Some stepfathers, those with multiple family roles, experience the highest stress levels

In stressful family circumstances, parenthood sometimes take a bigger toll on fathers’ mental health.

Scholars at Brigham Young University and Princeton conducted research that gives a better look at how various types of parents experience stress. One finding of the study is that some stepfathers - those with multiple family roles - experience the highest stress levels.

“If you say parenting and depression, the first thing people think of is post-partum moms,” said Kevin Shafer, a professor of social work at BYU. “But both moms and dads experience stress and certain kinds of parenting roles can be very, very stressful.”

Shafer and Princeton’s Garrett Pace analyzed data from more than 6,000 parents around the country. The main finding of the study is that depression risk increases for both men and women when the number of parenting roles they hold increases.

Parents in a “yours, mine and ours” family hold three parenting roles: one each for the two families that blended, and a third when a child is born into the blended family. The study found parents with three roles were 57 percent more likely to be depressed than those with just a single parenting role.

Shafer said that there’s inherently bumpiness that comes with the process of blending two different families.

“There are norms that govern parenting, but there aren’t norms for being a stepparent,” Shafer said. “Am I supposed to be an actual parent, a friend, or something like a cool uncle?”

The risk is even higher for fathers in such blended families when a father has biological children who don’t live with him. Shafer says that’s driven partially by feelings of guilt for spending more time with his new children than his older children. The dynamic also shifts when a new baby comes along.

“The stress doesn’t come from a bad place,” Shafer said. “It actually comes from a really good place. They want to be a good parent, they want to be a good stepparent, and they want to be a good new parent.”

Two trends underscore the importance of these findings. The first is that men are less likely to seek professional counseling when they need it. The second is that blended families are becoming more common, so more parents feel the burden of holding multiple roles.

As a social worker, Shafer hopes these findings will help more parents seek help they need. Mental health professionals should also recognize that depression can manifest in a variety of ways.

“We hope clinicians recognize that parents aren’t just a homogeneous group,” Shafer said. “Parents show symptoms of depression in different ways than non-parents do.”

The new study is published in the journal Social Work. This study follows a 2013 paper by Shafer that the The New York Times highlighted in a post called “What Makes a Successful Stepfather.”

Pace collaborated with Shafer while a student in BYU’s Master of Social Work program. He graduated in in 2013 and now works at Princeton’s Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. Source

Posted in Human Behavior: Stress, Parenting, Pregnancy: Adoption | Leave a comment

Acute psychological stress reduces ability to withstand physical pain

Traffic slows to a crawl, then a stop. You are trapped in a bottleneck nightmare, and late for a meeting. The stress takes a toll on you psychologically - but your body is at risk as well, according to a Tel Aviv University researcher.

A new study by Prof. Ruth Defrin of the Department of Physical Therapy at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine published in the journal PAIN finds that acute psychosocial stress has a dramatically deleterious effect on the body’s ability to modulate pain. Prof. Defrin, together with TAU doctoral student Nirit Geva and Prof. Jens Pruessner of McGill University, applied acute stress tests on a large group of healthy young male adults to evaluate the behavior of the body’s pain modulation mechanisms prior to and after the induction of stress.

The researchers found that although pain thresholds and pain tolerance seemed unaffected by stress, there was a significant increase in pain intensification and a decrease in pain inhibition capabilities.

Doing the math

For the purpose of the study, 29 healthy men underwent several commonly accepted pain tests to measure their heat-pain thresholds and pain inhibition, among other factors. In one test, for example, subjects were asked to signal the moment a gradually increasing heat stimulus became painful to identify their respective pain thresholds. They underwent a series of pain tests before and immediately after exposure to the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST), a computer program of timed arithmetic exercises, designed to induce acute psychosocial stress.

In a way, the stress test is a psychological trick. MIST provides live feedback on submitted responses, registering only 20-45% of the responses as correct, whether or not a submitted response is the right answer. Because the subject has been previously informed that the average participant tends to score 80%-90%, he is reminded of his “poor performance” but has no way of improving his score, despite his best efforts. This provides the “stress” element of the experiment.

