Soon, you may be able to change flights ‘mid-air’


Scientists are planning to shape nuclear-powered planes that may allow passengers change flights mid-air and jets refuel in the sky.

The next generation of air travel would allow passengers to be delivered to the behemoths via smaller planes, along with their luggage, the Mirror reported.

 Soon, you may be able to change flights 'mid-air'

Engineers are also working on “flying petrol stations” that could enable non-stop flights, the Mirror reported.

Refueling in the skies would cut the amount of fuel planes need for take-off, when they are heaviest, making them better for the environment.

The concept has been tested with the help of professional pilots using simulators but, four years in, researchers have yet to trial anything in flight.

Was President Obama Warned Off An Investigation into UFOs?


Last month, Obama Advisor John Podesta revealed that his biggest regret since leaving office was “keeping the UFO issue a secret.” Now, a new book by NY Times bestselling author Steve Alten, has blown the lid off those secrets. The author’s source – Steven M. Greer, M.D., the world’s foremost authority on Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI) and the same person who provided the extensive briefing to John Podesta on UFOs shortly after President Obama took office in 2009.

Dr. Greer, an emergency room physician who left his medical career to dedicate his life to disclosing the truth about UFOs, also briefed James Woolsey, President Clinton’s first CIA director, along with the heads of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Head of Intelligence Joint Staff, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a select number of Congressmen.

Best-selling author Steve Alten incorporated over thirty hours of private interviews with Dr. Greer into the storyline of Vostok (Rebel Press). Fans of thrillers will be drawn into the story – Vostok is a very real 15 million-year-old sub-glacial lake located beneath two-and-a-half miles of ice in East Antarctica. Incredibly, there is also a magnetic anomaly inside the lake that has baffled experts as to what it could be. Three scientists are selected to venture into this underwater realm in a submersible. What they discover will keep readers frantically turning pages…

But Vostok is much more. The thriller exposes a secret transnational Cabal which draws an estimated $80 billion Black Ops budget from US taxpayers with no congressional oversight. Made up of bankers, oil oligarchs, and members of the military industrial complex, the Cabal has used its influence to improperly seize over 5,100 US patents, many for new energy devices that would replace fossil fuels. As a result, clean free energy systems that would literally transform the planet (and the dominant U.S. macro-economy) have been black-shelved, their inventors threatened… and worse.

According to the author and his source, “presidents Clinton and Obama were both “warned off” pursuing their UFO investigations; Clinton when CIA Director William Colby was murdered after he decided to cross the powers-that-be, and Obama on his trip to Norway to accept his Nobel Peace Prize when a Scaler weapon blast (an ET technology reverse-engineered decades ago) caused the Oslo night sky to light up with a blue spiral.” Vostok names names, along with the locations of super secret military bases where ARVs (Alien Reproduction Vehicles) are harbored and may one day be used in the ultimate false flag event.

Yes, truth is stranger…and far scarier…than fiction.

A Bad Dream Is More Than Just A Dream: The Science Of Nightmares


Dirty woman's hand holding a bloody axe outdoor in night forest
Why your nightmare is more than just a bad dream and what it means for your overall health. 

The jolt of fear and terror felt as we run for our lives to escape danger quickly eases us back into consciousness in bed to help us flee the dreamscape. Nightmares tend to creep in and out at night in our lifetime, primarily during childhood, but why do they happen in the first place? Do we ever outgrow bad dreams?

Why Nightmares Happen

Nightmares can be vivid and frightening detailed images that can leave us in a state of panic and fear after we wake up. Most young children experience nightmares, with an estimated 10 percent to 50 percent between the ages of 5 and 12 years having nightmares severe enough to disturb their parents, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Children’s nightmares may stem from listening to a scary story, TV show or movie, or even feeling anxious and stressed during the day from starting school to a death in the family. Typically, most kids will grow out of them, but what happens to adults?

Only two to eight percent of the adult population is plagued by nightmares, says the AASM, which involves some of the same triggers seen in children’s nightmares. Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a professional dream analyst and author of Dream On It, Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life, stresses the importance of understanding that dreaming is actually a thinking process; a continuation of our thoughts stream from the day. “[T]he nightmare is when we are thinking about difficult issues during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and trying to sort them out. We often try to ignore our difficult issues with distractions during the day but when we are asleep and are forced to be alone in our own heads, these difficult issues will be addressed,” she told Medical Daily in an email.

Unresolved conflict is not the only causation of nightmares, poor eating habits can also contribute to the frequency of these terror episodes. People can have nightmares after having a late-night snack. Eating meals or snacks that are high in carbohydrates in the late hours of the night can increase brain activity and body metabolism.

