Review Category : Health

Heavy Pot Smokers Plagued by False Memories

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Scientists have long known that people who smoke marijuana can become forgetful due to the drug’s effects.

While users’ short- and even long-term memories are usually impaired, a study published in the Journal of Molecular Biology says that when pot smokers are trying to remember an event, they’re more susceptible to conjuring up false memories.

Researchers demonstrated this by having people memorize a group of words and then minutes later, showing them the original words along with some new ones. Typically, chronic marijuana users were more apt to believe that the new words belonged to the original list than people who didn’t take the drug.

During the test, scientists also conducted brain scans of all the participants, none of whom were stoned at the time of the experiment.

What they saw was lower levels of activation in the parts of the brain responsible for memory and recall in the heavy pot smokers.

This was particularly concerning to the researchers because it indicates that memory was impaired and distortions were more likely even when the smokers had abstained from using marijuana before taking part in the study.

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Florida Man Faces Charges After Being Bitten Attempting to Kiss Venomous Snake

ArendTrent/iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA) — A Florida man was bitten in the face by a venomous snake after trying to kiss it, authorities told ABC Tampa affiliate WFTS-TV.

Austin Hatfield, 18, of Wimauma, told his friends he took a liking to the snake and decided to keep it as a pet, Robin Belcher, the mother of his best friend, Jason Belcher, told ABC News.

“It was a cottonmouth snake, 4-foot, and he pulled it out of pillow case and laid it on his chest and it ended up striking him on the face,” Belcher said.

The teenager, who is reportedly in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. Family members reportedly killed the reptile and brought it to the hospital.

Cottonmouths, also known as water moccasins, are a common snake in the Southeast, according to Terry Phillip, the curator of reptiles for Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Phillip, who is a professional herpetologist, said about 3,500 people in the United States are bitten each year by venomous snakes, leading to as many as four fatalities. About 70 percent of the victims are men between the ages of 16 and 25 and alcohol is usually involved, he said.

“The vast majority of men are bitten in the upper extremities, forearms and face,” Phillip said. “Testosterone and snake venom don’t mix real well.”

Cottonmouth bites are rarely deadly but are among the most excruciatingly painful of snake bites, Phillip said. Their venom attacks the red blood cells, causing an immediate burning sensation, swelling and redness. If improperly treated, a bite can lead to permanent damage of the nerves, kidneys and heart.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the incident because Hatfield allegedly did not have a permit to have the snake. He faces possible charges, according to WFTS.

Florida requires 1,000 hours of training under the guidance of a licensed expert in order to obtain a permit to handle poisonous snakes, Phillip noted.

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Could Genes Impact How Attractive You Are to Mosquitoes?

k4d/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers say your genes may play a role in determining how likely you are to be bitten by mosquitoes.

A study, published in the journal PLoS One, notes that there is some evidence that pregnancy, larger body mass, alcohol intake and increased carbon dioxide production may attract mosquitoes. It evaluated 37 sets of twins and found that an individual’s genetically-programmed scent, unique only to them, is another factor in attracting mosquitoes.

Researchers placed mosquitoes in a tube that allowed them to go to either the right or the left. A different scent was blown into each side of the tube — either one of the twins or clean air.

The study found that in identical twins, the mosquitoes were equally attracted to each twin, while mosquitoes had a preference among fraternal twins.

The study did not determine whether a particular molecule involved in creating an individual’s scent caused the mosquitoes to be particularly attracted to one twin over another. Further studies may be able to target the molecule or molecules involved.

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Why Researchers Built the World’s Most Expensive Karaoke Machine

Bioimaging Science and Tech. Group at the Beckman Inst.(URBANA, Ill.) — Researchers at the Beckman Institute in Illinois have built the world’s most expensive karaoke machine in order to capture the movement of the muscles used in singing.

Belting out a tune involves more than 100 muscles in the chest, neck, jaw, tongue and lips, researchers noted. Using a super-quick imaging technique, Aaron Johnson, a faculty member who moonlights as a chorus singer, lay inside an MRI scanner and sang into a noise-canceling microphone as the machine snapped pictures at over 100 frames per seconds.

