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Posts tagged “health

No tree survives alone in the forest

From season 2 of The OA

Humans are odd creatures. We have weird quarks that make us want to organize the world in ways that make no sense. In this case I’m talking about trees. We have this thing about planting trees in straight lines. I think it’s because it adds a touch of order to something so organic and wild. Being the tiny insignificant things we really are, we cling to that order as a little reminder that we are something special. We don’t often acknowledge the idea that plants are living and intelligent things because they act so differently than things we prescribe intelligence. Put bluntly, the things that act like us. In reality, from what we can tell, trees talk to each other (more) and they know that there is strength in family because the truth is, a tree falls alone.

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The big brick wall

Art by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie (who will never read this, but her art really helped me)

No one likes to think about dying. Death is one of those things that is taboo because we’re alive and don’t need to worry about that sort of thing right now. There’s too much to live for to worry about death, so we tend to ignore the big brick wall we’re headed right for. No one lives forever and frankly I’m not sure that I would want to even if I could, but I can’t help but think about what happens when I get closer to that wall and what life will look like before the day I hit it.

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Technical problems

While people worried about the robot apocalypse, I’m not. If I need to randomly turn my router off and back on again for it to work properly I doubt Skynet will somehow gain sentience and take over the world without someone needing to go in and reboot it from time to time. Technology is an imperfect thing, like biology, but we expect technology to be better than us at what we need it to do. Today we spent almost an hour doing a little dance with the technology in the lab trying to get all the pieces to play nicely. The robot apocalypse will be short lived.

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The need for support

Yesterday was a big deal for me. I’ve been to conferences, spoke at them, and done all of that, but this was the first time I was selected for an award. Moreover it was the first time since I started my PhD that I got to share some of the stuff I’m working on because of COVID and the transition from mechanical to neuro. Of course I invited everyone (here) to come say hi and I have to say you all did not disappoint! Then the moment passed, I shut off my camera, and had no one to share it with.

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My talk is today and you’re all invited!

Okay so I wanted to update everyone on how my first lecture went yesterday since I only had a few short days to throw everything together and it was a mad panic to the end. Unfortunately we cannot go into detail today! That’s because today is my “I’m giving a talk” talk (which I wrote about here). It’s free to watch, my talk is roughly four minutes long and is a nice little rundown of some of the work I do. So today I figure I will go into a bit of detail and should you be so inclined to attend you’ll get the chance to chat with me in person about my work! Yep, I’m breaking anonymity yet again, but it’s for a good reason.

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And nothing was wrong with me…

Last summer I had some sort of autoimmune thing kick up. Frankly I’m not sure it was autoimmune or what the hell it was, but it hurt, left me feeling exhausted, and caused my hands, face, and elbows to form raised red spots that later peeled off (here). It was incredibly painful, made me question the minor breakouts of whatever it was that had been going on for a good ten years or so prior, and was a red flag that I was not okay. But the pandemic has been ongoing so getting attention from the VA, which is notoriously awful, had been difficult. Had been, I finally got the chance to see someone.

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Depression, a tale of hunger

Let’s pretend you have a pet that is constantly hungry. You can’t leave the house, you can’t sleep, you can’t even take a shower because anytime you want to do something for yourself this monster of a pet just won’t allow it to happen. It’s hungry. It wants to be fed and it wants to be fed NOW. Oh you’re exhausted, feed it. You want to do something for yourself? Too bad, feed it. It’s all consuming, it never sleeps, it never is satisfied, and you cannot get rid of it. Chronic depression is the pet you never asked for that demands your attention all day, every day.

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Surgical shadow update!

Well I finished my surgical shadow today. Frankly I’m exhausted, maybe I was just too excited, but I got roughly zero sleep last night. That said, it went better than the last shadow where I had just gotten my second dose of vaccine the day before. Now that was not my idea of a fun time! So per the usual I cannot go into the details, but I can talk vaguely about what happened and what’s next.

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On finishing a story

I am an avid reader. I absolutely love books and if I had more time I would probably read even more than I do. Despite being incredibly busy, I read daily and the amount I read varies wildly depending on how much time I have. Still, I manage to read an hour or so a day depending on how I’m feeling. So far this year I’ve read 19 books with a goal of hitting 30 by the end of the year. I would’ve gone for the whole book a week thing, but that felt like too much pressure for something I enjoy doing as a hobby. The problem with all that reading is inevitably stories end.

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VA healthcare in a pandemic

With the pandemic stretching now over a year, which really feels like twenty, eventually healthcare was going to be an issue for me. I’ve already had to have a surgery during the pandemic, which was nerve wracking not because of the surgery, but because of COVID. Well it’s become a struggle to keep trying to put off getting care when I’m someone who needs pretty regular care. I went from bi-weekly appointments to once every 6 months or more, not ideal.