“To further test the effect of stress on pain, we divided the group according to stress levels,” said Prof. Defrin. “We found that not only does psychosocial stress reduce the ability to modulate pain, the changes were significantly more robust among subjects with stronger reaction to stress (‘high responders’). The higher the perceived stress, the more dysfunctional the pain modulation capabilities became. In other words, the type of stress and magnitude of its appraisal determine its interaction with the pain system.

“We know from our previous studies and studies of others that chronic stress is far more damaging than acute stress, associated not only with dysfunctional pain modulation capabilities but also with chronic pain and systemic illnesses,” said Prof. Defrin.

Defining stress

“Stress is defined as a sense of uncontrollability and unpredictability, precisely like being stuck in traffic where you are helpless and have no control over the situation,” said Prof. Defrin. “Stress can have positive repercussions in a challenging work environment, for example, but overall it has primarily negative effects.”

The results were also somewhat surprising. “We were sure we would see an increased ability to modulate pain, because you hear anecdotes about people who are injured during fighting or sports having greater pain modulation,” said Prof. Defrin. “But we were surprised to find quite the opposite. While there was no visible effect of acute stress on the subject’s pain threshold or tolerance, pain modulation decreased in a very dramatic way.

“Modern life exposes individuals to many, recurrent stressful situations,” Prof. Defrin observes. “While there is no way to predict the type of stress we will feel under different circumstances, it is advisable to do everything in our power - adopt relaxation and stress reduction techniques as well as therapy - to reduce the amount of stress in our lives.”


American Friends of Tel Aviv University supports Israel’s most influential, most comprehensive and most sought-after center of higher learning, Tel Aviv University (TAU). US News & World Report’s Best Global Universities Rankings rate TAU as #148 in the world, and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings rank TAU Israel’s top university. It is one of a handful of elite international universities rated as the best producers of successful startups, and TAU alumni rank #9 in the world for the amount of American venture capital they attract.

A leader in the pan-disciplinary approach to education, TAU is internationally recognized for the scope and groundbreaking nature of its research and scholarship — attracting world-class faculty and consistently producing cutting-edge work with profound implications for the future. Source

Posted in Back Pain, Caregivers, Elder Care, Human Behavior: Stress, Pain, Painkillers | Leave a comment

Youth hockey brain imaging study suggests early marker for concussion damage

James Hudziak, M.D., has two children who love ice hockey. His son skates for his college team and one of his daughters plays in high school.

As a pediatric neuropsychiatrist and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families at the University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine, Hudziak believes in the benefits of ice hockey and other sports for kids. Athletic activities help a young person build organizational skills, improve motor and emotional control, reduce anxiety and boost confidence.

Now, though, Hudziak is looking into the potential dangers of ice hockey for young athletes. He and UVM colleagues Matthew Albaugh, Ph.D., Catherine Orr, Ph.D., and Richard Watts, Ph.D., have published a groundbreaking study in the February issue of The Journal of Pediatrics that shows a relationship between concussions sustained by young ice hockey players and subtle changes in the cortex, the outer layer of the brain that controls higher-level reasoning and behavior.

Each year, more than 300,000 sports-related concussions (SRC) occur across all sports and all levels in the United States, according to a 2013 “Ice Hockey Summit II” report to which Hudziak and Boston University (BU) School of Medicine’s Ann McKee, M.D., contributed. The report’s authors advised the elimination of head hits from all levels of hockey, a change in body-checking policies and the elimination of fighting in all amateur and professional hockey. “Ice hockey SRC prevalence is high,” the report states. “Hockey players compete at high speeds as they mature, risking injury from intentional and accidental collisions, body checks, illegal on-ice activity and fighting.”

The UVM team used advanced imaging technology and cognitive testing to assess 29 Vermont ice hockey players between ages 14 and 23, some diagnosed with a sports-related concussion. As the severity of the athletes’ concussion symptoms increased, the researchers found, the cortex got thinner in areas where it should be dense at those players’ ages - areas that relate to attention control, memory, and emotion regulation.

“We believe that injury to a developing brain may be more severe than injury to an adult brain,” Hudziak says.

What the study indicates for the future health and function of an ice hockey player is unclear. The researchers hope to do further studies, ideally following the brains of these athletes over a couple of decades and factoring for their involvement and time in the sport as well as other influences, such as smoking and alcohol use.