Carol Wasserman, a certified holistic health practitioner with a private practice in Manhattan, N.Y., also suggests an unknown allergy can trigger reoccurring episodes. “For example, if you have an allergy to peaches, but are not aware, you could be getting nightmares, and once you stop eating peach ice cream at night the nightmares stop” she told Medical Daily in an email. Wasserman adds she was unaware she was allergic to shrimp and had nightmares after consumption. “Every time I ate shrimp I had a restless night and bad dreams. So I stopped the shrimp and now I sleep peacefully.”

Nightmares in adults can be spontaneous, but are generally triggered by psychological factors like anxiety and depression, and the result of poor nutrition. Moreover, sleep disorders including sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome can cause people to experience chronic, recurrent nightmares. What happens to the brain when these factors contribute to the onset of nightmares?

The Brain During A Nightmare

Nightmares tend to occur in the last third of the night when REM sleep is the strongest. Sleep is divided into four stages: stage 1 (sleep onset), stage 2 (light sleep) and stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep) — the REM stages. REM sleep occurs every 90 minutes during the night, and is associated with high brain activity, rapid eye movements and inhibited voluntary motor activity. Typically, dreaming occurs in all stages, with 80 percent of people awakened during REM sleep and sleep onset (stages 1 and 2), while 40 percent of persons are awakened from a deep sleep, according to an article in the American Family Physician.

The amygdala, which is regulated by the front lobes of the brain, seems to be the culprit when it comes to nightmares. Neuroimaging studies of the brain while dreaming show the amygdala is highly activated during REM. In Patrick McNamara’s book, Nightmares: the Science and Solution of Those Frightening Visions During Sleep, he emphasizes the amygdala’s role in handling negative mentions such as fear and aggression. This may explain why the over-activation of the amygdala during REM can produce fear-responses in the dreamer.

“[O]nce we enter REM sleep, which is when dreaming takes place, the brain is working differently (certain parts of the brain become dormant while others become highly active), so instead of thinking in literal terms and words you are thinking in pictures, symbols and emotions… metaphors!” Loewenberg said.

The Dreamers Who Have More Nightmares

Most young children are susceptible to nightmares, and a pocket of the adult population will experience the occasional nightmare in their lifetime. However, which adults are more prone to bad dreams than others?

Several studies have found age, personality type, and trauma can influence the frequency of nightmares for dreamers. A 1990 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found 47 percent of college students had at least one nightmare in a two-week study. These nightmares were not tied to self-reported anxiety, suggesting nightmares are more prevalent than previously thought in young adults.

However, an everyday fear, like a car accident, is known to trigger nightmares in the blind. A 2014 study published in the journal Sleep Medicine found blind people have four times more nightmares than those with vision. The study confirmed the nightmares were associated with emotions the blind experience while awake, such as the potential of embarrassing social situations like spilling a cup of coffee.

“I have found that it can depend on past trauma and, more common, personality type,” Loewenberg said. She added, the more sensitive people, those who avoid confrontation at all costs and who get let down very easily are more prone to nightmares, simply because life and choices are more difficult for them.”

The Dark Truth Behind The Nightmare

There a few common symbols in nightmares, such as death and murder. Death is typically about something changing or ending. When dreaming about death and children, they tend to occur when the child has reached a milestone such as learning how to walk, starting preschool, or learning how to drive. Loewenberg shares, “dreaming our child dies, for example, is typically caused by the difficult realization of how fast time is going and the young, needy child we love to cuddle and care for is dying off and a more independent child is emerging.”

Like death, murder is about an ending or change, but with a forced ending. We often tend to dream someone is trying to murder us when we are feeling pressured to put an end to or change something either about ourselves or our lives. Loewenberg uses the example of when a relationship has ended or when there’s a pregnancy; the pregnancy forces a dramatic change in our behavior.

However, the causation of nightmares can be tied to a difficult issue from long ago. One of Loewenberg’s clients had nightmares her husband would leave her in a dark, frightening parking lot at night, or that she was being attacked in a war. The client was in a happy marriage, financially secure, and healthy. “But it turns out, she was abused by both her parents as a child and made to feel unloved and unwanted. She never got help with her childhood trauma and learned how to process it so those feelings and memories were pushed down,” Loewenberg said.

Like the client, unresolved conflicts don’t go away, and shape our personality. Childhood trauma can lead to feelings of insecurity or constantly seeking validation, and feel like you’re constantly under attack if you receive criticism. This suggests our life experiences, both past and present, not only have an influence on our lives but in our dreams as well.

In order to have a better grasp of our dreams, we must begin to address the issues that plague us in the day. “We talk to ourselves all day long while awake. That doesn’t change when we sleep,” Loewenberg said. She advises, “the better conversation you have with yourself while awake will ensure better dreams at night.”

What Makes an Opioid Stronger or Weaker Than Morphine?


CDC classification of stronger, weaker, and morphine-equivalent opioids is confusing.

A February 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided updated estimates of prescription opioid analgesic use among adults ages 20 and over. The authors concluded that “the percentage who used only a ‘weaker-than-morphine-opioid’ in the past 30 days declined from 42.4% in 1999-2002 to 20% in 2011-2012, while the percentage who used a ‘stronger-than-morphine-opioid’ significantly increased from 17.0% in 1999-2002 to 37.0% in 2011-2012.”

Weaker-than-morphine opioids included codeine, dihydrocodeine, meperidine, pentazocine, propoxyphene, and tramadol; morphine-equivalent opioid analgesics included hydrocodone, morphine, and tapentadol; and stronger-than-morphine opioids included fentanyl, hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.

It is extremely concerning that a distinguished agency such as the CDC should use confusing terminology to classify the drugs whose use they reported.

It is true that the six drugs in the weaker-than-morphine category cannot provide pain relief of the magnitude provided by morphine. However, these drugs have very different pharmacologic characteristics. Furthermore, the fact that perhaps five of them are used less than they were a decade ago suggests that clinicians are making good decisions about the drugs to use for pain control.

Propoxyphene’s limitations led to its being removed from the market in November 2010. Meperidine has such significant limitations that guidelines warn clinicians to use it only for short procedures. It’s difficult to conceive of a reason for using pentazocine. The pain relief provided by codeine is due to the morphine to which it is metabolized; some individuals lack the enzyme required to bring about its metabolism and will not get pain relief from the drug, others metabolize it so rapidly that they can develop life-threatening respiratory depression.

In 2013, the FDA issued a warning that addressed safety concerns about codeine, particularly about its use in children. Tramadol has a different mechanism of action than does morphine; there is a ceiling to the pain relief that tramadol can provide. It makes no sense to put it in the same category as the other drugs.

It is puzzling that the authors put hydrocodone, morphine, and tapentadol in the “morphine-equivalent” category.

Hydrocodone may indeed be a “morphine equivalent” analgesic, but only in the last year has it been marketed without a non-opioid such as acetaminophen. Such a non-opioid limits the dose that can be administered. Furthermore, hydrocodone is not available for intravenous administration.

Tapentadol does not have the same mechanism of action as morphine; it has a dose ceiling whereas morphine does not. Therefore, it does not make sense to classify it as a morphine-equivalent analgesic.

The authors assert that fentanyl, hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone are “stronger” than morphine.

While it is true that a smaller dose of these drugs may be required to obtain the same analgesic response as can be obtained with morphine, that fact does not mean that they have greater effectiveness.

Morphine is a very effective analgesic and can be given in very large doses to control very severe pain in persons at the end of life. About 20 mg of oral oxycodone and 7.5 mg of oral hydromorphone are required to obtain the same amount of pain relief as is obtained with 30 mg of oral morphine. Are those the data the authors used to classify these drugs as stronger than morphine?

 There is a great deal of controversy and confusion about opioid analgesics and the role they should play in the control of persistent pain. Clarity about the meaning of terms and about opioid pharmacology is essential if there is to be a constructive dialog about the role of these drugs in pain control.

It is unfortunate that this report adds to the confusion by providing inappropriate classifications of analgesics. One might conclude from the data that there has been an increase in the use of appropriate analgesics (the pure opioid agonists) and a decrease in the use of inappropriate analgesics (drugs with limited efficacy and limiting side effects), but is that the message the authors meant to convey?

Take A Deep Breath To Good Health: 6 Conditions Yoga Can Treat


yoga
Yoga may not directly cure any diseases, but it can make a difference in treating certain conditions — from back pain to anxiety disorders. 

Yogis, hippies, and holistic medicine specialists have been touting the health benefits of yoga for years: it can improve your fitness level, fight cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and a variety of other disorders, they’ve argued.

But when it comes to the science backing up these claims, a lot is still left unresolved. For example, research has shown that yoga doesn’t necessarily help at all in treating asthma compared to other breathing exercises. And while yoga and mindfulness can improve quality of life, and reduce chemotherapy side effects, it hasn’t been proved to treat cancer in any way, according to the American Cancer Society.

That being said, let’s take a look at all the conditions or disorders yoga does treat — according to the scientific evidence that’s out there, at least. Maybe this way, you can give yoga a try, and better understand how it may benefit you.

