose waist to hips proportion is 0.7 or less. But still, the scientists have found an explanation to this fact.

Androgens, and especially testosterone, masculine hormones, present in small quantities in women too, are the ones responsible for the accumulations of lipids around the waist. But these hormones are very important in life situations when a woman has to fight for her existence, to ensure herself and her family all alone – situations that make a woman stronger and independent. Another hormone – cortisol – is also responsible for making a woman's waist cylinder-shaped, but it increases the resistance of the organism to stress too.

The evolution of women's figures is dependent on their tendency to be strong and protected from stress.

The fact that the situation in the society also changes men's preferences is quite interesting as well. Take for example Greece, Portugal and Japan, where women often are economically dependent on men. In these countries, men pay more attention to a thin waist than men who live in Great Britain and Denmark – countries where men and women have practically the same rights. In some non-western societies, where there is not enough food and all members of the family have to fight actively for it, men give preference to women with a higher waist-hips index.

Cashdan considers that the waist to hips proportion is an important signal for men, but their reaction strongly depends on how much they want the woman to be strong, resistant, economically independent and competitive.


Friday, 26 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

A New Method To Fight Tumors Discovered

A tiny tube, installed on the way of the blood flow, can selectively choose tumor cells from it, give them the "die" command and then let them go back into the blood where they are destroyed. The discovery belongs to a group of scientists, led by Michael King from the University of Rochester.

American specialists have built and tested the model of the unusual blood filter, which, only by being settled into the human blood flow, cleans the organism from tumor cells spread by the same blood circuit.

This tiny tube has its inner surface, covered by a special variety of proteins.

The first ones, called selectins, represent proteins responsible for the selective catching of the cells from the blood circuit. There are several types of selectins, some of them are made only for binding tumor cells.

Tumor cells that are caught, move across the surface of the tube and meet the influence of the second protein, selected by King and his staff. This is the TRAIL protein (Tumor Necrosis Factor Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand), a factor of an induced apoptosis of the tumor (note: apoptosis – the genetically programmed death of a cell). This protein influences two "death receptors" on the surface of the cell, giving the last one a self-destruction command.

Then, the cell is released back into the blood, where it will be destroyed in a matter of a day or two. Another important moment of this invention is that the proteins, once having let go of the cell, are ready to catch another one. "And this is a lot more complicated than a simple filtration of the blood", King affirmed.

The authors of the device have tested it in laboratory conditions on tumor cells of the prostate and of the large intestine (however, the device can be used also for other types of tumor cells).

The experimented tube kills 30 percent of the tumor cells, without harming healthy cells. It is considered that the cleaning of the blood from a significant number of tumor cells "traveling" in the blood circuit gives the organism a greater chance to destroy all the remaining cells(with the help of additional methods of treatment).

This current work of King follows his previous work, in which the researcher studied not only the ability of specific proteins to bind tumor cells, but also their properties of binding other types of cells, depending on the goals of one or other implant.

Now King and his team affirm that the principle of the movement of the cells across the named proteins allows increasing the effectiveness of the system by 4 times compared to the scheme where cells and the proteins contact in just one point.

The details of this research can be found in the respective article in the journal "Biotechnology and Bioengineering". Its authors also say that more time is required before this method of treatment will be used in clinical testings. But the perspectives of such a filter are very promising, since it can allow the prevention of metastasis and, thus, increase the chances for survival of the patients with tumors.


Friday, 26 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

Mysteries of Medicine - People-Chimeras and Water Allergy

The journal New Scientist has published an article capable of surprising any specialist. The phenomena described there can cause shock, but they are real, attested, and studied by scientists all over the world.

Allergy on water

It sounds absurd – considering that 60 percent of our organism consists of water – but some people really have allergic reactions on water.

They can drink it of course. The problems appear when there is a contact of the water with the skin. Some minutes of shower or bath are enough for their skin to be covered with red aching spots.

The first time such a phenomenon was described in 1964. It hasn't been explained yet. A possible cause of such an allergy, for example, can be a cytotoxic response of the skin to the contact with the water or its hypersensibility to water's ions.

People-chimeras

Imagine yourself that the genetical test shows you are not the mother of your children, even though you know for sure who gave them birth. There are such situations described in some of world's countries.

