Diagonal Ear Crease Linked To Increased Risk Of Coronary Heart Disease

It might sound like an anatomical quirk better suited for fanciful novels than medical diagnosis, but a certain type of earlobe crease could be a sign of the times deep inside the body. Specifically, a new study has found a link between people with bilateral diagonal earlobe creases and an increased risk of coronary arterydisease.

Doctors often say to seek that which is hidden by observing what is not. A connection between ear wrinkles and heart disease may sound kooky, but when you think about it, external cues are used all the time as markers of disease or ill-health for example, obesity (diabetes), clouding of the eyes lens (cataracts), and discoloration of the skin (liver disease).

Coronary artery diseaseis one of the leading causes of death worldwide, which is why scientists are on the lookout for more ways in which to identify and treat it. The condition is due to plaque buildup in the arteries, which hardens and narrows the passageways. This ultimately restricts blood flow to the heart, which can become starved of oxygen.

Bilateral earlobe creases, also known as Franks sign, have been studied before. First published about in 1973, the link has been explored many times over. However, the research is not absolute and the mechanisms behind the connection is yet to be determined.

For this research, published in the journal BMJ Open, the team from China studied the difference between unilateral and bilateral earlobe creases in relation to coronary artery disease. Pictured below, the difference lies in whether the crease affects one or two ears.

Left ear: unilateral earlobe crease. Right ear: bilateral earlobe crease. BMJ/Yong Wang et al.

These wrinkles were defined as a deep diagonal crease (>1 mm) extending slantwise from the tragus to the outer earlobe and covering at least two-thirds of the length of the lobe.

To determine whether there isalink between these creasesand coronary arterydisease, the team examinedthe ears of 558 participants aged 36-91 years old who underwent coronary angiography.

The team found that those with bilateral earlobe creases were at a significantly increased risk of coronary artery disease than those with unilateral creases although both were at an increased risk compared withthose with non-creased ears.

Previous research has suggested that the link could be due toimpaired circulation, however more investigation needs to be undertaken.

While its possible the deep creases arean indicator of heart disease, it could also be the result of other factors, such as a heredity trait, trauma from heavy earrings, or even just an anatomical anomaly. At the heart of the matter, this study adds to the cannon of research, but more needs to be done to explore the correlation and its cause.

Move along, no creases here. Shutterstock/XiXinXing

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/diagonal-ear-crease-linked-to-increased-risk-of-coronary-heart-disease/

In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimers review

Joseph Jebellis personal study of a disease that has reached epidemic proportions offers the latest research but not much hope

The human animal derives its humanity from language and memory. What are we, without memory ? The short answer is: wild beasts.

Memory gives us personality, emotional intelligence, family relations, and community. Memory anchors us in space and time. It defines the parameters of existence. Paradoxically, it might even confirm the futility of existence.

Dementia, in the broadest sense, lays an axe at the root of memory, creating that bare, forked animal, unaccommodated man. Keep me in temper, exclaims King Lear before his final breakdown, I would not be mad.

Madness comes in many guises, but the cruellest manifestation thats hitting the headlines today is the affliction named after the German doctor who first identified its most virulent strain in 1906, Professor Alois Alzheimer.

The biology of the ageing brain remains among the greatest enigmas of neuroscience. For several decades, the German psychoanalytic establishment seized on the mysterious nature of the disease to subordinate insignificant biological explanations of dementia to broader, Freudian interpretations. Until the 1960s, Alzheimers was at once neglected and controversial. If no one could agree about its fundamental symptoms, many others disputed its causes. Slowly, as a result of improved brain-mapping, and the identification of plaques and tangles in the geriatric brain as a source of dementia, Alzheimers emerged as the global epidemic we now recognise.

Alzheimers has become a new plague, threatening the worlds population with a global strike rate of one every four seconds. In the UK, there are now more people with the disease than live in the city of Liverpool. Six million inhabitants of the EU and 4 million Americans have it, figures that are projected to double by 2030. So bad is the outlook that the WHO has declared dementia a global health priority.

It has become the salient fact of 21st-century life that, with an ageing world population, Alzheimers will overtake cancer as the second leading cause of death after heart disease. Were at a point, writes Joseph Jebelli, at which almost everyone knows someone a family member or friend who has been affected.

Jebelli, a young British neuroscientist, has greater cause than many to make this claim. As a boy, he watched his grandfather acting strangely, before descending into the abyss of dementia in which he could no longer recognise his family. Jebellis testament, In Pursuit of Memory, is a moving, sober and forensic study of the past, present and future of Alzheimers from the point of view of a neurologist who has lived with the disease, at home and in the lab, from a very young age.

Jebellis timely analysis is a reminder that, in recent years, Alzheimers or other forms of dementia have not merely devastated the lives of millions, they have destroyed the retirements of Harold Wilson, Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, and Margaret Thatcher, killed Terry Pratchett, and claimed Glen Campbell and Iris Murdoch among its victims. The lineaments of this fate were recently dramatised in the Oscar-winning film Still Alice, starring Julianne Moore.

