Higher opioid doses increase depression risk
Increased use of opioid medications may increase risk of depression, according to new research at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
Scientists studied the effects of rising opioid dosages on patients with chronic low back pain by analyzing questionnaires from nine different practices in Texas. The questionnaires included data about medications and years spent living with chronic pain from 355 patients, the majority of whom were female, older than 46 and Hispanic or African-American.
The study’s findings, published in, the journal Pain, showed that the patients who increased opioid use over time had a higer risk of developing depression. One possible explanation, according to the scientists, is that people who had their dosages increased were those who had been taking opioids for a longer period of time.
The researchers are now comparing the effects of the duration of opioid use versus the dosage of opioids on the risk of developing depression.
Alka Seltzer is born: Feb. 21, 1931
A pharmaceutical legend is born when Miles Laboratories, a company based in Elkhart, Indiana, unveils a new product that promises “quick relief” from everything associated with the flu–pain, headaches, upset stomach and fever. It’s called Alka-Seltzer and it’s an effervescent tablet that does its work after bubbling away to nothing in a glass of water.
A few years earlier, during a severe flu outbreak, the president of Miles, a man named Hub Beardsley, had heard from a local newspaper editor that he had kept his staff from getting sick by giving them a combination of aspirin and baking soda. Beardsley quickly asked his chief chemist to come up with a similar concoction. The result is a tablet that combines aspirin, sodium bicarbonate and citric acid.
It didn’t hurt that two years later Prohibition ended in the U.S., just as Alka-Seltzer was catching on as a cure for hangovers. But what really made the fizzy medication a household name is the company’s ambitious use of mass media to promote its brand. By 1932, it was already sponsoring a radio show, “The Alka-Seltzer Comedy Star of Hollywood,” followed by a series of popular music programs for the next 20 years.
Then, as Americans began buying their first TV sets in the early 1950s, the company caught that wave, too. In 1954, it introduced a cute little mascot–a red-haired boy named Speedy, with an Alka-Seltzer body and an Alka-Seltzer hat. Using a six-inch high puppet and stop-motion animation, the TV ads brought Speedy to life, making him dance and sing, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz…Oh, what a relief it is.” Over the next 10 years, he appeared in more than 200 different commercial. The character became so famous that the puppet was insured for $100,000.
By the mid-1960s, when Speedy began feeling old-fashioned to a younger audience, the brand shifted gears again and started producing a series of funny ads that became some of the more iconic commercials of the 1960s and 1970s, and featured lines that were widely mimicked, from “Mamma mia, that’s-a spicy meat ball!” to “I can’t believe I ate the who-o-o-o-o-le thing!”
After 1979, Miles Laboratories was no more, bought out by Bayer. But, today, 84 years later, Alka-Seltzer lives on.
More slices of history
U.S. teens getting less and less sleep
New research has found that teenagers in the U.S. have been getting a decreasing amount of sleep over the past couple of decades.
Scientists at the University of Michigan examined surveys that were conducted between 1991 and 2012 and involved approximately 300,000 teenagers between ages 15 and 19.
The researchers found that more than half of the surveyed teenagers got fewer than seven hours of sleep a night; this was an eye-opener for experts, who recommend teens get nine or 10 hours of sleep.
Researchers also found that the teenagers of all ages got less sleep in 2012 than they did in 1991; more than half of the 15-year-olds, for example, reported getting at least seven hours of sleep a night in 1991. That dropped to less than 43 percent in 2012.
The results of the study, published in Pediatrics, suggest that increasing use of social media, smartphones and other electronics over the past two decades may be associated with teenagers’ loss of sleep.
The researchers said teenagers need to better understand the dangers of sleep deprivation, which may include depression, memory problems and learning difficulties.
Scientists develop telescopic contact lens
Scientists at the Federal Institutes of Technology of Switzerland and the University of California, San Diego have developed a new telescopic contact lens and smart glasses which a person could control by winking or blinking. They believe the innovation could make a big difference for people with serious vision problems.
The new contact lens is 1.55 mm thick and contains a tiny telescope inside, which works by reflecting light and then expanding and magnifying objects in sight by as much as 2.8 times. The smart glasses respond to winks and blinks, which allows wearers to control the contact lens’ zoom feature by winking with their right eye for magnification and with the left eye to resume normal vision.
A prototype of the telescopic contact lens was unveiled last week at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose. Researchers said they hope the telescopic lens, which soon will be tested in clinical trials, will eventually help those with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that can lead to gradual vision loss and blindness.
An estimated 285 million people in the world have serious vision problems.