Monday, November 28, 2011

Turner Syndrome

Turner Syndrome can be defined as a chromosomal condition. It alters development in females.
We all know that humans have 46 chromosomes. There are two chromosomes (our sex chromosomes) that determine whether or not we become a boy or girl. Females are known to have two X chromosomes whole males have one X and one Y.
People who have Turner syndrome are missing all or part of their X chromosome. This is only found in females and in most cases they only have one X chromosome. If a person with this syndrome has both X chromosomes (XX) one will be incomplete. It is unknown which gene on the X chromosome that is responsible for most of the signs/symptoms of Turner Syndrome. This syndrome occurs in 1 in 2,000 live births. It is more common among those pregnancies that end in miscarriage or stillbirth.
If a baby survives birth a few symptoms they may encounter would be:
  • swollen hands/feet
  • a wide/webbed neck (extra skin on neck)
  • absence of puberty:small breasts/little to no pubic hair
  • shield shaped chest; broad/flat
  • drooping/ dry eyes
  • infertility (due to absence of ovarian function)
  • no menstruation cycle
  • short in height
  • painful intercourse due to dry vaginal area
This syndrome can be detected at any stage in life. If a chromosome analysis is done during prenatal testing this syndrome can be diagnosed before birth. During a physical exam doctors look for signs of underdevelopment. Other testing that can be done are:
There is no cure for Turner Syndrome itself but there are things to help fix the symptoms. One with this can take growth hormone to grow taller; estrogen replacement therapy can be done to trigger the growth of breasts, pubic hair, and other sexual characteristics. It is said that for the first three years of a female with this syndrome they are of normal height. They don't hit puberty so they don't hit their growth spurt.

Some complications that may occur as a result of Turner Syndrome are:
Many of those who are diagnosed with Turner Syndrome don't survive birth. The select few who actually do are unfortunately stuck with this syndrome for the rest of their lives due to a lack of a cure. This is not a hereditary syndrome. It occurs when one of the two X chromosomes is either missing or is incomplete. There is not exact cause for it but it is said to be a result of an error during the formation of either the eggs or sperm.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Problems with PCOS

"Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which there is an imbalance of a woman's female sex hormones." This hormone imbalance may cause changes in the menstrual cycle, cysts in the ovaries, and the female may have trouble getting pregnant. "Female sex hormones include estrogen and progesterone, as well as hormones called androgens." Androgens are also called "male hormones," and are indeed present in women, but only in different amounts. Female hormones help regulate the development of eggs in the ovaries, and polycystic ovary syndrome is related to an imbalance in these sex hormones. With PCOS, too much of the androgen hormone is made and there can be other changes as well.

The cause of PCOS is unknown, but some think that many factors come into play. One major factor is genetics, and women with PCOS are more likely to have a female relative with the condition. Between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women in their 20's and 30's have PCOS, and about 5 million women in the United States are affected today. Women are usually diagnosed when they are in their 20s or 30s, but polycystic ovary syndrome may also affect young girls, some being as young as 11. As soon as a girl's menstrual cycle starts, symptoms of PCOS can occur.

The symptoms of PCOS vary from woman to woman. Some symptoms of this condition include:

-Infertility due of lack of ovulation. (PCOS is also the most common cause of infertility.)
-Irregular menstrual periods (periods may also be absent)
-Hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, and/or toes
-Cysts on the ovaries
-Acne and oily skin
-Weight gain or obesity
-Thinning hair
-Dark, thick patches of skin.
-Skin tags
-Pelvic and abdominal pain
-Anxiety or depression
-Sleep apnea

There is no single test to diagnose PCOS. However, the doctor can take a few different steps to see if PCOS is causing the symptoms listed above or if it is something else. Some include the individuals medical history of menstrual periods, weight changes, and other symptoms, as well as a physical exam to check blood pressure, BMI, and unusual areas of hairgrowth. The more common tests include a pelvic exam, blood tests, and a vaginal ultrasound (pictured on right) to check for enlarged ovaries due to cysts.

There is no cure for PCOS, so it needs to be managed to prevent problems. Treatments are based on the individuals symptoms, whether or not they wish to become pregnant, and also to lower their chances of getting heart disease and diabetes. Many women need to do one or more treatments to manage this condition. Some treatments include:

-Eating healthy (limit processed foods with added sugars) this will help lower blood glucose levels, regulate hormones, and may cause weight loss which will help regulate the menstrual cycle.