WH Auden once compared death to the rumble of distant thunder at a picnic. The stages of Alzheimers occur as storm clouds on the horizon of a perfect summers day. The initial symptoms flashes of anger; occasional forgetfulness are often so slight that even doctors can misdiagnose them. As the disease takes hold, it becomes clear that something terrible is happening to the patients brain (repetitive questions; the inability to recognise friends and family).

Finally, as Alzheimers ignites in the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, episodic memory gets burned away, past and present become forever dissociated, and the patient is at the mercy of cerebral Furies. In this merciless process of dehumanisation, the only means of human communication at the end will be the comforts of touch and possibly some snatches of music.

Julianne Moore as a dementia sufferer in the film Still Alice. Photograph: Artificial Eye

The story that Jebelli tells of his grandfathers decline illustrates the tantalising mystery of Alzheimers: its both highly visible yet agonisingly elusive. Like McCavity, this disease defies all known laws, slipping through the net of neurological inquiry.

The incidence of Alzheimers is a lottery. You can live a decidedly salubrious life, reports Jebelli, and still get struck down in your 70s, sometimes even sooner, with no obvious cause. In the department of prevention, he takes us through a familiar catalogue of potential risk-factors: stress, diet, exercise, etc. Hes forced to conclude, as every visitor to the catacombs of dementia will eventually acknowledge, that Alzheimers remains an enigma, a tangle of amyloid plaques, sticky buildups of protein in the brain that continue to resist the investigations of the neurological police.

Here, Jebellis own pursuit of answers to his grandfathers death turns into a fascinating quest at the frontiers of neuro-degeneration. He identifies several key areas of recent research, from cerebral renewal (the implantation of iPS cells) and parabiosis (reversing the pathological changes in an old animal by bathing its tissue in the blood of a young one), to the pioneering study of Kuru (a shaking disease found in Papua New Guinea) and the latest research into PCA (posterior cortical atrophy), the variant of Alzheimers that afflicted the late Terry Pratchett. In Jebellis optimistic summary, the web of treatment is widening. At the end of his pursuit, he declares: We are closer than ever to the abolition ofAlzheimers.

Not everyone agrees with him, and the dividends of intense neuro-scientific research are painfully modest. From 2000 to 2012, indeed, its estimated that about 99% of all newly developed dementia drugs failed to pass their clinical trials. For all the tabloid headlines about a cure for Alzheimers, this goal remains fugitive.

Frustrated by the limitations of neuroscience, some Alzheimers experts have begun to argue for an alternative approach. In his Penguin Special on Alzheimers, Andrew Lees, an acknowledged expert, focused on a fascinating new genre of Alzheimers writing, books by patients at the beginning of their slow fade who can illuminate the experience of losingmemory.

Yet even this avenue is contentious. As the Observer reported recently, a new Edinburgh University study, the Prevent Project, suggests that Alzheimers may not be the disease of memory that Jebelli describes.

In truth, there has been no shortage of neuroscientific investigations, but its hard to resist the conclusion that these have been blind alleys. By contrast, the phenomenology of losing personal cognition (the territory explored by the late Oliver Sacks) offers, from some points of view, a more fruitful cerebral exploration. It might at least give comfort, if not hope.

In Pursuit of Memory by Joseph Jebelli is published by John Murray (20). To order a copy for 17 go tobookshop.theguardian.comor call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/29/in-pursuit-of-memory-the-fight-against-alzheimers-joseph-jebelli-review

9 prostate cancer myths, debunked

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. In 2017, the American Cancer Society estimates about 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and about 26,730 men will die from it.

The good news is that survival rates for prostate cancer are high, but experts say there are several myths out there about how its diagnosed and treated, and how it may affect mens health and sex lives.


To help you tell fact from fiction, Fox News sifted through the research and talked to some of the top prostate cancer experts to unpack the most common myths about prostate cancer.

1. Its an old mans disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, six in 10 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men ages 65 and older. Although many men think prostate cancer is something they need to start thinking about in their 60s, men as young as 40 are diagnosed with prostate cancer too.

Whats more, screening all men between ages 45 and 49 for prostate cancer can predict almost half of all deaths several decades later, a 2013 study in the journal BMJ found.

2. There are no symptoms.
Its true that many men with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms, even for those who have metastatic disease.

Many symptoms of prostate cancer can also mimic other benign conditions like prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or another type of cancer.

Nevertheless, if you notice urinary frequency, urgency, a slow or weak flow or an obstruction of the flow, blood in your urine or ejaculate, bone pain, or unexpected weight loss, you should see your doctor to be evaluated, Dr. Chung-Han Lee, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Westchester in West Harrison, New York, told Fox News.


3. Blood PSA levels are only one way to make a diagnosis.
High blood prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels usually indicate prostate cancer, but the only definitive way to diagnose it is with a prostate biopsy, Lee said.

4. You must start treatment right away.
If youre diagnosed with prostate cancer, your doctor will first determine the stage and your risk group low, intermediate or high-risk before deciding on a treatment plan. Hell also take into account other conditions you may have, like obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as your smoking history, before deciding on the course of treatment.

