Monthly Archives: July 2017

Male bladder stones are almost as big as ostrich eggs. Why so?

The panel on the left shows a scan of the man’s abdomen. The large white circle is the neobladder stone, and above it, a black arrow points to another stone in the man’s left ureter. The middle panel shows the man’s abdomen from the side, and the panel on the right shows the egg-shaped neobladder stone after it was surgically removed.

Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine ©2017When a man in California went to the hospital because of bladder problems, doctors found a large reason for his pain: a mineral stone nearly the size of an ostrich egg, according to a new report of the case.

The 64-year-old man went to the emergency room because he had pain in his left side and trouble urinating. His doctors found an egg-shapedbladder stone that weighed a whopping 1.7 lbs. (770 grams) and measured 4.7 inches by 3.7 inches by 3 inches (12 by 9.5 by 7.5 centimeters), according to the report. (For reference, a typical ostrich egg weighs about 3 lbs., or 1,360 grams.) [Here’s a Giant List of the Strangest Medical Cases We’ve Covered]

Bladder stones are mineral masses that form in the bladder. In some cases, the stones are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but in others, the stones can be quite large, reaching an inch or more in diameter. According to Guinness World Records, the largest bladder stone was 7 inches long, 5 inches thick and 3.7 inches tall (17.9 by 12.7 by 9.5 cm), and weighed 4.2 lbs. (1.9 kg).

CT scans of the man’s adbomen also revealed another, much smaller stone in the man’s left ureter, which is the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder, according to the report, which was published today (Sept. 6) in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The doctors who treated the man noted that he’d had invasive bladder cancer more than a decade before he developed the stones. At the time, surgeons needed to remove his bladder, and they constructed what doctors call a “neobladder” out of segments of the man’s intestines. Like a regular bladder, the neobladder is connected to both the ureters and the urethra, which is the tube through which urine exits the body, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Using part of the intestines to create a neobladder can increase a person’s risk of developing stones, the authors wrote.

The man had surgery to remove the stone from his bladder, and doctors used a laser to break up the stone in his left ureter, according to the report. The man had no problems after his surgery, though doctors are continuing to monitor him in case new stones form.

Lack of Sleep May Cause, Not Symptoms, Mental Health Conditions

An online therapy program designed to treat insomnia also appears to reduce levels of anxiety and depression, a new study from the United Kingdom finds.

Sleep problems are common in people who also have mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. In fact, sleep issues are often thought to be a symptom of these other issues, according to the study. But the new findings suggest that the opposite may be true: Some mental health conditions may stem from a lack of sleep.

“How well we sleep might actually play a role in our mental health,” lead study author Daniel Freeman, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford, said in a statement. “If you can sort out your sleep, you could also be taking a significant step forward in tackling a wide range of psychological and emotional problems.” [Get Better Sleep in 2017]

The new study, which was published today (Sept. 6) in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, included more than 3,700 British college students (with an average age of 24) who had insomnia. All participants filled out questionnaires about their sleep and other mental health conditions — including paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety and depression — at the beginning of the study and then again after three and 10 weeks, when the treatment ended. Twelve weeks later, the participants filled out the questionnaires for the final time.

The people in the study were randomly assigned to either the treatment group or the control group. Those in the treatment group participated in an online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program. CBT focuses on the way people think, and helps them challenge their own thoughts and beliefs; a specialized type of CBT for insomnia, called CBT-I, is considered to be a “first-line” therapy for people with insomnia that lasts longer than one month, according to the American College of Physicians. The people in the control group did not receive CBT.

The online program involved six 20-minute-long sessions, and the participants were asked to keep a sleep diary, practice certain behavioral techniques and learn about healthy sleep, according to the study. Using data from the sleep diaries, the program tailored its advice to each participant.

The researchers found that after 10 weeks, the people in the treatment group reported less insomnia, fewer hallucinations and fewer experiences of paranoia than those in the control group. In addition, the people in the treatment group had decreased levels of depression and anxiety, and improved psychological well-being and perceived functioning, compared with the people in the control group. (“Perceived functioning” refers to how well the people thought they were functioning on a daily basis.) Further analysis showed that 60 percent of the decrease in paranoia levels could be linked to improved sleep, the study found.

The findings suggest that sleep plays an important role in mental healthand that doctors should consider it a priority to improve patients’ sleep, the authors wrote.

“For too long, insomnia has been trivialized as merely a symptom” of other mental health conditions, and has been thought of as a problem to be tackled, Freeman said. But “for many people, insomnia can be part of the complex package of causes of mental health difficulties,” he said.

The researchers noted that the study had limitations. For example, many people did not complete the study, so it’s unclear if the findings would apply to larger groups of people, the researchers said. Only half of the participants logged in to two therapy sessions, and just 18 percent logged in to all six sessions. In addition, the participants self-reported their symptoms, which can be an unreliable method, the researchers said.Q

Is ‘Chicken Sashimi’ Safe to Consume?

It’s not uncommon to find raw foods on a restaurant menu — think sushi or steak tartare — but if you see uncooked poultry as an option the next time you’re dining out, you may want to opt for something else.

