More sunshine could help asthma patients
What does getting a tan have to do with asthma? Well, maybe not a tan specifically, but spending more time out in the sun could be beneficial to asthma patients. When a person absorbs sunlight, the body produces vitamin D, which is thought to calm the over-active part of the immune system associated with asthma. And a new study from King’s College London tied low levels of vitamin D to worsening symptoms of asthma, whereas symptoms could be controlled by increasing vitamin D levels.
In this study, the researchers investigated the impact of vitamin D on the chemical interleukin-17, which is vital to the immune system to help fight infections. However, high levels of this chemical have been linked to asthma and other complications. The researchers took blood samples from 28 asthma patients with high levels of interleukin-17. Vitamin D was then added to the blood samples, and the chemical levels were reduced, leading the researchers to draw a correlation between the two.
While the researchers suggested that the emphasis on using sunscreen and covering up may play in role in rising asthma rates, they also warn that too much sun can be bad for you and that sunburns do not equate to great vitamin D benefits.
20 percent of American children have mental disorders
Nearly 20 percent of children in the United States suffer from a mental disorder, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal agency’s investigation into childhood mental health found that it has been rising for more than a decade and now costs an estimated $247 billion a year in medical expenses, juvenile justice and special education. It’s the first national report on mental disorders among children from age 3 to 17.
Childhood mental disorders are defined as serious changes in the way children handle emotions, learn or behave. This definition encompasses a variety of conditions, including the most prominent condition among children: ADHD, which affects 6.8 percent of those under 17. Males are more likely to have ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome, cigarette dependence, behavioral or conduct problems, and anxiety. Girls are more likely to have depression or an alcohol misuse disorder.
Mental health has been found to be critical to overall health, and without treatment and early diagnosis, these conditions can lead to problems at school, home, and in developing friendships. For instance, earlier research has suggested that children with mental disorders were three times more likely to be identified as bullies.
Toothpaste in tubes: May 22, 1892
Acting on a suggestion from his son who, while studying in Paris, had seen artists using paint squeezed from metal tubes, Connecticut dentist Washington Sheffield, finds a way to do the same thing with toothpaste. His innovation of packing toothpaste into collapsible tubes not only was more efficient—a person could squeeze out only as much as he or she needed—and kept the toothpaste from drying out, but it also was much more hygienic—previously toothpaste had come in porcelain jars into which all the members of a household dipped their brushes.
By 1896, Colgate had copied Sheffield’s invention, and toothpaste in lead tubes became available around the country. A later version of Sheffield’s tube came with a “compression key” at the bottom that allowed a person to evenly squeeze out the toothpaste and kept the tube from becoming “lumpy and unhandy,” as his print ads noted.
Sheffield is often credited with having invented toothpaste almost 40 years earlier, when he was in his early 20s. Dating back to the Egyptians, all kinds of things had been used to help keep teeth clean, from crushed oyster shells and bones to burnt bread and powdered flowers to powders made of salt and baking soda in the early 19th century. Soap was added to the mix in the 1820s and chalk became an ingredient in the 1850s. It was about that time the Sheffield created a cleaning paste that he shared with his patients. He called it Dr. Sheffield’s Crème Dentifrice and by the 1870s, he was selling it commercially. At about the same time, Colgate began mass-producing sweet-smelling toothpaste sold in a jar.
Toothpaste tubes didn’t change much during the first third of the 20th century—they were still made of a lead and tin alloy, with the inside coated with wax. But there was some evidence that the lead could leach into the toothpaste and when, during World War II, all lead and tin was restricted to military use, the tubes were converted to a combination of aluminum, paper and plastic. (Another impact of World War II: Tooth-brushing wasn’t really a daily practice in the United States until returning American soldiers brought the habit back with them from Europe.)
The tubes eventually became all-plastic and continue to reign supreme as a toothpaste dispenser, although in 1984, toothpaste pumps—which originated in Germany —came on to the U.S. market. The pumps never really caught on with many people, although there now are high-tech models that, when activated by a motion sensor, pump a pre-set amount of toothpaste directly on to your brush.
Meanwhile, the company that Washington Sheffield started so long ago is still in business in New London, Connecticut. It’s now known as Sheffield Pharmaceuticals.
More slices of history:
Hello, Cheerios: May 1, 1941
First hit workout video: April 24, 1982
Insulin goes mainstream: April 15, 1923
Polio vaccine celebrated: April 12, 1955
First artificial heart: April 4, 1969
First batch of Coca-Cola: March 29, 1886
Elephant man case presented: March 17, 1885
Flu pandemic begins: March 11, 1918
Could marijuana lower diabetes risk?
It’s estimated that as many as 4.6 million Americans smoke marijuana daily and if new research holds true, they may actually be helping their bodies reduce the risk of diabetes. According to a study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, regular marijuana use is linked to better diabetic control and lower probability of insulin resistance. In the research, current users of marijuana had 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels than those who never used marijuana.
The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey collected between 2005 and 2010, analyzing information from a total of 4,657 people, of which 579 were current marijuana users and 1,975 had used in the past. After nine hours of fasting, participants gave blood samples to measure fasting insulin and glucose levels. The results indicated that those who used marijuana within the past month had reduced levels of fasting insulin and better scores on insulin resistance evaluations. The study also showed a link between insulin levels and those who had used marijuana at least once, but not within the past month – though these results were not as strong as among the regular users.
While it is known that those who have a larger waist circumference are at higher risk of diabetes, this research also showed that marijuana use is linked to smaller waist circumferences, lowering the risk of diabetes.
Scientists said they were hopeful that the results will prompt more clinical research into the short-term and long-term effects of marijuana.
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