If you have other medical problems but a low-grade prostate cancer, for example, your doctor may hold off on treatment. Yet if youre otherwise healthy and have an aggressive form of prostate cancer, treatment may be done earlier.


5. Natural remedies can help.
Selenium, alkaline water, high-dose vitamin C, and even a combination of maple syrup and baking soda have been cited as ways to prevent and treat prostate cancer. 

The thinking behind them is, If you alkalize your blood then cancer has a hard time surviving because cancer cells love an acidic environment, Dr. Geo Espinosa, a naturopathic and functional medicine doctor in New York City, and author of, Thrive, Dont Only Survive, told Fox News. Yet experts agree theres no evidence any of these can help.

6. Surgery will end your sex life.
Surgery will likely cause impotence at least initially, but most men will regain the ability to become erect with treatments such as Kegel exercises.

How the surgery will impact your sex life depends on whether or not your doctor has to remove the nerve bundles that run on either side of the prostate. If they can save at least one of them, then they can still have erections, sometimes with assistance, Lee said. Medications like Viagra or injections, or a a penile implant or pump can help. 


7. Diet and lifestyle dont matter.
You might think theres no way to reduce your risk for prostate cancer, but diet and lifestyle actually play a significant role.

Diets low in carbohydrates and sugar like the Mediterranean diet, and moderate to vigorous exercise three to four hours a week have been shown to help prevent the disease.

Its also a good idea to get 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure sans sunscreen on 40 percent of your body, or talk to your doctor about a supplement, as low levels of vitamin D may predict aggressive prostate cancer, a 2016 study out of Northwestern Medicine found.

Also, herbs like curcumin and boswellia lower inflammation and reduce biological markers that contribute to cancer, Espinosa said.


8. Treatment is a cure.
Within 10 years of prostate cancer treatment, 40 percent of the time PSA levels will start to rise again, Espinosa said. Its also not uncommon to be diagnosed and treated for low-grade prostate cancer and years later be diagnosed again with metastatic prostate cancer.

If youve have prostate cancer, its important to be monitored roughly every three to six months within the first one to two years of treatment, After two years, you should get checked out every six to 12 months. If the PSA is undetectable after five years, you should be monitored every 12 months.

9. Its fatal.
The risk that prostate cancer will be fatal depends on how aggressive it is and the other medical conditions you may have.

The good news is that for all stages of prostate cancer, the survival rates are high: The five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent; the 10-year survival rate is 98 percent; and the 15-year survival rate is 95 percent.

Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2017/05/22/9-prostate-cancer-myths-debunked.html

12 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Anxiety Disorders

Illustration by Daniella Urdinlaiz


An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from some form of anxiety disordereven more than those who suffer from depression. About one in every five adults and one in every ten children experiences some form of anxiety disorder. ()


Every creature in the animal kingdom is hardwired with a fight or flight instinctanxiety serves a useful purpose by warning us of danger and flooding the bloodstream with adrenaline and nonadrenaline. This is useful and can even save your life if, say, a bear is chasing you in the woods. The problem with anxiety disorders is that this fight or flight instinct is constantly triggered, even when theres no immediate danger. So rather than saving your life, it can cripple your day-to-day activities, your ability to work, and your relationships. ()


Treatment for anxiety disorders cost the USA over $40 billion per year, accounting for nearly a third of the nations total mental-health bill. And this doesnt count the lost productivity and damaged lives that result as a matter of chronic anxiety. ()


A 2014 study found that one specific gene is linked to social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Other research has found a connection between anxiety disorders and people who come from large families. ()


More than any other traumatic event, rape can trigger anxiety disordersnearly two-thirds of male rape victims and half of female rape victims eventually develop PTSD. Other life events that are thought to be triggers for anxiety disorders include war, being assaulted, natural disasters, work stress, job changes, family and relationship problems, and the death or loss of a loved one. ()


An overactive thyroid and low blood sugar have been correlated with the presence of anxiety disorders. Caffeine and certain cold medications can also lead to or intensify an anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder has been linked to elevated cortisol levels in saliva. Studies also conflict as to whether low serotonin levels (which are also linked to depression) can cause anxiety disorders, or whether anxiety disorders can lead to low serotonin levels. ()


Anxiety disorders manifest physically in a variety of ways, all of them unpleasant. Physical indicators include heart palpitations, dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, shaking, nightmares, irritability, muscle tension, sexual dysfunction, headaches, and nausea. ()


Anxiety can lead to a whole array of health problems. Among them are heart disease, respiratory ailments, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, infertility problems, acne, cancer, cirrhosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and even damaged brain cells. ()


Research has shown that women are twice as likely as men to develop chronic anxiety. White and Hispanic women are more likely than Asian and African American women to suffer from anxiety. Across the world, people younger than 35 are more likely to develop anxiety disorders than older people. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have a higher rate of anxiety disorders than heterosexual people. Being poor and/or recently divorced can also make someone more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. ()


One of the most prevalent types is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which is characterized by excessive and unrealistic worrying for at least six months. It affects about six million Americans. Social Anxiety Disorder involves an intense fear of social situation and afflicts an estimated 15 million Americans. Panic Disorder is characterized by panic attacks and all the physical symptoms that come with it; it affects roughly six million Americans. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder results from traumatic life events and is the only anxiety disorder that affects men and women equally. Other anxiety disorders include Phobias and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