“The concern is that what we are finding may be an early marker of brain damage,” Albaugh says. “Years of playing contact sports and repeatedly getting your head knocked around probably isn’t good for the brain, especially in young children whose brains are still maturing” he adds.

Their findings contribute to research into the consequences of brain injury in other sports, including the brain damage discovered in older professional football players by McKee, a neurology and pathology professor at BU and director of the “brain banks” in various centers of study for the university and the Veterans Administration. Her work was a cornerstone of “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” an investigative report by the public television program “Frontline” on the National Football League’s response to players’ brain trauma.

“It just adds to our information base about young athletes playing contact sports,” McKee says of Hudziak’s study. “It’s a first step. It needs to be looked at longitudinally. We need to know if these athletes recover.”

McKee says she wouldn’t necessarily expect the brain changes in young hockey players to lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a serious but uncommon disease that she found prevalent in retired NFL players. Instead, she expects that further study in the ice hockey arena will show that young players’ brains can recover from early blows. Brains have a chance for rehabilitation after injury, she says.

“We’re hopeful that these changes can be reversed,” she says of the cortex thinning observed in Hudziak’s study. “I would look at this as an opportunity to make a difference, and not a cause of irrevocable damage in these players.”

Hudziak and his UVM colleagues would like to help the organizations running professional, collegiate, junior and youth hockey leagues make better decisions about how best to treat players’ head injuries; how and when to return players to the ice after an injury; when to pull them from the sport entirely; and how to prevent injuries from occurring. Players and coaches at the national, college and youth levels of hockey have talked to Hudziak about his findings, he says.

In Hudziak’s study, he and his colleagues cite research indicating “that cerebral concussion accounts for 15 to 22.2 percent of all reported injuries” in hockey.

The key challenges for them, says Hudziak, are that the definition of “concussion” is so slippery and reports of the incidence of concussions are inconsistent. Some people think a concussion happens when someone is hit in the head or gets dizzy; others think a person has to be “knocked out” to have a concussion.

His study focuses on the symptoms recorded after a diagnosed concussion. But Hudziak wonders whether lesser head injuries, what he calls sub-concussive events, could have as many or more consequences for the brain over time as a single major blow.

On the computer in his office, Hudziak shows a video of a professional hockey game during which a player gets body checked. It doesn’t look like a very serious hit, though he’s carried off the ice.

Then, the video reverses to just a few minutes earlier in the game, when that same player collides with another and flips violently backwards, throwing off his helmet before his head hits the ice. That suggests the potential harm inside a person’s skull that can occur from cumulative assault.

As Hudziak puts it, “The sum is greater than the individual parts.”

That player flew into Burlington, Vt. to meet with Hudziak and his team, so they can learn more from his brain.

Ideally, Hudziak says, they want to apply their current study to female and male ice hockey players ages 8 to 14, then to college-age skaters of both genders and finally to retired professional hockey players. They’d like to compare their findings at each age group to nonathletes and to the same groups in soccer - a sport typically involving less-severe head injuries.

“We don’t have any sense that hockey’s going to be worse than soccer,” Hudziak points out.

Already, in a follow-up study, Hudziak’s team has found more evidence of increased problems in the brains of athletes, compared with nonathletes. This work focuses on “hyperintensities,” which look like little bright white spots on a brain image. His research suggests a higher volume of these bright spots may correlate with decreased thickness in the cortex.

“As a general rule of thumb, you’re allowed one of these bright spots every 10 years of your life,” Albaugh says.

So a 50-year-old should have about five of these bright spots. One of the college-age athletes in the study has 18 spots, Albaugh says. Hudziak now has to call some parents to tell them of the “clinically concerning findings” in their children’s brain images.

Hudziak doesn’t want to warn parents to keep their kids out of hockey or other team play. As the founder of the unique Vermont Family-Based Approach, which incorporates all aspects of a child’s life to address emotional and behavioral problems, he prescribes hockey, soccer and other sports to help eliminate behavior, attention and psychological disorders. It is his hope that through brain training and health promotion the brain may recover.

