Health

Office Workers Don’t Like Being Chained to Their Desks

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FRIDAY, Nov. 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) — People with desk jobs want to move more, a new study suggests.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate how long desk-based workers actually want to sit, stand, walk and be physically active,” said study lead author Birgit Sperlich. She’s a postdoctoral researcher at German Sport University Cologne.

Sperlich and her colleagues interviewed 614 people with desk jobs in Germany and found that they spent an average of 73 percent of their working day sitting down. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of the day was spent standing, 13 percent was spent walking and a mere 4 percent was spent doing physically demanding tasks.

But the workers said they wanted to spend 54 percent of their work day sitting down, 15 percent standing, 23 percent walking, and almost 8 percent doing physically demanding tasks.

The workers spent about 5.4 hours per eight-hour day sitting, but they wanted to spend an additional 46 minutes walking and an additional 26 minutes standing, on average, the researchers said.

The findings were published Nov. 16 in the journal BMC Research Notes.

“So far, plans to increase physical activity in the workplace primarily focus on health outcomes without asking the target group what they prefer,” Sperlich said in a journal news release.

“Interventions to reduce sitting time may need to include more options for walking rather than only for standing,” she added.

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Dog ownership lowers early death risk, study finds

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Golden RetrieverImage copyrightGetty Images

Dog owners have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, a study of 3.4 million Swedes has found.

The team analysed national registries for people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to dog ownership registers.

They found there was a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in owners of dogs, particularly of hunting breeds.

While owning a dog may help physical activity, researchers said it may be active people who choose to own dogs.

They also said owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing, or by changing the owner’s bacterial microbiome.

The microbiome is the collection of microscopic species that live in the gut. It’s thought a dog may influence its owner’s microbiomes as dogs change the dirt in home environments, exposing people to bacteria they may not have encountered otherwise.

Image copyrightGetty Images

The researchers said dogs had a particularly protective effect for those who live alone.

“The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of heart attack,” compared to single non-owners, said lead study author Mwenya Mubanga of Uppsala University.

People who live alone have been shown previously to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular death.

Dr Mubanga said: “Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households.”

For their study, published in Scientific Reports, the team looked at data from 2001 to 2012. In Sweden, every visit to a hospital is recorded in national databases – while dog ownership registration has been mandatory since 2001.

Owning a dog from breeds originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers and scent hounds, was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disorder.

Image copyrightNick Triggle/Amber Evans

Dr Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Owning a dog is associated with reduced mortality and risk of having heart disease. Previous studies have shown this association but have not been as conclusive – largely due to the population size studied here.

“Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them.

“However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy.

“Whether you’re a dog owner or not, keeping active is a great way to help improve your heart health.”

Tove Fall, senior author of the study, said there were some limitations: “These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease.

“There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health.”

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Dog owners have lower mortality, study finds

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Golden RetrieverImage copyrightGetty Images

Dog owners have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, a study of 3.4 million Swedes has found.

The team analysed national registries for people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to dog ownership registers.

They found there was a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in owners of dogs, particularly of hunting breeds.

While owning a dog may help physical activity, researchers said it may be active people who choose to own dogs.

They also said owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing, or by changing the owner’s bacterial microbiome.

The microbiome is the collection of microscopic species that live in the gut. It’s thought a dog may influence its owner’s microbiomes as dogs change the dirt in home environments, exposing people to bacteria they may not have encountered otherwise.

Image copyrightGetty Images

The researchers said dogs had a particularly protective effect for those who live alone.

“The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of heart attack,” compared to single non-owners, said lead study author Mwenya Mubanga of Uppsala University.

People who live alone have been shown previously to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular death.

Dr Mubanga said: “Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households.”

For their study, published in Scientific Reports, the team looked at data from 2001 to 2012. In Sweden, every visit to a hospital is recorded in national databases – while dog ownership registration has been mandatory since 2001.

Owning a dog from breeds originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers and scent hounds, was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disorder.

Image copyrightNick Triggle/Amber Evans

Dr Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Owning a dog is associated with reduced mortality and risk of having heart disease. Previous studies have shown this association but have not been as conclusive – largely due to the population size studied here.

“Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them.

“However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy.

“Whether you’re a dog owner or not, keeping active is a great way to help improve your heart health.”

Tove Fall, senior author of the study, said there were some limitations: “These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease.

“There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health.”

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Dog owners lowers early death risk, study finds

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Golden RetrieverImage copyrightGetty Images

Dog owners have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, a study of 3.4 million Swedes has found.

The team analysed national registries for people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to dog ownership registers.

They found there was a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in owners of dogs, particularly of hunting breeds.

While owning a dog may help physical activity, researchers said it may be active people who choose to own dogs.

