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My life in hospitals

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I didn’t get any sleep at all Tuesday night, because I had this throbbing pain in my calf and I began to worry it was a blood clot.

But I had to work Wednesday morning, and then I was supposed to drive to a friend’s house for a few days off. Instead, I spent several hours in Penn’s emergency room. They finally said they couldn’t find anything on the ultrasound, but my blood test came back positive. So I’m supposed to have a followup.

I’m not all that worried, because I quickly came across research showing a high false-positive test in people over 60.

The guy who took my blood told me he voted for Gary Johnson. “I really wanted Bernie, and I hate Hillary. No way was I voting for her,” he said.

“You’re voting as if we have a parliamentary system. You handed your vote to Trump,” I said, testy.

“That’s what we need: a third party,” he said.

“And how do we do that without a constitutional convention, which is exactly what the Kochs and the Mercers want?” I said. “Most states are controlled by Republicans. You have no fucking idea what harm that could do.” I could feel my blood boil.

That why I’m off to a friend’s house today, and I am going to try to unplug for a few days. Boohunney and Ron will be filling in, so be good and don’t wreck the place while I’m gone. No keggers!

Drug treatments didn’t work. Can a simple diet help change these children’s lives?

<blockquote class=”repubhubembed”><p class=”rhexcerpt”>KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Twelve-year-old Cecily Vammino’s eyebrows shot up as she closed her lips around the veggie pie. It was a subtle mélange of carrots, potatoes, and zucchini, surrounded by a vaguely sweet crust, and it was not working for her. Cecily’s jaw carefully dispatched the invader while her left hand slid the remaining threat to&hellip;<!–more–></p><style scoped>.repubhubembed{display:none;}</style></blockquote>
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In a first, scientists rid human embryos of a potentially fatal gene mutation by editing their DNA

DNA-anlysis

Using a powerful gene-editing technique, scientists have rid human embryos of a mutation that causes an inherited form of heart disease often deadly to healthy young athletes and adults in their prime. The experiment marks the first time that scientists have altered the human genome to ensure a disease-causing mutation would disappear not only from the… Continue Reading →

Oh, look

You really weren’t making it all up!

Imagine feeling horribly sick, day after day, yet doctors repeatedly tell you they can’t find anything wrong. That typically happens to people with the mysterious illness commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Research findings from Stanford University released Monday could point the way to a long-sought diagnostic laboratory test for the condition, and possibly a first-ever treatment.

Believed to affect at least a million people in the U.S., the condition is now increasingly termed myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME/CFS for short.

Many patients see the name “chronic fatigue syndrome” as trivializing and misleading, giving the impression that they’re simply tired or depressed. In fact, they’re experiencing profound exhaustion that isn’t relieved with sleep, flu-like symptoms, muscle pain, “brain fog” and various other physical symptoms, all of which characteristically worsen with even minor exertion. (A 2015 Institute of Medicine report proposed the name “systemic exertion intolerance disease,” but it hasn’t really stuck.)

The symptoms can range from mild to extremely severe, with about a quarter of patients so ill they’re mostly or completely confined to bed. Now, the Stanford researchers have linked ME/CFS to variations in certain cytokines, immune-signaling proteins, that track with illness severity. The study results were published online Monday in the the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Huge drop in men’s sperm levels confirmed by new study – here are the facts

Sperm count declining in the West: study

File 20170726 7205 1f8ybd5

vchal/Shutterstock

Chris Barratt, University of Dundee

Sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand declined by 50-60% between 1973 and 2011, according to a new study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Surprisingly, the study, which analysed data on the sperm counts of 42,935 men, found no decline in sperm counts in men from Asia, Africa and South America, although there was limited data from these areas.

Overall, this is a very disturbing report. There has been a longstanding debate among scientists as to whether sperm counts have decreased or not. But what’s different about this study is the quality of the analysis. It was done in a systematic manner, accounting for several of the problems that had affected previous studies, such as the method used to count sperm and comparing studies performed sometimes decades apart. As such, most experts agree that the data presented is of a high quality and that the conclusions, although alarming, are reliable.

So what is going on? There has been concern for a number of years about an increase in abnormalities in male reproductive health, such as testicular cancer. The decline in sperm counts is consistent with these increases and this adds weight to the concept that male reproductive health is under attack and is declining rapidly.

In fact, if the data on sperm counts is extrapolated to its logical conclusion, men will have little or no reproductive capacity from 2060 onwards. The most rational explanation for the decline in male reproductive health is the changes in the environment. Current research suggests that the male foetus is particularly susceptible to exposure to pollutants and so changes that occur early in foetal life can have a very significant effect on the adult.

Could environmental pollutants be to blame?
Fotokostic/Shutterstock

What can be done?

The simple answer is that we need much more research to find out why this decline in sperm count is happening. We cannot be complacent about the potential negative effect on fertility and must now urgently rally to substantially increase the research effort into male reproductive health.

Also, although the prevailing evidence shows a decline in reproductive health, not all studies show this; there are some geographical differences. It will be critical to determine what the key differences between geographical regions are – such as genetic differences and exposure to specific pollutants – so we can then examine treatment strategies to limit these negative effects.

The ConversationIf it’s the foetus that is mainly affected, what can the adult man do? Even in adults, exposure to chemicals, such as bisphenol A, which are thought to affect fertility, can have a negative effect, so men should limit their exposure to toxic chemicals. This includes stopping cigarette smoking. Also, a healthy lifestyle is very important as there is a known link between obesity and reduced sperm count.

Chris Barratt, Professor of Reproductive Medicine, University of Dundee

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Funding the psychedelic revolution

Ayahuasca

Nice to know somebody’s funding this important research!

For much of his life, Sarlo suffered from one of depression’s cruelest tortures: anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure. Anhedonia insidiously drains joy from formerly enjoyable social interactions and experiences—and worse, replaces it with dullness, dread, or apprehension.

In fact, Sarlo first realized that he might be depressed when both of his daughters complained about his constant dissatisfaction when they were teenagers. “They would ask, ‘Dad, how come you’re not having fun ever? You never laugh,'” he recalls. It wasn’t until he began to find himself weeping for no discernible reason that he finally sought help—and began a journey that would ultimately take him to places he did not think it possible to reach.

These days, evidence of a psychedelic renaissance is everywhere in America. MDMA—best known as ecstasy, or, more recently, Molly—is set to begin Phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which means it could be FDA-approved and on the market as early as 2021. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is at a similar stage, with research suggesting it can help with the anxiety and depression associated with cancer, and with quitting smoking.

Ketamine—the club drug, a.k.a. Special K—is already widely used for intractable depression, following a series of trials that showed it could act rapidly, unlike existing antidepressants, which often take weeks to have an effect.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll this month found that nearly two thirds of American adults would personally be willing to try MDMA, Ketamine, or Psilocybin if it was proven safe to treat a condition they have. And in April, a scientific conference on research about drugs that produce visions, out-of-body and transcendent experiences like ayahuasca, psilocybin and LSD was attended by over 3,000 people—including Tom Insel, the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

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