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Your Teenage Best Friend Could Be Your Best Medicine

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The term “bff” might be thrown around a little too loosely these days, but its proliferation throughout the blogosphere is certainly significant. At least, this may be true according to a new study published in the journal Child Development.

In the study, researchers note that teenagers between the ages of 15 and 16 who had a close friendship with one person (a “bff” for example) had a greater sense of self-worth, by the age of 25, than those of the same age who had a larger group of “good friends.”

Lead study author Rachel K. Narr suggests that people who have a long-term relation with a close, best friend were also more likely to have reduced experiences of depression and anxiety.

The University of Virginia postdoctoral student of clinical psychology goes on to say, “Close friendship strength in mid-adolescence predicted relative increases in self-worth and decreases in anxiety and depressive symptoms by early adulthood.”

Now, existing research already suggests that adolescent friendships are, perhaps, more important than we often realize.  The relationships we forge during the post-adolescent (but pre-adult) years tend to be quite excellent predictors of academic success and eventual mental health.  The new research, then, delves a little deeper into the types of relationships and friendships that teenagers form.

She argues that, in terms of positive outcomes later in life, “My hunch was that close friendships compared to broader friendship groups and popularity may not function the same way. Being successful in one is not the same as being successful in the other.”

Again, this is not the first study to examine adolescent relationships.  In fact, this study mirrors several other studies which show that teenagers look to have “popularity” but there are two basic types.  There are “likable” people—peers trust them and want to be around them—and there are “status” people who seek popularity so they can use it to have power over others.

Now, this particular study does have its limitations. For one, it is nearly impossible to truly gauge how friendships might result in strengthening or lessening depression or how that might influence their ability or willingness to make friends. Also, the study completed before social media became a force in the social lives of teens all over the planet.

As such, study co-author and UV professor of psychology Joseph Allen comments, “As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority.”

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Potentially Dangerous Asian Tick Infested 8 States

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Asian Tick Infests 8 States

Entomologists issued a new warning about the rapid spread of a particularly aggressive tick this season. Initially discovered in New Jersey, the Long-horned tick has now been found in eight states, including North Carolina and as far west as Arkansas.

Scientists report the tick can infest a host rapidly, with femalesproducing thousands of tick eggs at a time asexually. Each tick will gorge itself on the host’s blood until the tick can barely move. The pest has been known to draw enough blood from animals to induce anemia.

Also known as the East Asian Tick, or its biological name of Haemaphysalislongicornis, the newcomer to America is not easily identified without a microscope. Its distinctive “long horns” are not visible to the naked eye.

Initially, authorities thought the first of the ticks werediscovered last summeron a sheep in New Jersey. When the sheep’s owner brought a sample of what she pulled off her pet, Department of Health officials discovered the sheep and her entire paddock were infested with the creatures.

Since the sheep had not traveled anywhere in years, officials are at a loss to explain how the tick came to be in New Jersey. The Health Department later confirmed that a tick discovered on a dog in another New Jersey county in 2013 was also a long-horned tick.

Despite an aggressive attempt to kill the ticks, which included sheering the sheep and removing vegetation from the paddock, additional long-horn ticks were discovered this spring. That prompted a state alert that the ticks had “successfully wintered”, surviving freezes, snow, and rain.

During routine tick monitoring, which can as simple as dragging sheets through meadows, more of the East Asian menace were discovered in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina by June. Over the summer, New York, Arkansas, Maryland, and Pennsylvania also reported cases.

Asian Tick Infests 8 States

The good news about East Asian Ticks

So far, none of the long-horned ticks found in the United States carried any diseases. That is not to say they are completely harmless to your animals, which can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of ticks if not recognized quickly.

The exotic pests are controlled by the most common repellents and behaviors we use against out domestic ticks. Deet is the most effective chemical repellent.

Officials also remind everyone to use long sleeves, pants, and socks while walking through high grass and be sure to check yourself and children for ticks when you get home.

The bad news about East Asian Ticks

Even though no disease-carrying ticks have been found in the United States yet, these ticks are known to cause serious health issues in their native country.

Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenic Anemia (SFTA) and Japanese Spotted Fever are among several diseases spread by the tick in other countries. Both can be fatal if not treated promptly. It is not yet known if the East Asian tick can spread Lyme Disease.

Scientists warn dairy farmers to check livestock. The ticks can spread an animal disease called theileriosis, which causes decreased milk production in cows and potentially fatal blood loss in calves.