It had resulted that the mother in those cases was a chimera (2 persons in one). She is the result of merger of two bizygotous twins, that is twins resulting from different maternal ova.

Nobody knows how people-chimeras come to life, but it has been noticed that contemporary methods of artificial insemination contribute to the spreading of this phenomenon.

The syndrome of the foreign accent

If you have awakened with a strong Jamaican accent, even if you have never heard of such an island in your life, this means you have the syndrome of the foreign accent.

The most popular case of this kind has taken place in 1941, when a Norwegian woman has come out of a traumatic shock caused by bombing and began talking with a strong German accent.

It was considered earlier that this syndrome refers to the psychological field, but now scientists consider that its cause is the lesion of the speech areas in the human brain, as a consequence of traumas or wounds.

It is also possible that the accent may not be foreign after all, but we, the listeners, unconsciously, try to classify the changed speech of the person in case.

The Morgellan disease

Its symptoms are: the growth of the fibers out of the rashing areas of the skin, associated with sharp pains and feelings of movements inside the skin – as if the person is infected with parasites.

Thousands of people in the world suffer from this disease, but its cause is unknown. Doctors usually say in these cases that it's just a well-known psychic disturbance, a so-called hallucinatory parasitose, when the person is completely sure that the unpleasant feelings are caused by the presence of the parasites in the skin.

Some scientists consider that the cause of the growth of the described fibers is the bacteria Agrobacterium which leads to the development of tumors in plants. Researches on this subject continue.

The man-tree

The hands and legs of Mr. Dede from Indonesia are similar to branches of a tree.

Fortunately for the man, the cause of this phenomenon has recently been found out. It's all about a rare form of immunodeficiency, that allows the Pappilomavirus to break out of the control of the organism, reports Newsland.


Thursday, 25 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

One Hour Of Sleep More Per Day Reduces Heart Problems

Scientists have established that lack of sleep can lead to more serious consequences than dark rings, Time reports.

Researchers from the University of Chicago have published their report in the Journal of the American Association, where it is said that lack of sleep can favour the calcification in the coronary arteries, which leads to the forming of thrombi in the vessels and, as a consequence, in case of its rupture, to a possible heart attack.

According to their data, sleeping one hour less each day increases the risk of accumulation of calcium in the coronary arteries by 16 percent. The group that took part in the experiment included 495 men and women, aged betwwen 35 and 4. Each one of them had a special device on a wrist, which measured how much time they spent sleeping. Researchers had measured the level of calcium in the blood vessels with the help of a special tomography at the beginning of the experiment and 5 years later. Taking into consideration the age, sex, profession and a number of other aspects, the results showed that 27 percent of those who used to sleep less than 5 hours per day had thrombi in their heart arteries. From those who spent the recommended 5-7 hours of sleep every day, only 11 percent had showed to have thrombi and, finally, among those who slept more than 7 hours per day only 6 percent reported such condition, according to the author of the article, Alice Park.

"We are surprised by this discovery. We haven’t expected to find such an interrelation and, most of all, such a substantial one", says Dianne Luderdale, a professor at the University of Chicago, specialized on the studying of population's state of health and the main author of the research.

It is known that the lack of sleep also leads to extra weight, diabetes and hypertension.

Specialists advise not to neglect sleeping and to remember that one extra hour of sleep per day prevents many health problems.


Sunday, 21 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

Coffee Stimulates Intellectual Abilities

Cup of coffeeCoffee's property of preventing the decrease of intellectual work abilities has lately been the subject of some interesting researches.

First, some studies in France have showed that women who drink 3 or more cups of coffee every day, in comparison with women who drink one or none, have a 30 percent less risk of memory problems when they are 65.

This research, published in Neurology magazine in August, 2007, was also the one to show that the advantages of drinking coffee are increased along with the age. Memory problems in women older than 80, who used to drink 3 or more cups of coffee per day, were decreased with circa 70 percent than in women not "fond" of coffee. The same effect can be obtained with tea too, but in this case one should drink 2 cups of tea instead of a cup of coffee.