Are you constantly besieged by worry, panic, and fear? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you always feel restless or on edge? Having trouble concentrating? Are you irritable or constantly in a bad mood? Are you argumentative or pessimistic? Are you a perfectionist to the point where it causes you trouble in your day-to-day life? You may have an anxiety disorder, and it would help to see a professional. ()


The array of proven effective treatment methods for anxiety disorders include:

Talk therapy, whether with a psychologist, a friend, or a support group
Medication, including SSRIs, beta blockers, and benzodiazepines such as Xanax
A healthy diet that includes fresh fruit, whole grains, vegetables, and lean protein
Meditation, exercise, and yoga.

Theres no need to suffer the agony of chronic anxiety forever. If you suspect that you have an anxiety disorder, consult a professional and start living fully again!

Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/jessica-winters/2017/05/12-things-everyone-needs-to-know-about-anxiety-disorders/

Stem Cells Show Promise But They Also Have A Darker Side

Everyone seems to be excited about stem cells. Their excellent promise as a treatment for a range of diseases and injuries mean almost guaranteed coverage for research. While some types of stem cells are already being used in treatment for treating diseases of the blood and leukaemia, for example, multiple sclerosis and problems in the bone, skin and eye theres still a lot of hype and exaggeration, with some even selling empty promises to seriously ill or injured patients. The Conversation

There are many different types of stem cells in the body and they have varying abilities. When most people think of stem cells, its often of embryonic stem cells, which have been controversial for ethical reasons, or their closely related cousins, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, adult cells that have been reprogrammed to acquire stem cell-like properties. As the word pluripotent suggests, these stem cells have the capacity to transform into any cell type in the body, with the exception of egg and sperm cells.

There are other types of stem cells, however, that are considered to be multipotent not quite as diverse in their abilities as pluripotent stem cells, but still able to turn into different cell types when stimulated in just the right way. These are mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs, which have the capacity to differentiate into the cell types that give our bodies strength and structure: bones, cartilage, fat, muscle and tendons.

Therapies using MSCs are being touted as a great new hope for the treatment of serious chronic diseases such as colitis, diabetes, arthritis, cirrhosis, kidney disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder the list goes on and on. In fact, there are currently over 700 MSC-based clinical trials, either ongoing or completed on the clinicaltrials.gov register.

Its clear why there is so much interest in these cells. But can they really fulfil their promise and do they have the capacity to harm as well as help us?

Regeneration and healing

There are two major promises that have been made when it comes to the use of MSCs in human medicine: their regeneration potential, thats their potential to rebuild damaged tissues, such as bone, spinal cord and heart tissue; and their healing properties, which can reverse damage to diseased organs for example, in arthritis and following organ transplantation.

The regenerative potential of MSCs has been studied since the late 1960s. In one of the earliest experiments with these cells, Alexander Friedenstein and colleagues showed that transplanting bone marrow to a different site of the body led to bone formation, which indicated that at least some cells in the bone marrow are able to change into bone cells even in locations where bone would not be expected to grow.

Since then, researchers have worked out different signals that tell MSCs to change into specialised cell types. For example, the growth factor TGF- can induce MSCs to turn into cartilage cells, which would be very helpful in repairing cartilage in arthritis sufferers.

Mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into bone, cartilage, muscle and fat cells. VCU Libraries/Flikr, CC BY-SA


Even more ambitious studies are looking into repairing whole organs, such as the lung, liver, and kidney, which are very susceptible to scar formation (fibrosis) in cases of longstanding inflammation. Needless to say, many of these treatments are still at very early stages, but progress is being made.

The healing properties of MSCs, however, are less clear. MSCs have the ability to move to sites of injury and secrete various factors that promote cell growth, reduce cell death and induce the in-growth of blood vessels in damaged tissue all good things that promote healing. Although testing this aspect in chronic disease is still in the early stages, preliminary studies suggest that MSCs are capable of calming inflammation in chronic autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis andmultiple sclerosis.

Scar-forming cells

One aspect of MSC biology that doesnt seem to be sufficiently considered when it comes to using these cells for the treatment of human disease is the ability of MSCs to transform into cells we dont want scar-forming cells called myofibroblasts. A number of studies in mouse models of lung, liver and kidney fibrosis have shown that the MSCs that normally reside in these tissues called pericytes quite readily transform into myofibroblasts and produce scar tissue, to the extent that organ function is compromised.

In the lab. Tareq Salahuddin/Flickr, CC BY

This phenomenon should give us pause, especially when considering the delivery of MSCs into a badly damaged and inflamed part of the body, such as an arthritic joint or the lung of an emphysema patient.

MSCs are exquisitely responsive to their environment, and if these cells are administered to a badly inflamed organ that in turn induces fibrosis, chances are the injected MSCs will transform into myofibroblasts and worsen tissue damage. Clearly, more work needs to be done to find out what signals MSCs will respond to under these conditions, and how these signals will change their biology, for better or for worse.

