HEALTH MATTERS


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ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE

In a recent study conducted by Cigna, a global health service company, some 47 percent of respondents reported often feeling alone or left out. Another 13 percent said there were zero people who knew them well.

The results can be deadly.

Loneliness is not just a discomfort: it’s life-threatening. A Brigham Young University study found that loneliness often shortens a person’s life by 15 years… a similar impact as smoking cigarettes and being obese.

Other health issues affected by loneliness include depression, drug abuse, insomnia, and cognitive decline as one gets older.

In response to the Cigna findings, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said, “During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes. It was loneliness.”

Young at Heart?

Surprisingly, on the loneliness scale, Millennials (ages 23-37) and Generation Z (ages 18-22) scored the highest.

Addicted to the hi-tech, online social-media world of communication and interaction, many are devoid of the human touch.

According to a study from the Journal for Preventative Medicine, people who reported spending more than two hours a day online were twice as likely to feel socially isolated.

Isolation Blues

Older Americans are not spared. While not hi-teched-out like the younger generations, the Cigna study concludes that older adults have become disconnected from family members and friends.

And it’s global. Loneliness is approaching epidemic levels throughout the developed world.

Forget human contact. Forty-one percent of Britons say TV or a pet is their primary company.  The problem is so severe that the country established a cabinet-level minister to deal with “loneliness blues.”

In Japan, a study showed that more than 500,000 people had no outside contact for periods lasting up to six months.

To deal with the blues, Denmark created the National Movement Against Loneliness. Some 70 municipalities, schools, and businesses joined the organization, which puts isolated Danes together for communal meals.

In May of this year, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled a “well-being budget” that places mental health among its top priorities.

 

E-CIGARETTES OVERTAX YOUR BRAIN CELLS

by Ben Daviss

It’s bad enough that vaping e-cigarettes can destroy your lungs. Now a study shows it’s also bad for your brain.

At the University of California, researchers spritzed mouse brains’ stem cells with e-cigarette fluids and found that the chemicals sparked something called “stress-induced mitochondrial hyperfusion.” In other words, the cells perceived danger and got stressed out by it.

Brain stem cells are no ordinary neurons: they repair your brain, so it can keep working throughout many years. If the cells are under severe stress for any length of time, they could die. That means your brain won’t be as able to keep itself working properly, which leads to premature brain aging and probable cognitive decline.

TRENDPOST: Vaping is becoming an epidemic among teens, whose brains are still developing. Damaging stem cells in a brain that needs them to fully develop could lead to a variety of stunted mental capacities.

E-cigarettes are marketed as “safe,” but, in reality, they offer a different array of dangers than tobacco.

 

TEN-MINUTE “GOLD STANDARD” TEST MAY FIND EVERY KIND OF CANCER

by Ben Daviss

Researchers at the University of Queensland report finding a biochemical signature that may be present in every kind of cancer. If so, a diagnosis could be made through a 10-minute blood test that’s already shown 90 percent accuracy.

In December 2018, the same group announced finding a distinct feature in breast cancer: the appearance of methyl molecules at key DNA sites that regulate gene expression, perhaps causing genes to malfunction.

The group created a simple, water-based test in which gold particles instantly change color if the distinctive methyl pattern is present.

Now the oddity has shown up in every form of cancer the group has analyzed, including lymphoma, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

The group is continuing tests to see what other forms of cancer show the same pattern.

TRENDPOST: This discovery could lead to a simple and largely reliable blood test to detect the presence of cancer. The test could become part of a regular physical check-up or blood panel. Early diagnosis could save lives as well as billions of dollars in treatments undertaken after a cancer has had time to mature.

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