Specialists affirm that caffeine in coffee and tea is a stimulator of brain’s cognitive activity, it also helps decreasing the level of beta-amyloidal proteins in the brain, which, in their turn, trouble the normal activity of the human brain. Significant accumulations of this protein are the basis of Alzheimer's disease. More than 7,000 women and men in 3 cities of France have taken part in the research. None of them had mind disabilities at the beginning of the research. The scientists used to check repeatedly once in 2 and 4 years the cognitive capabilities of the persons in case.

Even if the French researches didn't show the advantages of coffee drinking for men, an earlier research, conducted 10 years earlier on 676 healthy old men from Finland, Netherlands and Italy, has showed that men who drank coffee had lower levels of the normal age decrease of cognitive brain functions than those men who drank no coffee at all. And the best results here, just like in the research made on women, were achieved in men who drank 3 cups of coffee every day. These studies were published in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" magazine in August, 2006.

This says that if one loves coffee and it doesn't have any negative effects on the organism, he/she can easily enjoy drinking it and even have long-time advantages from it.

The negative effects of coffee drinking include the following possible side-effects: extreme anxiety, insomnia, trembling and heart arrhythmias. Besides, it can cause the irritation of the digestive system, of the urinary bladder and of the prostate. If you feel any of these side-effects, then it is better for you to avoid coffee usage (that also includes coffee with no caffeine, because it may contain substances which would influence negatively your organism), apart from all the advantages it may bring. Tea can be a wonderful substitute, a healthy and, in the same time, with no side-effects alternative.


Friday, 19 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

Why People Yawn

In most cases, yawning is associated with tiredness and boredom. Newly, it has been proved that a yawning person does not try to show lack of interest, but, on the contrary, just tries to catch your attention.

One of the main causes of yawning was established by a group of scientists under the leadership of Andrew Gallup from Binghamton University, Animal Behaviour magazine reports.

The cause was the overheating of the brain –its outrunning of a certain critical temperature.

The American scientists have made a study on a group of parrots, as representatives of vertebrates. These birds have a relatively big brain, they live in Australia where a frequent temperature variation is a normal thing, and the most important fact is that "catching yawning" (characteristic for humans and some animals) is not characteristic for this species of birds.

The parrots were put into 3 different conditions: a raised temperature, high temperature and regulated average temperature. When zoologists started increasing the temperature from its average value, the frequency of birds' yawn increased by two times.

It results that if the human brain is overheated, it's the most probably that, in a very short time, he or she will yawn. This physiological act resembles the work of a fan that cools the overheated processor of a computer.

Now it's clear why people frequently yawn before and after sleeping (the brain needs cooling and recovery), also why sometimes yawning can be a symptom of a disease.

Yawning is usually associated with tiredness. Suppose a person is tired and wants to sleep, in such conditions the temperature of the brain is raised, so is the temperature of the blood that irrigates it.

A frequent yawning is one of the symptoms of diffuse sclerosis and attack of epilepsy. In addition, frequent yawning is characteristic to people suffering from migraines. Insistent yawning can be a sign of problems linked with temperature regulation in the brain. This means that doctors should be more attentive to patients complaining from attacks of groundless yawning.


Tuesday, 16 Dec, 2008

Offbeat

Unhappy People Watch TV Often

Smile faceAccording to American scientists, unhappy people watch TV more often than happy people do. Those people who are more satisfied with their lives read newspapers more actively, communicate more and have sex more often, reports The Daily Telegraph. Internet, in its turn, makes a person neither happier nor unhappier.

Unhappy people spend 30% more time on TV - this is the result of researches made with 30,000 people by sociologists John Robinson and Steven Martin from state Maryland University, during the time between 1975 and 2006. The report of the works has been published in Social Indicators Research.

These new studies do not contradict the previous ones which said that watching TV was very often the happiest time of the day for some people. "TV can bring a short-time happiness, but this is because of long-time unhappiness", professor Robinson says.

In the same time, scientists don't hurry in making the conclusion that television makes people unhappy. Most probably, it takes the time a person can spend on pleasant activities. Or maybe unhappy people are being tempted by the TV screen, which allows forgetting the feeling of unsatisfaction for a time.

Scientists forestall that chronic lack of happiness influence negatively a person's health state and social activity. In Professor Martin's vision, regular TV watching can be compared to drug abuse, since it brings dependence.