Back Pain

Some 80 percent of adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and it’s something that can cause a lot of distress and distraction. But research has shown that yoga or simply stretching can alleviate chronic back pain. A 2011 study found that both yoga and stretching helped people with chronic pain — they were considered “safe options” for a condition that is normally treated with a regimen of painkillers. As long as you focus on yoga’s therapeutic effects (and don’t push yourself too much trying to perfect the crazy poses), yoga may relieve your chronic back pain.

Arthritis

Doctors still aren’t certain whether yoga directly improves arthritis; several studies have yielded different and conflicting results. However, it’s generally agreed that yoga can and does assist in reducing the stress and frustration caused by arthritis — and that incorporating yoga into an arthritis treatment program can only enhance it.

“While there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence of the benefits of yoga (just visit any yoga studio), to date only a handful of scientific studies have been conducted on persons with [arthritis],” Johns Hopkins University states. “These early studies have shown promising results with some improvement in joint health, physical functioning, and mental/emotional well-being… People with arthritis may also enjoy yoga more than traditional forms of exercise, and exercise enjoyment is an important predictor of adherence.”

Heart Disease

A recent study out of Erasmus University Medical Center found that yoga was beneficial for cardiovascular health. While yoga mainly works on flexibility and muscular strength, it’s not considered an aerobic exercise like running — so it’s an interesting finding.

The researchers note they’re not sure exactly how yoga improves cardiovascular health. “Also unclear, are the dose-response relationship and the relative costs and benefits of yoga when compared to exercise or medication,” Myriam Hunink, lead author of the study, said. “However, these results indicate that yoga is potentially very useful and in my view worth pursuing as a risk improvement practice.”

Indeed, yoga is unlike other types of physical activity in that it focuses more on slower poses, meditative breathing, and a calm approach. This trifecta can assist in reducing stress and lowering blood pressure, which can all have a good effect on your heart health.

Anxiety Disorders, Depression

You may enter a yoga class, your body tensed and tight from weeks and even months’ worth of accumulated stress. Our body holds emotion in it — and yoga can help unravel that. Just an hour’s worth of yoga can force you to leave all your stresses and anxiety behind, and this “yoga high” effect can last for hours afterwards.

Though there aren’t too many studies on this yet, one study found that “several studies of exercise and yoga have demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness superior to no-activity controls and comparable with established depression and anxiety treatments” such as cognitive behavioral therapy, sertraline, and imipramine. “High-energy exercise and frequent aerobic exercise reduce symptoms of depression more than less frequent or low-energy exercise. For anxiety disorders, exercise and yoga have also shown positive effects.”

Chemotherapy Side Effects

While there is no evidence that yoga can fight cancer, or lower a person’s risk, it has been shown to reduce inflammation and alleviate chemotherapy side effects in cancer patients.

In one recent study, scientists gathered breast cancer patients who were suffering from debilitating chemotherapy effects, and placed them in 90-minute yoga classes twice a week. They found the cancer patients had more energy, less fatigue, and slept much better than the patients who didn’t do yoga.

Sleep Disorders

This brings us to yoga and sleep: like most exercise, yoga can improve your sleeping patternsand fight insomnia. Stress and the “buzz” of external anxieties — and yes, a sedentary lifestyle — can keep us lying awake at night. Learning to breathe more slowly and deeply in yoga classes can ultimately improve our sleep. A 2004 study found that yoga treated chronic insomnia in patients

Night Vision Enhanced To Superhuman Levels Using Common Cancer Drug, Eye Drops


Chlorin e6, or Ce6, is a common component in cancer therapy and has recently been used in treating night blindness. Science for the Masses, a research group of curious “BioHackers,” were interested in what the chemical could do for those who already had perfect vision. The result was astounding and could affect the way we currently approach night vision enhancement.

Ce6 is a compound found mainly in deep-sea fish and sometimes used as a photosensitizer in laser-assisted cancer treatment. Ce6’s sensitivity to light has been observed to help thosewho are visually impaired; however, its effects on perfectly healthy human vision remained untested. That is, until about a month ago when Gabriel Licina, Jeffrey Tibbetts, and their science-hungry teammates decided to create their own night-vision experiment.

To start their venture into super-human abilities, the team first procured the Ce6 and mixed it into a saline solution which was then deposited into Licina’s eye. “It doesn’t really feel like anything,” Licina told Medical Daily. “It felt like eye drops.”