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On water

Water, it’s easy to take for granted when, with the flick of a wrist, you can get it pumped directly into your sinks, your showers, your toilets. The human body can survive for a substantial amount of time without food, that number varies depending on body composition and other factors, but it’s typically estimated anywhere from 8 to 21 days. That isn’t to say food is unimportant, just that on the hierarchy of needs, water is king. Depending on the circumstances, you may not even last a full day without it, so what do you do when you don’t have any?

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Everything you should know about the COVID vaccine

I’ve already written several posts on my experience with the first COVID vaccine dose (here and here) and the second dose (here and here). Today we’re putting it all together. I’m going to run through everything you should know about the COVID vaccine from how it works, to why you should get it, and what to expect when you go through the shots. My goal with this is to make it accessible as possible so you can make an informed decision and feel comfortable getting the shot. Sometimes the science is hard to understand, but I think we can simplify it enough to make sense to just about everyone. That said let’s give it… a shot.

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I got my COVID Vaccine – update

Well today is day 1 post COVID vaccine. That was the first of two shots that I need to get, the second one will be in the middle of January (already scheduled). Since I was lucky enough to get the vaccine I thought I would talk a bit about the side effects of it, at least from my end. My hope is to help people relax a bit and when it becomes available to the public, you won’t be nervous to get it done.

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Health in a pandemic

I don’t want to be another link in the chain. I’m selfish, I don’t want to get COVID, I don’t want to deal with the after effects (if I live to tell the story), and I certainly don’t want to get others sick. My travel is limited to places I absolutely need to go. Unfortunately, that means I’m stuck doing research in a hospital setting, but I mask, wash my hands, and do everything I can to keep safe.

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Thalidomide: A forgotten history

Distaval was the brand name for Thalidomide

The COVID-19 vaccine is coming… eventually. There is a push by Trump to get it out to the general public prior to the election no matter the cost… gee I wonder why? However, we have testing standards in place for a very good reason and while it can be medically necessary to provide promising medicine in a few select cases, this is not one of them. A history lesson is in order and like all history, we may be doomed to repeat it if we don’t learn from it.

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The VA wants me dead, do you?

I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

I swear I didn’t kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

I hate writing about the VA, I really do. Unfortunately because I live here in the US where we think it’s our right to die from disease and have ludicrous amounts of medical debt for a sprained ankle, it’s a conversation we should have. Hello America, I served my country and now my country wants me dead. I sincerely wish I was exaggerating. Please hold your, “thank you for your service” for the end that way I can tell you to go fuck yourself. Let me explain…

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Red meat and organs may pose a significant health hazard

cooked steak

cooked steak

Neu5Gc, a non-human sialic acid sugar molecule common in red meat that increases the risk of tumor formation in humans, is also prevalent in pig organs, with concentrations increasing as the organs are cooked, a study has found. The research suggests that Neu5Gc may pose a significant health hazard among those who regularly consume organ meats from pigs.

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A new view of the immune system

t cells

t cells

Pathogen epitopes are fragments of bacterial or viral proteins. Attached to the surface structure of cells, they prompt the body’s immune system to mount a response against foreign substances. Researchers have determined that nearly a third of all existing human epitopes consist of two different fragments. Known as ‘spliced epitopes’, these types of epitopes have long been regarded as rare. The fact that they are so highly prevalent might, among other things, explain why the immune system is so highly flexible.

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Oligodendrocyte selectively myelinates a particular set of axons in the white matter

axon

axon

There are three kinds of glial cells in the brain, oligodendrocyte, astrocyte and microglia. Oligodendrocytes myelinate neuronal axons to increase conduction velocity of neuronal impulses. A Japanese research team found a characteristic feature of oligodendrocytes that selectively myelinate a particular set of neuronal axons.

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Cold medicine could stop cancer spread

cold medicine

cold medicine

Bladder cancer is the seventh most common cancer in males worldwide. Every year, about 20,000 people in Japan are diagnosed with bladder cancer, of whom around 8,000–mostly men–succumb to the disease. Bladder cancers can be grouped into two types: non-muscle-invasive cancers, which have a five-year survival rate of 90 percent, and muscle-invasive cancers, which have poor prognoses.

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Female brains change in sync with hormones

brain

brain

Although it has already been known for some time that the brain does not remain rigid in its structure even in adulthood, scientists have recently made a surprising discovery. The brain is not only able to adapt to changing conditions in long-term processes, but it can do this every month.