Lately, British scientists have established that the happiest place of their country is Paves in Wells and the unhappiest place is the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. Besides that, they have also showed that people with not less than 10 friends feel a lot happier. People with 5 friends and less could consider themselves happy only in 40 percent of the cases. The ones with a number of friends from 5 to 10 have a "happiness index" raised up to 50 percent.

In 2006, the problem of happiness was intensely tried to be solved in Hong-Kong: special "happiness terminals" have been installed in undergrounds, where any volunteer could value his level of happiness with numbers from 1 to 10. Once the information was received, the machine gave a special quotation to the passenger, such as: "when you're unhappy, turn to your friends" or "smile, you look great" and "happiness must be shared".

Recently, people all over the world become happier, according to a summer survey of The International Programme of Values’ Studying. The number one country in the Top of "the happiest countries" was named Denmark again. A sudden rising of happiness index was observed in India, Mexico and South Korea. The last country in the list was Zimbabwe.

Americans have occupied the 16th place, they having been outrun by Canada, Switzerland, Salvador and New Zealand, but having outrun, in their turn, such countries, as: Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy. The happiest country in the Middle East was considered South Arabia (the 26th place) and the unhappiest one - Iraq (the 91st place). Europeans in developed countries are generally happier than people in Asia, but they recover harder after failures and feel worse about them.

American scientists, in the meantime, have tried to find "happiness recipes". According to David Lokken from the University of Minnesota, happiness is genetically half-dependent and the rest of it is totally dependent on us. Abraham Lincoln once said: "The majority of people are as happy as they decide to be". Sigmund Freud was of opinion that people are used to consider themselves unhappy, because they spend less energy on it. There are always reasons for complaining, but many people simply don't do anything to make their lives better, psychologists say.

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Sunday, 14 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

Woman Dies Because Of Water Diet

Sometimes the fight for perfection can lead to tragic results. This is exactly what happened to the 40-years-old Jacqueline Henson, who decided to stay on a diet made according to the recipe of a company, called LighterLife. The woman died because of a swelling on the brain.

The recipe of losing weight was very simple: the woman had to drink a lot of water in accordance to a certain program. On November, 14th, she sat in front of the TV, with 2 bottles of water, 2 litres each one, and started to drink water from a pint glass.

Two hours later, Jacqueline didn't feel well, so she went into the bathroom, where she collapsed. Doctors could not help the woman who died in the hospital without coming into her senses. The necropsy showed that the large amount of water had taken all the salts out of her body.

The authors of the diet affirm that it was an accident. The coroner who investigated the death of the British woman also agreed with this version. "No one should drink that quantity of water in such a short period of time and the woman had not respected the strict timetable she had," he said.

Swelling of the brain as a consequence of excessive water drinking, causes death quite rarely, but the fact remains: too much water in a short period of time causes a dysfunction of the kidneys since they cannot process it, thus the water is being restrained in the body in the form of swellings, including brain swelling, leading to death.

Though Jacqueline Henson's death was confirmed to be an accident, the 5 children of the dead woman blame the authors of the diet in the death of their mother. Her sister, Pauline Nash, who works as a nurse, considers that the respective diet should be banned to prevent other people dying from it.

The woman lost almost 12 pounds in her first week of the diet. She was eager to lose weight. According to Mrs. Nash, Jacqueline always wore size 12, while her mother and sisters were always buying clothes of sizes 10 and 8.

The dietologists of LighterLife say that, with the help of their recommendations, 60,000 people have successfully lost circa 44 pounds in 3 months. Practically, the diet assumes a 4 times decrease of a normal daily intake – for an adult woman that means 500 kcal instead of 2000.

The first 3 months of the diet include a menu that consists of protein cocktails, soups and vegetable salads. Specialists advise drinking 4 litres of water in 2 days. Jacqueline did that in 2 hours, which contradicted the rules, The Daily Mirror reports.

The death of Jacqueline Henson is not the first case of this type. Last year, the British BBC had showed similar outcome in women drinking too much water with their inner organs, including stomach, heart and kidneys, disturbed as a consequence.

Water diet is also known for causing hair loss and irregular periods in women, the same effect is observed in women suffering from anorexia.


Friday, 12 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

Suicide - A Genetical Problem?

Serious depression can lead to specific changes of DNA in the brain. It changes genes' activeness, which, in its turn, leads to pathological psychic disturbances. This is the conclusion of the scientists who have studied the brains of people who have committed suicide.

