health

credit: Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Lab - Roy Kaltschmidt, photographer. https://tinyurl.com/y758ayc8

There are many private testing services that will decode your DNA, catalog the foreign chemicals in your blood, or identify the bacteria living in and on your body. So it might come as a surprise that if you sign up for an actual biomedical research study, you might not be privy to what the scientists learn about you.

Last year the Cultural Center of Cape Cod hosted a series of monthly Sober Nights, and this year will collaborate with other arts organizations on the Cape to expand the geographic reach of the programs.

In light of the opioid addiction epidemic, discussions about substance abuse tend to focus on this growing public health crisis. It’s justified, given the dramatic rise in the numbers of people becoming addicted and dying from opioids. But when research shows that alcohol is responsible for 71 percent of substance use related deaths in Barnstable County, it's clear that we mustn’t lose sight of the devastating impacts of alcohol dependence and abuse. On The Point, we take a closer look at alcohol abuse in our region and the efforts of the newly formed Cape Cod Alcohol Coalition, created to better educate the public about the potential risks of alcohol use.

Finding alternatives to antibiotic treatment for ear infections and other mild infections could help reduce antibiotic resistance overall.
U.S. Navy / public domain

More than 20,000 Americans die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and that number is expected to rise. Efforts to overcome antibiotic resistance have largely focused on finding new ways to treat the most deadly infections. But a new analysis suggests that focusing on alternative treatments for mild infections might actually be more fruitful, and could reduce antibiotic resistance overall.

E-cigarettes now account for nearly half of U.S. cigarette sales.
http://vaping360.com/ / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/en:Creative_Commons

We’re one week into the New Year, and there are no doubt plenty of people struggling with their New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. A new study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology suggests that electronic cigarettes could help. The small pilot study found that smokers who were provided with e-cigarettes smoked fewer cigarettes and were more likely to quit smoking.

Teen depression rates jumped thirty three percent between 2010 and 2015, while suicide attempts rose by almost a quarter. Psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University has sifted through the various possible explanations and says only one factor explains the abrupt shift in American teens’ mental health – smart phones.

It’s time for your yearly flu shot. But why do we have to do this every year? Why can’t we get a flu shot once – maybe a booster now and again – and be done with it, like we do with other vaccinations? There are scientists working to accomplish just that. David Topham at University of Rochester Medical Center is on the task, but he warns that some efforts to develop a universal flu vaccine may not be as successful as hoped.

Yoshiki Hase, mos.org

There are a lot of questions, in life and politics, that science can inform, but not answer. What should we do about gun violence? Should we ban high concussion risk sports for young athletes? Boston’s Museum of Science is asking provocative questions, and getting interesting results.  We talk to Christine Reich of the Boson Museum of Science.

 

Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 50 million people worldwide, yet there are only a handful of drugs to treat the symptoms. None of them address the underlying disease processes, and it’s been years since a major new drug got approved. But there are 126 drugs in clinical trials. A leading researcher breaks down the prospects and obstacles to treating Alzheimer’s disease. We talk with Rudy Tanzi of Harvard & Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Island Press

Antibiotic infections affect some two million Americans each year, and kill at least 23,000. Researchers are struggling to keep up with evolution and find new medications to fight these infections. A new book argues that, despite our fear of them, bacteria and viruses may be some of our best allies and weapons against antibiotic resistance. 

President Trump is widely expected to declare the opioid addiction epidemic a national emergency. What tools do we have to fight addiction, and what else do health care providers need? Dr. Jeffrey Baxter of U Mass Medical School joins us.

Silent Spring Institute is a Massachusetts-based research organization that’s trying to understand how synthetic chemicals in our environment impact our health. We know there are many such chemicals in our furniture, our cosmetics, our cleaners, and even our drinking water. 

Calum MacRae runs the new research enterprise.
Courtesy One Brave Idea

Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally, claiming the lives of more people than live in Massachusetts each year. We tend to diagnose these diseases only after there are severe problems that can be difficult to treat. But what if a non-invasive test existed that could predict your risk of heart disease years, even decades, before there were any symptoms?

David/Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

More than 60,000 patients in the U.S. receive general anesthesia every day. But despite the fact that anaesthesia drugs, like ether, have been around for more than 150 years, it's really only been in the past decade or so that we've gained a better understanding of how they work.

Repeated head trauma during football is linked to increased risk of neurodenerative disease, CTE.
Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons / U. S. Air Force

There’s more evidence that playing football can lead to permanent brain damage. But the problem likely isn’t as prevalent as many media accounts have suggested.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated head trauma. Symptoms include dementia and mood or behavioral disorders. It was first described in boxers several decades ago, but has been found in NFL players in the past five years.

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