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Man awarded $12.5 billion for bizarre side effects to Johnson & Johnson medication

<p>US pharmaceutical giant Johnson &amp; Johnson has been ordered to pay a hefty NZ$12.5 billion in damages after they failed to warn that its drug, Risperdal, could cause bizarre breast growth in men. </p> <p>Nicholas Murray told a court in Philadelphia the psychiatric medication, normally prescribed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had made him grow breasts. </p> <p>His attorneys, Tom Kline and Jason Itkine, argued the drug had links to gynecomastia, an incurable condition - and accused Johnson &amp; Johnson of making billions of dollars while illegally marketing and promoting the drug. </p> <p>“(Johnson &amp; Johnson is) a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients,” they said in a<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.jnj.com/our-company/johnson-johnson-statement-on-todays-risperdal-verdict" target="_blank">statement.</a></p> <p>However Johnson &amp; Johnson immediately challenged the ruling, explaining the damages as “grossly disproportionate” in a statement. </p> <p>“The company is confident (the ruling) will be overturned,” it said. “We will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict.”</p> <p>The company said the courts exclusions of key evidence left it unable to present a meaningful defence, including what they described was on the drug label that “clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine” or Risperdal’s benefits for patients with serious mental illness.</p> <p>“Further, the plaintiff’s attorneys failed to present any evidence that the plaintiff was actually harmed by the alleged conduct,” the company added.</p> <p>Thousands of lawsuits have been filed over the drug, including in Pennsylvania, California and Missouri.</p> <p>Mr Kline and Mr Itkin said this was the first time a jury had made the decision to award punitive damages and had come up with an amount. </p> <p>Risperdal was approved for the treatment of adults by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1993 and brought in about A$1 billion in sales in 2018.</p>

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How your body image can change in two minutes

<p>Have you ever looked at yourself in a full-length mirror and wished you looked more like the beautiful people who grace the covers of glossy magazines? If so, you are by no means alone.</p> <p>Body dissatisfaction is so prevalent that some academics have referred to it as <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232553767_Women_and_weight_A_normative_discontent">“normative discontent”</a>. Many of those affected not only feel dissatisfied with their bodies, they actually believe they are heavier than they really are – a phenomenon known as body size misperception.</p> <p>Our <a href="http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnins.2016.00334/full">recent study</a> found that people’s perception of their own and others’ body weight could change in as little as two minutes.</p> <p>Participants were asked to view images of people that had been digitally manipulated to appear lighter or heavier than they actually were and decide whether these images looked fatter or thinner than “normal”.</p> <p>After 120 seconds of exposure to manipulated thin bodies, the original-sized body images looked abnormally large to participants while the thinner images were rated as normal.</p> <p>The opposite was also true: exposure to heavier bodies made participants see original body sizes as skinny.</p> <p><strong>Chasing the thin ideal</strong></p> <p>It is hardly news that many are negatively affected by the thin, supposedly ideal images propagated by the media.</p> <p>The connection between social pressure to be thin exerted by these images and feelings of body dissatisfaction – a risk factor for developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa – was first made by <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Eating_Disorders.html?id=xM7x05fvUHAC&amp;redir_esc=y">German psychologist Hilde Bruch</a> in the 1970s.</p> <p>Then, in 1980, a study showed that the measurements of <a href="http://river-centre.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/1980-Garner-Sociocultural-Playboy.pdf">Miss America contestants and Playboy centrefold models</a> between 1959 and 1979 were decreasing, supporting claims that the media’s “thin is beautiful” message was spreading.</p> <p>Although many studies in the intervening decades have confirmed this link, there is still relatively little understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying the perception of our own bodies in relation to what we see on TV and in magazines.</p> <p><strong>Retuning the brain</strong></p> <p>Since the time of Aristotle, it has been known that prolonged viewing of certain stimuli can cause after-effects that alter the perception of subsequently viewed objects. Often, the after-effect produces an appearance that neutral stimuli are in a sense opposite to the original stimulus to which the observer was overexposed.</p> <p>One famous example is the <a href="http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/mot-adapt/index.html">motion after-effect</a> – also known as the waterfall illusion. Here, exposure to movement in a particular direction, such as the downward motion of a waterfall, can cause stationary rocks beside the waterfall to appear to move in the opposite direction, that is upwards.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EyWT9IIXV3s?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Keep staring at the dot in the middle to experience the motion after-effect.</span></p> <p>Similar effects can be seen for <a href="http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(08)01346-8">other object properties</a>, such as <a href="https://freudforthought.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/colour-after-effects/">colour</a>. As these phenomena have been studied for centuries, their physiological basis is pretty well understood. After-effects are accompanied by a reduction in responsiveness of neurons in the visual areas of the brain.</p> <p>These reductions were once assumed to be the result of tiredness of the overworked cells, but more modern theories propose that the change in brain activity serves to <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/fitting-the-mind-to-the-world-9780198529699?cc=au&amp;lang=en&amp;">tune our perceptual systems</a> to the environmental conditions. This gives us a frame of reference for what is normal or expected as determined by our visual diet throughout our lives.</p> <p>Although early studies concentrated on simple stimuli, such as motion or colour, our recent investigations have shown that higher-level properties, such as body size and shape, can cause similar after-effects.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/132905/original/image-20160803-12196-rlv82n.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/132905/original/image-20160803-12196-rlv82n.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Stare at the cross on the left for around 30 seconds without moving your eyes. Then transfer your gaze to the cross on the right. You should see an after-effect of the complementary colour in the circles even though they are actually white. As they are opposite colours, the positions of the red and green circles will swap, as will the positions of the blue and yellow circles.</span> <em><span class="attribution"><span class="license">Author provided</span></span></em></p> <p>It is likely that the neural adaptation associated with these after-effects is the underlying physiological basis of body-size misperception.</p> <p>Our recent study showed that after-effects could actually transfer from others’ bodies to the perception of one’s own. That is, viewing abnormally thin versions of other people’s bodies caused participants to see themselves as heavier than they actually were and vice versa.</p> <p>While this observation fits nicely with the narrative connecting media exposure with body-size misperception in the real world, it also suggests that mechanisms mediating the perception of one’s own and others’ body size and shape are overlapping.</p> <p><strong>Variety is the spice of life</strong></p> <p>Body image is a complex construct, but a better understanding of these mechanisms opens new avenues for a fuller understanding of body size misperception, including how best to manage severe forms of this problem.</p> <p>To give one example, group treatment of people with anorexia nervosa, as commonly occurs in specialist treatment facilities, may be inadvisable given that exposure to extreme body shapes of other sufferers can exacerbate the misperception of one’s own body size.</p> <p>But what should be the advice for us, the dissatisfied mirror-gazers in the general population? While a healthy lifestyle brings many benefits, a strict diet will not correct the misperception of one’s own body size.</p> <p>Instead, the over-sized person you see in the mirror may be more effectively beautified by changing your visual diet. In visual stimuli, as in food, moderation (of skinny celebrities) is key. And, of course, variety (in terms of shape and size) is the spice of life.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/62428/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Kevin Brooks, Associate Professor in Human Visual Perception, Macquarie University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/size-is-largely-in-the-mind-how-your-body-image-can-change-in-two-minutes-62428" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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8 early Parkinson’s disease symptoms that are too easy to miss

