Personal Growth Following Breast Cancer Diagnosis

smiles-for-survivors-foundationAs National Breast Cancer Awareness month draws to a close, and the world becomes a little less pink, we share with you some positive news to help sustain the momentum until next October.

Although breast cancer is usually an extremely stressful experience for most of the 300,000 or so women in the US diagnosed each year, a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has found that there also can be unexpected benefits.

Many women who have breast cancer often experience distress but sometimes are surprised that they also may experience a variety of positive outcomes following diagnosis,” said Suzanne Danhauer, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

pink white houseThe study, which is published in the current online edition of the journal Psycho-Oncology, examined change in post-traumatic growth (PTG) over two years in 653 women.

PTG is defined as the positive psychological change experienced as a result of a struggle with highly challenging life circumstances. Commonly reported aspects of PTG include enhanced interpersonal relationships, increased appreciation for life, a sense of increased personal strength, greater spirituality and changes in life priorities or goals.

women-smiling-together2Participants completed surveys within eight months of diagnosis and also six, 12 and 18 months after that. The survey results were assessed using the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) – an instrument for assessing positive outcomes reported by persons who have experienced highly stressful or traumatic events.

According to the researchers, total PTGI scores increased over time mostly within the first few months following diagnosis. Greater PTGI scores were associated with education level, longer time since diagnosis, greater baseline level of illness intrusiveness and increases in social support, spirituality, use of active-adaptive coping strategies and mental health.

Our findings suggest that there are women who see a variety of positive changes during and after breast cancer treatment,” Danhauer said. “Our study showed just how common it is for women to talk about the good things that have happened in their lives because of this illness, and it doesn’t seem to be related to how optimistic a person is or not.”  The study also showed that an increased amount of social support was associated with more post-traumatic growth in these women.

Way to go ladies.  A great example of when life gives you lemons…make lemonade?!?  Better yet, find somebody else whose life has given them vodka, and throw a lemon drop party.

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Reducing your stroke risk…because I care

stroke-1-in-6-graphics_170x304With all the upcoming excitement about Halloween, you may have overlooked the fact that yesterday was World Stroke Day.

This year, the global campaign to tackle stroke was highlighted with the slogan “Because I care…”.

The phrase showcases the role of caregivers in supporting people who have suffered a stroke and aims to correct misinformation about the disease, such as the misconception that stroke only happens later in life.

Every other second, stroke attacks a person, regardless of age or gender. Of the 15 million people who experience a stroke each year, six million do not survive. Worldwide about 30 million people have had a stroke and most have residual disabilities.

Overall approximately 55 000 more women have strokes than men each year, mainly because stroke occurs more frequently at older ages and women generally live longer than men. Of note, women are twice as likely to die from a stroke than breast cancer each year.

And recent data published in the Lancet, shows a striking 25% worldwide increase in the number of stroke cases in people aged between 20 and 64. This younger age group now accounts for a shocking 31% of strokes.

But, with greater awareness, these figures don’t have to continue their alarming trend.  Stroke can be prevented, treated and managed in the long term. The campaign theme “Because I care” emphasizes these areas.

The slogan was chosen as it can easily be adapted to all cultures and in any setting. It attempts to address prevailing misinformation about the disease, e.g., stroke only happens later in life. The campaign also celebrates the important contributions of caregivers and the role they play as conduits between the stroke community and the general public in correcting misinformation.

Because I care…

    • Stroke 02.11.13I want you to know the facts about stroke
    • I will work to break down the myths surrounding stroke
    • I want you to learn how to minimize your risk of stroke
    • I want you to have access to the best possible treatment
    • I will ensure that you receive quality treatment, care and support
    • I will be with you every step of the way towards your full recovery

Research presented at the recent European Society of Cardiology [ESC] Congress  showed that there are plenty of steps young obese women can take to reduce their risk of stroke. In young women without metabolic disorders such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar  or abnormal glucose metabolism being overweight did not increase the chance of having a stroke compared to normal weight women without metabolic disorders. However, the risk of stroke increased by 3.5 times in women who were overweight and had metabolic disorders.

Study author, Dr Michelle Schmiegelow said: “Obesity puts young women at a major risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, which dramatically increases their likelihood of having a stroke. Young women who are overweight or obese probably have a window of opportunity to lose weight and keep a healthy lifestyle so that they reduce their risk of getting high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. In this way they can protect themselves from having a stroke or heart attack.”

Awareness of important risk factors, such as atrial fibrillation  and hypertension, is crucial.

