Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are making crops grow bigger & faster. However, researchers have found that these crops contain significantly lower levels of protein, iron, zinc, and other important nutrients, potentially endangering nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. Experts explain the effect will get worse as CO2 levels continue to rise, and what might be done to combat the problem.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Some people who seek repeated plastic surgery are afflicted with a mental illness, body dysmorphic disorder, which distorts their view of their own appearance. Experts discuss symptoms and how the disorder may be treated, though few with the disorder agree to psychological treatment.
Before a medication is released to the public, it’s safety and effectiveness must be put to the test. Clinical trials are a key part of this process, but experts say drugs are being proclaimed safe without enough attention on how the impacts differ between men and women.
Dr. Teresa Woodruff, Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University, suggests the example of the drug Ambien, a common prescription sleep aid that was taken off shelves because of adverse events in women. Even though it was observed that there was a difference in how long it took for the body to clear the drug in men and women, the difference in efficacy was never quantified. The drug was later returned to shelves, but received new labeling instructing women to take smaller doses than men.
Dr. Melina Kibbe, Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University, says this is the first time a drug had explicitly instructed different dosing for men and women, but questions how many more drugs need to be reconsidered. Only one third of research subjects in clinical trials are women and, even if a study has exactly fifty-percent of each sex, issues still remain. “The problem is if you include both sexes but you report the data in aggregate then you won’t know if a drug has say a better effect in men versus women,” Dr. Kibbe explains.
Even before human clinical trials, research is conducted on predominantly male cells and animals, with very little focus on the variable of sex of the subject. Dr. Kathryn Sandburg, Director of the Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease at Georgetown University, says researchers fall victim to the fall belief that there’s less variable in studying male subjects than female because of hormonal cycles. The opposite turns out to be true. Males actually have more variables to control. Recently, there’s been a push to have equality in research subjects, but private pharmaceutical companies are still not required to adhere to these guidelines.
Dr. Teresa Woodruff, Director, Women’s Health Research Institute, Northwestern University
Dr. Melina Kibbe, Professor of Surgery, Northwestern University
Dr. Kathryn Sandburg, Director, Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging & Disease, Georgetown University
The unusual name will certainly get your attention, but fortunately Exploding Head Syndrome is not life-threatening or physically harmful. In a recent study more than 10 percent of people experienced the syndrome, a sleep disorder in which crashing or exploding sounds make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
Dr. Brian Sharpless, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Washington State University and author of Sleep Paralysis, explains that instead of the auditory neurons in the brain shutting down in the process of going to sleep, they all fire at once causing the loud noises. The syndrome is not totally understood, but Dr. Sharpless believes it is related to sleep paralysis, the feeling of being awake but unable to speak or move, which involves a similar misfiring in the brain. There’s a wide range of symptoms, from an isolated episode once a week to daily extreme fatigue. here are a few medical solutions to the problem, mostly off-label uses of medication, such as antidepressants or psychotropics.
Walter Michka, a health blogger, has experienced Exploding Head Syndrome first hand. Although it might be a little scary at first, for him the syndrome is something he can live with. Learn more about the syndrome or related sleep disorder by visiting Dr. Sharpless’s website, www.briansharpless.com
Walter Michka, health blogger and exploding head syndrome sufferer
Dr. Brian Sharpless, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Washington State University and author, Sleep Paralysis
Only about a third of research subjects in clinical studies are women. In basic research on animals and cells, female models are even more poorly represented. This results in poor understanding of how new drugs work on women and occasional drug recalls when major side effects are discovered after the fact. Experts discuss why such an imbalance occurs, its results, and how the problem is being addressed.
“Exploding Head Syndrome”
A sleep disorder strangely named “exploding head syndrome” may keep more than 10 percent of people awake at night by inflicting them with crashing sounds that only they can hear. A sufferer and an expert discuss.
Addiction has become undoubtedly entangled in modern American society. Whether it’s gambling, food, sex, technology, alcohol or drugs, the deadly disease hijacks the human brain with severe ramifications. Recent eruptions in the number of opiate addicts and overdoses has shined an even brighter spotlight on this critical public health issue.
There is an inclination to equate addiction to a moral failing, lack of willpower, or simply bad judgment. Dr. Rita Goldstein, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, explains that due to our ‘evolutionary legacy,’ the reward center in the brain is designed to make us feel good when we do things like eat food or have sex. Yet, with prolonged addiction, a chemical imbalance occurs, and as a result, the reward center takes priority over rational thinking or the threat of negative consequence. When addictive behavior is continually reinforced, further imbalance occurs, weakening the part of the brain meant to counterbalance impulsive behavior.
The good news; Dr. Anna Rose Childress, Research Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Pennsylvania School of Medicine, observes that with abstinence, with or without the use of medications for recovering addicts, the brain can begin rewiring pathways created in the midst of addiction. The road to recovery is not yet paved in the golden promise of a cure, but understanding the biology of addiction is a critical component of treating the disease.
Dr. Rita Goldstein, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York
Dr. Anna Rose Childress, Research Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
It’s much more convenient to dismiss the idea of having to survive a natural disaster, yet the recent surge of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires in the continent of North America alone has left the unprepared scrambling to put together a survival strategy. Co-authors of The Provident Prepper: A Common Sense Guide to Preparing for Emergencies, as well as married couple, Jonathan and Kylene Jones, share their expertise as civil defense experts.
“Being prepared is really a force multiplier…[which] means that instead of somebody having to take care of you, you can take care of yourself and your family and reach out to those around you and make a big difference in this world,” according to Jonathan Jones. Even the most obvious things can become exceedingly complicated during a natural disaster. Everyday resources such as food, water, and electricity can suddenly become inaccessible. Water is at the top of the list, at a minimum of two-gallon of water per person per day. Natural disasters at the more severe end of the scale can mean no tap water, grocery stores being closed or destroyed, being unable to get needed medical attention and essential medications.
The number one type of disaster to prepare for according to the civil defense experts is fire. It’s extremely important to have a plan already prepared with your loved ones for evacuating the house. There should be an agreed upon meeting place and, although it may seem unnecessary, executing family fire drills will ensure everyone knows how to respond when the fire alarm interrupts your daily routine.
Jonathan Jones and Kylene Jones, co-authors, The Provident Prepper: A Common Sense Guide to Preparing for Emergencies