HEALTH Science

Adderall doesn’t help as expected

Adderall does not help users who are not diagnosed with ADHD, according to Healthline. It is well-known that college demands  can be high. Loss of sleep and heavy workloads cause a lot of problems and force many students to look for assistance in managing their workloads.

In order to deal with this problem, many otherwise-healthy young people turn to medications usually reserved for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder. It is also usually diagnosed in children, it can last well through adolescence and into adulthood. However, just how helpful and healthy are these ADHD “study drugs” for people who don’t even have the condition to begin with?

A new study by researchers from the University of Rhode Island (URI) and Brown University suggests that these medications like Adderall might not help a healthy person’s cognition at all. In fact, the findings suggest that these drugs could even impair a young person’s memory.

Study co-authors Lisa Weyandt, PhD, professor of psychology at URI, and Tara White, PhD, assistant professor of research in behavioral and social sciences at Brown, studied 13 student volunteers from both universities, eliminating from the pool those who had already taken ADHD medications.

This drug has been found to improve a student’s mood and focus, but this didn’t lead to an improvement in performance or the ability to perform well on tests for short-term memory and reading comprehension, for instance.

“The most surprising finding of our research was the drug effects impairnent on working memory and no effects on reading comprehension and fluency,” said Weyandt. “We hypothesized that the drug would enhance neurocognition.”

HEALTH Science

Epigenetics plays key role in heart failure

Epigenetic changes in the heart can lead to congestive heart failure, according to Science Daily. Congestive heart failure is a terminal disease that affects as many as 6 million Americans.

Unfortunately, its management is limited to symptomatic treatments because the causal mechanisms of congestive heart failure, including for its most common form, ischemic cardiomyopathy are not known. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is the result of restricted blood flow in coronary arteries, and It happens occurs during a heart attack, this starving the  the heart muscle of oxygen.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have now described the underlying mechanism that reprograms the hearts of patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy, a process that differs from patients with other forms of heart failure, collectively known as dilated (non-ischemic) cardiomyopathies. This actually leads the way toward future personalized care for ischemic cardiomyopathy.

This study used heart tissue samples collected at UAB during surgeries to implant small mechanical pumps alongside the hearts of patients with end-stage heart failure that assist in the pumping of blood. In what was a routine part of this procedure, a small piece of heart tissue was removed and discarded as medical waste. The research team then acquired these samples from the left ventricles of five ischemic cardiomyopathy patients and six non-ischemic cardiomyopathy patients, all men between ages 49 and 70.

The research team, led by Adam Wende, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Pathology, found that epigenetic changes in ischemic cardiomyopathy hearts likely reprogram the heart’s metabolism and alter cellular remodeling in the heart. Epigenetics is a field that describes molecular modifications known to alter the activity of genes without changing their DNA sequence.



Are probiotics really safe?

Probiotics may not be as safe as believed, according to Health Line. Probiotics are usually known as “friendly bacteria.” They are found in certain foods and supplements, and these live microorganisms are similar to the beneficial microbes that naturally colonize the human body.

Yogurt and other probiotic products have actually existed for millennia, and the market is rapidly growing for probiotic supplements and commercially produced probiotic foods.

It is interesting to note that many of these products also contain prebiotics, or ingredients that promote the growth or activity of beneficial microbes. Synbiotics contain both probiotic and prebiotic components.

Proponents of probiotic and prebiotic products often suggest that they can help prevent or help contain a large amount of health problems, from irritable bowel syndrome to yeast infections and more.

Dr. Shira Doron, an associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and attending physician at Tufts Medical Center, has helped to conduct multiple studies on probiotic products.

She was not surprised by one study’s findings. “This was a well-done, systematic review demonstrating something that those of us who do research in the field already know:  that the vast majority of published studies do not adequately evaluate the safety of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics,” Doron said.

“The biggest issue is that without that data, the FDA has been reluctant to allow government-funded clinical trials,” she added.

This means that most research on probiotics is done overseas or is funded by manufacturers of probiotic products.  When research is conducted in other countries, it raises questions and concerns “over the ability to extrapolate results to U.S. patients,” Doron said.


Why aren’t we using Biosimilar drugs?

Biomedical drugs could be an alternative to prescription drugs, according to Health Line. It’s important to know that one of the most significant but perhaps less understood breakthroughs in healthcare in recent years has been the availability of biosimilars.

Biosimilars are drugs that are highly similar to the biologic drugs on which biosimilars are based.  When a biopharmaceutical company’s patent or exclusivity protection for its biologic drug expires in the United States, biosimilars that have actually received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval can then enter the marketplace and compete with that existing drug.