OBESE-BLACK-WOMENProfessor Joep Perk, MD, a Swedish Cardiologist and spokesperson for the ESC says: “Women are at the same risk of stroke as men, and the level of risk is completely steered by the underlying risk factor pattern they have. The majority of people who have a stroke are disabled for the rest of their lives and may be paralyzed or lose their ability to speak. The devastating consequences of this disease for patients and their loved ones make prevention even more important.”

He adds: “Prevention for all cardiovascular disease follows the same pattern, be it stroke, heart attack, or peripheral arterial disease. Step one for women is absolutely to stop smoking – that beats everything. The second most important thing is to know your blood pressure to see if you are at risk. And finally, adopt healthy behaviors like eating heart healthy food and keeping the amount of salt you eat under control.”

stroke FASTThe global campaign against stroke asks people to commit to six stroke challenges:
•    Know your personal risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes, and high blood cholesterol
•    Be physically active and exercise regularly
•    Maintain a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetable and low in salt and keep blood pressure low
•    Limit alcohol consumption
•    Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now
•    Learn to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and how to take action.

Check, check, check, check, check and check!  I’m feeling up to the stroke challenge.  Are you?

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The Real Horror of Trick-or-Treating

halloween kidsAlthough historically All Hallow’s Eve was dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows),martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers, these days for most kids Halloween is all about the candy.

It is estimated that by the end of the evening, each child’s bag of goodies contains about 4,800 calories and has 3 cups of sugar and 1 ½ cups of fat. The real horror in the Halloween trick-or-treat bag is the contribution it plays to an already scary epidemic of childhood obesity.

halloween candyKids and teens love Halloween. It’s filled with fun parties and costumes, and free candy. Halloween can be a great time as long as parents make sure their child doesn’t go overboard eating all that candy,” said Garry Sigman, MD, director of the pediatric weight management program at Loyola University Health System.

So how can you balance healthy and happy for your kids this Halloween? Here’s some great tips from Dr. Sigmam:

  • Focus on fun, not candy. Find fun activities for your kids to do instead of just walking door-to-door getting candy. Plan a party with fun games or have a pumpkin-carving contest. You could watch a scary movie or have a costume parade.
  • Set limits. Limit the time your kids are out trick-or-treating. Instead of the pillowcase look for a small bag that they can use to collect candy. When they get home let them pick out two pieces to eat and then put the rest away in a freezer or hidden place to save for another day. All children should eat no more than one or two pieces of candy a day. If a child is obese he or she should not eat more than one or two pieces of candy a week.
  • Host a candy trade-in party. When the kids get back from trick-or-treating the candy in each child’s bag is weighed. Kids can exchange their candy for prizes based on the bag’s weight.

jack-o-oranges healthy halloween treatsAdults can also help by providing healthier alternatives to candy.  For example: Fruit leathers, packs of sugarless gum, boxed dried raisins, 100-calorie packs of cookies or snacks, granola bars, snack-sized bags of popcorn or non-food treats such as play-doh, spider rings, bubbles, temporary tattoos, sidewalk chalk or cookie cutters.

How are you planning on making your Halloween healthier?

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Is Halloween Haunting You?

scary halloweenAs October  31 approaches, businesses are capitalizing on the psychology of fear.

This year alone, Americans will spend around $7 billion on Halloween costumes, haunted houses fright fests and generally scaring the heck out of themselves and others.

We don’t have many other holidays that are really directly connected to a strong emotion that is almost universal – fear and the dark side,” says Frank Farley, a professor of psychology at Temple University who specializes in thrill-seeking and extreme behavior.

So why do we enjoy Halloween thrills so much?

One 2007 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research  dispelled earlier assumptions that humans respond to pleasure and avoid pain. They explored why people love horror movies and discovered that people actually like to be scared. Previously it had been assumed that people watch horror moves because (a) they are not actually afraid, but excited by the movie or (b) that they are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end.

woman-scaredThe authors argue that horror movie viewers are happy to be unhappy. This novel approach to emotion reveals that people experience both negative and positive emotions simultaneously. People may actually enjoy being scared, not just relief when the threat is removed.  The authors concluded: “Pleasant moments of a particular event may also be the most fearful.” And compared horror movies to the thrill and fear of extreme sports.

But not everyone likes being scared. How a person responds to fear is wired in their personality. Those who thrive on fear are so-called T-types.  They are thrill-seekers, according to Farley, who coined the term in the 1980s.