-Take birth control pills. This can help control menstrual cycles, reduce male hormone levels, and can also help clear up acne.

-Take fertility medications. This helps with the lack of ovulation that can occur with PCOS.

-Surgery or "ovarian drilling." This can help with ovulation and can reduce male hormone levels.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is common disorder that affects many women today. Women with PCOS also have an increased chance of developing other medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, high levels of LDL, and anxiety or depression. It is important for women with PCOS to do the treatments listed above to prevent these problems from occurring in the future.


1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (pcos) fact sheet. (2010, March 17). Retrieved from

2. Polycystic ovary syndrome. (2011). Retrieved from

Updated 11/28/11

Persistent Vegetative State

Imagine seeing your loved one awake- with their eyes open, reacting to light and other stimulus-but unable to respond to your questions or carry on even the most basic functions. persistent vegetative state (PVS) is the technical namefor this unfortunate quality of life- if you choose to call it living.

A person in a vegetative state is defined as arousable- which means that they can have reflex responses to stimulus- but unaware. It is not necessary to wake up to be aroused. Patients in a persistent vegetative state's higher levels of their brain are no longer functional. Once a vegetative state exists from six weeks to three months, it is deemed persistent. The picture of the brain is a patients brain before and after PVS.

In many cases, the cerebral cortex of the PVS patient has died from major trauma or dementia. The brain stem, however, is alive. The stem controls cycles of breathing and awakefulness, making the patient appear as though he/she is alert. A brain scan shows that there is no activity that we normally associate with being awake. Even their eyes move, like in the cases of tracking a moving object. They can no longer feel hunger or pain, although they will appear to react to pain in a reflexive way.

Persistent vegetative state is different from a coma, because the cause of a coma is generally corrected and the patient begins to recover brain function. The coma is usually reversed within a few days. A person in a coma is unconscious, and therefore will not react like a person in a PVS would to stimulus. Since PVS is the late stage outcome of an irreversible coma or dementia, the outlook for recovery is almost always poor.When death of large areas of the brain occur, the outcome is generally grim and brain tissue does not regenerate. Many people recover fully from comas, but there are only five cases of recovery of some sort of function from people who have been in PVS.

Unlike brain death, people in persistent vegetative state are technically not legally dead. They are kept alive through feeding tubes and other assistive machines. Since people with PVS are unable to make decisions for themselves, a surrogate usually makes legal decisions for them such as whether to continue with medical treatment or being taken off (resulting in death). This is where legal cases come up regarding PVS, the most notable being the case of Terri Schiavo.

In 1990, Terri suffered a heart attack as a result of an eating disorder that sent her in to a coma. Although she came out of the coma, she came out with brain damage that left her in PVS. When brain scans were taken, they indicated no apparent functioning of the cerebral cortex. After three years of years of trying different methods, her husband decided that Terri would not want to live
like this and wanted to take her off of life support. Her parents, however, disagreed believing that Terri would someday miraculously recover. The case went to courts beginning in 1994. Eventually, in 2001, a Florida trial court ruled that Terri would not want to live on life support, based on "clear and convicting evidence" presented by some of her doctors and her husband. Legal battles continued. In 2003, when Terri's tube was removed for a second time, the Florida legislature came up with "Terri's law" to override the court decision, and the tube was reinserted. Finally, on March 18th, 2005 Terri's tube was removed for a third time. The U.S. Congress passed an emergency measure (which President Bush signed) to force federal courts to review Terri's case and create a legal mandate to have her tube reinserted. The U.S. District Court in Florida denied the appeal, and Terri died on March 31, 2005.

Since a patient in persistent vegetative state appear to be alert, many (especially religious groups) consider it inhumane to take the patient off of life support because they might "recover"- as in the case of Ms. Schiavo's parents. Some patients are misdiagnosed, as in a recent study by the American Academy of Neurology that found that 18 out of 49 patients (37%) who had been given the label of PVS were truly not in this state. Those truly in the state, (again as in the case of Terri), however, have no hope for recovery of higher brain function.

Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

Many women don’t realize that they are pregnant until weeks or even months into their pregnancy. This means that during this time they are still going about their lives in the way that they normally would if they were not pregnant. In some cases this includes bad habits, such as, excessively drinking, smoking, doing drugs and even simple things like eating unhealthily. When women drink during their pregnancy some of the alcohol is getting passed to the fetus who cannot metabolize it the same way that a grown person can. “The alcohol level of the baby's blood can be higher and remain elevated longer than the level in the mother's blood.” (1) This can have side effects not only during the pregnancy, but also after the baby is born and for the rest of its life.
The different side effects that are associated with drinking during pregnancy are classified as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) which are during the pregnancy, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which is after the child is born. There are many side effects, either physical or mental, that go along with each of these disorders. Some of the more common characteristics of babies with FAS are smaller eyes, smaller brain size, they do not have the groove above their lip, they have smaller body size, they have poor coordination, and may have different emotional or mental problems. (1) All of these side effects can be caused by different ranges of drinking. So how many drinks are too many?
Some doctors say that it is alright to drink in moderation during your pregnancy, as long as you are not going overboard with it. So, maybe a couple drinks during the week aren’t too bad? However, there are no studies that show that this can actually be good for the fetus. It is hard to find studies that show exactly how many drinks can cause specific birth defects, obviously due to moral and ethical reasons. Another aspect that made studies harder to compare to each other is the way that they collected their information was not consistent among the studies.
One study that I found was done Missouri from 1989-1997 on women who were at least twenty weeks pregnant or farther along. This study was mainly to track the relationship between drinking and the amount of stillbirths in among these women. The stillbirth rate that they discovered was that for every 1000 pregnancies 5.3 resulted in stillbirths. This study also found that if you drink you are 40% more likely to have a stillbirth and if you drink more than five alcoholic drinks per week you are 70% more likely to have a still birth. (2)
Even though there are studies that show that drinking moderately can have little to no effect on your child and there are some that show that they have serious outcomes, it is ultimately your personal choice on if you want to drink during your pregnancy. People can risk it and drink every now and then, but everyone should be aware of all the side effects and how they are gambling with their child’s life and well-being. So are a couple drinks really worth it?

(1) Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy. (November, 2008). March of Dimes.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rare Genetic Mutation, Pro or Con?

Protein plays a very important role in the human body. Protein is most commonly known for building muscle. While there are many types of proteins in the body that have their own specific responsibilities. Myostatin or growth differentiation factor 8, GDF8, is just another protein in the human body, its responsibility however is to inhibit the growth and definition of muscle. In a very rare genetic mutation called myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy, a person is born with low myostatin causing little fat and strong muscles. Myostatin was discovered in 1997 by researchers and scientists. They found this protein in many animals the most common tested were mice and the Belgian blue cattle. It was not known to be in humans until the birth of a German baby. There was a baby born in Germany in 1999 with this myostatin deficiency. He was born with low levels of myostatin causing his muscles to be twice as strong as the other kids around him. Another exam ple was a child born in Michigan, Liam Hoekstra. He was born with normal levels of myostatin but they were not reacting properly. With the myostatin not reacting like it should, it caused him to have super strength. Liam was able to stand on day two with support and could do a pull up at 8 months. With these recent findings it means so much for the future in the development for treatments of muscle wasting diseases. Muscular dystrophy is the weakening and loss of muscle tissue, this disease effects nearly 100,000 people every year. With no known cures for the disease there could be. If scientists can recreate a drug that has the same effects as the rare myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy then we might have the first cure for muscular dystrophy. A drug of this kind would be able to slow down the loss of muscle tissue and possibly even reverse it and grow the muscle tissue back. Although if they can figure out a way to take out any horrible side effects then there is room for abuse of the drug. If a drug like this is invented athletes would be all over it trying to make it a performance enhancer. Some companies have already started. Biotest, Cytodyne, and Pinnacle are three companies all in the sport supplements field, already working and spending a lot of time and money to create a myostatin neutralizer. This find in genetic mutation can have its ups and downs, but hopefully the pros will out way the cons.

