Friday, February 21, 2014

Study: Good night's sleep cleans out gunk in brain

I believe that sleep is important in getting rejuvenated and feeling new. Sleep can help a person feel more alert and aware. The brain is filled with toxins that gets built up everyday from stress, and other toxic things from everyday life. It is important to flush it out so we can think fresh. Sleep is an important way of accomplishing that. Getting adequate and great amount of sleep is crucial in optimal brain function.

Alicia Chang, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When we sleep, our brains get rid of gunk that builds up while we're awake, suggests a study that may provide new clues to treat Alzheimer's disease and other disorders.

This cleaning was detected in the brains of sleeping mice, but scientists said there's reason to think it happens in people too.

If so, the finding may mean that for people with dementia and other mind disorders, "sleep would perhaps be even more important in slowing the progression of further damage," Dr. Clete Kushida, medical director of the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center, said in an email.

Kushida did not participate in the study, which appears in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

People who don't get enough shut-eye have trouble learning and making decisions, and are slower to react. But despite decades of research, scientists can't agree on the basic purpose of sleep. Reasons range from processing memory, saving energy to regulating the body.

The latest work, led by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center, adds fresh evidence to a long-standing view: When we close our eyes, our brains go on a cleaning spree.

The team previously found a plumbing network in mouse brains that flushes out cellular waste. For the new study, the scientists injected the brains of mice with beta-amyloid, a substance that builds up in Alzheimer's disease, and followed its movement. They determined that it was removed faster from the brains of sleeping mice than awake mice.

The team also noticed that brain cells tend to shrink during sleep, which widens the space between the cells. This allows waste to pass through that space more easily.

Though the work involved mouse brains, lead researcher Dr. Maiken Nedergaard said this plumbing system also exists in dogs and baboons, and it's logical to think that the human brain also clears away toxic substances. Nedergaard said the next step is to look for the process in human brains.

In an accompanying editorial, neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro said scientists have recently taken a heightened interest in the spaces between brain cells, where junk is flushed out.

It's becoming clearer that "sleep is likely to be a brain state in which several important housekeeping functions take place," she said in an email.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. In a statement, program director Jim Koenig said the finding could lead to new approaches for treating a range of brain diseases.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Quitting Smoking May Improve Your Mental Health

In the most studies, people who smoke daily reported that they have mood or anxiety issues. I see at my University people smoking even though smoking is banned on campus. I can hypothesize most of those people have some anxiety or mood issues. People also smoke because it relaxes them and relives stress for them. Overall, smoking is dangerous whether it is your mental illness or lung cancer. Smoking has no benefits to it. It will cause cancer. 

By Brian Krans

People with mental illnesses—from anxiety to bipolar disorder—are more likely to self-medicate.

When treating a patient for mental illness, experts tend to focus on bad habits that have the most dramatic impact on the patient’s life, namely alcohol and drugs, as they can worsen mental problems. Smoking, however, typically gets a pass.

But new research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that treating nicotine addiction can have positive effects on a person’s mental well-being.

How Quitting Can Improve Your Mental State

Researchers analyzed data from 4,800 daily smokers from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions survey and found that those with addiction problems or psychological issues had fewer problems three years later if they quit smoking.

The first time the survey was given, about 40 percent of daily smokers reported having mood or anxiety issues. Roughly half of daily smokers also had alcohol problems and a quarter had drug issues.

Three years later when the survey was given again, 42 percent of the people who still smoked had mood disorders. Of those who quit, only 29 percent had mood issues. Alcohol and drug use rates were also lower in former smokers.

“We don't know if their mental health improves first and then they are more motivated to quit smoking or if quitting smoking leads to an improvement in mental health,” lead investigator Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg said in a statement. “But either way, our findings show a strong link between quitting and a better psychiatric outlook.”

Besides the mental health benefits, there are also the obvious physical health benefits of quitting smoking.