They like uncertainty, suspense, unpredictability, the unknown,” he said. “Uncertainty is the prime source of fear. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Movie makers and amusement park ride creators know how to induce fear. There is intensity of stimulation.  It can be the sound of screams or the visual – something comes out of nowhere into your face, like a house of horror.

JawsMusic is also important, like the pulsating theme of the movie, “Jaws,” as the white shark leaps out of the water.

Sometimes the sensation is tactile, when walking through an unstable platform in a fun house.

Roller coasters are the ultimate thrill ride. “Where else are you expected to throw your hands in the air and scream at the top of your lungs?” Farley asked. “The intensity factor is important. Thrill rides really jerk a person around. They rotate the body and change the G force and people are screaming. You don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Novelty and contradiction is also a factor in fear –  a clown who kills or a child who is a monster.

Movies and books that exploit the most basic of human fears come dangerously close to reality. And experiencing that horror as a child can be a dress rehearsal for facing fear in the adult world.  Children have an uncanny attraction to frightening stories and psychologists say they project their fears and come to terms with them through stories.

Some of the most popular children’s fiction involves ghost, vampires and skeletons. Harry Potter enthralls readers with witches and warlocks.

But the concept of scary children’s stories is not new. The Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, first published in 1812, were culled from folk stories that had been recited over generations. Many of the original stories were gruesome. Some involved rape, incest, child murder bullying and cannibalism.

grimmsAlthough they have since been sanitized, in the original “Snow White,” the queen asks for the young maiden’s liver and lungs, which she intends to serve up for dinner. Likewise, in the original “Sleeping Beauty” our heroine is bitten and then raped by the king (not kissed by a prince), and she gives birth to his two children in her sleep.

Fairytales are a path to dealing with fear, to figure out how it works, what it is and recognizing it,” says Farley. “Pulling your head out of the sand when you are surrounded by horror or fearsome things has a high survival value.”

halloween-haunted-houseMaybe that’s why we like Halloween so much…or perhaps it’s just the candy and hot apple cider!  Let us know what you think.

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Pumpkin Carving without the Cuts

carved pumpkinIn previous years we’ve blogged about the health benefits of pumpkins. This year, as Halloween approaches we thought we should provide a little fair balance and warn our readers of the inherent dangers of these autumnal fruits.

While pumpkins aren’t exactly going to jump out of the patch and spook or attack you, carving them can lead to significant injuries.

Every Halloween season we see four or five patients — both adults and children — who come into our office with severe injuries to their hands and fingers,” says hand surgeon Jeffrey Wint, MD. “Treatment can often run three to four months, from the time of surgery through rehabilitation.”

pumpkin carving injuryTo prevent hand injuries, we bring you the following safety tips:

Carve in a Clean, Dry, Well-lit Area
Wash and dry all of the tools that you will use to carve the pumpkin, including the knife, cutting surface, and your hands. Any moisture on your tools, hands, or table can cause slipping that can lead to injuries.

Leave the Carving to Adults
Never let children do the carving. Instead, let kids draw a pattern on the pumpkin and have them be responsible for cleaning out the pulp and seeds. And it’s not just young children who need to be supervised.
All too often, we see adolescent patients with injuries because adults feel the kids are responsible enough to be left on their own,” says Wint. “Even though the carving may be going great, it only takes a second for an injury to occur.”

Sharper is Not Better
When you do start cutting, cut away from yourself and cut in small, controlled strokes. A sharper knife is not necessarily better, because it often becomes wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin, requiring force to remove it. Injury can occur if your hand is in the wrong place when the knife finally dislodges from the thick skin of the pumpkin. Injuries are also sustained when the knife slips and comes out the other side of the pumpkin where your hand may be holding it steady.

pumpkin-carving-toolsUse a Pumpkin Carving Kit
Special pumpkin carving kits are widely available. These usually include small serrated pumpkin saws that work better because they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. And if they do get jammed and then wedged free, they are not sharp enough to cause a deep, penetrating cut.

Should you cut your finger or hand, here’s what to do. If the cut is minor, apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth and bleeding should stop spontaneously. If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room visit may be required.

Better still, follow the above advice. Don’t let your Jack-o’Lantern jinx you and hold off on the Halloween Hand Injuries.

pumpkin face

Dying for an energy drink?

early-morning-workout-tips-300x200As someone who gets up at 4:30 am most days to go to the gym and who rarely, if ever, eats carbs, I know there is no easy way to stay fit and healthy.  But, there are others who may be tempted to look for an easier or quicker way…and to them we say- beware!

