Author: Editor - Health News

Evolution Not Over for Humans

TUESDAY, Sept. 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Researchers report they have spotted signs that human DNA is still evolving. “It’s a subtle signal, but we find genetic evidence that natural selection is happening in modern human populations,” said study co-author Joseph Pickrell, an evolutionary geneticist at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center. Pickrell and his colleagues explored the genomes of 60,000 people of European descent from California and 150,000 from Great Britain. The researchers looked for signs of mutations that are linked to longer life spans. The researchers found that a genetic variation linked to Alzheimer’s appears to fading in older women, possibly because women who have it tend to die earlier. They also found similar evidence that a genetic variation linked to heavy smoking in men is becoming less common. “It may be that men who don’t carry these harmful mutations can have more children, or that men and women who live longer can help with their grandchildren, improving their chance of survival,” said co-author Molly Przeworski in a Columbia news release. She is an evolutionary biologist at the university. There’s also evidence that genetic variations linked to heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and asthma may be on the decline, the researchers added. “The environment is constantly changing,” said study co-author Hakhamenesh Mostafavi, a Columbia graduate student. “A trait associated with a longer life span in...

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Severe Psoriasis Linked to Higher Risk of Earlier Death

TUESDAY, Sept. 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) — People with severe cases of the skin disease psoriasis appeared to have almost double the risk of dying during a four-year study than people without the condition, research suggests. But the increased death rate was only seen in those with psoriasis affecting more than 10 percent of their body surface area. For those with less-severe disease, the risk of dying early was actually less than it was for people who didn’t have the skin condition. Dr. Robert Kirsner, chair of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that over the last decade or so, doctors have learned that people with psoriasis tend to be less healthy. “They are overweight, have diabetes mellitus, smoke, drink and have high cholesterol,” he said. “These factors — as well as the presence of psoriasis itself — increases their risk for vascular disease and other poor medical outcomes. As a result, they more often have heart attacks and strokes and more often die,” Kirsner said. He wasn’t involved in the current research, but did review the findings. Kirsner and study author Dr. Megan Noe suggested that people with severe psoriasis talk with their doctor about treating their psoriasis and controlling risk factors that may contribute to a higher risk of early death, such as smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes. It’s also important to...

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Later School Bell Could Boost U.S. Economy by $83 Billion Over Decade

TUESDAY, Sept. 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Delaying the start of the school day until 8:30 a.m. and letting students sleep a little longer would contribute $83 billion to the U.S. economy within 10 years, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation. It’s estimated that 82 percent of middle and high schools begin earlier than 8:30 a.m., with an average start time of 8:03 a.m., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pediatric health experts argue that school days should start at 8:30 a.m. or later due to teen-wake schedules, the study authors explained. Up to 60 percent of teens don’t get the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. Poor sleep among young people has been associated with worse mental and physical health, problems with concentration and academic success, and thoughts of suicide, the researchers said. Taking a long-term financial approach to the issue, the RAND researchers analyzed the economic implications — such as transportation costs — of a later school start time in 47 states. The investigators found that within two years, the U.S. economy would gain $8.6 billion. After 15 years, a later school start time would add $140 billion. “For years we’ve talked about inadequate sleep among teenagers being a public health epidemic, but the economic implications are just as significant,” said Wendy Troxel. She is a senior...

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Drug Helped Protect Gay Teen Males From HIV

TUESDAY, Sept. 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) — A group of gay and bisexual teenage males safely used a medication that prevents HIV infection, though some failed to follow the drug regimen fully and became infected, researchers report. People at risk for becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS can dramatically lower their risk of infection by taking the drug Truvada in what is known as the PrEP regimen, but its use is only approved for adults. “Several studies have shown that daily oral PrEP is effective in preventing HIV among people at high risk of becoming infected, but none of them included adolescents under age 18,” explained study author Dr. Bill Kapogiannis, of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Our study suggests that this therapy can safely reduce HIV risk for those under 18.” For the study, researchers led by Sybil Hosek, of the Cook County Health & Hospitals System’s Stroger Hospital in Chicago, recruited 78 gay and bisexual males aged 15 to 17. The average age of the study participants was 16. Almost 30 percent were black, 14 percent were white, and 21 percent were Hispanic. All were HIV-negative but considered at high risk for infection. The participants agreed to take Truvada and received daily doses for 48 weeks. Over that time, 12 developed sexually transmitted diseases and three participants developed HIV infections....

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Is Dementia Declining Among Older Americans?

TUESDAY, Sept. 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Here’s some good news for America’s seniors: The rates of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have dropped significantly over the last decade or so, a new study shows. The analysis of nearly 1,400 men and women 70 and older found that the number of dementia cases dropped from 73 among those born before 1920 to just 3 among those born after 1929. The reasons for the decline aren’t clear, researchers said. But one factor stands out: The rates of stroke and heart attack decreased across generations. The rate of diabetes, however, has increased. “It may be that we are seeing the benefits of years of success in cardiovascular disease prevention,” said lead researcher Carol Derby, a research professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. That doesn’t appear to account for all of the decrease in dementia rates, however. Although the rate of dementia has declined, the actual number of people with dementia is expected to increase dramatically as the population bubble caused by baby boomers ages, Derby said. “Whether the changes of the rate of the onset of dementia is going to offset that population shift remains to be seen,” she said. Around the world, more than 47 million people suffer from dementia, and 7 million new cases develop each year, according to the researchers. The...

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