<p>This movement disorder is more treatable when caught early, but Parkinson’s disease symptoms can appear quite differently from one person to another. Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about any of these signs.</p> <p><strong>Changed handwriting</strong></p> <p>If your handwriting starts to go from big and loopy to small and cramped, this could be one of the earliest Parkinson’s disease symptoms. “Teachers with Parkinson’s will notice students complaining that they can’t read their handwriting when they write on the blackboard,” says Deborah Hall, MD, a neurologist. Look for letters getting smaller and words crowding together. Many patients have slower movement and trouble with repetitive tasks, like handwriting.</p> <p><strong>Reduced sense of smell</strong></p> <p>If you’re having trouble smelling pungent foods or no longer pick up your favourite scents, see a doctor. It’s not the most common symptom of Parkinson’s, but Dr. Hall says patients who suffer a loss of smell report it being the earliest sign they experience. The link between reduced sense of smell and Parkinson’s isn’t clear, but one theory is that the clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein, found in the brains of all Parkinson’s patients, may form in the part of the brain responsible for smell before migrating to other areas and affecting motor function.</p> <p><strong>Trouble sleeping</strong></p> <p>If you were once a peaceful sleeper, but now toss and turn, flail your limbs, or even fall out of bed, those sleep problems could be Parkinson’s disease symptoms. It’s normal to have an occasional restless night, but talk to your doctor if you or your partner notices extra movement when you’re in a deep sleep, or if you start sleep-talking. More research is needed to discover why disturbed sleep and Parkinson’s are related, but one theory is that the degeneration of specific regions of the brain stem that can cause disordered sleeping may play a role in other Parkinson’s disease symptoms.</p> <p><strong>Constipation</strong></p> <p>If you’re not moving your bowels every day, or are increasingly straining, this can be an early sign of Parkinson’s. The disease alters the body’s autonomic nervous system, which controls processes like digestion and bowel function. Constipation on its own isn’t unusual, but if you’re experiencing other symptoms like difficulty sleeping and trouble moving or walking, talk to your doctor.</p> <p><strong>Depression</strong></p> <p>Sometimes patients can develop depression after learning they have Parkinson’s, but it’s also common for people to be depressed years before they start to exhibit physical symptoms, says Michele Tagliati, MD, director of the Movement Disorders Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California.</p> <p>“Parkinson’s is characterised as a movement disorder because of a lack of dopamine in the brain, but there are also low levels of other neurotransmitters like serotonin, which are intimately related to depression,” he says.</p> <p>Parkinson’s patients who are depressed tend to feel apathetic and generally disinterested in things they used to enjoy, compared to feeling intensely sad or helpless, as is common in primary depression. “They lose pleasure in the simple things of life, like waking up in the morning and buying the paper,” says Dr. Tagliati. Treatment for depression includes counselling, antidepressant medication, and in the most extreme cases, electric shock therapy.</p> <p><strong>Tremors or shaking when relaxed</strong></p> <p>Shaking can be normal after lots of exercise or if you’re anxious, or as a side effect of some medications. But a slight shake in your finger, thumb, hand, chin, lip, or limbs when your body is at rest and your muscles are relaxed could signal Parkinson’s disease symptoms, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. About 70 percent of people with the disease experience a resting tremor, and it can become more noticeable during stress or excitement. These are the most common symptoms and often tip people off to the disease, but when Parkinson’s patients think back they realise they experienced loss of smell, disturbed sleep, or anxiety before the tremors began.</p> <p><strong>Stiffness and slowed movements</strong></p> <p>Watch for an abnormal stiffness in your joints along with muscle weakness that doesn’t go away and makes everyday tasks like walking, teeth brushing, buttoning shirts, or cutting food difficult. If you no longer swing your arms when walking, your feet feel “stuck to the floor” (causing you to hesitate before taking a step), or people comment that you look stiff when you haven’t been injured, the National Parkinson Foundation suggests seeing a doctor.</p> <p><strong>Softer voice, or masked face</strong></p> <p>Doctors say that a softer voice or masked, expressionless face is a common sign of the disease. Some patients with Parkinson’s disease symptoms may also talk softer without noticing or have excessively fast speech or rapid stammering. Parkinson’s causes disruption of movement, including facial muscles.</p> <p><em>Written by Alyssa Jung. This article first appeared in </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/8-early-parkinsons-disease-symptoms-that-are-too-easy-to-miss/" target="_blank"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V" target="_blank"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Why loneliness is contagious

<p>Loneliness is a <a href="https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/Science-2011-Miller-138-401.pdf">common condition affecting around one in three adults</a>. It damages your brain, immune system, and can lead to depression and suicide. Loneliness can also increase your risk of dying prematurely as much as smoking can – and even more so than obesity. If you feel lonely, you tend to feel more stressed in situations that others cope better in, and even though you might get sufficient sleep, you don’t feel rested during the day.</p> <p>Loneliness has also increased <a href="http://science.sciencemag.org/content/331/6014/138.full?sid=6039e2dc-1bcf-4622-ae54-1e5b2816a98d">over the past few decades</a>. Compared to the 1980s, the number of people living alone in the US has increased by about one-third. When Americans were asked about the number of people that they can confide in, the number dropped from three in 1985 to two in 2004.</p> <p>In the UK, 21 to 31 per cent of people report that they feel lonely some of the time, and surveys in other parts of the world report <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391342/">similarly high estimates</a>. And it’s not just adults who feel lonely. Over a tenth of kindergarteners and first graders report feeling lonely in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865701/">school environment</a>.</p> <p>So many people feel lonely these days. But loneliness is a tricky condition, because it doesn’t necessarily refer to the number of people you talk to or the number of acquaintances you have. You can have many people around you and still feel lonely. As the comedian <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1262981/quotes">Robin Williams</a> put it in the film World’s Greatest Dad:</p> <blockquote> <p>I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>What is loneliness?</strong></p> <p>Loneliness refers to the discrepancy between the number and quality of the relationships that you desire and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391342/">those you actually have</a>. You can have only two friends, but if you get along really well with them and feel that they meet your needs, you’re not lonely. Or you can be in a crowd and feel all alone.</p> <p>But loneliness is not just about how you feel. Being in this state can make you <a href="https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/Science-2011-Miller-138-401.pdf">behave differently</a>, too, because you have less control over yourself – for example, you’re more likely to eat that chocolate cake for lunch instead of a meal or order take-out for dinner and you will also feel less motivated to exercise, which is important for mental and physical health. You’re also more likely to act aggressively towards others.</p> <p>Sometimes people think that the only way out of loneliness is to simply talk to a few more people. But while that can help, loneliness is less about the number of contacts that you make and more about how you see the world. When you become lonely, you start to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874845/">act and see the world differently</a>. You begin noticing the threats in your environment more readily, you expect to be rejected more often, and become more judgemental of the people you interact with. People that you talk to can feel this, and as a result, start moving away from you, which perpetuates your loneliness cycle.</p> <p><a href="https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/Science-2011-Miller-138-401.pdf">Studies have shown</a> that (non-lonely) people who hang out with lonely people are more likely to become lonely themselves. So loneliness is contagious, just as happiness is – when you hang out with happy people, you are more likely to become happy.</p> <p>There is also a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865701/">loneliness gene</a> that can be passed down and, while inheriting this gene doesn’t mean you will end up alone, it does affect how distressed you feel from social disconnection. If you have this gene, you are more likely to feel the pain of not having the kinds of relationships that you want.</p> <p>It’s particularly <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190033&amp;type=printable">bad news for men</a>. Loneliness more often results in death for men than for women. Lonely men are also less resilient and tend to be more depressed than lonely women. This is because men are typically discouraged from expressing their emotions in society and if they do they are judged harshly for it. As such, they might not even admit it to themselves that they’re feeling lonely and tend to wait a long time before seeking help. This can have serious consequences for their mental health.</p> <p><strong>How to escape it</strong></p> <p>To overcome loneliness and improve our mental health, there are certain things we can do. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874845/">Research has looked</a> at the different ways of combating this condition, such as increasing the number of people you talk to, improving your social skills, and learning how to compliment others. But it seems the number one thing is to change your perceptions of the world around you.</p> <p>It’s realising that sometimes people aren’t able to meet up with you, not because there is something inherently wrong with you, but because of other things going on in their lives. Maybe the person that you wanted to have dinner with wasn’t able to accept your invitation because it was too short notice for them and they had already promised someone else they would have drinks. People who aren’t lonely realise this and, as a consequence, don’t get down or start beating themselves up when someone says no to their invitations. When you don’t attribute “failures” to yourself, but rather to circumstances, you become much more resilient in life and can keep going.</p> <p>Getting rid of loneliness is also about letting go of cynicism and mistrust of others. So next time you meet someone new, try to lose that protective shield and really allow them in, even though you don’t know what the outcome will be.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/94376/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Olivia Remes, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/loneliness-is-contagious-and-heres-how-to-beat-it-94376" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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What exactly is depression?

