Ultra-Processed Foods Up IBS Risk


Consumption also linked to greater risk of functional dyspepsia when IBS is present.

Adults with diets high in ultra-processed foods and beverages were at higher risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and concomitant functional dyspepsia (FDy), French researchers reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

That suggests the need to incorporate the impact of highly processed convenience foods into nutritional guidelines, said Laure Schnabel, MPH, of Paris-Sorbonne University, and colleagues.

The team studied the consumption of ultra-processed foods -- the popular, shelf-durable packaged and convenience foods and drinks with industrial formulations and plentiful additives that are increasingly replacing freshly prepared meals, even in the haute cuisineculture of France.

Foods consisted of more than 3,000 widely consumed dietitian-analyzed items, ranging from fresh and unprocessed foods to minimally processed (canned vegetables) and ultra-processed products (fish sticks, chicken nuggets, cookies, and sweetened drinks).

For the investigation, which the researchers said they believe to be the first such study, the team assessed the association between these products and four functional gastrointestinal disorders: IBS, FDy, functional constipation (FC), and functional diarrhea (FDh), disorders estimated to affect up to 25% of the population in industrialized countries.

The study sample was 76.4% women, and the mean age was 50.4. Before taking a self-administered questionnaire centered on Rome III diagnostic criteria, participants completed at least three 24-hour food-intake records with details on breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus up to three additional eating episodes."The low-fiber content of ultra-processed foods could be involved in the induction and/or exacerbation of digestive symptoms," the French investigators wrote. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis by Moayyedi et al found that soluble fibers supplements are effective in treating symptoms in IBS patients. Insoluble fiber -- found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes and fermented in the colon -- produce short-chain fatty acids that promote normal intestinal function.

Why Is Everyone Getting Shingles?


The virus that causes shingles is cunning. It lies dormant inside the human body — often hiding in the nerve cells of the spinal column or the brain. Then, after decades of inactivity, it can remerge as a painful, blister-pocked skin rash.

“The way the virus is quiescent for decades and then reactivates — it’s unusual, but it makes sense from the perspective of the virus’ survival,” says Rafael Harpaz, MD, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases. Back when humans lived in small hunter-gatherer communities, Harpaz explains, viruses that depended on human hosts would have died out quickly if they infected everyone en masse. By lying in wait, shingles allows new generations of carriers to be born.

Harpaz has spent years studying the bug. A 2016 study of his in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases helped shine a spotlight on a curious phenomenon: For at least the past 60 years, rates of shingles have been climbing. Compared to the period from 1945 to 1949, when 0.76 people per 1,000 developed shingles, rates climbed to 3.15 per 1,000 by the period from 2000 to 2007, his study found.

“[The rise] seems to be occurring across all age groups, and not just in the U.S.,” says Kosuke Kawai, ScD, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Boston Children’s Hospital and one of Harpaz’s co-authors on the CID study. “There are studies in European countries, and also in Taiwan and Australia, that seem to show this same increase over time.”

While rates of shingles have been escalating for decades, Harpaz says the increase seems to be “plateauing” among older adults — a group that usually suffers from a higher incidence of shingles than younger people. (A new vaccine was introduced in 2006, and some experts suspect that may explain it.) But rates of shingles among those age 30 to 50 don’t seem to be leveling off.

From the late 1940s to the early 2000s, the prevalence of shingles among Americans younger than 50 more than quadrupled, Harpaz’s data shows. Some research suggests the incidence of shingles among younger adults may actually be gaining steam. At least anecdotally, shingles seems to be increasingly common among people in their twenties and thirties — a group that, historically, suffered from vanishingly low rates of the disease.

What’s fueling all this? Harpaz is stumped. “I have given this as much thought as anyone, and it remains a mystery to me,” he says.

Parkinson's drugs may lead to compulsive behavior

Increases in compulsive behavior were clear in the use of L-dope in people with Parkinson's in the 60's, but the level of the problem is evident in this research....


The production of dopamine can be excessively stimulated by taking drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.

So, the neurotransmitter is at the heart of addictions and impulse control disorders ranging from substance abuse to sex addiction and gambling.

Such impulse control issues have been found to be common in people with Parkinson's disease. Pathological gambling and compulsive shopping, as well as compulsive eating and sexual behavior, have all been documented among patients with Parkinson's.

The drugs often prescribed to people with Parkinson's are the main risk factor for such compulsive behavior. Because dopamine is deficient in Parkinson's, the go-to treatment is dopamine agonists — which are drugs that activate the brain's dopamine receptors — or the well known levodopa, which turns itself into dopamine.

The researchers investigated 411 people who had received a Parkinson's disease diagnosis 5 years or under before the study, and who were clinically followed for at least 3 years.

Dr. Corvol and his colleagues interviewed the participants about any symptoms of impulse control disorders, such as compulsive shopping, eating, gambling, or sexual behaviors.