“My goal is not to rid the world of these sports,” Hudziak says. “My goal is to make these sports safer, so that more people can play them.” Source

Posted in Brain Injury, Concussions | Leave a comment

Many would risk earlier death rather than take a pill

Roughly one in three people who took an online survey would prefer to risk an earlier death rather than take a pill every day to prevent heart disease.

About one in five would be willing to pay at least $1,000 to avoid taking a pill every day for the rest of their lives.

The study “reinforces the idea that many people do not like taking pills, for whatever reason,” said Dr. Robert Hutchins of the University of California, San Francisco.

“Most physicians I know are very well aware of that, however, so it reiterates that we should be having discussions with patients about what their priorities are, and if they value the extended life they might get from taking a pill more than the effect on their quality of life for having to take that pill every day for the rest of their life,” Hutchins added, in email to Reuters Health.

Hutchins and his colleagues designed the survey to find out, hypothetically, how much time at the end of their lives people would be willing to give up just to avoid taking preventive medications every day.  More



Posted in Health Care: Literacy, Human Behavior: Decision Making | Leave a comment

Children’s Pajamas and Robes Recalled by Lazy One Due to Violation of Federal Flammability Standard

Recall Summary

Name of product: Children’s pajamas and robes


The footed pajamas and robes fail to meet the federal flammability standard for children’s sleepwear, posing a burn hazard to children.

Recalled Lazy One footed pajamas


View Details

Consumer Contact: Lazy One toll-free at (866) 340-5278 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday, or online at and click on the Product Recall link on the bottom of the page for more information.

Report an Incident Involving this Product

Recall Details


About 8,400


This recall involves 100% polyester Lazy One children’s sleepwear garments, including footed pajamas and two robes. The one-piece “footeez” style footed zip-up pajama is beige with a red, pink, blue and yellow owl print with the wording “I’m OWL yours.” It has blue trim at the neck, cuff and right-hand side single pocket. The pajama has a foot-to-neck zipper, non-slip soles and a rear opening on the behind. It was sold in sizes children’s small through extra-large. One of the recalled robes is pink with moose graphics and “Don’t Moose With Me” printed on it. It has solid green trim, two front pockets and belt. The second robe is red with printed moose graphics and solid black trim, two front pockets and belt. Both robes were sold in sizes 4T through 14. “Lazy One”, the size and “Made in China” are printed on the garments’ neck label. Garments with “Flame Resistant” printed on the neck label are not included in this recall.


None reported.


Consumers should immediately take the recalled pajamas and robes away from children and return them to Lazy One for a free replacement garment, including shipping.

Sold at

Department stores and children’s boutiques nationwide and online at  from October 2013 through June 2014 for about $22 for the pajamas and about $15 for the robes.


Lazy One, Inc., of North Logan, Utah

Manufactured in


Posted in Pediatric Health: Injuries | Leave a comment

How Karen Carpenter’s Death Changed the Way We Talk About Anorexia

Feb. 4, 1983: Musician Karen Carpenter dies at 32 from health complications related to anorexia

After being called chubby as a teenager, Karen Carpenter began dieting. When she slimmed down from 145 to 120 lbs., her friends and family praised her weight loss. It was only after her weight continued to plummet, dropping to a skeletal 90 lbs. in the mid-1970s, that they realized her health was in jeopardy.

The lead singer of The Carpenters, the Grammy-winning band she’d formed with her brother, died on this day, Feb. 4, in 1983, of heart failure related to her years-long struggle with anorexia. She was 32.

Carpenter’s death raised awareness of the dangers of eating disorders, which had until then been little publicized or understood. For a generation of women who saw Twiggy as an icon of the ideal body shape, it also proved — as TIME concluded in 1989, when summing up the moral of a docudrama about Carpenter’s life — that it was, in fact, possible to be too thin.

Carpenter was the first celebrity casualty of an eating disorder, according to Randy Schmidt, the author of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (4.5 stars out of 5; 239 reviews). After her death, however, other public figures shared their own struggles with anorexia and bulimia, most notably Princess Diana. More


The top-rated books on anorexia and bulimia

Posted in Nutrition: Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Nutrition: Eating Disorders: Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Nutrition: Eating Disorders: Bulimia, Nutrition: Eating Disorders: Orthorexia Nervosa | Leave a comment

Wealthier men less likely to help partners with housework: University of Warwick

Men on lower incomes are more likely to help their partners with housework than higher-earners, although women are still by far doing the most around the home, no matter how many hours they work or how much they are paid.