One of the most important aspects of stem cell treatment that still needs to be considered is their source: will they be taken from the patient who will receive them (not particularly useful for diseases with a strong genetic component) or from a consenting donor (with the added risk of the transplanted cells being rejected)?

Then there is the route of delivery: should MSCs be injected right into the injured/diseased tissue, or administered into the blood and then allowed to move to areas where they are needed? We also need to think about how effective these cells will be, how many cells need to be delivered to have an effect, and how long they stick around in injured tissue. Answers to all of these questions will be needed before we can safely use MSCs in treatment.

Despite the promise, then, there are a number of barriers that need to be surmounted before MSC therapy is a viable treatment and readily available to patients in the clinic. Along with working out the best sources of these cells, the ideal method of delivery, and harnessing their ability to reduce inflammation, we also need to be concerned about controlling the fate of MSCs after they have been administered in order to get the best possible benefit of these cells while not causing further harm.

Jill Johnson, Lecturer and Principal Investigator, Biosciences, Aston University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/stem-cells-show-promise-but-they-also-have-a-darker-side/

Chasing dreams may be the next sleeper hit for venture capitalists

A lot of startups are pitching ways to put us to sleep lately. In response, investors are perking up and writing big checks.

Call it Big Sleep. After decades spent funding technologies tailored to deprive us of sleep (see: streaming video, gaming, social networks and 24/7 online shopping), the venture capital industry has decided to direct its considerable capital reserves at helping us get more shut-eye.

How else to explain the expansive number of venture rounds for companies developing sleep-focused apps, therapies and monitoring devices? Theres also an ultra-hot mattress startup sector, with at least two companies reportedly on a credible path to unicorn status.

The numbers behind sleep

Overall, sleep-focused companies that closed rounds in the past couple of years have raised a cumulative total of more than $700 million, according to an analysis of Crunchbase funding data. Funding in the past year alone was just shy of $300 million for these companies. (See our list of funded sleep startups here.)

Thats a big number, but its hard to say if its record-setting. Comparing recent funding activity to other periods is complicated because sleep isnt a discrete investment category. Rather, the list of Big Sleep startups includes companies in various sectors, including mobile apps, pharma, medical devices, media and consumer products. There also are no dedicated sleep funds or famous serial sleep entrepreneurs to track.

That said, there are very large rounds going to companies in the sleep space lately. In the consumer products area, the biggest investment recipient is Casper, which makes comfy mattresses and sells them online. The four-year-old New York company was reportedly in talks to sell to Target for $1 billion before deciding to pursue a late-stage investment from the retailer instead. Casper raised about $70 million in prior rounds. (See other mattress startups here.)

Consumers take interest in accessible sleep-measuring devices

On the consumer device side, meanwhile, theres Hello, developer of the Sense sleep-tracking system, which has raised $41 million to date. Its one of several companies in what you might call the quantitative sleep space, with a device and app providing a detailed breakdown of your sleep cycles and advice for achieving a more restful night.

While consumer-focused startups are gaining traction, life sciences and medical device companies still account for the lions share of sleep-related venture investments. The most heavily funded private, sleep-focused company we found in the Crunchbase data set is Inspire Medical Systems, a developer of implantable therapeutic devices for treating obstructive sleep apnea. The Minnesota company has raised more than $110 million in venture funding, including a $38 million round in November. Other top funding recipients include Ebb Therapeutics (formerly Cereve), which is working on a device to treat insomnia, and Novasom, a provider of prescription home sleep tests.

Investors, of course, arent backing these companies just for the warm fuzzy feeling of helping people relax. Theyre in it to make money.

Investments in sleep-focused startups come amid a period of growing awareness about the extent and harmfulness of sleep deprivation. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control published a study finding that more than one-third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Sleeping less than seven hours per day, the CDC added, is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and mental distress.

Taking on burnout with tech-supported rest

Lack of sleep is also a big problem at work. Even in Silicon Valley, where workaholic habits are celebrated, most dedicated techies will admit lack of sleep can lead to burnout and poor decision-making. Some are doing something to address the issue.

It might seem counter-intuitive to see internet entrepreneurs pitching solutions for the same fatigue-induced burnout commonly caused by working at a startup or using its products. Yet thats whats happening as more serial founders jump on the restfulness bandwagon. Celebrity media entrepreneur Arianna Huffington made a widely reported entrance into the space last year with the launch of Thrive Global, a media platform with $7 million in funding and a self-described mission to end the epidemic of stress and burnout. (Long before Thrive, Huffington was an advocate of nap rooms for tech workers.)

Predating Thrive by a couple of years is Headspace, a meditation and mindfulness app that has raised nearly $40 million. Its one of several meditation-focused startups that have raised capital in the past few years.

Investors, of course, arent backing these companies just for the warm fuzzy feeling of helping people relax. Theyre in it to make money. Most of them havent yet, but a few have.

Just this month, Apple, a company with a long track record of making things trendy, made a foray into the sleep space with the acquisition of Beddit, the developer of a popular sleep-tracking app and connected device. The purchase price wasnt disclosed, but given that Beddit had previously raised less than $4 million, and Apple has $67 billion in cash on its balance sheet, its a safe bet that the sale provided investors a favorable outcome.