The Human Papillomavirus and the Tree Man

The Human Papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted disease that has the tendency to cause genital warts on the victim, among numerous other side effects such as cancer. But in some very rare cases the warts caused from this disease can spread to the rest of the body. This is the case of Dede Kosawa, a 39 year old Indonesian fisherman who has lived with these symptoms his entire life. Usually HPV is treatable by the victim’s immune system, but Dede has a rare autosomal recessive genetic hereditary skin disorder called Epidermodysplasia verruciformis. This skin disorder makes the immune system particularly weak to all strands of HPV. Dede had begun growing warts all over his body at the age of 10 when he had suffered a cut on his knee while playing in a forested region. As years passed the cut went untreated and these warts weren’t contained to the genital area that HPV usually shows symptoms and the warts continued to grow. With each passing year the warts would grow larger and larger until it finally affected Dede’s life. As Dr Anthony Gaspari of the University of Maryland explained “The virus was able to "hijack the cellular machinery of his skin cells, ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance that caused the tree-like growths known as "cutaneous horns" on his hands and feet.”

Dr Anthony Gaspari became interested in Dede when Dede’s picture created an internet sensation a few years ago. Dr. Gaspari was able to diagnose the condition and began subscribing various forms of treatment. Since Dede couldn’t feel many of the wart growths that had grown over his body, Gaspari’s first attempt to help Dede in 2008 was to cut 13 pounds of warts from his body. The operation was a success and although Dede still had numerous wart growths on his body, he was now able to use his hands and walk without pain. Gaspari’s second attempt to help Dede was to put him under chemotherapy, hoping that this would eradicate some of the HPV strands that have caused him to have these abnormal growths. The chemotherapy had to be stopped because Dede’s liver was failing. Gaspari is still confident that he can help Dede, but the Indonesian government won’t allow him to do further testing. “There are things I still want to do for Dede, but my hands are tied,” he said. “The government seems to view me as some outsider butting in where I don’t belong.” Gaspari believes that possibly a bone marrow transplant could help Dede, along with many other treatments not available in Indonesia, but for the time being, Gaspari is completely cut off from helping Dede.

Dede’s wife had left him because he could no longer provide for his family after he was fired from his job for not being able to use his hands anymore. Even with Dede being able to use his hands and feet again, he still is in need of further operations. Dede still cannot use his hands to the full potential they once had and he his being barred from traveling to other countries for looking for a cure. The Indonesian government believes that Dede would become an “exploited medical research project”. Dede wasn’t able to find a new job and now lives in poverty with his two children and will forever be labeled the “Tree Man” until someone can find a treatment or the Indonesian government allows outsiders to help once more.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Culture in Human's Closest Relatives

We've always known apes, chimpanzees, and orangutans were closely related to humans biologically, but a recent study shows that this relationship goes a little bit deeper. Researchers from the University of Zurich have compiled data on orangutans located in Borneo and Sumatra to help answer the question of whether various environmental influences or genetic factors dictate how orangutans behave in nature. What they found surprised them.

Culture is easily seen and understood among human populations. For example, we immediately experience changes in culture as we go on vacation not only to domestic areas like Florida or California, but even more so in international countries like Spain and Japan. Countless times humans have undergone that awkward meeting with an international citizen and learned that kissing their cheek is equivalent to shaking their hand. Various types of culture change in humans is due partly to environmental factors and genetics, but the main differences are socially learned from parent to offspring. In the study, the researchers found a striking similarity among orangutans and humans. Of the two regions the researchers studied, Borneo and Sumatra, the orangutan populations are isolated and have no way of naturally interacting with the other population. This means that there is no way for the two populations of subjects to ever come into contact with the another. The environmental influences as well as genetic factors are similar between the two populations, but still behave differently. The researcher's study is helping bridge the behavioral gap between primates and humans. With evidence like this, it is wondered what other species might be making the same adaptation.

The study was especially successful because of several variables. Michael Krutzen, one of the researchers of the study, helped record over 100,000 hours of behavioral data. The extreme amount of evidence was important to the study in order to notice trends of behavior between infants, adolescents, and adult orangutans. Monitoring the behavior and growth of the two populations helped the researchers see consistency within a specific island culture for orangutans. Other important variables in the study was the use of satellite imaging and remote sensing technologies. The use of these techniques further monitored the primates in their own natural habitat keeping both the researchers and orangutans out of harm's way while also gathering meaningful data.