Dr Michael Poulter from the University of Western Ontario in Canada and his colleagues from Carleton University and University of Ottawa have studied the brain tissues of 10 people who committed suicide after a period of depression (in medical terms this would be called serious depressive disturbances) and the brain tissues of other 10 people who died as a result of such unnatural deaths as car accidents, pneumonia and heart attacks. All of them were men and women, practically of the same age, all inhabitants of Hungary. Scientists have realized that most of the DNA in the brains of the suiciders was methylated (methylation is a chemical reaction, consisting of adding a methylic group to aminical groups).

These results were obtained by an analysis of the enzyme responsible for the methylation of DNA - DNA-methyltransferaze, and more specifically, by the quantity of RNA (it shows the activity of the coded gene and the synthesis of the enzyme). The brain of people in the first group contained a higher quantity of this enzyme in some of its areas at the same time (this includes the frontal area).

The changes of DNA-methyltransferaze in the human brain indicate that the level of DNA methylation changes too. This means that the genes' activeness changes. Some of them may be stimulated, others – inhibited. Excessive methylation may even block a certain gene or make it work in an inappropriate time and place, since methylation is one of the basic mechanisms of genome's regulation.

Scientists have tried to find out whether there are genes sensible to the changes in DNA methylation. They measured the level of methylation of a concrete gene in the frontal area – GABA-receptor gene. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a very important neuromediator responsible for the chemical transmission of the nervous impulse from a neuron to another through a synapse, meant for the protection of the central nervous system from too much excitation. The researchers have chosen this gene because their previous works have shown that its activity in the brain of the suiciders is lowered.

A key fragment of this gene in the brain tissues of people in the first group was 4 times more methylated, another fragment – 2 times more. The conclusion was that the change happens only with certain genes. The gene chemically changed in the brain of the suiciders, playing an important role in the work of the brain and in the human behavior. Its reprogramming leads to serious disturbances of the physical and psychic state of a depressed person. Perhaps, this is why people usually commit suicide.

As Michael Poulter affirms, DNA methylation under conditions of stress was known before, but the concrete mechanisms of this reaction and its fatal consequences for people till now were unknown. It is possible that the discovery could help create "suicide-preventing medicine" for persons suffering from serious depressions, reports Biological Psychiatry magazine.


Tuesday, 09 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

Oxytocin Lowers Stress In Couple Conflicts

The intake of the hormone oxytocin has shown to decrease the level of "stress" hormone cortisol in couples during conflicts, and also to stimulate positive behavior, according to a recent article published by Swiss psychologists in the Biological Psychiatry magazine.

Previous researches have shown that this neuropeptide, present in the brain, regulates social behavior. It is mainly responsible for the feeling of trust.

It is known that oxytocin is a central nervous hormone that brings about strong contractions of the uterus during pregnancy and delivery, and that it is also responsible for the stimulation of human breast milk secretion.

Beate Ditzen from the Psychology Institute of the Zurich University and her colleagues studied the role of the hormone in the regulation of partners' behavior. Scientists asked 47 married heterosexual couples from 20 to 50 years old to reproduce conflicts caused by problems that most frequently induce them.

Before the beginning of the so-called "couple scandals", a number of participants received oxytocin in the form of intranasal spray, and another part received placebo.

The level of "stress" hormone cortisol in the saliva of the participants in the experiment has been taken under observation. Their behavior was being registered on a video tape and was analyzed by psychologists who observed the elements of positive behavior - laughing, agreement, listening; negative - criticism, humiliation of the partner, the tendency to interrupt him/her; and nonverbal interaction behaviour, such as eye contact, mimicry and moves.

"The couples that received oxytocin were behaving more positively than the couples that received placebo", Ditzen affirms in the message of the university.

The results of the experiment showed that oxytocin increased the length of positive communication behavior, and, especially, positive behaviour during stress situations in human relationships. Besides, those who received this hormone, had the level of salivary cortisol lower than people from the group that received placebo.

Such experiments have never been made on humans before, all being made on nonhuman mammals. In high social species of animals, oxytocin has shown to increase pair bonding and social communication, thus being similar to the results received in the experiments made on humans.