“The words were projected onto a screen at the top of the machine as the machine banged loudly in the background,” said Brad Sutton, technical director of the lab who collaborated on the study published in this month’s Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Typical imaging techniques only take about 10 frames per second, which isn’t fast enough to catch the complex interaction between the tip of the tongue and a fleshy flap of tissue in the back of the throat known as the velum, Sutton explained.

“What we demonstrate with this technique is how various muscles are involved in different speech samples and how we transition from one type of sound to the next,” Sutton said.

The team previously recorded Johnson singing a Christmas carol to study vocal coordination. This time around they chose the song “If I Only Had a Brain” from the Wizard of Oz because it was less seasonal, Johnson said.

“Even though we weren’t studying what happens in the brain during song, it’s obviously a very prominent feature on the video,” he said.

The study was more than just an overpriced karaoke night, the researchers stressed. It had an important practical purpose. Johnson, who studies speech in older people, said the information can be used to understand how people can keep their voice muscles in top condition as they age.

“We were able to measure in real time the different speeds of the various muscles used in speech,” he said. “This can show us what we can do behaviorally to improve the voice later in life.”

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Woman Denied Bank Transaction Because Chemo Erased Her Fingerprints

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After a rare side effect of chemotherapy left a woman without fingerprints, she was denied a bank transaction, according to a case study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The woman, who is not identified by name, was 65 and had undergone chemotherapy three times to fight stage IV triple negative breast cancer, according to the study. As a result, she developed hand-foot syndrome, a rare side-effect of certain chemotherapy drugs, like capecitabine, that causes swelling on the hands and feet.

“She was distressed because she went to do the procedure with the bank and also because she was planning to travel to Europe and, you know, in the border we need to use our fingerprints,” said the woman’s oncologist, Dr. Yanin Chavarri-Guerra, who authored the study. “Those things were stressing her.”

During the patient’s first round of chemotherapy, her hand-foot syndrome was mild, according to the study. During the third round, the hand-foot syndrome symptoms worsened, and she had to limit personal care activities.

Chavarri-Guerra, who works at Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Medicas y Nutricion, in Mexico City, Mexico, told ABC News she had never seen anything like it. She thinks patients will notice it more and more as they use their fingerprints with smartphones and as other technological advances require fingerprints.

Hand-foot syndrome can range from mild swelling and tingling to painful blisters, sores and cracked skin, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Anywhere from 45 to 68.3 percent of people on the chemotherapy drug capecitabine develop hand-foot syndrome, according to an article published in the Cancer Investigation Journal in 2002. It’s not clear how many of those people lose their fingerprints.

A similar case study was published in 2009 in the journal Annals of Oncology. A 62-year-old man identified only as Mr. S was undergoing chemotherapy to maintain his remission when he arrived in the United States on an international flight. The man was detained for four hours because he didn’t have fingerprints and told to bring a note from his oncologist the next time.

Chavarri-Guerra said she doesn’t know whether her patient’s fingerprints returned, but she said the woman is cancer-free, no longer on chemotherapy and pain-free.

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Police Investigate Diet Pills Containing DNP in UK Woman’s Death

West Mercia Police(WORCESTERSHIRE, England) — Police are investigating the death of a woman in the United Kingdom after she took diet pills that she bought online, British authorities said.

The West Mercia Police Department in western England issued a warning this week after Eloise Parry, 21, died on April 12, shortly after she took pills she had bought online to lose weight, according to police.

“We are undoubtedly concerned over the origin and sale of these pills and are working with partner agencies to establish where they were bought from and how they were advertised,” Chief Inspector Jennifer Mattinson said in a statement. “We urge the public to be incredibly careful when purchasing medicine or supplements over the Internet.”

Mattinson said the coroner would release a cause of death after examination and pointed out that substances purchased from unregistered websites can be out of date or even fake.

The tablets that Parry is believed to have taken shortly before her death are being tested for a toxic substance called dinitrophenol or DNP, police said. Generally described as a yellow, powdery substance in medical literature, dinitrophenol has been used as a black market weight-loss drug for decades, authorities said.

The substance is illegal for use in a diet drug or supplement in the United States, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Parry’s mother, Fiona Parry, recounted the details leading up to her daughter’s death in a post on the police department’s website.

Fiona Parry said her daughter became ill after taking the diet pills but didn’t initially realize the gravity of her situation. Even after taking herself to a local hospital, her daughter said she did not initially feel gravely ill, Fiona Parry recalled.