While the burden of keeping the home clean is starting to be shared more equally between couples, signs of a class divide are beginning to emerge, a researcher from the University of Warwick has found.

“There’s a stark difference in couples’ attitudes towards gender equality depending on how much they are earning,” explained Dr Clare Lyonette, from the Institute for Employment Research, who led the study.

“It seems men on lower incomes are happily picking up the dusters, filling the dishwasher and generally starting to do their bit. Times are changing and they acknowledge there’s now a need for more equality in the home.

“But there’s a different attitude when it comes to higher earners. We found that while men in these households do also recognise the need to help their partners, they remain reluctant to lift a finger and appear to simply throw money at the issue by hiring a cleaner instead.

“And although men in general are starting to make themselves more useful around the house, regardless of income, the age old theory remains the same - women, on the whole, are doing the most.”

Dr Lyonette’s findings in Sharing the load? Partners’ relative earnings and the division of domestic labour have just been published in the February 2015 edition of the British Sociological Association’s Work, Employment and Society journal. It is available to download for free here.

She interviewed a number of partnered men and women for the project, all of whom had at least one child under the age of 14.

“There’s certainly a fairer division of household labour between couples than in the past but inequality still exists and that’s perpetuated, in part, by the so-called ‘myth of male incompetence’,” added Dr Lyonette.

“This is a belief by some women - and our study shows it’s still rife - that men are unable to complete housework to an acceptable standard.

“Women know their contribution to the household should be fairly reflected in the sharing of housework and are often frustrated by their lack of success in changing the situation - but their frustrations are to some extent mollified by the idea that men are inept at domestic chores.”

One participant in the survey told the researcher: “I think they do it on purpose, men, don’t they? Using the cleaner, he’ll just clean around things, then all of a sudden you’ll move the sofa and you’re like, ‘What is that under there?’ … or he says, ‘Don’t clean upstairs now because no one goes up there bar us, you don’t need to hoover’ is his argument’.”

Dr Lyonette concluded: “Men from lower-income families certainly seem to be starting to do their bit around the home. But at the same time, until all men are willing to take on more domestic tasks, so allowing women to take on greater responsibility within the workplace, any hoped-for progress in gender equality is likely to stall.”


Posted in Health Care: Disparities, Human Behavior: Gender Differences, Human Behavior: Machismo, Human Behavior: Relationships, Marriage | Leave a comment

Bariatric surgery may reduce life expectancy for super obese diabetic patients: University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

CINCINNATI-Bariatric surgery improves life expectancy for many obese diabetic patients, but it may cut life expectancy for patients who are super obese with very high body mass indexes, according to a University of Cincinnati researcher.

“For most patients with diabetes and a BMI (body mass index) greater than 35, bariatric surgery increases life expectancy,” says Daniel Schauer, MD, assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UC. “However, the benefit of surgery decreases as BMI increases. The patients with a BMI over 62 likely don’t gain any life expectancy with surgery.”

The findings were published recently online in the Annals of Surgery.

Schauer and a team of researchers developed a decision analytic model to compare life expectancy in a group of severely obese diabetic individuals who had bariatric surgery to a group that did not have bariatric surgery. They used data involving approximately 200,000 patients from three HMO Research Network sites as well as data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample and the National Health Interview Survey linked to the National Death Index.

In the main analyses of the study, researchers found that a 45-year-old woman with diabetes and a body mass index of 45 kg/m2 gained an additional 6.7 years of life expectancy with bariatric surgery (38.4 years with surgery versus 31.7 years without). However, the gain in life expectancy decreased once BMI hit 62 kg/m2 with bariatric surgery. Similar results were seen for both men and women in all age groups. The study did not look at differences associated with race.

“This was surprising. We expected those with higher BMIs to benefit more from bariatric surgery,” says Schauer, also a UC Health physician and member of both the UC Cancer Institute and the Center for Clinical Effectiveness.

Super obese patients may have had diabetes for a longer duration and are more likely to have complications after surgery resulting in adverse health outcomes, explains Schauer.