<p>Depression is a serious disorder marked by disturbances in mood, cognition, physiology and social functioning.</p> <p>People can experience deep sadness and feelings of hopelessness, sorrow, emptiness and despair. These core features of depression have expanded to include an inability to experience pleasure, sluggish movements, changes in sleep and eating behaviour, difficulty concentrating and suicidal thoughts.</p> <p>The first <a href="https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/">diagnostic criteria</a> were introduced in the 1980s. Now we have an expanded set of concepts for describing depression, from mild to severe, major depressive disorder, chronic depression and seasonal affective disorder.</p> <p>Over the past 50 years, our understanding of depression has advanced significantly. But despite the wealth of research, there is <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression">no clear consensus on how this mental disorder should be explained</a>. We propose a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331356640_The_Classification_and_Explanation_of_Depression">new route through the thicket</a>.</p> <p><strong>Classifying mental disorders</strong></p> <p>How we <a href="https://www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/innovations/an-introduction-to-the-classification-of-mental-disorders-the-dsm-and-the-icd">describe and classify</a> mental disorders is a fundamental step towards explaining and treating them. When carrying out research on people with depression, diagnostic categories such as major depressive disorder (<a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/clinical-depression">MDD</a>) shape our explanations. But if the descriptions are wrong, our explanations will suffer as a consequence.</p> <p>The problem is that classification and explanation are not completely independent tasks. How we classify disorders directly impacts how we explain them, and these explanations in turn impact our classifications. In this way, psychiatry is stuck in a circular trap.</p> <p>The danger – for depression and for other mental disorders – is that we tailor our explanations to fit the classifications available and that the classifications are inadequate.</p> <p>Traditionally, research has focused on understanding mental disorders as classified in manuals such as the <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm/feedback-and-questions/frequently-asked-questions">Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders</a>. Most of these disorders are what we call “psychiatric syndromes” – clusters of symptoms that hang together in some meaningful way and are assumed to share a common cause.</p> <p>But many of these syndromes are poorly defined because disorders can manifest in different ways in different people. This is known as “disorder heterogeneity”. For example, there are 227 different symptom combinations that meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.</p> <p><strong>Improving how we classify disorders</strong></p> <p>The other problem is that diagnostic criteria often overlap across multiple disorders. Symptoms of restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability and sleep disturbance can be common for people experiencing generalised anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder.</p> <p>This makes studying disorders like depression difficult. While we may think we are all explaining the same thing, we are actually trying to explain completely different variations of the disorder, or in some cases a completely different disorder.</p> <p>A significant challenge is how to advance classification systems without abandoning their descriptive value and the decades of research they have produced. So what are our options?</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201004/dsm5-and-dimensional-diagnosis-biting-much-more-it-can-chew">categorical</a> approach, which sees disorders as discrete categories, has been the most prominent model of classification. But many researchers argue disorders such as depression are better seen as <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201004/dsm5-and-dimensional-diagnosis-biting-much-more-it-can-chew">dimensional</a>. For example, people who suffer from severe depression are just further along a spectrum of “depressed mood”, rather than being qualitatively different from the normal population.</p> <p>Novel classification approaches such as the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-04-diagnostic-psychiatric-disorders.html">hierarchical taxonomy of psychopathology</a> and <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/research/research-funded-by-nimh/rdoc/index.shtml">research domain criteria</a> have been put forward. While these better accommodate the dimensional nature of disorders and are less complex to use, they are conceptually limited.</p> <p>The former relies on current diagnostic categories and all the problems that come with that. The latter relies on neuro-centrism, which means mental disorders are viewed as disorders of the brain and biological explanations are used in preference to social and cultural explanations.</p> <p>A new approach called the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5269502/">symptom network model</a> offers a departure from the emphasis on psychiatric syndromes. It sees mental disorders not as diseases but as the result of interactions between symptoms.</p> <p>In depression, an adverse life event such as loss of a partner may activate a depressed mood. This in turn may cause neighbouring symptoms, such as insomnia and fatigue. But this model is only descriptive and offers no explanation of the processes that cause the symptoms themselves.</p> <p><strong>A simple way forward</strong></p> <p>We suggest that one way of advancing understanding of mental disorders is to move our focus from psychiatric syndromes to clinical phenomena.</p> <p>Phenomena are stable and general features. Examples in clinical psychology include low self-esteem, aggression, low mood and ruminative thoughts. The difference between symptom and phenomena is that the latter are inferred from multiple information sources such as behavioural observation, self-report and psychological test scores.</p> <p>For example, understanding the central processes that underpin the clinical phenomenon of the inability to experience pleasure (<a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-sense/200912/depression-and-anhedonia">anhedonia</a>) will provide greater insight for cases that are dominated by this symptom.</p> <p>In this way we can begin to tailor our explanations for individual cases rather than using general explanations of the broad syndrome “major depressive disorder”.</p> <p>The other advantage is that the central processes that make up these phenomena are also more likely to form reliable clusters or categories. Of course, achieving this understanding will require greater specification of clinical phenomena we want to explain. It is not enough to conclude that a research finding (such as low levels of dopamine) is associated with the syndrome depression, as the features of depression may vary significantly between individuals.</p> <p>We need to be more specific about exactly what people with depression in our research are experiencing.</p> <p>Building descriptions of clinical phenomena will help us to better understand links between signs, symptoms and causes of mental disorder. It will put us in a better position to identify and treat depression.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/122381/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Samuel Clack, PhD Candidate, Victoria University of Wellington and Tony Ward, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/depression-its-a-word-we-use-a-lot-but-what-exactly-is-it-122381" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Are sugar subsitutes better for your health?

<p>Wandering through the grocery store, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the numerous brands and health claims on the dozens of sugar substitutes. It can be particularly confusing for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes who must keep their blood sugar in check and control their weight.</p> <p>With the <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes">growing diabetes and obesity epidemic</a>, there has been increasing awareness around the use of added sugars in foods. The most recent edition of the <a href="https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/">U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans</a> recommends that added sugars should be kept to less than 10% of the calories consumed, which turns out to be roughly 270 calories per day.</p> <p>This is because “added sugars” add sweetness or flavor but add very little nutritional value. Because of this trend, the food industry has embarked on a quest to find or develop the perfect substitute to replace sugar – with the same taste and none of the calories that lead to weight gain.</p> <p>As a pharmacist who is also board certified in advanced diabetes management, I talk to patients every day about blood sugars and ways to help them take control of their diabetes. They often ask me whether the perfect substitute to sugar has been found. The short answer is no. Here is the long answer.</p> <p><strong>Sugar alcohols</strong></p> <p>Sugar substitutes can be categorized into two main groups: sugar alcohols and high intensity sweeteners. The sugar alcohols include sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, mannitol, erythritol and maltitol. <a href="https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/high-intensity-sweeteners">High-intensity sweeteners</a> include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, neotame, advantame, stevia, and Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle fruit extract (SGFE).</p> <p><a href="http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html">Sugar alcohols</a> are often found in toothpaste, chewing gum, and some “sugar-free” foods. They are carbohydrates with a chemical structure that resembles sugar, but also the components that make them an alcohol. They are about 25-100% sweeter than sugar and have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2019.03.019">a similar taste</a>. But here is the catch: They are not calorie free. Most have <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.03.009">between 1.5 and two calories per gram</a>. Now compare the calorie count to sugar, also known as sucrose, which has four calories per gram – twice as much.</p> <p>Although sugar alcohols contain fewer calories, they will still increase a patient’s blood sugar, especially when eaten in excess. When compared to sugar, the effect is less dramatic though. This is because of how these molecules are processed in the body. We measure this using the glycemic index.</p> <p>The glycemic index is a reference to how quickly a food is broken down and absorbed. The higher the number, the more quickly the food breaks down and the faster the sugar goes into the blood. Sucrose has a <a href="https://www.glycemicindex.com/">glycemic index</a> of 65; whereas sugar alcohols, like xylitol, have a glycemic index of around seven. This means that sugar alcohols are harder to digest, and cause a slower and lower increase in post-meal blood sugars – which is typically better for people with diabetes. Because sugar alcohols are harder for the body to break down though, some of them remain in the gut, and if a person consumes too much they may experience <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.03.009">digestive complaints like</a> gas, cramping and diarrhea.</p> <p>Here is the other downside to foods containing sugar alcohols: They often have <a href="http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html">higher quantities of fat or salt</a> to make up for the lower sugar content.</p> <p><strong>Artificial sweeteners</strong></p> <p>High-intensity sweeteners, are zero- or low-calorie alternatives to sugar. They are made from a variety of sources, and are 100 to 20,000 times as sweet as sugar. Some leave a bitter or metallic taste behind. Two newer substitutes – stevia and SGFE – come from plants and are at times referred to as “natural” substitutes.</p> <p>According to the <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/42/Supplement_1">American Diabetes Association 2019 guidelines</a>, the use of high-intensity sweeteners may decrease calorie and carbohydrate intake. However, you cannot replace these “free” calories with calories from other food sources, you will lose or the benefits on blood sugar control and weight loss.</p> <p>Researchers have seen this in some of the studies on high-intensity sweeteners. Some of the trials show <a href="http://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.161390">no difference or even a possible increase in weight</a>. But in other studies where intake of food is better regulated and patients don’t replace these free calories with other high-caloric foods, <a href="http://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.082826">the weight loss is maintained</a>.</p> <p><strong>The takeaway</strong></p> <p>All sugar substitutes are labeled as food additives and are under the regulation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The latest trend has been labeling some of the sugar substitutes as “derived from plants” or “natural.” That does not necessarily mean that these are safer or more effective in blood sugar control or weight loss. If it is used in excess, side effects such as bloating or diarrhea may still result.</p> <p>Several concerns by researchers have been raised about high-intensity sweeteners – saccharin and aspartame – and cancer. To date, the National Cancer Institute has concluded that there is no clear evidence that any of the high-intensity sweeteners is <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/artificial-sweeteners-fact-sheet">associated with an increased risk of cancer</a>.</p> <p>As a pharmacist specializing in advanced diabetes, I talk to patients every day about how to control their blood sugar level and their diabetes. There are three main ways to do that: medication, increased activity and diet. The last two are probably more important in the long run.</p> <p>If diet and activity level never change, it is really hard to help patients bring their blood sugars down. Medication after medication will likely have to be added. With this comes the potential for side effects. So if I can persuade patients to make changes to their diet, like switching to a beverage with a sugar substitute, it makes a huge difference in helping to control blood sugars and the dose of medications.</p> <p>The overall focus for diabetes management should be on reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods. If you can switch one of these sugar-sweetened products to a food that has a high-intensity sugar substitute, that is better. But best of all is consuming <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/42/Supplement_1">food and drinks that are not highly processed</a> and do not have added sugars.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/118571/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Jamie Pitlick, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice , Drake University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/sugar-substitutes-is-one-better-or-worse-for-diabetes-for-weight-loss-an-expert-explains-118571" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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Why do people faint?

