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Nicotine dose in a single cigarette blocks estrogen production in women’s brains

A dose of nicotine, equivalent to that found in a single cigarette blocks estrogen production in women’s brains. This may explain several behavioural differences in women who smoke, including why they are more resistant than men to quitting smoking.

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Newswise — A dose of nicotine, equivalent to that found in a single cigarette blocks estrogen production in women’s brains. This may explain several behavioural differences in women who smoke, including why they are more resistant than men to quitting smoking. This work is presented for the first time at the ECNP Congress in Vienna.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Erika Comasco (Uppsala University, Sweden) said:

 “For the first time, we can see that nicotine works to shuts down the estrogen production mechanism in the brain of women. We were surprised to see that this effect could be seen even with a single dose of nicotine, equivalent to just one cigarette, showing how powerful the effects of smoking are on a woman’s brain. This is a newly-discovered effect, and it’s still preliminary work. We’re still not sure what the behavioural or cognitive outcomes are; only that nicotine acts on this area of the brain, however we note that the affected brain system is a target for addictive drugs, such as nicotine”.

The effect has been shown in the thalamus, which is part of the limbic system in the brain. This system is involved in behavioural and emotional responses.

The researchers, from Uppsala University in Sweden, worked with a group of ten healthy female volunteers. The women were given a commercially available nicotine dose intranasally, and at the same time were injected with a radioactive tracer attached to a molecule which binds to the enzyme aromatase: aromatase, also known as estrogen synthase, is the enzyme responsible for the production of estrogen. MRI and PET brain scans enabled the researchers to visualise both the quantity of aromatase, and where it was located in the brain. The researchers found that a single dose moderately reduced the amount of aromatase in the brain.

It has been known for some time that women and men respond differently to nicotine, with women being more resistant to nicotine replacement therapy, and showing a greater tendency than men to relapse when trying to quit smoking. However, the biological basis for these differences is not understood. This is the first time that this inhibitory effect on aromatase production has been shown in humans. The effect on men was not studied.

Professor Comasco continued “This discovery leads us to believe that nicotine’s effect on estrogen production has a significant impact on the brain, but perhaps also on other functions, such as the reproductive system – we don’t know that yet. There are significant differences in the way men and women react to smoking. Women seem to be more resistant to nicotine replacement therapy, they experience more relapses, show greater vulnerability for heritability of smoking, and are at greater risk of developing primary smoking-related illnesses, such as lung cancer and heart attacks. We need now to understand if this action of nicotine on the hormonal system is involved in any of these reactions.

Of course this is a comparatively small group of women, we need a larger sample to confirm these findings. Nevertheless, the message is that nicotine has various effects on the brain, including on the production of sex hormones such as estrogen”. 

Commenting, Professor Wim van den Brink, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Addiction at the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam said:

 “This is indeed an important first finding. Smoking has many adverse effects in men and in women, but this particular effect of nicotine on the reduction of estrogen production in woman was not known before. It should be noted, however, that tobacco addiction is a complex disorder with many contributing factors. It’s unlikely that this specific effect of nicotine on the thalamus (and the production of estrogen) explains all the observed differences in the development, treatment and outcomes between male and female smokers. It is still a long way from a nicotine induced reduction in estrogen production to a reduced risk of nicotine addiction and negative effects of treatment and relapse in female cigarette smokers, but this work merits further investigation”.

Professor van den Brink was not involved in this work, it is an independent comment.

This work is presented at the 35th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual conference, which takes place in Vienna and online from 15-18 October, see https://www.ecnp.eu/Congress2022/ECNPcongress. Up to 5000 delegates are expected to attend. The ECNP is Europe’s main organisation working in applied neuroscience.

Source:  European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 101: What every student-athlete should know

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(Family Features) You may find it difficult to wrap your mind around the idea of an energetic student-athlete with a cardiac diagnosis. Heart conditions may be more often associated with older individuals, but you might be surprised to learn hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common condition responsible for sudden cardiac death in young athletes. In fact, it’s the cause of 40% of sudden cardiac death cases.

It’s estimated 1 in every 500 adults living in the United States has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, according to the American Heart Association, but a significant percentage are undiagnosed. More than 80% of individuals who experience this condition show no signs or symptoms before sudden cardiac death. While sudden cardiac death is rare, it can occur during exercise or in its aftermath. That’s why it’s important for student-athletes and their loved ones to learn more about this condition and talk to a doctor about their risk.