“About half of all smokers die from emphysema, cancer, or other problems related to smoking, so we need to remember that as complicated as it can be to treat mental health issues, smoking cigarettes also causes very serious illnesses that can lead to death,” Cavazos-Rehg said.

Her study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine.

You Have to Admit You’re a Smoker First

You would think that someone who smokes cigarettes would admit to being a smoker, but researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine say that’s not always the case.

In a recent study in Tobacco Control, researchers show that in 2011 nearly 396,000 Californians—or 12.3 percent of the population—regularly smoked cigarettes, yet didn’t call themselves “smokers.” That includes the nearly 22 percent of people who smoked on a daily basis.

Not admitting you are a smoker is a major barrier to quitting. There’s no reason to stop doing something if you don’t do it in the first place, right?

“There is a risk for such smokers to continue to smoke and be adversely impacted by the tobacco they smoke, yet they do not seek any assistance nor do they plan to quit because they falsely believe they are not smokers,” Dr. Wael K. Al-Delaimy, a professor and chief of the Division of Global Health at UCSD said.

Original Article

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Kids and Cavities a Rotten Combo

I believe that kids these days are eating so much sugar and unhealthy foods that it is damaging their teeth. Oral health is a great indicator of overall health. If a child has a mouth full of cavities, then they are more likely to have unhealthy eating habits.  It is important that children eat healthy so they will have healthy oral health. In addition, many parents think it is unnecessary for kids to brush their teeth because their teeth are going to fall out anyways. That is a total myth and it is important for good oral hygiene as soon as your child tooth erupts. Parents should follow the tips that ADA offers down below. 
By Katie Moisse

Getting kids to care about oral health can be like pulling teeth. But cavities aren't just painful — they can interfere with learning, speech, eating and play.

Roughly one in six American kids has untreated cavities, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And experts say those tiny holes can have major consequences on growth and development.

“Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, and in the worst case it can change a kid’s life for the short or long term,” said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist based in Augusta, Maine, and spokesman for the American Dental Association. “Taking steps to prevent it early on — as soon as the first tooth erupts — is key to having a lifetime of good oral health.”

Tooth decay accounts for 51 million missed school hours and 25 million missed work hours among parents annually, according to the American Dental Association. But some simple steps can cut the risk of cavities and set up good dental habits for life.

The ADA offers the following tips:
  • Eat a nutritious diet during pregnancy
  • Take your child to a dentist before his or her first birthday
  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss your child’s teeth daily as soon as two teeth touch
  • Avoid giving your child sugary and starchy snacks

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Coffee as a Memory Booster

I do not see coffee as a memory booster, but instead I see it as a way to make a person alert. I think that those who underwent the study and received a pill containing caffeine were probably more alert, which made them remember more. Many people drink coffee everyday and they do not see a boost in memory. If anything, I believe that caffeine enhances a persons alertness, which will help them recall things more. 

In addition to its other well-known effects, a cup of coffee might improve your memory.
Researchers had 73 male and female volunteers who did not habitually consume caffeine study pictures of flowers, musical instruments and other objects. After they were done, 35 of them were given a pill containing 200-milligrams of caffeine — the amount in one to two cups of coffee — and the rest an identical looking placebo. Neither the subjects nor the researchers knew until the study ended who took caffeine and who took an inert pill.
The next day they showed the volunteers more pictures, asking them if they were the same, different, or different but similar to the pictures they had seen the previous day.
Those who had caffeine pills were significantly better at identifying pictures that were different but similar to the ones they had seen the previous day. In other tests, the researchers found that less than 200 milligrams had no effect, and more did not further improve the participants’ scores.
The senior author, Michael A. Yassa, formerly at Johns Hopkins and now an assistant professor of neurobiology at the University of California, Irvine, said that the study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, does not prove that caffeine is a memory pill.
“We don’t even know what the exact effective dose would be,” he said. What will Dr. Yassa himself do? “I’m a regular coffee drinker, and nothing is going to change that.”
Original Article 
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