<p>Maybe it’s a bride standing in a hot chapel, or an exhausted runner after a race. It could be someone watching a medical procedure on television or a donor at a blood drive.</p> <p>Maybe you’ve even experienced it yourself. You start to feel lightheaded, your stomach may hurt, your palms are sweaty, your vision closes in, your ears start to ring …. Then you wake up on the floor, staring up the ceiling, and realize you’ve fainted. What happened?</p> <p>Fainting – or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7461.336">what medics more technically call syncope</a> – can be caused by a number of factors. Ultimately it comes down to not enough blood getting to your brain.</p> <p>Sufficient blood pressure is necessary in order to deliver blood – and therefore oxygen – to all of the tissues in your body. The brain, which when you’re sitting or standing is above the level of your heart, especially relies on sufficient pressure to overcome gravity and drive blood up to your head.</p> <p>So what can interrupt that process and cause you to hit the deck before you even know what’s going on?</p> <p><strong>Nerve signals at odds</strong></p> <p>By far the most common trigger for fainting is a drop in blood pressure due to a strong vasovagal response. This reflex is named after the vagus nerve, which runs from your brain to your heart, lungs and digestive tract.</p> <p>The vagus nerve’s job is to regulate your parasympathetic nervous system. This is one half of your autonomic nervous system, all of which works without your needing to think about it. The parasympathetic functions are often characterized as rest-and-digest.</p> <p>For example, in the heart, the vagus nerve releases a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine binds to special pacemaker cells to slow the heart rate down. Behaviors such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00353">deep, slow breathing during yoga</a> try to increase parasympathetic activity, slowing the heart and leading to a more relaxed state.</p> <p>While relaxation is a good thing, slowing the heart down too much is not – as when it leads to a brief loss of consciousness. You need your <a href="https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/blood-pressure-vs-heart-rate-pulse">heart rate</a> to be a certain number of beats per minute in order to contribute adequately to your overall blood pressure.</p> <p>The other half of your autonomic nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system. It’s responsible for the fight-or-flight response, the functional opposite of the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system makes sure the small blood vessels in your body’s tissue maintain a baseline level of constriction. This resistance as blood flows through all your narrow blood vessels contributes to sufficient blood pressure for the whole system.</p> <p>An increase in parasympathetic activity reverses this resistance, allowing blood to linger in the peripheral tissues rather than heading to the heart and brain. A lack of resistance, along with the lowered heart rate, causes a dramatic decrease in blood pressure.</p> <p>And you’ve fainted – or more technically, experienced a neurocardiogenic syncope. While sometimes embarrassing, it’s fairly common and, in itself, not overly dangerous.</p> <p><strong>When a sight or sound is the trigger</strong></p> <p>The physical causes of fainting make logical sense. But there’s some psychology involved here, too. Think about someone who faints at the sight of blood. What’s going on there that can lead to this overactive vasovagal response?</p> <p>Typically, when the body senses an initial stress – like seeing blood – it triggers a fear-filled response that increases sympathetic nervous system activity and the heart rate rises. The body reflexively compensates by increasing parasympathetic activity to slow the heart rate back toward normal. But if the parasympathetic system overcompensates and lowers the heart rate too much, blood pressure can decrease too much, the brain gets less oxygen … and you lose consciousness.</p> <p>Whatever the cause of the fainting spell, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1537-2995.2001.41121475.x">loss of consciousness is typically brief</a>; most people will come to immediately after hitting the floor or even slumping over in a chair. In this sense, some researchers have suggested that fainting is protective. Once lying down, there’s no longer a gravitational challenge in delivering blood to the brain – it’s now at the same level as the heart. And, if one were actually hemorrhaging, or losing blood, the lying down, motionless posture would preserve blood and reduce further injury.</p> <p>The process of going from standing or sitting to lying on the floor is actually one of the more dangerous aspects of fainting, though. Individuals may hit their head or other body parts on the way down, causing injury.</p> <p>The idea that fainting may be related to the potential for blood loss, rather than a response to needles themselves or a medical procedure in general, has been a topic of recent investigations. In one study of healthy people, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01359.x">watching a video of a blood draw</a> led to slightly greater activation of the parasympathetic response than did watching a very similar video of an injection, suggesting there is something special about the blood itself.</p> <p>This same research group has also shown that, if a person <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01359.x">believes they are able to stop the procedure</a> at any time, vasovagal symptoms can be minimized. This suggests the feeling of fear or lack of control may contribute to the severity of people’s responses.</p> <p><strong>Minimize the likelihood</strong></p> <p>All the different causes for fainting and all the various reasons one person might be predisposed <a href="https://theconversation.com/fight-flight-or-faint-why-some-people-pass-out-when-they-see-blood-or-feel-pain-57348">remain unclear</a>, although it’s well accepted by scientists that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3349/ymj.2010.51.4.499">females are more likely</a> to experience syncope.</p> <p>What is clear are some of the strategies that can help prevent fainting.</p> <ul> <li>Undergo procedures lying down in the supine position. If you do feel faint, bend your knees or elevate your legs to facilitate blood flow to your brain.</li> <li>Contract the muscles in your arms and legs to help move blood back to the heart and brain.</li> <li>Stay well hydrated to maintain sufficient overall blood volume.</li> </ul> <p>Remember that an occasional episode of vasovagal syncope is likely not of concern, as long as you haven’t been injured in the process. But if fainting occurs repeatedly, it’s worth scheduling a medical exam.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Anne R. Crecelius, Associate Professor of Health and Sport Science, University of Dayton</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-people-faint-109620" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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“He is conscious”: Turning point in Michael Schumacher's sad plight

<p>Formula One star Michael Schumacher is said to be “conscious” after undergoing stem-cell treatment in Paris, France, a French newspaper has reported. </p> <p>The <em>Le Parisien </em>revealed earlier this week the seven-time world champion had been admitted to Georges-Pompidou hospital for a complex treatment involving the transfusions of inflammation-reducing stem cells. </p> <p>The cardiac surgeon who carried out the complex operation, Professor Philippe Menasche is also the same doctor who performed the world’s first embryonic cell transplant on a patient with heart failure in just 2014. </p> <p>“He is in my area. And I can assure you that he is conscious,” a source told the French newspaper. </p> <p>The 50-year-old German was left with severe brain damage in 2013 after suffering an accident while skiing. </p> <p>The Formula One legend has since been recovering at his family home in Lausanne and while his family has kept his condition as private as possible, new details have come to light about the trip to Paris. </p> <p>An Italian newspaper <em>La Repubblica </em>quoted biology professor Angelo Vescovi who claimed to have been “contacted by a person who knew Schumacher’s family”. </p> <p>“They asked if something could be done (for Schumacher). At that time, we had made an attempt to inject the same cells we use for multiple sclerosis into the brain of a boy in a coma with quite good results,” he said. </p> <p>“At the moment, we can only make assumptions about what they are doing in Paris.”</p> <p>The <em>Le Parisien</em> reports the Ferrari and Mercedes driver has an estimate of 10 security guards watching over him at the hospital. </p> <p>The family said on the star’s 50th birthday that they were “doing everything humanly possible" and “that he is in the very best of hands”. </p> <p>The manager of Schumacher, Nick Fry, spoke about his accident in his new book<em> Survive. Drive. Win</em>. where he wrote: “Corinna (Schumacher’s wife) and the family have kept a very tight control on information about his condition and his treatment which, I think, is a pity.</p> <p>“There are millions of people out there who have a genuine affection for Michael, and that’s not just his fans in Germany or fans of Mercedes Benz.</p> <p>“He has sustained an injury while skiing, which unfortunately happens to ordinary people every year. Families of those in recovery generally react better if they know other people are in the same boat.</p> <p>“I am sure that techniques and therapies have been developed and tried (with Schumacher) over the last few years that may well help others.</p> <p>“It would be helpful for his family to share how they have dealt with this challenge.”</p> <p> </p>

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How to know if your appendix is inflamed

<p><span>There are many different reasons as to why you might be having stomach pain – and while most of the causes aren’t worrisome, sometimes it could indicate a serious illness like appendicitis.</span></p> <p><span>Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a thin tube of tissue growing out of the colon. The appendix gets infected when there is a blockage, which could come from bacteria, viruses, fecal matter, parasites or others. </span></p> <p><span>If left untreated, an inflamed appendix can burst and spread its infected contents into the abdominal cavity, increasing risks for potentially fatal infection of the abdominal cavity lining.</span></p> <p><span>Although it is more common among children and young adults, appendicitis can strike anyone of any age. According to general surgeon Diya Alaedeen, ruptured appendixes also <a href="https://www.self.com/story/heres-how-to-know-if-your-appendix-burst">happen more often in elderly patients</a>.</span></p> <p><span>Below are the symptoms of appendicitis according to <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/appendicitis"><em>Better Health Channel</em></a>:</span></p> <ul> <li>Dull pain around the navel area that becomes increasingly sharp towards the lower right side of the abdomen</li> <li>Pain in the lower back, hamstring or less commonly rectum</li> <li>Fever</li> <li>Vomiting</li> <li>Diarrhoea or constipation</li> <li>Appetite loss</li> </ul> <p><span>The symptoms can appear as early as four hours after the appendix gets inflamed, although they can also appear anywhere within the first 24 to 48 hours.</span></p> <p><span>If you or someone you know may have appendicitis, <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/what-causes-appendicitis"><em>Healthdirect</em></a> recommends visiting a doctor as soon as possible. Treatments for the illness include antibiotics and surgery.</span></p>

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7 innocent mistakes that put your kidneys in trouble