As for the mattress business, Targets reported pursuit of Casper seems to indicate large-cap acquirers see value in newcomers. Another mattress startup, Utah-based Purple, has reportedly grown to $150 million or more in annual sales, all without venture financing.

The largest investments, and exits, however, will likely come from companies aiming to treat serious sleep disorders. The market for insomnia therapies and drugs in the U.S. alone is projected to reach $4.2 billion by 2021, up from $3.4 billion last year, according to a recent market forecast.

And although consumer apps and gadgets may go in and out of style, products and therapies that actually help provide a good nights sleep should see continuous demand.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/27/chasing-dreams-may-be-the-next-sleeper-hit-for-venture-capitalists/

Global Warming Is On Pace To Cause Many Sleepless Nights By 2099, Study Finds

Nick Obradovich couldnt sleep. It was October 2015, and a surprise heat wave sent thermometers across San Diego soaring 7 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The window air-conditioning unit in his living room wasnt powerful enough to cool the bedroom. So the climate impact researcher lay on top of his sheets, fixated on the idea that global warming could forecast many more nights like that one.

Turns out that may be the case. Surges in nighttime temperatures correspond with an increase in self-reported nights of restless and insufficient sleep, according to a study Obradovich published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

Human sleep relies on ambient temperature for its regulation, Obradovich, now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Universitys John F. Kennedy School of Government, told HuffPost by phone this week. When that ambient temperature is unusually warm, when its not expected to be, that can predict disruption in sleep patterns.

To test his theory, he and three other researchers compared U.S. responses from 765,000 people surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2002 and 2011 to local weather data. On hotter-than-normal nights, more people said they struggled to fall or stay asleep.

That bodes ill for the future: Temperatures are forecast to rise more than 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century as burning fossil fuels, industrial farms and deforestation emit more planet-warming gases into the atmosphere.An increase that large would yield catastrophic results as ice caps melt and glaciers retreat. Antarctic ice melt alone could send sea levels surging by up to 49 feet by 2500, a study released in March 2016 found.

Lack of sleep is linked to heart disease, obesity and mental health diseases. In the more immediate term, sleep deprivation impairs motor and cognitive functions and leads to rash behavior, so it makes sense that poor sleep patterns hurt job performance. Sleeplessness costs the U.S. economy about $411 billion in lost productivity each year, according to a study released last year by the RAND Corp.

Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters
Rising temperatures — caused by coal-fired power plants, such as the one pictured above in Georgia, and other human activities — could disrupt sleep around the world.

Climate change already affects low-income people disproportionately, as rising sea levels destroy low-lying homes, pollution worsens costly diseasesand droughts make food and waterscarcer and more expensive. Now add poor sleep to that list.

Poorer people are more likely to have disruptions in their sleep, probably due to the fact that they dont have air conditioning or, if they have it, cant afford to use it the whole night during summer, said Obradovich, who also works as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologys Media Lab.

Its not just sleep, he added. Its sleep in the bigger picture of the other factors climate change is likely to impact.

Obradovich said he would like to replicate the study with data from hotter, poorer countries closer to the equator.

If we were to have data from India or Brazil on the relationship between unusually warm nights and sleep, we might observe substantially larger effects, he said. If we do see larger effects in those countries, thats an even further example of how climate change is going to affect people across the world.

Aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could limit the rise in global temperatures. But, even as carbon emissions plateaued over the past two years, that seems unlikely in the near term. President Donald Trump has already scrapped policies crucial to meeting U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement, the first climate deal to include China and the U.S., the worlds biggest emitters. But the White House is considering pulling out of the accord amid its massive push to increase fossil fuel production across the country.Without U.S. participation, the deal a symbolic first step toward slashing emissions, but not enough to halt the calamitous temperature increases forecast by most climatologists could fall apart.

Improvements in air conditioning that make the technology cheaper and more widely available could help stave off some effects of warming temperatures. But air conditioning sucks up a lot of electricity, and the utility sector dependent on burning coal and natural gas remains the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, at least in the U.S. So that solution may be like feeding a hungry snake its tail.

Sleep is just one of many other factors that ultimately combine into the broad perspective on human well-being, Obradovich said. Take into consideration that temperature may affect exercise patterns and mood, too, and you get this cornucopia of factors that, when we combine them all, you realize climate is going to really affect human behavior.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/climate-change-sleep_us_592850f9e4b053f2d2ac24e4

How your body changes when you turn 30

Aging is an inevitable process, but there are some bodily changes that you might not know about as you say goodbye to your 20s.

Turning 30 opens the door to prolonged hangovers and a slump in metabolism and yes, youll even get gray hairs down there.

Weight gain
Shifting weight wont be as easy as it was in your 20s, and you might notice a loss in muscle tone as your metabolism begins to slow.

This is more noticeable in women than in men and is often as a result of pregnancy when the body struggles to bounce back as easily.

Stress at work can also cause weight gain, as a reactionary release of hormones can encourage you to store weight around your middle, nutrition and weight loss expert Jane Michell told MailOnline.


