Author: Apurva Nagare

Are you becoming victim of Snapchat dysmorphia? A new viewpoint article revealed the dangerous effects of smartphone photo filters on mental health conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder and body image issues.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder affecting approximately 1.7% to 2.4% of the population. The condition is categorized as part of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum.

People living with BDD intensely obsess for many hours over minor or nonexistent flaws in their appearance, repeatedly checking the mirror, or grooming or seeking reassurance. This frequent behavior causes significant distress and impacts their ability to function in their daily life.

Some of the people with BDD have a story of unnecessary or repeated cosmetic surgeries. This kind of disorder has been linked with major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and suicidal tendencies.

Unfortunately, the actual reason behind BDD is not clear yet, though the researchers believe that factors including genetics and neurobiological issues like a faulty processing of the neurotransmitter serotonin are causes the condition.

Written by researchers at the Boston Medical Center (BMC) in Massachusetts, a new article adds a new risk factor: selfies.

“The pervasiveness of these filtered images can take a toll on one’s self-esteem, make one feel inadequate for not looking a certain way in the real world, and may even act as a trigger and lead to BDD,”  wrote Susruthi Rajanala, first author of the viewpoint.

“A new phenomenon called ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’ has popped up where patients are seeking out surgery to help them appear like the filtered versions of themselves,” co-author Dr. Neelam Vash commented.

 

 

 

 

 

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Heatwave-related death rates will take high numbers by 2080, according to a new study released Tuesday. The number of people dying from severe heatwaves is likely to increase steadily in tropical and subtropical regions if we fail to adapt to future climate temperatures.

A global new Monash-led study is the first to project upcoming heatwave-related deaths. It aimed at helping policymakers in taking steps to adapt to and mitigate the negative effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions and plan strategies to handle climate change.

“Future heatwaves in particular will be more frequent, more intense and will last much longer,” said Associate Professor Guo.

Published today in PLOS Medicine, the study recommends reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a high level to decrease future deaths related to heatwaves.

The study analyzed data from 412 communities across 20 different countries and regions including North, South, and Central America to Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Researchers estimated potential death rates related to heatwaves for the period of 2031 to 2080.

Researchers found that under the extreme scenario with no adaptation to climate change, the expected heatwave-related deaths in the Philippines would 12 times increase in 2031 to 2080 compared to the period 1971 to 2020.

European countries and the United States could face a smaller increase in deaths from heatwaves, while Britain will see four times more excess deaths under the same scenario.

“If the Australia government cannot put effort into reducing the impacts of heatwaves, more people will die because of heatwaves in the future,” Associate Professor Guo warned.

 

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Study firmly concludes link between diabetes and cancer risk. Many studies have shown a correlation between diabetes and cancer, but the link has never been previously confirmed.

This new study firmly established a conclusion, stating that diabetes increases an individual’s risk of developing cancer. It claims that diabetes’ diagnosis places a person at a risk of various types of cancer.

A new review that confirmed the risk has used data collected by 47 studies from across the world including the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Japan, and China. The studies altogether included health-related data of almost 20 million people.

The authors also note that women were at higher risk of developing malign tumors than men. Study firmly concludes link between diabetes and cancer is published in the journal Diabetologia.

Researchers led by Dr. Toshiaki Ohkuma, from the George Institute for Global Health at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia conducted the study.

They said that women with diabetes have 27 percent more risk of developing cancer than healthy women. While men with diabetes have a 19 percent higher risk of developing cancer compared with healthy men.

“We have also demonstrated for the first time that women with diabetes are more likely to develop any form of cancer, and have a significantly higher chance of developing kidney, oral, and stomach cancers and leukemia,” Dr. Toshiaki Ohkuma explains.

“The more we look into gender-specific research the more we are discovering that women are not only undertreated, they also have very different risk factors for a whole host of diseases, including stroke, heart disease, and now diabetes,” said Study co-author Dr. Sanne Peters.

 

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Chili pepper compound can help lose weight by burning your calories, according to a new study.  Researchers focused on the active compound that gives chili peppers their spicy burn to develop an anti-obesity drug. They performed their experiments on mice that gave the successful result.

Capsaicin, the compound has pain-reducing properties and communicates with our nervous system’s outer part. The qualities of this molecule led researchers to see its effect as a novel drug on conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and various neuropathies.

Some innovative studies have even suggested that this compound can prevent the spread of breast cancer cells.

In a new study, metabocin, a drug that releases capsaicin slowly throughout the day was designed by a group of researchers led by Dr. Baskaran Thyagarajan, from the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy in Laramie. The team analyzed the effect of metabocin in mice.

They presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, conducted in Bonita Springs, FL.

The team administered metabocin orally to wild-type mice. After an analysis, Dr. Thyagarajan said, “We observed, marked improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels, insulin response, and symptoms of fatty liver disease.”

In fact, they administered the drug for 8 months to mice and during that time the team noticed maintained level of weight loss.

“It proved safe and was well tolerated by the mice.  Developing metabocin as a potent anti-obesity treatment shows promise as part of a robust strategy for helping people struggling with obesity,” concluded.

The study was also published in the Biophysical Journal.

 

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Herpes medication plays vital role in Alzheimer’s treatment, new results show. The herpes simplex virus is involved in the condition and antiherpetic medication has a considerable effect on dementia risk.

Last month’s report based on a study discovered a “strong evidence” of an association between the viruses and Alzheimer’s disease.

People suffering from the condition had more herpesviruses 6 and 7 than people free from Alzheimer’s, according to the postmortem analyses of brain tissue.

Now a new a new study – combination of three studies – published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease have strengthened the link between herpes and dementia.

Two of the studies note that acute herpes zoster infection causes dementia risk and another one shows that antiherpetic medication minimizes the dementia risk.

The latter study analyzed 8,362 people aged 50 and above diagnosed with herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection and 25,086 age-matched healthy people.

The researchers followed both groups for almost ten years, between 2001 and 2010. They found that the risk of dementia was over 2.5 times higher in the herpes group than in the group of healthy people. The study concluded that antiviral treatment lowered the dementia risk by 10 times that means herpes medication plays vital role in Alzheimer’s treatment.

This article and two others provide the first population evidence for a causal link between herpes virus infection and Alzheimer’s disease, a hugely important finding,” said Prof. Itzhaki, researcher and who is a professor of neuroscience and experimental psychology at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

“I believe we are the first to realize the implications of these striking data on this devastating condition which principally affects the elderly,” Itzhaki adds.

 

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Artificial intelligence shows better results in detecting skin cancer than experienced dermatologists, researchers said Tuesday. A study published in the Annals of Oncology found that a form of artificial intelligence or machine learning known as deep learning convolutional neural network (CNN) is better than human dermatologists at detecting skin cancer.

CNN is a class of deep artificial neural networks inspired by biological processes in that the neurons in the brain are connected to each other and respond to what the eye sees.

A team of researchers from Germany, the United States, and France trained an artificial intelligence system to discover dangerous skin cancer by showing it more than 100,000 images of malignant melanomas and benign nevi.

They compared CNN’s performance with the performance of 58 international dermatologists. They found that CNN missed fewer melanomas and misdiagnosed benign moles as malignant less often than the dermatologists.

The CNN has the ability to learn fast by seeing images and teaching itself in order to improve its performance considering what it has learned (a process is known as machine learning).

“When dermatologists received more clinical information and images at level II, their diagnostic performance improved. However, the CNN, which was still working solely from the dermoscopic images with no additional clinical information, continued to outperform the physicians’ diagnostic abilities,”  said professor Holger Haenssle, author of the study and senior managing physician of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

The results show that CNN surpassed the dermatologists as well as well-trained experts in detecting melanomas.

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Hawaii banning sunscreen harmful to coral reefs. On Tuesday, State lawmakers approved a bill that bans skin-care companies from selling sunscreens that contain chemicals believed to harm coral reefs. The bill says the sunscreens containing harmful chemicals are contributing to the destruction of the coral reefs of the state and other ocean areas.

The ban, once signed by Gov. David Ige, will make Hawaii the first state in the country to pass such kind of law and would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Scientists have argued that the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate commonly used in more than 3,500 of the world’s most popular sunscreen products increases the coral’s susceptibility to bleaching and stops regeneration of reefs that make them less resilient to climate change.

“The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly,” explains the study of the chemical’s effect on reefs in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The report says sunscreen products including Coppertone, Banana Boat, and Hawaiian Tropic would be prohibited as they contain these chemicals. However, doctor’s prescription sunscreens containing the hazardous chemicals would still be allowed to purchase.

Doug Johnson, a dermatologist and spokesman for the Hawaii Dermatology Society, said, “A ban on these sunscreens in Hawaii — the state with the highest daily UV index warnings and very high rates of skin cancer and melanoma — would be a public health disaster.”

 

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Russia launches floating power plant with “Nuclear Titanic” making its way towards Arctic region and hopefully the FNPP technology will also interest other South Asian countries in an attempt of building extra seawater desalination facilities.

Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom launched the world’s first “floating” nuclear power plant (FNPP) over the weekend. The advancement is another example of the Kremlin’s move in expanding its presence in the Arctic port.

The power plant called “Akademik Lomonosov” will be floating through the Baltic Sea before arriving at the Murmansk base where it will receive the nuclear fuel. Akademik Lomonosov was towed out of a shipyard in St. Petersburg on April 28, 2018, where it was built.

However, environmentalist groups are not motivated by the likelihood of a nuclear power plant being sent to the Arctic because it can cause a high damage if something went wrong. According to Greenpeace, which recently warned of a “Chernobyl on ice,” the plan is a big environmental risk.

Nuclear expert Jan Haverkamp said, “Nuclear reactors bobbing around the Arctic Ocean will pose a shockingly obvious threat to a fragile environment which is already under enormous pressure from climate change.” “This hazardous venture is not just a threat to the Arctic, but, potentially, to other densely populated or vulnerable natural regions too,” Haverkamp added.

Rosatom said that they believe the floating nuclear power plant occur sometime in 2019. It also said that FNPPs are designed with the great scope of safety and to keep uninterruptible power and huge desalinated water supply in different remote areas. 

 

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Exposure to light from street lamps and mobile phones can trigger risk of cancer, according to a new research. Modern street lamps are increasing the risk of prostate and breast cancer by alerting hormone levels.

The study discovered that the risk of developing prostate cancer among men who are exposed to blue light at night has become double while women exposed to the light have 1.5 times higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Scientists have found a “strong association” between the new generations of street lights risk and the disease. They have advised officials to think about limiting the roll-out of LED (light-emitting diode) lights.

The study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives claims that exposure to light from street lamps and mobile phones can increase the cancer risk. It looked at the medical and epidemiological data of more than 4,000 men and women aged between 20 and 85 in 11 different Spanish regions.

The research conducted by the research team at the University of Exeter and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) discovered that LED light, which emits mainly blue light, may disrupt the body’s internal clock and hormone levels to cause cancer. Their research may also show the involvement of using mobile phones and tablets at nighttime which emit blue light, in cancer development.

“Given the ubiquity of artificial light at night, determining whether or not it increases the risk of cancer is a public health issue.” said first author Dr. Ariadna Garcia, of ISGlobal.

“At this point, further studies should include more individual data using for instance light sensors that allow measuring indoor light levels,” “It would also be important to do this kind of research in young people that extensively use blue light emitting screens.”

 

 

 

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Ready to beat Malaria is the new theme for this year’s Malaria Day which aims to make the world malaria free. World Malaria Day is annually observed on April 25 which highlights the joint efforts and commitment of the global malaria community to control malaria also broaden awareness about the disease around the world.

Malaria is caused by the tiny Plasmodium parasites which are transported from person to person by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Nearly half the world’s population still contracts it every year.

The Malaria Day was established in May 2007 at the 60th session of the World Health Assembly with an aim to deliver education and knowledge of the disease as well as to spread national-malaria-control strategies’ executing information.

However, after a remarkable success in the past years’ malaria controlling progression has slowed around the globe, the 2017 World Malaria Report claims. The report showed increases of cases in regions like Southern Africa. Released in November 2017 the World Malaria Report unveiled that there were 216 million cases of malaria in 2016 while 211 million in 2015.

The symptoms of the disease include chills and a fever as well as some people experience sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, a headache and other body aches. In some severe cases, patients can even experience complications like hypoglycemia, brain swelling, fluid build-up in the lungs, and organ failure.

“In countries where cases of malaria are infrequent, these symptoms may be attributed to influenza, a cold, or other common infections, especially if malaria is not suspected,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.

 

 

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Alcohol drinkers hold overabundance of oral bacteria linked to diseases than non-drinkers, new research has found. One or more alcoholic beverages each day can raise the risk of not only of cavities and gum disease but also of some cancer and heart disease as people who routinely drank the same amount of drink contained an overabundance of bad bacteria.

Researchers reported Monday that our mouth naturally contains about 700 types of bacteria, including both good and bad. But drinking alcohol each day may mess up the balance of good versus bad bacteria in your mouth.

The main findings published in the journal Microbiomeonline April 23 says, by contrast, drinkers had good microbes in their mouths to check the growth of harmful germs.

Led by NYU School of Medicine researchers, the study is a first of its kind that shows that alcohol drinkers hold overabundance of oral bacteria as well as the link between alcohol intake and oral microbiome- the medical term for the colony of bacteria in our mouths.