About 15 million adults in the United States suffer from severe obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index of greater than 35 kg/m2. Obesity and diabetes are closely linked and severe obesity increases the risk of diabetes by more than seven-fold, says Schauer.


Other researchers at UC who participated in the study include David Fischer, MD, associate professor of surgery, and Mark Eckman, MD, Posey Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Center for Clinical Effectiveness.

Funding from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases supported this research.


Posted in Obesity, Obesity: Bariatric Surgery | Leave a comment

Drinking green tea before taking supplements may offer protection from toxicity: Penn State

As high doses of green tea extract supplements for weight loss become more popular, potential liver toxicity becomes a concern. In the last decade, dozens of people have been diagnosed with the condition. However, drinking green tea in the weeks before taking supplements likely reduces risk, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Researchers gave mice high doses of the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The dosage was equivalent to the amount of the polyphenol found in some dietary supplements taken by humans.

One group of mice was pretreated with a diet containing a low level of ECGC for two weeks prior to receiving high doses of the polyphenol. Another group was fed a diet that did not include EGCG prior to receiving the high, supplement-like doses. After three days of high doses, the scientists tested the blood of the mice to determine how their livers handled the EGCG. Pretreated mice had a 75 percent reduction in liver toxicity compared to untreated mice.

The research data show that dietary pretreatment with the green tea polyphenol protects mice from liver toxicity caused by subsequent high oral doses of the same compound, explained Josh Lambert, associate professor of food science. He suggested that the research has relevance to people who are taking or are considering taking supplements containing green tea extract.

“We believe this study indicates that those who are chronic green tea consumers would be less sensitive to potential liver toxicity from green-tea-based dietary supplements,” he said. “If you are going to take green tea supplements, drinking green tea for several weeks or months ahead of time may reduce your potential side effects.”

Lambert has another suggestion for people considering green tea supplements — drink green tea instead.

“Drinking green tea rather than taking supplements will allow you to realize the benefits and avoid the risk of liver toxicity,” he said. “The beneficial effects that people have reported as being associated with green tea are the result of dietary consumption rather than the use of supplements. The relative risk of using supplements remains unclear.”

Tea — Camellia sinensis — is rich in catechins, polyphenols that are natural antioxidants. A number of animal studies have shown the preventive effects of green tea polyphenols against obesity. And Lambert pointed out that a recent analysis of 11 human trials with green tea preparations reported a nearly three-pound average body weight loss in intervention groups compared to control groups.

Green tea’s effect on weight loss may be more noticeable if a person exercises. In research published last year, Lambert showed that mice on a high-fat diet that consumed decaffeinated green tea extract and exercised regularly experienced sharp reductions in final body weight and significant improvements in health.

Approximately 34 percent of adults in the United States are classified as obese, Lambert noted, leading to a strong interest in the potential benefits of including green tea and green tea supplements in weight-loss efforts. The liver toxicity research, recently published online in Food and Chemical Toxicology, revealed a unique property of the green tea polyphenol EGCG.

“It appears that EGCG can modulate its own bioavailability and that dietary treatment may reduce the toxic potential of acute high oral doses of EGCG,” said lead researcher Sarah Forester, assistant professor of chemistry, California State University, Bakersfield, a former Penn State postdoctoral fellow.

“These data may partly explain the observed variation in liver toxicity response to dietary supplements containing green tea.”

Some people drink surprisingly large volumes of green tea, according to Lambert, as much as 10-20 cups a day, but liver toxicity has never been reported in that context.

“No person can sit down and drink 16 cups of green tea all at once,” he said. “However if you take a supplement you can get that type of green tea extract dose, so there is some indication that the dosage form has an influence on the potential to cause liver toxicity.”


Posted in Green Tea, Nutrition: Supplements | Leave a comment

Kids’ exercise guidelines need more focus on brain development

(Reuters Health) – - Sports medicine experts say physical activity guidelines for kids should address the best types of exercise, not just the duration.

Most guidelines - including those of the World Health Organization and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - recommend that kids and teens get 60 minutes each day of moderate to vigorous exercise. Many don’t specify what kind, but imply that aerobics should be the focus, with additional “strength training” three times per week.