But its not all bad studies have shown people today tend to gain less weight in your 30s than they had in previous decades.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the average person typically puts on 1 to 2 pounds a year from early adulthood through middle age, according to the Washington Post.

Sex drive
Women might think their libido declines as they get older, but experts say its actually the opposite.

Researchers found that women ages 27 to 45 had more sexual thoughts, fantasies, and sex in general compared to those in their early 20s or women going through menopause.

The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, suggests women may have an increased sex drive due to a decline in fertility.


For men, testosterone levels decrease after 30, which can in some cases lead to a declining libido.

It happens at a rate of about 1 percent a year, and by age 70, the decrease can approach 50 percent, according to Livestrong.

Changes in this hormone also have an impact on increased body fat, hair loss, mood swings and erectile dysfunction.

Gray hair
Were all well aware that we could see the odd gray hair here and there at some point in life but what about in the pubic region?

Dr Jessica Shepherd, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, said its just like finding a grey hair on your head.


I hear this complaint in the office,”she told the Huffington Post. This is one we can laugh off together and say, its fine.

For some people, grayness isn’t the only worrisome change that comes in their 30s hair loss can also be a problem. 

Fertility starts to drop off from the age of 30, and the chance of conceiving around this age is about 20 percent per month.

From about age 32, a womans chances of conceiving decrease gradually but significantly, and by 35 the decline speeds up.

After that, the proportion of women who experience infertility, miscarriage or a problem with their baby increases.


Its not just an issue for women the quality of a mans sperm can decrease with age, leading older couples to have issues getting pregnant.

Theres also an increased risk of not conceiving at all.

The volume of a mans semen and sperm motility (the ability of sperm to move toward an egg) decrease continually between ages 20 and 80, according to YourFertility.org.au.

Women can expect changes in their menstrual cycles from their mid 30s as oestrogen and progesterone levels dip.

They might become shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, or start earlier or later than usual.

Dr Shepherd told the HP some women can experience perimenopause the transitional phase before menopause, as early as their late 30s.

Some menstruation changes are natural, but she advises seeing a doctor if you are concerned as it could signal something more serious.

Bladder weakness
Trouble with a little light bladder leakage could become a problem as you reach your 30s especially for women who have had children.

Shepherd explained this is because vaginal labor can sometimes damage the muscles and nerves that control urination.

Urinary incontinence affects around 25 percent to 45 percent of women, so if this happens to you, dont be embarrassed to see a doctor.

To help fix incontinence, your doctor may prescribe medication or recommend doing pelvic floor muscle exercises to tighten your bladder and improve control.

First published on The Sun

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2017/05/26/how-your-body-changes-when-turn-30.html

Her chronic illness helped her understand just how important preventive care is.

When Terran Lamp was just three weeks old, she was admitted to the University of Virginia newborn special care unit.

There, doctors discovered that, along with some other health issues, Lamp had been born with two holes in her heart which would have huge implications throughout her life and inform how she thought about her health and preventive care.

She stayed in the hospital for three months after the diagnosis. By age 4, she had already had two open heart surgeries, gone into complete heart block, and received an implanted pacemaker.

Just as she was learning to live her life managing one serious illness, she was diagnosed at age 10 with a benign dermoid brain tumor and then, more recently, with breast cancer.

But while Lamp has had way more than her fair share of hardships, today she does her best to stay as healthy as she can by taking control of her health.

As a child, Lamp says, the constant worrying about her health taught her a valuable lesson about living with a chronic condition (a lesson that can help us all).

It taught her that if she still wanted to do things, like run and travel, she would have to take control of her health and not let being sick completely define her. “I can’t not have it, but I can not be restricted by it,” she says. “Heart disease doesn’t have me. I have heart disease.”

So she joined the state champion track team, she went to a college some distance away from her mom, and later, she travelled to Germany and California. Claiming this little bit of independence helped her feel like she was in control of her health and her life.

But to do this meant learning a lot about preventive care.

“I’m at the doctor probably every three months,” she says, but these doctors are not just specialists to treat her heart and her cancer.

She also sees a general practitioner for an annual check-up, who helps her monitor her four health numbers: blood pressure (too low, in her case, could signify a problem with her pacemaker), cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and blood sugar levels.

She also tries to stay active in order to stay healthy.

She works out at the gym four to five times a week and runs half-marathons. “I can’t always run [the entire way],” she says. “But I complete them. I’m a finisher, even if I end up walking for most of it. That way, I feel like I’ve done something.”

And now, Lamp is working to help other women stay healthy too.

She got involved with the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and became a WomenHeart Champion. She wants to help educate other women about the importance of preventive care and motivate other women with heart disease to keep thriving despite their diagnosis by sharing her story and what she does to try to stay healthy.

“I know what it is like, first and foremost, to be a patient,” she says. “That’s why I do so much for WomenHeart. That’s why I tell my story … and that’s why I encourage women to go out and get checked for heart disease, so it does not go unnoticed.”

As a WomenHeart Champion, she can meet other women with heart disease, offer advice and help pass along important information so that no one overlooks a possible symptom.