They also said owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing, or by changing the owner’s bacterial microbiome.

The microbiome is the collection of microscopic species that live in the gut. It’s thought a dog may influence its owner’s microbiomes as dogs change the dirt in home environments, exposing people to bacteria they may not have encountered otherwise.

Image copyrightGetty Images

The researchers said dogs had a particularly protective effect for those who live alone.

“The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of heart attack,” compared to single non-owners, said lead study author Mwenya Mubanga of Uppsala University.

People who live alone have been shown previously to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular death.

Dr Mubanga said: “Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households.”

For their study, published in Scientific Reports, the team looked at data from 2001 to 2012. In Sweden, every visit to a hospital is recorded in national databases – while dog ownership registration has been mandatory since 2001.

Owning a dog from breeds originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers and scent hounds, was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disorder.

Image copyrightNick Triggle/Amber Evans

Dr Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Owning a dog is associated with reduced mortality and risk of having heart disease. Previous studies have shown this association but have not been as conclusive – largely due to the population size studied here.

“Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them.

“However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy.

“Whether you’re a dog owner or not, keeping active is a great way to help improve your heart health.”

Tove Fall, senior author of the study, said there were some limitations: “These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease.

“There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health.”

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Autism concern over home schooling rise in Wales

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Father helping his daughter with homeworkImage copyrightGetty Images

The number of pupils being taken out of school to be taught at home has doubled in four years – with many of them believed to be autistic.

Some 1,906 pupils were removed in 2016-17, up from 864 in 2013-14, according to council data.

National Autistic Society Cymru said many were autistic children who were struggling to cope in school.

The Welsh Government said it was committed to creating an inclusive education system for all learners.

Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland, said she was concerned some schools wanted autistic children removed to improve their results.

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Media captionMeleri Thomas: “A lot of parents have no option”

Erika Lye, who has three autistic sons, runs a home education group in Rhos, Neath Port Talbot.

She said 80% of the children who attended were on the autistic spectrum and many were not there through choice.

“It’s easier to send your child to school,” she said.

“Nobody would choose this if there was a better system. If the state worked then we would be putting our children into school.”

By law, a child has to receive an education but it does not have to attend school or follow a set curriculum.

The council figures – received by BBC Wales by all but one council following a freedom of information request – found the highest number of pupils leaving school to be home educated was among older secondary school pupils.

In 2016-17 there were 332 children aged 15 taken out of school, compared to 156 children aged 11.

The figures do not include children who are home schooled but who have never been registered.

Meleri Thomas, from the National Autistic Society Cymru, said the school environment often proved too challenging for some autistic children.

She said: “A lot of parents are finding themselves in positions where they have no options and the only thing they can do to help their children is to educate them at home even though they might not feel fully equipped to do that or want to.”

Sally Holland said she was also concerned: “Some parents have told me they have been encouraged to home educate because their child might be affecting the school or local authority’s performance data around exam results or attendance figures.”

‘Lack of support’

The latest report by the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales showed families with autistic children lodged more appeals about the lack of support their child is receiving in school than those with other learning needs.

National Autistic Society Cymru has called for mandatory training on autism awareness in schools.

A Welsh Government spokesman said if passed, its Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Bill would overhaul the system for supporting learners with additional learning needs.

The spokesman added it had agreed extra funding for the collection and analysis of local authority data on elective home education to investigate why some parents choose to do it.

He said it hoped this would identify trends so councils could consider what measures, if necessary, could be put in place to support families when children are still in school.

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Calm Parents Help Calm Kids with ADHD

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THURSDAY, Nov. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) — As challenging as it can be to raise a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), new research offers biological evidence that calm, positive parenting may help these kids master their own emotions and behaviors.

The study was conducted with parents of preschool children with the developmental disorder. The physiological effects of using compliments and praise instead of yelling and criticizing were almost instant, the researchers found.

“We were surprised at how fast it happened,” said study author Theodore Beauchaine, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “We evaluated moms and their kids before the intervention and after the intervention, which took a couple of months. Then we did a one-year follow-up.

“We expected that we may find some of these outcomes at one year, but not at two months, and we found them at two months,” he added.

The study was conducted by monitoring and evaluating the results of a group of parents and children who were part of a special intervention program.

This program provides separate small-group sessions for parents and children where parents learn how to best respond to their children’s behavior and children learn anger management, emotional awareness, emotion regulation and appropriate social behaviors, the study authors said.

Therapists worked with 99 kids aged 4 to 6 who were diagnosed with hyperactive/impulsive or combined types of ADHD. Those with only attention issues were excluded from the study.

Beauchaine explained that the children chosen for this study were in the top 2 percent of those who displayed ADHD behavioral issues. Seventy-six percent were boys.