<p>If your kidneys aren’t working properly, you could raise your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Here are seven things you may be doing that could jeopardise the health of your kidneys.</p> <p><strong>1. You’re a fan of packaged food</strong></p> <p>Most processed food is chock-full of sodium, which isn’t just bad for your heart, it can lead to kidney problems. When you’re showing signs that you eat too much salt, your body needs to flush the sodium out when you wee, and it takes calcium with it. In turn, having too much calcium in your urine increases your risk for kidney stones, says nephrologist Dr James Simon.</p> <p>Check the nutritional label on processed food, you’ll be surprised just how quickly sodium can add up. In fact, processed and fast food is where more than 75 per cent of the sodium we consume comes from. “People look at carbs and fat and kilojoules, but they don’t pay attention to sodium,” says Dr Simon.</p> <p><strong>2. Your blood pressure is out of control</strong></p> <p>High blood pressure is hard on your whole body, including your kidneys. “Kidneys are basically one big set of blood vessels with urine drains,” says Dr Simon. “If you have high blood pressure in your big blood vessels, you have high blood pressure in your smaller blood vessels.” Letting high blood pressure go unchecked could damage the blood vessels leading to your kidneys, plus scar the organs themselves.</p> <p><strong>3. You haven’t kicked your smoking habit</strong></p> <p>If you thought lung cancer was the only reason to put down the cigarettes, think again. A 2012 study found that quitting smoking for 16 or more years cut the risk of renal cell carcinoma (the most common form of kidney cancer in adults) by 40 per cent. Plus, smoking can damage the blood vessels and increase your risk of high blood pressure. “It’s another reason smoking is just bad on the body,” says Dr Simon.</p> <p><strong>4. You never drink when you’re thirsty</strong></p> <p>Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to down a full eight glasses of water to keep your kidneys working well. Even with just four to six glasses of water a day, your kidneys are probably fine, says Dr Simon. But sticking with just a cup or two a day could challenge the organ. Not only will you not have enough water flushing out your system to keep your sodium levels in check, but a dehydrated body will have a harder time keeping blood pressure steady. “The kidney is very sensitive to blood flow,” says Dr Simon. “It won’t like it if you are so dehydrated that your blood pressure drops and the blood flow to your kidneys drops.”</p> <p>You probably won’t need to worry about that level of dehydration every day, but make sure you drink enough water if you’re exercising a lot or outside on a hot day, he says.</p> <p><strong>5. You pop painkillers constantly</strong></p> <p>Watch out if you take over-the-counter medication for chronic pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs, which include ibuprofen and aspirin, reduce blood flow to the kidneys, and cause scarring because they’re directly toxic to the organ, says Dr Simon. Nobody’s saying you need to suffer through a throbbing headache, but popping anti-inflammatory pills too often can increase your risk of kidney problems. “The people at risk are taking them on a daily basis for long periods of time,” says Dr Simon. But if you already have kidney damage, he recommends avoiding these drugs altogether.</p> <p><strong>6. You assume supplements are safe</strong></p> <p>Just because a product is marketed as ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it’s good for you. “There are plenty of herbal medicines out there that are harmful,” says Dr Simon. Case in point: a plant-based ingredient called aristolochic acid can be found in ‘traditional medicines’, but it can cause scarring in the kidneys. Consumers are warned to stay away from products listing Aristolochia, Asarum or Bragantia on the label, because they probably contain the harmful ingredient. Unless you’re taking a regular multivitamin, always check with your doctor before starting any kind of supplement, advises Dr Simon.</p> <p><strong>7. Your weight is pushed to the side</strong></p> <p>No surprises here: extra kilos are hard on your body. Being overweight puts you at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which in turn can increase your chances of developing kidney disease. Insulin issues from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes cause inflammation and scarring in the kidneys, says Dr Simon. “Anybody with diabetes should be getting their kidney function and urine checked on a fairly regular basis,” he says.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Marissa Laliberte</span>. This article first appeared in </em><span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/7-innocent-mistakes-that-put-your-kidneys-in-trouble" target="_blank"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V" target="_blank"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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The excessive sweating condition that could ruin your life

<p>Most people sweat when they exercise or the weather is hot. But some people sweat far more than this. Hyperhidrosis – excessive sweating – can be a devastating condition that has a huge impact on quality of life, and even prevent those who have it from carrying out everyday tasks. For some it has affected their relationships. Others are so embarrassed by their sweating that they feel unable to leave their house.</p> <p>Sweating is a normal physiological process that helps the body to regulate its temperature. When we get too hot or exercise, sweat evaporates from the skin and has a cooling effect. People often also notice they sweat when they are anxious or are in a situation that makes them nervous. But for the roughly 3 per cent of people who have <a href="http://www.bad.org.uk/shared/get-file.ashx?id=93&amp;itemtype=document">hyperhidrosis</a>, sweating can be almost constant.</p> <p>The most common areas of the body affected by hyperhidrosis are hands, feet, underarms, face, and head, although other areas can be affected too. Some people with hyperhidrosis sweat all over, rather than in just some parts of the body. People with hyperhidrosis often sweat in situations where other people don’t, for example, when the weather is cold.</p> <p>It is not known what causes hyperhidrosis, although it is thought that the nerves that usually make us sweat become over-active. Hyperhidrosis often starts in childhood or adolescence, but can start at any time during life. There is probably a genetic element as well, as there is often a family history in people who have excessive sweating of the hands.</p> <p><strong>Few answers</strong></p> <p>Without a clear understanding of what causes hyperhidrosis, it is more challenging to find effective treatments. That is why colleagues and I have been <a href="https://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2018/january/dmu-begins-research-into-debilitating-condition-that-causes-excessive-sweating.aspx">researching the condition</a>. We asked people with hyperhidrosis and healthcare professionals who treat them what questions they would like research to answer. We had 268 people come forward to suggest nearly 600 research questions.</p> <p>We found that hyperhidrosis has a wide range of severity. At the mild end of the spectrum, the effects may be minimal – a small inconvenience or minor embarrassment. But as severity increases, the impact on quality of life becomes much more substantial. And the condition can have a huge impact on quality of life, affecting people’s career choices and leading to social isolation. For example, some people have such sweaty hands that it makes it difficult to hold a pen or use a keyboard.</p> <p>People with hyperhidrosis often have anxiety in work situations such as job interviews or meetings where they might be expected to shake hands. Their social life can also be affected, with many people feeling embarrassed by their sweating, and some people have avoided forming intimate relationships due to this. Some people have to change their clothes several times.</p> <p>Many people with hyperhidrosis don’t seek medical help due to the stigma of the condition. They may not even know it is a medical condition at all. Those that do often report difficulties in being taken seriously, lack of access to specialists, and treatment being considered a <a href="https://www.cambridgeshireandpeterboroughccg.nhs.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=9620">low priority</a>.</p> <p><strong>Available treatment</strong></p> <p>There are a <a href="https://hyperhidrosisuk.org/treatment-options/">number of treatments</a> available for hyperhidrosis, which depend upon the area of the body affected. Temporary treatments include:</p> <ul> <li>Strong anti-perspirants containing aluminium chloride</li> <li>Iontophoresis, where the affected areas are placed in water and a low voltage electrical current passed through it</li> <li>Botox, which works by blocking a chemical at the nerve endings, so it can’t activate the sweat glands</li> <li>Oral medications, called anti-cholinergics, which also work by blocking the nerve endings, throughout the body</li> </ul> <p>But these are all temporary, and do not work for everyone. The anti-perspirants can cause skin irritation, and oral medication blocks nerve endings throughout the body, so can cause side effects such as a dry mouth and problems urinating. Botox and iontophoresis, meanwhile, need to be repeated regularly and can be expensive.</p> <p>There are also some more permanent solutions available. Some sufferers have had surgery to remove or destroy sweat glands in a localised area (such as the armpits) or endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS), where the nerves that control sweating are cut. ETS is effective in reducing the sweating of the areas intended, but can lead to very serious side effects such as damage to nerves or organs. Most patients end up with some level of sweating in other areas (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15276490">compensatory sweating</a>) and this can be worse than the original problem, so this surgery is generally only used as a last resort. A newer <a href="https://hyperhidrosisuk.org/treatment-options/miradry/">permanent treatment</a> uses electromagnetic energy to destroy sweat glands.</p> <p>Despite being a common skin condition, hyperhidrosis is not widely known about, and research is very poorly funded. Raising awareness is key if people are to feel comfortable enough to come forward to ask for help and advice.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/113945/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Louise Dunford, Director of the Institute of Allied Health Sciences Research, De Montfort University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/hyperhidrosis-the-excessive-sweating-condition-that-could-ruin-your-life-113945" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Do men really sweat more than women?