Before you reach for a weight loss supplement, or energy drink, you may want to think again. According to four separate case reports just presented at the American College of Gastroenterology’s 78th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, consumption of some of these can lead to hepatitis, severe liver damage, liver failure and even death.

energy drinksUse of herbal and dietary supplements is widespread for a variety of reasons. But many patients don’t disclose supplement use to their physicians, and as such important drug side effects can be missed.

The first case report documented a case over liver toxicity and fulminant liver failure associated with the use of SlimQuick™, a weight loss supplement containing green tea extract.

A 52-year old female patient was admitted to the emergency room after one week of vomiting and progressive jaundice. The patient reported she had ingested SlimQuick™ for two days, while fasting three weeks prior to admission. Her liver biopsy was consistent with hepatic necrosis She was started on steroids but these were discontinued after two days, as liver function worsened and mental status deteriorated to the point she needed to undergo liver transplantation two days later.

In the second paper, Khadija Haroon Chaudrey, MD, presented a rare case of black cohosh-induced hepatotoxicity leading to early cirrhosis. Black cohash is often used by menopausal women to control hot flashes and other associated symptons

A 44-year-old female had developed jaundice for one month, and initial lab work revealed elevated liver function tests (LFTs). The patient had no history of alcohol intake, IV drug use, unprotected sex, recent travel outside the United States, NSAID ingestion or blood transfusions. After an unsuccessful outpatient trial of steroids, she was referred for inpatient evaluation because of gradual progression of her symptoms.

cirrhosis1The patient then reported she had started taking black cohosh about one month prior. “Her ultrasound abdomen showed nodular contour of liver consistent with cirrhosis,” said Dr. Chaudrey. “Given patient’s history of black cohosh use and the timing of her abnormal liver chemistries, it was clinically evident the culprit agent was black cohosh.”

Once the patient stopped taking black cohosh, her symptoms improved and her LFTs normalized.

The third case described acute liver failure following consumption of Rockstar® Sugar Free energy drink.

Brian Huang M.D., Chief Resident of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, presented a case involving a 36-year-old male without prior medical history. He sought medical attention after symptoms of right upper quadrant abdominal pain, jaundice and fatigue. After abnormal lab work, he was brought to the hospital. The patient admitted to binge drinking (10 beers in a three-hour period) prior to symptom onset. He denied consuming herbal supplements, but admitted to having three Rockstar® Sugar Free energy drinks, on a daily basis for the past year. He too, required a liver transplant.

According to Dr. Huang, “The patients’ pathology reports showed massive hepatocellular necrosis and parenchymal collapse consistent with drug-induced liver injury. We believe his prior history of binge drinking may have provided initial damage on his liver, making him more susceptible to develop liver failure. Although the patient had a history of weekend binge drinking, his liver biopsy was not consistent with alcoholic hepatitis. Thus, they determined that the liver failure was linked to the long-term energy drink consumption.

A fourth case of drug-induced liver injury was found to be associated with the advanced weight loss supplement, Ripped Fuel®. This supplement contains herbal extract with 60% flavinoids, caffeine and cacao.

scleral icterusA 36-year old female with history of depression and no prior liver disease was seen after having one week of abdominal pain, anorexia and nausea. On physical examination, she had jaundice and yellowing of her eyes. The patient had started to take Ripped Fuel® three weeks prior to developing these symptoms, to lose weight. She denied use of other herbal medicine, supplements or acetaminophen. There had been no recent changes in her depression medication.

There is a lack of knowledge about the status of Food and Drug Administration regulation of dietary supplements,” said Dr. Halegoua-De Marzio, author of the first paper. “Currently, dietary supplements are not required to have safety or efficacy studies before they are marketed to the public, and they remain popular among consumers despite reports of hepatotoxicity. 

These cases serve as a reminder of how even minimal use of dietary supplements can lead to liver failure and liver transplant. It is important that patients talk with their doctors before starting any new dietary supplements.

Or better yet, stick with the old fashioned way of healthy diet and exercise.  So who wants to join me in the gym at 5am tomorrow?

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Birds do it. Bees do it. Even butterflies and chimpanzees do it.

Chimpanzees Self-Medicate With FoodSRxA’s Word on Health was intrigued by a story we read this week in National Geographic.