Saturday, 06 Dec, 2008

Health & Fitness

Scientists Found A Way To Treat Heart Infarction

A group of British scientists has successfully finished an experiment that can completely change the destinies of millions of people suffering from cardio-vascular diseases. They have applied the revolutionary technology by using stem cells. Scientists have found the methods to isolate, cultivate and then transplant to the patient his own cells that can turn into cardiac muscle tissue. This can lead to the rejuvenation of the heart and to the improvement of its capabilities to pump blood.

The new technology can make surgical operations with transplants of donor organs obsolete. This can allow saving 238 thousands of lives of British people dying every year from cardio-vascular diseases.

Additionally to this, this technology can also improve life quality of approximately 1 million people - this is the number of people with infarctions in Britain every year.

The research made by the group of scientists led by professor Schneider (who is also the leader of the Cardiology Section of The British Cardiological Fund) has already received the award for the medical innovations of the future (The Medical Futures Innovation Award) - analogous to Oscar Award in medicine.

The President of The British Cardio-Vascular Society and also one of the judges handing the award, Dr. Nicholas Boon, considers that the technology can improve the treatment of the patients who have suffered from infarctions or other diseases. "As the therapy based on stem cells uses the patient's own cells it reduces the risk or the possibility of complications associated to the rejection of the transplanted tissues to the minimum", he says.

In his turn, the founder of the award, Andy Goldberg, thinks that the results of the research will soon be put in practice. He affirms that it would be the greatest discovery in the treatment of cardio-vascular diseases.

When heart stops beating, the cardiac muscle cells die, and the methods of treatment that exist nowadays cannot replace them. A complete treament is practically impossible today, since heart cannot regenerate, though using different medical remedies can soothe the symptoms of the disease.

Stem cells are the so-called predecessors of the cardiac tissue. They can be found in small quantities in the human heart.

The proportion of the usual cardiac tissue cells to stem cells is 1.000.000 to 300. Researchers consider that the mission of these stem cells is to help the heart restore its functions after daily efforts. They have succeeded into separating these specialized cells and cloning them in laboratories, and then by using a special non-toxic technology they have multiplied them.

The tests they have made on mice showed that these cells lead to the creation of cardiac muscle tissue, The Daily Telegraph reports. Professor Schneider says that he wants to try these experiments on pigs, whose anatomy is closer to the human one. "In almost 3 years we will be able to make these clinical tests on people. Maybe patients with a sick heart will be saved from their problems when new healthy tissues will start growing in their organisms", he affirms.


Thursday, 04 Dec, 2008

Offbeat

Oldest Woman Of Norway And Her Long Life Secrets

The oldest woman of Norway, Gunda Harangen had died at the age of 109 years old. Every day the woman used to drink a cup of cognac, she also lived alone, without a man that would " tear her nerves out". This precisely was the secret of her longevity, as she herself affirmed.

The death of Gunda Harangen was announced to the press by her nephew. According to him, she died in her sleep on November, 25th.

Hunda Harangen had only one month left till she would have been 110. The woman was born on December, 25th, 1898 , and she was the eldest out of 7 brothers and sisters in her family.

Perhaps, to those women who want to live long the advice of the Norwegian woman will be helpful - to restrain oneself from any relationships with the opposite sex. This doesn't refer, however, to men too, as scientists in Great Britain have found out. The results of a research, published in August 2008, says that the key to men's longer lives is the polygamy.

With the corrections made for the social and economical differences, the researchers have counted that: men older than 60 from 140 countries, where polygamy is being practiced, lived longer than men from other 49 countries, where a monogamous way of life prevails.

Among the factors that make one's life longer, scientists also name having children and a good education. Children make parents' life truly diverse, chaotic and tensed, and motivate them to lead a healthier way of life. It is known that men and women with higher education have 2 times lower risk of death than people of the same age group, but with a primary education only.

Another method of prolonging life, researchers consider to be family scenes. In their opinion, in couples that prefer to solve their problems in peace and with less emotions the level of earlier mortality is twice as high as in those who unload their emotions in one or other way.