Some of the differences noticed between the two populations are bedtime rituals, eating habits, and sexual practices. The way orangutans in one population hunt for their food is an interesting aspect the researchers noticed. Certain tools and means of obtaining their diet are different in the populations. For example, the orangutans on one island had the ability to extract seeds from a local fruit (Neesia Fruit) as a main source of food. However, in regards to the other population where the food source was equally available, the orangutans neglected the seeds. Another difference between the two populations was how the groups interacted before they slept. For the orangutans at one site, they let out a loud cheer just before they were going to rest. This ritual, among others, were not seen at other sites and helps prove the theory of primates socially passing down their behavior to their offspring.

This may only be minor differences between the two populations of orangutans, but it illustrates a snapshot into how a species adapts to its environment, which is a vital role in the survivability of a species. Over time, if the population that eats the seeds from high atop the forest, they may adapt further and develop certain attributes to help them master their seed diet. That could be changes in the shape of teeth to better break up seeds or hands that make it easier to climb higher and retrieve the seeds.

"Now we know that the roots of human culture go much deeper than previously thought. Human culture is built on a solid foundation that is many millions of years old and is shared with the other great apes," says researcher Michael Krutzen. The similarities we humans share with our closest relatives goes beyond anatomical and genetic bonds and into cultural and behavioral realms as well. 

Helpful Link:
Bronx Cheer-Imitates the loud cheer some populations of orangutans do before bedtime.

Can't Sleep? Blame Your Brain Cells

Do you feel more awake and alert when the sun is shining or when it is dark and gloomy outside? Can you sleep with the lights on? Researchers at UCLA have been studying why light arouses us and have finally found some new information. They already knew that bright light arouses us and keeps us awake. It also has antidepressant effects. Darkness has the opposite effect on us. Neuroscientists have finally found the "stay awake" part of our brain. Without it, we would sleep all the time.

Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and his colleagues found the group of neurons that determines whether light excites your brain or not. In the online edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, Siegel and his colleagues reported that the cells important for a bright light arousal response can be found in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls the autonomic nervous system, body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and sleep.

Siegel discovered that the cells in the hypothalamus release neurotransmitters called hypocretin. He found this by comparing mice with and without hypocretin. Siegel genetically removed the hypocretin from the mice that did not have it. Researchers examined the behaviors of the two types of mice and compared them. The mice did a lot of different activities during both light and dark phases. The study showed that the mice that didn't have hypocretin were unable to stay awake in the light, while those that had it showed a lot of activeness of certain hypothalamic cells in the light but not while they were awake in the dark.

The same UCLA research group found that the loss of hypocretin lead to narcolepsy in some cases and the sleepiness related to Parkinson's disease. But until now the neurotransmitter's role in normal behavior was not known.

This new finding helps researchers add to the already known research in humans suffering from narcolepsy. It is now thought that narcoleptics lack the arousing response to light and that both narcoleptics and Parkinson's patients have an increased chance of being depressed.

At one time, the purpose of hypocretin in rodents had examined the neuotransmitter's use during only light phases or dark phases, but not both. What made the experiments difficult was that unlike humans, mice sleep when it is light and are awake when it is dark. The researchers tested the two groups while they performed different tasks in both the light and the dark. Surprisingly, researchers found that the mice with the hypocretin removed from them were only worse at working for positive rewards during the light phase. During the dark phase, these mice learned at the same rate as the mice with hypocretin and were completely unchanged in working for the same rewards.

Siegel concluded from his findings that controlling hypocretin and increasing the use of hypocretin cells will increase the light arousal response. At the same time, blocking their function with hypocretin receptor blockers will decrease the response and lead to sleep. Both could be a new scientific breakthrough depending on whether the individual likes or dislikes being awakened by light. These findings are helping Siegel treat sleep disorders as well as depression.

What does all this have to do with you? Next time you are having trouble falling asleep, put down the cell phone, close that laptop and get some zzz's.

Here are some helpful links:
Is Light Keeping You Awake?
Brain Cells Responsible For Keeping Us Awake Identified
How Light and Darkness Govern Our Sleep Cycle

Updated December 8, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Concussion and long term effects

Concussions are one of the most serious injuries that are effecting athletes today.  In all level of competitions more than one million concussions are given out each year.  The level of the concussions can vary as well as the amount of time it takes to heal between concussion.  However, the effects of a concussion can last several months and possibly even into adult hood.