With proper knowledge and the support of a skilled care team, it’s possible to manage hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with heart-healthy actions to prevent complications or worsening cardiovascular conditions like atrial fibrillation (a quivering or irregular heartbeat), stroke or heart failure. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy awareness and education for athletes by the American Heart Association is made possible in part by a grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.

What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of inherited heart disease and can affect people of any age. It’s defined by thickening and stiffening of the walls of the heart. The heart’s chambers cannot fill up or pump blood out adequately, so the heart is unable to function normally.

There are different types of this condition. Most people have a form of the disease in which the wall that separates the two bottom chambers of the heart (the septum) becomes enlarged and restricts blood flow out of the heart (obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy).

However, sometimes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs without significant blocking of blood flow (nonobstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). The heart’s main pumping chamber is still thickened and may become increasingly stiff, reducing the amount of blood taken in then pumped out to the body with each heartbeat.

What are possible symptoms?
Symptoms can include:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • heart palpitations
  • fatigue

The severity of symptoms can vary, but if you experience them or if you have a family history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or sudden cardiac death, it may be a good idea to speak to your doctor about whether you have this condition.

For some people, symptoms can get worse and new symptoms can appear over time, resulting in people dealing with harsher effects and a diminished ability to do the activities they love. This decrease in functions can be one of the most challenging aspects of the disease. Keeping your health care team aware of any new or changing symptoms allows them to work with you to develop a plan to manage these symptoms and reduce their impact.

How is hypertrophic cardiomyopathydiagnosed?
Medical history, family history, a physical exam and diagnostic test results all factor into a diagnosis. A common diagnostic test is an echocardiogram that assesses the thickness of the heart muscle and observes blood flow from the heart.

If anyone in your family has been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, other heart diseases or has been told they had thick heart walls, you should share that information with your doctor and discuss the need for genetic testing. Because this condition is hereditary, first-degree relatives, which include siblings and parents, should be checked.

Learn more at heart.org/HCMStudentAthlete.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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Staying Safe During Summer Vacations: 5 tips for traveling with health conditions

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Watching your health during Summer Vacation

(Family Features) From staycations and road trips to Caribbean getaways and coastal cruises, summertime offers the chance to escape and unwind with a much needed (and deserved) vacation. However, for people living with health conditions like heart disease or stroke, leaving home can pose special challenges.

As travel season takes shape, the experts at the American Heart Association – celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service as the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all – recommends a few important tips to ease on-the-go woes.

“As we look forward to summer, many people will be traveling to spend treasured time with family and friends, or maybe just to enjoy some relaxation on the beach,” said Gladys Velarde, M.D., FAHA, professor of medicine and national volunteer with the American Heart Association. “It’s not always that simple for people who have chronic health conditions that require multiple medications or special medical equipment. There are also considerations for how to maintain your health and not put yourself at increased risk.”

Velarde said that doesn’t mean travel is off limits if you have a chronic health condition. A little planning and preparation can reduce stress and prepare you for your next big adventure.

Check In with Your Health Care Provider
Speak with your primary care physician or specialist about your travel plans and any special considerations related to your health. He or she can offer guidance on any restrictions or precautions you should keep in mind. Carry a list of all medications, including dosages and pharmacy information. Also consider carrying a copy of key medical records and a list of phone numbers, including your doctors and emergency contacts.

Manage Your Medications
Ensure medications are clearly labeled and that you’ve packed enough to last the entire trip. If you’re traveling across time zones, enlist your health care provider to help adjust medication schedules. Some medications require refrigeration; research how to pack them appropriately for airport security and make sure you’ll have a refrigerator in your lodging.

Plan for Transportation
Whether you’re traveling by plane, bus, train, cruise ship or other means, it’s paramount to plan ahead for special medical equipment. For example, if you use a wheelchair, walker or other assistance for getting around, you may need to check in with the travel company to find out how to properly transport your devices.

Master the Airport
During this especially busy travel season, planning ahead can make the airport experience easier. If you have a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, you may need to go through a special security screening. Walking through a crowded terminal can take its toll, so consider requesting a wheelchair or courtesy cart to get to your gate when booking your ticket.

Long flights may increase your risk for blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Consider wearing compression socks and walk around the cabin while it’s safe and allowed to help improve your circulation.

Know the Signs
While it’s always important to know the signs of heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest, it’s particularly critical while away from home. If you or someone you’re with experience symptoms, call 911. Many airports even offer kiosks where you can learn Hands-Only CPR while waiting for your flight.

“Every individual’s condition is unique, and you’ll want to tailor your travel plans to your specific needs,” Velarde said. “By taking a little time now to plan and prepare, your vacation can be just what the doctor ordered to help you unwind and recharge.”

