A summary of important health news from the past week.
Prayer and Meditation Deeply Affects Behavior
Detailed anatomical images rendered by the magnetic image resonance of MRIs shows the ways in which prayer and meditation impact the brain. Dr. Spiegel of Stanford University School of Medicine reports that reflective regions of the brain are activated from this mental exercise, signaling centering and self-soothing. At the same time, prayer and meditation reengages the prefrontal cortex, which rules our executive functioning, enabling an individual to make thoughtful decisions. On a biochemical level, prayer and meditation activates neural pathways that release hormones such as oxytocin.
For some, #MeToo sexual assault stories trigger trauma not empowerment
Actress Alyssa Milano asked those who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to reply to her tweet using the phrase "me too." There were 1.2 million responses on Twitter and millions more on face-book. This should not come as a surprise because studies generally say that 1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, as have 1 in 10 men. These numbers underestimate the problem considering the fear and hesitation of reporting sexual assault. For many victims #MeToo is a rally cry to break the silence, but for others it is more triggering than affirming.
Cancer drugs grown in chicken eggs may lower their cost
In Japan, researchers have found a potential way to produce cheaper drugs, used to treat numerous diseases, from chicken eggs. The researchers genetically modified hens to produce eggs that have substantial amounts of interferon beta protein. This protein is used to treat many illnesses such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and caner. Due to the large sterile facilities needed to conventionally produce interferon, the protein can cost between $300-$1000 per microgram while the dose of interferon, for treating MS, can start at 30 micrograms. These researchers believe that using chicken eggs to produce interferon will reduce its price by 90% if this production method is successful.
Toxic tensions in the heart of 'Cancer Alley'
The EPA has identified the Denka chemical plant in LaPlace, Louisiana as the source of 99% of the nation's chloroprene pollution. Chloroprene is a chemical used to make synthetic rubber, and studies have found the substance to cause cancer in humans. In August of 2017, the EPA found average chloroprene levels at a nearby elementary school to be 34 times the EPA's recommendation. In light of this research, the plant is working to lower its chloroprene emissions by 85%, although Denka claims that the research establishing chloroprene as carcinogenic is not conclusive.
California combats deadly hepatitis A Outbreak
According to the California Department of Public Health, 600 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in California. Since November 2016, 395 individuals have been hospitalized and 19 individuals have died from the disease. Consequently, California state governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in order to help curb the outbreak.
This statement, written by the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) announces a revocation of the appointment of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, as a Goodwill Ambassador for Noncommunicable Disease in Africa. This decision came in the wake of vast criticisms of the appointment based on Mugabe's, the oldest head of state in the world, decisions to seek health care outside of his home country as well as a long history of human rights abuses.
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