Statistics show: unmarried men live 3500 days less, smoking men - 2250 days less, unmarried women live 1600 days less (the cause of the difference between the lgetivity of an unmarried man and an unmarried woman is linked with the fact that women adapt easier and better to any conditions of their surroundings, while men in some situations can be helpless - take cooking for example), extraweight decreases one's lifetime by 1300 days, smoking women live 800 days less, car accidents decrease life span by 300 days, drug abuse - 90 days, natural radiations - 8 days, medical radiograms - 6 days, coffee - 6 days.


Sunday, 30 Nov, 2008

Offbeat

Reincarnation and Immortality in Science

Cases when one remembers things that happened to somebody else and places where he has never been before are usually considered to be supernatural. Science, however, has its own point of view about the so-called "reincarnation".

One of these cases: a little girl is totally convinced that she has grown-up children, she's worried about them and she describes her house, her husband with whom she apparently has been living for many years. According to a psychiatrist's advice, her parents go to see the town of her daughter's "dreams". And they finally find there the described street and the house, and all the relatives inside.

According to journalists, such cases look like the haunting of a lost soul in another body. The professor Eliach Orota has another version for these cases. He considers that a child's mind can connect to the huge informational resources, which are hidden in the collective subconsciousness, as if a personal computer would connect to the Internet.

A human mind operates only with a few percent of the information stored in the memory. For its psychic health the brain learns not only to remember, but also to forget - to postpone a less actual information into farthest compartments of the memory.

Eliach Orota's version is more reasonable than the theory of reincarnation. But the phenomenon of body changes can be explained in different ways. Russian physiologist Anohin presumed that the so-called "silent genes", the surplus genes that don't participate in the transmission of the genetical information to the descendants, are not so inactive as it was thought. They codificate the information about everything that happens to someone during his whole life, they are some kind of memory genes that memorate everything, even what a usual memory erases.

During communication, people always interchange cells: when shaking hands, when kissing, simply when situated in a somebody else's house, whose dust contains exfoliated, but completely viable cells of its inhabitants. That's why, everyone of us carries a lot of genetical material of other people - not always known and not always alive ones. Usually, this genetical material "sleeps", but, in some conditions, it can "rouse" and bring about changes in the carrier's mind. If the donor of the genetical material already came to the end of his lifetime, the carrier of the borrowed cells makes his destiny come to life.

Cases of alive people changing into ones who've already died prove, according to this theory, the great capabilities of the genetical material. Which, in its turn, totally changes one's point of view about the meaning of the word "death". It may result from the theory that we can't consider death to be neither the lack of breath, the stopping of the heart's beat, nor the death of the brain. Till the genetical material of the dead man is saved, the dead man can be revived even from one single cell, take cloning for example. Thus we won't receive a doubled person - a biorobot - but a whole personality of the dead man, because the silent genes store all the information gathered through lifetime. In addition, the separate cells can be saved in the appropriate conditions for as long as one wishes (as a good example of this is the experiment performed by professor Raul Cano, who revived a microbe that lived 30 million years ago).

In order to collect from every person on Earth a single piece of a nail or a hair root, and to store them in a vacuum till cloning technology becomes more advanced, the expenses will be not higher than the creation of an atomic bomb.


Friday, 28 Nov, 2008

Health & Fitness

1-year-old Girl Proves To Be Pregnant

Doctors in Saudi Arabia have registered a truly phenomenal case. A 1-year-old girl had proved to be pregnant. Doctors that have been occupied with this case affirm that they haven't heard of such cases to happen anywhere in the world. The Arabian Mass-Media has already turned on the discussion about the possibility of drawing out the unborn twin from the little girl's body to be a crime.

As it turned out, the girl's mother during her pregnancy has had 2 embryos and one of them began to grow in the uterus of the second baby. Although considered phenomenal, such cases were previously knon.

The Indian town Nagpur is famous for its 36-years-old farmer, from whose body the doctors have drawn out the embryo of his brother-twin. It is curious the fact that the man has come to see the doctors only when his belly had turned so big that he couldn't breathe. When he was brought to the hospital, he was urgently sent to surgery. The surgeons were sure that the patient had a huge tumor, which was pressing on his diaphragm. During the surgery, the doctor has pulled out from the man's abdominal cavity a strange half-formed being.

India, 2002 - doctors took out an embryo out of the body of a 6-months-old boy. "We couldn't believe that we had taken out a dead embryo with a weight of 1 kg from the body of a child, whose weight was 6.5 kg. It's a very rare case," says Pradip Kumar Mukherdgey, the leading doctor of that group.