It seems we could have a lot to learn from the abovementioned animals.  It turns out that they, and many other species self-medicate, using plants and other surprising materials to improve not only their own health but also the health of their offspring.

video of capuchin monkeys at the Edinburgh Zoo shows them rubbing onions and limes on their skin and into their fur as an antiseptic and insect repellent.

Biologists have noticed that parasite-infected female monarch butterflies are more likely to lay their eggs on anti-parasitic milkweed, giving their offspring instant medication, while uninfected females show no preference. And urban birds who incorporate cigarette butts into their nests may be doing so because chemical properties in the smoked cigarettes may repel parasites, according to a 2012 study.

cigarette birds nestsWhile cigarette-butt wallpaper may not appeal to most of us, other ways that animals self-medicate might be worth watching.

Mark Hunter, a University of Michigan ecologist who was involved in the monarch research, says there is plenty to be learned from observing the way animals use the entire outdoors like one big drugstore. It’s something our own species probably once did – and might do well to revisit with modern pharmaceutical engineering and computer modeling techniques.

It’s not the only way, but it seems to me that a sensible way would be to watch what animals do in nature to see how they exploit the natural products, the pharmaceuticals that are available to them in the environment, and try to learn from them,” he says.

Earlier this year, Hunter spent time with people of the Shangaan tribe in South Africa.

shangaan tribeIf you go for a walk with somebody, every plant you pass has a cultural or medicinal significance, and many of those have been learned from watching animals,” Hunter says. The bark of the black monkey thorn tree, for example, is used as a stomach medication, a choice based on watching how elephants behave.

Not long ago primates were thought to be the only animals smart enough to self-medicate. But now we’re learning that ground squirrels chew rattlesnake skins and then lick their fur, a trick likely to deter that particular predator.

Insects have been found to be prolific self-medicators, too. Take the arresting case of the fruit fly Drosophilia melanogasterwhich uses alcohol to protect itself against parasitic wasps. The wasps lay their eggs in the fruit fly larvae; the developing wasp grubs will eventually eat the flies from the inside out and burst forth from their dead bodies. Larvae that consume high doses of alcohol from fermented fruits, however, are less likely to be infected—and if they are, the invading wasp grubs die quite nastily with their internal organs being ejected out of their anus.

Moreover, fruit fly mothers who see female parasite wasps nearby will give their young instant protection by laying their eggs in alcohol-soaked environments – which means they see and remember their nemesis.

Not a bad defense,” says Hunter, adding that this demonstrates the idea that “the cost we’re willing to pay for a medicine depends on the consequences of not using it.” While the alcohol isn’t necessarily good for the flies, they will die if parasitized.

The alcohol has worse effects on the parasites than it does on them. So it’s worth laying your eggs in a high-alcohol environment if it will save your offspring,” he says.

Do animals learn to self-medicate, or is it pure instinct?

monarchWell, plenty of intelligent animals self-medicate, so it’s not always clear. But in the case of the monarch butterfly the mothers don’t hang around to see what happens to their babies, so there’s no learning involved. In this case, the only possibility is that it’s a genetically determined behavior or instinct.

So the next time you’re on your way to the drugstore and pass a monarch hovering around a milkweed, or a bird who seems to have taken up a smoking habit, consider that they might actually be running an errand, just like you!

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Snuffing Out Alzheimer’s

confusedHot on the heels of Friday’s blog – Sniffing Out Alzheimer’s, British scientists just announced a major breakthrough that could, one day, result in a treatment for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

In tests on mice, researchers from the toxicology unit of the Medical Research Council showed brain cell death from prion disease could be prevented.

Professor Roger Morris, from King’s College London, said: “This finding, I suspect, will be judged by history as a turning point in the search for medicines to control and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

It is rare to get cautious scientists keen to describe any study as a turning point in history, let alone a study in mice.

miceNot only is it is early science, a lot can go wrong between a drug for mice and a drug for humans and the only published data is for prion disease, not even Alzheimer’s.

So why the excitement?

It is the first time that any form of neurodegeneration has been completely halted, so it is a significant landmark. It shows that the process being targeted has serious potential.

The research team focused on the natural defense mechanisms built into brain cells. When a virus hijacks a brain cell it leads to a build-up of viral proteins. Cells respond by shutting down nearly all protein production in order to halt the virus’s spread.

neurodegenerative diseaseHowever, many neurodegenerative diseases involve the production of faulty or “misfolded” proteins. These activate the same defenses, but with more severe consequences. The misfolded proteins linger and the brain cells shut down protein production for so long that they eventually starve themselves to death.