A concussion is define as traumatic brain injury.  A concussion is caused by the brain moving after contact and crashing into the skull.  Here is a video explaining.  Every concussion can have different temporary effects on the individual like head ace, lost of memory, ext.  The picture on the right shows the different area  of the brain that are effected during the injury.  Doctors can use EEG, Head CT, and MRI to see the severity of the concussion.  Cuncussions are graded by how bad they are.  There are 6 grades.   Grade 1 Confusion-Normal consciousness without amnesia. Grade 2-  Confusion- with Post-Traumatic Amnesia. Grade 3  Confusion-with PTA and retrograde amnesia.  Grade 4  Coma-Loss of consciousnes Grade 5   Coma-Persistent vegetative state Grade 6  Coma-Death

Although the short term effects are cause for concern the things that doctors are most worried about are the long term effects that a concussion can cause.  Post-Concussion Syndrome or PCS can last up to weeks, months or even years after the initial injury.  With these long lasting effect it is unknown how the effects will effect your life.  The fear is that PCS could cause you physical harm because you are unable to react fast enough in everyday life; like driving a car or falling at work.  PCS symptoms usually show up in ten days after the initial incident.  Symptoms of this can be found here.  It is believed that if not treated properly serious mental problem can occur.  Examples of these are Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

With more and more studies coming out showing the danger of concussions teams and doctor everywhere are stepping up to help protect the athletes.  For starters everyone has to take a concussion test at least once when they are starting a sport.  This test is long and thorough testing not only the athletes short term memory but there reflexes too.  The score on this test is saved during the duration of that players stay.  What they do with that information is if you have a concussion you are not aloud to play or practice again until you score as good or better on that same test.  Another way they are protecting that athletes in football is with their head gear.  We have since evolved since the time of the leather helmet.  Each year better helmets come out that protected the players brain more and more.  Also, with the invention of neck pads that are put of the shoulder pads help prevent the neck from snapping back to far.   

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pros and Cons of Folic Acid

If you have ever taken a daily multi-vitamin specifically for women, you have probably taken folic acid. There are debates on when and if you should take folic acid. So, I am here to explain to you the pros and cons of taking folic acid and when it is recommended. 

Folic Acid is a B vitamin. It aids in cell production and division including the production of red blood cells. Folic acid is also crucial in the development of DNA. It can be found in foods, fortified cereals and other grain products, as well as vitamin supplements. 

Pros of Folic Acid:
  •  Helps the fetus neural tube to develop. The neural tube develops the brain and the spinal cord (two very important items!).
  • Reduces the incidence of neural tube defects by 70%.
  •  Prevents birth defects such as; spina bifida, anencephaly, cleft lip and palate, pregnancy complications, premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, and poor growth in the womb. Check out this CDC YouTube video promoting folic acid.
  • Lower risks of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.
  •  Linked to help those with depression because people with depression are often folic acid deficient. 
Cons of Folic Acid:
  • Has been linked to perhaps increased growth of cancer cells in people who already have cancer. Check out this link to learn more about this theory CBS NEWS.
  • Like anything else if you take too much of it you can have problems. However, as long as you do not take too much of the vitamins, you cannot overdose on the folic acid in your food even if you are getting the recommended amount in a vitamin. If you do take too much you could get stomach problems, sleep problems, skin reactions, and seizures.
When Should you Start Taking Folic Acid?

50% of pregnancies are not planned, so anyone that is of childbearing age should begin taking folic acid. Most birth defects occur within the first couple weeks of pregnancy, so it is important to have the folic acid in their system before the pregnancy. Before women are pregnant they should take at least 400 mcg of folic acid each day. If a person is already pregnant or breastfeeding this amount is increased daily. Folic acid is not just for women everyone needs folic acid! Even if you are not planning on getting pregnant now or ever it is also helpful in making new cells in the skin, hair and nails. 

Where Can you Get Folic Acid?

 "Since 1998 the FDA has required food manufactures to fortify some cereals, breads, pastas, rice and other grain products with folic acid to prevent birth defects. Other foods that contain high amounts of folic acid are":
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Dried beans
  • Oranges
  •  Peanuts
  •  Peas
If you do not think you are getting the recommended amount from your food you can also get it from vitamin supplements. 