During the study, researchers found that alcohol drinkers had more Bacteroidales, Actinomyces and Neisseria species of bacteria, which can cause periodontal disease or a decrease in beneficial bacteria compared to nondrinkers.

“We did not find a specific threshold level,” said Jiyoung Ahn, the study’s senior investigator and an epidemiologist at the NYU School of Medicine. “Though heavier drinking led to more extensive changes in the oral microbiome. Heavy alcohol intake is a known risk factor for multiple chronic diseases, including cancers (head and neck, esophagus, colon and breast), liver disease and cardiovascular diseases,” she added.

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Nubia’s Red Magic is gaming-focused smartphone. Nubia, a ZTE sub-brand in China has introduced its new phone, especially for passionate mobile gamers. It is practically attracting them through its aggressively red openings and details.

Specification on the Red Magic includes the 5.99-inch IPS LCD display with a 2160 x 1080, 18:9 resolution. There are sharp, hexagonal cutouts for the camera and fingerprint sensor, a minimal forehead, and chin at the top and bottom of the black anodized aluminum frame. It runs on last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor instead of the newer Snapdragon 845.

Camera-wise, you will find a single 24-megapixel lens on the back of the phone and an 8-megapixel front-facing lens. The Red Magic phone is powered by an impressively large 3,800mAh battery that the company claims can last for up seven hours.

The device is packed with 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB storage (along with a cheaper 6GB RAM and 64GB of storage model), as well as dual-SIM support, but there is no support for MicroSD storage. Nubia claims that it will use its “GameBoost” software to provide better performance. The phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo.

The Red Magic Phone will be available worldwide with an Indiegogo campaign launching April 26. Preorders will be open on April 25th in China with the starting price at 2,499 yuan (roughly $397) for the base mode and 2,999 yuan (around $477) for the high-end version. Early buyers will be able to catch the device for a bird price of $399.

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Facebook looking to build its own chips for which it has started to form a team of people who can work on chip designs. According to job listings and sources familiar with the matter, Facebook is joining other technology companies that have invested in building their own chips.

The company is looking to hire a manager to create an “end-to-end SoC/ASIC, firmware and driver development organization,” according to a job listing on its corporate website, suggesting the plan is coming together.

Apple has already started shipping its self-branded chips inside its iOS devices in 2010 and now uses them in within many of its product lineups. Alphabet Inc.’s Google produces custom artificial intelligence chip and added its first consumer-focused silicon in the Pixel 2 in 2017.

The Menlo Park, the California-based company would join other tech giants to reduce their dependence on chipmakers such as Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc.

Facebook could use such semiconductors to power artificial intelligence software, servers in its data centers, and hardware devices. Next month, it will also release the Oculus Go, a virtual-reality headset that runs on a Qualcomm processor.

On Wednesday, Yann LeCun, the company’s AI researcher tweeted about some of the job postings, asking candidates interested in building chips for AI. While Facebook looking to build its own chips, it declined to comment on the job postings.

The job descriptions are categorized based on two fields: chips for artificial intelligence also called machine learning, and chips for Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headsets.

Other jobs are for the system-on-a-chip design popular in smartphones, energy-efficient devices, and for Oculus-related development of SOC processors.

 

 

 

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Plastic-digesting enzyme accidentally created for the first time by scientists during a recent experiment. A mutant enzyme could help resolve the worldwide plastic pollution crisis.

Scientists accidentally created a mutated version when they were conducting an experiment on enzyme discovered in a couple of years ago in a waste recycling center in Japan, according to the Energy Department lab. This new discovery could reduce plastic waste in future, enabling the full recycling of bottles.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory were examining to see how this enzyme works.

Researchers tweaked a plastic-munching enzyme’s physical structure, making it more effective at resolving polyethylene terephthalate – PET – the plastic found in water bottles. PETs have only existed since the 1940s and are not biodegradable.

Now, the researchers are working making the enzyme more successful at breaking down plastics in a fraction of its current rate.

Enzymes are non-toxic, biodegradable, and can be produced in large amounts by the microorganisms (bacteria and fungi). Although most people don’t know it, enzymes already help us out in many areas of everyday life such biological laundry detergents and in the food, leather, and textiles industries,” Oliver Jones, a chemist at RMIT University who was not involved in the study, said in a statement.

During the experiment, senior scientist Bryon Donohoe at the Energy Department lab and researcher Nic Rorrer found that enzyme, called PETase in plastic soda bottles degraded PET after just 96 hours through electron microscopy.

 

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