Often, he noted, these children have strained relationships with their parents, peers and teachers.

“We taught parents to use better discipline practices, as these parents tend to be overreactive and sometimes even physical in their discipline practices,” Beauchaine said.

Dr. Alexander Fiks, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, said parents often slip into negative parenting when they are tired or frustrated by their child’s actions.

“Screaming, nasty comments, threats, ultimatums that may be unreasonable, pushing kids away, hitting, getting in their face or holding your child down are all negative parenting techniques,” explained Fiks, who was not involved with the study.

“Most parents know positive parenting when they see it, which includes praise, flexibility, smiling, hugging, rewards, focusing on privileges, engaging kids in activities where they can succeed, setting achievable goals and making wishes and expectations that are reasonable for the child and developmentally appropriate,” he said.

As parents learned effective problem-solving, adaptive emotional regulation and positive parenting responses, the children began to demonstrate improvements in behavior.

“What this research found was that in these kids, following this intervention, their heart rates slowed down, they were breathing more slowly and they were more calm,” Beauchaine explained.

Fiks said: “It’s interesting to see that when behaviors improve, there can actually be physiologic differences that are noticed in these kids, reflecting that it’s not just the outward behavior, but that there is something fundamental about their physiology that is actually changing concurrently.”

To guarantee that these improvements were the result of the intervention, Beauchaine and his team divided the families into two groups, one that began the program approximately 20 weeks after the first group, and only participated in 10 sessions — half of what the first group received.

The changes in parenting among those in the initial group exceeded the changes among those in the delayed group, as did the changes in the children’s physiology.

Beauchaine hopes this study will help convince parents to begin ADHD treatments earlier.

For preschool children diagnosed with ADHD, primary treatment is not medication, according to Fiks — it’s behavioral therapy and counseling.

“When people see that there are biological changes that go along with an intervention, it increases the status and reduces stigma,” Beauchaine said.

“If people think kids act with impulsivity and hyperactivity because they want to, they will think about those kids a lot differently if they attribute it to something that they can’t help,” he said.

The study was published recently in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

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Spare the Rod, Spur Better Behavior?

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THURSDAY, Nov. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Before you let your parental frustration get the better of you, a new study suggests you should refrain from spanking your misbehaving youngster.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 12,000 children in the United States and found that those who had been spanked by their parents at age 5 had more behavior problems at ages 6 and 8 than those who had never been spanked.

“Our findings suggest that spanking is not an effective technique and actually makes children’s behavior worse, not better,” said study author Elizabeth Gershoff, a psychological scientist at the University of Texas at Austin.

The increase in behavior problems among children who were spanked could not be explained by child or parent characteristics, or the home environment, according to the study published Nov. 16 in the journal Psychological Science.

“Parents spank for many reasons, such as their educational or cultural background, or how difficult their children’s behavior is,” Gershoff said in a journal news release.

“These same reasons, which we call selection factors, can also predict children’s behavior problems, making it difficult to determine whether spanking is in fact the cause of behavior problems,” she explained.

So the researchers used a special statistical model to further assess the link between spanking and increased risk of behavior problems.

“The fact that knowing whether a child had ever been spanked was enough to predict their levels of behavior problems years later was a bit surprising. It suggests that spanking at any frequency is potentially harmful to children,” Gershoff said.

“Although dozens of studies have linked early spanking with later child behavior problems, this is the first to do so with a statistical method that approximates an experiment,” she said.

But the study could not prove that spanking actually caused later behavior problems.

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‘Boomers’ Doing Better at Avoiding Eye Disease of Aging

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THURSDAY, Nov. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Macular degeneration is a major cause of vision loss in older Americans. But new research shows that baby boomers are somehow avoiding the illness at higher rates than their parents did.

Why the improvement? The researchers aren’t sure, but say that lowered rates of heart disease — long tied to poorer eye health — may be one reason.

In any case, “aging baby boomers [born between 1946 and 1964] may experience better retinal health at older ages than did previous generations,” concluded a team led by Karen Cruickshanks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Eye experts welcomed the findings.

“This suggests that those born in newer generations are possibly living healthier lifestyles, and that this may account for overall better health in later years,” said Dr. Jules Winokur, an ophthalmologist at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York City.

He read the findings, which were published Nov. 16 in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

In the study, Cruickshanks’ team tracked the eye health of more than 4,800 Wisconsin residents. This included people who were older than 43 when the study started in the late 1980s, as well as their “Generation X” kids.

The researchers tracked the number of new cases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that emerged over a five-year span.

The result? “The five-year risk for AMD declined by generation throughout the 20th century,” Cruickshanks and her colleagues reported.

