Monthly Archives: May 2017

How to Fight Sports Inflammation

From jogging to weightlifting, physical activity is good for you, in part because it helps your body fight inflammation. Now, a new review explains exactly how exercise works to lower inflammation.

Inflammation is the body’s way of healing itself after an injury and protecting itself from infection; but chronic inflammation is linked with all kinds of diseases, from diabetes to heart disease. When you start exercising and moving your muscles, your muscle cells release a small protein called Interleukin 6, or IL-6, which appears to play an important role in fighting inflammation. IL-6 has several anti-inflammatory effects, including:

  • Lowering levels of a protein called TNF alpha, which itself triggersinflammation in the body.
  • Inhibiting the signaling effects of a protein called interleukin 1 beta, which triggers inflammation that can damage the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

The biggest factor in determining how much IL-6 your muscles release is the length of your workout — the longer your workout, the more IL-6 is released, according to the review of relevant research. For example, after a 30-minute workout, IL-6 levels may increase fivefold, but after a marathon, the levels may increase by a factor of 100, according to the review. IL-6 levels peak around the time you finish a workout, and then rapidly decrease back to pre-exercise levels. [4 Easy Ways to Get More Exercise]

A study published in 2003, and part of the new review, explored the role of IL-6 in reducing inflammation. In that study, the researchers injected participants with a molecule from E. coli bacteria that is known to activate the body’s inflammatory response. The researchers found that, indeed, when they injected this molecule, there was a two- to threefold increase in levels of the inflammation-triggering protein TNF alpha. But if participants engaged in 3 hours of stationary cycling before the injection, they experienced an increase in their IL-6 levels, and they did not see a similar rise in TNF alpha.

This study and others show that a single bout of exercise induces a strong anti-inflammatory effect that appears partly due to IL-6, the review said. Still, the review acknowledges that IL-6 is likely not the only factor involved in exercise’s anti-inflammatory effects.

For example, studies have found that regular exercise increases levels of another protein, called Interleukin-15 (IL-15), in muscle cells. IL-15 appears to help regulate the accumulation of abdominal fat, with higher levels of IL-15 providing protection against abdominal fat buildup in mice, the review said. Since abdominal fat itself is thought to promote inflammation, reducing abdominal fat levels may be another way exercise fights inflammation, the review said.

The review concludes that exercise should be used as part of the treatment for chronic diseases involving inflammation.

Ebola Can Survive in Men Cement For More Than 2 Years

Ebola may linger in men’s semen for more than two years, a new study suggests.

What’s more, at least one man who survived Ebola and then tested negative for the presence of the virus in his semen later tested positive, the new study found.

The findings raise questions about how long Ebola can linger in special immune hideouts in the body. However, the new findings only show some men carry RNA or genetic material from Ebola long after recovering from the disease. They don’t necessarily mean all men who test positive for Ebola RNA are still capable of transmitting the virus. [What Are the Long-Term Effects of Ebola?]

Ebola virus is a rare and deadly virus that starts with common flu-like symptoms, such as fever, muscle and joint pain, and headache, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the virus progresses, however, people suffer from extreme diarrhea and vomiting, and in the late stages of the disease, people’s blood vessels may become leaky, causing bleeding from the rectum, nose or mouth. People infected with the virus can transmit it through bodily fluids — such as blood, vomit, diarrhea or semen — and are infectious only once they start showing symptoms of the disease. Between 2014 and 2016, there were nearly 30,000 cases of Ebola reported in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, according to the World Health Organization. Many of the people who survive the initial deadly phase of the disease may still face lingering problems, such as headache, vision problems, fatigue, joint pain and hearing loss, a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

The finding that Ebola can linger in semen even after men recover from the infection is not a surprise to researchers. Studies of men in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea after the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak found that anywhere from 28 percent to 100 percent of men harbored the RNA, or genetic material, from the Ebola virus in their semen up to three months after infection. Another study found that a minority of men who contracted the virus tested positive for Ebola in their semen seven to nine months after recovering from the infection. In 2015, scientists reported that a man who had recovered from the disease six months earlier had transmitted Ebola to a sexual partner.

The World Health Organization currently recommends that people who recover from the virus be tested for any lingering presence of Ebola RNA three months after recovering, and then again until the test is negative on two consecutive monthly tests. If men have not been tested, they should abstain from sex for 12 months, or use condoms every time they have sex, according to WHO guidelines.

Another study found that a man transmitted the virus to his partner more than 500 days after he began showing symptoms of the illness.

But exactly how long does the virus linger in reservoirs in the body — and for how long can it be transmitted?

To answer that question, Dr. William Fischer II, a critical care specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed semen donated by 149 men who had recovered from the virus up to almost three years earlier.

They found that 13 of these men tested positive for the presence of Ebola RNA; 11 of these men had recovered more than two years earlier. One of the 13 men tested positive for Ebola RNA after having tested negative on two prior occasions, the researchers reported July 22 in thejournal Open Forum Infectious Diseases. The men who tested positive for Ebola virus in their semen were, on average, older than men who never tested positive. In addition, they were likelier to report the post-Ebola symptoms of vision problems and fatigue, compared with men who tested negative, the study found.

The significance of the findings is still not clear, the researchers noted in the paper.

“While the persistence of EBOV [Ebola virus] RNA in semen is concerning, it is not known if the detection of EBOV RNA in genital fluids is a surrogate for the presence of infectious virus,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

But the prolonged presence of Ebola virus RNA in men should prompt organizations to rethink their sexual transmission prevention guidelines, the researchers wrote. Further research should aim to eliminate Ebola that may be hiding in these reservoirs, the authors added.

