Category Archives: Health

Opiod Users Switch To Cannabis For Pain Treatment 

By: Kat McCue

Patients are ditching opioids and instead using cannabis to treat pain, anxiety, and depression mostly in states where pot is legal, according to a new study.

Published in the Journal of Pain Research, the results show that 46 percent of people who used cannabis at least once within the previous 90 days used it as a substitute for prescription drugs that treat pain, anxiety, and depression. The investigators surveyed nearly 3,000 respondents from all over the United States (as well as participants from Canada and Europe). The findings serve as the latest bit of news demonstrating a growing trend of medical cannabis use for conditions traditionally treated with prescription medications.

Survey participants responded to the following question: “Have you ever used cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (yes/no)?” Upon answering “yes,” respondents listed the medications that they replaced with cannabis in additional space provided. The results? The most commonly replaced drugs were painkillers (narcotics and opioids) at a nearly 36 percent substitution rate, while anxiety medications (anxiolytics and benzodiazepines) and antidepressants each were replaced with cannabis approximately 13 percent of the time.

Although there has yet to be any definitive medical consensus regarding the effectiveness of cannabis to treat pain, anxiety, and depression, it seems to function as an adequate replacement for prescription medications among medical cannabis users with these conditions.
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China Creates Forest City To Fight Polution 

By: Lucy Wang of Inhabitat 

A pollution-fighting green city unlike any before is springing to life in China. Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, the first “Forest City” is now under construction Liuzhou, Guangxi Province. The futuristic city will use renewable energy for self sufficiency and be blanketed in almost 1 million plants and 40,000 trees—a sea of greenery capable of absorbing nearly 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 57 tons of pollutants annually.

Commissioned by Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning for the north of Liuzhou along the Liujiang river, the 175-hectare Liuzhou Forest City will be the first of its kind that, if successful, may raise the bar for urban design worldwide. This first Chinese Forest City will host 30,000 people in a community where all buildings are entirely covered in nearly a million plants of over 100 species, as well as 40,000 trees, that produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen. The use of greenery-covered facades builds on Stefano Boeri’s previous works, including the Vertical Forest residential building in Milan.

The new green city will be entirely wired and connected to Liuzhou with a fast rail line used by electric cars. Powered by geothermal and solar energy, Liuzhou Forest City will include residential areas, commercial and recreational spaces, two schools, and a hospital. The project is slated for completion in 2020.

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Google Scrubs Medical Records and Other Personal Information From Its Results 

By: Samuel Gibbs of The Guardian 

Google has started removing private medical records from its search results, after adjusting its policy regarding personal information.

The change was made on Thursday to include the “confidential, personal medical records of private people” in the bracket of information Google may remove unprompted from search results. Other examples of such information include national or government issued identification numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and images of signatures.

The leaking of private medical records can be extremely damaging to the victims, both financially and emotionally, with future prospects affected and private lives of the vulnerable exposed. Given that Google’s indexing system will capture anything that’s publicly accessible on the internet, leaks such as those created by an Indian pathology lab which uploaded more than 43,000 patient records in December, including names and HIV blood test results, can be particularly damaging.

The last change to the removal policy was made in 2015 with the addition of “nude or sexually explicit images that were uploaded or shared without your consent” to cover so-called revenge porn.

The new addition to Google’s scrubbing policy marks a change from the search company’s traditional hands-off, algorithmic approach which resists attempts at censorship. This has come under scrutiny over the last few years due to the spread of fake news and misinformation. Google recently adjusted its search results to down-rank contested information such as fake news.

For many Google has become the gateway to the internet, meaning that removal from the company’s search results effectively scrubs them from the internet. While the information will still be accessible via other search engines or directly, other associated actions including the European right to be forgotten have seen being removed from Google’s search results as good enough to affect change.

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Stephen Hawkings: Space Colonization Will Unite and Elevate Humanity 

By: Pallab Gosh 

They should also aim to build a lunar base in 30 years’ time and send people to Mars by 2025.

Prof Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space programme, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose.

He was speaking at the Starmus Festival celebrating science and the arts, which is being held in Trondheim, Norway.

“Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity,” he said.

“I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all.

“A new and ambitious space programme would excite (young people), and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology”.

He addressed the concerns of those arguing that it would be better to spend our money on solving the problems of this planet along with a pointed criticism of US President Donald Trump.

“I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen,” he said.

Prof Hawking explained that human space travel is essential for the future of humanity precisely because the Earth was under threat from climate change as well as diminishing natural resources.

“We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth,” the Cambridge University theoretical physicist explained.