<p>Men are generally taller than women, but we do not define gender on the basis of stature. Similarly, our <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/EP086112/full">research</a> shows we cannot define men and women according to their propensity to sweat (although some parents and partners might suggest otherwise).</p> <p>When we studied men and women during exercise in warm, dry conditions, gender differences in heat loss responses (skin blood flow and sweating) could be explained almost entirely by individual variations in body size and shape.</p> <p>The results refute the common saying “men sweat, while women glow”.</p> <p><strong>How objects - and bodies - lose heat</strong></p> <p>Heat loss from any object is dictated by the ratio of its surface area to its mass, described by the term “specific surface area”. Hot objects with a larger specific surface area cool more quickly than those with a smaller specific surface area. Doubling the radius (size) of a sphere increases its surface area four-fold but its mass eight-fold: this is known as “isometric growth”. Isometrically larger objects don’t lose heat as easily.</p> <p>Shape (morphology) also has a powerful influence on heat loss, so a thin rectangular prism loses heat much faster than a sphere of the same composition and mass. In a <a href="https://theconversation.com/mondays-medical-myth-you-lose-most-heat-through-your-head-10834">previous article</a>, we explained you’re no more likely to lose heat from your head than other parts of your body.</p> <p>Unlike geometric objects, animals do not grow isometrically; we retain a recognisable shape, but our proportions change (this is known as “allometric growth”). This is most evident in children, who have proportionally larger heads and shorter limbs than adults.</p> <p>However, if you double your weight through building muscle and putting on fat (without changing height), this does not result in a doubling of your skin surface area. Such a weight change increases your surface area <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2520314">only by about 30%</a>, which translates into reduced specific surface area, and lower heat loss by these physical mechanisms. The larger a person is, the lower is their specific surface area and the less effective these mechanisms become. This is where the physiological mechanisms of heat loss, particularly sweating, come into play in preventing undesirable heat gains.</p> <p><strong>Sweating and evaporative cooling</strong></p> <p>Since humans evolved <a href="http://genome.cshlp.org/content/15/8/1161.full">in the heat of Africa</a>, we acquired an ability to transport heat from deep within our bodies to the skin surface for dissipation via skin blood flow. Similarly, we acquired an evaporative cooling mechanism that can function when the air is hotter than the skin: sweating. These physiological responses enable us to manage body heat, and they are activated when physical heat loss becomes insufficient.</p> <p>To examine the influence of body shape and gender on these two physiological responses to manage body heat, <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/EP086112/full">we studied</a> men and women (60 university students) of widely variable but overlapping body sizes. Subjects had very similar exercise habits, endurance fitness and amounts of body fat.</p> <p>For each participant, we calculated a target exercise intensity related directly to their skin surface area. This resulted in comparable increases in body temperature across all participants, and equivalent heat-loss requirements. To the best of our knowledge, this was the first investigation to achieve those outcomes across a morphologically diverse sample of men and women. Previous researchers seem not to have fully appreciated these important experimental design criteria, leading to experiments that perpetuated the myth that all men sweat more than women.</p> <p>Our analyses have shown that variations in skin blood flow and sweating between men and women are dependent not on gender, but on body morphology.</p> <p>In answering our questions, we demonstrated that the lyrics of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_Under_(song)">“Down under” (Men at Work)</a> require modification.</p> <blockquote> <p>Do you come from a land down under?</p> <p>Where women glow and men plunder?</p> </blockquote> <p>While we do come from a land down under, and while some men may unfortunately still plunder, women do not glow. They sweat just like men, and for the same reason: to lower body temperature.</p> <p><strong>Three different types of sweat</strong></p> <p>To consider the question of how sweat relates to body odour, we need to go a bit broader.</p> <p>The ubiquitous sweat glands humans possess for evaporative cooling are known as “eccrine” glands. However, we all have two other types of glands in our skin: <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3812728">“apocrine” and “apoeccrine” glands</a>.</p> <p>While eccrine glands are found distributed throughout the body, apocrine and apoeccrine glands have a limited distribution, predominantly located in regions where adults grow longer - sometimes curlier - hair (regardless of whether we remove that hair).</p> <p>The apocrine glands are found beside hair follicles, where they secrete a milky, oily fluid. The apoeccrine glands, which appear to develop after puberty, seem to be the dominant gland within the armpits. They secrete a watery fluid like the eccrine glands.</p> <p>The odour we sometimes detect around sweaty people, or their clothes, comes mostly from secretions of the apocrine and apoeccrine glands. Those secretions are initially odourless, but bacterial action on that fluid leads to smelly men, and smelly women.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/73903/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Sean Notley, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Ottawa and Nigel Taylor, Associate Professor of Thermal Physiology, University of Wollongong</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-do-men-really-sweat-more-than-women-73903" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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6 silent symptoms of bowel cancer you might be missing

<p>Bowel cancer is more common in people over the age of 50. Rectal bleeding is the most obvious symptom of bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, but other signs may be far more subtle. If you notice any of the following signs, talk to your doctor.</p> <p><strong>You learn you’re anaemic</strong></p> <p>A diagnosis of anaemia may be the first sign that you’re bleeding internally, even if you haven’t seen any other bowel cancer symptoms. “If a woman is menstruating, anaemia is less likely to be followed up with additional tests to see if it could be something else, like bowel cancer,” says cancer specialist Dr Randall Holcombe. “If a man is anaemic, you assume he’s bleeding from somewhere.” It’s not uncommon for people to bleed internally for up to six months before anything shows up in the stool, says Dr Patricia Raymond, a university fellow in Gastroenterology. If you experience any signs of anaemia, such as fatigue, skin pallor or dizziness, see a doctor, as they can also be bowel cancer symptoms.</p> <p><strong>You can’t catch your breath</strong></p> <p>Another side effect of a slow internal bleed is shortness of breath. If you aren’t bleeding aggressively or vomiting blood, your body puts more plasma in the blood without making more iron or red blood cells, says Dr Raymond. This prevents you from losing blood in large volumes but reduces your blood’s ability to carry oxygen, which is why you might be short of breath – one of the overlooked bowel cancer symptoms.</p> <p><strong>You feel bloated or crampy</strong></p> <p>“If things are starting to get blocked and backed up in the colon, you may experience bloating,” says Dr Holcombe. If you’re feeling a little puffy or crampy, there are many other factors that may be to blame, but if stomach symptoms persist, it could be a symptom of bowel cancer. If you start to notice a constant pain in the right side of your abdomen, that may mean the disease is in the later stages and has spread to the liver, he says.</p> <p><strong>You have severe constipation</strong></p> <p>A bout of constipation here and there is probably nothing to worry about, but if it becomes severe and persistent, it could be one of the symptoms of bowel cancer. “This is suggestive of some sort of obstruction, and if it seems to be there all the time, you should get it checked out,” says Dr Holcombe.</p> <p><strong>You pass skinny stools</strong></p> <p>Pay attention to what’s in the toilet, even if you don’t see blood – it can reveal lesser-known bowel cancer symptoms. If your stool consistently takes on a very narrow or skinny shape when it was previously chunky, that could point to a restriction in the colon caused by polyps, says Dr Raymond. Persistent diarrhoea may also be one of the symptoms of bowel cancer.</p> <p><strong>Your stool is a strange colour</strong></p> <p>Bleeding from the rectum may not always come in the form of bright red blood, says Dr Holcombe. Dark, tarry stools are a sign there’s probably some blood in there, and while it could be caused by something less serious, like an ulcer, this can also be one of the symptoms of bowel cancer, he says.</p> <p><em>Written by Alyssa Jung. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/cancer/6-silent-symptoms-of-bowel-cancer-you-might-be-missing"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V" target="_blank"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Is there really a single ideal body shape for women?