According to the paper on the experiment, afterward Licina was fitted with black sclera lenses to help reduce the amount of potential light from entering his eye. He also wore black sunglasses at all times, except during the vision experiments. After letting the solution set in his eye for about two hours, Licina and four controls went into a dark field to test how well the solution enhanced his eyesight in pitch blackness. As expected, Licina’s eyesight was significantly better than those who did not receive the solution. When asked to point out people standing in the dark woods, Licina was correct 100 percent of the time, while the controls only answered correctly about a third of the time, Mic reported.

“It’s actually really subtle … like dark becomes dim, nothing crazy like Riddick. Just like, ‘Oh, you can see better,” Licina said.

putting in the solutionAfter letting the solution set in his eye for about two hours, Licina and four controls went into a dark field to test how well the solution enhanced his eyesight in pitch blackness. Photo courtesy of Science of the Masses

Although the team waited two hours before beginning experiments, according to Licina’s paper, the effects could be felt within one hour and lasted for “many hours” after the application. The sunglasses were again put on Licina, who wore them until he awoke in the morning. As of 20 days following the experiments, Licina reported no residual effects.

While there were no major side effects reported in Science for the Masses’ experiment, the group used large precaution with their experimentation, and for a good reason. Ce6 by nature is meant to create free radicals when given the right wavelength, which in the right instances can destroy cancer and in the wrong can cause bodily damage. The small doses used by the team, however, are highly unlikely to cause damage.

The results from this initial experiment were exciting, but Science for the Masses explained that much more testing will need to be done in order to truly prove Ce6’s night vision enhancing abilities. The next step for the team is to accurately measure the changes to the eye and create concrete scientific evidence to their findings.

“The first thing was just getting it out there,” Licina said. “It’s just another piece in the big understanding of how things work.”

Source: Licina G, Tibbetts J. A Review on Night Enhancement Eyedrops Using Chlorin e6.Science for the Masses. 2015.

Diabetes in Midlife Linked to Faster Cognitive Decline


Diabetes in midlife is associated with an increased rate of cognitive decline over a 20-year follow-up, a new study shows.

And while patients with diabetes at midlife had a steeper cognitive decline than patients without diabetes, greater loss of cognitive function was also seen for patients who had prediabetes with only modestly raised blood glucose levels.

“These data suggest that primary prevention of diabetes or glucose control in midlife may protect against later-life cognitive decline,” the authors conclude.

The effect was greater for patients with a longer duration of diabetes, highlighting the importance of intervention as early as possible.
“The implication is that we have seen over a 20-year period what happens before the development of dementia,” coauthor A. Richey Sharrett, MD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, commented to Medscape Medical News. “This gives patients and care providers a window of opportunity to do something about it.”

Diabetes can be prevented in some cases or at least delayed by lifestyle improvements, and when diabetes has already occurred, it can be controlled, he added. “Our results give additional reasons to do this. People dread dementia more than anything else. The idea that dementia can be delayed or reduced is a strong motivator. This is a pretty good reason to keep blood sugar in control.”

The findings are published online December 2 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

A “Window of Opportunity”

The study, lead by Andreea M. Rawlings, MS, also at Johns Hopkins, analyzed data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which prospectively followed 15,792 middle-aged adults from 1987 to 2013.
The current analysis is based on 13,351 participants (mean age at baseline, 57 years); 56% were female, 24% were black, and 13.3% had diabetes.

Cognitive testing was performed at visit 2 (1990 to 1992), visit 4 (1996 to 1998), and visit 5 (2011 to 2013) and involved three tests: the Delayed Word Recall Test, the Digit Symbol Substitution Test of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised, and the Word Fluency Test. From these, a global cognitive Z score was calculated.

Blood glucose levels were calculated as hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) values from stored whole blood samples.

Of the initial cohort, 17% did not attend any follow-up visits, leaving 10,720 individuals who attended visit 4 and 5987 who attended visit 5. The median duration of follow-up was 19.3 years.

Results showed that individuals with diabetes had a 19% greater decline in global cognitive Z score: a decline of 0.92 vs 0.78 for persons without diabetes (a difference of 0.15).

The authors estimate that this difference in Z score is equivalent to an age difference of 4.9 years older or the difference in cognitive performance of a 60-year-old person vs a 55-year-old person if they are otherwise similar.

Persons without diagnosed diabetes but with an HbA1c level of 5.7% to 6.4% at baseline also had significantly more cognitive decline over 20 years (adjusted difference in global cognitive Z score of –0.07) than persons with an HbA1c level less than 5.7%.

The greatest decline was found in patients with poorly controlled diabetes, defined as an HbA1c level of at least 7.0%, who had a larger decline than those with better controlled diabetes with an HbA1c level less than 7.0% (adjusted global Z score difference, –0.16; P = .071).