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Study Shows Yoga Can Substitute For Physical Therapy And Painkillers 

By: Allison Aubrey 

If you’re tired of popping pain medicine for your lower back pain, yoga may be a good alternative.
New research finds that a yoga class designed specifically for back pain can be as safe and effective as physical therapy in easing pain.
The yoga protocol was developed by researchers at Boston Medical Center with input from yoga teachers, doctors and physical therapists.
During the class, trained instructors guide participants through gentle poses, including cat-cow, triangle pose and child’s pose. Simple relaxation techniques are part of the class as well. More difficult poses, such as inversions, are avoided.
A guidebook that details the poses taught during the class is freely available, as is a teacher training manual.
The findings, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, are in line with new guidelines for treating back pain from the American College of Physicians. The group recommends that people with back pain should avoid pain medicines if possible, and instead opt for alternatives such as tai chi, yoga and massage. As we’ve reported, those guidelines are aimed at people with run-of-the-mill back pain, rather than pain due to an injury or other diagnosed problem.
Who was in the study? Researchers recruited 320 racially diverse, predominantly low-income participants in the Boston area, all of whom had chronic low back pain. The study lasted one year.
What did participants in the study do? Participants were divided into three groups. One group was assigned to a weekly yoga class for 12 weeks. Another group was assigned 15 physical therapy (PT) visits. The third group received an educational book and newsletters. For the remainder of the year — roughly 40 weeks — participants in the yoga group were assigned to either drop-in classes or home practice. The PT group was assigned to either “PT booster sessions” or home practice.

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Clear Divisions In Trump Administration As 12B Dollar Qatari Arms Deal Clears Days After POTUS Acuses Region Of Funding Terrorism

By: MARGARET BRENNAN, KYLIE ATWOOD of CBS 

While President Trump berates Qatar for sponsoring terrorism at the highest levels, he is simultaneously authorizing the country to purchase over $21 billion of U.S. weapons. 

One portion of that deal — $12 billion for 36 F-15QA fighter jets — was inked on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., when Qatar’s Defense Minister met with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. 

“We are pleased to announce today the signing of the letter of offer and acceptance for the purchase of the F-15QA fighter jets, with an initial cost of $12 billion dollars,” read the Qatari Defense Minister’s statement on Wednesday afternoon. “We believe that this agreement will propel Qatar’s ability to provide for its own security while also reducing the burden placed upon the United States military in conducting operations against violent extremism.”

The Qatari ambassador to the U.S. tweeted a photo of the signing. 

The State Department describes this sale as fermenting U.S. efforts to “strengthen the security and defense architecture of the region.” They point out that it does not directly conflict with the current regional dispute as it will take years to complete and fill the sale in full. 

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New Broccoli Pill Reduces Blood Sugar In Diabetics 

By: Andy Coghlan of New Scientist

Doctors frequently tell us to eat our greens, but soon they could be prescribing broccoli. A powder that contains concentrated extract from the vegetable could prove indispensable to people with type 2 diabetes. The extract reduced blood sugar levels by up to 10 per cent in people with the disease.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops around middle age, often in people who are overweight. Their body stops responding to insulin, which controls the level of glucose in the blood. Abnormal insulin regulation causes a rise in blood sugar levels, which can raise people’s chances of heart attacks, blindness and kidney problems.

People with the condition are often prescribed metformin, which helps to lower blood glucose. However, as many as 15 per cent cannot take this therapy because of kidney damage risks.

“More research is needed to see if this repurposed drug can be used to treat Type 2 diabetes, as it was only tested in a small number of people and only helped a subset of those who are taking it,” says Elizabeth Robertson, of the charity Diabetes UK. “For now, we recommend that people continue with the treatment prescribed by their healthcare team.”

Clever greens

A chemical called sulforaphane, found in broccoli sprouts, has previously demonstrated an ability to reduce glucose levels in diabetic rats. Anders Rosengren of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and his colleagues wondered whether the same might be true for humans. To test the theory, his team gave 97 people with type 2 diabetes a concentrated dose of sulforaphane every day for three months, or a placebo. All but three people in the trial continued taking metformin. Those who didn’t take metformin were able to control their condition relatively well without it.

The concentration of sulforaphane given was around 100 times that found naturally in broccoli. “It was the same as eating around five kilograms of broccoli daily,” says Rosengren.

On average, those who received the broccoli extract saw their blood glucose reduce by 10 per cent more than those on the placebo. The extract was most effective in obese participants with “dysregulated” diabetes, whose baseline glucose levels were higher to start with.

“We’re very excited about the effects we’ve seen and are eager to bring the extract to patients,” says Rosengren. “We saw a reduction of glucose of about 10 per cent, which is sufficient to reduce complications in the eyes, kidneys and blood,” he says.