What you need to do about long-horned ticks

Pet owners and farmers should regularly check their animals for ticks. Learn how to safely remove them from animals (or yourself).

Every local health department accepts ticks for identification and disease testing. Place the tick in a plastic bag with a small stick, leaf, or a piece of cotton (to keep it from getting crushed) and deliver it to the health department.

If you find a tick on yourself, remove it and clean the area thoroughly with soap and water. Be attentive to any signs or symptoms of illness and be sure to tell your doctor about the tick. In most cases, even the most serious ailments can be headed off by prompt treatment.

 

 

 

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Moderate Drinking Can Help You Live A Little Longer?

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And now some good news for casual drinkers:  a new study claims that moderate consumption of wine and beer (and coffee) can actually increase lifespan.  Working with a group of 1,700 subjects older than 80, since 2003, a research team out of University of California-Irvine says that people who drank moderate amounts of alcohol and/or coffee lived longer than those who abstained [from either or both].  They also say they learned that those who live longer tend to be on the heavier side in their 70s than those who or on the underweight side. 

Now, to be sure, the researchers are still trying to understand these results  Lead study researcher Dr. Claudia Kawas notes, “I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” in a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference.  

She explains that the “The 90+ Study” has been tracking the health of these study subjects for roughly the last 15 years, adding, “Those who consumed approximately two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18 percent less likely to experience premature death.”

On the other hand—or, concurrently, perhaps—the researchers also found that those who consumed about two cups of coffee per day also decreased their risk for early death by 10 percent.  However, it is also very important to note that daily activity was also a factor that reduced premature death. This assuaged the researchers to suggest that keeping a healthy weight (not underweight) and engaging in regular physical activity and eating healthy can not only stave off premature death but also chronic disease. 

At the end of the day, Dr. Kawas reminds that they still do not really know why modest drinking—and a few extra pounds—seems to help people live a little longer, but this study soundly speaks for such a case. 

Other interesting facts they found include:

  • Those who are slightly overweight—not obese—reduced their odds of premature death by 3 percent
  • As few as 15 minutes and as many as 45 minutes of daily physical activity could reduce premature death by up to 11 percent
  • Spending about 2 hours a day on a hobby could decrease risk for early death by as much as 21 percent

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New 5-Cluster Classification for Diabetes

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For a long time, the medical industry has associated diabetes into two categories.  Type 1 diabetes, of course, is genetic; you are born with it. Type 2 diabetes is also known as Adult-Onset diabetes and is a lifestyle disease that evolves over time, associated with the body’s eventual resistance to insulin. 

More recent studies, however, now suggest that there are actually 5 different types of diabetes. Or, rather, Scandinavian researchers argue that the two types could further divide into five total clusters with different physiological and genetic distinctions.

From data on roughly 15,000 patients, taken from five cohorts in Finland and Sweden, the researchers used six standard measurements to identify these five clusters.  Essentially there are two mild forms and three severe forms.

The first form is basically Type 1 diabetes, attributed to a genetic predisposition. The remaining four dissect Type 2 diabetes into different degrees of severity.

  • Cluster 1:  Severe Autoimmune Diabetes (SAID)
  • Cluster 2:  Severe Insulin-Deficient Diabetes (SIDD)
  • Cluster 3:  Severe Insulin-Resistant Diabetes (SIRD)
  • Cluster 4:  Mild Obesity-Related Diabetes (MOD)
  • Cluster 5:  Mild Age-Related Diabetes (MARD)

According to consultant and Imperial College London clinical scientist Dr. Victoria Salem, most specialists have long pursued that are 2-tier diabetes definitions is “not a terribly accurate classification system.” She goes on to say, “There is still a massively unknown quantity – it may well be that worldwide there are 500 subgroups depending on genetic and local environment effects,” adding that this is definitely going to improve the way we think about diabetes as a disease.

Lead study author Leif Groop, MD, PhD, of the Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmö, Sweden, and Folkhalsan Research Centre, Helsinki, Finland, comments, 

“Existing treatment guidelines are limited by the fact they respond to poor metabolic control when it has developed, but do not have the means to predict which patients will need intensified treatment.”

Finally, McGill University’s Rob Sladek, MD, explains in an accompanying editorial, “This study moves us towards a more clinically useful diagnosis, and represents an important step towards precision medicine in diabetes. Nevertheless, the finding that simple parameters assessed at the time of diagnosis could reliably stratify patients with diabetes according to prognosis is compelling and poses the challenge of development of methods to predict outcomes of patients with type 2 diabetes that are more generalizable and comprehensive.” 

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