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Feeling sleepy during the day may trigger Alzheimer’s: Researchers

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New York, Sep 7: In a significant finding, Johns Hopkins researchers have revealed that those who feel sleepy during the day are nearly three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who have a good night’s sleep.

An analysis of data captured during a long-term study of ageing adults showed that those who report being very sleepy during the day were nearly three times more likely than those who didn’t to have brain deposits of beta amyloid — a protein that’s a hallmark for Alzheimer’s disease — years later.

The finding, reported in the journal SLEEP, adds to a growing body of evidence that poor quality sleep could encourage this form of dementia to develop, suggesting that getting adequate night-time sleep could be a way to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

“Factors like diet, exercise and cognitive activity have been widely recognised as important potential targets for Alzheimer’s disease prevention, but sleep hasn’t quite risen to that status — although that may well be changing,” said Adam P. Spira, Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Spira led the study with collaborators from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the Bloomberg School and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“If disturbed sleep contributes to Alzheimer’s disease, we may be able to treat patients with sleep issues to avoid these negative outcomes,” Spira added.

The study used data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) — a long-term study started by the NIA in 1958 that followed the health of thousands of volunteers as they age.

Before adjusting for demographic factors that could influence daytime sleepiness, the results showed that those who reported daytime sleepiness were about three times more likely to have beta-amyloid deposition than those who didn’t report daytime fatigue.

After adjusting for these factors, the risk was still 2.75 times higher in those with daytime sleepiness.

The unadjusted risk for amyloid-beta deposition was about twice as high in volunteers who reported napping, but this did not reach statistical significance.

It’s currently unclear why daytime sleepiness would be correlated with the deposition of beta-amyloid protein, Spira said.

One possibility is that daytime sleepiness itself might somehow cause this protein to form in the brain.

Based on previous research, a more likely explanation is that disturbed or insufficient sleep due to other factors, causes beta-amyloid plaques to form through a currently unknown mechanism, and that these sleep disturbances also cause excessive daytime sleepiness.

“However, we cannot rule out that amyloid plaques that were present at the time of sleep assessment caused the sleepiness,” added the researchers.

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Anti-inflammatory drugs may put you at heart attack risk

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If you have been hit by the winter cold and are thinking about taking medicines that relieve your aches, pains and congestion, be careful. Those may also put your heart at risk, the American Heart Association has warned.

A study has showed that both decongestants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), found in many cold medicines, were listed as medications that could increase blood pressure.

People who used NSAIDs while sick were more than three times as likely to have a heart attack within a week compared with the same time period about a year earlier when participants were neither sick nor taking an NSAID.

“People with uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid taking oral decongestants. And for the general population or someone with low cardiovascular risk, they should use them with the guidance of a health care provider,” said Sondra DePalma, from the University of Pittsburgh in the US.

Decongestants like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine constrict blood vessels. They allow less fluid into your sinuses, “which dries you up”, said Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Univerity’s Ciccarone Center in Baltimore.

The biggest concerns are for people who have had a heart attack or stroke, or have heart failure or uncontrolled high blood pressure, Michos said, in the paper published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Importantly, healthy people might also be at risk.

For the study, researchers looked at nearly 10,000 people with respiratory infections who were hospitalised for heart attacks.

Participants were 72 years old on average at the time of their heart attacks and many had cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

People who are sick should use both classes of medications — decongestants and NSAIDs — judiciously and understand the potential side effects.

In addition, decongestants should not be taken longer than seven days before consulting with a healthcare provider, DePalma said.

One should also rest and drink plenty of fluids if symptoms are mild or moderate, DePalma noted.

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What is to be blamed for childhood cancer?

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Representative Image , Image Credit : J Pat Carter/AP

A team of researchers has thrown light on the community beliefs about what causes cancer in children, an area which remains understudied, finds a latest research.

“Few childhood cancers are attributed to genetics or environmental factors, so when children are diagnosed with cancer, families often wonder ‘why me/why us’?” said lead author Janine Vetsch, postdoctoral research candidate from UNSW Sydney in Australia.

For the study, the team examined the beliefs of more than 600 participants — parents and childhood cancer survivors — about the causes of childhood cancer, and compared them with beliefs of 510 members of the general population.

Findings, published in Acta Oncologica, revealed that more than seven out of 10 childhood cancer survivors and survivors’ parents believed that chance or bad luck caused the cancer.

This led to most parents and survivors seem to understand that there is nothing they could have done to prevent the cancer, according to Vetsch.

However, around one in five families did believe that environmental factors and genetics played a role, despite only limited available scientific evidence, results further showed.

“It looks like healthcare professionals are successfully helping most families arrive at that view,” said Vetsch.

Such views could lead to stigma. Hence, it is important to increase community knowledge of childhood cancer causes in general.

There is a need to encourage doctors to talk about the causes with affected families to address unhelpful misconceptions,” Vetsch suggested.

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Does your dental floss contain toxic chemicals?

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New York, Jan 9: Using Oral-B Glide dental floss could contribute to elevated levels of toxic chemicals that can lead to health problems, especially in women, including kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, low birth weight, among others, says a study led by US-based Silent Spring Institute.

In the study, the team measured the presence of 11 different PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) — water- and grease-proof substances — in blood samples of 178 middle-aged women.

The findings, appearing in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (JESEE), showed that women who flossed with Oral-B Glide tended to have higher levels of a type of PFAS called PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) in their body compared with those who did not.

“This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals,” said lead author Katie Boronow, a scientist at the institute.

“The good news is, based on our findings, consumers can choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS,” she added.

Further, the team also tested 18 dental flosses (including three Glide products) for the presence of fluorine — a marker of PFAS, all of which tested positive for fluorine. The new findings are consistent with previous reports that Glide is manufactured using Teflon-like compounds.

In addition, the study also showed that women who frequently ate prepared food in coated cardboard containers, such as French fries or takeout, had elevated blood levels of PFAS chemicals.

“Overall, this study strengthens the evidence that consumer products are an important source of PFAS exposure,” Boronow said. “Restricting these chemicals from products should be a priority to reduce levels in people’s bodies.”

Other behaviours that were associated with higher PFAS levels included having stain-resistant carpet or furniture and living in a city served by a PFAS-contaminated drinking water supply.

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