<p>Many scholars of Renaissance art <a href="http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/birth-of-venus.htm">tell us</a> that Botticelli’s Birth of Venus captures the tension between the celestial perfection of divine beauty and its flawed earthly manifestation. As classical ideas blossomed anew in 15th-century Florence, Botticelli could not have missed the popular <a href="http://www.iep.utm.edu/neoplato/#H5">Neoplatonic notion</a> that contemplating earthly beauty teaches us about the divine.</p> <p>Evolutionary biologists aren’t all that Neoplatonic. Like most scientists, we’ve long stopped contemplating the celestial, having – to appropriate <a href="http://www.quantumdiaries.org/2011/09/16/there-is-no-need-for-god-as-a-hypothesis/">Laplace’s immortal words to Napoleon</a> – “no need of that hypothesis”. It is the messy imperfection of the real world that interests us on its own terms.</p> <p>My <a href="https://theconversation.com/columns/rob-brooks-1343">own speciality concerns</a> the messy conflicts that inhere to love, sex and beauty. Attempts to cultivate a simple understanding of beauty – one that can fill a 200-word magazine ad promoting age-reversing snake oil, for example – tend to consistently come up short.</p> <p><strong>Waist to hip</strong></p> <p>Nowhere does the barren distinction between biology and culture grow more physically obvious than in the discussion of women’s body shapes and attractiveness. The biological study of body shape has, for two decades, been preoccupied with the ratio of waist to hip circumference.</p> <p>With clever experimental manipulations of line drawings, Devendra Singh <a href="http://www.femininebeauty.info/i/singh.pdf">famously demonstrated</a> that images of women with waists 70% as big as their hips tend to be most attractive. This 0.7:1 waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), it turns out, also reflects a distribution of abdominal fat associated with good <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3874840">health</a> and <a href="https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?view_op=view_citation&amp;hl=en&amp;user=w2qTGfoAAAAJ&amp;citation_for_view=w2qTGfoAAAAJ:TQgYirikUcIC">fertility</a>.</p> <p>Singh also showed that Miss America pageant winners and Playboy playmates tended to have a WHR of 0.7 despite changes in the general slenderness of these two samples of women thought to embody American beauty ideals.</p> <p>Singh’s experiments were repeated in a variety of countries and societies that differ in both average body shape and apparent ideals. The results weren’t unanimous, but a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 came up as most attractive more often than not. The idea of an optimal ratio is so appealing in its simplicity that it became a staple factoid for magazines such as <a href="http://www.cosmopolitan.com.au/health-lifestyle/healthy-eating/2010/8/female-attractiveness-relates-to-waist-size/#_">Cosmo</a>.</p> <p>There’s plenty to argue about with waist-hip ratio research. Some researchers have found that other indices, like <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691155/">Body Mass Index</a> (BMI) explain body attractiveness more effectively.</p> <p>But others reject the reductionism of measures like WHR and BMI altogether. This rejection reaches its extremes in the notion that ideas of body attractiveness are entirely <a href="http://www.socwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/fact_04-2008-wom-size.pdf">culturally constructed and arbitrary</a>. Or, more sinisterly, designed by our capitalist overlords in the diet industry to be inherently unattainable.</p> <p>The evidence? The observation that women’s bodies differ, on average, between places or times. That’s the idea animating the following video, long on production values, short on scholarship and truly astronomic on the number of hits (21 million-plus at the time of writing):</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xrp0zJZu0a4"></iframe></div> <p><span class="caption">This rather questionable video, called ‘Women’s Ideal Body Types Throughout History’, is getting a lot of airplay on YouTube.</span></p> <p>I note that Botticelli’s Venus looks more at home in the 20th Century than among the more full-figured Renaissance “ideals”. So do the Goddesses and Graces in <a href="http://www.uffizi.org/artworks/la-primavera-allegory-of-spring-by-sandro-botticelli/">La Primavera</a>. Perhaps there was room for more than one kind of attractive body in the Florentine Renaissance? Or is the relationship between attractiveness and body shape less changeable and more variegated than videos like the one above would have us believe?</p> <p>Not that I’m down on body shape diversity. Despite the fact that there seems to be only one way to make a supermodel, real women differ dramatically and quite different body types can be equally attractive. The science of attractiveness must grapple with variation, both within societies and among cultures.</p> <p><strong>Enter the BodyLab</strong></p> <p>For some years our <a href="http://www.robbrooks.net/">research group</a> has wrestled with exactly these issues, and with the fact that bodies vary in <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20840313">so many more dimensions</a> than just their waists and their hips. To that end, we established the <a href="http://www.bodylab.biz">BodyLab</a> project, a “digital ecosystem” in which people from all over the internet rate the attractiveness of curious-looking bodies like the male example below.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/73884/original/image-20150305-1931-14hs705.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/73884/original/image-20150305-1931-14hs705.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Example image from the BodyLab ‘digital ecosystem’. The VW Beetle is provided as the universal symbol of something-slightly-shorter-than-an-adult-human. Faces pixellated to preserve any grey people’s anonymity.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Rob Brooks/BodyLab.biz</span></span></p> <p>We call it a “digital ecosystem” not to maximise pretentiousness, but because this experiment involved multiple generations of selection and evolution. We started with measurements of 20 American women, a sample representing a wide variety of body shapes.</p> <p>We then “mutated” those measures, adding or subtracting small amounts of random variation to each of 24 traits. Taking these newly mutated measures we built digital bodies, giving them an attractive middle-grey skin tone in an attempt to keep variation in skin colour, texture etc out of the already complex story.</p> <blockquote> <p>If you want to help out with our second study, on male bodies, visit <a href="http://www.bodylab.biz/Experiments.aspx">BodyLab</a> and click through to <em>Body Shape Study</em> and then <em>Rate Males (Generation 6)</em>.</p> </blockquote> <p>This all involved considerable technologic innovation, resulting in an experiment unlike any other. We had a population of bodies (120 per generation) that we could select after a few thousand people had rated them for attractiveness. We then “bred” from the most attractive half of all models and released the new generation into the digital ecosystem.</p> <p>What did we find? In a paper just published at <a href="http://bit.ly/1EOQcOl">Evolution &amp; Human Behavior</a>, the most dramatic result was that the average model became more slender with each generation. Almost every measure of girth decreased dramatically, whereas legs and arms evolved to be longer.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/73901/original/image-20150305-1942-103dem4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/73901/original/image-20150305-1942-103dem4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">In eight generations, the average body became more slender. Waist, seat, collar, bust, underbust, forearm, bicep, calf and thigh girth all decreased by more than one standard deviation. At the same time, leg length (inseam) rose by 1.4 standard deviations.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Rob Brooks</span></span></p> <p>That may not seem surprising, particularly because the families “bred” from the most overweight individuals at the start of the experiment were eliminated in the first few generations.</p> <p>But, after that, more families remained in the digital ecosystem, surviving generation after generation of selection, than we would have expected if there was a single most attractive body type. The Darwinian process we imposed on our bodies had started acting on the mutations we added during the breeding process.</p> <p><strong>More meaningful than the mean</strong></p> <p>Those “mutations” that we introduced allowed bodies to evolve free from all the developmental constraints that apply to real-world bodies. For example, leg lengths could evolve independently of arm lengths. Waists could get smaller even as thighs got bigger.</p> <p>When we examined those five families that lasted longest as our digital ecosystem evolved, we observed a couple of interesting nuances.</p> <p>First, selection targeted waist size itself, rather than waist-hip ratio. No statistical model involving hip size (either on its own or in waist-hip ratio) could come close to explaining attractiveness as well as waist size alone. Our subjects liked the look of slender models with especially slender waists. There was nothing magical about a 0.7 waist-to-hip ratio.</p> <p>Second, within attractive families, which were the more slender families to begin with, evolution bucked the population-wide trend. These bodies began evolving to be more shapely, with bigger busts and more substantial curves.</p> <p>It turns out there’s more than one way to make an attractive body, and those different body types evolve to be well-integrated. That’s a liberating message for most of us: evolutionary biology has more to offer our understanding of diversity than the idea that only one “most attractive” body (or face, or personality) always wins out.</p> <p>What about the cultural constructionists? Are body ideals arbitrary, or tools of the patriarchal-commercial complex?</p> <p>Our results suggest that the similarities between places, and even between male and female raters, are pretty strong: the 60,000 or so people who viewed and rated our images held broadly similar ideas of what was hot and what was not. But their tastes weren’t uniform. We think most individuals could see beauty in variety, if not in the full scope of diversity on offer.</p> <p>What’s cool about our evolving bodies, however, is that we can run the experiment again and again. We can do so with different groups of subjects, or even using the same subjects before and after they’ve experienced some kind of intervention (perhaps body-image consciousness-raising?). I’m hoping we can use them to look, in unprecedented depth, at the intricate ways in which experience, culture and biology interact.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/38432/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Rob Brooks, Scientia Professor of Evolutionary Ecology; Director, Evolution &amp; Ecology Research Centre, UNSW</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/is-there-really-a-single-ideal-body-shape-for-women-38432" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Why is urine yellow?

<blockquote> <p><strong>Why is urine yellow? – Ronan, aged 9, Greenslopes, Brisbane.</strong></p> </blockquote> <hr /> <p>Our bodies use nutrients from the food we eat. But the processes involved in digestion also create what we call “byproducts”. That’s where a new chemical is created along the way.</p> <p>Some of these byproducts in the body are waste and our bodies have clever waste processing systems to get rid of them.</p> <p>Some of the waste goes out in your poo. And waste that can be dissolved in water goes out in your wee. We call this “water-soluble” waste. Water-soluble means it can be dissolved in water.</p> <p>And the parts of your body in charge of “making” the wee are called the kidneys. They’re shaped like kidney beans.</p> <p><strong>A delicate balance</strong></p> <p>The kidneys work around the clock to make sure the body has the right balance of water, salt and chemicals and not too much water-soluble waste in it.</p> <p>Kidneys have special filters in them that help sort out the useful bits from the waste. They also are in charge of transporting the water-soluble waste from your kidneys, down two special pipes called “ureters” and into your bladder (which is down near the genitals).</p> <p>When the bladder gets full, it sends a message along your nerves to your brain that makes you feel like you need to wee.</p> <p><strong>So…. why is it yellow?</strong></p> <p>One of the water-soluble waste products that your kidneys put into your urine is a chemical called urobilin, and it is yellow.</p> <p>The colour of your urine depends on how much urobilin is in it and how much water is in it.</p> <p>If your urine is light yellow, it means you have been drinking a lot of water and there’s a lot of water in your urine. We call this being “hydrated”.</p> <p>If your urine is dark yellow, that means there’s less water, and a relatively high amount of urobilin. It probably means you haven’t been drinking enough water and could be dehydrated.</p> <p><strong>Too much water versus not enough</strong></p> <p>When you haven’t been drinking enough water, the kidneys get a message from your brain to try to keep more water in your body (and out of your bladder). You will also start to feel thirsty.</p> <p>If people can’t drink water (because they have a vomiting illness, for example), they might need water put directly into their blood. This usually happens in a hospital using a drip (which is where a bag of salt water is put into your blood via a needle in your arm).</p> <p>If you have been drinking more water than your body needs, the body tells the kidney filters to get rid of the spare water. That’s when your urine will look paler.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Jaquelyne Hughes, Research Fellow, Menzies School of Health Research</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/curious-kids-why-is-urine-yellow-117747" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Australia’s very own royal is back! Princess Mary steals the show in reused frock