The current emphasis on exercise quantity limits considerations of quality, the authors write in a review article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“These data were developed in the 1950s primarily for adults,” said lead author Dr. Gregory D. Myer of the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

An hour of aerobic exercise may promote aerobic fitness and muscle strength, but not necessarily motor skill development, socialization or having fun, the authors write.

“Kids don’t ask to go run two miles, they don’t enjoy it,” Myer told Reuters Health.

The preadolescent period is the time when developing brains can best learn and reinforce motor skill control, which will make physical fitness more sustainable later in life, the authors write. More


Posted in Exercise: Benefits, Pediatric Health, Pediatric Health: Inactivity | Leave a comment

Making the world safer for women by changing men

A slew of news stories renewed discussion about gender-based violence in the past year. From sexual assaults on college campuses to the NFL’s reaction to domestic violence, those stories suggest there’s plenty of work to be done in shifting our culture’s views on women — and the perspectives of boys and men in particular.

Fortunately, there’s an ongoing legacy of men involved in preventing violence against women, going back to the 1970s, said Michael Messner, a sociologist and gender studies scholar at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Messner and USC Ph.D. students Max Greenberg and Tal Peretz have written Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women (to be published by Oxford University Press), a contemporary history of men working with the women’s movement, exploring their motivations and strategies to prevent gender-based violence.

Messner and his co-authors interviewed activists ranging in age from 22 to 70, charting the development of feminism over 40 years from street-based political action to grant-funded institutions. In the process, they’ve documented how racial diversity has been introduced to the field, along with a growing focus on how violence affects victims of all genders.

Male activists learned from feminist women that the best way to help was to reach out to other men, Messner said.

“The language of upstream and downstream developed,” he explained. “Women were saying, ‘We’re doing all this work downstream with the effects of violence. We need people to do work upstream to prevent the causes of violence.’ ”

Pro-feminist men

Messner began interviewing pro-feminist men in the late ’70s. At the time, groups like the Bay Area’s Men Against Sexist Violence were passionate about civil rights and anti-war activism, and they saw the fight against gender-based violence as an important step in that work. Like many of the women drawn to early feminism, they also felt choked or disenfranchised by the restrictive gender mores of the time.

One unexpected revelation from the book’s research is the disparate profile of these men. The activists Messner was first inspired to interview were white, educated and predominantly Jewish, reflecting that community’s concern for social justice. The men typically discovered feminism through women’s political activism on college campuses and in communities.

Often, they were also witnesses to violence against mothers, sisters or girlfriends while growing up. Fathers or stepfathers sometimes directed that violence against them as boys.

Today, there are grant-funded outreach organizations introducing a younger generation to violence prevention, often reaching into black and Latino communities. That work ties into outreach to gang members, at-risk youth and even prison populations. It acknowledges that stopping gender-based violence often means ending behavior that affects boys as much as women.

“With an influx of men of color, we’re getting a deeper understanding of how violence against women connects to other forms of institutional violence,” Messner said. “It’s very interesting when you look at what’s going on with violence against black men by police. When the men we interviewed say to young black and Latino guys, ‘You need to not hit women,’ the guys say, ‘You should see what the cops do to us.’ ”

There’s work to be done

While millennials might be adopting what sociologist Joe Reger calls “fluoride feminism” — cultural ideals passively absorbed, rather than consciously chosen — the book highlights how much work there is to be done.

Messner stressed that anti-rape and anti-domestic violence organizations have been made sustainable through foundation and state funding, but have softened the political activism that once shook up larger institutions.

“The risk today,” Messner said, “is that professionalized violence-prevention becomes a pragmatic effort to stop a single behavior — akin to stopping smoking — rather than a movement that addresses violence as part of a larger effort to create a more equal and just society.”

Overall, Messner is heartened by the progress that has been made. Working on a history of the men within the movement allowed him to reconnect with contacts who were personally inspirational to him. But it also let him meet younger men who are continuing their work.

“If you look at anti-violence work as an individual, you might see it as tilting against windmills because there’s so much violence in the world,” he said. “And yet there’s this whole community of people who feel that they’re a solution to that.”