Diabetes duration seemed to be a factor, with a greater cognitive decline late in life for participants with longer-duration diabetes.

“Critical Aspect of Successful Aging”

“Maintaining cognitive function is a critical aspect of successful aging and ensuring a high quality of life,” the authors write. “Diabetes and glucose control are potentially modifiable and may offer an important opportunity for the prevention of cognitive decline, thus delaying progression to dementia. At the population level, delaying the onset of dementia by even a couple of years could reduce its prevalence by more than 20% over the next 30 years.”

Dr Sharrett explained to Medscape Medical News that other studies have linked diabetes to dementia but that this is the largest, with the longest follow-up.

“But what really sets it apart from other studies is that we measured change in cognition over time in diabetics and nondiabetics using the same tests in a standardized way,” he said. “This gives us assurance that our findings are real. In fact, I would say we are sure they are conservative.”

The study did not address possible mechanisms, although exclusion of persons who had a stroke after baseline attenuated the results slightly, suggesting that stroke partially mediates the association.

Dr Sharrett suggested that elevated blood glucose could affect cognition in different ways. While there is obviously a link between diabetes and vascular disease that could lead to vascular dementia, he believes that raised blood glucose levels may also affect the Alzheimer’s type of dementia.

“There is substantial controversy as to whether diabetes affects β-amyloid deposits or tangles that are the classical hallmarks of Alzheimer’s dementia,” he commented.

“It is difficult to ascertain what the cause of dementia is,” he added. “Postmortem studies have shown that both Alzheimer’s and vascular pathology can often be present. While it is often thought that most dementia is related to Alzheimer’s disease and there has been disappointment that we haven’t been able to delay or prevent this yet, there is a sizable portion of dementia that is related to the vasculature and we can do something about that.”

“Our observations that diabetes duration and even prediabetes [are] associated with faster cognitive decline emphasize the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle as soon as possible,” he concluded.

The Past, Present, and Future of the Colonoscopy


Only increasing screening awareness will make a difference in outcomes.

March was National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, which has been a great opportunity for gastroenterologists to increase awareness about colon cancer. This is an important issue to highlight because colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. It is estimated that every year about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer and another 50,000 will die from the disease.

These numbers are too high, as colon cancer can be highly preventable with the appropriate screening measures. I know from patients I see in my practice at Montefiore Medical Center that many patients are unaware of their options for screening and have little insight that this disease can be avoided. I have diagnosed colon cancer far more often than I would have liked in patients where I wonder if they had been screened earlier, the disease could have been prevented.

One of the biggest struggles as we try to prevent colon cancer involves lagging rates of patients being screened for this disease. While the percentage of patients undergoing screening has slowly increased through the years, in 2010 it was estimated that only 60 percent of those eligible for screening underwent screening tests for colon cancer. Underuse of proven screening tests is especially pronounced among Medicare beneficiaries.

One in three adults — almost 23 million Americans between 50 and 75 years old — are not getting tested for colon cancer as recommended. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the colon cancer death rate in this country could be cut in half if Americans followed recommended screening guidelines.

How can we make an impact on screening rates? Public health awareness campaigns serve an important role. This includes public education campaigns with advertisements on billboards, public spaces, or public transportation. For example, on March 31, along with our gastroenterology department, Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care will host the Rollin’ Colon, a 20-foot inflatable colon for community members to walk through and learn about polyps and the importance of regular screenings.

There are many opportunities for events such as footraces, walks, or health fairs to raise awareness. In major urban centers such as New York City, colon cancer screening information has been made available through 311, the same number that a city resident would call with questions about a parking meter malfunction or pothole repair.

Aside from general efforts at raising public awareness, one of the key ways to increase the number of patients getting screened is a partnership between the gastroenterologist and primary care practitioner to educate and encourage patients to pursue colon cancer screening. Primary care is the front line for patient care and these practitioners are in frequent contact with patients dealing with urgent or chronic care needs along with discussing appropriate screening exams.

Gastroenterologists can partner with their primary care colleagues in several ways to help educate their patients about colon cancer screening.

First, gastroenterologists can provide educational opportunities with lunch talks or grand rounds to educate primary care practitioners on up to date screening and surveillance recommendations. Additionally, gastroenterologists should help provide easy and seamless ways for the primary care practitioners to refer patients for consultation and evaluation without prolonged wait times for appointments.