Overall, I believe that the pros of folic acid far outweigh the cons. The only con that I see is that it could lead to progress in cancer after you already have the cancer cells. However, if you take it before you get cancer it promotes healthy cell growth and thus prevents cancer. No one wants to have a baby with a birth defect. So, if you could do this one simple thing every day to prevent these horrible birth defects wouldn’t you?

Here are some helpful links!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Marijuana in the Brain

Is marijuana good or bad for you? This discussion is one of the bigger debates that goes on in the classroom as well as in the courtrooms. Many have different opinions on the subject and its very open for discussion but what are the secrets that are being kept? What is it doing to us internally that we aren't noticing? Some scientist have took the time to study up on how marijuana has effected individuals throughout the brain and the Central Nervous System.

According to NIDA marijuana has many effects throughout the body, but none of them have been deemed fatal. One way that they described marijuana as being bad for you is through its involvement with the brain. In the brains cannabinoid receptors, THC travels through the part of the brain that you feel the pleasure, sensory and time perception (hippocampus). When you have this THC traveling through your blood stream at such a rapid rate then the receptors are getting overworked and sends off the reactors that give you the "HIGH" feeling. Doctors were wondering what was actually causing this feeling so one professor dug deep down into the cannibus plant and the brain to come up with what exactly was causing this.

According to this video,
Dr. Raphael Mechouloum, a profesor that had found what actually makes people high. He discovered that THC was inside of the cannibus and showed what caused its effects. Later on in a further study, Allyn Howlett found the real answer as to what was actually giving people the feeling. She came to the conclusion that the molecules from the THC activate chemical receptors that actually bind to the THC. She discovered that the receptors were in the hippocampus, (as stated earlier) the cerebellum, and the frontal lobe. Then later in 1992 Raphael Mechouloum proved that the body actually makes anandamide which is exactly what is in THC.

As the Nida had said marijuana has not been fatal. In a report from the Science Daily they took 704 marijuana smokers and put them to a neurocognitive performance with 484 non users to see what effects on their performance. The only thing that was found was the marijuana users has a harder time in learning new things, so as you can tell it does have an effect on the brain whether you realize it quickly or over time.

In conclusion, marijuana could be a great thing for some people, or a bad thing for certain people just depending on what your uses are. There are still many discussions on what else THC and Marijuana does to the body. What is your take on this? Do you think marijuana should continue to be used by patients in hospitals that have cancer or any other illness that marijuana has said to help with or control? Even though it doesn't have any fatal death that have related to it, should people still use it as their recreational drug, or should the government just go through and take all of the marijuana away from all the states for good?

By. Delvonta Cheathem

For more information these links would be very helpful to you.
How does Marijuana Effect the Brain
Science Daily
Neuroscience For Kids
Cannibus, Marijuana, Anandamide

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why processed foods are not helping obesity rates

This might be All American
but if you knew what was
really in it, you'd call
Homeland Security!

With the result of obesity increasing every year there are over 1.5 billion people overweight and 400 million are obese. Within these totals they bring many health problems that ultimately cause earlier deaths because their bodies break down. We have talked about healthy eating and portion sizes but I’m going to go more closely on how processed foods lead to obesity. The real question is what are processed foods? Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural state. Processed foods are in more foods the ever before. Some major ingredients that play a part in this role would be sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives. Also it does not deal with everything that you put in, but also the nutrients that are taken out of foods. Processed foods are distorted out of their natural state for “safety” reasons and for feasibility reasons, but about 90% of the money we spend on food is to acquire processed items. People tend to acquire themselves to eating processed foods because it is convenient and does not take long to drive to get or make. That is why households have many of the obesity issues because of time and cheaper. Some things to consider when you eat processed foods would be color, emulsify, bleach, sweeten, and hide odors, flavors, and many more. Also another interesting fact is that most processed foods come with tons of ingredients, and to most people they cannot even be pronounced. This shows that we truly do not know what we are consuming into our bodies. Studies all over indicate when most families do not know or try to be healthy by cooking home cooked meals they are really not because they are not aware of ingredients’ that are mixed in. Manufactures do not show us all the facts about how the foods are processed because if they did we probably wouldn’t buy it.