Medical expery say that biosimilars, which have to go go through a thorough and complicated  review by the FDA, provide the very same benefits for patients as the original drug and demonstrate no clinically meaningful difference from the existing biological drug in terms of safety, potency or purity of content.

In an long and thorough review of science literature evaluating patients who switched from regular prescription medicines to biosimilars, Hillel Cohen, executive director of scientific affairs at Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals (a Novartis company), and her fellow researchers looked at 90 biosimilar studies that enrolled 14,225 patients.

Thelie results showed that safety concerns and efficacy were not changed after patients made the switch.

“Biosimilars offer affordable options that increase access with no compromise in safety, efficacy, or quality,” Gillian Woollett, MA, DPhil, a senior vice president at Avalere Health and research scientist in immunology who’s worked for many years in the biotech industry says. These drugs however are not mentioned by doctors and aren’t promoted. That probably should change.


Binge drinking can cause stroke

Binge drinking in young adults can cause issues such as stroke and heart risk, according to Science Daily. Mariann Piano, senior associate dean of research at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. Her research found that young adults who frequently binge drink are more likely to have specific cardiovascular risk factors such as higher blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar at a younger age than non-binge drinkers.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the research team found that binge drinking by young men was associated with higher systolic blood pressure (the force on blood vessels when the heart beats) and that frequent binge drinking had additional effects on cholesterol, both factors also contributing to cardiovascular disease. Female binge drinkers had higher blood glucose levels than abstainers.

While reporting her findings, Piano said that young adults need to know that repeated binge drinking may have consequences beyond the immediate, that risk extends beyond simply “poor school performance and increased risk for accidental injury,” she said.

Current evidence suggests that the development of high blood pressure before age 45 is associated with significantly higher risks of cardiovascular death later in life. The study also found differences in how binge drinking affected young men and women. Young men who reported that they repeatedly binge drink had higher systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol while young women who repeatedly binge drink had higher blood sugar levels compared to non-binge drinkers.

Binge drinking rates are at an all-time high, Piano said. As many as one in five college-age students reports three or more binge drinking episodes per 2 weeks.


Scooters may actually be bad for your health

Scooters can be bad to your health, according to Health Line. People who live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington DC, are using scooters more often than before and it is becoming a popular new way of transportation.

Very popular in pedestrian-heavy cities, motorized scooters are the latest big fad to hit the microtransit movement. It’s no wonder that city dwellers have fallen for these motorized scooters. They’re fun, easy to operate and they’re also very cheap. Most vehicles cost $1 to be unlocked, and then run about 10 to 15 cents per minute.

All that one has to do is download an app to locate the nearest scooter and unlock it for use. The best partof this is that when riders reach their destination, they can simply log out with the app and leave the scooter wherever they please.

This scooter-sharing business is comparable to the shared bike systems popular in major cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago, with a few key differences.

First of all, e-scooters are motorized and can reach a speed of 15 miles per hour. You have to pedal to get somewhere on a bike, but with an e-scooter you can simply press a throttle button to move forward.

Some medical experts however claim that the motorized scooters are just as dangerous as riding a moped. “Drivers can’t see them very well because of their low profile and small size,” Dr. Barbara Bergin, an orthopedic surgeon with Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates, told Health Line. “They creep up along cars on the shoulder, preferring this to taking their place in the line of traffic. They don’t make much noise, so they often surprise drivers.


Induction of labor at 39 weeks reduces risk

Induction of labor at 39 weeks can help with risks associated with c-sections, according to NBC News. Inducing healthy first-time mothers at 39 weeks of pregnancy instead of waiting for them to go into labor on their own, does not raise any risks associated with C-sections, it actually lowers it.

The new findings go contrary to a long-held belief, based on prior studies, that induction can increase the likelihood of a C-section surgery that carries a higher risk of infection or postpartum hemorrhaging than natural births.

For this trial, that is planned to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, researchers tracked more than 6,100 women in 41 sites across the country. Half of them were given elective, non-medically necessary inductions in the week before their due dates, while the others waited for labor to start without any intervention.

Women that were induced at 39 weeks had lower rates of maternal and fetal complications, including fewer C-sections (19 percent vs. 22 percent); lower frequent preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous pregnancy condition, and hypertension (9 percent vs. 14 percent); and fewer newborns who needed respiratory support (3 percent vs. 4 percent).

