Which Came First: Cannabis Use Or Psychotic Disorders? Scientists Weigh In On Dangers, Myths
Top scientists who specialize in marijuana research are divided over whether the drug can lead to disorders like schizophrenia. “I’ve been doing this research for 25 years, and it’s polarizing even among academics,” said Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University Medical Center. Other public health news focuses on climate change's dangers; pain's origins in the brain; the race for health apps; a video game for kids with ADHD; a new way to tell if patients take their meds; and lessons to stop severe bleeding.
The New York Times:
Does Cannabis Use Cause Schizophrenia?
Nearly a century after the film “Reefer Madness” alarmed the nation, some policymakers and doctors are again becoming concerned about the dangers of marijuana, although the reefers are long gone. Experts now distinguish between the “new cannabis” — legal, highly potent, available in tabs, edibles and vapes — and the old version, a far milder weed passed around in joints. Levels of T.H.C., the chemical that produces marijuana’s high, have been rising for at least three decades, and it’s now possible in some states to buy vape cartridges containing little but the active ingredient. (Carey, 1/17)
Los Angeles Times:
Climate Change Is Making Us Sicker And Shortening Our Lives, Doctors Say
In the welter of daily demands upon physicians, it might be easy to imagine that weaning the world off its reliance on fossil fuels is asking a bit too much. But preventing sickness and averting premature death are squarely in a physician’s wheelhouse. And dramatic increases in both are projected for the foreseeable future as the world’s continued reliance on fossil fuels results in more air pollution, infectious diseases, malnutrition, wildfires, extreme heat and increasingly powerful weather events. (Healy, 1/17)
Neuroscientists Pinpoint Cells In The Amygdala Where Pain Hurts
Pain is a complicated experience. Our skin and muscles sense it, just like they sense softness or warmth. But unlike other sensations, the experience of pain is distinctly unpleasant. Pain has to hurt for us to pay attention to it, and avoid hurting ourselves further. But for people in chronic pain, the pain has largely lost its purpose. It just hurts. While it has long been understood how nerves signal pain to the brain, scientists haven't known how the brain adds a layer of unpleasantness. (Lambert, 1/17)
As Genetic Testing Blossoms, Companies Search For A Killer App
Millions of Americans have taken genetic tests to help them learn more about who they are or how sick they could become. In a crowded field of firms selling DNA tests — 10 new products enter the market each day by one estimate — many of the companies are racing to sort out their own identities. Color Genomics Chief Executive Officer Otham Laraki, a former product manager at Google, likens genetic testing today to the early days of smartphones. When location data came on the scene, he said, everyone thought check-in apps like Foursquare would be a hit. But the killer app turned out to be a completely different use of GPS data: Uber. (Brown, 1/18)
How Sound In A Video Game 'Helps The Medicine Go Down' For Kids With ADHD
[One] game maker, Akili Interactive Labs of Boston, hopes its video game will become the first one approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and then prescribed for kids with ADHD. Akili sees the video game as the delivery system for targeted algorithms that act as a medical device to activate certain neural networks.A little over a year ago, Akili reported results from its study of 348 preteens diagnosed with ADHD. Some of the kids were assigned to play Akili’s game on a tablet over four weeks. Other kids were given a different action-packed video game designed as a placebo. The kids who played Akili’s game saw statistically significant improvements on metrics of attention and inhibitory control, compared to the control group. (Robbins, Garde and Feuerstein, 1/18)
The Washington Post:
Forget To Take Your Medication? A New Digital Pill Will Alert You — And Your Doctor.
When his chemotherapy patients leave the hospital to continue treatment at home, Edward Greeno faces a new challenge. He can no longer ensure they’re taking their medicine. Greeno, the medical director of the Masonic Cancer Clinic at the University of Minnesota, has come to realize that some patients, like children hiding naughty behavior from a parent, will fudge the truth to avoid his disapproval, even when their health is at risk. (Holley, 1/17)
Wyoming Public Radio:
Spending Time In Remote Areas? Learn To Stop The Bleed
The Department of Homeland Security wants more lay people trained to control life-threatening blood loss. They're spreading the word through a national awareness campaign and a course called Stop the Bleed. (Watson, 1/17)