Here are some more reasons you might want to consider when you’re putting jar of Vienna Sausages in your shopping cart:

•Chemical’s that are used in processed foods are known to carry carcinogenic properties. (Cancer agents)

•One study at the University of Hawaii concluded that almost 200,000 people that ate most processed meats (like hot dogs or bologna) 67 percent were at a higher risk of pancreatic cancer than people who ate very little or none at all.

•With the high amounts in sugar, fat and salt, and low nutrients and fiber that processed foods have it leads to obesity quick.

•The World Health Organization blames processed food for the high percentage in obesity and chronic diseases around the world.

•Tran’s fatty acids that we do not want to consume because TFA’s rise LDL and eliminates your HDL which leads to heart disease.

And If That's Not Enough To Make You Avoid Processed Foods, Try Swallowing This:

With your taste buds attracting to the strong flavors of processed foods it causes you to add more salt and sugar to the natural flavors of whole foods. Also some processed foods are contained with different animal parts that you do not want to eat, for instance snouts, ears, and esophagi. Does not sound appetizing to me, if you ask me! Lastly eating a diet that contains a large amount of processed foods leads to diabetes, and liver failure.

A study in Spain has found diets that are high in Tran’s fat (for example most that is found in fast foods) lead to a 50 percent increase in the risk of depression. The team evaluated 12,000 individuals in their diet and lifestyle over a 6 year period and concluded that 657 were diagnosed with this illness.

Also a study done recently at the University of Colorado School of Medicine cautioned the rise in child obesity will lead to a higher percentage in adulthood and obesity related metabolic and cardiovascular complications. Many show signs of these disorders such as hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance. In this issue it raises more issues on type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

In conclusion all of these facts and studies portray why people are becoming obese and what the major problems are. We cannot be sure that even if you ate really healthy you would not have consumed processed foods, but we can make it a smaller percent to what a person contains. Lastly, becoming more aware and practice healthier eating habits can lead to a smaller chance in obesity and years of health issues.

Here is a helpful video from CBN News!

Helpful links:
Body Ecology
Every Day Health

By:Lindsay Huff

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Memory Loss Accociated with Age

Recently a study has been done that relates older age memory loss to stress hormone receptors in the brain. The stress hormone, cortisol, affects two receptors in the brain that cause an increase in forgetfulness as people age. One receptor activated by low levels of cortisol actually helped with memory. If the stress hormone got too high though, it would affect a second receptor which would cause memory loss. This study was done in mice that were observed traveling through a maze. Mice with high levels of the stress hormone were not able to travel through the maze as well as the mice with less of the hormone. When the receptor was blocked, the mice were able to remember their way through the maze again. "While we know that stress hormones affect memory, this research explains how the receptors they engage with can switch good memory to poorly-functioning memory in old age," according to Dr Joyce Yau of the University's Centre of Cardiovascular Science. This information led to the conclusion that too much stress over a long period of time can affect the memory of older individuals. Lowering the stress hormone level can improve memory by not activating the receptors in the brain that cause memory loss. Researchers are currently looking for a way to block the enzyme that produces the stress hormone in the cells. Blocking this enzyme could result in better memory because the stress hormones would not be released at high levels. If a drug came out that could prevent high levels of cortisol then it could slow the normal decline in memory associated with aging and even help the very elderly improve in their memory.

Older individuals also have a higher chance of memory loss if they have Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome is when a person has three or more of the following risk factors: hypertension, excessive belly fat, higher than normal triglycerides, high blood sugar, and low HDL cholesterol. A study of 7,087 people over the age of 65 was done to determine if any of the individuals had Metabolic Syndrome. A total of 16% had Metabolic Syndrome and all individuals were given a series of memory and cognitive function tests two and four years later. “Researchers found that people who had metabolic syndrome were 20 percent more likely to have cognitive decline on the memory test than those who did not have metabolic syndrome. Those with metabolic syndrome also were 13 percent more likely to have cognitive decline on the visual working memory test compared to those who did not have the syndrome.” These tests show that people with Metabolic Syndrome are more likely to experience memory loss. If individuals take care of themselves and reduce their risk factors, then they have a better chance of having a better memory for a longer period of time.