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November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Hebrew Univ. Study Links Fear of Terror with Risk of Death

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

A new study of over 17,000 Israelis has found that long-term exposure to the threat of terrorism can elevate people’s resting heart rates and increase their risk of dying.

This is the first statistics-based study, and the largest of its kind, which indicates that fear induced by consistent exposure to the threat of terror can lead to negative health consequences and increase the risk of mortality.

It is well-documented that international terror outbreaks involve mass psychological trauma, leading to long-term mental health risks to the exposed population. Previous studies have also shown that in the short term, sudden stressful situations such as earthquakes can increase a person’s heart rate and their risk of having a heart attack.

However, whether long-term exposure to the threat of terror can lead to physical health risks in the exposed population has until now remained unknown.

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem examined the factors affecting basal (resting) heart rates, and studied how these rates changed over the years during annual checkups of healthy Israeli subjects. Israel has been exposed to the repeated stress of multiple wars and terror attacks for over 60 years, with a major impact on the entire society.

The research used a study of 17,300 healthy subjects who underwent an annual general medical exam including blood tests, heart rate and stress tests at the Tel Aviv Medical Center each year.

The 10,972 men and 6,408 women in the study were apparently healthy employees attending periodic routine health examinations during the years 2002–2013.

The questionnaire covered a wide range of occupational, psychological, and physical factors, including body mass index, blood pressure, fitness, smoking, psychological well-being, anxiety, and fear of terror.

“We wanted to test whether fear of terrorism can predict an increase in pulse rate and increased risk of death,” explains Prof. Hermona Soreq, who conducted the research,

The research was conducted by Prof. Hermona Soreq, who conducted the research.

By combining the medical exam data with the questionnaire responses, the researchers found that basal heart rate was affected by physiological characteristics, such as level of physical fitness and inflammation index reflecting the activity of the immune system.

In contrast, an ongoing increase in heart rate was also influenced by psychological characteristics such as fear of terrorism. Through a statistical analysis of 325 different parameters, the researchers found that fear of terror was a major contributor to annual increases in resting heart rate, with 4.1% of study participants suffering from an elevated fear of terror that predicted an increase in their resting heart rates.

While a heartbeat of 60 beat per minute is normal, an increase of up to 70-80 beats per minute was observed in subjects who exhibited an increased fear of terrorism. In other words, for people with an elevated fear of terror, the heart beats faster and the associated risk of heart disease is higher.

Elevated resting heart rate is a predictor of death from cardiovascular disease and death across all causes. As people age, the resting heart rate typically decreases from year to year, and people whose heart rate actually increases annually are more susceptible than others to heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers also examined how the brain alerts the body to the expectation of danger. They administered a blood test to examine the function of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in responses to stress and which acts as a brake to the inflammatory response.

The results showed that the fear of terror leads to a decline in the function of acetylcholine, and thus reduces the body’s ability to defend itself from a heart attack, leading to a greater chance of dying.

Israeli Scientist Finds Omega-3 Reduces Smoking

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Want to stop smoking, for real, and you just can’t seem to manage it on your own but hate the thought of patches and “chemicals” ?

A new study conducted by an Israeli scientist  has found that Omega-3 reduces a smoker’s craving for nicotine, thereby making it easier to quit the unhealthy habit.

The study was headed by Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar, head of the addictions program at University of Haifa’s school of criminology and the department of psychopharmacology laboratory at Bar Ilan University.

Subjects participating in the study were asked to take five capsules per day for 30 days of Omega-3 950 produced by Solgar. A second group, used as controls, received placebos. Neither group was asked to stop smoking.

The groups included 38 smokers ages 18 to 45 who somked at least 10 cigarettes per day during the past year, and an average of 14 cigarettes per day. The average subject had been smoking for at least 11 years.

Levels of nicotine craving and consumption were measured using a series of scales at the beginning of the study, after 30 days of treatment and after 60 days (30 days after stopping the Omega-3 capsules.)

“The substances and medications currently used to help people reduce and quit smoking are not very effective and cause adverse effects that are not easy to cope with,” Shenkar observed.

“The findings of this study indicated that Omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly,” she added.

Among myriad other health problems, smoking also reduces the levels of essential fatty acids in the brain – especially that of Omega-3. When the body is deficient in Omega-3, the cellular structure of nerve cells is damaged, and it interrupts neurotransmission in areas of the brain involved with feeling pleasure and satisfaction, Shenkar explained.

These areas are essential in reward and decision-making, and are very important in the process of the development, maintenance and relapse of the addict and inability to stop smoking.

“In simpler terms, Omega-3 deficiency makes it harder for the smoker’s body to deal with its craving for another cigarette.

The findings of the new study show that while no difference was found between the groups at the beginning of the study, after thirty days the smokers who had taken Omega-3 reduced their cigarettes by an average of two a day (an eleven-percent decrease), even though they were not asked to change their smoking habits in any way. No less important, they showed a significant decrease in nicotine craving. After another thirty days of not taking anything, cigarette cravings increased slightly but still remained significantly lower than their initial level. In other words, the craving to smoke cigarettes did not return to the baseline level even a month after stopping to take the supplement. The group receiving the placebo did not show any significant changes in their craving levels or in the number of cigarettes they smoked a day during the sixty days.