The belief that inductions can lead to C-sections was based on past data comparing a woman who goes into labor spontaneously with a woman who is induced at the same point in her pregnancy. The problem is that this could be before the 39th week, when complications had developed, or when the woman had been overdue and had gone past 40 weeks, said the study’s principal investigator, Dr. William Grobman, a professor of OB-GYN at Northwestern Medicine.


Too much sleep is bad for you

Sleeping for longer periods of time is potentially more unhealthy than sleeping for too little, according to Medical News Today.

Smeeping longer or less than 7–8 hours per night could be bad for your health, with too much sleep actually being worse than too little, say researchers. An analysis of data taken from many different studies covering more than 3 million people found that self-reported sleep duration outside of 7–8 hours each night is linked to a higher risk of death and cardiovascular diseases.

This study was done by scientists at Keele University in the United Kingdom, and had now been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The researchers found a “J-shaped” relationship between the duration of sleep and deaths. The same relationship was observed with incidents of cardiovascular illness.

The authors stated that their findings suggest that sleeping for more than 7–8 hours “may be associated with a moderate degree of harm” compared with sleeping less. The J-shaped relationship showed that the size of the risk rose in line with a greater duration of sleep. Sleeping for 9 hours, for example, carried a 14 percent higher risk of death, while 10-hour sleeps carried a 30 percent higher risk.

Their results also showed that poor-quality sleep was linked to a 44 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease. “Our study,” said lead study author Dr. Chun Shing Kwok, a clinical lecturer in cardiology at Keele University, “has an important public health impact in that it shows that excessive sleep is a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk.”


The cause of morning sickness has been found

Morning sickness has been considered a condition with no known actual cause, but not anymore, according to the New York Times.

Scientists wondered about why we didn’t know more about what actually causes this condition. With millions of data being acquired annually, it seemed as if the cause was about to be discovered, but it wasn’t.

The so-called morning sickness affects as many as 4 our of 5 women. Until recently, researchers had only vague hypotheses to explain it, but recent studies point to a possible cause and could even open new possibilities to treatment.

Nausea and vomiting are most common in the first trimester but can last until the baby is born, ranging from mild nausea to its most severe form: hyperemesis gravidarum, characterized by relentless vomiting that can lead to malnutrition, weight loss and electrolyte imbalance that endanger the health of both the mother and fetus. Hyperemesis gravidarum is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization in pregnancy, second only to preterm labor, and occurs in somewhere between 0.3 and 3 pregnancies.

Marlena Fejzo, a geneticist at U.C.L.A. and the University of Southern California who studies hyperemesis gravidarum, had a severe form of the condition and despite multiple medications, IV fluids and a feeding tube, miscarried at the beginning of the second trimester. One specific study led by Dr. Fejzo showed that hyperemesis runs in families, with sisters of women with the condition having a 17-fold increased risk of experiencing it themselves. Less severe nausea and vomiting has also been shown to be strongly heritable.

These recent discoveries also fit in with an existing hypothesis that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy may actually be part of an evolutionary strategy to protect developing fetuses by reducing the chance that their mothers will consume foods containing toxins or pathogens during a critical time of organ development. “Maybe it’s an evolutionary trade-off that we keep a very, very low-risk diet in the first trimester of pregnancy,” said Dr. Stephen O’Rahilly.


A protein controls a type of glaucoma

Exfoliation glaucoma is a rare type of glaucoma, and now scientists have evidence that that it can be controlled by a specific protein, according to Life Sciences.

The National Eye Institute granted $440,000  to Dr. Yutao Liu and his colleagues, so that they could further explore the relationship between the gene and proteins. Liu’s ultimate goal is to find a better treatment for this particular type of glaucoma, which is more aggressive and more difficult to treat than the primary open angle glaucoma, says Liu, vision scientist and human geneticist in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

“Variants of this gene are associated with the disease in every population we have studied worldwide,” Liu says. He adds that his team found out that the expression of LOXL1 elevated consistently early in the disease in every population.

High levels of the LOXL1 protein clog outflow tracts of the eye’s aqueous humor and are a constant in all of those patients. Still, there is conflicting laboratory evidence about the role of the gene because neither removing or overexpressing it accumulates the protein or increases high pressure inside the eye, at least in mics.Liu and his team are now looking at lncLOXL1, which regulates the gene’s expression.

Liu has so far discovered that the gene and lncLOXL1 correlate in both gene variations that the scientists have seen in the human populations tha my they have studied. They also have seen that as disease progresses, the gene’s expression goes down even as the protein rises, typically by about age 60.