Another fortnight, another round of exciting medical news. Here are some hand-picked highlights from the last two weeks.
We may soon be able to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome using a blood test.
People tired of being told they’re not tired, who are tired of being tired, may soon have tangible scientific proof of their condition.
Scientists used an electrical current to test immune cells and plasma in blood samples. When the blood samples were stimulated with stress using salt, the electrical current was also affected. Larger changes in the current indicated stressed cells, which was a distinguishing feature in the chronic fatigue patients. The study tested 40 subjects — 20 with chronic fatigue syndrome and 20 without — and accurately flagged all 20 subjects with the condition without flagging the other 20.
People who complain of chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms are often stigmatized by both peers and medical professionals. Doctors may dismiss their concerns as merely imaginary if their bloodwork comes back otherwise normal. Hopefully, new testing methods can soon reduce this stigma. It may even open doors for research into a chronic fatigue-battling drug.
Urine testing may be as effective as pap smears for cervical screenings.
Pap smears aren’t fun, and many women fail to get the necessary screenings done because of the discomfort and embarrassment involved. This is a concern for doctors because the precancerous stage of cervical cancer can be detected as many as five to 10 years before the cancerous stage, allowing for earlier treatment.
Fortunately, UK scientists have found that urine testing may be just as effective as cervical smears to detect high-risk HPV, the virus responsible for causing cervical cancer. The scientists hope that the availability of urine testing may allow more women to participate in regular cervical screening.
Getting screened for HPV regularly is an important part of women’s healthcare. Soon, you may soon be spared the stirrups and the speculum and be able to get a diagnosis in a painless, private way instead.
Morning calisthenics can improve brain power in older adults the rest of the day.
If you’ve ever wondered why your grandparents like to wake up at the break of dawn and do tai chi or go for a brisk walk in the dark, this peculiar habit of theirs may be helping them keep their brains sharp.
A study led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and The University of Western Australia found that in older Australians, moderate intensity exercise in the morning improves decision-making throughout the day when compared with prolonged sitting. They also discovered that frequent, light walking breaks throughout an eight-hour day of sitting can improve memory when compared to sitting without breaks.
The study also found that levels of brain-derived neurotropic growth factor were elevated for eight hours in the subjects that exercised. This protein is important to the survival and growth of neurons that transmit information in the brain.
Obesity and emotional issues may develop as early as age seven.
Adults who assume children lead stress-free lives may need to listen to their kids more carefully. Presented at the European Congress on Obesity (taking place April 28 to May 1), a study found that children who were obese at age seven were at higher risk of emotional issues at age 11, which then predicted a higher body mass index at age 14.
The study was quite comprehensive, using data from 17,215 children born in the UK participating in the Millennium Cohort Study. The researchers adjusted for factors like gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, but they did admit that the study has certain flaws, such as basing data on parental reporting, not the child’s own reporting.
Stay tuned for more health and wellness news!