Posted in Domestic Violence | Leave a comment

Hepatitis C More Prevalent Than HIV/AIDS or Ebola Yet Lacks Equal Attention

Newswise — More than 180 million people in the world have hepatitis C, compared with the 34 million with HIV/AIDS and the roughly 30,000 who have had Ebola. Yet very little is heard about the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the way of awareness campaigns, research funding or celebrity fundraisers.

One of the global regions highly affected by hepatitis C is West Africa. In developed countries, hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease, is transmitted through intravenous (IV) drug use. “In West Africa, we believe that there are many transmission modes and they are not through IV drug use, but through cultural and every day practices,” says Jennifer Layden, MD, PhD principal investigator on a study recently published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. “In this study, tribal scarring, home birthing and traditional as opposed to hospital-based circumcision procedures, were associated with hepatitis C infection in Ghana.”

The study was conducted by HepNet, an international multidisciplinary group of physicians and scientists. “The other important finding was that a high percentage of individuals who tested positive for HCV had evidence of active infection,” says Layden. “This illustrates the need for treatment.”

Discovering the source of the disease and a target population, she says, will aid in the next step of the research: how to protect and prevent the disease in Ghana. Dr. Layden and colleagues from Loyola University Chicago’s Department of Public Health Sciences organized the inaugural HepNet meeting Aug. 12 and 13, 2013, in Kumasi, Ghana. Loyola University Chicago is the lead investigator in the HepNet research, with collaboration from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Ghana, the Centers for Disease Control and the Johns Hopkins University. This is the first published research study from the HepNet group.

“This is a small study conducted at a blood bank in a teaching hospital in Ghana,” says Layden. “We have now expanded studies to test more than 5,000 individuals in Ghana.” The goal is to further understand whom is affected by hepatitis C and to identify specific next steps in intervention and prevention.

“Hep C is a chronic disease and leads to chronic liver disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis,” says Layden. “Overall, worldwide rates of liver cancer is on the rise, whereas many other cancers are on the decline or steady.” Layden says the study offers hope for West Africa.

Similar studies have been conducted in Egypt, a country with high rates of hepatitis C infection.

“Those studies helped to call attention to the widespread infection rate and resulted in getting infected Egyptians affordable medical treatment,” says Layden. “We in HepNet hope our studies will do the same in Ghana and other West African countries.”

Participating researchers from Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine,
Maywood, Illinois are: Jennifer Layden; Stephanie Kliethermes; Nallely Mora; Lara Dugas; Amy Luke; David Shoham and Richard S. Cooper.

Posted in Health Care: Disparities, Hepatology: Hepatitis C | Leave a comment

Brains of women, men are different: more evidence

New research by scientists at the University of Exeter and King’s College London has made significant progress towards understanding the complex process of prenatal human brain development.

The study, published today in the journal Genome Research, examined changes in the way that genes are regulated during human brain development. One observation was that a number of differences in a process called DNA methylation were found between male and female brains, potentially contributing to sex differences in behaviour, brain function and disease. The study focussed on the molecular “switches” that regulate the way that genes are activated without changing the underlying DNA blueprint. These processes, known as epigenetics, direct the way in which different cells and tissue types develop, and help differentiate brain cells from those in other parts of the body.

Professor Jonathan Mill, of the University of Exeter Medical School and King’s College London, who led the study, said: “The prenatal period is a time of dramatic plasticity, when the brain is laying down the structures that control neurobiological function across life. Understanding the way in which genes are activated during this important period in the brain could teach us about the origins of disorders with a neurodevelopmental component, such as autism and schizophrenia.”

DNA methylation is the best-understood epigenetic process, a chemical modification to one of the four bases that make up our genetic code. Using cutting-edge technology, the researchers measured genome-wide patterns of DNA methylation in nearly 200 samples, spanning 23 to 184 days after conception. Significant changes in DNA methylation across brain development were found at more than 7% of the 400,000 genomic sites assessed.

Helen Spiers, first author on the study from King’s College London, commented: “Males and females show differences in their susceptibility to some neurological conditions. For example, autism affects five males to every female. Understanding sex differences in brain development may help us understand the origins of these differences.”


The study was part funded by the Medical Research Council and used tissue samples from the MRC/Wellcme Trust Human Developmental Biology Resource (HDBR).

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Posted in Brain, Human Behavior: Gender Differences | Leave a comment