Of the 411 participants, 356 (or almost 87 percent) had taken dopamine agonists at least once since their Parkinson's diagnosis. At baseline, 81 participants (almost 20 percent) reported an impulse control disorder.

Specifically, 11 percent reported binge eating, 9 percent reported compulsive sexual behavior, 5 percent said that they shopped compulsively, and 4 percent admitted to having a gambling problem.

Of the 306 participants who did not report having any impulse control problems at baseline, 94 developed such a problem during the study. According to the scientists, this amounts to a "5-year cumulative incidence" of impulse control disorders of 46 percent.

By comparison, those who had never taken the drugs had a 5-year incidence of 12 percent. What is more, 30 participants with compulsive behaviors stopped taking the drugs during the study, which put an end to their symptoms.

Finally, higher doses of dopamine agonists and the duration of the treatment correlated directly with the risk of developing impulse control disorders.

The Uber(ization) of In-Home Health Care


Caremap is a newly launched app for in-home care that, like Uber, connects users directly with service providers. And the lack of a middleman is one of the model’s most important distinctions, says founder and CEO Nectarios Charitakas.

“The whole time I was helping my parents, every time I told them, ‘Let’s get you care. It’s going to cost $30 or $35 an hour,’ they went ballistic. So I realized something had to be done. We had to bring a better price equilibrium. We had to help make it easier for families to find care,” says the enterprise IT veteran.

Unlike a traditional agency model, caregivers post their rate and users pay them directly via the app. Charitakas doesn’t take a cut. There is no administration fee. He’ll make money from users who choose to subscribe to the premium version of the app — the inspiration for its added features came from his own experience.

“So one of the problems I had was every time a caregiver took my mom or dad to an appointment, I never knew when the next follow-up was. So if your [Caremap] caregiver takes mom to a doctor’s appointment, they can’t close their shift until they go into the calendar to put in a follow-up.”

On both the free and premium versions, users can search a Market Place and connect with care providers — from non-accredited companion keepers to registered nurses — in their area. Appointments are scheduled via the app, and users can rate their caregiver(s). If you need care, you can also upload job postings with requirements – even language preference.

If the person in need of care isn’t tech-savvy, they can grant access to their profile and its administration. Charitakas believes being able to coordinate care remotely for a loved one can help ease the strain on family members.

Another pain point he decided to tackle was lack of information.

“My experience is that everything was a black hole. You had no idea if your caregiver was Mary Jane. You had no idea if she showed up, what time she showed up, what did she do and how is Mom. I found that very frustrating.”

Not only do caregivers have to “punch in” upon arriving and “out” at the end of his or her shift, the app uses geolocation to notify the user — and anyone to whom they’ve granted access — as to their impending arrival.

Disrupted immune system? Avoid getting a tattoo


The new issue of the journal BMJ Case Reports features the case study of a woman who sought medical assistance due to severe and persistent pain in her left hip, knee, and thigh after having gotten her left thigh tattooed some months earlier.

In 2009, she had a double lung transplant that needed long-term immunosuppressant therapy, to avoid a transplant rejection response.

This, of course, meant that her entire immune system was disrupted, and it would not react to foreign agents inside the body in the same way that it normally would.

9 days after getting this tattoo, she started having severe pain in her left knee and thigh, the management of which required strong painkillers.

In time, the symptoms became less severe. But after 10 months, they had not wholly disappeared.

"Her pain was still troublesome, constant in nature, and causing regular sleep disturbance," write the authors of the case analysis.

New Epilepsy Guidelines Shed Light on Explosion of New Drugs


For new-onset epilepsy, there's not yet strong enough evidence for the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Epilepsy Society (AES) to recommend third-generation antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in their new treatment guidelines.

But for treatment-resistant epilepsy, several recently approved AEDs may be winners.

"The update was prompted by the explosion of new antiepileptic drugs that have been approved since the time of the first guideline and the overwhelming amount of information available on each one," Jacqueline French, MD, of the New York University Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, told MedPage Today.

Issued jointly by the two organizations and published online in Neurology, the updated guidance for new-onset and treatment-resistant epilepsy replace ones in effect since 2004. The FDA has approved six third-generation AEDs that were included in this review since that time -- eslicarbazepine (Aptiom), ezogabine (Potiga, which has been discontinued), lacosamide (Vimpat), perampanel (Fycompa), pregabalin (Lyrica), and rufinamide (Banzel) -- and two older AEDs for certain types of epileptic disorders, clobazam (Onfi) and vigabatrin (Sabril).

Mr. Connolly Has ALS


Gene Connolly, principal of Concord High School in New Hampshire, was known for his non-stop energy, a love for rock & roll, and the innate ability to connect with the school’s 1,600 students. However, in 2014, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also knows as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Since the onset of his illness, Connolly showed tremendous persistence, humor, and leadership, crediting the school and community as a source of unfailing support and understanding.