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Scientist Invest Cream That Bronzes Better Than A Sun Tan 

By: Aimee Cunningham of Science 

A method that gives mice a tan without using ultraviolet radiation now works in human skin samples. It’s an early step in developing a lotion or cream that might provide fair-skinned folk with protection against skin cancer.
As reported June 13 in Cell Reports, a topical drug penetrated and tanned laboratory samples of live human skin, absent the sun. Unlike self-tanning lotions that essentially stain skin brown and provide minimal sun protection, the drug activates the production of the dark form of the skin pigment melanin, which absorbs UV radiation and diminishes damage to skin cells.
The team behind this study had worked with a different drug, the plant extract forskolin, in a 2006 study. The researchers used mice with skin like that of red-haired, fair-skinned people, who don’t tan because of a nonfunctioning protein on the surface of the skin cells that make melanin. Applying forskolin to these mice stimulated production of the dark form of melanin. When exposed to UV rays, the mice with dark pigment had less DNA damage and sunburn, as well as fewer skin tumors, compared with untreated mice (SN: 9/23/06, p. 196).
“There was an obvious interest in asking, could this be applied to human skin?” says David Fisher, a cancer biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. But the human epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, is about five times thicker in humans than in mice, he says, which means that many drugs “simply can’t get in.” Sure enough, this was true for forskolin.
So Fisher and colleagues looked at another way to activate pigmentation, focusing on a different enzyme than the one forskolin had targeted. Another research group had shown that an enzyme called salt-inducible kinase inhibits melanin production in mice and that animals lacking the gene for this enzyme developed darkened fur. This provided the opportunity to “try to target that inhibitor, block it and thereby stimulate pigmentation” with a drug, Fisher says.

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Power Companies are Warned of Cyber Virus That Causes Black Outs

By: Kevin Poulsen of The Daily Beast 

Seven minutes before midnight last Dec. 17, a bomb of sorts went off in a high-voltage substation north of Kiev.

But if you were standing outside the 20 acres of gleaming metal transformers and coils, you wouldn’t have heard a bang or seen a flash. It wasn’t that kind of bomb. It was a piece of malicious software that had been hiding in a control-room computer miles away, waiting for the right time to reveal itself. At 11:53 p.m., the logic bomb transmitted a staccato burst of pre-programmed commands to the substation, popping one circuit breaker after another until a strip of houses in and around western Kiev were plunged into darkness.

Technicians responded to the Pivnichna substation and took the circuit breakers off computer control, restoring power a little after 1 a.m. It was only the second confirmed case of a computer attack triggering an electrical blackout, and compared to the first, 12 months earlier—also in Ukraine—it was a fizzle, affecting far fewer customers and for a fraction of the time. In the six months since the Kiev attack, security researchers have wondered why the hackers even bothered with such a fleeting disruption and speculated that someone was using Ukraine as a testing ground for a more serious attack.

Now that dark assessment seems to be confirmed. Researchers at two security companies on Monday announced they’ve finally found and analyzed the malware that triggered the Kiev blackout, and it’s far worse than imagined. The computer code, dubbed “CrashOverride” by Maryland-based Dragos, and “Industroyer” by ESET in Slovakia, is a genuine cyber weapon that can map out a power station’s control network and, with minimal human guidance, issue malicious commands directly to critical equipment. Only once before has the world seen malware designed for such sabotage, with the 2010 Stuxnet virus used against Iran’s nuclear program. CrashOverride is the first to target civilians and the first such malware built to target a nation’s power supply.

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Canada Helps Their Transient Communites By Teaching Them BeeKeeping 

By: Marilla Steuter of CBC

Helping homeless people in Montreal reintegrate into society by teaching them to care for bees may seem like an unusual approach, but organizers of the Accueil Bonneau honey program say it’s been a real success story.

“When they get to be hands on, they see that it’s all about being confident and being at peace with the bees,” said Geneviève Kieffer Després, director of communications and special projects.

Accueil Bonneau, a local group that offers a drop-in day centre and variety of services for homeless men, partnered with Montreal urban beekeeping company Alvéole four years ago.

Now the program, whose aim is to teach job skills and encourage social interaction, has 60 hives in seven locations across the city. 

“The most important thing is that it’s not just a job. It’s learning to do something you love and getting rewarded for it. That is something we want to teach,” she said.

‘Like therapy

John Levasseur, an apprentice in the program, sees beekeeping as “meaningful” work.

He says bees are “so important, not only economically, but as a barometer” for the environmental state of the world. 

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