Author Archives: Lussy James

Signs And Symptoms Of A Brain Tumour Read Now

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The symptoms of a brain tumour can develop gradually or quickly depending on the type of tumour. Headaches are a common symptom but usually not the only symptom. Changes in personality and having a seizure (fit) are other general symptoms.

A brain tumour can also increase the pressure in the skull. The main symptoms of this are headaches, sickness, vomiting and confusion.

Other symptoms depend on the position of the tumour and how it prevents that part of the brain from working properly. Tumours in the cerebrum can cause weakness on one side of the body, problems with speech, vision and memory. Tumours in the cerebellum and in the brain stem can lead to problems with coordination and unsteadiness.

A tumour in the pituitary gland can cause different hormone related symptoms, such as infertility but can also cause tunnel vision. A tumour that affects the hearing nerve causes hearing loss.

These symptoms can be caused by other conditions. Headaches, especially, are a common symptom often of stress. But if you have any of these symptoms always see your doctor.

Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms and Effects Read Now

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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex psychiatric condition in which a person has difficulty experiencing her emotions and is often in a state of upheaval. Borderline personality disorder can be a distressing medical condition, both for the person who has it and for those around her.

Other signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include:

  • very intense emotions that come and go frequently
  • episodes of extreme anxiety or depression
  • self-harming behavior, including self-mutilation
  • impulsive and risky behavior, such as risky driving, unsafe sex, gambling sprees or taking illicit drugs
  • inappropriate expressions of anger, sometimes escalating into physical confrontations
  • difficulty controlling impulses
  • emotional eating, including binge eating and purging, anorexia, orbulimia
  • suicidal behavior
  • fear of being alone
  • unstable sense of identity

What are the Effects of Borderline Personality Disorder?

A person with borderline personality disorder has an unclear sense of self, and often feels worthless or fundamentally flawed. Seemingly inexplicable anger, impulsivity and mood swings usually push others away, even though the sufferer wants to experience loving relationships. Borderline personality disorder affects how a person feels about herself, how she relates to others and how she behaves.

When someone has BPD, she often has an insecure and sometimes rapidly changing sense of who she is, which is referred to as identity diffusion. A person may view herself as evil or bad, and sometimes may feel as if she doesn’t exist at all. This unstable self-image often leads to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals, and values. It also one of the most common causes of the self-harming behavior and risk-taking behaviors associated with this disorder.

Borderline personality disorder can have significant effects on relationships, often causing them to be in turmoil. A person with the disorder will often experience what appears to be a love-hate relationship with others. She may idealize someone one moment and then dramatically shift to fury over perceived slights or even minor misunderstandings. This is because a person with borderline personality disorder has difficulty accepting gray areas and tends to see things in the extreme, as either black or white.

What are the Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder?

The cause of borderline personality disorder remains under investigation. Possible causes include genetics, environmental factors, and brain abnormalities. Some studies of twins and families suggest that personality disorders may be inherited. Many people with borderline personality disorder have a history of childhood abuse, neglect and separation from caregivers or loved ones. Some research has shown changes in certain areas of the brain involved in emotion regulation, impulsivity and aggression for people with such histories. In addition, certain brain chemicals that help regulate mood, such as serotonin, may not function properly in people with BPD.

Most likely, a complex combination of all these issues results in borderline personality disorder.

Increasing awareness and research are helping improve the treatment and understanding of borderline personality disorder. Emerging evidence indicates that behavior modification and emotion management techniques, such as dialectical behavioral therapy, can help someone with borderline personality disorder recover and live a happy, peaceful, productive life.

What Should Parents or Friends Say If They Are Concerned?

Listen to advice from Timberline Knolls’ Medical Director.

Borderline personality disorder is a serious medical condition that requires coordinated treatment by an experienced psychiatrist. Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center is a leader in treating women and adolescent girls for BPD, anxiety and eating disorders, and other co-occurring disorders. Read more about our borderline personality disorder treatment program.

Crowdsourcing a Cure for Brain Cancer Read Now

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What’s the Latest Development?

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, digital artist Salvatore Iaconesi was dissatisfied with his treatment. “It was almost as if I had nothing to do with it,” he said. “The doctor comes up, he tells you that you have a tumour, and it’s like you disappear and only your clinical records remain. I didn’t want to disappear. I’m not just a patient, I am a human being.” Iaconesi took matters into his own hands by publishing his medical records online, soliciting treatment advice from neurologists, neurosurgeons and radiologists. To date, he has received advice from over 60 healthcare professionals.

What’s the Big Idea?

Iaconesi’s intention in posting his medical condition online was to find a new definition for being sick, ill or diseased. He also aimed to investigate the word “cure” which can take on distinct definitions depending on the language. “[Cure] could refer to the body or the soul or to society,” he said. Iaconesi says he is using the Web in much the same way everyone does, debunking the mythology that people are stupid and that some things can only be done by professionals. Nonetheless, he remains wary of charlatans and clowns offering fraudulent miracle cures. He doesn’t respond to those emails.

‘Miracle’ stem cell therapy reverses multiple sclerosis Read Now

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The treatment, is the first to reverse the symptoms of MS, which has no cure, and affects around 100,000 people in Britain.

A pioneering new stem cell treatment is allowing multiple sclerosis sufferers to walk, run and even dance again, in results branded ‘miraculous’ by doctors.

Patients who have been wheelchair-bound for 10 years have regained the use of their legs in the groundbreaking therapy, while others who were blind can now see again.

The treatment, is the first to reverse the symptoms of MS, which has no cure, and affects around 100,000 people in Britain.

The two dozen patients who are taking part in the trials at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and Kings College Hospital, London, have effectively had their immune systems ‘rebooted’.

Although it is unclear what causes MS, some doctors believe that it is the immune system itself which attacks the brain and spinal cord, leading to inflammation and pain, disability and in severe cases, death.

In the new treatment, specialists use a high dose of chemotherapy to knock out the immune system before rebuilding it with stem cells taken from the patient’s own blood.

Stem cells are so effective because they can become any cell in the body based on their environment.

“Since we started treating patients three years ago, some of the results we have seen have been miraculous,” Professor Basil Sharrack, a consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told The Sunday Times.

“This is not a word I would use lightly, but we have seen profound neurological improvements.”

During the treatment, the patient’s stem cells are harvested and stored. Then doctors use aggressive drugs which are usually given to cancer patients to completely destroy the immune system.

The harvested stem cells are then infused back into the body where they start to grow new red and white blood cells within just two weeks.

Within a month the immune system is back up and running fully and that is when patients begin to notice that they are recovering.

Holly Drewry, 25, of Sheffield, was wheelchair bound after the birth of her daughter Isla, now two.

But she claims the new treatment has transformed her life.

“It worked wonders,” she said. “I remember being in the hospital… after three weeks, I called my mum and said: ‘I can stand’. We were all crying.

“I can run a little bit, I can dance. I love dancing, it is silly but I do. I enjoy walking my daughter around the park in her pram. It is a miracle but I can do it all.”

However specialists warn that patients need to be fit to benefit from the new treatment.

“This is not a treatment that is suitable for everybody because it is very aggressive and patients need to be quite fit to withstand the effects of the chemotherapy,” warned Prof Sharrack.

Charities welcomed the research but also urged caution.

Dr Sorrel Bickley, Research Communications Manager at the MS Society said: “This new study reports very encouraging findings, which add to a growing body of research into stem cell transplantation in MS. However, there are limitations to how we can interpret these results because there was no control group used, which means we can’t be sure the results are robust.

“Momentum in this area of research is building rapidly and we’re eagerly awaiting the results of larger, randomised trials and longer term follow up data.

“New treatments for MS are urgently needed, but as yet there are no stem cell therapies licensed for MS anywhere in the world. This means they aren’t yet established as being both safe and effective. This type of stem cell therapy is very aggressive and does carry significant risks, so we would strongly urge caution in seeking this treatment outside of a properly regulated clinical trial.”

Read Now: The Best Way to Shed Weight? Go Vegan.

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There are a lot of different diet plans out there: paleo, Weight Watchers, Atkins, and even a number of government recommendations. Each with its own philosophy on health and wellness. But when choosing a diet, it’s more about deciding what kind of food lifestyle you want to lead.

The thing about starting a diet is that it’s not going to be a temporary solution to lose weight. It should be seen as how you plan on eating for the rest of your life.

As part of a recent study, researchers found that going with a vegan eating regimen may be the way to go if you want the best results. However, this way of life may not be for everyone.

Ru-Yi Huang of E-Da Hospital in Taiwan reviewed the results of 12 diet trials, involving 1,151 dieters over the course of nine and 74 weeks. He found a vegetarian plan was one of the most effective. Participants lost more weight compared to their meat-eating dieters (around four pounds). Vegans lost even more weight, compared to participants who indulged in meats (around 5 pounds).

Huang notes that whole grains, fruits, and vegetables all create a kind of harmonious cycle in the body that allows for slower digestion from fibrous whole grains and fruits, and lower glycemic index values that don’t cause blood sugar levels to spike. These results led Huang to conclude, “Vegetarian diets are more effective than non-vegetarian diets for weight loss.”

Many of us would have trouble giving up meat (myself included). It tastes good and it smells good; so why would we want to? Because most Americans don’t need to eat meat, or at least not in the quantities that we’re currently consuming it.

Nutritionist Marion Nestle explains excluding meat from one’s diet is a double-edged sword. It has been hailed as essential for everything from lowering cholesterol to lowering emissions. But, as Nestle explains, the vegetarian movement is not without its potential dangers and dubious beliefs.

Study: Trying to Debunk Vaccine Myths Can Backfire Study Now

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When vaccine skeptics are presented with statements about the benign nature of vaccines backed up by extensive medical research, they double down on their skepticism rather than softening their bias.

In an experiment conducted at Dartmouth College, a quarter of 822 individuals surveyed expressed concern that the influenza vaccine could actually cause influenza. When that quarter was exposed to medical information from the Centers for Disease Control demonstrating the safety of the vaccine, they responded by declaring their refusal to get vaccinated.

Big Think’s own Simon Oxenham commented on the study at the British Psychological Society:

“A psychological principle that might explain this behavior is motivated reasoning: we are often open to persuasion when it comes to information that fits with our beliefs, while we are more critical or even outright reject information that contradicts our world view.”

Understanding the brain’s evolutionary function sheds light on this apparent defect in our ability to reason clearly and without undue bias. The brain’s main function for millions of years, explains David Ropeik, was to aid us in very basic survival. And while reacting based on immediate feelings and emotions helped us survive in the bush, we are not automatically well-equipped to handle more complex problems:

“[The brain] is a survival machine and it plays a lot of tricks with the facts in order to get us to tomorrow. That worked pretty well when the risks were lions and tigers and bears and the dark — oh my. It’s not as good now when we need to rationalize and reason and use the facts more with the complicated risks we face in a modern age.”

When attempting to fight against irrational fears, such as those against the use of vaccinations, it is helpful not to restate myths. Even seeing incorrect information in a debunking context unaccompanied by a disclaimer aids our impulse to seize on this information, explains Oxenham, which in turn confirms out ingrained biases.

We might also try to keep our explanations brief to counter the imbalance that often occurs when we compare simple myths to more complicated realities. Of course at some point we hope people will slow down and consider the evidence in front of them with patience and fairness.

Why the Future of Health May Be Mobile Read Now

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What’s the Latest Development?

Telecommunications companies, like the San Diego-based Qualcomm, are wading into professional healthcare waters thanks to information technology’s ability to create and manage massive amounts of data. “Asthmapolis has a GPS sensor for inhalers that uses a Bluetooth radio so people with asthma can track where and when they needed help breathing. CleverCap attaches to pill bottles, flashes and beeps when it’s time to take medication, and then, using Wi-Fi and cellular networks, reports to the Internet whether the pills were taken. The Garmin heart-rate monitor straps across the chest and digitally communicates beeps and blips with yet another wireless protocol, called ANT-plus.”

What’s the Big Idea?

About half of American adults have some kind of chronic condition, including obesity, arthritis, or diabetes. Experts say that wireless devices could let more of their health care happen at home. “To proponents of mobile health, like Don Jones, Qualcomm Life’s head of global marketing and strategy, this means that unnecessary visits to clinics and emergency rooms will plummet, people will refine their use of medicine, and doctors and nurses will have more time to focus on their neediest patients. A PricewaterhouseCoopers report this year estimated that mobile health technology could help save developed countries $400 billion by 2017.”

Personality Disorders to Be Cut READ NOW

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What’s the Latest Development?

“The American Psychiatric Association announced Thursday that the framework for personality disorders in DSM-5 will be a ‘hybrid’ model that is substantially different from how personality disorders are diagnosed currently. The committee working on the personality disorders chapter of the DSM-5, which is due to be published in 2013, has proposed six types of disorders: antisocial, avoidant, borderline, narcissistic, obsessive/compulsive and schizotypal. They have proposed dropping paranoid, histrionic, schizoid and dependent personality disorders.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The new model is less rigid than the existing diagnostic model. It is designed to reflect that behavior can change over time while personality traits tend to remain stable. “In the past, we viewed personality disorders as binary. You either had one or you didn’t,” said Dr. Andrew Skodol, chairman of the DSM work group on personality disorders, in a news release. “But now we understand that personality pathology is a matter of degree.” The American Psychiatric Assn. also announced that a public comment period on DSM-5 proposals has been extended through July 15.

Human brain’s ultimate barrier to open for first time Read More

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KULLERVO HYNYNEN is preparing to cross neuroscience’s final frontier. In July he will work with a team of doctors in the first attempt to open the blood-brain barrier in humans – the protective layer around blood vessels that shields our most precious organ against threats from the outside world.

If successful, the method would be a huge step in the treatment of pernicious brain diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, by allowing drugs to pass into the brain.

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) keeps toxins in the bloodstream away from the brain. It consists of a tightly packed layer of endothelial cells that wrap around every blood vessel throughout the brain. It prevents viruses, bacteria and any other toxins passing into the brain, while simultaneously ushering in vital molecules such as glucose via specialised transport mechanisms.

The downside of this is that the BBB also completely blocks the vast majority of drugs. Exceptions include some classes of fat and lipid-soluble chemicals, but these aren’t much help as such drugs penetrate every cell in the body – resulting in major side effects.


“Opening the barrier is really of huge importance. It is probably the major limitation for innovative drug development for neurosciences,” says Bart De Strooper, co-director of the Leuven Institute for Neuroscience and Disease in Belgium.

Hynynen, a medical physicist at Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, Canada, thinks the answer lies in gas-filled microbubbles. These were discovered accidentally in the 1960s when radiologists noticed that tiny bubbles in blood made ultrasound images clearer. More recently, they have been investigated as a way to help treat hard-to-reach cancers.

Hynynen’s trial will involve 10 people with a cancerous brain tumour. First, the volunteers will be given a chemotherapy drug that does not usually cross the BBB. They will then receive an injection of microbubbles, which will spread throughout the body, including into the blood vessels that serve the brain.

Next is a treatment called high-intensity focused ultrasound. The volunteers will wear a cap that contains an array of transducers that direct ultrasound waves into their brain. Just as the sun’s rays can be focused by a magnifying glass, ultrasound waves can be concentrated inside the body to get the microbubbles to vibrate.

The vibrating bubbles will expand and contract about 200,000 times a second, which will force apart the endothelial cells that form the BBB. The idea is that this will allow the chemotherapy drug in the bloodstream to sneak through the gaps in the barrier and into any nearby tumour cells (see diagram).

A real breakthrough

The ultrasound will be on for a maximum of 2 minutes, during which time it will perforate the BBB in nine sites around each volunteer’s tumour. To confirm that this happens, the team will inject a fluorescent marker and watch it move from the blood stream into the tumour using fMRI scans. Shortly after, the volunteers will have surgery to remove the tumour, which will be sampled to compare the concentration of the chemotherapy drug in areas zapped by ultrasound with those that remained unzapped.

The BBB starts to close almost immediately after the ultrasound is turned off, says Hynynen, and should be back to normal about 6 hours later. Although opening up the BBB to drugs also opens it up to unwanted toxins, animal experiments have shown few side effects and no long-term effects on behaviour or health (PLoS One,

“You’re not exposing the brain to any more bacteria than you are when you do open brain surgery,” says Hynynen. Importantly, the treatment is non-invasive and painless. “Theoretically, the patients could go straight home,” says Hynynen.

“The treatment is non-invasive and painless. Theoretically, the patients could go straight home”

“Identifying effective – and most importantly safe and reversible – methods for opening the BBB has been a major goal in the development of neurological treatments for many years,” says Eleanor Stride, who studies drug delivery at the University of Oxford. “This is very exciting news indeed. If the results can be replicated in people this will be a huge step forward for treating a wide range of diseases.”

“Identifying effective and safe ways to open the blood-brain barrier has been a major goal for years”

For example, trastuzumab (sold as Herceptin) is an effective treatment for some breast cancers but it cannot cross the BBB to reach tumours that have metastasised and travelled to the brain, so opening the BBB could help. It could also make it feasible to produce highly tailored drugs for a whole spectrum of brain receptors, says De Strooper, meaning potential treatments for conditions such as schizophrenia or clinical depression.

Alzheimer’s would be another possible target. In brain tissue grown in a dish, antibodies that cannot easily cross the BBB have been shown to wipe out the protein plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s (Experimental Gerontology, “We think trials of these antibodies in humans failed because researchers haven’t managed to get a high enough dose into the brain,” says Hynynen. “So we hope to try these drugs in humans in the future, maybe as soon as a year, depending on how well this first trial goes.”

One stumbling block might be what happens to the drugs once they are in the brain, says Matthew Wood at the University of Oxford, as most drugs won’t spread between brain cells unaided. This could mean having to open up the BBB throughout the brain for diseases like Alzheimer’s, where the damage is widespread, he says.

Hynynen doesn’t envisage this being a big problem. “We have disrupted whole hemispheres in animals without any negative consequences,” he says. In Alzheimer’s you would most likely target areas which had the largest volume of plaques first – where the impact of the disease is greatest – and eventually zap the whole brain over several sessions. “It’s a slow-progressing disease so you have lots of time to divide up the brain into sections, open them up one by one and let each section recover before moving on to the next area,” he says.

ENTER NOW: New Therapy Could Deliver Anti-Cancer Medicine Directly to the Brain

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What’s the Latest?

Scientists at a Canadian research center will soon test their theory of how to overcome the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a biological feature which protects the brain from toxins in the blood but also prevents beneficial medicines from reaching the brain. The solution may rest in microbubbles, tiny gas-filled pockets of air that will expand and contract about 200,000 times a second, forcing apart the specialized cells that form the BBB. “The idea is that this will allow the chemotherapy drug in the bloodstream to sneak through the gaps in the barrier and into any nearby tumor cells.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The experiment, to be carried out at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Research Institute, will involve 10 patients suffering from cancerous brain tumors. “First, the volunteers will be given a chemotherapy drug that does not usually cross the BBB. They will then receive an injection of microbubbles, which will spread throughout the body, including into the blood vessels that serve the brain.” Researchers believe that if the trial runs are successful, a similar method cold be used to combat Alzheimer’s, using micro bubbles to deliver antibodies shown to wipe out protein plaques characteristic of the disease.