Gastroenterologists can also provide many resources for their primary care colleagues to help with patient education by directing them to many free online resources available through the prestigious societies in the U.S. such as the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and theAmerican Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), as well as cancer societies including ACS and other national groups such as the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT). These include handouts in various languages, graphics and images to post in the clinician’s office, as well as videos and online interactive resources for patients to help educate them about colon cancer screening.

Another way healthcare practitioners can collaborate to improve colon cancer screening is to participate in direct colonoscopy referral programs. For example, Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care encourages the use of direct referrals for colonoscopies. Primary care practitioners within the Montefiore Health System can click a button in their electronic medical records to refer a patient for a screening colonoscopy exam, should the person fulfill specific criteria.

These programs allow primary care practitioners to directly refer a patient for a screening colonoscopy exam if the patient fulfills specific criteria without having to be seen in the office first by a gastroenterologist. Patients with few or no comorbidities can get fast-tracked for screening colonoscopy exams while enthusiasm and willingness are still fresh, as opposed to waiting several months for an office visit with a gastroenterologist and then scheduling the exam.

 Some institutions have noted that prior to their instituting direct colonoscopy referral programs the wait time for screening colonoscopy could be up to 6 months. However, after these programs were set up, wait times were decreased to 1-2 months. Giving primary care practitioners direct power to facilitate their patient’s screening keeps the primary care practitioners engaged and motivated to get their patients screened for colon cancer.

The ACS and the NCCRT created an ambitious public health initiative energized by the call of “80% by 2018” which is a goal set to screen 80% of eligible adults in the U.S. for colon cancer by 2018. Many organizations including the ACG, AGA and ASGE have committed to this pledge, but the logistics for accomplishing this goal will hinge on the gastroenterologist’s partnership with primary care. Working with primary care is one of the most important things that gastroenterologists can do to increase rates of colon cancer screening in hopes of effectively eliminating this highly preventable disease.

Sugar Addiction Doesn’t Just Lead To Obesity; It Affects Your Heart Health, Brain Function, And Even Your Sex Life


sugar high
The adverse effects a high-sugar diet can have on the human body include more than just obesity. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

In moderation, sugar is essential for a healthy body. Millions of years ago our ancestors relied on sugar-rich fruit for survival. Not only did the nutrient give them enormous amounts of energy, but it also helped in the storage of fat — something which could be the difference between life and death during hard times. Those who didn’t consume enough sugar had neither the energy nor physical capabilities to reproduce and therefore were unable to pass on their genes.

As a result, the human brain evolved an interesting survival mechanism: a near-insatiable desire for sweetness. Sadly, in modern days this evolutionary edge often does more harm than help. Many, especially in the United States, consume far more sugar than is needed for survival. While weight gain and teeth decay may be the most obvious consequences of excessive sugar consumption, there are many other “hidden” effects of consuming too much of the sweet stuff.

Heart

When consumed, sugar enters into the blood stream, and at high levels blood sugar has adverse effects on our most important organ: the heart. In a 2013 study published in theJournal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that large amounts of sugar, particularly glucose, stressed out the heart and decreased the muscle’s function. If left to progress for too long, this eventually leads to heart failure, The Cleveland Clinic reported.

High amounts of fructose, another type of sugar commonly found in artificially sweetened food, lowers levels of “good” cholesterol, Women’s Health reported. This can trigger the production of a certain type of fat known as triglycerides, which travel from the liver to the arteries and increase your risk for experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

Brain

A 2002 study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, stumbled upon a frightening link between excessive sugar consumption and brain health. The study found that diets high in sugar affected the neuronal and behavioral plasticity associated with a chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This leads to decreased function in the ability to efficiently form new memories and store new information. Other research has also linked low levels of this chemical to depression and dementia.

Kidneys

The kidneys play an important role in filtering our blood, so high levels of sugar in the blood can cause excessive work and subsequent damage. High amounts of blood sugar are known to be one of the main contributors to type 2 diabetes. Many years of excessive sugar filtration seriously compromise kidney function and this may lead to waste products leaking into the body.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the eventual result of decreasd kidney function is kidney disease. If left untreated, the kidney will completely fail. Individuals with kidney failure need to receive an organ transplant or have their blood filtered by a machine via dialysis.

SUGAR_PREVENTION_finalEating too much sugar can affect many parts of the human body. Photo courtesy of Tantika Tivorat viaPrevention

Sexual Health

Because high amounts of sugar in a diet can affect blood flow, excessive sugar consumption is also linked to erectile dysfunction in men. A 2005 study from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that one particular sugar interferes with the chain of events needed to achieve and maintain an erection. The blood sugar, O-GlcNAc, is present in elevated levels in those with diabetes and has been observed to interrupt the enzyme responsible for a successful erection, News Medical reported.