<p>Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary was a picture of elegance, beauty and class for her first royal engagement since returning from her summer holiday with her family. </p> <p>The royal member has come back to a long list of special engagement and carried out two in Copenhagen. </p> <p>The 47-year-old debuted for a charity event under her name,<span> </span>The Mary Organisation,<span> </span>which focussed on the social exclusion. </p> <p>Princess Mary has long championed against the dire need to include members of society at risk of isolation. </p> <p>The Tasmanian-born royal spoke about the risk that vulnerable people who are lonely are under. </p> <p>She also noted the same people who are at risk of isolation show signs of wanting to enjoy a meaningful life, but are facing the challenge of finding employment due to the recent labor market shortages. </p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1oh1lxHzzE/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1oh1lxHzzE/" target="_blank">A post shared by Fanpage of CPMary (@crownprincess_mary_ofdenmark)</a> on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:06am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>While there, the royal was snapped wearing a recycled H&amp;M dress from the<span> </span>Conscious Collection, which uses all recycled and organic materials to make their garments. </p> <p>The frock is made of organic silk and was last available for purchase for the cost of $99. </p> <p>Princess Mary first wore the dress in May. </p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to see the Princess Mary’s outfit.</p>

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“I screwed up”: Morning show host hit with backlash after mocking Prince George for taking ballet

<p>After mocking Prince George’s school curriculum,<span> </span><em>Good Morning America<span> </span></em>anchor Lara Spencer has issued an apology after nationwide backlash ensued.</p> <p>During a segment on the show, it was revealed that the eldest son of Prince William takes ballet classes, with his dad mentioning that “Prince George absolutely loves ballet.”</p> <p>To which Spencer responded: “I have news for you Prince William, we’ll see how long that lasts.”</p> <p>But the quip didn’t go down well, as shortly after she was forced to apologise for the incident on her Instagram due to significant criticism: “My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made in pop news yesterday. From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT. I fully believe we should all be free to pursue our passions. Go climb your mountain – and love every minute of it.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1gzsy_D7-L/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1gzsy_D7-L/" target="_blank">My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made in pop news yesterday. From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT. I fully believe we should all be free to pursue our passions. Go climb your mountain-and love every minute of it.</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/lara.spencer/" target="_blank"> Lara Spencer</a> (@lara.spencer) on Aug 23, 2019 at 9:07am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>She also made a statement on air Monday morning: “I screwed up. I did,” she said. “It was stupid, and I am deeply sorry. I’ve spoken with several members of the dance community over the past few days.</p> <p>“For me the lesson is that words hurt, and it was not my intention, but it was insensitive and I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to apologise personally to you and for you guys coming in here to talk to me and to educate me, again, I’m really sorry.”</p> <p>Her response came shortly after members of the dance community rallied around the young prince and other male dancers with the hashtag #boysdancetoo.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1gjmZTBCxW/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1gjmZTBCxW/" target="_blank">DEAR @lara.spencer of GOOD MORNING AMERICA. I have a message for you. Wake up. It’s 2019. Get with the program. Please share and repost this so a boy who needs to see this feels supported if he dances or wants to! #boysdancetoo #ballet #goodmorningamerica #traviswall #laraspencer #bully</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/traviswall/" target="_blank"> Travis Wall</a> (@traviswall) on Aug 23, 2019 at 6:49am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1hWQ-lhxCU/" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1hWQ-lhxCU/" target="_blank">Ballet promotes strength; it cultivates discipline and focus. Ballet provides us with a sense of community, an outlet for creativity, and an avenue for understanding others. Ballet creates a space and a world in which reductive gender stereotypes don’t belong. Ballet is as much masculine as it is feminine, and we’re tremendously proud of and inspired by all our male dancers. #boysdancetoo • Pictured are many of the men in our Company and NB2 currently rehearsing for our season opener Romeo and Juliet!</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/nashvilleballet/" target="_blank"> Nashville Ballet</a> (@nashvilleballet) on Aug 23, 2019 at 2:09pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>There were over 1000 people who took part, as they aimed to raise awareness about the profession.</p>

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Being left-handed doesn’t mean you are right-brained — so what does it mean?

<p>There have been plenty of claims about what being left-handed means, and whether it changes the type of person someone is – but the truth is something of an enigma. Myths about handedness appear year after year, but researchers have yet to uncover all of what it means to be left-handed.</p> <p>So why are people left-handed? The truth is we don’t fully know that either. What we do know is that only <a href="https://www.livescience.com/19968-study-reveals-lefties-rare.html">around 10% of people</a> across the world are left-handed – but this isn’t split equally between the sexes. About 12% of men are left-handed but <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2008-11487-004?doi=1">only about 8% of women</a>. Some people get very excited about the 90:10 split and wonder why we aren’t all right-handed.</p> <p>But the interesting question is, why isn’t our handedness based on chance? Why isn’t it a 50:50 split? It is not due to handwriting direction, as left-handedness would be dominant in countries where their languages are written right to left, which it is not the case. Even the genetics are odd – only about <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-childrens-brains-develop-to-make-them-right-or-left-handed-55272">25% of children</a> who have <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1993-98645-005">two left-handed parents</a> will also be left-handed.</p> <p>Being left-handed has been linked with all sorts of bad things. Poor health and early death are often associated, for example – but neither are exactly true. The latter is explained by many people in older generations being <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/002839329390156T">forced to switch</a> and use their right hands. This makes it look like there are less left-handers at older ages. The former, despite being an appealing headline, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2398212818820513">is just wrong</a>.</p> <p>Positive myths are also abound. People say that left-handers are more creative, as most of them use their “right brain”. This is perhaps one of the more persistent myths about handedness and the brain. But no matter how appealing (and perhaps to the disappointment of those lefties still waiting to wake up one day with the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278262604000612">talents of Leonardo da Vinci</a>), the general idea that any of us use a “dominant brain side” that defines our personality and decision making <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071275">is also wrong</a>.</p> <p><strong>Brain lateralisation and handedness</strong></p> <p>It is true, however, that the brain’s <a href="https://courses.lumenlearning.com/waymaker-psychology/chapter/the-brain-and-spinal-cord/">right hemisphere controls the left side of the body</a>, and the left hemisphere the right side – and that the hemispheres do actually have specialities. For example, language is usually processed a little bit more within the left hemisphere, and recognition of faces a little bit more within the right hemisphere. This idea that each hemisphere is specialised for some skills is known as brain lateralisation. However, the halves do not work in isolation, as a thick band of nerve fibres – called the corpus callosum – connects the two sides.</p> <p>Interestingly, there are some known differences in these specialities between right-handers and left-handers. For example, it is often cited that around 95% of right-handers are “left hemisphere dominant”. This is not the same as the “left brain” claim above, it actually refers to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09647049609525672">the early finding</a> that most right-handers depend more on the left hemisphere for speech and language. It was assumed that the opposite would be true for lefties. But this is not the case. In fact, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01128/full">70% of left-handers</a> also process language more in the left hemisphere. Why this number is lower, rather than reversed, is as yet unknown.</p> <p>Researchers have found many other brain specialities, or “asymmetries” in addition to language. Many of these are specialised in the right hemisphere – in most right-handers at least – and include things such as face processing, spatial skills and perception of emotions. But these are understudied, perhaps because scientists have incorrectly assumed that they all depend on being in the hemisphere that isn’t dominant for language in each person.</p> <p>In fact, this assumption, plus the recognition that a small number of left-handers have unusual right hemisphere brain dominance for language, means left-handers are either ignored – or worse, actively avoided – <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn3679">in many studies of the brain</a>, because researchers assume that, as with language, all other asymmetries will be reduced.</p> <p>How some of these functions are lateralised (specialised) in the brain can actually influence how we perceive things and so can be studied using simple perception tests. For example, in my research group’s <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/1357650X.2019.1652308">recent study</a>, we presented pictures of faces that were constructed so that one half of the face shows one emotion, while the other half shows a different emotion, to a large number of right-handers and left-handers.</p> <p>Usually, people see the emotion shown on the left side of the face, and this is believed to reflect specialisation in the right hemisphere. This is linked to the fact that visual fields are processed in such a way there is a bias to the left side of space. This is thought to represent right hemisphere processing while a bias to the right side of space is thought to represent left hemisphere processing. We also presented different types of pictures and sounds, to examine several other specialisations.</p> <p>Our findings suggest that some types of specialisations, including processing of faces, do seem to follow the interesting pattern seen for language (that is, more of the left-handers seemed to have a preference for the emotion shown on the right side of the face). But in another task that looked at biases in what we pay attention to, we found no differences in the brain-processing patterns for right-handers and left-handers. This result suggests that while there are relationships between handedness and some of the brain’s specialisations, there aren’t for others.</p> <p>Left-handers are absolutely central to new experiments like this, but not just because they can help us understand what makes this minority different. Learning what makes left-handers different could also help us finally solve many of the long-standing neuropsychological mysteries of the brain.</p> <p><em>Written by Emma Karlsson. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/being-left-handed-doesnt-mean-you-are-right-brained-so-what-does-it-mean-121711"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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