Monthly Archives: May 2017

Marijuana with ‘CBD’ May Pose Less Risk to Long-Term Users

Marijuana with relatively high levels of a compound called cannabidiolmay be less risky to smoke over the long term, because this ingredient may counteract some of the drug’s harmful effects, according to a new study in mice.

The study found that adolescent mice injected with frequent doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the ingredient in marijuana that produces a “high” — showed signs of impaired memory and increased anxiety over the long term. But mice that received daily doses of THC combined with an equal amount of cannabidiol (CBD) did not experience these negative effects.

The study “suggests that strains of cannabis with similar levels of CBD and THC would pose significantly less long-term risk due to CBD’s protective effect against THC,” study author Dr. Ken Mackie, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, said in a statement.

Over the last several decades, THC levels in marijuana used in the United States have increased 300 percent, while levels of CBD in marijuana have decreased, the researchers said. But the long-term effects of exposure to THC and CBD need to be studied further, they said. [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

Studies on whether CBD can counteract the negative effects of THC have been mixed, according to a 2013 review paper on the topic. For example, some studies have found that people experience fewer symptoms of anxiety when they smoke marijuana with high CBD levels, compared to when they smoke marijuana with high THC levels, but other studies failed to replicate these results, according to the review. Another study, published in 2011, found that people who tended to use marijuana products with high CBD levels were at lower risk for psychotic symptoms over the long term, although the effect was subtle.

In the new study, the researchers examined the effects of THC and CBD on both adolescent and adult mice. The mice were divided into five groups: a group that received THC only; a group that received CBD only; a group that received THC and CBD; a group that received a placebo; and a group that received no treatment. The mice in the first four groups were injected with the substances every day for three weeks. The researchers examined the mice shortly after their drug treatment and after a six-week drug-free period.

The researchers found that, immediately after treatment, the mice exposed to THC alone showed signs of impaired memory and increased obsessive-compulsive behavior. Six weeks later, the adolescent mice still showed these symptoms, while the adult mice did not. (This finding agrees with research in humans suggesting that teens may be at greater risk for long-term problems from marijuana, compared with adults.)

However, both the adolescent and adult mice that were exposed to THC experienced long-term increases in anxiety.

In contrast, mice that were exposed to both THC and CBD together (in equal amounts) showed no changes in their behavior, either over the short or long term.

“This is the first study in a rigorously controlled animal model to find that CBD appears to protect the brain against the negative effects of chronic THC,” Mackie said.

Animal models allow researchers to conduct experiments in a controlled way, without putting people at risk for harm from the study. But findings in animals don’t always translate to humans.

More studies are also needed to determine how CBD counters the effects of THC, and how much CBD is needed to confer a protective effect, the researchers said.

Earlier this year, Canada issued new guidelines for how people can lower their risk of health problems linked to marijuana use, if they choose to use the drug. (In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the country.) One of the recommendations was to choose products with high levels of CBD relative to THC, which the guidelines also said may be “lower- risk” products.

Puppies Are ‘Likely Source’ of Outbreak That Has Sickened Dozens in US

Could that doggy in the window make you sick?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today (Sept. 11) that it is investigating an outbreak of Campylobacter — a type of bacteria that causes diarrhea — linked with puppies sold at Petland stores, a national pet store chain.

So far, the outbreak has sickened 39 people in seven states (Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin), the CDC said.

Of those who became ill, 12 are Petland employees, and 27 came into contact with puppies sold at Petland because they recently bought a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or lived in a home with a puppy sold through Petland, the CDC said.

All of the illnesses occurred within the past year, and the most recent illness was reported on Sept. 1, 2017. [11 Ways Your Beloved Pet May Make You Sick]

Those infected ranged in age from less than a year to 64 years, and nine people were hospitalized. So far, no deaths have been tied to the outbreak.

Puppies sold at Petland are a “likely source” of this outbreak, and officials are working to stop its spread, the CDC said.

Symptoms of a Campylobacter infection usually begin within two to five days of exposure to the bacteria and include diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

Campylobacter is one of the most common infections that people can catch from dogs, the CDC said. But usually, when people get sick from their pet, it’s an isolated case that’s not part of a larger outbreak.

People can catch Campylobacter through contact with dog feces; even ingesting minuscule amounts can lead to infection. The infection does not usually spread from person to person, the CDC said.

To prevent the spread of pathogens or diseases from dogs to people, the CDC recommends washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water every time you have contact with dogs, their food or their messes —including dog poop, pee and vomit. You should also take your pet to the veterinarian for regular checkups to keep it healthy, CDC officials advised. Signs of illness in dogs include sluggishness, loss of appetite, diarrhea and abnormal breathing, according to the CDC.

Tonsil Stones: Causes, Removal & Prevention

While tonsil stones may seem like a bad medical hoax, they can be a real problem. Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths or tonsilliths, are benign accumulations of bacteria and debris in the crypts of some people’s tonsils. Though this problem may cause discomfort, it is not dangerous and is usually easily treatable.

