Long Term Pot Use Linked to Lost Word Recall
Some studies provide breakthrough information, while others confirm what some may have already suspected.
Researchers in Switzerland set out to study the link between cumulative lifetime marijuana use and cognitive performance in middle age. It may come as no surprise that they found links between prolonged pot use and declining verbal memory.
The researchers used data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which contains 25 years of marijuana exposure measurements, beginning in early adulthood. In the final year, the study measured cognitive performance through standardized tests of verbal memory, processing speed and executive function.
In total, 3,499 participants were assessed at the 25-year visit, and 3,385 had cognitive function data. Of these, 84.3 percent reported past marijuana use and 11.6 percent reported continuous marijuana use into middle age.
The study team found that past marijuana exposure was linked with worse verbal memory. However, it did not appear to affect other areas of cognitive function. In detail, for every 5 years of past exposure, verbal memory was 0.13 standardized units lower, which the researchers say corresponds to an average of 1 of 2 participants remembering one word fewer from a list of 15 words.
Marijuana use in the U.S. is quite common among adolescents and young adults. Data from 2012 revealed that 37 percent of 12th-graders had used marijuana in the last year, 23 percent used it within the last 30 days and 6.5 percent used it daily.
Sourced from: Medical News Today, What’s that word again? Marijuana use linked with worse verbal memory
Weight a Factor in When Puberty Hits Boys
A study published in the journal Pediatrics has shed some light on how being overweight influences what age a boy will go through puberty. But there are key developmental differences between normal weight, overweight and obese adolescents.
Lead author Joyce Lee, associate professor and pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Michigan Medical School, notes that their findings suggest excess weight appears to have different effects on boys compared with girls:
“In girls, excess weight is associated with an earlier onset of puberty, but for boys we saw a mixed picture. Overweight boys had an earlier onset of puberty, while obese boys experienced a later onset of puberty, compared with normal weight boys.”
The team re-analyzed recent community-based data on puberty in more than 3,600 boys aged 6-to-16. The data covered white (49.9 percent), black (25.8 percent) and Hispanic (24.3 percent) boys. They grouped the boys – based on their body mass index (BMI) – into normal weight, overweight or obese, and compared age against Tanner stage in each group. Tanner stages rate different levels of sexual maturity.
All the boys in the study experienced puberty within the normal age range. However, for white and black boys, puberty occurred earlier in overweight compared with normal weight boys, and occurred later in obese compared with overweight boys. The study found no significant differences for Hispanic boys.
The study did not investigate the causes of these differences. However, the researchers say previous studies have found that carrying too much body fat can lead to over-production of the female sex hormone estrogen in boys, and they speculate that perhaps an excess of estrogen delays puberty in obese, but not overweight boys.
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Puberty earlier for overweight, later for obese boys
UK Approves Editing of Human Embryo Genes
Scientists in Britain have been given permission to edit the genes of human embryos for research, using a technique that some fear could eventually be used to create "designer babies.”
Less than a year ago, scientists in China caused an international furor by saying they had genetically modified human embryos. Now Kathy Niakan, a stem cell scientist from London’s Francis Crick Institute, was granted a license by The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to carry out similar experiments.
David King, director of the UK campaign group Human Genetics Alert, sees this as the start down a slippery slope. He has called Niakan’s plans "the first step on a path … toward the legalization of GM [Genetically Modified] babies.”
Niakan says she has no intention of genetically altering embryos for use in human reproduction, but wants to deepen scientific understanding of how a healthy human embryo develops, something that could, in the long term, help to improve infertility treatments.
She first plans to target a gene called Oct4, which she believes may have a crucial role in the earliest stages of human fetal development.
Sourced from: Medical Daily, Britain Gives Scientist Go-Ahead To Genetically Modify Human Embryos
Slice of History: Longest Surgery: Feb.4-8,1951
When Gertrude Levandowski, a 56-year-old widow from Burnips, Michigan, enters a Chicago hospital, it’s clear to doctors that they can’t follow the usual procedure.
Levandowski weighs more than 600 pounds and a large part of that weight is the cyst itself. It’s so large that it’s putting pressure on the woman’s heart and the surgeons doubt that she’ll survive if they try to cut out the massive growth.
So the lead surgeon, Dr. M.S. Roberts proposes a very different approach to getting rid of the cyst. Instead of hacking it out, he suggests gradually draining fluid from the cyst — like slowly deflating a balloon — then removing the shrunken tumor once it no longer presents a threat to Levandowski’s heart.
So they begin to drain it. Over almost four days they suck fluid out of the cyst at a rate of 120 drops per minute until they’ve extracted about 200 pounds of liquid. Though it’s shrunken considerably, the growth still weighs more than 150 pounds, but it’s small enough to remove through more conventional surgery.
Despite the trauma to her body, Levandowski recovers quickly and when she leaves the hospital, she has lost half her weight. A few months later, after surgery to remove another 50 pounds of excess flesh, she weighs under 300 pounds for the first time in decades.
More Slices of History
1st Social Security Check: Jan. 31, 1940
Prohibition Kicks In: Jan. 16, 1920
Smoking Tied to Cancer: Jan. 11, 1964
The TV Dinner: Jan. 6, 1954
The 1st “Drunkometer”: Dec. 31, 1938