Health Monitor

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Cancer survivors who practiced yoga over a four-week study period noted substantial reductions in fatigue, increased sleep quality and overall better quality of life.

Presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, researchers from the University of Rochester gathered 410 survivors of early-stage cancer. According to previous research, fatigue and poor sleep affect many cancer survivors and can seriously impact quality of life. About 80 per cent of cancer patients report sleep problems in treatment while 65 per cent say the problems persist once treatment has concluded.

For the study, 96 per cent of the participants were women and 75 per cent had been treated for breast cancer. The average age was 54. The patients reported sleep problems lasting between two months and two years.

The participants were randomly assigned to two groups: one took part in traditional post-treatment care while the second was involved in traditional care as well as a 75-minute yoga class twice a week for four weeks. The yoga class covered breathing, meditation, posture, visualization and 18 different poses where the body was either seated, lying down or standing.

Before and after the sessions, patients self-reported their sleep quality, quality of life and fatigue. The results found that the yoga group reported 10 per cent better sleep quality and a 24 per cent improvement in “daytime sleepiness.” The yoga group was also able to reduce the use of sleep medication by 12 per cent while the control group increased medication use by five per cent. Fatigue improved by 42 per cent while overall quality of life improved six per cent, compared to no change in the control group.

The authors recommended physicians consider yoga as an additional part of cancer survivors’ post-treatment care, especially in cases where sleep and fatigue are a reported problem.

The more sleep an infant gets, the more quickly they are to learn, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers out of the University of Florida studied one- and two-day-old infants, using EEG and video recordings to conduct their study. Twenty-six infants were selected and their brainwaves were found to change as they slept after being introduced to a Pavlovian task.

Researchers would sound a tone, then squeeze a gentle puff of air into the newborn’s eyelids. Within 20 minutes, 24 of the 26 infants automatically closed their eyes when they heard the tone. The brainwaves of these newborns were found to change as they slept, which researchers referred to as a “neural measurement of memory updating.” The newborns that slept the longest showed the most improved results.

Because the learned eye movements are a part of the brain’s cerebellum, the researchers speculate this could be used to identify infants in a non-invasive way that might have atypical cerebellum structure and who might be at risk for different learning disorders.

Physicians and patients who over-prescribe the use of antibiotics can create resistance to the medication that can last for as long as an entire year.

Published in the British Medical Journal, the study examined 24 ongoing studies of resistance to antibiotics in individual patients that were prescribed the medication to deal with respiratory or urinary infections. The authors reported strong links between antibiotic resistance and prescribing them for these two ailments. Resistance was found to be greatest in the first month after treatment, but in many cases lasted for up to one year.

The authors concluded that the only way to break the cycle of resistance is to refrain from using antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. An accompanying analysis and subsequent editorial called for economic incentives for drug companies to find new antibiotics to attack resistant bacteria.

Feeling some muscle pain from a hard workout or a rough day at work? Reaching for some ginger instead of painkillers just might do the trick.

Researchers at the University of Georgia decided to study the folk legend that ginger can be used as a remedy for different ailments, focusing specifically on muscle pain. Its anti-inflammatory effects had already been demonstrated in mice, so the team decided it was time to see if the same effects were visible in humans.

In two studies, researchers examined the effects of 11 days of treatment with raw and heat-treated ginger on muscle pain. The groups had 34 and 40 participants, respectively. They were given capsules of raw or heat-treated ginger or a placebo for 11 straight days. On the eighth day, the volunteers conducted an arm exercise with heavy weights to induce muscle pain. Arm function, inflammation and pain were all assessed before and after exercise.

The results showed a 25 per cent decrease in exercise-induced pain in the group that took ginger daily. No difference was observed between raw and heat-treated ginger.

“Anything that can truly relieve this type of pain will be greatly welcomed by the many people who are experiencing it,” said author Patrick O’Connor.

The study will be published in The Journal of Pain.

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