Learn more about healthy traveling at Heart.org.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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Child Health

Illuminating Global Landmarks: Make NF Research Visible

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Global landmarks are set to illuminate in a stunning display of support for World NF Awareness Day. The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) has organized the “Shine a Light on NF” campaign, which will see nearly 400 famous buildings, bridges, waterfalls, castles, and architectural icons light up in blue and green, the official colors of the neurofibromatosis (NF) cause.

Global landmark illuminated in blue and green for neurofibromatosis and schwannomatosis awareness, highlighting the importance of NF research visibility.
Young man living with neurofibromatosis type 1 surrounded by NF researchers and clinicians

NF is a group of genetic conditions that affects approximately 4 million people worldwide. It is known as either neurofibromatosis or schwannomatosis, and it causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. The impact of NF can be severe, leading to disabilities such as blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, disfigurement, learning disabilities, disabling pain, and cancer. Despite the significant challenges it poses, there is currently no cure for NF. However, the “Shine a Light on NF” campaign aims to raise awareness and highlight the crucial need for scientific research funding.

The “Shine a Light on NF” campaign, launched by the Children’s Tumor Foundation, has grown substantially over the years. The foundation works in partnership with NF organizations, medical and research institutions, and corporate and media partners around the world to expand global awareness of this rare set of genetic conditions. The involvement of internationally recognized landmarks is a testament to the campaign’s reach.

Landmarks such as Niagara Falls, the National Theatre in London, The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, and The David in Florence are among the many iconic sites that will light up in blue and green this year. This show of unity and support not only raises awareness but also sends a powerful message of solidarity to those affected by NF.

In conjunction with World NF Awareness Day, the Children’s Tumor Foundation is also launching its “Make NF Research Visible” campaign. This initiative focuses on the transformative potential of scientific research in the fight against NF. By highlighting advancements in NF scientific research and clinical care, the campaign showcases the crucial role these efforts play in improving patient outcomes.

As part of the “Make NF Research Visible” campaign, a collection of portraits and stories featuring clinicians, researchers, and patients is being shared. These compelling narratives demonstrate how increased visibility can drive further progress in NF research and provide support to those affected by the condition.

Simon Vukelj, Chief Marketing Officer of the Children’s Tumor Foundation, emphasizes the importance of the “Make NF Research Visible” campaign, stating that it aims to inspire greater support and drive further advancements. By shining a light on the incredible work being done by researchers and clinicians, the foundation aims to brighten the path forward for everyone affected by NF.

Carson McNall, a 16-year-old living with neurofibromatosis type 1, shares his experiences and hopes for a future where NF can be cured. Carson describes the chaos of living with NF at such a young age and dreams of a life free from constant appointments and worries about the future. The “Make NF Research Visible” campaign aims to turn these dreams into reality by amplifying the voices of patients and showcasing how research can transform lives within the NF community.

Neurofibromatosis encompasses a group of genetic conditions that lead to the growth of tumors on nerves throughout the body. The Children’s Tumor Foundation has initiated campaigns like “Shine a Light on NF” and “Make NF Research Visible” to raise awareness and underscore the importance of advancements in scientific research. These efforts highlight the impact of NF on public awareness, diagnosis, clinical care, and ongoing research endeavors towards finding a cure.

As the world witnesses the illumination of global landmarks and engages with the “Make NF Research Visible” campaign, it is a reminder of the power of unity and the potential for scientific advancements to bring hope and transformation to those affected by neurofibromatosis.

For the full, global list of locations Shining a Light on NF, visit ctf.org/shinealight.

For more information about NF Awareness Month and Make NF Visible, visit makenfvisible.org.

For more information about the Children’s Tumor Foundation, visit ctf.org.

About the Children’s Tumor Foundation
The Children’s Tumor Foundation is the world’s leading organization dedicated to funding and driving innovative research that will result in effective treatments for the millions of people worldwide living with NF, a group of genetic conditions that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. Through collaboration with the scientific community, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and other key partners, we work diligently to accelerate research and development efforts, ensuring that promising treatments reach those who need them. One in every 2,000 people is born with some type of neurofibromatosis or schwannomatosis, which may lead to blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, disfigurement, learning disabilities, disabling pain, or cancer. NF affects all populations equally, and while there is no cure yet, the Children’s Tumor Foundation mission of driving research, expanding knowledge, and advancing care for the NF community fosters our vision of one day ending NF. For more information, please visit: ctf.org.

https://stmdailynews.com/category/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/health

SOURCE Children’s Tumor Foundation

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