The decline has been significant: While nearly 9 percent of people born between 1901 and 1924 (the “Greatest Generation”) developed the eye illness, that dropped to just 1 percent of baby boomers — and so far macular degeneration has only hit 0.3 percent of Gen Xers.

Overall, this means that “each generation was more than 60 percent less likely to develop AMD than the previous generation,” the researchers said.

That’s good news, because age-related macular degeneration can be very disabling, according to another eye specialist.

“Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in America due to a deterioration in the central portion of the retina with an often devastating impact on a person’s quality of life,” said Dr. Matthew Gorski, an ophthalmologist at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y.

But he also stressed that this doesn’t mean macular degeneration is going away.

“Age is a risk factor for the development of macular degeneration, regardless of one’s ‘generation,’ and this study reiterates the importance of seeing your eye doctor for routine eye exams,” Gorski said.

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Many Hospice Workers Lack Their Own End-of-Life Directives

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THURSDAY, Nov. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) — They deal with death and dying every day, but many hospice care workers haven’t outlined their own end-of-life wishes for medical care, researchers say.

For the study, investigators analyzed survey responses from about 900 hospice care providers. Only 44 percent had completed an advance directive outlining their wishes for medical care if they’re unable to communicate those wishes themselves.

The findings seem surprising, the researchers said, given that hospice care workers regularly see the consequences of not providing medical directions in advance.

“Advance directives are associated with fewer hospital deaths, fewer intensive care admissions and fewer life-prolonging measures, as well as better quality of life for patients at the end of life,” said study author Terry Eggenberger. She’s an associate professor in the Florida Atlantic University College of Nursing.

“Nurses and certified nursing assistants care for terminally ill patients on a daily basis and we want to empower them to take measures so that they too receive care that is in line with their end-of-life preferences,” Eggenberger said in a university news release.

Procrastination, fear of the subject and cost were the most common reasons for not drafting an advance directive, according to the report.

Years of experience made little difference, and men and women had nearly identical completion rates — around 46 percent.

Age was a major factor, however. Almost 80 percent of hospice workers older than 65 had an advance directive, compared to one-quarter of those younger than 40, the findings showed.

Also, whites had a much higher completion rate than Hispanics, blacks or Asian Americans, the study authors noted.

About 6,100 hospices in the United States provide care for 1.6 million patients a year.

The findings were published recently in the American Journal of Medicine.

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Separating Side Effects Could Hold Key for Safer Opioids

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News Release

Thursday, November 16, 2017

NIH-funded scientists may have revealed brain functions in pre-clinical research that widen the safety margin for opioid pain relief without overdose.

Opioid pain relievers can be extremely effective in relieving pain, but can carry a high risk of addiction and ultimately overdose when breathing is suppressed and stops. Scientists have discovered a way to separate these two effects — pain relief and breathing — opening a window of opportunity to make effective pain medications without the risk of respiratory failure. The research, published today in Cell, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Opioid medications suppress pain by binding to specific receptors (proteins) in the brain; these same receptors also produce respiratory suppression. However, the way these receptors act to regulate pain and breathing may be fundamentally different. Studies using mouse genetic models suggest that avoiding one particular signaling pathway led to more favorable responses to morphine (pain relief without respiration effects). The investigators then explored if they could make drugs that would turn on the pathways associated with pain relief and avoid the pathways associated with respiratory suppression.

“We are pleased to have uncovered a potential new mechanism to create safer alternatives to opioid medications, ones that would be far less likely to cause the side effects that lead to overdose deaths associated with the misuse of opioids,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “We are excited that basic research on how opioid drugs work in the brain has led to this novel approach, and that we continue to make critical progress in this area.”

How the pathways split following receptor activation is referred to as biased signaling. The study showed that as the degree of bias (divergence) increased, so too did the ability of an opioid to reduce pain in mice without affecting breathing. Similarly, compounds that favor the breathing pathway produced more respiratory side effects at lower doses. Ultimately, opioids with a larger divergence (bias factor) had a larger margin of safety, or therapeutic window, opening up an opportunity for medication intervention.

“In this study, we demonstrate that this divergence, which we call biased agonism, is not an ‘all or none’ phenomenon, but rather exists as a spectrum. As such, if a small degree of divergence between pathways in cell culture produces a minimal benefit in living organisms, there is potential to chemically improve the signaling bias and subsequently improve the therapeutic safety window,” said Laura M. Bohn, Ph.D., principal investigator on the study from The Scripps Research Institute.

It is unclear how these divergent pathways affect other side effects of opioids, including addiction. However, this finding could represent a new direction in the pharmaceutical development of safer alternatives to current opioid pain relievers, which is part of the NIH initiative to address the opioid crisis.

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

Reference

Schmid, et al. Bias factor and therapeutic window correlate to predict safer opioid analgesics. Cell. November 16, 2017.

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