This process, repeated in neurons throughout the brain, can destroy movement or memory or even kill, depending on the disease.  It  is thought to take place in many forms of neurodegeneration, so safely disrupting it could treat a wide range of diseases.

The researchers used a compound which prevented those defense mechanisms kicking in and in turn halted neurodegeneration.

The study showed mice with prion disease developed severe memory and movement problems. They died within 12 weeks. However, those given the compound showed no sign of brain tissue wasting away.

Lead researcher Professor Giovanna Mallucci says: “They were absolutely fine, it was extraordinary. What’s really exciting is a compound has completely prevented neurodegeneration and that’s a first. This isn’t the compound you would use in people, but it means we can do it and it’s a start.

She said the compound offered a “new pathway that may well give protective drugs” and the next step was for drug companies to develop a medicine for use in humans.

Side effects are an issue. The compound also acted on the pancreas, meaning the mice developed a mild form of diabetes and lost weight. Any human drug would need to act only on the brain.

David Allsop, professor of neuroscience at Lancaster University described the results as “very dramatic and highly encouraging.”

SRxA’s Word on Health agrees.  We look forward to seeing further research and how these findings could apply to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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Sniffing Out Alzheimer’s

peanut-butter-memory-400x400A dollop of peanut butter and a ruler might be a way to confirm a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Jennifer Stamps, a graduate student in the McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste, came up with the idea of using peanut butter to test for smell sensitivity.  when she was working with Kenneth Heilman MD, a professor of neurology at the University of Florida.

One of the first places in the brain to degenerate in people with Alzheimer’s disease is the front part of the temporal lobe that evolved from the smell system. This portion of the brain is also involved in forming new memories. The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve – the olfactory nerve.

Because peanut butter is a “pure odorant,” it is only detected by the olfactory nerve.

In a small pilot studypatients sat down with a clinician, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a metric ruler.

peanut butter testThe patient closed his or her eyes and mouth and blocked one nostril. The clinician opened the peanut butter container and held the ruler next to the open nostril while the patient breathed normally. The clinician then moved the peanut butter up the ruler one centimeter at a time during the patient’s exhale until the person could detect an odor.

The distance was recorded and the procedure repeated on the other nostril after a 90-second delay.

The clinicians running the test did not know the patients’ diagnoses, which were not usually confirmed until weeks after the initial clinical testing.

Patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease had a dramatic difference in detecting odor between the left and right nostril – their left nostril did not detect the smell until it was an average of 10 centimeters (almost 4 inches) closer to the nose than the right nostril.

This was not the case in patients with other kinds of dementia. These patients had either no differences in odor detection between nostrils or the right nostril was worse at detecting odor than the left one.

Of the 24 patients tested who had mild cognitive impairment, which sometimes signals Alzheimer’s disease and sometimes turns out to be something else, about 10 patients showed a left nostril impairment and 14 patients did not. The researchers said more studies must be conducted to fully understand the implications.

At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis,” Stamps says. “But we plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer’s disease.”

Many of the tests used to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias can be time-consuming, costly, or invasive.  In contrast, according to the researchers their peanut butter and ruler test could be used by clinics that don’t have access to the personnel or equipment to run other, more elaborate tests required for a specific diagnosis.

peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich_0And of course there’s the benefit that you can eat the test afterwards!

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Like this post?  Check back on Monday for more ground breaking Alzheimer’s news.

Congress – less popular than dog poop!

Capitol HillOn becoming an American Citizen yesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted the following message on my wall – “WOOT WOOT!!!! NOW START COMPLAINING ABOUT CONGRESS!!!!”

However, it seems I will have to stand in line…as the rest of America has beaten me to it.

While the United States suffers through the second week of the federal shutdown, Public Policy Polling, a national survey agency, asked more than 500 registered voters if they liked various items more than they liked Congress.

HemorrhoidsThe results, showed that a mere 8% of those surveyed said they approved of the job Congress was doing, while 86% disapproved.

Onychomycosis1In addition to the aforementioned canine waste, voters also preferred hemorrhoids (53% vs 31%), toenail fungus (44% vs 41%) cockroaches (44% vs.42%), the IRS (42% vs. 33%), and the DMV (58% vs. 24%) to Congress.

But despite this, there is a glimmer of hope for lawmakers.

According to the survey, Americans still view Congress more favorably than the Ebola virus, Syria, Charles Manson, Lindsay Lohan, Honey Boo Boo, and twerking!

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