People can actually sweat blood, study finds

Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 @ 4:52 PM



Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
(Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Sweating isn’t unusual, but sweating blood is. Yet, it’s quite possible to perspire blood, according to a new report.

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Researchers from Italy recently published a case study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, detailing the case of a 21-year-old woman who checked herself in a medical ward for sweating blood.

According to the study, she had been bleeding from her face and palms for three years without a known cause. The bleeding would occur while she was asleep and during times of physical activity, and it would last for one to five minutes.

The woman had no open cuts or wounds, and her condition often worsened during times of stress. Her episodes were so persistent that she became socially isolated due to embarrassment. 

When the doctors tested and treated her for major depressive disorder and panic disorder, results came back normal and the bleeding persisted. 

Doctors eventually diagnosed her with hematohidrosis, which is also known as “blood sweat.” It’s an uncommon disease where blood seeps through intact skin just like sweat. 

Although scientists have proposed several causes of hematohidrosis, including systemic diseases like vicarious menses and coagulopathies, these hypotheses have “not yet been proven,” the study said. 

To treat the patient, they prescribed her with propranolol, a beta-blocker used to to regulate blood pressure and heart rate.

While it didn’t stop the bleeding completely, it “led to marked reduction,” the authors wrote. 

Want to learn more about the findings? Take a look at the full case study here.

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Tanning beds costing millions in U.S. medical bills, study finds

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 9:41 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 9:41 PM

Tanning Beds Causing Millions In Medical Bills

The rosy glow of indoor tanning pales in comparison to the millions of dollars in medical costs associated with tanning beds.

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study, published in the Journal of Cancer Policy, found that tanning beds caused more than 250,000 cases of skin cancer and 1,200 deaths in 2015, at a cost of more than $340 million in medical bills.

“The use of tanning devices is a significant contributor to illness and premature mortality in the U.S., and also represents a major economic burden in terms of the costs of medical care and lost productivity,” researchers from the University of North Carolina concluded.

Previous studies have found significant health risks in the use of tanning beds because they emit UV-A and UV-B rays, which have been linked to cell damage, including DNA mutations and skin cancers.

Scientists called indoor tanning “a public health hazard in the United States,” estimating that some 30 million people use tanning devices at least once a year and an estimated 35 percent of adults in the U.S. have used the devices.

A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some 13 percent of students in the 9th through the 12th grades used a tanning bed at least once a year, too.

Ultimately researchers said they hoped information in this study and others like it will help reduce the use of tanning beds.
    

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World's oldest spider, 43, killed by wasp sting

Published: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 10:55 AM

Things You Didn’t Know about Spiders

“O death, where is thy sting?”

For the world’s oldest known spider, that biblical verse took on new meaning after the arachnid was killed by a wasp sting, Time reported.

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The spider, tabbed as Number 16 by Australian scientists, died after a record 43 years, researchers said Monday.

The female trapdoor tarantula lived in Western Australia’s Central Wheatbelt area, according to Agence France-Press reports. The spider broke the record of the previous spider, a tarantula that lived for 28 years in Mexico, according to a study published in January in the journal Pacific Conservation Biology. Number 16 was observed during a spider population study in 1974, Time reported.

“To our knowledge, this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behavior and population dynamics,” said Curtin University’s Leanda Mason, the study’s lead author.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mason said team members were “really miserable” over the spider’s death, TheTelegraph reported.

Trapdoor spiders are common in Australia and typically live between five and 20 years, according to the Australian Museum.

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Immunotherapy plus chemo doubles lung cancer survival, study says

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 3:54 PM

Chemotherapy drugs are shown at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center June 17, 2003 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chemotherapy drugs are shown at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center June 17, 2003 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for lung cancer. However, immunotherapy may be able to help double a patient’s survival, according to a new report.

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Researchers from New York University’s Perlmutter Cancer Center recently conducted a study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, to determine which treatments were most effective for those newly diagnosed with lung cancer.

To do so, they examined 616 people with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer from 118 international sites. The participants did not have genetic changes in the EGFR or ALK genes, which have both been linked to the rapid reproduction of cells. 

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About 400 of the subjects underwent pembrolizumab, a form of immunotherapy that helps destroy cancer cells; platinum therapy, a procedure that uses cell damaging agents; and pemetrexed, a chemotherapy drug that targets the lungs. The other 200 only received platinum therapy and pemetrexed with a saline placebo. 

After analyzing the results, they found the risk of death was reduced by 51 percent for those treated with pembrolizumab, platinum therapy and pemetrexed, compared with those who only got chemo. Furthermore, those with the combined therapy also had a 48 percent decreased chance of progression or death. 

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Suresh Ramalingam, deputy director at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the finding is “very important” as “it moves the milestone forward.”

“This study shows that by combining the two treatments, you can maximize or even improve patient outcomes. From that standpoint, it does shift the treatment approach to lung cancer in a positive way,” said Ramalingam, who was not a part of the trial.

By using both approaches together, doctors can create a multiplying effect. During chemotherapy, cells die and leave behind protein. Immunotherapy activates the immune system, aiding its ability to kill any remaining cancer cells.

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The NYU researchers did note there are severe side effects to the combination treatment, including nausea, anemia, fatigue and an increased risk of acute kidney injury. 

However, Ramalingam believes the trial gives experts the ammunition to test the approach in many other cancers. He also said there are several ways to treat different types of the disease, and people should understand that some tumors may need to be tackled differently.

For example, he recently led a separate, large clinical trial that targeted lung cancer patients with the EGFR mutation, unlike the NYU analysts. As a result of his findings, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the use of a lung cancer pill called Tagrisso to those with the EGFR gene.

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While it was initially only used for individuals whose lung cancer worsened after treatment with other EGFR therapies, Ramalingam and his team proved the medication almost doubled the survival outcome for newly diagnosed lung cancer patients with the EGFR mutation. In fact, it resulted in better outcomes than chemotherapy and immunotherapy. 

“Given all these exciting advances that there are in lung cancer, patients should not settle for what’s been told,” Ramlingam recommended. “Basically get a second option or go to a major center that specializes in lung cancer to make sure they’re getting the cutting-edge treatment options that are out there.”

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Scientists accidentally discover enzyme that could 'eat' plastic pollution

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 11:07 AM

Giant Garbage Patch in Pacific 16 Times Larger Than Estimates

Pollution has negative effects on our health, but scientists may be able to better combat the issue with a plastic-eating enzyme they discovered accidentally

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Researchers from the University of Portsmouth and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently conducted a study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, to examine the natural molecules and chemicals found at a waste recycling center in Japan. 

During their assessment, they discovered that the enzyme, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, can “eat” polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the material used to make plastic bottles. 

While they intended to better understand the structure of it, they actually engineered an enzyme that breaks down PET products

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“This unanticipated discovery suggests that there is room to further improve these enzymes, moving us closer to a recycling solution for the ever-growing mountain of discarded plastics,” co-author John McGeehan said in a statement

The scientists said PET can persist in the environment for hundreds of years. The chemicals can seep into the soil, affecting the groundwater and infecting drinking water.

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While the analysts called their discovery a “modest” improvement, they hope to continue their investigations to improve the enzyme with the help of protein tools. They said they believe their work will be used to industrially break down plastics in a fraction of the time. 

“We can all play a significant part in dealing with the plastic problem,” McGeehan said, “but the scientific community who ultimately created these ‘wonder-materials’ must now use all the technology at their disposal to develop real solutions.” 

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