30 August 2006

Health News (Last August Edition)

Nerve Gas Treatment

An Alzheimer's drug, galantamine, is highly effective at preventing two well known nerve gases from causing fatalities in animal tests (at standard Alzheimer's doses) if taken up to three hours before, or within five minutes after exposure. ER doctors and terrorism response units -- although this is experimental, you need to bookmark this one and keep a vial handy, as the window of opportunity is so small and there is no other known effective response.

Making Babies Healthy

For Mom: Nursing women who nursing in the winter in places where sun exposure is reduced as people stay inside don't get enough vitamin D and neither do their infants. They need about 30 times the recommended daily allowance in the winter. In the summer, this is rarely a problem.

For Dad: The children of men who use saunas in the weeks prior to conception have a 3.6 times increased risk of brain cancer. Electric blankets increase the risk by a factor of 2.4 and other heat sources are also associated with a 2.5 fold increase in risk. It is hypothesized that this could be due to harm to sperm, which are temperature sensitive. The risk, even with exposure, is still very small, but the effect is statistically significant and people planning on becoming dads should avoid saunas and other measures that artificially warm the sperm production zone.

Infectious Disease

Air conditioning cooling towers turn out to be perfect petri dishes for bacteria dangerous to humans and mutated versions of these bacteria. They acts of parasites in amoebaes there.

A new form of cancer transmission has been discovered. A form of dog cancer is contagious. Rather than being transmitted via a virus, like the cervical cancer virus known as HPV, it is transmitted like a parasite, with the original cancer cells cloning themselves as they move from host to host. This is the first time cancer has been observed to spread in this manner.

Mental Health

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is very real. About 28% of soldiers exposed to extreme stresses in war suffer from it, while it is found in only about 1% of soldiers in the same war who are not so exposed (corroborated against service records). About half of cases resolve within a decade.

Hat Tip to Science News (subscription only).

No comments: