A new study has revealed that heavy pot use in adolescence is linked to weaker memories. It appears that teens who smoke a lot of pot have poorer memories and also some brain abnormalities than those who smoke less or no marijuana at all. While the study cannot safely say which one came first, the brain abnormalities or the pot use, it is safe to say that heavy pot use does have long-terms effects. The results of the study were published in the journal Hippocampus.

The study was performed by a team of researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The team followed 97 teenagers with and without mental illness. The teens who smoked weed, said that they had started using the drug at 16 or 17 and that they have been using pot and just pot daily.

After careful examination it was revealed that marijuana users had some brain abnormalities, such as an abnormally-shaped hippocampus, which is the area of the brain used for storing long-term memory. They also performed 18% worse on long-term memory tasks.

Doctor John Csernansky, one of the authors of the study, said that the memory processes that appear to be affected by marijuana are the ones that people use every single day to sustain relationships with family and friends and to solve common issues.

The Northwestern University researchers admit that the abnormalities in the brain could reveal a pre-existing vulnerability to pot abuse, but there is evidence that sustains the fact that the longer participants were abusing the drug, the greater the differences in hippocampus shape, which means that marijuana may very well be the cause.

The effect of heavy pot use in teens lasted into the early 20s, even after the volunteers stopped smoking pot.

It was also found that patients with schizophrenia who were heavy pot smokers did about 26% worse on memory tests than the schizophrenia patients who did not smoke pot.

While marijuana has been found to help with glaucoma, nausea and cancer pain, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes non-medical use of marijuana for children and teens.

Past studies have also found that marijuana is the safest substance to abuse. Pot was found to be far less likely to kill than alcohol, hard drugs such as heroin and even tobacco.

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A study published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal shows that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by genes that are also associated with the immune system.

The study was done by analyzing blood samples pertaining to 188 Marines both before and after they activated in conflict zones. Those that ended up developing PTSD showed a change in the relation and dynamics between multiple genes, which are also responsible for regulating and signaling disorders of the human body’s immune system.

It has been thought for a long time that PTSD is somehow linked to genetic factors, but previous studies focused on different gene expressions between sufferers and non-sufferers alike. This study instead compared whole transcriptome RNA sequences, and it found genetic differences in sufferers both before and after being afflicted with the condition.

Michael S. Breen, professor at the UK’s University of Southampton and one of the study’s top researchers, considers that the key to understanding the affliction’s pathology consists in analyzing the complex relations between different genes, as PTSD itself is regarded as a complicated disorder.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a mental health issue that appears after suffering through a traumatic event – be it witnessing death, sexual or violent assault or near-death experiences – and manifests itself in the form of nightmares, flashbacks of the event or feelings of being estranged.

The condition is most common amongst those that have participated or seen military action and conflict zones; about 11 to 20 percent of soldiers that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Force have shown symptom of posttraumatic disease during service or after discharge.

This doesn’t mean it isn’t irregular for normal people, as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 7 to 8 percent of the population will develop PTSD during their life. Women that witness traumatic events also seem to be more liable to develop PTSD than men in similar conditions.

The research might prove to be important not only military-wise, in providing a better means of identifying combatants that are more likely to develop posttraumatic conditions, but it can also help the development of better treatment for it.

PTSD is currently treated through therapy mostly, with medicine being prescribed for its secondary effects – such as depression or anxiety – but the cases in which the individual does not fully recover are not uncommon. Discovery of its specific genetic nature might help the development of drugs that can be used to combat it directly.

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It was announced that Dunkin’ Donuts is removing titanium dioxide from its food. The long overdue decision was announced by the company this week.

Titanium dioxide is toxic to the environment and also to human health. It is used as a whitening agent in toothpaste, pain, sunscreen and also sugar. Sugar whitened by titanium dioxide was used, until now, by Dunkin’ Donuts in the making of all their products. The removal of titanium dioxide will not affect the way Dunkin’ Donuts products’ taste.

The trouble with titanium dioxide is that it is a source of nanomaterials, which are extremely harmful to human health and the environment. Dunkin’ Donuts has agreed to remove the harmful ingredient from their products following independently commissioned lab tests that revealed the company’s white powdered donuts contained titanium dioxide nanomaterials.

Nanomaterials have, as the name would suggest, very small dimensions which make them even more toxic for human health and also the environment. There is insufficient safety information about these nanoparticles and their use in foods, but the studies that do exist say that they can cause organ damage, brain damage, chromosomal and DNA damage and genital malformations.

President and Chief Counsel of As You Sow, Daniele Fugere, said that Dunkin’ Donuts’ decision is a groundbreaking one. She continued to say that Dunkin’ Donuts has demonstrated a very strong industry leadership by removing this potentially dangerous ingredients from its products. Fugere added:

Engineered nanomaterials are beginning to enter the food supply, despite not being proven safe for consumption. Dunkin’ has made a decision to protect its customers and its bottom line by avoiding use of an unproven and potentially harmful ingredient.

Environmental Health Program Manager at As You Sow, Austin Wilson, says that now that Dunkin’ Donuts have removed titanium dioxide from their products, the pressure for competitors to follow suit is big.

The FDA warns that it is not aware of any ingredients in food that is on the scale of nanometers for which there is data available to determine that its use in indeed generally accepted as safe. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate nanomaterials in food. For example, asbestos is also a nanomaterial and it was used for a long time before its toxicity on humans was fully understood.

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Predominantly vegetarian diets that rely on fish for protein intake lead to lower rates of colorectal cancer, according to a study conducted in the United States and published in the Internal Medicine section of The Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Michael Orlich, an assistant professor in medicine and public health at Loma Linda University in California and the study’s lead author, declared that his team was surprised to see such a notable difference between people who ate vegetables, fruit and fish and people on other kinds of vegetarian diets.

A peculiarity of the study is that it was conducted among Seventh-Day Adventists, whose religion presupposes a smoke-free and alcohol-free lifestyle and a healthy diet. This may have induced a bias, but it allowed for a long-term follow-up of the subjects – the median follow-up interval being 7.3 years. The study included 77,659 people from all across the U.S., who responded to diet-related questions and whose medical records and cancer registers were analyzed in order to trace the link between eating habits and cancer occurrence. In the seven-year interval, 380 cases of colon cancer and 110 cases of rectal cancer were reported, and vegetarians had 22% less than the cancer rate of regular meat eaters.

The study defined pesco-vegetarians as the category whose diet includes fish at least once a month and meat less than once a month. This category showed the smallest risk of colon-cancer or rectal cancer, up to 43% less than the risk for meat eaters. Lacto-ovo vegetarians, who relied on eggs and dairy for protein but ate fish and meat less than once a month, had a cancer risk only 18% lower than meat eaters, while vegans, defined as the category whose diet rarely included eggs, fish, milk-products and meat (consumed less than once a month), had a risk reduction of only 16%. Semi-vegetarians (who usually eat meat or fish once a week) had cancer rates 8% lower than regular meat-eaters.

Dr. Leonard Saltz, chief of the gastrointestinal oncology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York (who didn’t participate in the study but is familiar with the results), commented that the good news is one doesn’t have to go vegan to reduce cancer risks, but moderation seems to be the best option. If fruits, vegetables and seafood predominate in one’s diet, they don’t have to be its exclusive content: “We’re not saying you’re committing suicide if you have a cheeseburger, but it should be a treat, not a regular occurrence.” – Dr. Saltz advises.

The study conducted by Dr. Orlich is not necessarily conclusive, because it was not based on an arbitrary selection of people followed by randomly assigning certain diets to them, but it was large enough to offer some evidence to support diet-recommendations.

Colorectal cancer affects roughly 4.7% percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2009-2011 data collected by the National Cancer Institute.

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A new study has revealed that there may be a leak between gout and Alzheimer’s. It appears that having gout could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Gout is a debilitating condition that affects around 8 million people in the U.S. It is caused by an overproduction or underproduction of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia) and it is a form of inflammatory arthritis. Hyperuricemia leads to the deposition of crystals of uric acid in the body tissue, which causes inflammation and bone growths.

At first gout occurs in the big toe and can spread to heels, knees, elbows, fingers, wrists and ankles and symptoms disappear within a few days. As time goes on, attacks last longer and occur more frequently.

A recent study has revealed that there may just be a positive side to gout, as it appears that the condition could significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It is the buildup of uric acid that researchers believe may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Lead author of the study, Hyon K. Choi, from the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital stated that the study showed that while excess uric acid in the blood is linked to an increased risk of kidney and cardiovascular diseases, it is also linked to decreased risk to develop Alzheimer’s.

The neuroprotective effect of uric acid has been already proved by other studies, including one in particular that showed uric acid may slow or prevent Parkinson’s disease altogether.

The scientists used data from 10.2 million patients from 580 GPs in the United Kingdom. The data was taken from The Health Improvement Network and after careful examination of it, it was found that gout was linked to 24% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.

Choi concluded that the study’s findings provide the first evidence that is population-based for the potential protective effect of gout on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and also support previous studies that uric acid has a neuroprotective role.

The authors stated:

In animal models of Parkinson’s disease, uric acid has shown neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress-induced dopaminergic neuron death and similar neuroprotective effects have been observed in animal models of other neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

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Having sold 74.8 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2014, when Samsung only sold 73 million smartphones, Apple has finally become the leader of the phone market. This is the first time since 2011 when iPhones are sold better than Samsung smartphones globally.

The company founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak has reached its highest profit so far (higher than any private company’s profit ever reported): $ 18 billion in the last quarter of 2014, while Samsung declared that their profits have decreased by 37% compared to the previous year.

After Apple (with 20.4% of the smartphone market share) and Samsung (19.9%) comes Lenovo (who bought Motorola’s mobile division in the fall of 2014). Although its market share is still far behind the two giants (6.6%), this still represents a 47.6% growth over last year’s share. The ascending trend of this company is mirrored by other rising stars like Xiaomi (who offers good quality Android at more affordable prices and who tripled its sales in the last year). Having shipped 18.6 million smartphones in the last quarter of the past year, just a little behind Huawei’s 21 million and Lenovo’s 24 million, Xiaomi has a success that indicates that there is still an interest for alternatives, although Apple is so far ahead.

The ascent of these Chinese companies on the lower cost market, along with Apple’s domination on the premium phone market, exposes Samsung to a double pressure. The way to survive this crisis, according to Gartner research director Roberta Cozza, is for Samsung to aim for a longer-term differentiation by structuring its apps and services in a very coherent, organic manner.

Despite Apple’s clear advance in the last quarter of 2014, Samsung remains the biggest vendor of the year in the phone industry, with 307.5 million devices shipped (compared to Apple’s 191.4 million). The whole smartphone market has surpassed the 1 billion threshold in 2014 (1.2 billion devices sold, compared to 969.7 million in 2013).

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Motorola has just unveiled the second generation of Motorola Moto E, a budget smartphone running Android Lollipop, with a 4.5-inch display and 4G LTE.

Motorola is slowly rolling out their new Motorola Moto E smartphone in the United States and 50 other countries will follow. The new smartphone has the potential to be a massive hit for the company and the reason behind this is that its price is simply unbeatable for a smartphone: the Motorola Moto E 3G version will be $119.00 and the 4G LTE version will cost $149.99.

Motorola Moto E has some impressive technical specifications for its price. The Motorola Moto E 4G LTE version has a 4.5-inch HD display (Corning Gorilla Glass 3) with a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels with a 245 ppi pixel density. It may not sounds like much, but users need to remember that this is not a flagship product. Under the hood, users will find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset, Adreno 306 GPU and a quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU. The Motorola Moto E 4G LTE comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage space, but with the help of a MircoSD card, it can be expanded up to 32GB. The front-facing camera is a VGA one and the back camera boasts 5MP with 720p video recording capabilities and autofocus.

The Motorola Moto E 3G version has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset, an Adreno 302 GPU and a quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU. Its display, memory, storage and camera are the same as the 4G LTE one.

The Motorola Moto E has Wi-Fi, FM radio, micro USB, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. It comes with the newest Android on the market, 5.0 Lollipop.

Motorola Moto E weighs 5.1 ounces (145 grams) and has a 2389 mAh battery that Motorola says it will last you a full day.

Motorola Moto E clients will have the option of choosing from interchangeable grip shells and Motorola bands. The grip shells are available in five colors: Blue, Raspberry, Charcoal, Turquoise and Golden Yellow and the Motorola bands also in five: Red, Purple, Raspberry, Blue, Golden Yellow and Turquoise.

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According to new rules set in by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were released Thursday, eggs and coffee have insinuated themselves into the nutritionists’ favour. So having more than a cup of coffee a day is ok; so is eating more than one egg per day.

But what nutritionists called for was a more environmentally friendly diet, that’s lower in red and processed meats. Salt limits have become more permissive, but sugar ones have kept their stakes high. Sugar is incredibly harmful, especially for children and young adults.

The final 2015 dietary guidelines will be written down by the end of the year. They basically affect everything from subsidised school lunches to supermarket labels, going all the way to your doctor’s advice.

“These guidelines can have a huge impact on people’s diets and ultimately our natural resources. The production and consumption of meat in the U.S. requires massive amounts of pesticides, fertilisers, feed, land and water. (..) Particularly for us here in California, with the drought, reducing meat consumption can reduce pressure on resources like water,”

Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager at Berkeley-based Friends of the Earth, explained.

According to the panel’s report, global food production is responsible for no less than 80% of the planet’s deforestation, 70 % of freshwater use and also 30%  of human-generated greenhouse gases. But people are not advised to eliminate meat from their diet completely. They are simply encouraged to reduce its consumption.

But the good news is that enjoying that extra cup of coffee after you’ve already had 3  seems to be less of a problem. The report explains that coffee can reduce the risk of diabetes and of heart disease, too. But the worst thing you can do is to serve your coffee with plenty of sugar, which shouldn’t represent more than 200 calories a day.

So the panel also underlined the fact that consuming too much cholesterol-rich foods, like eggs, is not such a bad thing after all. The so called “fat-free” food have significantly contributed to obesity and health problems among American citizens, as cholesterol has been significantly substituted with carbs, which have proved to be really bad for our bodies if consumed in large amounts, embracing carb foods in our obsession for avoiding bad cholesterol. So moderation is the answer, after all.

The diabetic macular edema (DME) drug Eylea (aflibercept) was proved to provide greater visual improvement than Avastin (bevacizumab) or Lucentis (ranibizumab), a recent study found. This applies to a starting vision of 20/50 or worse. Nevertheless the 3 drugs mentioned above led to similar average improvement whenever starting vision was 20/40 to 20/32.

The study was conducted by the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network, funded by the U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI), and was published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the NEI, roughly 750,000 Americans currently suffer from diabetic macular edema. This condition can affect people with a type of diabetes-related eye disease, which is called diabetic retinopathy. Actually the DME is among the most common reasons for visual loss that may affect the 7.7 million Americans who are suffering from diabetic retinopathy. This condition usually occurs whenever abnormal blood vessels in the retina start leaking into the central area of the retina thus causing distorted vision.

“The results certainly seem to suggest here that if you have 20/50 vision or worse, you would certainly consider Eylea as the preferred drug,”

Dr. John A. Wells, a retina specialist in West Columbia, S.C., who was the chairman of the study, explained.

Among patients with the baddest vision, 67 % in the Eylea group noticed an improvement of about 15 letters, or three lines on an eye chart, which is undoubtedly a meaningful progress. Only 50 % of the ones treated with Lucentis, along with 41% treated with Avastin, admitted to have gained that much vision.

Moreover the study also found that patients getting Eylea eventually ended up needing fewer injections and less backup treatments, like lasers.

Dr. Frederick L. Ferris III, the clinical director of the NEI and also a study co-author, explained that their findings proved all the studied drugs to be effective, but nevertheless these public results can aid guide the medical care in a manner that’s based on evidence as well.

As far as Medicare allowable charges are concerned, the costs of each drug per injection dose used in the study were $1,960 for Eylea, $70 for Avastin, and $1200 for Lucentis. But keep in mind the fact that during this one year-long study, the participants on Avastin and Lucentis received about 10 injections, while the ones on Eylea received only 9.

“Kill switches,” which allow users to turn off their phones remotely after having them stolen has dramatically decreased smartphone’s theft. According to an announcement, in 2014 the total number of stolen smartphones dropped by 50% in London, by 27% in San Francisco and by 16% in New York.

In 2013 alone, after Apple first introduced this feature, the iPhone thefts decreased by 40% in San Francisco and by 25% in New York. In 2014, Samsung introduced the “kill switch” to a few of its smartphones as well. Moreover Google also added a “kill switch” to its newest Android operating system, Lollipop. As far as Microsoft is concerned, the company has granted to add a “kill switch” to its smartphone models by July 2015.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon along with New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are among the officials who argued for new laws that mandated the kill switches:

“The wireless industry continues to roll out sophisticated new features, but preventing their own customers from being the target of a violent crime is the coolest technology they can bring to market,”

Gascon explained.

Following Apple’s “kill switch” measure, Gascon, Johnson and Schneiderman all called on other manufacturers so as to make the technology active by default. Some smartphone systems still require consumers to opt in. In other words not all are protected while their phones are operating in the default mode.

According to reports from the National Consumers League, handheld devices had been stolen from 1.6 million Americans in 2012. Particularly in California, smartphone theft represents more than half of all crimes in San Francisco, Oakland, as well as other cities.

Moreover some other states are also experiencing a rash of smartphone thefts which led them to considering similar measures. For instance Minnesota passed a theft-prevention law last year.

At first, the cellular industry was reluctant towards these safety efforts, but later they changed their position. This means that most U.S. carriers are beginning to become more proactive as far as sharing data on stolen phones is concerned, preventing them from being activated on networks throughout the U.S. and abroad, albeit they don’t contain a “kill switch.”