“Earlier studies have proven that an imbalance in Omega-3 is also related to mental health, depression and the ability to cope with pressure and stress,” Shenkar emphasized. “Pressure and stress, in turn, are associated with the urge to smoke. It is also known that stress and tension levels rise among people who quit smoking. Despite all this, this connection between all these factors had not been studied until now.”

The finding that people who were not interested in stopping to smoke showed such a significant change reinforces the assumption that taking Omega-3 can help smokers to regulate their addiction and reduce their smoking, Shenkar pointed out.

New York City Hospital Testing Patient for Ebola Virus

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

New York’s Bellevue Hospital is running tests for the Ebola virus on a healthcare worker who returned to the United States from West Africa with suspicious symptoms.

The healthcare worker arrived with a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms within the past 21 days from either Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia, the city’s health department said.

Preliminary results from the testing are expected within 12 hours, according to a statement released by the NYC Dept. Of Health and Mental Hygiene.

All of the patient’s contacts are being tracked down in order to identify anyone who may be at potential risk of contracting the virus. The patient, who is being isolated, was brought to the hospital from the airport by specially trained staff who wore protective gear.

The virus has claimed more than 4,500 lives around the world to date, although most of the victims were in the three West African countries listed above. The virus currently has a 70 percent death rate.

At least two cases were identified so far in Texas; both were linked to a traveler who arrived in the U.S. from Liberia. One of the two patients died shortly after being diagnosed and hospitalized with the illness.

Israeli ALS treatment Gets ‘Fast-Track’ FDA Designation

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

(JNS.org) Stem cell treatment developed by Israeli company BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics has been designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a “fast-track” treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The treatment, called NurOwn, is currently undergoing mid-stage clinical trials in Jerusalem and in the U.S. on patients with ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The FDA’s designation will speed up patients’ access to the treatment.

“The receipt of fast-track designation from the FDA is an acknowledgement of the unmet medical need in ALS,” BrainStorm Chief Executive Tony Fiorino said Tuesday, according to Reuters. “What is so valuable about fast track designation to a small company like BrainStorm is the opportunity to have increased meetings with and more frequent written communication from the FDA,” he said, adding that few other cellular therapies have received FDA approval.

The ALS Association reports that 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year with the disease.

Iranians Wonder, Is the Supreme Leader Fading?

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Iranian media has been showing photos of a very frail Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranians are wondering whether their Supreme Leader is fading.

It is the Supreme Leader who makes the sole decision about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear development policies.

Last month Iran’s the country’s top leader made a surprise announcement that he was asking for the country’s prayers because he was due to have surgery.

The operation on his prostate, according to his spokespeople, was to last “only 30 minutes” and was carried out “under local anesthesia.”

Nevertheless, the Supreme Leader has looked pale and frail in media images ever since, with every leader in his government seen visiting his bedside.

Questions are being bandied about over who will succeed him – and analysts say the questions are becoming more serious as the days pass.

Iran has had only two Supreme Leaders since the 1979 revolution, and any instability due to a vacuum at the top could mean a national security issue.

The Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts, which is primarily comprised of religious officials. The country’s elite Revolutionary Guards, however, are also expected to influence any choice for Khamenei’s successor, when the issue becomes relevant.

When the Assembly met in early September, Khamenei called for unity. “There are differences in taste on political issues, on political issues small and large,” he said. “But these differences cannot destroy the unity of the country or empathy within the country. Everyone should be together.”

Israel Health Ministry Lists Electromagnetic Radiation as Possible Carcinogen

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

For the first time ever, Israel’s Health Ministry has issued a warning to the public about electromagnetic radiation in its newly published, updated list of carcinogens, based on recommendations by the World Health Organization and a ministry committee.

For the first time, the list includes exposure to electromagnetic radiation as a possible cause of cancer, advising the public to be careful and reduce contact as much as possible.

Different ministries are in charge of enforcing the laws on exposure to the various carcinogens.

The new list, available in Hebrew only, is located on the ministry website. www.health.gov.il/Services/Committee/malignancy_substance/Pages/default.aspx

Substances such as teratogenic materials, those that can cause birth defects in unborn babies, are also on the list.

Occupational hazards are also listed – those to which workers are exposed in their workplace – as well as substances to which the general public is exposed in the general environment.

USDA: Pregnant Women Should Limit Fish Intake

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have warned pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who might become pregnant and young children to avoid fish that is high in mercury.

Kosher fish that are high in mercury include fresh Tuna, orange roughy, grouper and mackerel. Low mercury species include snapper, carp, canned tuna, trout, flounder and salmon.

Previously, the FDA and the EPA recommended maximum amounts of fish that these population groups should consume, but did not promote a minimum amount. Over the past decade, the regulatory agencies said emerging science has underscored the importance of appropriate amounts of fish in the diets of pregnant and breastfeeding women, and young children.

“For years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the FDA’s acting chief scientist. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/usda-pregnant-women-should-limit-fish-intake/2014/06/11/

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