Mr. Connolly Has ALS chronicles Connolly’s final year as principal of the school, when his physical abilities - to speak and walk - are significantly limited by the debilitating disease. The outpouring of love and support from the students, evident as they interview him one-on-one with both personal and tough questions, is remarkable and inspiring.

Scientists Finally Think They Know What Causes Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – And How To Cure It


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects roughly one in five women – and now, scientists think they know why. (Just in time for National Women's Health Week.)

A study published in Nature Medicine found a link between hormonal imbalance in the womb and PCOS, specifically prenatal exposure to a growth factor called anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH). 

The team, led by Paolo Giacobini at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, realized levels of AMH were 30 percent higher in pregnant women with PCOS than those without. Because there is a hereditary component to the condition, they decided to test whether or not women with this hormonal imbalance give birth to daughters with PCOS. 

“It’s a radical new way of thinking about polycystic ovary syndrome and opens up a whole range of opportunities for further investigation,” explained Robert Norman from the University of Adelaide, Australia, reports New Scientist.

For the study, the researchers injected pregnant mice with AMH so that they had a higher than normal concentration of the hormone. Indeed, they gave birth to daughters who later developed PCOS-like tendencies. These included problems with fertility, delayed puberty, and erratic ovulation.

According to the researchers, the added AMH appeared to prompt the overstimulation of a particular set of brain cells called GnRH neurons, which are responsible for managing the body's testosterone levels. Hence, the offspring displayed higher levels of testosterone. The result: a "masculinization of the exposed female fetus" and a "PCOS-like reproductive and neuroendocrine phenotype" by the time they reached maturity.

But, excitingly, the team weren't just able to determine the cause of PCOS, they were able to reverse it (in mice, anyway). To do so, the researchers dosed the polycystic mice with an IVF drug called cetrorelix, which made the symptoms to go away.

This could be great news for the millions of women with the condition, often characterized by excessive hair growth, hair loss, acne, and obesity, though symptoms can vary from patient to patient. It is also the most common cause of infertility.

Next up, the team is planning to trial the drug in humans. Tests are planned to take place later in the year.

Food Allergy Most Common Allergic Condition in Autism


Early food allergy and other allergic conditions showed a positive association with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. children, and the association persisted after researchers adjusted for demographic and socioeconomic variables and other types of allergic conditions.

Food allergies were the most common allergic condition found in children with autism, and the association was consistent and significant in all age, sex, and racial/ethnic subgroups in the population-based, cross-sectional analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey collected between 1997 and 2016.

In an invited commentary published with the study, Christopher J. McDougle, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, explored the researchers' hypothesis that the association may be related to gut-brain-behavior axis abnormalities thought to exist in some children with ASD: "Such an association has been reported in both patients with ASD and animal models of ASD, particularly those with the maternal immune activation model of ASD.

"From a clinical perspective, patients with ASD who are minimally verbal to nonverbal may be unable to describe the pain and discomfort they experience secondary to food allergy and subsequent inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Instead, their physical distress may manifest as irritability, aggression, and/or self injury."

The prevalence of ASD among children in the U.S. has increased steadily in recent decades, according to findings from nationally representative surveys, Bao and colleagues noted, explaining that immunologic dysfunction is a potential link between environmental risk factors and ASD.

Symptoms of immune function abnormalities, such as frequent infections and increased prevalence of autoimmune conditions have been frequently reported among children with ASD and maternal infection, inflammatory cytokines, and autoimmune diseases during pregnancy were also associated with ASD in children in some studies.

Kent County Council's Shared Lives scheme supports unpaid carers in the county

This is England's Kent County, not Michigan's. A sort of Airbnb.....


We all need a break sometimes.

And that is especially important for those who are unpaid carers to enable them to continue looking after and supporting a friend or family member.

Kent Shared Lives, run by Kent County Council, can provide an alternative personalised break for eligible people with a range of different needs.

It is designed to be a real home from home service where approved hosts can take care of people with learning disabilities or difficulties, older people, those with dementia, mental health problems, sensory impairment, Autism or Asperger's.

Someone sharing a home with an approved host is given a safe and supportive environment where they can bring their own things and be supported in their hobbies, activities or interests.

From the homes of KCC approved hosts the Kent Shared Lives scheme can offer:

Short Breaks: Where a loved one would stay with a host for a couple of days or weeks at a time or longer if required.

Day Support: Which is based at the host’s home and can be on any given day of the week or time of the day and one session is up to five hours.

Long Term Care: Offered by Shared Lives and often an option for the future when someone's carer is unable to provide support. In these cases individuals would move in with a host and live as part of the family.

Kent County Council has a wide range of Shared Lives hosts around the county ranging from single people to couples and families who have availability to welcome someone into their lives.

Shared Lives is regulated by the Care Quality Commission and staff will always make sure everyone is happy with the chosen arrangement before it begins and regular checks are made to ensure everything is working well.

A referral from a care/case manager or social worker will be required to be considered for the scheme. To find out more please contact the team through facebook @kentsharedlives

via the website www.kent.gov.uk/sharedlives