“At this point she still seemed to be okay,” Fiona Parry said in a statement. “That all changed when the toxicity report came back and it was clear how dire her situation was. The drug was in her system, there was no antidote, two tablets was a lethal dose — and she had taken eight.”

Fiona Parry said as the drugs started to take effect in her daughter’s system, her body started to react. “She was literally burning up from within,” Fiona Parry said, describing an accelerated metabolism that results in an extremely high body temperature.

The drug, still used in industrial settings, can cause a deadly metabolic reaction if ingested that causes a person’s body temperature to become dangerously high, according to Dr. John Benitez, managing director for the Tennessee Poison Control Center and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Vanderbilt University.

“It’s going to act relatively quickly. [The pills] produce acid the body can’t take care of,” Benitez told ABC News, explaining that the drug will poison the mitochondria that help produce energy in a body’s cells.

According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it’s used to manufacture dyes, wool preservatives and pesticide, among other things.

In the United Kingdom, the Food Standards Agency warned consumers to avoid any products that contain the substance.

“We advise the public not to take any tablets or powders containing DNP, as it is an industrial chemical and not fit for human consumption,” the agency said in a statement. “It can be extremely dangerous to human health.”

Benitez said the drug is not common but he sees one to two cases a year, and that he knew of a patient who died last year after taking the drug.

In medical case reports, people who have taken DNP have reported potentially fatal symptoms, including extremely high body temperature, rapid heart rate and fast breathing rate, as their metabolism soars.

Once a person takes the substance, there is little medical staff can do, except administer supportive care, including blood pressure support, said Benitez.

Since the drug is relatively rare, Benitez urged both consumers and doctors to contact their poison control center so they can help identify lesser-known substances.

“Usually for diet pills, you’re thinking what you find in pharmacy diet pills — again they’re not really typically thinking of DNP,” said Benitez, who said a DNP reaction can be mistaken for meningitis or aspirin overdose. “We can say don’t forget about these weird things like DNP, this constellation of symptoms … could be DNP.”

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See Boy with “Iron Man” Prosthetic Hand Throw First Pitch at Game

WSYX-TV(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — A 5-year-old boy from Columbus, Ohio, threw the ceremonial first pitch at a Columbus Clippers minor league baseball game Tuesday while wearing a 3-D printed prosthetic hand that resembles one worn by the movie character Iron Man.

The hand reportedly was given to the boy by a group of 13 Siena College students from Albany, New York. The students are part of the non-profit group e-NABLE, which was contacted by Jack Carder’s mom, Laura Carder, who wanted a fun prosthetic hand for Jack, born with only a thumb and no fingers on his right hand, ABC News affiliate WSYX-ABC 6 in Columbus reported.

Jack loves superheros and his hand hasn’t stopped him from doing anything, his mom added.

“He’s just an amazing little boy,” Laura Carder told WSXY-ABC 6. “He loves sports, he plays T-ball, he plays soccer.”

The Siena students who made Jack’s Iron Man hand came out to Columbus and visited Jack at his daycare facility on Tuesday, where he received and tried out his new prosthetic — complete with a glow-in-the-dark laser — in front of his classmates and parents, WSYX-ABC 6 added.

The students gave the arm to Jack for free, and they spent 20 hours a week for a whole month to design and 3-D print the hand, WSYX-ABC 6 said, adding that they spent less than $50 to make the hand.

A spokeswoman for e-NABLE did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.

Later that day, Jack went to a minor league game, donning a mini-sized Columbus Clippers uniform, and he threw the first ceremonial pitch while wearing his Iron Man hand.

ABC News was not immediately able to reach Laura Carder for additional comment.

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Girl Gets Liver Transplant Months After Twin Sister’s Operation

Courtesy of SickKids(TORONTO) — A 3-year-old girl is recovering from a life-saving liver transplant thanks to an anonymous donor just two months after her twin sister underwent the same operation.

Binh Wagner underwent the lengthy surgery sometime in the last month, according to officials for the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

“There are not enough words to thank the amazing and so unselfish donor,” Binh’s mother, Johanne Wagner, said on the family’s Facebook page.

“Binh is recovering well, at her own pace,” Wagner wrote, saying that Binh had more complications than her twin sister. “We are looking forward to all being reunited and leading a healthier life now, with both transplants finally behind us.”

