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Published: Friday, October 27, 2017 @ 2:30 PM
— New research from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, suggests anxiety may be a major risk factor of problematic marijuana use in early adulthood.
The research, published last month in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, involved 1,229 participants enrolled in the Great Smoky Mountains Study, a 20-year cohort study that followed participants between 1993 and 2015.
The Great Smoky Mountain Study is part of a collaborative effort between Duke University and the North Carolina State Division of Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
One of its primary goals is to estimate the number of youth with emotional and behavioral disorders and the persistence of those disorders over time, according to the study website.
To study risk factors for problematic cannabis use, researchers examined the Great Smoky Mountains participants annually from ages 9 and 16 years and then again at ages 19, 21, 26 and 30 years and logged patterns of problematic cannabis use.
Problematic cannabis use refers to the daily consumption of marijuana or a habit that meets diagnostic guidelines for addiction, meaning cannabis use disorder.
The researchers split the participants’ cannabis use into the patterns described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5.
Patterns of problematic use, according to the DSM-5:
Using pairwise associations to identify risk profiles associated with patterns of problematic cannabis use in early adulthood, the researchers also examined multiple risk factors, such as psychiatric disorders; other substance use; education’ challenging social factors, such as low socioeconomic status and family issues; and additional demographics.
What the researchers found
More than three quarters, 76.3 percent, of the participants in the study did not develop problematic use of cannabis during their late adolescence or early adulthood.
But one quarter of the participants did develop problematic use of cannabis, and researchers found they had distinctive risk profiles.
This group was divided into the three pattern categories: persistent problematic cannabis use, limited problematic cannabis use and delayed problematic cannabis use.
Persistent problematic use
For persistent users -- those with the most problematic use of marijuana, sometimes beginning as early as age 9 -- the problems continued into early adulthood.
What’s most important, Sherika Hill — adjunct faculty associate at Duke University School of Medicine and lead author of the study — told Medical News Today, is that 27 percent of persistent users reported anxiety disorders as children and 23 percent reported anxiety disorders as older teens or during college years, up to age 21.
This group also had the highest levels of psychiatric disorders.
“This suggests,” Hill said, “that a focus on mental health and well-being could go a long way to prevent the most problematic use.”
Limited problematic use
The group with limited problematic use surprisingly reported the most childhood family instability and dysfunction of the three -- factors usually linked with a higher level of drug use, the researchers found.
But limited users tended to have more cannabis use issues as preteens, teens and early adolescents and fell off the habit as they got older.
Delayed problematic use
And lastly, most of the participants in the group of delayed users with little to no cannabis use in adolescence and early adulthood but problematic use between age 26 and 30 experienced bullying and mistreatment as children.
Why did childhood bullying and mistreatment not lead to earlier problematic cannabis use? The researchers don’t really know.
Hill told Medical News Today about the motivation behind the new study is that most of the current policies and interventions on cannabis use are aimed at early adolescents.
“We have to start thinking about how we are going to address problematic use that may arise in a growing population of older users. Given that more states may be moving towards legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, this study raises attention about what we anticipate will be the fastest growing demographic of users — adults.”
Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 4:57 PM
— Need a way to hold on to your memories forever? One startup is offering a special, but fatal, procedure to help you keep your brain active.
Researchers at Nectome, a medical company founded by MIT graduates, have discovered a way to maintain brain functionality after death with high-tech embalming, a process used to prevent a body from decay.
“Our mission is to preserve your brain well enough to keep all its memories intact: from that great chapter of your favorite book to the feeling of cold winter air, baking an apple pie, or having dinner with your friends and family,” co-founders Robert McIntyre and Michael McCanna wrote on the business’ website.
They will target patients suffering from terminal illnesses. The individuals will be sedated, connected to heart and lung machines, and injected with the embalming chemicals while they are alive.
The procedure is “100 percent fatal,” the founders warned, but the solution “can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass.”
The analysts believe their investigations will help future scientists “recreate consciousness” and retrieve information from the brain’s molecular details.