For example, she says, she recently met a flight attendant through her work as a WomenHeart Champion who volunteered that she was a little worried about her health. “She said, I’m a little concerned because about 25,000 feet, the left side of my face goes numb,” Lamp remembers, “and she was all nonchalant about it.” But immediately, Lamp felt compelled to push her to see a doctor to figure out what was causing this numbness.

To Lamp, the peer-to-peer advocacy is a very powerful tool because it allows women to look out for each other.

“We have got to make sure that we are paying attention [to our health] and we have to make sure that we are passing along that attention and that awareness,” she adds.

That way, she says, maybe we can help more people take control of their health before they ever get sick in the first place.

Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/TakeControl.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/her-chronic-illness-helped-her-understand-just-how-important-preventive-care-is

The 7 most terrifying wishes on Trump’s ‘wish list’ budget bill.

The Trump administration just released its proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, and well…

The document outlines billions of dollars in cuts to dozens of popular social programs that previously have enjoyed bipartisan support while simultaneously pumping an equal and opposite number of billions into defense.

Some analysts argue we shouldn’t be too concerned. After all, they say, the budget isn’t and probably won’t be policy. It’s just a “wish list.”

Even some Republican legislators say the document is “dead on arrival.”

But if it is indeed a “wish list,” what are its architects wishing for?

Having read the proposed budget, I can only imagine their requests went something like this:

1. “Fairy godmother, please slow down cancer research and make it so more Americans get heart disease.”

The authors of the proposed budget wish to cut funding to the National Cancer Institute by a whopping $1 billion and funding to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute by $575 million.

That’s a really weird wish! Moreover, it directly conflicts with the wishes of the millions of Americans with cancer and cardiopulmonary conditions and their relatives who wish not to die or watch their family members die from those diseases. And they probably wish their government could help them out a little bit in that regard.

2. “Genie, I wish that fewer poor people were able to see a doctor…”

The budget proposal includes a wish to slash over $800 billion from Medicaid, which covers over 75 million families.

Those 75 million families have wishes too. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 42% of Trump voters say Medicaid is “somewhat” or “very” important to them. Their wishes probably include not having their kidney disease, hepatitis, or multiple sclerosis treated in an emergency room simply because they can’t afford private health insurance.

Those wishes won’t be granted if Medicaid goes away.

3. “…and while you’re at it, make it harder for them to attend college, too!”

If this budget is enacted, many low-income students will see their subsidized loans eliminated.

It turns out, thousands of Americans who don’t have rich parents wish to be able to attend college without years, or even decades, of being buried under crippling personal debt. If they lose that ability, it won’t matter how much they pull themselves up by their bootstraps since eliminating those loans is like tying their bootstraps to a refrigerator taped to an anvil double-bolted to a neutron star.

4. “Oh, all-seeing stone, won’t you put our diplomats overseas at considerable personal risk?”

If the Trump administration gets its wish, the State Department would lose 31% of its budget.

That’s something Sen. Lindsay Graham believes could lead to American foreign service officers dying on the job or, “a lot of Benghazis in the making,” as the senator told The Washington Post.

That’s something Graham and those American foreign service members and their families definitely wishes won’t happen.

5. “Kindly wizard, let’s cut back on providing health care to sick kids.”

Oh, also, the budget reduces funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which makes it easier for 5.6 million working-class kids to see a doctor by 20%.

Like rich kids, non-rich kids wish to be able to go out and play and scrape their knee without being charged hundreds of dollars for antibiotics. The ability to just be a kid would be imperiled for millions of them if the Trump administration gets its budget wish.

6. “Bridge troll, we have answered your riddles three. Now we wish to take food away from families struggling to make ends meet!”

Families who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps, wish to continue feeding their families a wish that could be denied by the proposed budget cuts that would take nearly $200 billion from the program.

An analysis by The Washington Post found that families with more than four children could fare even worse because the budget would cap benefits at the maximum amount currently allotted to a family of six.

7. “And last but not least, we wish we may we wish we might turn a blind eye to climate change tonight! Glow, magic monkey’s paw, glow!”

For the polar bears who wish not to have their habitats eliminated, the coral that wishes not to be bleached, and the residents of coastal cities who wish not to have their homes slide into the sea forever, the budget merrily would ax EPA funding by 31%.

That’s not going to help anyone if and, as is becoming more inevitable, when the flood waters rise.

The only way to stop these bizarre budget wishes from coming true is if ordinary people don’t let them.

The good news: Regular folks have gotten pretty good at resisting in the last few months hitting up protests, town halls, and their elected representatives’ phone lines with the gusto usually reserved for a Madonna reunion tour or a Patriots Super Bowl loss.

Freeing up money for tax cuts, most of which will likely go to rich people, may be the wish of some in government. But that’s not a wish shared by most Americans. And Americans now have a lot of practice having their say.

If this budget is truly dead on arrival, that’s cool! But we can’t just wish it is. Call your congressman or senator to make sure what’s dead stays dead.


Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/the-7-most-terrifying-wishes-on-trumps-wish-list-budget-bill