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Untangling a cause of memory loss in neurodegenerative diseases

memory loss

memory loss

Tauopathies are a group of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease that are characterized by the deposition of aggregates of the tau protein inside brain cells. A new study reveals that the cutting of tau by an enzyme called caspase-2 may play a critical role in the disordered brain circuit function that occurs in these diseases.

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High cholesterol triggers mitochondrial oxidative stress leading to osteoarthritis

knee problems

knee problems

High cholesterol might harm more than our cardiovascular systems. New research using animal models suggests that high cholesterol levels trigger mitochondrial oxidative stress on cartilage cells, causing them to die, and ultimately leading to the development of osteoarthritis.

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Vitamins A and C help erase cell memory

epigenetics

epigenetics

Vitamins A and C aren’t just good for your health, they affect your DNA too. Researchers have discovered how vitamins A and C act to modify the epigenetic ‘memory’ held by cells; insight which is significant for regenerative medicine and our ability to reprogramme cells from one identity to another.

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Doc versus machine

webMD cancer scare

webMD cancer scare

Increasingly powerful computers using ever-more sophisticated programs are challenging human supremacy in areas as diverse as playing chess and making emotionally compelling music. But can digital diagnosticians match, or even outperform, human physicians? The answer, according to a new study, is “not quite.”

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Revising the meaning of ‘prion’

mad cow disease

mad cow

A team of scientists are redefining what it means to be a prion–a type of protein that can pass heritable traits from cell to cell by its structure instead of by DNA. Although prions are infamous for causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, fatal familial insomnia, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow’s disease, the present study indicates that prions identified in yeast, and possibly in plants, and other organisms may be beneficial.

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For women, caffeine could be ally in warding off dementia

dementia coffee drinking

dementia coffee drinking

Among a group of older women, self-reported caffeine consumption of more than 261 mg per day was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of incident dementia over 10 years of follow-up. This level is equivalent to two to three 8-oz cups of coffee per day, five to six 8-oz cups of black tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola.

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Omega-3 fatty acid stops known trigger of lupus

fish oil

fish oil

A team of researchers has found that consuming an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, can stop a known trigger of lupus and potentially other autoimmune disorders. DHA can be found in fatty, cold-water fish and is produced by the algae that fish eat and store in their bodies. It can be found in fish oil supplements as well, used by more than 30 million Americans.

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Children could point the way to new HIV treatments

HIV Aids

HIV Aids

Children with HIV who can resist the disease progressing could point the way to new treatments for HIV infection that are more widely applicable to infected adults and children alike, an international team of researchers has found.

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Why do more men than women commit suicide?

Depression

Depression

Why do more men die when they attempt suicide than women? The answer could lie in four traits, finds scientists. There are over 6,000 British lives lost to suicide each year, and nearly 75 per cent of those are male. However, research has found women are more likely to suffer from depression, and to attempt to take their own life.

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Linking perception to action

perception

perception

Researchers studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action offer a new understanding of the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement.

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Historical analysis examines sugar industry role in heart disease research

high sugar content

high sugar content

Using archival documents, a new report examines the sugar industry’s role in coronary heart disease research and suggests the industry sponsored research to influence the scientific debate to cast doubt on the hazards of sugar and to promote dietary fat as the culprit in heart disease.

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Protect kids from toxic secondhand smoke, experts urge

second hand smoke

second hand smoke

It’s advice most smokers with children probably take lightly, but they shouldn’t. Parents and policy advocates should take a “zero tolerance” approach to exposing children to secondhand cigarette smoke, which can be responsible for lifelong cardiovascular consequences in addition to respiratory and other health issues.

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Potentially harmful chemicals widespread in household dust

toddlers playing

toddlers playing

Household dust exposes people to a wide range of toxic chemicals from everyday products, according to a new study. A multi-institutional team conducted a first-of-a-kind meta-analysis, compiling data from dust samples collected throughout the United States to identify the top ten toxic chemicals commonly found in dust.

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The new findings heart repair research

broken heart

broken heart

Scientists trying to find ways to regenerate a damaged heart have shed more light on the molecular mechanisms that could one day make this a reality.  Whilst other organs such as the liver can regenerate, the heart muscle has very little ability to do so after suffering damage, such as a heart attack.
In the womb the body is able to produce heart muscle cells but soon after birth it effectively stops producing them.

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MRI scanner sees emotions flickering across an idle mind

Brain emotions

Brain emotions

As you relax and let your mind drift aimlessly, you might remember a pleasant vacation, an angry confrontation in traffic or maybe the loss of a loved one. And now a team of researchers say they can see those various emotional states flickering across the human brain.