The tonsils are part of a protection system that keeps foreign objects from slipping into the lungs. They are also lymph nodes that filter for bacteria and viruses while producing white blood cells and antibodies, according to the Mayo Clinic. Objects such as food, dirt and other particles can get stuck in the groves on the surface of the tonsils. The grooves, called crypts, also collect old cells and bacteria.

The body’s white blood cells proceed to attack the foreign objects stuck in the tonsils. When the white blood cells are finished, hard particles remain on the tonsils. Most people simply swallow what is left behind and never know that it was there in the first place. If the particles are lodged into the crypts, though, the particles will continue to grow. These growing objects are tonsil stones, which are also called tonsil calculi.

According to a study in 2009 by the Center for Genomic Science at the Allegheny-Singer Research Institute in the Otolaryngology journal, tonsil stones are more alive than actual stones. They are actually a living biofilm that breathes oxygen.

According to Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician and author, tonsil stones are most common in teens and those with large tonsils. Those with poor dental hygiene may also experience tonsil stones.

Some people have no symptoms when afflicted with tonsil stones. Those who do have symptoms often report redness or irritation of the tonsils. There are several other symptoms that can be related to tonsil stones, with bad breath being one of the most obvious. According to the Mayo Clinic, bacteria grow on the stones, which produces a foul odor.

People with throat stones can also feel like they have something stuck in their throats, according to Dr. Erich P. Voigt, an associate professor of otolaryngology at NYU-Langone Medical Center. Other symptoms can include chronic, mild sore throat and reoccurring tonsillitis.

Tonsil stones can often be seen in the mirror. The tonsils won’t seem smooth. “Instead, they look like prunes, with crevices where bacteria can accumulate,” said Chetan Kaher, a dentist in London.

Typically, tonsil stones can be seen as white, yellow or grey nodes on the tonsils. This isn’t always the case, though. Many tonsil stones aren’t visible because they are burrowed down inside of the tonsil, said Dr. Ileana Showalter, an otolaryngologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tonsil stones can grow to 1 to 2 millimeters across. But they can be up to 1 centimeters across, according to the Australian Government Department of Health.

One of most common treatments to cure tonsil stones is simply scraping them off with a toothbrush. If that doesn’t work, there are several other at-home options. “Gargling with salt water can help dislodge them. Using a cotton swab to express them from the little small cavities that are visible is another option,” said Showalter. A water flossing device such as a Waterpik can also be used to power wash the debris out of the tonsils.

Sometimes the tonsil stones are so deeply embedded that they cannot be removed at home. In this case, an ear, nose and throat specialist can often remove the stones. If a person gets tonsil stones often, then the patient and doctor may discuss removing the tonsils.

“A last resort cure of this problem is tonsillectomy. However, this surgery carries risks of anesthesia, pain and bleeding, as well as other risks, thus a decision of this type must be balanced by a risk/benefit discussion,” said Voigt.

Preventing the formation of tonsil stones is as simple as good dental hygiene. The Mayo Clinic suggests brushing teeth and tongue after meals, at bedtime and first thing in the morning. Flossing teeth daily can also help by cleaning out bacteria. Voigt also suggested gargling daily suing commercial gargles, or a homemade solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. The Mayo Clinic advises against using a mouthwash that contains alcohol.

How Many Viruses Can Get into Men’s Semen?

During recent outbreaks of the Zika virus, researchers discovered that the virus could find its way into men’s semen and stay there for months. But how many other viruses can get into semen?

To find out, researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom searched the scientific literature for reports of “viremic” viruses — ones that get into the blood —  that have also been found in semen.

The results showed that at least 27 viruses can make their way into human semen.

“The presence of viruses in semen is probably more widespread than currently appreciated,” the researchers wrote in the October issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. [10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species]

The list includes a number of well-known viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, hepatitis C, chickenpox, herpes, mumps and chikungunya (a mosquito-borne virus), as well as some lesser-known viruses, such as JC virus, simian foamy virus and Rift Valley fever.

In addition, some of these viruses, such as HIV and herpes, are known to spread sexually. But for many of the viruses on the list, it’s unclear whether they can be spread through sex, the researchers said.

The results raise a number of questions, including how long the viruses remain in semen, at what concentrations they are present, and whether the viruses remain “viable” or capable of causing disease, the researchers said. The answers to these questions will help researchers better understand the risk for sexual spread of these viruses, the study said.

More research is also needed on whether these viruses can infect sperm, the researchers said. (Sperm are men’s reproductive cells, whereas semen is usually a mixture of sperm and fluids.) This is an important question, because infections in sperm could cause mutations in the sperm DNA that might be passed on to the next generation, and possibly increase the risk of conditions such as cancer, the researchers said.

It’s thought that some viruses persist in semen — even when they’ve been cleared from the rest of the body — because the testes are an “immunologically privileged” site in the body, meaning they are protected from attack by the body’s immune system.

The findings also highlight the need for researchers to consider whether treatments being developed for virial diseases can be effective against viruses in all parts of the body, including the male reproductive tract, the researchers said.