The operation took place after an anonymous donor donated a portion of their liver to the toddler. Both Binh and her twin sister Phouc needed liver transplants due to a genetic condition called Alagille syndrome, which can affect the bile ducts in the liver.

Phouc underwent the same surgery earlier this year, with the girl’s father Michael Wagner as the donor.

Due to the nature of the liver, Wagner could only donate to one daughter. In an effort to find another donor, the family turned to social media and the press to search for a living donor.

“We found ourselves to be very lucky that we qualified right away,” Johanne Wager previously said of her husband being a match, even though the twins are adopted and not his biological daughters. “[We’re] relieved but we need one more donor.”

After the family made their story public, Johanne Wagner said they received hundreds of messages from people who pledged to apply to be a donor.

The family has been in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices since the girls were first adopted from Vietnam in 2012. Johanne Wagner has been documenting the twins’ struggle on Facebook and her website, showing the smiling girls as they deal with doctors and nurses.

“We knew they were very ill,” Johanne Wagner said of the twins when they were first adopted. “Those girls knocked on our doors and they were supposed to be with us, and it just took a different path. As soon as we heard about them, we knew they were part of our family.”

Both girls and their father continue to recover from their operations. Binh is still recovering at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, according to the family’s Facebook page.

Phuoc was able to return home last month.

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Parents May Be Spending Too Much Time with Their Kids

Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A controversial new study from University of Maryland researchers will likely alarm a lot of parents but it could also serve as a much-needed wake-up call.

The upshot of “How Does the Amount of Time Mothers Spend with Children Matter?” is that parents, particularly moms, may be spending too much time with their children in an effort to make them more well-rounded both socially and educationally.

According to the researchers, the average time moms spend engaged in activities with three-to-11 year-olds is anywhere from 11 to 30 hours weekly. It drops off a bit to between 11 and 20 hours when children enter their years of adolescence.

The researchers point out that children are no better off either academically or psychologically than 40 years ago when seven hours a week spent with kids was considered the norm.

Meanwhile, the pressure to focus much of one’s free time with youngsters makes parents feel more stressed, tired and anxious, which is often picked up by astute children.

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How to Make Perfect Breakfast Smoothie for Healthy Skin

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A breakfast smoothie can be the ultimate beauty food pick-me-up, and it can also be great for the skin.

“You definitely are what you eat. And if you start your day with a beauty smoothie … not only will you feel better that day, but you’ll notice a difference in your skin,” said Bobbi Brown, makeup guru and editor in chief of Yahoo Beauty.

Brown appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Wednesday as part of the Yahoo Your Day collaboration to give viewers the scoop on how to make a blended smoothie in their kitchens.

Brown detailed the ingredients in her smoothie.

“Water, coconut water, which is hydrating, coconut milk, which is the perfect oil for your skin and your hair, chocolate protein powder,” she said, noting that kale or spinach and frozen berries may also be added. “To me, that’s … the perfect breakfast in the morning.”

Frozen fruits and vegetables can be used, Brown said.

“They’re quick. They’re just as nutritious. You don’t have to wash them. And they also make the smoothie thicker, because it’s ice,” she said.

Brown and GMA‘s Mara Schiavocampo hit the kitchen to whip up their own smoothie. Their smoothie included water, coconut milk and protein powder — about two scoops per serving, Brown said.

She also added cacao, kale, ice, a banana and berries.

“There’s nothing better for your skin than … berries,” Brown said, adding that berries were not only high in fiber but full of vitamins that are good for the skin.

They also added hemp seeds.

“Hemp seeds are great, because they make everything creamy. They’re also high in protein. And they have beautiful omega fats in it,” Brown said. “And then I could put anything in from flax seeds to coconut, little bit of bee pollen … if you are someone that likes things sweet, you could put a little bit of stevia in it, a little bit of honey.”

List of Ingredients in Brown’s Smoothie:

  • Water
  • Coconut milk
  • Two scoops protein powder per serving
  • Little bit of cacao nibs
  • Ice
  • One banana
  • Handful of berries
  • Kale leaves
  • One scoop hemp seeds
  • Optional Ingredients
  • Flax seeds
  • Coconut
  • Bee pollen
  • Stevia
  • Honey
  • Agave

Blend it all and enjoy!

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