“You can think of what we do as a fancy form of embalming that preserves not just the outer details but the inner details,” McIntyre told MIT Technology Review.
“If the brain is dead, it’s like your computer is off, but that doesn’t mean the information isn’t there,” added Ken Hayworth, a neuroscientist and president of the Brain Preservation Foundation -- the organization that awarded McIntyre for his recent work on preserving the pig brain.
The surgery is not yet available to the public as they are still unsure if the memories will be found in the dead tissues. However, they are inviting prospective customers to join a wait list for a $10,000 deposit, which is fully refundable. So far, 25 people have signed up.
Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 2:24 PM
— A small, newly discovered asteroid passed near Earth earlier his week and a second one is expected to follow suit Friday, according to scientists with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The asteroids were spotted Sunday by researchers at the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona.
The first, dubbed 2018 CC, passed within about 114,000 miles of Earth around 3:10 p.m. EST Tuesday, according to NASA. Scientists estimated the asteroid was 50-100 feet in diameter.
Two asteroids, one week. The 1st of this week’s close-approaching asteroids happened Feb. 6 at 3:10pm ET at a distance of ~114,000 miles. The 2nd asteroid will safely pass by Earth on Fri. at 2:30pm at a distance of ~39,000 miles. Get the details: https://t.co/pBqMPxgYuW pic.twitter.com/XHG9rMi9Kb— NASA (@NASA) February 7, 2018
The second asteroid, called 2018 CB, will pass near Earth around 5:30 p.m. EST Friday at distance of about 39,000 miles, less than one-fifth of the distance between Earth and the moon, according to NASA. It’s slightly larger than the first asteroid, between 50 and 130 feet in diameter.
"Although 2018 CB is quite small, it might well be larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, almost exactly five years ago, in 2013," Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a news release.
In February 2013, a fireball lit the skies above Chelyabinsk as a small asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere. The asteroid was estimated to be 55-65 feet in diameter.
"Asteroids of this size do not often approach this close to our planet -- maybe only once or twice a year," Chodas said.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 2:08 AM
Asteroid 2002 AJ129 – which at 0.7 miles is wider than the tallest building in the U.S. (New York's One World Trade Center) stacked on top of itself – is predicted to miss our planet, according to Metro. However, it will pass relatively close in terms of outer space.
NASA classifies any space object surpassing 459 feet wide and passing within 4,660,000 miles of Earth as "hazardous," according to a 2013 report on the space agency's website. There are about 1,000 such known space objects monitored by NASA.
This asteroid is more than eight times wider than the minimum (3,696 feet) and will pass within just over half the minimum distance (2,615,128 miles) to our planet.
For a reference point, the moon orbits Earth at a distance of about 238,855 miles.
Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 11:35 AM
— The holiday season is officially over, and many are now looking at their New Year’s resolutions, which may include maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
To get a head start, some are participating in Dry January, a month-long break from alcohol. But how effective is it?
Researchers from the University of Sussex conducted a study, published in Health Psychology, to find out.
They examined more than 850 individuals who gave Dry January a try. They then followed up with a questionnaire one month later and another six months later.
After analyzing the results, they found that after six months, participants said they drank less and were not getting drunk as much.
In fact, 72 percent of the subjects had maintained lower levels of harmful drinking and 4 percent were still not drinking after six months.
After just one month, about 62 percent reported having better sleep, 62 percent said they had more energy and 49 percent experienced weight loss.
The changes were also seen for those who did not make it to the end of the challenge. “Even if participants took part but didn’t successfully complete the 31 days, it generally led to a significant decrease across all the measures of alcohol intake,” Richard de Visser said in a statement.
The scientists believe their findings prove the challenge can be used to help reduce drinking long-term, added Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, a U.K. charity to combat alcohol harm.
“This research,” she said, “is the proof of how, with the help, advice and support we offer throughout the month, our model can really change behaviour and reduce drinking.”