One possibility is that Ebola may hide in specific spots in the body that are somewhat protected from the immune system, such as the eye and the testes, the researchers wrote. These “privileged” areas of the body are less prone to inflammatory attack by the immune system when foreign substances are found. The fact that men who reported vision issues after their recovery were likelier to harbor Ebola RNA seems to bolster this notion, the researchers wrote.

As people age, perhaps their immune system becomes less robust, the researchers suggested. Their weakened immune systems may enable the Ebola virus to hide out in these certain immune-privileged sites, such as the testes.

However, figuring out how to provide new information on how to prevent the sexual transmission of Ebola, without making things worse for Ebola survivors, could prove tricky, the researchers noted.

“For many survivors, the physical manifestations of the disease have been compounded by the stigma encountered with their return to their communities,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Survivor messaging regarding viral persistence, if demonstrated, must provide information that can be used to protect loved ones but at the same time not risk further ostracizing by society.”

More Than Two-Thirds Patients Have Opioid Time After Surgery

Most patients who are prescribed opioids after surgery don’t take all of the prescribed pills, leaving leftover opioids that could be used inappropriately, a new review of studies finds.

Between 67 percent and 92 percent of the patients included in the review reported that, after a surgical procedure, they had unused opioids left over from a prescription. In addition, more than 70 percent of the patients in the review said they stored the leftover drugs in an unlocked location, such as a medicine cabinet, according to the review, published today (Aug. 2) in the journal JAMA Surgery.

An estimated 3.8 million Americans use opioids improperly each month, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey on drug use. And more than half of the people who misused the drugs said they got the pills from a friend or relative in at least one of the following ways: They were given the pills for free, they paid for them or they took them without asking, according to the review. [America’s Opioid-Use Epidemic: 5 Startling Facts]

Surgery is often the first time a person is given a prescription for opioids, the authors, led by Dr. Mark Bicket, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, wrote.

Patients who are prescribed opioids for the first time after having surgery may “inadvertently transition” into chronic users of the drugs, which include OxyContin and Vicodin, the researchers wrote. But it’s also possible that patients do not use all of the opioids prescribed but do not get rid of the drugs. As a result, these pills could be taken improperly, the researchers said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends returning leftover opioids to the pharmacy or a drug take-back program, or flushing the medication down the sink or toilet.

In the review, the researchers looked at data from six studies that included, in total, more than 800 patients. The people in the studies wereprescribed opioids after having one of seven types of surgery, including cesarean sections and orthopedic surgeries, between January 2011 and December 2016.

The researchers found that a minority of patients (up to 21 percent) reported that they never filled their opioid prescription, and that another small group (7 to 14 percent of patients) reported filling the prescription but never taking the painkillers.

When patients did fill their prescription and used the opioids, many pills went unused, the researchers found: 42 to 71 percent of the pills dispensed were not taken. The main reasons people said they didn’t take all of the opioid painkillers were that they weren’t in pain or they were concerned about side effects. Only one of the studies in the review asked patients if they were concerned about becoming addicted to the drugs; 8 percent of the people in that study said yes.

The researchers also focused on how people stored and disposed of their opioids. Up to 77 percent, they found, kept the medicine in unlocked locations. A minority of patients (between 4 and 30 percent) planned to dispose of, or actually disposed of, the unused pills.

Safely storing opioids is important, the researchers wrote in the review. Making the drugs less accessible reduces the risk that other household members, such as adolescents, will misuse the painkillers, the researchers said.

However, the researchers noted that the review had several limitations. For example,the studies varied in how they gathered information on opioid use and not all of the studies asked the participants if they had used the drugs in the past. Including additional studies that focused on more types of surgery would strengthen the findings, they said.

Penis Enlarger Leads Human Death! Here’s his Explanation

A man in Sweden died just after penis enlargement surgery, according to a new report of the case.

As a part of the procedure, doctors injected fat into the healthy 30-year-old man’s penis, according to the report, written by pathologists who examined the man’s body after his death. Some of this fat entered the man’s veins, and then traveled through the blood to his lungs. When fat droplets enter the small blood vessels in the lungs, they can cause blockages, and the body can’t properly absorb oxygen, leading to death.

This type of blockage, called a fat embolism, is a known risk of moving fat from one part of the body to another, said Dr. Lee Zhao, a urologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, who was not involved in the man’s case. Still, “it’s an extremely rare event,” Zhao added. [8 Wild Facts About the Penis]

But it’s not clear from the case report exactly where in the penis the fat was injected, Zhao told Live Science.

“The penis works by filling erectile tissue with blood,” Zhao said. “If the fat was injected into the erectile tissue, then the risk of fat embolism would be much higher.” Instead, fat should be injected just under the skin of the penis, rather than into this tissue. But it’s unclear whether the plastic surgeon involved in the man’s case “inadvertently” injected the fat into the erectile tissue, he said.

Zhao also noted that this type of “penile enhancement” surgery had limited benefits.

The type of procedure that the man had involves two steps, Zhao said. During the first step, surgeons cut a penis ligament called the suspensory ligament, which makes the penis appear longer in its flaccid state. In the second step, the surgeons inject fat to increase the bulk of the penis.

Neither part of the surgery improves a man’s erectile function; instead, the procedure alters only the appearance of the penis when it is flaccid, Zhao said. In addition, the procedure may in fact have a negative impact on sexual function, because doctors need to cut the suspensory ligament. This “ligament acts to allow the penis to aim forward, and cutting [it] can cause the penis [to] hang downwards,” Zhao said.

It’s not clear how many patients undergo this type of surgery in the U.S., Zhao said. Because the procedure is generally not covered by insurance, many patients opt to have the operation in other countries, where it may be cheaper, he said.

“I specialize in treating the complications of this procedure, and I find that many of my patients had surgery in Mexico,” Zhao added.