Several restaurants in the United States are serving up a raw chicken dish that’s referred to as either chicken sashimi or chicken tartare, according to Food & Wine Magazine. Though the “specialty” hasn’t caught on much in the U.S., it’s more widely available in Japan.

But if you’re wondering whether raw chicken served in a restaurant has suddenly become safe to eat, the answer is still no. [Top 7 Germs in Your Food That Make You Sick]

Eating chicken sashimi puts a person at a “pretty high risk” of getting an infection caused by Campylobacter or Salmonella, two types of bacteria that cause food poisoning, said Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist and an associate professor at North Carolina State University.

“There’s a pretty good chance that one or both of these pathogens are on/in the chicken meat itself,” Chapman told Live Science in an email.

Campylobacter infections are one of the most common causes of diarrheal infections in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria cause gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, cramping and abdominal pain, and in some cases can also cause nausea and vomiting, the CDC says. There are an estimated 1.3 million cases in the U.S. each year and fewer than 100 deaths, on average, each year from the infection.

Salmonella infections also cause symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, according to the CDC. About 1.2 million people contract Salmonella each year, and about 450 people die from the infection, the CDC says.

Chapman noted that eating raw chicken is different from eating raw fish, which can be found in sushi dishes. With raw fish, the germs that are most likely to make a person sick are parasites, and these parasites can be killed by freezing the fish, he said. Salmonella, on the other hand, “isn’t going to be affected by freezing.”

Chicken sashimi is sometimes prepared by boiling or searing the chicken for no more than 10 seconds, according to Food & Wine Magazine.

But these preparations probably only kill off the germs on the surface of the chicken, Chapman said. “But even that I’m not sure about,” he added. In addition, when a chicken is deboned, other germs can get into the inside of the chicken, he said.

In Japan, where the dish is more popular, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare advised restaurants in June 2016 to “re-evaluate raw and half-raw chicken menus,” according to The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper. The ministry urged restaurants to cook chicken to an internal temperature of 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit).

The recommendation from the ministry came after more than 800 people said they were sickened several months earlier after eating chicken sashimi and chicken “sushi” rolls, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

Marijuana with ‘CBD’ May Pose Less Risk to Long-Term Users

Marijuana with relatively high levels of a compound called cannabidiolmay be less risky to smoke over the long term, because this ingredient may counteract some of the drug’s harmful effects, according to a new study in mice.

The study found that adolescent mice injected with frequent doses oftetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the ingredient in marijuana that produces a “high” — showed signs of impaired memory and increased anxiety over the long term. But mice that received daily doses of THC combined with an equal amount of cannabidiol (CBD) did not experience these negative effects.

The study “suggests that strains of cannabis with similar levels of CBD and THC would pose significantly less long-term risk due to CBD’s protective effect against THC,” study author Dr. Ken Mackie, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, said in a statement.

Over the last several decades, THC levels in marijuana used in the United States have increased 300 percent, while levels of CBD in marijuana have decreased, the researchers said. But the long-term effects of exposure to THC and CBD need to be studied further, they said. [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

Studies on whether CBD can counteract the negative effects of THC have been mixed, according to a 2013 review paper on the topic. For example, some studies have found that people experience fewer symptoms of anxiety when they smoke marijuana with high CBD levels, compared to when they smoke marijuana with high THC levels, but other studies failed to replicate these results, according to the review. Another study,published in 2011, found that people who tended to use marijuana products with high CBD levels were at lower risk for psychotic symptoms over the long term, although the effect was subtle.

In the new study, the researchers examined the effects of THC and CBD on both adolescent and adult mice. The mice were divided into five groups: a group that received THC only; a group that received CBD only; a group that received THC and CBD; a group that received a placebo; and a group that received no treatment. The mice in the first four groups were injected with the substances every day for three weeks. The researchers examined the mice shortly after their drug treatment and after a six-week drug-free period.

The researchers found that, immediately after treatment, the mice exposed to THC alone showed signs of impaired memory and increased obsessive-compulsive behavior. Six weeks later, the adolescent mice still showed these symptoms, while the adult mice did not. (This finding agrees with research in humans suggesting that teens may be at greater risk for long-term problems from marijuana, compared with adults.)

However, both the adolescent and adult mice that were exposed to THC experienced long-term increases in anxiety.

In contrast, mice that were exposed to both THC and CBD together (in equal amounts) showed no changes in their behavior, either over the short or long term.

“This is the first study in a rigorously controlled animal model to find that CBD appears to protect the brain against the negative effects of chronic THC,” Mackie said.

Animal models allow researchers to conduct experiments in a controlled way, without putting people at risk for harm from the study. But findings in animals don’t always translate to humans.

More studies are also needed to determine how CBD counters the effects of THC, and how much CBD is needed to confer a protective effect, the researchers said.

Earlier this year, Canada issued new guidelines for how people can lower their risk of health problems linked to marijuana use, if they choose to use the drug. (In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the country.) One of the recommendations was to choose products with high levels of CBD relative to THC, which the guidelines also said may be “lower- risk” products.