A 2007 study also found that consuming too much fructose and glucose could turn off the gene that regulates the levels of active sex testosterone and estrogen, two important human sex hormones.

Joints

Arthritis is a term used to describe various types of joint pain and inflammation. According to a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in elevated levels processed sugar can increase the inflammation which causes joint pain. For this reason, those who suffer from chronic arthritis are advised to keep their sugar consumption low, although individuals of various health descriptions will benefit from a low sugar diet.

Skin

Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist and nutritionist, told The Huffington Post that large consumptions of sugar are “a burst of inflammation throughout the body.” Just as the inflammation caused by sugar can lead to joint pain, this same inflammation breaks down the collagen and elastin in our skin.

The unfortunate result of this is an acceleration of the aging process and increased sagging skin and wrinkles. Those with high sugar diets are also more likely to develop insulin resistance, which can cause excess hair growth and dark patches to appear on the neck and in body creases.

Liver

The liver is not immune to the effects of excessive sugar consumption. High sugar diets lead to fat build-up in the liver which, in some cases, causes the liver to become inflamed. If left untreated, this will eventually have the same effect on the liver as excess alcohol consumption, which leads to the formation of scar tissue, a condition known as cirrhosis.

“The most common cause of liver cirrhosis is alcohol, and after that it’s fatty liver disease, from bad diet,” Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a London cardiologist and member of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges obesity group told The Daily Mail.

This Is What The Most Beautiful Man And Woman Look Like, According To Science


Most beautiful people in the UK
The most beautiful people (in the UK) look like the pair above. Dr. Chris Solomon

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but humans do share some universal preferences when it comes to finding members of the opposite sex attractive. For example, tall, muscular men — regardless of race or ethnicity — tend to be rated at a higher level of attractiveness; and women are often labelled attractive based on how big their eyes, how tiny their waists, and how full their breasts and lips are.

One academic from the U.K., Dr. Chris Solomon of the University of Kent (who also happens to be an expert in visual profiling), decided to tackle what it means to be an “ideal beauty.” He wanted to make a visual guide to the most beautiful man and woman in the world, but I think it’s safe to say that his results probably just convey the most beautiful man and woman in the UK.

Using technology that is normally used to create photo compilations of wanted criminals, Solomon designed 100 different facial profiles based on the results of a survey that asked people to rate the most attractive features in a person: such as nose size, full lips, or hair style/color. People were then asked to rate each of these 100 faces. For the lady, the ideal face is an Emma Stone or Natalie Portman look-a-like with thick, striking eyebrows, a heart-shaped head and lush lips. And for the male, a strong jawline, rustic stubble, and dark hair seem to epitomize beauty.

The study, Solomon says, shows “some interesting results about what Brits consider to be the epitome of beauty.”

Of course, the two chosen samples are both white and Caucasian-looking. It’s likely this is the case because both the survey and the profiling was done in the UK, which isn’t too racially or ethnically diverse compared to other parts of the globe. “It’s important to note that these are the idealized faces according to those living in the UK, so a study in Asia or Africa, for example, would no doubt have different results,” Solomon said.

Physical attraction is complicated and varies across all human cultures, eras, and individual preferences (hence the fact that beauty is subjective). Some things are pretty universal: Scientifically, women tend to prefer masculine features and men who are taller than they are (usually a symbol of high testosterone, strength and sexual prowess); men tend to be attracted to women who are shorter than they are, have fuller lips, symmetrical faces, and large breasts (symbols of high estrogen levels and thus high fertility). Scientifically and evolutionarily, we prefer people whose features promise us reliable reproduction options: healthy, attractive, and strong children.

But beauty goes beyond reproduction. Beauty is also about the way a person thinks, the way they walk, and the way they interact with others. For a better, more realistic and diverse view on beauty around the globe, check out photographer Mihaela Noroc’s series called “The Atlas Of Beauty.” After travelling to 37 countries with very limited funds, Noroc photographed hundreds of women on all the different continents, hoping to give people a better view as to how beauty is perceived across cultural borders.

Tibetan Plateau, ChinaTibetan Plateau, China Mihaela Noroc

RomaniaRomania Mihaela Noroc

Colombian woman in EcuadorColombian woman in Ecuador Mihaela Noroc

EthiopiaEthiopia Mihaela Noroc

“Now I can say that beauty is everywhere, and it’s not a matter of cosmetics or sizes but more about being yourself,” Noroc said about her project.

Indeed, while Solomon’s profiles may be attractive, beauty is a wide spectrum of ideals rather than one limited ideal.

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