Monday, 21 July 2008

Some BBC and Science Blog articles

A note of some pages of relevant research mentioned by the BBC:

How emotional pain can really hurt:
New brain scanning technologies are revealing that the part of the brain that processes physical pain also deals with emotional pain.

And in the same way that in some people injury can cause long-lasting chronic pain, science now reveals why some will never get over such heartbreak.

Autism parents 'infection risk'
Caring for children with developmental problems such as autism or Down's syndrome can weaken parents' immune systems, research suggests.

Researchers at Birmingham University found they had a poorer immune response to a vaccine against pneumonia.

Anti-depressants' 'little effect'
New generation anti-depressants have little clinical benefit for most patients, research suggests.

A University of Hull team concluded the drugs actively help only a small group of the most severely depressed.

Drugs for ADHD 'not the answer'
Treating children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with drugs is not effective in the long-term, research has shown.

A study obtained by the BBC's Panorama programme says drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta work no better than therapy after three years of treatment.

The findings by an influential US study also suggested long-term use of the drugs could stunt children's growth.

It said that the benefits of drugs had previously been exaggerated.

Stressed parents 'make kids ill'
Parents with stressful lives may be making their children as well as themselves vulnerable to illness, research suggests.

A University of Rochester study, reported by New Scientist, found sickness levels were higher in children of anxious or depressed parents.

It also found links between stress and immune system activity in the children.

'Healthier hearts' for cat owners
Cat owners appear to have a much lower risk of dying from a heart attack than their feline-spurning counterparts, a study suggests.

Researchers looked at nearly 4,500 adults and found that cat ownership was related to a 40% lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack.

And some stories from Science Blog,

Abused kids lose two years quality of life
Childhood maltreatment—which includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect—has been linked to an increased risk for ailments ranging from heart disease, obesity and diabetes to depression and anxiety. Corso said there are two reasons why. First, childhood maltreatment increases the likelihood of unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, substance abuse and sexual promiscuity. And recent studies suggest that repeated exposure to the stress caused by maltreatment alters brain circuits and hormonal systems, which puts victims at greater risk of chronic health problems.

Stress cuts blood flow to heart in patients with gene variation
University of Florida researchers have identified a gene variation in heart disease patients who appear especially vulnerable to the physical effects of mental stress — to the point where blood flow to the heart is greatly reduced.

Fear that freezes the blood in your veins
"The blood froze in my veins" or "My blood curdled" – these common figures of speech can be taken literally, according to the latest studies. Indeed, more literally than some of us would like. For it turns out that intense fear and panic attacks can really make our blood clot and increase the risk of thrombosis or heart attack.

Immune system may target some brain synapses
A baby's brain has a lot of work to do, growing more neurons and connections. Later, a growing child's brain begins to pare down these connections until it develops into the streamlined brain of an adult.

Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered the sculptor behind that paring process: the immune system.


Andy said...

Thanks for sharing these. The Brain, Behavior, and Immunity paper looks interesting.

By the way, I'm reading Erich Fromm's The Art of Being at the moment. I strongly suspect you've come across him.

His description of "manager sickness", reminded me of discussions in your work: "peptic ulcers, which is the result of wrong living, the stress produced by over-ambitiousness, dependence on success, lack of a truly personal center."

But then he goes on to say: "Together with the ideals of smoothness, painlessness, and effortlessness discussed earlier, there is also a widespread belief that life should not offer any conflicts, agonizing choices, painful decisions. [...] What could be more naive? Only the most superficial, alienated kind of living may not require conscious decisions, although it does generate plenty of neurotic and psychosomatic symptoms such as ulcers or hypertension [...]. If a person has not entirely lost the capacity to feel, if he has not become a robot, he can scarcely avoid facing painful decisions."

david said...

Interesting, isn't it, how quickly one meets with discussions of what it is to be human and what it is to live a good life.

Small wonder then that many would prefer us to stick to the 'medical facts' and pin the blame for illness wholly on physiological weakness and damaging microbes.

Estimates put levels of asymptomatic Helicobacter pylori infection at around 70%. Even after taking into account bacterial strain you have explaining to do. But who will look to the 'art of being' rather than to 'purely' physiological facts about the host?

Anonymous said...

If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, 1 out of 75 people have these attacks at some time in their lives. It is estimated that twice as many women than men suffer from this disorder.