2 years before that, doctors from another hospital of Calcutta had drawn out a foetus of 230g from the body of a 40-days new born.

Such abnormality is called "fetus in fetu". Specialists say that these cases are extremely rare in the medical practice. An embryo appears in another embryo in one out of half-million pregnancies. This phenomenon takes place on an early stage of the pregnancy and, as a rule, both embryos die in the mother's uterus.

It also happens that the delivery is successfull, but the embryo "caught in the trap" continues on living as a parasite, connected to his elder brother with a sort of umbilical cord. For a certain period of time, the second embryo continues growing up equally with the other one, still remaining inside it, and when the process stops, the undeveloped foetus turns into a parasitical body.

A foetus in a foetus is considered to be alive when the tissues of his organism are not dead or have not been removed yet. The embryo's cells must have a normal metabolism in order to be capable of living. From the point of view of physical development, even if the organs of the "fetus in fetu" receive a normal blood supply from the "master", still, in all of the cases known, the parasitical embryo had a set of critical defects. As a rule, his brain, heart, lungs, gastro-intestinal tract do not function properly. Thus, the foetus in a foetus has no chances to survive beneath the limits of the brother's body. Besides, its existence is a real threat for the normal twin brother.


Friday, 28 Nov, 2008

Health & Fitness

Nervous Cells Can Regenerate

By now, it was known that nervous cells restore only in animals. But, recently, a group of scientists have come to the conclusion that, in a certain area of the human brain, which is responsible for smelling, certain cells are responsible for the creation of mature neurons. Maybe someday they will be able to "repair" the damaged brain.

Skin grows with circa 0.002 mm every day. New erythrocytes, some days after their being formed in the marrow, are already carrying out their functions. Nervous cells are different from this point of view. Indeed, nervous terminations do regenerate in hands, feet and skin. A thing we can't say when it comes to the Central Nervous System - the brain and the spinal cord. That's why a person with a damaged spinal cord will never be able to run any more.

Recently, a new opinion, according to which the human brain is also capable of producing new nervous cells, has appeared. This is possible thanks to the so-called "stem-cells". During the intrauterine development of the baby, they are responsible for the process of brain's forming, but later they also solve not less important problems; according to scientists from University of Oakland (New Zealand) and University of Heteborg from Switzerland, these cells can transform into mature neurons in an adult human.

The author of the research, Peter Ericsson from the Institute of NeuroSciences and Psychology in Heteborg, says that they have found a special tubular structure in the human brain, as long as a finger, which connects two areas of a cerebral hemisphere: the lateral ventricle of the brain, where the cerebral liquid circulates, and the so-called Bulbus olfactorius, responsible for the transmission of olfactory impulses coming from the mucous membrane of the nose to the special areas of the brain.

Precisely aside the ventricle with the liquid inside it, those famous stem-cells can be found. This stem-cells reservoir exists in animals too, scientists say. But only now it has been found that, by the means of this tube, called Rostral Migratory Stream, the stem-cells migrate to the olfactory bulb, because it ends there.

"Thus, the human brain can provide the material for the production of new nervous cells", Ericsson affirms. Scientists have previously(1998) found similar phenomenons in another area of the brain, a very old area from the point of view of evolution - the Hippocampus. This part of the brain, related to memory's properties, can also be the source of new neurons.

During the research, scientists have studied the brains of 30 dead men and women. They have used antibodies, which, linked to the stem-cells, made them visible. Electronic microscopes, thus, were able to distinguish the cells and show that they migrate from their reservoir to the ventricles of the brain and to the olfactory bulb, where they could differentiate to mature neurons.

This phenomenon was known before from the experiments made on animals. Thus, scientists from the Center of Nervous System Repair in Massachusets and the Harvard Medical School from Boston have recently proved that different smells make nervous cells migrate to the olfactory bulbs in rats. Which proves, in its turn, that we resemble rats much more than we even think.

Last year, scientists have made the assumption that nervous cells can be regenerated after different lesions of the brain.

What will the results of these studies lead to is still unknown. Ericsson says that, perhaps, in the nearest future, they will be able to have an influence on the stem-cells and make them produce neurons.


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