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Social connectedness can increase suicide risk

social media

social media

Community characteristics play an important role in perpetuating teen suicide clusters and thwarting prevention efforts, according to a new study by sociologists who examined clusters in a single town. The study illustrates how the homogeneous culture and high degree of social connectedness of a community can increase suicide risk, particularly among teenagers.

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Study could herald new treatment for muscular dystrophy

muscular dystrophy fun

muscular dystrophy fun

New research has shown that the corticosteroid deflazacort is a safe and effective treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The findings could pave the way for first U.S.-approved treatment for the disease.

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Antimicrobial chemicals found with antibiotic-resistance genes in indoor dust

pokemon evolution

pokemon evolution

Researchers have found links between the levels of antimicrobial chemicals and antibiotic-resistance genes in the dust of an aging building used for athletics and academics. One of the antimicrobials seen in the study is triclosan, a commonly used antibacterial ingredient in many personal care products.

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Drugs in the water? Don’t blame the students

drugs on tap

drugs on tap

With nearly sixty percent of American adults now taking prescription medications–from antidepressants to cholesterol treatments–there is growing concern about how many drugs are flowing through wastewater treatment facilities and into rivers and lakes. Research confirms that pharmaceutical pollution can cause damage to fish and other ecological problems–and may pose risks to human health too.

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Babies chew on subtle social, cultural cues at mealtime

baby eating food

baby eating food

At the dinner table, babies do a lot more than play with their sippy cups, new research suggests. Babies pay close attention to what food is being eaten around them – and especially who is eating it. The study adds evidence to a growing body of research suggesting even very young children think in sophisticated ways about subtle social cues.

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Trauma’s epigenetic fingerprint observed in children of Holocaust survivors

I swear I didn't kill anyone

I swear I didn't kill anyone

Image credit goes to the one and only — very talented — Lora Zombie

The children of traumatized people have long been known to be at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mood and anxiety disorders. However, there are very few opportunities to examine biologic alterations in the context of a watershed trauma in exposed people and their adult children born after the event.

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Caffeine reverts memory deficits by normalizing stress responses in the brain

coffee brain

coffee brain

A new study describes the mechanism by which caffeine counteracts age-related cognitive deficits in animals. The international teams showed that the abnormal expression of a particular receptor – the adenosine A2A, target for caffeine – in the brain of rats induces an aging-like profile namely memory impairments linked to the loss of stress controlling mechanisms.

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Use it or lose it: Stopping exercise decreases brain blood flow

Brain exercise

Brain exercise

We all know that we can quickly lose cardiovascular endurance if we stop exercising for a few weeks, but what impact does the cessation of exercise have on our brains? New research examined cerebral blood flow in healthy, physically fit older adults (ages 50-80 years) before and after a 10-day period during which they stopped all exercise.

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Researchers report new Zika complication

zika mosquito

zika mosquito

If zika didn’t seem scary enough in the media, there is new data showing that there could be a new neurological complication of infection with the Zika virus.

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Next steps in understanding brain function

simpsons brain gif

simpsons brain gif

The most complex piece of matter in the known universe is the brain. Neuroscientists have recently taken on the challenge to understand brain function from its intricate anatomy and structure. There is no sure way to go about it, and researchers in Madrid proposed a solution to the problem.

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The relationship between low physical activity and psychotic symptoms

mental health exercise

mental health exercise

Physical activity can help reduce cardiovascular disease and premature mortality in people with psychological problems. However, there is limited data on exercise in people with serious mental disorders, especially from low- and middle-income countries. This study explored whether complying with the World Health Organization recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise per week is related to psychotic symptoms or the diagnosis of a psychosis.

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How long do you want to live? Your expectations for old age matter

aging gracefully

aging gracefully

Why do some people want to live a very long time, while others would prefer to die relatively young? In a latest study, a team of researchers investigated how long young and middle-aged adults in the United States say they want to live in relation to a number of personal characteristics. The results showed that more than one out of six people would prefer to die younger than age 80, before reaching average life expectancy.

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Too much activity in certain areas of the brain is bad for memory and attention

attention span of human

attention span of human

Neurons in the brain interact by sending each other chemical messages, so-called neurotransmitters. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter, which is important to restrain neural activity, preventing neurons from getting too trigger-happy and from firing too much or responding to irrelevant stimuli.

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Stroke-like brain damage is reduced in mice injected with omega-3s

brain anatomy

brain anatomy

A stroke can happen at any age, and as with anything that involves the brain, a few seconds can be life altering. Usually the rule is time lost is brain lost, but there might be some good news regarding that, researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced brain damage in a neonatal mouse model of stroke.

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